Local Baltimore Wine Experts Suggest Their Top Picks for Affordable Wines to Celebrate the Holiday Season

by Erica Starr 24. December 2012

Holiday Wines

There is no doubt about it - When it comes to the holidays, there is bound to be food, family, friends, cookies, and a bottle or two of good wine.

Even if you and your family aren’t planning on partaking in the consumption of said bottles of wine, a good bottle wine is always perfect for a last minute gift or even just an easy grab-and-go contribution to your neighbor’s holiday party.

That being said, we went around to some of Baltimore’s well-known wine and spirits experts to get their recommendations on a few affordable wines that will wow people without putting too much of a dent in your wallet.

In general, according to Tim Coburn of Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits in Towson, the $7-$11 red wine is popular around this time of year for office parties, Secret Santa gifts, and hosting. Red wines are generally the go-to as they go well with the colder temperatures. But that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge on what is considered “the norm.”

Chateau la Bastide
Blanc 2011 - Corbieres, France - $13.00

Although red wines are more popular during the winter, Mitchell Pressman, owner of Chesapeake Wine Company located in Canton, says that a wine that goes with variety of foods is key when it comes to holiday wines. “A blend of 50% Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Vermentino, this ripe, juicy-dry (think fresh peach), mouthwatering, refreshing white can stand up to a wide variety of holiday foods.”

Cloud Break Chardonnay
California Barrel Fermented - $7.99

“If you are looking for a white, chardonnay is king,” says Coburn. The Cloud Break Chardonnay is rich with flavors of toasted oak, vanilla, butter, apple, pear and hints of coconut. 100% malolactic fermentation is used to give it nice body and texture. Refined acidity and hints of green apple linger on the elegant finish.

La Bastide
Syrah '10 Vieille Vignes "Les Genets" - Vin de Pays d'Hauterive, France - $12.00

Benotto
Nebbiolo '09 "Nebiul" - Monferrato, Italy - $17.00

When it comes to red wine, Pressman suggests two wines that both fall below the $20 a bottle range. “this is full of fragrant berry (La Bastide), spicy smells and flavors. Fruit from old vines planted in the right place usually brings more character and complexity to the wine. “

In regards to the Benotto, Pressman explains that “Nebbiolo is the most illustrious grape of the region (Piedmont) - it is the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy's most famous and expensive wines.”

How is this version so affordable you ask? Pressman says this version “comes from a small plot of 90 year old vines planted near the town of Asti - a village not so well known for its Nebbiolo - which helps to explain how a wine so full of dark cherry/orange peel/mineral/meaty smells and flavors could be so inexpensive.” Another remarkable value for only $17.

KAMIAK
Bordeaux Blend ’07 – Gordon Brothers - Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah blend – USA - $10.99

As reds, whites and blush wines are the more popular way to go in regards to your favorite vino, Coburn hints that blended reds are fast growing in popularity and are generally more affordable.

This cabernet, merlot, syrah and malbec blend has big, dark, toasty tannins and plenty of ripe fruit. Meaty and rich, it shows plenty of power, along with some earthier notes.

Adami
Prosecco "Garbel" - Treviso, Italy - $17
When it comes to a more wallet-friendly way to ring in the new year, Pressman suggests a Prosecco straight from none other than the grape vines of Italy.

“Prosecco (the name of the grape) is - or should be - full of fruit, frothy and fresh - just like this one from the Adami family, one of the best producers. It makes for a great ice-breaker to start off festivities, but also works great with much of the food on a holiday table.”

In addition to the recommendations from our local experts (Mitchell Pressman of Chesapeake Wine Company, and Tim Coburn of Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits) check out the suggestions from wine sommelier Gary Vaynerchuk’s 12 Wines of Christmas.

 

2nd Annual 5 Things We're Thankful for This Holiday Season

by Erica Starr 20. November 2012

Baltimore - The Greatest City in AmericaThis year, as families prepare for the 2012 holiday season and family traditions, we thought we’d start our own tradition here at 1st Mariner Bank. Last year, we featured our “5 Things We’re Thankful For This Holiday Season” blog post in our November eNewsletter. This year, we’d like to officially make it a tradition by bringing you the “2nd Annual 5 Things We’re Thankful for This Holiday Season.”

We’re thankful to serve the “greatest city in America.”

We know – we said that last year. What can we say? You rock! Year after year, the people of the Baltimore community continue to blow us away with their sense of family and camaraderie. In good times and in bad, Baltimore continues to come together, proving that our park benches seem to know what they are talking about - Baltimore really is the “greatest city in America.”

We’re honored and privileged to have served you for the past 17 years and look forward to continuing to do so for many years to come.

We're Thankful for YOU - Our Customers

We've said it before, we’ll say it again. Without you, our customers, we’d be nothing. We’d like to take this time to thank all of our customers for your loyalty and support. Here at 1st Mariner, we consider our customers to be a part of our family and we’re thrilled to hear that you feel the same.

Thanks for Being Our Customer

Our online conversion process had some bumps in the road that we hadn’t anticipated. We were overwhelmed by your patience and understanding as we continued and will continue to work together toward providing better services and a better bank for Baltimore.

We’d like to sincerely thank you for affording us the privilege and opportunity to serve you. There’s no place like Baltimore and there’s no customers like 1st Mariner customers. You are truly one of a kind.

We're Thankful to Be Able to Offer Our Customers Enhanced Online Services

As you may have noticed, Online Banking got a nice facelift this year as an early Christmas gift. We’re thrilled about the new and enhanced online capabilities our customers can now take advantage of. From being able to pay bills using the 1st Mariner Bank App, to the new and improved Mariner360, we think it’s safe to say that 1st Mariner’s Online Banking is now playing with the pros of electronic banking.

We're Thankful for Flacco Fridays

We're honored to have Baltimore’s favorite quarterback announce to the region that he proudly banks at 1st Mariner – but he doesn’t stop there! Joe Flacco’s dedication to his Baltimore-area fans is truly evident by his eagerness to team up with us for “Flacco Fridays,” a series of weekly Facebook contests that will run through the end of the football season. For five straight weeks, Joe took the time to look through the questions that you submitted, choose his five weekly favorites, and compose thoughtful responses. By the end of week five, Joe was so overwhelmed with the great questions that had been submitted that he took it upon himself to go back and answer a few extra bonus questions. For our current contest series, Joe has given us permission to alter photos of him for a series of Photohunt-style contests. We are grateful for Joe’s continuous support, and we can’t wait to see what he will help us with next!

We're Thankful to Be a Community Bank

We've all had experiences with businesses and customer service departments where we’re left feeling unimportant, annoyed, frustrated and that we’ve just been treated as a number instead of a valued customer and member of the community. While we may not be the biggest bank out there, we pride ourselves on knowing that we’re small enough to be able to provide our customers with one-on-one, compassionate, personal service. Have an issue or a concern regarding your banking relationship with us? Pick up the phone and give us a call...if there is a hoop we can jump through for you, we will.

Customer Testimonials

 

Here’s to wishing you and your family another happy holiday season!

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out these related articles:

Happy Thanksgiving from 1st Mariner Bank! Video

How I'm Staying on Top of My Finances (and Not Becoming a Grinch) This Holiday Season

2011's 5 Things We're Thankful For This Holiday Season

Money Tips for College Students

by Erica Starr 14. November 2012

Money tips for college students

If you are like many young people, going off to college is the first time you begin to feel like an independent individual. Your parents and teachers have taught you all they can to prepare you for the “real world,” and now it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’d like to follow the advice and lessons you’ve learned over the years.

With no one around to scold you or tell you what to do, entering into your newly emancipated lifestyle, it can be tempting to make irresponsible financial decisions; the kinds of decisions that give you immediate gratification without thinking about the long-term effects.

Before you get yourself into a big financial mess so early on in your independent financial life, take a look at these scary stats:
  • According to the 2012 Consumer Financial Survey, 42% of respondents gave themselves ratings of C, D or F on their personal finance knowledge.
  • A recent National Economic Research Associates survey of 6,500 high-debt student loan borrowers found that 65% misunderstood or were surprised by aspects of their student loans or the student loan process. (Source: The New York Times)
  • Approximately one-third of recent grads, if they could do it all again, would have pursued more scholarships or financial aid options, pursued a major that would have led to a higher paying job, or gotten a job while in college and started saving earlier. (Source: Accounting Principals)

Translation: Unless you want to end up grouped into one of these statistics one day, you probably should start getting yourself familiar with the equation of spending less than you’re bringing in. Despite the above stats, oddly enough, personal finance can be fairly easy as long as you are prepared and start the process of saving, prioritizing, and budgeting as early as possible.

It's All About Self Control

For years, I heard from my parents, “Needing and wanting are two very different things.” As with most things, they were right. Just because it’s new and shiny, that doesn’t translate into you being unable to survive without it. Take a few deep breathes and prioritize what you really need to focus your financial efforts on this month. Books? Gas? Tuition? Food? You know, the life necessities when you are a college student. As much as that new COD game or designer outfit may seem like a necessity, you’ll probably discover that you can do without it for awhile.

Where is Your Money Coming from, and More Importantly, Where is It Going?

Repeat after me, “Excel spreadsheets and Personal Financial Management tools like Mariner360 are my friends.” By visually seeing the amount of money you are bringing in versus the amount that is going out, the idea of expenses being less than your income will become a core value in your life. Trust me, once you realize how much a daily Starbucks visit will run you over the course of the month, you’ll start to reevaluate and realize that making small, manageable adjustments to your everyday routine can have as much of an impact as the dent the latte puts on your wallet, but in a much more positive way.

Check out Mariner360, which helps aggregate your expenses and income into one user-friendly platform. You can then slice and dice the information, see trends and even set up alerts (i.e. I only want to spend $50 on dining out a month) that let you know when you are close to hitting your custom set budgets.

Be Leary of Credit Cards

While credit cards are a great way to help you start establishing your credit, they also can be a great way to put you into thousands of dollars of debt. Credit card companies look at college students as fresh meat. They know that establishing credit is important for young adults and so they go to extremes to get you on board early. You’ll see booths at every campus event, and they’ll try to entice students by offering them incentives to open up a card such as free tickets to an upcoming sporting event, or a micro-fiber fleece with your school name on it.

Again, credit cards do help you start to establish credit, but make sure to refer to the “It’s All about Self-Control” tip and pay off your card EVERY month. Use your credit card for only a few specific things such as gas or books. This way, you won’t be overly tempted to put unnecessary purchases on your card and find yourself underwater at the end of the month.

Start a “What If” Emergency Fund

If it can go wrong, it will. It’s Murphy’s Law. The earlier in life you learn this theory, the better. At the end of every month, set aside a few bucks for the “what if” scenarios that you never think, or more importantly WANT, to happen. The more you start getting in the habit of putting money into an emergency fund, the more at ease you will be in the event that you run into some troubles financially.

If you are one of the lucky ones that manage to fly below the radar of good ol’ Murphy and his law, then you’ll have a nice chunk of change to put towards something of importance like a down payment on a house, or that vacation you’ve been wanting to take.

Remember, at the end of the day, managing your finances is a fairly easy process. You don’t need a financial advisor or an advanced degree in finance to establish a good foundation for managing your money. As with most things, simplicity and common sense goes a long way.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

How I Graduated Debt-Free from College

I Just Graduated from College, Welcome to My Private Jet

Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It



© 2008- 1st Mariner Bank