Wednesday, December 17, 2014

10 Tempting Holiday Toasts

Offering up a toast for the holidays is not as difficult as you might think. A toast is defined as being “a ritual in which a drink is taken as an expression of honor or goodwill.” We usually offer toasts at weddings, retirement parties, graduations, and dinners – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are always popular “toast” events.

But a toast doesn’t have to be a long, rambling, or memorized performance; it can be as simple as raising your glass toward someone, or to an event, saying a few words and drinking.

Rise to the occasion this holiday season and offer a variation of your own “peace on earth; goodwill to men toast. Here are ten Christmas toasts to get you started.

1) Here’s to holly and ivy hanging up, and something wet in every cup. 
– Ogden Nash

2) At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year. – Thomas Tusser

3) God bless us, every one – Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

4) At Christmas time, may you never forget what is worth remembering or remember what is best forgotten. – Irish Toast

5) Christmas ... A day when cheer and gladness blend, When heart meets heart And friend meets friend. - J. H. Fairweather

6) Wishing you more happiness than all my words can tell, not just for the holidays, but for all the year as well. 
– Author Unknown

7) May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope; The spirit of Christmas which is peace; The heart of Christmas which is love
– Ada V. Hendricks

8) Then let us be merry and taste the good cheer, And remember old Christmas comes but once a year. -Old Christmas carol 
9) One of the nice things about Christmas is that you can make people forget the past with a present. - Author Unknown

10) If you can’t be merry at Christmas, then you can drive the rest of us home when we are! – Mark Bromberg

Raise a glass and celebrate! Happy Hanukkah! Joyful Solstice! Merry Christmas! Warm Kwanzaa Wishes! and Season’s Greetings to one and all!

 ~ Joy

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

10 Food and Wine Pairings To Get You Through the Holidays

This seems to be the busiest time of year. You have a house to decorate, gifts to buy, parties to attend, meals to plan and not enough hours in the day to make it all work seamlessly. But you don’t have to sacrifice enjoying a decent meal paired with a complimentary wine during the rush. Here are ten suggestions to help make your holiday season a little less stressed and a bit jollier.

Beef Stew
1) Soups and stews are the staples of a winter meal and the heavier the better when it’s cold. For beef stew or chili consider pouring a substantial red like Cabernet or Syraz. For a creamy chicken or seafood chowder, a bottle of lightly oaked Chardonnay will do nicely. Serving more of a broth-based soup like Chicken Noodle or French Onion? Go with a glass of Pinot Noir.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
2) Busy nights call for simple meals and what’s simpler than spaghetti and meatballs. Mix up your favorite tomato sauce, pour over the pasta, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top, toast some Italian bread and pour a glass of Chianti. The acidity in the wine works with the tomatoes and the fruit-forward flavors will make the meal taste special.

Take Out
3) Sometimes it just has to be takeout! If you’re ordering a spicy Mexican meal, reach for a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. Opting for Italian? Grab a bottle of Sangiovese or a Zinfandel. For an Indian meal, uncork a dry Traminette or Vidal.

4) Party appetizers can run the gamut from savory to sweet and include everything from finger foods to tapas. Best to start the evening with a glass of Traminette or a sparkling wine: both have broad appeal and go with a multitude of flavors.

Fish Dinner
5) For a meaty Salmon or Tuna dinner serve a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. If you are having a more flaky fish like Tilapia or Flounder, a nicely chilled Sauvignon Blanc will enhance the meal.

Chicken Dinner
6) Having a GNO (Girl’s Night Out) for the holidays? Opt for a roast or grilled chicken meal and savor a glass of Pinot Noir or a nicely oaked Chardonnay. If you’re more of a wing girl, pass on the beer and try an off-dry Riesling or even a Malbec to put out the fire.

Steak and Potatoes
7) Having dinner out with the in-laws or your kid’s latest flame? Time for some major yet classy comfort food; think steak and potatoes served with a big bold wine like a Cabernet or red Zinfandel. By the end of the meal you’ll feel mellow, regardless of the dinner conversation.

8) For those who serve wild game during the holidays, go for a wine with an earthy taste. Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent with venison and a Barbera or Zinfandel will enhance the flavors of wild boar, goose and duck.

Cheese tray
9) Ah, the holiday cheese tray. You never know what flavors you’ll encounter on one of these little forays so be prepared for anything with a glass of dry sparkling wine. If you are a die-hard red drinker, opt for Pinot Noir’s friendly approach to most cheeses.

Dessert Tray
10) Since it’s the holidays, you must have dessert. (Trust me.) Revel in those tiny bubbles with tarts, fruit crisps and trifles, be it a sparkling Moscato or demi-sec champagne. For a more caramel-chocolate based dessert enjoy a classic Port.

And if you’re suddenly craving a sweet/salty fix get out the potato chips and savor them with a dessert wine. Seriously! Sherry, Port or Madeira all work well with salty foods.

The holidays are here: Go out and enjoy the festivities!

~ Joy

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

7 Holiday Gifts for the Wine Lover on Your List

The holiday season has arrived and with it comes the baffling job of selecting the “perfect” gift for everyone on your list. Well, if you’re shopping for a wine lover, or two, here are a few suggestions. (And FYI: I am not affiliated with any of these companies.)

1) There are times when the wine is just not chilled enough and adding an ice-cube is a bit tacky. So what’s a girl to do? Just drop in these little pearls and soon you’ll be chillin’ with style. SPARQ Wine Pearls come in a set of 4 stainless steel balls that will chill or maintain the temperature of your wine in the glass for at least 30 minutes. Now that’s a cool wine gift!  Order at

2) Wine geeks and tech geeks will love the Wine Cork USB Drive. Created using real wine corks, these little flash drives come with 8 GB storage and are compatible with Mac OS 10+ and Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Linux. Check out these little corkers at

3) And while we’re on the subject of computers, dress up your desk with a vino-inspired mouse pad. Several are designs are available, from the "Red Wines" mouse pad to those that celebrate the old art prints of the Roaring Twenties. With a non-slip rubber backing and hefty ¼” thickness, these pads work with an optical or ball-type mouse. Pounce on one at

4) So many wines, so little time. Besides selecting, cellaring, and enjoying the
wine – you also have to remember when you opened it, so that it can be drank before its time is past. Enter New York designer George Lee who has created “A Date With Wine” wine stopper, a twistable date ring that you can use to record the date the wine was opened, and also cork the bottle with. Crafted from stainless steel with a rubber seal this little corker fits in most wine bottles. Get it at

5) We all have that one person who’s just a bit off the wall and this could be THE gift that rocks their world because not everyone can tout a Wine Monkey Wine Bag with flair. Created from American red-heel socks this sock monkey vino bag will set you apart from the crowd, and your friends will go ape for it. Swing on in at

Just for Him:
6) What man could pass up a power tool? And now it gets even better: the Bosch IXO cordless screwdriver comes complete with a corkscrew attachment.

7) And for that die-hard beer drinker, let him have his mug and chug Chenin Blanc too. The WINESTEIN double-walled stemware mug keeps the wine cool while making a statement. The mug/glass holds 8 oz. of your favorite vino, so pour a tankard and toast the season with gusto.

And as always, a bottle of wine is always welcome by vino lovers, just try to make it more of a middle-of-the-road offering that everyone can enjoy regardless of their taste preference: Riesling, Beaujolais, or a nice Port.

Tis the season, so let’s celebrate it with verve and vino! Cheers!

~ Joy

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THE Wine for Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving: Do you know what type of wine you will be serving with the bird?

If you’re only pouring one wine for the festivities, make it a Riesling.

Riesling Grapes
A Riesling wine will compliment that savory turkey, dressing and gravy just as well as it accentuates the cranberry sauce and butternut squash. In fact, it will even pair nicely with a slice of pecan or pumpkin pie for dessert.

And Riesling has just the right acidic kick to keep your palate cleansed throughout the meal so you can enjoy those sweet and savory flavors together.

If you’re willing to have some fun with the meal, add a Beaujolais Nouveau. These wines were released last Thursday after aging on the skins for only six to eight weeks. Some years they are outstanding with notes of cherry. Other years there will be more berry notes.
Since Beaujolais Nouveau is a very fruit-forward wine, it pairs well with most Thanksgiving dishes. And if you remember that the point is to enjoy it NOW, you won’t be disappointed.

Whatever you’re serving tomorrow, may your meal be perfect, your wine faultless, and your day filled with happy memories!

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Joy

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Beaujolais Time!

Gamay Grapes
Tomorrow at 12:01 a.m. local time, the latest Beaujolais Nouveau will be released to the public. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine crafted from Gamay grapes grown in the Beaujolais wine region in France. The grapes have been around since the 15th century when Beaujolais Nouveau was just a regional wine enjoyed by locals celebrating the end of the harvest season.

But what began as a fad wine in the 1960s morphed into a cult wine for the 1980s and beyond. Wine critics won't give it much press, saying it's a gimmick fashioned mostly by French wine producer (of Beaujolais Nouveau, of course) Georges Duboeuf.

Georges Duboeuf
Duboeuf saw a way to market the new wine, and make a good profit from it – only a few weeks after the grapes had been hand-picked. It was a stroke of marketing genius when he held a race to Paris with the first bottles of this extremely young and immature vino. Media from around the world covered the story and by the 1970s it was an annual event.
In 1985, the date of release was legally changed to the third Thursday in November to take advantage of the holidays. 

Carbonic Maceration Occurring
Beaujolais Nouveau is unique in that the grapes are harvested and tossed in fermentation tanks without an official crush allowing for fermentation on the skins and a flavorful wine.  After only 6 to 8 weeks of carbonic maceration fermentation, the wine is bottled and shipped. The purplish-red color, light body, and very fruit-forward flavors only add to the mass appeal.

While wine critics don’t rave about it, many wine lovers do, lining up to purchase the limited number of cases at wine shops across the world, just in time for the holidays.

Each vintage tastes differently but generally you can expect the flavors of strawberry, cherry, and red raspberry in a bright, fresh wine that’s easy to drink, and fun to pair with holiday foods. (Think turkey, ham, and cranberry sauce.)

Beaujolais Nouveau is indeed a party in a bottle and you’ll see lots of festive decorations surrounding it in the liquor stores. Just remember, it’s meant to be enjoyed NOW. And unlike most red wines, this one will become more enjoyable if chilled for 20 – 30 minutes before serving. If you forget to cool it down, just add a few ice cubes!

Beaujolais Nouveau
Beaujolais Nouveau is a great wine to serve with Thanksgiving since it pairs well with those savory flavors.
Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so put aside any preconceived notions, kick back and enjoy this wine with friends because Beaujolais Nouveau will be gone very soon! 

And then you may find yourself waiting another year for that third Thursday in November…

~ Joy

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Celebrate Wine Tourism Day

Wine lovers, get ready – this Saturday, November 8, 2014 is officially Wine Tourism Day in North America!

Wine tourism is growing in this country as casual wine lovers and wine enthusiasts visit regional and state wineries and then share their finds with friends on social media platforms. There are so many good wineries out there but most of us will never know about them because the wines will never reach distribution. So how to get the word out?

Designate a special day for wine tourism! The first Wine Tourism Day in North America was held last year, with the idea originally coming from Europe where they’ve celebrated a European Wine Tourism Day on November 9th since 2009. The reason for a day targeted toward wine tourism is to get people motivated to visit wineries they’ve never been to, support them, and enjoy some amazing wines.

Wine Appellations
There are over 7,500 wineries in the U.S, Canada and Mexico with 205 appellations in the United States, 40 in Mexico and 38 in Canada. The winery visiting opportunities are endless for the casual oenophile.

Founders of the event believe that by calling attention to wine tourism with it’s very own day, more people will travel to wine regions while on vacation or trips, or head out on regional wine trails for a weekend of winery hopping. That information will be shared on Facebook and Twitter, making more people aware of these little known wine regions and motivating others to visit them (or order wine from on the internet).

Events are planned at wineries, restaurants, hotels and other wine businesses throughout North America on Saturday. Many wineries and wine shops will hold special tastings to encourage customers to come out and celebrate.

But you don’t have to be a winery or a wine business to celebrate. Grab your wine-loving friends and head out to some wineries on the 8th for a fun-filled day of tasting and exploring.  Then plan a weekend dinner later in the month and have everyone bring a bottle of wine they purchased on Wine Tourism Day. Pair it with food and enjoy the wine and ensuing discussion: a great way to celebrate wine tourism and enjoy some different wine-finds with friends.

Just be sure to pop a cork this Saturday and celebrate the day in the best possible way – with a glass of local or regional wine.

~ Joy

Wine Tourism Day is sponsored by:

For more information, visit