May 2013
Cluster of Syrah Grapes
Cluster of Syrah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Red Wine Basics - Syrah or Shiraz Origins
Syrah is a red wine grape variety that is thought to have originated in the Rhone region of France. There are several legends as to the origins of Syrah, but insufficient documentation and proof to support these stories render most of them sufficiently false, and most agree that France is likely its native home. In France, other parts of Europe, much of South America, New Zealand and most of the U.S., this grape is known as Syrah. In Australia, parts of South Africa and Canada, it is typically known as Shiraz. Same grape, different name.

Common Varietals and Blends
Syrah is used to make both varietals and blends. Probably its best-known varietal form is the Hermitage, produced in Northern Rhone. Australia also produces Shiraz varietals. Also in Australia, it is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to create a Shiraz-Cabernet or blended with Grenache to create GSM. Syrah is also often blended with a small amount of Viognier, a white grape variety, to create the popular Cote-Rotie of Northern Rhone. In the Southern Rhone, Syrah is blended with Grenache or Mourvedre to make Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Italian Syrah wine from Sicily
Italian Syrah wine from Sicily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Syrah is a powerful and flavorful, full-bodied wine that exhibits the aromas of violets, berries, espresso and black pepper. Syrah is well suited to aging, and will take on the aromas of leather, truffles, plums and spices as it ages. A stout Hermitage should age over ten years before it relaxes into its full potential. Syrah brings to its blending partners this terrific ageability.

Flavor Profile
Its small clusters and berries produce a very dark juice that packs a flavor and tannin punch. Flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, plum, bell pepper, clove, licorice, dark chocolate and smoked meat are often detected. Syrah flavors are dependent on growing and processing procedures, but it often carries minerally flavors that blend and balance the fruitier Grenache, a common Syrah blending partner. Pair Syrah with grilled meats and vegetables, flavorful red meats and stews.

This concludes my exploration of Syrah (Shiraz). Join me next time for a look at Tannat, the national grape of Uruguay. In the meantime be sure to shop for Wine Gift Baskets in all price ranges at
wine gifts
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Gladiolus Imbricatus
Gladiolus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Traditional: Ruby
Contemporary: Ruby
Flower: Nasturtium and Gladiolus

The 40th anniversary is the ruby anniversary. In legend and lore, rubies are thought to possess an internal, eternal flame. Forty years in the making, the glow in your relationship is apparent. Passionate ties bind many couples together in the beginning and flames often turn to a warm steady glow as years go by. Gifts of ruby are meant to symbolize the glowing fire, in its many forms, shared between you during your many years together. Jewelry is the most common gift exchanged, though you may choose to simply exchange gifts that are ruby red in color to expand the available selection of gifts.

Nasturtiums are all about the flower power. This simple and lovely bloom represents victory in battle, and forty years of marriage can certainly be considered a victory! On the more sentimental side of symbolism, the gladiolus represents generosity, sincerity, remembrance, infatuation, beauty and admiration. Both the gladiolus and the nasturtium are available in ruby red, so mix your anniversary symbols for an extra special way to say I love you.

Congratulations on forty years together. This year, celebrate the steady flame of your love with ruby red expressions of sentiment. Join me next time for year 41.
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Sangiovese grapes in a vineyard of Montalcino,... Red Wine Basics:
An Italian Grape Variety
Sangiovese is a red Italian grape variety most notably grown in Tuscany. It is perhaps best known as the main component of Chianti and is also a major component in many Super Tuscan blends. Super Tuscans allow vintners more flexibility in creating blends outside of the restrictive rules governing the production of Chianti. Sangiovese is often a primary component in these blends, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah.

Flavor Profile
Sangiovese varietals are also produced, exhibiting the flavors of strawberry, cherry, cinnamon and herbs with an elegant to bitter finish. Aged Sangiovese can take on oaky, tarry flavors with hints of vanilla and deeper darker fruit flavors of plum. The wine is high in acidity and tannins, with medium to full body.

Sangiovese vines thrive in soils rich in limestone. They require a long growing season to develop richness and body. The grape also benefits from lower yields, with higher yields depleting some of the grape’s characteristic color and producing grapes with overly high acidity. Sangiovese is most strongly associated with Italy, but has moved to other countries including Argentina, France, Australia and the United States.

The grape is naturally very light in color and high in acidity and tannins. To combat some of the grape’s weaknesses, vintners employ different techniques including longer maceration periods, extensive oak treatment, and adjusted temperature and duration of fermentation. The variety is often blended with other wines to fill in the gaps in the grape’s character. Texture and body are added by blending with more robust grape varieties.

Viento Sangiovese Pairing
Lighter Sangiovese wines can be aged between 3 and 7 years. The heavier, more robust wines can be aged upwards of a decade or more, with the very best having a life closer to 20 years. Pair a Sangiovese with tomato-based pizza sauces and pastas, steak and stews. Stronger varietals and blends do well with blander dishes such as meatloaf or roast chicken. Herbaceous hints in the wine pair well with basil, sage and thyme. Wines that have taken on plenty of oaky character pair well with grilled and smoked foods.

This completes my exploration of Sangiovese. Join me next time for a look at Syrah, or perhaps Shiraz?
Photo Credit (Wikipedia)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Traditional: No traditional 39th anniversary gift
Contemporary: Lace
Flower: No 39th anniversary flower

This year is all about lace. There are plenty of lace gift ideas to choose from ranging from home décor items such as curtains or table runners to clothing and lingerie. A lace anniversary quilt would make a lovely addition to your bedroom, or consider items that are inspired by the delicacy of lace such as jewelry, lace patterned stemware, etc.

Lace makes a beautiful and delicate representation of a relationship 39 years in the making with threads of all sorts sewn together in a pattern that is unique to your marriage. Today, celebrate the intricate end product of all your hard work and enjoy some rest and relaxation in the company of your best friend! Join me next time for year 40.

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Don’t forget to thank Mom for her many contributions to your life, including giving it to you! All moms deserve a little TLC on this special day, so be sure that she receives something that she will adore. At we have a large selection of Mother’s Day gifts for moms of all personalities.

For the mom who loves to be pampered, we have spa and aromatherapy baskets like the Mother’s Day Luxury Spa Experience Basket filled with rejuvenating bath spa products to soothe and energize. Find a wide range of spa baskets to choose from!
Mother's Day Luxury Spa Basket

We also offer a huge selection of Personalized Gifts from picture frames to coffee mugs for a thoughtful way to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. Imprint an item with a message to let her know that she is in your heart and on your mind!
Mother's Day Paisley Picture Frame

If Mom has a sweet tooth, try sending her one of our gourmet bakery products to tantalize her taste buds. This adorable Mother’s Day Chocolate Dipped Oreo Cookies Box is a very sweet way to celebrate Mom with springtime sprinkles, hearts and a lovely gift box tied with a ribbon. If you’re lucky, she just might share!
Mom Chocolate Oreo Box

And for the mother who loves beautiful things, we have a large collection of Gold Roses sure to delight her eyes. Real roses are preserved with lacquer and trimmed in your choice of gold or platinum for a truly stunning gift. We offer roses in a wide array of colors, so you are sure to find something just for her.
I Love You Platinum Trimmed Rose

However you choose to celebrate Mom, here’s hoping her day is especially sweet and memorable this year. We would love to help you make her smile, so stop by and check out our fun selection of Mom gifts to delight and surprise one very important lady on Mother’s Day 2013.
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Traditional: No traditional 38th anniversary gift
Contemporary: Beryl or Tourmaline
Flower: No 38th anniversary flower

Beryl and tourmaline are gemstones that come in a very wide range of colors. Perhaps the best known varieties of beryl are emeralds and aquamarines. Beryl comes in other colors including pink, red and gold. Pure beryl is actually colorless, but various impurities give beryl gems their colors.

Tourmaline gem colors are so various that no gem is exactly alike. The word tourmaline comes from the Singhalese words tura mali which translate as stone with mixed colors. A single gem can present two or more colors, and these colors shift with changes in natural and artificial light. Tourmaline is said to make for firm and long-lasting romantic relationships and friendships.

This Perfect Balance Necklace from features a gemstone in your choice of either aquamarine or tourmaline for the perfect 38th anniversary gift! Dress up date night with a gift for your wife that is both unique and stylish. If you are looking for a travel suggestion, try the Emerald Isle this year. Trade a gemstone for the lush green hues of Ireland and get away from the hustle and bustle of your daily life for the slower, old-world charm of this faraway isle.

Congratulations on 38 years of marriage. Here’s wishing you a fantastic celebration! Join me next time for year 39.
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