Author: WineHead

5 Outstanding Texas Wine Country Vintages

5 Outstanding Texas Wine Country Vintages

Texas wine country has a weath of fine wines to share with the world. Start by sampling five of the finest wine vintages from Texas.

How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Napa Valley

Nestled between San Francisco and Sacramento, Napa Valley is the ultimate vacation spot for wine lovers. Don’t believe us? Check out these vacation must-dos in Napa Valley. Wineries There are over 400 wineries throughout Napa Valley, all with a little twist, making them unique in 

The Ultimate 20 Cruise Packing Hacks

Tips and Hacks for Traveling on a Cruise Line
How to make the most of your cruise.

The tickets are booked, the boat has docked, and you’re still not sure what you’re going to take. Packing for a cruise is a little bit different than a normal vacation because you can’t just run out to Target and grab the ten things you forgot to stow away. Make your cruise more fun, organized, and smooth sailing with these top 20 cruise packing hacks.

Apps and Electronics

1. Plug it in. Cruise cabins usually have limited outlets, and while you can usually snag a USB port from the back of the TV, packing a travel power strip adds more outlets so you’re not scrambling.

2. Surf the net. Many ships have their own Wi-Fi you can access via a loyalty rewards card. If no rewards are available, reserve your Wi-Fi package prior to shipping out for up to a 10% discount.

3. Map it out. Many cruise lines now have their own app that you can download prior to boarding. The app includes maps of each deck, helps you check your account balance, and even make dinner reservations! Check in the App Store, or on Google Play Store.

4. Do the Slide. Some cabins have energy-saving slots that require an inserted room key to turn on the lights. This often means your electronics won’t charge unless your key is in the slot. Be sure to bring an old gift card or anything that will fit inside the key slot to keep your power on when you need it.

5. Snap it. Snap a picture of your luggage in case it gets lost. It’s easier to tell a crewman what your bag looks like when you have a picture handy.

Clothes and Accessories

6. Dirty Shoes. With all of the walking, you’ll be doing at the port, it might be impossible to keep your shoes clean. Stash a shower cap in your bag for your dirty shoes.

7. Carded. If your day-to-day wallet is too thick, consolidate your wallet before the trip. That way you’re not risking anything happening to cards left behind in a cabin.

8. Check the weather. It might be unseasonably hot or cold, and not having the proper gear can leave you sweating or freezing. Be sure to pack shorts even if it calls for chilly weather, and a sweatshirt even if it’s 80 degrees. You never know what you’ll need!

9. Know the dress code. Ships often have daily dress codes, formal nights, and casual buffets. Check your cruise line’s dress codes to make sure you’ve packed for every occasion!

10. Stay wrinkle-free. If you dry clean, leave your clothes in dry cleaning bags when packing. Roll them up and tuck them into your bag. If you’re in a jam, pack a small spray bottle of wrinkle release spray to get out any stubborn wrinkles.

11. Cover up. When going on cruises that might visit religious attractions make sure that you’re properly covered. This means scarves for women, and hats for men. Bonus, the scarf can double as a blanket, a shoulder cover for sleeveless dresses in cold dining rooms, and a sarong for beach days or when lounging by the pool.

Toiletries

12. Hang it up. Head to the dollar store and scope up an over-the-door shoe organizer. Cut it to the size you need, packing your toiletries inside each pocket. Roll it up and stash it in your bag. All you have to do is unroll and hang, and you’re already organized.

13. Wrap em. It’s happened; shampoo leaks mid-flight, your contact solution is all over your clothes. Grab some plastic wrap, unscrew the top or pop open the cap, and create your own seal. Cut a roll in half and stow it in your luggage for a safe trip home if you need it!

14. Switch it up. Switching to smaller bottles will help you save space on those must-have items. Consider using flexible, squeezable tubes, like the GoToob, or even just grabbing smaller containers from the dollar store. Don’t forget to make a seal!

15. Tune them out. There’s not always a guarantee you’ll be in a quiet part of the ship—or that the family next door doesn’t have a screaming toddler. Grabbing a pair of earplugs can ensure that your cruise is quiet—when you want it to be.

Liquids of Luxury

16. Pack it up. Take advantage of the one bottle of wine most cruise ships let you carry on. Worried about that beautiful Willamette Pinot Noir breaking and spilling all over your seersucker? Pack the wine bottle in a WineHero, a specialty wine bottle protector, to keep your bubbly safe secure and your belongings safe. Check the limit per person. Some cruise lines even allow two bottles per person or stateroom.

17. Drink for cheap. Plan ahead by looking at all of the spots in port that offer happy hours, brewery tours with drinks included, and excursions like snorkeling with a twist. You can research all of your cruise ports here.

18. Snag a mug. Cruises are known for small coffee mugs that you can’t leave the dining room with. Consider bringing your own mug for coffee on the go, and the promise of a full cup, rather than a mini mug of coffee. Bonus: Pack valuables in your coffee mug if you need to check them.

19. Pack the soda. If your cruise line lets you bring soda and carbonated water on the ship, pack some to alleviate any motion sickness.

20. Add a dash of flavor. Trying to save money? Pack a flavor boost, like packets of drink mix, or a little squeeze bottle of water flavor. Ships usually give water for free, so adding a little flavor yourself keeps the cost down.

Whether you’re braving the high seas in a month or a year, these cruise packing hacks will make sure you have the best time out on the open water.

Written by Danielle Watson @DWatsonWriter

6 Ways to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew

You’re screwed. Or rather, you’re not. You’ve misplaced your corkscrew, and you’ve got a perfectly chilled bottle of wine sitting on the counter. Before you get mad, get creative. A corkscrew isn’t the only thing you can use to get the nectar of the gods 

The 5 Most Notable Pinot Noirs of Oregon’s Willamette Valley

Oregon Terroir Oregon’s Willamette Valley, as wine goes, is new. The first serious plantings were in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In the Pinot Noir promised land of Burgundy, France they were in the second century AD, if not before. In several decades, the Willamette has 

In a Hurry? How to Chill Wine in Under 10 Minutes.

There’s nothing better than a chilled glass of wine after a long day at the office. Actually, there’s nothing better than chilled wine, period. Liquor stores have caught on, charging more money for chilled wine on the go, but they only offer a few select brands in their refrigerated section. Unfortunately for us, the entire wall of wine is warm on the shelf. But fear not, there are plenty of ways to get your white wine ice cold and in a glass in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Stranger Things.

Try these six ways to chill your Chablis, your Chardonnay, or your Riesling, or even your Pinot:

Cool it down.

Freezers are cold, but sticking a bottle of wine in the freezer takes too long—and you want it now. Amp up your game by taking a wet towel, dishcloth, or even paper towel and wrapping it around the wine bottle before you stick it in the freezer. Because the towel is wet, it holds the cold in better than just sticking your Chardonnay on a shelf. Speed up the process by letting your faucet run until the water is ice cold before wrapping up your bottle.

Feelin’ salty?

We already know that ice is cold, and helps chill your wine, but what you might not know is that salt reduces the freezing point of water. Remember that ice- cube, salt, and string science project they made you do in the first grade? You can use the same science to chill your vino at rapid speeds. Fill up a container—it’s faster if it’s metal—with ice and pour freezing cold water on top. Dash in a few sprinkles of good old table salt, and watch a little T.V. Your Chablis will be chilled after two commercial breaks.

Zip it up.

Party guests are on their way and you’re in a jam? Pour half of the bottle into a trusty zippered bag and dunk it in an ice bath. Walk away and set up your cheese tray, light some candles, and dim the lights. The Pinot will be nice and cold as they’re ringing the doorbell, and you can pour directly from the bag into the glass. Repeat with the rest of the wine, or do two bags at once—it only takes about 7 minutes from bottle to glass.

Garnish your Gruner.

Want to add a little class to your glass? If you’re a wino, it never hurts to have a secret weapon in your freezer: frozen grapes. Poke a few holes into the grape with a needle or a fork. Drop a few grapes into a glass, wait a minute, and start to sip. The grapes won’t melt and water your wine down like ice, and add a bonus to the bottom of the glass—a snack. By the time you finish your glass, the grape should have a little kick to it. Getting more wine drunk off of the beautiful fruit it’s made from; can you think of anything better?

Do the twist.

Get out your trusty Tupperware container big enough to submerge an entire bottle of wine. If you don’t have one, try a saucepan—it works every time! Fill the plastic container, sauce pan, bucket…whatever you have on hand, with ice cold water Toss in some ice cubes, some salt, and spin the bottle. Keep spinning every thirty seconds to a minute. The spinning moves the wine around in the bottle, exposing more of the grapey goodness to the cold. In just ten minutes you can have an ice cold bottle of vino on the counter and in the glass.

Cork it.

If you’re willing to shell out a few bucks, you can use technology to have frosty white wine in just moments. It’s called the Corkcicle, and you can find one here. Just stick it in the freezer beforehand, open up your wine, and drop it in. Stick it in the freezer for extra chill. You’ll have ice cold wine in minutes. Worried that you’ll forget? Grab a couple of them on Amazon, and load up your freezer, that way you’ll always be ready to chill your wine, and most importantly, drink it. Once your wine is chilled, hand wash the Corkcicle and stick it right back into the freezer for your next wine-mergency.

Plug it in.  

Are you a wino with few worries? Snag one of the Rapid Beverage Chiller, available here. Just open the lid and drop in the bottle. Their claim to fame is chilling wine to the perfect temperature in under four minutes. The Rapid Beverage Chiller has both spin and no spin settings for more delicate wines, and can also be used to chill soda, juice, and beer.

The most important thing to remember about white wine is that it is best served between 45 and 40 degrees. Wine serving temperatures vary by type, and can be found online.

No matter how you’re chilling it, bottoms up!

Article by Danielle Watson

Photo courtesy of @chuttersnap