Monthly Archives: February 2015

I Like You… (A Seal of Approval)

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I’m an embarrassingly emotional weepy person when I get happy for a friend.

I proved that to one of my closest fellow educated alcoholics when she broke the news of a little one on the way.

Needless to say, I wept like a crazy woman in her restaurant (I’m lucky she still considers me a friend after the heaping mess I became).

Classic us, however, addressed the most important question: “Can you drink?”

While I tell you that this entry is in no way to be taken as the ultimate bible for pregnancy, here’s what we found out: It really varies per soon-to-be-mom. Most women would be allowed a glass of wine AT MOST a day, but some (with their pregnancies being delicate) are told to avoid drinking altogether. Caffeine is best avoided, but some pregnant women are allowed minimal amounts in a day (in fact, during our lunch, my friend was having a Coca-Cola).

Like I said, however (and I can’t stress this enough), best to consult your OB.

We compared stories of friends who were pregnant and drinking… Some subscribed to the “one glass max a day” philosophy, and one friend actually enjoyed wine spritzer in place of wine.

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wine spritzer à la moi!

A wine spritzer is a cocktail made out of aromatic white wine (I prefer a classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc), some lemon soda or tonic water (I like using Sprite Zero), tons of ice, and a slice of orange or lemon. Assemble in a wine glass.

You can actually enjoy this drink on a hot day (pregnant or otherwise), by the side of a pool (or in front of a laptop, like I’m doing right now)… Play around with the proportions (less wine is better if you’re avoiding booze).

Try it at home and let me know how you find it. Salud!

*This is for Ines, Elian, and their little Chihuahito/Chihuahita. 😉

Just A Little Unwell

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My husband got sick. I decided to nurse him, and when the weekend came, I got hit with the same bug that’s been going around.

Sore throat, cough, and colds… Oh my.

This is, of course, another excuse for my being absent for a week (eheh).

Since I’m supposed to write about beverages, I decided to take my being sick as an inspiration to write about different everyday beverages that work surprisingly well for some health annoyances.

Take note that these do not have any therapeutic claims, and one should still exercise caution when trying out the alcoholic beverages mentioned in this post.

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  • Sore Throat Ludy’s Salabat (Cash and Carry Makati)
    I happened upon a jar of this local, very Pinoy, traditional wonder after being slightly strapped for cash and craving for the same ginger tea. I was seriously hankering for a particular one being served in one of the famous Manila spa chains. Apparently, the correct mix to get the spa’s tea is ginger, cayenne pepper, and sugar. This beauty goes down your throat, soothing it better than any lozenge could. Quite addictive too.
  • ColdsCalamansi juice and honey
    Our “Philippine lemon” is amazing: tons of vitamin C in a not-so-puckering fruit. Juice it, add some honey to make it less tart, and voila! Say goodbye to your sniffles.
  • CoughGin and Calamansi
    Admittedly I learned this from a former bartender. I had horrendous phlegm, and he suggested this concoction. I tried it, and the following day, I, uhm… Expunged all the phlegm from my system. No hangovers too. It may be a bit unorthodox, and if you’re planning to take medicines, don’t try this at home.
  • GasAngostura Bitters in tonic water
    This is one of my former boss’ remedies. Granted, it does not taste that great, but it does wonders for gas pains.
  • “Lady” Problemsbeer, or soda (preferably Coke Zero)
    Okay, I have no idea how this manages to alleviate the monthly visitor’s painful wrath. I learned about it from a former disco mom and it works for me. Maybe it’s the carbonation…?
  • Potential Hangover – match each drink with a glass of water, then end the night with a Coke Zero
    Water destroys any potential for dehydration, the main culprit for getting drunk out of your mind (and a killer headache tomorrow). Coke Zero is a nice caffeine jolt without making your feel even more thirsty.
  • Hangover Virgin Mary
    A friend told me that a glass of Bloody Mary (the alcoholic counterpart) allows your stomach to gently catch up with the booze in your system from the night before. IMHO, you have to stop it with the alcohol at some point… Also, if it’s a “balancing-of-stomach-acid” issue, with enough lemon juice and tomato juice, a Virgin Mary should do the trick. Bonus points: the tomato juice has enough antioxidants to slowly cleanse you from the alcohol.

In no way, shape, or form should the last two entries be used as an excuse to drink like crazy. Responsible drinking involves knowing your limitations, and keeping safety in mind. #justsaying 😀

I hope this helps. Here’s to getting better soon. I toast you with my Salabat. Cheers!

Love and Wine – An Interview with Daniella Gillmore Esturillo of Gillmore Winery

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Wine is undeniably associated with love: Romantic dinner dates paired with wine, newlyweds toasting with Champagne, using wine as a delicious aphrodisiac… These are just some images we have of wine and l’amour.

When I was looking for inspiration on my blog entry, I realised that the best way to illustrate love and wine is to use actual “people in love” as examples.

As I looked around my office, I found a calling card I got from my trip to Chile, which showed me exactly what I needed: Gillmore Winery.

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Gillmore Winery, with the lady of the house showing us her gorgeous vineyard

As a person who has actually been there, I can tell you that the lady of the house is just as entertaining, humorous, and lovely as her wines (and her calling card). Her stories were sweet, and her many anecdotes about herself and her husband were funny.

So, I decided to introduce her (and her passion for wine and family) to you through my Valentine’s Day interview special.

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Daniella, checking out one of her “babies” 

Me: Please tell us about your wines.

Daniella Gillmore Esturillo: Gillmore Winery and Wineyards is a family winery, located in Loncomilla Valley, Chile. We produce red wines in the dry farming area of the region.

Me: The most memorable part of my visit (apart from the lovely wines) is your stories about your family and your husband. Can you tell me (and my readers) a brief story about you and your husband?

DGE: We met in 1995. We were both doing a practice for university, but we didn’t see each other for a few years, until 2000. It was then that I started working at the winery, and he was working for KJ (another wine house). I was selling grapes to them. This is when we started working together. Finally, we started dating. After three years, we decided to get married, and now, we are both working in our winery.

Me: What is it like working with your husband to make your beautiful wines?

DGE: We always adjust to each other and respect each other a lot. He cares about the wines and the grapes (and so do I), so we compliment each other. Making wines and wines in general are our passion, so it’s fun to do it together.

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Daniella’s lovely children

Me: Can you share stories or anecdotes about working with your husband?

DGE: Our first son, Martin, was two years old during the middle of one harvest. So we took him to the winery with us so we could work. My husband and I were tasting the wine from the fermenting tanks, and suddenly, we didn’t know where Martin was. We found him inside one of the pump equipment, all covered in grape juice, skins, and throwing grape juice all over!!!

Me: Do you have a wine that is like your “baby”? What is it?

DGE: I think it’s the Gillmore Hacedor de Mundos Cabernet Franc. It was the first wine we made at the winery and the first one we sold, so it opened the road for us!

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The wines of Gillmore Winery

Me: How does working together with your husband translate itself to your wine?

DGE: He constantly tells me what he is looking for in the wines and I try to adjust (to his specifications) in the vineyard. He is very passionate and dedicated to his wines, and he is always trying to (come up with) new ideas or new projects. I like his capacity to dream.

Me: You and your husband have been together for quite some time. Do you have any tips on married couples?

DGE: I think you have to be partners and friends, find space to be together, share something in common (for example, we like jogging together), but also have your own life and space. For me, that is extremely important. You need to do your own things and have your own life.

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The people of Gillmore have so much love going around, they even share it with their community by selling indigenous products

I hope this inspires you, my dear readers, to happily pursue love, passion, and lots of wine. Happy Valentine’s Day and Salud!

Pairing Chocolates with Beverages – An Adventure Beyond Wine

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…because not everything is about wine and chocolates

Chocolates with wine: The perfect Valentine’s Day combo. Both supposed aphrodisiacs, these edibles have romance written all over them. Hence, they are constantly EVERYWHERE around this time of the year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Cabernet Sauvignon with chocolates (preferably a Bordeaux with bittersweet chocolate), but did you know that there are other beverages that pair well with chocolate?

Indulge me in a little adventure and try out the following:

  • Beer – preferably malty and/or brown ale; porter or stout
    It seems technical, but good examples to try are Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout or Rogue Hazelnut Brown Ale (Global Beer Exchange, Magallanes)
  • Coffee – the darker, the better
  • Muscat – preferably from California (the Orange Muscat smells like an orange grove, while the Black Muscat smells a bit like roses)
  • Port – Ruby, Tawny, or Vintage
  • Sherry PX – PX is the sweetest interpretation of these Spanish babies
  • Sticky coffee spirits – coffee liquer (Kahlua), or even Patron Coffee (easy on the tequila though, it can be a pretty lethal combination!)

I hope this adds a different dimension to your chocolate pairing this Valentine’s Day. Cheers!

Popcorn, Chardonnay, Game of Thrones, and The AnTEA Snob

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I meant what I said in my last entry: The previous week was quite taxing. I’m even looking forward to a busier one.

Not that I’m complaining… I love what I do.

There times, however, when I take advantage of my job and find a good beverage to chill out with.

I have to admit, relaxing with my husband, a nice bottle of vino, and a good movie or TV series (I prefer classics and documentaries, Chad prefers sci-fi… We somehow meet halfway with The Avengers) is divine.

A similar situation happened to us over the weekend… Except I was just too tired to cook (or eat) anything. I looked into the pantry and, lo and behold… Black truffle salt and microwavable popcorn. Score!

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Popcorn with black truffle salt, Chardonnay, and Game of Thrones

The buttery notes of a proper Chardonnay go wonderfully with popcorn butter. A slightly more complex version (not too pricey) complements the flavors of truffle.

Granted, all the bloody slaying in GOT was too ghastly that we had to switch to House of Cards, but we did not change the snack.

As part of my #balikalindog #sexyback program, I’m trying to get myself back into yoga. A friend of ours is currently getting his certification, and I’m absolutely psyched to have him as an instructor.

As a show of support, I allowed myself to become a “guest student” in his batch’s practicum.

It meant I needed to be there at 8am.

8am.

I am not a morning person. Yet another reason why I love what I do (“I drank too much last night, sorry… Can we make the meeting 4pm instead?”).

Alas, I love my friends too much and decided to go. By the end of the class, I was fully stretched, starving, and in dire need of caffeine (I don’t like having coffee immediately before or after yoga… It jolts my system a little too much. I prefer tea).

However, I was exhausted. So I stopped being a puritan for once, and opted for a tea bag instead of my usual, very ritualistic loose-leaf tea.

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“My name is Gail, and I had tea from a bag.”

Oh shush you snobs… I had an incredibly fragrant Twining’s Jasmine Green Tea bag. I was pleasantly surprised: It was beautifully fragrant, and tasted fabulously herbaceous. The weight loss benefit of green tea wasn’t lost on me, either.

Of course, any benefit was out the window because of the honey bun I had from Wildflour.

Eheh…

What do you drink on your down time? Cheers!

Sangria – A Drinker’s Dose of Fruit

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Wine. Spirits. Cocktails. Just a few things I like studying, drinking, and writing about.

I thought about this last week as I crammed a couple of articles, admittedly too zonked out for “inspiration” to kick in.

Finally, after barely meeting my deadline on Friday night, I decided to pack up my laptop and head to a nearby restaurant.

All the wine writing and intellectualisation I did last week just made me too fed up to see and drink another glass of wine.

Yes. I am a wine writer who up and got sick of writing about wine one day.

Just to cleanse my palate (both my tongue and mentally), I decided to order something besides a glass of vino.

Once a wine lover, always a wine lover though… As I looked through other beverage options, my eyes settled on Sangria.

Inspiration.

I mean, how perfect is that…? Sangria is a cocktail normally made with a spirit (brandy) and wine (all three things I like writing about).

What is Sangria anyway?

You can trace Sangria’s etymology from a Spanish/Portuguese translation of “bloodletting”. Hence, this is the colour you should expect from the classic recipe.

Sangria these days, however, come in red or white. Heck, I even got experimental enough once to make a pink one.

That’s the beauty of cocktails. As long as you have the base recipe down, you can play around with the portions as you see fit.

Just to give you something to try at home, a standard recipe of Sangria is as follows:

  1. Chop fruits. The fruits can be lemons, limes, apples, peach, melons, berries, pineapples, grapes, kiwi, or mango… My personal favorite combo is apples, oranges, and pineapples (all fresh, canned ones can taste too artificial).
  1. Put fruits in a pitcher.
  1. Add sweetener. It can be honey, sugar, sugar syrup/simple sugar (one part sugar diluted in one part water), or even artificial sweetener.
  1. Add a little brandy (a 1L pitcher for me would need about 1 jigger, or 3 tablespoons, of brandy). Some people use orange juice or even lemon-lime flavored soda (Sprite or 7-Up, but I like using brandy).
  1. Fill with pitcher with red wine. I personally like using Franzia Chillable Red (that way I can forego adding sweeteners), or even their White Zinfandel (again, sweet enough not to add sweeteners) to make it look girly. Some people even use sparkling wine for an added pizzazz.

By and large, any wine will do, although I prefer light Spanish ones (especially for the classic). Just try to avoid using fancy wines for Sangria… It’s too much of a shame to use high-end vino for this.

If you feel that the red wine you used is a little rough, add a bit of white wine.

I like adding a little cinnamon if I use white wine.

I hope these tips help. If you need a benchmark for taste, establishments like Las Flores, Terry’s, and Ark at Salcedo have ones you can try.

Try it at home and let me know how it goes. I’m planning to make tons for an upcoming house party. Cheers!