New Feature: The Weekly Whine


Long-time followers of my various blogs might remember that for a good long while I ran a cocktail blog and, I have to say, sometimes I miss it. I miss that scheduled time to come up with something tasty and fun to share and the idea that every week I’d carve out a little time for myself to kick back with a cocktail, wine, or other beverage and share with my Internet friends.

So I’m gonna bring it back, or try to, but with a twist! Each week I will post a whine or rant for the week, attempting to find the humor in it all, and pair it with a wine or other libation. And here we go, our first Weekly Whine. Join if you’d care to; misery loves company and no one needs to drink alone!

I have a few whines to choose from this week (work, the dog, the weather), but I’m going to go with one that inspired this new feature, that of the ever-looming unexpected car expense.

I had a pretty good weekend, this one that just passed–I got up on time both days, took care of some chores that had been waiting way too long, and even made time to have lunch downtown and hang out at Fuzzy Goat and knit on Saturday afternoon. A really good weekend.

So Monday rolls around and Todd, on a rare occasion, leaves for work before I do because he and his boss had to head out of town for the morning. So not only is Todd not there, by the time I go to leave he’s supposed to have been on his way out of town.

Do you see where this is going?

Of course my car wouldn’t start. The battery was stone-cold dead because I, in my haze of self-satisfaction, completely forgot between the time I pulled through the Chick-fil-A drive thru for a Frosted Lemonade and the time I pulled into our backyard, that it had rained a bit and, like the good motorist I am, I had turned on my lights and wipers in the midst of our little sun shower.

And left the lights on.

Sadly, this happens more than I want to admit, and usually I’m careful to the point of paranoia, but my mind was completely elsewhere that day, to the point that I walked in and asked Todd if it had rained while I was away, because I noticed the street was wet. Yes, I’d driven through it and completely forgotten in in the space of 5 minutes (because that’s about how far it is from the aforementioned stops).

Anyway, Monday. I did message Todd, even though I didn’t expect him to be able to rescue me, and I used the Progressive app to schedule service and messaged my boss to tell her I’d be late. Fortunately, Todd was able to swing back by as they hadn’t left yet and I was able to make it to work only 30 minutes late. End of story, right?

You do realize we’re in a Mercury Retrograde, right?

I was only a little surprised that my car, once again, would not start when I went to leave for the day. I’d worked a tiny bit late to finish up a daily task and was the only one left in the office, so of course the battery was dead again. This time, though, it wasn’t totally dead, I got that super-scary clicky noise that everyone who drives dreads, because the clicky noice with no engine turnover so very often means your alternator isn’t working. And replacing alternators sucks!

For the second time that day I used the Progressive app to schedule a service and went back into my office to wait for the gate to ring through. I thought about actually working (I had plenty to do), but opted to scroll through facebook instead. The Pop-a-Lock dude arrived on schedule and was able to get my car started right up (yay!) and suggested I drive straight to an AutoZone or similar and have them check my battery.

He also said there was no way I still had my original battery, but I’m 99% sure he was wrong. Yes, Electra is still sporting her original battery from when I bought her with 16 miles on the odometer in October 2006. Well, was, because after going to two auto parts places in Thomasville, I was given the definitive news that the alternator was fine, but the battery was done for. Considering their relative cost, yeah, I was okay with that!

This week’s wine in Knockout from Farmer’s Daughter Vineyard, a local winery that, contrary to many in the southern Georgia, northern Florida wine set, does not use Muscadine grapes! While I have nothing against muscadine wines, I’m really loving what the Pelham, GA, vineyard is turning out!

Knockout is their sweetest red. It’s very jammy and practically succulent with lots of berry notes. It’s also so smooth–all of their wines are–that you can down two glasses without realizing just how potent it is, only to stand up and realize just how knocked-out you are!

I picked up this bottle at their tasting room in downtown Thomasville when we were out carousing after the First Friday concert this month. You can taste their full flight, from the Bro’s Cider to the Knockout for $11 pretty much anytime, and they have cheese plates and other goodies, too.

Cheers to another week done and dusted, my friends! Anyone else have a whine to share?

Another Trip Around the Sun

Everyday Adventures

I’m grateful I survived!

Okay, this year hasn’t been that bad, my survival was never truly in question after all, but it’s been trying on all sorts of levels.

My 41st birthday weekend started Friday morning with cupcakes and a balloon from my boss and the Rose Festival parade that night. We didn’t stay for the street dance this year, but we still had fun. And Duncan was very good throughout the whole parade.

Saturday morning we met up with friends for Art in the Park and had a good time hanging out and wandering around Paradise Park before heading to the Farmer’s Daughter Vineyard tasting room for wine and cheese and more catching up.

And then, Saturday night, we had tickets to The Secret Garden,: The Musical, put on by TOSAC. I was so incredibly impressed by everyone on stage and totally got choked up at the ending. I love the local theater company anyway (and you cannot beat the $15 ticket price!) and wish I had time to volunteer to help with costumes or sets or something. Maybe some day.

On Sunday, my actual birthday, we met up with Mom at Kiku for sushi. Apparently they have a Sunday Brunch special, who knew?! We hadn’t been there in ages (as is the case for most of our old haunts in Tallahassee)!

Since lunch was kinda late we decided not to do anything specific for supper, instead we picked up cake and cupcakes from Publix (because I couldn’t make up my mind) and snacked our way through the evening.

All in all, not a bad way to turn 41!

I have high hopes for my 42nd year on earth: less stress, more crafting, and new experiences are topping the list.

Tuesday Reviews-Day | Capabunga Reusable Wine Caps


I know, I know, that old saw:

What do you do with leftover wine?
You mean you have leftover wine?

Yes, as a matter of fact we do, quite often in fact. Moderation, remember? And when I’m preparing a number of wine reviews or open a bottle to cook with but don’t feel like drinking the rest that night, into the fridge it goes.

Recorking sometimes happens, but more times than not it’s easier to use one of the buck-a-pop lever-style wine sealers we picked up at Bed, Bath & Beyond some years ago. Granted, those sometimes pop off of their own accord, and I wouldn’t necessarily trust them if the bottle was laying on its side, but they work more times than not. This is one of those areas that screw-top bottles do have a bit of an advantage.

So when I was contacted about the new Capabunga reusable cap for wine bottles, I was intrigued.


True, the name made me laugh (TMNT anyone?) but when they arrived I really liked the look of them, enough to briefly consider ordering them as wedding favors for our wine-themed fete later this year ($7.95 a pair is fine for personal use, but a little on the high side for wedding favors). They come in a variety of colors with cute sayings like His/Hers, Drink Me/Be Wine, Retox/Wine Jail, and the above I earned it/Me Time sets, and really would make a nice hostess gift along with a bottle of wine or two.

Named and designed after the silicone bung (or stopper) that is used on oak aging barrels, the most important questions is do they work? Do they fit easily onto an open wine bottle and prevent spills and leaks while the bottle is on its side?

From what I can tell, absolutely!

Putting it on was way simpler than recorking an open bottle or even using one of those lever-seals (that sometimes don’t) and after a week my test bottle showed absolutely no signs of leaking. Good show! Of course, then there was the matter of getting the cap off to pour the rest of the wine, but even that was accomplished with very little effort.

From what I can tell, the Capabunga is available direct from their site only right now, though I’d imaging they’ll start popping up in your favorite winery’s gift shops before too long. And it looks like they will do custom imprints (minimum order of 200) and wholesale pricing, too.



I received a set of Capabunga resuable wine caps for purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

AlcoHOLidays | Hanukkah | Light One Cocktail


When it comes to honoring other culture’s holy days with something as potentially flippant as a cocktail tribute, you have to walk a fine line between humor and reverence. So I’m going to apologize now for the very bad pun I’m about to make.

Light One Cocktail Hanukkah beverage

Most people know that Hanukkah is the Jewish celebration of the night when they had only enough oil for 1 night and yet it lasted a full 8. It is that, as well as the celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem (which had been previously desecrated on the orders of Antiochus IV) after a several years of war. Because of that miracle, oil plays a significant part of the Hanukkah rituals and explains why the popular foods of the holiday are fried.

Oily (or unctuous) is not something we generally look for in cocktails. There is a way to merge the two; it’s a process called fat-washing (yes, it’s a gross name) and often includes bacon or other fatty meats. Somehow I didn’t think that bacon-bourbon would be… kosher for this festival.

Instead, I’m going to lead with wine.

The story of Judith is another told during this holiday (which, in 2012, starts at sunset on Saturday, December 8*), and one I was not aware of before now. Judith was a widow in a town beset by an Assyrian general and his troops and they were running out of options. She concocted a plan to “surrender” to this general (Holofernes), ply him with salty cheese to make him thirsty, and then get him drunk on wine. When he was out cold she cut off his head. His troops were a bit lost without their leader and the town was saved.

This is also where dairy foods–everything from the sour cream on the fried latkes to the cheese filling in the blintzes–comes into play in the Hanukkah celebration.

Growing up, one of our unofficial holiday traditions was to watch Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “A Holiday Celebration” on PBS (frequently as part of their annual pledge drive). I was always most impressed by the songs I hadn’t heard before, namely the Hanukkah songs (some, like Light One Candle, written by Paul Yarrow). They remain some of my holiday favorites.

To that end, I offer you

Light One Cocktail

1.5 oz Red Table Wine
1.5 oz Apple Juice
1 oz + 1 barspoon Honey Bourbon, divided
kitchen match or long-handled lighter

Combine the wine (check for Kosher or Pareve on the label if your guests are observant), juice, and single ounce of bourbon in a mixing glass with just a few ice cubes and stir until combined but not super-cold. Pour into a cocktail glass that has NOT been chilled. Hold the barspoon of bourbon over the cocktail glass and light it. Once you’ve been suitably impressed, carefully extinguish the flaming by dunking the flaming spirits into the drink.

Turning the lights off just before you flame it makes for a nice touch.

So we have the wine for Judith, the apple juice for another common accompaniment to latkes (applesauce), and the honey bourbon for the honey-dipped loukoumades that also make appearances at some Hanukkah celebrations.

I’ve never flamed a drink before tonight. To tell the truth, I was always a bit afraid to. Even though it’s a fairly common bar trick it’s not something I was too keen to play with. Still, it seemed appropriate, so we went for it. I’d read about a Russian custom** of dipping a piece of sugar into spirits, lighting them in a spoon and then dousing them in one’s tea once the holiday songs were sung; it seemed a somewhat safer way to approach the flaming drink idea.

Alas, the sugar cube method wouldn’t cooperate with this drink, and since the overall alcohol isn’t of a high enough proof to flame on its own, the barspoon of bourbon serves our purpose admirably.

What we do end up with, though, is a slightly sweet wine that will complement, I think, a plate of latkes admirably.


*yes, I know the calendars say the 9th, Jewish days start at sunset whereas the Gregorian calendar’s start at midnight


Give the Gift of Experience


Unless you live under a rock, you know that Valentine’s Day is just over a week away.

Now I know that many people view this holiday as a money-grab by the card and chocolate industries and I’m not saying it isn’t, but I’m also not one to pass up an opportunity to say I Love You to the people in my life. (Yes, we should do that every day, but it’s nice to set aside one day in particular, too.)

For those who have no opposition to the upcoming holiday but are still wondering what to do or give to mark the occasion, have you considered laying low on the chocolates and tchotchkes, and gifting your someone special with an experience they’ll remember for the rest of their life?

How about, say, a trip to Tuscany?

Happy people congregating in Italycopyright Alessandro Moggi

Divino Tuscany 2012 is a

One-of-a-kind, 4-day celebration of the best Tuscan wines, food and culture. Divino Tuscany will offer a distinctive program that highlights premium wines: wine tastings with Tuscany’s top winemakers, seminars and grand tastings curated by James Suckling, former Senior Editor and European Bureau Chief of Wine Spectator and one of the world’s most influential wine critics; special luncheons and dinners prepared by Michelin-starred chefs and entertainment organized by IMG Artists, one of the leading producers of cultural and lifestyle festivals. Participating winemakers include Marchesi Antinori, Frescobaldi, Mazzei, Ricasoli, Il Borro, Petrolo and Castello Banfi, and more.

elegantly dressed couples in a gorgeous dining roomcopyright Alessandro Moggi

Sure, this sort of trip is a little on the pricey side (€1900 per person, or around $2500 at current rates), and you still have to make travel arrangements, but spending 4 days wining and dining in Tuscany in May doesn’t sound like a bad use of this year’s vacation fund, now does it? Especially not with a line-up of activities like this:

  • Festive welcome dinner to open the second edition of Divino Tuscany with the Italian premiere screening of James Suckling’s and James Orr’s film Heart and Soul of Cuba, recently shown to rave reviews at the Sonoma Film Festival, live music from Havana’s hottest pianist, Ernán López Nussa performing with his trio, and Grappa tasting with Cuban cigars
  • Gala dinner at the opulent Palazzo Corsini on the banks of the Arno.
  • Grand Tastings at the Grand Hotel Villa Cora poured by the winemakers and proprietors themselves.
  • Saturday night dinners in the private Palazzi of the most well known Tuscan wine families.
  • Join James Suckling as he escorts you through private tastings with winemakers he has personally invited for this intimate experience.
  • Divino Tuscany will close with a relaxed country lunch at the private villa Il Palagio, courtesy of owners Sting and Trudie Styler.

people at a wine tasting in Italycopyright Alessandro Moggi

And if you go? Please send me a postcard!