Gifting Wine is Mighty Fine


Once again the holidays are upon us and, once again, the invitations are flowing and you–being a polite guest–want to bring something nice for your host or hostess.

Unless you’re specifically asked to bring something to be a part of the event, understand that your host is under no obligation to use or consume your gift that night. In fact, a hostess gift is meant to be enjoyed after the guests have departed, as a thank-you for a pleasant time or a way to unwind.

Flowers can send a hostess into a tizzy, trying to find a vase and a place for them while she’s greeting guests, not to mention potential allergies. If you want to send flowers after the fact, that would be a nice gesture along with a nice thank-you note–seriously, the common courtesies are falling by the way-side, it’d be nice to revive them. Still, it’s nice to show up with something in your hand.

Consumables are the best, and wine is considered quite the gifting commodity. Even if your host doesn’t drink, they can always regift it or keep it around for others that do, so it’s a nice, safe choice unless you know they have moral objections to wine or spirits.

Here are some bottles to be on the look out for, at a variety of price points to fit any occasion and budget (my notes are the ones in italics):

Villa Pozzi Pinot Grigio is perfect for the female friends in your life. Whether it is a coworker or a cousin, let them know you’re thinking of them. This unique Sicilian wine produced by the 4th generation winemakers of the Pozzi family, is ideal for the modern woman with its refined aromatic, well balanced taste profile and simply-elegant packaging. SRP $9.99

White wine has no gender. If you know your friends prefer bright white wines, go for it. We found this Pinot Grigio to be an excellent example of the varietal, nice and fruity and it went pretty well with the chicken and wild rice I was serving last night. It’s also a fabulous wine to cook with, especially if they like risotto.

Girard Artistry is the ideal wine for the important men in your life. Perhaps for your father-in-law who enjoys the finer things in life, or your uncle who likes to unwind after work? It is produced by Girard Winery has been producing world-class wine since 1975 that truly and faithfully represent the unique terroir of the Napa Valley. Girard Artistry is stylistically diverse with elegance, balance, power, and finesse. SRP $39.99

A table wine is a blend of many different varietals that make it a great choice for a range of meals. This particular wine seemed on the medium-bodied side to us, which is what we like. Did we consider it a $40 bottle? Not really. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice if you’re looking to impress someone who finds those sorts of things important.

Ruta 22 Malbec is the gift for the adventurous, travel-lover on your list. Have them explore South America, take them on a journey to Patagonia, which produces the finest Malbec in Argentina. Ruta 22, hand harvested wine, will delight them with its dark ruby red color and fruit forward and elegant taste. SRP $12.99

You might remember we shared this one last year, too. It’s tough to go wrong with a South American Malbec.

[ yellow tail ]  bubbles rosé is for that bubbly person who keeps you smiling! Maybe your girlfriend who brings a smile on your face, or your best friend who is the one you’re sharing laughs with and celebrating life with. SRP $9.99

Sparkling wine is the perfect choice the closer we get to New Year’s Eve–providing the Mayans were wrong, of course, and the world doesn’t end on the 21st. Sweet sparklers are growing in popularity (which is fabulous in my book) and a rosé is a nice stepping stone between the dry and sweet. Yellow Tail is a very affordable tipple, perfect for stocking up for the countdown or any cause for celebration.

I can’t imagine the host, coworker, or Secret Santa that wouldn’t love to receive any of those bottles.

Happy Holidays, my friends. Please remember to celebrate responsibly, use a designated driver or call a cab–jail or the hospital is no way to start the new year!


I was provided samples of the above wines for purposes of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Hot Way to Cool Down


Ahh, rum. It was my spirit of choice back when I hit the legal drinking age (no, really, I was a goody two shoes and didn’t drink until I was 21*), probably because I grew up watching Aunt Marie mix Pina Coladas at my grandmother’s wet bar and I just thought that was the life, right there.

(*Except for that Thanksgiving we were in Louisiana and the legal drinking age was still 18. And, when unsure of what to order, my companion said “Order an Amaretto Sour–it’s what I get when I’m driving.”)

Rum and coke, fruity rum libations, rum balls, rum cake… rum and I were friends.

Funny, though, when I look back at the cocktails I’ve created over the last couple of years, not many of them have been rum-based! What’s even more shocking is that I’ve been favoring vodka and gin over my beloved rum, and I used to think vodka was the supreme evil after one disastrous night about 10 years ago. (Truth be told, it wasn’t the vodka’s fault, that night can be chalked up entirely to questionable choices on my part, only alleviated by a guardian angel with the patience of a saint.)

Still, rum and I go way back, which is why this recipe that I was sent on behalf of Cruzan flavored rums sounded worth sharing with y’all, today.

Cruzan Chocolate Covered Cherry Frozen Cocktail CRUZAN® CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY

2 parts Cruzan® Black Cherry Rum
1 part Cruzan® Vanilla Rum
1/2 part Chocolate Syrup
1 part Milk
Splash Grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a blender with 1/2 cup of ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a chilled glass drizzled with chocolate sauce. Top with whipped cream and garnish with a cherry.

I’m not usually big on frozen cocktails these days, but even I’m intrigued by this one. And while I haven’t tried Cruzan’s Black Cherry or Vanilla rums, I was certainly pleased with their Pineapple rum back when I was on a Caipirinha kick a couple summer’s ago!


A Quartet Fit for the Games


I’m in Jacksonville at Ancient City Con, promoting What to Feed Your Raiding Party. In the mean time, why not try out a few cocktails in the spirit of that big sporting event about to commence across the pond?


On your mark… get set… GO! On July 27th, the final torchbearer will light the cauldron in London, thus marking the official start of the 2012 Summer Games!

The Games offer not only a time to cheer for the familiar, but also a chance to learn about and appreciate the new. With this mindset, check out these cocktails— which will you deem fit for the gold?

Blueberry Medallion Mojito

Blueberry Medallion Mojito

1.5 oz Flor de Caña 7 yr Grand Reserve Rum
8 sprigs of fresh mint
.75 oz simple syrup
.25 oz fresh lime juice
8 fresh blueberries
Club soda
Sparkling blueberry juice

Muddle mint leaves from 7 sprigs, simple syrup, and lime juice in a mixing glass. Add Flor de Caña 7 yr Grand Reserve Rum and 6 blueberries and shake. Pour into a cocktail glass, and top with club soda and sparkling blueberry juice. Garnish with remaining sprig of mint and 2 blueberries.

Glowing Gold

Glowing Gold

1.5 oz CAMUS VSOP Elegance
.75 oz Punt e Mes red vermouth
.25 oz simple syrup
.75 oz lemon juice
Champagne Laurent-Perrier Brut NV
Edible gold flakes

Shake all ingredients with ice, except champagne. Strain into champagne flute rimmed with edible gold flakes. Top with champagne.

Trophy Coconut Cocktail

Trophy Coconut Cocktail

1 oz Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
1 oz coconut rum
1 oz almond milk
Coconut flakes

Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Strain into a martini glass rimmed with toasted coconut flakes. Garnish with a piece of coconut.

The Flaming Torch

The Flaming Torch

1 oz Lucid Absinthe
1 oz simple sugar
.5 oz grenadine
2-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

In a shot glass, start with Lucid Absinthe and add ice cold simple syrup. Next add grenadine, which will sink to the bottom to form the lower “layer.” Float the dashes of bitters on top to form the top layer.


These recipes were provided by Deussen Global Communications. I haven’t tried any of them myself, but that Trophy Coconut Cocktail sure sounds tasty!

Think Pink!


When I was in high school I went through quite the musicals kick and one of my favorites was Bye, Bye Birdie (parodying the hoopla surrounding Elvis Presley joining the Army).

At one point Ann Margaret is slinking around the bar, acting older than she is, trying to make “Birdie” jealous, singing about how she’s “Got a Lot of Living To Do.” One of the things on the bucket list?

Drink Champagne, as if it were water,
Pink Champagne, and after a few…
Daddy dear, you won’t know your daughter!
She’s got a lot of living to do!

This is what comes to mind every time I think about pink champagne.

Australian label [yellow tail] has come out with white and rosé Bubbles just in time for New Years and it might just be worth checking out. This is a brand known for being affordable and reliable and the rosé is in a nice range of not being super sweet or super dry–it’s nice and light and a sweet pink color.

Another plus is it’s favor is the Zork closure: not a screw-top and not a traditional champagne cork that is almost impossible to get back into the bottle, the Zork closure easily pops back on the bottle with a press of the built-in button, making it easy to save the leftovers for brunch the next day.

And, of course, the good folks at [yellow tail] sent over a cocktail recipe in to make the most of their pink bubbles:


2 oz [ yellow tail ] bubbles sparkling rosé
1 oz peach flavored vodka
1 oz cranberry juice
1 oz lychee fruit flavoring

In a cocktail shaker with ice add all ingredients except [ yellow tail ] bubbles sparkling rosé. Strain into a chilled champagne flute or martini glass. Slowly fill with the [ yellow tail ] bubbles sparkling rosé. Garnish with a strawberry.

Image and recipe courtesy of  W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd.

A Trio of Champagne Cocktails


For some folks, leftover wine or champagne is a problem they never have. Todd and I, though, in exercising moderation, frequently have to store leftover wine for a night or two. While there’s nothing wrong with drinking it with more than one meal or even having a glass after work now and then, sometimes it’s nice to mix things up a bit.

This goes double for Champagne and other sparkling wines.

Maybe you chilled more wine than you needed and maybe you now need that space for non-festive groceries for the new year. Why not go beyond the brunch standards of mimosas and bellinis, and try a couple of these champagne cocktails courtesy of Sams Club.

The CÎROC® Royal Grape

Ciroc Royal GrapePreparation Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1


  •          1 oz. CÃŽROC® Vodka
  •          1 oz. white grape juice
  •          1 splash(es) champagne
  •          1 piece(s) grape


1.        Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled glass.

2.       Top with a splash of champagne and garnish with a frozen grape.

Smirnoff No. 21® Vodka & Champagne Sparkle

Smirnoff No 21 Vodka & Champagne SparklerPreparation Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4-6


  •          1.5 cups SMIRNOFF NO. 21® Vodka
  •          2 bottles Moët & Chandon Champagne
  •          1.25 cups pomegranate juice
  •          1 cup simple syrup
  •          thinly sliced lemon


1.        Combine ingredients in a punch bowl with ice.

2.       Add simple syrup to taste.

3.       Mix in lemon slices.


GinZizzz CocktailPreparation Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1


  •          3/4 ounce gin
  •          1/2 ounce Simply Orange®
  •          1/4 ounce Cointreau®
  •          Ice cubes
  •          2 to 3 ounces cold Champagne
  •          1 splash orange water or rose water, optional
  •          1 long strip orange peel for garnish


1.        Pour gin, orange juice and Cointreau into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake to chill.

2.       Pour mixture into a Champagnes flute and top with Champagne. Add orange flower water or rose water, if desired.

3.       Garnish with orange peel, if desired.