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Archive for the ‘Experiences’ Category

What better time to get up to speed on what wines you like, love and covet than when you are preparing for upcoming festivities with family and friends? There are a million ways to start brushing up on your skills: Head to your local supermarket/wine shop and ask lots of questions (many times they will have tastings available while you browse – just ask), Attend a tasting (lots of places offer tastings – speciality shops, wine shops, liquor stores, etc. Keep your eyes peeled), Talk to your friends (many people have a favorite bottle of wine that they use as their ‘go to’ tipple for any celebration. Ask people you know for suggestions and you may just discover a new gem!).
For my part, I will be hosting, attending and conversing about all things wine in the next two months (have a look at what I’m up to here and sign up if you’re interested). As always, if you want to swap ideas – pull up a chair and let’s chat.

Essentials for any successful holiday: 
Brandy – my favourite is Hennessy VSOP. Top it with a bit of ginger ale for a spritzy buzz or some spicy eggnog for a classic holiday treat
Sparkling wine – the holiday favourite in my household is Prosecco because of its light body, balanced flavour and general yummy-ness (plus it can be enjoyed at any time of day…)
Good, full bodied red wine – this is the absolute must have. I love picking a few favourites each year to share with my family. I am still in the discovery phase for this year’s celebrations and will be using my upcoming tastings to explore a few pre-selected Malbecs, Petit Syrahs, Bordeauxs and Tannats. Stay tuned…

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I know a lot of people in jobs that they are just not happy with. They are looking to change, mould or just scrap the whole thing in favour of finally pursuing something they are passionate about. I also know people that have long since gone on that pursuit, many to find a greater happiness and fulfillment if not a bigger pocketbook. Many come back to their careers at least part time but others find a way to sustain their newly passion-filled life.

I am a big proponent of following your passion. Nearly everything stands in your way when you are forging the path – people don’t believe you are making the right choice, the risk feels just too big, your other life plans don’t align, you don’t feel like you have the time, etc.
This morning, I am focusing on what I love and taking another step towards my passion. Who’s coming with me?

Happy Friday wine lovers Xx

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I have just returned from a whirlwind 3 weeks abroad: 1 week in Burgundy, 1 week in Fontainebleau and 4 days in Tel Aviv/Jerusalem. I rode a bike through Premier Cru vines in Pommard, ate grapes off the recently harvested vines in Volnay and celebrated my birthday in a gorgeous restaurant in Puligny filled with my Aussie friends and run by a Burgundian chef and his Belgian wife. I graduated from my marketing certification program at INSEAD and celebrated with 40 new friends and colleagues, leaving campus with a branded French beret to boot.
I touched the stone slab that Jesus Christ was prepared for burial, saw the empty tomb where He was buried and walked in His footsteps through Jerusalem. I prayed at the Wailing Wall and watched a class of Israeli Army graduates celebrate with their families. I dove in to Israeli wine, trying many stunning varieties, and experienced the exquisite delight of Israeli hummus. I floated in the Dead Sea, dunked my head (don’t do it…) in the mineral baths and rocked it out with 80 of my colleagues from across Europe at a nightclub in Tel Aviv. I arrived back in London yesterday, went in to the office to say goodbye to a lovely colleague who is shortly getting on a plane to move to Sydney. I am taking over his responsibilities for the UK market and took this last opportunity to glean all I could from his experience – while passing on my favourite things for him to go, see, do in Sydney (and living vicariously through him). Coming back to my flat in London last night was a surreal experience. I feel a bit lost and deflated yet full of energy. London is colder and more gray than when I left but the trees are changing colours and my flat is taking on a cosy and comfortable feel. I am happy to be back but have a sense of anxiety about what’s next, perhaps because of the crazy sequence of experiences that I have just come away from. I suppose the best thing to do is what’s most natural to me: just dive in, roll with the punches and figure it out as I go…

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My two lovely friends got married last Monday in London with 20 of their closest friends from around the world looking on. Our troupe was then shuttled into cabs, whisked away to the Champagne bar at St Pancras station and herded into Coach 15 on the Eurostar bound for Paris. After a quick transfer to the regional station in Paris, we were on our way to Dijon. Hop, skip and a 40 minute drive from Dijon, we entered our home for the next week: Chateau du Tailly, a gorgeous 18th century block of three buildings (all of which could have been individual houses)…

So many stories, such a wonderful week. Ultimately, it was about two people: Joel and Marc whose love brought all of us together for this incredible experience. We wined and dined our way through an awe-inspiring week throughout Puligny, Chassagne, Beaune, Mersault and many more. More updates to follow but will leave you with this for now.

  

The main Chateau and my two lovely friends, Joel and Marc, who hosted us during the week:

My home for the week:

        

The winemaker at Chateau Lahaye allowing me to ‘break through the must’ on their newest harvest.

  

Cheers!

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Last Sunday, I hosted my first wine tasting. How excited was I? Pretty darn excited. Even though it was a group of my friends (or perhaps because of that), I was nervous. I had carefully selected 6 wines to taste with the group, assembled all my glassware, made the savoury and sweet snacks, had the welcome Cava chilled and ready – all I needed was the group! They trickled in over the course of an hour or so (welcome glass of Cava = brilliance as they were sufficiently warmed up within a few minutes) and around 3, we kicked things off…

   

The lineup:
Clos Monistrol Cava, Vintage 2008 (welcome drink)
Martin Codax Albarino, 2011 (Rias Baixas)
Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils, Saint Veran AC, 2010 (Burgundy)
Ned Pinot Noir, Marlborough 20120 (NZ) ** CROWD FAVORITE
Vidal-Fleury, Saint-Joseph AC, 2009 (Northern Rhone)
Matsu, El Recio Tinto de Toro, 2009 (Toro Spain) ** CROWD FAVORITE
Jean Marc Lafage Mise Tardive, Maury AC, 2009 (Roussillon)

What we covered: 
Glassware: why its important and the ideal tasting conditions
Sight, Smell & Taste: Why you go through the steps and what you are looking for
Food pairing: Really we just took a break between the wines to devour some spinach-artichoke dip (recipe below), homemade bread, greek feta pie and madeira cake!!

After we finished the tasting, everyone wanted to open another bottle of the Matsu – so we enjoyed more of that incredible wine and finished off the snacks.

If you want to learn more about wine, you live in (or can travel to) the London area and this sounds like a bit of fun, sign up now for one of my upcoming tastings. Payment is donation only and homemade snacks are always supplied. 

Hot Spinach Artichoke dip
Mix together the following ingredients in a big bowl: 2 packs soft cream cheese, 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 cans artichoke hearts, 1 cup thawed (and drained) frozen spinach, 2 cups fresh spinach, 1 tsp hot chili powder (to taste), 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese.
Place the mixture in a baking tin (shape/size doesn’t matter but make sure it doesn’t sit above the top of the pan).
Top with slices of parmesan cheese (flakes or slices – just make sure they’re thin)
Bake at 180 – 200 degrees C until bubbly and golden
Serve with bread, tortilla chips, pita chips – or just with a spoon!!

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What’s for dinner…

I’ve had a day.

Rode my bike in to work this morning, the sun was shining. Got my eyelashes done at work (a crazy experience) and my hair done in the evening (I love my hairstylist: she uses the most amazing products (Davines), gives head massages and she serves yummy full-bodied red wine while I have my treatments). I took the train home as it was getting dark and I’d forgotten my bike lights – it left right away and got me quickly home.

So, how do I top off a great day? I took out all my fresh veggies: mushrooms, zucchini, white cabbage, onion and garlic. Sliced & diced. Used my greek olive oil (from my trip to Santorini – nothing special but its all about the story) and sautéed them all up. Took out a few pieces of this gorgeous steak, taken home from an amazing meal with my friends at the weekend, sliced and thrown in with the veggies. Added some Viu Manent Reserve Carmenere and a bit of salt & pepper. Mixed it up with a bit of spicy tomato sauce and served over some toasted olive bread. Heaven on a plate. Seriously.

Days like this…you just have to blog about. Xx

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At an offsite for work today…absolutely spoiled with weather and an amazing wine. Portuguese Alvarinho on the patio of the sailing club = ridiculously wonderful. Crisp stoney steely wine, long length and great with seafood. £20 at restaurant.

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