cross and wine glass with red wine

A Wine for Va”Lent”ine’s Day

Faithful followers may recall in the past I’ve given up wine for Lent. Sometimes, that’s gone well; other times? Well, let’s just say I was a bit grouchier for those 40 to 45 days!

As a “wine blogger,” I struggled with the idea of giving it up again this year. In a way, wine is work for me, when you consider this blog. That being said, I have to say that the nights where I don’t have a glass of wine before bed, I sleep SO much better. I know it impacts my sleep and it might be interesting to further test that theory!

What’s more, Lent is about sacrifice and this is a BIG sacrifice for me and would be a hardship that would force me to truly “suffer.” The icing on the cake that prompted me to go ahead and commit to giving up wine was my husband. He decided to give up wine for Lent. I’ve never had a partner in crime before on my Lenten sacrificial journey. I think it would be a nice way for us to reconnect and support each other in our faith.

This year, Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent and the first day of “fasting,” fell on Valentine’s Day, which posed an interesting problem! We decided together that we would open the sparkling wine that came in my First Leaf shipment as a celebration of the holiday and would begin our sacrifice the next day.

So far, so good without the wine but it’s only been a night! Weekend might be tough! Good thing the husband bought some yummy herbal tea to take its place.

As they say, you definitely can have “too much of a good thing.” So, maybe it’s good to want sometimes and to take breaks from the things we enjoy. That way, we enjoy them that much more when we can get back to them again.

As for this blog, no worries! For the next 40 days or so, I’ll still post but it won’t be about the wine I’m drinking currently. There is plenty to share, including wine book reviews, restaurant reviews (including one overdue review from our trip to Laci’s Tapas Bar for our anniversary) and thoughts on wines I’d love to try and regions I’d love to visit…someday. Meantime, cheers (as I hold up my cup of tea)!


Wine for Middle-of-the-Night Wake-Up Calls

Last night was a bit sleepless, at least in the middle of the night. Right around 1:15 a.m. our daughters woke us up. At first, I thought they were in my dream, “Mommy? Mommy?” Then, they moved on to “The fire alarm is going off!” Wait, what? We were both up in a hurry! I quickly asked if it was malfunctioning since I didn’t hear it going off. They said they thought so; it would not stop beeping. Why, oh why do those things always malfunction in the wee hours of the morning? #FirstWorldProblems

Anyway, my husband went upstairs took the battery out and came back down. He got back into bed just as I was thinking aloud that I never did change the battery in that one OR the one in our son’s room. Just the main level one. Uh oh. My husband predicted our son would probably be in our room in 10 minutes. Luckily, he wasn’t. But…

Twenty minutes later, just after I fell back asleep, we heard our son on the monitor. He sounded like he was choking! Again, my husband was out of bed in a flash to go check on him. Turns out he was “choking on his cough,” or so he told his father. My husband tucked him back into bed and came back to bed. “We should just stay up tonight,” he proclaimed at that point, to which I responded, “It feels like we have a newborn again. Just as you fall asleep…nope! Wake up!” Needless to say 5 a.m. was a harsh reality this morning and it hurt to wake up!

It’s Tuesday, a full day before the usual #WineWednesday festivities. But, it’s #WineWednesday eve and I think it’s Wednesday in some part of the world by the time we settle onto the couch later this evening in front of TV. So, wine it is. I’m not sure what we’ll have but it needs to be good. I’m thinking the Sauvignon Blanc that’s in the wine fridge will do the trick. Easy drinking, yummy white.

This up all night stuff is cramping my 5 a.m. fitness style. A nice glass of vino will help me settle in for a long winter’s nap – hopefully, without interruption.


Wine for Meal Planning

For as long as I can remember (at least since I’ve been a “grown-up”), I’ve planned my weekly meals. Somewhere along the line, it just seemed to make sense, given a busy work schedule. In the beginning, I even selected meals based on what was on sale at the grocery store, visiting more than one to save every last cent! Nowadays, I’m not quite that comprehensive, though if I had more time, I sure would be!

It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon this past weekend, so I took advantage and sat on my deck with a Red Blend from Winc, while the kids played on the slip n’ slide and planned out meals. I typically use Pinterest as my “go to,” reviewing recipes I’ve pinned along the way. Lately I’ve been bored with reviewing those and have ventured back to my cookbooks, which prior to social media, were heavily used!

This week, I have two recipes from the Go Red for Women cookbook, as well as a few from Pinterest. I try to vary the main protein source so we don’t get bored, so chicken, sausage, beef, pork and vegetarian are the main buckets. Then, I try to include something we all have had before and like, as well as new recipes, when I can find them. As I was making my grocery list over the weekend, I thought perhaps sharing some tips would be helpful for people attempting meal planning themselves. Here goes:

  1. Always be clipping and saving. That goes for coupons and recipes. I am constantly reviewing savings apps, such as Ibotta, as well as digital coupons and direct mail coupons, saving those that make sense. If you still get a newspaper, the Sunday coupon section is also a gold mine. As for recipes, during down times I’m always reviewing Pinterest for new recipes and pinning them to my boards. I also subscribe to several eNewsletters that include recipes I can pin or save for later.
  2. Try to keep sales and seasons in mind. I try to align my meals with what’s on sale or in season. This not only keeps cost down but also tastes the best! Right now, for example, is the best time for those pork/apple combination dishes. Apples are fresh in Central New York! All summer, long we do lots of vegetables since our growing season means we have lots of fresh produce to choose from. When Wegmans has different types of seafood on sale, I leverage that, too, since often seafood is quite expensive!
  3. Think about schedules. I take the time to review our weekly schedule so I can align meals with what’s happening each evening. If, for example, it’s a busy lesson night for the kids, a crock pot meal works best. Also, if a meal needs prep the night before, I make sure I have time the night before to do said prep!
  4. Make a list. My grocery list is very Type A. I list everything in the order in which it appears in the store. If you think I’m crazy, imagine going grocery shopping with three kids in tow. It reduces the opportunity for error to at least go in order! Even then, I always forget something! On one side of my list, I list the days of the week and the meal per day. On the other side, I list the groceries needed.
  5. Be flexible. Even though I have my meals planned and groceries purchased, sometimes you need to know when to move things around. If you no longer have time to make a recipe or just don’t feel like eating it, move it to another day. It happens. Sometimes, we’re forced to eat something else simply because I forgot to buy an ingredient or the ingredient wasn’t as fresh as we had hoped. Even remembering to take something out of the freezer can make or break dinner for the evening!

These are just a few of my tips. Meal planning is a way of life, to me. Once you get into it, you can’t imagine not doing it. In fact, on weeks when I’ve completely thrown it out the window due to stress or unforeseen circumstances, I find we eat a lot less healthy and it’s a lot more annoying to get dinner on the table. So, for me, meal planning is a sanity-saver. Maybe it will be for you, too. Cheers!

Wine for a Sad Time

It’s been a while since I posted. Those who know me well will know why, but for those who are casual readers, let me explain. My beloved mom passed away Aug. 18 after a 27-month battle with glioblastoma (brain cancer). It was devastating when she was first diagnosed, because we knew there was no cure. Then, it was devastating to watch her fight so hard to delay the inevitable. Then, it was devastating to learn there was nothing more that modern medicine could do. After multiple surgeries, radiation treatment, gamma knife procedure and chemotherapy, there was nothing else that could be done. My mom was tired, and it was time. She went home with hospice care, and just one week and a day later, fell asleep, never to wake up again.

Wine is normally associated with happy times – weddings, family milestones, work promotions, or just a fun Saturday night. But, it’s also associated with sad times. My uncle drank two glasses before the calling hours. But he couldn’t even remember what kind of wine it was. It just was. Wine is kind of that way. I have been so numb that all the wine I’ve had in the past week has been a blur. But, it’s an old friend that I am glad is around when you need it.

Because my best friend is no longer around. She was the one who I spoke with on the way to and from work every single day for more than two decades. She was the one I called or texted first when anything happened. Anything. She would listen patiently if I needed to vent and never once would complain or say she had to hang up the phone. She just listened.

So many people offered sweet memories of my mom over these last several days. It’s too much to relay here in one blog post. But, everyone agreed on one thing – mom was a saint. She never said a cross word to or about anyone. No one ever said anything negative to or about her. Now, how many people can you describe this way? I bet not many. That’s the kind of special person she was and she doesn’t have to be your mom for you to realize it.

My brother put together a slide show of mom to which we all contributed photos. I thought I’d share it here to show you all how wonderful she was. May she rest in peace and may we all find the strength to get through life without our saint here with us on earth. As my brother so eloquently shared at her funeral, my mom often gave this advice: “Be good. Be safe. Have fun.” Truer words were never spoken.




#ThrowbackThursday: A Post About Conference Calls

I love the Facebook memories feature. It shows me items I posted on “this day in Facebook history” and most of the time, it makes me smile! Today, I saw a video I shared two years ago that really hit close to home. If you haven’t seen it yet, and you frequently participate in conference calls at work, take a few minutes and watch:

The producers of this video decided to re-enact every conference call ever made as if it were in real life. And it’s hilarious! In this day and age, at a time when people can work from home, on a train or even at their kid’s soccer game, conference calls are a necessary evil. They are nearly always awkward and challenging. I have many a personal story of my own when it comes to them. I’ve experienced times when suddenly everyone sounded like aliens, to times when no one could get a word in edgewise.

Since conference calls generally happen for work, there really isn’t a time when wine can accompany the meeting. But I certainly think about wine sometimes, especially during a particularly rough call! All kidding aside, enjoy the video and remember: at the end of the work day is a glass or a bottle of wine waiting for you to come home! Cheers!


Children Cost a Lot….and so Does the Wine!

It’s the time of year when the Department of Agriculture releases its study about how much it costs to raise a child. This year, the department estimates the cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610, or as much as almost $14,000 annually. And this is based on 2015 numbers!

Reading this made me think about all the incidental expenses that go along with raising children, such as the wine that we parents need as a nightcap after said kids are in bed. So, I did a little calculation of my own.

If you and your spouse drank an average of two to five bottles of wine a week, at an average cost of $10 per bottle, it would be an investment of approximately $19,000 to $47,000 over the life of your child. That’s a lot when you consider it’s around 20 to 25% percent of the total cost to raise a child!

children-costAll kidding aside, parenting is a financial investment, sure, but it’s also an emotional and loving investment. So, although the  Department of Agriculture cannot put a price on the love and devotion we parents have for our children, the study is a good reminder that we need to be financially prepared as families to raise our children.

It’s also a good idea to be financially prepared to celebrate as families, too, and spend quality time as a couple. So, the price on that wine? It’s a small one to pay for happiness in the home! Cheers!

Wine for Decking the Halls

Many of us have already started decorating our homes, preparing for Christmas. We have our tree up and the decorations up around the house but we still need to do outside. We also ordered a second tree this year that will need to be trimmed when it arrives.

In addition to the fun holiday music to put you in the spirit, wine is a great accompaniment to decking your halls for the season. We had a few old standbys this past weekend, all red wines, but really any easy drinking wine will do. Pick something that you don’t necessarily need to pair with food, such as a red blend or juicy cabernet.

The most important thing to remember is where you put the wine while you decorate the tree! We kept our glasses on the kitchen counter just to be safe!

Our choices this past weekend, included the Holiday Top 100 Playlist on Spotify, as well as:

  1. The Waxed Bat: A red blend from Argentina. It’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec. We’ve had it recently and enjoyed it so much, we went back for an encore.
  2. Outlander Series Quartet: We tried James Fraser Red, a Paso Robles from California with Grenache as its main grape. It wasn’t my favorite but my husband loved it. It had a coffee/cigar taste going on for me. Definitely lots of flavor!

We, of course, enjoyed many more than two bottles! But I was too busy to keep track of what we opened! I promise to do better next time. Until then, happy decorating!




My Picks for Thanksgiving Wine

I figured I should do a short post today about my choices for Thanksgiving wine. Before you all head out to the liquor stores and stare at the shelves and wonder! I suggest a red and a white because both go with turkey and this way, you satisfy those who prefer one over the other.


  1. Hermann J. Wiemer Riesling – Not too sweet and not too dry, this one has always been a winner when I’ve brought it to parties. At around $18 a bottle, it’s affordable, too. Wiemer makes wine in the Finger Lakes region of New York but he uses principles from old world Germany, making his wine the best German Riesling I’ve ever tasted. This is saying a lot, since I visited the Mosel/Saar region several years ago and tried many of the best!
  2. Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling – Sticking with the Finger Lakes, I’m going with one a bit farther west on Keuka Lake. Dr. Frank’s is award-winning and always a crowd pleaser. It is sometimes easier to find on the shelves than Wiemer but similar in taste since the grapes are grown in a similar climate. Both this one and the Wiemer are available in dry or semi-dry, depending on your taste preference.


  1. MacMurray Estate Pinot Noir – This is by far my favorite Pinot Noir. It’s light enough to go with turkey but tasty enough to compliment the sweet potatoes and stuffing. And, if you wait until dessert, choose a chocolate pie and you won’t be disappointed!
  2. Battle Creek Cellars Unconditional Pinot Noir – While I enjoy my Rieslings from the Finger Lakes, I love my Pinot Noir wines from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Sticking with that region, choose this one from Battle Creek Cellars, a brand of Precept Wine. It’s an easy-drinking Pinot Noir; even those who don’t usually drink it will enjoy it.

No matter what you choose to drink this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you have a terrific time with family and friends! Cheers!

Wine for the First Snow Day of the Season

It’s Nov. 21. Mark this day as the first snow day of the 2016-17 winter season. We all didn’t think the forecasts could be true. In fact, the Weather Channel posted a snowfall map last Wednesday with 12 to 18 inches over Syracuse. Given how early it was and how often the weather folks are wrong, we all didn’t really pay too much attention.

On Saturday we went about our business, soaking up the 70+ degree day with playground time, cleaning gutters and finishing up odds and ends preparing for the snow that likely would come. By 3 p.m., the temperature plummeted suddenly and the winds picked up. That’s about the moment when we all thought, “maybe the Weather Channel is right this time!”

christopher-snowLast evening, Christopher ventured out for his first snow play date, helping his dad shovel the deck. He woke up this morning to snow taller than he is!

As I write this post, I’m warm inside watching the snow continues to fall out the window. It’s heavy snow with winds gusting so high it sometimes is a whiteout through the backyard. The forecasts say another foot today. As for the wine that goes with a snow day? Really anything you have on hand. Just make sure you have it before that snow hits!

We stocked up over the weekend at the Savvy Wine Cellar’s going-out-of-business sale. Plus, my shipment of Outlander wine is due to be delivered after 4 p.m. today. (Sorry, folks, Lot 18 reports it’s sold out.) The only trouble is that even though we have all this wine, I’m still too sick to enjoy too much. I’ve had a chest cold and now sinusitis and am on antibiotic. Stinks. But, it happens.

So, my wine choice? Two glasses of water, then 4 ounces of red, repeat. If you need a specific kind of red, try Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red. It was a unique, fruity, enjoyable wine we had the other night. Just drink enough water, if you’re battling a winter cold. And stay warm!

Election Night Wine – It’s Complicated

I agonized over what to write this morning, the day after the U.S. Presidential Election. I didn’t want to turn this blog into my own personal political soapbox. But I know some of my followers were dying to know – what kind of wine goes with Election Night?

Well, wonder no more – Conundrum red blend was the choice of the evening because, well, it’s complicated. I don’t even have to spend time explaining what has been a long, difficult campaign for both candidates. A sharply divided electorate with disenfranchised voters resulted in a sea change that few were able to predict. But no matter what your political views are, many can agree that Election Night is a big deal. It’s a chance to watch democracy in action and be reminded of how our country governs itself.

It also can be a train wreck to watch. Last night, I stayed up until after 1 a.m. Those who know me know that’s late! I am normally in bed by 9:30 or 10 p.m.! Even though I turned in, I didn’t sleep well. My heart was pounding and I kept waking up to check the headlines. Finally, at 5:45 a.m. I woke up and headed in to work. I knew we would have reporters who would want expert commentary from our business professors on everything from the markets to the economy and more.

But I digress… back to the wine choice. Conundrum is a wonderful blend for when you just can’t make up your mind. Or for when you have made up your mind but you’re anxiously waiting to see if others shared the same conclusion. It’s easy drinking but complex enough to distract you from counting the available electoral votes. According to the winemaker, Charlie Wagner, Sr., “Conundrum was a bold experiment – today it’s still about doing things your own way and daring to explore.” I can’t think of a better accompaniment for exploring the future of our country.

For those of you who are looking for more guidance on how best to accompany your Election Night with alcohol, I leave you with the election night drinking guide from VinePair, because after all, it’s complicated.