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Dec 31

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

So tonite is New Year’s Eve, ushering out the old year and decade and welcoming in the new. Tonite, we’re just having a low-key evening including dinner out with friends and maybe back to their place. At the moment, I’m just leaning towards Dick Clark / Ryan Seacrest and some tea at midnight. It’s been a crazy busy year, full of travel and change. I’m hoping if I usher in the new year calmly, then 2010 might reflect some of that calm.

What are you doing? There are a lot of options, and I’ll point you in the right direction to find lists of parties. Don’t forget, the new Mynt Martini is now open on Fountain Square. I expect the place to give Tonic a run for its money, although I’ll take vintage cocktails over creative martinis any day. Amazing location though! If anyone goes, I’d love for you to write me up a review!

On to festivities:

  • MetroMix has compiled a pretty good listing of the larger New Year’s Eve celebrations.
  • ZipScene is listing over 130 New Year’s events. You have no excuse for not finding something to do. Bootsy’s and Red are included on that list.
  • The Wise Owl Wine Bar in West Chester (sorry, no web site yet) has a fairly low-key New Year’s Eve event. You can RSVP online or call them at 513.889.2500.
  • CityBeat has everything listed, from parties, to hosting your own dinner party, to a worst-case scenario survival guide.

And in case you overindulge – hey, it happens! – you can count on a free taxi ride home. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is sponsoring free taxi rides home as long as you’re within the 275 loop. The number to call (write this down) is 513-768-FREE.

Image by Flickr User Waldo Jaquith
via Creative Commons

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Posted by Michelle at 10:05 am in Cincinnati, Cocktails, Entertainment, Holiday | Permalink | Comments ()
Dec 03

Contest! A DVD for Your Holiday Stocking

I knew I needed to celebrate the launch of our awesome new design with a contest. I need to give back to you guys, but I’m not exactly allowed to give away alcohol. Then I received in the mail two (yes two!) screener copies of Mondovino the Series. I received these free of charge from DVD producers Kino International. One is for me to watch, but the other is for you!

Now, I just got these DVDs in hand. It’s  a newly released, four-DVD set containing 10 hours of video, so I haven’t had a chance to watch – or review – this yet. It’s going to take some time.

But you can beat me to it. If you’re interested, just leave a comment below with a message about why you’d like to get your hands on this screener set. I’ll use a random generator to pick the winner and announce next Thursday. Make sure you include your email address in the appropriate field of the comments. (Email addressses are not tracked, shared, or used for anything except to tell you that you won.)

So, what is this DVD anyway?
Mondovino was a documentary released in 2004 that was fairly controversial. It really pushes the “small is better” theory and is not kind to larger winemakers, including the Mondavis and Staglins. According to Decanter.com,

“Many feel that in his portraits of Michel Rolland, the de Montilles of Burgundy, the Frescobaldis, Mondavis and other great wine families he relies on sophisticated editing to get his point across.

Rolland in particular is singled out for demonisation. Using multiple replays of a single shot of the wine consultant laughing in his chauffeur-driven Mercedes, the director contrives to make him appear a malevolent presence.

Similarly, clever cutting canonises figures like Mas de Daumas Gassac’s Aime Guibert, or turns the Staglins of Napa into cliches of insensitive Californians.”

The original movie was one of only four documentaries nominated for the Palm d’Or at Cannes. The director, Jonathan Nossiter, turned that one film endeavor into a 10-part television series that supposedly is a more in-depth “investigation into the wine world, and more ‘intimate and detailed’ portraits of wine families” as compared to the original film. He covers everything from California to France. The series originally aired, from what I can find, on BBC Africa and BBC Food.

But I want you to keep in mind that this film raised the ire of many in the wine industry, as well as receiving a lot of praise. It’s often been called a one-sided documentary, and it does, in essence, charge Mondavi and Robert Parker with turning wine into a commodity such as coffee at Starbucks. This was filmed over four years at the beginning of the decade as well, and I’d like to think several things in the wine industry have changed over the last 5 years.

But the point of a documentary, even if you don’t agree with the filmmaker, is to make you think about, and consider, the subject.

If you’re interested in learning more, leave a comment telling me why. Maybe you’ll be the lucky random winner!

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Posted by Michelle at 8:37 am in Contests, Entertainment, Pop Culture, Television | Permalink | Comments (10)
Nov 18

Paint & Etch Your Own Wine Glasses

I got a sweet email today from a local stained glass artist. Mary Jane Riggi has had a stained glass studio in Cincinnati for over 25 years. She has also been an adjunct professor in various aspects of stained glass at the University of Cincinnati’s Communiversity program for almost as long.

What does that have to do with the wine blog? Well, Mary Jane is hosting a wine glass painting class. Imagine painting your own stained glass wine glasses and giving them as Christmas gifts? I’m sort of in love with this idea.

The class is just one evening, Friday, 12/4 or Friday, 12/11/09, from 6:30 – 9:30 pm, at her studio in Mt Airy. You’ll receive 4 wine glasses and learn to paint and etch designs. As a bonus, you get to make wine charms for each glass.

The class fee is $45 per person and includes all materials. For more information, you can contact Mary Jane at 513-633-2788.

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Posted by Michelle at 10:19 am in Cincinnati, Entertainment, Local | Permalink | Comments (2)
Nov 10

A Neiman Marcus Holiday

Back on October 6, Neiman-Marcus released their 83rd World Renowned Christmas Book (which is a fancy way of saying catalog). Now, this is a pretty famous catalog. First published in 1926 as a 16-page booklet, the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book was initially intended as a Christmas card to the store’s best customers. Building on tradition through the years, the book has evolved into a legendary source for alluring and mystical gifts.

I was first exposed to it through a Terry Brooks novel, Magic Kingdom for Sale–Sold! I don’t think the author referred to Neiman-Marcus
specifically, but he was talking about this catalog. From within its
pages the protagonist purchased an actual magic kingdom (no worries, I
know it’s fiction).

image from farm3.static.flickr.com
Since I first read that book, I’ve paid attention every year to the Fantasy Gift portion of the Christmas Book. This year, it’s after my heart. There isn’t a magic kingdom, but you can pick up a custom-built Cupcake Car or His and Hers Aircraft. There are also some fantasy wine & spirits related items:

  • HALL Artisan Wine and Art Experience at HALL Winery: Learn organic, artisan winemaking firsthand, tour the estates and the art collection, and have the opportunity to create your own personal vintage in a private blending session with HALL’s Winemaker and have your custom vintage bottled for you. The Napa weekend includes accommodations at Auberge (wow!) and a private dinner party with Kathryn Hall.
    Price tag: $20,000 (page 55)
  • Maker’s Mark Master Distiller Experience: All-access, VIP experience with Maker’s Mark Master Distiller, Kevin Smith. Spend a day making whiskey, step by step and take home two bottles of the rarest Maker’s Mark – golden bottles etched with your likeness and dipped in gold wax with 24-kt gold flecks. Includes luxury accommodations in Louisville and a gourmet dinner hosted by Bill Samuels, the 7th generation of Maker’s Mark owners.
    Price tag: $7,500 (page 58)

Additional wine-related items in this year’s catalog include Egermann Neiman Marcus Exclusive Crystal Champagne Flute, Wine Glass, and Water Glass ($150 each), Lalique Crystal Wine Stopper ($90 each), Waterford Crystal Colored Flute ($115 each), Waterford Crystal 12 Days of Christmas Flutes ($85 each), and Ajka Crystal Glassware ($125 each). You’ll notice that those prices are all $150 and under. I was informed that this year, over 40% of the catalog is priced at less than $250. That’s a big step for Neiman-Marcus.

You can buy the catalog for only $15. This year, however, the entire catalog is online, so you can peruse (and drool) at your leisure.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:00 am in Books, Entertainment, Pop Culture, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments ()
Aug 31

Mad Men Mondays: Old Fashioned & Mint Julep

Last night on Mad Men, there were classic martinis served at Joan's house (gin, 3 olives) and our copywriters were working on a Bacardi campaign, leading to multiple mentions of rum and coke. But two other drinks took precedence for me: the Old Fashioned that Don whipped up at the bar and the Mint Julep everyone was sipping at the party.


Once again, I'm consulting my Grandpa's books, The Bartender's Friend (1946) and Old Mr. Boston's Complete Bartenders Guide (1935).

The Old Fashioned
Since I love bourbon (and rye in particular), I'll often order an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan when I'm in a bar where I know the bartender will create an excellent one (such as McCormick & Schmick's or a Ruby's restaurant.)

1 lump sugar
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/2 oz Ginger Ale
1 jigger Rye

Muddle together the sugar, bitters, and ginger ale.
Add to mixing glass or shaker, along with 2 lumps of ice and rye.
Pour into highball glass and garnish with orange slice and a cherry.

The Mint Julep
There are definitely more complex mint julep recipes out there, many involving your stove and a simple syrup. This version of the mint julep is the easy-to-make-behind-a-bar version

4 sprigs mint
crushed ice
1 tsp powdered sugar
1 tsp water
2 oz rye or bourbon
12 oz highball glass

Muddle 4 sprigs mint with powdered sugar and water and add to glass.
Fill glass quarter-full of shaved ice and stir.
Add 2 oz rye or bourbon
Top off with crushed ice and mint garnish

Photo Credit:
Photo from AMC, by Carin Baer
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