wine, beer & spirits

Rachel Ray's White Sangria Recipe with an Italian twist

Martha Stewart loves Pink Sangria too Late spring and early summer mean two things - white Sangria and picnics.

I love an old-fashioned picnic, spreading out a large tablecloth on the grass, opening the hamper and pulling out the goodies - cold roast chicken, a loaf of crusty bread, briny oil-cured olives, a nice pungent - yes, stinky - cheese, a layered salad full of crispy, crunchy veggies, the requisite deviled eggs, and, of course, an icy pitcher of white Sangria.

It's a wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon, lounging on a blanket in a grassy meadow, grazing on tasty tidbits and sipping a little Sangria.  We like to make a day of it, bringing cards, board games as well as the wiffle ball and bat. 

It's the perfect playdate.  Eat a little, play a little and everyone's happy.

This Rachel Ray White Sangria recipe is a classic with an Italian twist, using Campari instead of Calvados, which gives the drink a lovely pink color.

Pink Sangria

adapted from a recipe by Rachel Ray

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 shots Campari
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 orange sliced
  • 2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
  • 1 bottle white Rioja Spanish wine or other dry white wine
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • Sparkling soda water, for topping off glasses of sangria at table


Combine sugar, Campari, lemon, orange and peaches in a large pitcher. Cover with 1 bottle of Rioja wine and chill sangria several hours. To serve, spoon fruits into glasses or goblets, adding a few fresh raspberries in each glass, pour wine over top of the fruit. Top glasses of sangria off with a splash of soda water and serve.

Drink responsibly with 'green' Margaritas

Casa Noble Organic Tequila With the 40th anniversary of Earth Day right around the corner, it’s never too early to start thinking ‘green.’

Gather your friends and family for in impromptu toast and impress them with an organically original margarita!

Since the first Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970, it has become the largest civic event in the world, with more than 1 billion people taking part each year.

Be a part of the celebration this Earth Day and raise your glass in honor of this momentous occasion.

All you need is Casa Noble Tequila, the only USDA certified organic tequila, and two fresh, organic ingredients - limes and agave nectar.

Casa Noble Organic Margarita

2 oz Casa Noble Crystal

1 oz fresh lime juice (or the juice of 1 whole lime)

¾ oz La Sierra agave nectar

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, strain and serve up or on the rocks. Garnish with a lime wheel. To salt rim – moisten rim of glass with lime and gently roll in a plate of kosher salt.

BK Wine interviews Ntsiki Biyela of Stellekaya

An interview with the winemaker Ntsiki Biyela at the Stellenbosch winery Stellekaya. 

Biyela is one of the very few black women wine makers in South Africa, perhaps even the first. The name Stellekaya means home of the stars. 

The winery is close to the town Stellenbosch, which is also the name of the wine region.

Culinary Institute of America offers wine certificate

St. Helena, CA, January 19, 2010 – The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has created a new wine and beverage certificate program for 2010 at Greystone, the school's Napa Valley campus.

The Accelerated Wine and Beverage Certificate Program (AWBP) advances a student's professional skills in the wine and beverage sector and positions graduates to pursue career opportunities in numerous segments of the food and beverage industry.

"A deep understanding of wine, beer, spirits – even coffee and tea – is vital to career success in the food service and hospitality fields," said Adam Busby, CMC and Director of Education at CIA Greystone, in a press release.

The pioneering AWBP program will equip students with skills and insights required for advancement toward leadership positions in beverage management in both fine and casual dining, restaurant front-of-house management, wine and beverage retail, wholesale, and more.

The accredited 30-week AWBP will impart knowledge and skills related to sensory evaluation, flavor dynamics, cellar management, and mixology. Food and beverage pairing, service, and hospitality are major components of the eight-month curriculum. "AWBP students will graduate with a wine and beverage education on par with those skills learned by the CIA's culinary students," notes Busby.

The program launches in September 2010 at the CIA's Greystone campus in St. Helena, CA. Classes will be held at the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies, a state-of-the-art complex featuring two tasting theaters ideally designed for the in-depth study of wines and beverages.

Program enrollees must have a bachelor's or associate degree in hospitality management, culinary arts management, or a related field, or have a bachelor's degree in another discipline as well as relevant food and beverage industry experience. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

For more information about the AWBP, visit or call 1-800-CULINARY.

Cheese and beer make me want to cheer

This Irish cheese assortment is perfect for pairing with beer. Buy yours here. The next time you start to grab the obligatory bottle of white wine to serve with the cheese platter, don't do it.

Do instead what Europeans have been doing for ages. Grab a bottle of ale or lager. Bitter or buttery, beer goes great with all kinds of cheeses.

"Long the domain of fine wines, beer is entering the epicurean stage with sophisticated tastes and flavors that pair up perfectly with a variety of cheeses," states Roberta MacDonald, Vice President of Cabot Creamery.

Rich, fruity ales match up well with stronger tastes, such as red meat and extra sharp cheddars. Lighter lagers, on the other hand, pair better with poultry, fish and mild cheeses like mild cheddar or Monterey Jack. Think of ale as red wine and lager as white wine.

Hoppiness in beer is relative to acidity in wine. Beers that have significant hoppiness or bitterness, such as India Pale Ales, pair well with cheeses that are spicy or sharp.

Pair like with like--mild beers with mild foods, robust beers with robust dishes. Assertive Scottish and Belgian ales stand up well next to wild game. Fish and chicken match up with conservatively hopped pilsners and brown ales. A full-bodied porter with big roasted flavor matches up deliciously with strong flavors.

Get in the spirit of Halloween with Crystal Head Vodka

Try a Crystal Head Cranium This year use your head and embrace the spirit of Halloween with Crystal Head Vodka for your witch’s brew.

Inspired by his long-time fascination with ghosts, spirits, and other unworldly presences, as well as his interest in the legend of the 13 Crystal Skulls, screen legend Dan Aykroyd has created Crystal Head Vodka. This super-premium vodka is quadruple distilled and then triple crystal-filtered through Herkimer diamonds, which are said to emit positive energy.

Try Dan Aykroyd’s favorite cocktail for Halloween - The Cranium

Yield one serving


1 ½ oz. Crystal Head Vodka

4 ounces Cranberry juice

1 splash Grenadine


Pour Crystal Head Vodka and cranberry juice over ice in a tall glass.

Add a splash of grenadine (unstirred) on the top. -

Garnish with blood orange slice.

Grab a classic cocktail at The Sackett Bar

The Sackett (661 Sackett Street between 4th and 5th Avenues, Brooklyn, 718.622.0437), site of the defunct Latin American Cafe, is now open.

Drop in and try their signature cocktail - The Sackett, a blend of Johnny Walker Red, Amaretto, Cointreau, and a dash of orange bitters.

Owners and native New Yorkers Ann Jhun and Michael Ragolia have years of experience in the NY bar, club and music scene.

Jhun worked as a cocktail waitress and bartender at NY’s Limelight and Tunnel nightclubs during her college days. then worked behind the scenes after graduation in promotions at clubs such as Life and Cheetah Club.

At 23, Ann was hired as Speed nightclub’s Director of Promotions where she handled advertising, market analysis and PR in addition to promotions. More recently, Jhun was Director of Sales & Marketing at City, a national luxury lifestyle magazine.

Ragolia has over 8 years of experience in the music industry. As a college student, Michael worked at Matador records in marketing/distribution capacity.

Additionally, he worked as a buyer for two of New York City’s music destination shops, Kim’s Music and Video on the West Village and Sound and Fury on the Lower East Side, where he hand-selected the product from over ten national distributors. Michael is currently a City Planner.

The new Park Slope bar specializes in classic cocktails, wines and craft beers. And there's a daily Happy Hour so you can get your lush on until 7 pm with $4 pints and well drinks, $1 off all beers and rotating cocktail specials.

The Sackett’s kitchen will open in November serving oven-toasted sandwiches and appetizers.

Here's a sneak peek at their upcoming bar menu:

Oven Toasted Sliders

served with organic kettle chips

  • -Roast beef, cheddar, sauteed onion and horseradish on a club roll
  • -Prosciutto, gorgonzola cream and pear on a ciabatta roll
  • -Brie, spinach and walnuts on a ciabatta roll
  • -Turkey, cranberry chutney and pepper jack on a club roll
  • -Ham, swiss, pickle and peppercorn mayo on a club roll

served with ground white corn chips

  •  -Spinach yogurt
  • -Creamy artichoke
  • -Spicy Red lentil


  • Income Tax – Hendricks, dry and sweet vermouth, OJ, Angostura bitters
  • Mrs. Alexander – Hennessy, dark Crème de Cacao, milk, nutmeg
  • The Sackett – Johnny Walker Red, Amaretto, cointreau, dash orange bitters
  • Southern Apple – Bulleit, Apple Liquer
  • Perfect Pair – Grey Goose Pear, St. Germain, fresh lime, soda

Hours: Open Mon – Thurs 4 pm – 1 am, Fri 4 pm – 3 am, Sat 2 pm – 3 am, Sun 2 pm – 1 am


Around the world wine tasting with Bottlenotes

Enjoy 80+ wines plus award-winning cheeses from Artisanal Premium Cheese at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art tomorrow night.

Taste wines from Italy, France, Austria, Spain, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Washington State, California , Israel, and Lebanon with Bottlenotes.  The online wine community and boutique takes you Around the World in 80 Sips.

Tickets $50 in advance, $75 at the door.

For more information:

Friday, June 26th, 2009, 7:00-10:00 PM
Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Buy tickets here

$59 for a Wine Class at NYC Wine Co. ($95 Value)

Learn why it's important to swirl and spit at NYC Wine Company (photo by Ian Britton) And you thought big nose, full body referred to your face and figure... The deal brokers at Groupon are offering a wine class so you never have to wonder about these things ever again.

NYC Wine Company, a New York magazine Critics' Pick, is widely respected for its fun, insightful wine-education classes and  today $59 gets you a Groupon good toward any wine-appreciation class valued up to $95 at NYC Wine Company located at 167 W. 23rd St.

NYC Wine Company has a class for every level of wino, so anyone can learn all there is to know about fermented grapes.

Depending on the class you choose, you’ll go on an educational journey through the wine regions of France, Italy, Argentina, and many other regions; learn the basics of reds and whites; discover helpful hints on how to pair wine with food; and much more.

Each class includes a plated selection of different cheeses to enhance your experience.

There's no limit on how many Groupons you can buy today, so take as many classes as you like at this great discount rate!