Summer Sangria

IMG_4263Happy almost weekend! It has finally cooled off here and instead of a sweltering 93+ its only 75! A welcomed dip in temperature for everyone. After I graduated from college I was lucky enough to visit Spain with a friend were we tried traditional sangria for the first time… I was hooked! I loved the fresh fruit and since I am more of a red wine drinker it was a nice change to drink red wine in the summer. IMG_4256Sangria is a great specialty cocktail for summer BBQs and parties and a fun way to mix things up… literally! After unsuccessfully finding a great recipe online, I decided to make up my own… and the result was fantastic! The last summer party I made this at we went through FIVE pitchers of the stuff. So when you’re out buying ingredients make sure you get extra because I guarantee it will be a hit. Hope you have a great weekend, enjoy!

IMG_4258Summer Fruit Sangria (Makes 1 pitcher, about 8 drinks)


  • 750ml bottle of red wine, I used a Spanish Tempranaillo
  • 1/2 Cup Triple Sec
  • 1/2 Brandy
  • 1/4 Cup Simple syrup
  • 6 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 Cup Pomegranate Juice
  • 1 lemon, lime, orange, apple and pear, thinly sliced
  • Ice


  1. Combine all the wet ingredients in a large pitcher. Mix in the fresh sliced fruit. Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours prior to serving.
  2. Serve in a glass with ice, be sure to get some of the boozy fruit in each glass and ENJOY!

Wine Wednesday: Leese-Fitch

247286Ahh it has been a while since I have done a wine Wednesday! And don’t think it is because I have stopped drinking wine… nope, I’m still following the doctors orders of at least 1-2 glasses per day! Leese-Fitch is one of my favorite new table wines! At just $13 a bottle this Cab is perfect any night of the week. Spring is around the corner which means I’ll be enjoying a lot more white wine in the coming months so stay tuned for some new Wine Wednesdays! Cheers!

  • Name: Leese-Fitch
  • Price: $13
  • Points: 85
  • Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon; 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, 5% Tempranillo, 2% Alicante Bouchet, 2% Petite Sirah.
  • Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in color, the Cabernet Sauvignon blend presents aromas of fresh roasted hazelnuts, espresso, cherry liquor, and black currants. In the mouth, this Cabernet blend exudes deep blackberry notes with toffee, dark cherry, Dutch cocoa, tea leaf, and fig compote. The wine pairs well with steak, lamb, and pasta.

Wine Wednesday: A Summer Rosé

PROVENCEROSEIts been a while since I have done a Wine Wednesday post and I’m very sorry! It’s not because I have stopped drinking it, don’t worry! I’ve just been so busy I haven’t been doing much wine drinking on Wednesdays lately! But now that it’s summer, its time to pull out what I like to call my favorite “patio pounders.” I am normally a red wine drinker 8 months of the year but when summer roles around and the weather is hot, there is nothing more horrific to me than a heavy red wine on 90 degree summer day. I’m sweating just thinking about it. So that’s where the patio pounder comes in- a light white or rose wine that is so refreshing and easy to drink you’d like to sit on your patio and drink the whole bottle (and you will end up drinking the whole thing, promise!) The Provence region of France is known for their Rose. Don’t let the long and hard to read name fool you, this wine is inexpensive and delicious! Time to pull out the white wine glasses from winter storage, cheers! rose

Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d’Aix en Provence Rose 2012

  • Price: $15.99
  • Varietal: Grenache Blend
  • Region: Provence, France
  • Tasting Notes: Very pale in color, it nevertheless has loads of flavor, with plenty of melon, orange peel, and floral aromas to go with a medium-bodied, racy palate that has both richness and freshness.
  • Food Pairing: You don’t need food to drink this wine but… it pairs well with seafood but has enough stuffing to accompany pizza, pasta and acidic dishes such as ratatouille.
  • Score: 90 points


Wine Wednesday: Thanksgiving Reds

Happy hump day y’all! What’s better than starting your day off with a glass of wine? Beats me! Well if you haven’t realized, Thanksgiving is just over a week away! Don’t panic… there are plenty of things you can do ahead of time to make your day more relaxing! Buying wine (and lots of it) this week is one more thing checked off your list! Also think about your holiday table decor. If you’re planning on pulling out the nice silver and china- check now to see if you need to pull out the sliver polish! photo-437My table this year is a mix of vintage china, family silver and some new wine glasses (thanks to the wedding registry!) Its never to early to think about table settings – if you need some ideas, check out Martha Stewarts guide, she’s got your back. My motto is, the simpler the better! If you missed my post last week on Thanksgiving white wines, check it out. But now… on to the reds! Enjoy!

BenMarco Malbec 2011: $19 IMG_5965

  • Winemaker’s Notes: Beautiful deep purple color with perfumed aromas of ripe red fruits and roasted coffee beans. It is lush and fullbodied with bright acidity. This wine really unfolds with some air so try not to slurp it down in a rush, and it shows why the Argentine people are in love with Malbec. Some Bonarda was blended in for greater complexity and to achieve better balance. Pairs well with a wide range of foods including beef, sausages, spiced or grilled pork, veal, medium-strong cheeses, and meat-based pasta sauces.
  • Grape: 95% Malbec and 5% Bonarda from Mendoza, Argentina
  • Rating: 90 points from International Wine Cellar

Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir 2012: $20 IMG_3003

  • Winemaker’s Notes: Meiomi (May-oh-mee) is a Pinot Noir that gets its fruit from the most noteworthy coastal areas in California. The wine is crafted, lush, balanced and luxurious. Three of the California’s most sought after coastal growing regions brilliantly meld together in this deeply flavored, stylish and truly balanced Pinot Noir; The wine opens up with aromas of ripe berries, fresh cranberry, candy apple and malted vanilla. At its most fundamental core, it is an approachable, food friendly wine with a style and place all its own.
  • Grape: 100% Pinot Noir from Monterey County (35%), Santa Barbara County (34%) and Sonoma County (31%), California.
  • Rating: 92 points from the Wine Spectator

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italo Pietrantonj 2009: $13 

  • Winemakers Notes: This is great, rustic, and gulp-able Montepulciano from the oldest winery in Abruzzi. Lovely floral fruit on the nose mingles with the characteristic pencil and earth notes of the grape. The wine is unfined, unfiltered, and fermented in cement tanks. A fantastic wine and an excellent value.
  • Grape: 100% Montepulciano
  • Rating: 87 Cellar Tracker

Looking for more? Check out Bon Appetit’s article on California Wine Legends in the Making

Wine Wednesday- Thanksgiving Whites

photo-409Well now that Halloween is over based on all the stores and shops you’d think it was almost Christmas. Pottery Barn looks like the North Pole and Starbucks is already pushing their festive red holiday cups. Lets not move so quickly! Thanksgiving comes next! What is the only other thing on your Thanksgiving table as important as the turkey? WINE! Don’t forget in your holiday planning process that good wine is the most important part of the meal (to me at least!) Plus, its probably the only way you’ll get through those painfully awkward conversations with that aunt or uncle you haven’t seen in years- when they telling you about their beloved cat that passed away over the summer or how they’ve taken up cattle farming in Amish Pennsylvanian. Maybe that’s extreme but you get the idea. So for this weeks wine Wednesday I’ve pick three, awesome, all under $20 bottles of wine for your Thanksgiving table.

2011 Chehalem Inox Chardonnay: $19 photo-410 The Chehalem Chard is the most expensive of the wines in this post but totally worth it. We are talking about Thanksgiving here so you want something special and something you wouldn’t drink every day. This wine is named after the French abbreviation for “stainless steel” and its crisp, bright flavors are hallmark of an unoaked Chardonnay. This is a crowd pleasing wine that will win over Chardonnay haters and please Chardonnay lovers. If you’re going to have one white wine at your table- I recommend this one!

  • Winemakers’ Notes: Bright, clean, flinty-briney, with mineral, lime and tropical fruit aromatics, this wine is all about freshness, bracing and balanced acidity and flavors that are linear, including ginger, white pepper, stone fruit, apple pie and slate. May be the best INOX we’ve made. (See full notes here)
  • Grape: 100% Estate-Grown Chardonnay from Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon.
  • Rating: Robert Parker & Wine Enthusiast: 88 Points

2012 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc: $10 photo-407Another wine produced in stainless steel barrels, the Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc is an affordable and refreshing table wine. With a slightly more reasonable price point then the Chehalem, this wine is refreshing, bright, and pairs well with food. It’s perfect for large parties thanks to its price and versatility and will please any white wine drinker!

  • Winemakers’ Notes: The 2012 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc has aromatics of guava, papaya, white peach, mandarin, Meyer lemon and lime. The wine fills the palate with fruit flavors and a round fullness, finishing with crisp, refreshing acidity. (See full notes here)
  • Grape: 100% Sauvignon Blanc from California
  • Rating: Wine Spectator: 89 Points

2012 Aveleda Vinho Verde: $8aveledaIf you have never tried Vinho Verde you are truly missing out. This Portuguese wine has a light fizz to it (less than sparkling wine but still very noticeable) and makes for a perfect apéritif (pre-dinner drink) that pairs nicely with meats and cheeses and other appetizers. This wine is a light, refreshing and budget friendly alternative to champagne and a great way to start off your evening!

  • Winemakers’ Notes: Aveleda Vinho Verde is a fresh, fruity light wine that offers freshness to the palate and romanticism to the spirit. Its simple label and the deep green bottle reveal what you are about to experience: a vivacious and smooth white Vinho Verde that can be the perfect match for light meals, seafood or served as an appetizer. (See full notes here).
  • Grapes: Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto, Azal
  • Rating: Wine Spectator: 87 Points

Check back next week for Wine Wednesday Thanksgiving Reds! You can also see the Bon Appetit article on how to pair your wine with classic dinner party dishes. (Read it here)

Napa Wine Wednesday

photo-310Last weekend Jake and I enjoyed our first trip to NAPA! It was wonderful in so many ways- we had beautiful weather, drank great wine and ate delicious food. Overall it was a relaxing and glutinous weekend! If you’ve been to Napa, or just looked at a map of all the wineries… you can see it’s a bit overwhelming- there are so many vineyards to choose from. It can also get pricey! Most wineries now charge a tasting fee to sample their wines and while you can try between 3-5 different varieties at each tasting, multiply that by 10 vineyards and you can spend a lot (and get really drunk)! So I wanted to share my favorite wineries, a few ways to save on tastings and my overall review of the Napa Valley in this addition of Ski Boots in Wine Country! Cheers!photo-312Tip #1: Download the free app Winery Finder on your smart phone- its amazing. The app list all the vineyards in Napa Valley offering 2-for-1 tastings, special deals on tours and discounts on wine purchased at the vineyard. It also maps out how far each vineyard is from your current location so you can easily hit up the closest tasting without bouncing all over town! Also check out this website Napa Valley on a Budget I found it to be a helpful resource. photo-100Grgich Hills Estates– Is one of the more well known vineyards in Napa thanks much in part to the ‘Paris Tasting of 1976‘ (aka their Chardonnay won Best Wine in the World in a blind taste test against some of the best French wines- this blind taste test also included other vineyards in Napa which put California wines on the map.) We tasted 5 of their newly released wines (all of which were delicious!) in the main cellar/tasting room. Grgich is a classic to visit, the grounds are beautiful, the wine is fantastic and they offer a 2-for-1 tasting deal!

Tip #2: Start Early! Ok, I know you might not be interested in drinking wine for breakfast (I am!) but its your best option if you want to beat the crowds- especially during peak season. Before 12pm you can walk in almost anywhere- after that both the wineries and the St. Helena Hwy get busy. photo-102Frog’s Leap–  One of my favorite vineyards we visited! We tasted 4 wines only sold and released at the vineyard. We had a beautiful table on their porch and our wine flights were accompanied with a cheese plate to share. Unlike many of the other vineyards we went to, Frog’s Leap has tasting glasses for each wine (most only give one glass) which allows you to sip and compare each wine at your own pace. I would have loved to do a tour at this vineyard if we had the time- definitely an A+ must visit! Make sure to go in the morning or make a reservation if you’d like to go in the afternoon- they are very busy! photo-104Duckhorn Vineyards– Tied for first place for favorite vineyard visited, Duckhorn was a wonderful experience! We chose to do their tour and tasting. We tasted 5 wines all paired with different cheeses after touring the grounds and cellars. They had just pulled in their first harvest of the season and we got to see the pallets of grapes come in. They have a beautiful deck so request to be seated outside and they offer a 2-for-1 deal on tastings! photo-105Mumm Napa– Who doesn’t love ‘Champagne’ sparkling wine? Mumm is just down the road from Frog’s Leap with a beautiful patio and inside porch. They have 4 different tasting menu’s each with 3 different sparkling wines. We each tried a different menu allowing us to try 6 different wines- definitely the way to go! They offer 2-for-1 tastings, tours and a free tour at 10am with the winery app! A definite must! photo-309Tip #3: Make dinner reservations ahead of time… WAY ahead of time. For popular restaurants 5pm and 9pm are the only available times you’ll find within 4 weeks of your visit- otherwise go for lunch or sit at the bar- many restaurants offer similar menus for lunch and are far less busy at that time. photo-314Ad Hoc– For all the Thomas Keller fans out there, Ad Hoc is amazing. I thought for sure this was a restaurant that would rest on his famous name and serve mediocre food- I was so wrong. This was easily one of the best meals I have had in years- and for a pretty reasonable price (well compared to the $225pp prefix menu at French Laundry…its a steal. I’ll continue to dream about the French Laundry dining experience, forever.) But seriously, amazing food- don’t miss out! photo-315Gott’s Roadside– For a truly delicious and affordable Napa experience check out Gott’s Roadside. Classic diner style food and decor jazzed up by a great wine and beer selection (and milkshakes too!) I’m going to fly back just for their shoestring sweat potato fries! Gott’s go burgers like you’ve never tasted, so work up an appetite. There is usually a line (that’s how you know its good!) but its totally worth the wait!

It’s impossible to capture all the goodness Napa has to offer in one post- this only scratches the surface of what we did and the wines we tasted. There is so much to see and do and try its hard to have a bad experience. St. Helena was my favorite town and where we spent most of our time- it’s very picturesque. Check out Model Bakery on Main St. in St Helena for great coffee and breakfast. We actually only drove through the actual town of Napa on our way to and from the airport. St. Helena, Rutherford and Yountville are where its at in the Napa valley! Cheers and happy travels!

Wine Wednesday – Raats Chenin Blanc

photo-298I recently stumbled upon this awesome South African Chenin Blanc completely by accident. I was looking for some South African whites to try and noticed this label said “Unwooded” which means it was aged using steel tanks instead of oak barrels. This technique is used to preserve the wine’s “original”, vibrant, fresh fruit character making the flavors light, refreshing and smooth. I have tried a lot of unwooded/unoaked wines from Chardonnay to Pinot Noir and I have yet to be disappointed, so I thought I’d give it a shot!

The Chenin Blanc grape originated in the Loire valley of France but is thought to be one of the first grapes grown in South Africa around 1655 (it is now the most widely planted grape in South Africa.) Due to the grapes high acidity, it can be used to make a wide variety of wines from sparkling to desert wine.

This Chenin Blanc is rich in citrus flavors, with hints of pineapple, honeysuckle and orange blossom with a bright, tangy minerality. Due to the range of flavors it pairs well with a variety of foods and makes for a great everyday summer white, especially for the price!

Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2011 (Unwooded)

  • Price: $13.99
  • Varietal: 100% Chenin Blanc
  • Region: South Africa, Coastal Region
  • Tasting Notes: Beautifully structured on the palate, bursting with fresh yellow and white fruit flavors. The wine finishes subtly, yet distinct with great minerality and citrus flavors.
  • Food Pairing: An easy-to-pair wine since it has a wide flavor profile, but they especially recommend it with curry or similar spicy dishes as well as sushi and oysters.
  • Score: 88 points

Wine Wednesday – Kris Pinot Grigio

IMG_6898Happy Wine Wednesday! Today, in honor of some warmer weather and summer on the horizon, we’ve got a white wine on the table. Kris Pinot Grigio might be one of my all time favorite white wines. It’s crisp, light and goes well with lots of summer foods -fish, veggies, burgers, well just about everything! Try it, it will become one of your new favorite summertime wines too!

  • Price: $14
  • Varietal: 100% Pinot Grigio
  • Region: Delle Venezie, Italy (Northeast)
  • Wine Characteristics: Pale yellow in color with brilliant greenish reflections, enticing aromas of acacia flowers, citrus, tangerine, and hints of apricots and almonds. Kris is lean and refreshing on the palate with hints of blossom and honey.
  • Food Pairings: Recommended with salad, roast vegetables, risotto, lightly flavored pastas, omelettes, quiches and grilled white meats or salmon.

Wine Wednesday- Chateau Pesquie


Last wine Wednesday we visited the vineyards of Mendoza Argentina for one of my favorite Malbec’s, Alamos. This week’s featured wine under $20 a bottle is from the Ventoux – Rhone Valley region, which is where my grandmother lives. This is one of my parents favorite table wines and at $15 a bottle you’ll see why. The Grenache/syrah blend makes for a big and bold, well balanced red that pairs easily with food. From simple dishes like pizza or pasta to fish and poultry- you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!

Chateau Pesquie Cuvee des Terrasses Cotes du Ventoux Rouge 2011
  • Price: $15
  • Blend: 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah
  • Winemaker Notes: Dark red in color. Intense nose with notes of black berries and spicy aromas like pepper. The mouth is medium to full-bodied yet still very fresh and elegant tannins and flavors of red and black berries with a touch of spice.
  • About the Ventoux Region: The poor limestone soil of Côtes du Ventoux gives a fruity red wine, easy to drink and to appreciate. A good value wine.   
  • Grapes grown in Ventoux: Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvedre  

Wine Wednesday and how to drink it!

As you might already know…I love a glass of wine anytime. If it was socially acceptable I would probably pour some over my oatmeal in the morning. I’m pretty jealous of Kathie Lee and Hoda on the fourth hour of the Today show, they literally sip wine at 10am while talking about random things, like how many calories are in a candy cane or take a poll on how often you wash your jeans… Unfortunately, not everyone can have a job that basically promotes being an alcoholic, although its funny to think about.

My dad introduced me to the world of wine and I was always in awe of his knowledge of different varietals, regions and vintages. Its nice to dream about drinking fancy wines like Chateauneuf du Pape on a daily basis, but lets bring it back to reality. I love finding inexpensive wines that still taste great and don’t require you to sell your first born child to drink it. I make it a rule not to spend more than $20 on a bottle and surprisingly you can do quite well at the liquor store for under $20. So for Wine Wednesday I’ve picked a bottle of wine, under $20 that you’ll love!

  • Price: $13
  • Varietal: 100% Malbec
  • 85 points
  • Mendoza is by far the largest wine region in Argentina, responsible for roughly 70% of the country’s annual wine production.
  • Alamos Malbec is a good everyday table wine or party wine. It is a deep purple color with hints of fruit and chocolate with a sweet spicy finish. Basically… this is a full bodied red wine that goes well with anything but has a little South American spice to keep things interesting!

Here is a little Wine Etiquette I found again from on of my favorites blog “A Cup Of Jo” I am a big believer in the rule about when you cheers, eye contact is a must! Enjoy!

Wine etiquette

Today I’d love to share 8 fun tips for drinking wine! It’s nerdy, but I like learning etiquette tips (do you?) and thought you might like to hear these fascinating wine dos and don’ts before heading out to holiday parties and romantic dinners. Below, I (Cup of Jo) wrote out the tips, and the genius Gemma Correll illustrated them. Here goes…
1. Fill red wine glasses 1/3 full, white wine glasses 1/2 full, and sparkling wine 3/4 full.
2. Twist the bottle at the end of pouring a glass of wine, to prevent drips (and to give it a flourish!).
3. Cheers! When clinking glasses, make eye contact with the other person. Otherwise, according to French superstition, you’ll risk seven years of bad luck (read: bad sex). You also should clink glasses individually with each person at the table without crossing anyone’s arms.
4. If someone is toasting you (your wedding, your birthday, your general awesomeness), don’t take a sip. Just smile and look humble.
5. Always hold your wine glass by the stem. Many people mistakenly think you only need to hold white wine by the stem (so you don’t warm up the wine), but experts say you should hold red wine by the stem, too, so you can see its color and clarity, as well as to avoid smudging the glass with your fingerprints. Otherwise, wine snobs might call you a “bowl grabber”! 🙂
6. On the table, your wine glass goes to the right of your water glass.
7. While taking a sip, you should politely look into your glass. (And not at another person, if you’re in the middle of a conversation.)
8. The host’s duty is to make sure glasses stay filled. “My eyes go to empty glasses immediately,” wine expert John Thoreen says. “It’s a real radar thing for me.”
9. Or happily forget all the tips above, and just eat, drink and be merry!

P.S. A lipstick trick with wine, and the #1 etiquette tip to remember for the holidays.

Wine Etiquette Re-posted directly from “A Cup of Jo”