Archive for December, 2010

A New Year’s Eve Cocktail

December 30th, 2010 No comments

Champagne Bubbles
Hosting a party this New Year’s Eve?  Look no further for the perfect cocktail.  This elegant drink looks great in the glass and tastes great too.

Sparkling Pear New Year’s Cocktail

Set out 8 champagne flutes.

Divide 1/2 cup of pear nectar (sold in cans in most grocery stores) among them.

Carefully top off each glass with your favorite champagne (remember to pour gently to preserve the bubbles.)

Take 8 rosemary sprigs.  Strip the leaves from the bottom inch of each, and spear a few fresh cranberries on the end.  Use the cranberry-rosemary sprigs to garnish each glass.

Happy New Year!

Categories: Wine Recipes Tags: ,

Holiday Sangria

December 28th, 2010 1 comment
cherry flavor

Cherries form the flavor foundation of this great wintertime cocktail.

Here’s another Christmas wine cocktail sure to please your palate–and your guests’.  This is a great one for parties, and the festive red color makes is perfect for the holiday season.  Bottoms up!

Holiday Sangria

Mix 2 parts each cherry syrup and gin in a shaker.

Pour over ice into a tall glass.

Add a large splash of soda.

Float one part red wine over the top by pouring it over the back of a wide spoon.

Add a few raspberries or maraschino cherries.


A Christmas Brunch Cocktail

December 23rd, 2010 No comments
Bubbles from a rose champagne

Champagne is the foundation of this delicious cocktail.

You may be too old for Santa Claus, but Christmas has a hidden benefit for adults: it provides the perfect excuse to drink in the morning!  This Christmas morning champagne cocktail is perfect for enjoying with a leisurely brunch…preferably while still in your PJs.

As with all cocktails made with champagne, quality doesn’t matter all that much (but go for the dry stuff if you’re serving a crowd, it pleases more palates).  So save that good bottle to savor by itself!  Also, remember to pour the mixers first and add the champagne last, otherwise you’ll lose precious bubbles.

The Poinsettia

Fill your champagne glasses a quarter full with triple sec

Add a splash of cranberry juice.

Fill the rest of the way with champagne.

This holiday cocktail is a festive color, and tastes as good as it looks!  Serve with pancakes or coffee cake and enjoy Christmas morning the right way.

How to Make a White Wine Sauce

December 21st, 2010 No comments

A white wine sauce is an invaluable tool for any cook to have up her sleeve.  It can be made in a few minutes with very few ingredients, and it really jazzes up an otherwise plain dinner.  White wine sauces are great with simple sauteed dinners: if you’re making that weeknight staple, chicken breasts, for example, a white wine sauce can really add some pizazz.  They’re also perfect with pan-fried fish or pork chops.  And the best part?  You make them right in the same pan you used to cook your meat.  Here’s what to do:

  • When you’re done sauteing your meat, remove to a warm plate and cover to keep it warm
  • Pour off most of the fat in the pan, leaving about a tablespoon
  • Turn the heat to medium
  • Add a few minced shallots or garlic cloves, saute until fragrant
  • Then add a half cup of white wine
  • Deglaze the pan, boiling the wine and scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits that accumulated while you were cooking your meat
  • Let it simmer until reduced by half
  • Whisk in a pat of butter
  • Season with salt, pepper, and if you like, minced parsley
  • Pour over the main course

White wine sauces are a classic addition to your repertoire, and they really couldn’t be easier.  Make sure to serve them with the wine you used to make them, a great pairing trick.

Looking for the Perfect Christmastime Wine?

December 18th, 2010 No comments

The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.Christmas dinners are all over the map.  Some families celebrate with ham, some with prime rib.  Some have a round two of Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey and stuffing.  If you’re Italian, you might enjoy a traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes.  If you’re German, you might have a roast goose.  The point is, it’s nearly impossible to recommend the perfect Christmas dinner wine, because no two families will sit down to the same meal.  So here’s what to do:

Read our Guide to Food and Wine Pairing, and check out the many wonderful wines we’ve reviewed.  Whether you’re eating fish, beef, or Tofurkey this year, you’re sure to find something that matches perfectly.  And if in doubt, remember, Champagne goes with everything!

Wine Baskets Make Great Wine Gifts

December 15th, 2010 2 comments

Wine baskets are wonderful gifts that everyone loves.  As a result, they can cost hundreds of dollars at fancy food stores.  But why spend the cash when you can easily make them yourself?  They’re simple to create, and they make great, personal gifts that your friends and family will really appreciate.  You can fill your wine gift baskets with almost anything, so get creative: the possibilities are endless!

To start, you need some kind of attractive basket or box.  Visit your local craft store for wicker baskets or large tin pails.  Wooden wine cases also make great receptacles. For a unique container that’s a gift in itself, use a leather brigade bucket by Mulholland Leather.

Then pick a wine theme and get to filling!  Here are some ideas:

A chocolate-themed gift basket. Visit a chocolate store and pick out a variety: white, milk, and dark chocolates all pair well with wines.  If you know the person’s favorites, play to them.  You can even try some unusual chocolates: they may include goat cheese, herbs, or even chilies.  Next, pair some wines with the chocolates you’ve chosen.  For a dark chocolate lover, strong, rich reds like Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are perfect.  For the milk chocolate lover, try something smooth like a Pinot Noir or something sweet like a Muscat.  White chocolate pairs well with sweet wines like Muscatos or even something darker and tannic for contrast, like a Merlot.  For our full wine and chocolate pairing guide, click here.

A summer-themed gift basket: Line a basket with a checkered picnic cloth, then fill with beautiful summer fruits, like strawberries and peaches.  Add some goats-milk cheese (it’s at its peak in the summer) and some crackers or a baguette.  Finish with summer wines like Rosé or Pinot Grigio.

A gift basket for the new wine lover: If you know someone in your life who’s just starting to appreciate the pleasures of wine, help them out!  Fill a basket with a few bottles of your favorites.  Try to think outside the box and introduce the person to some types of wine he or she might not have heard of.

A wine and cheese basket: This one’s a crowd-pleaser.  Pairing wine and cheese can be intimidating, so see our easy wine & cheese pairing guide for help.  In general, stick to white wines and pick a variety of cheeses (like brie, gruyere, and cheddar).  Include a few different types of crackers, a bunch of grapes, and you’re ready to go.

A wine game gift basket: Give everything they need to have their own wine-tasting party.  Include several types of wine, or a a few bottles of the same type at different price point.  Place bags over the bottles or cover the labels, and add paper for note-taking.  Maybe they’ll even invite you over to play!

Interested in our recommendations for wine lover gift ideas?

Gifts for Wine Lovers: Rogar Wine Openers

December 13th, 2010 No comments

Looking for a holiday gift for a special wine lover in your life?  How about a quality wine opener?  Rogar wine openers were originally designed in the late nineteenth century to meet demands from restauranteurs for a professional wine opener that could get the job done fast.  Today, Rogar wine openers remove the cork in under a second.
One of Rogar’s premiere lines is the Rogar Champion opener series.  Champion openers can both uncork and recork the bottle with speedy ease.  All Champion wine openers feature the Rogar original design: a vine-and-flowers theme that’s classically beautiful.  The base is made of die-cast zinc, and the top can be finished with nickel or pewter, and there are both wood and granite options for the stand and handle.  The Rogar Champion line has timeless elegance that any wine lover is sure to appreciate for years to come.

Rogar Estate openers are another beautiful option.  Their gorgeous designs make them timeless pieces that will never go out of style.  This particular model has an antique bronze finish and a hardwood handle.  It features an ornate design of grapes and leaves.  It can be clamped onto a bar, shelf or table for a classic barroom look, or it can be paired with one of Rogar’s stands for a beautiful, self-supported look.

If you’re looking for that perfect wine gift for the wine lover in your life, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful and functional Rogar wine opener.

Wine Review: 2006 Domaine Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape

December 9th, 2010 No comments

2006 Domaine Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape If you’re looking for a great French red to fall madly in love with this winter, look no further.  The Domaine Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape has got it all.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape has an almost mystical reputation among wine lovers.  It’s a commune in the southeastern region of France.  Like many areas in the Rhone region, Châteauneuf-du-Pape has an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) designation.  But unlike the wine areas around it, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is permitted to grow a huge number of grape varieties: 13, in fact, from Terret Noir to Bourboulenc.  But for a wine to be an authentic Châteauneuf-du-Pape, it must be at least 50% Grenache grapes, and it must be aged in oak barrels for a year.

The French are known for their love of terroir, the distinctive taste and aroma characteristics of an area.  In the case of their beloved Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the terroir is highly unique.  Embedded in the soil of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region is a layer of pebbles, mostly quartzite, brought there by ancient glaciers.  The rocks retain heat that they release during the cool nights, keeping the vines from getting too chilly.  They also help the soil retain moisture during the hot summer months, keeping the vines from getting too thirsty.  It is because of these rocks in the dirt that the region is so renowned.

And it’s no surprise that the wines of this region have a distinctive terroir.  Paul Autard’s 2006 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a rich,

Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyard.

A Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyard.

medium-bodied wine with background tastes of spice, leather, cinnamon, and tobacco.  But the strongest taste is one of earthiness: a mineral-and-soil taste that makes you think of being outside in the warm sun.  It’s such a distinctive taste that the drinker gets a sense of the place the wine came from, a place of crumbling castles, châteaus, and miles of sunny vineyard, even without ever having been there.

This is a delicious, opulent wine that I’m sure you’ll love.  Store it in your cellar to age to greatness for 7 years or so, or if you can’t help it, crack it open now and take a miniature trip to France.

Wine Gift: Riedel Wine Glasses

December 4th, 2010 No comments

Riedel has been making the world’s premiere wine glasses for more than 250 years.  For the serious wine collector, they’re almost a necessity.  For the more casual wine enthusiast, they’re a beautiful, classic way to enjoy great wines.  Riedel glasses make great holiday gifts for anyone who has a special place in his heart for wine.

Riedel makes a wide variety of glass styles.  One great choice is the Riedel Sommelier line.  Their graceful shapes and long, delicate stems make them an elegant choice for the holiday season. Even better, these lovely glasses are on sale–check Facebook, Twitter or the latest VC newsletter for coupon codes for Riedel Sommelier, Howard Miller and WineKeeper products.

Glasses from the Sommelier line are perfect for the serious wine lover.  For someone who’sriedel o a little more casual about wine, a perfect choice is the “O” Stemless line.  These family-style glasses are great for casual gatherings, dinner parties with friends, and just sitting around and enjoying a glass.

Don’t forget if neither of these lines are what you’re looking for for the wine lover in your life, Riedel makes many more choices.