New Year’s Cocktails with Hoda and Kathie Lee

In case you missed it, I had the pleasure of talking holiday cocktails with Hoda, Kathie Lee and Ray Isle of Food & Wine ! It’s always a good time for cocktails, especially with New Year’s upon us. These delicious cocktails are perfect for the winter months and might also class up your sports parties as well!

Fourth Hour Fizz

1 ½ oz vodka

½ oz Elderflower liqueur

2 oz New Age Red wine, Valentin Bianchi family, Argentina

Tonic water

Shake the vodka and Elderflower liqueur with ice. Strain into martini glass. Top with New Age red and tonic water. Garnish with sprig of mint or basil for holiday red and green

 

 

Tawny Crème

My lighter, eggless take on classic eggnog flavors:

1 cup almond milk 

1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk 

1.5 ounce Tawny Port 

Garnish with Cinnamon stick

On low heat warm the almond milk, whisk in the sweetened condensed milk until lightly frothy (can also use a frother). Pour into mug and add Tawny Port. Stir with cinnamon stick. 

 

Ginger Spice Punch

This spicy sip can be made in single servings or scaled to make punch:

1 part bourbon to 5 parts apple cider (not apple juice).

Stir together over ice and top with ginger beer or ginger ale to taste. Garnish with orange slices. 

Asian-influenced “Coco-Nog”

 The idea for this refreshing, eggless take on eggnog came to me as I was sipping a unique style of Japanese whiskey named Kikori. Made from rice aged in American and French oak for more than three years, this aromatic, light-styled whiskey whispers elegance. 

 1 oz. sweetened condescend milk

1 ½ oz. vanilla coconut milk (if you can’t find vanilla versions, just use plain coconut milk and add a ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract)

1 oz strong green tea

1 ½ oz Kikori Japanese whiskey

 

Blend all with ice in a blender. Pour into glass and top with combination of matcha green tea powder (available in Asian markets or online) and powdered ginger. 

Check out the video!

Sparkling Wines to Ring in the New Year

As we all watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve (GOOD RIDDANCE 2016) the festivities lend itself to only one thing, bubbles. Sparkling wine is the best way to celebrate, whether it’s the New Year, your birthday or some random Wednesday. The effervescent nature of sparkling wine can lift any party from fun to FABULOUS, and there’s nothing like the pop of a cork to lift your spirits.

 

Sweet

Sparkling wine that’s on the sweet side is a perfect pairing for the end of the year festivities, especially if you’re serving dessert. The Carpene Malvolti ($19) is a lovely elegant prosecco, with a apple aftertaste. Greet your guests at the door with a glass of this beautiful sparkler!

The Pizzolato Moscato 2015 ($15) is an excellent way to end the meal or festivities. Served best with dessert, this organically grown sparkling Moscato smells of custard and finishes with a spiced apple finish. Look in the aisles of your local Whole Foods to grab a bottle.

 

Bubbles of Beauty

While any bottle that houses bubbles is a thing of beauty, a gorgeously designed bottle is an excellent hostess gift for that New Year’s party.

The Chandon Brut ($24) “Merry Whatever” bottle was designed by Rebecca Minkoff and comes in both white and black. This bottle is gorgeous to give but even better to drink!

Nothing wows however like the Segura Viudas Bruta Reserva Heredad Cava ($20). With metal embellishments adorning the bottle, this cava not only drinks beautifully but is sure to impress!

Sparkling Splurge

Sometimes you just want to spend a little bit more on those bubbles. The Palmer and Co Brut Réserve ($50) is true champagne, which must come from the Champagne region of France. These bubbles are a blend of the most prestigious terroirs in Champagne and display the region with finesse and elegance.

If your tastes run to Italy instead of France, the Bisol Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Cartizze ($45) is simply the best. A fruity and elegant Prosecco, this wine is a well balanced and delicious splurge.

Tis the Sparkling Season

Let’s be honest, nothing says the holidays like holiday colors. The Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne ($38) delights with not only it’s red festive label, but as one of the world’s most beloved champagnes, it delights with the classic crispness and elegance of a true champagne.

As always, if there are to be bubbles, some of them must be pink. This Schramsberg Brut Rosé ($44) is a gorgeously festive color to ring in the new year. Enjoy it with every course or on it’s own, celebrating with friends or with a loved one, these beautiful pink bubbles are not to be missed.

As 2016 draws to a close thank you to everyone around the world who makes beautiful wines for us to savor and enjoy, especially during this holiday season. Gather your family, friends and loved ones around as we toast to the end of another year and the hope for a wonderful 2017.

Happy New Year!

Holiday Themed Cocktails and Wine Picks

Tis the season yet again and I always like to celebrate with a holiday-inspired cocktail, or two. These fabulous concoctions and beautiful wines may help celebrate the holidays, but can really be enjoyed any time of the year. Serve them at your holiday party, or just sip as you wrap presents. However you shake it, these drinks will help usher in a festive and holiday mood and a happier new year.

 

The Stolen Spice 

2oz Redemption Rye Whiskey

1 oz Stolen Kiss hibiscus/Grenache mixer

Ginger Beer

 

Shake the whiskey and the Stolen Kiss mixer with ice and strain into a rocks glass with or without ice. Top with a splash of ginger beer and a sprig of fresh basil.

 

Sip’n Pretty holidaycocktails

1 1/2 oz vodka

1/2 oz St. Germain elderflower liquer

1 oz Cleto Chirali Sorbara Secco dry sparkling red Lambrusco

 

Shake the vodka and the elderflower liqueur with ice and strain into a martini glass. Top with Lambrusco.

 

Wine Picks

For a classic holiday dinner, bubbles and whites are always the best place to start. Prosecco is a light sipper, perfect for cooking in the kitchen with the family, while the Barone Pinot Grigio is fabulous and an amazing value. Before the richness of a heavy meat dish, try a glass of the beautiful Iron Horse Russian Cuvée.

Villa Sandi Vigna la Rivetta ($45) 

Barone Fini Pinot Grigio ($17)

Barone Fini Holiday Win

Iron Horse Russian Cuvée ($44)

iron horse sparkling holiday wine

Holiday Reds

For Italian styled meals, open a bottle of Chianti Classico. But for the standing rib roast and rich meaty dishes, go with a more old school approach, like the Spotswoode from Napa and Sonoma’s Jordan.

Banfi Chianti Classico ($15)

banfi chianti classico holiday wine

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon ($185)

spottswoode family estate holiday wine

2012 Jordan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon ($55)

jordan-winery-holiday-wine

Happy Holidays!

holiday wine picks

holiday gift guide

2016 Wine Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again! Time to wonder what to get the boozehound in your life… you know, the one who loves their wine, thinks craft beer is the only beer and loves a nip of an interesting liquor. Well have no fear, my holiday gift guide is sure to impress with the spirit of the holidays. (See what I did there? Spirit? Ha)

So without further ado, I bring you the 2016 Wine/Spirit Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide.

Flora Springs “Holiday Kisses” $57 

This gorgeous hand-etched bottle is home to a beautifully juicy cabernet blend, joining the flavors of Flora Springs’ estate vineyards. Bring it as a hostess gift to that holiday soiree or save it for the holiday table, but either way, enjoy both the beauty of the bottle and the wine within.

Holiday gift guide flora springs

 

California Classics

california wines holiday gift guide

 

This trio of California Classic wines features the 2014 Groth Chardonnay, 2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel, and the 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir. Each of these wines is a standout on their own, but would make a great gift basket all together, especially to showcase the beautiful wine that California has to offer.

The 2014 Groth Chardonnay $30 is a well-balanced example of true California Chardonnay, aged in a mixture of old and new barrels, which gives it layers of complexity. Grab a bottle for your favorite white drinker or just sip while you contemplate all the holiday wrapping you have to do.

2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel $32 – At this price point, you should be grabbing a bottle of this complex and spicy Old Vine Zin for everyone on your holiday gift list. Heck, forget the bottle, grab a case.

2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir $58 – For a little more of a splurge, try this classic Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. With help from the Mendocino Coast, this wine is the créme de la créme of the Goldeneye harvest and is a truly elegant gift for any Pinot lover.

Give a Little Gifft

With the influx of holiday parties, gift baskets to give and general merriment of the holiday season, it’s always nice to arrive a bottle in hand. The Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($75) is a beautiful wine, highly aromatic and the perfect gift for the discerning wine lover in your holiday gift giving lineup.

On the white side of things, the Gifft Pinot Grigio 2015 is full of lush tropical flavors, bright acidity and at $20 is an elegant choice to bring to any holiday party, to drink or for the hostess to save for herself.

Kosher Wines for Hannukah

Need to bring wine to a Hannukah celebration? Terrenal Wines are Kosher and non-mevushal, which means the wine is actually delicious. And available at Trader Joes for an amazing price point (under $10).

Grab a few bottles of the Cabernet Sauvignon or the red blend, excellent wines from Spain and enjoy the celebration of lights.

 

Get into the Holiday “Spirit”

Holiday gift guide Tequila Gin

Looking for a boozier option for your holiday gift? Look no further than G’Vine Gin ($34) or Blue Nectar Tequila ($60).

G’Vine Gin($34) is a modern-style French gin, infused with vine flowers and over 9 different botanicals to give it a smooth, herbaceous taste, with hints of juniper, cardamom and ginger.

Blue Nectar Tequila Reposado, Extra Blend ($60) is the cognac of tequilas. A sipping spirit for the true Tequila connoisseur,  Blue Nectar is silky smooth, with notes of vanilla and nutmeg and other holiday spices.

 

Trendsetting Spirits

 

Do you know someone who sports a beard? Wears flannel yet doesn’t work in forestry? You might have to buy a gift for a hipster. If that’s the case, try these super-interesting small batch spirits from Northern California.

No: 209 Barrel Reserve Gin ($47) is a gin with “wine country roots”. Aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, this gin is spicy, with notes of toffee and caramel and is sure to impress the trendiest trendsetter in your life.

Re:Find [e] Vodka ($35) is another unique barrel aged spirit, but instead of wine barrels, this vodka is aged in whiskey barrels. This process creates a vodka that can be sipped like the finest whiskey. Unique? Totally. Trendsetting? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely.

The Party Pack

Butter Toast Jam Jam Cellars Holiday Gift Guide

Want to show up at your party with a party-pack? Look no further than Butter, Toast and JaM. This trio is not only adorable for gift-giving, but the wines are truly delicious. Butter ($16) is a true California Chardonnay with a creamy texture and an oaky, vanilla finish. JaM ($20), the red-head of the group, is %100 Cabernet and all plum, dark berries and vanilla. Toast ($25) is the party girl, toasty and effervescent with notes of peach and honeydew. This trio might sound good for breakfast, but is the perfect accompaniment to all of your holiday party/planning/gift giving needs.

Nibbles

crack'd toffee holiday gift guide

I’d love say that we have a product shot for this amazing toffee. But I ate it all. In like two seconds. The minute I opened the package.

So, with that in mind, if you have a sweet tooth, or know someone who does, Crack’d Toffee ($29) is the BEST present for them. It’s buttery and rich, with a variety of toppings, from white chocolate to dark. YUM.

Not to Drink, but Still Wine-Oriented

So what do you get the wine-lover that has all the wine? How about gorgeous art, boxes or even a dog dish made from wine crates? Check out our newest shop here on the site for the opportunity to buy some of these amazing pieces!

Not Boozy but Still Beautiful

Statement jewelry is still a must-buy for any time of year, especially the holidays. Pick one of these unique and gorgeous necklaces from Serendipity Sellers and the Ruth Schaffer Wave for a truly special gift for someone you love.

Ruth SChaffer - Blue Green Wave

 

Whether it’s a gift of classic Californian wines or classy art made from wine boxes, there’s something for everyone on this list. Even with only a week and a half until the big day.

 

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving Wines for your Holiday Dinner

Hosting a feast this year? Or maybe just an intimate Turkey Dinner with a loved one? Are you attending a feast and need to bring an impressive bottle of wine for the table? Regardless of the numbers served, a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with all of the fixings is going to need some special wine. A cacophony of flavors – sweet, salty and sour – mean that a variety of wines have a place at the table.

Bubbles

Always a great idea to start off your festivities with a bang (or a pop), bubbles always have a place at the table. Local, California sparklers, like Gloria Ferrer ($19) and Schramsberg ($27) top the list, along with a northern Italian pick called TrentoDOC. For value and quality, their vintage-dated Rosé, Rotari ($14) is a favorite. 

Whites

With such a mix of flavors in the meal, a big, oaky, buttery Chardonnay doesn’t quite fit in. But if you’re a Chardonnay lover, look for one with crisp, fresh fruit flavors, like New Zealand’s, Kumeu River ($35). The often under-appreciated white star of the show however is going to be Riesling. An ideal pick for the holidays, choose a medium-dry style to pair with everything. Napa Valley’s iconic Chateau Montelena winery makes a classy,aromatic Riesling ($25) that is sure to impress.

Reds

Just like avoiding the boldness of the Chardonnay, try to avoid reds that are heavy on the oaks and tannins, like CabernetSauvignon. A better, more well-rounded choice for the table would be a Beaujolais, or the best choice, Pinot Noir.

When picking a Beaujolais, the more complex Beaujolais Cru is the way to go. Look for choices from Georges Deboeuf, such as Morgon ($17) for it’s red berry freshness and medium-body softness.

When picking a Pinot Noir, look to both California and Oregon’s Willamette Valley for world class examples. Domaine Drouhin’s Pinot Noir from the Dundee Hills ($40) is an excellent example of a blend of Old World and New World, while Goldeneye Pinot Noir ($55), from the Anderson Valley, is an elegant choice.

lost colony virginia dare winery thanksgivingA great hostess gift for Thanksgiving has to be The Lost Colony ($28) from Virginia Dare Winery. A blend of Syrah, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, it showcases dark berry fruitiness with soft and supple tannins. Tannic wine (think young Cabernet Sauvignon) conflicts with the spicy, often sweet and salty fare laid out at Thanksgiving. So, this juicy, full-bodied-but-balanced blend will work throughout the whole meal.

Rosé

Rosé is the perfect Thanksgiving wine, versatile and delicious, and a truly year-round wine. It goes well with almost all dishes and one of the best for the holiday drinking AND gift giving is Gifft from Kathie Lee Gifford. It is dry yet succulent with savory spice notes and at $15 a bottle is perfect to grab by the case! gifft rose thanksgiving wines

 

Dessert Wine

Don’t be afraid to open a dessert wine for your Thanksgiving guests. Serving apple and pumpkin pie? Skip the overly sweet wines and pour Schramsberg’s Cremant Demi-Sec sparkling wine ($40), or a Moscato D’Asti (the real Italian stuff).

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-10-47-02-pm

With all of these choices for your Thanksgiving table, you’ll be sure to impress and amaze your guests, whether there be 2 or 20.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For a more in-depth list of my favorite holiday wines, check out the piece I did for NorthBay Woman. (Look at page 44 for my article)