¡Feliz #NationalTequilaDay!

24 Jul

It was a steamy September night in 1988, and I was fresh off the plane from a formative,  college summer-abroad odyssey in Switzerland. The evening found me at a Mexican restaurant in Orange County, cross-eyed and basking in the after-effects of a bathtub-sized Cadillac margarita, spilling all of the summer’s indiscretions. To my then-boyfriend. Who sat there and fumed. Natch.

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Okay, so he was a weenie anyway, but ever since then I stick to wine in order to (ahem) keep my tequila-inspired indiscretions to myself. Whoops! Uh, not that I have any today! Indiscretions, I mean (she said in case her husband, Señor Jim happened to be reading this post, which he always does because he’s the mucho-amazing-est husband in the world).

You’re probably thinking, “Whoa. Guess who just stepped in it.” And I have this to say: I did indeed step in it! I stepped into National Tequila Day! And I come bearing gifts.

First, my favorite interpretive dance to the song, Tequila, courtesy of Pee-Wee Herman. Click on the image to watch:

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Second, a full-on “Chica Power” article I wrote earlier this year about the world’s first female master tequila distiller, the salt-rimmed glass ceiling-shattering Maria Teresa Lara.

Meet the world's first female

Meet the world’s first female “Maestra Tequilera,” Maria Teresa Lara.

Next, a tequila recipe for tonight’s National Tequila Day fiesta. WARNING: Do not try this drink if you’ve been naughty in the past 48 hours. ¡Salud!

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Photo credit: CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa

Sangrita – Serves: 4

This recipe is courtesy of the JW Marriott Cancun. Another Marriott  property in Puerto Vallarta, by the way, has an in-house “tequila sommelier” who presents tequila tastings using tequila made from agaves grown on the property.

Ingredients:
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
2 ounces freshly squeezed tomato juice
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce grenadine
dash worcestershire sauce
dash of salt
dash of pepper
dash of Tabasco, or to taste

Preparation:
To prepare, mix all of the ingredients together in a container and let stand a few minutes; cooling is recommended.

Can red #wine make swimsuit season easier to swallow?

14 Jul

Can I get an amen if you love swimsuit season?

[Cue the sound of crickets chirping]

That’s what I thought. Well, if it’s any comfort to you, Señorita Vino would rather get a root canal than go swimsuit shopping this summer season. Wine shopping, on the other hand, is another story. The great news is that buying wine is a hell of a lot less depressing that shopping for a bikini, in fact, a university study from a couple of years ago revealed that drinking red wine may help whittle the waistline. Don’t believe me? Check out this oldie-but-goodie post and weigh in, so to speak. ¡Salud!

Just when you thought it was safe to get on the treadmill, a study by Purdue University has concluded that a compound found in red wine can block the development of fat cells. This is great news for people like me, whose fat cells haven’t seen the inside of a gym in about two weeks. Not only that, but red wine as a weight loss tool beats the South Beach Diet, hands down.

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In all seriousness, we’ve known about the health benefits of red wine since the 1980s, when someone thought to connect red wine consumption with the reason French people have healthier corazones than we do, despite devouring triple-creme Brie and buttery croissants with a certain je ne sais quoi that looks a lot like goose liver fat.

The French Paradox: Lab rats who drank whole milk got fatter than those who ate cheese. I do not lie - watch the 60 Minutes piece on YouTube.

The French Paradox: Lab rats who drank whole milk got fatter than those who ate cheese. I do not lie – watch the 60 Minutes piece on YouTube.

But don’t take it from me. Go to YouTube and search for “French Paradox” to learn how drinking red wine can lead to a healthier heart.

Lest I digress and break into the Camembert, the Purdue researchers identified the fat-busting compound as piceatannol (say that 10 times fast), which, no surprise, is similar in structure to resveratrol, the red wine component that is believed to stave off cancer and heart disease.

Glorious. Rich. Creamy. Stinky. Delectable. Delicioso.

Glorious. Rich. Creamy. Stinky. Delectable. Delicioso.

Although Señorita Vino is a bit of a science geek, I promise not to get too technical here. In short, piceatannol prevents immature fat cells from growing. I’ll drink to that.

Belly

Now here’s El Disclaimer: I am not in any way advocating excessive red wine consumption as a weight loss program, so put down that bottle of Malbec. Gently. You might need it later. Common sense (and my husband) says that the only way to lose weight is to eat less and move more. As a matter of fact, piceatannol is found not only in red wine but in blueberries, grapes and passion fruit, proving once again that you really do need to eat your fruits and veggies.

But if a little sip here and there of my favorite Shiraz is sending the fat cells in my thighs into suspended animation, I say pass the queso, por favor!

Mucho Gusto! Get to know #SauvBlanc on #SauvignonBlancDay

24 Apr

You know the vino gods are smiling upon you when you get not one, but TWO vino holidays in the two weeks before a statistics final!  Today is Sauvignon Blanc Day, and I’m re-blogging this post from my ¡Mucho Gusto! series in honor of the occasion, and as an auspicious sign that I’ll ace the stat exam. Let’s do this!!

For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, mucho gusto is what you say when you first meet someone. It’s like “nice to meet you,” but it would translate more directly as “with great pleasure.”

Gusto has many meanings, including “taste” and “flavor,” so consider ¡Mucho Gusto! a delectable play on words and a way to familiarize yourself with wine. Without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Sauvignon Blanc.

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HOLA, ME LLAMO: Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine.

MY ROOTS: Sauvignon Blanc was born in France’s Bordeaux region. A bit of trivia – the grape variety hooked up with Cabernet Franc sometime in the 1700s and the result was Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, Sauvignon Blanc continues to thrive in Bordeaux. Because French wines are geographically labeled and not named for the actual grape, “Sancerre” and “Pouilly-Fumé” are 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc wines. Sauvignon Blanc was planted in other countries including New Zealand, the U.S. (California), Chile, Australia and Italy. Robert Mondavi coined the name Fumé Blanc, so if you see this on the grocery store shelf, it’s Sauvignon Blanc.

ALL ABOUT ME: Sauvignon Blanc is a dry wine made from an aromatic grape, hence its distinctive aroma. You may get nectarines, white peach, grapefruit, grass and herbs, gooseberries, and believe it or not, kitty pee. French Sauvignon Blanc may also display a flinty, gravelly minerality. Most Sauvignon Blanc is stainless-steel fermented, so you won’t get the woodsy, oaky notes you’d find in Chardonnay. It’s also known for its refreshing, crisp acidity.

FOODS I LOVE: You can’t go wrong with Sauvignon Blanc and seafood. The wine’s crispness complements the buttery texture of white fish and scallops. I’ve had it with oysters and it’s to-die-for amazing. Sauvignon Blanc is the ideal wine for vegetarian dishes. This is a great wine for salads, since the herb notes of the wine will match the crisp greens in the salad and the acidity matches vinaigrette dressing. For some Latin flair, pair Sauvingon Blanc with guacamole (the acidity of the wine “cuts” the creaminess of the guac) and spicy dishes like enchiladas and chile relleno. I love Sauvignon Blanc with Peruvian arroz con pollo (chicken in a cilantro sauce).

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: The beauty of Sauvignon Blanc is that you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy it. You can get a good bottle for $10 – $20. Of course, you can pay upwards of $150 for a classified Bordeaux blend. Some well-regarded labels include: Cloudy Bay, Kim Crawford and Matua Valley from New Zealand; Laville Haut-Brion, Alphonse Mellot and Pascal Jolivet from France; St. Supéry, Kunde and Matanzas Creek from California; Montes, Concha y Toro and Viña Leyda from Chile.

So here’s wishing you ¡Mucho Gusto! as you get to know Sauvignon Blanc. Until next time…

¡Salud!

¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know #Malbec on #MalbecWorldDay

17 Apr

Darlings, I miss you!

Señorita Vino has been hitting the books, burning the midnight oil, and every other academic cliche you can think of to make it through her MBA program. But even as I drown in a sea of standard deviations, you, my lovely readers, are never far from my heart. Final exams are on the horizon, but I had to take some time to wish you all a happy #MalbecWorldDay. Here’s a re-blog of a “Mucho Gusto” featuring…you guessed it–Malbec. 

There’s nothing Señorita Vino loves more than a fiesta, and today happens to be a big fiesta in the Wonderful World of Wine. Happy Malbec World Day, chicos y chicas! It’s possible that Malbec is the first Latin American wine you tasted, or at least the one that’s easiest to find this side of the Rio Grande.

In honor of this auspicious day, here’s the scoop on Argentina’s most popular wine.

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HOLA, ME LLAMO: Malbec is a red wine that has become Argentina’s signature vino.

MY ROOTS: Depending on which wine reference book you’re reading, Malbec is believed to have originated in France’s Bordeaux region or in Auxerrois in northern Burgundy. It’s known as Cot in most of France and today makes up at least 70 percent of the blend in the Cahors AC. Malbec was first brought to Argentina in the early 1850s from Chile.

ALL ABOUT ME: A dry red wine with bold, fruity aromas, Malbec has gorgeous purple hues and lush, velvety tannins. Besides ripe black fruit, Argentinean Malbecs may give you a whiff of violets and sweet spice. You may even get hints of coffee. A Malbec from Cahors will present more raisiny flavors, as well as tobacco and coffee notes. Malbec from high-altitude vineyards in Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo province displays a crisp acidity. At such a high altitude, the grapes ripen more slowly and can stay on the vine longer, which means you’ll get more concentrated, balanced flavors.

FOODS I LOVE: There’s no better wine for grilled meat and barbecue than Malbec, which is only fitting given Argentina’s reputation for quality beef and (vegetarians, cover your eyes) rockin’ parrilladas. If you’re not a meat-eater, you can still enjoy Malbec with tagliatelle in a mushroom ragout sauce, or with a veggie empanada.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: You can get a decent Malbec for $14-$20. Higher-end labels will cost a bit more. If you’re going all out with a fine cut of meat, it may be worth the splurge. Wines with “Salta” or “Luján de Cuyo” on the label come from vineyards at the highest altitudes. Recommended labels include Norton, Bodegas Poesía “Clos des Andes,” Catena, Luigi Bosca and Crios de Susana Balbo.

So round up your besties, grab some steak and your favorite bottle of Malbec and celebrate Malbec World Day con pasión, che! Tango music optional. ¡Salud!

Happy #NationalDrinkWineDay – 5 unusual #wines to try

18 Feb

Is anyone as amused as I am that National Drink Wine Day coincides with Ash Wednesday this year? I suppose it’s a non-event unless you’re one of the self-mortifying few who gave up wine for Lent. All I can say is you’ll have a higher place in heaven than Señorita Vino.

DSC_0755Yours truly is, once again, giving up swearing for Lent, a dictum that made my husband laugh. Actually, it was a bona-fide guffaw.

But enough about me. In honor of National Drink Wine Day, and with a nod to all the good former Catholic schoolgirls out there (and former schoolboys!), I challenge you not to give up wine, but to give up everyday wine. So no Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, or Sauvignon Blanc. Merlot’s out too.

Here are five alternatives you may want to go out and taste today, or anytime during the next 40 days. And with thousands of varietals to choose from, who knows, you may find a new favorite. 

1. Ribolla Gialla [ree-BOWL-uh JA-la] – This white wine grape hails from Italy’s Friuli region in the northeast. It’s light-bodied with delicate white floral aromas and hints of Gravenstein apples on the palate. It’s nicely tart, so enjoy it with a seafood risotto or on its own as an aperitif.

2. Xinomavro [sheen-o-MAHV-ro] – The Greeks are among the earliest civilizations to have produced wine, and today you can enjoy some unique but flavorful wines made from local grapes. If you like Nebbiolo, you may enjoy Xinomavro. This red wine is pretty tannic and packs a nice acidity. It does well with aging, developing exotic spice aromas over time, along with a touch of earthiness. This pairs beautifully with roasted lamb.

3. Blaufrankisch [blau-FRANK-ish] – Considered the finest red wine varietal in Austria, Blaufrankisch will remind you of sour cherries and white pepper. The tannins are fairly tame and you’ll get a crisp acidity on the palate. Pair it with pork, chicken or game. Vegetarians can enjoy it with a lentil and root vegetable stew.

Next time you're in the mood for Argentine wines, give Bonarda a try.

Next time you’re in the mood for Argentine wines, give Bonarda a try.

4. Bonarda [bo-NAR-da] – You may have heard me rave about this red wine from Argentina in a past post. If you like violets, ripe blueberries and plum, give it a try. The tannins are firm but not overpowering, and a good Bonarda will also have some crispness to it. I love it with cheese and charcuterie, and it’s a fabulous wine to serve with carne asada.

Photo credit: Hungarian Snow via Wikimedia COmmons

Photo credit: Hungarian Snow via Wikimedia COmmons

5. Furmint [FUR-mint] – Yep, this one’s pronounced just like it’s spelled. I always think of a Thin Mint cookie wearing a tiny mink coat when I hear the name of this Hungarian white wine grape. And now you will, too! This highly acidic white wine has lovely apple aromas and flavors when it’s young. As it ages, you’ll taste honey, apricot and hazelnuts. Yum! It’s no wonder it’s one of the principal grapes used in Tokaji, Hungary’s famously sweet and decadently delicious dessert wine.

So go forth and celebrate National Drink Wine Day. While you’re at it, be sure to chine in with your favorite unusual wines.

¡Salud!

What not to do at a wine tasting

3 Feb

Psssst…you with the wineglass. Yeah, you! Don’t tell anyone, but I’m supposed to be doing statistics homework right now.

I know what you’re going to say.  “Writing a wine blog post has nothing to do with MBA coursework.” Well, yes and no. It turns out that my school not only puts on this wine-derful fundraiser, the Annual Wine Classic, but it also makes its own wine! Check it out:

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Last weekend, I got to attend the 34th annual Wine Classic, my first big wine tasting event since last fall. Boy, did I need a drink…but I digress. I often get asked what one should do at a wine tasting. The answer is: have fun. There are, however, a few things you should not do.

At the risk of being expelled from my program, I am about to share with you some faux pas I observed at the event. I’ve turned these no-no’s into guidelines that not only will enhance your own experience, but possibly the experience of your fellow wine lovers. Consider this your “Rules of the Road” for wine tasting. Are you ready? Let’s go!

1. Do not wear perfume. If you’ve learned anything from Señorita Vino all these years, it’s that most of what you “taste” when you sip wine is experienced through your sense of smell. The best way to completely mess this up is to wear fragrance of any kind. Don’t do it. Chicos, that includes you.

2. Don’t ask for a second or third pour. This is a wine tasting, not a bar. Winemakers bring just enough wine to ensure everyone gets a taste. That little booklet or handout you get at most wine tasting events is your best amigo. Circle or check off the wines you like, maybe grab a business card from the winemaker or representative, and try to find a bottle of that wine at a wine shop. If it’s a boutique winery, you may be able to buy it from their website.

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3. Don’t bring a gigantic purse. This is the sound of you with your ginormous designer bag, trying to squeeze through a sardine-like gantlet of fellow wine tasters: SPLASH. Leave the tote bag at home and opt for something smaller that will leave your hands free to hold a wineglass and small food plate–and not jostle other wine lovers as you walk by.

4. Event planners, don’t use vinyl to cover floors or tables. My only gripe about the Wine Classic itself was the noxious odor emitted by the plastic tarp covering the floor of the university’s sports complex. I get that you have to protect the expensive wood floor, but the overpowering smell of vinyl was, well, overpowering. Maybe air out the tarp a few days before, or find a covering that doesn’t give off a smell.

5. Don’t be a snob about it. Ah, the grandiose swirler, the smug connoisseur, the chummy “insider.” These textbook archetypes of Vinus Snobus can forget that they’re in a space with hundreds of other wine lovers. Once they get to the front of the line, they decide it’s a great time for a fireside chat with the winery staff. There’s nothing wrong with striking up a conversation with winery reps. Just be considerate of your fellow wine lovers and make sure there’s not a mile-long line of people waiting patiently behind you for a taste of wine.

"You're my little macaron, oh yes you are!" (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons by Pierre Marcolini)

“You’re my little macaron, oh yes you are!” (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons by Pierre Marcolini)

6. Don’t hoard the macarons. Or the cheese. Or the charcuterie. Like many wine tasting events, the Wine Classic featured a couple of large cheese and fruit stations, and some dessert and coffee stands. Classy! But not so classy was the lady stuffing macarons and chocolate almond bark into two ‘grande’ paper coffee cups. I kid you not. I was crushed, because I actually had a dream about macarons the night before. I couldn’t find macarons in the ol’ dream dictionary, but I suspect it means there’s a trip to Paris in my future. Or maybe not. Either way, I didn’t get my macaron. Waaah.

I think that covers it, darlings. Have I left anything out? if you have any additional tips, do share! Until next time, ¡Salud!

#Wine Resolutions for 2015. Oh, and I’m baaaaack!

8 Jan

2014 was a pretty good year: I passed the WSET Level III Advanced exam, I got to be a guest judge at this year’s Los Angeles International Wine Competition, and my blog was a finalist in the 2014 Wine Blog Awards. Then the last quarter hit, and Everything Happened. Here’s a quick recap to set the stage for this week’s post:

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October: Started a new work contract and lost my mom–on the same day. All of this during midterm exams at grad school. November: Balanced the very demanding second half of the semester and the new work contract and managed not to have a nervous breakdown. Drank lots of wine. I think it helped. December: Took two final exams, wrote a term paper, and met a dozen client deadlines. Got an A for the first semester of my MBA program. Treated myself with a bottle of 2011 Ornellaia (not the whole thing–I shared it with Señor Jim, my dad and brother on my birthday).

Ornellaia

Which brings us to the present moment. A year older, maybe a little wiser, and determined to focus on the good things each day brings. Because if I learned anything last year, it’s that bad stuff happens because it’s life, but if you dwell too long on the negatives, you’re going to miss the positives. So in the spirit of kicking off an optimistic 2015, here are my Wine New Year’s Resolutions. Feel free to adopt any that strike a chord:

1. Use the good glasses. Life’s too short to drink wine from crappy stemware. If you have high-end wine glasses, use ’em! If you don’t, treat yourself to just one (it’ll cost you about $25 -$30) and make it a luxuriously rewarding ritual to sip wine from your fine wineglass at the end of a busy workday.

GlassesWine

2. Buy at least one high-end bottle of wine. You don’t have to break the bank, but from personal experience I can tell you that buying at least one wildly amazing bottle of wine a year will result in a delicious endorphin rush. For the first time in my life, I bought myself a $180 bottle of wine in December. It was the aforementioned Ornellaia, and I can tell you it was worth every penny. I can hear you saying, “But that’s a lot of money!” When you look at the big picture, it really isn’t.

Here’s what you do: Grab a piggy bank, mason jar, empty cigar box, or whatever will remind you that you deserve to drink a world-class wine. Then sacrifice one latte a week and put the money you’d spend on the java into your “vino bank.” Not a coffee person? Then just put $3 in your vino bank each week. By the end of the year, you’ll have around $150 to spend on your vino. Why? Because you’re worth it.

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3. Share the fancy wine with the people I love most. Let’s face it–it’s no fun drinking a bottle of vino by yourself. Sure, you can stretch it out over a few days if you properly protect it from oxygen before re-corking it, but why not share the love? Someday when you’re old and grey, I can guarantee that you won’t look back on life and wish you had enjoyed all of your good wine alone.

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So Feliz Año Nuevo and Happy New Year, chicos y chicas. May 2015 bring you much joy, amor and good fortune. And remember–the wineglass is always half-full. ¡Salud!

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