Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bring in the New Years Right with Some Bubbly!

Here are some great New Year wine recipes to celebrate accordingly... ok not all of them include wine, but they look fun!  Please remember, please drink responsibly:

Champagne Punch III (from
Champagne Punch III Recipe


  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen cranberry juice concentrate
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
  • 1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle white wine, chilled
  • 1 liter carbonated water, chilled
  • 2 (750 milliliter) bottles champagne, chilled
  • 1 lemon - sliced, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, garnish


  1. In large punch bowl, combine the cranberry juice concentrate, pink lemonade concentrate, limeade concentrate, white wine, club soda and champagne. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh mint leaves.

Champagne Peach Punch (from


  • 3 (11.5 ounce) cans peach nectar
  • 1 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup peach brandy
  • 1/4 cup grenadine syrup
  • 1 (32 fluid ounce) bottle carbonated water
  • 3 (750 milliliter) bottles champagne


  1. Chill all ingredients. In a large punch bowl combine peach nectar, concentrated orange juice, lemon juice, brandy and grenadine. Mix well and pour in the carbonated water and champagne.

Holiday Mudslide (from
Ingredients to use:1 ounce  Kahula Coffee Liqueur
6 cubes  crushed Ice
2 scoops  vanilla Ice Cream
4 ounces  Chocolate Milk
Directions:1. Crush 6 ice cubes in a blender. 2. Add two scoops of vanilla ice cream. 3. Mix the chocolate syrup with the milk to make chocolate milk(or just add regular chocolate milk, doesnt matter) add four ounces. 4. Add one ounce of Kahlua. 5. Add one ounce of Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream.* 5a.**Optional: Add one ounce of vodka if this is to your taste. 6. Blend until smooth. Serve in a tall, chilled glass. Top with whipped cream and choclate shavings. *Note: You may substitute the Baileys Mint Chocolate with regular Baileys/Irish Cream, or duplicate the effect with a combination of Irish cream/creme de coco/creme de menthe.
Cranberry Champagne Cocktails (recipe from


  • 1-ounce cranberry juice (sweetened)
  • 1 wedge lime
  • Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Cranberries (frozen)


In a chilled Champagne flute add cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime. Top off the glass with Champagne. Garnish with 3 or 4 cranberries.

And for all of those out in the cold weather states...
Hot Buttered Rum (recipe from
Single Cup Hot Buttered Rum Recipe


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger dark Jamaican rum
  • 2 tablespoons creme brulee flavored ice cream
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup simmering water
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg


  1. Combine butter, brown sugar, and confectioners' sugar in a large coffee mug; stir the mixture together with a fork until well combined. Pour in the rum, add the ice cream and cinnamon, and fill the remainder of the mug with simmering water. Mix the drink with the fork until the ice cream and butter have melted together to make a creamy topping. Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg, and serve.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Stop Wine Shop

When we were looking for some holiday gifts, we immediately headed to the tasting room at Sutter Home Winery.  Why?  Because they offer a wide arrange of wine gifts that are super cool, super trendy, or super classy.  :)  While there on one of our visits throughout the month of December, "Johnny Depp" recommended that we do a tasting.  "Why not?  We're there."  We did, and we got to talk to several of the tasting room employees and had a jolly ol' time, as always, when we visit Sutter Home.  They introduced us to their new thing: One Stop Wine Shop, which features ALL of the Trinchero brands under 1 umbrella website.  This idea was ingenious. 

Bet you never knew Sutter Home was included in several different labels you see at wine stores, did you?  Well here you go - shipping and prices are specific to a state, which you can enter when you go to the website.  Brands include: Bandit, Folie a Deux, Fre Alcohol Removed, Jargon, Joel Gott, Main Street Winery, Menage a Trois, Newman's Own, Napa Cellars, SeaGlass Wines, The Show, Sutter Home, Trinchero Napa Valley, and Trinity Oaks.

The website also aims to start listing recipes and other fun wine-based activities.  Check it out.  You might be surprised to find one of these brands in your local wine retail store.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wine Contraversy: To Cork or Not to Cork?

In a recent email blast, these "Natural Cork" commercials were flashed in some of the headlines as being controversial.  Some individuals in the industry found them sexist and insulting.  I wanted to share with wine consumers (who are not in the wine industry) to get their thoughts... well and to bring the controversy to your home computer.  The commercials were meant to be funny... and to inspire the daily wine consumer to buy wines bottled with natural cork.  I would like to note that if you are purchasing wine at a retail store or a restaurant, you have no idea if the wine is bottled with a natural, technical, or synthetic cork until the bottle is removed of its capsule.  And I have been to at least 3 high-end restaurants in the past 2 years that have served us wines (that were on their wine list) bottled with a screw cap.  Regardless, please feel free to share opinions in the comments below.  I like hearing back from my readers, and would like to encourage open discussion about a topic that I probably take for granted.  Enjoy!

What do you think?  The original press release stating the problem with the videos is at the following link: Wineindustryinsight

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wine Mixers: Sangria!

Another exciting wine-based beverage to bring in the holiday cheer:  Sangria.  This was especially popular with "Johnny Depp" and me last Christmas when we visited a Spanish restaurant in Florida.  What a great drink for the light-hearted nature of the few days following Christmas.  

Sangria photo from Google Images

Sangria is a traditional Spanish wine-punch beverage.  Traditionally it is made with red wines (tis the red wine season!) but there are some variations out there using white wines (aka White Wine Sangria).

Sangria photo from Google Images

It's easy to make (and easy to drink).  Look for a young (less than 2 years old), inexpensive red wine that isn't oaked.  Some good varieties include Gamay, Chambourcin, Grenache, Mourvedre, Merlot, Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache, Dolcetto, and Lambrusco.  You can also use some mulled wine as the base, or buy a "Sangria Wine" from some of your local wineries or spirit stores.  (Just be aware that not everyone carries pre-made Sangria wines.  But you should feel free to ask your local winery what would be a good base wine for a homemade Sangria.  If they give you a funny look, say you're having a large party and serving Spanish foods, so Sangria pairs well!)  Add some sliced fruit to a large pitcher, some sweetening agent (table sugar, honey, simple syrup, orange juice, turbinado, peach/apricot nectar), some ice, a spritz of brandy, and a pinch of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), add the wine... and wa la!  Homemade Sangria - drinks all around!

Need some real Sangria recipes?  Here's a couple fun ones that I found:
Lisa's Sangria Recipes  <--- This page has lots of Sangria options. also features a "How to Make Sangria" video.  I liked it.

What's great about Sangria is that it's fruity, you can alter the sweetness to your preference, and you can serve it with almost anything.  We had Sangria with some seafood paella.  Yuuuuuummmm.  

It's fun, it's festive, and it's a good drink for winter cold or hot weather.  Hey - if it's snowing outside, have an indoor Sangria-Mania party.  Cheers!

Sangria with "Johnny Depp" and his family at The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, FL
(This photo was taken in the St. Augustine Room... if you get a chance to go, which I highly suggest, ask for a tour!  It's worth it.)
Oh yes.  P.S. "Johnny Depp" is not really... Johnny Depp.  ;)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Wine Christmas: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our glasses to yours this holiday season!

Dec. 2008 - Denise & Mallie: Photo taken by Denise's Brother, Chris

This post is dedicated to my dear cat, Mallie, who passed away this December 2010.  She was my little traveler who went with me where-ever I chose to live, who sat on my arms every night I wrote a Blog entry, and brought our home lots of laughter and love.  Mallie is dearly missed this holiday season.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Wine Christmas: A Christmas Wine Movie

I know!  Who would've thought?  There's a Christmas movie out there that features wine?  Well... sort of.  The Holiday starring Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz, and Jude Law is a holiday movie that has a lot of wine in it.  Does that count?

It is, after all, Christmas Eve.  Why not snuggle up with your honey, put in this funny chick flick, grab a bottle of wine, wait for the kids to go to sleep, and enjoy the peacefulness of the holiday season?  I promise, you will not be disappointed!  It's romantic, witty, and funny!  See if you can catch all the wine that's poured throughout the movie!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Wine Christmas: Creating Personalized Labels

Some wineries will allow you to add a personalized label to a bottle, or series of bottles, for a small additional fee.  But in case a winery does not allow you to do that, I saw that Avery actually lets you design and print wine labels for that extra personal touch.  Of course, you can also make personalized labels buying label stickers at an office supply store and using programs like Microsoft Publisher to design it.  If you do not feel comfortable putting the label on the bottle itself, buy a plain colored wine bag, and stick the label on the bag for a little extra flare!

Wine & Wrapped Gift with Custom Labels
(Photo from

Windsor Vineyards also takes the template making slightly farther, which has several different designs to choose from for Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years.  Just a thought for those that need finishing touches!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Wine Christmas: Christmas Cheer Coasters

I recently found these cute, furry, coasters while out shopping in Wine Country and I just had to share:

However, I've only found them available on one website: Perpetual Kid.  If you are in the Napa area, Sutter Home Winery is selling them at about $5 to $6 per slipper.  Just like the flip flops, any glass with a stem can slide right inside the slipper coaster.  I just thought they were a jolly hoot!  What a way to make the holiday wine drinking fun!  (And just wait - I predict these will be more common in Dec. 2011!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Wine Christmas: What to bring for a holiday party?

I have often felt like wine purchasing decisions should be based on your family - what you know they will like (or not like) is valuable information.  For Thanksgiving this year, "Johnny Depp" and I were warned that no one drank wine, but it was always made available for the Thanksgiving meal.  As we were the wine-picker-outers, "Johnny Depp" and I spent a lot of time thinking about 2 good wines (a red and a white) that would be universally accepted:

  • something with a varietal name that was well known (like Chardonnay) because most of the company were not wine drinkers,
  • that probably carried a little residual sugar (aka a slight sweetness... because market research shows that the majority of the U.S. population finds wines with a slight sweetness to be preferred), 
  • something clean (because we would be drinking it and know basic defects), 
  • and something under a $15 price point (just in case no one drank the wine...).  

Surprisingly, our choices were a hit, and other than a small volume of the red, everything was enjoyed by all who tried it.  

The above bullet-points are listed to give you an idea for something that would be a sure hit for any party, holiday gathering, or extravaganza where need a wine selected.  And Christmas (...if you are like my family...) is another day where someone brings the wine, it gets cracked open, and the family enjoys.  Use the list - print it out and take it to your local grocery store or wine shop, and give it to a person that works there that can help you select a wine.  As all retailers differ in what they carry, having some basic guidelines can help a person pick something out for you that will be good to try.

Photo From Google Images

Now, I've already recommended mimosas on yesterday's Blog for those who are enjoying an intimate affair with a small brunch.  But if there is a larger family involved, I suggest 3 wines - a red, a white, and a dessert (which I would recommend at least having a red and a white).

  • Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon - This goes very well with traditional beef-based Christmas dinners.  Cabernet Sauvignon also has the advantage of being well recognized as one of the most prestigious varieties in the wine world.  However, this is a dry wine... meaning that there is no sweetness to it.  Make sure that if you purchase this variety, the people you are serving it to will enjoy dry, red wines.
  • White Wine: Sauvignon Blanc - I guess I'm on a Sauvignon Blanc kick, because I find myself purchasing it more and more these days.  However, unless you are a definite lover of New Zealand and Australian Sauvignon Blancs, I would encourage you to try an alternative style from another region.  (The New Zealand and Australian regions produce Sauvignon Blancs that are very acidic and green, which may not be appropriate for the holiday food pairings.)  Many states offer Sauvignon Blancs that are locally produced.  If you want a full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, I already blogged about Provenance 2009 Sauvignon Blanc.  And I recently purchased SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc, but I have a feeling this will be more New Zealand style than Bordeaux style (like I'm recommending).  If worse comes to worse, Sutter Home and Gallo make some semi-sweet Sauvignon Blancs that you can find universally through the U.S.
  • Dessert Wine: A Port - This is a good after dinner sipping wine, but it also goes well with chocolate.  So if there is lots of chocolate around, grab a nice ruby port and pair up.  It will be sure to impress!
Remember, the holidays are to celebrate with loved wines.  The wine is only there to keep the memories alive!  Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Wine Christmas: Christmas Brunch with Mimosas

I'm happy to report that we are having Christmas brunch this 2010 holiday season!  And what makes Christmas brunch slightly better?  Why, mimosas of course!

Mimosas are a big hit for brunches in Wine Country, and they are an easy, crowd-friendly beverage that gets the family chuckling the day away.  A simple recipe: add 2/3 of your favorite sparkling (I recommend a "Brut" or "Extra Dry", but some also like "Asti" bubbly) to 1/3 of your favorite orange juice or grapefruit juice.  (Personally, I prefer grapefruit juice, but this is of course to your liking!)

Additional recipes at The Kitchen Sink share a mimosa recipe with added pomegranate seeds (see photo above).  Yum!  What a fun way to make wine a part of your Christmas day.  :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Wine Christmas: Decorating Your Tree in Wine Country Style

On a recent visit to a Christmas store, my mom found her very own "Wine Christmas Tree."  I was excited to hear that in Boston, Massachusetts, they love their wine trees!  Walking around Wine Country, you can find several tasting rooms that have their own version of a "Wine Christmas Tree."  I love it.  You can go classy or just plain fun with this theme!

A Wine Christmas Tree in MA (Photos taken by my mom)  :)

There's several cool things on this tree: not only are their normal Christmas lights, but the grapes themselves are lights (fun!)  I found a set of the purple grapes at for $28 and some green grapes on Google Shopping for $17.  

Another touch of class on this tree includes the gold leaves.  This is a big hit that I see all over Napa right now.  You can find all sorts of leaves dipped in gold, silver, and bronze.  They aren't exceptionally thrifty (about $10 to $25 per leaf), but they are beautiful (photos from Google Images):

Here are some vendors that sell these fine pieces of art:

And then there is the fun part to the tree: all those silly wine ornaments.  Here's a couple that just crack me up!

Lolita Mini-wine Holiday Ornament, Poinsettia
Lolita Mini-Wine Glass Ornaments ($12):

Tuscan Winery Chardonnay Wine Bottle In Glass Ball Christmas Ornament 3"
Cheers Bulb ($13):

Wine Bottle Cork Cage Ornament
Wine Cork Holder Ornament ($17):

Old World Christmas Wine Barrel Glass Ornament #32067
Wine Barrel Glass Ornaments ($10):

Tuscan Winery Deluxe Red Wine and Cheese Platter Christmas Ornament
Tuscan Wine Trays ($9):

Tuscan Winery Red Wine Bottle In Box Christmas Ornament
Wine in a Box Ornament ($8):

Wine Lovers Wine Bottle Duo In Rack Christmas Ornament
Wine Lovers Duo Ornament ($9):

Of course, if you cannot afford to buy tons of ornaments, stick with a color - like purple.  Buy some purple-toned ribbon, trim, and bulbs to add to your small series of wine ornaments.  These little extras you can buy fairly cheap at Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Michaels, etc.  Before you know it, you can continue to add to your "Wine Christmas Tree" every year.  And always make sure to add some bottles of wine for gifts underneath the tree.  ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Wine Gifts - Day 12: The Full Bottle Wine Glass

I've given a lot of thought to my last holiday gift idea that is wine related.  And I have to admit, that this thing amazed me.  The Full Bottle Wine Glass is quite a site to see (although I am not endorsing anyone out there to drink an entire bottle of wine by themselves by any means...).  But, nonetheless, this is one large glass.

DCI XL Giant Wine Glass (Holds a Full Bottle of WINE)
Photo from Google Shopping

The glass can hold an entire bottle of wine.  Doesn't this say "man gift" all over it?  It just so happens that it was a man that showed me how "cool" this trinket was... which is why I'm passing it onto you, readers!  It looks like you can get the glass for about $12 at various online stores including  What can I say?  Cheers!  (But please drink responsibly.)

DCI XL Glass

DCI XL Glass
Photos from

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Wine Gifts - Day 11: The Vinturi Aerator

The was another Christmas gift I received from "Johnny Depp" when we first started dating.  The gift was magical... and now... it's everywhere!  Tasting rooms and select Bed, Bath, and Beyond stores are hosting these Vinturi Aerators now, which means that you have the convenience of finding them easily.

Venturi Aerator for Red (black) and White (white) Wines

The original Vinturi Aerator was the black version, which is the one that I own.  Both the Red and White Wine Aerators work under the same function: through the Venturi Effect.  The idea is that as the wine passes through the tube, oxygen is quickly integrated into the wine, which changes the aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel of the wine.  Truth be told, it really does!  I've done a few blind tests with my guests and have found that people that drink wine regularly really taste a difference.  

Photo from Google Images

The Vinturi Aerator is essentially doing what a decanter does in a matter of seconds.  While a fine red wine may sit in a decanter for an hour as it breathes, the Vinturi can aerate it very quickly - directly from bottle to glass.  I've found it to be a useful tool when we find a wine that may have an attribute that is off-putting.  Usually, the quick integration of oxygen can blow off any unwanted aromas or flavors.  It also smooths out very harsh, tannic wines quite nicely. 

The Vinturi Aerator is definitely a gift for someone that knows their wine.  I like to serve up a glass that hasn't been aerated versus one that has.  It's usually a fun tasting.  Most places where you can purchase a Vinturi Aerator charge about $40 per aerator.  For more information on the company, visit:  Vinturi's can also be found at and

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Wine Gifts - Day 10: Drop Stop Pour Spouts

I don't know about you, but I get incredibly frustrated when a wine bottle drips after pouring.  There are all sorts of pouring gadgets that you can top off a wine bottle with to make pouring easier, but here's one of my personal favs: The Drop Stop Pour Spout!

Drop Stop Pour Spout - 2 PACK

Yup, it's that easy!  A little foil piece of paper makes pouring drip-free.  They are the thrifty stocking-stuffer of the 2010 Holiday Season that any wine drinker will surely appreciate.  They are reusable, by the way.  They might look like you can toss them, but you can definitely clean and re-use.  They are about $8 for a pack of 2 on, but you can also find these at your local winery tasting room and (where they are about $5 for a pack of 2).  Enjoy your drip-free wine pouring!

Drop Stop Pour Spout - 2 PACK
Photos from

And Google Images

Monday, December 13, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Wine Gifts - Day 9: Wine Clothes

I don't know who can possibly dislike wine t-shirts because some of them are just plain hilarious.  This is a perfect gift for college friends or "old-timers" who like a good laugh.  Just make sure you get the right size! 

Cafe Press features lots of custom made clothing, which is always a favorite site for me to visit when I need to find something for my brothers or girlfriends.  In fact, I've actually received gifts from here as well.  Fun, thrifty, and creative - these gifts let the ones you love know just how well you know them.

Eat Sleep Viticulture Shirt
Here's one that I own that features viticulture (the study of growing grapes) - $25 at Cafe Press

Know someone studying enology?  Here's some options also found at Cafe Press:
Enologist In Training T-Shirt
Female t-shirt: $29

Enologists ROCK Sweatshirt
Enologist Sweatshirt - $33

Trust Me I'm an Enologist Organic Cotton Tee
Men's Fitted Organic Cotton t-Shirt - $29

Know someone that likes a little extra wine humor?  Below are some options also found at Cafe Press... besides nothing in life should be so serious that you can't laugh at it, right?

Improve With Age Apron (dark)Wine Apron
Wine Apron - $28 to $30 (Can't you picture your silly dad wearing this while bar-b-qing?)

Standard t-Shirt (available in multiple colors) - $27

Wine For Husband Women's Tank Top
What Every Wife is Thinking... :) - $23

Group Therapy Shirt
Another one of my favorites... ok... I own this one, too - $25

German Proverb Shirt
How True - I bet some foodies out there would like this - $25

Vintage Baby Wine Label - Infant Bodysuit
Oh yeah - wine clothes for babies!  There's a bunch of these on Cafe Press, but I think this one is cute :) - $17

opps...I spilled again Wine T-Shirt
I think this is a great "man" t-shirt especially in the charcoal color, but then again, it'd probably also be good for someone you know that is a klutz... ;) - $27

There are so many more options available - multiple colors, shapes, sizes, shirt styles, etc.  Even things like polos, mugs, posters, pins, etc.  A gift for everyone!  And Cafe Press has nice shipping packaging - a bonus!