Friday, August 25, 2017

Healthy Dinner Party Ideas


Eating dinner with friends has definitely changed over the years with the increase in food sensitivities and allergies to the varying levels of health consciousness.

Hosting a dinner party anymore is not as simple when you are concerned about not being able to please everyone or worrying about allergic reactions.

These common situations can be stressful to the point that it prevents you from hosting or attending a dinner party.

It may seem easier to go out to eat so you can at least be with your friends - but we have a couple of simple dinner party ideas that can assist you in confidently hosting the next one!




5 Essential Steps for a Successful Dinner Party:

1.  Guest List
2.  Necessities
3.  Food
4.  Wine
5.  Ambiance


Guest List 

Create your list of a fun group and ask them to bring a specific bottle of wine that you would like to have at dinner. They will be more than happy to bring one...or two!
Know as much as you can about your guests when it comes to food preferences or obvious allergies. If there is a major allergy to peanuts, gluten, shellfish or another common food, then you know to absolutely not even have those foods around. Simple.

Necessities

Let's start with the wine.
Wine opener - corkscrew or electric
Wine glasses - stemless or stemmed...glass, stainless steel or plastic...choose either a variety of colored or differently patterned glasses or have wine charms or magnets on hand to designate each guest their own glass
Next are all of the dishes you will need for serving your delicious meal...including appetizers and dessert. Appetizer serving trays, small plates, silverware, serving utensils, napkins, glasses for water, dinner plates, serving trays and dishes for main course, and dessert cups or plates.
And it is totally fine to use paper plates!

Food

Appetizers, meal and dessert...
Plan and prepare.
Include a variety within your meals to please a vegan, vegetarian, dairy or gluten-free guest.
Makes grocery lists. Chop, peel, slice and prepare food for the night - including any back-ups so they are ready to refill when needed.
Make sure you have charcoal or enough propane if you are grilling.
Have fun planning! Sipping on wine will help with your creativity!
You will find two of our favorite dinner party ideas at the bottom of today's blog!

Wine

Easiest part of the night!
You already have your favorite wine on hand...but please ask your guests to bring a bottle or two...they will love the fact that your request is easy for them to bring!
For the 2 healthy dinner party ideas that we have below, these are the wines we would recommend asking your guests to bring:
#1 - Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir
#2 - Syrah, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon


Ambiance

Fresh cut flowers are a beautiful touch, as long as none of your guests start sneezing and reaching for the tissue box. If you have an empty wine bottle from the night before, rinse it out and it'll makes a perfect vase for a few long stems too. Add flowers to the bathroom and dinner table.If you have a fun little wine rack this acts as a centerpiece or extra decor for the kitchen or dining room.
We do not recommend candles for two reasons: allergy potential and just in case it gets knocked over or forgotten about. You can either go with the aromas of your meal or easily add a subtle essential oil in a oil diffuser, such as tangerine, lemon, grapefruit or lavender, to fill a home with a gentle scent.
Have empty kitchen and bathroom garbage cans.
Add your favorite lighting and party music.
Plan your options - Are you eating indoors or out? 
Being flexible is awesome when it comes to variations in weather and guests.
If your home feels too warm, then heading outdoors may be more comfortable.
You could end up having a picnic in your backyard even if your dining table is set for elegance!





Two of Our Favorite Healthy Dinner Party Ideas
(We recommend organic, grass-fed, hormone-free, free range, local and unprocessed ingredients)

#1 Chicken Fajitas
(These are delicious and healthy, you can use your appetizers with the main course, and you will please anyone who is gluten, soy or dairy free, vegetarian or vegan.)
Appetizers: 
Homemade Guacamole 
Fresh Salsa
                     Serve with Fresh Cut Veggies (cucumbers, red, orange and yellow bell                                  peppers, jicama or zucchini) and Non-GMO Chips

Guacamole recipe idea - Chop and mix Avocados, Tomatoes, Lime, Jalapenos, Garlic, Cilantro and Sea salt and pepper to taste
TIP - keep all of the avocado pits mixed in the dish to prevent browning of the guacamole

Main Dish:  Chicken Fajitas 
Chicken sauteed in coconut oil, with yellow, red and orange bell peppers, onions, fresh lime juice, spices (cumin, garlic, onion, chili, salt, pepper, paprika) and add a tidge of olive oil after the intense cooking is complete.

Sides:
Jasmine rice cooked with spices such as cumin and chili powder or our favorite is adding       cilantro and fresh lime to cooked jasmine rice
      Refried black beans
  
Toppings
Tomatoes, Cilantro, Sliced black olives, Sour Cream, Cheese, Lettuce, Lime wedges and refill your appetizers of Salsa and Guacamole 

Wraps:  
Tortillas or Lettuce (Romaine leaves work well)

Wine:    Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir

Dessert:  Summer = Refreshing Fruit
      Strawberries and/or peaches - mash them up and serve them with either organic vanilla ice cream and/or angel food cake



#2 Build Your Burger Night

Appetizers:  
Chicken wings (barbecue and buffalo with sauces (ranch and bleu cheese) and veggies (carrots, celery and jicama)
(BTW Check out this awesome appetizer serving tray!)
                      Cheese and crackers (three cheeses (cheddar, swiss and gouda) three crackers - rice, water and wheat)

Main Dish:  Build Your Own Burgers 
Grass fed beef or bison burgers (make your own or pick up fresh burgers - one per guest)

Buffet of Toppings:
Bacon (cook up some bacon slices ahead of time - easy to reheat in skillet or convection oven), Cheese Slices, Avocado, Lettuce, Onion and Tomato Slices, and even put out some Fried Eggs!

Condiments:
Mayo, Mustard, Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, Horseradish

Sides:
Hashbrowns (sweet potato or regular)
Buns and Lettuce Leaves for Bunless

Wine:    Syrah, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon

Dessert:
Sea Salt Caramel Gelato or
Homemade Chocolate Mousse - We recommend this recipe: Chocolate Mousse Recipe


We sincerely hope you enjoy these healthy dinner party ideas!

Have fun while sharing the wine!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Wine Tasting Tips 101


Most of us have experienced the feeling of being the only one in the group that isn't calling out flavors and spices and wooden comments while smelling and drinking a glass of wine. Let alone finding enjoyment in even drinking it now because we're suddenly disappointed in our senses in that we can't identify with one of those comments. Our brain then labels wine drinking "too high maintenance" and we quickly replace the vino with a more comfortable beverage, leaving the wine for the those who are clearly more knowledgeable.

If that has happened to you, we understand your insecurities about ever trying another sip of wine!

Hopefully by now you are at least able to enjoy some beautiful wine by yourself or with different company, but just in case, we would like to offer a few thoughts and tips for tasting wine.

Wine tasting is a part of your journey when it comes to developing your favorites, and it's rewarding to be able to share what you enjoy!





When trying a new wine, red to be specific, have you ever been advised to just shoot it to the back of your throat and swallow? Or to avoid the sides of your mouth when drinking wine? There is actually something to these odd sounding rules on how to take a sip.

On average, we have about 10,000 taste buds that are excited and ready to send your brain a message every time you take a sip or a bite. Taste buds are located all over the entire mouth - even down into your throat and also a little further...probably created like this for wine tasting don't you think?

Fortunately, we get to taste Bitter, Sweet, Sour, Salty and Savory - allowing us to enjoy all types of food,  amazing spices and herbs, yummy desserts, candies and gum, beverages of all kinds, especially WINE!

This is why we all like different tastes, some like salty while others prefer sour. Some desire bitter, while others grasp sweet...it's the same concept when we dive into wine tasting.

For the purpose of wine tasting, we are focusing on the tongue and its specific taste buds as they are categorized into areas:

Bitter - found in the back of the tongue and inside the mouth
Sweet - on the tip of the tongue of course
Sour - on the sides near the middle to back
Salty - on the sides near the front to middle

Before we go into more tasting, please remember the other awesome senses that come into play with experiencing wine:

Sight - observing the different colors, clarity and overall look of the wine as it is poured and watching the possible changes that can occur over time
Smell - actually more important than taste as your brain will first detect the aromas and flavors before your tongue tastes it...smell is up to 85% of our taste...(we suggest not wasting your patience trying to wine taste with a stuffed nose - make a red wine hot toddy instead!)
Feel - sense the texture and the "body"of the wine, you will notice if  it's smooth, silky, or rough and you will be able to feel if it's light, medium or heavy
Sound - listening to the cork or cap removal along with the pour is important, right?




TANNINS - We hear this word a lot. What in the world is it and should we care?

Picture this trifecta:    Black Tea   ~   Dark Chocolate   ~   Red Wine

Breakfast, lunch and dinner may come to mind ~ but what these have in common are TANNINS.

In short, Tannins are compounds found in a variety of plants within the tissues of their seeds, bark, stems, buds, leaves, immature fruits and roots. So for grapes, tannins are found in their seeds and skins. Therefore, aging the grapes within the tannin-rich wooden barrels creates even more tannins over time.
Tannins are referred to as bitter and dry, which is true, but they are vital to adding complexity, structure and proper aging to the red wines. Tannins are also highly protective and have many health benefits, hence the recommendation of having a glass of red wine every night.
There is a lot of info on tannins, but in simple terms, you get the gist that they are necessary and part of the recipe of creating a beautiful wine. With wine tasting you will hear the term Balance often, and balance includes tannins. You really will eventually be able to recognize which wines have low, medium and high tannin content.

A good rule of thumb with tannins - think of red wines, although some white wines are high in tannins too, and tannins give you the dryness on your tongue and gums. Too high of tannins for your palate will seem way to bitter for you, and you probably won't even be able to drink more of it.
If you think you are possibly sensitive to tannins, where you seem to get headaches from red wines, try a low tannin white wine.

So back to the advice for wine tasting that may help you enjoy it better...initially with wine tasting we suggest you swallow just a sip rather than holding or letting the wine move around your whole mouth.
After you have smelled your wine, when you sip to taste (if you actually plan to drink or swallow it), drink it quickly down the back of your tongue so it can dance on all of those taste buds...then you wait for it.

After you have looked at the colors and clarity, smelled the aromas and flavors, you swig down your first sip. 
Now you have  essentially three stages to be aware of (and these happen quickly):

Initial Taste - The first connection you have to something that describes a flavor or sensation, whether it's dry, sweet, fruity, earthy, tart, bitter or another description...what is your immediate impression of that first impact.

The Ride - Is basically the next moment where the wine goes down. Have fun sensing your taste buds and how your entire mouth responds as the wine goes down. Notice the texture, how does your tongue and mouth feel? What flavors are you picking up? What has changed, if anything, from the initial taste? Whatever you sense, embrace it as your own.

The Finish - Think of this as the conclusion. The aftertaste. Is it quick to leave and short lived or does it last long (20 seconds or so)? The longer the finish, the better. What do you sense when it's gone? Do you like it? What do you like about it? What don't you like about it?




Wine tasting should be fun and effortless. Start simple. Use all of your senses. Track your wines and your interpretations in a wine journal or in a plain notebook. Write down the ones you like, take photos if that is easy, but look forward to trying more and more wines. Practice with peace. There is no wrong answer, no pressure, just becoming in tune with your taste buds.

If you have found that you simply like a wine because it tastes good, it helps you relax, it doesn't stain, you don't get a headache, or whatever your reasons...then you figured it out without trying to. If identifying flavors and aromas and knowing if the vineyard was close to an ocean overwhelms you, then simply enjoy your favorite wines by taste.

Check out the wine tastings that are offered in your city. This varies from wine shops, restaurants, resorts and home parties.

Your wine tasting skills will evolve, and who knows...you may be the one calling out the flavors and even the origins at your next dinner party!


Taste.
                   Enjoy.
                                       Create your list of favorites.
                                                                                             Keep adding.
                                                                                                                           Share the wine!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Wine Tips for Camping

Wine Tips for Camping 


You know the thought of leaving your driveway as you immerse yourself into the freedom of being unplugged and ready to enjoy another adventure in nature is absolutely therapeutic.

Leaving any stress behind and heading in the direction of peace and enjoyment can only make your heart smile.





Whether you are headed to the mountains, a cabin or campground, a new or favorite spot...what matters is that you are en route and you remembered your wine!

Just as there are different types of camping - there are several ways to bring your wine!


WHAT TYPE OF WINE DO YOU BRING?


First of all, decide what type of wine and kind of container you want to use on your trip?

Bottles - You can bring a variety of types which is nice. There are many types of wine that have screw caps now, so you can bypass the corkscrew easily. Bottles are recyclable and you typically can store the empties in the same wine tote as you brought them. Heavier than cans or boxed wine.

Boxed Wine - Lightweight, super easy to pack and move around, box is recyclable, you can bring a small or large box which will equal 4 bottles or just over 6 and a 1/2 bottles. 
With the boxed wine you are sipping on one type of wine the entire weekend so less variety.

Canned Wine - Continual up and coming new trend for many reasons, but being able to grab a glass of wine like you would a beer is very convenient. Having a nice variety to choose from, canned wine 4 packs are a hit and very tasty too. Canned wine can be chilled easily in a cooler, is slim enough to drop in a backpack, and no need for a glass.


Awesome options - test them all out and discover your favorites - this is just another fun part of your adventure!

Whether your plans include hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, or just some good relaxing...the type of wine you choose can make these activities a bit more enjoyable!






HOW DO YOU BRING YOUR WINE?


As you are packing up your food, clothing, utensils and gear...having the right tote for your wine is essential.  

Wine Totes - There are some amazing wine totes and carriers you can use for years of camping and outdoor adventures. You can find totes for all of the mentioned wine bottles, bags and cans you will try. Each camping trip is different, so depending on how many people are partaking, you are prepared with having a few on hand! Whether you like a simple, rugged look, a picnic basket style, or trendy way to transport your precious cargo, you will know when you see it.

Wine Backpacks - Picnic totes designed for the outdoor adventurer are ideal. You can easily store any form of wine vessel in these backpacks, usually equipped with wine tools and even glasses, your experience will we perfect. As you come back from your hike, you can continue your wine in your hammock or comfy camping chair. Check out our most popular picnic backpack!

Wine Coolers - Coolers or chillers for wine make it for perfect wine every time. If you have brought cans or bottles, your camping wine cooler should be able to transport and take care of your drinks on the road trip, on a fishing boat or canoe, withstand mother nature and maintain your desired temperature without the mess of ice. Most have handles that retract and you can even enjoy those with wheels.


If you are lucky enough to camp near a river, use the cold water to your advantage for those time when you need to cool down your drinks. 

Your gear list has just grown, but for all the right reasons!






WHAT WINE ACCESSORIES ARE NECESSARY FOR CAMPING?

Your prior experiences with outdoors and wine surely have merit, and now with some new ideas, you can reduce the amount of wine accessories for future trips!

Wine Openers - Corkscrews and rechargeable wine bottle openers are key with your traditionally sealed bottles of wine. You will find many wine totes purposely come with a foil cutter and corkscrew for this common need. With screw capped bottles, boxed wine and cans, you have no need for these. It's your choice in what wine you bring...each container of wine has it's own gear to pack or leave at home.

Wine Sealers - An unfinished bottle of wine? It  really does happen, especially when left vulnerable to mother nature. There are very sleek, smooth bottle sealers small enough to easily seal your unfinished bottle when camping or out and about. These allow you to confidently slip the bottle back into your backpack or wine tote and not have to worry about the bottle leaking. Unopened cans just need to be drank. Boxed wine is easy - just hide the spout back in the box, but try to keep the box dry, or the bag will just have to display itself.

Outdoor Wine Glasses - Necessary with a bottle or boxed wine, especially when you are sharing your vino. There are awesome outdoor wine glasses you will find helpful and fun. You can choose stainless steel or quality toxin-free plastic stemless wine glasses that are easy to carry, drink out of and clean. Shatterproof and lid options so you can enjoy them anywhere outdoors. With canned wine, glasses shouldn't have to be part of your packing list. Check out our popular outdoor wine glasses!

Just a few wine tips for your camping adventures! 

Have fun trying some of these new ideas to make packing your wine time easier and enjoyed even more!



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wine Over Whine

WINE OVER WHINE

You look like you could use a glass of wine!
Let's get together over a bottle of wine!
Stop over for a glass of wine!
When was the last time you had a glass of wine and just relaxed?

Do these statements sound familiar?

Whether you are the one hearing them or saying them, this is part of our universal language as wine lovers.





Life is busy...
                         Life is crazy...
                                                    Life is flying by...
                                                                                    But life is awesome!


Sometimes we catch ourselves in our "whine", or someone else gladly points it out for us...but what this really means is that it is time to to unload and process because we have been too darn busy.

Wine just simply helps you out...we get it!

But having someone to share with is also part of the therapy!

A best friend, a co-worker, your spouse, a new friend, or even your cat...
we all have someone we can "whine" to...why not add wine?






10 Tips for "Whine Therapy":

  1. ALWAYS have at least three bottles of your favorite wine on hand.
  2. ALWAYS have at least two of your casual wine glasses clean and ready - coffee mugs will also do.
  3. If you don't already have one, invest in a wine tote because your wine and glasses are meant to be portable.
  4. Spend time with someone who listens and makes you laugh (pets ARE great).
  5. Meet somewhere that doesn't stress you out more...if your house is a mess, then go out! You can sit outside, go to a friend's house, or make it a favorite restaurant if you forgot to stock your vino.
  6. Take that first magical sip, and let the "whine" begin.
  7. Enjoy the time with your listener - and remember to reciprocate. Whine, listen, connect and lighten your load. You will need them again in the future.
  8. Focus on solutions and all of the positive things in your life...while allowing yourself to vent.
  9. When you FEEL your whining has transformed back to your healthy mode of talking...your "whine therapy" is complete.
  10. Thank your listener. Embrace your "lightness". Smile and remember...YOU GOT THIS!





*This is simply written for fun...a sense of identifying with those who enjoy wine for the calming aspect. Please drink responsibly and remember to restock!


Friday, August 4, 2017

Simple Wine and Barbecue Tips


We are still in the heat of summer - so sharing some barbecue thoughts sounded perfect!





 We found this quote from Adam Perry Lang to be spot on:

"Wine is to barbecue as what pickled ginger is to sushi - a palate cleanser."



Another outdoor evening dedicated to friends while you all share your week's stories, eat good food and enjoy some vino.

Your evening should be stress free just because you know what to confidently serve hence you are automatically ready to relax.

After selecting the best outdoor wine glasses for the evening, you are ready to open the bottles and pour.

Whether you are hosting or joining, having a delicious wine selection of at least two kinds is important.

Due to the fact that what is being served can vary from vegetarian or fish to a bold meat, there are several versatile wines that should come to mind to serve or to bring with you.




Most summer evenings continue to be filled with heat, sun and possible humidity...

and a chilled sparkling wine such as a Prosecco will easily do for an initial quencher and delight

those thirsty taste buds.

If you have not met a Prosecco that you enjoy, keep trying different ones, or move onto a chilled

Rose wine.

A Rose wine will also initially quench, but it can also be consistent through dinner and into the night.

Once appetizers and the meal has begun, you or your guests may choose to switch to a red to

compliment the food, as well as the changing temperatures.


We suggest having two "umbrella wines" on hand - meaning these reds are highly versatile with all

kinds of food and they really do cleanse your palate.

In our opinion, Pinot Noir and a beautiful red blend Bordeaux are the two reds you and your guests

will really enjoy for dinner and beyond.

Especially if dessert is served, these two wines, along with the Rose, will see you to the finish.


Water??

Yes!!!!!

Remember you and your guests are more than likely showing up dehydrated from the heat.

It is just a thoughtful gesture to keep your water and ice cubes available...especially when guests are

enjoying wine!


“Life is too short to drink bad wine.”
― Anonymous

Prosecco  ~  Rose  ~  Pino Noir  ~  Bordeaux

These are our top four picks at Sharing the Wine...we encourage you to find out for yourself!

Serving wine should be simple - and we truly hope these small tips will be of benefit with your next 

gathering.  

Creating a core selection allows you to impress your guests and trust what is in your own glass!



                                              Cheers to your next barbecue!