Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Have a Wine Tasting Bridal Shower or Bachelorette Party

If you're looking for the best and most creative solution to your Greater New York bridal shower or bachelorette party, read about a recent event we did sponsored in party by and Brooklyn Bride.

This past weekend, we at Swirl Events had a chance to prove its wine tasting parties are the hip, modern and fun solution to a bridal shower or bachelorette party. We had the chance to throw a wine tasting party for a group of 20 bridal bloggers from across the country. The "B-List" as this new group is known is a hard to please group because they've seen it all and are pros themselves!. But wouldn't you know, they loved our wine tasting where we compared wines to celebrities. Just check out the great reviews from some of the best bridal bloggers across the country: Oh So Beautiful Paper, I Will to I Do (from pro Anne Chertoff), The Ritzy Bee, and many more.

As we do with all of our bridal events, we kicked things off by handing each guest a glass of sparkling wine (Prosecco, a great sub for Champers during a wedding toast!) as they walked in the door. We paired it with the unbelievable pomegrante truffles from Roni-Sues, a generous sponsor for the event.

Since we provide everything you need (Riedel stemware, serving dishes, plates, napkins, etc.) plus our team of dynamic Swirl wine experts, the girls were able to kick back and enjoy themselves as we walked through five more wines and compared them to celebrities. Is your glass lively like Heidi Klum? or Heading Toward Disaster like Britney Spears? It's a surefire way to get people who might now know eachother to strike up a conversation or even a friendly debate.

Each of the wines were paired with cheeses which the guests were encouraged to sample with the wines as they put descriptions to the wines using the Swirl Cheat Sheet.

As you can see from their smiles, my guests had a wonderful time while they learned a bit about wine and relaxed with a glass or two.

If you're interested in a wine tasting bridal shower or wine tasting bachelorette party, contact us at or 917.463.3994.

{images by Christina and Vane}

Wines Perfect for Spring & Summer

What wines should you serve during Spring and Summer? Check out SwirlSavvy's recommendations:

Spring is finally promising to fully unleash her warmth. That means it's officially time to take the party outdoors. Whether it's dinner on the deck, a picnic in the park or a full-out celebration, wine can be the perfect beverage to serve alongside summer salads and burgers sizzling on the grill. Along with your winter scarves and parkas, shed the bigger, bolder Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux wines of winter, and step into something lighter. When choosing a wine for warmer weather, it's important to keep a few things in mind. Since you're in the heat and more apt to dehydration, choose a wine relatively lower in alcohol. And keep it crisp, refreshing and acidic, the same reason we naturally gravitate toward lemonade when temperatures creep up. The same logic makes me instinctly reach for dry Rose, dry Riesling from Alsace or Australia and Muscadet from the Loire Valley as well as sparkling wine.

But don’t think red wine has the season off. On the contrary, red wine stands up to heftier foods like barbequed ribs where white wine would falter. And sometimes only a glass of red wine truly satisfies. However, I'm going to advise doing something once considered heresy, and that is, to chill your red wine. Nothing is more satisfying to sip alongside a hot-off-the-grill burger than a juicy Barbera d'Alba or Valpolicella from Italy slightly chilled. When picking a red wine perfect to drink out-of-doors, think light to medium bodied, with soft tannins and a hefty dose of bright fruit and acidity. These wines will shine where their heavier counterparts seem dull or just unappealing.

Consider the following the next time you’re sipping alfresco:

Crios Rose of Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($14) – Ripe wild strawberries with a surprisingly clean finish and a deep gorgeous color make this a go-to for backyard celebrations.

Clos de Beauregard Muscadet, Loire Valley, France ($10) – A subtle wine, with layers of creaminess balanced by lemony freshness and hints of green apple. Perfect to sip while diving into your summer reading list.

Cantina Valpantena Falasco Valpolicella Ripasso, Veneto, Italy ($14) – Smooth-drinking and uber food-friendly with juicy black fruit flavors and a perfect accompaniment to barbequed ribs.

Sorella Bronca Prosecco, Veneto, Italy ($17) – Clean, crisp and refreshing; everything a Prosecco should be. It’s made quarterly by a duo of sisters to ensure freshness when you

drink it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Best Rooftop Bars in NYC to drink wine

Wonder where the best outdoor spots to drink wine and a cocktail in New York City? Here goes:

As this weekend firmly assures us, Spring really is here. But in usual New York fashion, we'll probably enjoy the gentle breezes and 70' lazy days for two weeks before the oven-like heat of summer subways kicks into full gear. When the heat hits, escape the crowds at Central Park and take in one of these rooftop establishments where you can (legally) sip on more than an unnamed glass of Chardonnay while soaking in some rays and working on that St. Barths-like tan.

Salon de Ning When only the exotic and glamorous will do, explore the glass-enclosed bar at Salon de Ning on the rooftop of The Peninsula Hotel. The lounge is inspired by the fictional "Madame Ning" who apparently prefers taking in her creative cocktails on silk pillow-filled day beds. Elegance abounds so don’t be shocked by the high-priced wine list and creative signature cocktails. The luxe setting makes it a nice choice when impressing out-of-town guests. The East and West Terraces officially open May 1 and stay open from 4:00 PM to 1:00AM 7 days a week, but the staff's been known to open early on balmy days. The Peninsula Hotel, 700 Fifth Avenue, 212-903-3903,

The Crow's Nest Complete with tiki lamps and obligatory palm trees, The Crow’s Nest at The Water Club easily tempts you to while away the day overlooking the East River. The no reservations, seat yourself demeanor is such a turn from The Water Club's formality that you half expect Jimmy Buffett to start crooning away in corner. Burgers, hot dogs and a nice-sized bowl of guacamole ensure you and your friends can spend the good part of the day sampling from the well-priced wine by the glass menu or choose from any of the bottles on restaurant's complete wine list. Fully open May 23rd with soft openings on nice Spring weekends, the regular hours are Monday-Friday 4-11PM, Sat 1-11PM, Sun 12-close; The Water Club, East River and FDR Drive via the East 23rd St. walkway, 212.683.3333,

Mad 46 Sitting 19 stories high on the top of the Roosevelt Hotel in the heart of Midtown, Mad 46 is the place for young professionals to meet post 12-hour work days and vent about their bosses while flirting with the exec at the next table. Their by the glass selection is well-rounded and the by the bottle list includes a surprising number of Champagnes. Open in April Wednesday through Friday from 5-10PM and Monday through Friday till Midnight starting in May. Entrance is at the 46th St side @ Madison Avenue; 212-885-6095,

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Anne Hathaway of Wine

Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jacquere, Jongieux Vin de Savoie, 2007

While getting dressed for an evening out, my fashion-forward aunt advised that more isn't always better; it's just more. This bottle is a reflection of that philosophy. It represents all there is to love about pure, feminine youth and is a strong representative of the purity, elegance and restraint of young, French white wines.
The Jacquère grape, from which it is made, produces light, crisp wines from the Jongieux Vin de Savoie (pronounced: jeanne-jew vin de sav-wah), a region way up in the foothills of the French Alps. But, in true Swirl fashion I'll simply coin it the Anne Hathaway of wine. A true lovechild of a conservative and an artist, this wine is light-hearted in style with deep roots in tradition - effervescent yet restrained. It is extremely pale and silvery/green in color with a fresh bouquet and flavors of ripe apples, citrus, grass and anise. It drinks like a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend, but without the fat, oily element. It's very lean and squeaky clean on the palate and teeth, and finishes bright with minerality and ripe fruit. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you will love Jacquère. --from Guest Blogger, Zwann Grays

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why Organic Wine & What Does Biodynamic Mean?

April is Earth Month and a perfect time to learn about organic wines and their kissing cousins, biodynamic, natural and sustainable wines - and why they're important. And finally, we answer the age-old question about sulfites.

Why is the organic wine movement important: Grapes are some of the most heavily sprayed items and they have thin skins, so having a more "green" option is welcome! Also, we think of wine as something straight from the soil and vines and a somewhat more natural beverage than things like soda, cocktails, etc. But it's surprising to learn how tampered with wine can be. These alternatives help assure us that our wine is a more direct connection from grape to glass.

What do all these words mean? There seems to be overlaps and confusion between all the "green" words out there whether it's with produce or wine. Let's clear some of those up:

Sustainable Wine: This is a term that unfortunately been abused by marketers so be aware. There's no legal definition for this. But true sustainable farmers and winemakers try to create a product that's been made in a way that allows the vineyard to continue to produce in a way that isn't harmful for future generations and production. It's a philosophy that minimizes soil erosion, depletion of soil nutrients, water pollution, etc. It's a holistic approach.

Organic: A wine that is labeled organic and has the USDA Organic Seal is made without chemical pesticides and artificial fertilizers.

Biodynamic: I think of this as extreme organic. Follows same principles as organic wine but adds a whole

other layer. It's a holistic approach to winemaking. Biodynamic farmers view the vineyard as a part of an entire system - animals, other crops, with emphasis on balance between all the elements. The whole "farm" or vineyard should be self-sustaining so there is a lot of composting and not using chemicals. It also involves farming according to a lunar calendar.

"Natural" wines: Again, this is more a philosophy that says "don't tamper with the wine!" But what it entails is not adding sulfites or additives. The shocker here is what others are adding - wood chips, colorants, acidifiers, de-acidifiers, de-alcoholization, etc. commercial yeasts, enzymes, tannin powders, heavy fining or filtration that is hardly sustainable. When a wine is labeled Organic it doesn't mean that all of this other stuff can't happen.

And the age old question - What's the deal with sulfites:

Yeasts naturally produce sulfites during the fermentation process. Sulfites act as a form of preservatives for wine, allowing it a longer shelf life. Conventional wines are allowed to have 350 parts per million of sulfites. Organic wines have less with a maxium of 100 parts per million of sulfites.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Kosher Wine Picks for Passover Worthy of Year-Round Drinking

Here's my latest piece for

Like cherry blossoms or the Gonzaga basketball program, kosher wine gets the attention it deserves for only a few fleeting moments each spring. It's a shame, because kosher wine has come a long, long way, and wineries around the world are now making premium bottles that might make you consider keeping kosher all year.

The kosher resurgence was initially spurred by a boom of quality wine production in Israel, but there are hotbeds of kosher winemaking in France, Spain, California and Chile as well. There's nothing about the kosher winemaking process that harms the wine. In fact, as with biodynamic practices, all the extra attention often improves the end product.

A reminder: Wineries must follow a lengthy list of rules to keep kosher, but to be deemed "Kosher for Passover," the yeast used to ferment the wine must have originated from non-grain sources. To be sure your wine is up to snuff, check for the "P" symbol on the label. Then pick up one of these Passover-approved bottles for Wednesday night's Seder.

2007 Galil Mountain Viognier Galilee (Israel, $15) From a top Israeli producer, this Viognier has aromas of orange blossoms and white peach and the grape's characteristically soft, mouth-filling texture (

2004 Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Shiraz Judean Hills Israel (Israel, $40) This deeply concentrated blend brims with black cherry flavors and a refreshing dose of minerality (

2005 Capcanes Peraj Ha'Abib Montsant (Spain, $60) In response to Spain's growing Jewish community, this winery created a rich, vibrantly juicy blend of Garnacha and Carignan comparable in style to those made in Priorat (

2007 Alfasi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Valle del Maule (Chile, $10) When you have to stock up for the Seder, it helps to have a value-priced bottle on hand, especially this easy-drinking Chilean Cabernet (

Anu & Swirl Events in the New York Post!

Hello readers - got some great news. I'm in the New York Post today, on page 37 in the @ Work section. Color photo and all! If you don't have the paper around, check it out here. The article talks about how my volunteer work at Sakhi ( lead to me starting Swirl Events. Check it out and thank you all for the support.

With glass in hand,


How to Pick a Summer Wine: The Gentler, Lighter Side of Wine

Summer’s soaring temps beg you to step away from heavy Cabernets and check out the gentler, lighter side of wine. When choosing the perfect summer wine for your outdoor engagement party or wedding, think light, crisp, refreshing--and because people tend to drink more in the heat--lower in alcohol. Nothing more prettily suggests summer than a dry (i.e. not sweet) rose. Avoid the simple, syrupy versions and try French roses from the Mourvèdre grape or roses made using the Saignee method for more complexity. Pick wines from countries where you imagine the locals sipping leisurely at sidewalk cafés while basking in the sun, like Spain. A Spanish fave is Albarino from the Rias Baixas region. Made to drink young, Albarino is a crisp, white wine with intense fruit, lively acidity and generally a lower level of alcohol. It pairs perfectly with summer foods from seafood to grilled vegetables. But you don’t need to swear off red wine for summer. Look for light bodied wines like Pinot Noir from Oregon or a Valpolicella from Italy, both capable of standing up to barbequed foods. And don’t be afraid to put a slight chill on your red wine. It is summer after all!

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain, “Exceptional with Everything” Oh Really?

There's nothing we love more than a challenge. It's in our makeup. We're two women, thirties. One Indian. One Filipina. The first, founder and CEO of a business in the arguably male-dominated wine world. The second, building experience to be a future proprietess of a wine store. Add to this: In New York City. So when presented with the opportunity to play wine and food critic for a night—to pair Rías Baixas Albariño wines, proclaimed to be "exceptional with everything" with Mercat’s offerings —it is impossible and simply against every ounce of who we are, to refuse.

Mercat means “market” in Catalan, the language of the northern Spanish region where owner, Jaime Reixach, is from and where the restaurant’s menu draws its inspiration. The albariños we’ll be drinking also originate from the northern region, and so we’re already anticipating more perfect wine pairings than tragic mismatches.

It’s a beautiful warm Thursday night—and we are tasting two Albariño wines: Alba Rosa from Martinez Serrantes and Pazo San Mauro, both 2006 vintages. We take our time with each wine—assessing them alone and then side by side. At the end, we agree that both are delightful: the Alba Rosa is sparkling with surprising depth while the Pazo San Mauro would bring life to our springtime picnic. Further, we imagine that if each wine were to be personified, they might just be these two ladies, described as such:

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"
This golden blonde hued wine gives an almost effervescent quality that shoots racy brightness into your mouth. It has the usual grassiness and citrus qualities one expects from this wine. The reason why this wine fits Scarlett most is because it has the quality of lightness but comes with surprising depth of character and fullness in body. The comparison would be perfect were the wine to show great legs, but its light-bodied, lower alcohol nature doesn’t allow it.

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”
Cameron would be a fun addition to any springtime outing. Her lightheartedness would make everyone smile and this wine does the same. The light yellow straw color gives way to granny smith apples, peaches, melon, and citrus scents that jump at your nose, smelling like springtime in a glass. This wine begs to be explored further. The crisp and pleasantly tart apple is balanced with pear and makes it the perfect brunch wine.
Now, we move on to the heart of our challenge: Exceptional with everything? Oh really? How do these two beauties handle themselves in company? After the three and a half hours of glorious sipping, chewing, and chatting, among ourselves and the restaurant staff, here are our findings:

No surprise, our lovely wines get along splendidly with their classic and traditional partners: we have raves for the nicely seasoned patatas bravas—not too spicy, not too garlicky—and the padrones/blistered shishito peppers, the char and oil offset by the tartness of the wines. One of us goes wild for the Canelons de Verdura/eggplant wrapped spring vegetables, manchego, and cranberry reduction. And then Chef Lowder sends over Trencat d’Ous/mushroom with salsa verde topped with a fried egg, which again, goes splendidly with our wines. Even the suckling pig/Cochinillo, which we think will surely clash, in fact becomes the surprise of the evening. Like the beauty and the beast, our wines and the pig make an unlikely but harmonious pair.

We ask ourselves for the last time: Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with Everything?

If not for being the gluttonous bottomless pits that we are, we would certainly have answered YES with an exclamation point. But since we order those two desserts—Torrades Sta. Teresa/fried bread with lemon yogurt and Pa Amb Oli Xocolata/bread, olive oil, and chocolate, our answer must be: Almost. These two desserts with our two Albariños — are disastrous.

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with almost Everything.

--Anu Karwa and Marie Estrada

Visit for more info on Rías Baixas Albariños from Spain

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