Category Archives: wine

TangerineCello Recipe

“Pure sunshine in a bottle.”

That’s my favorite description of Limoncello, the refreshing and iconic drink of the Italian Coast. Hubby and I fell in love with the lemon liquor during our honeymoon in Italy. After each dinner (and occasionally even lunch) our cameriere (waiter) would deliver the delightful chilled shot glass of brilliant yellow liquid. Whether sipped or shot, a glass of this elixir leaves you with a slight afterglow, as if you have been kissed by the sun.

Since we couldn’t stay in Italy forever (oh, how I wish we could have) we had to hunt down our new favorite after-dinner digestivo stateside.  Ten years ago, that wasn’t so easy.  Luckily, a co-worker’s Italian Mother graced us with her family recipe. Making limoncello became Hubby’s passion, nearly an obsession, as he tried to duplicate the taste he so fondly remembered from our lazy days in Italian cafes.

Don’t worry, we shared. Limoncello became a holiday tradition. Friends and relatives threatened to withhold our gifts if we didn’t give them another years supply under the tree. Yeah, it was that good.

When we moved into our home we were pleased to discover it came with a mature tangerine tree. It produced bushels of fruit. And we had no idea what to do with all of it. One year Hubby got a flash of culinary brilliance and decided to adapt our Limoncello recipe to use up our bounty of tangerines.

A new specialty drink was born. And drunk. And enjoyed.

I’m going to share our TOP SECRET recipe with you. This recipe makes quite a big batch — enough to last you a year (unless you have a wicked drinking problem) and to share. Make it. Your friends will LOVE you…

Trattoria Morgan’s Tangerine Cello**

 **(to make Limoncello simply sub lemons for the tangerines)

1 kilo tangerines – 2.2 lbs (about 10)
1 liter grain alcohol*
1.25 liters water
700 grams (3 1/2 cups) sugar

Step 1

  • Zest tangerines. Take a zester or a fine grater and remove only the colored part of the rind.  *Avoid the white pith — it is bitter and will change the flavor.* (This part is messy, but your whole house will smell like a citrus grove.)
  • Pour the grain alcohol into a large glass jug or jar (must have a lid to seal). Add the zested rind. Let it sit for two weeks. (Yes, it must be glass. Large mason jars or recycled gallon sized wine bottles work well. The citric acids will corrode plastic.)

Step 2 (two weeks later)

  • In a large pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool. 
  • Layer some cheesecloth over a mesh strainer and set over a large bowl.  Pour the grain/rind carefully into the strainer, filtering out all of the rind. Pour the (nice orange) alcohol back into the glass jar. 
  • Add in cooled sugar water.
  • Let it sit another week or two. Store in glass or distribute into smaller, decorative bottles. Keep servings in the freezer — it is best ice cold.

*Many recipes call for vodka, but we prefer grain. Higher alcohol content = no chance of it freezing when you store it in the freezer. But if you can ‘t find grain (I’m told some states won’t sell it?) you can use vodka.

Take three shots and email me in the morning.
If you do any more I don’t want to hear from you (and don’t blame your hangover on me).

{that’s “cheers” in Italian, you know…}


Wordless Wino Wednesday: The Morning After

On a much lighter note…

Remnants of a good night. 
{No, not last night, but a memorable recent Saturday evening.} 
2005 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Gnarley Head Old Vine Zin
2009 Big Ass Zin
and a reserve bottle of Winking Owl Chardonnay

Steaks on the grill
Potato, Proscuitto, & Fontina Cakes (recipe to come)
Sabrina’s Spinach Salad
Cheers, lovelies…

Fab &Funny Wine Charms

Saturday night we had friends over for an evening of wine tasting, recipe experimentation, and intelligent conversation. I broke out the “good” Waterford tulip white wine glasses only to find {gasp} trash bag twist ties wrapped around their delicate bases. Hubby couldn’t find our wine charms and went all MacGyver on me. Hence, our Redneck Wine Charms.

I was not amused.

It was time to find some proper wine charms.  It does get rather old trying to delineate whose glass is whose…especially after you have consumed a few glasses…

The only place I could find ANY cool, fun, or funky wine charms was Etsy.  Which ones should I choose?

Which ones shall I buy?

Why Sharing a Birthday Stinks

A long time ago, in a sweltering suburb a few hundred miles away, a little girl was born.  Growing up as an only child, this little girl thought birthdays were all about her.  She never had big fancy parties (bounce houses and magic fairy face painters had yet to be discovered) but enjoyed intimate celebrations with neighborhood friends and family.

On the night of her ninth birthday she received a wonderful surprise: she had a new cousin.  Her mom announced the news while the girl was frolicking in the backyard swimming pool with her best friends.  It beat out the Barbie clothes and bicycle by far.  It was the best birthday present ever. 

Flash forward about fifteen years.  This young, independent woman met a sweet, smart, and even kind of cute guy.  On their first date they discovered they have many things in common: a passion for books, a love of history, similar tastes in music, both graduated from the same university, and both share the same birthday.

Well, same date but four years apart.

And his older brother was also born on this crowed day five year before him.

Apparently October was a very busy time for making babies. (She filed that away for future reference.)

Fate was just screwing with her.  This was either REALLY creepy or they were meant to be.

Flash forward again to present day. The couple has been married for 10+ years. And this woman (yes, it’s ME) freely admits SHE HATES SHARING HER BIRTHDAY.

She doesn’t want presents or parties.  Once she passed 21 there was no need for a big celebration.  Once she passed 30 there was no need to really even mention the day.

All she wants is one day a year she doesn’t have to clean up cat puke, cook, load the dishwasher, or clean pee off the bathroom floor.  If she had her OWN birthday these teeny tiny little requests could be easily granted by her husband and son.  But it’s her husband’s special day too.  And birthdays are a BIG deal in his family.

She can’t really go out with girlfriends because then the celebrations would be lopsided. Men don’t go out with their ‘boyfriends’.

So what does the birthday couple do? A few of the birthdays were a blast. The year Disney granted free admission on your birthday worked out well; the family enjoyed a day at the Magic Kingdom for the price of a child admission.  Last year the Dave Matthew’s Band was thoughtful enough to hold a concert on the couple’s special day and the duo danced the night away under the stars.  But even things like concerts are tricky; it has to be a band BOTH love (no Godsmack or Micheal Franti & Spearhead).

Most of the time they pickup three meals out so no one has to cook.  Okay, but once again they have to agree on where to go and precious time is wasted with the “Where do you want to go?  I don’t know; where do YOU want to go?” debate which can last for hours.

As if they were twins (eeeww) the couple often receives joint gifts.  Yes, they are appreciative of anything anyone is kind enough to bestow upon them, but it is still a bit creepy.

Luckily they do share one love: wine.  Granted he is partial to reds and she to whites, but a bottle of vino has become the gift du jour.  Thank God they have that in common.

She is still tying to convince her husband to let her move her birthday up or back a day.  Then they could each have a day to pick meals and not have to pick up dead bugs.  She thinks it’s a win-win deal.  Maybe it will happen…someday…Until then they will just have to enjoy a special glass of wine together on their special day.  Cheers.

Why I Deserve My Mommy Wine…And So Do You

First came The Wine SisterhoodGirl’s Night Out, Working Girl Wines, and Little Black Dress: sassy wines with snazzy labels targeting the growing women’s wine market.  Then came Mad Housewife, Mommy’s Time Out, and Mommy Juice:  wines marketed towards not just women but {gasp} Mothers.

 Why are Mommy Wines such a hot button issue?

The big brouhaha is over Mom wines has me in a sober stupor.  I was overjoyed the first time I ever spotted a bottle of Mad Housewife as I pushed my shopping cart full of toilet paper and a testy toddler through my local grocery store.  It might as well  have been illuminated by a ray from heaven.  How did they know I was a mad housewife?  They must have made it just for me.  I immediately popped a bottle of chardonnay in between the applesauce and fruit snacks even though it blew my grocery budget.  I didn’t care.  I deserved a treat too.

Now, don’t worry.  I didn’t rush home, leave the groceries in the trunk and plop Kiddo in a playpen in front of Baby Einstein while I cracked open the bottle and downed it in one goldfish bowl-sized glass.  Relax.  I am a responsible parent.  I am an adult.  And I am not an alcoholic.  But I did enjoy a glass later while I cooked dinner. 

And yes, my child was still awake.

And yes, he sees my husband and I enjoy a glass of wine on a regular basis.

And I think that is just fine.

I do not understand the whole viewpoint stating children should never see a mother enjoy a glass of wine.  Beer is marked directly to dads.  It is perfectly acceptable for fathers to sit and watch the game or hang by the bbq grill with a frosty beer in hand. 

This Father’s Day cake from our local grocery store is a perfect example of the double standard.

Dad + beer = good 
Mom + wine = unacceptable?

 I do agree that kids should not see their parents acting like drunken fools.  I’m not talking about downing a bottle while watching Sponge Bob with the neighborhood kids. Wine should not be the beverage of choice for an afternoon playdate.  But there is nothing wrong with savoring a glass of wine with dinner, even in front of the children.

So many average Americans just don’t understand the culture of wine.  It’s in no way a beverage to chug just to get drunk.  It is a delicacy to savor, to swirl in a glass to release the aroma, to sip while enjoying each variety’s layered and distinctive flavor.   Wine has a unique relationship with food; when properly paired with a dish (be it calamari or cheesecake) it enhances the complex flavors of both the food and the wine. 

It’s no wonder Europeans think Americans are so uptight. Wine is not taboo across the pond; instead it is a common beverage to drink with  meals.  Many children are given watered down wine from a young age in order to develop their palate and an appreciation for the taste.  Growing up in Germany, my mother’s primary school took field trips (including tastings) to the local wineries.  Wine and the art/science of winemaking is a vital part or their culture, industry, and life.   {Calm down, I’m not advocating doing that here, just loosen up a bit, please.}

We have all heard about how numerous studies have shown moderate consumption of red wine is good for your heart but it also has some other benefits.

Red wine can rev up a woman’s sex life: An Italian Research study found that women who were moderate red wine drinkers had a higher libido than those who drank other alcoholic beverages or who abstained. (Women who drank more than two glasses were no included in the study so drunkenness would not influence results.)

Wine is good for your waistline:  Reuters reported trim middle-aged women who drink moderately (red wine especially) are more likely to maintain their weight as they age opposed to non-drinkers. 

And in our home wine is also beneficial to our sanity.  Many nights when Hubby finishes working at his stressful job he joins me in the kitchen while I cook dinner.  We listen to music and sip on a glass of wine as we discuss our hectic days.  It is a ritual: we bid adieu to our accumulated stress and  relax as we enjoy each others company.   Hubby’s doctor actually told him that a daily glass of wine keeps his blood pressure down and keeps him off Prozac.

Before children we relished going to wine tastings and preparing gourmet wine paring dinners with friends. At one time we had a moderate collection of decent wines, but my choice to stay at home with Kiddo limited our wine budget significantly.  We still crack open a good bottle to celebrate birthdays, holidays, good news and to share with great friends.  But if we ever win the lottery we will have a fully stocked and rocking wine cellar.  No more cheap wine for us.

We have always been label whores.  Wine purchases are often made not by the WA Points but by unique and funny names and labels.  And as a woman and a Mom I am drawn to the labels that reflect my lifestyle: Mommy Wines.  They are unpretentious, engaging, and a bit tongue-in-cheek, just like me.

Yes, I understand that some people out there are alcoholics or just do not know when to say when.  But the rest of us should not be judged by their behavior.  I am an adult.  I am a responsible parent.  And I enjoy wine.

Yes,  I deserve a bottle of Mommy wine.  Not because my life is so damn hard I need to get drunk, but because I deserve to be recognized as a responsible and respectable wine consumer.

Keep bringing those beautiful bottles on.

Wine Pairing Playlist for the Apocalypse

 The final countdown is ON.  I never imagined my last day on Earth would be spent at a soccer game.   If I had my way I would be listening to the following playlist while hosting a wine tasting of epic proportions.

One song, one bottle (or at least a taste of each).  No one will really care as 6 p.m. approaches.


It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)  by R.E. M. with Conundrum California White

Rapture by Blondie with Rapture Cabernet Sauvignon (duh)

Don’t Fear the Reaper by  Blue Oyster Cult with Ghostly White

Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley with Redemption Zin 

Cities in Dust by Siouxsie and the Banshees with Zombie Zin

Death Don’t Have No Mercy  by Grateful Dead  with Velvet Devil Merlot

Sympathy for the Devil by Rolling Stones with Sympathy For the Devil Icewine (a gimme)

Waiting For The End of The World by Elvis Costello with Cataclysm Cabernet Sauvignon

Until the End of the World by U2 with Temptation Zin

My Apocalypse by  Metallica with Return of the Living Red


The End by The Doors  with 7 Deadly Zins

Apocalypse Please by Muse with Plum Loco Sweet Plum & Cherry Wine

 When the World Ends by Dave Matthews Band with Pino Evil

 Here Comes The Flood by Peter Gabriel with Clean Slate Riesling

 Heaven is a Place On Earth by Belinda Carslile with Angel Juice Pinot Grigio

The End by The Beatles with Relax Riesling

and, well, since the end is coming anyway why the Hell not… 

Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw by Jimmy Buffett with some of my favorite Sin Zin

    Party on, Winos…

    It was a GOOD day…

    {Flashback to Friday night}:

    Today was a good day.

    I discovered I was not going to be forced to apply for the lingerie maid job I saw posted on Craigslist just to keep a roof over our heads.  (Seriously–scrubbing a gawking stranger’s toilet while wearing a teddie –would that not be the absolute WORST job ever?

     I had three times as many blog hits as ever in my scattered history.  I gained a bunch of new followers (thanks and welcome to all of you!) and found dozens of smart, sassy and like-minded women with fabulous blogs of their own.  And I discovered I was pregnant.

    Just kidding!

    (Although I did email that to my parents and nearly cause them to suffer simultaneous heart attacks.  To quote my Dad, payback is gonna be a bitch.   I was just carried away by all the whirlwind of snarky comments I had been making all day.  I am a BAD daughter sometimes…)

    But the best news came by way of  an after-hours phone call that put an end to a few of the roughest weeks we’ve been through in a while.  Hubby still has a job. Praise God, Hallelujah!  Moments like that make me wish a was a good little Protestant girl…

    His “company” is going through massive layoffs, giving pink slips to over half his office and nearly 5,000 employees overall.  After 16 years of hard work and dedication he was informed his position had been cut.   Our world was about to drastically change.

    Loss of health insurance.  Insane cobra costs.  Losing hundreds of hours of accrued vacation and sick time.  Massive mortgage payments.  Credit rating going down the crapper.  Meager savings disappearing with one poof of an evil magic wand.  I know far too many other families have been suffering in these horrible economic times. But somehow it seems like an F5 twister barreling towards you when layoffs threaten to devastate YOUR home.  It’s freaking terrifying.

    But now the stacks of resume books and interview kits can be set aside, or at least just casually browsed through instead of studied as if it was the night before the Bar Exam.  I may still keep looking for a part-time job (unless someone actually wants to pay me for blogging…hint, hint…) but I can stop practicing  Would you like some fries with that?   Kiddo isn’t going to end up in after-care just yet. I can stop buying ramen noodles in bulk and testing out unattractive hair net hairdos.

    I can still work on my novel.  Life will go on.

    Today was a good day.

    Time to crack open a couple of good bottles of wine to celebrate.

    Chicks Dig Vino: Fab & Funny Wines for Any Girl Gathering

    Yes, I admit it, I am a label whore. I will buy a wine simply because the label intrigues me or makes me laugh so hard I snort wine out my nose. Sometimes it’s just not the points that make a wine pourable. Sometimes the wine’s personality is so just much more intriguing. A bottle or two of these hip vinos is sure to get more than just gossip flowing at your next gathering of girlfriends. Cheers!

    Mad Housewife
    At the end of a absurdly long day don’t we deserve to leap off the carousel of household catastrophes to savor a much deserved glass of Chardonnay…or two…or three…? For red vino aficionados, a Cabernet and a Merlot are also available from the vineyard that was supposedly inspired by the film “Diaries of a Mad Housewife.” I am going to have to splurge on one of their “Don’t be silly darling, it’s just a wine…” t-shirts immediately. Tons of neat stuff to check out on their website Mad Housewife Cellars.

    Bitch and Sassy Bitch
    When the party turns into an all-out Bitchfest it’s time to pull out these cute little numbers. All the way from South Austraila, the Bitch Grenache is rapidly becoming available in local markets. The newly discovered Sassy Bitch simply screams for a night out with girlfriends, gossip, and a bit of glamour. Every girl should be entitled to revel in her bitchiness every now and then.

    Mommy’s Time Out
    Heaven would be a quiet corner where a perfectly chilled Pino Grigio is waiting for me while my child is left to figure out that temper tantrums, baby powdering the bedroom, and flushing frogs down toilet does NOT make Mommy happy. All by himself. While I get some much deserved chill-out time. Wouldn’t it be lovely if life actually worked that way? I have a bottle of this tempting Italian White I am saving for the moment I JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE.


    Working Girl Wines
    We all know that every woman is a working woman no matter what her official title may be. These labels from Olympic Cellars Winery, “Created by women, in support of women,” include Go Girl Red, Working Girl White, Rose the Riveter, and the token hot guy Handyman Red. And you can gulp your glass guilt free, for portions of the profit support various women’s charities.

    Old Tart
    We all have one of these in our circle of friends…or family. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Terret is supposedly flying of the shelves across the pond. Made for adult consumers who with voluptuous bodies, who are fresh, fruity, and a bit up-front. OLD Fart Grenache is also available, but personally, I’d prefer this dame at my party. As the bottle says, “Be smart, enjoy the tart!”

    Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush
    Sometimes we need an escape from our furry babies as well. Having been the mom of five fab felines, and I have cleaned more than my share of ill placed puddles and piddles some memorable days. So, I simply couldn’t resist including this New Zeland Sauvignon Blanc, self described as “Extremely playful, with aromas inclined to leap out of the glass at you and a long and racy body.” I’m assuming those aromas are much more pleasing to the palate than than the name suggests.

    White Trash White
    It’s a scenario that is all too familiar. After a few glasses of wine someone inevitably breaks out the country tunes, and often a sing-along ensues. Next time anyone attempts to subject me to such a situation I’m going to insist this wine is served. Perhaps not for the Manolo and martini set, but guaranteed to give the rest of us a good chuckle. The back lable reads: Nestled in the scenic foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the quaint community of Oildale. Strategically planted btween pumping oil wells and oil sumps are rows of grapevines. This blend of oil and tar-tainted soils leds itself to a wine grape flavor seldom duplicated throughout the world of viticulture. At your next trailer park potluck, surprise your neighbors with this teasingly trashy white. No catfish should be served without it.
    ‘Nuff said.

    Tiny Bubbles
    Yeah, she looks like she would be the life of any party or its obnoxious downfall. This cheap bubbly should be good for more than a few giggles once her cork is popped. And she kind of reminds me of my 4th grade teacher. Another amusing addition from the Harper Hill Oildale Winery.

    UTTER bastard
    No night of female bonding is complete without a little man bashing. This lively little Syrah would be the perfect accompaniment to trashing any bastard in your life (whether he deserves it or not). If you prefer a Chardonnay or your man can stand to lose a few pounds, the FAT BASTARD is also readily available.

    Who can resist this lusty little Bacchus? Perhaps we should save the sinning for a weekend in Vegas, but this Greek God of wine and intoxication is sure to get any party started. My husband wanted to have this label tiled on the bottom of our swimming pool. Seriously. Damn tasty Zinfandel though.

    Rude Boy
    No need to hire a stripper, Ladies.
    The back label “warns,” When this bottle of wine is chilled Rude Boy will reveal all. This hunk’s pants disappear when this South African Chardonnay hits the right degree. Never has reaching the proper temperate been so climatic. I will be on the hunt for this hunk for my next soiree…be waiting for it ladies…

    Have wine, will travel…

    As I was stuck in the carpool line this morning with only the annoyingly chatty radio morning show hosts to keep me company, I actually heard them mention something that caught my attention: a wine purse for “box” wine. Now, I do consider myself to be a a connoisseur of cheap wine, and many, uh, boxes of wine have tickled my palate. It’s not ALL Franzia White Zin anymore, thankfully. There are actually some decent ones out there such as Black Box, or Banrock Station.

    As soon as I got home this morning I had to check it out.
    Although most wine lovers believe boxed wine to be the epitome of gaucheness, I think this Baggy Winecoat from Scandinavian Design Center is absolutely brilliant.

    You simply take the bag of wine out of its box (so technically it’s “bagged” wine anyway), insert in the chic little black bag, and voila, the perfect wine tote and dispenser. Imagine the “ooohhhs” after you set your little black bag down on the table at your next soiree or picnic, grab a glass, and start dispensing some stylish Shiraz.

    I’m hoping the next version will come with a little bit of room to carry a cell phone and lipstick as well. Leave it to those ingenious Scandinavians…I adore them for giving me IKEA, but this takes the cake.

    I also stumbled upon The Wine Rack–perfect for any wine loving woman seeking not only an easy way to tote her vino, but an enhanced bustline as well.

    It’s a little bit Victoria’s Secret crossed with Animal House perhaps, but it could be fun and practical. Instead of paying the exorbitant going rate for beer at sporting events and concerts (for wine is rarely even offered), you now can have an enticingly clever method of bringing in your own. Hopefully the ushers will be so distracted by your new found cleavage they wouldn’t even imagine it was enhanced with contraband.

    So, if you’re looking for a stylish sports bra that can turn your A cup into a D and can hold 750 ml of your favorite beverage, this model is only $29.95 at

    Yes, I may be a smidge offended if the Hubby gave me one of these wrapped up for Mother’s Day now, but how I wish I had one of these back in college…