Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guess who's Guesting? Me!

Twas the day after Christmas and whaddya know?
Guests for this blog day were all a no-show!

Can't say that I blame them, they've used up their zest,
Presents are opened, it's now time to rest!

* * *
Okay, lame poem... but you get the idea.
Today is the day after Christmas, which means it's either a quiet day at home or a crazed trip back to the stores for returning unwanted items and snatching up great deals.

Here's where I would usually include a recipe. But.... I'm not planning to cook today. Are you?

Instead I might open a nice bottle of wine. But before I do, since I'm the official guest here today, I'm going to talk just a little bit about my new book, Buffalo West Wing, which comes out January 4, 2011.

With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can't afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a "no-wing" situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.

I'm very excited about this new adventure. If you've read Eggsecutive Orders, you know Ollie made a pretty big decision regarding her love life in that one. This one picks up over a year later, when her heart has settled down and she decides she doesn't have time for a relationship (uh-huh, heh heh).

I just love throwing challenges at Ollie! She somehow always works through them, although she occasionally fights back and tells me "No way!"

Anyway, I digress.

I have a huge box of beautiful Buffalo West Wing bookmarks just waiting for good homes. I would love to send you some -- with one small catch. If you'd like bookmarks for yourself and to pass out to friends, check my blog here for guidelines. Happy as anything to send them to you!

I've already had a slew of requests for bookmarks via a random "free bot" that notified the world... and I'm sitting home, now that Christmas is complete, the family fed and pampered (me too!) addressing a bunch of envelopes to send these bookmarks out.

As I do, I'm sipping a nice red wine.... Which brings me to my topic today.

I am not a wine connoisseur. Ooh, no. But, after many years of suffering through vinegary vintages because I just didn't know better, I've finally gotten to the point where I truly believe life is too short to drink bad wine. Now I'm eager to learn how to tell the difference!

Note, I didn't say cheap wine. There are some wonderful wines out there under $15 per bottle.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I joined the wine club at our local winery/restaurant - Cooper's Hawk. Fabulous decision. Every month we try a new wine - and every month we receive a newsletter explaining the new wine, how it was made and what it's best enjoyed with. (PS - just added --For Christmas my husband surprised me with reservations for the next "Study in Reds" at Cooper's Hawk and the girls got us a red wine mini-aerator and red wine glasses. How fun!)

I guess everybody knows where I've been leaning lately, huh? My husband and I even went a step further and created our "Wine Spreadsheet of Fun."

My husband is an accountant, which means we live by spreadsheets. Our trip to Europe was plotted on a spreadsheet. Every trip to Disney is on a spreadsheet. I kid you not. But you know what? It works marvelously well and we're now using one to chart the wines we try, how much we pay, and then we include a few notes about our impressions.

Two recent red standouts are the Nebbiola Barbera from Cooper's Hawk (2010) and the Chianti from DaVinci (2008). Wow.

Although I like a good Gewurztraminer from time to time, my husband and I usually prefer smooth reds, especially those that are full-flavored, good aroma, with no bite. We recently received a gift certificate to a local wine store, and we had so much fun picking out choices from France, Italy, Argentina and even a few domestics.

I tend toward Merlot, my husband toward Cabernet Sauvignon. But we both enjoy a good Malbec and we're happy to try something new.

On this lovely day after Christmas, I'd like to ask you for something... recommendations for our next wine shopping trip!

So... let me know... what wines do you like best?


Don't forget to stop by my blog for bookmarks...


  1. Hi, Julie. Can't wait for Buffalo West Wing. My copy is ordered. I love Ollie's adventures. RE: Wine. One of my favorites is Sterling Sauvignon Blanc (also about $15). A California wine that is consistent, with lots of citrus flavors and a hint of pineapple. Goes well with any fish and goes particularly well with hard cheeses like cheddar, gouda, swiss.

    Say cheese!


  2. Julie, I've preordered and can't wait for Buffalo West Wing!!

    And, Avery, Thanks for that wine recommendation. What a bargain!

  3. Hey Avery! Thanks for that recommendation! I will add that to the list for our next wine run. Did I have any doubt you would know a good wine to pair with cheese? And I so love gouda...

    Harbingerdc - thanks so much! I'm counting down the days until its release. Thanks for preordering!

  4. Buffalo West Wing sounds terrific! I can't wait to read it.

    I'm not a big wine drinker, and I lean away from Chardonnays, which are often too harsh for me. My favorite wine seems to be popular across the board. It satisfies my Chardonnay favoring friends, as well as those who prefer less dry wines -- Chateau Morrisette Our Dog Blue. It's a Virginia wine and relatively inexpensive but very good!

    ~ Krista

  5. LovedlovedLOVED Buffalo West Wing -- a perfect ten! As for wines, Liberty School makes a fantastic cab for $11-14, and if you're looking for something really special, the Justin cab for $20 is AMAZING. I also adore the J. Lohr Wildflower Valdiguié. Costs around $8, and tastes like a cupful of violets. Yum.

  6. Krista - I'm not crazy about chardonnays either. I'll check out Chateau Morrisette Our Dog Blue. Sounds like fun!

    -k- ~ THANK YOU!! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed BWW. Thanks for posting on The Season - I saw your Tweet and just RT'ed! So, so happy you liked it!
    As for wines - I hadn't heard of these, but i love your description of a cupful of violets. This one I *have* to try!! Thank you!!

  7. Can't wait to read Buffalo West Wing!

    Oh, I've got plenty of favorites--whites and reds. There aren't too many wines that I *don't* like, unless they're overly sweet. :)

  8. Fun post, Julie. I grew up on my Italian Pop's homemade red wine, which is probably why I like port so much. :) Marc and I are partial to Prosecco, as well. But I'm on the same vino page with you when it comes to trying local vintners. (When in Rome...or Oregon.) Not long ago, while visiting Portland for a friend's wedding, I tasted the local wine from Edgefield. I never knew there was such an animal as Oregon wine, but I was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

    And speaking of enjoying...I'm really looking forward to Ollie's new case. Congrats on the upcoming pub of Buffalo West Wing!

    Cheers and Happy New Year!
    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. I don't drink wine, but I do cook on Boxing Day: I make turkey hash. I fry up an onion and a few potatoes, then add chopped up turkey and a little gravy from the night before and fry on a medium-low flame until it's all nice and crisp on one side, and do the same on the other side. Very good, very easy.

  10. Unfortunately, I probably am cooking today. Thinking it's going to be chicken scallopine with angel hair, actually.
    I can't drink any sort of alcohol, but I'm having the same sort of "trying it to see what I like" with tea. Remember, y'all, I'm from Texas. There "tea" means "iced and sweet". But living in the Frozen North now, I needed to find something a bit warmer than an iced drink or diet Dr Pepper in the winter. I tried the flavored tea bags and fell in love. Only to find out tea bags (especially the brand that's easiest to find) are supposed to be the "bottom of the tea barrel". So, I was very excited to find there's an Adagio tea store in Naperville...I'll be making a trip there soon, I hope.

  11. Oh, hey Julie (sorry for the double comment), have you tried anything from the August Hill Winery in Peru, IL? I may not drink it, but I sure SELL a lot of it, LOL. (for those that don't know, I work in a grocery store with a healthy liquor section, LOL). We have several varieties, and we have trouble keeping it in stock.

  12. We have been big fans of they make all kinds of great tasting wines. Through them we have discovered wine and that we really enjoy drinking it. My husband likes dry wines and I am a sweet wine girl. I think the biggest reason we enjoy the wines from Murielle's is that the flavors are smooth, don't give you a headache unless you drink the whole bottle- LOL and are locally made. It also helps that the owners Michael and Janine are extremely nice and helpful. They also made labels for our wedding favors- check them out.

  13. I'm a lame poet too. lol. I love your books and can't wait for the next one to come out.
    Re: wine. My favorite subject next to coffee. I am a sweet wine drinker. I'm sweet and I like my wine that way too. lol Bully Hill Vineyard makes an excellent Red named 'Sweet Walter Red'. That is my first love. Next would be all the sweet reds and whites from LongCreek Vineyards, a local vineyard, here in Decatur, Illinois. (they have a FB page) that puts out
    excellent wine
    Third would be the sweet Velvet series from St. James Vineyards in St, James Mo.
    I like wine so much it was the theme for my Christmas tree.
    My Motto: Wine a little everyday, you'll feel better.

  14. I probably drink about one full glass of wine a year, and it takes me four sittings to do it! But usually, that's just because I know so little about wines that I never know what to order or buy. I know there are some pretty good wines made here in Missouri, and I've liked some that were grown in Oregon, on the very hills where I used to ride my bike as a child! And I avoid Chardonnay, but only because it reminds me of the absolute worst line a guy ever gave me. So I am glad to read all these suggestions, and I will make notes to carry with me.

  15. I pre-ordered BWW. Can't wait!
    My 2 favorite wines are Malbec and Tempranillo.
    As for cooking, I have a pot roast in the crock pot and garlic naan dough rising.

  16. Hi Julie!!
    Good save on today's post!! I didn't cook either :-) Mr. Nanc and I have tried several of the fine wines from here in Michigan...the climate along Lake MI is perfect for grapes!! We have visited the wineries and always had a great time. Most are still quite small and family run so you get a lot of attention when you visit. My latest kick is mead...a drink that is based on fermented honey with various flavors added. I became familiar with it years ago at the Renaissance Faire and recently was re-introduced to it as friends of friends have a meadery close by..( One of my favorite come from behind stories...a couple and a friends out of work and now they have a successful business! Who says that us Michiganders don't have a plucky spirit to survive...anyway, back to the mead. I have been sipping on their Chazzano and thinking of Cleo as it is brewed with coffee!! Quite nice on a cold snowy night, with a fire and one of your books :-) If you happen upon a bottle give it a whirl...the tastes vary from quite sweet to dry and everything in between!
    Huzzah on BWW...I think it will be the first book I purchase on my new Kindle!
    Happy New Year, Julie!!

  17. Hey Cleo - homemade wine. Wow. I would have loved to have tried some!

    Ooh Serene - that sounds fabulous! I'll have to try that next time we have turkey. Yum!

    Shel - have you tried Teavana? They opened up a shop in the local mall out here. I'm not the biggest tea drinker, but some of these are incredible! Never heard about August Hill but I will definitely check them out.

    Christine - I will have to check out Murielle Winery. I usually always get a headache (although I didn't even once in Europe!) and I love wines that allow me to enjoy two glasses without paying for it later. Thanks for the hint!

    Sue - I *love* your motto! LOL I tend to like dry reds and sweet whites. And wow - a vineyard in Illinois. We have a few, but not too many. Always love to shop local (relatively speaking).

    Okay Laine - we all want to know what that line was! My husband and I know very little about wines, but we're learning little by little. And enjoying the journey, for sure!

    Mom2MandJ - I love Malbec and Tempranillo, too. Cooper's Hawk has featured both and we've enjoyed the new experience. Turned us into Malbec lovers. Your dinner sounds wonderful. We're eating leftovers augmented by lotsa cookies!

  18. Nanc - I've never tried mead, but I have enjoyed Michigan wine. Especially from Tabor Hill. Ooh, very good. Now you have me wanting to sample mead. Intriguing! Congrats on the new Kindle - I'm so excited to have BWW be one of your first books! Woo-hoo!!

  19. You and your DH are like mine, inexpensive doesn't mean cheap. We tend to keep it under $15 when we buy our wine. I take recommendations from all over and have found many tasty wines over the years. Our wine club we belong to is the winery Tobin James near Paso Robles, CA. Twice a year we get a big ol' box of 7 or so bottles of their wine and have yet to be disappointed.
    One of my favorite red grapes is tempranillo. Oh boy, it's so soft and lovely. I do love Malbec, was so glad to have found this.
    Thank you for the recommendations, I will be on the lookout.

  20. Oh, Julie, are you sure you want to know that line? Well, okay, but don't say I didn't warn you.

    I was about to pour wine, and asked him if Chardonnay was all right. He replied:

    "Chardonnay is fine, but I prefer the juice of your soul, pressed between my lips, fermented in my mouth, and bottled in my heart."

  21. Laineshots: Wow...creative, at least!

    Julie: I've heard of Teavana, and was told there was a shop "in the Chicago area" but didn't know precisely where. I'll probably try Adagio first, as they are a bit closer to me. If you can't find August Hill, let me know and I'll grab a couple bottles of the reds for you.

  22. Shel, tea is my drink too--okay, I'm a little fanatical about very high-quality teas! Adagio is a very good company, and so is Todd and Holland, on Madison Street in Forest Park. Teavana shops are nice to see in the malls, but their tea, while better than supermarket teas, isn't the best.