Almost certainly the best wines ever served in a parking lot, and other news.

Little did we know that one of the guiltiest pleasures of opening bywater would be the SAMPLES. (I don’t know why I didn’t think of this; after running a shop for four years, I know by now that it’s the unexpected free stuff that really makes your day. I’m a simple girl, ok?) Our dining room table has been overflowing with samples of all kinds, and here are some of our favorites from this past week:

FARE ISLE. Kaity of Fare Isle lives and works on Nantucket, and I’ve been wanting to try her products for a while now. From their site: “We focus on sustainably hand crafted organic and wild foraged foods, pantry essentials like teas, seasonings, preserves…”. Her beach plum jam is the New England coastline in a jar, all earthy, spicy beach plums, sweet sugar, and fragrant vanilla. I’m thinking a healthy dollop in a cocktail might not go amiss. We’re also trying out her teas, and so far, I love them and am torn between enjoying them as-is or making them into simple syrups for the bar. We’ll see. Maybe both. If you want some serious life envy, I suggest following her on Instagram, and I mean that in a good way.

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Morning bike ride turned into a foraging expedition. More jam on the way. #alwaysonthelookout #beachplums #nantucket #foraging #foragebyfolk #sunday #wildedibles #wildcrafted #fareisle #lavender #fareislegarden

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THE GOTHAM PROJECT. We’ve been waiting for these samples for a while, actually, as we plan to put one of their delicious (affordable) wines on tap. That’s right, on tap, available by the glass or carafe (like in Europe, when you walk into a cafe and just order wine and they bring you a big clear glass jug and you just drink it and it’s all so simple…).

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Anyway, we think the Finger Lakes region was the clear winner with some super delicious Cab Franc and a Chardonnay/Riesling blend that we really liked, but we also very happily gulped down the Gruner, so the jury’s still out on that one. You could read more about the GP here if you’re so inclined; they are “almost certainly the best wines ever served in a parking lot” (NYTimes).

TWENTY FOUR BLACKBIRDS. I swear, usually when we get samples at least a nice 50-75% of the stuff we get is like “meh” (we have standards!), but this week I’m just going to rave about everything and you must trust us. We are big Nunu Chocolate (Brooklyn) fans and will continue to be, no matter what (they are the base for our dark chocolate ice cream, still in development!), but to mix it up a bit I asked the guys at Twenty Four Blackbirds in Santa Barbara to send us some chocolate. OK, so the packaging is almost too beautiful to destroy, but once you get over that and rip into it… well, let’s just say this stuff is good. Really complex flavors. It was so fun to do a tasting of each percentage and single origin and taste the differences. You get easily get into chocolate tasting with the same enthusiasm as whisky tasting, or wine tasting, or coffee cupping… although, come to think of it, why not kill two birds with one stone and combine a few of ’em? Chocolate and whisky?

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Bean to bar #twentyfourblackbirds #beantobar #chocolate #handmade View on Instagram

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