Going to Grape Lengths: Pt. 2

Last week we covered grape’s different roles in wines made from underripe and…let’s just say very overripe sates. Today we’re going to chat a bit about putting grapes on the hot seat so to speak. Intentionally heated wines that is.

Madeira and The Dutch: Out of the Fire and Into the Cask

“C’mon, Hancock. Leave some room for the rest of us!” – Franklin probably

There was a romanticized version of American history taught to me well throughout my public schooling. I think that’s probably true for a lot of people to be honest. It wasn’t until college American History that I learned the genuinely fun fact that our Founding Fathers were pleasantly buzzed during the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. And rightfully so. It was a scary thing they were doing committing all that treason and what not. A little liquid courage goes a long way when one needs to sign a document that could have you drawn and quartered. But what was it that they were drinking? Well the preferred drink at the time was Madeira, a lovely beverage from the region of the same name in Portugal.

Madeira has a history that begins during the age of exploration and like many stories from the book of booze it began as one thing and ended up as something entirely different. Much like the founding fathers bolstering their spirits with spirits, early explorers stocked their ships with alcohol for the voyages ahead. Intensely long stays on the ocean blue and the hot Sun’s continuous presence led to eventual spoilage of the wines they had picked up from ports of call in Portugal. After some time this style of heavily oxidized, nutty and straight up boiled wine became a flavor preference not only for the sailors but the people they brought it to at the ports they visited.

USS Are We There Yet

Making a trip around the world in just to cook and age your wine is not what we would call efficient, though I imagine it would be a mean marketing gimmick in 2019. Thus, the Estufagem (bless you!) process was created. Estufagem, or ‘stoving’, emulates a long sea voyage on the more tropical parts of the ocean. There are a few ways this environment is re created, from circulated hot water to barrels exposed to hot steam. The most time intensive and interesting involves barrels being stored high above the ground in hot rooms for up to a century. Should you find yourself looking to kickback and drink like a revolutionary, there are many available types and brands of Madeira out in the world waiting for you to discover.

Here at vomFASS MOA we have a very special Whisky produced outside the city of Mumbai in India. This Whisky is aged for 6 years in 98 degree heat giving it an uncommon maturity for other Whiskies of the same age. ‘Amrita’ has an alcohol of 45.6% and a decidedly maderized quality about it. It’s a deliciously different Whisky and we will be happy to give you a taste next time you find yourself in Bloomington, Minnesota!

A different approach to stocking ones vessel with valuable wine was employed (albeit anecdotally) by the Dutch. The Netherlands Natives had reservations concerning cooking/spoiling the wine on long journeys. To prevent the maderization of their precious cargo they would first distill the wine into what could be equated to concentrated wine. This wine spirit, called Brandewijn or ‘burnt wine’ was, for all intents and purposes, eau-du-vie or unaged brandy. They popped that hooch into barrels with machinations of reconstituting later on with water. Of course as you have no doubt guessed by now, people preferred this different alcohol and interests shifted in favor of brandy.

Cognac is said to be the wonderful outcome of forgetfulness and neglect much in the same way Tokaji MUST have been (nobody sets out with hopes and dreams of drinking mold wine, right?). Hundreds of years ago grapes from Cognac were cheap and they made cheap uninteresting still wine. That wine however sold well. Eventually after having been concentrated down through distillation, someone popped that hooch into a barrel and promptly forgot about it at the port. Upon returning some considerable amount of time later it was discovered that, hot dang, Cognac is delicious. The motif here is necessity breeding ingenuity and ingenuity leading to now long established traditions and products. Cognac is the most famous brandy in the world next to Armagnac and Calvados (made from apples) and we only stumbled upon it because we were trying to preserve our precious wine.

Whether cooked beyond recognition or distilled into something entirely different, grape based alcohols seem to be endlessly versatile. Grapes truly seem to be Homo Sapiens favorite fruit.

Satiate your thirst for brandy anytime at our vomFASS location in The Mall of America. We stock a plethora of world class Cognac from the Seguinot family, Armagnac from the DeLord family and other worldly brandies. We offer 10 year old, 25 year old and vintage 1973 Armagnac to a 12, 20 and 50 year old Cognac. Other options include a phenomenal 20 year old Italian brandy and 15 year old Spanish brandy from the Sherry Triangle in Jerez. You will also find a wonderful apple brandy from Madison, Wisconsin and a 20 and 25 year old Calvados from Normandy, France. If I still have your attention, you should also know about our Pear eau-du-vie and Kirsch eau-du-vie, both beautiful unaged brandies.

Stay tuned next week as we wrap up our journey with tales of Italian Grappa and a foray into the world of natural wines.

Will O’Reilly spends his days surrounded by brandy. Find him, and the brandy, at vomFASS in Bloomington, MN.

Foodie / Senior Sales Associate – join the vomFASS team at Mall of America!

vomFASS at Mall of America is seeking a senior sales associate who loves to share their passion for fine food, drink and people! Whether you’re semi-retired or just starting your career, I want to hear from you if you are a wine, whiskey, brandy or cocktail geek, enjoy pairing food and drink, and can convert that passion into sales in a retail environment. Must be 21+ years old.

We will consider applicants who have between 20 and 40 hours available to work a variety of day and evening shifts, including weekends. Work life balance is a priority, and we deliberately schedule to ensure all team members are treated with respect and fairness, including their scheduling needs.

To apply, send cover letter indicating why you are interested and qualified for a position at vomFASS, as well as the number of hours you’re available to work per week and send it along with your resume to info@vomfasstwincities.com. Applications without both a cover letter and resume will not be considered.

Sales associate responsibilities include:

  • Greet and engage customers by offering product samples, pairings, product use/recipe suggestions and general vomFASS and prlizziepoursoduct education.
  • Provide a positive, unique customer experience that fosters long term customer relationships.
  • Assist customer in product selection, using cross-sell and up-sell strategies to maximize transaction average, without using high pressure sales techniques.
  • Cashier sales on ACCUPOS point of sale system.
  • Label and package products attractively.
  • Work effectively with co-workers
  • Prepare demos, assist with set up, and promote special events and classes.
  • Fill and label product bottles and stock shelves.
  • Open and close shop, including cleaning and preparing store for next day.

In addition to the sales associate responsibilities, this role may include:

  • Assist or lead the development and implementation of cooking classes, wine and spirits classes and private events

The ideal vomFASS sales associate is:

  • Full of energy and excitement, and an outgoing people person.
  • Experienced and enthusiastic foodie who enjoys cooking and eating fine food and beverages.
  • Experienced in retail sales and customer service.
  • Self-motivated, highly reliable, with unquestionable integrity.
  • Attentive to details, accountable for cash handling and compliance with policies, procedures and tasks.
  • Natural team player, who works well with others, brings fun and a positive attitude to work.
  • Open to giving and receiving constructive feedback to help team members and business.
  • Gifted with additional super powers that are useful to the business, such as elegant handwriting, expertise in social media, talent for beautiful gift packaging or chalkboard art, or is a super-networker in the community.

About vomFASS:
vomFASS Twin Cities is locally owned and operated by Tamra Kramer, her daughter Kristi Kris_Tamand a fun team of awesome people. VomFASS at Mall of America is the first of five locations we hope to open in the Twin Cities. VomFASS is the only specialty food and liquor store of its kind in the world, carrying a full line of gourmet-pleasing products. What makes us special?

  • VomFASS is a German term that translates as “from the cask.”
  • There are approximately 280 vomFASS locations worldwide, all locally owned and operated. Our international headquarters is in Waldburg, Germany.
  • Our products are exclusive; no other retailer in the world carries our line of international award-winning products.
  • We source all of our products directly from old-world artisanal producers who use organic, sustainable farming and production methods.
  • We carry the largest bulk selection of natural and organic culinary oils and fruit and balsamic vinegars in the world.
  • VomFASS won the 2010 German Franchise of the Year and the 2012 Retail Franchise of the Year.
  • Our motto and our promise of uncompromising quality is “Only the Best. Always.”
  • Exceptional customer service is the core success factor of every shop.
  • Providing free tastes to potential customers is the cornerstone of our business model.

vomFASS Twin Cities is an equal opportunity employer.

Vomfasstwincities.com | (952) 426-3222 | info@vomfasstwincities.com

vomFASS at MOA is moving!

We are excited to announce that we are relocating vomFASS oils, vinegars, spices, liqueurs,

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wines and spirits shops to Culinary on North, the up-and-coming destination for discerning foodies and epicures at Mall of America. Our new space will include a tasting room for culinary classes, spirits, wine and cocktail tastings, and private events for up to 15 people. Our October and November class schedule is already on our website; call vomFASS at (952) 426-3222 to register.

For larger, private events, we can expand into our store fronts or partner with select Mall of America venues to product unforgettable tasting experiences for groups up to 50. Call vomFASS for pricing and scheduling.

Thank you for finding us, as we two-step our way into our new space, along the following timeline:

Labor Day, Monday, Sept 5 – last day both shops will be open at E280.

Tuesday, Sept 6 – vomFASS Oils, Vinegars & Spices will open in a temporary location on Level 2, North (N284), near Nordstrom’s. Our liqueurs, wines and spirits shop will be closed during this time.

Saturday, Sept 17 – we expect to open both Oils, Vinegars & Spices and Liqueurs, Wines & Spirits shops in our new, permanent location at Level N345.

We thank you in advance for your understanding in the event of any unexpected changes to this timeline.

My team and I have had a fabulous time introducing local foodies and Twin Cities visitors to the vomFASS concept and products in our two-and-a-half years here at Mall of America. It’s going to be even more fun to have the space to expand the education and fun we have teaching people how to use oils, vinegars and spices to create easy, delicious and healthy meals at home. And who doesn’t enjoy tasting and learning about appreciating fine spirits? I look forward to welcoming you to our new location, where we will continue to be your culinary tour guide as you “try before you buy” the world’s finest products sourced directly from family growers, artisan producers and craft distillers.

Tamra Kramer
Owner, vomFASS at Mall of America