Ready, Set, Upcycle! Wine Bottle Edition

August 10, 2013

When you finish a bottle of delicious Missouri wine, do you ever think – what a pretty bottle? I wish I could do something with it. Well, there are countless ways to turn those seemingly useless glass bottles into beautiful, useful works of art (I mean countless. Just search “wine bottle crafts” on Pinterest. It’s endless.). The complexity of your art project is entirely up to you, but before you get started, here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

  1. For most projects that require multiple bottles, a variation in size and shape looks best.
  2. To remove labels, you can use nail polish remover or soak the bottles in a water bath with a small amount of bleach.
  3. Be careful. Wine bottles are fairly durable, but they are glass and can break. Wear safety gear as needed.

Looking for something simple and quick? Try these yarn or twine-wrapped bottles that look great as vases, centerpieces or mantle decorations. Get creative with your color scheme and embellishments. Create chic containers for household items like soap with this simple etched glass technique. Or, if you’re getting into the Halloween spirit early, these bottles painted as jack-o-lanterns are a fun and festive craft.

If you’re wanting a project that requires a little more investment, check out these wine bottle tiki torches. These are an awesome way to light up your deck for these beautiful Fall nights we’re having. Fill them with citronella when you need a two-in-one light and bug repellent. One person’s trash is… a bird’s best friend. Make a unique bird feeder for another outdoor upcycle project.

Are you a crafting whiz or have you been collecting bottles for ages with a grandiose project in mind? There is no shortage of inspiration for those who want to take on a big task such as tumblers, a lamp, or a chandelier. For all of these projects, you’ll need a means of cutting the bottles. You can use a glass cutter from your local craft store. Here are some very thorough instructions for a basic cutter that works well for circular cuts. There are many different types of cutters. Whichever option you prefer, invest in a buffing tool as well to keep the edges of your artwork from sending you or anyone else running for the bandages.

Whatever project you choose, have fun! Missouri wines pair well with upcycling.

Cultural Craving: Thai Food

August 03, 2013

Mild. Medium. Hot. Thai hot. These degrees of spiciness are commonly found printed on the menus of authentic Thai restaurants. The notable distinction: American perception of hot versus Thai expectation of hot. Spicy flavor is embedded into this culture’s cuisine. Known for aromatic dishes with bold flavors, Thai food is a fusion of Southeast Asian cultures. Some elements of classic Thai dishes, like stir-frying and deep-frying, originate from Chinese preparation methods. By the 17th-century, Thailand was influenced by Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch, and French cuisines. But throughout the centuries, Thai food has retained an identity indicative of its four regional entities: the North (Burman flavors), the Northeast (Vietnam and Cambodian influences), the South (Malaysian flavor), and Central Thailand. Ingredients and preparation methods correspond to the region, but most Thai food is defined by who prepares it. Family recipes and traditions have preserved classic dishes and showcased the individualistic elements of the cuisine. Thai flavors exploded on the American culinary landscape during the ‘60s. Today, most Thai restaurants are a “fusion” of both American and Thai influences. Classic soups like tom yam kung nam khon (shrimp soup with coconut milk) and curries (yellow, green) are popular menu items. At home, Thai food is challenging to make. Sometimes dishes require special utensils, like a wok, but most scare away novice cooks with unclear directions. Thai food requires practice and balance. The dishes are complex; a dash of too much curry powder can be detrimental to a meal, but adding limejuice could alleviate the heat. This recipe is a Thai-inspired vegetable stir-fry with classic peanut sauce. It’s beginner-friendly and remarkably easy (and nutritious!) and lets you determine how much spice that dish needs. The peanut sauce recipe makes the meal unique and can be stored for weeks afterward. It pairs beautifully with Seyval Blanc or Vignoles. The semi-dry, crisp flavor of Seyval highlights the freshness of this dish and reinvigorates the palate with every bite. Vignoles’ sweetness can cut down on the heat of a dish. Enjoy!

In the Vineyard: Veraison

July 23, 2013

Véraison is a fancy French word that simply means the grapes are beginning to change color. A more complete definition is that Véraison is the beginning of berry ripening when the berries become soft and take on the colors characteristic of their specific varieties.

What makes Véraison exciting? It means harvest is just around the corner, and the grapes are beginning to take on all of the wonderful characteristics that present themselves in the finished wine we enjoy so much. The aromas and flavors wine-lovers experience in a great glass of wine are starting to show themselves in the grapes.

Véraison is quite obvious in red grape varietals, changing from green to varying shades of purple. There is however, a more subtle change in white grapes from green to a golden hue.

Many Missouri wineries offer vineyard tours. Now is the perfect time to see where your wine comes from. It is a beautiful and exciting time in the vineyards of Missouri Wine Country.

Photographs showcase Norton grapes during veraison, courtesy of James Fashing.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Missouri Wines

July 18, 2013

1. Missouri has an official state grape (and it’s a pretty awesome).

The Norton grape was named the official state grape of Missouri in 2003. Norton is a Native American grape, and believed to be one of the oldest varieties still commercially grown. Norton is known for making big, bold, dry red wine and is completely unlike any other varietal.

2. Missouri makes A LOT of wine.

Missouri makes A LOT of wine.

Missouri wineries produce more than 900,000 gallons of wine ever year. If you lined all those wine bottles up next to each other it would almost span the width of the state.

3. Missouri is home to the 1st ever AVA. (Yes, before Napa. Cool, right?)

Missouri is home to the 1st ever AVA. (Yes, before Napa. Cool, right?)

AVA stands for American Viticulture Area, a designated wine grape-growing region, defined by the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB). In 1980, the TTB named Augusta the 1st AVA. The bureau cited the unique soil, climate and wines, as well as Augusta’s long history as one of America’s oldest and foremost grape and wine districts.

4. No matter where you are in the state, you’re only a short drive from the nearest winery.

No matter where you are in the state, you’re only a short drive from the nearest winery.

Wine country is closer than you think. Missouri boasts more than 125 wineries across the state. Some areas have larger concentrations of wineries such as the Hermann, Augusta, Ste. Genevieve and Kansas City areas.

5. Missouri is credited with saving the French wine industry in the 1870s.

Missouri is credited with saving the French wine industry in the 1870s.

Missouri entomologist, C.V. Riley, discovered American rootstock was resistant to a vineyard pest, Phylloxera, which was wreaking havoc on French vineyards. The resistant rootstock was sent overseas and grafted to French vines, helping to rebuild their industry.

6. Mapped out wine adventures await in Missouri wine country.

Mapped out wine adventures await in Missouri wine country.

There are currently 9 wine trails in the state. They are all a little different and offer a unique experience, but there are 9 wine-centered trips already planned and ready to enjoy.

7. Missouri wine regularly wins top awards at national and international competitions.

Missouri wine regularly wins top awards at national and international competitions.

We’ll toot our own horn. Year after year, Missouri wineries bring home gold, double gold, best in class and other high-ranking awards from competitions around the world.

8. The grapes you’ve heard the most about just can’t handle Missouri (for the most part).

The grapes you’ve heard the most about just can’t handle Missouri (for the most part).

It’s because we’re just too cool for them, both literally and figuratively. Missouri’s weather can be a little demanding and the grapes you’re used to hearing about (Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay) can’t handle the cold temps during the winter and the hot summers. So, we grow Native American and French-American hybrid grapes. Some delicious varieties popular in Missouri vineyards: Norton (of course), Vignoles, Chambourcin, Chardonel, and Vidal Blanc (to name a few).
*Disclaimer: This is a generalization of the vineyards in Missouri. Some vintners are growing more commonly known grapes (AKA Vinifera), but it’s not the norm.

9. Prohibition was a big bummer for Missouri wines.

Prohibition was a big bummer for Missouri wines.

Before prohibition Missouri was 2nd in the country in wine production, just behind New York. While prohibition put the brakes on Missouri wine for a while, a renaissance is taking place. If you’ve blinked in the past 20 years, you’ve probably missed something.

10. Planning a trip to Missouri wine country is as easy as 123.

Planning a trip to Missouri wine country is as easy as 123.

1. Go to
2. Plan a trip using the Winery Explorer
3. Enjoy your Missouri wine adventure!

via 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Missouri Wines 


Sangria: Mix, match and enjoy!

July 18, 2013

Enjoy a glass of chilled sangria made with Missouri wine this summer.

As the summer heats up, it is the perfect time to whip up a pitcher of delicious sangria to enjoy with friends. Sangria, traditionally made with red wine, gets its name from the Spanish word for blood, “sangre,” because of its deep red color. However, the beverage is more of a template than a recipe and presents a great opportunity to showcase your favorite flavor profile.

Are you a fan of tropical fruit? Do you prefer something sweet, or do you like a more tart taste? There is no wrong answer when it comes to sangria. All you need to know are the basic components, and then it’s time to mix and match to your heart’s content.

Creating your ideal sangria recipe is as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4.

  1. Wine: Red, white, rosé: Pick your base and build from there.
  2. Sweetener: The most commonly used sweeteners are sugar, honey, syrup, and fruit juice. You can also choose a sweeter wine and skip this step.
  3. Fruit: Fresh fruit is a staple in most sangria recipes, but some more adventurous concoctions include herbs and vegetables.
  4. Liqueur: The traditional Spanish sangria calls for brandy, but any liqueur that pairs with the rest of the ingredients will do.

Once you’ve chosen all of your ingredients, simply mix, chill and enjoy.

If you need some inspiration to get you started, here are some mouth-watering recipes sure to get your creative juices flowing.

Traditional Spanish sangria is rich in color and flavor. This recipe calls for a dry red wine. Try it with a Chambourcin or Norton from your favorite Missouri winery.

This citrusy, sweet sangria is made with white wine. Missouri Vignoles or Traminette would be great.

Strawberry sangria is a tasty treat for your next summer celebration. Use a Vidal Blanc for this not-too-sweet beverage.

Feeling a little more adventurous? This sparkling sangria experiments with cucumber, fresh ginger and grapefruit juice – refreshing!

If you’re a planner, make your sangria a few hours or even the night before you serve it to let the flavors mingle while it gets nice and chilly. If you’re short on time, try using frozen fruit in your recipe to cool it down without diluting. Finally, serve your beautiful mixture in a clear container to show off your cocktail skills!

Patio Perfect with Missouri Wines

July 17, 2013

This season, create the perfect patio event with the help of Missouri wines. The summer months provide the ideal opportunity to host a fun, open-air gathering for you and your friends. All you need is a cozy outdoor setting, a delicious menu and the fabulous guests. Follow the simple steps below and you’re on your way to the savviest summer affair of the season!

The first step is to decide what type of event you would like to have. Your patio-perfect shindig can be a relaxed get-together with wine and desserts, a traditional barbecue, or a picnic-style potluck. Plan ahead; consider the guest list, budget and any potential time limitations. Maybe develop a theme for the evening. Some ideas include a “brown bag” blind tasting event (ask guests to bring a bottle of their favorite Missouri wine), or a regional theme in which wines from a specific area of the state, such as Augusta, Hermann or Ste. Genevieve, are highlighted. Play a wine-themed movie in the background for added ambiance.

When and Where?
Because the later summer months can be hot, it is a good idea to host your event in the evening hours when the temperature will be more comfortable. Next, decide where your guests will munch and mingle (the deck or backyard?). Be sure there are chairs available or spread blankets around the backyard in case anyone wants to take a seat. Light citronella candles to keep bugs at bay. You may also want to consider a “plan b” if it rains by either moving the celebration inside or to a public location with a shelter. 

Food and Drink
Your menu can help set the mood of your gathering. A simple menu, like these snazzy finger foods, conveys a relaxed mood, while a more elaborate dinner menu suggests a bit of a fancier affair. Or serve some of these desserts paired with dessert wines or other sweet Missouri wines. Be creative! Setup a drink station with glasses and various Missouri wines to encourage guests to socialize and try different food and wine combinations. For easy added flare, freeze grapes and place in wine glasses to keep wine cold.

Keep in mind these other basic food and wine pairing tips:

  • Serve Vignoles with spicy dishes and fruity desserts.
  • Vidal Blanc pairs well with seafood and poultry.
  • Serve Traminette with full-flavored foods, and foods with a little spice.
  • Chardonel complements richer seafood dishes.
  • Catawba pairs well with fruit and desserts.
  • Chambourcin pairs well with barbecue, pork and pasta dishes.
  • Norton complements red meats and smoked meats.

The most important thing to remember is to have fun! Once your plan is in place, you can relax and enjoy your get-together along with your guests. Cheers!

Off the Grill

July 16, 2013

Try this delicious grilled lemon pound cake with peaches and cream.


Photo courtesy of Con Poulos and

Move over brats and burgers! It’s time to spice up your grill with something other than the typical barbecue fare. Grilled fruits, breads and desserts add a little pizzazz to your grilling expedition. Pair the recipes below with exquisite Missouri wine, and travel off the beaten path to take grilling to a whole new level.

Grilled lemon pound cake with peaches and cream: This moist cake is ideal for any occasion. Toss it on the grill until it’s toasty and crisp, then top with grilled peaches and whipped cream for a real treat. Keep an eye out for local peaches, which are in season mid-to-late summer!
Pairs wells with: Dessert wine or fruit wine

Grilled watermelon with yogurt: Slices of watermelon, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and charred on the grill. Top the slices with Greek yogurt (try making your own) and garnish with mint for a delectable summer snack.
Pairs well with: Traminette

Cheese stuffed grilled peppers: For this recipe, use whichever mild peppers you like. Stuff the peppers with a creamy mixture of mild and bold cheeses, and then grill until the skin is blistering and the cheese is gooey and hot. This is a perfect summer appetizer.
Pairs well with: Vidal blanc, or Vignoles if using spicier peppers

Grilled Broccoli with Chipotle-lime butter: This is not your ordinary grilled veggie recipe. Seasoned broccoli florets charred on the grill are then tossed with smoky and savory Chipotle-lime butter and garnished with creamy queso fresco.
Pairs well with: Vignoles

Juicy grilled tomatoes: Grilled tomatoes can be added to almost any recipe or just enjoyed on their own. Grilling the lightly seasoned tomatoes in a foil pack will preserve those delicious juices and provide plenty of flavors.
Pairs well with: Rosé

Grilled bread: If you’re looking for a way to shake up the breadbasket, look no further. Thick slices of grilled bread rubbed with olive oil and garlic are a perfect addition to any meal.
Pairs well with: Your favorite Missouri wine

Grilled fruit bruschetta: Honey mascarpone spread on slices of grilled, crispy bread are then topped with sugar and lavender-coated fruit skewers that have been grilled until lightly charred and tender.
Pairs well with: Vignoles

A Family who Sips Together …

July 13, 2013

Summer is in full swing, which means travel plans are in abundance. This season is also a great time for relatives to unite for an annual family reunion. If you have plans to attend or host this year’s family event, be sure to invite Missouri wines. We’d love to be part of your family!

If you’re traveling within the state or beyond, why not share a taste of the Show-Me State with your loved ones? Consider packing a “local” basket to share with family members. Include a few bottles of your favorite Missouri wines, some locally produced chocolate and local coffee, or stop by the farmers market and load up on local groceries.

If you’re entertaining out-of-town guests, there are more than 120 wineries across the state ready and waiting to make your family members feel at home. Experience the beauty of the rolling Ozarks and the quiet serenity of the great rivers of Missouri while soaking up quality time with your family.

Planning and hosting a reunion can be quite an undertaking. Why not ease some of the stress and hand over a few responsibilities to one of the more-than-capable wineries? Each winery has something unique to offer, whether you’re looking for an intimate setting for a quiet gathering or a large space for a more boisterous crowd. Missouri wineries will set you up with award-winning wines, delicious food and beautiful scenery.

No matter how you reunite with family this summer, Missouri wine country is at your service and ready to make it special!

Pairing with Peppers

July 11, 2013

November is National Pepper Month and there are so many ways to celebrate. Peppers in their many varying forms are a staple ingredient in most every kitchen adding flavor and color to countless recipes. How do you prefer your peppers? Are you a fan of roasted red peppers, sautéed peppers with onion, spicy jalapenos or any and all of the above?

Pepper lovers who are also wine lovers have a bit of a challenge on their hands knowing what wines pair with what pepper dishes. Unfortunately, there is no on-size-fits-all answer to what wine goes best with peppers. However, there are a few tips Missouri Wines can share…

The first and simplest is that sweet cuts heat. So, if you’re enjoying a spicy pepper, whether a Thai Chile, Serrano or Habanera, pairing with a semi-sweet or sweet wine can put out the fire a bit.

Raw bell peppers and some wines that exhibit notes of bell pepper share an organic compound called pyrazine. Some consider this to be a sign that a wine is green or under ripe, however, these wines can compliment raw peppers very well.

With sweet bell, cherry or banana peppers it is best to choose a wine taking the rest of the dish’s flavors into consideration. For example, a roasted red pepper dip pairs well with smoky flavors of an oaky Norton.

Here are some delicious pepper recipes to help you celebrate this month (and of course the Missouri wines that pair well with them):

Sausage Stuffed Peppadew Peppers are a quick and easy appetizer complemented nicely by a semi-dry Chambourcin rosé.

A Sautéed Brussels Sprout Slaw with Sweet Peppers is a creative twist on the average salad and pairs well with a crisp Vidal Blanc.

Pablano-Pepper Jack Corn Bread kicks up the heat on a classic matched with semi-sweet Vignoles to put out the fire.

This November, celebrate National Pepper Month, and invite Missouri Wines to come along for the ride. Missouri wines pair well with all your favorite pepper recipes!

Norton and Lamb: The perfect recipe for an Easter feast!

July 03, 2013

With Easter right around the corner, Missouri Wines wants you to be ready for a feast. One food that’s usually a staple on the table on Easter Sunday is lamb. And what goes great with lamb? A rich, bold glass of Missouri Norton, of course! Below you’ll find some classic and creative recipes to serve up this tender, flavorful meat.

Be sure to check your local farmers market or grocery store to find locally raised meats, such as Susie’s Grass Fed Lamb. A dry, Missouri Chambourcin or Norton will go great with the dishes below. Enjoy!

Garlic-Crusted Roast Rack of Lamb: Rosemary, olive oil and garlic play the supporting roles of this dish. This no-fuss preparation technique showcases the taste of the lamb and lets the true flavor shine.

 Slow-Cooked Leg of Lamb with Spiced Yogurt and Herbs: While this dish takes a bit longer to execute, it is well worth the wait. Slow-cooking the leg of lamb ensures a tender and juicy meal. Plenty of herbs and spices make this dish come to life!

Lamb Meatballs With Cumin, Mint and Tomato Sauce: For a more creative and casual meal, try this recipe. The Middle Eastern flavors create a savory, spicy meatball. Serve over a bed or couscous, rice or create lamb meatball sub sandwiches.

Lamb and Broccoli Stew: The process of brining and slowly braising the lamb creates an incredibly tender and tasty meat. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare this meal, and then sip on some Missouri wine while you enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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