We hope you have grown to love our annual holiday wine roundup as much as we have. In preparation for all your parties and dinners, we pulled together a few recommendations to help you decide the perfect wine for your holiday toasts.
Follow these three rules when it comes to wine — keep it simple, drink what you like and most importantly, share with friends! There’s no need to be intimidated or worried if your bottle will be a good fit. A few good standbys will be the perfect addition to any holiday event.
Sparkling Wine — If you want to impress your friends, remember that all Champagne is sparkling wine, but all sparkling wine is not Champagne. Either way, Champagne, prosecco, cava or any California sparkling wine is a hit. You can’t go wrong with a good sparkling. It’s festive, fun and bubbly!
Riesling — This often-overlooked wine is crisp, refreshing and aromatic. Riesling is produced mostly in Germany and France’s Alsace region, but you can find some great domestic ones too. The versatility of a dry or semi-dry Riesling makes it a perfect pairing for salad, turkey, fish, roasted butternut squash or dessert.
Pinot Noir — Pinot Noir is a typical pairing with turkey, but it’s delicate flavors and light aromas go well with any grilled meat or poultry. We tend to favor Pinot Noirs from Russian River Valley AVA such as those produced by Walt Wines, but you can also find wonderful Pinot Noirs from Oregon.
Cabernet Sauvignon — You can’t forget this classic Bordeaux wine this season! Bold and rich, a great cab is perfect to warm you up on cold winter nights. Pair a Silver Oak, Far Niente or Joseph Phelps cab with filet mignon, beef tenderloin or a roast.
Dessert Wine — The wine pairings don’t end after your main course. Dessert wine can be a stand-alone dessert or paired with your favorite tasty sweet. Our picks include Joseph Phelps Eisrebe and Dolce by Far Niente.
Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at A. Bright Idea! Cheers!
Like others, we’re ready to pack up for the beach, fire up the grill and break out the Frisbee for this Memorial Day weekend.
For most Americans, the holiday unofficially kicks off our summer season. To many of us, summer means adventure. In our rush to fun and adventure, however, we also intend to take a moment to remember the reason for the holiday.
Often confused with Veterans Day, Memorial Day honors those who died in the nation’s defense, who gave, as President Lincoln so eloquently described, “the last full measure of devotion.” Lincoln spoke those words, part of the Gettysburg Address, at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery in Pennsylvania. In 1868, the tradition then known as Decoration Day began with Union veterans and the families of the honored dead paying their respects at cemeteries.
No one understands Memorial Day better than our active military. Our clients at Fort Detrick and Aberdeen Proving Ground will hold their Memorial Day ceremonies with an understanding of the long line of sacrifices that stretches back throughout our nation’s history.
Aberdeen Proving Ground will dedicate a new memorial monument on May 31 at Festival Park in Aberdeen. The monument’s dedication reads, “This monument stands as a tribute to the Department of Defense civilians, military service members and support contractors of Aberdeen Proving Ground and the former Edgewood Arsenal … we honor their lives and their contributions to our national defense. Each gave the last full measure of devotion while performing their duties.”
At Memorial Day ceremonies, it is traditional for a moment of silence to remember the dead. That silence speaks volumes.
During World War II, newspaper columnist Ernie Pyle painted pictures with his words of life on the ground with the infantry. His most famous column, however, chronicled the death of Captain Waskow and the heartbreak soldiers experienced when faced with the deaths of their comrades and the power of silent tributes.
Pyle described how during a hard stretch of fighting in the Italian mountains the Army hired Italian muleskinners to carry the bodies of fallen Americans down the mountainside to a collection point at the bottom where Pyle waited with other soldiers.
Friends of the deceased took an opportunity during a break in the fighting to see their fallen comrades.
“Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand [of Captain Waskow], and he sat there for a full five minutes, holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there. And finally he put the hand down, and then reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain’s shirt collar, and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound. And then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.”
We live in peace, free of fascism because soldiers like Captain Waskow went to war and did their duty. They fought knowing they faced death, and they carried out their job. Imagine going to work at your office and the person in the cubicle next to you was killed, and you must carry on. Then the next day, you lose three more friends down the hall from you, and the replacement in the cubicle next to you who you just met. And you must still carry on.
We cannot truly honor those soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country because their actions honored them far beyond what we are capable. We can only pay our respects for what they gave to our nation.
We can and should enjoy our Memorial Day weekend. We should live our lives happily and fully because Captain Waskow and many others died to assure us our freedom to do so. We should also give pause to remember and thank them for that sacrifice.
Each year on March 14 (3.14), people all over the world celebrate Pi Day. The most popular of all trending holidays celebrates the mathematical constant π, 3.14159, which, if you don’t recall from sixth-grade math class, is used to calculate the circumference of a circle, among other things.
You’re probably thinking, “This made up holiday can’t really be legit.” Well, think again, friend.
The date March 14 (that is, 3.14) was designated Pi Day by House Resolution 224 of the first session of the 111th Congress of the United States in 2009.
What gave us pause about this rather abstract holiday was what makes Pi Day so popular around the world? What started out as a holiday for high school math teachers, branched out into a world-wide, social media trending, pie eating fun day, with no age limit or industry focus. Anyone can celebrate Pi Day because, even if you don’t like math or have any interest in circumference exploration, most people like pie!
And that’s where the secret lies – with pie, a close favorite to Pi. Apple, peach, pumpkin, chicken pot, meat or even pizza, all these pies make Pi Day a little more fun. See, for the Pi Day newbies, pie is a key ingredient for making Pi Day awesome for two reasons. First, it gives folks an excuse to eat pie at work. And second, π is used to find the circumference of a circle and pies just also happen to be circular! Mind blown, I know.
For Pi Day this year, we figured we’d have some fun and have a little pie bake-off. The recipes are listed below, if you want to try any of these for yourself.
Bonus: Test your math skills – The earth has a diameter of 7926.41 miles. What is the circumference of the earth? Use C=2πr. Place your answer in the comments below. Also, let us know which type of pie is your favorite. Happy Pi Day!
Pi Day Recipes
Peach Pies with Vanilla Wafers Submitted by Lisa Morris
Servings: 4 individual pies.
INGREDIENTS 1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, divided into 4 equal pieces 1¾ cups chopped frozen peaches (keep frozen until ready to use) 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 tablespoon cornstarch 4 vanilla wafer cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press the pie crust pieces into 4 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup.
In a medium bowl, combine peaches, sugar and cornstarch. Toss to combine. Spoon the peach mixture into the muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the crust is golden. Top each pie with a vanilla wafer cookie and serve warm or at room temperature.
(She will be doubling ingredients to make a large pie rather than 4 individual)
Coconut Dream Pie (Kraft) Submitted by Teri O’Neal
Prep: 15 mins – Ready in: 4 hr 15 mins
INGREDIENTS 2 envelopes DREAM WHIP Whipped Topping Mix 2-3/4 cups cold milk, divided 2 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding and Pie Filling 1 cup coconut, toasted 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional) 1 (9-inch) baked pastry shell, cooled
Beat whipped topping mix and 1 cup of the milk in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed 6 minutes or until topping thickens and forms peaks.
Add remaining 1-3/4 cups milk and pudding mixes; blend on low speed.
Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.
Stir in coconut and pecans. Spoon into pastry shell.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours or until set. Garnish with additional toasted coconut, if desired.
Baked Spaghetti Pie Recipe Submitted by Katie MacNichol
INGREDIENTS 16 ounces dried spaghetti 16 ounces ground beef 8 ounces ground Italian sausage 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped 3 garlic cloves, minced 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning 1 teaspoon salt 3 large eggs 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend 1 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese Pre-made pizza dough
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-10 inch springform pan, or a 9 inch deep-dish pie pan. If using a springform pan, wrap the outside in foil to avoid leakage.
Place a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil. In a separate saucepot, add the ground beef, sausage, onions, and garlic. Brown the meat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the meat is cooked and the onions have softened, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and 1teaspoon salt. Stir and simmer on low.
Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, usually 6-9 minutes. Drain the cooked pasta.
Separate out 2 cups of meat sauce and set aside. Add the cooked pasta to the remaining pot of meat sauce. Stir well to coat the pasta. Beat the eggs, then stir them into the spaghetti. Stir in the parmesan cheese
Roll out ¾ of the pizza dough and lay on the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 5-9 minutes (until it starts to brown). Remove from oven.
Pour the spaghetti into the prepared pan on top of the crust. Press down to pack the pasta in the pan.
Pour the remaining meat sauce over the top of the pie. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Cut the remaining pizza dough into 1” strips and make a lattice pattern on top of the cheese. Brush lightly with melted butter (optional).
Bake for 15-25 minutes until the edges are crispy. Cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
——————————————————— Chicken Pot Pie
Submitted by Shawn Nesaw
INGREDIENTS 1 box of two refrigerated pie crusts 1/3 cup butter 1/3 cup chopped onion 1/3 cup whole grain flour 1 1/4 cups chicken broth 1/2 cup milk 1 diced chicken breast (cooked) 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (thawed)
Heat oven to 375°F. Make pie crusts as directed on box for two-crust pie using a 9-inch glass pie pan.
In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour until well blended. Add broth and milk gradually while continuously stirring. Cook until bubbly and thickened.
Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute. Cut 4 slits in top crust.
Bake 30 – 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Tips: Let pie crusts warm up to room temperature before using. This recipe makes a thick gravy. For a thinner gravy add an additional 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Cook chicken in the same pan prior to making the gravy for additional flavor and less dishes to wash. Leftover chicken broth can be frozen for later use.
The holiday season brings out the best in American classics, with movies set decades past or those from recent years. This year’s December top 10 pays homage to the best of holiday movies from every generation.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
A box office flop, this classic didn’t gain popularity until 30 years later when it started airing each year on television. Now a classic tale, It’s a Wonderful Life reminds us to appreciate our loved ones and the life we have.
2. A Christmas Story (1983)
“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” And don’t forget the leg lamp, something every family should have.
3. The Muppet’s Christmas Carol (1992)
Kermit, Miss. Piggy, Gonzo and the gang tell the classic story with a small twist of adult humor.
4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
The Griswolds taught us all simple is better. Over-the-top light displays aren’t always necessary.
5. Home Alone (1990)
Kevin McCallister was every kid’s super hero, living life in a big house with no parents and conquering the bad guys with some hilarious tactics.
6. Elf (2003)
What’s not to love about an adult (not to mention giant) elf entering the real world? “Everything really is better with syrup.”
7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Inspiring miracles keep the real Kris Kringle alive in the hearts of all. This classic also ties in the famous Macy’s Day parade and New York City excitement at Christmas-time.
8. The Polar Express (2004)
With heart-warming talent, including Tom Hanks, children experience a whirlwind adventure on the Polar Express, where St. Nick and the spirit of Christmas truly come to life.
9. The Santa Clause (1994)
Don’t fret! One Santa may die but Tim Allen jumps in to rescue Christmas, whether he wants to or not. This hit tells the story of family, believing and embracing holiday cheer no matter the circumstances.
10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 and 2000)
Whether you love the cartoon version or Jim Carey’s Grinch, Whoville’s Whos tell a great tale of family and community strength, even turning the Grinch into a Christmas believer.
Holiday Bonus – #11
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton shares a scary interpretation of The Grinch with a ghoulish twist, yet a movie that you just can’t turn off when it’s on.