Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Celebrating Autumn with Hot Mulled Cider

Today is National Hot Mulled Cider Day – one of my favorite beverage holidays. There’s just something cozy about a steaming mug of apple cider out by a bonfire on a windy autumn evening.

Hot Mulled Apple Cider Recipe

1 gallon apple cider
½ cup brown sugar
6 whole cloves
1 tsp whole allspice
Dash of nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick for each mug

Heat the ingredients to boiling and then reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Or, double the recipe and place in a large slow cooker and let it simmer all evening.

You can also add a shot of bourbon or spiced rum to each drink for an extra autumn kick.


~ Joy

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

5 Tips for Celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month

It all began in 2007 when Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning sponsored a bill that proclaimed the month of September as National Bourbon Heritage Month.

Bourbon was first designated as "America’s Native Spirit” in a 1964 Act of Congress. But the Commonwealth of Kentucky has been home to bourbon and its rich, cultural history for over 200 years.

If you're looking for a way to get your Kentucky Bourbon groove on this month, here are five ideas to get you in the “spirit” of things...

Experience the Difference
Not all wines are the crafted the same, and neither are all bourbons. To discover what type of bourbon you prefer, grab a glass and explore the three main bourbon groups: traditional (corn), wheat and rye.

Traditional (corn) bourbon contains at least 70% corn with equal parts of barley and rye. Evan Williams, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey distilleries craft traditional bourbons.

Wheat bourbons contain a higher amount of wheat with corn and barley blended in. This type of bourbon is softer and sweeter than the traditional. Wheat bourbon producers include Maker’s Mark, Pappy Van Winkle and Old Grand-Dad.

Rye bourbons are heavy on rye and provide a spicy, more robust flavor profile. These bold bourbons are the mainstays of Buffalo Trace, Four Roses and Woodford Reserve distilleries.

Explore the Legacy
Brush up on your bourbon whiskey knowledge at the Oscar Getz Museum in Bardstown Kentucky. Located in Spalding Hall, this museum contains a 50-year collection of rare whiskey memorabilia, from authentic moonshine stills, to advertising art, to rare whiskey bottles, with artifacts that date from pre-colonial tines to post-Prohibition.

Celebrate the Heritage
Every September, Bardstown Kentucky – Bourbon Capital of the World – hosts the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, and this is the week! Today through Sunday (September 15 – 20, 2015) you can sample bourbons from master distillers as well as regional micro-distilleries from around the state. Enjoy historical tours, bourbon tastings and distillery trips: the trifecta for bourbon lovers.

Travel the Trail
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail, established in 1999, provides visitors with tours, tastings and information about the art and science of bourbon production. Nine distilleries make up the trail, which covers bourbon’s beginnings in the 1700s, up through the “bourbon experience” of today. The trail has averaged nearly 2.5 million visitors a year for the past five years – a great sign that bourbon is the favored “native spirit.”

Take the Craft Tour, Too

The Bluegrass State is also home to a burgeoning Craft Bourbon Trail.  This state-of-the-art tour highlights almost a dozen micro-distilleries scattered throughout Kentucky, offering handcrafted samples served with a side of entrepreneurial history and passion.

And remember, while whiskey can be made any where in the world, bourbon can only be made in the U.S.



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How Sweet It Is – National Honey Mead Month

Along with cooler temperatures and more colorful leaves, September is also the month to celebrate National Honey Month!

According to the National Honey Board around 60,000 bees make up a hive. These bees travel up to 55,000 miles, visiting more than two million flowers along the way just to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey!

To harvest honey, bee keepers collect the honeycomb frames kept in bee boxes and scrape off the wax seals that the bees use to protect the honey. The frames are then placed in a machine that spins the nectar from the combs.

The honey is then strained to remove any remaining wax, or other debris, before being bottled and sold. But there are other uses for this golden nectar, namely making mead.

Mead is one of the oldest fermented drinks in the world. During the Middle Ages, herbs, grapes, grains, and fruit wines were blended with fermented honey and water to make variations of the original mead beverage.

In the U.S. there are more than 300 different kinds of honey. That's due to the different types of flowers that grow in an area, which affect the honey's color and flavor. A lighter honey will be mild in taste while a darker honey will have a more robust flavor.

Mead is not only crafted as a wine with grapes, but also as an ale or beer when mixed with barely and wheat, and also as a smooth honey liqueur.

Plan a jaunt out to a regional winery that makes mead this weekend and relish those honeyed heavenly flavors of the oldest fermented beverage known to man.

Now that is “sweet!”

~ Joy

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Life is a Cabernet – At Least On This Day!

Get ready Cab lovers; tomorrow, September 3rd, is National Cabernet Sauvignon Day! This global event is held the Thursday before Labor Day (in America) each year, so put it on your calendar and share the news with your Cab loving friends.

The “holiday” was started in 2009 by Rick Bakas as a social media event (#CabernetDay) to celebrate the grape. Wineries and wine shops in major cities around the world began promoting it to help entice Cabernet drinkers into their establishments for special tastings and sales. Six  years later, the event is still being celebrated.

So what should you know about Cabernet Sauvignon? There are over half-a-million acres of this grape grown around the world; it isn’t called the “King of Red Wines” for nothing. Cab wines are a deep red and crafted in a dry style. Cabs boast a full body, and wonderfully deep, rich flavors that can range from bell peppers, to tobacco, to black cherries and berries that will tantalize your taste buds. The tannins are bold; there’s an earthiness to Old World Cabs while the California Cabs are more fruit-forward.

What are some good food matches for this “bad” boy? Look for dishes that are high in fat like steak, burgers, lamb and ribs. You can also enjoy it with pizza, pastas with a red meaty sauce, bittersweet chocolates, and cheese with a bite. (Think Cheddar, Blue and Camembert.)

Get ready to party tomorrow with a great Cabernet, good friends and a delectable meal because life is a Cabernet – at least for one day each year!

~ Joy

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Six Wines to Celebrate the End of Summer

The ‘unofficial’ end of summer is almost here. We still have a few more weeks of warm (OK – hot) weather, but school has started and those lazy days are drawing to a close. Time to plan one more picnic, cookout, or great all-out get-together and bid summer a final adieu. 

Great parties call for great food and great wine.  White wines have been the mainstay of summer, crisp, light, and mainly chilled. So let’s send off the season with an eye toward those moody autumnal red wines. Fire up the grill and let’s start pairing!

Burgers and Zin   

Try a full-bodied Zinfandel. The Zin’s fruity and spicy flavors will go well with a burger, or ribs and a Zin is wonderful with other grilled red meats.

Steak and Malbec

You won’t fail by serving a Cabernet Sauvignon with steak, but another great wine that’s often overlooked is Malbec. The tannins are hearty, the aroma can have hints of plum or tobacco, and the flavor should be fruity.  

Pork and Barbera

Although I won’t hesitate to pair a red with pork, many still feel more comfortable pairing a white wine with ‘the other white meat,’ especially when entertaining. If so, then grab a chilled bottle of Gewurztraminer for a nice alternative. Otherwise, get adventurous and try a Barbera with grilled pork.

Brats/Dogs and Options

A Zinfandel will work well with grilled hot-dogs. If you’re adding a chili sauce, go for a Beaujolais. For grilled brats, try a Pinot Noir.

Chicken and Merlot

Yes, I know, Chardonnay is the natural answer, but if you adhere to the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) rule, then pour a Merlot with robust berry flavors for a tasty white wine alternative.


Seafood and Pinot

Pinot Grigio’s crispness goes well with plain, grilled fish or shrimp. If you’re grilling salmon, tuna or mackerel then pull out a Pinot Noir.

Of course, sauces and sides will affect your pairing, so take a bite of the food and a sip of the wine to see what you like. Remember, wine is subjective; the main point is to celebrate the end of summer with the food, the wines, and the people you love - so go enjoy!

~ Joy

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

16 Catchy Wine Sayings

It doesn’t matter what your interest, there are always some catchy sayings on the internet. For my fellow wine lovers, here are just a few that have more than a "sip of truth" to them … 

For a Bad Day:

Or Bad Week ....

For a Bad Wine: 

For Dining:


For Health:

For the Holidays:

For the Best of Times:

And Just Because:

'Nough said ...
~ Joy