Posts Tagged With: wine tasting

Wine – Keep it Simple

Wine can be a very complicated subject matter. No doubt, tending and training the vines, growing the grapes, knowing when to harvest and finally the craft of bringing all of it together to produce an enjoyable experience to karlshare with family and friends is both challenging and hopefully rewarding for those engaged in the hard work. BUT!! If you are anything like me you are mostly interested in one thing: How does it taste and do I enjoy it.

O.K. you got me that’s two things.

Trust me, you do not have to be a Mensa candidate to enjoy wine. Some folks try to cultivate wine appreciation into an intellectual endeavor. It AIN’T. It is about the visceral impact of a good grape on one’s palate. That is it.

By the way the highest and best use to which a palate can be put is to separate the oral cavity from the nasal cavity. Everything and anything beyond that is simply a bonus. But what a bonus – when you find that just right wine to share with that just right person at that just right moment.

Take it from a lifetime member of the third reading group – keep it simple and savor the damn wine.





Karl is a former drill instructor and recovering attorney. He joined the Hawk Haven team in April of 2012 and we haven’t been able to get rid of him since. To read more about our resident vineyard curmudgeon, click here.

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Be Our Valentine?


Valentine’s Day is this Friday, February 14th, which is perfect because it means we have all weekend to celebrate. If you’re looking for something special to do with your significant other, Hawk Haven is the perfect place to spend a romantic afternoon and we have some very exciting festivities planned for this weekend.

If you’re single and Valentine’s Day is depressing for you, let us point out that studies have shown that CHOCOLATE makes everything better. It’s science! You can’t argue with science and you definitely can’t argue with chocolate. Not when there is wine involved, and I’m sure there are other studies showing that wine gives you eternal life or something, so you really can’t lose.

So here we are, offering you happiness and eternal life* and you’re still wondering what to do this weekend. Let us help you with that!

Our friendly tasting room staff are ready to serve up our award-winning wines!

Our friendly tasting room staff is ready to serve up our award-winning wines!

The tasting room is open daily, 12pm-5pm, for educational wine tastings, wine sales, cheese plates, and general hanging out. On Friday, February 14th, we will be offering our Wine & Chocolate Pairing for $12 which includes a wine tasting of eight wines, four of which are expertly paired with gourmet chocolates (we ate a lotttt of this chocolate so we’re pretty sure that makes us experts now), and a souvenir wine glass.

Then comes the Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend, February 15th & 16th. We are so excited for this weekend that we wanted to make sure you had plenty of time to enjoy it, so we extended our hours a bit to be 11am-6pm. Fall in love with our wines during the Wine & Chocolate Pairing, then stroll on over to our barrel room for a very special barrel tasting with our very special winemaker. During this barrel tasting, you will get to sample some of our newest wines and although they aren’t quite ready for bottling, they are already tasting great which is why we wanted to share them with you now. We will even be selling futures, so you can secure yourself some bottles before they are ever released to the public.

This is the best grilled cheese you ever had in your life, especially if you've never had grilled cheese.

This is the best grilled cheese you ever had in your life, especially if you’ve never had grilled cheese.

At this point you’ll be ready to sit back and relax under our heated crushpad tent with a glass of your favorite wine. Can’t decide which one you liked best? Order a red or white wine flight for a 2.5 ounce serving of four wines. By now you’re probably starting to get hungry, and as delicious as those chocolate tastings were, you need something more! We’ve got that covered too, with gourmet cheese plates and some appetizer-sized offerings from Chef Ryan Kennedy of Executive Catering. We had the opportunity to try some of these dishes last weekend, and they are not to be missed. You might have to order one of everything.

This article is getting pretty long but I am not finished! I didn’t tell you about the LIVE MUSIC yet! That’s right, we will have some great local musicians here from 2pm to 5pm all weekend. Come hear the poetic lyrics of guitarist Gordon Vincent on Saturday, then come back Sunday with your dancing shoes because we’ve got Tamara deMent on the violin accompanied by Jim Maher on the guitar.

And that’s that! If you totally scrolled straight to the bottom without reading any of the above, here is the jist of it: Wine, Chocolate, Food, and Live Music at Hawk Haven Winery this weekend, February 15th & 16th. Now you have to come because you skipped over all my hard work. See you there!

*Our lawyers have advised us that we must inform you we cannot guarantee eternal life from our wines. But we still think we can at least do the happiness part.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta

You know autumn is here when you visit the grocery store or farmer’s  market and everywhere you look are different varieties of squash. Acorn squash, spaghetti squash, even pumpkins, and of course my personal favorite: butternut squash. Even the name sounds delicious, and it is so easy to incorporate in all your fall recipes.


Butternut squash is a pale orange veggie with a long pear shape and a sweet, nutty flavor. The easiest way to cook it is to cut it in half long ways, scoop out the seeds, coat the inside with a bit of olive oil, then roast it coated-side down in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until tender. You can jazz it up with a little cinnamon and brown sugar, chipotle powder, or even just salt and pepper. Once its cooked, you peel away the skin and it’s ready for any number of tasty dishes.

Recently a friend shared a very delicious butternut squash recipe with me and I couldn’t wait to try it. Even better, one of our wines here at Hawk Haven has reached its peak in flavors and aromas and turned out to be a perfect complement to this dish: the 2012 Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc.

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Due to limited production, the Signature Series Collection wines are not typically included in our normal wine tasting. The oak-fermented Sauvignon Blanc, however, has evolved so much since we bottled it back in April, and the once subtle essence of kiwi and melon have unfolded into bolder, more rich flavors of caramel and green apple. This wine is really in its prime!

So stop by Hawk Haven (we’re open every day 12-5pm), grab a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, and try it with this recipe tonight for dinner!

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Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta
1 medium sized butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 package fisarmoniche pasta (or your favorite variety)
3/4 cup ricotta
2 tbsp ponzu sauce

Set oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out seeds. Brush inside of each half with olive oil, then place face down on a baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until tender, then remove from oven and peel off skin. Roughly chop the squash into small pieces.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain off water and return pasta to pot. Stir in squash, ricotta, and ponzu sauce.

At this point you may be tempted to grab a fork and eat right out of the pot, but let’s be civilized, you’re drinking a Signature Series wine after all! Scoop some out onto a plate, pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and go sit at the table. Try not to inhale it, remember to chew, and most of all, enjoy!

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Got any favorite butternut squash recipes? What are your favorite foods to pair with Sauvignon Blanc? Tell us in the comments below!

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Wine Tip: Rose Wine vs. Blush Wine


Labor Day might signal the end of summer vacations, but there are still several more weeks of  summer weather and what complements a warm sunny day better than a glass of rosé? Or wait.. is it blush? They both look the same, right?

the many shades of rosé

the many shades of rosé

What exactly is in my glass right now?

Turns out, rosé wine and blush wine are the same. If that’s all you needed to know, you can stop reading now, but if you want to impress your friends with your superior wine knowledge, continue on!

The secret to understanding rosé and blush wine is to have a general understanding of how red wine is made. When the red wine grapes are harvested, they are put into a machine that removes all the stems, then the grapes go into a tank where they will ferment. This is when the juice soaks up the color from the skins, and the longer they stay together, the darker the the wine will be. So if you’re making a rosé wine that has a nice pink hue, you simply want to press the juice out a little sooner, limiting contact with the skins.

Did you know: Rosé wine is thought to be one of the earliest forms of wine produced, an ancestor of the red wines we love and drink today. Over time with the development of new wine pressing techniques and equipment, plus a change in tastes for wine, wine makers started fermenting the juice with the skins longer to create heavier, darker, bolder red wines.

So now where does blush wine come in? They are the same thing after all, so why the different name? There are two reasons for this: the rise in popularity of White Zinfandel (a rosé-style wine), and the decline in popularity of rosé wine. Surely every one of you was a “White Zin” drinker at some point in your life, don’t try to hide it, we’ve all been there. White Zinfandel became so popular that wine makers were unable to keep up with demand. And even though White Zinfandel is a rosé wine, for some reason, people didn’t like the name “rosé” anymore, similar to how today we laugh about the olden days of Mateus.

Did you know: Sweetness is not necessarily a characteristic of rosé and blush wines. Many rosés are completely dry, meaning they contain no residual sugar, whereas others are sweet enough for dessert. The main distinction here is the color of the wine.

Try a blush wine with sushi!

Try a blush wine with sushi!

And thus the blush wine was born from the must, solving two problems. First, it was still that pink, sometimes sweet wine we all secretly enjoyed, it just wasn’t called rosé anymore. Second, it could be made from varietals besides Zinfandel which was running low on supply. Now you can find rosés and blushes made from nearly any red varietal such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, or Merlot. A blush made of Cabernet Sauvignon, anyone? Come to Hawk Haven and try our Rosé!

Hawk Haven Red-Tailed Rosé

Hawk Haven Rosé

The bottom line here is that blush wine and rosé wine are essentially the same thing, and I want to make another point as well: please don’t stop drinking them! Whether you prefer red, white, or sweet wines, you don’t want to miss out on the many great rosés and blushes out there today. There are some that are very sweet and oh so tasty with a piece of chocolate or some sorbet, and there are some that are very dry yet still bold and fruit-forward, perfect for a barbecued dinner outside on the porch. When you’re doing a wine tasting, try to avoid the temptation to skip the pink wine in favor of something you already know you’ll like. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Please feel free to share your thoughts below. What is your favorite blush or rosé wine? Do you pair it with a particular meal or do you drink it by itself? Let us know!

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Behind the Bar: Josh

joshbiophotoIf customer reviews are any indication of your favorite staff members, Josh is probably somewhere in the Top 5. He is known for his very informative wine tastings and he also is one of three people qualified for doing our Vineyard & Winery Tours. Born and raised in Cape May County, Josh still lives locally with his wife Jill and two cute little red-headed twin girls. He came to us in the spring of 2011 with a background in Biology and an interest in producing wine on a commercial scale.

Besides working in the tasting room and acting as tour guide, Josh has also been managing Hawk Haven’s retail outlets. There are several local restaurants that carry Hawk Haven wines, and his job is to visit each place, make sure the staff are familiar with the wines, keep track of bottle sales, and restock them for the week.


His favorite thing about working here is “quality assurance.” In other words, he enjoys tasting the wine each day to make sure it is acceptable for you. In other, other words, he just likes to drink the wine. Like so many of us, he loves the 2010 Petit Verdot because it is silky smooth with flavors of blackberries, currants, and a deep earthiness. “The way most women feel about chocolate, everyone should feel about [the Petit Verdot].” His advice for fellow wine drinkers? “The only way to learn is to taste everything, so keep drinking.”

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Wine Tips: Five Tips for Pairing Wine with Food

winepairingBelieve it or not, a lot of people feel a great deal of anxiety over this one little choice: selecting a wine to go with a meal. This is especially true when they are choosing for a group. How do I know which wine to pick? How can I pick a wine that everyone will like? How do I know if it will pair well with the food? Relax! The choice is easier than you might think, and these five tips will help you along the way.

Tip One: Drink what you like! As we have said before, the most important thing is to pick a wine you enjoy. Ignore all the other factors for a minute, such as red or white, sweet or dry, expensive or inexpensive, chicken or steak. Forget it! What wine do you like? If you’re having guests, what do they usually drink? If you don’t know what your guests like, don’t worry about it, just focus on what you know. It is fun to experiment with different combinations, and over time you will find pairings that you love.

Tip Two: White & Light. Lighter foods like chicken and fish tend to taste better with similarly lighter wines which, generally speaking, are white varietals. Try barrel-fermented Chardonnay with a creamy chicken dish, or a Pinot Grigio for a light, flaky fish.

Tip Three: Heavy & Red. This tip goes along the same line as the second tip. Full-bodied reds will stand up better to heavier foods. Have Merlot with your red sauce pastas or Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice, juicy steak. The idea is to match the robustness of the

Tip Four: Opposites Attract. Sometimes it pays to choose a wine that is on the opposite end of the sweet/dry scale. Sweet wines can be great with spicy foods as they cut through some of the heat and refresh your palate for the next tasty bite. A lot of wine connoisseurs would frown at the idea of chocolate and red wine, but I personally think they are meant to be together. Dark chocolate and a dry red wine with plenty of smooth, berry flavors… pour me a glass!

Tip Five: Similar Tastes. This might contradict Tip Four, but matching tastes and aromas can also produce some lovely  flavor combinations. Let’s say you cooked seared scallops for dinner and you’ve drizzled them with fresh lemon juice. You already know that white wine would be a good choice, but let’s narrow it down a bit. Look for something with citrusy notes, such as Sauvignon Blanc, to match the lemon from the scallops.

I can’t end this article without adding a sixth bonus tip:  Google It! The internet is loaded with information and advice when it comes to wine, and you’re sure to find plenty of wine suggestions with a quick search for whatever you’re serving. Also, the tasting room staff here at Hawk Haven are more than happy to help you come up with something delicious. A lot of us love to cook, and we all love to eat and drink wine (who doesn’t?), so if you’re looking for a good pairing, all you have to do is ask! Don’t forget to share your favorite pairings with us!

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5 Wine Articles We’re Reading

1. How to create a great wine rack out of an old pallet. Pallets are usually free, and you can find them behind a lot of local retail stores (our ex-lawyer Karl says we should remind you to ask before taking anything).

2. Wine tasting is bullshit. Or at least the ratings are. The title of this article is a little misleading but it supports what we’ve been telling guests since we opened. Find what tastes good to YOU, take chances on wines you’ve never tried, and don’t force yourself to enjoy wines you hate.

3. What did wine taste like a thousand years ago? Apparently, not so good. But interesting little history lesson!

4. Natural Wine. What is “natural” wine and what the heck have you been drinking all this time??

5. Hot day, cold wine. You know to chill your white wines before drinking, but what about reds? A short stay in the refrigerator might be the perfect way to enjoy your favorite red wine on a hot summer day.

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Wine Tasting Tip: Clear Your Palate

“A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.” Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, ‘The Physiology of Taste’ (1825)


As wonderful as wine can be with food, did you know that during a wine tasting it is actually best not to have anything to eat? The reason for this is because ideally you need to have all your senses free of any influence besides the wine. Even the meal you had several hours before your wine tasting can potentially affect your experience.

Of course, this isn’t surgery and we’re not going to ask you to stop eating 24 hours before you visit a winery. Your sense of taste is not going to change so drastically just because you had that onion bagel for breakfast. But here are a few pointers to consider for your next wine tasting.

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Many wineries offer some type of food at their tasting room. Some offer crackers to absorb any lingering flavors, but you want to stick to something bland so as not to distract from the wine.

Some, like Hawk Haven, offer cheese plates. We love a good cheese plate with a glass of wine. Generally speaking, wine and cheese are a wonderful combination; however, cheese during a wine tasting can clog your taste buds and suppress the flavors in the wine. Also, not all wines will pair well with all cheeses. Some cheese can make even the best wines taste terrible. A better choice would be to go through the wine tasting and afterwards have a glass of your favorite paired with a cheese plate.

And have you ever had a drink of something right after brushing your teeth, especially fruit juice? Tasted horrible, right? Its best to avoid chewing gum and mints before a wine tasting.

sniffBut the wine tasting experience involves much more than just your sense of taste. Your sense of smell is very connected to your sense of taste, and there are many aromas in wine. This is another reason why food can be distracting during a wine tasting. You might also want to go light on the perfume/cologne or any other strong aromas.

These are just suggestions, so please feel free to enjoy your wine tasting however you like, with or without food. The point is to have fun, get a taste of what we’re offering, and hopefully find something you like. Cheers!

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February Specials at Hawk Haven

Stop by the Hawk Haven tasting room to enjoy these special offerings and events!

Save 25% on select wines!
We are offering a 25% discount on cases of 2011 Pinot Grigio, 2011 Riesling, and Northern Harrier Red. Mix & match, as long as there are 12 bottles of any combination of those three wines. Wine Club Members will receive 30% off!

NEW! Chocolate and Cheese Plate – $18
Try our new Chocolate and Cheese Plate featuring two gourmet cheeses, two specialty chocolates, imported Marcona almonds, orange peel fig spread, and crackers. Each plate comes with wine pairing suggestions. Our Gourmet Cheese Plate is also still available!

Specialty Gourmet Chocolates For Sale
While supplies last, visit the Hawk Haven tasting room to purchase assorted gourmet chocolate bars. For the adventurous, try the Vosges Red Fire Bar with Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies, Ceylon cinnamon, dark chocolate. Or for something with a little less spice and a little more sweet, try the Chocolove Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate, featuring smooth semi-sweet Belgian chocolate with crispy bits of tangy orange peel. Milk chocolate and white chocolate bars will also be available. Get them while they’re still here!

Visit our Events Page for information on more upcoming events including the Wine & Chocolate Trail Weekend and President’s/Valentine’s Day Weekend.

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Wine Tasting Tip: Ask Questions

Maybe you know nothing about wine. You have no idea what malolactic fermentation is and as far as you know, the only difference between red wine and white wine is that one is red and one is white. We’ve even had a  guest ask, “What are the purple things on the vines outside?”

winesnobMaybe you know a lot about wine. You can pick up the different influences of American oak versus French oak in a Chardonnay. Maybe you’re one of those wizards who can determine the exact vintage, varietal, and appellation after just one sip.

Either way and in between, there are plenty of questions to be asked and the winery staff is trained and eager to answer yours. So if you’re curious about something, don’t be afraid to ask. There really are no stupid questions, we have heard them all and we’re just here to make sure you have a good time and find something you like.

If you’re a beginner and not sure what to ask but want to learn more, some good questions to ask are:

  • What is the difference between wine fermented in steel versus in oak?
  • What food would be a good pairing for this wine?
  • At what temperature should I serve this wine?
  • What is the best way to store this wine and how long can I keep it before I open it?

If you’re a wine connoisseur, we know you have PLENTY of questions and hopefully we have sufficient answers for you.

One thing to remember about oenology and viticulture is that it is an ongoing learning Hawk Haven.IMG_0307experience. There are more wines out there than a person could taste in one lifetime, and new varietals and wine making processes are being discovered and new blends being created all the time. Socrates said that wisdom begins in wonder, and the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

The most important thing is to not feel pressured to know everything there is to know, but to enjoy yourself and feel comfortable asking questions whenever you are curious about something. Also, nobody likes a wine snob!! 😉 So sit back, relax, and enjoy your wine tasting!

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