Tag Archives: book reviews

This #ValentinesDay: #Champagne, #caviar, and beauty tips from a burlesque queen

12 Feb

There’s a black leather Betsey Johnson moto jacket hanging in my closet. It’s a smidge too tight, and the leather has seen better days. But I cannot, will not, flat-out refuse to hand it over to Goodwill. The reason: the jacket was a Valentine’s Day gift from 25 years ago.

It wasn’t from my husband (we didn’t know each other then), nor was it from an ex. The giver was me. I was single at the time, and while not quite ecstatic about my solo state, I decided go shopping that Valentine’s Day. While 99.9 percent of the U.S. population sat in pairs swilling cheap sparkling wine at the neighborhood Romantic Restaurant, I was falling crazy in love with a minimalist but cool leather jacket that purred, “I’m single. Got a problem with that?”

Betsey

Which brings us–at warp speed–to today. Two days shy of V-Day.  I dedicate this post to all the single chicas out there. And hey, why not single chicos, too.  This Valentine’s Day, it does not take two to tango. It just takes you, a splash of sparkling wine, some caviar, and a little help from the delectable Dita Von Teese (ah, now I have the guys’ attention!).

Start your sublime solo celebration with some bubbles. Here are some recommendations to get you on the road to blissful:

Salton Intenso Sparkling Brut. Did you know Brazil produces some kick-ass sparkling wines? This is one of them. This dry white sparkler is made from a blend of Chardonnay (70%) and Riesling (30%) grapes. You’ll get beautiful yellow apple aromas with pear and pineapple on the finish. Best of all, it sells for about $15.

Salton

 

Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava. Cava is Spain’s signature sparkling wine, and this one retails for about $10. And I commend the folks at Freixenet for coming up with a Valentine’s cocktail recipe that’s fitting for today’s post. It’s called..wait for it…the Heartbreaker. Put a hibiscus flower in a wine glass, add two teaspoons of hibiscus syrup, and fill the glass with some chilled Freixenet Cordon Negro. Watch the flower bloom (oooooh, pretty!). Sip daintily. Repeat.

FX_Valentine'sCocktail

Champagne Taittinger Brut La Francaise NV. Why not have French Champagne on your Sublime Single Valentine’s Day? You deserve it. Made  from 40% Chardonnay grapes, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier, Taittinger Brut La Francaise displays mouthwatering traces of honey and peach, with vanilla, white flower and fresh white peaches on the nose. Suggested retail price is $59.99.

Taittinger

And speaking of Champagne, Taittinger teamed up with “burlesque super heroine” Dita Von Teese to launch her new book, Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour (Dita Von Teese with Rose Apodaca, Dey St., 2015). This bible of self-love is 400 sumptuous pages of exercise, skin care, makeup and hair styling tips from the muchacha who brought back the Naked-in-a-Martini-Glass form of self-esteem building. Me, I’d rather buy a leather jacket. But who am I to judge anyone for inspiring us all to shimmy into a gargantuan cocktail glass au naturel and revel in the decadence of it all. And a big, bodacious ¡ándale pues! to Rose Apodaca, the accomplished journalist and East L.A. denizen who wrote the book with Ms. Von Teese.

Beauty Mark

What’s a little self-love without some caviar? To round out your Sensational Solo Valentine’s Day extravaganza, I hereby empower you to order yourself some Khavyar, a new caviar brand that professes to take the snobbery out of this dreamy delicacy. For anywhere from $12 to $99 an ounce, you can indulge in local varieties. If you wake up feeling particularly royal (happens to me all the time!), treat yourself to an imported variety, which will cost $50 to $150 an ounce. As I said earlier, don’t ask why – you are worth it. In all, Khavyar offers 15 different caviar varieties from around the world. Um, yes please!

KHAVYAR-GALILEE_PRIME

Et voila. You can see that you don’t need anyone to tell you what you can and cannot do when it comes to celebrating el día de San Valentín. Love is far too complex; it’s not something that follows rules or conventions. The most important rule of all is to love yourself before you love someone else. Amen, and salud, to that.

 

 

 

El full disclosure: I received samples of the Salton and Taittinger wines, as well as a copy of the book for review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

 

Five fab reads to boost your #wine knowledge

2 Feb

Baby, it’s cold outside! And what better way to weather a storm than by curling up with a glass of wine and a good book. Heck, why not curl up with a glass of wine and five good books–about wine.

These tomes have something for everyone, from the wine newbie to the cheese lover and the history buff. There’s even one for vino geeks on branding and terroir. Check ’em out. And happy reading! [El Full Disclosure: I received review copies of these books from the publishers, however the views expressed here are entirely my own.]

TastingWineCheese_CoverTasting Wine and Cheese: An Insider’s Guide to Mastering the Principles of Pairing by Adam Centamore (Quarry Books, 2015)

My name is Señorita Vino, and I am a cheese-a-holic. [Can I get an “Hola, Señorita Vino?”]. Kidding aside, a recent scientific study presented evidence that cheese is as addicting as crack. True story. To help you master your addiction, cheese guru extraordinaire Adam Centamore has put together this user-friendly wine and cheese pairing guide. Start with easy-to-grasp pointers on tasting wine and cheese separately, then explore how the characteristics of different cheeses work with particular wines. After that, it’s pairing time! Concise and engaging, this could become one of your favorite go-to party planning guides.

The History of Wine in 100 Bottles by Oz Clarke (Sterling Epicure, 2015)Oz

Can I just say, I love Oz Clarke. His books have made my wine education a delicious journey filled with tantalizing tidbits that make me sound reeeeally interesting at dinner parties. Just ask my friends. Clarke’s latest work takes you on a time-travel adventure of the vino kind, starting in 6000 BC and ending in 2014. You’ll visit one of the first wine bars ever (Pompeii), learn about the highest vineyard in the world (Salta, Argentina), witness the end of Prohibition  (yay!), explore how the Nazis absconded with prized French wine (boo!), and get a glimpse of a convincing fake bottle of 1947 Chateau Petrus, courtesy of fraudster Rudy Kurniawan (boo again!).

TangledVInesTangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California by Frances Dinkelspiel (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Murder! Intrigue! Quirky characters! Wine! If this sounds like the makings of a juicy, wine-soaked fiction novel, guess again. Tangled Vines is the true story of Mark Anderson, a whack-job grifter with a palate for fine wine who intentionally set fire to a wine storage facility in Northern California. The blaze obliterated more than a quarter of a billion dollars’ worth of wine, including 175 bottles of Port Angelica, a wine made by the author’s great-great grandfather in 1870s Southern California. Dinkelspiel sets out to trace the history of the Rancho Cucamonga property where her ancestor’s vines once grew. Along the way, she paints an enthralling portrait of California’s early wine industry.

Wine and IdentityWine and Identity: Branding, Heritage, Terrior edited by Matt Harvey, Leanne White and Warwick Frost (Routledge, 2014)

I’m not gonna lie–this exploration of wine branding and tourism is not exactly a beach read. Think of it as the difference between drinking a gossamer-light sparkling wine and a big, bold, badass Cabernet Sauvignon. And I mean that in a good way. If, like me, you dream of making wine your business (or if you’re a hardcore wine geek with an insatiable appetite for wine knowledge), Wine and Identity offers a deep-dive analysis of global wine markets and wine regions as destinations. The scope of the essays in the book comprises Old and New Worlds, established and emerging wine regions. Dive in. You’ll emerge enlightened and inspired.

FollyWine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack (Avery, 2015)

Cool wine diagrams – check. Fun, useful wine facts – check. A snob-free wine primer – check. This is the first book from the people who brought us winefolly.com, an award-winning website with easy-to-understand wine information, enticing visuals and a down-to-earth tone. The book is a helpful resource for people who are just learning about wine and for those who have some wine knowledge but want to have a quick reference guide on hand. My favorite part: the flavor profiles for more than 50 different grape varietals.

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