Archive for category champagne

News Laws; More Wine, Less Whining

Big news on the wine front: “Ship it” is the phrase of the new month. Maryland now allows residents to receive wine shipments from out-of-state wineries. No longer do DC workers have to use their office addresses for wine shipments. Hello; that’s progress. Yet, the state is ready to boost its coffers with new tax initiatives that hit the bottle hard. Alcohol tax increases amount to a 50% sales hike. That should slow down the tab.

Virginia joins the customer-friendly philosophy by allowing consumers to BYOW, bring their own wine to restaurants and pay a corkage fee. Just one common courtesy here: Don’t bring something that is already on the restaurant’s wine list. You want to keep the restaurant in business and not add to their operating cost burden.

Maybe my favorite legislative enactment is from Maryland which requires food purveyors, farm markets, and grocers to define what those “local” signs really mean. This word has had a true liberal dosing of meaning. Big banners often proclaim local only to learn that one store’s definition involves hundreds of miles while one really means the nearby grower. The law applies to fruits, vegetables, fish, and shellfish by requiring a defined point of origin. Let’s keep those signs accurate and support the true definition of local.

Oregon’s wine industry, with its much hearalded 2008 Pinot Noir accolades, just got an additional boost. License plates can now advertise wine country which should boost sales for the entire tourism industry. Why not tag something so impressive!

Celebrate the red, white, and blue by toasting these impressive legislative enactments. OK, one is costly (a 9% alcohol sales tax), but it may help the coffers in a responsible way.

Enjoy the 4th.

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Food News to Use

After this interminable weekend of never-ending snow, there are still so many loose ends of information. Here are some thoughts to ponder and facts to know.

With the renewed scare and emphasis on BPA and the continual cry that plastic bottles harm our environment, there is some good news. Several bottled waters now use less plastic than they did even a few years ago. Dasani from Coke is testing a bottle made from more plant materials, and Aquafina (Pepsi) has dropped its plastic use by over 50% in the past 8 years. The same is true for the popular eco-shaped holder bottle from Nestle which has reduced its plastic content by 1/4 since it was originally launched in ’07. Less is good.

If you’ve been wondering how healthy hot chocolate is as you’ve been consuming it with great relish during this especially cold winter, there’s good news. Nestle celebrates the Groundhog’s prediction of 6 continuing weeks of winter by introducing four new flavors of hot chocolate that have less sugar and are supplemented with nutrients. Hot chocolate drinks: No problem.darkcocoa

Fish oil again makes headlines with the newest study from Austria pointing out its potential in staving off schizophrenia in young people who already exhibit a degree of mental illness. Researchers believe that the fatty acids in fish oil help repair brain cells. This type of report hopefully will encourage other mental health researchers to examine the potential benefits from fish oil, a product that has made heart-healthy headlines for years!

Another hopeful glimmer of health news comes from a study of acai berries. The study shows that this berry, which has made major beverage inroads, will lessen some signs of aging and counteract many of the detrimental factors from high amounts of fats in our diets.

As we continue to search out more organic products, a disturbing report from the USDA found that fewer than 1 percent of all American farms are organic. An initial roadblock for many farmers is the necessary certification procedures, costs, and requirements of converting the land to certified organic. Hopefully, there is money in the Ag Dept budget to increase the number of farms to meet the growing interest as this small percentage manages to generate over $3 billion in sales. That certainly demonstrates support! Consumers feel confident with organic foods.

Good news for restaurants with the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday. Several market research studies found that restaurants will benefit from the double positive: The holiday falls on a Sunday and is part of a three-day weekend. Let me add another factor: Cabin Fever. The East Coast has been hit by multiple weekend snow storms that have shut down many restaurants and made major roads impassable. Let’s celebrate next weekend as a dining out event! Reservations now.

Besides restaurants coaxing you out for V-Day, there are no shortage of new chocolate products to sweeten the deal. Don’t forget a sparkler or go for a true Champagne. Plenty of choices. Grocers are actively pursuing those who prefer the quiet luxury of a special home-cooked meal. They can meet you halfway by their large selection of prepared foods to help you lessen your kitchen time.

Eat healthy; dine well.

Dig out.


February Food Holidays

This year the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Year of the Tiger, falls on February 14. Does that date ring a bell, one that starts your heart a quiver or makes you panic that you haven’t realized we close out the month of ¬†January this weekend? You could combine the two holidays with a night out at a Chinese restaurant on Valentine’s Day, or…

The list of possibilities to make this fun day, this year’s Valentine’s Day, extra tasty, after all this is a food blog, keeps on multiplying. No matter what last year was like; this is a new decade. Move on.

It may be too late to get personalized chocolate bars, but there are no shortage of Sweetheart candy messages. If it’s ice cream treats you covet, then Maggie Moo’s has two options to suggest: Pink Champagne Sorbet or a Dream Cake for two. That’s a small-sized cake of strawberry ice cream drizzled with chocolate ganache and topped with a chocolate covered strawberry.

What is it about strawberries and chocolate dips anyway? Just walking past Godiva windows should convince you that they have the market on the biggest berries out there. Yes, they are beautifully covered in chocolate!

Dairy Queen changes its cake shapes for the month of February. Not a round but a heart-shaped ice cream treat (chocolate soft serve topped with crunchy chocolate cookies pieces and then layered with vanilla soft serve). They also feature the Midnight Truffle Blizzard (chocolate truffle pieces, dark cocoa fudge and vanilla soft serve).

If you want more than just dessert, then restaurants have you covered with no shortage of options for special Valentine’s Day (evening) dinners. Prix-fixe menus are all the rage. Plenty of people will tell you that dining out that evening is a semi-hectic experience, but if you’re curious about its popularity, look at all the restaurants normally closed for Sunday dinner offering special dining packages. A great source for info is Open Table. Better hurry and reserve if dining out is your goal.

If you purchase by the 14th, you can extend the heart-shaped dining with Krispy Kreme’s assortment of heart and chocolate doughnuts, including the chocolate-iced heart doughnut with red drizzle. If you buy a dozen, they have a treat for you: “A Share the Love” card with a sweet surprise.

No one wants to be left out of this marketing maze.

Dining-in works, too. So many wonderful recipe possibilities and items from Sunday farm markets–what’s redder than a beet?

Don’t forget champagne!CHAMP_VEU12


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A Healthy, Everyday Pour

We’ve had a problem in this country believing that Champagne and other sparklers need a special occasion for pouring. Not so. They are wonderful beverages that are without a season and turn any event into a special occasion.

Now there is newly released research that uses the magic word: “health” in its explanation. No longer should the ice bucket be kept in the back of the closet. Bring it out and enjoy.

Improved circulatory benefits are an easy excuse to enjoy a wonderful pour that fits naturally with this season and every day and every other season. All those wonderful heart-healthy benefits from red wine seem to occur with the ultimate event pour.

No need to buy an expensive champagne, but don’t ignore the possibilities of enjoyment from the heart-healthy benefits of this bubbling experience.

Love this kind of news.


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Toasting the Bird

4flutesThis is the time of the year when every wine critic and those who regularly write about wine profess to have found the perfect wine to accompany the bird. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no such thing as a single wine that defines the holiday. There are many wonderful wines that match well with the holiday feast and some have a place at the table and others are perfect for a specific food.

Yet, when we think of a celebration, we often think of a sparkler, and that is a wonderful way to begin the holiday. With champagne sales way down or as some headlines say, flat, it’s time to bring the bubbly back to the table. Even with a little glimmer of positive economic news, there are many fine sparkling beverages that do not break the bank. Yes, sparkling seltzer and soda work wonders, too.

As for alcoholic sparkling beverages, Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, and domestic sparklers from California and New York qualify nicely. Their sales have been steadily improving as they match a broader range of budgets. If you’re looking for a certified French Champagne that has come down in price, then I suggest a visit to your favorite purveyor as specials abound and indications are for more reductions in the upcoming month.

It’s ironic that the champagne industry has always tried to convince the consumer that champagne does not need to be saved for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Now with a major holiday coming up, they are struggling with trying to get the consumer’s attention and regain a spot at the table.

So many choices; so many foods; so many preparations. There is no set rule book.

Drink what you like.

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