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Cool Gift Ideas for the Wine Lover

gift ideas for wine lover

1. Vinturi

At last, a wine aerator that works as you pour your glass of wine. It can also be used with wine carafes. Vinturi has been praised by wine connoisseurs because it enhances multiple elements of the wine. It does more than reduce the tannin. Since this gadget will be a hit with your guests, place at least 2 Vinturi on the wine station.

2. Ravi

I am happy to praise an innovation from where I live. Well-known Québec designer Michel Dallaire imagined Ravi, an instant wine chiller that you put on the neck of the wine bottle. This revolutionary concept cool your wine to the ideal temperature instantly. Ravi keeps working for more than an hour after you take it out of the freezer.

3. Jacob Wagner’s Wine Thermometer

Designed in 2007, this plastic and stainless steel minimalist digital thermometer easily attaches to any wine bottle. Beware that it only measures temperature in Fahrenheit.

The last two gift ideas will please the Hostess as well as the wine lover.

4. Wine Tasting Kits

The festive look of the Oenophilia Wine Tasting kit will not intimidate your guests. The kit provides six individually numbered cloth bags and a wine tasting score-pad.

Beginners may prefer The Wine Tasting Party Kit: Everything You Need to Host a Fun & Easy Wine Tasting Party at Home. This kit comes with a 64-page illustrated book and Cheat sheet of tasting terms.

5. Vinotagz by Modern-Twist

Available in basic solid colors and several designed patterns, the beauty of the Vinotagz is that you can write on those infinitely. Use a ballpoint pen to scribble your name, initials or the type of wine you’re drinking.

Join this to the bottle of wine you are bring to the hostess. You will double impress you’re the gift recipient by sitting the storage box on the neck of a wine bottle.

+ Vinturi Wine Aerator – $63.79 USD, lot of 2
+ Ravi Instant Wine Chiller – $49.99 USD
+ Wine Thermometer by Jacob Wagner – $36 USD at MoMA store
+ Wine Tasting Kit by Oenophilia – $19.99 USD
+ Modern-Twist Vinotagz Basic – $12 USD for 6 tags
+ Modern-Twist Vinotagz Designed – $14 USD for 6 tags


Built + French Bull: A Killer Combination

french bull patterns on built totes :: icebu

When two companies that you like collaborate, you can be happier. Built and French Bull are creating something joyful.

Three patterns from French Bull – Multidot, Rainbow Flower, and Vine – will be decorating four of Built’s best selling items. The color palette of the rainbow pattern looks amazing.

The One Bottle Tote, the Two Bottle Totes, the Gourmet Getaway Lunch Totes, and 13″-15″ Laptop Sleeves will look happier than ever. The new series will be available in August 2008.

Polyurethane Foam Ice Bucket

The same month, Built will launch an Ice Bucket made from polyurethane foam, just like your freezer. The advantage is a lightweight, condensation free ice bucket. It would be available in red and black. It is easy to take care. Simply hand wash with mild detergent and towel dry.

The One Bottle Tote and the Two Bottle Tote have a new lower retail price. Their price is now $12 and $15 USD respectively. At this price, Built’s Bottle Totes make the perfect hostess gift when you bring the wine.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Press releases from French Bull
Buy online: Ice Bucket 3qt by Built – price: $30 USD – available August 25, 2008


Kim Vallee published two more times on

5 lost classic cocktails on :: fresh versus frozen, canned  fruits and vegetables

As you might already know, I sometimes worked as a freelance writer for other media. I wrote two articles earlier this winter for the Web site of Food Network Canada. Because of my travel, I forgot to invite you to read them.

Cocktail recipes

The first one talked about 5 Lost Classic Cocktails that are enjoying a new popularity. I give you my own favorite recipes based as close as possible to the original recipes.

Discover the story behind the Negroni, the Classic Champagne cocktail, the Mojito, the Black Russian and the classic Margarita. One precision is that I do prefer my margarita with 100% agave Silver tequila and Grand Marnier.

A couple weeks ago, I enjoyed an excellent White Russian served with a white and milk chocolate curl at the Library Bar of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The menu of the Library Bar is filled with historical drinks.

Fresh versus Frozen / Canned

Titled The Winter Dilemma, the second article tells the facts about which are the most nutritious fruits and vegetables at winter time. You will see the answer is not as clean cut as it seems.


Make Room for the Travelling Whisky Bar

travelling whisky rooms by monkey shoulder

What do you do once you already hosted all the tasting parties that you can think of? If you live in the UK, you can hire the well-know whisky sommelier Jamie Forbes for a night of whisky tasting and tutorial.

What it is?

The hip brand Monkey Shoulder targets customers who would not typically drink whisky. Their niche is the cool, liberal mind crowd. They recently launched their latest marketing tool in the form of an exclusive party event.

Travelling Whisky Rooms feature a chic burnt oak mobile bar created by the British cabinet maker Paul Kelley. A minimalist design that becomes more beautiful once opened. Your master of ceremony is a well-known whisky sommelier in London named Jamie Forbes.

Travelling Whisky Rooms deliver to discerning people a unique party experience in the comfort of their home. You and up to 14 of your guests can taste 5 different whiskies from Scotland. The night cumulates with a few whisky based cocktails. And if you do not like whisky,

Starting at 750 £, hopefully the night will be an event that your guests will remember for a while. If they do not, you can always find a discreet way to let them know they experience something very exclusive.

Make your own whisky tasting party

Since we live in North America, we can only try to replicate the concept. Stock five upscale whiskies, educate yourself about their taste, and hire a knowledgeable bartender for the night that will create a couple of signature concoctions for your event.

Learn more: Monkey Shoulder


Drink ideas for a Valentine’s Day celebration

sagaform mulled winepot and cocktail set

Nowadays, it is frequent for singles to host a party with single friends. When you make a party, you simplify the bartending task by having a signature drink for the event.

To go with its time, Sagaform proposes a cocktail set with a lemon reamer and a muddler. You can make the popular mojitos. But you may prefer a drink associated with winter.

There is no better way to warm up the atmosphere than to serve a mulled wine or cider. Glöggset, a Mulled Wine Pot is designed to keep the wine at the right temperature. This is a practical solution to quickly serve refills at a party.

This one displays a traditional Nordic pattern. The heart symbol is prominent. It is one of this time where it is ok to be literal in your decor.

A homemade solution

Glöggset is made of stoneware. For its superior thermal quality, a cash iron works perfectly. After examining the Sagaform mulled wine set, the only thing I miss to assemble my own with my latest Le Creuset Fondue Set is the cover.

Where to place the ladle?

One question that intrigues me is if there is a hole in the cover to insert the ladle between servings? If you find out the answer, keep me informed. This set will hit the shelves soon, right in time for Valentine’s Day.

For a no-fuss mulled wine recipe, get the gift set with cookies for you or the hostess. The set includes 6 mugs, coasters, spice biscuits and mulled wine mix.

Buy online: Mulled Wine Pot and Ladle by Sagaform – price: £24.99 at
Buy online: Mulled Wine Mugs – price: £14.99 for 4 mugs at
Buy online: Mulled Wine Set – price: £19.99 on sale right now at
Buy online: 3-piece cocktail set by Sagaform – price: $29.95 at


Surubaotini: the best raspberry martini in the universe

suburaotini :: a raspberry martini by Jerome ParadisMy husband, Jerome Paradis, created this recipe after I told him about the Surubao drink that I saw on David Rocco’s Dolce Vitae. The way to go when you want to create a martini from another cocktail recipe is to adjust the alcohol and juice proportions. This is a trial and error situation to find the right balance.

We made these raspberry martinis for many events over the last year. Our recipe is perfect as it is. So much that our friends do not wish that Jerome’s invents a new martini; they want our Surubaotini.

Freshness is key

Since raspberries are in season, it is the best time and cheaper to try it now. The better the raspberry, the better the drink will be. People often think that the quality of alcohol is not important when you are making a cocktail. Wrong! Premium liquors always make better cocktails.

There is no shortcut for excellence. You squeeze the lime juice as you go and you crush the raspberries one batch at a time. That is where having two 3-piece shakers come handy because you can prepare 4 martinis at a time.

What brand of vodka goes in a Surubaotini?

If you are a true vodka fan, you know every brand of vodka tastes different. I will tell you another time all about how to host a vodka testing event. It is fun and easy to do.

We tested a few vodkas to find the perfect match. We prefer Wyborowa vodka for the lively dry taste it brings to this raspberry martini. In a New York Times article about a vodka taste test, you can read about this vodka from Poland:

The Wyborowa, which comes in a striking bottle designed by the architect Frank Gehry, was elegant and mysterious and seemed to keep drawing us in.

Ingredients for 2 large Surubaotini:

  • 13 x fresh organic raspberries
  • 1 tbsp of raspberry syrup – we use Teisseire
  • 1 tbsp fruit sugar (superfine) or regular refined sugar
  • 1 lime
  • 2 ounces of light cranberry juice – we use Ocean’s Spray
  • 4 to 5 ounces of Wyborowa vodka – adjust to your taste
  • 2 slices of lime to garnish
  • about 4-6 ice cubes


  • Combine 7 raspberries, the raspberry syrup, the sugar and the freshly squeezed juice of a lime on the previous ingredients. This is where the lemon reamer comes handy on your bar kit.
  • Use a pestle (muddler) to crush and mix the ingredients
  • Add vodka and cranberry juice
  • Add ice and shake vigorously in a metal shaker until the mixture is quite cold
  • Put 3 raspberries in the bottom of each martini glass (use large glasses if available, otherwise you might have a bit of mixture left)
  • Pour the mixture in two martini glasses with a tea strainer on top to filter out the raspberries remains and the ice cubes
  • Garnish each glass with a slice of lime
  • Serve and look at your friends while they take their first sip

Virgin Surubaotini

Jerome created a virgin version of his martini. You prepare the virgin cocktail exactly the same way except for two things:

  • you replace the vodka by soda water
  • you stir instead of shake to avoid the soda water splashing on you.

Enjoy both versions in good company.

Via: Surubao recipe from David Rocco’s Dolce Vitae
Link: A Humble Old Label Ices Its Rivals published on the New York Times – Dining and Wine section


My list of must-have bar tools

must-have bar toolsCocktails are a big part of at home entertaining. Before you can aspire to become a mixologist, you need to start with the tools of the trade.

I bought my first barware essentials while I was attending University. My husband is the official bartender in our friend groups. Often, he must bring his gears because many people are poorly equipped for making cocktails at home. To help you set up your bar, I compiled the must-have bar tools.


I prefer the 3-piece shaker to the Boston shaker (half stainless steel, half glass). The 3-piece shaker is definitely more stylish. I do have both styles at home. Since I suggest that you own two shakers for efficiency reason, you can one of each if you are not sure which one you prefer.

A strainer is usually integrated on the cup of the 3-piece strainer. So if you afford one good item, this is the bar tool to get first.

Like everything in life, better quality shakers perform best. Try to get a double insulated shaker; it is cleaner to operate because it does not produce condensation.


The advantage of the 3-piece shaker is that you get one measuring cup. I suggest you also get the modern double jigger as you need more than one measuring cup. The double jigger is quite practical because both measures (1 ounce and 2 ounces) are in your hands.

Strainer, bar spoon, bar knife and ice tongs

These are the basic tools with the jigger that is cheaper to buy in set. The stand is useless in my opinion as you can store the cocktail tools in the Boston shaker, the ice bucket or a stainless steel bowl for condiments.

I am showing you the Janssen Bar Set on sale right now at Crate and Barrel for $39.99 (reg. $59.99). It even has a basic ice bucket. This is a utilitarian cocktail hour kit.

Ice bucket

You cannot make cocktails without ice cubes. You will also need a sink or a waterproof bowl nearby to throw away the ice cubes. That is a basic technique of making martinis.

I prefer ice bucket with a cover. Again, I recommend a double insulated ice bucket to avoid condensation leak.

Fruit tools: Lemon squeezer / reamer, a juicer and a zester

Pure juices and real fruits make the best drinks. If you do not own a zester, a bar knife will do the job if you are skillful.

Fruit Muddler / Caipirinha Pestle

Muddler is required to prepare modern martinis, mojitos and caipirinhas. Check out my blog later because I will post the recipe of the best raspberry martini in the universe. You need a muddler to do it.

I bought the Fruit Muddler / Caipirinha Pestle from Rosle at and I like it a lot. Rosle produces quality kitchen utensils. I prefer to buy better quality kitchen tools. It is money well spent because they will perform well for a very long time.

Tea strainer

Since you use pure juices and real fruits, you cannot make the best looking cocktail drinks without a tea strainer. That is an essential tool for the chic hostess.

If you get these bar tools you can prepare many drinks that will impress your guests.

Buy online: Janssen Bar Set at Crate and Barrel
Buy online: Rosle Cocktail tools at


The highs and lows of serving drinks when throwing a party

The highs and lows of serving drinks when throwing a party

Whether is for a cocktail party or a dinner with friends, serving your drinks in style is a must. So I seek out for you great glassware on the Web.

Whimsical Danish Swivel Cognac Glasses

The first one is for serving cognac or brandy. Designed by Rikke Hagen for Normann Copenhagen in 2004, the attention to bouquet, temperature and volume increases the experience of intimacy when drinking cognac.

The unusual shape will grab people attention. It is whimsical and chic at the same time. To serve aperitif and digestive liquors, you can get the smaller model.

A set of 2 stem-less swivel cognac glasses costs about $50 USD. You can buy them from Illums Bolighus (Royal Shopping), a Copenhagen store. I also saw them on Marie & Charles Epicurean Delights store.

Two-piece martini glass keeps your drink cool

Based on the same serving idea of my O Riedel story, I dig out the Clio Martini Glass at Crate & Barrel for $9.95 each. Swank Martini Company sells a set of 4 Chillin’ – Martini Glasses for $35 USD – they are the ones on the picture. Both look the same. I prefer the Chillin’ – Martini Glasses because they are dishwasher safe. Although I would be careful to securely rest the glasses in the dishwasher.

These glasses are not just for serving martinis. You can serve cold soups, caviar and more. If you are still making them, you can even throw the old-fashioned shrimp cocktails in these cool glasses. Sorbets and ice creams will stay cold longer in a hot sunny day with this technique.

Casual cocktail party accessories by Fred & friends

Finally, I got you stuff your fun casual cocktails. Fred & Friends is a company that specializes in funky accessories for your home, table, kitchen, office and party. The Cool Shooters Ice Shot Glass Maker is a handy arsenal of entertainers. At only $6.99 USD for a 4-shooter pure food-grade silicone maker, you can afford to buy 2 or 3 packs.

Make many ice shot glasses in advance. If you think outside the box, the ice shot glass can be used to serve bite food as well. You can freeze juice or add tiny bites of food or herbs to the water for more decorative effects.

Casual cocktail party accessories by Fred & friends

At your party, put the shooters in a cute ice bucket so they stay frozen longer. Take either a square low side glass box or a galvanized aluminum low flower vase to make a stylish modern ice bucket. They look great for outdoor cocktails.

Also from Fred & friends, ice cube makers come in several shapes. Cool Jewels, a set of precious stones are a girl’s best friends. A sweet addition if you are planning a teenager girl birthday party and a bachelorette party. The three-dimensional precious stone ice cubes are even more appropriate when a jewelry making session is on your party activity list.

Get the Cool Jazz kit, a guitar trio ice maker for when you have guests over for a jam session. The Beer Bands and the Wine Lines are handy to keep an eye on where you put your own drink. There are four styles of label messages.

The faux spill OOPS! bottle opener will have your friends question themselves for a second about what they are seeing. Have a race to find out who is the quickest to grab the bottle opener? Fred & friends is also little joke stuff.

That it is for my latest high and low options for serving drinks at your next cocktail events.

Buy online: Cognac / Brandy Glasses designed by Rikke Hagen for Normann Copenhagen at Illums Bolighus online store
Buy online: Swivel Cognac Glass on Charles & Marie shop
Buy online: Clio Martini Glass at Crate & Barrel
Buy online: Set of 4 Chillin’ – Martini Glasses at Swank Martini Company
Learn more: Fred Party Collection on Fred & Friends Web site