Wine Rack Staples

In this house, we have favorites that we keep on our wine rack at all times. One thing we absolutely LOVE to do is try new wines, but these few we are constantly replenishing. While we don’t have a favorite type of wine (or at least can’t agree on one) we do have a certain style. Both Jon and I like our wines red, dry, bold, with medium to high tannins and acidity. Below is a list of wines you can always find on our wine rack!

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Featured above, Dune Gris de Gris, is a dry Rosé. Perfect for a sunny afternoon (which we have <almost> year round here in Texas). From southern France, this Rosé is light and refreshing with notes of grapefruit and peach- without being overly sweet.

Also seen above is an old favorite, Masi 50 Campofiorin. This is probably the first wine I’ve ever loved and have continued to purchase over and over again. You’ll find notes of spices and dark berries along with fine tannins.

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Gabbiano Chianti Classico is a full flavored, cask aged Sangiovese grape. It’s crisp flavors are fresh with notes of dark berries and full of tannins.

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Nero D’ Avolo is a full bodied, tart wine with bold flavors of dark fruits. It’s high in tannins and oak aged. This wine is the epitome of our pallet. This is exactly the description we look for when trying new wines.

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What can I say about Amalaya Malbec?! This is another absolute favorite- typically any Malbec from Argentina has an “A” rating in my opinion. We continue to try new Malbecs from Argentina all of the time, but this is the one we keep around. This Malbec is smooth with a good balance between tannins and bold flavors.

Arra Cape Blend is the MVP on our wine rack. I was immediately intrigued by the grape, Pinotage, used to create this red blend. The minute I learned Pinotage is a grape indigenous to South Africa and a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, I knew I had to have it! A few tasting notes: its deep red, bold and smells AMAZING.

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Bonari Apassamento was a surprise. This wine came with so many recommendations. We took a chance on this one, knowing it was going to be sweeter than we typically like. We trusted it solely based on the fact that its from Italy, we knew we wouldn’t be disappointed. With notes of red fruits and spices, this full bodied red’s slight sweetness comes from cherries… SO smooth.

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Chateau Montet Bordeaux is perfect for medium pallets. It’s got a nice acidity with tropical notes. It’s clean finish makes it easy to drink.

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Lastly, this local wine has a permanent home on our wine rack. Our favorite from Fall Creek Vineyards is their Merlot, although you NEED to try their Tempranillo and red blend of Cab Sav, Sangiovese and Merlot. That’s a game changer.

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As you can see, our favorites cover a wide variety of grapes. We don’t just love one type of grape, we continue to challenge our pallet across several types. There’s a time and a place for every wine on our rack AND we love to share 🙂

P.s. we have a wine fridge too 😉 that can be tackled another time!

 

 

 

 

Essential Bar Cart Stylings

 

 

Styling a bar cart can be fun, but it can also be overwhelming with decision. You want your bar cart to be functional and of course filled with alcohol, but you also want it to be aesthetically pleasing. Personally, I chose to keep a few alcoholic staples on the cart as well as glassware and some fun decor. I’ve curated a fool-proof list you can mix and match to create your very own bar cart! Choose a few items from each section below and watch your home bar become a conversational centerpiece.

 

 

Alcohol

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Tequila
  • Rum
  • Whiskey
  • Scotch

Mixers

  • Ginger Beer
  • Tonic Water
  • Liqueurs (Aperol, Frangelico, Triple Sec, etc)

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Drinkware

  • Wine Glasses
  • Moscow Mule Mugs
  • High Ball Glasses
  • German Liter Beer Mugs
  • Pint Glasses
  • Shot Glasses
  • Decanters

 

Accessories

  • Books
  • Coozies
  • Coasters
  • Charcuterie Board & knives
  • Straws
  • Wine Stoppers
  • Games
  • Picture Frames

 

As you can see, our bar cart is very busy- and it doesn’t even begin to cover  the extent of alcohol and glassware we have throughout the house. But it is a great addition to our wine fridge, wine rack cabinet of beer mugs, pint glasses and other wine glasses. It’s practical with lots of storage options and quipped with plenty of shelves for some fun additions!

 

 

 

 

 

Mastering Heat Transfer Vinyl

I recently received a Cricut Explore Air 2 for Christmas and omg am I overwhelmed with project ideas! Seriously, the possibilities are endless! I’ve got so many ideas for gifts in the future – wine glasses, coffee mugs, t shirts and tank tops…

I decided to begin with HTV, I wanted to get acquainted with the machine, materials and the design app- which really helped calm down those overwhelming feelings and fears of making any mistakes. And I have to say, I really think I’ve mastered the basics! So far I’ve crafted pillows, tank tops and t shirts.

I will show you a step by step demonstration of my creation. Step 1 is to create the image you want to cut inn Cricut Design Space. Choose your font, measure the size of the project and decide which vinyl to use. For this project, I wanted the design to lie 11 inches wide on my t shirt and to use one color vinyl , so I grouped the entire image together to be cut all at once. (If you are using multiple cuts, you will need to load multiple mats into the machine).

Once you have your design ready, click the Make It button to preview the cut on the mat (below).

If you are pleased with how the cut will be displayed on your project, click on the mat (1) in the upper left hand corner to mirror the image. This is extremely important for HTV, since the project will cut backwards to be weeded and turned around correctly on your project!

Press Continue and the app will instruct you to load your mat into the machine and press start. Now watch your Cricut Explore Air 2 work it’s magic!

 

When the machine has stopped cutting, you will be able to see the entire cut intact backwards.

This is where you will begin the weeding process. You will need to pull apart everything you don’t want printed onto your project. There is a think layer of film on the right side up, keeping your project intact to be transferred onto your project.

Take that entire sheet and place it onto your project exactly how you want it to lie permanently. I have the 12×12 Cricut Easy Press, which is a god send for HTV Projects- I’m so glad I purchased it! You can enter in the specs of your project online for exact temperature and press time.

I pressed my Everyday Iron- on at 345 degrees F for 30 seconds.

TA-DAH! The final outcome of my HTV Project… any The Office fans out there?!?!

I honestly think this is super easy and I’m surprised at my own skills that I was able to successfully complete so many HTV projects! This really is becoming an obsession. Check back, because next, I am tackling adhesive vinyl!

How to Taste Wine, Not Just Drink It

This is going to be fun! A small amount of “work” is required… so pour yourself a glass, we are going to study your wine of choice!

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The first step is to observe the color of the wine in the center of the glass. Raise your glass to observe at a 45 degree angle. The true color of the wine will be found in the center of the glass. With reds, the darker the color means the the wine will be full bodied, have a bold flavor and will most likely be aged in oak- the color comes from spending more time with the grape skins. The lighter the red, the brighter and tarter the flavors will be. Typically with white wines, lighter color reflects a crisp and refreshing taste while the darker ones, again, have been aged in an oak barrel.

Swirling the glass is an important step. It releases the wine’s aromatic compounds as well as the tannins, making it easier to drink. Once you have swirled the wine in the glass you can make several observations by smell. Red wines typically have notes of red and black fruit while white wines typically have notes of citrus or tropical hints. Earth tones are common as well, you can get notes of floral, spice and herbs as well as a secondary aroma from fermentation.

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Streaks on the glass simply indicate the volume of the wine. The more streaks, the more alcohol content.

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Lastly, a note on Decanting and Aerating. Wines benefit from softening in a decanter after being bottled up for too long. Decanting releases compounds and soften the flavors in the wine.

One of the main reasons to complete all of these steps before enjoying your glass of wine is to learn about it first. By doing so, you’re beginning to understand which notes satisfy your pallet. This can help you in the future when choosing wine at a restaurant or picking out something new to try!

 

All the Wine 2.0

I’ve recently embarked on a journey, I wanted to learn more about wine- the different types, where they come from and most importantly- what I like about them. In doing this research, I found so many types of wine I have never heard of but am now eager to try! Each wine comes from a specific grape, grown in a specific region and produced a certain way- all of these things combined explain why your pallet is the way it is. With this knowledge it becomes easier to pinpoint factors to look for when picking out a bottle for yourself.

We’re going to work backwards on this one- start with a bottle of wine you already know you like. Easy, right?! Now dissect the label.

 

Producer Route 44 Stellenbosch

Region South Africa
Varietal Cape Blend (Pinotage)
Vintage 2012
Volume 14% ABV
Low- intervention Grantoine Imports

Step 1: What is the name of the wine? That is the type of grape (varietal) the wine is made from.

Step 2: Where is the wine from? This is the region and sub- region the grape is grown in, also know as Terroir. The terroir describes the grape and the climate it’s grown in, for example: cool climates produce tart and acidic wines where warm climates produce more sugary and less acidic wines.

In two quick steps you were able to identify solid facts about a wine you already know you like. Now you know exactly what to look for in the wine aisle. Once you know your preferences, you can perfect your pallet by exploring similar wines from different regions OR you can travel completely outside the box and try something new!! Below are just a few examples of the importance of a wine’s terroir, I chose to highlight these regions based on what I prefer.

France– minimal, simple, casual elements (AOP/AOC are gradings to look for)

Germany– fruit forward and grown in an acidic, cool climate
Italy– made to complement the regions cuisine (DOC is the grading to look for)
Portugal– known for port, refreshing whites and dry reds
Greece– warm and Mediterranean mixed with cool and coastal, tannic reds
Spain– reflect their terrains and rich food, serve with light meals
Argentina– velvety reds and floral whites
Australia– delicate wines resembling French Syrah
South Africa– both warm and cool climates. They produce their own grape, Pinotage, a mix between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut
Chile– ideal environment, both warm and dry climates with natural irrigation *age worthy reds

Napa/ Sonoma– oak, light and terroir driven wines

Paso Robles/ Santa Barbara– becoming a hub for Italian wines, thigh most famous for Pinot Noir

San Diego– #norules

Oregon– cool climate
Washington– full of finesse

Now that you can see which regions produce the ideal elements for your pallet- play around with body, acidity and tannins. (Reference my original blog post All the Wine for descriptions of varietals). My personal preference include: dry, red, oak, medium to full body, medium to high acidity and medium to high tannins. Very specific- but there are still so many wines to try based on those descriptions.

Whenever trying a new wine, especially from another county, it’s a great idea to read the back of the label too. This is where you can find the importer/ distributor listed. Just like you would associate a wine with a grape and a grape with a region- once you start taking notice of a wine’s importer, you will start to correlate distributors with quality.

I have also created a list in my notepad for logging the wines we have tried. Although Jon and I have similar pallets, sometimes we differ on how much or how little we enjoyed a bottle. This is a great way to keep track of what you have tasted and are willing to purchase again.

Producer (Name of the Winery)

Region and sub- region (Where the wine is from)
Varietal (Grape/ name of the type of wine)
Appellation/ Calssification
Vintage (year)
Volume (ABV)
Low- intervention (Imported/ Distributed)

You are on your way to becoming a wine (drinking) expert!! On my next blog post I will cover how to correctly taste wine- yes there is an actual way to taste wine that doesn’t involve chugging from the bottle (but, hey, I’m not opposed to it!)

ALL THE WINE.

I may have taken a bit of a hiatus from posting my Gmoney Experiences, but that’s only because I’ve been super busy building up some great content to share! I recently began doing more research on wine (reading my way through this dry January!) and have learned more than I ever could have imagined from the book Wine. All the Time. By Marissa A. Ross. (Look out for an overview/ recommendation list of the 27 books I’m choosing to read this year TBD!)

Marissa presents an overwhelming amount of information in the least wine- snobbish, pretentious way possible. I binge read her book and pulled interesting facts and suggestions about the wines I found intriguing. Below you’ll find a list organized by category, region and in alphabetical order, OCD much? From what Marissa shared in her book of allllll the wines, these are the kinds I’m pledging to get to know in 2019!

RED WINES:

Barbera (med body, high acidity, low tannins)

  • ITALY- PIEMONTE

Cab Franc (med body, med/high acidity, med/high tannins)

  • FRANCE- BORDEAUX, LOIRE
  • ITALY- FRIULI- VENEZIA GIULIA
  • NEW YORK- FINGER LAKES, LONG ISLAND

Cab Sav (full body, med acidity, high tannins)

  • FRANCE- BORDEAUX, LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON, PROVENCE
  • ITALY- FRIULI- VENEZIA GIULIA, SARDENGA, TUSCANY, VENETO
  • SPAIN- PENEDES, PRIORAT, RIBERA DEL DUERO
  • ARGENTINA- MENDOZA, SALTA
  • AUSTRALIA- SOUTHEAST, SOUTHWEST
  • SOUTH AFRICA- PAARL, STELLENBOSH
  • CHILE- ACONAGUA VALLEY, CENTRAL VALLEY
  • CALIFORNIA- NAPA, SONOMA, SIERRA FOOTHILLS, SANTA BARBARA, PASO  ROBLES
  • WASHINGTON- WALLA WALLA, COLUMBIA VALLEY

Carignan (light/med body, med/high acidity, med tannins) *Tasting Note: easy to drink

  • CALIFORNIA- SAN DIEGO

Cinsault (light body, low acidity, low tannins) *Tasting Note: easy to drink

  • FRANCE- COTES du RHÔNE

Counoise (light body, high acidity, low tannins) *Tasting Note: easy to drink

  • CALIFORNIA- SAN DIEGO

Gamay (light body, med/high acidity, low tannins)

  • OREGON- SOUTHERN, WILLIAMETTE VALLEY

Grenache (med body, med acidity, med tannins) *Tasting Note: bitter

  • FRANCE- PROVENCE
  • SPAIN- PENEDES, PRIORAT, RIBERA DEL DUERO
  • AUSTRALIA- SOUTHEAST
  • CALIFORNIA- SAN DIEGO

Lambrusco (light/med body, med/high acidity, med tannins) *Tasting Note: bubbly/dry

Malbec (med/full body, med acidity, med tannins)

  • FRANCE- BORDEAUX
  • ARGENTINA- MENDOZA (Malbec is from here), PATAGONIA, SALTA
  • Merlot
  • FRANCE- BORDEAUX, LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON
  • ITALY- FRIULI- VENEZIA GIULIA, TUSCANY, VENETO
  • SPAIN- PENEDES, PRIORAT, RIBERA DEL DUERO
  • ARGENTINA- PATAGONIA, SALTA
  • CHILE- ACONAGUA VALLEY, CENTRAL VALLEY
  • CALIFORNIA- SIERRA FOOTHILLS, SANTA BARBARA, PASO ROBLES
  • NEW YORK- FINGER LAKES, LONG ISLAND
  • OREGON- SOUTHERN, WILLIAMETTE VALLEY
  • WASHINGTON- WALLA WALLA, COLUMBIA VALLEY

Montepulciano (med body, med acidity, med tannins) *Tasting Note: I’m told by a true expert, you cannot find a good Montepulciano in America…

  • ITALY- ABRUZZO, TUSCANY

Mourvèdre (full body, med acidity, high tannins) *Tasting Note: pairs well with grilling aka perfect bottle to gift at a BBQ

Nebbiolo (med/full body, high acidity, high tannins)

  • ITALY- PIEMONTE

Nero d’Avola (full body, med/high acidity, med/high tannins)

  • ITALY- SICILIA

Pineal d’Aunis (light body, high acidity, low tannins)

Pinot Noir (light body, med/high acidity, med/low tannins)

  • FRANCE- BURGANDY, LOIRE
  • GERMANY- SPATBURGUNDER RHEINGAU
  • AUSTRIA
  • ARGENTINA- PATAGONIA
  • AUSTRALIA- VICTORIA
  • CHILE- CASABLANCA VALLEY
  • NEW ZEALAND
  • CALIFORNIA- NAPA, CENTRAL, SONOMA, SANTA BARBARA, PASO ROBLES (most famous)
  • OREGON- SOUTHERN, WILLIAMETTE VALLEY

Pinotage *Tasting Note: indigenous grape (mixture of Pinot and Cinsault)

  • SOUTH AFRICA- PAARL, STELLENBOSH

Sangiovese (light/med body, high acidity, high tannins) *Tasting Note: same grape as Chianti

  • ITALY- ABRUZZO, TUSCANY, UMBRIA, VENETO
  • CALIFORNIA- SANTA BARBARA, PASO ROBLES, SAN DIEGO

St. Laurent (light body, med/high acidity, med/low tannins)

Syrah (ful body, med acidity, med tannins)

  • FRANCE- COTES du RHÔNE , LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON, PROVENCE
  • ARGENTINA- LA RIOJA
  • CHILE- ACONAGUA VALLEY
  • CALIFORNIA- SANTA BARBARA, PASO ROBLES, SAN DIEGO
  • OREGON- SOUTHERN, WILLIAMETTE VALLEY
  • WASHINGTON- WALLA WALLA, COLUMBIA VALLEY

Tempranillo

  • PORTUGAL
  • SPAIN- PENEDES, PRIORAT, RIBERA DEL DUERO, RIOJA (renowned)
  • AUSTRALIA- SOUTH WHALES

Trebbiano

  • ITALY- TUSCANY, UMBRIA, VENETO
    *Tasting Note: same grape as Chianti (Tuscany is the home of Chianti)

Trollinger/ Schiava (light body, med acidity, low tannins)

Trosseau (light/med body, med acidity, med/high tannins) *Tasting Note: bitter

Valdguie (light body, med acidity, low tannins) *easy to drink

Zinfandel (light body, high acidity, med tannins) *Tasting Note: easy to drink

  • CALIFORNIA- SIERRA FOOTHILLS

Zweigelt (light body, med acidity, low tannins)

WHITE WINES:

Albarino (light body, high acidity, bone dry) *Tasting Note: lemon/ lime flavors

Chablis (light/med body, high acidity, bone dry)

Chenin Blanc (light body, med/high acidity, dry/off dry) *Tasting Note: SEC= dry

  • FRANCE- LOIRE
  • AUSTRALIA- SOUTHWEST
  • SOUTH AFRICA- PAARL, STELLENBOSH

Muscadet/ Melon de Bourgogne (light body, high acidity, bone dry) *Tasting Note: easy to drink

Pinot Grigio/ Pinot Gris (light/med body, med/high acidity, dry)

  • FRANCE- ALSACE
  • ITALY- FRIULI- VENEZIA GIULIA, TRENTINO- ALTO ADIGE, VENETO

Riesling (light body, med acidity, dry/ off dry) *Tasting Note: pairs well with anything

  • FRANCE- ALSACE
  • GERMANY- HALBTROCKEN, TROCKEN
  • AUSTRIA
  • OREGON- SOUTHERN, WILLIAMETTE VALLEY

Sauvignon Blanc (This ones for you, Kaitlin)

  • FRANCE- BORDEAUX, LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON, LOIRE, PROVENCE
  • ITALY- FRIULI- VENEZIA GIULIA, TUSCANY
  • CHILE- CASABLANCA
  • NEW ZEALAND
  • CALIFORNIA- NAPA, SONOMA

Txakoli (light body, high acidity, bone dry) *Tasting Note: easy to drink

Vermentino (light body, med/high acidity, dry)

Vinho Verde (light body, high acidity, dry) *easy to drink

ROSE WINES:

*Also see notes in Reds

Gamay (light body, high acidity, dry) *Tasting Notes: lemon flavors

  • OREGON- SOUTHERN, WILLIAMETTE VALLEY

Grenache (med body, med acidity, dry) *pairs well with food

Provençal Rose (light body, med acidity, dry) *Tasting Note: easy to drink

ORANGE WINES:

Macabeo/ Viura (med body, high acidity, dry) *Tasting Notes: makes a great starter wine

SPARKLING WINES:

*Tasting Notes: brut nature (driest), extra brut (more dry), brut (dry), extra sec (pretty dry hint sweet)

Cava (light body, high acidity, dry)

Champagne (light/full body, med/high acidity, dry/off dry)

Petillant Naturel (light/med body, high acidity, dry)

Prosecco (light/med body, med acidity, dry)

  • ITALY- VENETO

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy wine- but you have to start somewhere! I’ve included a few tasting notes- (I will cover tasting in a separate post) to show both the differences and similarities each wine can have based on the region it comes from. Once you identify the wines you like and what you like about them, you can begin to develop your pallet further and eventually explore more options! This was really eye opening- Jon and I almost exclusively drink Italian wines and recently have explored French and Spanish wines. We were able to determine what we liked about each of those wines and what to try next based on those preferences. We certainly have our work cut out for us this year!

P.s. Don’t forget to check back for my ‘ALL THE WINE 2.0’ blog post that will elaborate on the tasting notes!

 

Creating an MVP Charcuterie Board

Once upon a time, I did not like cheese… WHAT?! I know, right. I thought the extent of cheese was American or Colby Jack, boy was I wrong. Me discovering the possibility of cheese was much like Jon discovering he likes mustard… we just can’t get enough!

 

Cheese boards have become a weekend staple in this house and a go- to for girl’s nights and party hosting. If you want your cheese board to be anything but boring, variety is a must. I made mediocre cheese boards before I went to Italy, trust me, they showed me how it’s done! I’m not sure if my taste buds have changed or if my preferences have matured with age. Or it could be the wine. Yeah, probably all of the wine.

 

Follow this fool proof guide to curating the perfect cheese board by choosing one, several or all types from each category below.

Cheese:

Brie

Gouda

Asiago

Mozerella

Dubliner

Coastal Cheddar

Gruyere

Havarti

Manchego

Gorgonzola

Parmagano Reggiano

*Pro Tip: sometimes I like to include two of the same type of cheese- one aged for added flavor

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Meat:

Salami

Proscuitto

Smoked Salmon

Pepperoni

Other Cured Meats

Crackers:

Water Crackers

Melba Toast

Flavored Crackers

Pretzels

Bread

Breadsticks

Appertivos:

Olives

Tomato

Nuts

Vegetables- miscellaneous

Grapes or Berries

Jam/ Honey

Hummus Spread

 

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If you really want to take your cheese board to the next level, try adding baked goods such as baked Brie with jam and pecans, spring rolls or flatbreads.

As always, let me know what you think! I am always looking for suggestions!