Culture News

3 Wine Regions to Buy On a Budget

While I taste the best wines from all over the world, there is a time and place for everything. I am still a 33 year old that has to rent along with many of the other bills that come in every month. Today, I am here to expose 3 regions where high quality wines are made, but don’t hold a price point that is built on the backs of heavy marketing and branding. While price can be a good indication of the quality of wine, it isn’t always the final say. So make sure to try wines from these regions that will taste like a wine priced 2 to 3 times what you pay!

1. Portugal

If you ask most “Wine Drinkers” in America if they drink Portuguese wines, they will most likely know about Port before anything else. While they make some of the best after dinner wines in the world, there is a lot to be said about their normal, everyday wines as well. 

Over the past decade or so, more and more wines are coming out of Portugal. The popularity has exploded from the elevation in prices from some of the other places like France, Spain, and even the US. Their most famous white wines are the cheap, but extremely delicious Vinho Verdes. A little bit of bubbles makes for a fun white wine drinking experience, and you won’t have to spend more than $9 a bottle! 

The reds on the other hand can be a bit confusing with all the different indigenous grapes they use. In the end though, if you are spending $15 on a bottle of wine from Portugal, it will have the quality of wines that cost $30 to $50 in places like Bordeaux. Now is the time to drink and stock up on some of these wines, because they won’t be much of a secret as time goes on and the prices will rise like the rest of the world.

2. Mendoza

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the California wine industry had their biggest growth when it came to popularity.  With that came a major increase in pricing. Over time, some wines, especially Malbec, were making their way into the US and it slowly became the alternative to the California wines. The wines were very similar in style: big fruit flavors upfront, savory mid palate, and a long finish of vanilla from the oak.  

Now you can find an endless amount of wines and varietals coming out of Mendoza that rival some of the best in the world. I am constantly getting emails and notifications about wines scoring huge reviews and finding out that they only cost $15 to $20 a bottle! I don’t see this changing anytime soon, so you can bank on being able to get these wines at a reasonable price for some time to come.

3. New Zealand

New Zealand is synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc. It has been for some time, but we can thank those wines for opening our eyes to the other fun projects that are happening on the large island. The cool climate of the region creates very Old World style wines that keep the acidity high for crisp white wines, and the structure balanced in their reds. 

Sauvignon Blanc is still king there, but now we are seeing more and more other whites and red wines making their way across the Pacific Ocean.  Recently I have been blown away by Rieslings, Pinot Noirs, and even Bordeaux blends. Some of them are getting insanely high scores, and none are breaking the bank. Literally 90% of the wines coming from New Zealand are less than $25, and many of them drink like they would be $50 or more. I am extremely excited to see where these wines go in the future, but I hope that they will always be a great value to bring home.

So next time you are out at your favorite wine shop, make sure to ask the consultant there to point you in the right direction to not only try something new, but also try something that you may find yourself buying on a regular basis.

Gaming Streaming

The Best Drink to Pair With Your Favorite Game

I stream on Twitch (Sammoman) on a regular basis. One of my favorite things to do is combine two of my biggest passions: video games and the beverage industry. I’m always drinking something different and always around to answer questions! I prefer different drinks for different games. You have to keep things interesting. So here are my picks for best drinks that go with the games I love to play. 

1. Apex Legends

This fast paced Battle Royale gives little time in between the big moments to actually enjoy your drink. That’s why I steer toward a whiskey cocktail. A well made Old Fashion is perfect. It’s a drink that you can make and come back to and take small sips as you try to survive. This classic is one of my favorite cocktails, so don’t be surprised if you catch me sippin’ on something a little stronger when playing games that don’t give me much time to drink! 

Classic Old Fashion:

½ teaspoon sugar

3 dashes Angostura bitters

1 teaspoon water

Smash all these ingredients in the bottom of a rocks glass.

Add 2oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Garnish with Orange peel

2. Minecraft

There aren’t many games that have a slow grind to success like Minecraft. Hours and hours of time spent to create beautiful creations in a world of blocks. This is a perfect opportunity to drink wine. Wine goes through a slow evolution in the glass, so it will be different from the time you open the bottle to the last sip.  It’s a perfect complement as I grind away to create my masterpiece. Try a bottle of 2018 Domaine Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape, it is one of my favorite wines from this region! 

3. PGA TOUR 2K21

Right now this is easily my favorite video game, and if you check out my channel, you’ll see that it’s the game I play the most. This is the best golf game I have ever played and is the closest thing to a video game simulation of the actual sport. While I’m playing my TGC Tour Rounds or catching up on my Jack Wagon Society rounds, you will always find me drinking an ice cold beer,  just as if I was out on the course. There is nothing better than a crisp, hoppy, unfiltered hazy IPA when playing golf. Drink at your own pace, and unlike the last two recommendations, you can have more then one and still play the game well. Anything from Toppling Goliath right now is hitting the spot, especially their King Sue Double IPA. Beer and golf just feels right.

4. Rocket League

I have been playing Rocket League for years. For some reason though, it has become a meeting point for a group of my closest friends during the pandemic. We call it Fish Tank Friday, a place where we all meet up, play rounds in the Aqua Dome (underwater themed arena), and drink our favorite drinks. Some people Zoom Call during the pandemic; we take it to the next level. While we all have our preferences, this is a time for me to relax and have fun. A light beer does the trick as it’s something that takes zero focus from the time spent catching up with friends. 

So next time you are looking for something to enjoy while playing your favorite video game, hit me up. Food isn’t the only thing that a good drink pairs well with. 

Culture News

10 Wines to Buy with Your Seeing Stars Top Shot Pulls

NBA All-Star Sunday was this past weekend; the best basketball players in the world went head to head in one of the most entertaining games of the year. That, combined with the NFT hype of 2021, set up for a successful and fun weekend of hustling for packs from NBA Top Shot. While the best players in the world were playing on the court in Atlanta, collectors worldwide were hurrying to get their hands on one of the Seeing Stars packs to get moments of their favorite players making their best plays. Naturally, I picked the 10 best pulls from the Seeing Stars NBA Top Shot packs and paired them with the best wines to buy at their current value.

10. Nikola Jokic – Assist

Lowest Asking Price – $163

2018 Chateau Rauzan Segla

Coming in at the 10th most valuable moment out of the Seeing Stars Limited Edition pack is the only Assist on the list: a falling out-of-bounds hook pass back into a slam dunk by Jamychal Green. 2018 Bordeaux are starting to roll into stock, and this is a vintage that all collectors need to get on board with. At $163, Rauzon Segla is a legendary property with a potential score of 97-100 points. This wine is as stunning as the unlikely pass made by Nikola Jokic.

9. Kawhi Leonard – Dunk

Lowest Asking Price: $165

Taylor Fladgate 40 year Tawny Port

There was a lot of noise when Kawhi made his way over to the Clippers. There is no doubt that he has made a difference on their roster, but it is moments like these that bring a ton of attention.  Nothing like a veteran player dunking over a young star. His dunk over Knick’s R.J. Barrett was a statement that he’s still here to play and to let the young guys know that he won’t be pushed around.  We can say the same thing in the Port market with Taylor Fladgate. The 40 year is a staple in collections and is one of the most complex and old-school wines made in Portugal.

8. Damian Lillard – Three Point Shot

Lowest Asking Price: $165

2018 Pierre Morey Meursault Les Tessons

How do you defend against a three-point shot 5 feet behind the arch? Don’t ask me, ask the countless defenders that try to get their hands on Damian Lillard. You would be hard-pressed to find someone as smooth and as accurate as Lillard from range. In this moment he slips a screen and hits one from long range in one of the most effortless shots of the year.  Les Tessons is a single vineyard in the heart of Meursault. Like Lillard, the wines are clean, precise, and have perfect form, something that other vineyards around them try to be.

7. Anthony Davis – Dunk

Lowest Asking Price: $170

2007 Billecart Salmon Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc Cuvee Louis

Is there anyone in the game that has as good footwork underneath the basket as Anthony Davis? It seems like every time he gets the ball under the basket, no matter who is around him, he is able to get the ball in the basket.  Just like his footwork in this Moment, spinning around Sekou Doumbouya and slamming it home, Champagnes do something similar. They take over your palate with a combination of dancing bubbles, complex flavors, and a powerful finish. This is one of the best vintage Champagnes in the world, and honestly, one of the best values, even at that $170 price point.

6. Joel Embiid – Dunk

Lowest Asking Price: $180

2015 Argiano VIgna del Suolo Brunello di Montalcino

Joel Embiid is a beast. Wherever he is on the court, there is always a chance to be embarrassed. His vision to find lanes to the basket is on a different level than most, which is why he makes it look so easy.  In his Seeing Stars Moment, he finds a pass from teammate Seth Curry at the top of the Arch, runs it down the paint, and absolutely slams it home. 

At $180 in Montalcino, you are talking about some of the absolute greatest names in the wine game.  Argiano is at the top of the food chain and this is easily one of the most collectible bottles. Like Embiid, this will have tons of value and more amazing moments as it gets older.

5. James Harden – Handles

Lowest Asking Price: $199

2017 Thibault Liger Belair Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Gruencher

Elegance. That is what I think about this wine and what I think about when I see Harden make his way to a loft shot in this insane Moment. A double move around Donte DiVincenzo into a floater for 2 has led to one of the smoothest Moments released this past weekend.  Just like Harden, Liger Belair is one of the best in its own regard. Burgundy is the most expensive wine in the world, and Liger Belair is a legendary producer in the region. NBA fans expect plays like this out of Harden, just as Burgundy collectors expect bottles like these to be amazing in quality. 

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Dunk

Lowest Asking Price: $210

2015 David Arthur Elevation 1147

When you’re sitting in your living room scanning through your social media with SportsCenter on your TV, and you hear the name Giannis, you know you are about to see something special.  This Moment is one of my favorites from the series. It is one of the most effortless-looking dunks of the year.  He slips through an entire defense to throw down a one-handed dunk. His ability to make it look easy is no different than the winemaking at David Arthur. Year after year, they hit the nail on the head when it comes to some of the best wines in Napa. I can’t remember the last time I had a bad David Arthur wine, just like I can’t remember a bad game from Giannis this year.

3. Steph Curry – 3 Pointer

Lowest Asking Price: $385

2018 Chateau D’yquem Sauternes

Is there anything sweeter in the game of basketball than a Steph Curry step-back three? Left-right, left, right, forward, back, and shoot. Like a video game, it seems too good to be true, but one person does it every time he walks on the court. Just as sweet as this iconic shot is Chateau D’yquem, the world’s most sought-after dessert wine. There isn’t a player in the league that thinks they shoot a better three than Steph Curry right now; there also isn’t a winery making a dessert wine as good as Chateau D’yquem.

2. Zion Williamson – Jump Shot

Lowest Asking Price: $400

2017 Dalle Valle Maya

The hype is real. Zion made a huge impact and quickly became a superstar last season, so it is no surprise that he comes in at #2.  The way he makes this lay-up look so easy over Utah Jazz Center Derrick Favors is almost comical.  It’s nothing fancy, but it just looks too easy.  The same goes for Dalle Valle Maya. This is possibly the most sought-after red blend from Napa and is very young.  With time it gets better, just like a budding player like Zion Williamson. 

1. Luka Doncic – Layup

Lowest Asking Price – $525

2016 Guigal La Turque

Luka Doncic makes some of the best players in the world look like fools with his footwork and ball handling. It almost doesn’t seem that impressive what he does in this moment, but when you look at it more and see that he made Zion look like a D2 college starter, you understand why it is #1 on the list. 

Debatably the best Syrah in the world does the same thing. La Turque by Guigal is one of the most collectible and expensive Syrah, and some like myself will tell you it is the best quality in the world as well. This wine is a no-brainer at this price point.

Culture News

You Thought Chess Couldn’t Be More Complex? Add a Bottle of Wine to the Equation

Some of the fondest memories are made playing the age-old game of chess. Whether you spent time in the cabin playing against your grandfather during a family vacation like I did, or you were the president of your High School Chess Club 20 years ago, the game of chess has influenced an uncountable amount of people in its 1500 year history. 

More recently, it has seen a major boom in popularity.  The App not only allows you to play the game against other players within your skill level but also teaches you advanced strategies and tactics for honing your craft—not to mention the ability to watch world champions play each other on a regular basis. 

Combine that with the popularity of the newly crowned Golden Globe Winner for “Best Limited Series”, The Queen’s Gambit, and you may find yourself thinking that you can be the next Grandmaster. There’s only one real way to elevate the vibe of your chess experience: do it while drinking wine! 

Here are three must drink wines to pair with your game, taking your Chess play to the next level:

White Burgundy

Is your Chess game slow and methodical? Then you need a glass of White Burgundy.

I think of wines like Meursault, Montrachet, and Chablis, which are all elegant, subtle wines. They start slow when you first taste them, but when the right time comes, they knock you off your feet. There is nothing like sipping on a glass of Puligny-Montrachet while your opponent thinks things are going their way.  It may be a slow start, but finding the right time for that counter-strike, or takedown of the covenant Queen, is very similar to how White Burgundy can be sneaky complex and swift for a Chardonnay. 

Napa Cabernet

If you are like me, I want to put my opponent into “Check” as soon as possible. I want to push the pace, keep them on their heels, and keep a dominant position on the board. It is very similar to how a Napa Cabernet is aggressive from the time you open it to the last drop. The wine’s full-bodied nature can take over your palate with fruit notes, strong structure, and a long yet satisfying finish. I want to take a sip of my Cabernet while moving my Knight on turn 1, taking your Queen on turn 5, and watching you knock your King over as I take the win on turn 12.  

Port Wine

A wine for the thinker, the strategist, the Grandmaster.  Someone who really loves the game on a deeper level. Port is some of the darkest, concentrated and full wines being made. That makes it easier to sip slowly and enjoy. There are some chess players who are special. They see moves multiple turns before you do, they know exactly when they will win, and they can create strategies new to the community that will separate them from the pack. In Portugal, they add Brandy to wine to make Port, so if you don’t take it seriously, you could find yourself in a world of hurt. Much like if I played a game against Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, the #1 player in the world. 

Like wine, Chess has been around for many years. It is enjoyed outside in a park, indoors at a friend’s home, and in some situations in very highly contested competitions. There are many parallels between the two, but in the end, it all comes down to having fun and enjoying the company.  Something that both wine and chess can provide.