A half-dozen of the best from the Ely BIG Tasting

Frankly Wines

Twice a year the Ely Winebar and Restaurant Group hold consumer tastings at their larger venue in Dublin’s IFSC.  Over a dozen of their wine suppliers show a selection of their wines, both currently listed and not listed, so that consumers get a chance to try new things and their feedback might lead to new listings!

The tastings are very well organised by Ely Group Wine Manager Ian Brosnan and Head of Biz Dev Jeri Mahon – thanks to both them and all the other staff supporting the event.

Here are a few of the wines which really stood out for me:

1. Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV (Liberty Wine)

Champagne Charlie Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

Perhaps it was the occasion, the perfect serving temperature or perhaps just a little extra time in bottle since I tried this last year, but Charles was tasting fantastic. The fruit is lovely and there’s some…

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Ely, Victor, Stanley and Vincent

The Thirsty Kitten

“Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, the other is gold.”

Who are these guys? Our pets? The latest reality TV stars? The top boy names for babies in 2014? No, no and no. They are restaurants, two long-time favorites and two newcomers to the dining scene. And like the silver and gold of the familiar saying, they have all have earned our deep affection.

TK ely victor stanley vincent

Two are here on our home turf in Minnesota: Vincent, in downtown Minneapolis, and Victor’s on Water Street in the west metro suburb of Excelsior. The other two are a wee bit further, across the ocean in fact, in the heart of Dublin, Ireland: ely wine bar and Stanley’s Restaurant.

The newbies, Victor’s and Stanley’s, both opened in late 2014. We dined at each shortly after they opened, both still so young that the air was charged with excitement amongst staff at being part of a new endeavor…

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Big Kids Banana Pancakes With Brandy Cream Recipe

Pancake Tuesday is one week from today, so why not get trying our big kids Banana Pancakes with Brandy Cream recipe in the meantime!

Pancake 4What You Need
200g plain flour
2 eggs
100ml milk
1½ tbsp water
100g butter
4 bananas
3-4 tbsp brandy
100ml cream
Serves 4

How We Do It
Sieve the flour into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and water together. Make a well in the centre of the flour, then slowly stir the egg mixture into the flour. Cover and keep in the fridge overnight.Heat a non-stick pan. Add a small cube of butter and allow to melt. Ladle in enough pancake mixture to make a circle that holds its shape. Turn as it cooks. Place each cooked pancake in a stack on a warmed plate.

Meanwhile, peel the bananas and cut in half lengthways. Melt butter in a frying pan and cook the bananas until slightly golden. Remove the bananas, carefully pour the brandy into the pan to deglaze and add the cream. Slowly reduce by half. Place 2 pieces of banana on top of each serving. Drizzle with the brandy cream and enjoy!

WARNING: Brandy is highly flammable. Be very careful when you’re deglazing the pan. Reduce the flame first.

Pancake collage
A Wine That Works
Lustau ‘East India’ has a lovely, creamy, caramelised nose; a sweet palate, with hints of dates and a
touch of bitter chocolate. This blend of the palomino and pedro ximénez grapes gives a full, complex
and long finish. A real treat that works well with the sweetened banana and the heady brandy.
Also Try
A ten-year-old Tawny port such as Warre’s ‘Otima’.

The BIG Rhône Tasting at Ely Bar and Brasserie, Dublin (Part two)

Frankly Wines

Part one gave the background to the BIG Rhône tasting at Ely as part of Rhône Wine Week in Ireland and some of the whites which really caught my eye.

So now we’re on to the main event:

thinkredthinkCDRW vertical

Of course the Rhône is much more celebrated for its red wines, so below are some of the red beauties that really stood out for me (in no particular order).  Once again, apologies for the image quality – the low light downstairs at Ely is very atmospheric but smartphone cameras struggle.

Pierre Gaillard Cornas 2012 (Mitchell & Son, €45.99)

Pierre Gaillard Cornas 2012 Pierre Gaillard Cornas 2012

The only AOC (well AOP now, but you know what I mean) that mandates 100% Syrah, Cornas in the northern Rhône is reputed to be rustic – and given the label you might have no reason to think otherwise – but this was anything but rustic.  Pierre Gaillard’s most southerly…

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The BIG Rhône Tasting at Ely Bar and Brasserie, Dublin (Part one)

Frankly Wines

November 2014 saw the second Rhône Wine Week extravaganza in Ireland, hugely expanded on the already successful inaugural Week in 2013.  The expansion was both geographical and in terms of the number of events – it would have been physically impossible to get to all of them, even just the Dublin ones.  Kudos to my team mates Morgan, Diarmuid and Suzanne of Team Slapshot, together we came a creditable joint 3rd in the Big Rhône Quiz.

Spearheaded by Tyrrell & Co. Wine Importers and Inter Rhône, this year other importers and venues joined the fray – see rhonewineweekireland.com for the full calendar of events and participants

This post (and the next) will concentrate on the Big Rhône Tasting held at Ely Bar and Brasserie in the IFSC, Dublin.  A former 200 year old tobacco and wine warehouse in Dublin’s Financial district, it has spectacular vaulted cellars.  My smartphone pics below of the…

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The 15 Series, Week 4: 15 Tips For Hosting A Wine Tasting At Home

ely restaurants celebrates its 15th birthday this year and each week, The 15 Series brings you 15 tips on topics such as food, wine, culture, lifestyle, craft beer and more!



15 Tips For Hosting A Wine Tasting At Home

Many people tell us that a huge help towards getting their head around wine, was when they tasted a few wines alongside of each other. This is a great way to gain perspective on what wines you like, what you don’t like and why. Why not take some tips from this week’s post and host a wine tasting evening of your own? This is a brilliant and unique way to experience wine at home, while having fun with a few friends.

1. Pick A Style 

ely_chq_wine_cellar_084When deciding on your theme, there are many different options to choose from. A style of wine isn’t so much a region, variety, grape but a ‘Dessert Wine’ or ‘Sparkling Wine’ etc. Might want to put a budget on it however, not entirely fair if you decide on a sparkling wine theme and one guest brings Cava, the other brings Cristal!

2. Pick A Variety 

Grape bunchIf you decide to go with a variety of wine, pick one which is widely planted, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and choose several of the same variety from different countries, e.g Bordeaux, California, Chile etc. Remember, in this case its best to choose wines of a similar price level as this will give you and your guests a better idea of relative value for money.

3. Pick A Price Point

ely gastro bar wine wallChoose a price point and get everyone to bring a bottle, any bottle! This is a great way to try out lots of different wines which might normally be out of budget for some.

4. Pick A Specific Region

Key Italian Red GrapesPick your favourite region and sample a selection of its wines. For example, if you pick Tuscany, you might taste Chianti, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, Morellino di Scancsano, Brunello etc. If you’re unsure, any good wine shop would be able to advise on wines from the region, or simply ask us.

5. Pick A Vintage

ely_place_cellarThis one can be pricey so only attempt if you can afford it. Pick a wine and try to find different vintages of the same wine. If there’s a larger group of you, it might prove difficult to find multiple vintages, but for a small group this works well. You’ll find that it’s seriously interesting to discover how much the age of a wine can vary and effect its taste.

6. Pick A Producer

ely chq wineAnother idea could be to taste a range of wines from the same producer, because the style of wine making will be the same but the wines would differ. It’s a great way of discovering the difference in regions e.g Cotes du Rhône, Chateauneuf etc. all from the same producer. Again, any good wine shop should be able to help or feel free to ask us!

7. Pick At Random

winesCould be a risky move and not the best for beginners but having all your guests bring any bottle they choose might just work out! Good old randomness…

8. A Numbers Game

IMG_20140220_191207We would usually recommend the ideal number of guests attending a wine tasting in your home to be 6 – 10 people, but it also works fine with 4 or 12 people. We would also recommend approx. 10 – 12 tastings per bottle, therefore a group of 10 people might just work quite nicely.

9. A Twist On Food Pairing


This interesting twist on the usual food and wine pairing makes for a really interesting wine tasting evening. One person, say the host, cooks a dish like lamb, sea bass or venison etc. and everyone brings a bottle that they think would work well with the dish. Educational and fun!

10. Blind Tasting

blind tastingWhen you have selected your theme, a fun way of experiencing different wines is by holding a blind tasting. Cover the bottles with tin foil or paper bags, tie the bags closed at the neck, and number. Research the info on the wines and note their corresponding number. You could even get a friend, not attending the tasting, to do this for you so that you don’t miss out on all the blind tasting fun!

11. Identifying Flavours

Red and Wheel Closeup RESIZEDWe find that people can often struggle in identifying flavours and what they exactly they are tasting in their wine. A great way to help your guests would be by setting up an identifying flavours table for your wine tasting. All you need to do is fill a few glasses with the different ingredients that are commonly found in wine. For example you could fill one glass with strawberries, the other with blackberries. Another glass could be filled with nutmeg or mint and so on. A less interactive way would be by printing a tasting wheel.

12. Glassware

ely_chq_wine glassesChoosing the right glassware for your wine tasting evening can make a massive difference to the enjoyment of any wine. World famous glassware producers Riedel are the masters of this, they design a glass for pretty much every grape variety  or style of wine. Try drinking a nice red Burgundy from a proper Burgundy glass (goldfish bowl!), a Paris goblet (pub wine glass), a water glass and a plastic cup and you’re sure to notice the difference.

13. Spittoons & Palate Cleansers

IMG_1682Make sure to set out plain bread pieces or crackers as palate cleansers. Water is a must and although many people don’t see the need (depending on the kind of friends you have!), it is always necessary to provide your guests with a spittoon or something to get rid of unwanted wine into.

14. Cheese

IMG_5943We usually go by the rule that if it grows together, it goes together! The traditional cheeses and wines of any same region usually complement each other. See more on how to put together the ideal cheeseboard here.

15. Temperature

Ely wine shot 3This is one for enlightening any friends of yours who drink their whites straight out of the freezer or their reds straight out of the microwave! Why not get a few bottles of the same wine, red or white? Serve one very chilled, one cool, one around room temperature and one warm and taste the differences. You can decide on your preference but in our experience, taste any wine too cold and you won’t taste anything at all.

At ely, we believe that wine education plays a huge part in an enjoyable wine experience. We run some interesting wine appreciation courses, corporate tastings, themed tasting evenings and master classes. All of which are not just informative but social too. To check out our full list of ely wine tasting experiences, please click here.

If you have any questions or would like any further tips or advice on holding your own wine tasting evening at home, we would be happy to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us.


The 15 Series, Week 3: 15 Seasonal Sips For Winter

ely restaurants celebrates its 15th birthday this year and each week, The 15 Series brings you 15 tips on topics such as food, wine, culture, lifestyle, craft beer and more!



15 Seasonal Sips For Winter

As winter approaches, tropical fruits, rosés and lighter beers move over for robust reds, fuller whites, apples, cinnamon and warming drinks. Here are 15 craft beers, cocktails and wines to enjoy this season.

1. Pietra 

An intriguing Corsican amber beer with sweet chestnut flavours, this tipple is a nice one for winter as it also has a touch of spice and citrus. These spices, combined with nuttiness and surprising caramel hints, makes Pietra a unique and light choice for that first drink on a cold evening.

2. Spiced Apple Grog

Photo credit: ely restaurants

Cocktails featuring spices will be everywhere next season and drinking them hot is one of the best ways to enjoy them. Spiced Apple Grog contains Jameson, Highbank Drivers Cider (N/A, GF and organic), cinnamon shavings and “Ireland’s answer to maple syrup”, Highbank organic orchard syrup. Serve hot and enjoy at home at the end of a long day, or let us make it for you at ely bar & brasserie, (the Chq Building), Dublin 1.

3. John Duval “Plexus” Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre

Winter calls for something warming and decadent and this wine, from the Barossa Valley in Australia, delivers on both counts. Velvety smooth, spicy and lush, think of a glass of this as a hot-water bottle for the soul.

4. Cloughmore Dark Water Stout

Cloughmore Dark Water Stout is brewed in the foothills of the Mourne mountains and draws its main ingredient from  the local water supplied from the reservoir, making this an unfiltered craft Irish Stout. With a body of roasted barley and oats with accompanying light chocolate flavours, this makes a nice change from the usual stout we tend to return to drinking this time of the year.

5. Michael Collins

Photo credit: ely restaurants

Using a whiskey substitute instead of gin in the classic Tom Collins adds a little more winter depth and results in the refreshing and fruity Michael Collins. If making it at home, shake a good Irish whiskey, fresh lemon juice, sugar and strain into a glass. Add ice cubes, carbonated water and stir. Or sit back and enjoy as we rustle one up for you at ely bar & brasserie, (the Chq Building), Dublin 1.

6. Champagne Dravigny Godbillon ‘Cuvee Ambre’ Brut     
Dravigny Godbillon ‘Cuvee Ambre’ Brut

Photo credit: http://www.vivino.com

The festive season rolls around and many of us fill with cheer. If the time does come to break out the bubbles this year, why not try one from a small, virtually unknown Champagne house who make some outstanding wines. Their style is akin to some of the more famous ( and expensive) Grand Marque Houses. A blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier, this is a wonderfully rich and biscuity Champagne.

7. Craigies Dalliance Cider

Lover of wine but not a fan of cider? The folks at Craigies have hit the nail on the head with Dalliance. Not too sweet, Dalliance is dry and made with not one but three Irish apple varieties. This light bodied cider is sure to please many this season.

 8. Cognac Cure
From Rio to paris

Photo credit: instagram.com/aytoxyz

 A warming and comforting drink, Cognac is a perfect tipple for this time of the year. In this cocktail, the sourness of fresh lime juice mixed with the sweet taste of the honey compliments the rich taste of the Cognac. Combine with a splash of  carbonated water and top with ice. DIY or enjoy it at ely bar & brasserie, (the Chq Building), Dublin 1.

9. Kir-Yianni Xinomavro “Ramnista”

A revelation and certainly one to enjoy during these darker days with dimmed lights. Produced from the Xinomavro grape, this Greek wine, with its hints of dark fruits, is a vinous superstar waiting to be discovered. Best described as combining the seductive qualities of Pinot with the structure of Nebbiolo.

10. Pauwel Kwak

With one of the coolest glasses out there, you might be led to thinking that this Belgian strong ale is all hat and no cattle. However, Kwak is all substance! Rich and velvety with subtle hints of caramel and spice, this is probably our top choice of winter craft brew.

11. Hot Wine Lemonade
hot wine lemonade

Photo credit: ely restaurants

Hot wine? Wine lemonade? Surprisingly, all of the ingredients to this winter warming cocktail do work really well together. We use a splash of Bordeaux, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and hot water. Don’t knock it ’til you try it, available at ely bar & brasserie, (the Chq Building), Dublin 1.

12. Domaine Alary “La Brunotte” Cairanne Côte du Rhône

A perennial favourite at ely over the years, this is a classic of its kind. Perfect for these months with its dark berry fruit, white pepper and Christmas spice, along with fantastic length. This is the type of wine that makes us happy, every time.

13. Williams Brothers Joker IPA

This nice and fruity IPA is probably one of Williams Brothers’ best. Joker IPA offers a lovely  hop taste along with fresh and light citrus notes. Not to be mistaken for a summer beer, this easy-going, drinkable IPA can be enjoyed right into the winter months.

14. Winter Berry Cosmo
winter berry cosmo

Photo credit: ely restaurants

Autumn brought the best of the seasonal berries and we don’t know about you but there’s only so much jam we can enjoy! We’re taking those frozen berries and putting them to use for the winter months. For a Winter Berry Cosmo, include the berries in with the usual mix of vodka, fresh cranberry & lime juice and orange liqueur or fine blend the berries as a delicious replacement for the cranberry juice.

15. Les Hauts de Montforts Minervois
Les Hautes

Photo credit: http://www.vivino.com

Predominantly made from old vine Grenache, this is full-bodied perfect red for the winter months. With woody herbs, dark fruit and soft tannins this is the wine of choice for sitting by the fire.

All of the wines mentioned above are available to enjoy at ely wine bar, 22 Ely Place, Dublin 2 and ely bar & brasserie, IFSC, Dublin 1

All of the cocktails & craft beers mentioned above are available to enjoy at ely bar & brasserie, IFSC, Dublin 1.

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