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:



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


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

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. »

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 »

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!

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 »

Getaway : Sail from Athens to Santorini


A few years ago, ’round this time of year, I was planning the TRIP OF A LIFETIME. Surprises ensued but alas, utopia found us after all. HERE’S MY RECOLLECTION OF THIS AMAZING ADVENTURE FOR THOSE WHO DARE TO CATAMARAN FROM ATHENS TO SANTORINI…

Did that prep you well enough for a crazy story? Cause this trip’s about to get real…
Skip to the bottom to cut straight to my recommendations for Santorini.
Greece was a country I’d dreamed of since covering Greek & Roman mythology for my Art History dissertation in college. I naturally fell in love with a culture that centered all passion around nature, art, luxury, & wine [go figure]. While in the midst of a frigid Colorado winter, I caught up with a group of friends in London. They wanted to sail the Mediterranean to celebrate big birthdays within the crew, mine included! So it was on. We booked a 42 foot catamaran with the namesake “Second Wind,” & figured we’d sleep on the boat, letting everything else fall into place. That’s when the universe threw us a few flip sides of paradise. Things didn’t just fall into place, they barreled in like a bull …


To start the trip off on the right note, our plane was held over for 6 hours in Amsterdam before we could make it to Athens. Amsterdam was SUCH a cool town. Full of deeply rich culture, laid back people, and lots of street cart vendors with the best french fries I’ve ever had. Getting around town was mostly by boat or bike, how fun is that? The architecture was stunning, – even the 1800’s pubs were a work of architectural artistry! We only had 6 hours, but we made the most of it. While in Amsterdam, we (what I like to call) “wine-hopped” a few bars, grabbed a bite to eat, took a canal tour, &…caught food poisoning. It didn’t hit me until we arrived at the airport, but it was a hilarious ailment to have while racing {literally, full-sprint} through a foreign terminal to catch a flight to Athens. We made it just in time – and I’m not joking there either, they were calling our names over the intercom to threaten us with the final chance to board as we were rounding the corner to the homestretch. But we made it! We arrived to Athens late, the cab dropped us off too early, & by the time we finally reached the boat we’d walked about a mile and a half with our luggage. It was a comedy of errors! Athens – freshly compared to Amsterdam – was insane. It felt a little like Los Angeles traffic, mixed with New York’s road rage. When we finally settled in – I became terribly, terribly sick. All through the night, & of course into the morning, when we set sail for Kea. I was so happy to be on the water, but couldn’t hold down my Dromamine, so sea sickness set in on top of food poisoning. IT WAS THE WORST. Regardless, I was so ecstatic to be in Greece! I just kept right on with all the smiling [this is where all the reading about enlightenment really came in handy]. I couldn’t get enough of the rugged shores, the temps, & the smell of the ocean air. We soon arrived at our first island, perfectly on time. The wonderful thing about Kea, was that it was an easy place to get to know. My friends were sweet enough to meet the locals & found a nice couple who agreed to let me sleep in their rental apartment for $30 a night. It was my first experience on a Greek island. I was so thankful to feel land, my feet on land, a bed on land – so grateful for these hospitable Greeks. I slept, & slept, & slept, until it was time to set sail for Santorini in the morning.
1. Watch what you eat in Amsterdam.
2. Arrive super-early to the airport when flying in a foreign country.
3. Genuinely befriend the locals.
4. Take Dromamine hours before open seas.
5. Plan on a backup hospital & hotel plan on every island in case someone falls ill.


As we were preparing for our departure, wind was raging around the shore of Kea, but we were all hoping it would fade once we hit open water. I was finally able to hold down some sort of Greek motion sickness medicine, so I was happily able to sit above deck and soak in the bountiful sunshine. It was all – “Oooooh, I’m in Greeeeeece, this is so magical….” But about an hour en route; SNAP!! Our main sail ripped wide-open from the wind, rendering it useless. We had to switch to the prop motor, but due to the distance out we were, the gas/power we had, & the proximity of the closest island that could bear a new sail for us, we had to go under 15 miles an hour. The hilarity of that, was that we were engulfed (soaking, sloppy wet) by 15 foot waves, in what had picked up to be 50+ mph winds. The waves just kept coming, punching us in the face – & the water was the coldest cold I’ve ever felt. It was insane, y’all. INSANE. Sifnos was a beautiful little island, very established compared to Kea. Once dry, we frequented a little bar a few blocks into town & killed some pastries from the local bakery. Other than that – it was  a whole bunch of waiting for our sail to arrive.
1. Pack an extra main sail if you can. Ha!
2. When sailing, regardless of the weather reports, prepare for the worst. Bring head to toe heavy duty rain gear.
3. Pack tons of hand & feet warmers.


So two days later, our boat “Second Wind” – oh, the irony – was suited up with a brand new shiny main sail & we were off again, this time on very calm seas to get as close to Santorini as we could come before nightfall. Ios was as far as we could make it, so we docked at this concrete slab & started to discover a quaint fisherman’s village. Very chill, we surmised this town consisted of a tiny church, grocery store, long dirt road, & a little hole in the wall diner right on the shore where we’d settle in for dinner. The people there were so fabulous. They prepared an absolute feast for us – it was almost like we were long lost friends surprising them from out of town. I stuck to the delish pita and hummus for the most part, as I was still recovering, but there were all kinds of minced meat, squid, cheese balls, chick pea balls, Tzatziki, & Mousaka passing around. By the end of dinner I’d eaten the first full meal since Amsterdam, absolutely elated. Then our sweet waitress brought out some sort of greek Tiramisu with a tall bright candle in the middle, & everyone started singing! It was my 25th birthday, how could I have forgotten?! What an amazing way to start my 2nd quarter of life. There, dry, safe, & warm with my friends laughing & drinking/mingling with the locals, the stars crazy bright and the waves lazily sailing onto the shore….It was absolutely perfect. I learned later that the waitress went across the street to the church to get the candle – & instantly I fell in LOVE with greek hospitality.


The next day, we finally made it to Fira! Hurray!! Get this, we docked first in Thira (seriously) & later made it to Santorini. We could’ve hopped up onto this sweet donkey to take us up the iconic mountain side entrance, but I love a good workout, so we stuck to it and trekked up the classic white cobblestone path. It was splendid. Views for miles & miles of the Mediterranean Sea.


So if you’re still with me, here’s my little guide to Santorini, now that we’ve finally made it there. We were on the island during the off-season (end of April) so many places were closed, but it was kind of like having the whole island to ourselves! Here are my faves :

Catching Santorini’s absolutely mystical sunset on a waterfront deck, glass of wine in hand.
Rolling seas greeting jagged coastlines.
The sweetest people I’ve ever met while traveling.
The free-range lovable dogs all over the island.
Endless amounts of joyous sunshine.

The gyros from a place called Lucky’s: all the fillings you want, including the french fries & some special sauce all wrapped up in a warm pita… ahhh-mazzzing!
For a snack try the delicious oranges from Crete!
Grab a scooter! We got off the grid with ours and went all over the island.
Greek white wine – delectable!

Sigalas Winery – we got a winery tour, + a tasting of 6 exquisite wines they vint on the island.
Any of the black pebble beaches – bring your sandals – they get scorching hot!
The volcano tour. How could you miss that one?

The Aressana in Fira (Best hotel experience I’ve ever had! The staff members were fabulous.)  Since we were there during the off season our luxurious room was only $150 a night! I would’ve paid anything to have that experience after barely surviving on a catamaran for 5 days.

Ahhhhh, Greeeece. I miss you.
Cheers & happy travels, Court

Wine + Design : Loving Hanzell Winery


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 »

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


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

Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers


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 »

Major Scale Musical Wine Glass




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 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 »