Wine Slushies, Winesicles and Ice Pop Molds – Are You Ready For Summer?

May 18, 2012 - Written by Diana

What happens when you stick your bottle of wine in the freezer to cool quickly and forget about it?  Wine slushies….. I’m sorry, I didn’t have an ice bucket and I thought that was the easiest way to do it.  I’ve thought about making a wine granita.  That’s where you put a liquid in the freezer in a shallow layer and scrape it around every so often mixing it with the liquid that’s left, to create a true wine slushie.  Truthfully, I was sure I was creating some sort of really big snobby wine faux pas… until I found out what they’re doing in Chicago.  Do you think we could do this ourselves?

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park Hotel offers the perfect adult beverage, in a popsicle. Back by popular demand, this year’s winesicles offers some delicious and frozen options for wine lovers. Come to eno wine room inside the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park for an adults only sweet summer treat.

Red, White and Blueberry!! – Available for Memorial Day Weekend

The winesicles mentioned below are available from Memorial Day through the end of the summer. Each one is available for $5.


Sauvignon Rouge-Sicles


Sauvignon Blancsickles



If you are thinking about making your own winesicles – I suggest you take a look at Growing a Green Family for their molds without BPA (Fairmont Chicago are you BPA free in your molds?) This is a seriously cool idea.  Have any of you made wine slushies, or winesicles?  Let me know how it comes out. Since alcohol freezes at a lower temp, you may only get slushies and not ~sicles.

Here is a link to a winesicle recipe to try:

Bottle Note – Wine on a Stick


Friday Unwind – CalNaturale Wine in Tetrapaks- What Do I Think?

March 30, 2012 - Written by Diana

I was going to go easy tonight with a white wine spritzer.  I’ve been working a lot of overtime to complete a project, and I had decided to try out this wine, and use it in a spritzer.  Unfortunately -when I was looking for a spritzer – the spritz was gone.  No seltzer or even soda – we don’t buy it often, but it’s gone.  So even easier – it’s wine review night – CalNaturale wines – Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and they are made from organically grown grapes!

My dad used to buy boxed wine in the 70s and 80s, but I wasn’t a fan, so I decided to try out the tetrapacks, hoping wine has improved.  Plus, organic wine is definitely something I would look at.  I’m not sure I understand the green vs greener argument of tetrapaks vs glass or glass vs tetrapaks.  It’s more energy to produce glass, but can be recycled vs, less energy for tetrapaks, but while it takes up a lot less space, doesn’t get recycled?  I do know that if you are traveling, the tetrapaks are more convenient and take up less room in the cooler.  It’s easier to take a tetrapak on a hike or to a gathering rather than a bottle, and hopefully no one will know what they are and it won’t get stolen, like ours were at the last family gathering.  Easy to pack in and then easier to smash down and pack out.

As for the taste – it tasted like good decent wine, better than the boxed stuff my dad had back in the day.  The Chardonnay is a little oaky as one would expect from a California white, but not a real strong oak.  My husband prefers white over red, so this was his favorite.  However, though I usually prefer the white, it was a toss up because I think I liked the fruit taste in the red too. I think they’d be great for spritzers, or sangria or for sit down and watch a movie with the husband and drink a glass of wine night. I would definitely buy these, especially if I needed to pack them to go.  They’re the perfect weight for hauling around.

What do you think tetrapaks or not?


Disclosure:  I was given CalNaturale Wine to try out.  I was not paid for my recommendation, the opinion is all mine.


Note – the title says Organic wine, but it’s wine from organically grown grapes, which is different – sorry about that.



Spiced Sangria

September 22, 2011 - Written by Diana

Spiced Sangria – Wow, this looks so delicious I had to share.  I love all the fall fruit used to make this lovely spiced Sangria.

3-4 fresh figs, sliced (or 1 cup dried figs)
1-2 fresh gala apples, sliced
2-3 clementines, sliced (not peeled)
1 lemon, sliced
2 bottles VOGA Italia Merlot
3 cups sparkling apple cider
1 cup orange juice
½ cup brandy
½ cup dark spiced rum
4 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves

Slice apples and insert whole cloves directly into the fruit.
Combine all fruit slices in a glass pitcher and slowly pour in brandy and wine. Cover and chill from 2-24 hours (the longer, the better!)

Before serving, add sparkling cider and orange juice. Stir gently and serve over ice.

Makes about 15 servings.

Photo by  @Rich Brainerd 2011-12, http://2eat2drink.com .


What I’m trying – Wine Doctor Intelli-Stopper

August 24, 2011 - Written by Diana

The Wine Doctor Intelli-Stopper helps to preserve the wine left in your bottle after you’ve opened it, plus removes any air left in the bottle.  The Classic wine preservation kit contains one pump, to remove the air and two stoppers.  You line the preserver pump onto the stopper and pull the air out until the red indicator disappears. It’s easy to use, and though I don’t have a scientific way to measure success (except for the red indicator), I can tell that when I take out the stopper, the whoosh of air tells me that the stopper worked.  I’ve had other stoppers and I also have an electric preservation kit, but none of it comes close to the Wine Doctor Intelli-Stopper. The preserver is small enough to stick in a drawer and doesn’t need to be plugged in to an outlet, more pluses if you ask me. (more…)

Red Wine Blends for your Valentine

February 12, 2011 - Written by Diana

My husband and I are doing you a big favor – we’re tasting wine blends so that you can get our honest opinion of what we think.  It’s a tough job, but we’re doing this so you can enjoy your Valentine’s Day with your loved one.  So far, I’d have to say we are enjoying them and it’s not like wine punch – a mixture of different wines just thrown together, but it does have different compatible flavors hitting your tongue in a nice way.

My husband predictably liked the Barefoot Sweet Red Blend.  He likes sweet wines, but Barefoot Sweet Red isn’t a dessert wine, it’s a smooth, sweet red wine a little fruity, a little sweet, nice tasting, but not too sweet. Sweet Red ($7), is a deliciously sweet blend of Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Petite Sirah.  I’m including a Sangria recipe below that I would be great to share with your significant other.  My dad used to make Sangria for our summer gatherings, but there was never enough to go around.  This wine is perfect for Sangria. (more…)

Grilled Veal Chops in a Red Wine Sauce

September 13, 2010 - Written by Diana

The kids are gone, so bring out the good meat.  Does that sound bad?  When you have kids sometimes you want a bit of something more, but spending the money with teens around could be a waste since they consume every thing in two minutes and then run.  It’s difficult to want to cook dinner some nights with just two of you, but if you can change it up a little and make it interesting, it’s worth it.  I thought veal chops was just the thing to change it up a little.  I grilled the meat and then made a red wine sauce to go over it.  Simple fast and easy – even for a busy work or date night.


Brush veal with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill on a hot grill pan (or on the grill).   In the second pan, melt butter.  Slice shallots and throw into hot butter along with the sage leaves.  When the onions are soft and carmelized, add the red wine.  Simmer until it is reduced.

Turn the veal after about 5 minutes.  Plate up and pour the red wine sauce over top, letting it rest for a couple of minutes.  This is less than 15 minutes for the veal chops to be ready and served.  Fast and easy, but delicious.

Fun Valentines Ideas!

February 13, 2010 - Written by Diana

I saw a commercial that showed a man in a grocery store picking out a Valentines card for his wife.  She passes by and asks what he’s doing, and he says – nothing.  Then they mention the store and say fast, cheap and easy.  Well, maybe fast, cheap and easy, but imaginative?  Thoughtful? Creative?  Depends on what you expect.  My husband does buy me flowers because I just love to see blooms on my kitchen table in the middle of winter.  I like to make my husband some Chocolate Covered Almonds.  They’re so delicious and he’s a lover of nuts, especially those. For my kids I make chocolate bars with fruit or nuts, or in fun shapes.  I have lots of ideas and most are quick and easy (though not as easy as running into the store to pick up a card) and they know that I do it because they’re worth the effort and that there’s love involved.


Host a Wine and Chocolate Tasting:


You can tell by my posts that I am a wine lover.  I still don’t know a lot about wine, other than I like what I like because it tastes good.  At one of our wine tastings we were getting ready to taste raspberry wine when the server gave us some dark chocolate chips and told us to take a sip and then eat the chips.  The combination was fantastic.  I have an online friend, who regularly snacks on a few chocolate chips with her wine (Andrea, you need a search for your site). Turning Leaf sent us suggestions for pairing chocolate with wine for Valentines Day.

Dark Chocolate, paired with Turning Leaf’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

   o  The richest of all the reds, this wine boasts notes of vanilla and brown that perfectly complement the bitterness in darker chocolates.

Milk Chocolate, paired with Turning Leaf’s 2008 Merlot

    o  The fruitier character in this Merlot brings out the natural, bright flavors in classic milk chocolate.

White Chocolate, paired with Turning Leaf’s 2008 Chardonnay

    o  A twist on the common red wine & chocolate pairing, the acidity level in drier whites, such as Chardonnay, cuts through the sweetness of white chocolate making for a more balanced bite.

I’ve tried these pairings and they’re terrific.  Instead of chips, I like to do squares, arranged on a platter or a plate.  You could place a separate glass for each person by each wine.  Then fill small plates with Chocolate squares, some nuts, maybe some fruit and pour a little wine into the glasses for the tasting.  This is great for a gathering of friends.  I really liked Turning Leaf’s 2008 Chardonnay paired with some Hazelnut Milk Chocolates. That was my favorite pairing.


Pairing the wine with chocolate fondue is great too.  Fondue is basically heavy cream and chocolate melted over a sterno – or it can be an electric fondue.  Add a little liqueur for flavoring.  Then use strawberries, pineapple, pound cake, apple slices, pretzels, etc for dipping.  Reserve some cream to thin the fondue as it thickens. Great with wine or for your wine tasting instead of squares. 


Make your own hearts:


I have Cookie cutters from Ann Clark.  They really are sturdy and sized nicely.  I’ve used my heart shaped cookie cutter to make iced birthday cookies for my mother in law, heart shaped pancakes for my daughter, and now heart shaped chocolates for my husband and son.  I melt the chocolate in the microwave and pour it into the heart mold on a flat pan . You can top with nuts, raisins, pieces of candy, then place it into the fridge to harden. It’s difficult to wait for it to be totally cool, but you have to do it.


Play a Game:


The most appropriate adult game (kid friendly house, no nudity involved) for Valentines Day is Wine Wars. It’s a trivia game for wine experts and lovers of wine information, but if you’re new to the wine world, or not an expert, you can still attempt the questions.  You’ll definitely learn as you go.  The game gets better with glasses of wine though, so be ready to sniff, swirl and sip (no spitting- we’re not wasting any of the good stuff).

The game comes with trivia cards, small boards to place little colored wine bottles into as you get an answer correct, a colored die and a wine map, all packed in a small box.  This is a very packable game if you are going to a cabin for the weekend or to have fun with friends.

The categories are:

Vino to Vino – Growing grapes, making wine, and world production.

Grapeosphere – Grape varieties, their wines, and their geography.

Wine Cellar – Selecting, storing and tasting wine.

Cork Culture – Wine people, business, arts and sciences, and trivia. 


I’m still a learner, not a geek – this is a cool way for me to do it and I’m definitely one of those sip and learn types.  We had fun guessing at the answers, and sometimes we even got it right.



In the interest of full disclosure  – I was sent some of the items for review, ie.  Wine Wars, Turning Leaf 2008 Chardonnay and Turning Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon, also the Ann Clark cookie cutters.  The chocolate, pancakes and cookie dough was all mine.  I was totally sober when writing this review  and the thoughts are all mine, though I did have to put down my wine glass in order to type with both hands.

Wine Tasting in Shenandoah National Park

June 15, 2009 - Written by Diana
View from Strongman Mountain

View from Strongman Mountain

 I know the postings have been sporadic lately.  We went on vacation and my partner (ahem) didn’t find the time to post.  We didn’t have any internet or even cell phone connection in our cabin – except one bar on the top floor with the phone up against the top part of the window.  It didn’t matter, we were there to unwind, hike, read, have fun and disconnect.  It was family time – well mostly. 

One evening my husband and I decided to take a little time to ourselves.  We drove up into Shenandoah National Park for a wine tasting.  They have a person from a Virginia vineyard come up and do a wine tasting with a group of about 12 people. You get to sample the different wines, plus their representative tells you about what he thinks you should know about the different wines.  They’ll tell you how they think it tastes on the palate, where you’ll get the most taste, what you should be looking for and how to pair it.  The restaurant servers also pass around some cheeses, crackers and fruit (grapes) to go along with it. The servers replenished the glasses throughout the tasting, which lasted about 45 minutes.

The day we were there, a gentlemen from Barboursville Vineyards was directing the wine tasting.  While we were kind of a quiet group, he kept everything interesting and we enjoyed it a lot.  I really liked that we could taste wines from a vineyard that was a little further than we would probably go for a wine tasting.  When we were done with the tasting, they did let the group finish off the bottles, plus we were able to purchase some at a special price.  We brought four bottles home with us since we won’t be back in Virginia for a while, though my daughter was a little squished on our trip home today.

We’re happy to be home, even if the house now looks like a war zone with all of our bags and paraphernalia sitting around.  The roughest part is trying to get up the energy to put everything away afterwards after driving all day.  My sister in law remarks on how lucky I am to have kids that take vacations with us.  We realize as they get older and leave the nest it will be just us after a while, so we treasure the times with our kids while balancing it out with moments alone when we can. Vacations help to bind the family together – I cherish them all.

Vineyard Cuisine – Meals & Memories from Messina Hof by Merrill & Paul Bonarrigo

October 1, 2008 - Written by Diana


Merrill was from Texas, the grand daughter of German immigrants.  Paul was from New Jersey the grandson of Italian immigrants. They met in Texas, married and started a vineyard that they called Messina Hof.  This book tells of their meeting, their families, their traditions. 

It contains recipes passed down from their immigrant backgrounds, most of which pair up well with or use Messina Hof wines to create.  The story continues with their vineyard/winery building and their raising of their son.  Throughout the book are delicious sounding recipes.  There are guidelines on pairing wines with foods.  The Bonarrigos talk about building a community with their vineyard including people in picking the grapes, building a villa, hosting weddings. 


Kaaterskill Reserve Wine

July 13, 2008 - Written by Diana

Last night, it was pouring rain and my husband and I were supposed to be working on the house but we were just exhausted.  I cooked up a fajita salad for dinner, and then we had ice cream in the living room while finishing up watching a movie.  So here we are relaxing and eating ice cream and I remembered something we bought last year.  It was an  expensive small bottle of wine, we bought when we were up in Windham, NY last summer.  I had forgotten about it, plus we don’t often get the house to ourselves to hang out.  So I got the Kaaterskill Reserve Wine and poured it over our Butter Pecan Ice Cream.  It was delicious and sweet and just perfect over our ice cream.  A few years ago, my sister-in-law poured Raspberry wine over our vanilla ice cream and that was where I got the idea.