Can’t Miss October Events!

October 1, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

We have two AMAZING educational events at UGSE this October. Tickets are going fast to both of them, so sign up today to make sure you have a spot! 

Urban Affairs: A Cornucopia of Beer and Bites
October 19th, UGSE, 7-9 PM

As New Englanders, we’re lucky to live in a part of the country that sees four glorious and distinct seasons. Every October, hundreds of thousands of people flock to our region to experience the very best of Fall.

On Sunday, October 19th, we’re saving you the gas money and bringing a true New England experience to the heart of Boston.

Join Rich Morin, Chef de Cuisine at Lineage in Brookline; and Ben Bouton, manager of Urban Hops, as we explore seasonality in food and beer pairing. Over four courses, Rich will present his takes on a seasonal New England dishes, all paired with a beer from one of the New England states. Two additional surprise courses from local partners will help us round out our travels to all six New England.

Fall brews are more than just pumpkin beer and Oktoberfests. With Ben at the helm, we’ll learn how to pair the season’s most expressive beers with the food flavors we all know and love. We’ll also go in depth to learn about these small New England brewers, and how their beers reflect the states in which they’re made.

As a bonus to the evening, we’ll have a special guest appearance by Chef Jeremy Sewall! Jeremy will be talking about his cookbook, The New England Kitchen, released just this week, and signing copies that are available for purchase.

Tickets are $25, and cover the cost of the food and educational materials for the evening. They are available by clicking here. Cancellations made within 48 hours of the event will not be refunded. 


Geek Out: Maps on Raps on Maps
October 20, UGSE, 6:30-8 PM 

Rappers are so good at articulating where they come from. There is a reason we know that Kanye is from Chi-town, Jay Z is from Brooklyn and Outkast is from ATL because they are always talking about their “Terroir.”

Theresa Paopao, Wine Director & General Manager of Brookline’s Ribelle restaurant, will illustrate some examples of how wine and rap music can draw the same analogies.  Drink wine alongside a great rap playlist and learn why music and wine strike the perfect chord. 

About Theresa: Theresa Paopao found her way into restaurant culture after deciding Yale School of Drama wasn’t the best fit and going back home to Hawaii wasn’t an option she was interested in. Restaurant life took a turn for the serious and in a beverage-specific direction after joining the Oleana in Cambridge, MA as manager first, then wine director and general manager. In 2010, she joined the Momofuku team as Wine Director for the company which took her to Ontario to open their new spaces in Toronto. Theresa returned to Boston to steward the wine program at Ribelle, as well as serve as General Manager. 

Tickets are $10 and cover the cost of light nibbles and educational materials for the evening. Tickets are available by clicking here. Cancellations made within 48 hours of the event will not be refunded. 


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Spotlight Wine: Chateau Montlaber

September 30, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

Spotlight Wine: 2010 Chateau Montlaber (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux)


Chateau Montlaber claims that the fine, gravelly soil that sits upon a bed of nutrient-rich clay bears a remarkable similarity to the terroir found in Bordeaux’s famed Pomerol vineyards. With neighbors like Chateau Figeac and Chateau Cheval Blanc, we think this Saint-Emilion vineyard doesn’t need to prove itself through comparisons to Pomerol. The quality of terroir and winemaking are evident to anyone who tries this wine. 

With less name-recognition than its neighbors, you can find all the quality for a fraction of the price. This particular vintage was dry and arduous for the vines, meaning that they had to dig deep into that clay bed to find water and nutrients. The result was a very well-balanced and well-developed wine that showcases the best of Bordeaux. 

TJ is on a Bordeaux kick, so get ready to see some good deals coming your way from this historical region!

Regular Price: $44

15% off per single bottle: $37.40

25% off Four Bottles: $132 ($44 savings at $33/bottle) That’s Like Buy 3, Get 1 Free!



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Live Apple-ly Ever After at UG’s Apple Festival!

September 26, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

All you lovers of Autumn, we hope to see you at UG this Saturday as we celebrate all things apple with our Annual UG Apple Festival! 

You can sample local, regional, domestic, and foreign ciders, apple ice wine, and apple brandy at both stores. All for free! The South End Apple Festival is Saturday, September 27th from 2-5 and will also feature homemade apple fritters from Al FreshCo. The Chestnut Hill Apple Festival is also on Saturday, but from 3-6 PM. 

These products are good down to their very core! 

Maybe we can get Chelsea to make one of these by tomorrow? 


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Adventures in Deutschland

September 25, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

*We are lucky to have a passionate and educated staff at UG, and we want you to be able to get to know them better. Part of the way we’ve done this is to put Staff Picks up around the store. We’re also bringing back the weekly staff blogs which were so popular last spring. First up is Yoko with a story about working harvest in Germany!


The more I learn, the more I realize how much there is to learn, and that is how I see wine study. Once I learn 10 things, 100 more things appear in front of me and once I learn these 100 things, there will be 1,000 more things to learn and this continues infinitely. The study of wine is more than just learning viticulture (growing grapes) and vinification (wine making) but also history, geography, climate, biology, chemistry, culture, legal structure/system, economy, agriculture… the list goes on. Being an extreme case of Gemini, I am always looking for something new and exciting, and it is the nature of wine study that motivates me to get up in the morning, hoping to discover something I did not know yesterday. On the other hand, I used to feel like I was swimming in the ocean filled with books and study materials, not knowing where I was heading, but continued to swim so that I did not drown. Then there was weakness, which made this swimming process more difficult. In my case, my weakness was the wine of Germany from the day one. Since “the best way to conquer fear is to confront it”, I decided to get my hands dirty and headed to Mosel, Germany in the fall of 2011 to work for the harvest for 6 weeks.

Although I had done a harvest in Champagne in the previous year, 6 weeks of vineyard and cellar work in Germany was not easy. Our days started with breakfast while it was still dark outside, off to vineyards picking grapes from around 8 AM till 6 – 7PM, and then back to cellar to start pressing grapes. After dinner, we often returned to the cellar to prepare yeast to start the fermentation as well as to separate botrytis affected grapes for making sweet wines. Being there soaked in rain, covered in mud, sweaty, freezing, falling down, getting cut, suffering from aches and pains, and also sharing meals and wine with others to cerebrate each day’s hard work, I learned how hard people work with nature to create a glass of wine. I used to think wine study was to read as many books as possible and pack my brain with knowledge, but this experience taught me how to genuinely appreciate wine with my heart.

Another important thing I learned was my definition of great wines. Pretty much the entire time while I was in Mosel looking at steep slope vineyards where everything must be done by human hands, I wondered why in the world people choose such a painstaking work to make a living. One afternoon towards the end of my stay, the answer came to me and it was passion. It was the passion for wine, craftsmanship, family, history, and culture. “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion” said professional dancer Martha Graham. And I think the same is true for great wines. Great wines are great because they are made with passion and care. They are the kind of wines that can speak to you by expressing their identity of where they are from (= terroir) and what kind of life they went through (= vintage)

Recently my German friend Thorsten, whom I met during my 6 weeks, was in town showing his wines. He is the 5th generation of the Melsheimer family from the village of Reil in the middle Mosel. 50% of their vineyards are small, very steep, and slate dry stone wall-supported, and they are certified as historical cultural landscape called “Kulturlandschaft” in German. To showcase true expression of Riesling from various sites, vineyards are farmed biodynamically and the wines go through very slow long fermentation process by their own natural yeast. Just like a graceful perfume, his wines are so complex with layers and layers of intriguing components and every time when I take a little sniff, different notes are jumping out of a glass and playing a game with my mind. Even though we were physically at the South End store, these wines took me back to the beautiful Mosel! If you are curious, we just picked up 3 of his wines – sparkling Riesling made in the traditional method (Riesling & bubbles, what is not to love?), Spatlese (made from riper grapes) and dry style in a half bottle. For me, these wines are the perfect reflection of things I learned in Deutschland – how to appreciate wine and my definition of great wine. Prost!



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Trillium Pale Ale is Here!

September 24, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

Here is how we spent our staff meeting yesterday….

We’re SO happy to announce that Trillium Pale Ale is now available at both stores. You know I have a serious dislike of all things Pale Ale, and even I went back for seconds of this beer. It’s so fragrant, balanced, and delicious – the bitterness is approachable, not off-putting. The bombers are going fast, but we’ll be resupplying every week.

The Urban Grape is proud to support this acclaimed local brewery! 



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Spotlight Wine: 2010 Domaine de Mourchon Chateâuneuf-du-Pape

September 23, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

2010 Domaine de Mourchon Chateâuneuf-du-Pape (Rhone Valley, FR)


You guys rock! An unbelievable number of you bought four packs of Bruno Rocca last week. I can honestly say you made TJ’s week by bringing his favorite Italian producer into your homes. Yes, we are weird wine geeks that get excited when you buy awesome bottles of wine! 

We’ve got another good one this week. Like so many hectares in France, winemaking in Chateâuneuf-du-Pape benefitted greatly from organized religion, specifically a constant stream of Popes that brought prosperity to the region. With that prosperity came a need for locally produced wine. 

Domaine de Mourchon brings modernity to this history. In 1998, Scots Walter McKinlay and his wife Ronnie retired to a piece of property that was planted, but had no winemaking facility. One thing led to another, and they slowly began producing wines that they knew would be palate-friendly and approachable, while still showing the best of Chateâuneuf-du-Pape. Their wines are more robust and fruity than most found in the region. 

This was a featured wine of the week on Jancis Robinson’s website, with the following effusive write-up: “Warm, spicy nose but not over the top and with excellent tannin management…Topnote of gaminess. Bursting with life, it’s approachable without being simple. Very vigorous. Really bright and satisfying. Well done.” The age-ability of this wine is good. It’s got 5-10 years on it, given its fantastic structure and balance. 

Regular Price: $55/bottle

15% per Bottle Discount: $46.75/bottle
25% four-bottle Discount: $165 ($55 savings at $41.25 a bottle) 
*That’s like buy 4, Get 1 Free! 



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My Wine-Drinking Lumberjack

September 22, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

No one has enjoyed our new adventures in Jamaica Plain as much as TJ. From finally buying the snowblower he always dreamed of to ripping out walls in our basement, he has been checking off his manly to-do list since we moved here. But as he put it, sh*t got real yesterday. 

Yes, my husband turned into a lumberjack after two minutes of YouTube training. We have a small stand of pine trees on the corner of our lot, and they were all fighting for light and nutrients, to the detriment of the entire group. The three littlest ones had to go, but they were little only in comparison. The first tree didn’t do what it was told and crashed through our fence. Whoops! The second and third trees landed right where he wanted them. I think he would have chainsawed every last tree on our property if I hadn’t stopped him. 

Apparently lumberjacking is hard work, so I rewarded him with a cold beer, followed by a cold bottle of wine and one of my favorite meals from the Tra Vigne cookbook by Michael Chiarello. Sunday Funday has a whole new meaning out here in the ‘burbs. 

Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Beans

4 boneless, skin on chicken breasts
1.5 lbs new potatoes
2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
2 T garlic
1 cup chicken stock (reduced from 2 cups)
Green beans
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp parsley
1 T butter 

Cut the ends off the lemons, and the lemons in half. Brush them with S+P, and roast them under the broiler until the juices are pushing through and the lemons have soften. When cool, squeeze the lemons through a sieve and set all the juice aside. 

Cut the potatoes in half and bring them to a boil until just soft. About ten minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 450. Warm the olive oil in a large, oven proof skillet. S+P the chicken breasts and brown on both sides. You want a really hefty sear on the skin side so be patient. Remove from chicken. 

Throw the potatoes into the skillet, brown them and scrape up all the pan goodies onto the potatoes. Arrange all the cut sides face down for optimum browning action. Put the chicken back into the pan and stick the whole thing in the oven. Cook until the chicken is done – 10/15 minutes. 

Remove the chicken and potatoes to a platter. Throw the garlic in the pan and cook until fragrant. Put the chicken stock and lemon juice in. Throw the beans in the sauce to just heat through so they stay nice and crunchy. Add the herbs and butter, stir. 

Pour the beans and the sauce over the chicken and potatoes. Serve it to your children and don’t react when they proclaim it, “gross.” Watch them eat every last bite and smirk silently inside knowing that you have won this battle. 

We paired this with the Illumination Sauvignon Blanc from Quintessa. The new vintage is out and it is soooo good. We actually fought over who got the last pour from the bottle. It’s a barrel aged Sauvignon Blanc, so it’s got a nice round mouth-feel while still being fresh and vibrant. Yum, yum, yum. 




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And the Winner is…Ed Burns!!

September 18, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

*Our journey with the Urban Hops Homebrewing Competition came to an end last night when we crowned our winner, Ed Burns. I asked Ben to write a blog about the experience, as well as the winning beer. Thank you to our partners for helping us with this endeavor, and to Ben for seeing it through to a very successful finish! Look for Ed’s beer for sale on the shelves of The Urban Grape in the coming months. 

The last several months have been an incredible learning experience here at The Urban Grape. I was surprised that when I first brought up the idea of doing a homebrew competition to TJ & Hadley that they didn’t send me home for the day. A homebrew competition? Even I thought the idea was a little outlandish, but they were in. The Urban Hops Homebrew Competition was born. I started having to ask myself questions that I had never asked before… what kind of timeline should we give people? What kind of beers can people submit? Will ANYONE submit?! It was the first time for all of us doing something like this, so we felt our way as we went along, and I am proud to say that the finish line was awesome.  

Getting to that finish line was an exciting and terrifying experience. With some timeline changes along the way, we slowly but surely started receiving submissions. I felt a huge sense of relief as soon as the first submission came in- at least we had one! Each week at our meetings, Hadley would ask how many entries we had, and as the numbers grew, our nervousness turned to excitement.

On September 7th, I sat down with two people whose palates I trust immensely, my friends Cat and Jeff.. Cat works at The Urban Grape as our Special Orders Manager, and is a knowledgable lover of all things craft beer. Her boyfriend, Jeff, worked for Stone Brewing in California for years, and has an excellent palate that I knew would be honest and discerning. We tasted through the submissions one at a time, discussing the qualities each one brought to the table. We set aside our favorites as we went through, we talked about flavor, aroma, mouth feel, and even the marketability of the beers. As we tasted them, I was blown away by the diversity of the entries. From pale ales to coffee porters, Abbey-style table ales to wheat beers, everything was completely unique. Much to my surprise, there were very few American IPAs, a style that I figured would make up the bulk of our tasting. We were thrilled with the number of beers that were possible finalists, it was a difficult process to narrow it down. Finally, as the day came to a close, we had our final six. One step closer to naming a winner. 

Last night, Megan Parker-Gray of Row 34, Christopher Tkach of Idle Hands Craft Ales, and myself tasted through the six finalists’ beers. With brewers and friends, family and spectators, the three judges analyzed the merits of each beer. I definitely felt the pressure, this was a pretty big deal! So many brewers are looking for that one break that will get them into the public eye, could this competition end up being one of those breaks? After tasting through the six beers, the judges conferred and came to a unanimous decision. The winner, Ed Burns, had created a beautifully balanced Black Rye IPA. The roasted coffee and chocolate notes were beautifully balanced with the subtle spice of the rye and hops. It wasn’t too sweet or too dry, too heavy or too light. The balance was excellent. Having the chance to taste these beers, I can truly say that the next wave of professional brewers is ready and waiting. They are lawyers and teachers, repair people and firefighters. They are everywhere, and that is good news for the craft beer industry.

TJ said yesterday, “I think it is so cool that we can do something like this with beer. You can’t have a competition for wine making at the store, we’re really excited that we can do this.” One of the biggest reasons we are able to do this is because of one man, Glenn Barboza. Glenn is the owner and head brewer of Berkley Beer Company, located in Berkley, MA. Glenn is exactly what you want every person in the beer industry to be like. He is kind and down to earth, knowledgeable and unpretentious, engaging and fun. Our winner will be joining Glenn at his brewery in Berkley to produce a commercial batch of Ed’s winning homebrew which will be sold at The Urban Grape this winter. We can not thank Glenn enough for lending his time, guidance, and equipment to us and Ed, and allowing this to come to life. 

A huge thank you must be given to Megan Parker-Gray and Christopher Tkach, who took time out of their incredibly busy schedules to spend an evening with us at The Urban Grape, doing what we love- talking about beer. If you have not been to Row 34, you are missing out one of the most well curated beer lists anywhere in the country, and if you are looking for some of the most thoughtfully crafted beers out there, look no further than Chris and Idle Hands Craft Ales. His beers are complex and balanced, and are always of the highest quality. Thank you also to TJ & Hadley, who always support not only me, but the entire staff in all of the crazy ideas that we come up with. It is awesome to work for people who share our passions and drive our success. 

Lastly, we have to thank you. All of the homebrewers out there. Your creativity and passion for beer makes our jobs so much more fun. I love being able to spend my days talking and tasting with you, and I can’t wait till the next one! 


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Winemaker Weekend with Gaetana Jacono!

September 17, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

We’re so lucky to have winemaker Gaetana Jacano of Sicily’s Valle dell’Acate vineyards spending not one evening with us this week, but TWO!

Gaetana will visit UGSE on Friday, September 19th from 5-8 and then UGCH on Saturday, September 20 from 3-6. It’s rare we can get a winemaker to both stores during one visit, so this is a real treat for all of our customers, no matter which store you frequent. 

Located in the Southeastern corner of Sicily, Gaetana’s family vineyard dates back to the 19th century. Her Cerasuolo di Vittoria is the first red wine in all of Sicily to achieve DOCG status. Gaetana will be showcasing the Cerasuolo and many of her other wines, including the Zagra Grillo, Il Frappato and Tané Nero D’Avola, as well as the Insolia and Nero D’Avola from her Casa Ibidini line. 

Gaetana is so highly regarded in Italy, and in Sicily in particular. If you’ve found yourself enjoying a Sicilian wine in the past year, come learn more about the resurgence of this wine making region, and Gaetana’s plans for her family’s estate. Plus, the lady can wear a pair of orange pants like almost no one else…reason enough to stop by and see her live and in person!


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Spotlight Wine: 2009 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco

September 16, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

Spotlight Wine: 2009 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco (Piedmont, IT)   100% Nebbiolo

TJ’s love for all things Bruno Rocca has become the stuff of legends – at least in his own mind. His journey with Bruno Rocca began when TJ was the GM of Armani Café. Bruno tasted TJ on his wines personally while visiting from Italy, and TJ had an instant simpatico for the man, the wines, and the story of how they are made. TJ then visited Bruno at his Barbaresco vineyards in Piedmont, and came home with many signed bottles that still have a place of honor in our home. He was saving a bottle from that trip (a 2000 “Rabaja”) for a special occasion, and came home one night to find that I had used part of it as a base for my bolognese. His response was, “Well. Tuesday is as special a night as any other.” Ever since, it’s always a special night when a bottle with the feather on the label gets pulled out.

At The Urban Grape we’ve converted many people to Bruno Rocca’s single vineyard “Rabaja” Barbaresco, but it’s expensive and out of reach for many. That’s why we’re so thrilled that his vintage Barbaresco is once again being distributed in MA, after being unavailable here for many years. It’s far cheaper than the Rabaja, but maintains all the quality that his wines are known for. The 2009 was a particularly good year for Rocca’s wines, and this bottle is impressive with notes of cherry, leather, anise and spice. The lingering finish will leave you wanting another sip, and then another!

If you’ve not yet discovered Bruno Rocca’s mastery of the Nebbiolo grape, this bottle is a perfect entryway into his wines. Soon, you will have a cellar full of them like we do!

Regular Price: $65/bottle

15% per Bottle Discount: $55.25/bottle

25% four-bottle Discount: $195 ($65 savings at $48.75 a bottle)
*That’s like buy 4, Get 1 Free!


To place your order, please email our Special Orders Department


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