Gift Ideas

Indulge In This Fun Wine Exploration Class At Home

For the wine lover on your Christmas list, or even as a great gift for yourself, the Indulge Wine School Wine 101 Video Class is the the perfect interactive and educational wine tasting hour. Everything you need, including the wines tasted in the class, comes in this one one kit directly to your home!

My husband and I recently spent a fun hour on our sofa tasting through six of the most popular wine varieties with John Benson, Sommelier with Indulge Bistro & Wine Bars in Colorado. Indulge owners Peter and Delinda, working with John, wanted to create an approachable, easy and entertaining way to explore and learn about the basics of wine without all the technical information, without spending hours/weeks of time, and without paying hundreds of dollars. Thus the Indulge Wine School 101 Video Class was born.

For only $49.95, you receive six 50ml bottles of wine, the Wine 101 DVD, online access to the Wine 101 video, and the Indulge Wine School eBook, Wine 101: A Fun and Informative Introduction to the Wonderful World of Wine. You’ll taste…

*White Wines:

  • Riesling – Hazlitt 1852 Vineyard, Finger Lakes NY
  • Sauvignon Blanc – Duckhorn, Napa Valley CA
  • Chardonnay – Hess Collection, Mt. Veeder CA

*Red Wines:

  • Pinot Noir – Papapietro Perry, Sonoma Coast CA (our FAVORITE of the tasting!)
  • Syrah – Cline Cellers, “Los Caneros” Estate CA
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Whitehall Lane, Napa Valley CA

I learned some great stuff from John (who is very interactive and NOT your ordinary ‘dry’ wine educator), as did my husband, and we had a great time tasting through the wines, while learning…

  • The 5 Steps of Tasting Wine
  • Tasting tips on each of the wines
  • Information about these 6 most popular wine varieties
  • Food pairings for each wine
  • Stories and details about each vineyard

Indulge has partnered with Tasting to provide the taste-sized bottles for the class. They are a unique online retailer that allows customers to discover and enjoy wine in several formats. Using their patented T.A.S.T.E Technology, they transfer wine directly from full-size bottles to smaller formats.

Indulge Wine School also offers classes in many states in the U.S. if you’d like to go in person or give the gift of an in-person class.

Cheers to Indulge Wine School!


Wine + Chocolate = ♥

Impress your friend or love this Valentine’s Day, or any day really, with a fun and delicious wine and chocolate tasting experience. Lindt, the Swiss chocolatier, has done all the work to help you pick the chocolate and type of wine to pair with it.

Take a step into Lindt’s kitchen to get started. Click on ‘the chocolate and wine’ for details on doing the chocolate tasting with your five senses then pairing the wines. Lindt suggests, “The pairing should begin with the chocolate tasting.  First, take a moment to appreciate the intense aromas of the chocolate.  Next, take a small bite. While the chocolate is slowly melting in your mouth, savor its different notes and flavors. As you are tasting the final lingering notes, slowly sip the wine.  The key to finding the ideal combination between a chocolate and a wine is when the taste notes harmonize, and neither the chocolate nor the wine dominates the senses.”

For our wine and chocolate pairing last night we had…

  • Merlot (2009 J. Lohr Estates Los Osos) + Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa: The pairing brings out the cherry and chocolate flavors in the wine, and the fruit and vanilla flavors in the chocolate.
  • Zinfandel (2007 Cellar No. 8 ) + Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa: This pairing brings out the raspberry and pepper of the wine and the chocolate’s herbal and red berry notes. The chocolate adds a nice smoothness to the Zin.
  • Port (Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve) + Lindt Excellence Chili: This was our favorite pairing! Alone you can’t taste much chili in the chocolate but pairing with the Port, the chocolate gets a kick and sweetness. The chocolate also cuts the alcohol intensity from the Port and dials up its cherry notes.

Lindt’s site also gives you details on each Excellence chocolate with a wine pairing suggestion. It’s also fun to print out wine tasting notes from the winery’s website to help guide you in the wine tasting.

This is also a great gift for the wine and chocolate lover in your life. Special thanks to my in-laws for doing all the hard work and putting together this birthday present…wine, chocolate and all the tasting notes! My husband and I were left to just enjoy. As he said, “Fun! Nice after dinner pairing.” 😉

Cheers to wine + chocolate!

Grape Occasions Gift Guide: Travel

In the spirit of holiday giving and of Grape Occasions theme, this week we’re sharing great gift ideas for wine, spa, travel and you.  Today is TRAVEL…

Alistair Sawday’s

Alistair Sawday’s is a great set of resources based in the UK that I found while living in Europe. My first discovery, that I’ve used many times since, is their Special Places to Stay: Italy. The book features a collection of 345 properties to stay throughout Italy. And this is only one of many guidebooks they’ve published on Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and India. They’ve recently introduced a few new resources focused on Go Slow and Canopy & Stars: Luxury camping. The goal of their guidebooks is to be THE guides for those looking for: warm, very human, interesting people; beautiful buidlings, original style, elegant simplicity; delicious food, much of it grown at home and cooked with devotion; and a touch of fun with a touch of class.

A visit to their website allows you to search for places to stay in any of the countries mentioned above. For Christmas, you could purchase one of their gift cards or their featured French Vineyards Gift Set. Sign up for their monthly newsletter for great tips and information on their new products.

Luxury Link

There are a lot of auction travel sites out there these days but Luxury Link remains my favorite. I’ve used its several times to get fantastic deals and never been disappointed (including our incredible trip to Santorini booked through them)! From a few hundred dollars to thousands, “Its where sophisticated travelers go for inspiration, to indulge their passion for discovering the world’s best places to stay, and to find world class values.” The Luxury Link family of websites was founded in 1997 with the goal of connecting passionate travelers to the world’s best places to stay at exceptional prices. Give someone on your list a “gift certificate” (you’ll have to create your own) to Luxury Link to pick out a vacation of their dreams!

Italia! & France Magazine

For the Italy or France lover on your list, how about a magazine subscription that takes them there throughout the year? These are two great publications (I asked for an Italia! subscription for Christmas) as resources and a nice escape whenever you open up the magazine.

Weekend Away

A weekend away for your significant other is a fabulous surprise gift! Why not give them a romantic weekend away to a not too distant inn, winery or cute town in quiet January?  Two great options close to the Washington, DC metro area are Prince Michel Vineyards for a wine tour, tasting, dinner and stay OR The Inn at Little Washington for a over the top dinner and stay. Check out Travel+Leisure for local ideas near you.

Grape Occasions Gift Guide: Wine

In the spirit of holiday giving and of Grape Occasions theme, this week we’re sharing great gift ideas for wine, spa, travel and you.  Today is WINE…

Wines of the World Wine Club

Discover new wines and regions with this gift from I received one earlier this year as a gift and it was fantastic! The 3, 6 or 12-month subscription delivers two bottles of wine to your door each month in a box mimicking a wine crate including detailed tasting notes page with information on the region, winery and food pairings on each of the 2 wines.’s wine experts make their selections from among hundreds of wines produced around the world from big name wineries to small boutiques. Members also get an exclusive subscription to the monthly newsletter (more details to come as I just signed up for mine) and discount on reorders.

Wine School

Treat the wine lover on your list to a true immersion in wine with classes at a local wine school. is a great resource to find schools in your area…click on your City then on Educators & Schools.

Wine Tasting Kit

For exploring wine at home, a wine tasting kit is perfect! Currently my favorite is L’Atelier du Vin Wine Tasting Kit. The Wine Discovery is an illustrated tasting method with 40 wine aromas and 50 tasting sheets that helps any wine lover discover the vintage, region of origin or the appellation of a wine. While focused on France its given me a fantastic education in smelling AND tasting wines!

Adopt a Vine

Any wine lover would love to own their own vine! Last year I received this neat gift… Adopt A Vine by gift republic. While your vine is in the UK, it still really cool! Check out my post for more details.

Wine Wars

This fun and educational gift is A Trivia Game for Wine Geeks and Wannabes. Its a great way to spend some time over the holidays with friends and family! 🙂

Grape Occasions Gift Ideas: Spa

In the spirit of holiday giving and of Grape Occasions theme, this week we’re sharing great gift ideas for wine, spa, travel and you.  Today is SPA… always the perfect gift that fits any size!


“You won’t find you anywhere else” … its so true! This continues to rank as one of my favorite spas in the world and I’ve been lucky enough to visit them twice in the Santa Catalina Mountains in northern Tucson, on their 400 acres of idyllic land. This a real splurge gift but worth the money. The visits helped me make two major life decisions…the clarity and inspiration 4 days here can bring you is amazing!

Their website sums it up … “Miraval is a place dedicated to opening eyes, minds, and hearts. Our focus is on healthy and sustainable living. The Miraval experience is:Fresh locally sourced ingredients to make gorgeously flavorful food; Growth and development activities that make the heart-pump and the head re-think; Fabulous spa resources that make the senses ignite and; An unrivaled team of wellbeing Specialists to help you make positive and lasting change in your life.”

Mindfulness is their philosophy… Be Here Now, Be Present.  And its brought to life in their fabulous meals, the incredible classes offered daily (includes photography, exercise, meditation, yoga and the amazing Equine Experience with Wyatt Web) and the spa experiences / 1on1 sessions you can have with Specialists (life coaches, fitness experts, energy specialists).

Miraval has all inclusive pricing (around $500 / night) which includes a $130 resort credit per person, per night to apply toward spa services, private consultations, or a round of golf.

Spa Finder

The Global Spa Resource’s mission is to empower people to find their perfect well-being experiences. Its a great website to find spas all over the world with over 5,000 in their network. The site offers SpaFinder Gift Certificates which are a great gift! They feature local spas, amazing nationally recognized and awarded spas like Miraval and Canyon Ranch, and even international experiences like two great ones in Italy I’ve been to, Grotta Giusti and Terme di Saturnia. I’ve received and given many of their gift cards… get it on line or also in local stores that carry that giant gift card assortment.

My Vinothérapie Spa Escape by Caudalie

If you can’t visit one of Caudalie’s Vinotherapie® Spas (my dream spa & wine combination), bring Caudalie home. This set brings the exclusive treatments of the Caudalie Vinothérapie Spas together in a canvas zipper travel pouch featuring six deluxe Vinothérapie® products..Cabarnet Scrub, Vinopure Purifying Mask, Nourishing Body Lotion, Fleur de Vigne Shower Gel and Hand and Nail Cream.

Spa Magazine

Enjoy a little spa at home every month with the delivery of Spa Magazine.  Focused on travel, beauty and living, this is a great gift that keeps giving throughout the year!