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What Are Some Popular Gift Wines?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 9:27:09 AM America/New_York


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When it comes to giving wine as a gift, it can be easy to get confused. No two wine lovers have the same taste, so you are stuck with several questions. Would they prefer white to red? Would they prefer bitter to sweet? Would they prefer fruity to dry? With these questions in mind, you can read on below to find out what some of the most popular wines people like to receive for gifts are today.

Pinot Grigio

This is one of the most popular wines around the world and you would be hard pressed not to find at least one bottle of Pinot Grigio in every wine lovers wine cabinet. This wine also goes by a few other names, which are listed below.

  • Pinot Gris in France
  • Rulander in Germany

The style of this wine differs according to which part of the world you buy it from. For example, the Pinot Gris from France has a mineral taste, whereas the Pinot Grigio from Italy is more fruity and light.

This wine can be paired with a variety of foods and can be served with just about anything from the sea as well.

Sauvignon Blanc

This wine is the prefect wine to give as a gift for someone going on a romantic picnic. It is considered to be a warm weather wine, so in the spring this wine sees a lot of action. It is a dry white wine that is popular all over the known world and the subtle flavors include citrus, pineapple, and kiwi, according to which region the wine comes from.

Pair Sauvignon Blanc with anything from salad to sushi, or anything you can put on a grill and you have a wine that you can give as a gift over and over again.

Pinot Noir

Often considered a great wine to pair with a holiday dinner, the Pinot Noir has notes that range from a spicy horseradish to some type of dark fruit. The wine is the perfect gift to take to your hostess to go with the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner and a good time will be had by all involved.


Who could ever forget Chardonnay when it comes to the most popular wines for gift giving? This type white wine is, of course, known worldwide. The wine is well known for its tropical fruit taste with just a little tang. There are also hints of vanilla and white fruit in many Chardonnay's according to which region you get yours from. Chardonnay is not only known around the world, it is one of America's most popular white wines as well.

These are just a few of the popular wines Americans are drinking today. From a white Chardonnay to a Pinot Noir to go with the Thanksgiving feast, you can be sure that these popular wines are well worth giving to friends and family as gifts any time of the year.


Posted in Wine & Liquor Gifts By Beth Anne Jackson

What Are the Best Ways to Wrap a Wine Gift?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 7:53:46 AM America/New_York


There are many different occasions where people give wine as a gift. Whether it is a bottle of wine for a new father or a Christmas present for the special woman in your life, you don't want to go with just dull wrapping paper and a bow. A good red or white wine is meant to be savored, so the package that wine comes in should be savored as well. Whether you're buying red wine or white wine, the wrapping can really make your gift stand out. 

Read on below for some festive ideas on how to wrap the wine gift that you intend to give, no matter what the occasion.

Bundle it Up

If you are giving the gift of wine to a new or expectant father, you will want to dress the wine bottle up in style. You can knit a teeny hat and scarf to go over the bottle, or if you aren't handy with a needle and yarn, you can buy one instead. Make sure that they are blue or pink, in order to celebrate the occasion.

Give it Rustic Frills

Burlap bags have long been a Christmassy way to wrap a bottle of wine. If you have a friend that loves wine, but is a rustic country type person, then wrapping the wine in rustic frills, will satisfy their every need. Make sure to choose festive burlap and don't forget to add a little metallic paint and a silver ribbon to dress the package up.

Instant Labeling

If you are invited to a last minute Christmas party next season and need to carry a bottle of wine, pull one from your own stash. Of course, you don't want it to look like you did just that, so print an instant label with Merry Christmas and a festive tag on it, wrap the wine in it, and head out the door.

Wrap it in a Cozy Sweater

If you are heading out to a party in the dead of winter and want to present your host with a bottle of wine, you can dress it up in a cozy sweater fit for the season. You can simply take the sleeves off sweaters that have seen better days and wrap the wine in one. You have a gorgeous, colorful gift of wine and you didn't have to spend a dime.

Sock Time

If you have a tall bottle of wine that you can't find the right packaging for, then get out a pair of argyle socks and start wrapping. Make sure you choose an immaculately clean pair of course. An argyle sock is just the right size and height to wrap a tall bottle of red wine in and it will look festive as well.

These are just a few of the great and festive ways you can make the expensive wine you brought for a gift look even classier. From gift-wrapping it in an argyle sock to dressing it up in baby hats and a little shirt, you can be sure that the gift of wine you give will keep on giving, long after the bottle is gone. 




Posted in Wine Basics Wine & Liquor Gifts By Beth Anne Jackson

Stuck on Gift Ideas? Grab Wine Online!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 9:32:04 AM America/New_York

Wine makes a great gift for a whole range of events, like housewarmings, weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays. 

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Posted in Wine & Liquor Gifts By Beth Anne Jackson

How to Select the Best Wine Gift

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 8:39:50 AM America/New_York

Choose the best wine gift for your upcoming event. 

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Posted in Wine & Liquor Gifts By Beth Anne Jackson

Matching wine with food in the right way

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 1:57:00 PM America/New_York

Having a meal with good company, a pleasant atmosphere and a glass of good wine cannot go wrong. It is true that sometimes people tend to drink a little bit more than they should when they are enjoying a fine wine. However, real gourmands who love to keep their sense of taste with refined tastes on every meal should definitely keep an eye of what kind of wine they will drink during the meal. It can be a fun pairing exercise to do this, too. 

It is not always easy to make a choice and you can sometimes see people in wine shops that are wandering around the aisles trying to figure out what will make their guests at the dinner satisfied. The truth is that there are wines that are appropriate for every type of meal, you just have to know how to choose them. 

For example, red wine is the perfect option for roast beef, steak, barbecue or steak in sauce. One of the other most popular types of wine for these meals is Cabernet Sauvignon. Another wine grape variety that is suitable is the popular Merlot. Those who enjoy more intense tastes can have Chianti. Many people use this wine with venison. Brunello is another popular choice when it comes to venison.

People who love lamb meat, especially baked lamb will also enjoy drinking Cabernet Sauvignon and merlot with it. In addition they can try black Pinot too. If you want to try something that is out of the ordinary you can try the sweeter Californian Zinfandel. This wine matches the taste of pork and you won’t be wrong if you choose Merlot with this meat. In addition,  you should try French Beaujolais as well as the fruity, light and sweet Dolcetto.

Red wine is suitable for veal too. You’ll have everything under control if you serve it with the previously mentioned Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chianti, but you can also opt for a slightly acrid black Pinot that provides slightly stringing taste. This wine is an excellent choice if you choose to serve roasted duck or rabbit. Fine wine and wine with fuller flavor and strong aroma like Shyrasa will make the veal tastier. 

Chicken and turkey meat are interesting because you can use both white and black wine with them. Turkey steaks or turkey in a combination with pasta or rice will pair well with Beaujolais and Zinfandel.Roasted turkey, however, can be served with black Pinot or a wine with a slightly sour taste, like Riesling. This wine combines both sweet and bitter flavors. Deliciously roasted chicken meat will have an even better taste when you drink Merlot or Zinfandel with it. Some other recipes with this popular meat will look and taste better with Chardonnay which combines sweet, bitter and sour tastes in the best possible way. Finally, you can't really go wrong if you select white light Pinot wine.

Remember that in case you don’t have time to go to the store or you simply want to stay in your home, you can always buy wine online.     

Posted in Food & Drink Pairings By Beth Anne Jackson

Top 5 Whiskey Cocktails Everyone Should Know

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 8:00:00 PM America/New_York



 Top Whiskey Cocktails

Although a few creative concoctions have surfaced over the years, sometimes it’s best to stick with the classics. We present to you the top whiskey cocktails that every connoisseur, professional or recreational, should know.

1. Old-Fashioned

A timeless choice with a simple rye whiskey base, easy to enhance with key ingredients, the Old-Fashioned has weathered many variations, but we think the original version triumphs over all the rest.

What you’ll need:

1 sugar cube

2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters

club soda or water (optional)

2 oz rye whiskey

ice cubes


What you do:

Place sugar cube in glass and moisten with a few dashes of Angostura bitters and a skimpy splash (just a drop) of club soda or water. Crush the cube with a wooden muddler (if you don’t have one, you can improvise) until the sugar and liquid form a paste. Add whiskey, an ice cube (preferably one large cube), and a piece of orange peel. Stir and serve.

2. Manhattan

The Manhattan is undeniably one of the top whiskey cocktails around, as bold and beloved as the city itself.

What you’ll need:

2 oz rye whiskey

1 oz vermouth

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

maraschino cherries (optional)

What you do:

Stir (don’t shake) ice, whiskey, vermouth, and Angostura bitters well. Strain drink into glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry or two.

3. Ward Eight

A fan favorite for more than a hundred years, the Ward Eight mixes citrus juices and rye whiskey to create a smooth cocktail with little bite. Hardly a fancy find, the Ward Eight’s simple sour characteristics is what earned its recognition.

What you’ll need:

2 oz rye whiskey

3⁄4 oz orange juice

3⁄4 oz lemon juice

tsp grenadine

What you do:

Add whiskey, juices (preferably fresh squeezed), grenadine, and ice in a shaker. Shake, strain and serve over ice. For a lighter drink, mix with club soda.

4. John Collins

Not to be mistaken for a Tom Collins (made with gin) a John Collins is a refreshing bourbon based cocktail perfect for sipping during summer months.  

What you’ll need:

2 oz bourbon whiskey

1 oz lemon juice

1 tsp simple syrup

2 oz club soda

orange slice, lemon slice, maraschino cherry (optional garnishes)


What you do:

In your shaker, add bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice. Shake, strain and serve over ice. Add club soda, stir and garnish to your preference.

5. Irish Coffee

No top whiskey cocktails list is complete without the Irish Coffee. Some may prefer the cheat recipe, solely mixing Baileys and coffee, but not us. Here is the authentic cocktail with all the ingredients.

What you’ll need:

2 oz Irish whiskey

6 oz hot coffee (freshly brewed is best)

2 tsp brown sugar (or more to taste)

heavy cream

What you do:

Spoon sugar into a glass mug, pour in hot coffee and stir well. Add whiskey and stir again to blend. Over an upside down spoon, slowly pour heavy cream (best if whipped before) and serve immediately (do not stir).

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Posted in Cocktail Recipes By citywinecellar

How to Choose a Wine on a Budget

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 8:00:00 PM America/New_York


Drinking glass with saved moneyAre you going to an event where you’re not sure you need to bring a gift, or just looking to jazz up some leftovers without cutting into your date night wine supply? There are plenty of times in life when a bottle of wine sounds like a great idea, but you don’t want to shell out a lot of cash for an expensive tipple.

Luckily, there’s plenty of wine, even imported wine, available today that is easy on both the palate and the pocketbook. How can a concerned consumer figure out which wine will taste best for less?

Ask An Expert

One of the best things you can do for your wine education is to start asking questions. The next time you visit a wine shop or bump into an off-duty sommelier start asking for recommendations. Don’t assume that experts will push you to the most expensive labels for a sale either; most experts in the wine industry truly love their product and will be interested in cultivating you as a long-term customer.

When you ask about the best wine for you, state your maximum price limit and give the person you’re asking an idea of when the wine will be imbibed. You’ll get a different recommendation if you’re pairing the wine with seafood, or with beef, or if you are taking it to a house party where you’re not quite sure what will be on the menu.

If You’re On Your Own

If there’s no one you can ask before you make your choice, you still have some rules of thumb that can guide to you to buying a nice bottle of wine that remains in your price range.

First of all, consider the basics. Do you want red or white wine? In general, if you are going to be drinking the wine while you eat something that has strong flavors, then you want to have a red wine. A steak or a hearty lasagna is complemented by a strong red table wine, such as a shiraz or a cabernet. Spicy foods can usually stand up next to red wine, as well. Following this rule, if you are planning to eat something with delicate flavors, then you’ll want a white wine. That would mean that your linguine with clam sauce or your grilled trout would do nicely with a pinot grigio or chardonnay.

If you are unsure which wine will suit your meal, or if you’re planning to enjoy the wine as an after-dinner drink, then you will have to use other criteria. If you like sweet drinks, then there are many fruity white wines available for $20 or less. Rieslings and sauvignon blancs are often citrusy and light.

On the red side, the less expensive Cabernet sauvignons will offer more body and less sweetness than white wine. Some of the Australian Cabernet or Shiraz blends offer great quality at a low price.

Still not sure? Contact us and we’ll help you decide.

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Posted in Fun Facts By citywinecellar

Irish Whiskey Wars

Monday, May 26, 2014 8:00:00 PM America/New_York

 The Whiskey Wars – Irish or Scotch?

Jameson barrelsWe’re aware of the distinct differences between Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky, the least of which is the addition or subtraction of the letter e in the name. Irish whiskey has a much softer taste and lacks some of the characteristic smoke flavor that some Scotch whisky has in abundance.

Still, there are some very apparent differences between Irish whiskies, and those are definitely worth looking into. Let’s investigate a little of the history of the top Irish whiskies, Jameson and Bushmills, and see why each whiskey has its own fierce supporters.


While we try to never play favorites, it’s hard not to prefer this Irish whiskey over any other. It more closely resembles Scotch, and while that’s not the ultimate intention, its subtle woodsy and smoky flavors make Jameson a star.

Jameson’s was first brewed in 1780 when the Scotsman John Jameson purchased the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin. His whiskey soon became the most popular Irish whiskey brand in the world. By the year 1800, Jameson was producing over a million gallons of whiskey per year.

Jameson whiskey is a mixture of malted and unmalted Irish barley and is therefore considered a blended whiskey. The Jameson brand has persevered through many hardships over the years, including various wars, United States prohibition and fierce competitors, but it is now the bestselling Irish whiskey in the world.


King James I of England granted a distillery license to Sir Thomas Phillips in 1608, but the whiskey wasn’t produced under the Bushmills name until 1784. The distillery has changed hands many times over the years and is currently Bushmills bottle and glassesowned by liquor conglomerate Diageo. Located in County Antrim, the Bushmills brand, while not quite able to reach the sales of Jameson, has consistently produced a range of fine products.

Bushmills has more of a light taste, and the flavors evoke citrus and honey. The product is aged in the same types of barrels as other Irish whiskeys, ports and bourbons, but the final flavors of each whiskey are subtly different.

The Whiskey Controversy

Ask any fan of Irish whiskey which brand they prefer and you’re likely to get a very spirited response. Drinkers of either Bushmills or Jameson have very specific reasons why they choose one over the other, and while the taste may be one factor, it’s sometimes not the main one.

Jameson whiskey is brewed in the southern part of Ireland, officially called the Republic of Ireland, and the area is predominantly Catholic. Bushmills is brewed in Northern Ireland, which is a constituent of the United Kingdom and is predominantly Protestant.

The conflict between the two Irelands is ongoing, but many experts feel that it should have no impact on Irish whiskey, except Irish Americans. In fact, it’s those people of Irish descent who live in the United States who started the battle of Irish whiskeys in the first place.

The fact is that both distilleries are now owned by foreign companies, and the conflict between religions is no longer an issue in the creation and distribution of these whiskeys, if it ever was in the first place.

We love our Irish whiskies, and we hope that you will too. Whether you prefer Bushmills or Jameson, try it with a perfectly grilled steak or a fine cigar. You’ll be glad that you did.


Jameson image by Juergen Jauth from Flickr’s Creative Commons

Bushmills image by M Prince Photography from Flickr’s Creative Commons


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Posted in Whiskey By citywinecellar

Raise Your Glass: The Best Wines for Celebrating

Sunday, May 25, 2014 8:00:00 PM America/New_York


Champagne in ice bucked with glasses and roseCelebrating an anniversary? A new job? Getting ready for summer, Graduation Day or just “I feel great” day? For many, the act of celebrating is synonymous with the popping cork of a champagne bottle.

Wine by Itself

If you’re planning on drinking the wine as a toast, without any canapes, entrees or other flavors to compete with, then the classic choice is sparkling wine. From the pop of the cork to the dizzy effervescence and crisp, light flavor, sparkling wine will help highlight your celebration. For many of us, the idea of “bringing out the Champagne” is synonymous with celebrating, but you don’t have to stick only with the French import —there are many other region’s products to consider as well.

Californian sparkling wine is a hit with many during the holidays, while Italian prosecco and Spanish cava also provide a bit of bubble for your special moment.

Wine With Dinner

If you’re celebrating over dinner, then popping the cork on a fine bottle of red or white wine will also add pomp to the occasion.

Make a statement by serving your guests a wine from the Chateauneuf de Pape region in France, or, serve a bottle of top-shelf Rioja from Spain. Red wines from this region are balanced and full of flavor.

If you prefer white wine with your meal, pour your fellow celebrants a glass or two of Italy’s favorite pinot grigio. A crisp, dry wine, the best-reviewed from this variety come from the Alto Adige region.

Wine With Cake

Some announcements are best served with something sweet, so if you’re planning on cake with your celebration, such as an office birthday party, you might choose to offer a dessert wine as well.

Ice wine, especially from Canada or Germany, is a smooth, sweet drink that pairs well with cake but is equally delicious on its own. Though the name comes from the harvesting and preparation process — the grapes are picked when frozen — and it is best served ice-cold.

If you won’t be able to chill your wine before serving, then perhaps Port is another will fit your celebration better. When buying this sweet, fortified wine from Portugal, choose a tawny or late bottled vintage (LBV) for best quality.

Wine for Non-wine Drinkers

For those who seldom choose wine, simply having it once can be a mark of celebration. If you don’t usually drink wine, but you would like to serve it, most experts recommend sticking with wines that are sweet and not dry. For example, rieslings from Germany are often described as light and delicate, and have relatively low alcohol content. Zinfandels are also good for new wine drinkers, though they tend to be more fruity.

If you’d prefer a red wine, or if that’s what suits your pairings best, then a pinot noir may be a better bet as it’s more light-bodied than most reds and goes well with a large variety of food flavors.

And, whatever you choose, congratulations!

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Posted in Food & Drink Pairings By citywinecellar

The Perfect Bloody Mary

Friday, May 23, 2014 8:00:00 PM America/New_York


If there’s one cocktail that we love, it’s the Bloody Mary. This classic drink goes perfectly with a Sunday breakfast orBloody mary poster brunch, and it’s an excellent accompaniment while watching a football game.

The origin of this cocktail is murky. Some claim a bartender in Paris first created the drink in 1921, while others attribute its invention to a bartender at New York’s 21 Club in the 1930s. Regardless of its inception, the Bloody Mary has consistently been a top seller at bars (and brunches) around the world for years.

As always, recipes for this drink vary widely, but the crux of the combination of ingredients is certainly the tomato juice and vodka. We’ll let you in on our secret list of added spices and flavors so that you too can create our favorite Bloody Mary.

The Vodka

Of course, the Bloody Mary’s success depends greatly on the vodka that is used. Some people choose an inexpensive brand for their Bloody Mary, especially if they’ll be serving a large number of guests. A good choice would be Smirnoff or Stolichnaya as both of these vodkas have a smooth, pure taste that lets the other ingredients shine.

Some bartenders absolutely eschew the use of flavored vodka in the Bloody Mary, but we disagree. For those who like their Bloody Mary to pack a punch, consider the Absolut Citron or the Crop Tomato Vodka. Each of these flavored vodkas add complexity to the final product.

The Spices

Again, everyone is different, but we have a tried and true list of spices and other ingredients that makes our Bloody Mary sing. We start with eight ounces of fresh tomato juice and add two dashes each of celery salt and black pepper. A healthy dash of Worchestershire sauce is followed by a small dollop of horseradish and a few drops of Tabasco. Add a tablespoon each of olive brine and spicy pickled bean brine, then a squeeze of lemon. Stir the mixture well then combine your desired amount of the mix in a cocktail shaker with ice and vodka. Tumble or stir, then strain over ice.

Of course, each of these ingredients may be adjusted for taste, and some of them, like the pickled bean brine, may not be available to everyone. However, these ingredients are a good basic start.

Bloody mary garnishThe Garnish

The standard garnish for a Bloody Mary has typically been a celery stalk and a wedge of lime or lemon. While these garnishes are fine, why not change it up a bit? After all, one of the draws of the Bloody Mary cocktail is the edible goodies that come with it.

Consider something salty like a strip of bacon or a boiled shrimp. Add another salt element with a selection of pickled vegetables on a small skewer. A few olives can also pair nicely with a Bloody Mary, especially if they’re stuffed with garlic or bleu cheese.

The garnish is a great way to further personalize your version of the Bloody Mary, and it’s certain to have guests singing your praises.

Perfecting the perfect Bloody Mary takes time, but the rewards are definitely worth it. This spicy, tart, immensely satisfying cocktail is definitely a must for your next get together. Try our recipe and enjoy!


Bloody Mary garnish image by A Train from Flickr’s Creative Commons

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Posted in Cocktail Recipes By citywinecellar
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