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2018 Maryland Wine Festival Complete Guide

Wine in the Woods is this weekend, May 19 – 20, 2018, in Columbia, MD.  Wine in the Woods is the unofficial kick off of the 2018 wine festival season in Maryland.  This festival is a large outdoor festival featuring over 30 wineries and vineyards from Maryland.  For 25 years, the festival has included wine tastings, food vendors, crafts and live music.

Wine in the Woods attracts hundreds, if not thousands of people.  It is an annual pilgrimage for some.  A time once a year to reunite with old friends and enjoy great wine.  For most, it is a sign summer is almost here.

If you cannot attend Wine in the Woods, no worries there are many more festivals this summer and fall.  We compiled a list of over 30 wine festivals in Maryland.  The festivals span from Washington County to Ocean City, Maryland and cities in between.   Below is the 2018 Maryland Wine Festival Complete Guide.  It is in a .pdf format for you to print and carry with you.

Before you dust off your lawn chair and picnic basket, we have some tips for you to have the most enjoyable festival experience.

Go for Free

When you volunteer at festivals your admission is free. Larger festivals, like Maryland Wine Festival, need volunteers to help the day of the event.  You can contact the organizers of the festival to learn more about the jobs available.  Wineries also need assistance.  Wineries advertise for volunteers on their website or post volunteer information in their newsletters.  Volunteers are needed to pour wine.  The wineries will cover your admission in exchange for your time.   It is not too late to volunteer, contact your favorite vineyard.

Get Your Ticket Early

More popular festivals sell out and will not sell tickets at the entrance.  Linganore Winecellar’s Caribbean festival is an example of a festival which sells out every year.  Every year!  Do not wait until the week of or day of to purchase your ticket.

Avoid Pre-gaming

It is fun to have a drink or two with your friends before the festival, but remember to pace yourself.  It is not a good look to be drunk before 11:00 am. Avoid going all out before the festival.  There are several tasting options at the festival.  Generally, the tasting samples are one ounce pours.  Each winery pours between 4 to 6 wines, so you could potentially have a single glass of wine at each tent.  Remember wine festivals are a marathon not a sprint.

Leave the Booze at Home   

Festivals have strict policies about bringing alcohol not sold at festivals into the event.  You cannot bring alcohol to the festival.  It is not an attempt for the organizers to sell more wine.   It is the law.  Your bags will be checked before you entered.  Any alcohol found at bag check will be confiscated.

Happy festival hopping!  For more tips, check out our earlier blog Tips to Navigating Maryland Wine Festivals Share with us in the comment section below, what is your favorite festival to attend. Here is your 2018 Maryland Wine Festival Complete Guide two page guide.

Wine festivals 2018

 If you enjoyed reading this blog, join our mailing list to receive our blogs on a monthly basis.  When you join the mailing list you will receive a voucher for a free lunch with any Regional Wine Tour.

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Raise Your Wine Glasses on Cinco De Mayo… Try Mexican Wines, Yes Mexican Wines

Many of us will celebrate Cinco De Mayo in a few days.  Cinco De Mayo celebrates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.  For many Americans Cinco De Mayo is the commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage.  For others, it is an exploration of 2 for 1 Margaritas or Corona Beers.  (no judgement) Instead of toasting the Mexican army’s victory with tequila, try Mexican wines.

Yes, I said wines.  You may be thinking anybody can make wine but is Mexican wine good.  The answer is a resounding YES! Recently, I tried L.A. Cetto wines.  L.A. Cetto is the largest winemaker in the Guadalupe Valley.  Guadalupe Valley wine region is near the Pacific coast in Ensenada area of Baja California. Baja California is an ideal grape growing area because of its Mediterranean climate and its sandy soil.  Close to 90 percent of wine is produced in this area.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Tempranillo are popular grapes grown in this region.

L.A. Cetto is one of the oldest vineyards in Mexico established in the 1920s.  Cetto family immigrated from Italy bringing old world charm and utilizing modern grape growing techniques to cultivate its vineyards.   Over time, Cetto family purchased several smaller vineyards and became the largest vintner in the region.

Mexican Wines - YouTube

2016 Sauvignon Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc has a beautiful cornflower yellow color that magically reflects the light.  Traditional aromas, like lemongrass and spring flowers capture your nose.  Mexico’s extremely warm temperatures has an influence on the grape flavors producing tropical flavors.  Kiwi and earthy flavors, like tomato, are on the palate.  This is a departure from New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, which have fresh cut grass flavors.  I love this departure.  Pour me more! This Sauvignon Blanc is well balanced with a short finish.  It is perfect to drink by itself or pair with your favorite Mexican dish. I enjoyed it with fresh salsa and chips.

 

2014 Petite Sirah

The Petite Sirah is a gorgeous jewel tone wine.  It is a deep ruby color.  Smokey and slate aromas are on the nose.  Blackberry scents greet your nose as well.  The wine is fruity without being jammy.  Pomegranate and cherries flavors are prominent. It is a medium body wine with medium tannin.  This is a great wine to have with grilled meat, perfect for the summer.

L.A. Cetto wines are reasonably priced.  They range from $8.00 – $17.00 a bottle.  You can find them at large wine stores in the Washington and Baltimore area.   Try a Mexican wine this weekend and let us know what you think.  Cheers!

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Wine and Cheese… Tips to Having an Awesome Pairing

Recently Vino 301 launched a Wine and Cheese tour with two amazing partners, Romano Vineyard and Winery (Brandywine, MD) and PA Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD).  Obviously, we are pairing Romano’s finest wines with PA Bowen award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses. When we were selecting which cheeses and wines to pair we started with the cheeses.   Yes, the cheese not the wine!  Most people assume you should start with the wine and build the meal around the wine.   Well, you would be wrong.  Any good food and wine pairing starts with the food.  Food has more impact on how a wine will taste.  This is especially true with cheeses.  It is more than likely cheese will have a negative impact on the taste of wine.  Here are some tips to have an awesome wine and cheese pairing.

Cheese is fatty

Your taste buds immediately perceive levels of sugar, salt and acid when you taste food.  And, this is great to apply general tasting principals like sweet food with sweet wine, acidic food with high acid white wines, or salty food with tannic red wines.  These rules do not always apply to cheese pairings. Cheese can confuse your taste buds. Cheese is fatty and will coat your tongue, like a thin coat of pollen on your car in the beginning of spring.  The mouth coating effect may impair your sense of taste especially with wine.

Go for intensity    

Gauge the cheese flavor intensity when you are matching it to wine.  You want to make sure the wine or cheese does not overpower the other.  For example, an intense blue cheese can be paired with a light flavored Riesling.  This pairing is balanced. The Riesling will not overshadow the cheese.  Pairing a bold, rich Cabernet Sauvignon with Gorgonzola is a battle of flavors.  It is like watching the Ali-Frazier fight, down goes Frazier.  The Cabernet and Gorgonzola flavors are competing with each other.

Acid can be fat best friend

Acid and fat combinations are an unlikely pair, but many people enjoy the combo. Acidic wines like Pinot Gris, Albariño, and Grüner Veltliner cut through the fat.  Remember the fatty coat we discussed earlier, these wines will cut through that coat.  They are the Edward Scissorhands of the wine world.  Try mozzarella, feta and goat cheese with these wines.

 

Fruity with savory flavors

There is a component in food known as umami.  Umami is the savory taste.  People often refer to mushrooms when describing it. This flavor is found in hard cheeses.   Hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan and gruyere should be paired with fruit forward wines, such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for wines with mild tannin but have a lot of fruity character.

If this is overwhelming, no worries.  Below is a 2015 Wine Enthusiast Magazine wine and cheese guide you can use to have an awesome pairing.  Share your favorite cheese and wine pairing with us.  Leave your wine and cheese pairing in the blog comment section.

Wine and Cheese Pairing Examples
Cheese Wine
Bloomy
Camembert Champagne
Brie Chardonnay
Robiola Sparkling Wine
Taleggio Pinot Blanc
Hard
Gouda Merlot
Cheddar Cabernet Sauvignon
Parmesan Chianti
Double Gloucester Zinfandel
Pecorino Valpolicella
Gruyere Sauvignon Blanc
Fontina Bardolino
Blue
Gorgonzola Port
Stilton Sauternes
Blue Riesling
Cambozola Eiswein
Fresh
Ricotta Pinot Grigio
Mozzarella Sauvignon Blanc
Goat Chenin Blanc
Feta Beaujolais
Burrata Tocai Friulano

Credit:  WINE ENTHUSIAST, 2015

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Vino 301’s 5th Year Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to us!  It’s our 5th year anniversary. Thank you for supporting us over the past five years.  We have had a great time creating memories with you.  We appreciate you and look forward to sharing more laughs, more adventures and a lot of wine.   We have new activities planned for you this year.

Giving Back To Our Community

Vino 301 offered discounted tours or events to demonstrate our appreciation in prior years to celebrate our anniversary.  This year we are celebrating our anniversary differently.  We appreciate you more than ever.  We are grateful for you uplifting us, so we want to uplift others. Vino 301 is showing our gratitude by giving back. A dollar from each regional wine tour, Chocolate and Wine tour, and Wine, Beer & Spirits tour ticket sold will be used to purchase food for The Bowie Interfaith Pantry and Emergency Aid Fund this year.  The Bowie Pantry provides emergency food and financial aid to residents in Prince George’s County.  From Vino 301’s the beginning, we have always expressed our passion for supporting local vintners, farmers and businesses and we are sharing our passion by assisting our community.   If you wish to donate food or funds to the Bowie Pantry, visit Bowie Pantry website.

New Adventures

We have a lot instore for you this first half of the year.  More wine packages, and tour experiences!!!

February –  We are celebrating National Drink Wine Day on February 18.  It is a real holiday. This holiday celebrates wine drinkers and everything that is good about wine.   It is only right that we observe this national holiday at a wine bar. Vino 301 Wine Concierge is hosting a social at Red, Red Wine Bar(Annapolis, MD) on February 18 from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm.  Join us and enjoy wine flights and light hors d’oeuvres.   More information, click here.

March –     March is Maryland Wine Month.  Vino 301 is pairing cheese with Maryland wine.  Wine and Cheese tour is a new specialty tour.  We partnered with Romano Vineyard and Winery and P.A. Bowen Farmstead.  Romano’s finest wines will be paired with P.A. Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD) award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses.  This wine tour will take you to Romano Vineyard for the cheese pairing.   Your next destination will take you to one of southern Prince George’s County local vineyards (Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards, JaneMark Winery &Vineyard, or Gemeny Winery & Vineyard).   More information, click here

April –          The girls are out of here!  Girlfriends Getaway takes you to Inn Boonsboro (Boonsboro, MD).  Spend the weekend at famed novelist, Nora Roberts, bed and breakfast.  Girlfriends Getaway is a weekend adventure that includes two-night stay at the Inn Boonsboro, wine tour with lunch, evening happy hours, yoga class, and much more.  Stay tuned for more information.

May –          Shopping is blooming in May. Sip and Shop is an afternoon of sampling selected fine wines, enjoying delectable appetizers and shopping.  W by Worth clothing, high-quality women’s fashions, will be on display for a fun shopping spree – hassle-free with personalized service.  More details are coming.

June –          Vino 301 is headed for the water in June.  We partnered with Atlantic Kayak Company.  Take a Twilight Kayak tour along the Mattawoman Creek. There’s nothing more relaxing and engaging than spending time on the water.  Leave the crowded streets and bike paths behind, and go on a kayak adventure! Top off your evening with a wine and cheese pairing. More details are coming.

Thank you again for five wonderful years.  See you along the wine trails.

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Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle and Still Drink Wine

Wine has several health benefits.  A few rewards are that it contains antioxidants, flavonoids that promote heart health, it slows the aging process, and it decreases your chances of getting chronic diseases.  If wine is so great why do many modern diets discourage you from consuming wine?  Perhaps, dieters over indulge and dietitian recommend removing it rather than encouraging moderation. Dietitians consider wine as having “empty” calories and those calories could be better used elsewhere.  Nonsense!  Wine can give you a weight lost boost.  According to researchers, red wine contains a chemical called ellagic acid.  Ellagic acid slows the growth of existing fat cells and prevents the growth of new ones. So, do not give up your wine.  You can incorporate healthy simple tactics in your every life so you can continue to enjoy wine.  Here are a few approaches on how you can maintain a healthy lifestyle and still drink wine.

 

Use a Smaller Wine Glass

 My wine glasses are huge.  They could be mistaken for portable wine tanks.  Easily, these glasses could hold 20 ounces.  I wanted to do my part in ending global warming. So, I bought them to conserve energy by only pour myself one glass of a wine a day. (Anything to help a cause.) However, these glasses are not recommended to sustaining a balance diet.  It sounds crazy, but the size of your wine glass influences how much wine you pour.  Experts suggest drinking a maximum of 5  to 6 ounces of wine daily. When you pour 5 ounces in a 20-ounce glass it looks like a drop in the bucket.  You tend to pour more because it appears to be smaller than it looks.  But, when you pour 5 ounces in an 8-ounce glass it looks like a lot of wine. Remember: the smaller the glass the bigger the pour appears.

  

Count Your Ounces

  A glass of wine at a restaurant is at least 40 percent more than your at home pour.  The average restaurant serves between 9 to 11 ounces. You have exceeded your daily allowance with one glass of wine when you dine out. Most people have two glasses of wine when they dine out.  That is 18 ounces or over half a bottle of wine.  You can avoid this by asking for a half of pour.  Most places are happy to accommodate you.

Avoid Drinking on an Empty Stomach

Would you have the fastest time for arriving at home from work to pouring yourself a glass of wine? Would you be gold medalist?  I would medal every time! I would set Olympic records. This is a practice many people do.  They pour themselves a glass of wine while they are unwinding down from the work day.  They may have a glass when they are preparing dinner.  Experts discourage drinking before you eat.  Your appetite increases when you drink on an empty stomach.  Alcohol is an appetite stimulant.  You will eat more and make poor food choices when you drink 30 minutes before eating.  Saving your wine for your meal. You can also try pre-planning your food options.  Have healthy snacks like fresh fruit, popcorn, or hummus available  while you are preparing your dinner or to snack on after a long day.

Drink Water

When you are tipsy you underestimate your food consumption and overeat.  Avoid this by drinking water. Drinking water increase that full feeling. Drink a glass of water between glasses of wine.  You should drink at least 8 to 12-ounces.  This will also have an effect on your blood alcohol level.  Your blood alcohol level will gradually increase, instead of rapidly escalating. Water will not prevent you from getting drunk, but it will slow the process.

Try these few actions and, you will see a difference in your lifestyle.

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Holiday Wine Cocktails

Holidays are a time for celebrations and entertaining.  Entertaining is always so much easier when you can prep in advance and stay out of the kitchen.  Having cocktails prepped limits your need to bartender.  Here are two cocktail recipes you can make prior to your guests’ arrival.  The best thing about these recipes is that wine has been substituted for spirits. Using wine instead of spirits lowers your entertainment cost. Wine cocktails recipes are easy, and inexpensive.  Sip, enjoy and repeat. Happy Holidays!

Cranberry Pinot

Serves 10- 12 people

2 cups   Fresh Cranberries

1 cup     Orange Juice

1/3 cup Sugar

1 Tsp     Cinnamon

4 cups   Pinot Grigio

¼ cup    Grand Marinier©

Orange Slices and fresh Cranberries for garnish

Note: Please do not buy an expense Pinot Grigio.  If you want to substitute the Pinot, use a white wine with a medium – high acidity level. Avoid oaky Chardonnary

1. Combine cranberries, orange juice, sugar, and cinnamon in a sauce pot. Let mixture boil until sugar dissolves. Cranberries will begin to pop. You can hear the cranberries popping in the video. Once sugar is dissolved remove from stove, and let mixture cool. Pour mixture into serving pitcher or bowl.

2. The cranberry mixture is in the center. Add the entire bottle of Pinot Grigio and top with Grand Marnier. Garnish with orange slices and fresh cranberries

3. Garnish with orange slices and fresh cranberries

Pomegranate Sparkling

Serves  10 – 12 people

1 cup     Pomegranate seeds

1 cup     Sugar

1 cup     Water

1 bottle Sparkling Wine

Rosemary sprigs for garnish

Note: Please do not buy an expense sparkling wine.

1. Combine pomegranate, sugar and water in a sauce pot. Boil for 10 -12 minutes. You want a hard boil but do not let it over cook. You are creating a simple syrup. Once sugar is dissolved and mixture is brilliant thick red, remove from heat. Let cool and remove pom seeds. Place syrup in refrigerator for half an hour. You can make the mixture a few days before your event.
Place a teaspoon of syrup in Champagne flute or wine glace.

2. When your guest arrive, top simple syrup mixture with a sparkling wine. This is fun way to greet your guests.

3.  Add cook pom seeds. You can garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Cheers! Toast to the holidays.  Enjoy your friends and family.

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 Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Snow days are fun to try Pinterest recipes you always wanted to try, but never do.  Yesterday’s snow day was no exception.  There is a red wine hot chocolate recipe that looks so good.  You add red wine to creamy hot chocolate.  Ummm, chocolate and wine!!! This recipe is my cooking bucket list.  A snow day was the perfect day to make a decadent, warm beverage.

The original recipe calls for dark chocolate chunks, red wine and milk.  Good right!?!  Reading the recipe I anticipated there may be problems.  Dark chocolate is a heart healthy candy.  This is the chocolate doctors recommend you have daily.  It has potent antioxidants similar to red wine.  Dark chocolate is bitter and the lest sweet chocolate.  This is why it pairs well with red wine, likes with likes.  Red wine’s high tannin level puts it on the high end of the bitter scale.   The combination is normally a perfect  pairing, but not for hot chocolate.  Hot chocolate is sweet.  The recipe needed sugar.  It is too savory.   The recipe needs a “Fashion Emergency” makeover.  I answered the call of duty.

Here is the recipe makeover:

Snow Day Delight:  Red Wine Hot Chocolate

 

12 oz     Milk

6             Tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix. Use a mix that requires milk.

4 oz        Cabernet Sauvignon (to taste)

Whip Cream (Optional)

Chocolate Shavings (Optional)

2 servings

Hints:  This is not a dieter recipe.  Recommend using 2% or whole milk.

Make sure you use a really good chocolate mix. This is what makes the difference in the recipe.

Combine milk and chocolate mix. Do not substitute water. You want the hot chocolate creamy. Heat, while stirring until steaming. Do not boil.

Add Cabernet Sauvignon and stir. Remove from heat when wine is completely blended. Use a full body red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc). Do not use an expense wine. You can get a good wine for under $20.

Pour hot chocolate mixture in your favorite mug.

Garnish with whip cream and chocolate shavings. Sip, enjoy and repeat

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The Best Glass to Sip Sparkling Wine

Sipping Champagne evokes thoughts of luxury, style and elegance. It is the beverage exclusively served to kings and queens at a moment in history.  It is the Maserati of the wine world. Champagne or sparkling wine has always been in a class by itself.  It is elite and legendary.  Even its glassware has a fabled history.  The vintage coupe glass, first Champagne glassware, was rumored to be inspired by French queen Marie Antoinette.  The first modern glassware was actually designed in England in the 16th century according to Wikipedia and later made popular by the French in the 1700s.  Sparkling wine glassware was to modeled to display its delicate bubbles. As sparkling wine has evolved, so has how people enjoyed sparkling wine.  The vessel which sparkling wine is poured into has changed over time.  When sipping sparkling wine does the style of glass matter?  What is the best glass to sip sparkling wine?

The allure of sparkling wine is the carbonated bubbles.  The second fermentation process creates carbonation delight.  When sparkling wine is well chilled the carbon dioxide is slowly released creating a symphony of tiny bubbles. You want the perfect glassware to prolong the gentle stream of bubbles.  Glass Matters!!! Let us examine the popular glassware.

Coupe

Coupe is also known as the vintage Champagne glass. It is a saucer design wine glass with a wide bowl and shallow shape.   It was popular in the early 20th century.  During that time a sweet syrup was added to Champagne making a dessert delight.  As Champagne drinkers’ palate moved towards a drier style wine, Champagne dessert lost its fizz.  So, did the Coupe.  Bubbles quickly disappear in the Coupe glass.  The shallow bowl design permits aromas and bubbles to escape quickly due to the large surface area.  In English, this means your sparkling wine will go flat very fast.  Do not throw away your Coupe glasses if you are nostalgic. You can use these glasses for desserts or cocktails.

Flute Glass

Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles.  If bubbles are important to you, you will love the Flute style.  The Flute slender bowl design is made to capture the carbonation at the bottom of the glass and the bubbles rapidly rise to the rim of the glass.  Fizz, fizz and fizz again.  The Flute gets an A++ for fizz, but a C- for capturing flavors and aromas.  Its small rim circumference restricts smells to collect and develop.  Flavors and aromas are lost as a result. According to wine experts, this is problematic when tasting older wines or complex wines.  Older wines need more air space to develop and its flavors to appear in the wine tasting experiences.  Isn’t this true for all of us maturing.  We need a little more space and time to express ourselves.

The Flute traditional has a long stem for drinkers to hold the glass.  Modern or trendy Flutes are stemless. Stay traditional. Sparkling wine is best when it is served well chilled.  Chilled sparkling wines are between 41 – 46 degrees Fahrenheit (6 to 7 degrees Celsius).  You want to avoid holding the glass by the bowl.  Your hand will warm the wine when you hold the glass at the bowl affecting the temperature.

If you are clutching onto your Flutes, refusing to get rid of them and ready to boycott Vino 301’s blog, wait!  Here is a compromise.  Try a Tulip glass.  Tulip glasses are similar to flutes but permits more air space.  Tulip glasses have a similar slender base but the bowl gradually increases in width giving it a wider rim.  You are able to maintain the wine fizz, while capturing aromas.  This style is preferred by more professional wine tasters.

White Wine Glass

There is a movement in the wine world to use classic white wine glasses for sparkling wine tasting.  Yes, you heard me correctly,  white wine glasses.   But what about the sophistication, the elegance, the exclusivity?  Sparkling wine is not your everyday Moscato, you say.  We hear you.  The argument is sparkling wine is more diverse, more complex than it has ever been. It should be treated more like “real” wine. Sparkling wines are extremely complex and need a larger bowl for its aromas to present themselves.  The flavors will be accentuated and can breathe in a larger glass like white wine glass.   Using a white wine glass will not diminish Champagne’s mystic or character.

Glass matters based on your needs.  Select the wine glass for what best suits your desires.  Personally, the Tulip glass is my favorite.  Do what works for you.  Cheers to you!

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2017 Wine Gift Giving Guide:  Jaw Dropping Gifts

“What do you want for Christmas?” are the six words that always stop me in my tracks.  Not because I am a scrooge or I do not like exchanging gifts.  On the contrary, I love the holidays and giving gifts to friends and family.  I love the look of joy and the smiles a perfectly selected gift brings.  Well then, why does “What do you want for Christmas?” bring on temporary paralyze?  It is stuff.  The thought of having more stuff.  I don’t want more stuff.  Stuff adds clutter to my overly generous furnished home.  I prefer to give experiences to people.  Something they hopefully enjoy doing, which will create lasting memories.  The jaw dropping gifts list is composed of items or experiences that will create memories for your wine lover.

WineCream

photo credit: Tasha Dooley

WineCream is homemade ice cream and wine.  The WineCream creators did the impossible.  They made dessert better.  They improved everyone’s frozen dessert by adding wine.  Located in Baltimore City, WineCream has a tasting room where you witness their unique process of making the ice cream and delight in tasting their fruity wine ice cream.  You can schedule private tastings.  Your visit includes a tour of the historical industrial building, ice demonstration and a tasting. They have seasonal flavors like Apple Pie, Caramel Pie and Peach Cobbler.  You taste between 4 and 6 ice creams.   If you not interested in the onsite tasting, WineCream does ship locally.  $15 for tasting fees,  $14.99 pint of ice cream (Shipping not included) purchased online WineCream

Make Your Own Wine

While sipping a glass of Pinot Noir do you ever say to yourself, “I could make this”?  We found a place that allows you to get your wish. The Urban Winery (Silver Spring, MD) offers wine making classes.   Here is your chance to show off your inner winemaker.  You can geek out over the whole wine making experience.  The wine classes are small… you and 5 of your favorite people are the average size group.   It is a two part experience.  During your first visit, you select the varietal and make the wine with the resident winemaker.  About 10 – 14 weeks later, you go back to The Urban Winery to bottle, cork and label your wine. When it is all said and done, you make approximately six gallons or 3 cases of wine.  Call or email The Urban Winery to book your event $500 – $700 per group

photo credit: Urban Winery

29 Bottle Wine Cooler

A couple years ago my brother gave me a wine cooler refrigerator for Christmas.  He immediately became my favorite brother. (By the way, he is my only sibling).  It has the dual temperature settings for white and red wines.  It is conveniently stored in my basement where I cellar my wine. The chiller’s compressor cycles, as a result it can be a little loud and expends a lot of energy are the only draw backs.  I heard similar concerns expressed by other chiller owners.  So, when NewAir contacted me about testing their chiller, I had reservations.  How could this be different then my current wine frig?   In the name of wine, I gave it a try.

photo credit: NewAir

Immediately, I noticed NewAir 29 wine bottle cooler is a fourth slimmer than mine. Interesting.  It holds the same number of bottles, but it is slimmer.  The cooler is a sleek black stainless-steel model. It is perfect for people who do not have a lot of space, but need to accommodate at least two cases of wine. It has similar functionality, like dual temperature controls and adjustable wood rack trays, as in my current one.  However, it is noticeably quieter. I did not hear the compressor cycling. NewAir is energy efficient.  An unexpected surprise, was the lock.  I can secure the cooler. This feature is great for people with kids and keeping wine in the “right” hands.  I hope I do not lock myself out.  I look forward to filling my new wine cooler and the new experiences each wine bottle will bring.  The nice people at NewAir is offering a discount to Vino 301 followers.  Use code Vino and receive 20% off when you purchase online.  $829.95 NewAir.com

Wine & Cheese Tour

Cheese frequently comes to mind when you think of serving wine.  So why not have cheese during your wine tour?  Vino 301 is offering a Wine and Cheese tour in 2018.  Your adventure begins with a cheese and wine pairing, where Romano’s finest wines will be paired with P.A. Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD) award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses.  Romano Vineyard and Winery produces handcrafted award-winning wines from their estate grown grapes and grapes from custom growers.   PA Bowen make award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses, and we are a pasture-based sustainable farm.   Your next destination will take you to one of southern Prince George’s County local vineyards (Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards, JaneMark Winery &Vineyard, or Gemeny Winery & Vineyard). $115 per person.  Wine & Cheese Tour

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Wine Stocking Stuffers and Small Presents

People who drink wine, love wine, practice at the altar of Cabernet Sauvignon are the easiest people to buy gifts for.  You give them wine.  Wine never goes out of style.  It is always the perfect fit.  Wine is what you get a wine lover.  But, sometimes you want to add a little something else to the gift bag.   Here are some inspirations to get the gift giving juices flowing.  Below are a few wine stocking stuffers and small presents you can include with your wine gift.

Homesick Maryland Candle

Photo Credit: Product Lab Inc.

Homesick candles caught my eye immediately.  The state inspired labels  stood out.   Homesick’s designers created  state specific labels for each of their candles.   Yes, there is a Maryland candle. Beautifully simple, the label is a silhouette of Maryland.  The Maryland candle is lightly scented and burns evenly.  It is not a travel candle, but I take mine with me. It is calming and reminds me of home.  You can order online at Homesick Candles  or pick up one at the Annapolis Pottery.  $29

Cloister Honey

Annapolis Pottery was offering a honey tasting when I purchased my Homesick candle.  Intrigued by the different flavors, I had to try the honey.   Bourbon, cinnamon, chipotle, chocolate, salted honey are some flavors available. Cloister Honey is the caviar of honey.  It takes honey to the next level.  The honey can be poured over cheese.  The Bourbon honey is especially delicious when you serve with Brie.  The honey is also spreadable. Yes, I said spreadable.  The cinnamon can be spread on toast.  These honeys are an excellent addition to a cheese plate.  You can purchase single 3oz honey pot or a customize a set of three at Annapolis Pottery.  $8 per honey pot.

Fall Splendor Gift

Capital Gift Baskets assembles the most amazing gift baskets. Lauri Willamson, Capital Gift Baskets owner, adds the personal touches that evokes Oooos and Awwws.  Fall Splendor Gift is a wine lovers delight. The basket has right touches of crunchy parmesan bruschetta crisps with smooth gourmet brie cheese spread and Sweet on the Bubbly’s strawberry and champagne jam. A porcelain tapas plate with silver spreader adds to the celebration. Almonds and Zoe’s delightful chocolate truffles make this gift complete.  Capital Gift Basket is a local company that can ship throughout United States.  $85 (Shipping to US addresses included)

 

Wine Nots

Wine Nots is the latest magician in making wine tongue disappear. Do you know what is wine tongue?  Wine tongue is when your tongue and mouth is stained by red wine. Wine Nots effervescent tablets are  placed on your tongue. It fizzes and in seconds your mouth returns to its normal color.  Red wine stains are GONE!  There are 12 tablets in each box. Get a few boxes and place in your favorite red wine lover stocking.  Available at Wine Nots or Amazon.com $9

Wine Glass Markers by the Best of Lucy

Throw away your wine charms!  Wine charms are nice, even cute but you never had enough for everyone at a party.  There is always enough Wine Glass Markers.  You and your guests can write your name on your wine glasses, so you do not confuse glasses.   The markers are available in multiple colors, usually five markers in a box.  The ink does not stain your glass and easily removable.  You can purchase them on Amazon or upscale home goods store.  $6.99

Vino 301 Tees

When Vino 301 Tour Ambassadors are bouncing to vineyard to vineyard they are frequently asked, “Where did you get your shirt?”  Keep Calm and Take A Wine Tour and Got Vino?  Tee-shirts are our most popular shirts.  Make sure your wine lover is properly adorned when they are enjoying their favorite grape.  The Vino 301 shirts are available in a variety of colors and sizes (S, M, L. XL, XXL).  Available at Vino 301 website $22.

Wine Tasting Notebook

Does your favorite wine lover have to share with you the color, nose, palate and all of his tasting notes before he can enjoy his wine?  I have the perfect gift for you! Give him a notebook to record his thoughts.  Steve De Long published the Wine Tasting Notebook  It is a pocketsize notebook and wine guide.  Your wine lover can record their tasting notes while learning how to taste wine like a professional. Vivid graphics, wine tasting terms and how to taste wine is included in the notebook. After using this notebook your wine lover will be a Master of Wine.  Available at DeLongwine.com  or Amazon.com $7.95

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