Women in Wine: Alie Shaper

When we envision wine drinkers, we think of fashionable ladies on Hallmark birthday cards sharing a glass on an ornate outdoor patio. When we envision wine makers, we think of men in button-ups checking giant oak barrels in some small Italian village. But we know this isn’t the whole image: men drink wine as much as women, and women make wine as well as men. In order to celebrate the diversity of the wine business, Half Past Wine-O-Clock has started a new series called “Women in Wine” to celebrate the great ladies who create the beverages we love.

And we’re starting off the series with an interview from one of our favorite Northeast winemakers, Alie Shaper from Brooklyn Oenology from Williamsburg. 

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To say Shaper loves her state would be a drastic understatement. Everything she creates comes from NY: her grapes, her arts, and her inspiration.

It wasn’t a stretch for her to come up with the idea of a Brooklyn winery. Although some may be surprised by the concept of an urban winery, this is exactly what spurred the idea of BOE in Shaper’s mind.

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“Brooklyn has always been a place where things are created,” Shaper said. She cites the industrial age of Brooklyn, and the neighborhood’s transition into a modern artistic community. She wanted to pay tribute to the area’s history of production through her NY-based wines. With grapes from the five wine regions of NY (most prominently the Finger Lakes and Long Island) accompanied by the label art from local, unlabeled artists, BOE does exactly this.

Shaper sees it as a “miracle” that she is able to work in wine the way she does. Originally an engineer, Shaper developed her vision for BOE while working in the import/export sector of the wine business. Struck by this inspiration, Shaper was “more excited than scared” to embark on what has now been a 10 year journey of wine production in New York and Brooklyn.

BOE started with just two wines and has now blossomed into three entire lines of wine, including Brooklyn Oenology, Shindig, and AsIf. The BOE wines are the largest collection. Shindig is a small line created with one of Shaper’s wine partners as part of an national collection of wines representing state grapes.

13400914_1056193077802077_1381558892_nAsIf, on the other hand, is a high-end collection showcasing Shaper’s skills as a winemaker. Named for her initials, “A.S.,” and the open-ended promise of possibility within the simple term “if,” this line is a testament to her abilities and an experimental push of wine-making boundaries.

All these wines can be tasted at the winery, as well as a collection of local NY beers, whiskeys, meats, cheeses, and more. The tasting room is a hub of NYC’s creative culture, showcasing the work of not only BOE but of its sister companies as well.

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And BOE has caught global attention from wine enthusiasts during this time. The winery appears in many international NYC guidebooks and has become a hot-spot for tourists and locals alike. The atmosphere of BOE is what Shaper defines as “a winery that feels like a living room.” She aims to transition from a world of wine consisting of up-turned noses and stuffy airs. Instead, she wants to share her wines with a broad range of people in NYC and beyond, whether they’re a sommelier or haven’t tasted a drop of wine before in their lives.

“I just want people to enjoy a glass of wine and be happy,” Shaper says. “That, to me, is what wine is about.”

 

Keep an eye out for our upcoming post on a BOE tasting room experience!
To find out more about BOE, check out our first wine review or their website.
Portrait credit goes to BOE and NYSun

Make sure to check out BOE’s 10th year anniversary event:

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Isn’t This Dandy: Greenpoint’s Wine Shop

On Franklin St. in Greenpoint, Brooklyn lies a hidden gem well-known to the locals: the Dandelion Wine Shop.

I found myself at “Dandy” after my roommate’s wine opener failed me – and the one after that, and the one after that (I just don’t have the grip to yank a tough cork out with a weak corkscrew, okay?) I would be staying in Brooklyn for a few more weeks and needed some screw-cap wines to hold me over until then – especially since buying a glass out in NYC costs as much as buying a decent bottle at home (Boston).

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This small yet fully-stocked shop offers an expansive display of wines ranging from $10-and up. The store separates its products from French, Italian, to “New World,” with pre-cooled wines offered in a clear-glass cooler. After browsing for a few minutes, I managed to find a red and white wine within my price range ($10-$13) and with a screw cap. It wasn’t particularly easy, as most French and Italian wines use traditional corks and Dandy’s prices range up to the higher side. However, I was satisfied with what I found.

Dandelion Wine’s Tastings

Dandy is well-known for its Thursday wine tastings. So when I heard it was a Rosé day down at Dandy, I had to make my way to the shop right after work.

The Dandelion Wine tasting experience is not for a wino looking for a traditional tasting. The store fills up fast and it’s impossible to tell who’s pouring and where the wine is coming from. I pushed through the crowd and found my way to the back, where an un-manned station sat with empty cups and a half-full bottle.

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This tasting is just dandy (yes, I went there) if you’re looking to sample a free glass and browse, or chat with fellow wine lovers! Not so much if you’re looking to talk to a pour-er about the wine, its history/origin/varietal/vintage/etc.

Your best bet is to find a spot in the store and camp out with some friends- it can be a bit crowded, so save your browsing of this adorable shop for another day!

Summer Water – The Featured Rosé

Summer Water is a light-bodied, dry rosé from California with hints of strawberry and with a short finish. Oh, and an amazing marketing team! This video had us laughing:

The wine is meant to be paired with – you guessed it – a nice hot summer day. It’s light and refreshing taste screams for the beach or your next day lounging on the grass. And it basically is water, so it’ll go down easy in the heat.

Coming in at around $20, this wine is only sold in select Northeast Stores (Dandy being one of few) and NY restaurant taps. It’s a good rosé for a beginner looking to move from sweeter pinks into a more traditional, dry taste.

My fave from the shop: Reunión Malbec

Screw cap? Check. Under $13? Check. An Argentian Malbec? Even better.

With this wine I benefited from Argentina’s low-profile as wine-makers. While France and Italy are associated with wine, Argentina doesn’t get the credit is deserves – which means the price tag is lower for a wine that is often times better than a more expensive one from an established country.

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Reunion pleased my palate with deep, fruity flavors and bursts of dark berries. With mature tannins and a long, full-bodied finish, it’s a wine that keeps on giving and can be paired and shared with most foods.

 

Definitely hit this wine shop out if you are ever in NYC!

Cheers Wineos!

 

All images belong to HalfPast, Dandelion Wine, Source 1 and Source 2

City Wines: Brooklyn Oenology

When you think of Brooklyn, wine isn’t likely to be the first thing to pop into your mind. You’re probably imagining busy city sidewalks, a community of urban culture, or a land of creative writers and artists. Well, Brooklyn Oenology manages to combine all of these things into their vibrant wine collection, representing the local culture of Brooklyn through their variety of NY-grown wines.

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We had the pleasure of meeting BOE at the Boston Wine Expo, and later sampling two of their wines: their 2014 Cabernet Franc Rosé and 2014 Social Club Wine (both perfect for the spring and summer!). We were intrigued by the idea of a wine from the center of a city – and the way the wine labels represented the local culture.

The BOE Story

BOE’s wines are like a love song to New York: the grapes are all grown in the Finger Lakes and Long Island (yes, Long Island makes wine – who knew?) regions, and the labels feature artwork from local Brooklyn artists. The labels are not only gorgeous representations of local talent, but also provide information on the artist and the medium they used, serving to promote local creative work.

 

But now let’s talk about the wines!

Social Club White

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We had the pleasure of tasting BOE’s popular white blend, coming in at around 50% Chardonnay, 15% Riesling (there’s that Finger Lakes taste we love!), and 35% other assorted whites. Stainless steel barrels maintained the body and taste of Chardonnay without the buttery flavors that could possibly overpower the other whites. The wine offers a delicious experience on the pallet, transitioning from a slightly sweeter taste to a medium-acidic finish.

The wine was named for its “easy-drinking,” making it a wine you can sip on socially with friends either with or without food. Social Club White boasts flavors of pear, pineapple and light citrus. We recommend this wine for exactly what its title suggests: casual, social drinking!

Cabernet Franc Rosé

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This rosé has an interesting story: the unusually cold weather of 2014 caused a much lower yield of the Cabernet Franc grapes than anticipated. These bottles are the surviving grapes! The rosé is light, crisp, and dry, proving to be an ideal drink for the warmer days to come. This salmon-colored wine gives a sweet berry aroma and is fruit-forward.

We detected flavors of watermelon and lime, proving to be a perfect pair for a summer BBQ. Don’t forget to chill it for that refreshing acidic pop on the palate.

Want to learn more about BOE and their wines?

Check out BOE at facebook.com/pages/BrooklynOenology or on Twitter @bklynoenology.

If you’re wondering where to find BOE near you, you can contact BOE at 718-599-1259 or info@brooklynoenology.com

Cheers!