Wine of the Week: Justin Cabernet Sauvignon

I stumbled on this wine randomly, via Facebook. I follow my husband’s fraternity (Delta Sigma Phi) on social media and one day they posted an alumni profile, which just happened to be Justin Baldwin, whose vineyards were named 2015 American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. I told John he was holding out on me – who knew they had a winemaker in the organization and how had we never heard of Justin before?!

The following interview is a few years old, but I thought it gave a great overview of how Justin got started and what sets his wines apart from others. What you need to remember about this wine is that it is a Bordeaux style wine in Paso Robles, which is unique to this area. In 1981, when Justin started the winery, Zinfandel was wildly popular and this was a departure from the norm.

I was excited to find the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon at a wine bar and since then I’ve seen it at a number of wine stores in the area. It is classic Cabernet, clear with a dark ruby purple core. It has notes of ripe black cherry, blackcurrant and berry fruit with vanilla, cinnamon and subtle dried fall leaf accents. It is smooth and supple with a clean finish. This is a go-to choice for any food from pizza to steak.

The 2015 version of the Cabernet Sauvignon runs for $26.25 or $21 at the Wine Society price. If I decide to join another wine club I would definitely choose this one. It would be fun to have these on hand for gifts and housewarming parties for our fraternity friends.

If you ever make it to Paso Robles, Justin has a restaurant, an inn called the “Just Inn,” and tasting room to enjoy.

Have you tried any Justin wines before? Let me know your favorites.

Wine of the Week: The Bachelor Wines

I’ve mentioned my Bachelor wine nights a number of different times here on the blog. My friend and I watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette every Monday night with wine. I’ve always thought that the Bachelor franchise was missing out by not selling branded wine. Well ask and you shall receive, because now we have The Bachelor Wines.

Before Nick’s season started, I scooped up the Collector’s Pack for $47.88 and would drink them as appropriate during each date. I like that you can buy these in a pack or one-on-one. I will definitely need some replacements before Rachel’s season starts. I will say that the Chardonnay really surprised me. I am not a huge fan of the buttery flavors of a normal Chardonnay, but these were really understated and I actually really liked it. Here is the breakdown on each wine:

One-on-One Chardonnay

Will you be the chosen one? After reading the wine details, I discovered that the juice was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks to harness the inherently bright fruit flavor and character of Chardonnay. This is why it didn’t have a strong buttery flavor. Usually they use oak barrels for that which explains why I loved this version. Described as sunshine in a bottle, you’ll taste ripe apple flavors with notes of lemon, pear and a hint of cream.


The Fantasy Suite Cabernet Sauvignon

The grapes from this wine were crushed and cold soaked for several days to harness color and flavor intensity resulting in a beautiful, deep ruby red color. It has aromas of black cherry, blueberry and dark plum with hints of savory dried herbs. It is easy to drink due to flavors of blackberry and plum.


The Final Rose

The grapes from this one come from Lodi, one of California’s oldest premium winegrowing regions. The skins remained in contact with the juice just long enough to leave a soft shade of blush pink. It has aromas of strawberries, red cherries, and rose petals. Flavors include raspberries, strawberry jam, and a hint of spice.

All of these wines are great and perfect for a Bachelor/Bachelorette viewing party, I used my Coravin so I could enjoy the wine throughout the whole season. I will say that they need to add more options to this and I have some suggestions:

  • The Right Reasons Riesling
  • Paradise Pinot Noir
  • Group Date Gewürztraminer
  • Neil Lane Sparkling Wine
  • Two-on-One Tempranillo
  • Cocktail Party Chianti
  • Villian Viognier

Let me know if you think of any other ideas. At the very list we definitely need a sparkling wine to add to this collection. Maybe one day each lead will get their own special wine, how fun would that be?

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Chateau Chantal 2013 Ice Wine

I was thrilled to hear that a Michigan wine was selected for the White House state dinner for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Chateau Chantal’s 2013 Ice Wine was selected to pair with dessert, Maple Pecan Cake with Cocoa Nib Wafer and Butterscotch Swirl Ice Cream.

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

Chateau Chantal is a winery and bed & breakfast on Old Mission Peninsula. The winery was founded by Robert Begin, a former Catholic diocesan priest and Nadine, previously one of the Felician Sisters. How cool is it that they both decided on a different life and got married in 1974? They ended up following Robert’s dream of building a European style winery chateau.

Chateau Chantal

There were only 500 bottles made of the 2013 Ice Wine. It comes in a special wooden box and is made from grapes frozen on the vine, and then pressed while still frozen. It is described as having “incredible sweetness and fruitiness, with all the delicateness of a fine Riesling wine.” It has notes of decadent apricot, toasted caramel, and baked apple. The wine retails for $70.


ice with box bottle

The wine graced a stunning tablescape:

A place setting during a press preview ahead of the state dinner with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A place setting during a press preview ahead of the state dinner with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The full menu and details of the evening can be found here.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09: A display of bite-size sweets uses a photograph of the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop for the state dinner honoring Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the State Dining Room at the White House March 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. The White House chose the colors, flowers and menu with 'an ambiance that reflects the scenic beauty of our shared border and celebrates the coming of spring.' The son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the leader of Canada's Liberal Party, Trudeau is visiting Washington this week for the first state dinner for a Canadian leader in almost 20 years. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A display of bite-size sweets uses a photograph of the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop for the state dinner honoring Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the State Dining Room at the White House March 9, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Have you tried any presidential wines? If so, I would love to hear the details! I have mentioned the Casa Nuestra Chenin Blanc wine before that was featured at a White House picnic. Maybe someday I will try them all!

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Elevate the Holidays with Hess Collection Wines

Disclosure: I received this wine from a PR firm on behalf of Hess Collection Wines to provide a review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

I was thrilled to receive a whole collection of wine from Hess Collection Wines to celebrate the holidays! They didn’t just send me one bottle, but six! I decided to use them for a special occasion and serve them with our Thanksgiving dinner.

Hess Collection 1

I thought this would elevate our meal and give everyone an opportunity to taste the different varieties and decide which one they liked. I decided it would be fun to talk about my favorite holiday wine and menu pairings for this post.

Classic Veggie Tray

This might have been my favorite wine of the night, it went perfectly with my veggie tray and appetizers before dinner.

Grandmas Stuffing Recipe

This was the first time we hosted Thanksgiving and the first time we made my grandmother’s stuffing recipe. It was delicious and the Chardonnay paired perfectly with the dish. I am usually not a fan of Chardonnays because I don’t like the buttery flavor, but this one was different. It was a lot lighter than your traditional Chardonnay.

Garlic mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a staple of any holiday meal, but I love that John pre-roasts the garlic in the turkey before with whip them up. The Cabernet Sauvignon pairs perfectly with this recipe.

Last but not least, the Treo. This wine, paired perfectly with the turkey. As this was my husband’s job, I don’t have the details of his recipe, but he did thaw and brine the turkey in our refrigerator 24 hours before we cooked it. The Treo is an easy drinking wine with a touch of sweetness from the ripe, dark fruit, accented by a decidedly big impression of bing cherries and ripe plums.

Hess Treo

Hess Select Wines elevated our first Thanksgiving in the new home and made it something special. I can’t wait to celebrate many more holidays in this house over a glass of wine.

What are your favorite wine pairings for the holidays?

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Witches Brew

This week’s wine is Leelanau Cellar’s Witches Brew. Leelanau is a Michigan winery started in 1974 in Northern Michigan by the Jacobson family. Leelanau (Lee-La-Naw) is an Indian word meaning “Delight of Life.” They also have a tasting room outside of Traverse City which I’ve previously visited.

Witches Brew is the perfect fall wine. It’s a red blend enhanced with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and other natural spices.

witches brew

Witches Brew is what you would call a mulled wine. A red wine that has been warmed and spiced. You heat it up on your stove and serve it warm. You can also add fun things like cloves, cinnamon sticks or orange zest. Really anything goes. Mulled wine dates back to 1420 in Germany where they call it Gluhwein (roughly translated to “glow wine.” There have even been documented mulled wines as far back as ancient Rome.

witches brew

Have you tried Witches Brew yet? It’s perfect for a tailgate or any outdoor event. I would love to hear what you think about it.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Five on Friday: Champagne Edition

Ladies and gentleman…I must present to you – The Chambong! One of my friends introduced this to me last week and I couldn’t believe my eyes! I feel like this was made just for me as I love champagne! I decided to make this week’s post all about champagne.


The Chambong is a mere $25 and is dishwasher safe! Their logo is an elephant named Champy, I don’t really see how this could be any better. I’m definitely getting one for my next party, you can see how it works in this video:

Once you get your Chambong, you must add this Press For Champagne Framed Vintage Button ($92) and yes, it rings.

press for champagne

I found this Champagne Burlap Table Runner ($24) while I was searching for something else and thought it was super cute!

Champagne table runner

I’ve mentioned this Jonathan Adler Champagne Pop Candle ($42) before and it’s still just as awesome! I mean, they describe it as “New Year’s Eve, silk-satin sheets, a million bucks.” They also have vodka and bourbon versions.

champagne pop candle

Last but not least is a graphic tee, which I love, this Will Wake Up For Champagne Tee ($25). Perfect for brunch and you could dress it up with some fun jewelry. It also comes in gold print.

will wake up for champagne

Which ones are your favorites? And more importantly, will you be trying the Chambong?

For more Five on Friday/Friday Favorites posts, click here.

If you would like to join the Five on Friday with A Liz AdventuresThe Good Life BlogHello Happiness and Carolina Charm just click the button below for more details.

5 on Friday Logo - Final

You can join the Oh Hey Friday Linkup with The Farmer’s Wife and September Farm just click the button below for more details.

I am also participating in the Friday Favorites Linkup with A Little Bit of Everything Blog, Grace and Love Blog and Momfessionals. You can click the button below for more information and to join the linkup.


Five on Friday: Wine for Your Face

I love my Wine of the Week features, but today I wanted to talk to you about wine for your face…wine beauty products that is! Here are some cool wine beauty products that you can use while drinking wine:

Tony Moly Red Wine Face Mask ($4)

These face masks are really fun and easy to use. Tony Moly has a whole line of different ingredients to try, but the Wine version caught my eye. There are two in a package and you just keep it on your face for 20 minutes. This particular mask is infused with real red wine extracts and rosemary to address enlarged pores while purifying, refining, and tightening skin.

tony moly mask

Coco Cabernet Custom Vinotherapy Mask ($46)

This custom face mask has both wine and chocolate to make it a decadent treat! It comes dry and then you mix it up before you use it.

grapeseed co

Wine Blot Lip Balm ($10)

29 by Lydia Mondavi is aligned with the famous Mondavi name and you can buy the whole line at Target. I thought this lip balm was perfect for the coming colder season. Apparently grape seed extract is 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E when it comes to protecting your skin, so this gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

wine blot lip balm

Italian Red Grape Shampoo ($8.99)

This one isn’t for your face, but close enough. The ingredients include red grapes native to Italy, organic grape extract, resveratrol and red wine extract. These antioxidants act as UV filters to help correct sun damage. Sugar and coconut oil cleansers remove everyday pollutants and organic kelp and nettle extracts add iron, calcium, potassium and other vitamins and miners to help strengthen each strand of hair. They also have a conditioner too!

wine shampoo

Red Wine Resveratrol Nourishing Cream ($45)

This cream protects against signs of aging such as environmental damage, lines, wrinkles and loss of elasticity.

wine cream

Do you have any wine beauty products?

For more Five on Friday posts, click here.

If you would like to join the Five on Friday with A Liz AdventuresThe Good Life BlogHello Happiness and Carolina Charm just click the button below for more details.

5 on Friday Logo - Final

You can join the Oh Hey Friday Linkup with The Farmer’s Wife and September Farm just click the button below for more details.

I am also participating in the Friday Favorites Linkup with A Little Bit of Everything Blog, Grace and Love Blog and Momfessionals. You can click the button below for more information and to join the linkup.


Here Comes the Boom

When you think about “Bringing the Boom” what comes to mind? For me it is fall TV. Have you ever watched a show that leaves you hanging? I can think of a few memorable moments that had me texting my friends or my mom in shock with “Can you believe what just happened?!” I am super pumped for fall TV and when I thought about what kind of show I need popcorn for Scandal, kicking off on September 24, definitely came to mind. If you’ve forgotten how many crazy moments Olivia Pope and company have delivered? Here’s a peek of this season’s premiere and you can’t help but get giddy watching Shonda Rimes #BringtheBoom:

We all know that Olivia Pope lives on popcorn and wine and I figured, what better way to celebrate the premiere on Thursday than with BOOMCHICKAPOP?

Olivia Pope indulging in popcorn and wine

Olivia Pope indulging in popcorn and wine

Olivia is normally eating popcorn as her dinner, but when I want popcorn, I want something light without a ton of calories. That’s where BOOMCHICKAPOP comes in. BOOMCHICKAPOP is a better-for-you snack with simple ingredients, calorie transparency and great taste! They are certified gluten-free and use non-GMO ingredients in all of their products. All of their products are less than 100 calories per cup! NOTE: Per cup, not per serving! So you can have lots and not kill your diet. These are some of their top selling flavors:

  • BOOMCHICKAPOP Sea Salt Popcorn
  • BOOMCHICKAPOP Lightly Sweet Popcorn
  • BOOMCHICKAPOP Sweet & Salty Popcorn
  • BOOMCHICKAPOP White Cheddar Popcorn

When I was looking at where to buy BOOMCHICKAPOP I was surprised to discover that it was readily available at the Rite-Aid within walking distance from my house…Score!

Rite Aid

I selected the Lightly Sweet and Sweet & Salty flavors to try. I also noticed that none of the products contain high fructose corn syrup which is a huge bonus!

IMG_3973I decided I should watch the Scandal season finale to refresh my memory prior to the Season five premiere, so I set out my popcorn and poured a glass of wine:


I figured I may as well re-watch the Season four Scandal finale to refresh my memory before Thursday, so I roped John and Sport into watching it with me.


Both flavors of BOOMCHICKAPOP tasted amazing! I couldn’t believe the flavor came in such a low calorie serving. Even Sport loved the few pieces I allowed him to try. I can’t wait until Scandal premieres on Thursday to #BringtheBoom. I will be ready with my BOOMCHICKAPOP popcorn and a glass of Olivia Pope approved wine to celebrate!

For those of you who can’t wait for Halloween, BOOMCHICKAPOP is running a special giveaway. You are invited to share photos and content to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram using the hashtag #BringTheBoom for a chance to win three Halloween kits (including an array of fun treats and prizes, and could include things such as trick or treat bags, glow bracelets, stay-at-home popcorn & bowl kits, and BOOM pumpkin carving kits), a $50 Target gift card and free BOOMCHICKAPOP! BOOMCHICKAPOP will pick the winners and mail prizes out a week before Halloween. There will be three prizes given away in total. Each include:

  • A ‘Halloween Kit’ Complete with Halloween necessities.
  • A $50 Target gift card
  • Multi-packs of either Sea Salt or Sweet & Salty

Don’t forget to check out the BOOMCHICKAPOP Pinterest boards, here for more ideas on how to #BringtheBoom.

Are you excited for Scandal to #BringtheBoom this season?

New Buffalo Wine Tour Recap

Disclosure: I was invited to participate in the SWMI Sip & Stroll wine tour and received comped wine tastings. All opinions are my own.

I had an amazing time on the #SWMISipStroll recap and wanted to share all of my awesome new wine discoveries with you. You can read more about our trip here and about our awesome hotel here. We visited four wineries on our trip and I stocked up on some amazing choices!

Our first stop was Domaine Berrien Cellars, the only winery I was familiar with on this tour. I sort of love that this winery was started as a retirement hobby…there’s hope for me yet! I enjoyed the 2012 Viognier and the Cabernet Franc in particular.

Domaine Berrien Collage

Our next stop was Lemon Creek Winery where we learned about mixing wines. Our host told us that mixing wines is the future and encouraged us to to try his Lighthouse Red and Pinot Noir mixture which I loved. I brought these two home to try again.

Lemon Creek Collage

Our first stop on the second day was Hickory Creek Winery. I had the most fun at this winery and they laid out a nice spread for us. We got to try all of the wines along with some great cheese and chocolate. We loved this winery so much that I joined the wine club! They even have a quaint little cabin that you can rent out with your girlfriends for a fun wine tasting weekend.

Hickory Creek Collage

On our way back home we stopped at The Chocolate Garden which I have always seen signs for, but never stopped at…if only I knew! This place is amazing! They hand make decadent chocolate truffles in almost any flavor you can think of. What sets these truffles apart is that there is no hard outer shell to bite through. Each truffle is rolled in coarse chocolate to create a creamy truffle. In case you are interested, you can order these online for a unique gift.   I tried Vanilla Rose, Salt & Pepper Caramel and Sticky Bun:

Chocolate Garden

Our final stop was Contessa Wine Cellars. They had a beautiful terrace with an amazing view of the vineyard. I could not get enough of the Cabernet Franc. It had an awesome peppery finish and I knew that it would taste amazing with steak. John made some for me the next day and I was right! So delicious!!! I am saving the last bottle for a special occasion.


This was a great little wine tour and I would love to go back with my husband sometime soon!

Where are your favorite Michigan wineries?

Wine Wednesday: Southwest Michigan Sip & Stroll Weekend

Disclosure: I was invited to participate in this hosted tour and will be provided with complimentary lodging. All opinions are my own.

Since it is #WineWednesday, I thought there was no better time to share with you that I’ve been invited to the Southwest Michigan Sip & Stroll wine tour this weekend! I had a big event at work and just started teaching again for the semester, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

This is the first year for the Southwest Michigan Sip & Stroll weekend being hosted by Deb at Just Short of Crazy and Renee at What Mama Wants and I’m thrilled to help kick it off. Because it starts on Friday, I was able to take the day off of work and recruit one of my besties, Jen, to come along for the ride.

Wine Tour

Our tour is kicking off on Friday, where we check into The Harbor Grand, a full-service boutique hotel in New Buffalo, MI.

Harbor Grand

We’ll be touring four wineries and The Chocolate Garden on Friday and Saturday before heading home. I can’t wait to try the Sticky Bun and Vanilla Rose truffles, which I hear pair perfectly with my favorite, Pinot Noir.


I am familiar with Domaine Berrien Cellars as their wine is featured at Michigan by the Bottle, a favorite hangout of mine, but I am excited to learn more about the others including Lemon Creek Winery, Hickory Creek Winery and Contessa Wine Cellars. I will hopefully have a few new Wine of the Week selections to share with you after this trip. A few fun facts to note:

  • Domaine Berrien Cellars was the first winery in Michigan to release a commercially grown and vinified Syrah.
  • Lemon Creek Winery is home to the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the State of Michigan.
  • Hickory Creek is known for crafting wine in the Old World style.
  • Contessa Cellar’s tasting room looks like an Italian villa overlooking their beautiful orchards.


After doing a quick search on our hotel, I am definitely excited to check out The Four Winds Casino (about a 10 minute shuttle ride away) and recently featured in USA Today’s Leaving Las Vegas: The best casinos outside Sin CityWe will also have to make a stop at Oinks Ice Cream Garden, which is a treasure trove of pig paraphernalia! For those of you that don’t know, I love pigs and collect piggy banks.

You can follow our trip throughout the weekend on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #SWMISipStroll.

Have you been to New Buffalo before? What are your favorite places to visit? If you’ve been to any of these wineries I would love to get your recommendations!

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