What Confuses You About Wine?

As a new wine lover, I’m the first to admit that there is a lot about wine that I don’t know. I asked some other people who are new to wine what they find to be most confusing about wine.

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How to Have the Perfect Wine Night In

Let’s face it, going out can be overrated. Fall has arrived in New England and as the cold weather sets in, sometimes staying home in sweatpants can be more attractive than getting dressed up and paying for expensive drinks. Here are some tips for how to have the perfect night in.

moscato1

 

Every good night starts with the perfect bottle of wine. I am personally fond of the Barefoot brand because of its low price and light and sweet taste. It was recommended to me by a friend’s mother who owns an upscale restaurant and selects the wine for their menu. This moscato is one of my favorites and perfect for a quiet night at home.

chick flicks

 

Chick flicks with attractive men are also necessary for a night in. Any rom-com with Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Gosling or Joseph Gordon-Levitt works for me, but every once in a while it’s nice to have a good cry and watch Titanic too!

brownies

 

Who could have a movie night without excessive amounts of chocolate? Snacks are a definite must for any relaxing evening at home. Although baked goods are my favorite, popcorn, guacamole and ice cream are all crowd-pleasing options that are great for any gathering.

mood lighting

 

Of course, it is very important to set the mood with lighting. No one likes to watch movies with the lights on and a strand of Christmas lights provide just enough light to prevent injuring yourself in the dark without distracting from the movie. I also love my Scentsy candle since it is fire-safe and makes my apartment smell inviting. In my opinion, there is nothing like the smell of fresh-baked cookies and vanilla to help you relax after a long week.

relaxing

Finally, it is time to put on your yoga pants, pour yourself a glass of wine, hit play on the movie and put up your feet and relax! There is nothing like a quiet night at home to help you refresh and recover from a long week.

Celebrities and Wine: Girl Talk

Celebrities are often admired for their fancy clothes, cars and shoes. But what about wine? Some celebs are known for their obsession which influences them to travel the world in search of modern vineyards and vintage wines that everyone can enjoy.  However, some celebrities seek to share (and profit from) their knowledge of good wine with the masses and have been quite successful at branding themselves as “experts.”

1)      Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb

As the anchors of the fourth hour of NBC’s Today Show, these ladies usually talk very little about the news and instead like to focus on what they are drinking. On any given “Winesday Wednesday” or “Thirsty Thursday” you can catch these ladies with a glass of wine in their hands before noon. The fun atmosphere created by KLG and Hoda has attracted a devoted following, especially among college students. However, after being challenged by Ladies’ Home Journal magazine, Gifford and Kotb went without booze for a whole month in January 2013.

2)      Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Barney

Another duo from the Real Housewives of Orange County on Bravo TV, Vicki and Tamara attempted to turn their friendship and mutual love of wine into a successful business venture. They started Wines by Wives, a celebrity wine club that features only “exclusive” wines picked specifically by the Housewives themselves. Members choose a Housewife and each month receive two bottles of the red or white wine that she selected. Some proceeds also go to that Housewife’s charity of choice.

3)      Bethenny Frankel

Frankel was a former Housewife of New York City who saw a niche in the alcohol market just waiting to be tapped: low calorie alcohol for health conscious women. Although her Skinnygirl brand originally started out as vodka, it has expanded rapidly since being acquired by Beam Inc., in 2011. The line now includes wines, tequilas and ready to drink cocktails. Frankel’s business savvy has revolutionized the alcohol market and is beginning to make its mark on the wine industry as well.

A Brief History of Wine

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When most people think of wine, they think of the Italians and the French. However, wine actually has its origins in the ancient fertile grounds of Mesopotamia. The oldest confirmed wine vessel was found in present day Iran at the Hajji Firuz Tepe. Chemical tests confirmed that the earthenware jar dated to 5400 BC and contained wine.

Wine also appeared in the deserts of ancient Egypt thanks to trade with the Phoenicians in the Middle East. The Egyptians made many technological advancements in wine making and storage including a new type of porous, clay jar that was used for over 5,500 years until the invention of wooden barrels and glass bottles by the Europeans.

The Greeks continued to cultivate wine and passed on their passion once they were overtaken by the Romans. The expansion of the Roman Empire allowed for wine to flourish as well. Roman soldiers would plant vineyards to make wine for themselves while conquering other areas and as a result many were exposed to the wine making process. They also made several technological advancements including the wine press, which crushed grapes with a stone and collected their juice underneath.

Wine was exceedingly popular because of its reputation as an antiseptic.  Water was often unsafe to drink so wine was consumed by everyone, including children. However, not everyone was drunk all the time. Water was often mixed with wine, which would kill the bacteria and make it safe to drink.

After the Roman Empire and its trade networks collapsed, the future of wine was uncertain. However, wine is necessary for Christian religious ceremonies and monks were put in charge of cultivating grapes and making wine. The dogmatic Cistercian monks and royal Dukes of Burgandy in Europe began to focus on the quality of wine and developed new methods and standards for production.

European explorers and immigrants brought wine to the New World as well. At first, Europeans just traded with the new colonies, but wine up until the 19th century had a limited shelf life and was basically undrinkable after a year. Vines from Europe were brought over, but they were contaminated by bacteria and fungi. After crossbreeding European and native grape plants, a fungi-resistant species was born. The Napa Valley region of California was almost immediately successful after the Gold Rush brought thousands of immigrants to the region. By the end of the 1800s, there were 400 vineyards in a previously desolate area.

Wine making has continued to evolve as our knowledge of genetics has expanded. Improved technology and advancements in science will continue to increase our knowledge of wine and could lead to a very interesting future that all wine-lovers should look forward to.