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Top Three Beers to Pair with Your Lobster Dinner…

In Sommelier Corner on May 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm

We have revamped our beer list for the summer to bring to you a more selections from Craft breweries both on draft and by the bottle.  The following are three new beers we recommend you try with your lobster dinner (best bet: $25 on Monday Night Lobster Night).

#1  Harpoon Hefeweizen UFO

Wheat beers are one of my favorite to pair with lobster.  UFO Hefeweisen  has a cloudy color typical of wheat beers.  The taste is yeasty, zesty, and tangy with citrus flavors that are the perfect accompaniment to a summer seafood feast.  If you’re a fan of Hefeweizens you will love this beer. $4.75 by the bottle on the new Saltwater Grille summer beer list.

FYI: Harpoon Brewery is located in Boston, Massachusetts and Windsor, Vermont.  Owners Rich Doyle, Dan Kenary and George Ligeti were key players in the revolution of craft beer.

#2  Lagunitas IPA

The Lagunitas Brewing Company is a microbrewery in Petaluma, California that has gained a bit of a cult status.  This IPA is pale in color and full in flavor. To me this is a super hoppy beer that can stand up to a meaty lobster with salty butter.  Beer Advocate gave it 85 points.  Try it on draft during Happy Hour for only $3 or $6 at it’s regular price.

#3  Blue Moon

Orange citrus and lemon on the nose. A medium bodied beer with a refreshing wheat flavor.  Enjoy your Blue Moon garnished with a slice of orange to bring out the citrus flavors.   Besides lobster Blue Moon is a great pairing for a light salad, chicken dish, or any raw bar course.

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier


“Summer in Sonoma” Wine Dinner

In Sommelier Corner on April 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm

BR Cohn Winery

One of the most amazing things about wine country in California is its diverse landscape, ever changing as you go from county to county. Traveling through counties like Mendocino, Lake County, and Napa make any wine lover long for a life on the vineyard. Each area, one more beautiful than the last, has plenty to offer from its valleys to its rivers, and its mountains to its coastlines. Having spent much time enjoying much of California’s wine country I am always compelled to return to that one place that feels so comfortable. Anything north of San Francisco is God’s country to me, but most of all I have grown to love Sonoma and I really love it in the summer time. Sonoma County is the home of many wonderful little towns like Healdsburg, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol all just a little more than 1 hour north of San Francisco. Directly in the center of Sonoma Valley, are the beautiful B.R. Cohn Winery, and their Olive Hill Vineyard. Protected on the west by the Sonoma Mountains, which is its buffer to coastal fog, the valley floor is about 7-10 degrees warmer in the daytime. Less fog plus warmer daytime temperatures  along with its natural underground hot springs, creates a naturally frost free environment, and a longer growing season than other areas. B.R. Cohn was started in the early 1970’s by owner Bruce Cohn who sold his grapes to many other big name vineyards in Napa and Sonoma until 1984 when he started to produce his own wine with his own label. Now 25 plus years later the B.R. Cohn Estate has become one of the area’s largest Vineyards, producing many of Sonoma’s most sought after wines. Still the original owner, Mr. Cohn has a love for both wine and music, and at his vineyard he gets to enjoy both. Before getting involved with wine Bruce was the Manager of the very popular 70,s band, The Doobie Brothers. Every year Bruce hosts a fall charity music Festival at his Vineyard with numerous legendary bands and performers raising lots of money for The Valley of The Moon Children’s Foundation. If you get to visit the estate someday, I am sure you will enjoy seeing the lush vineyard of Picholine olive trees that were imported from France, and are used in the bottling of B.R.Cohn’s gourmet food, vinegar and Olive Oil Company.

The Litchfield Saltwater Grille is pleased to announce that on Sunday June 5th 2011 at 3:30 pm we will be hosting our first B.R.Cohn wine dinner in 3 years. It is planned to be held on both our newly redecorated outdoor patio, and in our main dining room. The afternoon will include a “Sonoma Summer Welcome Table” of fresh cheeses, flatbreads and California crostinis upon arrival to be paired with B.R.Cohns new release of their single vineyard Chardonnay, 2009 Sanglacomo.

Being as famous as the SWG is for its seafood we had to include an “East Coast/West Coast” Raw Bar as the second course, with lots of specialty shellfish and seafood delights from both sides of the USA. B.R.Cohn’s Russian River Pinot Noir is just the right taste to pair with this fresh and fun seafood selection. Both these wines will be available to enjoy with the first two courses.

Now that were settled into our seats for the afternoon our salad course of Heirloom Yellow and Red Tomatoes with California fresh fried Artichoke Hearts will go perfect with the Sonoma Zinfandel that B.R.Cohn produces. It compliments Chef Albert’s Famous “White Balsamic Herbal Vinaigrette” wonderfully,which is available retail at the SWG.  Main Course choices will be a either a wonderful Crab Crusted Filet of Sole, fresh citrus sauce and Grilled Zephyr Squash or a Wood Fired, Dry Rubbed Sliced Filet Mignon with Rich Raspberry Merlot Glaze and Vella Cheese Company Dry Aged Monterey Jack.   Our pastry chef never wants to be left out so all the stops have been pulled for us to enjoy a selection of homemade treats that would make any cellar worker happy. Lemon Panna Cotta with Pepita Brittle and homemade Wine Country Cookies will start the list. Topping off our wonderful evening we are pleased to be able to offer a rare gem on the east coast, a special tasting of B.R.Cohn’s Olive Hill Port.

Seats for this very rare event can be obtained by speaking with Brett Clugston at the Litchfield Saltwater Grille, 860-567-4900. There are a limited amount of seats so please reserve early. The price is $78.00 per person plus tax and service Charge. All food and unlimited wine is included.

I have enjoyed visiting the B.R. Cohn vineyard in Sonoma many times.  This is the best way for us at the Saltwater Grille to bring to you the pleasures we have enjoyed here in Litchfield.

Cellar Master, Chef, Blog Writer, Albe Galotta

Celebrity Chefs and Sommeliers

In Sommelier Corner on April 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I have the honor of appearing as a featured sommelier alongside celebrity Chef Dave Martin (runner up on season one of Top Chef) on Thursday May 19th.  The event  is the first in a line up of Pop Up Restaurants being planned.  The Litchfield Saltwater Grille will actually contribute two of the three featured sommeliers for the event.  Albe Galotta, The Saltwater Grille wine director and myself have paired five wines with Chef Martins amazing five course menu.  To see the complete pairings and menu click here…

Dominik Caiati, who is spearheading the event, knows the allure celebrity Chefs have these days. The public elevated Chefs to celebrity status quite a few years ago.  Iron Chef started the wheel spinning (the Japanese version first aired in 1992) and later reality shows like Top Chef and Chopped brought more attention turning Chefs into stars.  Sommeliers (the other half of the restaurant world) have yet to be recognized in this same light.  Not many people can actually name a professional sommelier yet they are a key ingredient to a successful restaurant.  As a sommelier myself I have been following the career of Belinda Chang.  Currently 38 years old she originally studied biochemistry at Rice University.  Her first major job in the wine world was as a sommelier for Charlie Trotters in Chicago.  Now the wine director for The Modern in NYC she manages an enormous wine list for one of Danny Meyers most successful restaurants.  To name a few other noteworthy sommeliers: Aldo Sohm (Le Bernadin), Paul Roberts (French Laundry), and John Ragan (Eleven Madison Park). Please note sommeliers do jump around a bit from one high profile restaurant to another.  Sommeliers can gain recognition in a few ways.  One is by being a part of a hugely successful restaurant or working alongside a star Chef.  James Beard awards a best wine service award each year and being the wine director for a restaurant receiving this honor can make a sommelier a “Star Sommelier.”  Although tasting every day to train your palate  combined with quite a bit of studying is what really makes a person a true wine expert.  There are many levels of certification one can receive as a sommelier.  The highest level being “Master Sommelier,” a title held by only 180 people in the world.

So if you are a foodie and a wine enthusiast I suggest getting tickets to the first event in this Pop Up Restaurant Series fast.  There are only 60 seats and it will sell out.

Purchase tickets to the event here…

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier

Sommeliers Brett Clugson and Albe Galotta of The Litchfield Saltwater Grille will be featured sommeliers at a very special dinner on Thursday, May 19th.

In Sommelier Corner on April 5, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Maria…The Restaurant at Stamford is a concept location by Dominick Caiati that is the seed of what will be one of Stamford’s if not all Connecticut’s most cutting edge major culinary destinations.  Located on Stamford’s harbor, “203 Studios” (112 Southfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902) is currently home to a TV & Film production studio and on Thursday, May 19th the space will be transformed into what is being said will be the gastronomic celebration of Spring 2011.  Mr. Caiati is bringing together an impressive lineup of culinary and wine professionals for this debut event including celebrity Chef Dave Martin, runner up on season one of Bravos hit series Top Chef. Three sommeliers: Brett Clugston and Albe Galotta of The Litchfield Saltwater Grille and multi media wine professional Sandra Muller.  Tickets are limited and can be purchased for $197.00 per person. Or $1,576.00 the special price for a table of eight.

Dominick Caiati is spearheading a project to create a series of “pop-up” restaurants that will operate on the west side of Stamford Harbor./PHOTO BY RICHARD LEE Photo: Contributed Photo, Richard Lee / Stamford Advocate Staff


More about the menu: Chef Martin, a big draw for the event, has created a seasonal four course menu featuring dishes such as Dave’s Sage & Apple Wood Bacon Mac & Cheese.  “I think the most surprising pairing will be the Coca Cola Braised Boneless Lamb Shoulder with a 2007 Summers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Andrian’s Cuvee, Napa Valley” says Brett Clugston.  Guest will have the opportunity to taste the lemon panna cotta made famous in the finale of Top Chef season one paired by sommelier Albe Galotta with a LBV Presidential Port. The complete menu and wine pairings can be viewed here…

Event Date: Thursday, May 19, 2011

Location: “203 Studios”, 112 Southfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902


Stamford Advocate 04/05/11

You Tube Video

The Daily Stamford 03/28/11

Wine Pairing for Easter

In Sommelier Corner on March 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Easter Ham Wine Pairing…
2008  Alexander Valley Vineyards Dry Rose of Sangiovese Sonoma
On the Saltwater Grille wine list for $27 a bottle this fun, light, easy drinking, bubble gum Rose is a great easy match for your Easter Ham.

Easter Lamb Dish Wine Pairing…
E Guigal Cotes du Rhone France 2005
2003  Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant   Red Wine California

My pairing for the Easter lamb dish is a red Rhone blend.  You can go with the traditional French style from Cote du Rhone or try Mr. Randall Grahm’s (aka: The Rhone Ranger) California Rhone blend Bonny Doony Le Cigare Volant.  Either way what’s in the bottle is a blend of three grapes Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre.  Both wines are smooth, earthy, medium to full bodied, well structured with black pepper and tobacco notes.

Pairing wine with brunch egg dishes…
NV   Ecker Gruner Veltliner Weinland Austria
2005  Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs California

What better time to celebrate by opening a really special bottle like Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs (on the SWG list for $60 a bottle) than Easter brunch?  Sparkling wines are really versatile with food and therefore a great match for light delicate egg dishes.  As a second pick I would try the Ecker Gruner Veltliner, (on the SWG list for $39 a bottle) an Australian white with a touch of effervescence.  Of course the Saltwater Grille will be serving an array of festive Champagne based brunch cocktails such as a Strawberry Bellini and traditional Mimosa’s that will be perfect with your Sunday Easter brunch.

Sommelier, Brett Clugston

View the Easter Brunch Menu here…

View Easter Dinner Specials here…

New Spring Cocktail List Debut…

In Sommelier Corner on March 26, 2011 at 3:37 pm

One of the top current hot spots for mixology in NYC is a hole in the wall lounge in Chinatown, “Apotheke”.  The word has gotten out about this little hidden gem.  Bartenders dressed in lab coats mix up cocktails with interesting ingredients such as leeches, star fruit, Chipotle, cucumber, and dill.  Drinks are listed as prescriptions for love sickness, mood lifters, or to enhance your health and beauty. Much inspiration came from Apotheke to bring to you the Saltwater Grille’s new Spring Cocktail list.  The fresh fruit purees are a major part of what make the cocktails really special.  Our kitchen makes fresh cucumber, mango, pear, prickly pear, strawberry, and guava puree.  Fresh lime and lemon juice is used as well as our own homemade syrups (lavender, simple syrup, and thyme infused syrup).  The new Resort Guava Tini is reminiscent of being welcomed with a lay and fresh guava juice at the Hilton in Hawaii.  Also new is the Cherry Blossom Rum Fizz.  Using flavored bitters (the new favorite ingredient for bartenders right now)  this cocktail is made with Bacardi, simple syrup, lemon juice, and cherry bitters shaken and served with club soda.  The prickly pear margarita has quite a few key ingredients to keep our bartenders at the Saltwater Grille busy mixing: strawberry juice, lime juice, triple sec, simple syrup, homemade prickly pear puree, agave nectar, and of course tequila.  Try it with salt or without.  For Gin drinkers our new Hendricks Gin French Gimlet is served straight up with a bit of Elderflower liquor bringing you a flavor of infused cucumber, rose petals, citrus, and cane sugar.  Old favorites like the Dirty Harry a vodka martini with blue cheese stuffed olives remain.  See the complete list here…

Saltwater Grille Sommelier, Brett Clugston

2007 California Cabernet Sauvignon “Hit’s the Mark”

In Sommelier Corner on March 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Everything seemed to go right that year, just enough rain, the growing season was just the right length, and the yield was just perfect. All over California, throughout every region, growing grapes and making wine turned out great that year. As for Cabernet Sauvignon it looks like 2007 has turned out one of the best vintages in the last 15 to 20 years. And what’s great about this year, 2011 is that all the 2007 Cabernets are being released and now available in the local stores.

The 2007 California Cabernets have all the flavors, tastes and smells associated with the great Cabernets of the past. Rich Plum and Cherry fruit, Vanilla, Mocha and leather, and just enough spice of currants and earth. Best of all these still young Cabernets are perfect to enjoy right now or lay them down for their exceptional aging potential.

Top wine producers in the Napa Valley scored very high points with all the big wine critics and wine magazines. Vineyards like Schrader, Colgin, Hundred Acre and Joseph Phelps all scored between 97 and 100 points with their 2007 Cabernets.

While looking through your local wine shop shelves you might want to keep an eye out for some of these wonderful selections. My first recommendation is the Summers Estate Andriana’s Cuvee, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2007. Revealing a bouquet of sweet black cherries, plum, earth and spice, this medium-bodied, seductive red is ready for drinking now or great to enjoy over the next decade. If you’re looking for a highly aromatic Cabernet, seek out the 2007 Beaulieu Vineyard, Maestro Series, from Napa Valley. This wine is full of violets, cassis and blackberries with a hint of licorice to finish. With all this flavor and taste this gem is perfect for that special dinner keeping the $65.00 price tag in mind. Both Hall Vineyard and Far Niente in Napa have released their 2007 Cabernets to rave reviews both scoring 93 points and more from the top critics. Another special occasion wine from the 2007 vintage is the Anderson’s Conn Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, a full bodied deep red that evokes the quality and finesse of this great vintage  My value pick for this category goes to the Chateau Souverain vineyard for their Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. This lush wine drinks like a much more pricy Cabernet with a more than fair retail price of about $14.00.

When great vintages like the  2007 hit the stores many savvy buyers stock up on their favorites planning to enjoy some now and over the next year or so, but also to put a few cases away so they can age them and enjoy the fine wine they become. If you have the luxury of being able to cellar some now you will have the pleasure of drinking them when they are no longer available in the market. Great vintages like this are what wine lovers are looking for. Take advantage of the market while you can and enjoy yourself all the way to the cellar. Oh yah I also just heard the 2008 vintage from California is going to be amazing. Who knows, but I can’t wait to find out.

Albe Galotta… Wine cellar Master, Chef

Many of these wineries and vintages can be found on the wine list at The Litchfield Saltwater Grille

All Around the World Spring Wine Tasting… Part Five

In Sommelier Corner on March 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm

2006 Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo Spain

Made from 100% Tempranillo and produced in the province of Zamora, Spain.  A few of the other grape varieties grown in this region include Malvasia, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Verdejo.  Tempranillo is the grape used in Spain’s most famous wine Rioja.

My suggestion is to pair the Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo with the Kona crusted sirloin for your entrée course.  The “New World” dark jammy fruits dominating this wine are the perfect pairing for a juicy steak.  An earthy Tempranillo with notes of espresso, licorice, and sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves.  The truffles and coffee rub on the steak will make it possible to explore this wines broad flavor profile.

Take a leap and try pairing this red with your salad course as well.  The salad featuring strawberries and Maytag blue cheese over baby romaine hearts with balsamic will bring out the rich blackberry, plum, and strawberry flavors in this wine. On another occasion try this wine with Paella.

This wine received allot of great press and reviews when it was first released.  Robert Parker gave it 91 points and said it would age well.  I just opened a bottle from the cellar to taste and found it to be drinking beautifully.  What a treat for a lunch time special!

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier

Call 860.567.4900 for reservations.  $32 per person includes three courses, three wines, and tasting notes.  Limited time offer March 22nd through June 17th. View the complete “All Around the World Spring Wine Tasting” menu here…

All Around the World Spring Wine Tasting… Part Four

In Sommelier Corner on March 6, 2011 at 8:08 pm

2005  Lifra Bianco S. Osvaldo Baron Babos Italy

The winery Cantina S. Osvaldo produces a Pinot Grigio that perfectly exemplifies what an Italian Pinot Grigio should taste like. S. Osvaldo also produces sparkling wines, Cabernet Sauvignon and  Merlot.  “Lifra” is a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.  By fermenting the Sauvignon Blanc in stainless steel and barrel fermenting the Chardonnay the end result is a well balanced, structured white wine that can stand alone as an aperitif or compliment a main meal.  The Sauvignon Blanc offers bright citrus fruit (green apples, grapefruit, pear) and the oak aged Chardonnay gives a creamy body with hints of vanilla.

Situated in Northeastern Italy, the Veneto region has a cool climate ideal for grape growing.  Famous Italian wines such as Soave, Amarone, and Valpolicella are produced in this area.  Lifra posses the crisp minerality we love about Italian Pinot Grigio’s with added structure and complexity.  Pair this wine with the Crab Ravioli in a light sage broth or the SWG Spring Chicken with lemon caper sauce.

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier

Call 860.567.4900 for reservations.  $32 per person includes three courses, three wines, and tasting notes.  Limited time offer March 22nd through June 17th. View the complete “All Around the World Spring Wine Tasting” menu here…

All Around the World Spring Wine Tasting… Part Three

In Sommelier Corner, Uncategorized on March 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm

2009  J.Lohr White Riesling Monterey County

As one of the Saltwater Grille’s favorite wineries almost the entire J. Lohr collection is featured on our wine list. There are quite a few different vintages of each varietal J.Lohr produces (Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon) to choose from.  They also make a very unique red wine Valdiguie that is similar to Beaujolais.  The J. Lohr winery sponsored a room when we first opened and furnished it with magnum bottles as well as photographs of the vineyards taken especially for the Saltwater Grille.  If you take a right at our raw bar you can view all of the pictures, vineyard maps, and J. Lohr collection on display.

J. Lohr’s winemaker Jeff Meier describes the J. Lohr Riesling has having a “slight palate spritz.”  Interestingly the Gruner Veltliner (my other pairing for the raw bar course) has a tinge of bubbles as well.  These are by no means sparkling wines but they have a sort of zingy quality to them that makes them…well.. Spring!  So it is quite fitting they should both be featured in this Spring Wine tasting.

The goal of the estate collection by J. Lohr is to create a consistent quality and wine flavor profile year after year.  This Riesling has been on our list by the glass for over four years now and that has proven to be true.  Flavors of pink grapefruit, apricot, honey, and pear make this a fun wine that goes well with many fish dishes, shellfish, and poultry.  There is a touch of Orange Muscat added to the Riesling blend that adds a floral quality and an even smaller touch of the Gewurztraminer.   The wine is aged in stainless steel and produced in Monterey County.

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier

View the complete “All Around the World Spring Wine Tasting” Menu here

Call 860.567.4900 for reservations.  $32 per person includes three courses, three wines, and tasting notes.  Limited time offer March 22nd through June 17th.