Last week, the Foodbeast crew stopped by Total Wine & More in Tustin, California — basically the stuff of dreams for wine and beer snobs alike. It was around 12 noon and none of us had eaten breakfast or lunch yet, so naturally a beer and wine tasting was the perfect meal to start our day.
Note, for any of you who have yet to walk into a Total Wine store, the place is a labyrinth of shelves featuring some of the best beer and wine around the world. It’s easy to get happily lost there. It’s like being a sugar-crazed 4-year-old in a candy shop… except replace the Kit-Kats and Jawbreakers with endless booze.
We met up with Taylor Barnebey, Manager of CA Business Development and Wine Expert of the joint, and made ourselves at home in the tasting room. The room was decked out a slick set up of wine chilling dispensers — and got us thinking we needed to replace our office water cooler with one. Taylor brought out an impressive variety of wines and beers, filling us in on the stories and science behind each. After sufficiently getting tipsy off our boozy brunch, we settled on three picks that left us pouting about the fact that we had only gotten a smidgen of taste.
Blue Moon Proximity = Beer + Wine Hybrid
Taylor explained the dilemma the stock boys have when sorting out Blue Moon’s new Proximity hybrid. The reason being that it’s a wheat ale brewed with Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The brew was a fun one one to sip, the yeasty taste of the ale was followed by a light citrus kick from the Sauvignon Blanc. Personally, I thought the Blue Moon Proximity resembled champagne more than it did beer or wine. Possible solution to the stocking dilemma?
Laughing Dog DogZilla Black IPA – AKA The Precious Puppy
We mostly liked this beer for the cuddly cute guy on the label (we imagine his name is Fluffy or something equally precious). Brewed in Idaho, the Laughing Dog DogZilla Black IPA comes at you with an intense hop flavor balanced by a subtle roasted malt. The brew’s faint chocolate aroma suggested that it would make a great vanilla bean float. DogZilla Black IPA + Ice Cream = Want. Now.
Anakena Ona White Blend – The ‘Bird Cave’
We loved the story behind this one. Anakena was started by two high-school friends, Felipe Ibáñez and Jorge Gutiérrez, who had a peculiar love for wine and surfing. The winery is named after the famous beach on Easter Island, Anakena, which symbolizes “bird cave” in Rapa Nui culture. Legend goes that Manu Tara, the Easter Island seagull, hid its beloved egg in a secret bird cave and every year islanders would swim to the islet of Motu Nui to find it. Those who were able to bring back the egg to Rapa Nui were given the honor of being titled Tangata Manu, “Bird Man.”
The wine itself was clean and exquisite – a blend of Viognier, Riesling, and Chardonnay. Taylor told us that it was the only blend of these grapes the folks at Total Wines have ever seen and that Anakena is famed for their adventurous wine blends.
Afterwards, we got the drunk munchies and nommed on some In-N-Out for a post-brunch meal. Nothing like burgers to follow-up the main boozy course.