Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wine - The Perfect Holiday Gift

Last year, my sister in law gave me a wine gift basket that just thrilled me. It had in it two bottles of wine, two Riedel O glasses, a "Built" wine carrying bag, and best of all, Karen MacNeil's fabulous book - "The Wine Bible." This was truly a great gift.

A few months ago, my husband received a wine birthday gift from his sister. It contained two bottles of Australian wines, a CD of Australian music, tasting notes and a blindfold (so you can do a blind tasting - don't get any other crazy ideas!) This was also a great gift.

So I've been thinking about how varied and excellent wine gifts can be. You can send baskets with wine and gourmet foods, or sign your loved one up for a wine club, or buy a "country-specific" group of wines (ie: Italy or France), or give a gift certificate for an online wine class (such as Wine Spectator's Wine School). The choices are endless.

Wine also makes a wonderful last minute or hostess gift. The last two bottles of Coppola wines that I purchases (Merlot and that wonderful Claret) came with gold mesh gift bags and card included. (Of course, I'm not planning on giving those two away, but it was a nice idea.) Check with your local wine store - many of them will help you create a special and unique wine gift for someone you love. Trust me, it will be a lot more welcome than fruit cake.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Question: What Wine Goes With Turkey?

Answer: Whatever wine you enjoy drinking.

The truth of that matter is that because Turkey is bland, pretty much any wine can go with it, so experts recommend pairing the wine with your side dishes. Common recommendations are Pinot Noir or Red Zinfandel for red, and Riesling, Gew├╝rztraminer, or Viognier for white. Most experts agree that fruitier wines go better with the traditional side dishes of cranberries and sweet potatoes. But the bottom line is that it doesn't really matter what the experts say. What matters is what will make your holiday enjoyable. So if you prefer a Spanish Tempranillo or a California Chardonnay, or an Italian Pinot Grigio... go for it.

Whatever you drink this holiday, remember it's the family and friends that you are drinking with that make Thanksgiving special.

Looking for recipes? Visit my other site - for recipes, diet tips, product reviews and more. I've got a whole bunch of Thanksgiving recipes posted to help with last minute needs.

Happy Thanksgiving from Grape Gal.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Silly Wine Tasting Notes

Some people just have too much time on their hands. Either that, or they love ridiculing descriptions of wine that cite flavors of "mossy stones" and "tanned leather." Some computer programmer has created a "Silly Tasting Notes Generator" that makes up preposterous (or ARE they?) descriptions of wines. Try the normal or extra silly versions.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Elaine's Mulled Wine circa 1972

Thank you to my friend Joan Buckley for passing on this recipe. She suggested that it can be made in a crockpot. I think this will be perfect for the holidays! Here it is, history and all, in Joan's own words.

"I once had a friend and her apartment used to be THE favorite each and every Halloween. Was it the special treats she gave out? Nope. It was her famous mulled wine that she had brewing on the stove (they didn't have crockpots back then ;)) that the parents of the Trick or Treaters found irresistible. It made the annual trek somehow all worth it.

I don't see why it could not be served in a crockpot. The whole point of it is not to let the wine boil and the crockpot would seem the perfect place.
Anyhow here's the recipe (as closely as I can remember)

Elaine's Mulled Wine circa 1972
- one bottle (750 ml) claret or Burgundy
- peel of one orange
- peel of one lemon
- Cinnamon stick (about 2 or 3 in long)
- 6 or 7 whole cloves
- one nutmeg, crushed (not grated)
- one tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup brandy

Combine all ingredients in a heavy enamel pot (in this case a crockpot) and simmer for however long it takes so long as it doesn't boil!!
I seem to remember she served it with a thinly sliced orange slice stuck with one clove."

Grapegal's note - I'm still pondering where to find a whole nutmeg. Anyone have any suggestions?