2019 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Award Winners

Who better than the readers of The Growler to nominate and vote for the finest of the finest in Minnesota beer, spirits, food, arts, and culture? We had a tidal wave of votes to determine the winners of the 2019 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Awards, and we’re proud to share the results with you. These are … [ Read more]

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2019 Year in Review: Wine & Spirits

Ready, Set, Drink! Local distilleries mounted a full-scale invasion of the ready-to-drink (RTD) category in 2019. Canned and bottled cocktails are up 40% nationwide over 2018, riding the same wave as hard seltzers and canned wine in which drinkers are gravitating towards new flavors in convenient packaging. Vikre Distillery of Duluth launched Frenchie, a pink … [ Read more]

Wine Time: Blood, Sweat, and Tears – aka, The Grape Harvest

It’s easy to get cerebral and abstract about wine. But let’s remember one thing: it comes from grapes farmed in a vineyard—it is an agricultural product. And there is perhaps no better reminder of this than the actual grape harvest, which is taking place all over the Northern Hemisphere in these early-to-mid-autumn months. In the … [ Read more]

Wine and Cider Guide 2019

Each autumn, the branches of apple trees and vineyard vines hang heavy with the fruits of a long growing season. Every ray of sunlight, drop of rain, and nutrient in the soil have been soaked up to produce plump clusters of grapes and swollen apples filled with the juices, tannins, sugars, and acids that the … [ Read more]

Pour It On: The porron offers a splashy, exuberant way to share wine and cocktails with friends

The narrow-spouted glass wine pitcher known as the porron has its origins in Catalonian food traditions, where it cuts a fine figure at spring onion festivals. Increasingly visible worldwide and affordably available online (a classic model costs less than $30), the porron is poised to change the way we drink for the better. If you’ve … [ Read more]

What Do Minnesota Grapes Taste Like?

You’ve probably noticed our local wineries don’t grow chardonnay and cabernet grapes like their California cousins. Our wicked continental climate is only suitable for wine grapes engineered to withstand the biting cold. But in the absence of those recognizable grapes, how do you know what flavors to expect from our wines?  Here are the four … [ Read more]

Bubbles That Won’t Break the Bank: A Buyer’s Guide

In my wine-buying experience, there’s no single purchase that can be more variable and unpredictable than a mid-priced bottle of sparkling. At around $10–20, you can get nuanced, estate-driven, interesting bubbles just as easily as industrial, one-note, sickly plonk. And if you’re a newbie to the cage-cork aisle, it can be maddening to tell the … [ Read more]

Back From The Brink: Three near-extinct wine grapes that have received a mighty second wind

T he sheer number of wine grapes in the world is staggering. But while the varieties of Vitis vinifera number well into the thousands, the forces and trends driving the wine market have pushed many grapes to the edge of extinction.  It takes a great deal of commitment and dedication to produce a wine that … [ Read more]

Let It Breathe: When to decant a bottle of wine

To decant or not to decant, that is the question. Hold up—what is decanting anyway? In the simplest terms, it’s the act of pouring a liquid (wine) from a vessel (bottle) into another vessel (usually a glass carafe). Sounds easy enough. But should you do it? And why? Some people think decanting is completely unnecessary … [ Read more]

12 Women Winemakers to Toast this International Women’s Day

At the turn of the century, an article touting fabulous wines made by women would have been depressingly short. Not because great wines weren’t being made by women but because there were so few women winemakers. Today, as women are helming the tanks at more and more wineries, it takes a lot of paring down … [ Read more]

Wine Time: The Chain of Custody from Vineyard to Glass

Welcome to our new monthly wine column: Wine Time. This monthly journal will be filled with practical knowledge about the world of wine. This month, Brie Roland explains all the hands your bottle passes through from vineyard to shelf.  I t’s almost too easy to buy a good bottle of wine in the Twin Cities. … [ Read more]

Wine can be honest and authentic without being “natural”

Most grocery stores, chain liquor stores, and national restaurants sell wines made by the millions of cases—wines made with a recipe, a process more akin to making soda than wine. In contrast, “natural” winemakers have staked their claim as the antithesis to corporate plonk. While “natural wine” is a loose stylistic description, it is generally … [ Read more]

Taking Wine Tasting Menus to Task

F or many who love to dine, the marriage of good food and wine is undeniable. A thoughtful wine pairing can elevate an already delicious dish to previously unknown heights. In fact, it was the experience of this very thing that inspired me to pursue a career in wine; a carefully chosen glass of Muscadet … [ Read more]

C’est le Vin: Europe’s vintners are buying fruit, lighting fires, and saving good vintages as climate change alters the future of fine wine

The world of wine is always changing. Consider in Champagne, France (circa 1668), when a monk by the name of Dom Pierre Pérignon fought desperately to keep the bubbles out of the insipid red wine he was making for mass. It wouldn’t be until much later that the region would become known for its beloved … [ Read more]

Seven Sparkling Wines to Ring in the New Year

New Year’s Eve. It’s a time for reflection and reminiscing, celebrating and cheer. The drink that pairs perfectly with all of these things: sparkling wine. We’ve combed our archives from the past year to bring you our top bubblies to help you ring in 2019. They’re fresh, they’re fun, and they’re full of personality—just like … [ Read more]