Tag Archives: new year

2013 – Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!


It has arrived!


To learn more about le Beaujolais Nouveau, its history, what to pair with it and how to correctly pronounce it, click here.

We didn’t buy nor drink any Beaujolais Nouveau last year. And I’m ready for a little good luck. So I’ll be buying those from a few different producers to drink and compare. Don’t worry, my husband and I will do the research for you and review them over the next coming weeks…

If you drink Beaujolais Nouveau, do you have a favorite vintner/producer?


SBS: Cravebox – Why It’s Different


This Subscription Box Saturday, I wanted to spill the beans about another subscription-style box that I’ve tried. You know that I love Love with Food, Birchbox, Goodies and Barkbox.

But Cravebox is different.

Benny, as usual, popping up in a photo!

Benny, as usual, popping up in a photo!

You see, you don’t sign up to have a box shipped to you each month, like the other boxes to which I subscribe. Instead, you choose which boxes you receive. Here are the basics on how it works:

  1. Sign up and create a new account. (Free)
  2. If I remember correctly, you also need to include on file your shipping address and credit card info. {I’m not sure if you do this initially or after you purchase your first box.} This is the card that will be charged if you decide to purchase a box.
  3. Check out the Cravebox website or elect to receive emails about upcoming boxes and what their themes are.
  4. A Cravebox is available when you see, “Drawing Open! Enter Now!”
  5. Take a survey on the Cravebox you are interested in and enter the drawing.
  6. Wait for an email that states that you have been “selected” and to confirm that your credit card, billing address and shipping address info on file is correct. Your card will be charged and box shipped out within a few days.
  7. You’ll receive a follow up email with a survey about the products you received.

It’s that easy!

Here are some other important details to note:

  • You will always know the theme of the box, but never the contents.
  • Boxes range $12 to $18 (including shipping). I *think* you know the cost before you enter the “drawing”.
  • I’m not sure if it is a true “drawing” because I have received every box for every drawing I entered!
  • Tip: If you think that you want to enter a drawing and take the survey, you may find that some of the questions sound like products that don’t apply to you. I’m thinking this may be an indication of what could be in the box. At this point, you can just decide not to enter the drawing.
  • I’ve found that the value of items in the box far exceed the contents!

Now for the boxes I’ve chosen!

Coffee Lovers – $12

Coffee Lovers Box Contents

Contents: Torani Sugar Free French Vanilla Syrup, Barbara’s High Fiber Cranberry Medley Cereal, Biscotti Brothers Biscotti (2), Tully’s French Roast Coffee

For a first box, this was quite impressive! If you can’t tell in the photo above, the coffee and syrup were full-sized. The coffee alone is worth about $8. What’s more is that my husband loves Tully’s coffee. He preferred it over Starbucks when he lived in Seattle. This went to good use! However, I personally rarely add flavored syrups to my coffee and even then only in a coffee shop. In addition, I don’t like the sugar free flavors. So it made a great gift for a friend!

Dog Lovers II – $13

Dog Lovers Box

Yes, I know, I know. My dogs are already spoiled with a Barkbox every month. But I wanted to see how it compared. I’ve already tried Pawbox and didn’t like it. And because this one was a Cravebox, it’s not like I’d be getting one every month. And this ended up being my favorite box!

Dog Lovers Box Contents

Contents: In a Dog’s Heart book by Jennifer Arnold, True Chews Turkey Dog Treats, Sentry Calming Collar, Honest Kitchen Dog Food Pouches, Bissel Stomp ‘N Go Stain Lifting Pads

What made this box the favorite for me? The BOOK!

Forget that this box was only $13 and In a Dog’s Heart retails for $15 by itself because Jennifer Arnold’s wonderful book made me fall in love with my pooches all over again. They helped me understand them a little better, too. She illustrates in such a loving way how dogs are so dependent on us and are in no way trying to run our households. How can they when they rely on us for food, water, shelter and love? I seriously want to re-read this book. I’ve dog-eared {<– please note pun!} so many pages. And I’m recommending it to everyone I know. It’s even prompted me to purchase her previous book, Through a Dog’s Eyes. It’s next on my reading list.

However, Benny had a different favorite in the box.

I gave the dogs each one of the True Chews jerky treats. But that wasn’t enough for Benny. When I got up and left the room, I must have forgotten to close the Cravebox. Because I came back into the room and found this:

Sneaky little Bear! Even though he knew he got caught, he kept going with those little Dr. Seuss/mitten paws of his. I gave in and let him.  😉


I was a little reluctant to order the next Cravebox I’d been considering. From the title, I had no idea what would really be in the box. I thought maybe there’d be some diet or health foods because it was a box appearing right after the New Year, so I threw a shot in the dark.

Resolutions Box – $15

Resolutions Box Contents

Resolutions Box Contents

Contents: Mary Kay 7-Up Ten, A&W Ten, Timewise Repair Eye Cream, Metrobalance Tea Sample, Coupon for free package of Wholly Guacomole, Cocovia Cocoa Supplement, Coupon for free Smart Ones product, an assortment of five SunRype fruit bars, Zone Perfect Nutrition Bar, Pantene Moisture Whip Hair Product

We were impressed to receive full cans of soda as well as two coupons for free refrigerated and frozen products since they couldn’t be shipped through the mail. I loved trying all of these!


And something happened with the last box I ordered. After I received the email that the drawing had closed and I would be shipped a box, they announced that they were doubling the contents!

Zatarain’s Big Game Box – $15

Zatarain's Box

Contents: Zatarain’s brand jambalaya mix, creole mustard, creole seasoning, red beans and rice. Also included was True Lemon Iced Tea Mix made with Stevia as well as some Mardi Gras Beads!

I wanted this box because I love cajun and creole food {and New Orleans in general}. I’ve had Zatarain’s products before and knew that I’d use whatever they had to offer for the “big game”.

So far, I’ve been very pleased with the Craveboxes I’ve received. They are now introducing Instant Boxes as well. Furthermore, I’ve received invites to Twitter parties which are open to discuss products and win prizes, too. I haven’t participated, so I can’t give you any feedback on that.

I have recently entered a drawing for Cooking Light Box and am anxiously waiting for the Book Lovers Box! Other upcoming boxes include.

AXE Hair Styling Kit

Beautiful by You

Little Ones

New Moms

I encourage you to give Cravebox a try. You don’t have to purchase anything if you don’t want to! Just check out what it’s all about. If you want to add me as your referral, feel free! My username is UncommonWine.

Have you ever given a book to read that you’d probably never pick on your own only to find yourself pleasantly surprised? If so, I want to know what it is! Please share.


Sparkling Wine Cocktails for New Year’s Eve


Ahhh… The Bubbly. It makes every occasion more special. This Wine Wednesday, I’m offering up a few sparkling wine cocktails for the New Year! This will liven up your usual bubbly toast and offer some alternatives to those who don’t normally enjoy a dry bubbly.


Remember, all Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France to be called such. However, it can be expensive. In all of the cocktail recipes below, feel free to substitute any sparkling white wine, as long as it is dry. {We’ll have a more in-depth lesson Champagne vs. Sparkling Wine at a later date.}



  • 1 part crème de cassis
  • 5 parts Champagne

Pour crème de cassis in a glass, gently pour Champagne on top.

Optional: Add a twist of lemon zest for garnish.

Variation: Substitute raspberry Chambord for the cassis.



  • 1 part Guinness (or other stout), slightly chilled
  • 1 part Champagne

Pour the Stout into a half-pint glass or flute. Carefully add the Champagne on top. When you sip, the heavier stout will slip under the wine, so you’ll enjoy a taste of both!



Variation 1:

  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 4 oz Champagne
  • Splash of cranberry juice

Variation 2:

  • 1 oz cranberry juice (choose a brand with no sugar added)
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier
  • 4 oz Champagne

Add the cranberry juice and Triple Sec or Grand Marnier to a flute and top with Champagne.

Optional: Garnish with an orange slice or drop in a few frozen cranberries for fun.



  • Splash of peach juice or peaches in simple syrup
  • 4 oz Champagne

Add the peach juice or peaches in simple syrup to the flute. Top with Champagne.

Optional: Garnish with a fresh peach slice.



  • Frozen strawberries or raspberries
  • 4 oz Champagne

Fill the bottom of the flute with frozen strawberries or raspberries. Top with Champagne.

Optional: Coat the frozen strawberries with sugar first and let sit for a while. Garnish with a ripe, fresh strawberry.



  • 1 oz Ruby Red Port
  • 4 oz Champagne

Pour the port into a flute, then add the Champagne.



  • ½ oz gin
  • ¼ oz lemon juice
  • 4 oz Champagne

Shake the gin and lemon juice with cracked ice; strain into a flute and top with Champagne.

Optional Variations: Add an orange slice for garnish, vary the amounts of the ingredients, add a bit or powdered sugar or a splash of Cointreau.



  • 2 oz orange juice
  • Splash crème de cassis (sunshine) or 1 oz grenadine (sunset)
  • 2 oz Champagne

Add the orange juice and cassis or grenadine to a flute. Top with Champagne.

Optional: Plop in a Maraschino Cherry.


The two that I have not yet had are the Black Velvet and the Nelson’s Blood. I’m looking forward to trying them this New Year’s Eve!  Please give one or more of these a shot and come back to let me know your favorites.

What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?

Do you celebrate with any traditions?


Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!


As I write this, it’s Wine Wednesday. But when the clock strikes twelve midnight, shops across the country that sell wine will be stocked with this year’s harvest of Beaujolais Nouveau. Yes, that’s right. “Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!”

First, for those of you who are unfamiliar, here are few quick lessons on Beaujolais Nouveau.

Beaujolais Nouveau…

  • …is a French wine coming from the Beaujolais region of France.
  • …is made from the gamay grape.
  • …is a wine meant to be drunk young, usually within six months.
  • …is different from other Beaujolais wines such as Beaujolais-Villages. If it does not say “Nouveau” on the bottle, chances are that it is a little more complex and can age a couple of years.
  • …is released in the U.S the third Thursday of November of the year the grapes are harvested, partly due to tradition, but mostly for marketing purposes for the American Thanksgiving holiday.
  • …is light enough to pair with turkey, bright enough to merry well with cranberries and has just a hint of earthiness to stand up to the herbaceousness found in dressing and other fixings.
  • …should be served slightly chilled. To bring out the flavors, serve it cooler than the cellar temperature you’d normally serve a red wine, but not quite as cold as a white.

Some like to practice the tradition of drinking their bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau before the New Year because it’s said to bring good luck for the following year.

Drink this vintage in 2012

for luck in…

Beaujolais Nouveau is not serious wine per se. It’s light, fruity and often lacking in complexity compared to most other wines. However, it can be perfectly enjoyable. I find it’s a great wine for newbie red wine drinkers. The tannins are minimal, which is often what inhibits inexperienced wine drinkers from enjoying reds. Tannins come from the skins, the stems and a seeds when a wine is fermenting. It creates that drying sensation on the tongue when you drink it. Tea also has tannins. Think about drinking a cup of black tea. It’s the same sensation. However, you’ll hardly ever notice the tannins in a Beaujolais. That’s why I call it the perfect “bridge” wine when I’m moving people along the spectrum of wine enjoyment.

And lastly, let’s pronounce it correctly:


It surprises me every time I hear someone talking about  BOO-jolais. Really? You would pronounce beau that way? C’mon, you know that word. If you pronounce beau like beau and not boo, you’ve got it. Congratulations! You are no longer drinking BOO-jolais!

Note: There is some speculation of a Beaujolais Nouveau shortage this year dear to Hurricane Sandy. The grapes are harvested, fermented and bottled within six to eight weeks. Then the wine is shipped around the world. I’m sure the hurricane has prevented the usual amount of Beaujolais Nouveau from arriving at normal release time due its unusual turnaround time for a wine..

So if you pick up a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau this year, drink it with gratitude. And toast with me to a speedy recovery to all those affected by the hurricane.

Do you drink Beaujolais Nouveau?

If so, do you have a favorite producer?