Scratch & Sniff Guide to Wine by Richard Betts

“Wine is a grocery, not a luxury.” —Richard Betts

One of my amazing friends gave me this Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert and I can’t put it down! I have happily read & sampled wines with it about 10 times since, so I thought it could be ‘wine-derful’ to share it with y’all. The most important thing I adore about this book is that Richard Betts completely eliminates the snooty feeling of wine tasting. I’ve been on this wine discovery hitch for about a year now, & it’s amazing to me that so many wine lovers are so damn serious. It’s wine – relax! The best part about the relaxed feel is that he’s actually from my very own Boulder, Colorado. I can definitely grasp our Boulder-esque vibes all the way through his non-technical wine lingo.
Here’s me, absolutely amazed (ha!) by my detection of blackberry notes (btw – I’m trying to find a perfect blue/teal for our dining room, hence the swatches & more on our home renovation later…)!

Design Wine Sunshine loves Scratch Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert

& here’s a look at the inside of the book. It’s full of fun, perky illustrative spreads that take you through each sip, scratch, & sniff to help develop your palate:

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As a surprise in the back of the book, he’s tucked in The Whole Wine World! OOooooh, AAaaaaaahh…

Design Wine Sunshine loves Scratch Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert World of Wine

Here’s a glowing review :

Richard Betts is one of fewer than two hundred master sommeliers in the world, but he’s no wine snob and he hates wine-speak. In the first book of its kind, he helps readers scratch and sniff their way to expertise by introducing the basic components of wine—the fruits, the wood, the earth—enabling anyone to discover the difference between a Syrah and a Sangiovese and get the glass they love every time. Humorously illustrated, with 16 scents, this irresistible gift puts the fun back in wine fundamentals.

My beloved friend found this playful book at Urban Outfitters, but you can also find it at Indie Bound! If you love the idea of a refreshing non-snobbery take on wine, you’ll probably love his perfect concoctions, my ESSENTIAL Red my ESSENTIAL Rosé, too! He also has a trio of Saint Glinglin wines for you french white lovers as well. You can find more fun info right here »
Enjoy, & cheers!

Design Wine Sunshine loves My Essential Red My Essential Rose Saint Glinglin

Designer Loves : Links Lately

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Here’s a collection of recent links I’ve adored :

ART & DESIGN
Unsplash from Ooomf has just released a new set of their fabulous royalty free photos (as seen above) »
Paperless Post is killin’ it this Valentine’s Day. So Many fly greeting card designs »
Take a thrill ride with Jody Mac Donald’s photographic journey and interview. Under the ocean, over the ocean, so stunning »
A pigeon color palette you won’t want to miss »
Swim Club Bath Salts on Etsy are rocking my minimalist lovin’ deisgn world »
Joe Cruz. Enough said. »

WINE
10 Best Wine Destinations in 2014 »
My favorite wine of January 2014 »
Travel with Food and Wine’s Ray Isle through 35 years of Cabernet»
Identifying Fruit Flavors in Wine from my faves at Wine Folly »
My fave Valentine gift for wine lovers? Still standing strong from last year »

HAPPY LIVING & SUNSHINE
One of our friends Alex, a bartender at Boulder’s Acorn, is competing against two other Denver mixologists for Colorado’s State Cocktail »
If you have a brown thumb (like me), you might find these simple winter plant care tips useful »
Clementine’s speaking with kindness, & waking up with peace »
For my resolution of wanting to write more letters, here are some simple ideas on penning the perfect thank you note »
If you have too many dogs per home square footage like us, stock up on these amazing pet odor eliminator candles, pronto! »
The perfect rucksack for travelers »
And on that note, 24 Best Travel Blogs of 2014»
I’ve been thinking of trying out green smoothies for breakfast lately. Lovin’ this recipe for a “Green Smoothie (That Doesn’t Taste Like Grass”. »

Enjoy, & cheers!

Designer Loves : Year of the Horse

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Happy Lunar New Year! It’s the year of the horse, one of the earth’s most mystical animals. Here are some designer loves to celebrate :

1. The Power of 10 Horse Print via Eye Poetry Photography on Etsy »
2. Kimberly Horse Scarf »
3. 14 Hands Too Hot to Trot Red Blend »
4. Horse Bookends »
5. Horse Studs »
6. Horse Pillow »
7. Giant Ceramic Horse Bowl »
8. On the Gallop and Up Dress »
9. Unicorn Salt & Pepper Shakers »
10. Thinking of You Letterpressed Card »
11. Pre de Provence Horseshoe Almond Soap »

And just for kicks, catch this beauty …

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Wine + Design : Valentine’s Day Wine & Card Pairings

Valentine's Day Wine & Card Pairings - Design Wine Sunshine

Y’all – I’m sorry – I can’t help myself! I LOVE handmade/letter pressed cards, and I LOVE building a theme with labels of wine, so here we are. In perfect time for Valentine’s Day, for all levels of love. It’s a roundup of my fave, lovable wines & designerly cards I adore. Enjoy!

1. Let’s Make Out by Studio Slomo » & The Naked Grape Pinot Grigio »
2. Chateau Miraval Pink Floyd » & Here’s to Another Vintage Year by Missive »
3. Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day of the year by Parrott Design Studio » & Cara Mia (My Beloved) »
4. Playtime Lake County Red Wine » & Ooh La La by Missive »
5. To the Moon & Back by Runaway Press » & Drops of Jupiter Petite Sirah »
6. Chocolate Box Red Wine » & You Are My Favorite by 1Canoe2 »
7. I Think You’re Magical by Ashley Stewart Studio » & House of Cards Queen of Hearts Chardonnay »

Wine + Design : Loving Hanzell Winery

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As a web designer + wine lover, I’m SOOoooo loving this newly discovered site of Hanzell Wines. Their story is beautifully curated throughout their site in conversations of the vision, vineyard, & vinting process. You can tell there is a rich, delectable history behind this label with lots of love and happiness for the art of winemaking! From a design perspective, I adore their use of negative space, HTML typography, stunning script logo & gorgeous screen print-styled label. Love this quote from the Director of Winemaking, Michael McNeill :

“To embrace, understand and produce the Hanzell signature style requires great diligence in all facets. As we continually strive to elevate our wine to an even higher level of quality, great care is required in research, study and examination of each and every detail, both past and present.” —Michael McNeil

Hop over to Hanzell & enjoy all the beauty »
Cheers,
Court

In My Wine Rack : 001, New Year’s Variety

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Y’all! I’ve been wanting to post my current wine collection since the beginning of this little blog – & it’s finally here! This was a super quick shot & design, so I hope to get much better at these, but nonetheless, here’s my arsenal of cheap wine (all under $13) I’ll be enjoying for the rest of January :
1. I’ve loved the Stark Raving Red, so I figured, heck – let’s give the white blend a chance. Once thumbs’d up by one of my fave stockists at Hazel’s, I was confirmed to fancy this Stark Raving White »
2. Snowqualmie’s orange label caught my eye as a back up wine to O’lillo for our Auburn watch party. A pretty superficial reason to choose a bottle, but we had to represent AU with an orange & blue spread! Hopefully I haven’t judged by its cover & I’ll fall in love with this Columbia Valley Syrah? » 
3. When I asked for the most delightful red blend, my guide led me to this bottled masterpiece. Evidently, this region is the genius of red blends, & as you start with the general region, you can then decide if you’d like to take a taste visit to each interior village, bringing new subtle flavors. I’m soooo psyched to start my journey with this Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône »
4. This was brought to me as a hostess gift, & since I’m on a mission to drink more white wine, I feel it’s gonna have some good energies. Check out the Kendall Jackson Vinter’s Reserve Chardonnay »
5. I LOVE the story a stockist gave me about this bottle. “I brought this bottle home for Thanksgiving to a family that didn’t care for wine. A few glasses later, this bottle is single-handedly the reason my parents are now wine fiends.” Then he explained that the gold wire was an old tradition to prohibit piracy waaaaay back in the olden days, & I was totally intrigued. Not only did it have a sentimental story, it also has a pretty cool design element that reinforces its history. Yep, this Francis Cappola Diamond Claret came home on my bus »
6. Another stockist from this trip recommended this Cabernet/Syrah blend as one of his most loved reds under $12. That’s all I needed to know about this Charles & Charles Cab/Syrah blend »

If they ace the cheap & fabulous wine test, more notes on these bottles to come!
Cheers, Court

WAR EAGLE! Wine & Dine : Auburn’s National Championship for Wine Lovers

Design Wine Sunshine's Wine & DIne : Auburn's National Championship - War Eagle!

The time is wine, my Auburn friends!
We’re hosting an Auburn National Championship watch party tonight, complete with this O’Lillo Red Blend. Yes, I know that’s a hawk instead of an eagle, but after a half an hour gathering half of Hazel’s staff to find either an orange/blue label including either a tiger/eagle, we all were happy to complete our quest with the beautifully embossed label of O’Lillo, & I’ve heard it’s exquisite! I love the vinter’s description : ” Beautiful ruby red colour. Traditional in its complexity, roundness, & elegance, yet modern in its intense fruitiness, accessibility, & soft tannins. Ruby colour, with scents of varietal flavours.”
Stay tuned to see how the party unfolded! Next to my wine of choice, I’ll be wearing my lucky scarf, lucky shirt, & next to our handmade decor & blue/orange hors d’oeuvres, Blaise will be making some sort of lucky burger (like these Fried Green Tomato Sliders) to cheer on Auburn in the Rose Bowl. Wish us luck, & Warrrrrrrrr Eagle!

Cheers, Court

Shot of the Rose Bowl in Pasedena right here »

Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers

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Winos are the best! << Taken from the girl who is literally drinking a perfect glass while typing this… the same girl that insists on wine at football tailgates, dock parties, & {when in Rome} for breakfast. – Who loves life more than a wine lover?
Here are a few ideas to shower them with cheer for the holidays. . .

1. For the wine-lovin’ earth child, embrace the cosmic energies of these fab crystal wine stoppers »
2. Über cool stainless steel wine glasses. Perfect for a bachelor (wink, wink).
3. Los Angeles, Boston, Tuscany… pick your fave destination of these fun wine totes »
4. If your friends love wine too, here’s a great little wine tasting flight of mini carafes for upcoming get togethers. I LOVE them. Think I might need to gift myself  ; ).
5. As Blaise and I have learned, sometimes you might need to step away from the not-yet-empty decanter ; ) but you’ll need a top – must save your wine! Luckily, this one looks damn good doin’ it »
6. These candles are aMAAzing! They’re handcrafted from recycled wine bottles, with soy wax & super fine fragrances. Enjoy as a center piece while you’re (#4) wine tasting!
7. A Bottle A Box is such a hip company. They etch pretty much anything onto these well-built boxes. My fave? 70’s stationwagon.
8. I love this dear collection of herb seeds as a stocking stuffer or addition to a gift basket or terrarium. They will bloom into delectable leaves you can toss into your recipes – which will now pair so nicely with wine. »
9. Sea glass inspired stemless wine glasses are a stellar choice for beachside vino. »
10. But no matter what ideas are thrown your way, please note you (always-always) have the option to gift a beautiful bottle of wine. If you’re gifting wine left & right, stock up on these fun bottle wraps. »

Cheers everybody! Enjoy many more ideas on my Pinterest board, Wine »
Court

Major Scale Musical Wine Glass

WHAT.

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This is crazy! All I keep thinking is a dinner party of 8, where everyone has one of these genius Major Scale Musical Wine Glass from Uncommon Goods and we’re rocking out to a harmonious symphony of merlots & cabs. The pair would make an awesome gift for those who are in the know of both vino and metronomes. {Oh yeah, I’m thinking wino holiday gifts already… can’t help it! I love giving gifts : )} Here’s a favorite quote from the designer of the wine glass. Catch his post about the design process here »

The cat’s pajamas.
Cheers, Court

Rue Mag’s Wine Tasting 101

10-14-13-pr-wine-tasting-101-310-14-13-pr-wine-tasting-101-110-14-13-pr-wine-tasting-101-2 Recently, I caught this article on Rue Mag’s Professor Rue series on a simply put, happy guide to no fluff Wine Tasting 101 with Bluxome Winery. Here are a few of the things I took note of:

Swirl it up, baby.
The swirl is imporant to let the fragrance of fruit fill the glass, starting the aromatic party – so to speak. A simple swirl does the trick, and wine should be poured to the widest point of the glass. Let it breathe, let it breathe.

Acids & Tannins
White wines are more acidic, big reds have big tannins. The more acidic a white wine, you feel strong pangs on the sides of your tongue. The more tannins in a red, the dryer your mouth will become. To train the palate with a sensory visualization – think lemons for acidity, and black tea for tannins.

Legs!
Legs may look great, but they have no insight to the quality of the wine. Simply a matter of gravity & viscosity, sugary heavy wines will have fat slow legs, and higher alcohol wines will be quick and thin.

Picking Wine
I love this one, because it’s recommended to simply go with a wine you love. Complement flavors of the food (light & bright, saucy & bold) with intensity of your wine, and you’ll be delighted.

How to Find the Wine You Love
You know, the way this article  puts it, this journey is a lot like dating. Simply get out there! Hit the wine bars, the foodie restaurants, the wineries, and start drinking. Ask sommeliers questions, grab advice whenever you can, and when you find a wine that floats your boat, ask for suggestions to others that are similar. And to avoid a rut – I always like to go with the bartender’s choice. It might not be a perfect fit, but it’s something new. Something flirtatious : ).

Catch the full article from Professor Rue right here »

Cheers!
Court