October 31, 2009

Cocktail Week: Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Shots

It's not Halloween without a little "tricking" and "treating" (but more so treating). And the night is never complete until you smash a pumpkin, and in our case, we mean it literally. Check out this delicious recipe for Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Dessert Shots created by Celebrity Chef, Jon Ashton

Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Dessert Shots
  • 1 can (14 oz) pumpkin, chilled
  • 3 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 6 oz lowfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/4 cup Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 teaspoons graham cracker crumbs, optional
Place all ingredients (except graham cracker crumbs) in a blender and blend until silky. Pour into shot glasses and top each serving with a teaspoon of graham cracker crumbs.

October 30, 2009

Cocktail Week: Death by Chocolate

If you're a chocolate lover like me, this is a must-try. We'll just call it a grown-up chocolate milkshake and let you see for yourself!

Death by Chocolate
  • 1 oz Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka
  • 1 oz coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz dark crème de cacao
  • 1 oz chocolate syrup
  • 2 scoops chocolate ice cream
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • Whipped cream
  • Maraschino cherry
Pour all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a hurricane or margarita glass and add whipped cream. Top the cream with a cherry and serve.

October 29, 2009

Cocktail Week: Spiced Caramel Apple

In perfect time for Fall gatherings, try this Spiced Caramel Apple created by Kara Newman, author of Spice & Ice:

Spiced Caramel Apple
Rim glass with agave syrup and crumbled gingersnap cookies and set aside. Add liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into martini glass.

October 28, 2009

Cocktail Week: Pomosa

Perhaps one of the simplest cocktails to make, try this delicious recipe for a Pomosa, which blends the fresh, fruity tastes of pomegranate with a little bubbly:


Pour chilled Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka into a flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with a strawberry.

October 27, 2009

Cocktail Week: Sparkling Dutch Red Sangria

Even though it's cocktail week, we had to pepper in a recipe or two using wine/champagne (after all, we are loyalists). When you have the time to make your own (versus opting for a pre-made bottle, like Senor Sangria), check out this delicious sangria recipe:

Sparkling Dutch Red Sangria (pitcher recipe)

  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 3 ounces Triple Sec Liqueur
  • 3 ounces Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka
  • 6 ounces grenadine
  • ½ bottle pomegranate juice
  • ½ bottle Pommery Brut Royal Champagne
  • 1 sliced orange

Combine the first five ingredients. Add Champagne and give a quick stir. Pour mixture over ice and add slices of orange. Garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick.

October 26, 2009

Cocktail Week: Tiramisu Martini

Cocktails, cocktails, get your cocktails! Try out this delicious recipe for a Tiramisu Martini using Van Gogh Vodka:

Tiramisu Martini
  • 1-1/2 oz Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka
  • 1 oz Butterscotch liqueur
  • 1 oz Hazelnut liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Baileys

Combine in an ice filled shaker; shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

October 23, 2009

Cocktail Week: Café Caramel Martini

You scream, I scream, we all scream for… cocktails? It's true, even the avid WinoBee deviates from her lavish glass of tannin every once in a while. And why wouldn't I? Dessert drinks have been a huge trend in the restaurant and bar industry throughout the past year and are only gaining popularity (especially those delectable after-dinner treats served so trendy in martini glasses - I love drinking in style!)

According to TheFoodChannel.com, the top 10 trends for 2009 included dessert drinks as number two. So, I figured it was only appropriate to implement "Cocktail Week" for my fellow winos looking for something a little different this Fall season. Have no fear, we'll be back on the grape juice before you know it!

Throughout the week, I'll post a few recipes for sippable sweets that you can enjoy sans spoon. Check back each day for a lil' something new

Café Caramel Martini

Created by Rene Matos, Beverage Director, NYC Marriott Marquis
(recipe provided by Talbert Communications)

  • 2-1/2 oz Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka
  • 1/4 oz House-made caramel sauce
  • 1 oz Vanilla ice cream, softened
  • Garnished with a cholive

Add all ingredients into a shaker and shaker vigorously to ensure the caramel is well blended. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with a cholive.

October 18, 2009

PINKTtober: Pink Ribbon Bottle Stopper

In being on the prowl for the most charming "pinky" wine items supporting breast cancer awareness this month, I came across this adorable bottle stopper from The Pink Ribbon Shop.

Not only does it beautifully dress up a bottle with its sparkling facets, crystal beads and inspiring charms, it helps increase awareness and spread the support with each bottle you open. Made with rubber rings that help give it a snug fit on almost any bottle.

Purchase at: The Pink Ribbon Shop
Cost: $24.95

October 17, 2009

PINKtober: Riedel CresendO

In order to drink the pink, you're going to need some stemware to do it. Riedel Crystal has introduced a new Pink CresendO set of 4 limited edittion pink glasses which were specifically created to benefit Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering all women affected by breast cancer. Each of the Chardonnay/Viognier glasses offer a different delicate shade of pink and can be found at Bed Bath & Beyond. Cost: $59/set

WIN IT: In addition to the CrescendO glasses, Riedel will continue to offer the Pink Vinum set ($59), introduced in 2007, due to popular demand. Our friends at Riedel have offered to giveaway one Vinum Rosé set to a lucky reader. Like all purchases of this product, 15% of the cost has been donated already to Living Beyond Breast Cancer for you. To win, simply post a comment with one way your helping make a different to fight breast cancer (or another cause) alongside your email address. One random winner will be selected November 1st. To have an extra chance at winning, tweet this giveaway to hasthtag #BEEPINK. If you entered a prior giveaway, this does NOT exclude you from this offer.

October 16, 2009

PINKtober: Pink Vinturi Aerator

Seems like every corner I turn I see pink and I love it! One of the newest "pinky" wine items we came across (which I've been itching to pick up myself) is the Vinturi Wine Aerator. For those unfamiliar, the purpose of this device is to help mix the right amount of air with your wine allowing it to breathe quickly. The result? An enhanced bouquet, flavor and finish of your red wine without all the wait of having to decant.

5% of proceeds from this pink enhanced aerator benefits Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Purchase at: Gifts.com
Cost: $39.95

October 15, 2009

BEEhind the Scenes at St. Supery: Rutherford Vineyard

Day 2: Rutherford Vineyard and Barrel Tasting

After an almost surreal time at the Dollarhide Ranch the day prior, I treked it back to Napa the following day to begin setup for an event I was helping faciliate later in the week. Once again, the folks at St. Supery assured me of their outstanding service, delicious wines and picturesque
land, through continuing a "backstage" tour of the facilities...

First, we headed downstairs to the barrel room and I was overcome with the enticing scent of French oak and infant grapes, simply delicious (and luring!). Tina showed me around and I awkwardly admired the hundreds of barrels surrounding me (clearly you can tell from the pic on the left). It was then she asked me if I cared to do a tasting straight from the barrel, and who can deny that? I puckered up and piped out
small tastings of a variety of St. Supery's 2008 vintages - the Cab Franc and Merlot shockingly caught my attention most.

I also had the opportunity to be at the winery during a "crushing" day, so Tina escorted me outside to where a fresh batch of Cabernet had just come in and was being cleansed and destemmed. She grabbed me a grape bunch from the winemaker himself, and as I took my first bite I could
taste purple. The grapes were so tiny, yet boasting with sugar and flavor (and a tasteful crunch). She also showed me the compost made from all of the pomace leftover from the grape. And as the city girl I am, I played with it in heels!

We then continued our jaunt outside along the Rutherford Vineyard
terrain, which is the winery's main area located right off St. Helena Hwy in the heart of the Napa Valley. Rutherford consists of 35-acres and is primarily planted with red Bordeaux grapes, like Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc.

Between picking grapes straight from the vine (and devouring them), Tina grabbed us some
fresh figs and pointed out the cork trees that grew on the grounds (yes, they make real wine corks from these sorts of trees, lets plant more so we can bypass synthetics!). We then pr
oceeded into a discussion about sustainability in winemaking, which in my mind is becoming increasingly important. And despite the spacious amount of land, St. Supery has complete control over how their grapes are harvested and they strive to keep their land pristine through a combination of natural fertilizer, canopy management, and biodiversity. They have received certifications from both Napa Green Land and Fish Friendly Family.

Overall, I had a phenominal, once-in-a-lifetime experience out at St. Supery and I can't wait to go back. And if you're looking for a similar experience but can't get out to Napa anytime soon, don't fret! St. Supéry is taking the winery tasting room experience on the road for the industry’s first ever Tweetup Tour. They'll be stopping in each city listed below visiting restaurants:
Whether you attend online or in person, everyone is welcome and there is no charge. There will be special guests, including their wine maker (who will appear via U-Stream) and you can also join in the conversation on St.Supéry’s custom TasteLive page or Twitter using the #stsupery hash tag. In order to provide the opportunity to taste along online, the winery has created “taste packs” 4-packs of wine sold at a special price.

For more information, visit http://www.stsupery.com/.

October 14, 2009

BEEhind the Scenes at St. Supery: Dollarhide Ranch

A few weeks back (I know, I'm slow) I had the opportunity to head out to San Fran for the BlogHer '09 Food Conference and to Napa for an exclusive "night in" at St. Supery Winery, as part of work events I was helping to faciliate (gotta' love when your job blends with your passion!)

During the first few days, I had the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with my friends over at St. Supery (I can never show them enough love) and in downtime, they provided me an exclusive "backstage" engagement with the working winery, so its only fair I offer u
p the enjoyment of my experience with each of my fellow WinoBees.

Check back over the next few days to see the complete breakdown of my ventures, and don't hesitate to leave a comment/question about the posts. If you have questions specific to St. Supery, you can also reach out to directly to @rickbakas on Twitter.

Day 1: Tour of Dollarhide Ranch
One of the most equisite and serene places I've been, St. Supery's Dollarhide Ranch is a 1,500 acre property nestled in the hills of Po County. Not open to the public, the lovely Tina and Josh from St. Supery allowed me to drive on to the property to truley experience its
ins and outs, and see just where their most notable vintages are made.

Acquired in 1982, Dollarhide ranges in elevation, with diverse terrain and a unique microclimate thats warm during the day (although super hot the day I was there) and cool at night. Since the climate is more
exaggerated, it yields ripe, luscious fruits and well-balanced grapes.

The steep, rolling hills combined with its seven lakes and flat lands are home to a diverse collection of grape vines, flora, fauna, and even animals (they have bee hives where they produce their own honey, and its delish!)

October 13, 2009

Tasting Note Tuesday - My favorite winery for the end of the season

For the few of you who know my true identity, you know I have another passion besides wine. Another passion you ask? Cooking? OK, so when I'm not cooking and drinking wine, I enjoy competing in triathlons. For various reasons, this season was more difficult than any in the past.

So after my last race, what did I do? I grabbed a bottle of wine from my favorite winery of all time... Lewelling Vineyards and grilled up an enormous ribeye. Lewelling Vineyards is located in Napa Valley. The first vineyards were planted in 1864 by John Lewelling, and 150 years later, the family still runs the winery (almost unheard of in Napa).
Currently, Dave and Doug Wight run the winery and Haley Wight is the winemaker.

When I visited Napa a few years back, I was lucky enough to experience the hospitality of the Wights... which they graciously offer to anyone who would like to visit their vineyards. But not only are the people behind the wine wonderful, so are the wines themselves. For me, it's the pinnacle of wine... excellent wine... excellent people behind the wine. If you find a bottle, do yourself a HUGE favor and pick it up. If you get a chance to visit Napa, make sure Lewelling is on your list of wineries to visit. I guarantee Lewelling will become your favorite winery too.

2004 Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

Purchased for $40 off the mailing list. Opaque... almost black in color. Oh what a wine. I say it every time, but I love Lewelling. Wonderful rich nose of blackberry and blueberry, with hints of oak and vanilla. I could just sit and smell the wine for hours. On the palate, it is definitely young as the tannins make my mouth pucker. But it tastes delicious. Black cherry, chocolate, plum and oak. The dark fruits are really lush and coat your mouth. I really think they have the perfect balance of oak and fruit here (at least for me). The finish lingers for minutes. Every sip left me wanting more. For me, I'm not sure it gets much better. Youthful fruit, oak in balance. This is everything I love in a wine.

My Take: Outstanding

October 12, 2009

A Lil' Wedding Bubbly

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be a bridesmaid in one of my best friend's wedding. Not only was it a privilege, but it provided me an avenue to extend my drinking habits, and with it being a celebratory time, it was only appropriate I do it with sheer sophistication and style.

Afterall, as a bridesmaid *slash* wino, it was my duty (ok, a wee bit of an expecation, too) to make sure I help the bride (and my fellow bridesmaids) celebrate with nothing but the finest. And that we did, which in turn meant... CHAMPAGNE FOR ALL!

Sure, I'm an avid fan of Moet (afterall, who can I deny that "White Star" quality?) and I lust for a special occation bottle of Perrier Jouet and the soft bubbles of a Veuve Clicquot. But more recently, I've also become a big fan of Champagne Pommery.

In past, I've opted for their POP bottles, since they are perfect for more everyday occasions since they are tailored to individual consumption, but for a big occasion like this, I needed a big bottle (or two) - big in taste, big in elegance, big in festivity! So naturally I tried out some of their alternative champagne options:

Evening #1: Rehearsal Dinner - Pommery Brut Royal
Following the rehearsal dinner, the ladies headed back to our hotel to do a little celebrating on our own without the boys (I mean, who really wants to share their bubbly?). We uncorked Pommery's Brut Royal which was pale yellow in color, but very fresh on the nose and with a clean taste that emobodied hints of red fruit, something I don't think I've ever noticed in any other champagnes that weren't rose blends.

The finish was very smooth with no dryness and bubbles that tingled the tongue. Overall, a lively style, but one that sort of opposes traditional heavy, dry champagnes. Chardonnay grapes from the Côte des Blancs are the primary contributors to that liveliness. Very different from night #2...
Cost: $35/bottle
Where to Buy: 67Wine.com

Evening #2: Wedding Toast - Pommery Brut Apanage NV
The group consensus was that the Brut Apanage was more enjoyable than the Brut Royal, and I would have to agree (although I didn't dislike the first bottle).

While most bottles of champagne are too light to stand up to food, the Brut Apanage can easily carry through a meal and compliment any menu, or easily fly solo. We toasted to the new bride before she headed down the aisle with a finely gold hued flute complete with a nose that teased the senses, fresh rose and citrus scents with more dryness on the palate.

Pommery Brut Apanage surely has its own personality compared to champagnes I've had in past. Perhaps its due to its unique aging process, where a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier (selected from Grand Crus because of their quality) are aged for 4 years, making it one of the longest-aged non-vintage champagnes available. What we were able to experience with a notable finesse and delicacy that left the palate comfortable pleased.

Cost: $50/bottle
Where To Buy: WineBuys.com

For more information, please visit http://www.pommery.com/.

October 10, 2009

PINKtober: One HOPE Wine

Continue to spread the pink this month with One HOPE Wine. It may sound like a vineyard, but its in fact a young group of entrepreneurs who collectivley began a wine company with the sole purpose of donating 50% of proceeds to well-deserving charities. Half of the profits from their Chardonnay are donated to various organizations whose aim is to fight breast cancer.

Cost: $18.99/bottle

October 7, 2009

PINKtober: Pink Rabbit Corkscrew

It's officially PINKtober and National Breast Cancer Awareness month is prevalent all around the nation, and certainly in the wine world. For those of you who saw my post on Examiner last month, you'll know that I've personally put effort to lend a hand and fight the cause through raising money for organizations, like Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

But making a difference can now be as simple as raising your glass. So, we here at WinoBee want to give you the opportunity to share the pink and drink the pink! Throughout the month of October, not only will we be sharing some of the best wine options that champion the cause, we'll give you exclusive opportunities to take some of those items home yourself. Simply look for the posts titled "PINKtober" for your chance to win cool (and worthy) pink wine swag.
Let's kick it off (and kick cancer) with my absolute favorite wine tool of all time. You know it, you love it (and if you don't love it, you soon will)... the Rabbit! The Rabbit corkscrew by Metrokane is not just known for its precise design and ease of use, but their Pink Rabbit also helps the fight against breast cancer with 5% of its proceeds donated to the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Center in New York City. Cost: $50


Happy Birthday Wine Woot!

Blow out the candles and uncork the bottle, cuz' Wine.Woot is turning 3!! Pioneers of the online wine selling world, Wine.Woot has enticed consumers in their unique tactic of bringing wine straight from the source and into your hands at super low prices.

As veterans of the Internet wine world, Wine.Woot will now offer 3 deals per week (versus the former 1 deal/week). And if you recall, my first purchase on the site was a fabulous GunBun 3-pack, which might go down as some of my favorite wines to date.

Enticed yet? Check out this week's deal for Boss Monster, the newest wine from Woot Cellars, a Dry Creek valley Zinfandel wrapped in vintage video-game graphics. And dont forget to check back each day for new deals. Happy uncorking!

October 6, 2009

Tasting Note Tuesday - Happy Tailgating!

Parting with typical BBQ fare is simply not acceptable during tailgating season! Our friends made an Italian Sunday dinner, complete with "Sunday Gravy" with pork neck, meatballs and sausage. So what better wine to pair, then a Super Tuscan?

What is a Super Tuscan you ask? Well, it's nothing more than a wine made in Tuscany from "non-Tuscan" grapes. See, Tuscany has pretty strict rules regarding the types of grapes that can go into a wines. If you want to be a Brunello, you can only use Sangiovese planted in certain areas. If you want to be Chianti Classico, you can only use a different clone of Sangiovese planted in other areas. Wine makers, like all good artists want to expand their horizons, so they started planting Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. But since they don't meet the regulations, they can't carry Tuscan classifications. Hence... it's called a "Super Tuscan" since it can't be called Chianti, Brunello, etc.

2006 Poggio al Casone La Cattura Castellani Toscana IGT
Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT

This particular Super Tuscan is a blend of Teroldego and Syrah (the former being an obscure Tuscan grape). Dark ruby red in color. On the nose, there is an overwhelming hint of oak. With some air, this blew off slightly to reveal some of that Italian "earth/stone" notes that I like in Tuscan wines. I also detect some cherry and flowers... but very faint. On the palate, there is some sour cherry that makes your mouth pucker along with a cranberry component. With some air, I picked up some dark fruits, but nothing that made me pinpoint it. Also detected some cocoa from the oak. Overall, not bad.

My take: Good
Cost: $13/bottle