Tequila often gets a bad rap because of dramatic next day hangovers. Your crappy hangover is probably because of sugary additives, bottom shelf liquor and dehydration. The moment you decide to drink good quality Tequila, I guarantee you’ll have a newfound appreciation for this incredible spirit. Tequila is distilled from the Agave plant in Tequila, Mexico. It’s like drinking Champagne from the Champagne region of France. You drink Tequila….from Tequila! While Tequila can be aged in barrels, an unaged blanco Tequila expresses refreshing notes of pepper, herbs, tropical fruits and citrus hints. When mixed with the perfect ingredients, it can deliver an unforgettable cocktail that you’ll want to savor, not shoot down.
As a Tequila girl at heart, I want to enjoy a delicious cocktail that won’t require an extra round of burpees to burn off. An ounce of blanco Tequila can range between 60-90 calories. To keep the cals to a minimum, it’s best to mix with fresh juices and homemade ingredients. You’ll also want to pick up a quality blanco Tequila, such as Tequila Bribon ($35).
In my Spicy Watermelon Margarita, I made fresh watermelon and lime juice, along with a homemade jalapeño syrup. Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds!
To make your own jalapeño syrup, just boil ½ cup of water, ½ cup of agave nectar or honey, and 1 halved jalapeño (no seeds). Once all the ingredients have melted and the water boils, you can remove and let the jalapeño steep for about an hour. Then remove and let the syrup cool.
So you want to learn more about wine, huh? Well, this is exciting! The best way to explore wine is to enjoy a selection of wine with good company. Grab a bunch of your favorite friends because I’ve got a few pointers to help you throw a fabulous non-snooty DIY Wine Tasting. Pinkies up!
Pick A Theme:
Like any good party, set a theme and roll with it. Springtime whites? Splurge-worthy reds? Special occasion bubblies? Ask each guest to bring one bottle of wine based on a set theme. An easy starting point is to pick a category of wine such as whites, reds, rose or sparkling wines. Then, have each guest select a bottle based on a different region, such as white wines from California, New Zealand, France and Italy.
A classic oaked Chardonnay from California is a great ice-breaker wine to greet your guests. It’s also a fun way to explore the aromas and flavors between fruit and oak notes in the wine.
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is like sunshine in a glass. You’ll most likely get bright citrus fruits on the nose and palate. Dig a little deeper and try to identify classic herbaceous notes typically found in Sauvignon Blancs.
Get down with a Gewurztraminer from Alsace. This highly aromatic wine will have delicious tropical notes jumping out the glass, including its signature lychee scent.
Treat guests to a sweet treat and pop open a Moscato d’Asti from Italy. It has a slight frizzante flair and pairs wonderfully with creamy vanilla, caramel and coconut flavored desserts.
Get a Little Geeky:
Ask each guest to come prepared with a few fun facts about their wine. Wine labels will indicate their country of origin, vintage year and grape variety. A quick google search can help find fun facts about the wine growing region and about grape variety characteristics.
Pass the Cheese, Please:
While wine tastes fabulous on its own, it’s always fun to experiment how different foods can change the way a wine tastes. My personal go-to for entertaining guests is to serve a mouth-watering charcuterie board. Hit up your local Trader Joe’s and pick out a selection of cheeses, meats, crackers and fruits.
The Tasting Game:
Below is a simple wine tasting method for newbie winos. Be sure to provide pen and paper for guests to jot down their notes.
See. Set your wine glass against a white piece of paper and observe the color. If it’s a red wine, do you see hints of purple, ruby or garnet? In your white wine, any specks of green or yellow?
Swirl. Place your glass on the table and gently circle the glass around to release the aromas. Careful not to spill!
Smell. Bring the glass to your nose and take a few deep inhales. What aromas do you notice? Are you getting fruity notes such as apple, peach, cherry or blackberry? What about some spice or earthy notes?
Sip. Finally, the best part! Take a sip and swish the wine around in your mouth for a few seconds. Start to think about what it tastes like. What fruit, spice, earth and oak notes come across your palate? Does it taste similar to it’s smell?
Spit. Ok, this step is optional. Serious tasters like to spit their wine so they can evaluate without becoming intoxicated. I say skip this step and keep the party going!
This simple method of tasting is a great way to get your palate familiar with how a bottle of wine from a particular grape variety and region tastes like. Practice makes perfect! You can refine your palate through sheer curiosity, appreciation and by drinking lots of wine.
Oh, hey there! If you’re reading this, then chances are you’ve made it through half your week and it’s time to celebrate with a glass of wine. A #winedownwednesday pick should be a no-fuss wine at an affordable price point. During your next trip to the wine store, consider these recommendations for your perfect weeknight red.
An Italian classic, Chianti wines are made from Sangiovese grapes grown in the rolling hills of Tuscany. Your local wine shop may carry a selection of Chiantis, based on varying classifications, which indicate barrel age and quality. I would select a 6-month aged “Chianti” or 1-year aged “Chianti Classico” for a weeknight. Hold the “Chianti Riserva” or “Chianti Gran Selezione” for a special occasion.
Tasting Notes: Red berry fruits, spice, smoke
Food pairings: Pasta with tomato sauce, Pizza
A Chilean Cabernet from the Central Valley boasts big red fruit flavors thanks to the plentiful sunshine in this growing region. While there are a ton of Cabernet Sauvignon options available, Chilean Cabs from the Central Valley will produce good quality wines at an affordable price point. Fire up the grill! It’s only right that you drink this with a hearty steak.
Region: Chile (Central Valley)
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasting Notes: Red fruit, vanilla, clove
Food pairings: Red meats, pork
Beaujolais...the no-brainer option! Long considered an easy drinking wine, Beaujolais is produced from the Gamay grape, which exudes pleasant bright red fruit aromas and flavors. I would choose one classified as “Beaujolais Villages” or “Beaujolais Superier”. Yes, the French also love to complicate...I mean, classify their wines!
Region: France (South of Burgundy)
Tasting Notes: Raspberry, Cherry, Cranberry, Bubble gum
Food pairings: Just about anything
Have you ever woken up to a killer hangover and made the promise to never drink again? Chances are you knocked back a few too many cocktails loaded with artificial sweeteners and additives, which can cause bloat and encourage a hangover. Luckily, clean cocktails exist! Think freshly squeezed juices, unrefined sweeteners and heart-healthy herbs.
Grab yourself a quality gin, such as Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin and a few strawberries, raw honey simple syrup and a ginger kombucha. You can make your own simple syrup by boiling down ¼ cup raw honey and ¼ cup water; once the honey melts, transfer into a mason jar and let it cool.
Muddle 3 strawberries in a cocktail shaker, then add the gin, honey, pinch of salt and ice. Shake and strain into a cup with ice and top off with the kombucha. Garnish with a strawberry.
Do you hear what I hear? The twist and pop of a well chilled Prosecco bottle! Bubbly is undeniably a fan favorite to be enjoyed among all occasions. A popular Italian sparkling wine, Prosecco is made in the Valdobbiadene region in Veneto, Italy from the Glera grape. It can also be produced in other parts of Italy such as Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco DOC is more affordable with a retail value between $12-$20, leaving room in the budget for charcuterie and cheese! In true Italian fashion, a glass of Prosecco is meant to be enjoyed as an apertif to open up your appetite before a meal. Prosecco pairs beautifully with a range of antipasti selections.
Impress your guests with your sparkling wine opening skills! First, chill down the Prosecco by either placing in the fridge for a few hours or in an ice bucket for at least an hour. Short on time? Add water to the ice bucket - this speeds up the chilling process. Once the bottle feels chilled down, be sure to wipe off the water to avoid potential slippage. Remove the top foil, untwist the cage (5-6 turns), with one hand hold the bottom of the bottle and the other hand holds onto the top (cage still intact). The trick is to keep the bottle on a 45 degree angle and to twist from the bottom of the bottle! Do this slowly and with control. The goal is to hear a subtle ‘hiss’ sound once the top comes off. #expertlevel
All good things begin with a glass of vino.
I currently hold a Level 2 Intermediate Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust.