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May 27

Greatest Hits: Make Your Own Sangria

It’s summer and I think Sangria is a wonderfully yummy summer beverage. It doesn’t require (should never use) expensive wine and it’s fun to make. Not only that, but the soaked fruit is sort of a fun bonus that you can’t get when you buy pre-made Sangria in a bottle.

Image Credit

Alternatively, I also recommend a Sangriatini – one of my favorite drinks that can easily be made by the glass instead of by the punch bowl.

But back to that punch bowl … here are three versions I like to make for summer parties: red, followed by pink and white after the jump. The red version – Sangria Rouge – is my favorite.

Oh, and Sangria goes great with Paella!

Sangria Rouge
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup OJ
1/3 cup lemon juice from concentrate
1/3 cup lime juice from concentrate
3/4 cup brandy (but really, just dump in the bottle if you have room)
2-750 ml bottles of medium-dry red wine, chilled (burgundy or 3 Thieves jug wines work well)

Fruit slices: Orange, peach, plum, other fruits

1. In pitcher or bowl, combine sugar and juices.
2. Stir until sugar dissolves.
3. Cover and chill.
4. Just before serving, add wine and fruit.
5. Serve over ice.

Sangria Blush
1 cup OJ
1/2 cup sugar
1-1.5L white zinfandel (what else is it good for?)
1 btl brandy
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
1 lime, thinly sliced and seeded
1 orange, thinly sliced and seeded
16-20 ice cubes

1. Combine OJ and sugar in small pan.
2. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
3. Pour into a 2 quart container with tight-fitting lid.
4. Add wine, lime or lemon juice, and fruit.
5. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours to blend flavors.
6. Place ice cubes in small bowl or large pitcher.
7. Pour mixture over ice.

Sangria Blanca
1 bottle Spanish white wine (I recommend a bottle of Naia)
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup peach brandy
6 tbsp thawed lemonade concentrate
8 oz sliced peaches
1 cup sliced green grapes
1 cup sliced red grapes

1. Mix together wine, sugar, brandy, and lemonade until well mixed.
2. Add in the fruits and refrigerate overnight. (Nicely alcoholic fruits at this point.)
3. Serve the next day from a large pitcher filled with ice.


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Posted by Michelle at 2:03 pm in Cocktails, Greatest Hits | Permalink | Comments (18)
May 11

MicroWines Changes its Business Model

I got an email this morning that grabbed my attention. Microwines in Kenwood, a wine shop known for its open tasting table and its often unique selection of wines, is making some drastic changes. They will be open “most” Saturdays from 12-5 pm and by appointment only. They will also be increasing their internet ordering, which means they’re “increasing communication”  – more email! (Just what I wanted … I’m three months behind as it is.)

I could speculate on why they are making this drastic change – we all could – but I don’t know the real reasons. Here is their letter, as received in my own inbox:

microWINES is updating its model!  For the past six years, microWINES has been delivering cutting edge wine retailing, entertainment and educational experiences in a unique setting.  Our global portfolio of small production wines from around the world is well selected and much appreciated by all our loyal customers.  Like most retailing today, many of our customers now call in orders, browse our web site and e-mail orders for ultimate delivery, and follow us on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites.  microWINES will seek to enhance these methods of reaching our customers to further improve your wine acquisition experience.  We will retain physical store hours at our unique wine lifestyle venue (7292 Kenwood Road Cincinnati 45236), but on a limited basis (most Saturdays 12 – 5 and by appointment).  This will allow our customers to continue to choose an unequaled in store experience and take advantage of our ability to host the most unique wine themed events in Cincinnati.  We will increase communication with you regarding great new wine discoveries and planned events via electronic communication.  I have personally studied and developed a passion for wine over the past 25 years and I very much look forward to enhancing your education and enjoyment of wine in the years to come.  Please look for further updates on: www.microwines.com and please send us your wine stories, interests, buying requests and event interests: info@microwines.com

Come in this Saturday (May 14th 12 – 5) to discuss our new concept with the owner!

Thank you for your continued loyalty and interest in microWINES!

All the best,

Paul Jantsch

Owner – microWINES


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Posted by Michelle at 7:59 am in Cincinnati, Wine Shops | Permalink | Comments (8)
May 06

Greatest Hits: Mint Julep

Last year, Kevin & I got to take a cocktail class from Josh Durr, and one of the drinks we made was a mint julep. Since the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow, I thought I’d repost such an excellent mint julep recipe and experience.

Back in March 2010 – Wine Festival week, to be exact – Kevin and I took a Bartending 102 class from Josh Durr at Tonic. We learned how to make mint juleps and I ran right home and wrote up this post.

Photo Credit : Bruce Crippen | Business Courier

The most important thing I learned from Josh in this particular session was that, with a mint julep, the method is more important than the ingredients.

Place the mint in the bottom of the cup.

Pour in 1/2 oz of maple syrup.
We used this in place of simple syrup and I really loved the results.

Photo Credit : Bruce Crippen | Business Courier

Add 1 oz of Bourbon.
I believe we used Ancient Ancient Age in the classroom, but pick your favorite. Josh also suggested Old Grand-Dad and Old Weller.

Roll the muddler on the mint, rolling towards the top of the glass. Make sure to get the oils on the rim on the glass.
This takes a certain amount of technique, as I learned. Don’t pound on the mint either – you want the mint to be minty, and pounding? Well that just makes it bitter.

Next, crush your ice.
I used an old fashioned ice crusher Josh had handy. I swear my grandma had one on her bar and I loved it. Kevin pounded away on a bag of ice with the muddler. Both methods are valid.

Photo Credit : Bruce Crippen | Business Courier

Add crushed ice to your glass until it is filled just under the edge.

Stir, pulling up from the bottom of the glass.

Next, add another 1 oz of bourbon.

Add a second layer of ice, so that it sort of resembles the shape of a sno-cone.

Garnish with 2 short straws and a sprig of mint.

Honestly, this made one of the best mint juleps I’ve ever had. What was even more surprising was that I made it myself! I know it sounds easy in the directions, but the technique – especially with muddling – is tricky to get the hang of.

Happy Derby Day!

Photos from Business Courier article about our class, by photographer Bruce Crippen.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:37 am in Greatest Hits, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (8)
May 05

Greatest Hits: Bourbon Slush

So I know it’s Cinco de Mayo. But let’s talk about more important things … like the Kentucky Derby.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the Kentucky Derby. Between the horses and the hats, I’m in absolute heaven. So I thought I’d share with you, over the next three or so days, some of my favorite Derby drink recipes.

We’ll start with perhaps the easiest, which is Bourbon Slush. With any of these drinks, make sure you use a nice bourbon. The quality of the bourbon affects the quality of the drink, no matter how you mix it.  For this particular recipe, I like to use Woodford Reserve from the special Derby edition bottle.

I got this recipe from my old friend Kate, and it is by far the best slush I have tasted or made. I tend to make it the night before a party to ensure a good amount of slushiness.

Kate’s Bourbon Slush

Step 1: Tea
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 peach tea bags
1 cup sugar

Combine the boiling water and tea bags.
Once the tea is set, remove the bags and pourinto a large plastic container. (There must be room for the tea to expand once in the freezer.)
Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.

Step 2: Those yummy flavors
6 cups cold water
1 large can, frozen lemonade
1 small can, frozen orange juice
2 cups Kentucky bourbon

Add remaining ingredients to the tea.
Stir until all ingredients are well blended.
Freeze in plastic container, covered, for 6 to 8 hours, sometimes longer depending on your freezer. Spoon into glasses and top off with Sprite or 7Up.



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Posted by Michelle at 8:34 am in Cocktails, Greatest Hits | Permalink | Comments (7)
May 04

Harmony Hill Opens This Weekend!

Summer is finally here … maybe. It’s May, right? Time for flowers and maybe, just maybe, hints of sunshine.

The most fun winery in Southern Ohio is kicking off it’s summer festivities this Saturday and you should join them. If it wasn’t for my enduring love of the Kentucky Derby, I’d certainly be at Harmony Hill. 

This Saturday, May 7 from noon-8 pm, ‘The Hill’ will rock, as has come to be expected. We will release all of our five previously sold out award winning wines. We will have continuous entertainment all day. We have scheduled our Kick-off in conjunction with BAMfest, Bethel’s annual art and music festival in the heart of The Village. I can think of no better time to ‘Head East’ and see what this quiet farming village has to offer. We will kick off this 2011 summer in style. Our newly revamped website will answer any questions you might have about the upcoming festivities.

So there you go. Head on out to Harmony Hill this weekend for great music, great wine, and hopefully (fingers crossed), great weather.  Perhaps if we start acting like it’s summer, the weather will catch up.


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Posted by Michelle at 8:50 am in Local, Local Wineries | Permalink | Comments (5)

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