Cotton Candy Wine

Glass of Cotton Candy WineWhat’s pink, sugary and fluffy all over?…

You guessed it. Cotton candy!

This classic carnival sweet-treat is now available in WINE (yes, you read that right). And while it sounds too sweet to be true, we’re sharing some of our favorite cotton candy wines in this post.

What is Cotton Candy Wine? 

Turns out, cotton candy wine isn’t actually made from cotton candy. (WHAT?)

Yep, it’s all in the grapes.

This wine comes from Italian grapes called “Schiava” – an extremely sweet grape with a flavor usually associated with cotton candy.

Best Cotton Candy Wines

We’ve put together a list of cotton candy wines, using a sweetness scale of 1-6.

Purple Toad Winery – Cotton Candy

Sweetness Level: 4

This cotton candy wine has a bit more sweetness than you might be used to, but we recommend pairing with a creamy pasta dinner for the full effect.

St. Julian – Cotton Candy Wine

Sweetness Level: 5

St. Julian Cotton Candy Wine is like a carnival in a bottle, filled with aromas and flavors of bubble gum and strawberry. 

Schiava

Sweetness Level: 6

Try out the original cotton candy wine. This wine carries the aroma of roses and hints of strawberry shortcake. 

Urban Vines – Carnival Candy 

Sweetness Level: 5

This wine is made from grapes grown in the Great Lakes region. Vintners slowly ferment the wine to capture the cotton candy taste. 

We hope you enjoy these whimsical drinks! 

And check out other trends on our blog

Cheers!

The Grape Debate: Natural vs Nurtured

Natural wine is a huge buzz word in the wine community lately. You may have heard it at a winery, seen it in restaurants, noticed it in your local wine shop, or even tried it. 

But what is it really? Lucky for you, we’ve got some answers to that.

A Tricky TimelineNatural Wine

Modern winemaking has become convoluted, scientific and technical. Let’s take it back a couple thousand years…

The earliest recorded evidence was discovered in Armenia and Italy around 6,000 years ago. Pouring a glass was a simple, slow process. Pure grapes were handpicked, and there were no additives involved. 

In the mid-1900s this method resurfaced, piquing the interest of rural French winemakers. This sparked the modern natural wine movement, led by French pioneers Beaujolais, Chauvet and Lapierre. The first natural wine tasting event was held just twenty years ago by La Dive Bouteille in France.

This inspired smaller winemakers to begin producing and importing into the United States. The momentum is slow but steady, and has continued to pop up on more shelves in recent years. It’s good to note that since natural wine is still relatively new to the market, there is no official certification for wineries or vineyards to use.

What is Natural Wine?

Natural Wine: Pure, untreated, naturally fermented grapes. In other words, it’s unbridled, unfiltered, chemical-free goodness.

Pros:

  • Everything is 100% found in nature 
  • Vineyards are not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides  
  • Grapes are hand picked 
  • Natural yeast is solely generated by the grape itself 
  • Little to no extra sulfites added
    • The natural reduction in sulfites (approx. 10 – 35 parts/million) can make wine better for those who may have reactions to sulfite in other wine (up to 10x more). 

Cons:

  • Long, manual process for winemakers
  • Challenging to store without sulfites
  • The wine may appear cloudy and/or have a sour taste depending on your palate
    • Not to worry, there are different varieties and flavors to explore, just like your average bottle.

Organic vs Biodynamic

As of today, it’s still difficult for mass producers to distribute. The solution? 

Enter organic and biodynamic wine stage right.

Organic Wine 101

Organic wine in the US can have two different implications: 

  1. “Made with organic grapes”
    • Grapes grown without the use of pesticides or synthetics. There is also a limit on the number of sulfites that can be added.
  2. “Certified organic” 
    • Produced with organically grown grapes with no sulfites added. This is pretty rare as many winemakers still insist on adding sulfites. 
    • This doesn’t mean other things aren’t added to your wine… 

Biodynamic Wine 101

Biodynamic wine takes a more holistic approach to winemaking. There is an emphasis on overall health of the vineyard, lunar cycles, and the entire farm ecosystem (beyond the grapes). 

There are no synthetics used in growth or production, and no additional yeast, sugar, acid, etc. However, they will often still include added sulfites. 

Biodynamic wine has two levels of certification: 

  1. “Biodynamic certified estates” – Label always located on the back of the wine. 
  2. “Biodynamic certified wines” – Label always located on the front of the wine.

Where to Buy Natural Wine

City dwellers may have an easier time accessing the right wine shop, but there are plenty of online options. Any new trend is is difficult to mass market, but there are still ways to get your hands on these wines

Here are three general rules to start your search:

  1. Educate yourself on all your options
    • Hint: You picked an excellent place to start 
  2. Ask questions
    • Hint: Find employees to speak with at your local wine store
  3. Have fun! Natural wine tasting is the same “regular wine” trial-and-error journey.
    • Hint: Don’t let one bad wine deter you from finding your natural wine soulmate.

Can Natural Wine Defeat My Hangover?

Ahh… the age-old question.

There is no scientific proof on whether natural wine can cure all, but it can be a great place to start your own experiment. We all know hangovers and headaches are due to dehydration. Drinking alcohol depletes a lot of key nutrients from your system. 

There are plenty of articles that explain why we feel so bad after a night of indulgence. But one stands out in particular – excessive sulfites. 

Excessive Sulfites

Some folks recall feeling better after a night of drinking natural wine or wine with low sulfites compared to wine with higher levels. 

Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. 

If reducing sulfites is something you want to try out, I recommend being mindful of labels and giving natural wine a taste test. 

You’re now ready to dive into the world of natural wines!

Cheers!

How to Make Mulled Wine this Holiday Season

The holidays are here! mulled wine

That means cold weather, cozy nights, and non-stop festivities until the new year. If you’re looking for a recipe to show off and impress guests, we have the perfect wine for you.

Start the season by making a batch of mulled wine. It’ll warm your fingers, toes and the hearts of others – ‘tis the season after all.

What is Mulled Wine and How Do I Make It?

Historically, mulled wine has been used to repurpose harvest leftovers, warm the body during the cold months, and “heal” with its spices. The holiday drink we know and love today is really a product of Victorian England, with authors like Charles Dickens writing about mulled wine in “A Christmas Carol”. 

As a time-honored tradition, mulled wine will keep guests warm and satisfied throughout the holidays. It may sound complex, but it’s surprisingly easy to make, and a guaranteed crowd-pleasing cocktail. 

First things first. Make sure your pantry is stocked with these items: 

  • Your favorite wine – this is also a great time to show off your skills with your own handcrafted wine!
  • Mulling spices (details on these later)
  • A large pot or slow cooker 
  • Something to serve your drinks in
  • Optional: A snack pairing
  • Optional: Mulled wine pairs well with a partner – feel free to add extra booze. 
    • Spirits like brandy, cognac and gin will spice things up!

WARNING: Mull with caution 

  • Do NOT BOIL your mixture. This can spoil your drink. 
  • Whether you are buying or making your wine, make sure it’s not too heavily oaked to avoid bitterness.

What Type of Wine Should I Use?

As you’re getting your list together you may be wondering what type of wine is the best to use. Thankfully, almost any variety will do. The only catch is that some mulling spices pair better with certain wines than others. 

Tip: if you’re purchasing wine from a store, it’s perfectly fine (and encouraged) to use cheaper wines for mulling. More expensive, complex wines often lose their intricate notes in the mulling process.

What Spices Should I Use?

If you’ve taken a look at a few recipes, you’ve probably noticed some common spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Oranges
  • Star Anise 
  • Honey 
  • Some sort of extra liquor

All of these are staples, but they are not set in stone. Have fun with your recipes and explore adding different fruits and spices to your wine. And if you’re short on time, some retailers sell premade mulling spice mixes like this one

Mulled Red Wine 

The classic mulled wine is a dry, red variety- Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet, pick your preference. You can make mulled red wine as simple or complicated as you’d like (though we prefer simple so you have time to prep other things). 

Spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Oranges
  • Honey
  • Star Anise

Here’s an easy mulled wine recipe to get you started!

Mulled White Wine 

While using white wine isn’t as common, some lean towards a lighter taste (think Viognier, Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio depending on the recipe). With this variation of mulled wine, winter fruits such as pomegranate, cranberries and oranges stand out in flavor and presentation.

Spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Oranges
  • Honey
  • Star Anise
  • Lemons
  • Cranberries
  • Pomegranates 

For an extra kick, try spicing things up with this Apple Mulled White Wine recipe.

Mulled Rosé

Forget “Rosé All Day” as the exclusive summer mantra. We believe it’s a year round affair. Rosé is no longer reserved for warm months only – it now has a special place in your holiday drink rotation. Plus, a pink drink feels fun for every festivity. 

Spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Star Anise
  • Organes
  • Cranberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Ginger

Dazzle your guests by serving this whimsical cocktail that’s just as easy to make as the traditional stuff.

How to Serve Mulled Wine

You’ve made your very first batch of mulled wine. Congrats! Now, let’s find something to serve it in and with.

Mugs vs Glasses

Since mulled wine is mostly served warm, many opt for serving in mugs because they keep it warmer longer. However, if you’re focused on a nice presentation use glass mugs, double-wall glasses or special mulled wine glasses. Add a little flare by topping it off with a fresh piece of fruit used in your recipe, or a cinnamon stick. Going the extra mile here will make a lasting impression on your guests and elevate your drink.

Mulled Wine Pairings

Looking for the perfect dish or appetizer to serve with your impressive creation? Here are some ideas to pair with your mulled wine.

  • Cheese board 
    • If you are pairing with something sweet, consider Roquefort, Bleu Cheese, Gorgonzola, or Comté – they’ll bring out the cinnamon and clove notes!
  • Spiced nuts
  • Fondue 
  • Mince pies  – if you’re feeling fancy!

It’s official. You are now a mulled wine connoisseur! We hope you enjoy sipping your cocktail as you share your recipe with friends and family. 

Cheers!

3 Refreshing Wine Cooler Recipes that Will Get You Excited for Summer

Summer is right around the corner and there is nothing sweeter, or more refreshing, than a nice homemade wine cooler during the scorching months of the year. Here is a recipe that is quick and tasteful for any wine lover. This recipe can also be interchangeable with any of our wine recipes  to add more flavor to your cooler.
Whether its laying by the pool or enjoying a drink with some friends in the evening- here are three wine cooler recipes that will have your taste buds thanking you:
Tropical Pineapple Twist Cooler
Ingredients:

Directions:
Combine the wine, juice, and club soda. Fill a tall glass with ice and a lime wedge and then pour the contents of your drink and enjoy. The serving size is for a single glass but can be modified with a higher quantity of ingredients for a larger serving size.
This recipe is simple and takes little to no time unless you decide to chill the finished product for a few hours. Club soda will add a nice carbonated fizz to your cooler and our pineapple wine recipe will enhance the fruit flavor and give a more distinct taste. Other wine suggestions include a dry Riesling or pinot grigio. If you decide to use the pineapple wine recipe, cranberry juice can offset the pineapple but boost the citrus taste.
Strawberry Banana Refresher
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 750 ml. bottle of wine (Recommended- banana wine recipe or sauvignon blanc)
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Directions:
Mix together the strawberries and sugar and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. In a blender, puree the strawberries until smooth and add the bottle of wine. Once the mixture is smooth and well blended pour contents into a large glass and serve chilled over ice. You can also add cut up strawberries or blueberries to enrich the flavor and the appearance. These ingredients make up to 4 servings.
Adding the banana wine recipe to this Strawberry Banana Refresher adds to the bare strawberry puree and combines the flavors to have you going back for more. Strawberry Banana is a classic combo and trying out this homemade recipe will have you feeling rejuvenated and confident to test out new recipes on your own.
Ginger Lime Cooler
Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. wine (Recommend Ginger Root Wine or White Wine)
  • 1-part lemon-lime soda
  • 1-part Ginger ale

Directions:
Mix all three ingredients and let chill in refrigerator. Once mixture is cool, serve over ice and enjoy. Ingredients yield 1 serving.
This quick fixture is a take on the modern Moscow Mule (without the vodka, obviously). Our ginger root wine recipe adds tang to the creation and is balanced with the combination of ginger ale and sprite. This option is not as sweet as the Tropical Pineapple or Strawberry Banana, so it aids as a nice refreshing drink for those who enjoy a less fruity cocktail.
These fresh wine cooler recipes are great cocktails to serve when friends and family are over and will save you from the summer heat. If you are new to wine making or want to branch out from the recipes provided, check out our homemade wine options for a larger variety to include in your wine coolers.
Are there any wine cooler recipes that you recommend? Please share in the comments below!

Getting Legs on Your Wine: Does it Really Happen?

Home Wine Making - Wine Making Kits
A few weeks ago I attended a dinner party hosted by my wife’s employer who happens to be a successful facial plastic surgeon in the upscale city of Annapolis, Maryland. Immersed in a room that is occupied by many, many people with careers way more distinguished than my own, I’ve decided to lay back and let my wife do her rounds of mingling.  As I’m standing next to a window overlooking the Severn River (beautiful at sunset, I do recommend the view) I found a lot of these people swirling their wine glasses around.  Now, I don’t claim to be a wine enthusiast by any stretch of the word, my wife takes that role, but I have had a few glasses here and there.  I usually just drink it and not think too much about it, though I should put more thought into what goes into the wine.  (From what I understand wine making is a very precise and intricate process). However, I’ve seen this action done by people who know their wine and I’ve always wondered what the purpose was.   Is it a technique to “jumpstart” the wine?  Does it activate something in it? Or is it just a nervous twitch that people in uncomfortable situations tend to subconsciously do.
I asked my wife and she gave me a two part answer.  First she told me that wine, being somewhat organic in nature, needs to breath and the action of swirling allows the wine to open up and release flavor.  Ok, makes sense I suppose, but her second answer sounded a little less scientific.  She told me that legs are a sign of good wine.
Come again?
Legs? 
She proceeded to say that when you swirl the glass around, the wine will leave tear like residue on the on the glass resembling “legs”, thus indicating a high quality wine.  Ok gotcha, wait a minute.. Why would that indicate good wine?  This was the extent to which she could answer; she couldn’t get into the science of it.  So my inquiring mind needed to know what about leggy wine made it superior to its counterpart.  For the record, I tend to listen to whatever my wife says but sometimes it’s fun to call her on her bluff.
After a little bit of research and investigation I came up with some tasty nuggets.  The myth that “legs” or “tears” in wine indicate high quality is just that, myth.  They are in no way an indication of high quality product.  The reality is that “legs” or “tears” in wine are a product of the level of ethanol in the wine, higher levels of ethanol, roughly 12% or higher, will result in this effect.  There are physics and science that go into this explanation, which I will spare you and just give you meat and potatoes.  As you swirl your glass of wine around, the wine goes up the side of the glass.  The two primary components of wine are alcohol (ethanol) and water. Alcohol evaporates faster than water.  As it evaporates, gravity takes over leaving the remaining water to run down the glass in tears. The residue is observable because the differences in how light is refracted by both water and alcohol.  This effect is known as the Gibbs-Marangoni effect, and is named after two scientists whom investigated this phenomenon.
There you have it, this myth has been busted.  However, there is a sliver of truth to this.  Quality of wine is in the eye of the beholder (especially if the beholders make wine at home) and if you value a wine that’s a little more potent, than “legs”, can be one of your best friends.