Wine should be enjoyed and shared to celebrate the events in your life and the events in your friends lives. There are always events to celebrate … birthdays, weddings, friendships. In Vino 301’s last blog Let’s Create A Home Wine Bar, we discussed gifting items to create a wine bar. Now that you have the elements for an awe inspiring wine bar, we need to populate it.
Gifting wine does not have to overwhelming. It can be fairly simple and easy. Here are five easy steps to gifting wine.wine gift guide
Share with us your tips you use to gift wine. Share your comments below. Enjoyed this blog? Great, receive more Vino 301 blogs twice a month. Subscribe to Vino 301’s email list and receive your very own copy of our blog. Subscribe here
Wine Bar at Home Ideas
June is a busy month. Weddings, graduations, Father’s Day, anniversaries are just some of the celebrations in June. Celebrations are fun often marking new beginnings or monumental occasions. For the people attending the celebrations, it can be an investment. An investment in Hallmark™ cards and gift cards. Instead of investing in gift cards, invest in making more memories. Let’s create a home wine bar to mark these milestone events. A home wine bar can be as small or large as you make it. Here are wine bar at home ideas.
I could and should write a separate blog on wine glasses. You can get lost and confused trying to select the “right” type of wine glass. Let’s keep it simple. At the most, you should have three types of glasses: red, white and sparkling. Purchase six of each type. If you want to keep it funky and fresh, select a stemless glass. Make the red wine glass the stemless glass. It can double as a cocktail glass.
What is the difference among white, red and sparkling glasses? It is all about the bowl (where you pour the wine). Red wine requires a larger bowl for the wine to breathe. It has more surface to air contact. A smaller bowl is sufficient for white and sparkling wines.
If you want to get fancy, coupe glasses make the wine bar look sophisticated. Coupe glasses are the timeless Champagne glasses. These glasses also super versatile. Not only are coupes an acceptable alternative to flutes for champagne, they can add drama to your cocktails or desserts. If you still have trouble deciding on selecting sparkling wine glasses, read Glass Matters: The Best Glass to Sip Sparkling Wine …
Wine Pearls are the answer to the quick chill. They keep wine chilled like whiskey stones. They can be used in red or white wine. The more pearls you use, the frostier your beverage gets. These stainless-steel ice-cubes chill without altering or diluting delicate flavors and without scratching wine glasses.
Decanters are gorgeous accents to any bar. They can range in price from $30 to $300. No matter what the price, the purposes are simple. Carefully decanting wines ensure the sediment remains in the wine bottle. It separates the wine from the sediment. Secondly, decanting aerates the wine. When wine is slowly poured from the wine bottle to a decanter the wine’s aromas and flavors become more apparent.
Wine bottle stoppers can be decorative, ornate gifts. Some stoppers can be monogram or personalized. However, if you looking to preserve the wine you should select a practical solution like Silicone Wine Stopper or the vacuum seal stoppers. These create a tight seal around the wine bottle lip preventing air from seeping in. These stoppers create a leak-proof, air-tight seal in virtually any size wine bottle.
A good wine opener is as essential as breathing. Nothing is worse than struggling to open a bottle of wine. A good wine opener is a wino best friend. I cannot begin to tell you which is the best is to use. It is about personal preference. A wine key is my favorite. It is small, easy for me to use and I have one in every handbag I own (literary). You never know when you have to open a bottle. A girl has to be prepared.
Here are a few tips you should consider when purchasing a wine opener. Make sure you have a foil cutter apparatus with the wine opener. You do not want shards of foil in your wine. The wine opener should have a good grip when you are handling the wine bottle. If you are selecting an electric opener, make sure it has a good battery life. I hate when you have the opener sitting on the charger all day and a few minutes off the charger the opener is died.
If your gift recipient has more than 20 to 30 bottles in their house or apartment at any one time, then it is time to start considering wine storage. Check out our holiday gift giving guide about purchasing a wine cooler.
However, most people just starting out will only have a few bottles at a time. A single bottle wine chiller keeps the wine bottle chilled longer. You can place the chiller in the freezer or fridge before the wine is ready to serve. Make sure the chiller is well insulated. These chillers come in multiple styles, such as brushed stainless steel, marble, and electronic.
Happy gift giving. Let us know if you are building your own wine bar. We would love to hear what you are doing. Better yet, share your pictures with us on Instagram @vino301 or Facebook.
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Usher Summer in with Refreshing Sangria
We made it through the coldest, rainy spring ever. The hot, hazy days of summer will be here soon. (not complaining, just observing) I cannot think of a better way to greet summer than with a pitcher of refreshing Sangria. You can buy Sangria mix at the store, but do not. Sangria is easy to make and is the perfect summer drink. The cool thing about Sangria is it is all about taking your favorite wine, your favorite fruits, and experimenting with them. We are sharing a couple of our recipes with you to get you started.
The term “sangria” dates to the 18th century. It is generally believed to have been taken from the Spanish “sangre” (blood), in reference to the red color of the drink; some believe, however, that the word comes from Sanskrit via the Urdu “sakkari” (sugared wine), according to Wikipedia. Water was unsafe to drink 2,000 years ago. It was filled with bacteria. According to WineIntro, “The alcohol would take care of any bacteria in the drink. Most households made some wine from fruits and berries in the area. It was very natural to “liven things up” by adding more spices, fruits, and other items to the wine to give it a different flavor.”
- Prep the day before – Chill your favorite red or white wines and mixers overnight to create a refreshing punch.
- Freeze the fruit, instead of chilling– Prep the fruit the day before and freeze it. Squeeze a little lemon juice on the fruit to prevent the fruit from browning.
- Substitute the frozen fruit for ice – Ice will water down your drink. The frozen fruit will keep your Sangria chilled. You can buy frozen fruit too.
- Use a single varietal flavorful red wines – Use red wines that are big in flavor and aromas such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot
- Use medium body or sweet white wines – Medium body Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Riesling is a better white wine base than high acidic wine.
- Use a serving pitcher with a pinched lip – A pinched lip pitcher prevents the fruit and other solids from plopping into the glass and splashing.
Vino 301’s Sangria Recipes
We experimented and created our own concoctions. Here are a couple Sangria recipes to inspire you. Have fun and create your own!
Rosé Watermelon & Honeydew Sangria
12 cups Watermelon
5 cups Honeydew
1 Bottle of dry Rosé
1 ½ cup Peach Brandy
4 Cups of Ginger Ale
- Chop fruit (large chunks)
- Puree 9 cups of watermelon and 4 cups of honeydew with ¼ cup of Brandy
- Strain watermelon mixture
- In a large decorative pitcher combine wine, brandy and ginger ale
- Add watermelon mixture to wine mixture
- Add remaining fruit
Basket of Berries Sangria
½ cup Raspberries
½ cup Blackberries
½ cup Strawberries
1 cup Apple Brandy
1 Bottle of dry red wine
12 oz Ginger Ale
- Combine fruit and place in a large pitcher
- Add red wine, Brandy and ginger ale
- Garnish with lemon slices and mint
What is your favorite Sangria? Share your recipe with us in the comments session below.
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2018 Maryland Wine Festival Complete Guide
Wine in the Woods is this weekend, May 19 – 20, 2018, in Columbia, MD. Wine in the Woods is the unofficial kick off of the 2018 wine festival season in Maryland. This festival is a large outdoor festival featuring over 30 wineries and vineyards from Maryland. For 25 years, the festival has included wine tastings, food vendors, crafts and live music.
Wine in the Woods attracts hundreds, if not thousands of people. It is an annual pilgrimage for some. A time once a year to reunite with old friends and enjoy great wine. For most, it is a sign summer is almost here.
If you cannot attend Wine in the Woods, no worries there are many more festivals this summer and fall. We compiled a list of over 30 wine festivals in Maryland. The festivals span from Washington County to Ocean City, Maryland and cities in between. Below is the 2018 Maryland Wine Festival Complete Guide. It is in a .pdf format for you to print and carry with you.
Before you dust off your lawn chair and picnic basket, we have some tips for you to have the most enjoyable festival experience.
Go for Free
When you volunteer at festivals your admission is free. Larger festivals, like Maryland Wine Festival, need volunteers to help the day of the event. You can contact the organizers of the festival to learn more about the jobs available. Wineries also need assistance. Wineries advertise for volunteers on their website or post volunteer information in their newsletters. Volunteers are needed to pour wine. The wineries will cover your admission in exchange for your time. It is not too late to volunteer, contact your favorite vineyard.
Get Your Ticket Early
More popular festivals sell out and will not sell tickets at the entrance. Linganore Winecellar’s Caribbean festival is an example of a festival which sells out every year. Every year! Do not wait until the week of or day of to purchase your ticket.
It is fun to have a drink or two with your friends before the festival, but remember to pace yourself. It is not a good look to be drunk before 11:00 am. Avoid going all out before the festival. There are several tasting options at the festival. Generally, the tasting samples are one ounce pours. Each winery pours between 4 to 6 wines, so you could potentially have a single glass of wine at each tent. Remember wine festivals are a marathon not a sprint.
Leave the Booze at Home
Festivals have strict policies about bringing alcohol not sold at festivals into the event. You cannot bring alcohol to the festival. It is not an attempt for the organizers to sell more wine. It is the law. Your bags will be checked before you entered. Any alcohol found at bag check will be confiscated.
Happy festival hopping! For more tips, check out our earlier blog Tips to Navigating Maryland Wine Festivals Share with us in the comment section below, what is your favorite festival to attend. Here is your 2018 Maryland Wine Festival Complete Guide two page guide.
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Raise Your Wine Glasses on Cinco De Mayo… Try Mexican Wines, Yes Mexican Wines
Many of us will celebrate Cinco De Mayo in a few days. Cinco De Mayo celebrates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. For many Americans Cinco De Mayo is the commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage. For others, it is an exploration of 2 for 1 Margaritas or Corona Beers. (no judgement) Instead of toasting the Mexican army’s victory with tequila, try Mexican wines.
Yes, I said wines. You may be thinking anybody can make wine but is Mexican wine good. The answer is a resounding YES! Recently, I tried L.A. Cetto wines. L.A. Cetto is the largest winemaker in the Guadalupe Valley. Guadalupe Valley wine region is near the Pacific coast in Ensenada area of Baja California. Baja California is an ideal grape growing area because of its Mediterranean climate and its sandy soil. Close to 90 percent of wine is produced in this area. Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Tempranillo are popular grapes grown in this region.
L.A. Cetto is one of the oldest vineyards in Mexico established in the 1920s. Cetto family immigrated from Italy bringing old world charm and utilizing modern grape growing techniques to cultivate its vineyards. Over time, Cetto family purchased several smaller vineyards and became the largest vintner in the region.
2016 Sauvignon Blanc
The Sauvignon Blanc has a beautiful cornflower yellow color that magically reflects the light. Traditional aromas, like lemongrass and spring flowers capture your nose. Mexico’s extremely warm temperatures has an influence on the grape flavors producing tropical flavors. Kiwi and earthy flavors, like tomato, are on the palate. This is a departure from New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, which have fresh cut grass flavors. I love this departure. Pour me more! This Sauvignon Blanc is well balanced with a short finish. It is perfect to drink by itself or pair with your favorite Mexican dish. I enjoyed it with fresh salsa and chips.
2014 Petite Sirah
The Petite Sirah is a gorgeous jewel tone wine. It is a deep ruby color. Smokey and slate aromas are on the nose. Blackberry scents greet your nose as well. The wine is fruity without being jammy. Pomegranate and cherries flavors are prominent. It is a medium body wine with medium tannin. This is a great wine to have with grilled meat, perfect for the summer.
L.A. Cetto wines are reasonably priced. They range from $8.00 – $17.00 a bottle. You can find them at large wine stores in the Washington and Baltimore area. Try a Mexican wine this weekend and let us know what you think. Cheers!
Wine and Cheese… Tips to Having an Awesome Pairing
Recently Vino 301 launched a Wine and Cheese tour with two amazing partners, Romano Vineyard and Winery (Brandywine, MD) and PA Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD). Obviously, we are pairing Romano’s finest wines with PA Bowen award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses. When we were selecting which cheeses and wines to pair we started with the cheeses. Yes, the cheese not the wine! Most people assume you should start with the wine and build the meal around the wine. Well, you would be wrong. Any good food and wine pairing starts with the food. Food has more impact on how a wine will taste. This is especially true with cheeses. It is more than likely cheese will have a negative impact on the taste of wine. Here are some tips to have an awesome wine and cheese pairing.
Cheese is fatty
Your taste buds immediately perceive levels of sugar, salt and acid when you taste food. And, this is great to apply general tasting principals like sweet food with sweet wine, acidic food with high acid white wines, or salty food with tannic red wines. These rules do not always apply to cheese pairings. Cheese can confuse your taste buds. Cheese is fatty and will coat your tongue, like a thin coat of pollen on your car in the beginning of spring. The mouth coating effect may impair your sense of taste especially with wine.
Go for intensity
Gauge the cheese flavor intensity when you are matching it to wine. You want to make sure the wine or cheese does not overpower the other. For example, an intense blue cheese can be paired with a light flavored Riesling. This pairing is balanced. The Riesling will not overshadow the cheese. Pairing a bold, rich Cabernet Sauvignon with Gorgonzola is a battle of flavors. It is like watching the Ali-Frazier fight, down goes Frazier. The Cabernet and Gorgonzola flavors are competing with each other.
Acid can be fat best friend
Acid and fat combinations are an unlikely pair, but many people enjoy the combo. Acidic wines like Pinot Gris, Albariño, and Grüner Veltliner cut through the fat. Remember the fatty coat we discussed earlier, these wines will cut through that coat. They are the Edward Scissorhands of the wine world. Try mozzarella, feta and goat cheese with these wines.
Fruity with savory flavors
There is a component in food known as umami. Umami is the savory taste. People often refer to mushrooms when describing it. This flavor is found in hard cheeses. Hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan and gruyere should be paired with fruit forward wines, such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Look for wines with mild tannin but have a lot of fruity character.
If this is overwhelming, no worries. Below is a 2015 Wine Enthusiast Magazine wine and cheese guide you can use to have an awesome pairing. Share your favorite cheese and wine pairing with us. Leave your wine and cheese pairing in the blog comment section.
Wine and Cheese Pairing Examples
Credit: WINE ENTHUSIAST, 2015
Vino 301’s 5th Year Anniversary
Happy Anniversary to us! It’s our 5th year anniversary. Thank you for supporting us over the past five years. We have had a great time creating memories with you. We appreciate you and look forward to sharing more laughs, more adventures and a lot of wine. We have new activities planned for you this year.
Giving Back To Our Community
Vino 301 offered discounted tours or events to demonstrate our appreciation in prior years to celebrate our anniversary. This year we are celebrating our anniversary differently. We appreciate you more than ever. We are grateful for you uplifting us, so we want to uplift others. Vino 301 is showing our gratitude by giving back. A dollar from each regional wine tour, Chocolate and Wine tour, and Wine, Beer & Spirits tour ticket sold will be used to purchase food for The Bowie Interfaith Pantry and Emergency Aid Fund this year. The Bowie Pantry provides emergency food and financial aid to residents in Prince George’s County. From Vino 301’s the beginning, we have always expressed our passion for supporting local vintners, farmers and businesses and we are sharing our passion by assisting our community. If you wish to donate food or funds to the Bowie Pantry, visit Bowie Pantry website.
We have a lot instore for you this first half of the year. More wine packages, and tour experiences!!!
February – We are celebrating National Drink Wine Day on February 18. It is a real holiday. This holiday celebrates wine drinkers and everything that is good about wine. It is only right that we observe this national holiday at a wine bar. Vino 301 Wine Concierge is hosting a social at Red, Red Wine Bar(Annapolis, MD) on February 18 from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Join us and enjoy wine flights and light hors d’oeuvres. More information, click here.
March – March is Maryland Wine Month. Vino 301 is pairing cheese with Maryland wine. Wine and Cheese tour is a new specialty tour. We partnered with Romano Vineyard and Winery and P.A. Bowen Farmstead. Romano’s finest wines will be paired with P.A. Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD) award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses. This wine tour will take you to Romano Vineyard for the cheese pairing. Your next destination will take you to one of southern Prince George’s County local vineyards (Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards, JaneMark Winery &Vineyard, or Gemeny Winery & Vineyard). More information, click here
April – The girls are out of here! Girlfriends Getaway takes you to Inn Boonsboro (Boonsboro, MD). Spend the weekend at famed novelist, Nora Roberts, bed and breakfast. Girlfriends Getaway is a weekend adventure that includes two-night stay at the Inn Boonsboro, wine tour with lunch, evening happy hours, yoga class, and much more. Stay tuned for more information.
May – Shopping is blooming in May. Sip and Shop is an afternoon of sampling selected fine wines, enjoying delectable appetizers and shopping. W by Worth clothing, high-quality women’s fashions, will be on display for a fun shopping spree – hassle-free with personalized service. More details are coming.
June – Vino 301 is headed for the water in June. We partnered with Atlantic Kayak Company. Take a Twilight Kayak tour along the Mattawoman Creek. There’s nothing more relaxing and engaging than spending time on the water. Leave the crowded streets and bike paths behind, and go on a kayak adventure! Top off your evening with a wine and cheese pairing. More details are coming.
Thank you again for five wonderful years. See you along the wine trails.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle and Still Drink Wine
Wine has several health benefits. A few rewards are that it contains antioxidants, flavonoids that promote heart health, it slows the aging process, and it decreases your chances of getting chronic diseases. If wine is so great why do many modern diets discourage you from consuming wine? Perhaps, dieters over indulge and dietitian recommend removing it rather than encouraging moderation. Dietitians consider wine as having “empty” calories and those calories could be better used elsewhere. Nonsense! Wine can give you a weight lost boost. According to researchers, red wine contains a chemical called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid slows the growth of existing fat cells and prevents the growth of new ones. So, do not give up your wine. You can incorporate healthy simple tactics in your every life so you can continue to enjoy wine. Here are a few approaches on how you can maintain a healthy lifestyle and still drink wine.
Use a Smaller Wine Glass
My wine glasses are huge. They could be mistaken for portable wine tanks. Easily, these glasses could hold 20 ounces. I wanted to do my part in ending global warming. So, I bought them to conserve energy by only pour myself one glass of a wine a day. (Anything to help a cause.) However, these glasses are not recommended to sustaining a balance diet. It sounds crazy, but the size of your wine glass influences how much wine you pour. Experts suggest drinking a maximum of 5 to 6 ounces of wine daily. When you pour 5 ounces in a 20-ounce glass it looks like a drop in the bucket. You tend to pour more because it appears to be smaller than it looks. But, when you pour 5 ounces in an 8-ounce glass it looks like a lot of wine. Remember: the smaller the glass the bigger the pour appears.
Count Your Ounces
A glass of wine at a restaurant is at least 40 percent more than your at home pour. The average restaurant serves between 9 to 11 ounces. You have exceeded your daily allowance with one glass of wine when you dine out. Most people have two glasses of wine when they dine out. That is 18 ounces or over half a bottle of wine. You can avoid this by asking for a half of pour. Most places are happy to accommodate you.
Avoid Drinking on an Empty Stomach
Would you have the fastest time for arriving at home from work to pouring yourself a glass of wine? Would you be gold medalist? I would medal every time! I would set Olympic records. This is a practice many people do. They pour themselves a glass of wine while they are unwinding down from the work day. They may have a glass when they are preparing dinner. Experts discourage drinking before you eat. Your appetite increases when you drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol is an appetite stimulant. You will eat more and make poor food choices when you drink 30 minutes before eating. Saving your wine for your meal. You can also try pre-planning your food options. Have healthy snacks like fresh fruit, popcorn, or hummus available while you are preparing your dinner or to snack on after a long day.
When you are tipsy you underestimate your food consumption and overeat. Avoid this by drinking water. Drinking water increase that full feeling. Drink a glass of water between glasses of wine. You should drink at least 8 to 12-ounces. This will also have an effect on your blood alcohol level. Your blood alcohol level will gradually increase, instead of rapidly escalating. Water will not prevent you from getting drunk, but it will slow the process.
Try these few actions and, you will see a difference in your lifestyle.
Holiday Wine Cocktails
Holidays are a time for celebrations and entertaining. Entertaining is always so much easier when you can prep in advance and stay out of the kitchen. Having cocktails prepped limits your need to bartender. Here are two cocktail recipes you can make prior to your guests’ arrival. The best thing about these recipes is that wine has been substituted for spirits. Using wine instead of spirits lowers your entertainment cost. Wine cocktails recipes are easy, and inexpensive. Sip, enjoy and repeat. Happy Holidays!
Serves 10- 12 people
2 cups Fresh Cranberries
1 cup Orange Juice
1/3 cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
4 cups Pinot Grigio
¼ cup Grand Marinier©
Orange Slices and fresh Cranberries for garnish
Note: Please do not buy an expense Pinot Grigio. If you want to substitute the Pinot, use a white wine with a medium – high acidity level. Avoid oaky Chardonnary
Serves 10 – 12 people
1 cup Pomegranate seeds
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
1 bottle Sparkling Wine
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Note: Please do not buy an expense sparkling wine.
Cheers! Toast to the holidays. Enjoy your friends and family.
Red Wine Hot Chocolate
Snow days are fun to try Pinterest recipes you always wanted to try, but never do. Yesterday’s snow day was no exception. There is a red wine hot chocolate recipe that looks so good. You add red wine to creamy hot chocolate. Ummm, chocolate and wine!!! This recipe is my cooking bucket list. A snow day was the perfect day to make a decadent, warm beverage.
The original recipe calls for dark chocolate chunks, red wine and milk. Good right!?! Reading the recipe I anticipated there may be problems. Dark chocolate is a heart healthy candy. This is the chocolate doctors recommend you have daily. It has potent antioxidants similar to red wine. Dark chocolate is bitter and the lest sweet chocolate. This is why it pairs well with red wine, likes with likes. Red wine’s high tannin level puts it on the high end of the bitter scale. The combination is normally a perfect pairing, but not for hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is sweet. The recipe needed sugar. It is too savory. The recipe needs a “Fashion Emergency” makeover. I answered the call of duty.
Here is the recipe makeover:
Snow Day Delight: Red Wine Hot Chocolate
12 oz Milk
6 Tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix. Use a mix that requires milk.
4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon (to taste)
Whip Cream (Optional)
Chocolate Shavings (Optional)
Hints: This is not a dieter recipe. Recommend using 2% or whole milk.