Category Archives: Summer

Hosting a Wine Party-Happy Hour

It doesn’t matter if you are throwing a party in the summer or winter as long as you have the right drinks and food to nibble on your guest will be happy. Recently a couple of our friends (Dana and I) have been throwing some fun happy hours on Friday evenings and inviting friends over. Its a great time to unwind and relax with friends after a long work week. This inspired me to write a post for our readers who want to have a happy hour of their own or perhaps just a causal get together.

Here is the beauty of throwing a happy hour or just a quick get together you don’t actually have to cook anything. All items can be purchased at the store, wine shop, or cheese shop.

Tip #1-This isn’t a dinner party. Set a time for your friends on the invite if you must. If you are hosting a happy hour its important to note that the party will happen between 5pm-7pm, you know before dinner time.

Tip #2-Get a nice combo of high end and not so high end wine. Lets face it not all of your friends know good wine. However if they don’t tell them to read this blog we can help! But don’t feel obligated to supply the party with all of the beverage options tell your friends to bring some wine over too.

Tip #3-Have some food to nibble on for your guest. This doesn’t mean go out and get them food but snacks only. Dana has already given you the skinny on cheese and wine pairings. If you haven’t read it now is a good time..click here. But I’ll make it easier for you by providing a list

  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Hummus
  • Veggies
  • Crackers-Water Cracker, Whole Grain
  • Fruit

Totally optional but I love a nice plate of Prosciutto. If you’re feeling a little fancier cut up a nice melon and wrap the Prosciutto around it. Its tasty.

Tip #4-Have fun! The beauty of wine is that you sip it and enjoy the company of your friends. Remember to relax and enjoy yourself.

If you want to make your party/happy hour a little fancier light some candles around. It’ll look beautiful.

Enjoy your happy hour or casual get together!

Cheers!

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Fourth of July-Food Recipes

 

Happy Fourth everyone!!!

While this normally isn’t a food site I thought it would be a nice idea to give you all some recipes for your upcoming BBQs.

Try this Chipotle-Corn Salad


2 cans of corn-drained
1/2 an onion thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 cup of sour cream
1 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce-seeded and chopped
1 scallion thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper

1.) Sautee your corn and opinion with the olive oil until the corn is lightly brown
2.) Let cool and put into a bowl
3) Mix, sour cream with lime juice, chopped chipotle chiles, sliced scallion.
3.) Season the corn with salt and pepper

Serves 4-6 people. Great with a grilled chicken and a glass of Rose. Try Shady Lane 2008 Coop de Rouge or Dr Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett

Lets not forget it is the 4th and what’s more American then a cheeseburger. He is a great recipe for you to enjoy
All American Burger

1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon Hamburger Seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 slices Cheddar or American cheese (optional)
4 hamburger rolls
8 slices cooked bacon (optional)
Lettuce, tomato and condiments (optional)

1.)Mix ground beef, ketchup, Hamburger Seasoning and Worcestershire sauce in medium bowl until well blended. Shape into 4 patties.
2.) Grill over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes per side or until burgers are cooked through (internal temperature of 160°F). Add cheese slices to burgers 1 minute before cooking is completed. Toast rolls on the grill, open-side down, about 30 seconds or until golden.
3.) Serve burgers on toasted rolls with bacon slices, if desired. Garnish with desired toppings and condiments.

Serves 4. Enjoy your all American burger with a great glass of red like Gnarly Head Zinfandel Old Vine, Tilia Malbec

Try heading over to Binny’s or BevMo for some suggestions. Don’t have any of those big guys around you? Don’t forget to support your Local Wine Shops.

If you’re not in the mood for wine  try one of Dana’s Sangria recipes or try this new recipe we found

Watermelon Sangria

2 pounds seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed, plus 1/2 pound watermelon cut into balls with a melon baller and skewered on picks
1 bottle dry white wine
6 ounces vodka
4 ounces Cointreau or other triple sec
4 ounces Citrus Syrup
In a blender, puree the watermelon cubes. Pour through a fine strainer into a pitcher. Add the white wine, vodka, Cointreau and Citrus Syrup. Stir and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir again, then pour the sangria into ice-filled white wine glasses and garnish with the skewered watermelon balls.

Remember to Drink Responsibly this Holiday Weekend!

Cheers and Happy 4th from Dana, Rio, and I!!!!!

Wine With Your BBQ

BBQ with Wine

For many people the 4th of July and barbequing go hand in hand. With the 4th just around the corner, I got to thinking about pairing wine with BBQ. Your wine pairing really depends on what you are throwing on the Grill. A good rule of thumb is bold goes with bold; strong flavored food needs a bolder, richer wine. Delicate goes with delicate; a more delicate, lighter flavored food usually pairs well with a softer, more delicate wine.

For a lot of BBQ items you want a pretty bold wine. The smokiness and spice of BBQ can overpower lighter wines. You also don’t need an extremely complex wine. The nuances of a complex wine can get lost among the spices of grilled meats, especially if you are using a lot of spice (think BBQ sauce or dry rubs). This means that a lot of wines in the $10 range will work well with your meal.

If you want to play it safe, Zinfandel, Merlot or Rose go well with almost all BBQ items. Reds are easier to pair with BBQ than whites and almost any red will work with hamburgers and hot dogs. It is usually a good idea to steer clear of Chardonnay because it is harder to pair with grilled items. Read the rest of this entry

Sangria: The Adult Version of Fruit Punch

Sangria

Now that summer has hit and my apartment temperature resides right around 75 degrees on a normal day and between 80 and 90 on a hot day, I’m finding my normal wine habits just aren’t cutting it. I love red wine, but in the summer heat, it just isn’t that refreshing. Roses and whites are perfect for this type of weather, but often I find myself craving Sangria. For those of you that are not familiar with Sangria it is kind of like the adult version of Fruit Punch. Sounds amazing right?

On a hot day Sangria can be incredibly refreshing. So what exactly is Sangria? Simply put, it is wine punch. It is usually made with a light, dry wine high in acidity, chopped fruit, and some sort of spirit like Brandy or Triple Sec. Sometimes a sweetener like honey, simple syrup or orange juice is added and some recipes call for seltzer water or lemon lime soda. Like all kinds of punch, there are a billion different recipes.

Sangria is derived from the Spanish word sangre, meaning blood.  Traditionally, Sangria is made from red wine, but there are many white Sangrias as well. I recommend making your own or ordering it in a restaurant rather than buying a bottle of pre-made Sangria.  I’ve tried a few bottled Sangrias and have never been impressed. Read the rest of this entry

10 Tips for Enjoying Wine Festivals

Summer is officially here and with summer comes festival many of which are wine related. So Wine With Me wanted to give you 10 tips to help you maneuver your way around these big wine outdoor festivals.

  1. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes-You’ll be walking around and it’ll be hot out. Think cotton clothing and comfortable shoes.
  2. Eat before going to the event-Almost everyone goes right to wine tastings and food is an after thought so having something to help you absorb the alcohol will allow you to pace yourself and truly enjoy the wine and not get drunk.
  3. Pace yourself-Remember most of these festivals will have 10-50 wineries and each of them will have 4-6 wines to taste. Drink water 2-4 ounces in between tastings.
  4. Take a break-Enjoy your time at the festival and the outdoors. If you’re with friends take the time to just people watch and talk about what you already tasted and what you look forward to tasting.
  5. Keep it moving-Get your tasting and move on don’t linger. You’ll cause a backup for everyone else. If you have a question ask the wine rep but don’t make chit chat about the non-wine related things. (Unless they’re good looking and you plan on flirting).
  6. Don’t like it..DUMP IT-If you don’t like a wine dump it in the bucket. No need to waste your time on something you don’t enjoy.
  7. Best is always Better-Every winery has a wine they are proud to serve. Ask the wine rep for the best.
  8. Write it Down-Keep a pen and paper on hand and write down the wines you liked and 2-3 words on what you loved about it. Ask the wine rep where you can find it locally.
  9. Snacking-Yes you ate before you headed to the festival but if the wine tasting has taken a 1-2 hours stop and get a snack and drink some water.
  10. Don’t Drink and Drive-Chances are you may get a little tipsy. Don’t get behind the wheel of a car and if you can have a designated driver, take a cab, or arrange for someone to pick you up.

The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself!

If you’re looking to find local wine festivals just Google-Wine Festival + (City you live in). You’ll get a list of what is around you.

Cheers!

Lynfred Winery-Perhaps Not


This past weekend Dana and I deceided to take a trip to Lynfred Winery in Roselle, IL. We came upon this winery during Wine Riot and enjoyed the three wines (they had five we only tasted three) we tasted during the event. We were excited to see what other wines this place would have on hand for us to enjoy. I must admit that we were disappointed by the winery. The wine tasting was $9, which I won’t complain about but perhaps a $5 dollars fee would have been more reasonable. The tasting wasn’t really a tasting the pours were generous, a first for us when it somes to tastings.  People weren’t tasting they were actually drinking. Don’t call it a wine tasting if its more of a wine flight. Also the layout was odd. You’d paid at the front bar and then you’d head toward the back through the gift soft to a small bar were you’d get a pour and then walk away, finish, then go back for the next one. Doesn’t make sense right? Yea it didn’t make sense to us either.

Other then the odd layout we found it strange that Lynfred Winery didn’t have on their tasting list the wines they do best. They didn’t showcase the wines that clearly did very well at Wine Riot. Additionally, the majority of there grapes came from Califorina, Michigan, and Washington and some from Illinois.

All was not lost. We loved the Malbec but it wasn’t worth paying $25 dollars for it. We did get the wine we enjoyed at Wine Riot which was the Lynfred Winery Vin de City Red and their Plum wine. Overall we didn’t walk away empty handed. The drive was long so a reward was in order.

The other thing that makes Lynfred  unique is they’ll dip your favorite bottle in chocolate for $25 dollars plus the cost of the wine. It makes a nice gift. My advice if you’re going to do the chocolate dipped bottle go with the Lynfred Winery Vin de City Red, its $10 dollars so playing $35 for a nice gift seems reasonable.

Our favorite wines were:
Lynfred Winery Plum
Lynfred Winery Vin de City Red
2010 Lynfred Winery Seyval Blanc

Is it worth the drive? I guess if you have nothing to do all day but you may want to check with Binny’s. If don’t live in Illinois don’t worry plenty of good wines out there.

Cheers!

Michigan’s Best Kept Secret

I’m a city girl through and through but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy getting out into the relaxing atmosphere. On our trip to Michigan I learned some pretty essential things..1.) Road Kill in Michigan is a way of Life 2.) Never go feet first into a Jacuzzi if your intention was only to put your feet in, you might find yourself 3 feet underwater 3.) And the most important lesson…Michigan Wines are impressive and the state’s best kept secret.

The Michigan Tourism Board should really add in some marketing copy for Tim Allen to talk about the wines that are created in Michigan. I bet they’ll see a pickup in tourism.

Before I begin telling you about the wines I loved and bought I’d like to give a shout out to Mr and Mrs Clark. Thanks for letting us staying at your place while we ventured out into the Michigan Wineries. And thanks Dana for driving and Rio thanks for just being adorable.

Let’s get this party started shall we? Read the rest of this entry

Rose: A great Summer Wine

Whispering Angel Rose

 

For most people when they see a pink wine they immediately assume its White Zinfandel and let’s be honest a lot of people are not fans of White Zin, myself included, but White Zinfandel is not the only pink wine out there and good dry Rose can actually be quite delicious.

If you’re thinking come on pink wine? Really? I was right there with you. When my parents came back from Provence, France last spring, raving about the rose, I was skeptical, but I was willing to give it a chance because I trust my parent’s judgment in wine… for the most part.

The first Rose I tried I was not enamored with. It was ok but nothing I would ever buy again. The second rose I had however was light and crisp and in my opinion, had more oomph to it then most white wines. After trying a few more Roses I discovered that a rose can be just what the doctor ordered on a hot summer day. As much as I love red wine sometimes it is just too much when it very hot out or when you’re eating something delicate like sea food. Being that I don’t love a lot of white wines, it was nice to find a good alternative for a summer wine. Read the rest of this entry

America’s Wine Country: California

Ok now sing it with me-California here we come! If you haven’t made it to Northern California then you really need to book that flight and head to the Bay Area. Why? Because outside of being amazingly beautiful it has some of the greatest wineries. Most people think of Napa when you think of wine but there is a place called Sonoma. It’s actually right next to Napa but is home to small wineries, some that you have never even heard of and usually aren’t available in your hometown wine shop. Since many of these guys are small businesses their distribution isn’t as big as say Kendall Jackson (don’t act like you’ve never heard of them).

While I was in San Francisco, my friends and I went up north to do a little wine tasting. YUMMY! I was in the bay area to celebrate my best friend’s birthday (Happy Birthday again Alison!).  Four Chicagoans went up to do a little drinking with our favorite SF couple.  We hit up three wineries, one that you will know (surprise!). Read the rest of this entry

White Wine Season Begins

Chateau Ste Michelle Rieling

If you haven’t noticed spring is here and with the leaves changing it means warmer weather will follow.  Barbecue and picnic season is upon us which only means you’re social calendars will start to be filled by invites to these outdoor dining activities. Emily Post rules of etiquette states that you should always bring something to your host as a thank you for the invitation. Wine has become a popular host gift.

When I’m invited to a spring/summer party I bring a chilled bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Riesling. This particular white wine is sweet with a hint of tart. Perfect for almost any dish you’ll be grilling outside. Unless you’re a strictly red wine drinker, almost everyone will love this wine. Here is the best part of this particular wine it won’t break your bank. Its usually about $10 dollars. Unless you happen to hit Target on a good week and they’ll have a  price cut special of $5.99-stock up when this happens.

This wine happens to be the wine I like to have in the summer when I’m just sitting outside enjoying the city view. Perfectly chilled glass with a sunset will do wonders. I highly recommend you try it. You’ll be surprise and how refreshing it is and it’ll make you smile even more that you didn’t have to pay $30 bucks for it.

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