We all have a stereotypical image of a wine snob. For me, it’s an older man in his business clothes, just back from work, sipping a glass of refined red by a fireplace, using wine as an elixir of relaxation and comfort. You may conjure up a vision of a woman at a restaurant, demanding minute details from a server or sommelier about the wine she wants to accompany her dinner with. In fact, we all probably have preconceived notions about who drinks the most wine and where. The funny thing is, we’re actually all wrong.
According to a yearly survey conducted by the Wine Market Council, millennials are now the most frequent consumers of wine in the United States. In fact, those in their mid-20s are a driving force behind the wine industry, forcing wine makers to vary their selections and create quality products. Since they’re not guzzling down the cheapest products they can find (which, I’m sure, is what we all initially assumed), and they’re also not settling in to the most standard and common varietals, the wine industry is actually given an opportunity to create non-conventional, delicious wines that everyone can enjoy. Moreover, more than just drinking more kinds of wine and more frequently, millennials actually drink the most amount of wine per serving, at an average of 3.1 glasses each time they decide to drink.
Next time you come by the tasting room, take a look around you as you drink your glass or enjoy your tasting. The face of wine is getting younger and younger, and with that comes more exciting variations on wine. Even here at Seal Beach Winery, our offerings are always expanding and aren’t always the most common California varietals, which is made possible by a growing demand from curious drinkers. And, if you’re ever in the market for a gift for a “millennial” friend or relative, remember that, at 3.1 glasses of wine a night, a growler might go over incredibly well.
If you've been into the winery in the past few weeks, you've been enthusiastically told by our staff about our new cheese plates. We're so excited to serve up our new platters because we're in love with the product, and because we took a major part in the crafting of the menu. Each cheese has an ideal pair to every wine on the menu, to which our own tastebuds can attest. It would only be fair to let you in on the magic of our pairings and give an exposè of all our new delectable cheeses. Here, we have them listed in descending order from mild to wild.
P'tit Basque- We start off our cheese menu with this smooth, buttery number. This is a sheep's milk cheese from the Pyrenees Mountains in France. Nicknamed the crème brulee of cheese, P'tit Basque has a nutty flavor with caramel undertones and pairs well with fruits, which just so happen to be a part of our cheese plate. We recommend it as an accompaniment to both of our Rosès.
Snofrisk- Meaning "snow fresh" in Norway, its country of origin, Snofrisk is a rich and tangy goat's milk cheese with a surprising freshness. It is pure, slightly acidic, and pliable, as the name suggests. Fun fact: it was first introduced at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. It really shines next to our Pinot Grigio, as both are crisp and tart.
Great Ocean Road Cheddar- This Australian cheddar is sharp and crisp. Aptly named after the Aussie wind, Great Ocean Road, this cheese pairs perfectly next to fruits and meats alike, and complements our 2012 Chardonnay.
Seascape- Just like our wines, Seascape is produced in the Central Coast of California. It is a goat and cow milk blend in a cheddar style, making it somewhat crumbly with a complex tanginess. It is versatile as part of a charcuterie. We recommend trying it with our 2013 Old Vine Chardonnay.
Caña de Oveja- This Spanish cheese, literally translating to "Log of Sheep," is a crumbly sheep's milk cheese with intense flavors of tangy butter, a product of its 21-day aging process. While typically a good match for white wines, we adored this next to both our Pinot Noirs.
Mon Sire Brie- This triple cream brie cheese from France is rich, creamy, and supple. It is amazing when spread over a bread or cracker, and goes perfectly alongside fresh fruit. We recommend you try it alongside our spicy and fruity Grenaches.
Cambozola Black Label- Aged six months in Bavaria, this German bleu cheese is actually created in a brie-style. It's aging process gives in earthy blue tones with nutty, buttery flavors, and complex, grey rind, and a smooth, creamy texture. This cheese was a great pair with our 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, although it can also be put next to a crisper wine as well.
Tete de Moine- This Swiss cheese is one of the strongest on the market. From a centuries old recipe, Tete de Moine offers a sharp, nutty, and woodsy taste with heavy fruit aspects. It pairs well with prosciutto and fruity, intense wines. We enjoyed it alongside our Merlot and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cacionerone- The last of our cheese selections, Cacionerone is an Italian cow and buffalo's milk cheese in a parmigiano style. It is mild, sweet, and flavorful. This hard cheese worked wonders with our Zinfandel.
So now, with a well-informed mind and excited palate, you can head over to Seal Beach Winery and try our new cheese plate. They come in four sizes (three or five cheeses, with our without meat), and add an amazing dimension to our wine selections.
I was lost in a spiral of texture and flavor, engulfed in the swirl of wine and cheese that filled my mouth. I tasted each little sample of cheese in front of me—hard cheeses, soft cheeses, cow, goat, and sheep cheeses—and I tried my hardest to transfer notes from my tongue to paper. I fought to distinguish fruit and floral flavors in the wine, creaminess and nuttiness in the cheese, and sought to understand the perfect juxtaposition of flavors that made each shine.
This was the beginning of my foray into the world of cheese and wine pairing. When we at Seal Beach Winery had a staff meeting at Cheese Addiction in Long Beach, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve always had a love of wine, and I’ve been an avid cheese eater since I was young, but perfectly melding those experiences was only something I’d dabbled in when trying to impress friends and dates with homemade charcuterie assembled from grocery store cheese and crackers. And being brand new at the winery, I was afraid I would be out of my depth.
But here I was, happily nibbling on corners of cheese and suckling sips of wine, actually understanding how the flavors of each intersected. I noticed how notes in the cheese really left some wine flat. I observed strange aftertastes that didn’t exist with other pairings. I discovered on my own, but only because I chose to disregard emphatic advice, that Ginger Mango Stilton really has no business being paired with white wine. I tasted the most brilliant combination of Creamy Truffle Brie and Grenache, which, for me, was certainly the highlight of the night. I felt a spark light inside me after finding the truly perfect cheese for each wine on the menu, and similarly proud of myself when I could immediately tell that a combination we chose to test was just not going to work the way we had anticipated.
After a long night of diligently trying cheese and laboriously sipping on wine, the staffs of Seal Beach Winery and Cheese Addiction eventually crafted an amazing cheese menu with ideal pairings for each of the wines we offer. Since then, our cheese plates have morphed into amazingly catered creations with cheese selections based on the wine in front of our customers. They are gorgeously lined with artisanal crackers and rich servings of Italian meats, and are created with the knowledge and experience we gleaned from the best staff meeting that’s ever happened anywhere.
Making the Season Even Better With Growlers from Seal Beach Winery
It's Southern California, and we are in the thick of summer. That means it's time for outdoor picnics, afternoons on the sun-sparkling beach, restful days along the side of the pool, and concerts in the park. Everyone who lives in this vibrant area knows about the activities that these sunny skies open up for us—and we certainly take advantage of these opportunities as they come. But does anyone wish that their wine was portable enough to keep up with this wide range of activities?
Anybody who has tried to open a bottle of wine at the beach will attest to how difficult it is to yank a cork from a bottle while trying to balance it on sand, never mind protecting their precious wine while the wind violently blows particles into the bottle. A bigger issue is conspicuously twisting a corkscrew into a full bottle in an open area, feeling uncomfortable under the judging glares of the casual beer can drinkers around them.
So what is a wino supposed to do when summer rolls around in Southern California? At Seal Beach Winery, we think we have a solution that makes it a little bit easier to enjoy great wines—our growler program. With six unique wine options to fill up with and take home, along with the ease and versatility of the growler and growler bags themselves, it's a simple and elegant way to enjoy a glass of wine in the summer heat.
Beginning your foray into our growler program is simple: just stop by the winery and pick up your choice of a 1 liter or 1.9 liter glass growler for $9, which are refillable at any time. Or, if you're looking for a one-time use item to bring along to a BBQ or event, you can get a 1.5 liter growler bag, which retains the freshness of the wine inside for months, even after opening. These bags are filled to the brim and equipped with a spout for immediate and easy pouring. All of these options can be filled with any of our six growler wines.
What are those wines? While they are in constant rotation, our current lineup is:
Rosé of Grenache- A beautifully floral blush with summertime flavors of watermelon and strawberry. This is our only rosé selection for our growlers, and is ideal for enjoying on a sunny, hot day.
Pinot Noir- From the beachside Derbyshire Vineyard in San Simeon, these grapes grow within a stone's throw from the Pacific Ocean. Its intense, dark cherry flavors can be combined with a number of activities and foods.
Merlot- Our deep and sophisticated Merlot is a little dark for summer heat, but perfect for those nights by the pool or on the patio.
Cabernet Sauvignon- This rich Cabernet packs huge amounts of fruit and vanilla with a long finish. It's perfect for summer dinner on the deck or staying at home with a home-cooked meal.
Barbera- This brand new edition to our growler lineup is young, but incredibly drinkable and bold. Its bright cherry flavors really complement a brisk summer night.
By getting our growler, you'll have access to any of these options, available to fill at any time we're open. There's also the added benefit or alleviating the Earth of some of the waste that goes into the typical glass wine bottle, but we know that's not the real reason you're getting one of our growlers the next time you stop by and visit us.