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Host a Home Party with a Difference


Home Party: Host an Author

Home Party: Host an Author Talk

Why not try a new approach to home parties? Be a Host for an Author Talk: the Birthplace of Wine.

Recently friends of ours hosted us for an Author Talk: the Birthplace of Wine in their home. During the presentation a Georgian wine tasting was served. Our hosts provided snacks and beverages.

This was a small group of 14 people who asked questions and stopped to talk after the presentation. The Wine Trail Traveler books were available for purchase at the end of the event. We inscribed several books.

Want to invite friends or neighbors to your home and need a reason to do it. Consider being a Host for An Author Talk. Contact us at kathy@winetrailtraveler.com. Make your next home event special by offering a stimulating presentation by authors, Kathy and Terry Sullivan who have co-authored three books.

This is an opportunity to learn about the land that has seen 8,000 vintages of wine without flying 6,000 miles. A land that was producing wine thousands of years before Greece, Italy, Spain and France. Terry and Kathy Sullivan will share a multi-media presentation about the birthplace of wine.

Wine Trail Traveler provides:

  • projector
  • wine glasses for the event
  • cocktail napkins
  • paper coasters
  • one bottle of wine for the event
  • thank you gift for the host

Hosts provide:

  • guests
  • location
  • seating
  • snack/appetizers if desired

If you are interested being a host for an Author Talk, contact us at kathy@winetrailtraveler.com

Kathy and Terry

Tasters Guild Maryland

Sparkling wines at Tasters Guild Maryland holiday brunch

Sparkling wines at Tasters Guild Maryland holiday brunch

Tasters Guild Maryland chapter members are enthusiastic about still wines and sparkling wines. Larry Elletson and his wife Dottie Wayne who lead the Central Maryland chapter enjoy wine.  Larry noted that at restaurants he enjoyed matching the foods with the wines. They are very knowledgeable about wines around the world and especially from Eastern Europe.

Larry and Dottie organize events for the members of Tasters Guild Maryland. Normally there is a fee to cover the food and the wines. Sunday was the Annual Bubbly Brunch. About 35 Tasters Guild Maryland members attended this special brunch.

The brunch was held at the Highland Inn in Highland, Maryland. The Highland Inn is small but with an added room to the back there was plenty of room for everyone.

Appetizers included Smoked Salmon Canapé, Sapidus Farms Oysters, and surprisingly Chicken and Waffles. The last appetizer was a bite size piece of breaded chicken on a tiny piece of waffle. They were so good I could have stuffed myself with them. The appetizers were enjoyed with two sparkling wines, Gruet Blanc de Blanc Extra Dry from Albuquerque, New Mexico and Santa Julia, Brut Rosé from Mendoza, Argentina. The Gruet was produced with Chardonnay and bottle-aged for 18 months.  The Brut Rosé was made with Pinot Noir.

Our first course was a Seasonal Berry Parfait. Large blackberries, red raspberries and blueberries were included. The parfait was paired with Bodoz, Cremant Du Jura Brut from Jura, France.

The second course consisted of a house-made Chorizo, a 60 Degree Egg and a few potatoes paired with Argyle Vintage Brut 2011 from Willamette Valley, Oregon. Terry really enjoyed the Chorizo while I thought it was too spicy hot.

The entreé was Quiche du Jour paired with Sephora Brut from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. The quiche was light and the pastry tender.

Dessert was a Cheese Blintz paired with Botani Sparkling Muscat from Malaga, Spain. I really did not need the Cheese Blintz, the floral sparkling muscat by itself would have been the perfect dessert for me.

We had a great time talking with so many people about many things including the sport of curling. When you have time check out the Tasters Guild which has 40 chapters throughout the country.

Happy Holidays!
Kathy and Terry


Make Your Own Holiday Gift Baskets with Flair

I love getting a gift basket! Gift baskets are delightfully decorated and appear to be so cheerful. Gift baskets can be ideal gifts for everyone. Gift baskets are also great for the person who has “everything.” Below are some ideas to get you started on creating your own special gift baskets. You might want to create a gift basket as an extra gift to have on hand in the sad event you forgot someone!

It’s only the 10th of December so this week while you are shopping pick up a few things and make your own Christmas or holiday gift baskets. When making baskets for wine lovers, add a few additional items such as cork screws, wine bottle stoppers, a couple of wine glasses and  a Riedel stemware polishing cloth.

For each gift basket pick a theme. For the container use a colorful box or basket.

Visit a general hobby store (Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Joanns) to find baskets, fillers, clear plastic bags or shrink wrap.

Add a copy of one of our books and a bottle of wine to complete the basket!

For the Cook

  • pot holders
  • ktichen towels
  • red wine vinegar
  • Champagne vinegar
  • a few favorite recipes
  • whisk
  • measuring spoons
  • grape seed oil (Aprés Vin)

For the Golfer

  • golf balls
  • tees
  •  ball markers
  • golf towels with “I Love Wine”

For the Puzzler Lover

  • a puzzle
  • puzzle glue
  • puzzle preserver
  • 3-D puzzle

For the Needle Crafter

  • Crochet hooks
  • Crochet or knitting patterns
  •  Knitting needles
  • Cross Stitch Kits
  • Yarn
  • Crochet thread

For the Traveler

  • luggage tags
  • passport holder
  • travel journal
  • a wine calendar
  • driving gloves
  • maps

For the Painter

  • paint brushes
  • canvas
  •  palette knife
  •  oil/acrylic/watercolor paints
  • art book

When filling the basket remember to add an inscribed copy of:

A Wine Journey
A Wine Tourists Guide: Visiting Tasting Rooms
Georgia, Sakartvelo: the Birthplace of Wine

Books are available from the Wine Trail Traveler store.

After assembling the items, begin filling the basket with the filler. Put in enough filler so the additional items do not sink to the bottom of the basket. Arrange the selected items; add colorful flowers or ribbons. Insert the basket into a clear plastic bag and tie with a big colorful ribbon. (If using shrink wrap, follow the package instructions.) Add a holiday tag to your basket.

Enjoy the season even more by adding your creativity to the gift giving!

Cheers! Kathy


Support the Lyric Opera of Chicago with SONG™ and Wine Auction 2015

The Lyric Opera of Chicago provides different ways for opera lovers to support their efforts. Two upcoming ways to support the Lyric Opera is through purchasing a magnum of SONG™ and participating in Wine Auction 2015.


Wine and opera enthusiasts will want to check out the release of SONG™ produced by HALL Wines in Napa Valley.  SONG™ is a limited release of 100 etched magnums. The wine is a blend of fruit from the Sacrashe and Bergfeld vineyards at Hall Wines. According to a press release, the wine is described as “Rich in dark berry and cassis flavors and born on an opulent structure.” It is suggested that the wine will age gracefully for 15-20 years.

Kathryn Hall, owner of Hall Wines, noted, “This wonderful collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago offered us the opportunity to give a new voice to our vineyards. It has allowed us to combine our passions for winemaking and the arts to produce a wine that truly awakens the senses.”

SONG™ will become available January 7. Each magnum of SONG™  will sell for $1,000.

Wine Auction 2015

The Wine Auction 2015  is scheduled to take place at the Ardis Krainik Theatre. The live auction will include a one 6-litre bottle of SONG™.

The Wine Auction is formal and includes a champagne reception, silent auction, dinner and a live auction. To inquire about tickets, email lyricwineauction@lyricopera.org.



Mulled Wines for the Holidays!

Listen to Jingle Bells while enjoying mulled wine!

Listen to Jingle Bells while enjoying mulled wine!

Walk into many winery tasting rooms during the holidays, and you will immediately notice a holiday aroma including cinnamon and cloves. Frequently the winery you are visiting has a crockpot of warm/hot mulled wine behind the counter awaiting visitors.

While some wineries bottle a mulled wine, my favorite mulled wines are made with a bottle of red wine, spices and fruit.

If you would like to create mulled wine to enjoy at home or when guests are about to visit, check out the recipes below.

Happy Holidays!

 Chatham Hill Hot Mulled Christmas Red Wine


1 bottle Chatham Hill Christmas Red Wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 t whole allspice
6 whole cloves
1 T orange juice
¼ t ground cinnamon
¼ C sugar

Note: Chatham Hill Christmas Red Wine is a semi-sweet red wine.


1. Heat one bottle of Chatham Hill Christmas Red Wine in a crock pot (recommended) or a non-reactive saucepan over low to medium heat (do NOT bring to a boil).
2. Stir in remaining ingredients and continue to heat gently until sugar is dissolved.
3. Serve in coffee mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Recipe rovided by Chatham Hill Winery, North Carolina.

Glouvine (Vin Gewurtz)


1 bottle Lemberger wine
10 oz water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 oz Mulling Spices w/out sugar tied in cheese cloth to a cork
1 small orange covered with whole cloves
½ c brown sugar (more or less to taste)
2 Prunes (optional-Austrian version)


1. Place everything except wine into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Pour into a crock pot and put on low (do not let boil).
3. Add Lemberger and serve as guests/family arrive. Optionally, leave out the brown sugar and serve with the brown sugar bowl to allow guests to sweeten to their own preference.

Recipe provided by Cottonwood Cellars Olathe, Colorado.

Mulled Wine Recipe from Black Star Farms


1 bottle Black Star Farms Hard Apple Cider
6 oz. water
½ c sugar
½ t cinnamon
¼ t ground cloves
a couple sprinkles of ground nutmeg


1. Combine all ingredients into saucepan and give it a good stirring.
2. Heat gently (for approx. 30 minutes), but do not boil, and do not stir again.
3. Skim off the spices on top, serve and enjoy.

Recipe provided by Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay, Michigan.

 Mulled Wine Recipe


2 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 – 1 c sugar depending on how sweet you want it
1 orange sliced
whole cloves
one can of orange juice concentrate
1 c water
1 t cinnamon
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 c apricot brandy


1. To a crock pot add the wine.
2. Add the sugar and stir.
3. Slice an orange and quarter. Stick whole cloves into the orange skin and add to the crock pot.
4. Mix the orange juice concentrate with one cup of water and add to the crock pot.
5. Add other ingredients to crock pot.
6. Heat the ingredients for a couple of hours and its ready!

Recipe provided by Kevin Sullivan, Wine Trail Traveler staff.

Get your mulled wine ingredients now!



Today is Sacher Torte Day!

December 5 is Sacher Torte Day. What is Sacher Torte? It is a very special cake that originated in Austria in the19th century. An Austrian poll shows that the Sacher-Torte is an Austrian favorite.

The story of Sacher Torte tells of how 16-year-old apprentice, Franz Sacher, created a special dessert. In 1832 he created the Sacher-Torte for Prince Metternich. The original Sacher-Torte recipe is  a secret of the Sacher Hotel and is kept in a safe.

A pastry chef noted, “A key secret is the different chocolates used in the icing. A number of dark chocolates are specially produced for us and combined here according to a special recipe. But the perfect blend of high-quality ingredients isn’t all there is to it. The ingredients have to be the right temperature, the bakery must have the proper humidity and temperature, and the 34 steps, right up to the packaging of the cake in the fine wooden boxes, must be followed in the exact order.”

Cakes baked with the original recipe are available worldwide from Sacher. Visit the website to learn more.

If you do not have patience to wait for the Original Sacher-Torte to arrive, then try the recipe on Allrecipes.com. This particular recipe uses rum. Another online recipe I discovered calls for apricot schnapps or orange juice.

Have you had a slice of Sacher Torte? Have you tried to bake a similar cake? Let me know how it was!


Holiday Gift Guide: Ideas for Gifting the Twelve Days of Christmas”

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

A recent email from Pearmund Cellars reminds us that Christmas is not just a one day celebration but that there are 12 Days of Christmas.

“On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 12 bottles of fabulous Pearmund Cellars wine!”

For the wine lover who has everything, Pearmund Cellars has created a collection of wines to celebrate the spirit of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Stop by the Pearmund Cellars winery in Broad Run, Virginia for the “12 Wines of Christmas” Case

The 12 Days of Christmas Case from Pearmund Cellars contains:

  • 2011 Old Vine Chardonnay
  • 2012 Old Vine Chardonnay
  • 2013 Viognier
  • 2013 Petit Manseng
  • 2013 Riesling
  • 2011 Merlot
  • 2012 Cabernet Franc
  • 2013 Cabernet Franc
  • 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2012 Petit Verdot
  • 2011 Ameritage
  • 2012 Ameritage

If you cannot travel to Pearmund Cellars before Christmas, consider creating your box of wines with 12 bottles. Consider focusing on red wines, white wines, sparkling wines or dessert wines.

2) Decorative Wine Charms

On the first day of Christmas give a gift box with one decorative wine charm. On the subsequent Days of Christmas add a wine charm. The recipient will have enough decorative wine charms for a party.

3) Wine Glasses

Wine glasses come in all sizes, shapes and prices. Unfortunately they are also easy to break. Why not give a wine glass each of the “12 Days of Christmas?” Not sure what stemware to buy?  In my opinion, it is nice to have a set of glasses for red wines and white wines. Hint: When purchasing wine glasses look for clear glass and a thin lip.

4) 12 Custom-made Ornaments

Handcraft 12 ornaments out of corks. You can find suggestions online. Check out Pinterest to discover many creative cork ideas.

5) Wine labels

For the home winemaker create a set of 12 decorative wine bottle labels, one for each of the 12 Days of Christmas!

Do you have other ideas for celebrating the “12 Days of Christmas?”

Happy Holidays!






Holiday Gift Guide: Vin de Glace and Cidre de Glace

Icewines at Peller Estates

Icewines at Peller Estates

There are wine drinkers that will scoff at the idea of trying a sweet wine; however, at the proper time and place many wine enthusiasts enjoy dessert wines. A category of dessert wines is vin de glace or Icewine. Icewines are made with grapes left in the vineyard until the temperature reaches -8º Celsius (17.6º F) or lower. That usually means that the grapes are left on the vines while temperature freeze above -8º C and thaw, freeze and thaw over and over during the late autumn and early winter. When the temperatures reach the critical temperature the grapes are harvested and pressed also in sub-freezing conditions. The precious drop or two of juice per grape is fermented and an Icewine is made. Icewines are made in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. In some years they are also made in Ohio and New York and a few other states. What is often done in the United States is to harvest grapes and place them in a freezer. This cryogenic method does not benefit from the constant freezing and thawing that mother nature provides. Wines made cryogenically are not called icewines.

Quebec poses another challenge. With the cold temperatures come snow, a lot of snow. Often covering the vineyard and grapes. To compensate for the deep snow, vineyard workers will harvest the grapes and hang in nets above the vines. The grapes have the same influence as those left attached to the vines. The opponents to this approach argue that in order to be a true Icewine the grapes must remain attached to the vine in order to benefit from the vine. The proponents argue that once the vine shuts down, there is no benefit from being attached to the vine. The benefit is what mother nature does with the temperatures. Whatever method, Icewines are complex wines that are sweet and work very well as a dessert during the holiday season.

Some of our favorite producers are from Ontario. We have not had the opportunity to visit British Columbia yet. We enjoyed Icewines made from Vidal, Riesling and Cabernet Franc from these producers:
Peller Estates
Pillitteri Estates
Reif Estate

Ice Cider in Quebec at La Face Cachée de la Pomme

Ice Cider in Quebec at La Face Cachée de la Pomme

We also enjoyed Icewine or Vin de Glace while visiting producers in Quebec notably:
Vignoble Mondor
Chapelle Sainte Agnès
Domaine Les Brome
Domaine St. Jacques

While in Quebec we visited a few cideries that made a cidre de glace or ice cider. Apples are left out to freeze until their sugar content of a drop reaches a certain point. These ciders are not like ciders made with apples that are not frozen. They are a treat for wine enthusiasts. Producer we liked include:
La Face Cachée de la Pomme
Cidrerie Du Minot
Union Libre

While searching for holiday gifts for wine enthusiasts, consider an icewine or ice cider.


It’s National Cookie Day!

Galleano Winery, CA

Galleano Winery, CA


Today, December 4, is National Cookie Day! In celebration of the day, below is a recipe from Galleano Winery in Mira Loma California.

Galleano Winery is a National Landmark located in the Cucamonga Valley. The winery is not far from the California’s Ontario International Airport.



Almond Sherry Cookies


½ c butter
1/3 c granulated sugar
2 egg yolks, unbeaten
1 c coarsely ground almonds
½ t grated lemon zest
¼ t vanilla
¼ c Galleano Sherry
1 c all purpose flour
1/8 t salt


1. Cream butter; add sugar slowly.
2. Add egg yolks, beat until fluffy.
3. Add ½ c almonds, lemon zest and vanilla.
4. Sift flour and salt together.
5. Stir in Sherry alternately with flour and salt.
6. Drop by tablespoon onto remaining almonds sprinkled on waxed paper.
7. Pick up the ends of the paper and toss dough until coated with nuts.
8. Shape into balls of 1” diameter. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.
9. Place in upper middle of pre-heated 400º oven.
10. Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Recipe provided by The Historic Galleano Winery, Cucamonga Valley, California.

Cookies are very tempting for most people. Do you know that there are other special cookie days including National Sugar Cookie Day and  National Oatmeal Cookie Day? This week is also National Cookie Cutter Week. According to the Food Reference website, October is National Cookie Month.


Wine Tourism and the American Wine Consumer

An article in Wine Business.com highlighted a Snapshot of the American Wine Consumer in 2014 by Liz Thach, Janeen Olsen & Tom Atkin. Two items caught my attention. The first was: How often do you buy wine at the following locations? Wine/liquor stores was the most popular place to purchase wine while online was the least preferred. Winery tasting rooms was in the middle of the seven option list. One of the hopes that wineries have for wine tourism is to sell wine from their tasting rooms.

The other item that caught my attention was a word cloud that indicated places where 67% of 1028 respondents had visited tasting rooms. The most visited wine area was Napa closely followed by California and Sonoma. Considering this was a survey of an American audience, I found the next two wine regions, France and Italy, interesting. Those top wine regions certainly are some of the best wine tourist areas. Also on the list of wine regions visited were the Finger Lakes and Oregon, very easy wine regions to visit once you get there.

I have wine friends in both Virginia and Texas. They are very loyal to the wine industries in their state. On this word cloud, more people selected Virginia as a wine area they visited than Texas. One of the areas that was not visited by as many of the respondents, but still made the list was Georgia. The word cloud did not indicate if the word Georgia referred to the state or the country. My personal opinion is the the country Georgia offers the most unique wine regions in the world and is a must visit for all traveling wine enthusiasts. The cloud had listed the top 27 responses.

Research is important. One can take from this data that wine tourism is an important activity of the American wine consumer. Wineries can be heartened by the interest of consumers in visiting wine regions and purchasing wine at wineries. There is room to grow though, especially if you are a wine region without the name Napa.


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Copyright: Terry and Kathy Sullivan 2006-2013