Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Wine Label gift tags

'Tis the season...Here are some ready-to-print (8.5" x 11" sheet) gift tags that I made using authentic wine labels (keep scrolling down to see the non formatted wine labels). You might also like the set of gift tags using non Christmas related labels that can be found here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

{DIY} Wine Cork Christmas Wreath

Can you believe Christmas is already HERE!?!?!  It is my absolute favorite holiday and I have more Christmas ornaments and Santas than I care to admit...On the other hand, I only own ONE Christmas wreath...Why? probably because we only have one front door ;) Well, I decided to make a wine cork wreath to help me decorate the dining room. I am not one to brag, but I do think this wine cork wreath turned out really cute!!! Truth be told, it was actually quite easy, and very cheap (about $15)

So you have extra wine corks (you will need 34 corks for this project) and would like to make your own wreath...? Here is what you will need:
  • 1 large wooden wreath support and 1 small one (got them from Michael's for about $3 total)
  • Metal wire (got mine from the wreath section at Michael's)
  • Champagne colored (or whatever color) glitter
  • Mod Podge + brushes to apply
  • Hot glue gun + glue
  • Red decorative fillers (they come in various sizes in the same bag at Michael's, under the brand "Celebrate it")
  • Optional: Vine leaves + ornamental flower + ornamental gold grape
  • Ribbon

Step 1:

Apply Mod Podge all over both wooden wreath frames, then generously apply the glitter all over the Mod Podge to cover up the entire surface. I did that over a pan so I could  re-use the extra glitter. Let dry for at least one hour.

Step 2:

Once the glitter has set onto the Mod Podge, apply a layer of Mod Podge OVER the glitter, which will keep it from falling everywhere in your house (I know how much my husband looooves that!). Let dry again.

Step 3:

Now take the wire (I picked a red one) and weave it into one of the holes (pre-existing) to attach the smaller ring to the larger ring.

Now arrange your corks and decorative fillers (without glue) to preview the spacing you will need between each cork. For the small ring, I used 12 corks and the smallest size fillers I found in the bag. When you are happy with the arrangement, apply the corks and fillers, one at a time, with hot glue. Don't be afraid to be generous with hot glue, or your corks might fall off after they dry. Do the same for the large ring. I used 22 corks for the larger ring, and both small and large fillers in between each cork. Let everything dry at least one hour before handling.

Step 4:

Now is the time to attach all of your decorative elements. I chose a grape vine leaf (which I already had), and bought a small red Poinsettia to place in the middle. I added a gold grape bunch (purchased at Michael's for $1) and secured everything with hot glue.

Finally, I attached the ribbon by passing it through the red wire from step 3. Make sure you make a loop large enough to hang your wreath at the proper height.

My new cork wreath is now hanging on my favorite piece of furniture, (a rustic 18th-century French armoire we bought in at the biggest European flea market in Lille, France). Forgive the device I used to actually hang the wreath, that is all I had on hand at the time of the photo, I will be changing that asap! :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

{Wine Label} Arrogant Frog

No, I am not throwing gratuitous insults out there, I am only referring to this wine label...

I tell you what, some wineries really get creative with the name of their wines, and I just LOVE this one! I came across this one in my local grocery store and couldn't resist getting it (about $9).  For those who don't know me, I am French by birth, and  I actually think the name of this wine is totally fun and has a nice ring to it ;). This wine is made in my home region in the department of Herault (southwest France) and has won several wine awards (2010 World Value Wine Challenge Best Value French Bordeaux varietal blend, and silver medal at the World Wine Championships Award). It has averaged a rating of 89 (which means that that wine is highly recommended), and is described by wine expert as such:

"Deep violet color. Aromas of plum and pepper skin, pencil shavings, and chocolate. round and supple with a dry-yet-fruity medium body. Tangy apple skin, peppery spice notes on the zippy, chewy tannin finish. A lovely table wine." (

Don't you love reading "the Experts" 's descriptions of wines...Pencil shavings...yum, doesn't that sound delish...?

Arrogant Frog's website is loads of fun, be sure to check out their "Special Edition" section with cool posters and labels (such as the Limited Edition Soccer label, or the Tour de Frog Label).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

{DIY} Frame-worthy Wine Labels!

These prints would look great as 5x7s and framed with a nice simple black frame, no matting necessary. I used an old French script (I loved the handwriting, they sure knew how to write beautifully back in the days...) as the backdrop, and integrated (using Photoshop) different wine labels that I had previously scanned. I used a Sepia filter to give it that vintage look, and voila!  (this would make a neat gift for the wine lover in your family and among your friends)  If you'd like to go ahead and do the same using some of your labels, here is the French script, which you can save on your computer (Note: the prints above are 5x7s and ready-to-print):


Monday, November 21, 2011

{DIY} Wine Cork Christmas Ornaments

Thanksgiving will be here in a couple days, then, before we know it, Christmas will be upon us, which means it's time to get the Christmas tree and those ornaments out! How about an easy wine cork ornament project today? This requires no special skills, just a hot glue gun and just a little wee bit of creativity ~ I don't consider myself the creative type and still was able to manage these ornaments :)

For this project you will need:
  • A hot glue gun
  • Wine corks, cut in half
  • Ink pad (if you are going to color your cork)
  • Some ribbon
  • Tacks/pins  (to attach the ribbon)
  • Mod Podge (if you are going to add glitter to the ornaments)
  • Optional: any additional decorative elements such as grape leaves, glitter...

{If you like these ornaments, you might also like my Wine Label and Cork ornament, as well as my Wine Cork wreath}

First step:

Cut the corks in half. No need to measure, it can be approximate, I didn't measure any of the corks I cut in half and it worked out great.

Step 2:

Assemble the corks (without glue) to see how you will arrange them before gluing them together.  If you are going to add color to your cork, now is the time to do it. For the Christmas tree ornament, I used a deep red ink pad and inked the corks on the outer edge of the tree:

Step 3:

For the center part of the tree, I used Mod Podge to add gold glitter to the three central pieces. Once the glitter was applied, I also added a layer of Mod Podge on top of the glitter to keep it from falling off.

Step 4:

I recommend allowing about an hour of drying time before trying to assemble the tree. Using a hot glue gun, start from the bottom and work your way up:

After assembling the corks and letting it dry, I used a tack to attach some ribbon on top. I used the same concept for the other two ornaments (a wreath and a vine grape). Pretty simple and easy don't you think? Happy crafting! (and feel free to send me photos of your work, I'd love to see what you came up with!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: "Just bring the wine..."

Have you ever been asked to "just bring the wine" for Thanksgiving dinner? If so, admit it, you probably spent days researching and trying to figure out which wine to bring to the table, literally...Thanksgiving dinner can be a pretty tough wine pairing task.  Between the turkey, sides, creamy gravy, roasted veggies, stuffing and the sweet dessert pies, choosing the right wines can be a daunting assignment, especially with the thousands of choices available out there. Because Thanksgiving dinner has so many different elements, I don't believe it necessary to break the bank and buy expensive wines, because frankly, it would be tough to appreciate them fully with so much going on on the table. From the Hors d'oeuvres and starters, to the main entrée and dessert, I have made a list of good options for wines, at affordable  prices. I'll save you all the details of each wine (you can always look that up on the Internet) and will list some favorites. I also avoided the wines that are impossible to find in store and that can only be purchased online, because I believe in instant gratification :)

Toasting/Hors d'oeuvres:

A bubbly is definitely the way to go:

  • Roederer Estate Brut, California sparkling wine ($19)
  • Korbel Brut – Made with Organically Grown Grapes ($16)
  • Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($20)
  • Korbel Sweet Rosé ($14 ~ I am not a Rosé fan but some people will certainly enjoy this one if they are not into the Brut kind of bubbly)


A brightly flavored white will work best for starters, such as:

  • La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Luberon Blanc 2010 ($8)
  • Francis Ford Coppola Bianco Pinot Grigio 2010 ($13)
  • Hugel Classic Pinot Gris 2007 ($20 ~ Very fun label too!)
  • Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($11)

Main Course:

Choose a fruity red wine with lower tannin levels. Good examples of that are Pinot Noir, Beaujolais (serve slightly chilled) and the all-american Zinfandel. Also on my list is Italian wine like a Sangiovese wine.

  • Pennywise Pinot Noir 2009 ($11)
  • Duboeuf Beaujolais Village 2009 ($12)
  • 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel 2008 ($19)
  • Terra d'Oro Sangiovese 2007 ($22)


The most important part of a meal, in my humble opinion :) , a dessert wine is a great way to end a meal or pair with cheese.  A sweet Riesling, a Moscato, sherry or port, should do the trick:

  • Saracco Moscato d'Asti 2010 ($17)
  • Cupcake Vineyards Riesling 2010 ($13)
  • Osborne Pedro Ximenez 1827 Sherry Spain ($19)
  • Dow's Fine Tawny Port ($15)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

{DIY} How do you spell "VINO"? With corks!

Today I will share with you a fun, easy project involving corks, hot glue gun and a bit of puzzle assembling skills :) For this you will need:
  • Pre-cut pressed wood letters V,I,N,O (or for whatever word you choose) available at any craft store. There are various sizes, I used the medium size.
  • Used wine corks (real cork, not plastic!)
  • Ribbon (about 3/4 to 1-inch wide)
  • A hot glue gun + glue sticks
  • Clear acrylic sealer
  • A sharp knife
  • A cutting board

1) Cut several wine corks length-wise, and into various shapes. It doesn't have to be exact but you will eventually need to assemble each piece like a puzzle onto the letters. Do try to use the wine-stained ends, they will add a little color to your final result.

2) Start hot gluing each piece onto the letter. Start with the bigger pieces, then fill into the smaller spaces with smaller pieces. Sometimes you will need to custom cut pieces of corks, but you should save that for last, and basically "fill in the blanks."

3) Do the same thing for all of your letters, and when you are done, it should look something like this:

I recommend spraying your letters with a clear acrylic sealer to protect the cork, which is know to dry out and break off easily over time. I applied two separate coats, just to be on the safe side :)

4) Assembling the letters: Line up all of your letters vertically to write the word "VINO". Attach each letter (making sure you keep the spacing constant and the ribbon straight) to the ribbon with hot glue.

To add the loop for hanging, I used a piece of round cork, and glued it to the ribbon. There are different ways you could make the loop but this way was to me the easiest way :)

And the final product will look something similar to this, which I think is a pretty neat way to use your used corks, don't you agree? Happy crafting!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

{DIY} From Grapes to Olives

I am as much of a fan of olive oil as I am of good red wine. The two almost seem to go hand in hand and I have never met a wine lover who didn't also love olive oil. On the other hand, I have met olive oil fans who weren't wine lovers...I'm not sure how to explain that logic, but anyhow...You probably already know that extra virgin olive oil needs to be kept in a dark place, away from sunlight, much like you would your wine. I am a bit (ok, a lot...) of an olive oil snob and I want nothing but the best. My favorite olive oil company is located in Provence (where else?), in the village of Les-Baux-de-Provence and goes by the name of Castelas. You can either get it straight from the producer (like I did this last time around during a trip through Provence), or you can buy it from places such as Williams-Sonoma, Dean and Deluca, or Eurogrocer.

When I bought mine in Provence, it came in a metal tin container like the one in the above photo, which was perfect for traveling, but pouring it out of the container was too messy as there was no proper pouring spout. This gave me the idea to use one of my empty wine bottles (from a Languedoc-Roussillon, Southwest France winery) as an olive oil dispenser. French wine bottles very often have a decorative emblem etched into the glass near the top of the bottle, such as this one (this particular symbol is the emblem of the region of Languedoc-Roussillon, my home region):

Red wine bottles are perfect as an olive oil container because they are dark and can therefore protect the olive oil from the sunlight.

After enjoying your wine, and removing the label, rinse the bottle really well and let it dry. Purchase a simple pourer such as this kind (they will fit wine bottles, and cost about $4 at stores such as bed, Bath & Beyond). Transfer your olive oil into the bottle and voila! You now have a (much prettier) olive oil dispenser, which will also allow you to control the amount of oil you want to use.  Happy cooking!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Ultimate Wine Lover's Wish List

So here we are, only 40 more days until Christmas, and you have probably already started thinking about what on earth to get all your loved ones...My family always asks me the "What do you want for Christmas" question. So, in an effort to be helpful to those that really want to know what a wine lover like me would love most for Christmas, here is a list of some great gifts that would most likely please any wine lover out there! If they don't like your gift, feel free to send it my way :)

Gifts under $30:

Wine magazines: The gift that keeps on giving all year round. You can get a subscription for 1 year for under $20 for these mags: "Food and Wine Magazine," "Wine Enthusiast," and "Wine Maker."

Murano Wine Stopper: These gorgeous Millefiori Murano glass wine stopper only cost $15!
Double-wall Iceless Wine Bottle chiller: Its thermal-insulated walls keep your pre-chilled wine or champagne bottle cool for up to 3 hours---with no exterior sweating. And its sleek acrylic design with stainless steel trim helps update your wine service with contemporary panache. A bargain at $19.95!

Windows on the World Complete Wine Course by Kevin Zraly: The number one book to learn about wine ($25.79)
Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia: the most up-to-date and comprehensive wine reference in the world ($29.94)

Wine Country Appetizer Plates: 6 beautiful dessert or appetizer plates with vintage wine label designs ($26.99)

Riedel "O" Cabernet/Merlot/Bordeaux Stemless Wines Glasses (set of 2): Casual yet elegant, these wine glasses are appropriate for fine wine enjoyment, as well as casual sipping. The wine tumblers were shaped to fit into a dishwasher and fine-tuned to enhance the pleasure of your favorite wine varietals. In keeping with the Riedel glassware tradition, these wine glasses have become the benchmark for stemless glassware. Machine made in Germany of lead-free crystal. Gift boxed in sets of 2. ($24.95)

Wine Saver Gift Set:  Extracts air from opened bottles to slow down the oxidation process and keep wine fresh for 7 to 10 days ($16.55)

 Wine Cork Board Kit: A great way to display ball those wine bottle corks! ($24.95)

Laguiole wine waiter corkscrew and bottle opener:  The Laguiole name is famous for pocket knives. Laguiole is a village in the middle of the Aveyron region of France, with a long-standing reputation for quality. Laguiole knives have been produced for almost 200 years. ($27.99)

Wine Bottle Protective Travel pouch: For your jet-setter friends who like to bring back wine bottles from their travels, this pouch will guarantee safe arrival of their precious cargo ($25)

Red Wine Pairing Chocolate Box: A gourmet gift for chocolate and wineenthusiasts! This box contains chocolates carefully selected by Michael Recchiuti to pair with the suggested red wines. Includes three pieces each of Star Anise & Pink Peppercorn, Spring Jasmine Tea, Force Noir and pairing notes. ($25)

Labeloff wine label removers: Perfect gift for the wine lover who likes to save labels, this is the only choice for quality and ease of use ($29.95 for 50)

Women's Group Therapy T-Shirt: For the girl who enjoys a little wine and isn't afraid to show it :)  You might also be able to find this T-shirt for a little less on E-bay, but it's not always available. ($22.95 to $29.95)

Gifts under $50:

Wine Barrel Hoop Cork Kit:  That Pinot you had on your birthday. The Cab you drank with your dad. The memories live on in the corks you assemble in this impressive kit, a repurposed steel wine barrel hoop with a recycled wood backing. Hang on a wall or set on a tabletop. Use standard or wood glue to configure corks any way you'd like. ($49.95)

Visual Wine Decanter: This European-made crystal wine decanter combines elegance, functionality, and affordability. The large punt increases oxygenation and allows you to better evaluate the hue and color of your wine. The outside of the punt is large enough for a comfortable grip to ensure perfect and controlled pouring every time. Lead-free crystal. ($49.99)

Push Button Corkscrew: A wine opener as entertaining to watch as it is easy to use. See the blue light shine through the action window as the cork is smoothly extracted from your bottle and released—with a simple press of a button. The blue light doubles as a nightlight when the corkscrew is recharging. Solid stainless steel body. Comes with a foil cutter that also functions as a stand for the corkscrew. ($39.99)

Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator: Mixing just the right amount of air with your wine at the precise moments, this see-through aerator allows your reds to breathe instantly. The Vinturi Red Wine Aerator results are a better bouquet, enhanced flavor, and a smoother finish. Perfect aeration in the time it takes to pour a glass. Choose either Red or White wine or get both! ($36.99)

Zinfandelic Groovy Duo Zinfandel Gift set:  I LOVE this! A gift for Zin-fans: ZINFANDELIC pays tribute to the quintessential California wine, Zinfandel. The label and tote artwork capture the rock posters from California's cultural movement of the 1960s. ($39.99)

Golf and Wine Legends Wine Gift Trio: The perfect collection for wine and golf lovers. Three premium wines from the wineries of legendary golfers Ernie Els, Greg Norman and Arnold Palmer, are paired with a sleeve of three golf balls. ($49.99)

Picnic Plus Carlotta Clutch Wine Bottle Tote: How cute and stylish are these wine bottle totes? Choose from 8 different colors and patterns (such as Zebra fur and Merlot croc), these are perfect for a picnic among friends. ($31.99)

Riedel Vinum XL Pinot Noir (Set of 2): How gorgeous are these Pinot wine glasses??? And extra large too ;) ($49.95)

Gift under $90:

Red wine/dark chocolate gift basket:  Drink wine, eat chocolate and follow your Doctor's advice all at the same time? That's right, it's no secret that eating dark chocolate and having a glass of red wine every day is actually good for you! So enjoy your daily dose of antioxidants and toast to good health with this incredible gift basket, delivered straight to you. ($89.99)

Grand Tour de France Wine Gift Collection: This Grand Tour de France gives you a taste of France's most prominent wine regions with a bottle each from Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône Valley, the Loire Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon and Alsace. With two whites and four reds, each wine is chosen to display the unique characteristics of the region it represents. For any "bon vivant" who loves the wines of France. ($79.99)

Tuscan Trattoria Italian Wine gift set:  Nestled in a five-quart stainless steel colander are ingredients for savory Italian pasta dinners. Two types of pasta and two classic sauces are paired with Banfi Col di Sasso, a Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Plus, almond anise biscotti for dessert. A great value (I think) for the price ($59.99)

Glass Top Wine Table: This Wine table is the perfect storage place for up to 15 bottlers of wine, this wine rack is made of black iron and stands 33-inches high. At only $78.30 on, I'm not sure how much longer it'll be at this price!

Quintessential White Wine Gift Set: This six-bottle package showcases the quintessential white varieties from the premier wine producing regions of the world. These wines showcase the signature grape varieties of their respective regions. ($89.99)

2003 Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco:  Here is a gift for someone who has everything: a little-known but insanely delicious grape variety—Sagrantino—vinified by an Italian winemaker ($80).

Wine Country Tours: Wine Country Tour Shuttle operates from San Francisco to either Napa or Sonoma. Wine lovers can go on The Napa Experience Tour and visit4 wineries, and have a picnic lunch and a 50-minute relaxing ferry cruise back to San Francisco. The only negative is that during peak season, the groups can be quite large. ($80/person)

$90 and UP:

Quintessential Red Wine Gift Set: sample six signature reds from the most famous wine regions in the world. For the wine adventurer in search of bold flavors, host your own taste-off to see how they compare. Each bottle is carefully chosen to represent the best example of red wine from its region. ($99.99)

Quintessential Case Wine Gift Collection: 6 reds and 6 whites, for those who want it all (like me)! ($169.98)

6 Bottle Touch screen wine refrigerator: This is one awesome Christmas gift, and an incredible value, what wine lover wouldn't love one of these???A thermoelectric, energy-efficient, CFC-free wine cooler. 6-bottle capacity, adjustable temperature range: 46-66°F, exterior digital touchscreen with temperature display, reflective smoked-glass Thermopane door with stainless steel trim and recessed handle, 3 pull-out chrome shelves, Interior LED lighting ($99)

Wine Tasting Classes and Tours  (anywhere in the US): Prices vary from $50 all the way up to $750! A selection of wine tasting classes around the US, all available as gift certificates. Classes include wine and cheese tastings in New York, Wine or Beer Tastings in Boston, or a chance to make your own wine in Dallas.

Gift Certificates: Less personal, but always an option, there are many websites dedicated to wine that offer gift certificates, such as  and

Wine Clubs: Receive two bottles each month, choose from different options (Discovery tour, Wines of the World, 90-point rated Wine). From $29.99 to $69.99 per month.

Finally, saving the ultimate wine lover's gift for last: A wine trip to Tuscany, complete with a week-long stay at Castello del Trebbio. Priceless :)