Your 2013 (Wino)vation!

2007 Alexis CabernetTo go along with the ‘New Year’ kick I am on, cleaning up and sharpening your bar carts {here} etc., I came across a relevant article while I was reading my monthly Wine Spectator.  One of my favorite wine writers, Matt Kramer wrote an inviting one pager on expanding your horizons in 2013 through trying new things in the world of wine and entertaining and I couldn’t agree with him more. I smiled, was stimulated and felt the immediate need to share highlights from “Is This the Year That You…?” to inspire you to make a vow and make things happen!

The Motivation

“…Decide that higher cost doesn’t equal better wine?”

There are so many wine deals out in the market today that still maintain the same quality in taste as higher priced wines.  Kramer suggests that these wines are the “game-changers” in the wine industry as technology, diversity, and abundance are key descriptors when in search for that perfect ‘game-changer’ wine.  In summary:

Technology “now ensures that pretty much every wine from everywhere else is well-made.”

Diversity “means that wines now come from every imaginable country, district and climate – and often they’re really good.”

Abundance shows that “more producers keep emerging!”

It sounds so easy to find quality wines at affordable prices, just do your research!

“…Finally start a wine cellar?”

How timely, as Kramer suggests scoring a quality/affordable wine is possible!  Compile wines from your trips to Napa, Italy, Oregon, Washington and start that much sought after wine cellar!

“…Raise your wine game from “comfort” to “challenge”?”

I couldn’t agree with this more!  Through my wine blog I have had the opportunity to meet winemakers and try a plethora of wines from around the world.  I’ve gone from having a “Go-To Wine” {here} to forgoing my ‘go-to’ (even when I’m lazy) and popping open an Oregon Pinot Noir or a Tempranillo from Spain.  That’s the beauty of wine, isn’t it?  Stretch your knowledge in wine and try something new and different in 2013.  Kramer suggests to “look to grower Champagnes, unusual grape varieties and emerging wine areas such as Hungary, Ontario, Tasmania, and newly revived spots such as Spain’s Ribeira Sacra, France’s Languedoc, and Sicily.” Of course it’s easy for me to challenge my wine instincts and move outside of my comfort zone because it is my passion, however, for some, the effort to branch out is just not there. Thus, I urge you to think of the possibilities before you buy! You are able to explore a new country, state, region through one single bottle of wine and share that experience with friends.  I say, why not!

 “…Dine at home just a tiny bit more formally?”

Living in a New York City apartment, I am most definitely a culprit of keeping china and crystal we’ve received as engagement gifts in their gift boxes in the cabinet until we have a house where we can gracefully display things. I feel awful about it.  I am dying to use our Waterford red wine glasses like no other but for some reason, I too am saving them, for a special occasion, when we have a house and entertain. But what’s the point! Why not treat yourself once a week and take the time to have a meal on your finest china and your heaviest crystal to enjoy what you have  – a beautiful home-cooked meal and an exquisite glass of wine.  Kramer suggests, “There is something to be said for just a skooch of dining formality in today’s rushed, crushed, gotta-go world.  It’s good for us, and surely so for our wines.”  So true, cheers to bringing out the new crystal!

“…Stop fretting about when a wine is ready to drink”

I too, have many bottles just sitting in our wine fridge, waiting for the right ‘year’ to be pulled out and ‘decantered’.  But let’s face it; no ‘year’ will ever be the right year to pull out the right bottle at the right time.  So why wait? To Kramer’s point, “Buy interesting wines.  Store them in a cool space for up to five years. Then pop and pour.” I may just go pull out our 2007 Alexis Cabernet Sauvignon from my favorite winery Swanson Vineyards {here}!

“…Start pulling the corks on all those special-occasion bottles?”

My parents still have their champagne from when they were married in 1971 and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from when my brother was born in 1981! That says it all right there. The more we “wait around” to open those ‘special’ bottles, the more time passes by where we rarely find that special occasion to open them. Even we, still have a few bottles of excellent champagne that were gifted to us for our engagement about a year ago unopened, waiting for the right occasion.  I love this theory Kramer puts out there! Come Friday night, I’m reaching for our gold rimmed champagne glasses and popping the bubbly to celebrate…… well, LIFE!

Thank you Wine Spectator {here} and Matt Kramer {here}for a thoughtful and inspiring read on this wonderful evening.  Time to get the bone china out!

Essentials for a ‘Tasteful’ Bar Cart!

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are over, but it’s so exciting that we have entered into a new year!  Now is the time to recharge to full energy and check off all the boxes that you’ve wanted to do for some time now.  It’s the time of year to really get motivated to start new exhilarating projects and actually finish them.

After much holiday entertaining and being entertained in 2012, I’ve noticed that nothing makes more of a statement at an intimate gathering than the hosts ‘bar’.  This is because it’s not just a place to make a cocktail or pour a glass of wine, but yet it’s a time when you are interacting with other guests and can ‘make a drink’ and even a friend at the bar.  How many times have you said,  “Want to make another drink”?  I’m sure plenty.   Your bar is your chance to show your guests your personal style and since it is the center focus of your party, wouldn’t you want it to be a masterpiece?

As we enter into 2013 it is time.  Time to clean up your ‘bar’, get rid of the clutter and start with a clean slate filled with fabulous wines going into 2013. So wipe off the lingering champagne drops from your NYE party, get ride of those half full bottles and start fresh with a stylish yet tidy bar (get rid of clutter!).

Lauren, one of my dearest friends in the world and amazing celebrity fashion stylist with a passion for interior décor, has shared with us a few ideas on prepping your bar for an amazing year!

Essentials for creating a ‘Tasteful’ bar!

  1. Always have Pellegrino glass bottles
  2. 2 bottles of nice champs (Veuve Cliquot, Ruinart, Moet etc.)
  3. Add fake limes in a nice dish
  4. A pop of color can add a nice touch to your bar. Try adding a colorful flower in a vase
  5. Incorporate some sort of interesting glassware
  6. Throw a few fab crystal wine stoppers on for decoration or slices of geode coasters {here} in a fun color to go with flowers
  7. Come up with a theme and make sure everything complements each other. I love working with metallics, such as gold with a bright pop of color of fuchsia or cobalt blue
  8. Keep out Clutter!!

Bar Cart

What fabulous ideas, thanks Lauren! Be sure to check out Lauren’s website {here} for more stylish ideas and services!

To get started, Elle Decor {here} has an amazing list of unique and inspiring bar carts you can use as a blank canvas!  Let your creativity flow and your personal style shine!

Let the 2013 entertaining begin! Cheers!

Wine for the Holidays

It’s that time of year – A time for entertaining and holiday cheer!

New York City

I recently attended Food Network’s Holiday wine tasting where I gained inspiration on some really cute and out of the box entertaining ideas!  All incorporate wine somehow, of course.  Take a look and let your creative energy explode with these great hosting ideas, cheers!

Adding edible gold baker’s dust {here} to any rim of a champagne glass adds a fun holiday kick for your guests! Use Freixenet Cava for this treat {more info on this bubbly in black, here}.

Freixenet

Use Food Network’s wine, entwine {here} and create mini wine shots paired with mini cupcakes and dessert

EntiwineEntiwine

Set up a ‘make your own’ cocktail bar with fresh fruit and other treats to challenge guests to unleash their inner Mixologist with Seven Daughters Wine!

Seven Daughters

Il Postino Recipe
- Handful of fresh raspberries
- 1 oz. light rum
- 1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 oz. honey syrup
- Fill with Seven Daughters Moscato
Muddle raspberries in a glass; Shake, Strain, Pour and Top with Seven Daughters Moscato.

2012 Thanksgiving Day Wine Picks!

Here it is! Our Annual Thanksgiving/Shopping Spree wines {previous post} that are ‘musts’ this year (plus a few extras)!  As you will notice sparklings and reds fill the list but that won’t stop us from finding the perfect whites for your Thanksgiving Day table!

So take a peek while you wait for the outcome of the Presidential Election… It might make time go by faster!

Apéritif/Sparkling

  • J Vineyards ‘Cuvée 20’: Spotted, the last 25th Anniversary bottle of J Cuvée sold to and sipped by 4 wonderfully shopped out ladies at Glenmere Mansion. After our trip to Woodbury it was so refreshing to see J Vineyards on the menu in the tavern at Glenmere.  Anything J is truly a must serve as an aperitif while enjoying your homemade hors d’oeuvres before the turkey carving.  This Cuvée has a rustic mouth feel all around with its toasty almond like hints then ventures over to the honeysuckle and grapefruit flavors which give it life and zest!  Buy online now to enjoy in time for Thanksgiving! {here} 

 

  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Sipped and tried a few months ago {here}.  Had to pick a full bottle up to taste while the ‘hostess with the mostest’ prepared!  Not to mention it was her birthday celebration and this of course did the trick for that as well! Surprise!

Red Wine

  • Bonterra 2010 Merlot, Mendocino County : This spectacular Merlot is crafted from certified organically grown grapes and it is one of the better Merlot’s I have tried.  I received this wine for a twitter tasting with Thirsty Girl and Bonterra Organic Vineyards and we were all blown away by the wine’s dark berry flavors of cherry and plum and it’s smoothness in it’s finish filled with lovely tannins.  We are calling it a “Merlot for non-merlot lovers” and we are sticking to it! I highly recommend this wine with your main dish this Thanksgiving as it’s pleasant balance will put a smile on everyone’s faces! {still interested}?
  • Swanson Vineyards, 101 Points Red Wine; Add a little fun to the Thanksgiving day table with this predominately Syrah with Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  A very rich and sweet wine with hints of exotic spice, raspberry and black cherry makes this a great match with your juicier dark meat of the turkey. Not to mention, this wine adds a delicate yet elegant red color to your Tgiving table; $25 per bottle online.
  • Mark West Pinot Noir: Makes the list again as it is a staple on the Thanksgiving day table! Everyone loves it! {more Mark West and last year’s wine picks}

I will be trying more holiday wines and reporting back from the Food Network Magazine’s Holiday Tasting in NYC next week so stay tuned on more fun holiday wines! Hopefully I’ll have luck finding some more white wines for all of you white lovers!

Stay tuned and happy prepping!

You Know Fall Has Officially Arrived When…

As we embrace the sudden fall ‘chills’ and plunge into October, I am happy to say that it is that time of year again. The time when my dearest friends and I travel upstate for a massive Thanksgiving, Woodbury Commons, and Red Wine fest to celebrate the official arrival of Fall and we ‘sip’ it in with great pleasure.  Last year it was Mark West and Bogle Pinot Noirs {here} that took hold of our taste buds and warmed us up inside.  What wine will we be obsessed with this weekend?  Well, all I can say is that we will do the tasting for you!  There are some surprises and I hope they will be extra intriguing, so much to inspire you to purchase a bottle for your Thanksgiving Day Table this year.  So now, grab a bottle of red, take in the Fall colors and stay tuned! :)

Happy weekend everyone!

Twitter Tasting with Columbia Crest and Thirsty Girl!

Weddings, and planning, and working oh my!  Now it’s back to my therapy and my passion – wine!

To pick up wine blogging again, I am participating in a twitter tasting with Thirsty Girl {here} and Columbia Crest {here} tonight @ 5 pm PT/ 8 pm ET.  Winemaker Juan Muñoz Oca and Head Thirsty Girl Leslie Sbrocco will also be joining in on the fun so be sure to follow #TGTASTE and come tweet!

We will be tasting the following wines:

  • Columbia Crest 2010 Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay
  • Columbia Crest 2010 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Columbia Crest 2010 Horse Heaven Hills Les Chevaux Red Blend

Twitter User names to follow! 
Wine: @ColumbiaCrest (http://twitter.com/columbiacrest)
Moderating: @beathirstygirl (https://twitter.com/#!/beathirstygirl)
Special Guest: @lesliesb for Leslie Sbrocco (https://twitter.com/lesliesb)
Yours truly: @winepugnyc.com (https://twitter.com/winepugnyc)

**This twitter tasting is a promotion and I received these wines in order to participatehttp://cmp.ly/2

Happy Friday… From Portugal!

Well not really more like from NYC but it is a Portuguese kind of Friday for me and i’m loving it (and not just because I am 1/3rd)!  It’s a region that I do not drink often, yet when I do adventure into a bottle I just can’t get enough.  Lying between Lisbon and the small harbor of Porto Côvo, are beautiful vineyards that harvested the 2009 Portinho Do Côvo.  A bit of jammy-ness with ripened black fruits and hints of spice make for  a succulent wine with lovely tannins that are not too hard.  Time to take out the cheese and enjoy this perfect August night!  You should do the same .

Now Saude (to your health, in Portuguese)  and to the weekend! 

The 10 Commandments of Wine (From the Portuguese) 

1. Love wine above all things

2. Swear to drink it either in the summer or winter

3. Santificate bars and cellars

4. Honour either white and red

5. Start the day at least with one glass

6. Never mix water and wine

7. Never rob an empty bottle

8. Do not lie without being drunk

9. Just envy or desire a full bottle of good wine

10. Always drink it slowly but surely 

Thank you Lauren for this special gift from your journey to Portugal!

Calling All Bubble Lovers! (Quality and Won’t Break the Bank)!

Oh, the joy of bubbles brightens everyone’s day, especially a delicious Cava from Spain! 

I received samples of the Freixenet (“fresh-eh-net”) Cordon Negro Brut a.k.a. “the black bottle bubbly” from their PR agency a few weeks ago and my oh my, I was not surprised to taste the most elegant (inside and out) sparkling wine that I have tried thus far in my wine journey; it’s the world’s #1 imported sparkling wine, to say the least (screw top included!).

When I was getting ready to pour a glass, I had to find the chicest glass I had available to keep up with the quality of this Cava. This champagne coup did the trick!

Sipping this sparkling Cava could be considered an art in itself as the pungent bubbles, crisp style, and sleek black bottle are a masterpiece. Very much a show-stopper at any party.  Did I mention a great pairing and aperitif  with raw almonds?

A nice blend of Cavaare Macabeo (35%), Xarel-lo (25%) and Parellada (40%) was crisp with tastes of pear, apple, and citrus yet a tinge of smoky flavor came out of the bottle for me.  A dry sparkling (not too overbearing) and fluttery in the mouth could be considered a good middle-man between a prosecco and a champagne.

And of course, it’s all about the bubbles, you can actually feel the bubbles run down your esophagus and brighten up your whole body.  The best part is, the bubbles never die.  I was sipping on this and taking in all of its flavors for over 20 minutes and it still had just as many bubbles when poured (maybe a hint less, but still!).  One word – QUALITY. Case and point, it feels good all around drinking this Cava and I’m hoping it’s at your ‘End of Summer Soiree’ or at an event outside in your cocktail dress or suit (skinny tie included).

Can be found in the majority of wines stores and numerous restaurants around NYC!  Retails for around $10.95.

Also, want some fun cocktails using this delicious Cava?  {here}

Salud!

#WW– A Taste of Madrid with Malvar

I shared this interesting wine that I received from Olé Imports a few weeks ago with a dear friend of mine and we were automatically obsessed!  We sat down for a cheese and hummus plate and sipped the fabulous 2010 Zestos Vinos de Madrid Blanco, 100% Malvar and indigenous to the Madrid (so awesome!). My first try at Malvar, we found it to be such an easy drinking white wine and a cross between a grassy Sauvignon Blanc and an unoaked Chardonnay.  The graceful acidity paired well with the lighter cheese we had and even just drinking by itself was a treat and very easy to do! We were so caught up in the moment that I forgot to take a picture!

Like we were, were you perplexed by the design on the bottle also? Olé in their tasting notes explains that ‘Zestos’ means ‘basket’ in English.  ‘Not too many years ago, baskets like the one on the label were placed on donkeys to transport the just-picked grapes from the vineyard to the winery.”  This intricate design represents the heritage and process that was once used to harvest the grapes in the past.  A wonderful representation of tradition both inside and out!

Olé suggests: ‘If you like litchi fruit, Zestos Blanco!’

The best part, the price – $8

Have you tried any obscure grapes that you had never heard of before and LOVED?

**All photos are from Olé Imports

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