Hey Tampa Bay! Look for our Full Page ad in today’s Tampa Bay Times!

Hey Tampa Bay! Look for our Full Page ad in today’s Tampa Bay Times! We’ve redesigned it, based on your feedback to make our ads cleaner and easier to read. Comment below or email WeCare@b-21.com to let us know what you think!  As normal, it’s loaded with great savings on hundreds wines, spirits, and beers, plus info on upcoming events and coupons! Click the ad below to download a printable version.
B-21's Weekly Ad as Seen in the Tampa Bay Times

Champagne: Not Just for Celebrations

One of the immense pleasures I get from working at B-21 is that I’m surrounded by world class Champagne and sparkling wines. Our selection is the best in Florida and is as good as you will find anywhere in the U.S. I drink it every chance I get, and find that it is one of the most food-friendly of all wines. So, why do so many just buy it for special occasions, or to use as a gift? Here are three reasons to drink more Champagne and sparkling wines:

Champagne Glass

  1. It’s not as expensive as many other “everyday” wines. We have outstanding sparkling wines from California, Italy, Spain and France that are less – much less – than $20 per bottle. And, they are not sweet or dilute like so many commercial wines. Check out our California sparklers, Cava from Spain and the Italian Prosecco shelves. You’ll be very glad you did.
  2. It’s very food friendly. I can’t think of anything better with Asian food, batter-fried fish, calamari, salty foods, spicy dishes or sushi than a dry sparkling wine. For you pizza hounds, give the Lambrusco a try – it’s a better match than you think!
  3. It’s refreshing – especially in the dog days of summer. Most sparkling wines are also a bit lower in alcohol than many table wines, making them easier to drink, and less heavy on the palate. They make near perfect aperitifs because they stimulate the taste buds and appetite.

Now, click on over to B-21 and start shopping. You’re in for a special surprise.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate Issue #207 is Out!

Shop Wines Rated by Robert Parker's Wine AdvocateThe latest issue of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate is out: Issue 207 released June 28, 2013! This issue is jam-packed with 2,685 wines! To make things easy, we’ve listed wines here that were reviewed and are currently in stock. We’ll be adding wines to this list as they arrive so check back to this feature again.

Greetings from the Middle Mosel – An Evening with Katharina Prum


We have just finished an incredible tasting at the home of the legendary Mosel Riesling producer, JJ Prum. Prum is the apex of the classical Mosel style – elegance, intense minerality, impeccable balance, and structure to age. Katharina is the current leader of the estate that dates back to the 19th century. We arrived at estate for dinner with the famous Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard as the backdrop.

She prepared a dinner to accompany this evening’s tasting – a simple roast with fresh, hand-made noodles. This was the first surprise of the evening – pairing aged Riesling with red meat! It is a fantastic pairing.

We began with the current releases before the real excitement began. Tastings at Prum always conclude with interactive blind tastings. Katharina ran downstairs to the estate’s cellar and grabbed a couple of bottles at a time. We poured, sniffed, tasted, and the questions began. She peppered us with questions and wanted us to guess vintages and vineyards. What a thrill. We tasted through 15 different wines! The surprise of was a 1982 Kabinett. It tasted less than 10 years old!

It was very sad the evening had to end. We came away more convinced than ever at the greatness of Prum!


Greetings from Dusseldorf – ProWein Day 2

al bier

We had a great day tasting through the latest German offerings. There are exciting developments for dry white wine drinkers. Firstly, the Pfalz (southeast Germany) is a region to watch. They are producing fantastic dry Rieslings! We also tasted a lot of great Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc, think baby Chardonnay) and Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir). In fact, there were even a few fantastic Pinot Gris.
We were treated to a traditional dinner at Brauerei Schumacher – famous for producing Altbier on premise. Altbier is a crisp, slightly bitter lager that is made only in Dusseldorf. It was the perfect complement to the pork smorgasbord you see below!

Bis bald,

Zach Groseclose
Wine Consultant


Guten Tag! – Greetings from ProWein!

I have just arrived in Dusseldorf and I am looking forward to tasting the latest German wines! ProWein is one of the largest wine fairs in the world: around 5,000 exhibitors from 50 countries and 40,000 trade-only visitors in just 3 days!

I will be focusing on the latest and greatest in German wine where the buzz word is ‘Trocken’ (dry). More information to follow as I taste through the 2011s and 2012s.


Choosing a Proper Wine Glass

I’m always amazed at how many respectable restaurants offer such poor wine glasses. Selecting the proper glass is an absolute necessity if you are going to get the full benefit of what a wine has to offer. Whether for home use, or at a restaurant, here are 6 steps to selecting a suitable, all-purpose wine glass:

  1.  It should be clear – you need to be able to see the coloration of a wine, whether red, white or rosé.
  2. It should have a stem – wine needs to be aerated to show its best. A glass with an adequate length stem makes swirling much easier.
  3. It should have a cut rim, not a rolled rim. Nothing worse than a fat lip on the edge of a wine glass to immediately ruin the experience.
  4. It should be large enough to be only one-third filled with 5 ounces of wine – plenty of room to swirl.
  5. Look for a glass that is slightly tapered from the bowl to the rim; this allows the aromas of the wine to be funneled toward your nose, which should be far enough into the glass the opposite rim almost hits the bridge of your nose – now inhale deeply.
  6. It’s nice to have a larger glass for reds and a slightly smaller one for whites, but not necessary for everyday use. Look for an all-purpose glass that you like – no need to spend more than $15 per glass either.

The following manufacturers offer a wide range of glasses for nearly every purpose and budget: Riedel, Spiegelau, Schott and Ravenscroft. All excellent choices.

“B-21 a Tarpon Springs Gem”: Article on Patch.com

Patch.com, a local business and community specific news site, has featured our Tarpon Springs store location in an article by Rachel Jolley. The article explains our beginnings and how we have grown in the Tarpon Springs area since 1966. From the article:

They were placed as one of the top 10 retailers in the U.S. by Market Watch Magazine.

So, what’s with the name?

If you didn’t figure it out already, guests must “be 21″ to purchase goods from the local shop.

Read the full article from Rachel Jolley here:  B-21 a Tarpon Springs Gem

Significant Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet and Wine are Reported

Evidence of the cardiovascular benefits of a healthy diet along with the consumption of a moderate amount of wine continues to mount.

A major clinical study published in this past week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine shows diet–including wine–has a major impact on heart health. There is a nice, layman’s summary of the study in Monday’s New York Times:

About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals…

The magnitude of the diet’s benefits startled experts. The study ended early because the results were so compelling, the study monitors considered it unethical to continue.

Once again, we are reminded that a healthy diet, specifically one high in olive oil, legumes, fruits, vegetables and lean protein such as fish along with the consumption of wine is a very good way to reduce cardiac risk, and to actually prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Read the NY Times summary here.

Doug Salthouse


Do you want merlot with that?

Fast food and wine
The American Dream

Maybe not. Wine and fast-food pairing is not so easy for some of the national chains that have tried it, the New York Times reports. Problem isn’t blue nosed prohibitionists so much as personnel and logistics issues, like needing older servers and occasionally bouncers. Still, you can more than caffeine, and fizzy sodas at a few Starbucks in Seattle, at Sonic Drive-In in Homestead, and a few of Burger King’s upscale Whopper Bars, like Vegas, New York City and South Beach. Don’t look for beer or wine in Orlando at Florida’s other Whopper Bar Universal’s City Walk, though they do have bourbon burgers.

I won’t argue whether that unoaked chardonnay or an ’09 CdR is best with Double Whopper or Sonic’s Bacon & Blue hot dog (crisp rose?). I do think that prudery and snobbery combine to opposes the idea of wine with everyday food. Beer has it easier. Beer goes with brats at the ballgame and burgers on the grill, but most of us like a cheap red with pizza. And why not? Saying “Europe does it better” is tiresome but sometimes true. In long road trips from Spain to Germany last year I avoided fast food but stopped in plenty of gas stations. Almost all served drink as well as food. Beer, wine, brandy as well as espresso. Nothing fancier than the cellophane sandwiches. Hard to call that wining and dining “sophisticated,” but it does seem …mature.

It Never Rains in Southern California. But Girl, Don’t They Warn Ya?

tablas-esprit-blanc-lWeather’s boring and easy for winemakers in the U.S., foreigners and other critics say. Sunny and ripe all the time, the argument goes.

Not in the central mountains and far down the coast last year. The AP added it together, killer snow in the Sierra Nevada (May 15! [2011]) and a hard freeze in Paso Robles, then cold and rain all through what should have been a warm and dry May.

“This weather is causing all kinds of problems, but it’s not the first time and not the last,” Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association Executive Director Jim Fiolek said. “Other products have a more ephemeral lifetime, but ours goes on and on and tells the story of the weather pattern.”

Tablas Creek reported a warm March followed by two all-night freezes in April, very bad news for Jason Haas whose dad founded the place as an American Beaucastel. Last year Haas already lost all grenache, grenache blanc, viognier and marsanne. What plants survived are behind schedule and pushing the prospect of harvests in late October and early November.

Mike Waller at Calera thinks he may pick pinot noir in November. Fiolek took it all in stride, “That’s what makes this business so damned interesting.” Sure there are problems “but it’s not the first time and not the last.”

Not a cheap answer, but I’ll lift a glass of 2011 to that with you, Jim. In the meantime, B-21 has a good stock of that 94-point Esprit de Beaucastel from 2008, grand for both red and white.

Noble grapes? Yes. Royal winery? Harrumph!

No Chateau Windsor in the makings, insists Prince Phillip, despite rumors in the press.

Certainly he and Queen Elizabeth live in grand residences that would make wine labels but it’s Windsor Castle, not chateau, clos or mas.

The estate? Well, yes the royals do have tenants who have planted thousands of vines. Part of the valiant effor to jump start English grape-growing.

Maybe when Charles ascends, home-grown wine will come to Buckingham. Or down the road, Will ‘n’ Kate Cellars?

Ask Prince Robert of Luxembourg. He’d done rather well with Haut-Brion.

Bartender, don’t hose me. My gin deserves real tonic.

Gin and TonicNo. 1 tip for bartenders in 2012: If you’re so artisan-smarty about your cocktails, pop for a few bottles of real tonic instead of that insipid stuff you pump from a gun. Those of us out there who like a decent gin and tonic are way over watered down tonic. I’ve taken to ordering a “g n’ t hold the gin” to taste the tonic before I give it the chance to pollute my gin. When it comes from the gun or a bottle that’s been half empty for a week, it’s not great drinking but it costs less than a shabby cocktail.

Somehow the rush to cool, boutique liquors has led some folks to overlook the well-polished principle that the quality of the mixer must be as good as the booze, if not better. Fresh squeezed orange makes even cheap vodka taste great. Don’t care if it’s Schweppes, Canada Dry or C, give me a shot of quinine and fizz in my gin. Or don’t bother.

Boys of Beaune – Trains, Planes and… Sausage

Getting there is no longer half the fun; with modern air travel it’s twice the pain. Some lessons from the wine-weary travelers:

1) Travel ultra light. Layer, layer, layer; rotating dirty clothes makes them fresh! Well, better to arrange a two-night stay somewhere so you can get a few things laundered. If you over do on anything, clean socks and underwear take up less space and go a long way.

2) Make lots of room for electronics. I feel like a traveling power plant but camera, cell phone and laptop are essential; each needs a charger and each plug needs a converter. And European hotels in old buildings don;t have enough outlets. Take a multi-plug extension cord. Take extra storage capacity for cameras and cellphones.

3) Modern airports everywhere are vast. You may have to walk a mile with your carry-ons. See rule one. European train stations are beautifully efficient, but you still have to haul your bags up into the train. See rule one again.

4) If you have a rollaboard, queue up early for the best shot at overhead space. Wait for the line to go down and you lose.

5) Wear your heaviest shoes rather than pack them. Takes a little longer after going through security but worth it.

6) Don’t go to the market on the last day. If you do, the joys of all those cured meats and charcuterie will vanish at the U.S. border. We tried to eat our way through two pounds of hams, salami and cheese on the train to Paris and the flight back to Chicago. Couldn’t do it. And of course I got into a line at customs run by Officer Hard-Ass. He gave a rough time to every one and of course sent me off for further inspection. I was allowed to keep the cheese, but the last of the meat was confiscated. “Next time eat it on the plane,” the inspector warned. I tried.