Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 26 Is “Make Up Your Own Holiday” Day

Finally! A day to celebrate all those apparently forgotten wines.

Yes, there are plenty of wine designated holidays: National Wine Day, National Drink Wine Day, Chardonnay Day, Pinot Noir Day, Sauvignon Blanc Day, Champagne Day, Muscato Day…. (You get the idea.)

But if your favorite drew the short straw in the list of wine holidays then tomorrow is your chance to rectify the situation. March 26 is “Make Up Your Own Holiday” Day.

While you may not want to take the time to jump through all of the bureaucratic hoops to designate an “official” day, you can proclaim it to be whatever day you’d like tomorrow on social media.

I believe we should have a special day for my favorite dark, brooding wine, so for me tomorrow will be National Merlot Day.

Now, it's your turn. Take a moment, select your favorite (yet often ignored) wine and tell the world that you'll be celebrating tomorrow with a glass of _____________.

It’s time every wine had it's day!


~ Joy

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

4 Spring Meats Matched With Wines

Spring brings an influx of holidays: Good Friday, Easter, Passover and the Spring Equinox. Holiday and festive meals are usually prepared for these events, but choosing a wine to pair with spring meats can be daunting. Here’s a handy meat-matching guide to make the wine selection process easier.

~ Joy

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

5 Tips For Cooking with Wine

I’m sure you’ve heard the old line: “I love cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food.” And it's true! There are numerous dishes that are amazingly better with the addition of a bit of wine, beer or liqueur. Alcohol also makes a wonderful tenderizer and marinade. But just what percentage of alcohol remains in the food when you’re done?

Let's take a look at five tips for cooking with wine and how much of it remains in the final dish.

1) What wine to use? 
It's your choice. There are numerous cooking wines available, but you can also use what’s left from the bottle you opened last night, as long as it pairs well with the dish.

2) Wine is not a main flavor ingredient. 
Wine and other liqueurs are used as an ingredient to bring out the dish's flavor. And sometime, for the WOW factor of a visual presentation.

3) Wine is best cooked at a lower temperature.
Wine is usually added to a sauce then simmered slowly in order to concentrate those sublime flavors while it is also reducing the alcohol content.

4) Always simmer the wine first. 
Then if called for, you can add any cream, broths or stock to the recipe and not cover up the heightened flavors provided by the wine.

5) Pay attention to the time. 
Cook the wine on too high of heat for too long and the flavors can become acidic and burnt. Cooking with wine is more of a slow, simmering process.

The US Department of Agriculture has calculated the percentage of alcohol remaining in a dish based on the heat temperature used and the amount of time it took to cook the dish.

• Alcohol added to boiling liquid and removed from heat retains 85%
• Alcohol that is flamed (Flambé) retains 75%
• Alcohol added without heat and food is stored in overnight (marinade) retains 70%
• Alcohol that is stirred into a mixture and baked retains as follows:

Time in Hours               % of Alcohol Retained
15 minutes                            40%
30 minutes                            35%
1 hour                                   25%
1.5 hours                              20%
2 hours                                 10%
2.5 hours                              5%

Cooking with wine will add extra moisture to a dish and help reduce the need for oils and fats. Usually white wine goes best with more delicate dishes: fish and chicken with veggies, while red wines are hardier and can give highly seasoned meats and side dishes an interesting depth. Don’t be afraid to experiment – and enjoy the results.

~ Joy

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Celebrate National Mulled Wine Day

I’ll make this short and sweet. Tuesday, March 3rd is National Mulled Wine Day. Sipping a glass of mulled wine is the perfect way to bid winter a final farewell before spring rushes in with warmer temperatures and those wonderful crisp, white wines.

Mulled or warmed wines were first served in Rome during the 2nd century. As the Romans traveled the continent, they shared the mulled wine recipe with other communities including what is now England, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.

Mulled wine goes by many names including glögg (Sweden), gløgg (Norwegian), gluhwein (German), vin chaud (French), and vin brulé (Italian). It is usually served during the holiday season as a festive drink at parties or around a bonfire.

Mulled wine recipes abound. Most call for using red wine, usually claret or port, and adding various mulling spices which can include ginger, cloves, cinnamon and anise. Fruit may also be added; the most popular being orange slices, raisins or cranberries. The drink is then served piping hot or warm.

Here is a standard crockpot recipe for mulled wine that will keep you warm all evening as you celebrate the end of winter and anticipate the coming spring.

Mulled Wine Recipe
1 bottle of red wine (your choice)
Up to ½ cup sugar (according to taste)
Slice of ginger root
6 cloves
½ teaspoon aniseed
½ teaspoon allspice
2 cinnamon sticks + one for each mug
1 orange (peeled and sliced)
½ cup raisins or cranberries
¼ to ½ cup brandy (optional)

Pour wine into crockpot, add sugar and stir in spices. Turn dial to medium and let wine begin to simmer (20 minutes). Turn down to low and add fruit to crockpot, along with brandy, if using.  Stir well. Wait 10 minutes, pour wine in mugs (leave spices in crockpot), and enjoy by a roaring fire.

~ Joy

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

5 Reasons For Celebrating National Drink Wine Day

Today is February 18 and that means it is National Drink Wine Day in the U.S. This annual celebration is a way to tout the health benefits of wine, pay tribute to the ways wine enhances food and lifestyle, and it's just a great reason to enjoy a glass.

1) Wine Is Popular
Archaeological sites that relate to wine date back more than 6,000 years. Today there are over 20-million acres dedicated to grapes across the globe. That’s literally thousands of wines being crafted around the world every day. Bliss!

2) Wine Provides Health Benefits
A glass of wine a day has been proven to increase heart health, help in weight reduction, boost immunity, lessen blood clots and reduce forgetfulness. Ideal!

3) You Already Have a Bottle
This is one holiday where you don’t have to buy anything, cause if you’re a true oenophile, you’ll already have some wine stashed away at home ready for celebrating with. Cheers!

4) Wine is a Social Event
Go out with friends to your favorite wine bar or restaurant and celebrate with a glass of red or white, sweet or dry. Maybe a trip to a local winery is in order or a visit to your favorite wine shop. Enjoy!
5) Stay In Touch Through Wine
Share the day with friends by sending a “Drink Wine Day” e-card. After all, if you didn't know about it, they might not either. Share!

 Several events are planned across the country, mainly in larger cities. Check out Local Wine Events to see what’s planned for today in your region. You can also keep up with events on the Drink Wine Day FaceBook site.

If, for some reason you can’t partake today, no worries. There are actually over a dozen holidays designated for "adult beverage drinks" including National Scotch Day on July 27, National Moscato Day on May 9, National Martini Day on June 19, and National Wine Day on May 25. (Yes, it is different from today’s celebration, which is National DRINK Wine Day ;)

So pour a glass (or two, it is a celebration) and ponder those esoteric thoughts that wine always brings about ...

Here’s to wine,
Our favorite drink!
A refreshing beverage
That helps you think.

The more you think,
The wittier you feel,
So I want wine at every meal!

(Obviously, I need a glass of wine, right now!)


~ Joy

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

7 Sexy Wines for Valentine’s

Valentine’s Day is this Saturday. It's a day when many people’s thoughts turn to love, romance and, well let’s face it – sex. And we all know that sex sells, even in the wine business. Especially in the wine business.

If you’re searching for a seductive name or label to get your message across this Valentine’s Day, here are 7 lavish wines with plenty of sex appeal.

1) Slow Dancer Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Crafted in Napa Valley, this Cabernet has a velvety texture with the arresting aromas of raspberries and caramel, and the sensuous flavors of berry, current and plum. Winner of a gold medal at the 2014 San Diego International Wine Competition, this Cab can put the moves on a steak dinner. Afterwards, pour another glass of Slow Dancer and cue up some Marvin Gaye; maybe Let’s Get It On while you step out on the floor for another slow dance … Average price $14 a bottle.

2) Foreplay Chardonnay 2013
Naked Winery is known for wines with naughty names but delightful taste. Foreplay is no different. This crisp Chardonnay has been lightly oaked to enhance the teasing flavors of green apples and ripe pears before delivering a luscious experience with a silky finish. Sells for around $20 a bottle. After Foreplay, you might also consider some other Naked Winery wines like Missionary, Smitten Kitten, Vixen or Penetration. Oh! Orgasmic wines are an option, too.

3) Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir 2012

From Central Coast California, this wine won a gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition last year. With the aroma of cloves and berries, this Pinot offers a tease of pomegranates with a kick of acidity. Although the Cycles Gladiator Winery and brand was sold off to another company last year, you may still be able to find this jewel on store shelves. It’s a tasty romp for an average price of $11 a bottle.

4) Luscious Lips Red Wine Blend 2012
Sweet and seductive, this red blend promises the depth of a kiss. Crafted by Falkner Winery in Temecula California, there is also a sweet White Luscious Lips version along with a mulled wine known as Hot Lips, and a Risqué Riesling that’s more in line with a semi-dry wine. Grab a glass and judge the pucker-factor for yourself. Sells for around $15 a bottle.

5) Quickie! Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Some Young Punks is crafting small estate vinos in Australia with some racy wine names: Naked on Roller Skates, Passion has Red Lips, Double Love Trouble, Lust Collides – you get the picture. In fact, the label is like something off the cover of a pulp fiction serial from the 1950’s. Quickie! is a spirited vino, aged in stainless steel for 6 months to provide that fresh yet flirty Sav Blanc flavor of minerality and citrus with a floral aroma. This one might leave you wanting more.

6) Zin-Phomaniac Zinfandel 2012
A Zinfandel crafted from old-vine Lodi Zinfandel grapes: perfect! This vino offers up the aromas of raspberry, cherry and spice before arousing the palate with lush fruit and sultry spice flavors. Zin-Phomanic has scored two silver medals, one at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the other at the 2014 Los Angeles International Wine Competition. Let this full-bodied vino awaken your obsession with Zin.

7) Pro•mis•Q•ous White Wine Blend
A casual white table wine that has a “wanton disregard for convention.” Crafted from an assortment of California grapes including Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer, this crisp white blend has been aged in stainless steel to bring out the bright flavors of lush melon, pear and citrus. Serve with oysters or caviar for a romantic tete-a-tete, or enjoy with omelets the morning after … it’s a decent bang for your buck at $12 a bottle.

They say that wine is one of the best aphrodisiac drinks around, so consider this the perfect the time to do some hands-on research this weekend. Grab your sweetie and enjoy one of these decadent wines for Valentine’s. You never know what might develop …

~ Joy