Wine Pairings for Valentine’s Day Delights: by Gina King, Founder & CEO, Domaine Somm

Valentine’s Day is a day to honor love in every form and what better way to do so than to indulge in some exciting food and wine. Whether you’re celebrating with friends or that special someone in your life, a mind- blowing food and wine pairing experience can absolutely enhance the occasion. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’ve put together wine pairing ideas and tips for a few common aphrodisiacs: oysters, chili peppers, and chocolate. We’ll start off with a refreshing platter of oysters, move on to something with a bit of heat, and finish off with some chocolate for dessert.

OYSTERS

In general, it’s best to pair oysters with a bone dry white wine or bubbly, but since they come in so many shapes, textures and flavor profiles depending on their origin, we’ve put together a few guidelines to maximize your enjoyment.

The northeast coast produces skinny oysters that have a longer shaped shell with lean flesh while still retaining a moderately briny, salty, steely flavor. Examples are Long Islands (the original Bluepoints), Wellfleets (from Cape Cod), Delawares and Bristols (Maine). In Canada, “Novys” (from Nova Scotia), Malpecques (Prince Edward Island) and Caraquets (New Brunswick). Due to their lean and minerally taste, the best wine match for Northeastern oysters is a bone dry white with perceptively minerally or flinty qualities. Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Loire Valley, most commonly bottled as Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé is an ideal match. Sauvignon Blanc from the New World doesn’t work as well since they tend to be fruity and lack stony, minerally or flinty character.

2011 Domaine des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre

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The Northwest coast produces fatty oysters that are the broadest, roundest, fruitiest, fleshiest and creamiest in texture. Examples are Hama Hamas, Quilcenes, Hood Canals, Pearl Bays, Caraquets, Chef Creeks, Sinkus and the biggest of all, Tottens. Dryer style Rieslings, Gruner Veltliner, and Pinot Grigio work well.

2011 Schloss Gobelsberg Gruner Veltliner Gobelsburger

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Olympia and Kumamoto oysters from the Pacific Northwest are unique and produce the smallest variety. Olympia oysters are the Pacific Northwest’s only native variety and are small, mild, and yet meaty. Kumamotos are a sub-species of Pacific oysters, which originated from Japan, but are now farm raised in Washington State and Northern California. They are tiny, plump, sweet, and succulent. A perfect match to both is a dry Champagne or sparkling wine.

 NV R.H. Coutier Brut Tradition Champagne, Grand Cru

 

 

 

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NV BiancaVigna Prosecco Brut

 

 

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CHILI PEPPERS

Many people assume the sweeter the better for wine as the dish heats up with spice, but in reality, the sweetness will take away from the flavors. Wines that are on the fruity side with low to moderate alcohol levels work best. Avoid wines that have subtle flavors as the spices will overpower the wine. For white wines, try a Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, off-dry Riesling, Roussanne, or Sauvignon Blanc. Herbal and tangy Sauvignon Blanc tends to go well with Southwestern dishes that have cilantro and lime notes in addition to spice. The sweet-hot flavors of some East and Southeast Asian fare go well with Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling. A touch of sweetness often found in these varietals tones down chili heat while harmonizing with sweeter sauces, such as sweet-and-sour or coconut milk-based sauces. The lower alcohol content gives your tongue refreshment and relief.

2011 Brooks Wine Gewurztraminer, Oak Ridge Vineyard

 

 

 

 

 

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2011 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Lot 150

 

 

 

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Rosés made with Grenache based blends also work beautifully with spicy dishes, even those with a meat element. And by the way, rosés are not just meant for summertime enjoyment! They’re very food friendly and great to enjoy year-round, especially on Valentine’s Day.

 2011 Bergerie de l’Hortus 

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For red wines, stick with lower alcohol wines with noticeable spice character, forward fruit and moderate tannins. Barbera, Cru Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and sometimes Tempranillo work well.

2011 Luli Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands

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CHOCOLATE

The general rule of thumb for pairing wine with anything sweet is that the wine should be at least as sweet, if not a touch sweeter, than the dessert you are serving it with. Otherwise, the taste may quickly veer towards sour. Since there are many different styles of chocolate, it’s not possible to choose one style of wine as an ideal partner. So, we’ve drilled it down to white, milk, and dark as a starting point.

White Chocolate has sweet flavors of honey, vanilla, caramel, and/or fruit, which pair nicely with a sec or demi-sec Champagne. The acid in sparkling wines produces tart flavors when paired with the cacao in milk or dark chocolate; however, there is no cacao in white chocolate, making a sweeter style of Champagne or sparkling wine a wonderful match. Riesling or Pinot d’Alsace is another great option as they show an exotic sweetness that complements the vanilla, caramel and honey flavors of white chocolate. Fresh strawberries dipped in white chocolate would be great with the following wines.

NV Drusian Extra Dry Spumante Rose, Rose Mari 

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2010 Bott Geyl les Pinots d’Alsace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Milk chocolate has flavors of brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, honey, caramel, nutty and/or malt, so an optimal pairing is Tawny Port.  Its nutty nuances highlight milk chocolate’s nutty and caramel notes and enhance the overall chocolate flavor. A couple of other good partners are Hungarian Tokaji, which goes beautifully with chocolate ganache, and Muscat or Moscadello (Italian), a rich wine with honeysuckle and honey mingled notes which also complement the vanilla, caramel and honey flavors in milk chocolate.

2011 Caprili Moscadello di Montalcino

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Dark chocolate can have bitter, roasted, earthy, and/or nutty notes. Due to the intensity of flavors, bittersweet and dark chocolates need to be paired with stronger red wines with concentrated fruit notes. Vintage Port is a classic pairing with a decadent dark chocolate dessert or truffles. For a non-fortified option, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, or Zinfandel also work well. While some of these varietals may appear too tannic to pair with chocolate, the cocoa butter decreases the astringency and dryness of the tannins and the higher cacao content enables bittersweet chocolate to pair well.

2011 Bodega Noemía A Lisa

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Chocolate with caramel, toffee, or coconut goes extremely well with Sauternes, a rich, sweet dessert wine with honey and apricot flavors that complement caramel, toffee, and coconut.

2005 Chateau Climens Barsac, Grand Vin de Sauternes

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Domaine Somm provides
a personal sommelier service to elevate wine experiences at any occasion.
We create enriching wine programs and curate high quality, distinctive wines for events, wine clubs, and our online wine boutique. We also donate a portion of all profits to charities within the areas of sustainability, health, education and the arts.

Gina King, Founder & CEO of Domaine Somm, is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and received the Advanced Certificate with merit from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. Prior to founding Domaine Somm in 2012, she was the Head of Global Event Marketing at a global financial services company based in NYC for more than a decade. Gina earned a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and was formally trained in wine education and service at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.

Dress of the Week: Ventura by Manuel Mota for Pronovias

Due to the recent untimely passing of supremely talented designer Manuel Mota, we thought it fitting to honor him with our first Dress of the Week post for 2013.
I had the honor of attending the Bridal Market Week fashion show at the Pronovias flagship store in NYC where this dress was showcased.  The minute the gown made it’s appearance on the runway there was an audible gasp.  This gown is just breathtaking.

VENTURA_B

 

VENTURA_C

VENTURA_D

Photos courtesy of Pronovias.

Ventura is a magnificent beaded dress from the Manuel Mota 2013 collection for Pronovias. Its sweetheart neckline with wide shoulder straps decorated with delicate bead appliqués is made to flatter. This mermaid wedding dress shimmers with mother-of-pearl embroidery that emphasizes a wonderful figure. The semi-sheer skirt is embellished with original strips of mother-of-pearl embroidery creating a really modern silhouette.

The bride who wears this gown is sure to turn heads.  We would love to hear what you think!

xoxo,

Danielle

Advice We Love: Holiday Beauty by Sharon Becker of SB Beauty

New York City turns every season into a special occasion, but December holidays in New York are extra special. Visitors from all over the world descend on Midtown Manhattan to enjoy the lights and festive atmosphere, and we New Yorkers get to revel in the glow of all the decorations in offices, homes, store windows, and even city busses. What I enjoy most is attending holiday parties (you never have to beg me to wear sparkles) and toasting my friends and colleagues.
So, with parties, gift shopping, decorating, and travel, the holidays are busy. How do you quickly and easily adapt your makeup to suit the season?  Add one or two new products! Depending on your age and personality, you can emphasize one or two features. (We are talking holiday parties, not Mardi Gras).
LIPS: Red is a natural choice for a holiday lipstick, and it comes in every shade and form imaginable. If you wear a gorgeous red as a change, you can keep the rest of your makeup simple. To keep your lipstick from fading at a party when you’re eating and drinking, start with MAC Lasting Lust, $23. Another long-wearing shade for holiday is Makeup Forever Rouge Artist Intense #21 (pearly bright red), $19.
Photo courtesy of MakeupForever.com

Photo courtesy of MakeupForever.com

You can also use one of your favorite lipsticks and glide a glitter gloss on top; try LORAC 3D Liquid Lustre in either gold glitter or silver shimmer. Easy, and only $16! Sephora brand also has a Glossy Gloss that has a few high shimmer shades, and that’s just $10.
Photo courtesy of LoracCosmetics.com

Photo courtesy of LoracCosmetics.com

EYES: Let’s create some pop without breaking the bank! If you like to have fun with makeup (and you should – makeup is fun), then pick up Sephora’s Glitter Eyeliner and Mascara combo, which comes in a dozen flashy shades. Swipe it on your regular makeup look for an easy and very festive change.
Photo courtesy of Sephora.com

Photo courtesy of Sephora.com

A more subtle holiday shine can be achieved by using one of your favorite light shimmer shadows on the inner corner of your eye (tear duct area). Use a small natural bristle brush and pat the shadow onto the top and bottom of the tear duct V, blending it into your other shadows and liner for a seamless look. Finish with a little extra mascara in the area so that your lashes don’t catch the shadow. If you’re feeling extra frisky, you can swipe a tiny bit of the same shimmer shadow across the top of your cheekbones for a subtle highlight. Voila!
BODY: For New Year’s Eve, try a little glitter spray. Hey, it’s on sale at Sephora for $7! On January 2, give it to your niece.
Photo courtesy of Sephora.com

Photo courtesy of Sephora.com

All great makeup looks start with beautiful skin, so take care of yourself in December – eat good food, rest, drink plenty of water, exercise, and smile!
Photo by Sofia Negron courtesy of SB Beauty

Photo by Sofia Negron courtesy of SB Beauty

SB Beauty creates fresh, contemporary looks by embracing current trends and incorporating cues from glamour icons. Sharon’s work has been featured in Uttlerly EngagedGrace Ormonde Wedding Style, and blogs like Style Me Prettyand Ruffled. Her work spans advertising, fashion, and bridal. Please contact her via email or Facebook; visit her blog, and website; and follow her on Twitter.
Look like yourself on your best day!

CUE Vendor Spotlight: Lucky Lil’ Darlings

Introducing the Lucky Lil’ Darlings Kid Zone

By Lindsay Bell

Imagine you are at a wedding, baby shower, blowout birthday party, corporate event or family reunion & there is an area that you can drop off your children when they get bored, fussy or just want to be engaged in something new?

Yes I said…Drop. Them. Off.

Enter LLD Kid  Zone!

A ‘Kid Zone’ is basically a pop-up child-care center fully equipped with reliable energetic sitters, a check-in/check-out process to ensure the safety of your child, activity stations to surely engage imagination, take home gift and more!

LLD is a pro at customizing a ‘Kid Zone’ for each individual event. Themes are our specialty. We arrange all activities around the theme of your choice. We will work with your specific budget and our team will brainstorm creative ways to make every idea work!

To get started we set up a simple phone consultation to learn more about your upcoming event & then we begin planning. We book the amount of sitters’ necessary based on the number of kids expected, ages, etc.  We plan the ‘Kid Zone’ around a modest budget or we can blow your ‘Kid Zone’ out of the water with the most magical of events for your children.

We have found that our LLD Kid Zone is a desired MUST have at events because:

-LLD assists & offers a great solution to the event planner in dealing with families who want to bring children to your event.

-LLD alleviates stress for attending families & guests who have children.

-LLD provides a detailed itinerary of how the ‘Kid Zone’ will run prior to the event, so you can alert attending families & get them excited!

-LLD offers an additional helping hand with the children onsite (bathroom runs, if a parent is requested to partake in the event our sitters can jump in, etc.)

-LLD provides engaging & interactive activities while parents enjoy the party & mingle with friends & family.

-LLD provides a sense of security. All parents must check-in/check-out each child, and then the parent has the option to pick -up/drop-off throughout the day or night.

An LLD Kid Zone provides the best of both worlds, parents get to take their children to the wedding,  baby shower, blowout birthday party, corporate event or family reunion and actually get to be a part of the special day & so does your lil’ one!

For more information on and LLD Kid Zone visit: http://www.luckylildarlings.com/services/kid-zone/

 

Lindsay Bell is the co-founder of Lucky Lil’ Darlings (LLD), an elite child-sitting & events company providing corporate and family focused babysitting, parent-centric events and inspiring commentary on child care, kids and family focused products. Prior to launching LLD, Lindsay worked in communications for the Radio City Rockettes and as a Marketing Manager for boutique marketing and PR agencies in NYC. For more information on Lindsay and LLD visit www.luckylildarlings.com or follow Lindsay on Twitter @LindsayBellNYC

Photo by: www.ladyappleton.com

Dress of the Week: Sareh Nouri

Today’s Dress of the Week is White Swan by the beautiful and talented Sareh Nouri.

Photo Courtesy of Sareh Nouri

This gorgeous creation is crafted from silk tulle, silk taffeta, French alencon & chantilly lace.  We find it to be truly dreamy.

Photo courtesy of Sareh Nouri

White Swan can be found with our friends at Exquisite Bride in Millburn, NJ.

Is this your dream gown?  We want to know!

xoxo,

Danielle

Trufflepig Travel: Memory Making Company

In 2004, Charlie Scott, Greg Sacks and Jack Dancy came together to form the Toronto-based travel company Trufflepig Travel Inc. These three young men have a mountain of travel experience in 50 different countries and pride themselves on being able to sniff out the best of a destination in the 30 countries where they operate. Trip planners dig deep and get to know their clients through wide-ranging discussions on travel preferences, habits, budget and timing.  Consequently, itineraries are uniquely customized for a client’s every need and desire. Each trip begins with a clean slate and is never “off the shelf.”

Trufflepig is straightforward, transparent and customizable for the travel planning needs of individuals, families or small groups. This company believes that travel is about enriching your life, creating memories with your loved ones, and engaging the world at large! They work their hardest to make your vacation the most memorable you have ever had.

Trufflepig’s online magazine, “The Sounder,” is accessible online at www.trufflepig.com/sounder and is full of insight and inspiration for every traveler. In February 2012, Trufflepig was recognized as a “Top Traveler Specialist” in Europe by Conde Nest Traveler .

For more information, or inquiries for planning your next memory, contact:

Charlie Scott Trufflepig Travel, Inc.

www.trufflepig.com

curious@trufflepig.com

Tel: 416-628-1273

Tell them Curtain Up Events sent you!

xoxo,

Danielle

Things We Love: BITE Beauty

We are hooked on this new line of natural products from BITE Beauty. Bite Beauty is a collection of lip products designed for today’s woman, fusing alluring color with the age-defying benefits of powerful antioxidants. Derived from natural and food grade ingredients, Bite is beauty that’s better for you.

Ranging from matte to creamy to sheer shades in every hue, from modern nudes to provocative plums, Bite Beauty offers an option
for every occasion.  They also offer a range of buildable coverage, from a semi-sheer balm to a dramatic, matte cream.
Women apply lipstick an average of five times a day. Lips are licked, lipstick is absorbed. That’s why Bite believes lipstick should be
good enough to eat.
With a focus on lips, Bite Beauty proves you don’t have to sacrifice performance for a product made from nature. Bite’s luxurious
feel comes from organic shea and fruit butters, without the use of polybutenes and petroleum byproducts. All of the colorants that
make Bite so richly pigmented are food grade and made with entirely natural ingredients.
Several of the products contain concentrated whole super fruits, such as acai, cranberry, blueberry and pomegranate to protect,
nourish and condition skin. So delicious, you’ll want to take a bite.

Don’t just take my word for it . . . Try it out!!
Bite Beauty is available in select Sephora stores and www.sephora.com.

xoxo,

Danielle

Things We Love: Kate Spade

We’re back!!  I know, we’ve been MIA and neglecting our blog.  We come back to you today with a new blog series: Things We Love.  Today we are featuring the new selection of bridal accouterments from Kate Spade.  We love Kate for her stylish whimsy and 50’s/60’s flair.  Let us know what you think!  Click the link above (Kate’s name) or check out a couple of our favorites below.

cameo dressgimlet dressdavie

wedding belles passport holdergloria clutch

All images courtesy of KateSpade.com

xoxo,

Danielle

Organize the Holidays

Things can get overwhelming during this hectic, holly-jolly time of year.  That’s why we here at CUE call upon the expertise of Lisa Zaslow (www.GothamOrganizers.com) to keep us at our very best.  Here are her tips for a stress free, organized holiday season:

GothamOrganizers Holiday Survival Tips

“Holidays are an expensive trial of strength. The only satisfaction comes from survival.”

— Jonathan Miller

Bah humbug Mr. Miller! The holidays should be a time to feel blessed, not stressed!. Follow these tips to save time, effort and energy this holiday season!

First, stop beating yourself up for not picking up gifts for everyone on your list all year long and for not having your cards addressed before Thanksgiving. This is the home stretch – time to focus your efforts on what you can do.

* Presto Presents – Technology is your friend. Use the power of the internet to pick, click and ship gifts for everyone on your list, from clients to cousins. Gift certificates to sites like Amazon.com, Gap.com and CrateandBarrel.com will appeal to a wide range of folks. If you must get actual presents, hit a few big stores at off-hours and knock off many items on your list in one shot.

 

* Wrap It Up – Why wrap? I’m a big fan of tissue paper and gift bags. They’re super-speedy and no tape, ribbon or scissors needed.

 

* Go-to Hostess Gifts – One for all and all for one. Get a slew of one great item – a nice bottle of olive oil, beautiful kitchen towels, fancy nuts and/or chocolate, or the tried and true gift soaps or bottle of wine. Pick up a bunch of gift bags and you’re good to go.

 

* Speedy Decorating – Go minimalist. Candles are quick, inexpensive and festive. And you can use them year-round and don’t have to store them.

 

* Feast Without Fuss– Let someone else cook. Put pre-prepared foods on nice serving dishes with a little garnish and no one will be the wiser. Ask your guests to contribute dishes and lighten your cooking load. You can hire a caterer to cook entire meals or just a few key dishes.

 

* Quick Cards – Again, technology is your friend. Cut and paste a photo into an e-mail and you’re done, or send an electronic card at egreetings.com or similar sites. If you really love the idea of sending actual cards, you can extend your deadline by a few extra days and send New Year’s cards this time around.

One last note

Take a deep breath and remember that the true spirit of the season doesn’t require any of the above. Spend your time with friends and loved ones, not running around trying to fulfill an idealized vision of the holidays that may not fit your current lifestyle. Happy holidays!

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Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers, has helped hundreds of people get organized at work and at home. Her expertise has been featured on The Nate Berkus Show, Inside Edition and in numerous publications including The New York Times, Real Simple, and InStyle. Get Lisa’s super-easy organizing tips at www.GothamOrganizers.com

© 2011 Lisa Zaslow. All rights in all media reserved.

Thankful

I love Thanksgiving.  For me, it’s the beginning of the most wonderful, warm and joyful time of year.  For us here at CUE it’s also a day to breathe before the busy holiday season takes over.

This year I am thankful for so many things.  I am thankful for my amazing daughter, my loving husband and a family who stick by me and support me through good times and bad.  I am thankful for my wonderful clients who make every day an adventure, my outstanding team who work so hard to make it all look so easy, and for all of the incredible vendors who make my job that much better.
We here at CUE wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and would love to hear from all of you about what you’re thankful for this year.

xoxo,
Danielle