With Valentine’s Day right around the corner now is the time to be thinking about choosing a nice wine for that special person in your life. Saint Valentine’s Day as it is historically known was established 500 AD by Pope Gelasius and named for one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The annual commemoration is held on February the 14th and celebrates love and affection between intimate couples. Couples express their love for each other with candy, cards, flowers, dinners and of course for wine lovers; a good wine, champagne, or both. Pair your wine purchase with a dinner selection or choose a nice red wine for your chocolate selection. How about toasting your sweetheart with a strawberries and good champagne? Any way you do it wine is definitely is a great addition to any Valentine’s Day mix. Check out the links below to purchase that special bottle or two in time for Valentine’s Day.
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Entertaining in the summer months can be fun as well as challenging; especially for wine lovers. We all know about sniffing and swirling our wine to bring out the wines full potential when it comes to smell and flavor. It is part of the overall experience of drinking wine, thus the reason for white wine glasses, red wine glasses and so on. Well what happens when you want to serve wine on the patio or other cement area, such as around a pool? That is where the challenge comes in as you have lots of barefoot people running around in the summer that could create a dangerous situation if you have broken wine glasses underfoot. Although we all do our best to hang on to our wine glasses, accidents do happen; rather frequently at my house, but that is whole other story. Not sure if you have been in the market for plastic wine glasses lately, but there are some really great options out there. I am somewhat of a collector you could say with everything from brightly colored to clear with embossed palm trees. A new set I received as a gift that look exactly like some of my best Bordeaux style red wine glasses; perfect for outdoor swirling of my favorite red wines! Words of caution though, when selecting your outdoor plastic wine glasses make sure to look for quality. A higher quality will ensure that there are no plastic smells or flavors imparted into your wine. A quality plastic wine glass should provide virtually the same wine experience as using your standard glassware. If you haven’t looked for any, start shopping today…you will be amazed at the variety. It will be fun to plan your next outdoor party!
Check out the link below for a set of plastic wine glasses:
Looking for a fun, light, healthy dessert while entertaining friends in the upcoming warmer weather? I found this fantastic sounding recipe on Eatingwell.com. Made with Chardonnay wine it truly is entertaining with wine right in the food. Follow the recipe below, your guests will all love it whether or not they like wine!
3 cups thinly sliced hulled strawberries, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Chardonnay
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1. Set aside 3/4 cup sliced strawberries. Stir together the remaining berries and sugar in a medium bowl.
2. Place Chardonnay in a microwave-safe cup and microwave on High until hot but not boiling, about 1 1/2 minutes. Pour over the strawberry-sugar mixture. Mash the berries with a potato masher to break them down and help release the juices. Let stand for 2 hours to infuse the wine with the berry juice.
3. Transfer the mashed berries to a fine sieve set over a large measuring cup or bowl;
press on the solids to extract any remaining juice. Add enough water to the berry juice to make 2 cups total.
4. Stir together lemon juice and gelatin in a small heatproof cup or bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on High until the gelatin has completely dissolved but the liquid is not boiling, 20 to 30 seconds. (Alternatively, bring 1/2 inch water to a gentle simmer in a small skillet. Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture in the simmering water until the gelatin has dissolved completely.) Stir the mixture, then whisk into the berry juice.
5. Set the glee in the freezer. Stir every 5 minutes until thick but not completely set, 20 to 30 minutes total. Divide among four 8-ounce bowls or wineglasses. Top each glee with an equal portion of the reserved strawberries. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely set, about 4 hours or overnight.
We recently had a visit from a good friend of mine who many years back was my mentor and vice president at a major soft drink company we both worked at. Over the years we have kept in touch, at times there have been some gaps, yet we always managed to reconnect. We have both been through some major life changes, and no longer work in the industry. He has since moved several times and is currently living in the mid west. While still having relatives living here in New Jersey, he occasionally returns for visits, and we always try to fit in a visit or at a minimum a phone call. This trip was one of those special times we managed to visit in person. We both have a long standing love of wine going back to the soft drink days when our company purchased a rather well known Napa winery. We served their wines at all of our company events and at least for me that is where my love of wine began to blossom. Over the years my wine passion and knowledge have far surpassed those days, and sharing our new discoveries and favorite wines has become a big part of our current day relationship. Sure, there will always be the memories and great times we discuss and reminisce about, but creating new memories is just as fun. We sat by our outdoor fireplace on a great spring night and relived a lot of those old times. Fast forward to now and add in my son, my wife, the girlfriend and fiancée’ and new memories were created. I think back to the early days and compare them to my most recent visit and discovered how funny it is that it all revolves around good wine. Yes, friendships and memories are a huge part of it; however, the wine passion was always there and has continued to evolve. Also, my son who was a child in the early memories is now also a wine lover right along with his father and his father’s early mentor and that is great. Wine creates some of the best long lasting memories and I know in my heart it will be the center of many great memories to come.
Springtime is such an exciting time of year, the plants and trees come alive, the flowers bloom and the grass turns from winter brown to deep lush green. Well, at least in some parts of the country that experience winters as we do. Of course with that come the rains, while it is much needed rain, I tend to wish we could do without it. I keep reminding myself of that old saying, “April showers bring May flowers”. Spring is also alive with many holidays and occasions to celebrate. A fun time to select your wines and food for each occasion, a task any wine lover is sure to enjoy. There is Easter and Passover almost upon us, Mothers Day right around the corner as well as plenty of Communion, Confirmation and Graduation celebrations. Just to share a few thoughts here, when you have a large group of people such as a graduation party, you want to pick the best value for your dollar wines. Pick up a copy of Wine Spectator magazine and check out the best buy section. As mentioned on our “anything wine” page the April 30, 2009 edition of Wine Spectator magazine is dedicated to Stretching your wine dollar and delicious wines for $20 or less. You also want to remember to pick a variety of wines. Keep in mind not everyone has your taste in wine. If you like the big Cabernet, also provide a medium or light body such as a Pinot Noir, and the same holds true for white wine. I would suggest two whites, a lighter white such as a Sauvignon Blanc and a bolder white like the ever popular Chardonnay. While you should buy several bottles of each of the two red and white varietals you select, you may also want to have a bottle of sweeter wine like Riesling or white Zinfandel on hand. The weather on the day of your event may also influence your choice in wine. Let’s face it if the temperature is up there a big Cabernet is not the answer; a nice chilled Sauvignon Blanc would really hit the spot, so be prepared to pour more of the wines that are served chilled.
The holiday season has come and gone and now we begin the long winter months. I was never a winter person, give me sun and warm weather and I am happy. Well maybe a snow storm around Christmas that melts away and is gone in two weeks, but otherwise that is enough for me. Here in New Jersey that is not about to happen, we can get some real wintery weather with bitter cold, wind and yes, a lot of snow. So if you are not a winter person how do you get through the long dreary months? My way of dealing with it is to always have some kind of entertainment planned ahead so I have something to look forward to. My wine hobby gives me great enjoyment, I did say hobby as it is not just about drinking wine for me. It involves everything from collecting, reading and learning everything I can to expand my knowledge, of course this web site, and also introducing new comers to the wonderful world of wine. My wife and I love entertaining from dinners, picnics, parties and so on. Gathering friends, family and new guests together always gives us great enjoyment. As you can guess wine is most always an important part of those events. While we do slow down during the winter months it is always fun to plan a get together with friends who tend to go into lock down inside their homes from January to March.
Entertaining can vary from the big dinner party, small gatherings or just a quick evening with another couple. We are always looking for new ideas for entertaining and for New Years Eve we celebrated with my brother and sister in law who came up with an excellent idea for some entertainment, a blind wine tasting. While blind tasting wine is not a new idea, their plan added some fun competition to it. There were only four of us so our tasting was only two bottles. The great part about it is you can expand to as many as you want depending on group size. Our blind tasting requirements were that each couple had to purchase a bottle of red that none of us had ever tried. The cost range was from $40 to $60. The bottle had to be covered prior to the tasting so we used foil bags. A wine tasting scoring sheet was provided by one of their local wine shops so we could score the wine also. Now the fun part, they set up a sheet for each of us listing ten questions with a score for the correct answer on each. The harder the question the more points you received for a correct answer. Our questions were Country of origin, Major Region (i.e. Napa) Sub-Region (i.e. Howell Mtn.) Major Varietal, Minor Varietal, Vintage, Winery, Brand, and Wine Maker. They were some tough questions and you have to know your wines to have success. You can see though there is a lot of potential for modifying the tasting for big or small groups, experienced or new wine lovers and so on. How about offering a wine related prize for the winner you can really make it a lot of fun and personalize it however you wish. It doesn’t have to be a complicated dinner, just serve some quick appetizers along with the wine. You will see that entertaining can be simple, fun and it will help you through those long winter months.
Just a little wine related humor…this one is making the rounds on the net:
I just read an article on the dangers of heavy drinking….
Scared the shit out of me.
So that’s it!
After today, no more reading.
Here we are… Spring has arrived here in New Jersey, trees are blooming, flowers are popping and yes, pollen is agitating the allergies. Oh well, the beauty of spring far out weighs some allergy symptoms. Anyway summer is just around the corner, and this time of year brings forth so many possibilties for entertaining with wine. The whites and Rose wines full of spring scents such as citrus and flower. Crisp fresh flavors like the newness of the season emerge from the wine as they are emerging in nature. Although some folks are strictly white or Rose wine drinkers year round, I find a lot of folks who associate the chilled wines with spring and summer only. I am one of those folks. We have already started stocking up on some of our favorites, a few Rose, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have been filling up the cellar. It might be time for an all white wine tasting party soon. While reading a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine I came across a recipe for a nice spring salad that would pair well with a nice chilled white. I might suggest a bolder white like a Chardonnay to stand up to the flavors in the salad. It sounds like a great start for a dinner party. Mango-Radicchio caprese with basil vinaigrette. In this salad Mangos take the place of tomatoes so you don’t have to wait for summer for this much loved salad and the mangos give it a new twist. You will need 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil plus 8 whole large basil leaves, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 8 radicchio leaves-thick ends trimmed, 2 large mangos peeled halved and thinly sliced, 8 1/4 inch thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Blend basil, oil, and vinegar in mini processor until most of basil is pureed. Season with salt and pepper. Overlap radicchio, mangos, cheese and basil leaves on plates, drizzle with vinaigrette and serve. Enjoy! Stop back soon for more summer recipes and fun ideas.
Entertaining with wine! That statement opens a huge door. There is fear as some folks are apprehensive thinking, what if I serve the wrong wine with the wrong food? Well, we are here to tell you it should be all about fun! Good food, good wine, good friends=a good time! Some experts will disagree, but we always try to say there is no wrong, it is all about what you enjoy.
We’d like to share an idea for a wine tasting party that we have hosted. First off, make it easy. Especially if you are an apprehensive host, this will serve as a good start to entertaining with wine. Invite a few friends, we had 5 couples to our event.
Our theory was simple, each couple was to bring 2 bottles of wine and thier favorite appetizer to compliment the wine they had chosen. How is that for making it easy on the host? You only need to supply the glasses, the house and your own wine with food selection. The rule was you must bring your wine in an unmarked brown paper bottle bag. (We picked up some extra bags to have on hand, as you know there is always one that walks through the door with no bag.) Our party was to be a blind tasting, so naturally you’d want to hide the label. Our requirement for the wine you brought was it had to be between $10-$20 retail and the label of the bottle had to have the color red on it. Any form of red, the lettering, the picture, it didn’t matter.
We did have one wise guy that took a red marker to the label and wrote “red”…hey, that’s fair….it met the requirement. As most of our friends are red lovers, the majority of the wine at the end of the night turned out to be red, with only 1 white wine.
We selected a label color to make the wine shopping fun for our guests and to leave the door open for future wine tasting parties. I think my next party will be themed “a bottle of red, a bottle of white”, requiring each couple to bring one of each wine. Back to our event, we went shopping for prizes for our trivia contest, anything from openers, to pourers and stoppers, some wine BBQ sauce, wine related cocktail napkins, etc. Our trivia questions we gathered from the internet. Now, keep in mind most people are not going to know how many bottles or barrels an acre of grapes will yield, but that’s okay, we picked the closest guess. It was educational and fun for our guests, they won prizes and learned wine facts. For the actual tasting we numbered the paper bags, gave each guest a home made sheet where they recorded the number of the wine being poured and we asked them to tell us what varietal grape they thought they were tasting, the wine region, what rating they gave it (1-10), and a section for comments. At the end of the contest, we had additional prizes for the taster who correctly guessed the most wine varietals and the grand prize was a bottle of wine (approx $20 retail) for the couple who brought the wine voted with the highest rating. Initially we only put wine crackers and water to cleanse the palate between tastings, then after each of the wines was tasted once, we introduced the foods our guests had brought. Eventually we revealed all the wines and folks were free to pour additonal tastings of those they liked or go back and resample a wine they weren’t so sure they liked the first time around. We only ended up with 1 duplicate, not bad. Sound like a good time? A way to discover some new wines?
Give it a try, the theme possibilties are endless from colors of labels to wine regions, to countries of origin, varietal, the list could go on and on.
Wine pairing suggestion
While the leaves are all changing color here in the Northeast, it is time for some hearty, homestyle cooking. If you are like most Americans, you love those types of meals, but don’t look forward to the added calories those types of meals can pack on. Well, this recipe along with a paired wine suggestion is straight out of the October issue of Cooking Light Magazine! We are featuring Slow Cooked Tuscan Pork with White Beans paired with Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zinfandel 2005, Sonoma County. The wine first, it is around $20 and is described as a powerhouse of a wine that pairs beautifully with the recipe provided below, as well as many other fall meals. The texture is thick and soft, the flavors are dense blueberry and cherry laced with vanilla. Now on to the meal…and the best part is you can use a slow cooker instead of a convential oven, just follow the below prep instructions and cook on high for eight hours instead of oven cooking for the recommended 4 hours.
2 cups dried navy beans
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
8 garlic cloves, minced and divided
2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
Step 1- Sort and wash navy beans, and place in a large dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans, cover and let stand for 8 hours. Drain beans after soaking time has elapsed.
Step 2- Preheat oven temp to 275.
Step 3- Combine 2 teaspoons of the sage, 1 teaspoon of the salt, all of the 1 teaspoon of ground fennel seed, and 3 of the 8 minced garlic cloves. Rub mixture over pork. Place pork, navy beans, remaining sage, salt, and garlic, along with the water, and bay leaves in Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 275 degrees for 4 hours or until pork is tender. Discard bay leaves. Pull pork apart into chunks, and serve with bean mixture. Yield: 8 servings, serving size about 3 ounces pork and 1 cup bean mixture.
How is that for easy entertaining?? You can prepare the meal well in advance of your guests arriving. Maybe you want to serve with a side salad? Yes, entertaining with wine can be easy!! Enjoy! Check back for more exciting fall recipes soon.