Wining Wife®

Because housework goes better with Malbec...

Month: June 2013

Delicious Red Wines From Napa Valley

Cabernet Sauvignon fermentation crust

Cabernet Sauvignon fermentation crust (Photo credit: niallkennedy)

 

I’ve decided that I will accept guest posts for this blog, especially while I’m pregnant, in order to provide you with fresh wine news. Here is another post from Chuck Withers over at Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog

 

With such a wine-conducive climate and beautifully fertile soils, it is no wonder that Napa Valley, California is such an ideal place for winegrowing. Napa Valley is famous for producing some of the world’s very best wines. No matter how much you already know about wines, there is always more you can learn. With each new creation and different varieties of the same, experiencing and learning about wines can be a lifelong endeavor. In the case of Napa Valley red wine alone, there are many different wines to consider. Here are a few facts and food pairings to consider with your next Napa Valley red wines.

 

Popular Red Wines

 

Barbera is a red grape commonly cultivated in California. Producing deep colored, red wines, Barbera is a very popular choice. With a light to medium body, a low level of tannins, and a nice level of acidity, Barbera can be a perfect addition to nearly any serving of pasta or lamb. Under ideal conditions, Barbera is generally best served at a temperature of about 60 degrees.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon is generally noted as the most popular and most famous of all red-wine grapes. Producing a medium to full bodied experience, Cabernet Sauvignon is often used as the basis for many other wines. With its dry but rich taste, Cabernet Sauvignon can go exceptionally well with hearty meals, such as pasta or various types of game.

 

Cabernet Franc, which is often used for blending, can also be a great choice on its own. Although slightly softer than Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc can also produce a similar effect. Raspberry flavors and herbal aromas are some of the identifying features of these delicious wines. In terms of food pairings, Cabernet Franc goes equally well with the hearty meals commonly associated and served with Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Gamay, which is a light and fruity choice, is generally best when served young. With its subtle softness, this can be a great choice for meals that might regularly be served with white wines. Ideally, Gamay serves best when refrigerated and served at low temperatures, such as 56 degrees.

 

Similar to Cabernet Franc, Grenache is generally used as blending grape but can also be served alone. Grenache has a low tannin level, with a rich and fruity taste. With its simple, yet delicious taste, Grenache can pair well with many different meals, including lamb, chicken, or many everyday dishes.

 

Merlot is a popular choice that can vary depending on the grape and whether or not oak is used. California Merlots are generally fuller in body with a higher level of alcohol.  Merlots are generally served best at a slightly higher temperature than some other wines, such as 64 degrees.

 

Selecting The Right Napa Valley Red Wine

 

When it comes to selecting the right wine, the task might seem overwhelming. Napa Valley offers many different options, each providing a different experience and taste. When you need to make a selection, whether for yourself or for a group, remember that every experience will be different. Give yourself the chance to experiment with different Napa Valley red wines and don’t be afraid to try new things. Chances are, with a little experimentation you’ll find a brand new favorite.

 

Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.

 

 

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Five Popular Red Wines

Old Vine cabernet from Chateau Montelena, Napa...

Old Vine cabernet from Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I’ve decided that I will accept guest posts for this blog, especially while I’m pregnant, in order to provide you with fresh wine news. Here is another post from Chuck Withers over at Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog.

 

Wine has long been known as a social drink. People like to get together and have a glass with their dinner, but they are not drinking the same bottle every time. There are many, many different types of wines. Some are red, some are white. Some are dry and others are sweet. As you consider which drink you will serve at your dinner party, make sure to learn all that you can about different wines and the food they can pair with so that you serve the very best drink for your guests. The following are five of the most popular reds.

 

Merlot

 

If you are new to the drinking world, Merlot is a good place to start. It is soft, round, and not too tannic, making it a good drink for the beginner. You can pair Merlot with any foods, which is part of the reason why it is such a popular choice. Scents for this varietal often include blackcherry, plumb, and herbs.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Arguably the world’s best variety, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes blended with Merlot. This wine is full-bodied and the older it is, the less bitter the flavor. It becomes rich and the grip goes away as the drink ages. Many times, this drink will undergo an oak treatment, giving it a vanilla note. Cabernet Sauvignon is often served with simple red meats, such as steak. The grapes were most popular in France for many years, but now also grow in Australia, Chile, and California.

 

Shiraz

 

This drink is also often referred to as Syrah because they are from the same grape variety. It goes well paired with all types of meat, including steak, beef, and other wild game. Gripping tannins often pull the fruit sensation out of Syrah. You can typically find wild black fruit flavors in Shiraz. Not only can you find average wines created with this varietal, but you can also find some of the world’s best wines with the intense flavoring of Syrah.

 

Pinot Noir

 

The Pinot Noir grapes are hard to grow and are not rough at all. They make the best reds of Burgundy, with a delicate, soft, and fresh structure. While fruit is the main aroma in Pinot Noir, you can often find tea-leaf or worn leather undercurrents.

 

Malbec

 

The characteristics of Malbec vary based on where the grapes were grown and how they were transformed. Many people consider Malbec to be easy to drink, with plumb and berry flavors. Beginning in France, this varietal is also grown in California in some of the cooler areas. You can pair Malbec with all kinds of meals containing meat. Malbec is great for dishes with strong flavors, such as Cajun or Indian meals.

 

If you are getting together for a drink or for an all out dinner party, make sure to serve the right drink. Learning about the different varieties and flavors of each of the red wines can help you to decide which drink you will choose to serve for your get together. Not only will you discover what food to pair with your drinks and what flavors they carry, but you may also realize that there are health benefits associated with drinking red wines.

 

Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.

 

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Helpful Tips For Choosing The Best Napa Valley White Wine

English: A 2005 Napa Valley Chardonnay from Ro...

English: A 2005 Napa Valley Chardonnay from Robert Mondavi Winery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I’ve decided that I will accept guest posts for this blog, especially while I’m pregnant, in order to provide you with fresh wine news. Here is another post from Chuck Withers over at Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog.

 

When it comes to Napa Valley wines in general, there isn’t a high likelihood of selecting a bad wine. With quality soils, climate, and wineries, Napa Valley regularly produces some of the world’s finest wines. With Napa Valley as your location of choice, you can be confident of getting good quality wines.

 

There might be, however, some choices that might work better under different situations. White wines, for example, tend to be more conducive to certain meals than red wines. Even in the case of white wines, however, the decision can seem slightly overwhelming.

 

Whether you are selecting wines for yourself, or for a special group of people, here are some tips to help you choose the right Napa Valley white wine.

 

Setting The Mood

 

With their elegance and glamorous quality, particular wines can have a distinct effect, adding to the mood in nearly any event. As you consider which white wines to serve at a specific event, it can be a very good idea to have some sort of an atmosphere in mind. What type of a mood would you like to create?

 

If your goal is to create a sophisticated atmosphere of elegance or grace, Chardonnay may be a good option. Commonly noted as the most popular of white wines, Chardonnay can greatly enhance an elegant occasion. With crowd-pleasing flavors ranging from nutty to tropical, Chardonnay can be the perfect addition to any wedding party or stylish dinner. If Chardonnay is your choice, make sure to serve it chilled, but not too cold. Before serving, you may want to pull the bottle out of the refrigerator for a few minutes to let it warm up a bit.

 

If you are looking for something slightly more exciting, perhaps for a big party, you may want to consider providing multiple types of Napa Valley white wines. You may even want to consider using wine-tasting as part of your event. Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris can be great options for these types of events.

 

As you consider the desired mood for your particular special event, you can be well prepared to find the perfect wines to serve.

 

Planning Wine For A Specific Meal

 

Another major factor to help in your selection is the type of meal you will be serving. While some Napa Valley white wines may be versatile enough to go well with a variety of meals, there are some that go best with particular dishes.  When there is a specific menu in mind for an event, it may be a good idea to plan your wines to match.

 

When your meal contains lots of spicy foods or smoked meats, you may want to consider serving Gewürztraminer. This can be a delicious choice, providing a spicy enhancement to your meal. Riesling, which may be either light or medium bodied, may also be a good choice to add to your spicy dishes.

 

For light meals, containing dishes like chicken or salad, Pinot Blanc or Chenin Blanc may be a great choice.

 

Confidence In Your Choice

 

When surrounded by the people you care about, you can have a quality experience no matter which white wines you choose. Don’t be too stressed out about having the perfect choice every time. As you grow in experience, you will become more confident in your selection of wines. With Napa Valley white wines, any choice is a good choice.

 

Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.

 

 

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How To Choose A Cabernet Sauvignon

English: bottle of stag's leap cabernet sauvig...

English: bottle of stag’s leap cabernet sauvignon Français : bouteille de cabernet sauvgnon stag’s leap (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I’ve decided that I will accept guest posts for this blog, especially while I’m pregnant, in order to provide you with fresh wine news. Here is another post from Chuck Withers over at Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog.

 

Known as one of the best wines in the entire world, Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most commonly served wines at big events and formal parties. Some of the many advantages of this drink is that Cabernet Sauvignon grapes thrive in nearly any vineyard in any wine-producing country. They are able to grow in various climates and even when harsh weather conditions are present. It is a black grape that has a strong flavor that can vary somewhat depending on the climate where it was grown. One of the most popular locations for these grapes to grow is Napa Valley, California, where many of the modern producers of fine wines and other alcohols reside. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is among the highest quality beverages of its type. If you are interested in choosing a high quality Cabernet Sauvignon, following a few simple tips will help you make your decision.

 

Region

 

Even though Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grow in many different places, they exhibit different qualities and flavors depending on the weather in that area. France and California are widely regarded for the grapes that their climates produce. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is known for having a stronger fruit flavor, with undertones of black currant, cherry and blackberry. French grapes tend to produce a more spicy or oaky tasting beverage.

 

Price vs Quality

 

Because the price of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon can vary so significantly, it must necessarily be taken into consideration. One of the first steps in selecting the right wine for your table is to set your price range. There are a number of good options in any price range, although it is important to note that quality is often reflected in price.

 

Another factor that will affect the price of a fine drink is its vintage. Like many other red wines, certain varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon improve with age. There are also certain years that stand out as some of the best. Cabernet Sauvignon from its best years will definitely be more expensive than the bottles that were made in years that weren’t as good. Still, there are many situations when an older bottle of wine is not necessarily better than one that is younger. Although vintage is important, it is not the single determining factor in choosing a good Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Food Pairing

 

One of the most important considerations when you are choosing your Cabernet Sauvignon is to match it with the food that you will be serving. Because it is a flavorful, full-bodied varietal, it generally pairs best with richer, heartier foods such as red meat, lamb, and goose. While many people say that it pairs well with anything, there are, of course, certain foods that go better with certain types of drink.

 

When it comes to choosing the best Cabernet Sauvignon, it is important to consider the region where the grapes were grown, the price, and the menu with which it will be served. If you aren’t sure which Cabernet Sauvignon you prefer, one of the best things you can do is to taste several different types. This will help you make the best decision with regards to the beverage that you choose to serve.

 

Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.

 

 

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Food Pairing With Malbec (Guest Post)

A glass of Malbec wine

A glass of Malbec wine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve decided that I will accept guest posts for this blog, especially while I’m pregnant, in order to provide you with fresh wine news. Here is another post from Chuck Withers over at Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog.

Serving drinks takes a certain amount of expertise. Whether you are having a big dinner party with your friends, or if you are in charge of drinks for a work banquet, learn how to pair the food with the drink to get the maximum flavor experience with both the food and the drink. When you serve any type of drink, it is important that you pair the food just right. If you don’t get it right, the drinks could taste bitter. The wines flavors could overtake the flavor of the food. Sometimes the entire meal can be ruined simply because the drink was not paired right with each course. The challenging part in all of this is actually knowing what to serve with which drink. If you are serving Malbec, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind so that you pair the meal correctly.

Flavors

The first thing that you can do to pair your food correctly with this drink is to think about the flavors in the drink. Typical flavors for this white wine are blackberry, blueberry, and citrus. Black pepper and cocoa also come out in this drink and it sometimes has a smoky undercurrent. Keeping these flavors in mind, you can choose foods that are similar to the flavors, or contrast them in a complimentary way.

Ingredients

Base ingredients that might work well with this varietal include the following:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Sausage
  • Chicken
  • Veal

When you are cooking your meat, consider smoking or barbecuing so that the smoky flavor compliments the smokiness of the drink. There are bridge ingredients that you can add to your dish that will enhance the meat and bring out the flavor in the drink. Because of the flavors in this white drink, blackberries, blueberries and other fruits are a good choice. Aged cheeses, bacon, and mushrooms also do well to bring out the flavors in the drink.

Specifics

If you are unable to take the above mentioned ingredients and make a dish on your own that will go well with the drink, the following are some specific meals that you can pair with this drink:

  • Steak and potatoes. There are those who would argue that steak and potatoes go with anything, but try them with Malbec and you will understand why it is recommended. Buying a full-bodied bottle will help to bring out the wonderful flavor of the steak.
  • Barbeque ribs. Not just any barbeque ribs, but ribs wrapped in smoked bacon. The smoky flavor enhances the smoky flavor of the drink.
  • Dark chocolate. No, it’s not exactly a meal, but if you are looking for something good to eat as an appetizer or a snack, dark chocolate and this rich white drink work well together.

When you serve any kind of wine, it is important to get the food pairing right so that you can enjoy both the food and the drink. By doing a little bit of research beforehand, you can find the foods that will work the very best with the wines that you have chosen for your guests.

Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.

 

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Tips For Serving Cabernet Sauvignon (Guest Post)

2012-10-07 20.36.19Here is another guest post from Chris Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog.

When you are planning a dinner party, you probably go over every last detail time after time to make sure that you have thoroughly prepared. There are a lot of aspects to consider, including the food you will provide, the table settings you will set, and the drinks you will serve. With many different wines to choose from, you might have a hard time deciding which one you will serve at your dinner party. As one of the most popular of the red wines, you cannot go wrong with Cabernet Sauvignon.  Initially from France where it was prevalent for years, it is now a popular choice produced in California as well. When this drink is served just right, the rich flavor will be the talk of the party. The following are some tips for serving your wine.

Choose The Right Bottle

When you are looking at different bottles, realize that the older the bottle, the more mellow the drink. As the wines age, they become more smooth, which allows you to enjoy your food as you are drinking. If you serve a bottle that is too young, it could be too sharp and will overtake the flavor of the food you are serving.

Cool The Bottle

When you serve this wine, you want to be sure that the temperature is just right. It is possible to over chill your drink, just as much as it is possible to leave it just a little too warm. To allow your bottle to come to the right temperature, take it from room temperature and let it sit in the refrigerator for about twenty minutes. If you don’t have a refrigerator handy, an ice bucket would do, cutting the time down to five minutes.

Aerate The Drink

Uncork your bottle and let the air mix with the drink about an hour before serve time. This allows the drink to have the best flavor and also lets some of the odors out that might hide the true aroma. You could also put the drink into a decanter so that it can aerate faster.

Choose A Glass

When looking for a good glass to serve your drink in, try to find some large, round glasses. When you hold the glass, hold it by the stem so that the drink will not warm with your body temperature.

Pour The Wine

Your drink will probably have some sediment in it. This does not mean that the drink is bad, but just that the pigments and tannin have broken down and settled. When you pour your drink, use a funnel that has a filter on it to catch the sediment. This will also help to aerate the drink. When the drink reaches the widest area of the glass, you should stop so that you and your guests can swirl the drink and not risk a spill.

Serving this drink does take a certain amount of knowledge so that you get it just right. If you want to truly impress the guests at your dinner party, make sure to read up on a few tips before your get together. Always remember how to choose, cool, and aerate your bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon before you pour it in the perfect glass and you will have success.

Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.

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Wine Bottle Storage – Important Considerations (Guest Post)

Bottles of wine with labels

Bottles of wine with labels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve decided that I will accept guest posts for this blog, especially while I’m pregnant, in order to provide you with fresh wine news. Here is the first from Chuck Withers over at Two Guys Wine Supplies.

If you purchase good wine on a regular basis, it simply costs too much not to store it properly.  In fact, if you buy expensive bottles of good wines, you may not realize that you can turn them into average or even bad wines.  While there are a number of different of storage types, the kind that is best for you will depend on how much you buy and how fast you use it.

Four Considerations for Storage of Wines

  • Temperature must be controlled when you are storing wine.  The best range is between 50 and 55 degrees F.  Excess cold may cause cork shrinkage which can allow air into the bottle.  Too much heat forces wines to age too fast.  Neither of these is good for the taste.
  • Air exposure, or lack of it, is very important.  Storing the bottle at an angle so that the liquid always stays in contact with the cork helps keep it moist so that air cannot get in the bottle.
  • Bottle movement.  When bottles are moved frequently, the sediments in the wines are mixed up into the rest of the liquid.  Since you do not want to serve the sediments, it is important to keep the bottles still so the sediments can stay settled on the bottle bottom.
  • Too much light can be bad for the flavor, and this is why most modern wine-makers use bottles that help protect the grapes from UV light.  However, you should still store your bottles where there is not an excess of light.

Floor Racks

Floor racks come in different shapes and sizes, but on the average will hold 20 to 30 bottles.  This is the type of storage you will need if you intend to purchase your bottles now and use them over the period of several months.  This type of rack must be placed where the light and temperature can be easily controlled and maintained.

Wall Mounted or Tabletop Racks

For the person who generally uses what he purchases within about a month, a wall mounted or tabletop rack makes the most sense.  These kinds of racks will usually hold 8 to 10 bottles and come in a number of different materials as well as shapes and designs.  They can integrate well with the rest of your decor and will keep the bottles at room temperature, which is fine for the short term.

Wine Cabinets

This type of storage unit holds between 10 and 20 bottles, so is right between the floor racks and the tabletop or wall mounted units in size.  In addition to the bottles, the cabinets often include storage space for glasses and other accessories.

Wine Refrigerators

If you are very serious about your wines, the refrigerator is an excellent option.  It will hold anywhere from 10 to 200 bottles, and keeps the liquid at a preset temperature.  They also reduce the light that can get to the bottles. Storing your bottles can be easy, and you can find just the type of storage you need to match your lifestyle.  The main thing is to remember that proper storage will affect the quality of your wines.

Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.

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Where I’ve Been Since January

ACK!

Ehehm.

Excuse me.

They say that life is what happens between plans. Life is what’s happened between blog posts!

This blog has been silent for FAR too long. I apologize. Here’s a recap of what’s gone on for the last six months.

Frost or Fog Shirt

1. The Frost or Fog 5K – January

This was the first 5K I’d done in a little while. I’d decided that I would run a race each month this year. I hadn’t trained for it, and it was cold. Very cold. Like there was ice in Upper Bidwell Park cold. Brr. About halfway through the race, my legs were hurting pretty bad, and I wanted to give up. I didn’t. I kept going. I came in near last place, but at least I finished. Sometimes, you just have to push through when stuff gets hard and get it done. I immediately got sick – really sick – right after the race. I was out for the count for two weeks.

*Sigh*

Bundled up to run…

2. The Habitat Home Run

So…after running and getting sick, I had a brilliant idea: Let’s run again to help raise money for charity. This time, I signed my husband up as well. In 2011, I worked with Habitat for Humanity‘s Women’s Build project. It was a lot of fun working with these women, and I’d planned on doing it last summer as well – except that life and a severe reaction to an antibiotic (Ciprofloxin) kept me from it. So, I decided I

Habitat Home Run

was feeling well enough to try to run the race. Wining Husband and I both finished – though I was majorly bummed at our time – though it wasn’t terrible. We also decided to join a gym so that we could work out more regularly.

But then…my legs were still bothering me. So much that I was limping a good bit of the way to the finish line.  We went into our doctor who noted some swelling in my right leg. I was sent to a physical therapist to work on tendonitis. Really bad tendonitis. Ouch.

Valentine’s Day

3. Valentine’s Day

We had a wonderful Valentine’s day at a wonderful restaurant and enjoyed a fabulous meal with great wine. It was a lot of fun. I also managed to score with a Kitchen Aid mixer – so um yum. There will be lots of awesome baked goods in our future.

 

4. Wine Tastings and Table Mountain

We also managed to get out to many wine tastings during February. We went to a barrel tasting at Hickman Family Vineyards and visited our favorite hotspot, Creekside Cellars. Wining Husband and I also got out to Table Mountain with one of our good friends to see the wildflowers and hike around. It was gorgeous up there, and the wildflowers were just beginning to bloom.

5. The Bidwell Classic

Bidwell Classic

So we did another race when the physical therapist said I’d achieved enough flexibility in my ankle to run again. So…we went out again to run. We ran for a good bit of the race.  But then, during the third mile, my left leg (the one that had not been bugging me) began to burn in the calf. I began to limp…I may have cried. The whole process of training my body to be active again has been an incredibly painful one – both physically and mentally. Prior to the tendonitis, I had been running 4-5 times a week, walking everywhere (literally) and clocking in about 35-40 miles a week total between running and walking. Following the reaction to Cipro, I was unable to even walk the 20 minutes to the corner store near us without excruciating pain. Believe me, I wanted to give up, but the voice of Claudia Weber, the Firewalk instructor, echoed in my mind “What is your purpose?” I struggled, but finally found it in me to finish the race. What should have been our best tandem time yet turned into our slowest – but at least we finished. Wining Husband was right there with me as I limped and struggled internally…and we did run it in at the end. By far, it was the hardest race I’d done. I’m really excited that we’ve got the picture above crossing the finish line.

Easter Dinner

Easter

6. Easter

Easter was great. We went to our little church, made a wonderful dinner of ham, roasted sweet potatoes, and sauteed greens. It was a perfect meal, accompanied by a Louis Martini 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a special day topped off with a very special meal.  It was also a day to catch up with each other after some very busy weeks!

D.C.

7. Washington D.C.

Wining Husband and I went to D.C. for a conference he was presenting at. It was my first time there. I surprised myself by being able to walk around the city – 9 miles total. Had I worn better shoes, that would have gone better. My feet were torn up!!! We enjoyed great wine and food at Old Ebbit Grill, and we got to try out the Obama family Chili recipe at Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe. We had an absolutely amazing time.

8.  …and Why I Won’t be Tasting Wine for a While

I suppose the next bit of big news happened a week after we got back from DC. We woke up to run the Poppy 5K and…well…

Wining Baby 😉

It turns out I’m growing a human being. At this point, I’m 3 months along and due in mid-December right around the time Santa is getting those toys ready on his sleigh.

Don’t worry. I’ve got *plenty* of tasting notes to share with you all while the Little One is getting ready to join the world.

I can’t wait to meet him or her.

9.  Moving

On account that our family is going from 3 to 4 by the end of this year, we’re going to be moving into a larger house. I’ll be posting some of the decorating projects that I do as we get the house set up.

Oh…and if anyone has any tips on safely packing wine…

That's a LOT of wine to pack!

That’s a LOT of wine to pack!

 

 

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