St. Patrick's Day Themed Irish Sangria

Just because it's St. Patrick's Day doesn't mean you have to put down your precious wine glass and pick up a mug filled with green beer.  There's lots you can do to wine to make it festive! This Irish Sangria takes a fruit forward white wine like Gewurztraminer, Riesling or a medium-bodied Pinot Grigio and turns it into a crowd-pleasing sangria that is a perfect addition to any party table.

Calamity Sue is a Reisling with hues of pale yellow straw in the glass and perfumy white flowers and ripe pear on the nose. It has a nice balance of acidy and fruit extraction and sweetness. So, it works nicely with the acid in the lemon and fruit/acid combo in the juicy orange. Don't choose a too-light Pinot Grigio. There are some so light bodied they might as well be water. Instead, choose one with more character, more body and more flavor to hold up to the tartness of the green apples.


My favorite would be a Gewurztraminer. Screaming Goat is idea with it's frisky flavors that show floral as well as herbaceous flavors and a fairly crisp finish. Ideal for all the fruit in this magically delicious sangria!

  • 1 Bottle of white wine (ideally Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 Lemon cut into wedges
  • 1 Orange cut into wedges
  • 1-2 Green apples cut into wedges
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1-2 Shots of Irish Whiskey
  • 2 Cups club soda or ginger ale
  • Splash of lime juice

Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon and orange into the wine. Toss in the wedges of orange, lemon and apple(leaving out seeds if possible) and add sugar, lime juice and whiskey. Chill overnight. Add club soda or ginger ale just before serving (may substitute lemon-lime cola for club soda/ginger ale if you prefer a sweeter sangria).




Slow Cooker Red Wine Beef Stew

It's snowing again! So I am prepping a slow cooker beef stew and using Bailando to give it some depth and flavor. The alcohol in the red wine cooks off so it's safe for kids to eat but the deep, rich flavors of plums, baker’s chocolate and a hint of anise. That said, I sometimes add a square of dark chocolate to my stew and chili - it's my secret ingredient!

    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 onions, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    3 large carrots chopped
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    2 tablespoons sweet paprika
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    2 pounds trimmed beef flatiron steak or chuck, cut into 8 pieces
    One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
    Kosher salt
    1 6 -ounce can tomato sauce
    1 cup diced tomatoes
    1 bay leaf
    2 tablespoons chopped unsweetened chocolate
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    Freshly ground pepper


    Heat the oil and butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add half the chopped onions and the garlic and cook until soft, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, chili powder, paprika, cumin, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and cloves. Cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add the beef and begin to brown on all sides. Add the flour and stir to coat the meat with it. Add the wine, bay leaves and thyme, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

    Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and 1 1/2 cups water; simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thicker. Add the chocolate and Worcestershire and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Remove the meat and veggies and thicken the sauce over a medium flame if you want your stew thicker. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

    Discard the bay leaf and season the chili with the freshly ground pepper.


    Chocolate and Wine Pairings for Valentine's Day

    Planning on indulging in some chocolate on Valentine’s Day? Make the day even more special and pair your heart full of chocolate with the perfect wine.

    Chocolate and wine really is a marriage made in heaven. The process of making chocolate is very similar to wine and both cocoa beans and wine are fermented with the  same type of yeast. 


    White Chocolate

    White chocolate is the mildest form of chocolate. Some don’t consider it real chocolate, as cocoa butter is the primary ingredient. Good quality white chocolates are creamy and buttery and benefit from a wine that shares its sweetness like a sparkling Prosecco or Moscato d’Asti from Italy or a demi-sec champagne. Demi –sec varieties will be sweeter than a brut or extra-dry so be sure to read your wine labels.



    Milk Chocolate

    Milk chocolate is the most popular style of chocolate. It’s versatile and offers the right balance of sweetness and creaminess without being bitter. There is a higher sugar content. This combined with its milk content, results in a mild, sweet candy with few flavors or aromas. That is why it is the preferred chocolate type for filling with strong flavors like nuts, caramel and syrup-soaked cherries.  Tanglerose Backyard Red, a blend from California, is an ideal milk chocolate pairing wine. It has a nose of dark chocolate, black fruits and cassis with some earth in the background. Supple on the palate, with some spice (black pepper over fruit) and a good overall structure.

    Dark Chocolate

    To be considered real dark chocolate it must contain a minimum of 35% cocoa solids. The higher the cocoa solid value, the more bitter the taste. Consider that when you pick a wine. High tannin wines may compete too much with the bitter taste of a chocolate that is 70% cocoa or more. So, choose one that has subtle tannin notes, like Traveling Vineyard’s Amped from Argentina, if you love really good dark chocolate.

    The tannat grapes in Amped are sourced from Argentina’s Tulum Valley in the San Juan province. A semi-arid dessert climate, San Juan is the number two-ranked wine-growing province in Argentina, sitting at elevations ranging from 2,000 and 4,500 feet above sea level. The Tulum Valley averages about 300 days of sunlight per year, with moderately hot summers and mild winters, a combination that results in a grape that produces a medium-to-full bodied wine with notes of ripe black fruits, subtle tannins, dark chocolate, leather and anise.


    How to Pair Wine with Girl Scout Cookies


    February  8th is National Girl Scouts Cookie Day. While a glass of milk won’t hurt, the cookie sale you’ve been waiting all year for deserves more of a celebration. Think outside the box and reach for a bottle instead. Because, after all, there is a wine for everything. In fact, finding the perfect pairing will only enhance your cookie enjoyment.



    These buttery shortbreads benefit from a lighter, sparkling wine partner. The refreshing fizz in Traveling Vineyard’s Confetti provides the crisp flavor and bubbles that make for an ideal pairing.


    The perfect alternative to pricy champagne, prosecco and cava, Confetti is made from a base of Moscatel from South Africa. It’s got notes of citrus, zest and a hint of brioche that will complement shortbread perfectly.






    Peanut butter and chocolate could be the culinary world’s most perfect marriage. Add a wine with the right balance of sweetness and acidity and you’ve got a trifecta that is hard to beat. Some might prefer a rich port with this cookie, but the balance of sweetness mineral richness from Calamity Sue, a Riesling from California, does this cookie right.  A good Riesling has a minerality that you can sense rather than taste and Sue delivers in the best way possible.  It really brings out the rich peanut butter flavor in the cookies, and the underlying richness of the chocolate adds another flavor layer to the whole combo.








    Thin Mints

    The trick here is to find a wine that won’t be overwhelmed by the minty flavor of this cookie. Heist, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, holds up perfectly to the mint and chocolate flavors. It has a hind of currant and dark chocolate on the palate, too. So, not only will Heist make a Thin Mint that much more enjoyable, the cookie will really make the flavors in the wine pop.




    Again, you want something with a bit of fizz to cut through the caramel, chocolate, coconut and butter flavor of the Girl Scouts’ most popular cookie, the Samoa. Fissata provides the much-needed effervescence while adding hint sweetness and a small nutty quality that is just perfect with this cookie.


    Visit Traveling Vineyard for more info on the wines  or contact me to schedule an online or in person tasting. Support your local Girl Scouts troop!



    Nutellasagna Hits New York & a DIY Version: Nutella TiraMiSu Recipe

    Nutella fans everywhere are freaking the f*ck out. Brooklyn's Robicelli bakery has unveiled the Nutellasagna - a dreamy dessert stuffed with cannoli cream, lasagna noodles, roasted hazelnuts and Nutella. The dessert makes its debut just in time for the holiday season. The bakery is offering  Half Trays ($65) that feed 10-15 people and Full Trays ($120), which feed 15-24, starting Monday, December 8th.

    We love the idea, but honeslty, if you're Italian and an Nutella fan, you've probably created a version of this at home. My favorite lasagna-style Nutella dessert is a twist on a TiraMiSu. I add a small jar to the marscarpone mixture and layer it between lady fingers. I have also used Pan de Stelle cookies instead of lady fingers a few times, for a real chocolate treat. Allison Robicelli tops her Nutellasagna off with roasted marshmallows, which is a delicious and slighly genius touch. Here is my recipe for Nutella TiraMiSu, which you can make at home for roughly $10.



    • 3 cups brewed coffee, cooled *use decaf if you are feeding this to kids
    • 2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone
    • 1 (13-ounce) jar of Nutella at room temperature
    • 5 eggs, separated
    • 14 ounces savoiardi cookies (firm ladyfingers) OR Pan de Stelle chocolate cookies
    • 4 ounces sugar, plus 2 tablespoons or more, for the coffee
    • 2 shots Nutella creme liquor  *recipe below, omit if serving to kids
    • Pinch salt
    • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/4 cup shaved dark chocolate, to garnish


    Pour your chilled coffee into a flat bowl or square shaped tupperware container.  Set aside.

    Mix the egg yolks with 2 ounces sugar, until it's light and creamy.  In another bowl, mix the mascarpone with a rubber spatula until it's creamy and has no lumps. Fold 3/4 of the jar of Nutella one spoonful at a time until it is well incorporated. Add the Nutella-mascarpone mixture to the egg-sugar mix, folding until well incorporated.

    In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites, pinch of salt, and the remaining 2 ounces sugar, until they reach a afirm and fluffy consistency. Fold the whites into the mascarpone-Nutella mixture. Add the Nutella creme liquor.

    Dip the savoiardi or Pan de Stelle cookies  in the coffee, and one by one lay them flat into a 7 by 11 tray or casserole dish. Don't saturate the cookies, just dip them quickly so they absorb some of the coffee but don't lost their firmness. Spread a layer of the cream mixture on top of the first layer of cookies. Dust with a thin layer  of cocoa powder (about 1 tablespoon) and a drizzle of Nutella. Add another layer of coffee-dipped biscuits, cream, powder and Nutella. Garnish with the shaved dark chocolate.
    Cover the tray with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 12. 
    Nutella Creme Liqueur

    3/4 cup Nutella (room temperature)
    1/2 cup Sugar
    1 tsp Vanilla extract
    1 1/4 cup Heavy whipping cream
    2+ cups Vodka

    In a medium saucepan, whisk together Nutella, sugar, and vanilla extract. Cook over medium heat, slowly adding whipping cream. Gently whisk until everything has combined into a smooth, creamy mixture.

    Continue heating, whisking frequently, until it starts to simmer. Remove from heat, allow to cool down to almost room temperature.

    Once mixture has cooled, whisk in vodka until well combined. Taste, add more vodka if you so desire.

    Keep in fridge for up to three weeks.