The Perfect Costume Deserves the Perfect Pairing

You do it every year, pull out that tired old punch bowl that looks like a caldron and spike it with whatever’s in your liquor cabinet.

Then, you grab a block of dried ice and hope that no one will notice you just threw anything together for your annual Halloween party. I was guilty of this for years before I realized I could actually pair treats like spider infested caramel popcorn, spaghetti with eyeballs and ghost cake pops together with wine. I came to the conclusion that if I was going to go all out on planning the perfect costume, decorations and party favors, I might as well make it an evening to remember by pouring a glass of deliciously paired vino.

My dishes, including an assortment of Halloween candies, are taken to the next level by incorporating just the right wine. And although finding the perfect wine can be a bit tricky, experimenting is the fun part!

A few Halloween inspired pairings you should try:

  • Reese’s Peanut Buttercups with Amontillado Sherry or Vintage Port
  • Twix with Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah
  • Kit Kat with Merlot or Malbec
  • Caramel Popcorn Spider Balls with Oregon Riesling or demi-sec Champagne
  • Candy Corn with a sweet Riesling, Tawny Port or Ice Wine
  • Spaghetti and Eyeballs with Zinfandel or Nero d’ Avola
  • Garlic Sticks and Marinara Sauce with Barbera or Dolcetto
  • Caramel Apple with Riesling or Amontillado Sherry
  • Pumpkin Pancakes with sweet Riesling or Viognier

Wine Label Art

Crafting for Grownups

There’s nothing like back-to-school time to bring out the Martha Stewart in all of us. Your kids are crafting their way through September, why can’t you?

Thirsty Girl craft hour is a little more PG-21 (for those legal to drink) from Katie P of Food, Wine & Mod Podge, a blog about eating, drinking, crafting and everything in between. Here are two of her crafting ideas about what to do with old wine labels and bottle caps.

Bottle Cap Magnets

Items you’ll need:

  • Bottle caps
  • Small magnets
  • Cardboard
  • Glue Gun

Start with some bottle caps. If you’re like me, you’ve saved every bottle cap for years and years with the thought that someday you’d find a use for them.

Pick out ones you know your recipient will love. Maybe it’s their favorite beer, maybe it’s from a brewery in their hometown, whatever they might have a particular love for. For these recipients, I chose all Sam Adams bottle caps, since they love Sam Adams beer and live in Boston.

Since my magnets I bought were pretty thin, I needed to cut out two small circles of cardboard to fill in the bottle cap. I hot glued each layer together and to the inside of the bottle cap, and then hot glued the magnet to the cardboard.

Your circles don’t have to be perfect because once they’re on the fridge, no one will see the inside.

Then, in the time it takes for hot glue to cool, you have cute fridge magnets.

Wine Label Collage

Wine Label ArtStart saving wine label. Go here for easy wine label removal directions.

Then, using the good ol’ Mod Podge, I glued each label down on stretched canvas, and pressed very carefully to get all edges and corners down perfectly.

I did three coats of Mod Podge on top to seal, pressing with books between each coat for a full day to ensure it was as flat and smooth as possible. I used wax paper to lay the collage face down on to make sure it wouldn’t stick but would have a nice clean surface to press on.

When you’re done frame it.

For more of Katie’s creations check out Food, Wine & Mod Podge.

Thirsty Girl Resolutions

New Years resolutions come in all shades and colors. Lose the weight, get a promotion, take a day off, and run a marathon? Whatever they may be, shouldn’t “celebrate more” be on the list somewhere? Thirsty Girls know how to do this, and will continue to in the new year. 2011 is an exciting year for Thirsty Girl and we’re in full force to make it the best for all our members as well. In the spirit of all things “new” we’ve created a Thirsty Girl list of resolutions.

Thirsty Girl 2011 New Years Resolutions

10. Take a wine trip. Whether it’s a drive or plane ride to wine country, discovering the lesser known wine regions of the United States (Long Island, Upstate New York, or Virginia), or traveling across the world.

9.  Host your own private wine tasting. This is so easy, new year doesn’t mean the holiday is over. Take some tips from Leslie about how to make a wine tasting party fun, approachable, and affordable.

8. Enjoy a bottle of champagne when it’s not a special occasion. Take-out on a Tuesday, why not?!

7. Go to a mass tasting. This is a great way to meet people interested in the same thing as you, make a new friend and share a glass.

6. If you find a wine you like, or know what you tend to like, do a little research. Learn something new everyday … just this time with your vino.

5. Have the courage to speak to a sommelier at a restaurant. Don’t be intimidated no matter what your budget, they’re there to help YOU.

4. Start a wine journal. Or just a list on your refrigerator that you keep to remind you of the wines you like. Take it off to substitute as a grocery list when you go to the wine store and stock up.

3. Get to know your wine guy (or gal). When making a special meal ask the wine store what bottles would pair best in your price range. They’ll start to learn your favorites and look out for you.

2. Join or start a wine club.

1. Sign up to become a free Thirsty Girl on our home page.

Leave your resolutions for the New Year by posting a comment.

Halloween Beer Picks

Halloween weekend brings out the devil in all of us, and here at Thirsty Girl we’ve got a little more tricks than treats. After my crazy visit to Oktoberfest, making some of Ashton’s Pumpkin Beer Bread, and learning how beer can please any palate the same way wine can, I’ve rounded up the top picks to drink this weekend. Boo!

Oktoberfest Party Picks

With so many large commercial producers to craft/artisanal brewers and local micro-breweries to choose from across the country, what you find in your market will differ. The beers I’ve recommended include national, international, and regional brands, which I purchased in the Northern California market for between $10- $20.

Some come in single bottles, others six packs, and still others in large 500ml bottles – not cheap for beer but certainly still affordable for the quality.

Bavarian brews to sample:

Hacker-Pschorr “Weisse” Traditional Wheat Beer – Hailing from Munich, this lager is fresh with a slightly bitter yet sweet tinge to the finish.

Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen – An official brewer of Oktoberfest beer this low alcohol suds – about 5 percent — is delicate and bright. It’s a brew made to pair with salty foods and captures the spirit of Oktoberfest. paulaner beer

Paulaner “Hefe-Weizen” Natural Wheat Beer– forget adding a slice of lemon to Hefe-Weizen, it doesn’t need it. With citrus notes and zesty acidity, it’s a light-bodied beer to sip all night long.

Belgian beauties to try:

Stella Artois – I have a love affair with Stella. I drink this Belgian beer all over the world because I crave its elegant, stylish character. Stella is not overpowering or light, it’s just right.

Duvel Belgian Golden Ale – Blondes do have more fun when they drink Duvel. A bit heartier in nature with 8.5 alcohol, it’s a creamy, vanilla-scented beauty.

delirium beerDelirium Tremens – This Belgian ale is known for its spicy aromas and full-bodied flair. You won’t miss the distinctive packaging either. Look for the orange elephant.

 Domestic stars to sip:

Russian River Brewing Company “Pliny the Elder” – If there’s a beer with a cult following, it’s Pliny. Named for the Roman naturalist born in 23 A.D. who famously died during the eruption of Vesuvius, Pliny also named the plant we call hops. Hops, along with malt and yeast, are what give beer its flavor. This beer has a strong “hoppy” character that is mouth-wateringly bitter and bright.

Lagunitas IPA “India Pale Ale” – Lagunitas is a brewery based in my home town of Petaluma, California known for their intense, hoppy IPA. If you like red wine with grippy tannins, you’ll love this hearty ale.

Dogfish Head “Theobroma” – Beer brewed with additions are hot with some sudsaficionados. This bottle – with its ode to Mayan and Aztec cultures – is brewed with honey, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, and ancho chiles. Sounds odd but it’s integrated and sports just a whisper of chocolaty aromas. beer

Sam Adams Imperial Series “Double Bock”—This well-known Boston brewery introduced an Imperial Series to showcase unique brews. The amber-hued lager is fresh but with a strong malty note, which comes from the fact that it’s crafted with half pound of malt in each small bottle!

North Coast Brewing Company “Old Rasputin” Twelfth Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout – Think Guinness on steroids. This dark brown beer is aged in bourbon barrels and packs a punch at 11.5 percent alcohol. With complex licorice-tinged aromas, its creamy texture is ultra-smooth and bold.