How To Gift Wine This Holiday Season

'Tis the season for holiday gatherings and wine. I love getting together with family and friends over wine. And I especially love receiving wine as a gift (hint, hint). I was recently approached by Erik Sunset with Right Price Wine to chime in on his post "How To Give Wine As A Gift" along with 17 other wine experts, influencers, and sommeliers.

Right Price Wine asked us two questions. Check out my responses below and hear what the rest had to wine about here. Madeline Puckette with Wine Folly and Ashley with Women Who Love Wine also chimed in (I’m a huge fan of both of them).

When you give wine as a gift what do you like to give?

To me, wine is an experience.  I love how wine brings people together, especially during the holidays.  I usually gift wines that I have tried and like, unless I know what the person likes.  I always recommend visiting local wine shops and talking to staff.  I stay away from wines that appeal to a very specific audience.  And, since I'm all about the detail, I usually like to add a wine tote with character.

What is an appropriate amount to spend on 1 bottle as a gift?

It depends on who I'm gifting the wine to, but there are a great selection of wines out there that are under $30.  California wines are having great momentum (I'm a fan.)

Bogle Essential Red

I'm a huge fan of Bogle Essential Red. Pictured here is the 2013 vintage. I also recommend the 2012 and 2014 vintage. You can pick up a bottle of Essential Red for under $15 and it's a great welcoming and easy drinking wine, which is why I recommend it for gatherings and gifts. And at such a great price, you can even pick up their Pinot Noir and a bottle for yourself (you're welcome)! 

Winemaker Notes

Bogle winemakers have brought together four distinct varietals to create Essential Red.

This blend of Old Vine Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah has created a ripe and mouthfilling wine.  Richly textured fruit of dark berries and black plums is nuanced by the flavors of juniper and dried herbs. The juicy, jammy fruit is framed with spicy cedar and hints of pipe tobacco and cocoa as the American oak lingers through the aging of 12 long months.  Luscious from start to finish, this wine is easy to drink, but impossible to forget.  

To learn more about Bogle Vineyards and Bogle Family, click here

Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you and yours a wine-tastic holiday season. Cheers!

 

How To Host The Ultimate Friendsgiving: Food & Wine Pairing

bloggers coming together for a wine tasting miami 

I love bringing women and wine lovers together, especially if it's for good food and wine. So when this Friendsgiving post came to mind, I knew it would be special if it came to life. Thanks to my supporters and fellow bloggers and influencers,  I was able to coordinate and host this collaborative Friendsgiving food and wine pairing at west elm Dadeland.

Whether you are keeping up the tradition or hosting your first Friendsgiving, this game plan will ensure that you host a memorable Thanksgiving with friends. Cheers to that! 

Table Setting Inspiration 

For the table setting, it was all in the details. Using furniture and dinnerware from west elm Dadeland, dynamic duo and sisters, Cat and Jules with Tinseldot, an event design company, styled everything to perfection. I still cannot get over their beautiful flower centerpiece, which was complimented by real flowers and fruit around the table. Be sure to stop by your nearest west elm to make your Friendsgiving table setting stand out. And if you need an extra hand with styling your table, I'm sure Tinseldot will be happy to hear from you.

west elm 15% off promo: Show this blog post on your mobile device and receive 15% off at checkout. Offer only valid at the west elm Dadeland location. Promo code: FRIENDSGIVING2016

The food was provided by Miami event catering company, Cuisine and Events. Owner and Chef, Mia Anzola is not only amazing and great to work with, she can throw down a delicious spread. Highly recommend her for your next event or gathering.  

Dinner was paired with longtime supporter, ZONIN1821 wines and the wine pairing was led by Wine Specialist and Wine Director, Alessandra Esteves with The Florida Wine Academy. A dear friend and wine mentor, Alessandra heads the Florida Wine Academy in Downtown Miami, catering to both wine lovers looking to learn about wines in a private setting and wine professionals who want to perfect their skill.

Before you get started with your Friendsgiving, don't forget to give thanks. Here's a little help from Author and Spiritual Life Coach (and my dear friend and mentor), Nikki Novo who led our spiritual prayer before dinner. Click here for prayer

FOOD & WINE PAIRING MENU & RECIPES

Starter:                    Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Bacon (click here for recipe

Wine:                          Masseria Altemura Fiano

Starter:                    Arugula, Fennel and Orange Salad (click here for recipe

Wine:                          Zonin Prosecco

Starter:                    Cheddar Polenta cakes (click here for recipe) topped with Ratatouille (click here for recipe

Wine:                          Masseria Altemura Rosato

Main Dish:               Fig-glazed Roast Turkey meatballs with Traditional Gravy (click here for recipe) and Cornbread Chorizo Stuffing (click here for recipe

Wine:                          Masseria Altemura Sasseo

Dessert:                   Banana Walnut Mini Cupcakes (click here for recipe

Wine:                          Castello del Poggio Moscato

Where to Purchase WINES  

Zonin Prosecco and Castello del Poggio Moscato are available at most neighborhood grocery stores or Total Wine & More. The Estate wines (Masseria Altemura Fiano, Rosato, and Sasseo) are registered in Florida and are available for purchase in any wine shop (just ask).

About ZONIN 1821

The Zonin family is proud of its heritage and reputation for creating authentic Italian wines spanning seven generations of winemakers in Northern Italy. With its close ties to the land for the past seven generations, the Zonin family heads the most important viticultural group in Italy and one of the leading private winemaking companies in Europe.  They celebrate the diversity of Italian wine from Italy’s major wine regions through their passion for winemaking and a mission to bring Italian wine of the highest quality to all wine lovers.

Miami wine events with ZONIN1821 wines

To ensure that every bottle embodies the philosophy of preserving the local winemaking traditions, land, and culture of their respective regions, many of ZONIN1821’s products are made using varietals that are native to the region in which they are grown. In this way, ZONIN1821 guarantees the highest quality wines, from the vineyard to the glass.

 

Get TO KNOW The BLOGGERS & INFLUENCERS (and my friends) 

BLOGGERS WITH INSPIRATIONAL WINE BLOGGER, WINE WITH NAT

Nikki with NikkiNovo.com 

Jannely with The Fashion Buffet 

Laura with The Fashion Diva

Natalia with Beauty Beyond My Curves 

Karyn with With Love From Miami 

Paola with Coral Gables Love

Cat and Jules with Tinseldot

Special Thanks

A special thanks to Nicole and team at west elm Dadeland for the opportunity to host a memorable Friendsgiving at their location. Loved the @ brass paperweight gifts, which you can purchase for your Thanksgiving with friends.

Photo credit: My supporter and event photographer, Nabila Veruska who beautifully captured our Friendsgiving. She rocks!

UnWINEd With This Sparkling Wine Quick Guide

Sparkling Wines Blind Tasting at The Florida Wine Academy 

Nothing is better than winding down with a glass of wine after a long day. It's even better when you get to relax and enjoy a vinito with a girlfriend(s). I recently did a sparkling wine blind tasting with Wine Specialist and Wine Director, Alessandra Esteves with the Florida Wine Academy. We had only met a month before on social media, but after meeting over coffee (it was too early for wine), we quickly became friends. Now my wine mentor, Alessandra inspires me to uncork more wine knowledge. Excited to share what I learned with you, so you can do your own tasting with your girlfriend(s). 

Sparkling Wine 411

Before we get started, here's a brief 411 on sparkling wine. Sparkling wines vary from sweet white, pink moscatos to rosé, and red wines, but sparkling white wines, including Prosecco and Champagne make up the majority of sparkling wines. There are two methods of production.

Tank Method: Both the first and second fermentations are done in a tank. The resulting bubbles tend to be large and aromas and flavors are apparent, but they are less complex. These sparkling wines tend to be sweet and fruity. Prosecco is known for this style.

Whole Foods Sparkling Wines Quick Guide

Traditional Method: This is a lengthier process. Wines have more complexity (aroma and flavors) and are more expensive. Bubbles are finer. First, grapes are gently pressed to avoid any color extraction from the skins. Next, the grape juice is fermented and wines are blended to create a desired wine. Lastly, the wine, yeast, and sugar is put in the bottle and capped for the second fermentation. All Champagne is made in this method. Sparkling wines using this method will tell you on the label. 

I've included this sparkling wine quick guide from Whole Foods (love their wine department), so you have something to refer back to when shopping for sparkling wine.

So, let's go! Head to your nearby Whole Foods to pick up sparkling wine and grab your girlfriend(s) to unWINEd. Don't forget to have fun! 

What you’ll need:

  1. Blank white sheet of paper
  2. Stemmed wine glass(s)
  3. Tasting partner(s)
  4. Sparkling wine(s) of choice
  5. Bread and crackers
  6. Notebook to take notes
  7. As per Alessandra's advice, any items found on the wine label (winemaker’s notes), such as: fruits, spices, flowers, etc. This will help you identify aromas when getting started.

Begin Your Tasting 

Note Appearance

Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle over a blank white sheet of paper.

Color Depth: Unlike red wines, white wines tend to get darker with age.

Note: watery | pale | medium | deep | dark

Color Hue: From green to amber in whites, color gives you some indication of the grape variety it came from, such as: Riesling is pale green. With age, white wines become more amber and rosés become more copper colored. Side note, it’s rare to find aged wines. Most wines in the market are youthful.

Note: greenish | yellow | straw yellow | gold | amber

Clarity: Lack of clarity can sometimes indicate spoilage, but some winemakers choose not to filter their wines, so a wine can be good, even when it is cloudy. Natural and bio wines may look cloudy on the glass.

Note: clear | slight haze | cloudy

Lastly, note the amount and size of bubbles. If you are comparing more than one sparkling wine, note the difference.

Note Aroma

This can be challenging when getting started, which is why Alessandra recommends smelling everything, so your brain starts to program different aromas. When you purchase your sparkling wine(s), purchase items listed on the wine label: fruits, spices, flowers, etc. to help you compare and recognize aromas.

Aroma intensity: Some wines are more aromatic than others

Note: low | moderate | aromatic | powerful

Aromas: Note the aromas. White sparkling wines typically have aromas of white, green, yellow, and orange fruits, as well as white flowers. You won’t smell black fruits. For traditional method sparkling wines, you smell yeast notes. And as mentioned above, the tank method will be fruit straightforward. Have fun!

Note Taste

Body: Here’s a trick Alessandra taught me using milk: whole milk, low-fat milk, and skim milk. Feel the body of milk in your mouth. It's the same with wine.

Note: full-bodied | medium-bodied | light-bodied

Acidity: How your mouth waters. The more your mouth waters, the more acidity it has. Sparkling wines are typically high in acidity, because grapes are harvested earlier.

Note: tart | crisp | fresh | smooth | flabby

Tannins: Are found in grape skins. Most white wines don’t have tannins. Tannins is a drying effect (bitter tasting) in your mouth.

Balance: Keeping the alcohol, acids, tannins, and sugars in perfect balance is a winemakers goal.  Note here if anything is in excess. Excess alcohol feels hot, excess acidity is sharply tart, excess tannins are very rough, and excess residual sugar is overwhelmingly sweet.  

 Note: good | fair | unbalanced (excess)

Flavor Intensity: Aroma intensity is similar to flavor intensity

 Note: weak | moderate | flavorful | powerful

Flavors: The flavors sensed here will usually be similar to the aromas perceived on the nose. As mentioned above, read wine label and winemaker’s notes and compare.

Finish: Note the finish. The length of a wine is often an indication of quality; the longer the better.

Note one: short | medium | long

About Alessandra Esteves

Alessandra acquired the WSET level 3 advanced certificate in 2013 and passed the French Wine Society’s Champagne Master Level program with honors in 2015. In 2016, she earned her Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, the highest qualification that this renowned organization awards. While over 61,000 individuals pursued WSET qualifications last year, only 8,519 people in the world currently hold the Level 4 Diploma.

Me with ALESSANDRA  at a wine tasting event 

Alessandra's articles on wine and related subjects have been published in three books. She has written a 40-page treatise about the Chinese wine and spirits market which is available online. Ms. Esteves has also served as an Associate Judge of Italian Wines at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. Alessandra also has a wine blog for wine lovers, Florida Wine Lover. Impressive right?

About Florida Wine Academy

Recently opening its doors in Miami, the Florida Wine Academy caters to both wine lovers looking to learn about wines in a private setting and wine professionals who want to perfect their skill. Offering WSET Miami Courses in their Downtown Miami offices, the Florida Wine Academy is your go-to destination for wine education. For more information, classes and courses, click here

Hope you enjoyed this sparkling wine quick guide.

Cheers, Nat

I was nominated for the Liebster Award. Cheers to that!

Having only launched Wine With Nat in November 2015, I’m honored to be a nominee for The Liebster Award. The fabulous Lia from A Girl In Her Thirties nominated me (talk about blogger love). The Liebster Award is an online recognition given to bloggers by other bloggers. Lia thought my work was pretty cool, so here we are (thanks chica). We met at a South Florida Bloggers event and hit it off over croquetas and fritas. If you’ve never had croquetas or a Frita, you haven’t lived. 

Lia asked me 10 questions, so I poured myself a glass of vinito, and I’m pouring it all out below.  

1.     How and why did you choose the name for your blog?

Originally called The Purple Voice, purple is the color of domestic violence and fibromyalgia. Two causes near and dear to me. During my video blogs, I would sip on vinito, and on social media I used the hashtag, #winewithnat. In just a short amount time, Wine With Nat caught on with followers. I would be out and about and people would stop me and say, “You’re Wine With Nat, right?” Given that I wanted to create a brand and businesses around my brand, I re-strategized and rebranded to Wine With Nat (best decision I made).

2.     Describe your blog and purpose:

Wine With Nat is a lifestyle blog and brand aimed at inspiring and motivating others through my love of wine. The best part is that I can share my love of wine with others while sharing my inspirational stories and personal experiences (foodie and wine experiences too). I don’t consider myself a wine expert as much as I do a wine lover, but I’m learning more and more about wines every day.

3.     Describe yourself in three hashtags:

#entrepreneur #winelover #ambitious

4.     Which blog post are you the most proud of?

My video blog Forgive For Healing is something I will always be proud of. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life is forgive my father for murdering my mother in 1999. For years I lived with so much anger towards him and that anger was eating me up inside. In 2010, I decided to reach out to him and later visited him in prison. I didn’t forgive my father’s actions; I forgave him for healing. As difficult as it was to share this vulnerable experience with the world, it was self-therapy for me, and the overwhelming support was priceless. To have touched so many people, some of whom I’ve never met, was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life. You can watch my video here

5.     What is an accomplishment you celebrated in the last six months?

I launched Women Who Wine, an event geared towards bringing women professionals and wine lovers together. I believe in collaboration, and I want to inspire more women to learn the art of collaborating. Alone we are nothing, but together we can move mountains.  

6.     What has been your most embarrassing moment?

I really haven’t had an embarrassing moment with Wine With Nat, but I’m infamous for falling in public (but famous for picking myself up), so now I just wear comfy shoes.

7.     What is something that terrifies you?

Failure terrifies me, but it also drives me.

8.     If you could live any place in the world, where would it be?

Santorini, Greece. I visited Santorini during my honeymoon and haven’t stopped reminiscing about it since. Truthfully, I’ll take any beach destination with a slower-pace of life. I’m a true Miamian ready for a slower-paced life. I visualize working remotely from any part in the world.

9.     Where do you feel most at home?

In my husband’s arms is where I feel most at home. Yes, I know it sounds corny, but my husband is my best friend and biggest supporter. He’s my biggest blessing. You see, I experienced tragedy at a very young age and really didn’t have the ideal family, but my husband has really been there for me and has showed me unconditional love. When I’m in his arms, I feel loved and safe.

10. What should your readers expect from you blog in the next year?

My video blogs went on a hiatus, but will be coming back (maybe even a podcast or radio show, who knows). Hope to continue hosting Women Who Wine events for all my fellow ambitious professionals and wine lovers. I just recently established my first brand partner from Italy. In just a short amount of time, my business strategy, marketing and public relations talents have helped them build brand awareness in the U.S. market. Ideally, I want to establish many more partnerships this year, but plan to remain authentic, so I have to believe in the brand. I will be launching an online shop in collaboration with a local small business. The shop will carry wine gifts for wine lovers. Lastly, I’ve been testing a wine product and plan to launch it as soon as it’s perfected and the time is right. And who knows what else. The sky is the limit for this winepreneur.

Thanks again Lia for allowing me to share my vinito journey with you and others. Now I get to nominate 10 of my favorite bloggers. Here are my nominees:

1.     Nikki Novo 

2.     Nicky Valdes 

3.     Tim Ferriss (my winepreneur inspiration) 

4.     Wine Folly 

5. Food & Beer Socialite 

6. Woman In Progress

7. Madly Addictive

8.     Coral Gables Love 

9.     The Fashion Buffet

10. The Gem Within

If I’ve nominated you, pour yourself a glass of vinito and follow the steps below. Looking forward to hearing what you have to wine about. Cheers!

Steps:

1.     Share the award on your blog

2.     Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog

3.     Answer the 10 questions you are asked

4.     Nominate 10 other bloggers

5.     Ask 10 new questions

10 Questions for my nominees:

1.     What inspired you to start your blog?

2.     Where do you look for inspiration?

3.     Who’s been your biggest inspiration?

4.     What is the biggest challenge you face as a professional?

5.     How do you overcome this challenge to move ahead?

6.     Career and life can be stressful, how do you cope with stress (un-wine)?

7.     What is the best advice you can give other professionals (and bloggers)?

8.     Are you a wine lover?

9.     If so, what’s your favorite wine?

10. Wine to me is something that brings people together and creates memories. How do you bring people together to create memories? 

NuShape Studio: Megaformer Pilates Followed By 2013 Little Black Dress Pinot Noir

Written in collaboration by Natalie Leon (Wine With Nat) & Nicky Valdes

When NuShape Studio reached out to me about their new grand opening in Downtown Miami, I listened. I’m not sure if it was how they referred to the workout via email as “Pilates on steroids” or the fact that I was ready for a new workout that wouldn’t make me feel so bad about treating myself to wine (almost everyday).

I reached out to my dear friend and proofreader, Nicky Valdes who runs NickyValdes.com. I can always count on her to try new and, sometimes, crazy things with me. Plus, we have a lot of fun together.

On Monday, January 18, we made our way to NuShape’s new studio at 121 SE 2nd Ave. Not knowing what to expect, we arrived and introduced ourselves to one of the instructors, Kristhel “Kikki” Perez. I can only imagine how freaked out she was when I asked her to take pictures with a bottle of 2013 Little Black Dress Pinot Noir. Being an absolute trooper, Kikki showed me some poses and Nicky snapped pictures (that’s a true friend) before class started. But it was at that very moment while I was taking pictures (and holding onto a bar for dear life) that I realized that this workout was not going to be a walk in the park. I was literally sweating while posing for those pictures.

Class begun and all I could do was look at Nicky and think, “What the hell are we doing?” Put simply, this workout uses the Megaformer, a Pilate’s machine as they say, “on steroids”. It is designed to develop core strength and muscular endurance and most importantly, burn those wine calories. The class’  focus is on time, rather than reps, with each movement lasting about 60 seconds. So right when you feel like your dying, the instructor will tell you to hold it (burn baby burn).

Nicky and I did escalator lunges, mega donkey kicks, bungees, spider lunges, oblique teaser, side planks, mermaid twist and crunch. We basically worked out every damn muscle in our body. After the workout, I came home and treated myself to that Little Black Dress Pinot Noir. Ruby red in color with fruit and floral aromas, this light-bodied Californian wine is full of fruity character. Just like a little black dress that’s playful, yet elegant, this is a go-to wine for any occasion.

Going back to the Megaformer, the best way I would describe this workout is, YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF! Classes start at $30 and packages range from $140 to $269 for 1 month of unlimited classes. But I won’t just let you hear from me, which is why you have to hear it from Nicky too.

Hear from Nicky:

When Nat called me to ask about joining her for a “new kind of Pilates,” I agreed. Mostly because I’ve yet to learn how to say “no” to Nat, and— well, why the eff not? I’ve never done Pilates and I’m by no means a workout junkie, but I exercise and I’ve taken a few other workout classes. I don’t have a gym membership but I’ve run around the park, the block etc. I use weights. Given, they’re about five pounds each, but I’ve managed to get some muscle definition while using them. Basically, with my workout experience I’m maybe somewhere above a novice, but my inflated ego told me I was somewhere near expert.

So, with my black belt mentality, I researched the Megaformer and NuShape before showing up to their downtown location thinking it was all no big deal. Yet, nothing prepared me for what Nat and I encountered. We met our instructor, Kikki, (whom, bless her heart, had her work cut out with us) in a room full of pretty intimidating looking Megaformers. Megaformers are basically these giant Pilates machines with numbers, and lots of bolts, straps etc. They’re fairly easy to figure once you hop on, but in an overhead lit room with 15 Megaformers all lined up, they looked like a form of group torture. I was way out of my element.

While Nat was posing for pictures, I posted a picture of the Megaformers onto my own Instagram with a caption that read: “TRYING PILATES FOR THE FIRST TIME SO OMG BYE YOU GUYS” (because I like giving my Instagram followers something that’ll brighten their day). To which, I received a bevy of likes and one comment telling me that if I was doing Pilates for the first time, I should have went for mat exercises, but Kikki already had on her microphone, the other class-takers were in their positions. It was too late!

 Long story short, I felt the burn. Poor Kikki (again, bless her) had to reposition my sweaty body position after position because I couldn’t keep myself aligned. “What is this, ballet?” I thought. It’s not, its Pilates so you do have to focus on position and movement. NuShape happens to go by the Lagree technique, where your movements are meant to be slow and calculated, meaning it’s kind of like ballet and also, THE BURN IS REAL, LADIES. We had to hold squats, lift straps and do things to our bodies that are making my oblique hurt just thinking about it.

 I left a little shaken and woke up the next morning with sore muscles, but not to the point where I couldn’t move. It hurt in all the right places. The good kind of sore. So would I recommend NuShape? Yes, as long as you walk in knowing that the workout is intense and you’re gonna have to work, then hell yeah! Remember to be slow and conscious of your alignment and you’ll probably feel much better than I did. And once you get home, you can treat yourself to some vinito like Nat and I did. 

Experience NuShape for yourself and receive 20% off. Once you've signed up, you can choose a class or package. Enter promo code BLOG20 at checkout. Offer expires February 8th. Meter or garage parking is available nearby. Happy workout! 

NuShape Studio website: http://www.nushapemia.com