December 31, 2008

What's Poppin' For 2009?

It's hard to believe that yet another year has come and gone. And while this year has left a lasting impression on our hearts and minds, it's also left one on our wallets. Below, we've culled together a list of the best champagnes within all sorts of budgets. Afterall its New Years and everyone deserves a little bubbly.

Tier One ($100+)
  • Perrier-Jouet Cuvee Fleur de Champagne - predominatley made of Chardonnay grapes, this light, almost citrus-like champagne is romantic in both taste and presentation. Even the decidantly artistic bottle exudes a class all its own, so its no wonder that this champagne is noted as one of the worlds best. Cost: $175/bottle
  • Krug Grande CuvĂ©e - this multi-faceted wine combines decadent aromas often not experienced in wine tasting, like that of coconut and leather, with complex tastes of roasted coffee and nuts. Cost: $180/bottle

Tier Two ($50-100)

  • Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label -- awarded 88 points from Wine Spectator and cost-friendly to your pocket, it's no wonder this champagne is my personal favorite. Predominatley made of the Pinot Noir grape, this champagne boasts almond, honey and ginger flavors. Cost: $40/bottle

  • Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial - known for its White Star Line class, this rose is from the Champagne region of France and blends together Pinor Noir, Pino Meunier and Chardonnay grapes for a full-bodied, lively, yet fruity character. Cost: $50/bottle

  • Taittinger La Francaise Brut - earning 92 points from Wine Spectator, this champagne has been described as a "fine, very pure style." It offers both deep fruit flavors (like apple and pear) that are rich and complex to the palate. Cost: $40/bottle
Tier Three (up to $50)
  • Korbel Extra Brut - you don't have to pay an arm and a lef for good sparkling wine! When the money is low, but the celebration is in order, try this crisp, extra dry variety which is both light, refreshing and easy on the wallet. You'll taste an array of fruits, including citrus cherry, fig and melon. Cost: $10/bottle

  • Pommery 2002 Brut Gold POP Vintage Mini - looking for something classy to sip, but wanting to be a wee bit selfish and dovour to all to yourself? Well, thats my plan! And these super trendy mini champagne bottles will have you looking glamourous as the ball drops at midnight. Contained in a 175mL mini bottle, this bubbly tastes natural on the tongue with touches of creaminess and citrus fruits. Cost: $15/bottle

December 29, 2008

The Best Hostess Gifts

Right about now you're probably doing like me... packing up gifts, cleaning the house, slowly preparing for a new year, and maybe even attempting to burn off some of those excess calories that were a direct result of binging on cookies and miscellanous beverages. But just because the holidays are wrapping up, doesn't mean that giving has to.

Here are the top five gifting suggestions that didn't make the cut into the "12 Days of Wine Gifts" this year, but deserve an honorable mention as the best options for gifting the host/hostess of your upcoming New Years souirees:

  • Formaggio Cheese Set - this oval bamboo cutting board with slide out drawers is perfect for both a casual night in or a small dinner party. Includes 1 hard cheese knife, 1 cheese shaver, 1 fork-tipped cheese knife, and 1 cheese spreader. Couple it with a nice Brie and bottle of Merlot and your host (and their guests) will be most appreciative!

  • Harmony Wine Case - great for the entertainer that likes to share his appreciation of wine outside the confines of his own home. With 2 wine glasses, 1 corkscrew, 1 nickel plated bottle stopper and 2 cotton napkins, you can easily transport the party anywhere. Perfect for a concert, romantic day in the park, or even a house party.

  • Picnic Sticks - going to an outdoor party or planning a romantic New Years on the beach? Give the gift of wining outdoors with these stainless steel sticks that help to balance your wine bottles and stemware in any outdoor setting. Just push one (or several) into the grass or sand for spill-free wining and dining.

  • Picnic Backpack - perfect for gifting the hostess with the "mostest" (and by mostest, we mean children), this picnic backpack comes complete with all the necessities for a fun family day out, including plates, goblets, flatware and napkins for 4. It's also a great option for the times when the little Bobby and Susie aren't around. Mom and Dad can enjoy a wine tasting out at the park with the kits included bread knife, wooden cutting board, salt and pepper shakers and a sommelier's corkscrew. It even has a detachable wine cooler and sable-gray felt blanket.

  • Wine Aerator - with this fun little gadget you can aerate wine in seconds for better taste. The Vinturi Wine Aerator mixes the right amount of air with your wine at the precise moments, allowing both reds or whites to breathe instantly resulting in a better bouquet, enhanced flavor, and a smoother finish. Afterall, if you're drinking wine at their party, you might as well enjoy it more yourself (there's no selfishness in that, is there?)

December 24, 2008

The Last Day of Christmas

It's officially Christmas Eve, and just before I pop a bottle of red AND white, I figured it was time to finalize our holiday countdown by saving the best wine gift for last. And though it may be just hours before Santa pops down the chimney or before the Hannukah candles are lit, its never to late for one last special gift... especially for someone you really love.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...

We've counted down with some of the best wines, greatest stocking stuffers, and even some fun wine accessories... but no gift says "Happy Holidays" like a toast in one of California's finest, Sonoma Valley.

Our friends at Travel Zoo have a fantastic offer valid just after the holidays! Just 12 minutes West of Napa Valley, rooms at the 4-Diamond Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa go for more than $400 per night. But during early January you can stay for just $179 (plus some extra goodies). This package includes a few free drinks at the hotel bar, a bottle of wine in-room, evening wine tastings and spa access (did I mention the resort is known for their thermal mineral baths? Sign me up!)

Each spa pass includes the following:
  • Use of a signature Bathing Ritual, featuring an exfoliating shower, mineral water soaking pools, an herbal steam, a dry sauna and cool-down showers

  • Participation in all scheduled fitness classes

  • Use of the state-of-the-art fitness center and deluxe locker room facilities
  • Use of the bathhouse lounge and the outdoor spa loggia

  • Use of the outdoor thermal mineral pools and whirlpool

Sonoma is home to many renowned wineries, and filled with steeping views of vineyards, acclaimed restaurants, elegant spas and simple charm. Check out Best In Sonoma's vineyard directory and plan a visit to one, two, or many!

Where To Purchase: Travel Zoo

Cost: $179/night (valid Jan 5-12)

December 22, 2008

Luxury Wine for Less

Check out today's story on that highlights some semifancy wines and champagnes to drink over the holidays, including my personal fav, Veuve Clicquot. Visit:

December 21, 2008

On the Eleventh Day of Wine Gifts

It's a bittersweet time here in WinoBee Land. We are inching closer to the holidays (we're talking single digits people), and as fun as its been to pick some of the best wine gifts for this season, I'm ready to uncork some vino for myself and get to sippin'! Well, not to tease you, but we're just not yet ready - afterall we still have two gifts, so here goes nothing...

On the Eleventh Day of Wine Gifts...
Going to a wine bar or even to classes at a local culinary school are two great outlets for WinoBees, like myself, looking to further expand their knowledge of the various attributes of all sorts of wines. 

But another simple way to do so is in the comfort of your own home surrounded by your friends and family. The folks at BlindWine® developed a fun little wine tasting game that not only challenges your senses and is perfect for hosting a small party of up to 12 people, but it will help you to expand your palate and help you better recognize different grape varietals.

The game includes step-by-step instructions, wine labels, bags (for up to 6 bottles), scoring rules and tools, and more. Who doesn't love a little laughter, competition and learning all mixed into one? Check out this video which explains everything:

Where to Buy:
Cost: $19.99

December 20, 2008

On the Tenth Day of Wine Gifts

On the Tenth Day of Wine Gifts...

We always chat about our basic reds and whites, but we (meaning I) have seriously started to neglect one of my personal favs, champagne! After all, champagne is synonymous with celebration, so why not pick up these terrific flutes for your loved one just in time to ring in 2009.

Exclusively from RedEnvelope, these sophisticated glass champagne flutes hold 6oz. of your favorite bubbly and celebrate the traditional toasting word in four international languages: "Cheers" for English, "Sante" in French, "Salut" in Italian and "Prost" in German. 

Where to Buy:

Cost: $45/set

On the Ninth Day of Wine Gifts...

Can we just blame my lack of punctual posting on the fact that its the holiday season? We all know that the holidays in turn lead to festivities, which in turn lead to me sipping too much wine in the course of one week (but at least I can consider it "homework," right?) 

Nonetheless, despite the countless number of glasses I (and my liver) have indulged in this week- which included a combination of Virtu white, Muscato di Asti, Pouilly Fume Sauvignon Blanc and a random cheap Cab from the local bar - I think its time I start wrapping up the holiday gift countdown - after all we only have 5 days until Christmas! So here goes my attempt at a back-to-back post of gifts #9 and #10...

On the Ninth Day of Wine Gifts...

Conveniently I'm "celebrating" again this weekend, and my sister thought it would be appropriate to give me one of my stocking stuffers a little bit early for sake of the blog... and I'm glad she did. Close your eyes or bypass this post if you get easily offended (let that serve as my disclaimer).
Provocatively named, R Wines "Bitch" Wine is 100% made from Grenache grapes grown in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. What's truley unique about this 25-year old vineyard is that the vines are grown in sand over clay. 

So I must admit that I haven't actually tasted this wine yet, but I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt. Even if its the worst wine you could possibly drink (which I doubt its not since Grenache is one of the more difficult grapes to grow), the name and bottle are still enough to provide a good laugh. For those who just can't wait until I do a later review of the wine, I've included an expected experience below:

Expected Experience -- Ripe with spices and a rich juicy concentration, Bitch is also intensely perfumed by characters of the sandy soil and dark berries.

Where to Buy: K&L Wines 

Cost: $12/bottle

December 15, 2008

On the Eighth Day of Wine Gifts...

It's only fair to balance out of our holiday selection with gifts of all sizes and prices. So our next pick is a great stocking stuffer, full of fun with less the cost... and perfect for the wine lover in your life.

One the eighth day of wine gifts... 
Brookstone's "Talking Wine Charms" are fun and festive for any occasion- a holiday party, wine tasting party or even a simple girls night in. Each charm has its own color and wine-inspired sayings. For the lush in the group, give them the glass thats labeled "call me a cab." For the flirty guest, tag them with the "I'm a little tart" charm. With 12 different medallions, there's fun for everyone in the group. Each charm magnetically snaps and closes into place around the stem of your glass. 

Where to Buy: Brookstone

Cost: $15/set

December 14, 2008

On the Seventh Day of Wine Gifts...

Last night my sister and brother-law hosted their annual holiday extravaganza. Each year is filled with festive hors devours and flowing vino, so nonetheless I gained some inspiration for our next wine gift from one of the most special wines I think I've ever tasted...

On the seventh day of wine gifts...

The '05 Joseph Phelps Insignia from Napa Valley may only be labeled as simply a "dry red wine," but it combines memorable tastes of (predominately) cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot and retails for around $179/bottle. The blend exudes a brilliant darkened ruby color, and although big in flavor, is very smooth to the taking. You'll definitley taste combination of flavors, like black cherry, currant, blackberries, and even a little dose of pepper.

Considering this is a full-bodied red, you'll be delighted that its tannin levels are not overly powerly, nor is the combination powerfully acidic. Grab a bottle for your loved one, or for someone celebrating something special - its the perfect option to sip by the fireside or hold off and drink years down the road.

December 8, 2008

On the Sixth Day of Wine Gifts...

We're half way through our holiday round-up, and today's choice comes actually half as a suggestion from Twitter tweeps and half through my own experience with the product. So consider this a gift guide "slash" wine review.

On the sixth day of wine gifts...

St. Supery's 2-bottle "Essential" gift packs represent the most popular St. Supery wines. Each comes in a decorative gift box with personalized gift card. Options include:
  • Virtu/Elu - $79
  • Sauvignon Blanc/Cabernet - $52
  • Merlot/Cabernet - $52
  • Dollarhide Cabernet/Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc - $98
  • Rutherford Cabernet/Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc - $136
This 2-pack offer is available through December 14th - so hurry! Visit St. Supery to purchase. 

Need a suggestion on which to choose (segway into the psuedo wine review)? My pick goes to the Virtu/Elu combination. Both are blends of classic Bordeaux grape varietals from the St. Supery estate. Virtu is my personal favorite - its simple and refined taste pairs exquisitely with spicy foods. You can taste a variety of mouthwatering fruits, like peaches and nectarines, which do not overpower with sugar or acidic tastes. And the best can enjoy it now, or enjoy it later down the road.

December 7, 2008

On the Fifth Day of Wine Gifts...

I'm back in action following a few days stint down in Miami for the ever-popular Art Basel exhibitions. While "working" I had the opportunity to sip a few glasses of wine, one '05 Sauvignon Blanc, one '06 Pinot Noir, and various mixed cocktails. Who doesn't love a sponsored party in an art studio or on a rooftop? But, as always, I deviate - and the time has come to return to...

...the fifth day of wine gifts!

For the past few gifts we've put a lot of focus on wine and accessories to wine, but how about those items that are simply complimentary. Take for instance a celebration of wine and... cheese! This unique smooth-turning lazy Susan is the perfect serving tool whether you are hosting a gathering or having a simple romantic night for two. Crafted from an authentic oak wine barrel lid (with original markings), your next wine + cheese tasting is sure to be a festive classic.

Where to Buy:

Cost: $129