Holiday Gift Guide: Last Minute Holiday Gifts

It’s hard to believe that next week is Christmas, and we just finished Hanukah festivities.  Whether you celebrate one of these holidays, another one, or just the time of year, you probably have a list of people that you want to a little something special for.

Don’t panic!  Here are a few last minute gifts that are sure to please the wine lovers in your life!

Wine bottle totes – I love these cute little neoprene bottle holders.  They make a great gift in of themselves, but you can put your favorite bottle of wine inside and make even more special.  I love these soft, cushioned totes for parties, and they even keep those whites chilled!

  • CBreeze design will monogram them for you, which makes a great custom gift.Monogram Wine Tote Bag Set/5 - Can be Personalized Monogrammed  Choose from a variety of designs and accents, and your monogram.  They also have wine tote bags and other designs. ($28)
  • Built New York has a large selection of wine accessories, including the City Tote, which is the perfect light weight reusable bag for your your shopping needs. ($40).  They also have wine totes, which come in a IMG_003320201 or 2 bottle version.  Slightly taller than the CBreeze version, the Built wine tote is great for larger bottles and those odd shaped sparkling bottles. ($15-18).

Tattinger & Dita Von Teese – Who doesn’t like bubbles at this time of year?  If you are celebrating something, on consoling yourself, sparkling wine makes everyone happy.  To celebrate the launch of Dita Von Teese’s new book, Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour, from famed Burlesque star Von Teese, Champagne Taittinger has worked with Dita to envision the perfect DIY Beauty & Bubbles Bash to host at home!  With the glitzy holiday packaging, even the box is a party, not to mention the nectar inside.   ($50 champagne)

With instructions on how to build your own Champagne Tower, pirating advice, and more fun, this is a great party starter.  The book is fabulous too, and makes an awesome gift for someone who want to learn more about how Dita empowered herself, and broke all the rules, while defining a new style at the same time.  ($30 book)IMG_0034

IMG_0029VinoMaster Wine Opener – similar to the Orignial Rabbit, this wine opener is a great tool to have in your bar.  The VinoMaster makes opening one, or many, bottles, super easy!  The simple lever action is fantastic for any one with manual dexterity issues, with arthritis, or just opens tons of wine.  $45

Joyeaux Noel, and Happy New Year!

Wine Folly’s Essential Guide to Wine – Books for the wine lover

wine-folly-book-cover-best-sellerA few years ago, I was lucky enough to experience an amazing cultural experience in Rioja, Spain, exploring, food, and lifestyle writers.  While I wine, food and lifestyle options the region has to offer.  Our small group of compatriots didn’t know each other before our trip, but we quickly became a tight knit group meandering the countryside in search of delicious wines.

Among those intrepid explorers were the dynamic duo behind Wine Folly, Madeline Puckette, and Justin Hammack.  Puckette, a talented graphic artist and Sommelier, is known for creating unique, easy to follow, and creative infographics that help us understand wine.

This year, Wine Folly compiled those infographics and extensive wine knowledge in to a guidebook on wine, Wine Folly:  The Essential Guide to Wine.  Using simple techniques that yield complex results, Wine Folly provides a guide for over 50 wines, and helps the reader create their own ranking system by reinforcing basic building blocks of flavor, origin, and classic terroir.

The clean layout is divided in to easy to understand fundamentals, styles of wine, and wine regions of the world, allowing even the newest wine drinker the ability to understand complex styles and regions.

Not sure what wine glass is best for Chianti?  There’s an infographic for that.  How do you pair Riesling?  Check out the wine pairing consideration diagram.  My favorite part of the book is the in depth profiles of the most common varietals.  The clear flavor wheel is color coded and grouped by major flavor group and the dominant olavors are clearly outlined.  The facts at a glance makes it an excelelnt study guide, as you can see on one page, where it grows, how much grows, and hte average price per bottle.

Wine Folly’s Essential Guide to Wine is available for $25 on Amazon as well as WineFolly.com.  I highly suggest you pick up a copy or two!

 

 

A promotional copy was provided by the PR agency for review, but my mad love of the cool images is all my own!

 

 

To your health! Cocktials as health food

I love a good cocktail as much as the next gal, but did you know some cocktails can be good for you?  Taking a cue from the elixirs, tinctures, and tonics of yesterday, and putting a new twist on them, the new book Apothecary Cocktails delves in to the history of some restoratives libations, and creates new recipes for today’s trendy bartender. When we look at some of the key ingredients in the modern bar, we can see behind the bourbon, vodka and other liquors to the mixers that were traditionally used as medicine.  Love a gin & tonic?  Tonic (real tonic, not this corn syrup flavored water that passes today) is made with quinine, a well known remedy for influenza.  Love to use bitters to flavor your cocktails?  Bitters were created as a digestive aid, originally in Angostura, Venezuela, as a tonic.  Brandy has long been carried by St. Bernard mountain dogs in the Swiss Alps for warmth and revival in the cold winter nights. I love to experiment with cocktails and flavors but Apothecary Cocktails categorizes their recopies by aliment:

  • Have a digestive issue?  Try a Sazerac.  The Peychaud’s bitters from New Orleans was originally used to heal stomach problems.
  • Cold to the bone?  Try some Navy Grog.  With Scurvy being a critical issue in sailors, this winter warmer with rum and lemon juice was used in the 17th & 18th centuries.
  • Sweltering in a sticky summer?  Almond Pastis is your cure.  Pastis is the cool drink of southern France, with cold anise flavored liquor that turns white when mixed with ice water.
  • If you’ve had all of the above and are feeling a bit green, restoratives hair of the dog cocktails like the Corpse Reviver, full of Caribbean flavors as well as spices and alcohol it will help you to forget.
  • Hot toddies have long been used to relax you after a long day.  How about Mexican Sleep Cure for your insomnia?  That Mescal will certainly help you sleep.
  • When I have a cold, I make my own Nyquil:  3 oz whiskey, healthy squeeze of lemon juice, 1 TBSP of brown sugar, cloves, and hot water.  Stir with a cinnamon stick.    You could also try a Lemon Balm Gin & Tonic.  Lemon Balm has been a popular herban pain killer for centuries, and is used in many digestives such as Amaro and Chartreuse.
  • Finally, if you’re in a bad mood – snap out of it!  Cheer in a glass, the Milk Thistle Spritz takes a commonly used herbal elixer detoxifies the liver and is a tasty treat.

Apothecary Cocktails also includes several recipes for syrups and infusions used in the cocktail creations, like Cardamon simple syrup, and Shrubb simple syrup. I’ve tried, twisted, and tweaked several of these recipes and it’s a great addition to any bar.  Enjoy!

The book was provided by the publisher for consideration but all cocktails were created from my own hooch!