By Steve Siciliano
I’ve been a merchant for almost forty years now but it wasn’t until the middle phase of my mercantile career that I became infatuated with wine. During my first phase—the five years that I was a franchise owner of a 7-Eleven on Plainfield Avenue in Grand Rapids— fine wine was the last thing on my radar. Selling fifths of Boone’s Farm and four packs of Zima and Bartles & Jaymes was the closest I came to being a wine merchant.
I sold a lot of wine during the eight years that I owned a convenience store in the Creston Heights area but not a drop of it was varietal. Customers ignored the bottles of cab, chardonnay and merlot that sat on a small rack in a corner of the store, opting instead for the high octane of Thunderbird and Wild Irish Rose. It became apparent that if I wanted to fulfill my dream of being a fine wine merchant I would have to move on.
It’s been twenty-six years now since I purchased the current location on Lake Michigan Drive in Grand Rapids and I’m happy to say that over that time Siciliano’s Market has garnered a reputation as a west side destination for fine wine. We have built that reputation on a solid foundation—selling quality wine at affordable prices.
Quality is the key word here. Inexpensive wine can be purchased virtually anywhere today but most of it is, quite frankly, not very good. Many of these labels are produced in facilities that are known in the industry as wine factories. These operations source fruit from vineyards that are often located miles away and they often use processed juice. Much of the wine they produce is dosed with Mega Purple, an additive used to enhance flavor, mouthfeel and aroma. These wines are manufactured not made. None display the nuances of terroir, the term that winemakers use to describe the myriad factors that contribute to a fine wine’s unique character.
At Siciliano’s Market we focus on terroir driven wines, many of which retail in the $9.00 to $15.00 range. A majority of them are produced by winemakers who tend their own vines and grow and process their own fruit. That’s not to say that if you want to splurge on a high-end bottle you can’t find it at Siciliano’s. We stock a good selection of those too.
Our mission at Siciliano’s is to give our customers the best bang for their wine buying budget. To me, that’s what being a fine wine merchant is all about.
The following are just a few of the terroir driven wines currently on our shelves. (Prices and availability subject to change.)
Nespolino Sangiovese Merlot, 2018, $9.79/750 ml bottle - "This Sangiovese is genuine and easy to drink. It has a bright red color with violet highlights. It has a rich bouquet with aromas of red fruits which are typical of the Sangiovese from this area, such as violet and cherry notes. This is a wine for every occasion with its fresh, fruity taste and medium structure thanks to its delicate tannins."
Nespolino Trebbiano Chardonnay, 2018, $9.79/750 ml bottle - "Fresh and approachable, with a straw-yellow color and light green highlights. The perfume is intense: citrus. Two of the main white grape varieties are sourced to notes of the Trebbiano are blended with riper tropical fruit produce Nespolino. The wine celebrates Nespoli and aromas of Chardonnay, such as pineapple, papaya and not only its local flavors, but also its combination with
mango. The final taste is an overall well-balanced feeling. an international variety which has good results in the Romagna area."
Ryder Estate Pinot Noir, 2017, $11.69/750 ml bottle - "Lush, silky and balanced, our Pinot Noir delivers with notes of red cherry, plum and mocha."
Ryder Estate Cabernet, 2017, $11.69/750 ml bottle - "Rich, supple and bold, our Cabernet Sauvignon boasts dark berries, plum and mocha."
Ryder Estate Chardonnay, 2017, $11.69/750 ml bottle - "Bright, focused and elegant, our Chardonnay delights with notes of citrus, pear and vanilla."
New and Returning Beer
2nd Black Noise, $3.79/12oz - " Dark brown color with a dark brown head that is over a finger in depth. Malt heavy aroma, followed by an equally intense roasted malt flavor right off the bat. Dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, and smoke. Robust flavors and thankfully it’s only semi-sweet. Earthy and piney hops, with a bitterness that accumulates on the back-end. The mouthfeel is chewy and thick with nice carbonation that tries to hide the high 9.4% ABV. Long, dry, lingering finish of malty goodness." (Source) 2nd Shift Katy, $4.39/12oz - " Don't know what to call it besides a Brett Beer. This one gets aged for 3 months in oak barrels with Brettanomyces Lambicus, a cool yeast that gives this beer a wonderfully pretty aroma and flavor that everyone better like or else I'll look you up and teach you a lesson." (Source) 2nd Shift LSD, $4.39/12oz - " Liquid Spiritual Delight is a stout that is a chewy, chocolaty and a joy to behold. Just friggin drink it." (Source) 2nd Shift Sunny Cat, $4.09/16oz - " New England style IPA brewed with oats, lactose, Amarillo & Citra hops, and dried tangerine peel." (Source) 2nd Shift Technical Ecstasy, $3.29/16oz - " Brewed with Bohemian Pils malt and Saaz hops Technical Ecstasy pours a stunning hazy straw color with an enormous dense white head, the hallmark of a fresh Pilsner. The hops’ floral, slightly spicy aroma immediately lures you in. The medium-bodied mouth feel produces a soft, crackery maltiness immediately followed by spicy, slightly grassy notes." (Source) Bells Song of the Open Road, $2.29/12oz - " The fifth of 7 beers celebrating a literary classic, and one of our favorites, Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman. A sipper that is nice and malty with notes of baked bread, brown sugar and dark fruit. A perfect winter companion to help keep you warm and toasty." (Source) Big Lake Barrel Aged Vanilla Dark Star, $5.89/16oz - " The renowned vanilla version of our classic barrel aged breakfast stout." Limit 2 (Source) Blackrocks Raevn, $2.19/12oz - No commercial description. Blackrocks Starman, $2.19/12oz - " Simocoe. Citra. amarillo. columbus. mosaic. Take an adventurous exploration on a classic style." (Source) Dogfish Head Vibrant P'Ocean, $2.59/12oz - "A kettle sour brewed with pilsner malt, malted wheat, elderberry, elderflower, sliced lemons and Belgian fleur-de-sel." (Source) Dogfish Head Perfect Disguise, $2.79/12oz - "Hiding deeper behind that German disguise is the double dry-hopping of an American Double IPA, with nearly 4 lbs. of German and American hops per barrel. It brings tropical flavors of citrus, tangerine, mango, gooseberries and peach." (Source) Drafting Table Rezolute, $3.29/16oz - " Rezolute is an IPA from Drafting Table Brewing Company in Wixom, Michigan. Rezolute is Drafting Table's flagship IPA, and was released initially as a taproom exclusive. It's been making it's way slowly out of the taproom, and weighs in at 7.7%."(Source) Hopewell Dorkmunder, $3.29/16oz - " Dorkmunder is an Export-style Lager inspired by those brewed in Dortmund, Germany. Slightly stronger than similar styles of the region, this lager has a balanced malt and hop profile, medium body and a floral, crisp finish." (Source) Hopewell Lil Buddy, $1.69/8oz - " Lil Buddy is a delightful little lager, a snack, a proverbial plus-one. This easy-going, light-hearted lager sidles right up with other boozy pals, but surely holds its own if you’re just looking for a little less — which, sometimes, is more." (Source) Hopewell Ride or Die, $2.99/16oz - "Ride or Die is a Pale Ale you can depend on — a bona fide fridge staple. Bright neon flavors of grapefruit and pine give way to a pleasantly soft malt base and a quick slice of balancing bitterness. Reliably tasty without a fuss." (Source) Hopewell Vibe Check, $3.79/16oz - " Vibe Check is an IPA for the modern day. Brewed with new-wave Idaho 7 and Sabro hops, this beer is packed with layers of tropical fruit and citrus flavors, laced with a pleasantly piney bitterness for balance. You good?" (Source) Hubbard Cave Fresh IIPA V15, $4.69/16oz - IIPA - Imperial Hazy / NEIPA Hubbard Cove Coco Van, $8.59/16oz - American imperial stout Left Hand Peanut Butter Milk Stout, $2.59/12oz - Sweet stout Mitten Bean Ball, $1.99/12oz - " A light Blonde Ale made with Dutch Almond Pastry Coffee. Smooth and delicate." (Source) Mitten West Coast Swing, $1.99/12oz - "Gold medal winner at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival. Subtle caramel and crisp amber malt notes enveloped in a malty and smooth body." (Source) Rogue Newport Nights, $4.39/16oz - " Newport Nights opens with aromas of mango, papaya, and tangerine followed by an atom bomb of pine and grapefruit, ultimately delivering a monstrous hop punch that is surprisingly smooth." (Source) Rogue Rhubarb Schmurbarb, $3.59/16oz - " Inspired by the seedlings grown in the Rogue Farms Revolution Garden, strawberries and rhubarb play nicely together in this sweet and sour ale." (Source) Rogue Rolling Thunder, $16.49/16.9oz - " Rolling Thunder Stouted Whiskey combines the spice and citrus tones of Oregon Oak, the flavor of the original whiskey and the deep, dark tones from the stout. It is big, bold and a true one-of-a-kind whiskey that bridges the gap between Single Malt and Bourbon." (Source) Saugatuck Maggie's Irish Ale, $1.89/12oz - " This balanced, mahogany colored Irish Ale is brewed with locally harvested Michigan Honey – creating well rounded flavors of caramel and tea that sign in beautiful symphony with subtle hints of malt sweetness. " (Source) Schramm's Cranberry, $49.69/375ml - " Our Cranberry mead takes the distinct tartness of the earthy, fragrant and penetrating cranberry and matches it with the sweet, yet balanced style for which Schramm’s Mead is known." (Source) Schramm's Lutowka Cherry, $33.09/375ml - " This unique incarnation of The Statement is made with Lutowka Morello-type cherries from Poland. The taste is definitely cherry, but more focused, brighter and with a touch more acidity than our standard Balaton version." (Source) Shacksbury Deer Snacks, $4.79/16oz - " This is our third vintage of Deer Snacks and by far the snackiest. This can is a blend of wild apples and local Vermont orchard apples, native yeast fermented and can conditioned down to 0 sugar. " (Source) Shorts Uber Goober, $2.59/12oz - "Über Goober is an Oatmeal Stout brewed with peanuts. Pitch black in color with a mocha head, this beer has strong aromas of peanut butter, roast, chocolate, and oats. Full bodied with a creamy mouthfeel, the well-balanced chocolate and peanut flavors meld together like a peanut butter cup with a smooth finish." (Source) Une Annee Peche, $7.19/16oz - American wild ale