This holiday season, treat yourself to the wine you love. Here’s my top wine picks (white, red, and pink!) to ring in the holidays and the New Year. So finish out the year strong with these tasty wines that won’t destroy your bank account.
These days there seems to be major hype regarding the “natural wine” movement. This is where wine makers are practicing biodynamic, organic and/or sustainable farming, applied to the winemaking process with little to no chemical or technological manipulation. I have to say, there’s something about drinking “wines by nature” that does sound very soothing. Perhaps it’s also that fact that this practice allegedly reduces hangovers (hallelujah!) which sounds very attractive to all of us wine lovers.
It wasn’t until my husband Clark (aka Mr. Veggies and Vino) recently attended a health conference and met Todd White, Founder of Dry Farm Wines, that I became familiar with the natural wine mission.
Todd has helpfully shared some insightful information not only about Dry Farm Wines (which according to them, is the only health-focused, natural in the world) but the natural wine movement in general.
Todd White created Dry Farm Wines, a family of health-conscious wine lovers who believe in the abundance of health and happiness
So grab a glass of wine (natural or not), and enjoy the read…though you may never go back to commercialized and processed wines after reading this.
1.) Tell us your story. How did Dry Farm Wines get started?
A few years ago, I started to really care about my health. This meant reevaluating what I ate. As someone who lives in Napa and LOVES wine, I had a conflict. I didn’t want to stop drinking but I also couldn’t continue damaging my health by drinking the same unhealthy wines. The hangovers, headaches, and impaired sleep were too much.
I know I’m not alone with this problem.
If you’re health conscious, you likely experience the same conflict. How can you enjoy the benefits of wine – the delicate taste, enjoyable buzz, stress relief, and deep connection – without all the negative consequences – thehangovers, headaches, stomach issues, brain fog, poor sleep, high sugar, etc?
I found a temporary solution by mixing wine with tea to dilute the alcohol. The negative effects decreased while the pleasurable benefits – the taste and relaxation – remained. Eventually, however, I began a search for low alcohol wines that could provide similar results as this wine/tea experiment. I went to a friend for help and he asked if I had heard about the new natural wines coming out of Europe. I hadn’t.
I read an article about natural wine and was shocked by what I learned.
Most wines are highly processed, just like most foods. Natural wines, however, are free of commercial processing and additives. After tasting a few of these wines, there was no going back. I could not only TASTE the difference, I could FEEL it.
However, there was still a problem.
Since I was following a Ketogenic Diet (where sugar is public enemy #1), I wanted to drink only sugar-free wines and most wines have high levels of residual sugar.
So, pulling this all together, I wrote down my requirements. I wanted to drink wines that are:
As a biohacker and quantified-selfer, I realized I could lab test wines to measure exactly what was in them.
That’s when the idea for Dry Farm Wines, like a young vine, burst through the soil and took its first breath of fresh air.
I began buying natural wines from Europe and lab testing them to ensure they met my health requirements. I shared these wines with friends and found that everyone who drank them fell in love with them.
From this personal journey evolved the natural, healthy, and quantifiably clean wine club that thousands of people now regularly enjoy.
2.) Given your passion for educating people to make better choices about food, nutrition, and how they think about alcohol, what is one critical fact that we should be aware of when choosing a wine?
It’s hard to pick just one! At a high level, let’s say transparency. Just like we demand to know what’s in our food, we should demand the same from our drinks. Unlike food products that are required to have nutrition and ingredients labeling, wine doesn’t have that requirement. This is why a bottle of wine can have 76 additives and you have no idea. Be an advocate for transparency.
Here are a few more things to look for, when specifically comparing commercial vs natural wine.
3.) What is your take on the recent buzz that no amount of alcohol is good for you?
Here is a reference to our thoughts on the matter. It’s a great piece by Dr. David Perlmutter, a renowned neurologist whose expertise includes gluten issues, brain health & nutrition, and preventing neurodegenerative disorders.
4.) What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in wine making?
I’m not a winemaker; I’m a wine lover! If you want to become a winemaker, that’s awesome. If I were to give advice, I’d suggest you spend some time working with world-class natural winemakers in Europe and feel their passion for the soil, the earth, the terroir of their wine. It’s a wonderful energy to be around.
5.) How do we raise awareness on choosing natural, “real” wines? Unlike today’s commercialized and processed wines.
By choosing to join the Natural Wine movement. Just like the Real Food movement, awareness raises as more people become conscious of what’s going on and share the message.
6.) What is next for Dry Farm Wines?
Continuing to share the high health, art, and exquisite taste of these artisanal Natural Wines with more people, and continuing to champion the growers who produce these wines.
Dry Farm Wine’s passion and life’s purpose is sharing the knowledge, extraordinary vitality and abundant pleasures of optimized health in whole natural living and wellness
We wait 9 long months for the arrival of our precious babies. At that same time, a few other precious things are reintroduced back into our lives such as sushi, deli meats, more than 1 cup of coffee, and of course…WINE!
When I tell people my baby is due in early December, usually the next question is, “will you be breastfeeding?” My response is always, yes, if it works out. I refuse to put too much pressure on myself (though I say this now). I know that every scenario is different and there could be roadblocks such as latching issues, plugged milk ducks, Mastitis, and simply not enough milk.
In preparation for if this wonderful opportunity does work out, of course I’ve been doing my due diligence searching the internet on best practices for breastfeeding while still enjoying your vino.
And of course, articles upon articles come up yelling at us saying no amount of alcohol is safe. Here we go again! Either that, or how this is a “grey” area since there just aren’t enough good-quality studies to give us the full picture. Much like how much wine can you consume when you are pregnant (my thoughts on that here).
Not to mention, a few infuriating articles on mom shaming at its finest…
Such as when a few months back, actress and singer Jessie James Decker received major slack after posting a picture of her drinking a glass of wine while breastfeeding her five-month-old.
Singer Jesse James Decker has sparked a debate online about the safety of drinking while breastfeeding. The new mom has received thousands of comments from people criticizing her for endangering her baby.
Or, how about when Tasha Adams, a 28-year-old mother of three was arrested for allegedly endangering the welfare of her then-six-month-old daughter after drinking while breastfeeding at an Arkansas restaurant. WHAT!? The charges were eventually dropped since drinking while nursing isn’t illegal in Arkansas.
After taking a deep breath and continuing to research the subject, I did come across some content stating there is no need for breastfeeding women to worry about having an occasional drink, according to doctors and breastfeeding experts. This was refreshing to see, however what if I want more than one glass?
So, I’ve put together a guide on what I plan on following. I’ve highlight the “I” here, since by no means am I an expert in this field, this is simply my plan. I am sharing it because I am striving to provide support to others in the same boat. From what I can tell, there aren’t a whole lot of resources out there on the subject outside of lecturing us or providing actual takeaways that we can apply to real life.
Being very mindful in the beginning: Though I want nothing more than to dive back into my nightly vice, I know I need to really drink in moderation (1-2 drinks, 1-2 times a week). When considering the effect of alcohol, a newborn has a very immature liver, so greater amounts of alcohol would be more of a burden. Up until around 3 months of age, infants detoxify alcohol at around half the rate of an adult. An older baby or toddler can metabolize the alcohol more quickly.
Timing: Waiting at least three to four hours until breastfeeding the baby. Someone’s advice really resonated with me, where if you feel like you can’t drive a car, don’t breastfeed. Also, alcohol could take longer to peak in some women, so I’ll pay attention to how I feel in addition to how long it’s been since I finished my drink.
Plan ahead: I love this one! If I know I am going to open up a bottle of a delicious Cabernet that night, I’d like to store some ready to go. This will also give my husband the chance to feed the baby and be part of process which I am feeling very adamant about. Then, there’s always the old “pump and dump” I keep hearing about, which will alleviate breast pain that may result from skipping a feeding.
2 drink maximum: This is a rule I try to abide by in general. I mean, who wants to feel like crap the next day anyway…especially with a newborn!
Use the strips to test for alcohol: I’ve heard mixed reviews on these tests such as Milkscreen, where after you have your wine, you pump just enough milk to test for alcohol. Since everyone metabolizes alcohol at different rates the Milkscreen test is designed to show a color change at 0.02% alcohol levels. I’ve already got my Amazon order in for these. I know myself, and doing a “test” will give me an ease of mind.
There we are, a short and sweet reference guide. Not over complicating or over thinking things which I know can happen easily after you have a baby. I’ll be sure to report back how nature decided to take its course and the actual reality of what panned out with this master plan of mine!
I am finally getting the chance to have a much needed conversation about this one…I’ve been so preoccupied with nesting and organizing, but here we are!
A few weeks back, I’d heard the news (on what else but Instagram) where 23 newly appointed master sommeliers were stripped of their titles because of a cheating scandal.
I was fresh out of the gates myself, of having crammed hours and hours for an exam (not wine related) and immediately felt empathetic to the innocent bystanders.
Can you imagine doing all that studying, finally passing it, and then getting the award taken away from you because of someone’s else’s poor decision? I’ve seen Somm I and II (waiting for III to come out on Netflix!) therefore I know this is the mother of all wine exams. The Master Sommelier Examination is the test sommeliers take to become master sommeliers, the pinnacle achievement in a sommelier’s career. It requires years of practice and it is roughly $1,000 to take the exam. The exam consists of a verbal wine theory exam and a practical tasting. During the tasting portion, in 25 minutes the test-taker must “clearly and accurately describe” six different wines, including grape varieties, origin, and vintage.
In early October, The Court of Master Sommeliers announced that one of it’s members who remains anonymous, disclosed confidential information pertinent to the practical tasting portion of the 2018 exam. Therefore, they are revoking the master sommelier designation from 23 of the 24 people who had passed this year. Obviously, a huge deal seeing how only 274 people have passed the exam since its inception in 1969. And in case you are wondering, one person got to keep his title because he passed the tasting portion the previous year.
I understand that this holds the standards and integrity of the court, however I feel that a more thorough investigation should have been done before disqualifying everyone from their titles. I don’t even know these people, but I feel for them. It’s a real punch in the gut for the candidates who did NOT cheat. It sounds as though they will be given the opportunity to retake the exam, either later this year or in spring/summer 2019. The court will also refund the tasting fees for the 2018 tasting portion, all of the fees for the upcoming exams, and possibly travel expenses.
I am pleased to hear that at least 19 out of the 23 wrote a letter to the court (published in the Chicago Tribune) asking for a more thorough investigation process and hoping to come to an amicable decision. It was denied. Of course corporations can do whatever they choose and what they feel is right, however that does not mean you can’t stick up for yourself and have a voice, which these participants did.
What do you think about how this all went down? Should the 23 have been stripped of the opportunity to pass? Am I off base with my POV and there is more to it then pass or fail here with this exam?
If you’re working on growing your blog, business, or even personal brand, you might be wondering what your daily schedule should look like. Should you be spending all day posting on Facebook and Instagram? How much time will you need to dedicate to analytics and reporting to measure your success?
Recently I had the chance to connect with Katie Melchior, Social Media and Content expert. She’s provided us with some great tips (as always, nothing too complex here!) on how to grow a following and build your brand through social media, specifically for us in the food/drink/lifestyle niche.
Which social media channels do you recommend for people to build their business (specifically Food/Drink/Lifestyle) and why?
Instagram, Instagram, Instagram. Facebook might be the king of social media by number of users, but in terms of building a brand and telling a story, Instagram is everything. It’s also the main hub for microinfluencers and Like2Buy, two important drivers of the present and future of digital marketing.
What goals should we set for of our social media accounts, and what does success look like?
It really depends on your business strategy and industry. The most important KPIs for my clients are usually 1) engagement and 2) growth. One without the other doesn’t achieve much. Growth without engagement means you aren’t building an impactful brand story and that it’s difficult for people to relate to your brand. Engagement is always great, but without growth you won’t be able to reach new consumers to sell your product or educate consumers about your wine region, for example.
Katie Melchior has proven results growing brands both national and international, by developing strategic content creation that increases engagement and propels her business partners forward.
Which social media tools do you use? Which are your favorites?
I use SproutSocial for scheduling, reporting, and community management. It’s a no-fuss tool and it has every functionality I need. And if you’re marketing on Instagram, you must download Hashtagger! It pulls the most relevant hashtags to the subject of your post (i.e. #roséwine) at the exact time you post so that you get the highest engagement possible.
How would we deal with negative comments or a brand reputation crisis?
Negative comments happen now and again and are a reality for anyone on the internet – personally or professionally. I often find that direct messaging a displeased consumer and having an open and honest conversation about the issue yields the most positive results. People just want to be heard sometimes.
How should we check and stay on top of the latest updates, innovations, and new platforms in social media?
Reading! I edited the subjects of my Google app on my phone so that they’re directly related to my work – wine, Instagram, digital marketing, food trends – and I read the top five articles every morning on my commute. But I’m also no stranger to talking to other professionals in the space, whether influencers, colleagues, or informational interviews with professionals I look up to.
Katie Melchior is a Social Media and Content Manager with Sopexa, a global food and beverage marking agency. Based in New York, she manages social media accounts for major wine trade associations, fresh and organic produce companies as well as specialty food products, among others. Follow her adventures in food and wine on Instagram at @hazelladykatie.
We’ve all been there. You sit down for a business dinner or an anniversary party and everyone turns to you…”Carley, you love wine, which one should we pick? This is your thing!”
Fast forward to face flushing and thinking crap, what do I pick? What if it’s bad? What if everyone hates it?
You would think that a wine lover enjoys going to a restaurant and looking through a wine list pages long. However, most of the wine enthusiasts I know dislike coming across a massive restaurant wine list. Simply put, there are too many bottles to choose from, and not enough time to make your decision. When the pressure is on, I have a tendency to pick the same bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon because I am comfortable with it. Rather than trying to sort through a list of unfamiliar wines.
One of my goals for this year is to stop settling for the “safe” wines. So, I’ve consolidated a list of simple tips to get you through it, flushed face free.
#1: Buy More Time
When you’re first presented with the wine list, it’s a good idea to ask your waiter or sommelier for more time to look at it. Ask them for some waters to start. The water won’t impact your palate, and it buys you some extra time to make your wine selection.
#2: Decide on a Style
Determine if your ideal bottle is going to be white or red. Full-bodied, medium, or light. You might have been dreaming up a wine style before you step into the restaurant. Or, have a change in heart based on what meal you decide and then choose your wine based on that.
#3: Start at the Back of the List
Restaurants usually put interesting one-off bottles or New World wines toward the back of the list. They assume the majority of customers will want to have something familiar, so they’ll position American and New World Wines at the very beginning. Save yourself time by going right to the back of the list, then working your way toward the front. Even if you don’t make it all the way through the list, you’ll still have at least one wine in mind when it’s time to order, and it’s more likely to be a unique one than if you’d started at the front.
#4: Use Wine Apps to Finalize Your Choice
Apps like VinCellar and Wine Searcher allow you to search through a database of thousands of wines. You won’t have time to search each one on the restaurant’s wine list, however if you’ve narrowed it down to a few this will be very helpful to make the final call. You can also look at recent tasting notes so you’ll know to skip it based on what your peers are saying about it.
#5: When in Doubt, Ask Your Sommelier
Just remember, they can’t help you if you’re not sure what type of wine you’re feeling at that moment. Be as specific as possible. Let them know which wines you were thinking of trying and let them help you from there. Share the ones you’ve looked up on the app as well. This way they’ll know what styles you prefer and this allows them to pick a wine that’s absolutely perfect for you.
If you read my choices from last year, I thoroughly enjoy picking out a few bottles of spooky wines to scare the trick or treaters with. Well to be honest with you, the wine is usually gone by the time Halloween rolls around! These are 3 great wines that I wanted to share to prep you for this year’s Halloween festivities. I also went for super affordable this year.
I received a bottle of Phantom from a friend a few years back (thanks Joe!) and it’s continued to stay one of my absolute favorite wines. It’s a blend of 42% Petite Sirah, 34% Zinfandel, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot from California. The wine spends 24 months in 1 and 2 year old American oak and has just 2.8 g/L of residual sugar. Wild berries and black pepper are framed by the influence of oak aging with baking spices and a hint of toasty vanilla.
From the bottle:
In the dark recesses of the cellar you sense a presence, hear footsteps. Why is it these things only happen when you are alone? In the shadows, a glimpse of muddy boots and old blue jeans…the lurking legacies of hard work and determination left by those who have come before you.
Retails at $20 but I heard you can find it at Costco for $15!
Back by popular demand, this Australian Cabernet Sauvignon has nice deep, dark cherry color and a strong inviting aroma. Medium bodied with oak, and not too overly spicy. Sweet beginning, spicy body and dry sweetness ending. The story behind the Verdict is the grapes are sourced from a “partner in crime.” A stone’s throw from the state minimal production from this single vineyard means only a lucky few will ever know the real verdict. Who else is dying to know!? I think we should ask the winemaker. Retails at $16.95.
89% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Malbec blend from Washington State. Offers pure velvet, deep and delicious black fruit, cedar, tobacco and cassis. According to winemaker Charles, “It’s so good that it appears the devil made me do it.” Smooth and super fruity…a wine I absolutely love and can always get behind. Rumor has it, this goes great with a bloody steak (not like Veggies and Vino would know :)). Retails at $12.99.
Ah, good old home renovations. If you’ve been through it before (and if not, we’re sure you will at some point) it can be stressful, daunting, and feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Rest assured, Designer Extraordinaire Cristie from Fresh and In Check and Veggies and Vino have partnered up to help you get through it with what else but…wine! Carley recently went through a home reno, which took about 10 months. The work that was done is outstanding, however there were many nights drinking wine from a plastic cup in the one clean corner of the house, which helped her and her husband get through it.
It’s only fair we provide support to anyone finding themselves in a similar situation, or about to go through it.
Oh, and we made sure that all of our wine suggestions retail under $20 since let’s face it, money doesn’t grow on trees and you may be empty pockets at this point in your reno.
Timing: Can take up to 1-2 months
Helpful tips from Cristie on this renovation: Renovating kitchens can be scary, but oh so exciting! You want to get everything just right the first time because let’s face it, this will be the most expensive renovation in your home. Pay attention to small details like the size of your refrigerator compared to the size of your refrigerator panel. It’s the little details in a kitchen that you will notice every time you walk in the room, so make sure you get them right the first time.
What to pair it with: Cabernet Sauvignon such as Alamos. Allow yourself to escape the madness of what’s going on in the kitchen and venture to a different country, as this wine delivers a deep, rich and dark authenticity that those special Argentinian wines have to offer.
Cristie’s beautiful renovation of the “Tiny Tudor” kitchen
Timing: Can take up to 1 month
Helpful tips from Cristie on this renovation: Paint goes a long way! Lighter and brighter colors in your bedroom will make it feel more spacious and relaxing after a long day. All white walls is a big trend right now and I am totally jumping on that bandwagon! To refrain from feeling like you are in a hospital, be sure to add pops of color through decor and accessories and bring in warmth through wood tones.
What to pair it with: Sauvignon Blanc such as Oyster Bay. This wine will take you over to New Zealand with its passion fruit, bright citrus, and gooseberry characteristics. The zesty finish is perfect inspiration for designing that bright bedroom you’ve always dreamed of.
Timing: Can take up to 1-2 months
Helpful tips from Cristie on this renovation: Choosing grout colors is key. You don’t want to regret picking a lighter color a couple months down the road because it WILL get dirty quickly. I suggest medium to darker colors for grout in a bathroom. Regrouting= No Fun.
What to pair it with: We get it, wine and the bathroom sound sort of weird together but think about what you’d like to sip on in your brand new beautiful tub. For us, it’s a Zinfandel, preferably from California. Our Vines Old Zinfandel will provide welcoming aromas of blackberries and dried figs to your bathroom.
Carley’s before and after master bathroom = lots of wine involved through the process!
Timing: Can take up to 1-3 months (depending on the size of your project)
Helpful tips from Cristie on this renovation: You don’t need a crazy budget to improve your outdoor space. New plants, a power washer, and some stain can go a long way! Don’t break the bank if you don’t need to!
What to pair it with: We’re going with a Pinot Gris for this one. Pinot Gris is popping up more and more these days as it’s crisp and bright fruit flavors are perfect to sip on outside. A selection such as J Vineyards Pinot Gris California would provide some relaxation when watching the work unfold. This is also hopefully the last step in your process.
If you’re doing the actual demo’ing, sip on a little bubbly, like Cantine Maschio. The perkiness of the fruit forward flavors of peach and nut will keep you going through knocking down those walls.
Good luck and feel free to reach out to Cristie and Carley for more home remodel/wine inspiration!
It’s tempting for sure…Buying followers on Instagram when every blogger and small business seem to have more followers than you. They have thousands and thousands of comments and likes on their posts. How are you even supposed to compete?
I can’t help but think, how the hell did they do that(?) when I come across an account with over 20K followers. How long did it take them to get there? Did this happen naturally or did they pay for it?
So I did some research on the costs of paying for followers and likes and the results were interesting:
According to 2016 data, buying Instagram followers in bulk (instantly) averages at $2.95 for 100 followers to $250 for 50,000 followers. Alternatively, bot automation where bots will like comment and follow based on hashtags or geolocation will be fees ranging from $2.99 per day to $99.99 for 30 days.
There are many cheap services you can use to buy Instagram followers. For about $6 USD, you can get 500 followers, and for about $10 USD, you can get 1,000 followers. The vast majority of these purchasable followers, however, are either bots or inactive accounts.
Services like “Buy Instagram Followers” claim to offer genuine followers for sale, as well as the opportunity to purchase “likes” on your photos. Be warned, though, charges are steep: 1,000 followers will cost you $90, while 20,000 followers will set you back a whopping $1,800.
Now, let me be clear, I am not knocking on paying for followers. I completely understand if this is the route one chooses to take to build their following and brand. It’s indeed very attractive and inspiring to come across an account with a massive following. However, the experts say followers do not always equate to sales as expressed in this Hootsuite article. The same goes for engagement rates.
As I work to grow my business, I find it an exciting challenge to organically grow my following. It’s allowing me to engage, build relationships and learn from other bloggers, something I wouldn’t necessarily be doing as actively if I was using a bot. Plus, I’d rather not shell out that money and spend it on other tools that have proved results. Now, that’s not to say I don’t have my frustrations when I wake up to see I gained one follower overnight, or there was even a decrease. So, I am making it a habit to do the following on the daily since I can’t just sit back and wait. I know I have to put in the hard work.
Post up to 40 comments a day on other people’s Instagram posts that are relevant to my brand (mostly wine and healthy lifestyle accounts). I make sure to read their entire post before I comment, even the ones that are 5 paragraphs long. I don’t just look at the picture and pretend to care. Participating in a few Instagram PODS has been extremely helpful too!
Search for and like relevant hashtags (such as “#wine” “#roseallday” “#winetasting”) at least twice a day.
Post at least once a day. This has been the most challenging for me. As long as I tie it back to, is this something my friends would find interesting and share out? If the answer is yes, I am comfortable and feel good about posting it.
So what are your thoughts on this one? I would love to hear from you so drop me a line here in the comments or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonus points: If there is anyone that has paid for a third party service to collect followers, likes, comments, etc I would REALLY love to hear from you and get your POV. I think we can all agree we’re still learning in this process and sharing is caring!