Guys, let’s talk about wine spritzers — why does this drink get such a bad rap? I have to start this blog post with a shout out to my brother-in-law who inadvertently inspired this idea. Sometime last summer we asked him to whip us up a drink at a family party, and maybe-sort-of-jokingly he told us he was going to make us wine spritzer. We giggled when he actually made them and brought them over to us, but guess what? They were really delicious. They can be light, crisp, and fruity — which are some of the most basic tenants of a good summer cocktail option. Plus they have a great name! A spritzer just sounds refreshing, doesn’t it? I decided to take a stand and stick up for the poor little wine spritzer and make one of my own with mixed fruits and IZZE sparkling waters:

  • Step 1: Fill a stemless wineglass or tumbler with ice and mixed fruit of your choice.
  • Step 2: Fill the glass 1/2 to 2/3 full with a fruity, light white wine.
  • Step 3: Top with a flavored sparkling water (I love the Mandarin Lime IZZE flavor!)
  • Step 4: Clink! Times to cheers glasses with friends and enjoy a summer evening outside.

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Last night we had an awesome time with the Boston Bloggers group at the cutest South End shop — Farm & Fable. Abby, the owner of the shop, hosted a handful of us for some prosecco sipping, snacking, and late night shopping of her vintage cookbooks and artisan kitchenwares.  After we mix and mingled for a bit, we headed down to the awesome test kitchen space below the store to learn all about mulling wines, and then we all dug in to bowls of coriander, anise, and cinnamon to mix up our own little mulling spice kits to take home! I love a warm mulled cider during the winter, but Abby opened my eyes to something I’ve never tried before: mulled white wine. She mixed hers with a pear brandy and there were a few sweet pear pieces filled with the spiced mixture at the bottom of my cup — I’m ready to try that recipe at home!

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This year, instead of sharing a week of gift guides I decided to mix things up and think a little more local! All this week I’ll be sharing interviews with local Boston business owners to get their tips for holiday gift giving and entertaining. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to hit Main Street for small business Saturday this weekend and support local business! First up, the fabulous duo, TJ & Hadley, owners of the Urban Grape:

K: I love to bring a bottle of wine to a holiday party, but sometimes I’m nervous I might bring something that people don’t like … what do you look for in a wine to bring to a party? 
UG:  We tell people who are looking for a wine to bring to a party to look for something that’s fruit-forward — fruity, juicy wines — and something that has a bit of acidity helps too, the acidity makes you want to drink more. It also helps to pick a bottle that’s not a well-known brand, you can learn a little bit about the specific wine and the region or vineyard that comes from, and tell the story of the wine to give the hostess a little background — it’ll make the wine a little more memorable. One other tip: if the wine is supposed to  be served chilled, bring it at the appropriate temperature so if your host wants to open it that evening it’s already ready to go.

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K: What do you look for in a bottle that’s going to make a holiday gift? 
UG: If you’re looking to give a bottle of wine as a gift, and you’re not completely sure what the person drinks, we usually ask people: do they travel to certain places? Do they like certain types of cuisines? That can usually help narrow down a region of wines to start with. It’s also fun to pick a theme, you can put together a sampler back of a few different wines from the same region, or of the same grape varietal to give them a tasting of different types. Or put together a cocktail box that has all the ingredients for a special mixed-drink (and don’t forget fun accessories like a shaker!).
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K: As owners of a wine shop , I assume you’re quite popular and get invited to lots of holiday parties — any good entertaining tips you can share for the holiday season? 
UG:  Our motto is: keep it simple. Focus on quality elements, but keep everything pared down — your guests will feel more comfortable  if they’re not presented with tons of options. We usually stick to serving one signature cocktail, and 2-3 types of wines. People also spend all this time working on a perfect menu or hiring a great caterer, and then they let wine be the afterthought and just buy whatever is on sale — think about the wine just as you would planning the food menu. We tell people to bring in their menu to the shop and we’ll help pick things are going to not just go well with the food, but even elevate it.

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K: My favorite holiday is New Years Eve — what do you tell people who are intimated by picking out champagnes for a New Years Eve soiree? 
UG: Look for sparkling wines made in the champagne method — it’ll give you the taste of a champagne but at a lower price point. Smaller producers will also give you more bang for your buck, their attention to detail will give you a better quality, and they tend to spend much less on marketing than bigger brands and those cost savings get passed on to you. If you find a brand you like, at the beginning of the holiday season, buy a case of it and split it up to bring to various parties, give as gifts, and save some for yourself to enjoy too!
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Thanks to TJ & Hadley for all of their great advice! Don’t forget to #shoplocal this holiday season! 

Last night I had one of my girlfriends over for some dinner and drinks on our porch — I’m determined to soak up the warm(ish) weather as long as possible — and truthfully, I didn’t have a dinner planned until about an hour before her arrival. But leftover fig spread and some tasty goat cheese caught my eye in the fridge and I went with it. A quick spin through the grocery store and I had the makings of a fig, goat cheese, prosciutto pizza — I jazzed up with some fresh chives when it came out of the oven, and had rolled some special rosemary infused sea salt into the crust. Sometimes simple is just better, and this was certainly the case — my last-minute meal was a hit, and it paired perfectly with one of the iced tea infused honey wines I picked up from last weekend in Maine!

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I felt like I packed an entire summer’s worth of activities into my weekend. On Friday we took a sail around the Boston harbor on the Adirondack III — a belated birthday treat for the Mr — and it couldn’t have been a more gorgeous night. We had wine and cheese and took in the Boston skyline as the sun set. Then Saturday was filled with lots of celebrations and activities for a dear friend’s bachelorette party. We got blow-outs with the bride-to-be to get ready for the day, and did  a walking wine tour of the South End neighborhood, tasting wines and food pairings at different local restaurants — wine and cheese were clearly the theme of this weekend! And our day of fun was followed by the usual bachelorette debauchery of dancing and clinking of champagne glasses. It was a jam-packed weekend and now I’m paying for it — I can’t wait to get in my bed and catch up on the DVR!

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I’m kicking of a new series: Handmade Holidays to share some crafty ideas for making DIY presents this year.

First up, some festive bottle stoppers! I bought plain, unfinished bottle corks in the kitchen section at Target and colored in the stopper with a silver metallic Sharpie, followed by a light brush of glue and matching silver glitter. Once they dried all you need is a drop of super glue to hold an ornament in place on top of the stopper! These took under an hour to make, and cost less than $10 to make the whole set — I think they’d look great tied to a bottle of wine for a hostess gift during the holidays!

On Friday night we tried a new neighborhood restaurant and I fell in love with it before we even ordered when I saw how fun their cocktail menu was! I played along and settled on a greyhound — it was delicious! Then on Saturday one of my girlfriends hosted a blind wine tasting party — everyone brought a bottle they’d never had before and we got to work sipping and rating our favorites! Aren’t the little cards she designed the cutest? All in all, it was a pretty fine weekend!

Some of my favorite bloggers are sharing their summer entertaining essentials for being a savvy hostess this season, last but not least in the series is Julie of JulipMade!

Hi DomestiKated Life readers, Julie from Julip Made here sharing with you one of my favorite summer party ideas along with the tools to make it happen. For me there is nothing better than spending a day at the vineyards munching on cheese, sipping on wine, and wiggling your toes in the grass. See below for some ideas to make a vineyard picnic come to life…

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1. Haus Interiors round nickel lantern 2. Furbish coral print cocktail napkin 3. Terrain rustic stripes throw 4. Terrain six stems basket 5. Corkcicle 6. Terrain garden croquet set 7. Sabatine tartufo honey and truffle 8. Saint Andre cheese 9. Virginia Chutney Co. spicy plum chutney 10. Anthropologie colorblocked baguette board 11. Sur la Table market umbrella food tent 12. Household Essentials woven willow picnic basket 13. Anthropologie meadowsweet salad plate 14. Anthropologie farmers market basket.

Thank you so much for having me Kate and please stop by for more entertaining, food, cocktail recipes and more!

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Some of my favorite bloggers are sharing their summer entertaining essentials for being a savvy hostess this season, up next in the series is my Boston buddy, Erika of Radiant Republic:

While my fiancé and I love visiting with friends in the city, most summer weekends are spent on Cape Cod. Our daytime wardrobes consist of bathing suits and boat shoes I sit down to dinner in a breezy dress and Jack Rogers. Summer entertaining is equally easy – and our favorite venue is on the sand of our favorite beach. Most hot days, our friends boat out to a hard-to-reach beach, anchor for the day, and spend hours playing bocce, seal watching, and floating in the cool Atlantic waters.

One: We love surprising our friends with fudge from the Chatham Candy Manor. They also have the most decadent chocolate covered Oreos!Two: Sparkling Rosé is a beach favorite… and this delicious Veuve Clicquot  version comes decked out in a pretty champagne koozie.

Three: Chanel bocce ball.  Disclaimer: This is not the set that we own (obviously.)

Four: Lilly Pulitzer tumblers are perfect for beach gatherings.

Five: Every Cape Cod-er needs a virtually indestructible LL Bean Boat Tote  for lugging summer accoutrements.

Six: We love these beach chairs by the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company!

What are your summer entertaining must-haves?  Thank you so much for having me today, Kate!  I am a big fan of your new series and can’t wait to see what the other guest bloggers come up with!  xx

It was crazy gorgeous weather in Boston this weekend, and while I had a long list of things to do, I put off of my tasks and decided to soak in the weather with some drinks and relaxing on the porch. I finally scooped up some peonies at the market and made use of my new gingham plates. Then on Sunday we headed outside the city and did a little research around our wedding venue for rehearsal dinner spots. It was a tough job, testing restaurants on the water, but someone has to do it! What did you do this weekend?

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