Gifting Wine For The Holidays

It's getting close to the holiday season and we are thinking about all of the gifts to get for our family and friends.  With impending gatherings we want to be gracious with our offerings.  If you aren't asked to make or bring a dish, wine would be a great gift.


We all see those wine gift baskets with the California wines, the Italian prosecco or that wine with the Christmas tree label and think those are pretty cool, but what if you brought something more local and more unique?  How about a Michigan wine?  Michigan makes some award-winning wine that can go toe to toe with many of the quality wines of other regions in the world.


How do you make the wine selection for that perfect gift?

Typically you think red for the longevity and the ability to go well with hearty meals, or you choose a Chardonnay, not everyone is a fan, but someone will drink it?  A sparkling wine is safe, but how do you know if it's going to be good?  Why don't you try to take your host or recipient's taste in mind?  The type of wine you chose will be well received and more likely to be enjoyed with others.


Red Wine:

If you know your recipient loves red wine or the meal you are attending will be hearty, a red wine will be your best bet.  How do you pick a red wine?


The most widely loved red wine from Michigan is a Pinot Noir.  These Pinot Noirs are versatile and can go with meals like Turkey, Ham and Roast Beef.


If you wanted to go a more traditional direction select a Merlot.  Most people recognise the name and they know the flavor.  It is a safe bet for those red wine lovers in your life.  Michigan Merlot has a more fruit forward taste than other regions and will fit well with most meals.


You could go with a more Michigan unique grape like Marquette for those true red wine enthusiasts in your life.  It can still pair well with those hearty meals and can potentially age for two more years depending on the vintage.


White Wine:

When you are thinking white wine, Chardonnay comes to the top of your mind, right?  However, there are those people who LOVE it and there are those who can't stand it!  If you know your gift recipient loves it, a Michigan Chardonnay would be an awesome new twist and taste for them.  Perhaps, if you don't know, try an unoaked Chardonnay.  Unoaked reduces all of those woody characteristics that an Oaked Chardonnay gives you.


The second most popular white wine is Pinot Grigio.  A Pinot Grigio is the best bet for those white wine lovers in your life.  No wood and more fruit makes for perfect Turkey and Ham pairings.  This is a lighter wine that is widely available in Michigan.  This wine will be a safe bet.


If you are looking to really impress your host or recipient a Michigan Riesling will be a hit!  Rieslings come in Dry, Semi-Dry, Semi-Sweet, Late Harvest, Sweeter and Iced Wine, which is super sweet.  A taste for everyone, this is one of the best and most award-winning white wines in Michigan.  Compare a German Riesling with a Michigan Riesling and see which is better.  This wine holds up to practically every dish and if you love spicy food like me, it will help cut the burn. Sometimes a sweeter wine will help settle your stomach from all of the festive cuisine.


If you want to be unique and bring something different, Michigan white blends can actually fit well and bring a cool story to the table.  I personally love the white blends, which usually have unique names.  They also usually have a fun story behind the wine too!  When wine tasting I always ask how they came up with the name and most times, the stories are quite compeling!  Share the story with your guests to instil a more personal connection to the wine they are drinking.


Rosé Wine:

If you can't decide between white or red and you want something that goes well with everything, why don't you try a rosé?  Rosé is delicious and will bring some additional color to your meal.  Michigan Rosé is a great addition to any meal but not a great gift.  The only gift-worthy rosé would be a sparkling rosé.


Sparkling Wine:

We think of Sparkling Wine as a New Year's Eve thing, but a good bubbly can make a significant impact at any holiday meal and make a perfect gift.  These wines come in an array of flavors and tastes, dry traditional sparkling wine, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and even sweet sparklers!  If you are gifting a bubbly, a dry to semi-dry will be a perfect gift.  If you know your recipient loves sweeter wine, try one of those!  Your best bet for sparkling wine in Michigan is L. Mawby where they specialise in everything sparkling wine.  Many other wineries in Michigan use L. Mawby as a model for their sparklers.  A sparkling wine would be perfect for toasting a meal or holiday party.  It is a tradition in some cultures to only toast with a sparkling wine.  Until recently, I didn't think that a bubbly goes well with dessert, but It is actually very complimentary to the sweetness of your last portion!


If you need help finding a great gifting wine or wine for your holiday event, please reach out to me at mark@michiganwineguy.com and I can be the hero or your holiday!


Enjoy the season's festivities and be on the lookout for more Michigan wine related articles.


Mark's Top Wine Pick of the Week Aug 17, 2018 - Melon Festival Wine

Yes, I am back after a small hiatus.  This weekend Aug 17-19 is the annual Howell Melon Festival and to commemorate each year Howell's MainStreet Winery produces the "Melon Fest Wine"  made entirely from cantaloupe melon.  This is a light and refreshing white table wine with notes of melon, kiwi, pear and pineapple, all of the flavors that you love in a summer wine.  Perfect for any summer occasion like BBQ cookouts and picnics.  With a 7% ABV, why not have a few bottles!


Now you ask me, why melon wine?  Why not?  It's the Melon Festival.  In this wine they use locally sourced melon to showcase the Michigan melon growing season.  This has been an attraction in Howell for years and it's always worth a venture to the small city of Howell.


The "Melon Fest" wine can only be purchased at the winery and will cost you around $15 for a bottle.  This wine is part of a limited batch, which means it will be out of stock soon!  This batch is usually released after the first week of August when all of the locals and "Melon Fest" wine faithfuls pick up their stash.  After the Melon Fest weekend it takes probably a week or two to completely sell out.  Get them while they're around!


If you are in town this weekend don't forget the Melon Ice Cream!  This is another staple of Howell.  Check that out on the courthouse lawn.  They also have locally grown melons.  If you are into shopping, the downtown area is full of vendors.


Stop in at Howell's MainStreet Winery to sample some delicious "Melon Fest" wine and many other wines.  You want a pizza?  They have brick oven pizzas available too!  Hope to see you there!



Mark's Top Wine Pick Of The Week August 3, 2018 - Cote D' Loma from Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery

Yup, yet another Karma Vista wine!  "Cote D' Loma" named after the location where the grape is grown in Coloma, MI.  This red wine is a little Merlot, a little Noiret.  "Cote" is French for hill.  Their Merlot vineyard on the Ryno Road hill and the Noiret is on Hill Road just south of the winery.  "The Hills of Coloma" is a versatile everyday wine.  Chill slightly for a great summertime red with lunch or dinner.  Lots of cherry notes from the Merlot with a little black pepper from the Noiret.


This wine is probably the closest you'll get to a similar "Cote D'" any place in France.  The versatility of this wine will make it go very well with almost any meal.  I love this wine and it is a great new addition to Karma Vista's wine selection.  At $16 a bottle it surely peaks the appeal of budget conscious wine drinkers.


You can order this wine from the winery or visit the tasting room in person to experience the beautiful vineyard, amazing wine and the wonderful staff!  I love talking grape growing with the owners there because they teach me things that I didn't even know.  It's well worth a visit!  Tell them that I sent you, they should know me by now.  I am only there about 4 times a year.  We absolutely recommend Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery to anyone.  It is so easy to get to from I-94, right off of the exit take a right onto Ryno Road and go up the hill.  Make a day of it there are so many different wineries in the area so you can taste all day if you want.


Let me know what you think about "Cote D' Loma."  A delicious red for any occasion.


Mark's Top Wine Pick of the Week July 27, 2018 - Winter White Bubbly

The "wine in the blue bottle" known as "Winter White" also comes in a Champagne-like style.  The bottle isn't blue, but the wine tastes practically similar just with bubbles.  The "Winter White Bubbly" from Leelanau Cellars is Crisp, fruity, light and bubbly with all of the flavors you love from "Winter White."


While visiting the winery in Northport we found out the only way to get this style of "Winter White" is to purchase it from the winery.  This wine was running low on selection when we visited on July 1.  This winery is quite remote, situated on Suttons Bay and Lake Michigan they make a wide spectrum of world-class wine.  Everything is sourced from their vineyards and they have a wine for anyone.


I haven't tried, but you may be able to order wine they only sell in-house by calling them.  Leelanau Cellars is a very beautiful place to see.  Tastings are fun and informative.  I will be updating the post on Leelanau Cellars for next week.  If you get a chance to visit Northwest Michigan it will totally be worth a visit to this fantastic winery.


In the meantime keep drinking amazing Michigan Wine and if you have any wines you want reviewed please make a comment below!


Mark's Top Wine Pick of the Week July 20, 2018 - 2017 Riesling from Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery

If you can't tell by now, Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery is one of my favorite wineries.  A delicious new release from 2017 is the Riesling, that is crisp and light.  The other qualities of this young Riesling are semi-dry, wonderful crisp white.  A classic European variety with the right balance of sweetness and acidity incredible aroma with flavors of pear and tart apple.  Their best Riesling yet!


This Riesling is extremely popular and the closer it gets to fall the less and less bottles there will be available.  With a price point of $14, this is a gem!  This wine pairs perfectly with that summer boating trip, picnic or romantic sunset excursion.  For food it'll go perfectly with spicy dishes, the crispness will help reduce the heat and complement all the flavors of the complex ingredients in the dish.


You can order this wine from the Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery or go visit the tasting room in person!  This fantastic wine will not disappoint.


45 North Vineyards & Winery

We revisited 45 North Vineyard & Winery on July 1, it was about the same as the first time we visited.  However, this time we had my wife's sister along with us.  Introducing Michigan wine to someone new is always a fun thing and also my mission in life.


This winery is situated on the 45th North Parallel, which is 45º North of the Equator, halfway to the North Pole.  Also that 45 degree line is where some of the most prestigious wine making regions of the world are located.  So there is no doubt that you will be drinking quality wine here.  Navigation has gone the wayside of mere coordinate positioning using North, South, East and West, to now where we have addresses that we can plug into Google Maps and get precise directions to our destinations.


45 North Vineyard & Winery is located at 8980 E. Horn Rd, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653 a wonderful place with rolling vineyards and tons of space for weddings and other events like "Yoga in the vineyard."  The Leelanau Peninsula in general is a prime growing region, but some grapes have held up tremendously, for example:  Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet Franc to name a few.


There is a big outdoor patio area for sipping wine and enjoying the scenery.  Inside you have a large tasting bar, you can sample 5 wines.  Their wine list is quite enormous but they have a big selection of dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet wine to sample.  So everyone's individual palate can be pleasured to contentment.  Why don't we get into the wine, the best part of course!


2016 Reserve Chardonnay:  Vanilla and coconut with layers of butter and sweet oak on the nose.  The coconut persists on the palate with caramel apple, soft buttery tannins and a bright acidity on the finish.  Pair this wine with buttery seafood dishes, grilled salmon and semi soft cheeses.

2016 Dry Riesling:  Lime peels and green apple with hints of honeycomb on the nose.  The citrus continues on the palate with a light mid-palate that also has a density to it.  The finish is long and the acid balance is mouth-watering.  Get International with this wine/food pairing.  Riesling is very versatile and can show well with a host of food options.  Spicy fare is a go-to but don’t stop there.  Oysters, grilled fish, fowl or vegetables will pair nicely as well.  Experiment with a cheese party to see the reaction of sheep, cow and goat varieties.

2016 Unwooded Chardonnay:  Dried tropical fruits, ripe pineapple and a slight lemon on the nose.  The tropical profile continues on the palate with a juicy middle, finishing with a fruit-filled linger.  Pair with chicken, semi-soft cheese, roasted vegetables.

2016 Sauvignon Blanc:  At first the jalapeno and herbs are dominant on the nose but give way to gooseberry and a host of citrus and...melon?  The oak is present and will continue to evolve on the mid palate for the next several months.  Go Green with foods, herbs and spices with grilled lake fare.  Grab some eggs and asparagus and whip up a nice hollandaise for some brunch as well.

2015 Pinot Gris:  This wine was split three ways and fermented separately in stainless steel, neutral oak, and their concrete egg, then blended post-fermentation.  Aromatic lilies and figs wrapped in a layer of wet stone on the nose work well with the soft mouth feel and fruit flavors.  Pair with roasted fowl or pork seasoned with spices like saffron, clove, or allspice.

2016 Reserve Pinot Gris:  The barrel and concrete work together to create a softer and more rounded mouth feel, while the acid keeps it bright and crisp.  You'll pick up more minerality and stone qualities in this wine, along with more luscious fruit flavors like peach with a side of apple.  This one is more of an enjoyable sipper.

2016 Reserve Riesling:  50% Steel aged and 50% Neutral oak aged.  This Riesling is dry, however it gushes with intense flavors of peach, mango, and ripe tropical juiciness.  Being partially (and delicately) barrel aged, it has a softer mouth feel, and the oak doesn't hit you, it kisses you.  This quickly became a staff favorite and is highly recommended.

2016 Marsanne:  Very tropical.  Melons and pears are lightly outlined in banana aromas with almond undertones on the nose.  The mouthfeel is lush with ripe fruit balanced with round tannins and a lingering finish.  Pair with semi-soft cheese or lighter grilled meats like pork, chicken or lobster.

2016 45 White:  Melon, pineapple, white flowers and preserved lemons on the nose.  The melon persists with more floral notes on the palate and a nice weight.  There is a balanced mouthfeel that makes this wine great for food pairing or just chatting with a friend.  The fruit forwardness of this wine makes it perfect for appetizers.

2016 Chenin Blanc:  Candied mango, papaya, peaches and ripe melon on the nose.  Lush fruit on the palate with a full mouthfeel that lingers fruit on the finish.  The soft acid carries the fruit through the finish.  Pair this wine with summer fare such as grilled fish or pork, goat cheese, roasted corn and flavors of cilantro, ginger or dill.

2016 Select Harvest Riesling:  Fairly tropical nose and flavors of soft lychee fruit and peach.  Slightly floral but sweet with a clean finish.

2016 Rosé Cabernet Franc:  Raspberry, strawberry and blackcurrant with vanilla cream are all supported aromatically by subtle violets.  The red fruit persists on the palate with a subtle tannin outline, and beautiful acidity on the finish.

2016 Red Barn Red:  Merlot & Lemberger.  Spicy oak, ripe berries, cocoa and a hint of leather on the nose.  Sweet, dark fruits on the palate round out the tannins and allow the wine to finish long, like a dry red would.  It is sweet enough for the "sweet red" drinker while being approachable to the "I only drink red wine" crowd.  Pair with roasted dishes of any type.  It will be great with meat, fowl, or roasted veggies.  Enjoy with friends!

Sparkling Peach:  A delicious, bubbly blend of 25% cold-pressed Leelanau peaches and 75% white wine blend.  The perfect beach, boat, or deck wine!

Sparkling Strawberry:  50% Frontenac Gris and 50% Fermented Strawberry juice.  Yum!  Who wouldn't love this wine?

2013 Ice Wine Riesling:  December 10, 2013 · Before sunrise could offer even a glimmer of warmth, they bundled up and headed out on this blustery 9º morning to harvest the frozen grapes.  Immediately they pressed them, expelling the liquid nectar that was gradually cool-fermented to retain the succulent flavors of peaches, apricots, and pears.  A quick stay in oak rounds it out with a kiss of vanilla on the finish.  Delicious!

Cherry Dessert:  Enjoy this fortified cherry wine as a dessert on its own, or with dark chocolate.  Barrel aged for 6 months to help round out the tartness, and add more mouth feel.

Yes they have wine but they also carry hard cider for those non-wine drinkers in your life!

Hard Cider:  Made with fresh-pressed organic antique apple varieties and fermented to dryness.  Some juice is added back to give this cider just the right amount of sweetness.

Fresh Coast:  Dry Cider: This cider is dry, full, and round on the palate with a refreshing, crisp finish.

Singletrack:  Citra-Hopped Cider:  This cider is dry-hopped for bright, IPA-like aromas and a delicious dry cider taste.

Oakayzie:  Barrel-Aged Cider:  This cider is aged in oak barrels for subtle notes of oak and the full flavors of aged apple.

45 RPM:  Semi-Sweet Cider:  This cider is lush with a sweet finish to balance a natural acidity, suitable for all cider drinkers.

(All descriptions are brought to you by 45 North's Website).  I also added some comments as well for those wines that I thoroughly enjoyed!


Reading down this list you ask me, where can I buy these wines?  You can order from the winery's website or I'm sure if you ask your local wine shop, the person in charge of ordering will probably love to carry their wine.  Price points are higher than other wineries in the area, but you know you are getting quality wine and that is enough to make the prices higher.  However, any selection from here is a great decision.  Stick to what you like or try something new, it's all up to you.


If you are looking for a cool, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole stop for amazing world-class wine then 45 North Vineyard & Winery is your spot!


Mark's Top Wine Pick of the Week July 6, 2018 - 2018 National Cherry Festival Wine

This wine is made exclusively for the National Cherry Festival.  Chateau Grand Traverse is the winery that makes this delicious commemorative cherry wine.


For 22 years, Chateau Grand Traverse has been exclusively producing this summertime favorite to celebrate the National Cherry Festival.  This wine is a special blend of Northern Michigan Cherry Wine blended with Riesling and other premium white varietal wines.  Made in a semi-sweet style, it displays fresh and fruity flavors with crisp acidity to match perfectly with most summertime cuisine.


My wife stumbled upon this wine while up north when we first started dating and told me that I had to try it.  Ever since, we started going up north to the cherry festival, we'd always try to get a few bottles for the year.  Me not being the biggest fan of cherry flavored things, this wine has a great balance of cherry and crisp grape varietals and making it a tradition, it is always good to compare from year to year.


You really can't get more Michigan than this wine!  Also, the National Cherry Festival is always a great place to go.  Held in Traverse City on the first week of July each year it draws thousands of people each day with cherry everything, vendors, carnival rides, food trucks, an airshow and much more!  Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention the vineyards and wineries in the area are super close by and tours start right out of downtown Traverse City!


You can order this wine from the Chateau Grand Traverse website, ask your local wine shop to grab some for you or visit the National Cherry Festival.  This wine is in limited production and they can only ship this wine within Michigan so order up before this wine is out of stock until 2019.


I am excited to try this wine with my wife very soon!  You will not be let down by this commemorative vino.


Happy 4th Of July!!!!

Happy Independence Day to everyone!


Whether your wine be Red, White or you figured out a way to make Blue wine, I hope you are enjoying it!  I look forward to giving you more great Michigan Wine content soon!


See you in the vineyard for fireworks!



Mark's Top Wine Pick of the Week June 29, 2018 - Blueberry Wine - There is a blue wine after all

So you remember when I said they have not yet created a blue wine, my wife reminded me that there is Blueberry Wine!


I haven't had a blueberry wine that I didn't like.


If you are in Michigan or any place where they grow blueberries there is probably a winery that has created Blueberry Wine.  Some places make wine out of 100% blueberries and others use a grape/blueberry combination.  Full flavors of ripe blueberries is indeed what you will taste!  There are additional health benefits from blueberries and wine, so why not combine them!


Next time you visit a Michigan winery, vineyard, fruit farm or tasting room look for Blueberry Wine.  You'll be surprised at the taste.  It is a great alternative flavor that you can indulge in if you are sick of other fruit wine.


Blueberry wine is the quintessential "blue" wine for your Independence Day celebration.  Now you have red, white and blue wine.  So be that American hero at your 4th Of July festivities this year with the entire spectrum of wine.


I didn't choose a specific Blueberry Wine because it is very hard to tell the difference between the 100% blueberry deliciousness.  Now you know there is a "blue" wine!  Have an awesome holiday!


Wines to consider for the 4th of July

With just a week to go before Independence Day I wanted to showcase some wines that would pair perfectly with the festivities.


First off, you don't normally think of having wine with this holiday, however it has grown in popularity as of late.  Rosé being one of those popular summer wines.  Rosé can spread the spectrum from being dry all the way to sweet and have a light pink color to an almost ruby-red hue.  With the variation in styles this wine can go with any dish, whether it be hamburgers, hotdogs, barbecue, grilled fish, salads or all by itself.  So head on into your local store and see if you can grab a nice bottle of Rosé.  Oh, take a look and you may find a Michigan Rosé, even better!  Yum!


Rosé not your wine of choice for fireworks?  Then how about a sparkling wine?  Sparklers are always a great selection for the 4th because of the POP or BOOM!  Depending on how you open the bottle!  There are plenty of wineries in Michigan who have perfected the sparkling wine style and none better than L. Mawby.  What celebration of our independence wouldn't be complete without a wine that crackles and bubbles?  Their wine will compliment the fireworks show and much more.


Oh wow, I'm sorry, it would be rude not to include Red and White wine now wouldn't it?  After all those are the two main colors in our flag.  So here we go!


A great Red wine to include would be a nice Zinfandel or Pinot Noir, both lighter they will pair well with any barbecue or grilled meats.  Depending on the heat of the day reds may only be recommended for pairing purposes only.  However, to each their own, I don't mind a full-bodied dark red even when it is 100 outside!


I hope you want to complete the colors, without a blue wine we are now on to the Whites!  Hmmm, you really can't go wrong here, a good semi-dry to semi-sweet wine would be ideal.  Always chilled and always delicious, it'll pair with most dishes and hold up on its own.  Michigan is notorious for this style of wine and wherever you select your White from you won't be let down.


Some of this may be alittle vague but this is the case with these holidays, everyone celebrates differently.  If you need more clarification or want me to help you pick out an awesome wine for your 4th Of July festivities leave a comment and I'll totally get back to you with some fantastic selections.

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