Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Beat the Summer Heat with Red Wine Cocktails

With summer’s rising temperatures, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a homemade cocktail. While white wine may be the typical choice for wine-based cocktails, consider a new twist to the classic --  summer cocktail recipes that feature red wine. Motto wines have a new, bold spin on traditional red wines from California. From zesty spritzers to frosty slushies, Motto red wines are the perfect foundational ingredient for fun summer cocktails. A few recipe suggestions from the winemaker can be found below.

Wine Spritzer Recipe
1 cup Motto Unabashed Zinfandel wine
½ cup raspberries
½ cup blackberries
1 cup sparkling water
Ice tray

In ice tray, fill each slot with one blackberry, one raspberry, and water. Freeze. In a bowl, mash up remaining berries with a fork and pour mixture into glass. Fill glass with berry ice cubes, wine, and sparkling water.

Wine Slushy Recipe
Ginger & Fruit
1 cup Motto Backbone Cabernet Sauvignon wine
1 cup frozen mixed fruit
¼ cup ginger ale
½ cup water
2 tablespoons sugar

Over low heat, melt the water and sugar in a saucepan until fully dissolved. Once syrup has cooled, blend wine, mixed fruit, ginger ale, and simple syrup until smooth. Pour into shallow container and freeze for 1 hour (or longer, depending on desired frozenness). Using a fork, break up the mixture and serve slushy in a glass.

Cheers to summertime! Enjoy making these at home and let me know how your concoctions come out!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Snoqulamie Wines for Earth Day

On Earth Day April 22, it's only natural to sip an eco-friendly wine. I have a white and a red to recommend for enjoying this weekend, after you spend the day doing something outdoors. They are both new releases from Snoqualmie. Bright, balanced, and bursting with lush varietal flavors, these wines pair well with a variety of food and offer high-quality, high-value accompaniment to casual spring and summer picnics, barbecues, and other celebratory gatherings, as well as low-key weeknight dinners at home.
This Snoqualmie 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley has aromas of orange blossom, citrus and pear and a smooth, creamy finish. It's a great Chardonnay for a warm spring day.
I love serving the Snoqulamie 2013 Whistle Stop Red Columbia Valley. It's a crowd-please and  one that all your guests will enjoy. It pairs well with food, but it's light enough to enjoy a glass on it's own. All of Snoqualmie’s wines are made using earth-friendly techniques and utilize sustainable packaging. And for an Earth Day activity where recycling comes into play, try these fun wine cork crafts on Pinterest. (source: DIY Joy)

Cheers and Happy Earth Day!


Friday, March 18, 2016

Cirque du Soleil TORUK in Tampa Now - March 20

The new Cirque du Soleil touring show inspired by James Cameron’smovie AVATAR, TORUK – The First Flight, will be at the AMALIE Arena now through March 20.  
 I was invited to attend opening night last night and I loved the show. It was incredible! I definitely recommend getting tickets and making it to a showing this weekend. Tickets can be purchased at
TORUK Show Schedule:
  • Friday, March 18 at 4pm and 7:30pm
  • Saturday, March 19 at 4pm and 7:30pm 
  • Sunday, March 20 at 1:30pm and 5pm

Get your tickets now!
Be sure to download the TORUK app prior to the show! I did, and it added to the experience and made it interactive and fun. Throughout the performance, the SAP HANA platform will facilitate communication between the spectator and the show’s visual effects control system, creating a personalized experience delivered directly to the mobile device and based on a spectator’s interaction with the app and location in the theatre. The app is available now through the Apple Store and Google Play


Thursday, March 17, 2016

HydraFacial at Spa Evangeline

Spa Evangeline announced the newest addition to their skin care treatments with a fabulous Launch Event. You can now experience a 30 minute HydraFacial MD® treatment for just $50 ($135 value).
I was recently invited to experience the HydraFacial firsthand and it was a really special treatment. I headed to South Tampa last Saturday morning to check out the spa and see what this new treatment is all about.
Spa Evangeline is a Tampa day spa that strives to tantalize the palate, as well as mind and body.  
There are five-treatment-rooms, located on the Epicurean Hotel’s ground floor. 
 Spa Evangeline features a delectable menu of body, skincare, beauty, along with couples’ spa packages.

So how was the HydraFacial? The treatment cleaned, exfoliated, extracted, hydrated and added antioxidant protection all at the same time. The results are clearer skin with little redness, swelling or downtime. I will say, my skin felt much softer and smoother after the treatment -- and makeup seemed to go on much easier. The treatment's benefits include soothing and moisturizing,  while being non-invasive and non-irritating -- read: no painful extractions. It was actually such a gentle process that I was wondering how it could be so effective, but the results spoke for themselves. 
Being at Spa Evangeline made for a lovely Saturday afternoon - I only wish I could've spent more time there!
 To book a HydraFacial at Spa Evangeline, call 813-999-8742 for an appointment.

Monday, February 22, 2016

New Cirque du Soleil Show, TORUK, coming to Amalie Arena in March

The new Cirque du Soleil touring show inspired by James Cameron’s record-breaking movie AVATAR, TORUK – The First Flight, will be presented at AMALIE Arena on March 17-20, as part of a global tour in arenas around the worldI am personally so excited to see TORUK. I'm a big fan of the amazing theatrics of Cirque du Soleil and this show promises to be incredible. Tickets can be purchased at

Show Schedule (March 17-20, 2016):
Thursday, March 17 at 7:30pm
Friday, March 18 at 4pm and 7:30pm
Saturday, March 19 at 4pm and 7:30pm 
Sunday, March 20 at 1:30pm and 5pm
TORUK – The First Flight is a live immersive multimedia spectacle that brings to the stage the breathtaking world of Cameron’s AVATAR like you have never seen it before.
Through a riveting fusion of cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and stagecraft buoyed by a soaring cinematic score, Cirque du Soleil applies its unique signature style to Cameron’s imaginary world and “makes the bond” between two kindred artistic visions that capture the imagination.
This live immersive experience also bears the distinct signature of directors and multimedia innovators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. It is a living ode to the Na’vi’s symbiotic coexistence with nature and their belief in the basic interconnectedness of all living things.
Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, TORUK – The First Flight is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film AVATAR, and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora.
When a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, Ralu and Entu, two Omaticaya boys on the brink of adulthood, fearlessly decide to take matters into their own hands. Upon learning that Toruk can help them save the Tree of Souls, they set out, together with their newfound friend Tsyal, on a quest high up in the Floating Mountains to find the mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky. Prophecy is fulfilled when a pure soul rises among the clans to ride Toruk for the first time and save the Na’vi from a terrible fate.
Tickets can be purchased at

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wines to Drink on New Year's Eve

My, how it seems the year has flown...I feel like everyone says that, but this year for me, it's true! I spent most of December super busy (which is good), but feeling quite under the weather with a seemingly never-ending cold (ugh) so needless to say, I'm ready to ring in 2016 tonight with a bang. We have visiting family in town from Atlanta as well as some local friends coming over, and we're putting out a huge spread of cheeses and charcuterie, lasagna, pulled chicken on Hawaiian rolls, raspberry cheesecake, Death by Chocolate mini desserts, and more. I cant wait to welcome my guests and enjoy great food, drink, and company. Here are some of the wines on my NYE list:

Veuve Cliquot Brut
The yellow label can't be beat. Enough said.
It's a little bit of a splurge at around $50 per bottle, but worth it. If you're having just one glass of champagne on NYE, have a glass of Veuve Cliquot. You deserve it! And if you're having more than one, make Veuve your first glass! I always like to start NYE with a flute of champagne.

Zonin Prosecco
I like the taste of this affordable Prosecco. And at around $12.99 a bottle, you can keep this sparkling wine flowing all night.

Columbia Crest Reserve Unoaked Chardonnay 2014
You don't want an oak-bomb of a Chardonnay to overpower the flavor of the food you're serving, so this one is great because it's unoaked and really pairs well with things like a cheese platter and other appetizers. It's a great white wine to serve for NYE for under $15.

Chateau Ste Michelle Horse Heaven Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014
This is a really nice crisp white wine aged in steel barrels to preserve its true flavor. It has citrus flavors and light acidity, that I think will go great with our pulled BBQ chicken sliders.  This one can be found for about $15 as well.

 Columbia Crest Red Blend 2013
I think this one will be a versatile red to go with the entrees and also pair well with the desserts. I'm serving more whites than red tonight, hoping no one spills any red on my furniture! ;) Again, about a $15 price point here.
Whether you're headed out for a party, or cooking dinner at home, hopefully this helped you choose some wines for your NYE celebration. Here's wishing you a very Happy New Year! Cheers!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Three Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

Ahh, the holidays are finally here. For us Floridians, we're still experiencing swampy hot days in the mid-80's. But that's neither here nor there. What's important is that it's time to gather with friends and family to eat awesome food and drink delicious wine. Here are my 3 picks for wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner this year:

The wine: Biltmore Estate Chateau Reserve
Price: $24.99
Tasting notes: Good acidity and balance are complemented by hints of lemon, apple, and pear.
Why I like it: You have to start Thanksgiving Day with a sparkling wine, obvi. This pairs well with all the yummy apps enjoyed on Thanksgiving Day. My favorite pairing is this wine and a nice baked Brie with almonds and cranberries.
The wine: Kendall Jackson's Avant Chardonnay 2013
Tasting notes: This refreshing Chardonnay erupts with captivating layers of pineapple, bright green apple and fresh lemon, juicy pear and wildflowers.
Why I like it: At a value price point, this is a fantastic table wine for a holiday meal. I would pair it with the salad or soup course, but for those who exclusively enjoy white wine, it could pair well with the entire dinner. It's an unoaked Chardonnay so it doesn't overpower the flavors of the meal you worked so hard to cook -- I really like the pear flavors, too.
The wine:Coppola's Votre Sante 2013
Price: $13
Tasting notes: This is a light wine with sweetness, soft tannins and a nice texture. The finish is clean and the aromas are intense.
Why I like it: Not your typical Pinot Noir. Sometimes I avoid Pinot Noirs because I feel like I am drinking juice. This one is different - I wouldn't say it's "full-bodied" but it can definitely stand up to the flavors of turkey, sausage stuffing, and garlic mashed potatoes. Of course, I like the price point of this one, too.
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and hope you ca enjoy some time unplugging and relaxing. Of course, with a great glass of wine in hand. Cheers!