Category Archives: Paul’s Picks

24 hours of New Year’s Eve in SF

Follow our blueprint for our ideal New Year’s Eve and you’ll be guaranteed that 2016 will welcome you with open arms and a warm hug.

Attire – more importantly, the dress. Choose from a comfortable, clubby ensemble from Amour Vert, a classic lace get-up from DVF that says I am serious about this holiday, or something fun and flashy that you can layer with a jacket when getting around on the city streets. All these dresses and styles available at PlumpJackSport.

Are you in the mood to party on New Year’s Eve? 
Are you the popping bottles and noshing on caviar partier or are you the laying low-type that likes intimate conversations over some good bubbles and hearty fare. Ditch the grocery store party platter and whip up some delightful finger food, but first, the main character, the bubbles.

Go to PlumpJack Wine & Spirits and ask for Paul, or just take his word for it and buy his top picks.
1. Comtes De Champagne Taittinger, 2005: “100% Chardonnay, in my mind this is one of the greatest Champagnes around. It is probably the only champagne i would flat.
2. Pol Roger Brut Réserve Champagne: “This is an equal blend of the three main varietals. This champagne has a toasty and fruity balance to it.
3.Champagne Gratiot Gerad: “100% Pinot Meunier. This champagne has a little more of a floral note to it and a nice creamy mousse.”

Diversify your libations and add a celebratory signature cocktail to liven up your soiree.
We enlisted our favorite bartenders at Forgery for a cocktail recipe, and guess what, they know what their doing, so take notice. If you don’t know what some of these items are, there is always Google.
And then there are snacks – very important if you want to continue the party til midnight.
We have lots of inspiration on our Pinterest board, we literally spent many hours searching, pinning and procrastinating, because that is what Pinterest is for, let’s be honest. When it’s time to usher your guests out of your place, because things are starting to get messy and the bubbles are all gone, get yourself to a club. We have two choices for you. For a smaller venue with great jams and lots of dancing, plus champagne and really great cocktails, and even a beer for those who just want to quench their thirst, get to MatrixFillmore. New Year’s Eve features DJ Amy Robbins, spinning the best Top 40 and House beats. Purchase tickers here
If you’re looking to go out and dance your face off to some serious DJs and want to splurge on ultra-exclusive table service, featuring batched craft cocktails, light fare, and more, you need to add Verso to your NYE agenda. Or you can just purchase a ticket to dance and drink, and it will still be the best New Year’s EVER! Purchase tickets here.

Aftermath of New Year’s can be bitter, but you know what makes it sweet? Brunch!
Get yourself to Balboa Cafe San Francisco, STAT, and order the following: a Balburrito (trust us), an order of Eggs Benedict, or Huevos Rancheros and then wash it down with the city’s best Bloody Mary. Okay, feel better now, we thought so. And, maybe you had a big night and are still up at 9am, in which case, you’re in luck, the Balboa opens bright and early and if you slept in until 1pm, you’re still doing great. And if you are unable to leave the confines of your living room/bedroom, Balboa delivers with partner Caviar. MENU


When it comes to getting away for New Year’s, Squaw Valley is the place to be! PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn is a cozy, lodge-like resort located at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in North Lake Tahoe California. With amazing snowfall kicking off this season, you wont want to miss the chance to get up to the mountain with amazing conditions this season. Enjoy a great apres ski at the PlumpJack Bar (view menu), the perfect place to wind down from a day of skiing with friends! We are also offering a special Prix Fixe menu for New Years (view menu).

Paul’s Three Favorite Gin Cocktails for Spring

If spring is the season when flowers bloom, filling the air with fragrance, then gin is the springtime of spirits filling a glass. Paul Birman from PlumpJack Wine & Spirits’ Fillmore location, shares his three  favorite gin cocktails for spring.

Every gin is different with its own unique recipe of botanicals, just as every flower has its distinctive aroma. Juniper, citrus, chamomile, bergamot, and a million other aromas can all be part of a gin’s bouquet. For me, a gin and tonic can’t help but evoke images of lounging on a warm sunny day with a cool, refreshing, cocktail in hand. So grab your cocktail shaker and a bottle of gin and make these delicious drinks. 

Bombay Sapphire Martini served up with olives
A daily requirement to keep my sanity. Sapphire is my go to for it’s classic,
London dry style. Smooth and round, it’s hard to just have one.

Perfect Negroni with Tanqueray 10 served up with an orange twist

What makes this perfect isn’t just its potency, but the addition of
dry vermouth and sweet vermouth. I cut back a little on the Campari to make it
less sweet as well. I had this with foie gras on New Year’s Eve and the citrus and lightness
of this cocktail made for the perfect pairing.

Ramos Gin Fizz
This New Orleans classic cocktail is a true test of your bartending skills. It’s the
adult version of a dreamsicle. This drink was originally made-to-order using a long
line-up of “shaker boys,” who would shake the drink for 30 seconds each and pass it
down the line. It was said to have taken 12 minutes to properly shake a Ramos
to perfection. It’s not an everyday drink, but worth the effort once it’s made.

If you love gin or are new to the spirit and want to enhance your knowledge, join our
Gin Club at PlumpJack Wine & Spirits. The Club explores modern dry gins, that tone down
the juniper and turn up the intensity of other botanicals for a creative mix of flavors.
Offerings will include gins with different botanicals, garnishes and alcohol content.
You will receive cocktail recipes along with a detailed write up.

Five Ways to Host a Festive New Years Eve Bash

Get the streamers and noisemakers ready because it’s just about time to ring in the New Year! If you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve bash make it fun, get creative and welcome 2015 in style. From the delicious drinks to the festive entertainment, use these tips to keep your guests having a great time. From the moment they show up until the ball drops. 

1. Champagne
New Year’s Eve is all about the bubbly. Stop by both PlumpJack Wine & Spirits locations for a wide selection of champagnes. The PlumpJack Wine & Spirits team can help you pick out the perfect bottle of bubbly to impress your guests. Our Champagne Club features our favorite bottles, ranging from tête de cuvées to some of the best farmer fizz we can find.

Wine & Spirits buyer, Paul Birman has been with PlumpJack Wine & Spirits for 19 years. Here are Paul’s picks of champagnes he believes are fitting for celebrating the New Year. All available at our Fillmore Wine Store.

Paul’s Picks
1. Billecart – Salmon Brut Réserve
2. Bollinger Brut Champagne Special Cuvee
3. Louis Roederer Brut Premier’
4. Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label
5. Billecart -Salmon Brut Rosé 



Click here to watch this simple raisin trick, on how to revive a bottle of Champagne that’s gone flat. And use this guide to easily pick out the perfect champagne.

2. Festive Decor
Create a festive atmosphere with decorations that will get your guests in the spirit. When it comes to New Year’s, the more sparkle and pop the better. We love these DIY Confetti Wands from The Haunted Interior. For a creative twist on the countdown, number your champagne flutes for a countdown toast. Have each person yell out their number when it’s time, and then drink to the New Year!









3. Food
Keep it to the small bites. Let guests nosh on hearty apps throughout the night. Check out our Pinterest board, Small Bites for delicious appetizers to keep your guests going until the clock strikes midnight.

Crab Cake Poppers with Spicy Aioli

Crab Cake Poppers with Aioli

Mushroom Tartlets

Mushroom Tartlets








4. Entertain
Keep your guests entertained! Get out the playing cards – like these that feature New Year’s resolutions – turn into a fun guessing game. Gather the cards, read them aloud randomly, then let everyone determine who wrote what. Download the playing cards here.

Set up a jaw-dropping backdrop for the perfect photo booth. Take a look at this chic backdrop from Style Me Pretty. You and your friends can take pictures throughout the night! Have a Polaroid camera ready and your guests can take home their photos as a souvenir.









Don’t let your guests leave the party empty handed. As a favor create fun care packages for New Year’s Day. Fill them with ibuprofen, Alka-Seltzer, vitamin C and maybe some baked goods..

5. Sweet Treats
We save the best for last! Any good party has delicious desserts to help round out the night. Strawberries pair well with champagne, dress up your chocolate covered strawberries with some glitter. If you want to wow your guests even more and keep them going, consider an espresso soaked Tiramisu.








Celebrate the first day of 2015 the right way, with Balboa Cafe San Francisco. Brunch will be served from 10am until 3pm! Enjoy a delicious meal from our special New Year’s Day Brunch menu and pair it with our famous Bloody Mary, for the perfect kick off to 2015!

If you’re someone who loves hosting but without the fuss of planning, try PlumpJack Catering.



The Pop-Up Wine Bar is Poppin' on May 21st


Our next Pop-Up Wine Bar at MatrixFillmore is coming up this Tuesday, May 21st from 5:30-8:30pm. The PlumpJack Wine team will feature the wines of Santa Barbara county.. Paul has chosen some outstanding reds and whites.
We are now offering red and white flights. So, come for a glass, a flight, or even a bottle. Settle at the bar with your friends or take your glasses to a comfortable seat by the window or around the fire.

If you think you’ll stop by, we would love to know. You can RSVP here to help us gauge how much wine we’ll need to bring over. Don’t forget, all wine is available for purchase by the bottle to take home, as well.

See you on Tuesday.



Paul's Pick: Vine Hill Ranch Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Over the years I have been fortunate to taste many, many California Cabernets, and there have been many that are truly excellent, but it is rare (like not in the last 12 years) that one crosses my path where the only way I can describe it is ‘extraordinary’!

Vine Hill Ranch has just released its first ever estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The property is located in the southern corner of the Oakville appellation. Bob and Alex Phillips began cultivating fine winegrapes here in 1959 and with the founding of Phillips Family Farming. Vine Hill Ranch continues to produce exceptional fruit for a collection of premier Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vintners. Their vineyard is divided into 7 blocks, and each is picked, vinified, and aged separately. The blocks are then selected and blended for the finished wine. The label indicates which blocks were used and gives their date of harvest, as well as other technical information. Only 300 cases were procuced.

Continue reading: Paul's Pick: Vine Hill Ranch Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Belvedere Intense Unfiltered 80 Vodka

I’m not a vodka drinker, but love to play with gin. As a wine drinker gin makes more sense-it has flavor. I can appreciate using vodka for it’s potency in cocktails, but by itself? I have never understood until now.

I recently had a chance to sample a new vodka-Belvedere’s Intense Unfiltered 80 Vodka. Made from 100% Polish rye, Belvedere Unfiltered is distilled similarly to the traditional Belvedere, but it’s not filtered or polished . This preserves more of the flavor and characteristics of a rye-based spirit while still maintaining an easy drinkability and clean finish.

Belvedere Intense Unfiltered 80 Vodka has a very soft nose with subtle vanilla notes backed with slightly yeasty tones. The entry has some nice flavor with the vanilla from the nose carrying through and accompanied by a slightly salty caramel. The spice from the rye really comes out in the mid-palate, but it’s not overly aggressive or out of balance with the rest of the flavors in the vodka. The finish has some subtle, toasted creamy caramel notes and finishes clean. This is not a “gimmicky” infused vodka. The flavor comes from the high quality rye, and the texture is a result of not stripping the finished product by over filtration. It would be hard for me to give up my gin martini, but an ice cold Belvedere Intense Unfiltered 80 Vodka served up a with a twist seems mighty tasty to me as well.

Call PlumpJack Wines Fillmore to order at 415.346.9870 or visit us at the shop: 3201 Fillmore Street.

Paul’s Picks: 2010 Castello di Ama Rosato and 2009 Etna Rosso

My wife and I were out to dinner the other night at one of my favorite Italian restaurants (SPQR). We ordered a diverse combination of plates starting with fried surf clams and Branzino crudo with citrus and nuts. We shared a carafe of 2010 Castello di Ama Rosato, that was incredibly delicious and the perfect choice. We both marveled at the deep pink color and were surprised by the crisp, subtle, tart cherry fruit


We then had squid ink tagliatelle with red wine-braised octopus, followed by rabbit wrapped in pancetta. We tried an Etna Rosso from

Sicily (my wife had never had one before). The spiciness of the wine reminds me of Aglianico and Nebbiolo. It has the weight of a French Pinot, some of the herbs of the Rhone, and was a delicious wine to pair with the rich flavors of the pasta, and its wonderful complexity surfaced with the rabbit.

We carry both of these wines, so do yourself a favor, enjoy them at home and save a few dollars!

2010 Castello di Ama Rosato $16.99

2009 Graci Etna Rosso $24.99

To order please call 415.346.9870 or visit us online.

Paul’s Pick: 2010 Chateau de Pennautier

I am always on the hunt for a bargain, but with wine it can be challenging. I’m not willing to sacrifice my standards for quality just to save a buck, so I’m thrilled when a wine like the 2010 Château de Pennautier crosses my palate. I’ve never heard of the appellation Carbadès (pronounced Cab-bar-dezz) until now, maybe because it only received its own Appellation d’Origine Contrôllée in 1999. Located in the most western section of the Languedoc, it is a place where Bordeaux varieties slam into the Rhone, meeting in Carcassonne.

The wine is roughly

equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec, combined with 20% Grenache and 10% Syrah. The wine displays the earthy, leafy character of Bordeaux when you first taste it, but then, once it breathes, the classic

spices and garrique, typical of the best wines from the Languedoc, surfaces to create a delicious combination.

The wine is perfect with grilled and roasted meats, rich poultry dishes such as cassoulet, and mild to strong cheeses. It’s always very exciting and gratifying when you can share a wine of this character, and then boast about what a bargain it is. Try it for only $12.99!

To order this wine please call 415.346.9870 or visit us online.

Paul’s Pick: 2009 Macon-Villages "Chameroy"

Over the years, I’ve noticed a trend in the habits of Chardonnay drinkers. It seems that initially people are drawn to the big, oaky, buttery style Chardonnays that fill the mouth

with loads of tropical fruit combined with sweet oak. As time passes, the trend is to migrate towards more subtle wines such as Viognier, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, etc. Sometimes this shift in taste is so profound that on more than one occasion I’ve had people declare they hate Chardonnay! That seems a little severe, and I would prefer if it was stated more subtly like, “It’s not to my taste.” But Chardonnay can be as varied in style as any varietal, ranging from big, oaky, buttery, to un-oaked, lean and crisp.

If you are a fan of the latter style, seeking a Chardonnay without oak, that has subtle hints of apple and pear fruit, finishing with hints of almonds and minerals, I have just the wine for you. Louis Latour is a world-renown Burgundy producer, with an awe-inspiring portfolio of wines. His 2009 Macon-Villages “Chameroy” is a perennial PlumpJack favorite, and has been a staple of our Chardonnay selection for years. I sometimes refer to it as “poor man’s Meursault” because it reminds me of a classic Meursault with its crisp and subtle fruit.

So if you are looking for an alternative to the big, rich Chardonnay style, this wine is a must! And (saving the best for last) it only costs $12.00!

Visit Paul at Fillmore Wines or call 415.346.9870 to order a bottle now!

Paul Mixes It Up

As much as I love wine, there is nothing like a delicious cocktail. I appreciate the art and skill of bartenders (now known as mixologists) who are constantly exploring new ways to combine spirits and liqueurs to create exciting and delicious drinks. I’m a huge fan of the Negroni. The classic recipe is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. When I’m out at a bar or restaurant, I use the Negroni as an indicator of the quality of the establishment as others use fried calamari or Caesar salad.

I just discovered a new product that ignited my desire to play the role of mixologist at home. When I last made Negronis at home I substituted pür•likör spice for Campari. Handcrafted in an artisanal distillery, the intensely flavorful pür•likör spice, blood orange liqueur, balances the sweetness of the blood orange with the spice of cinnamon and cloves. pür•spirits is produced according to traditional principles by a 3rd generation distiller in a remote village in southern Germany. pür•likör spice, blood orange liqueur is delicious on its own, but what fun it will be to try out new
combinations. Here’s my recipe for the "perfect pür Negroni:"

Just a word of caution-I like large cocktails and this one carries a punch to it!

1 oz pür•likör spice, blood orange liqueur
2-3 oz Tanqueray 10 Gin
½ oz sweet vermouth
½ oz dry vermouth
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled old fashioned glass 3/4 filled with ice cubes. Add a splash of soda water if desired. Garnish with orange peel.

pür•likör spice, blood orange liqueur $30.00/375ml.

Visit our Fillmore Wine Store or call 415.346.9870.