Ho, Ho, Ho–Holiday cheer coming in HOT. Literally. Mulled wine is my favorite drink to make around the holidays because
A) it’s so easy
B) you make a lot at once so more time to mingle, and less time jingling that cocktail shaker (sorry!)
C) you can keep leftovers in your fridge and heat up on another day-WIN!
D) YOUR HOUSE WILL SMELL AMAZING
E) did I mention how easy it is to make?
F) there’s no “set” recipe, so play around and find what flavor combinations you like best
G) pairs well with gift wrapping, talking to relatives and overall merriment
So let’s get to it shall we?
EASY MULLED WINE with Limoncello
2 bottles BIG red wine (think Cab Sauv, Zin, Syrah etc.)
40 oz (5 cups) unfiltered apple cider
4 oz limoncello
2 mandarin oranges (or something similar)
2 handfuls of fresh cranberries
3 cinnamon sticks (extra handful for garnish)
3 star anise
nutmeg to taste
honey to taste
Add wine and apple cider to pot on low heat. Zest citrus to taste and add juice of 1 mandarin and 1/2 lemon to pot. Put a few slices of lemon and mandarin in pot too. Add a handful of cranberries. Throw anise and cinnamon to into the mix. Poke remaining mandarin with cloves and add whole fruit to the brew. Grate some nutmeg over the pot. Pour in limoncello and stir. Taste and add ingredients to your liking. Let simmer for approximately 15 minutes (or until warm) and serve in mugs with a cinnamon stick and a few skewer cranberries. Spread the cheer!
Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season. Let me know how you like the mulled wine with limoncello. I think it’s my favorite to date.
Confession: I haven’t been following my own advice. Me, the champion of celebrating and eating up what life has to offer, wasn’t excited about my own movie premiere. I was downplaying the hell out of it to the point that I was confusing my excitement for nerves (which is a thing btw- they both give off the same physiological symptoms: faster heart rate, higher levels of cortisol, sweating, etc.)
So here I was days before the big night aka tonight poo-pooing my success: “Oh, it’s gonna be bad” “My acting’s going to suck” “It wasn’t a big budget thing soo…it’s gonna be campy” “It’s nothing to be proud of”
Thank God I had a moment where I realized what I was doing was dumb, and was able to shift my mindset. This is a big deal. So what if the film isn’t going to any festivals in the future? It was my first experience being a lead in a feature and I should damn well celebrate my work. Period. End of discussion. Because if I can’t take the time to celebrate my own work, why am I even chasing the dream?
Well, I’m off to get done up, drink some bubbly and celebrate with my onscreen fam (pictured below)!
And in case you want your wine lesson for the day…
MORE ON BUBBLY:
I talked about the champagne process herecomplete with a little 60 second video to get you up to speed. We can say merci to the French for creating this spirited beverage!
Knowledge is power. And becoming versed in wine didn’t happen just because I worked in restaurants. It happened because I was hungry for more and wanted to become educated from the best in the biz. Even if you’re not wanting a career in wine, these books are suuuper helpful for learning the basics and beyond. They’re full of easy to follow verbage, pictures, illustrations and even drunk tales.
And fear not “Wine Wednesday” fans, I will keep my own content coming, filming more wine videos coming to the blog soon!
So to hold you over, enjoy these reads with a glass or two of wine (duh) links for the books at the end of the post!
WINE. all the time. by Marissa A. Ross
This chick. Guys she’s one of my favorites to follow on the ‘gram because she keeps it more real than a 1st edition Harry Potter book. She’s hilarious, knows her shit and is the Wine Editor for Bon freakin’ Appetite! Also she’s not a sommelier proving that you don’t need to pass some old school fancy test to kick-ass. Her book is truly a “casual guide to confident drinking” and will have you laughing. I promise it’s her writing and not the wine.
The Wine Bible. by Karen MacNeil
A true bible. MacNeil’s book is the holy grail of wine information. It’s my go to source when I need to look up unfamiliar regions or varietals. I haven’t cracked through the entire volume yet, but the book is laid out in such an easy to follow format that it’s only a matter of time before I spend a day highlighting my way through. And then booking tickets to said wine regions.
Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine. by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack
My first wine book! I was thrilled to open my package from Amazon and dive right in. Filled with amazing charts and illustrations that give the essentials on all the well known grape varietals. It touches on the wine making process, the basics of reading wine labels and how to serve each type of wine.
Rosé All Day. by Katherine Cole
I meannnnn. Of course rosé deserves its own book. And Katherine’s written one that not only looks good on your bar cart/ book shelf/ coffee table but that highlights everything rosé. And why drinking pink is the greatest! Also why deeper pink rosés shouldn’t scare you. Plus pictures of her favorite bottles and labels to help you shop!
Well there you have it folks. May I also mention that these books were written by W O M E N!!!! Hell yeah ladies (ok hi too Justin, you’re doing great things too!). But going into this I didn’t even realize my favorites were all from females. So pick up their books and promote these women in wine. Crushing real hard on them all.
Where did this year go?? I mean more than happy to welcome SUMMER but my God! I haven’t even made 4th of July plans yet (better get on that)…speaking of- if you’re doing something rad, I’ll happily provide the party with some fantastic summer-approved sips!
Anyway, besides rosé, you can likely find me sipping on:
Like I said, usually a little more full bodied, these wines attain their orange-y hue because the winemakers leave the grape skins in contact with the juice for a limited amount of time (similar to the process of making rosé) They tend to be a little funkier and (in my humble opinion) more fun to sip than your average crisp PG or Sauv B. My favorite right now is THIS BABY (2016 Jolie-Laide Pinot Gris) from a really fun California winemaker!
PÉT NAT aka PETILLANT NATUREL
Hellooooo easy-money-drinking! These effervescent wines go with everything: a tan, the beach, lobsta, sunsets, front porch swings and date nights. Fab on their own too, these are less bubbly than a traditional sparkling wine and are likely unfiltered (it’s ok you’ll live I promise–look at me, I had 2 glasses last night and live to tell the tale!) The rosé versions remind me of a yummy Italian soda, you know those Pelligrino ones? Only there’s alcohol wooohooo. PARTAY. I was drinking THIS or try THIS
CHILLED RED WINE
THIS IS YOUR POWER PLAY!!!! Chill down your Pinot Noirs, Gamays, Grenaches, Sangioveses, Beaujolias..any light-medium bodied red can be served with a chill. Seriously refreshing AF. Perfect with grilled steaks and burgers. I was drinking THIS in my video, how can you say no to that simple label?!
Bottom line is: these are all easy drinking, mood lifting, fun vinos to bring to a BBQ, summer bash or open with friends (or yourself!). Any favorites? Share below in the comments!!
24 hours ago, I was holding a glass of champagne at a hotel in Kansas City that I could barely sip. Very unlike me! I was scrolling Instagram trying to distract myself as I waited for my Level One Sommelier test results to be posted. And by posted, I mean my name being read out loud in front of the 70 people who I had just taken this exam with–in alphabetical order! The news of the arrival of Amal Clooney’s twins momentarily distracted me, I even checked in for my flight back to LA, but my mind was still racing. Bottom line, waiting to hear my name was one of the more nerve-wracking things I’ve gone through in recent memory.
Anyway, during the two day course, I befriended two ladies who were fortunate enough to have last names that fell earlier in the alphabet. After both their names were called (congrats again Tess and Casleah!) they looked back at me and were like:
“what’s your last name?”
They were still in the H’s so I had a minute, but dammnnnn my ego almost didn’t want me to say my name out of fear. The P’s arrived and I kid you not it felt like there were 4 “Pa” names. They both turned looking concerned.
“it’s Pe” I managed to get out while thinking “it’s ok, you got this, you better get this, f***, f*** F*–“
—“Natalie Pelletier” the Master Sommelier read (pronouncing it the French way I might add!)
Thank GOD! “WOOHOOOOOO” I internally screamed and definitely did a weird shimmy dance to get my certificate and pin. Weight was off my shoulders and you better believe I was able to finish that champ right quick. Level 1 Sommelier Exam passed!
Soooooooo you might be thinking:
Ok Nat, cool (long story) but what the hell is a somm??
Riiiiight. Back to that business.
What is a Sommelier?
A sommelier, if you do a quick Google search, will define it as “a wine steward”. Some of you might have seen the documentary Somm and think it’s a group of pretentious douche-bags who sit in circles, drink and discuss wine; people who can throw out that “the wine smells like a freshly opened can of tennis balls, grandma’s blueberry cobbler or eucalyptus.” Or maybe you think it’s a person who can do a party-trick of tasting wine and can tell you down to the year and winemaker what they’re drinking. And while I stand by that wine can smell like pie or even weird elements, a sommelier is a person of service. A person to help a guest navigate the wine list, to –in everyday language– describe and bring the guest a bombass wine pairing or new bottle to enhance their dining experience.
Simply, a sommelier is a service based beverage specialist, a “Siri/Alexa/Ok Google” source to deliver the best sips to YOU.
There are levels too!
In the Court of Master Sommeliers there are 4 levels:
The level I just passed, Intro, involved a 2 day course before the exam. To say my brain was fried after the exam is very accurate. I don’t think I’ve ever received so much information within a 48-hour period. I also tried 24 fantastic wines “blind**” (spit most of it to help with info retention) to get my palate trained to know the difference between say a standard NZ Sauv Blanc and Loire Valley Sauv B.
**when I say “blind” I mean that I didn’t see the wine poured from the bottle. I wasn’t blindfolded, as seeing the color of the wine is a key indicator to help deduce the varietal.
Going in I knew a good deal, but there was plenty of newness thrown my way. Yes, I had the course book available to me from the moment I signed up, but did I look through it that much beforehand? Notttt really. I had planned on doing that two weeks leading up, but I booked a feature film (yayyy, more on that later this week!) so I was working on my script and not wine.
Anywhooooo, I digress.
Why I took it.
You know these wine videos I’m making? Well I decided it was time to get legit! I want to be a better teacher, so gotta go through the motions. Wine is something I find fascinating and like learning about, a hobby if you will. So, my plan is to study more, and continue on to level two so I’m “officially certified”. Of course I’ll keep the videos coming (potentially turn it into a show…) who knows! Knowledge is Power!!
Are you going to quit acting?
NOOOOO. Not at all. I’ve always aimed to live a full life; to pursue interests in conjunction with work. So educating myself in the beverage world is only enhancing how I’ve chosen to live.
Why did you take it in Kansas City?
The Level One classes were all full in the Southern California area for the rest of the year, so I decided to head out to the Midwest and visit a place I called home for 3 years. Shout out to my childhood bestie/friend from camp/family friends for taking me in and being THE BEST hosts. Katie, I will be sore for days from your spin/barre classes, thank you! (KC peeps go take her classes at Mojo and Bar Method!)
If you’re still reading…
That’s about all I got folks. I am so thrilled that I passed, but now your girl’s got a lot more learning to do in between acting gigs.
As always, cheers! And if you can get your hands on a glass or bottle of Austrian Strohmeier Schilcher Pet Natbuy it! It’s a tart sparkling rosé that reminds me of the soda Squirt- you’ll get those good grapefruit notes, but also sour cherry. It’s dry as hell and super refreshing!! Like a tart version of a good Italian soda.