post

How to Pick Better Sparkling Wines

The sparkling wine category, perhaps more than other categories of wine, is full of hype and misleading marketing. If you know what to look for however, sparkling wines (especially Champagnes) are the one category of wine that you don’t have to pay a penny more to go first class.
 
Prosecco has become very popular in recent years, and production of this Italian sparkling wine has spread into some lesser quality regions. The best appellation for Prosecco is Valdobbiadene. The Casa Farive Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore($10.99) is priced lower than many mass market Proseccos with the general “Prosecco” appellation.
 
Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain that can be a terrific value. Some of the well-known brands of Cava have expanded production so high, the second fermentation time in the bottle is too short and they lack finesse. Some of the smaller producers still take enough time to do it right. Los Monteros Brut Cava ($9.99) has the fine, delicate bubbles of a more expensive Cava, but is priced like the mass market brands.
 
If you want a sparkling made in the traditional Champagne method, but from outside the Champagne region in France, look for the word Cremant on the label. Limoux in the South of France has been making excellent sparkling wines for even longer than they have in Champagne. The Faire La Fete Cremant de Limoux Brut is a real bargain at $9.99.
The unique chalky, limestone rich soils of the Champagne region are the main reason why Champagne is the greatest sparkling wine. About 15 years ago, however, the French government made the borders of Champagne larger so that production of the well-known, high volume brands of Champagne could be increased. These new outlying parts of Champagne don’t have the same soil. To me, this is what is watering down the quality of brands like Veuve Clicquot, Moet & Chandon, Mumm’s, etc… If you buy Champagne labeled Grand Cru you will get a sparkling wine that is made from the very best classified vineyards in the Champagne region. Because the Grand Cru designated vineyard land in Champagne is less than 7% of the total Champagne region, there is not enough Grand Cru grapes for the large volume producers to make a Grand Cru bottling. Only the small grower/producer houses can do that. Andre Cloet makes both an excellent Grand Cru Brut, and if you like very dry Champagne a Brut Nature for only $39.99. Yes, you can buy Grand Cru Champagne for $10-$20 less than the mass market swill! If you like the clean, mineral driven Chardonnay dominant style of Champagne, try the R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut $59.99. If you like the richness and depth of Pinot Noir dominant Champagne, try the Barnaut Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs or Barnaut Grand Cru Rose` (Both $59.99). Most sparkling wines and Champagnes are Non-Vintage to maintain consistency. When there is a truly exceptional quality vintage, however, a Champagne producer will make a Vintage Dated Champagne. The 2006 Pierre Moncuit Grand Cru Brut Millesime Blanc de Blancs ($82.99) comes from the Les Mesnil Sur Oger district of Champagne, very close to where Krug grows the grapes for their $850 bottling of vintage Champagne. Blind tastings of the vintage Pierre Moncuit have beaten some luxury names like Dom Perignon and Cristal. It is one of the best kept secrets in Luxury Champagne.
 
If you don’t like your Champagne to be too dry, look for the words Demi-Sec on the label. This means semi-dry. Billecart-Salmon makes an excellent, well balanced Demi-Sec for $59.99.
 
If you would like some suggestions for sparkling wines or would like to make a reservation, please contact me at drusso@russosgr.com.
 
Author: Dave Russo
post

The moment you’ve all been waiting for …

Our downtown Grand Rapids location will finally open this weekend!

On Saturday, Sept. 23 from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. we will be hosting a grand opening celebration at our new location at 241 W. Fulton St. The first 112 customers to visit the location will receive grocery bags filled with our most popular items in honor of our 112-year history.

Our downtown location will offer the following features:

  • Custom corporate gifts
  • European deli
  • A large selection of Michigan and Grand Rapids products
  • Extensive selection of wine and beer
  • In-store educational events
  • Private label Russo’s brand products
  • To-go menu items
  • Dine-in eating options
  • Outdoor seating
  • Bar seating
  • Produce and dairy staples
  • Essential toiletries and home care items
  • Coffee, espresso and cappuccino bar by local roaster Herman’s Boy
  • Gelato bar

For more information on our downtown location, such as menu items, hours, and more, click here.

post

Labor Day Skewers!

Local foodie blogger Jenny with the Good Eats is back with more tasty recipes featuring our ingredients! Take a look:

Summer sure did fly by and it is ALREADY time to start planning your Labor Day bash!

Have no fear, we here at Russo’s are ready to help you throw a successful and delicious holiday party.

Instead of spending hours preparing foods and tending to a grill. Recruit some helpers to make these easy skewers. Preparing ready-to-eat skewers will allow you to enjoy those last few precious moments of summer with friends and family. These skewers will hold their quality for 24-48 hours, therefore can be made in advance for your party. If that wasn’t enough good news, these skewers are also easy to make, which can be a great kid-friendly activity.

For dessert, an easy olive oil cake is the perfect sweet treat to the end of a great meal. This olive oil cake is easy to make and refreshing. Not to mention, it’s made with heart healthy olive oil and topped with fresh berries. This olive oil cake can be made ahead of time and topped with powdered sugar and blackberries right before serving.  

 

Melon and Prosciutto Skewers

Makes 8 skewers

Ingredients:

  • 8 watermelon chunks or balls
  • 8 cantaloupe chunks or balls
  • 4 slices of prosciutto sliced in half
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 8 mozzarella pearls

Preparation:

  1. Cut melon into small 1 inch chunks or use a melon baller to create round shapes
  2. Cut prosciutto slices in half
  3. Layer watermelon, prosciutto, basil, mozzarella and cantaloupe on each skewer.
  4. Serve and Enjoy!

 

Cheese Tortellini Skewers

Makes 8 skewers

Ingredients:

  • 24 tri-colored cheese tortellini (cook ahead of time and refrigerate)
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 basil leaves, julienned 

Preparation:

  1. Alternate 3 tortellini and 2 cherry tomatoes per skewer
  2. Drizzle finished skewer with olive oil
  3. Top with fresh basil
  4. Serve and Enjoy!

*Also great with marinara or pesto dipping sauce!

 

Antipasto Skewers

Makes 8 skewers

Ingredients:

  • 8 whole black olives, pitted
  • 8 whole green olives, pitted
  • 8 artichoke hearts
  • 8 slices of salami
  • 8 slices of pepperoni
  • 16 mozzarella pearls

Preparation:

  1. Alternate placing olives, artichokes, salami, pepperoni and 2 mozzarella pearls per skewer.
  2. Serve and Enjoy!

 

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with fresh blackberries

Makes 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup blackberries

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whip eggs and sugar together until the mixture doubles in volume. Approximately 5 minutes with a stand mixer.
  3. While egg/sugar mixture is whipping, combine sifted cake flour, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil and lemon juice.
  5. When egg/sugar mixture has doubled in size, fold in olive oil and lemon juice mixture slowly.
  6. Incorporate dry ingredient mixture slowly, folding into wet mixture gently.
  7. Pour batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Let cool on cooling rack. When cooled, top with powdered sugar and fresh blackberries.
  10. Enjoy!
post

Grilled Pizza, A New Fourth of July Favorite

It’s time to get those grills hot because Fourth of July is right around the corner! This year try something out of the ordinary to impress your guests. Nothing gets the party started quite like a grilled pizza. Grilling your pizza will create a beautiful rustic appearance and the flavors will be unlike any oven baked pizza.

Having a pizza topping station will have your guests engaged and able to make their own creation. Russo’s has an extensive deli section filled with plenty of options for pizza toppings. But fear not, if you need some ideas, we have four flavorful and easy to make pizzas. These creations will definitely please every palate at your gathering. For the breakfast lovers, we have But First, Brunch, this is a breakfast style creation topped with fresh eggs. Your guests with a sweet and salty preference will love Wine Country, which is a pizza topped with blistered grapes, prosciutto, and finished with a honey drizzle. There is not one person at your grill out that can resist The Classic, which is topped with plenty of Russo’s Italian sausage and pesto. Last but certainly not least, we have The Mediterranean. This pizza is filled with delicious Mediterranean flavors that are fresh and flavorful. This recipe is also vegetarian friendly!  

All pizzas were made on a gas grill preheated to 500 degrees. A pizza stone was placed on the grill to preheat for approximately 10 minutes. It is important to use metal utensils for transferring the pizza, as plastic will melt on the grill.

Happy Fourth of July!

But First, Brunch

Makes 1 10” pizza

Ingredients:

  • ½ thawed Russo’s pizza dough ball
  • ½ cup peeled tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • sliced scallions for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Place stretched out dough on a pizza stone, cook 1 minute with the lid closed.
  2. Add crushed peeled tomatoes to dough and sprinkle red pepper flakes on top of the sauce.
  3. Top with mozzarella and crack 2 eggs on top of the pizza.
  4. Close lid and cook approximately 5-7 minutes. The pizza is done when crust is brown, cheese is melted, and egg whites are set.
  5. Remove from grill and garnish with sliced scallions.

Wine Country

Makes 1 10” pizza

Ingredients:

  • ½ thawed Russo’s pizza dough ball
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup gorgonzola cheese
  • 5-6 slices of prosciutto
  • ½ cup red and black grapes
  • drizzle of honey to taste
  • parsley for garnish (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Place stretched out dough on a pizza stone, cook 1 minute with lid closed.
  2. Brush olive oil onto the dough.
  3. Top oiled dough with mozzarella and gorgonzola.
  4. Top cheese with prosciutto and grapes.
  5. Close lid and cook approximately 5-7 minutes. The pizza is done when crust is brown, cheese is melted, and grapes have blistered open.
  6. Remove from grill and drizzle with honey and parsley.

The Classic

Makes 1 10” pizza

Ingredients:

  • ½ thawed Russo’s pizza dough ball
  • 1/3 cup peeled tomatoes, crushed
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 6oz Russo’s Italian sausage (precook first before using)
  • 2 tablespoons Russo’s homemade pesto

Preparation:

  1. Place stretched out dough on a pizza stone, cook 1 minute with lid closed.
  2. Add crushed peeled tomatoes to dough.
  3. Add mozzarella cheese on the top of the sauce then add cooked Italian sausage.
  4. Close lid and cook approximately 5-7 minutes. The pizza is done when crust is brown and the cheese is melted.
  5. Remove from grill and drizzle with pesto.

The Mediterranean (Vegetarian)

Makes 1 10” pizza

Ingredients:

  • ½ thawed Russo’s pizza dough ball
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup peeled tomatoes, crushed
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup feta
  • 1/3 cup canned artichokes
  • 1/3 cup assorted olives
  • fresh dill for garnish
  • lemon zest

Preparation:

  1. Place stretched out dough on a pizza stone, cook 1 minute with lid closed.
  2. Top dough with olive oil.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes then top with mozzarella cheese.
  4. Top with artichokes, olives, and then feta.
  5. Close lid and cook approximately 5-7 minutes. The pizza is done when crust is brown and cheese is melted.
  6. Remove from grill and garnish with fresh dill and lemon zest.
post

GR Now: Summer Wine Frappe Recipes

Summer is meant for frozen spiked beverages, right?

Ok – Summer does include other things but they are all much more enjoyable with a beverage of the alcohol variety.

Sweeten up your summer by trying our unique, thirst quenching, wine frappe recipes (Hint: Frappe means “slushie” in Italian).

Even if you are not a wine drinker, you need to try Russo’s has a wine frappe recipe. All recipes call for minimal ingredients, yet pack loads of freshness (and fruitness) making these recipes perfect for West Michigan’s fleeting summer.

Strawberry Frose Frappe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of dry Rose (Russo Recommendation: Domaine Lafage Miraflors Rose)
  • 2 cups of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • Ice

Instructions:

*Blend all ingredients together. This will allow the ingredients to form a thicker consistency, similar to a frappe or slushie. Garnish the beverage with a mint leaf. Serve.

 

Peach Pinot Grigio Frappe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bottle of Pinot Grigio (Russo Recommendation: Benvolio Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 cups of frozen peaches
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Ice

Instructions:

*Blend all ingredients together. This will allow the ingredients to form a thicker consistency, similar to a frappe or slushie. Garnish the beverage with fresh strawberries. Serve.

 

Raspberry Cabernet Frappe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon (Russo Recommendation: Fourteen Hands Cabernet)
  • 2 cups of raspberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Ice

Instructions:

*Blend all ingredients together. This will allow the ingredients to form a thicker consistency, similar to a frappe or slushie. Garnish the beverage with fresh raspberries. Serve.

To view one of the largest wine selections in West Michigan visit our location at 2770 29th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512. Don’t want to leave the house? Don’t worry. We also offers wine delivery (Yes, wine can be delivered right to your doorstep). For more information on wine delivery services, call (616) 942-2980.

*If the mixture is too thick, add a splash more liquid. If it’s too thin, add a few ice cubes.

This article was originally featured on GRNow.com. To view this article in its original state, click here.