All posts filed under: Wine and Spirits


Gold reds with easy tapas and $150 New World voucher giveaway

As a graphic designer I’m often attracted to beautifully designed labels…but if I’m deliberating between two bottles of wine, the one with a little gold sticker gets the final say. I usually buy wine on special in the $10 to $15 range. If I’m feeling fancy, or buying a wine for a BYO birthday dinner I’ll upgrade to a $20 to $25 bottle. I don’t often go over that because I don’t have to – there are delightful wines to be had for under $25. The New World Wine Awards takes wine just seriously enough for your garden variety wine drinker. They’ve just announced their Gold, Silver and Bronze winners – all under $25. A panel of experts double-blind taste test over a thousand wines so you can be confident that the hard yards of wine tasting has been done for you. Thanks to the New World Wine Awards, I have a $150 New World voucher to give away so you can embark on your own gourmet adventure. Look for the gold sticker next time …


Pinot Pinball at Pinot Palooza

My friend Miss A and I attended the first Auckland Pinot Palooza on Saturday at Shed 10. This celebration of pinot noir is aimed specifically at wine drinkers rather than wine snobs. There was very little else aside from pinot noir so it was eye-opening to try pinot noir from different climates and vintages all one after the other. Pinot Palooza has been running in Australia for 5 years and has a cult following of feel good wine drinking over there. With over 60 pinot noir producers on site, each offering an average of 3 bottles each, there was no way we would get through them all. Not even close and especially since we weren’t spitting. Sauvignon Blanc are the number one planting in our vineyards taking a massive 72% of our production but Pinot Noir is (a very distant but growing) second with 8% of NZ wine production (Source: NZ Wine). After starting with a couple of wines from Wine Australia followed by Framingham in Marlborough, we quickly devised our plan of action which …


Did someone say Palooza?

I consider Pinot Noir the “gateway red” and next Saturday on September 3rd, Pinot Palooza, a celebration of Pinot Noir is coming to Auckland. Auckland’s first Pinot Palooza features unlimited tastings of 150 wines, 60 producers from New Zealand and Australia. Regions represented are Central Otago, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, Wairarapa, Waipara Valley, North Canterbury and Nelson. You may recognise some of the producers such as: Pegasus Bay  Neudorf Sileni Estates Giesen Wines Villa Maria Though there are many more, check out the full list here: If you’ve been to any other Bottle Shop Concepts events such as Game of Rhones, then you can expect the same token-free experience. That’s right no tokens meaning you can taste wines to your heart’s content without worrying how many pieces of silver you have left in your pocket. There will be music, there might even be dancing. Who knows? Tickets are $60pp which includes an EPIC crystal Plumm RedB Glass (value $35) or VIP tickets which includes early access, a food voucher, a curated tour and a special …


Chipotle and passionfruit with Long White Vodka

Some people are iffy about fruit with meat. I am not some people. Sweet and savoury have always been in my culinary vocab. I practically grew up in a Chinese takeaway in Rotorua during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Back then, Dad and Uncle worked as chef owners and cooked a thousand sweet and sour pork dishes for their customers. Battered deep-fried pork smothered in a homemade sweet and sour sauce; this came with onions, capsicum and of course, pineapple. An instant classic. I grew up loving sweet and sour pork and I think many of you did too. I enjoy cooking with natural sweet flavours and pork lends itself traditionally to fruit pairings, most commonly apple and pineapple but I found passionfruit also works beautifully. This sweet and smoky pulled pork taco is inspired by Long White Vodka Passionfruit. With a light, tropical taste that’s not too sweet, Long White Vodka Passionfruit is my favourite of their three flavours. Containing no added table sugar, apple juice is used to give it just a …


Game of Rhones AK16

I made the most of a precious work-free weekend and had a BLAST at Game of Rhones. Being it’s second year here in Auckland, Game of Rhones is gathering momentum. Game of Rhones is different to other wine festivals and your $60 ticket gets you a quality PLUMM REDa wine glass (value $30) and all your tastings. That’s right, no tokens are required for wine tastings. It’s all included in your ticket price. Taste to your hearts content. Visitors are encouraged to dress up GoT style and I this year my fur and leather combo channeled GoT Nights Watch, Wildlings and the Iron Islands. Sitting on the bus in costume, no one even looked twice, which made me feel at ease. While I was quite warm, I felt more comfortable in this costume than the gown and cape I wore last year (not really my style). There were more attendees in costume this year and I feel that it will only get better with each year. Kiwis are naturally a little shy when it comes …


Game of Rhones – double pass winner

With special thanks to Game of Rhones I am pleased to announce the winner for the double pass to this Saturday’s Auckland event (worth $120). Drawn by the winner is… **drum roll please!** Emma Tan Congratulations Emma, I hope you and your friend enjoy the event! All wine tastings are included, just bring money for food and take home bottles if that’s your thing. To keep up with giveaways and announcements, make sure you follow my Facebook page here.


#WineIsComing – A double pass giveaway

(scroll down for giveaway)     There are people who like drinking wine and having fun. Are you one of those people? If so, keep reading. I was a late convert to Game of Thrones but I now watch it religiously. The season finale of Season 6 is in 3 days and it will be long, loooong wait until the next season in 2017. But wait! There’s more! Next Saturday, while the season finale of GoT is still warm, Auckland is getting a very special event called Game of Rhones. Not affiliated in any way with GoT, Game of Rhones is a big deal in Australia, where it began…Where Dan Sims, the founder started it as a bit of a joke, but then more seriously and rather quickly expanded into Game of Rhones events in 7 cities in Australia and New Zealand. Where people drink wine and are encouraged to channel their favourite GoT character. I’ve included some photos I took of Auckland’s 2015 event but check out their Facebook album to get the full effect of …


Winetopia 2016 – things I have learned

I have been cursed with the realisation that I like expensive wine. Last Saturday, my friend and I attended Winetopia, an expo for wine lovers. Set upstairs at the expansive Shed 10 on Queens Wharf, in Auckland CBD, the event was bursting at the seams with well behaved but jovial attendees, wine exhibitors, food stalls and plenty of free wine talks (with tastings).       We’d already enjoyed a leisurely feast of a lunch (to line the stomach) but I couldn’t go past freshly shucked Mahurangi Oysters and my friend enjoyed a Food Snob cheese platter. There’s a decent array of food if you want or need it, but we were here for wine. Entry included a tasting wine glass and 5 tokens, though more tokens could be purchased for $2 each. Most wine tastings cost 1 token, though there were 2 and 3 token tastings for the more expensive bottles. For an extra $20pp you could also choose to attend various Masterclasses with guaranteed tastings. The King of Pinot Noir We were lucky to swing a …


Winetopia 2016 – double pass giveaway

Around this time next month, a new wine event called Winetopia will descend upstairs at Shed 10 on Queens Wharf. With one evening session on Friday 20 May 2016 and two sessions on Saturday 21 May 2016, New Zealand’s top wineries will be represented as well as local wine experts, critics and sommeliers. Run by Lemongrass Productions, the good people behind Taste of Auckland and Wine AKL you can expect the same level of atmosphere and delicious tastings at Winetopia. If you’re interested in learning thing or two about wine, there will be free classes as well as $20 Masterclasses. Bluesy Jazz duo Hopetoun Brown (ex-Supergroove brass section) will play a live set at all three sessions. Thanks to Lemongrass Productions, I have a double pass to Winetopia presented by Singapore Airlines on Saturday 21st May 2016, 12pm to 3.30pm. This includes 5x tastings plus a wine glass each, plus free talks and entertainment. To enter, complete the form at the bottom of this post, including a skill question. With Earlybird tickets well and truly gone (I snaffled up …


7 years and 7 whiskeys

The Koala and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary last night. I have been on the lookout for something special that we would both enjoy and stumbled across it when I read a date night review by Megan on She Said Yes blog about a whiskey bar called The Jefferson. Ribs? Tick.  Whiskey? Tick.  Nice setting? Tick.  Something out of the ordinary? Tick.  Down on the gentrified service alley of Fort Lane and beside freshly crowned Restaurant of the Year, Cassia, you’ll find the entrance to The Jefferson. A basement whiskey bar with 600 whiskeys on offer, this is a great spot to get comfy and let the staff share their nerdy whiskey wisdom with you. With a teal and brass colour scheme and old school glamour The Jefferson feels like home…if home happens to be cerulean lounge with spacious banquette seating, decent lighting and a long well-stocked whiskey bar. There is a small food menu which I suspect is a work in progress, but they have two varieties of rib which is was of the reasons for …


Booze and fire

Last week I learned how to make a fireball from an orange peel. I might not disclose this on my CV but I hope it will come in handy sometime soon. Thanks to Zomato, I attended a cocktail class hosted by Bellini which is the bar at the Hilton on Princes Wharf on Auckland’s waterfront. Yeah, pretty swish. I’d never visited the Hilton before and it’s recent renovations make this a very inviting spot for drink. With over 130 cocktails on the drinks menu, harbour views and open fire features this was a wonderful place to spend a windy Tuesday night. Bellini Jonas the bar supervisor and mixologist had the expected showmanship required of his position. He started us off with bellini, traditionally made with peach puree and prosecco. My drink was made with Deutz, peach and pomegranate and we learned that we can change up the ingredients a little while still being able to call it a bellini.   Mojito The first cocktail was my all time favourite, the mojito. A mojito made properly is a beautiful …


Watermelon Summer

Today marks the final day of NZ Watermelon Month and to celebrate, here’s a cocktail I whipped up over the weekend. Inspired in part by blogger meet ups where there are several distinct categories of bloggers present, two of which are food bloggers and beauty bloggers. Food bloggers got together and thought up how to bridge that gap and the Cocktail vs Nail Polish post was born. Bri posted her Polynesian Heat over on Instagram last week and here I am following suit with Watermelon Summer paired with Double Breasted Jacket by Essie. This drink is refreshing and isn’t too sweet as there is no added sugar. To make watermelon juice, I sliced some fresh watermelon, poked out and discarded the seeds and blitzed with a stick blended. Chill until required. Watermelon Summer Makes 2 drinks Ingredients 30ml Feijoa vodka 500ml watermelon juice with pulp, chilled A splash of pinot noir Ice Watermelon for garnish Preparation Fill two tall glasses with ice, add half the vodka to each, fill glasses to the top with watermelon juice. Stir to mix and top with …


Tofu Tuesday: Stolen

In this week’s news, Stolen Spirits have sold a majority stake to American booze barons for a cool $21 million NZ. This investment is exciting news for a small, local business that started up in a flat right here in Mt Eden. Tofu the bunny salutes your achievement! Click here to see more editions of Tofu Tuesday. P.S. Bunny Eats Design does not promote underage drinking. While Tofu just over 8 years old, this is around 65 years in rabbit years. It’s OK!


Project Botanicals – Auckland

Last night, my friend Miss A and I attended Project Botanicals as guests of Bombay Sapphire. Coincidentally, this event coincided with my birthday (week) and I am not one to turn down birthday cocktails. The pop-up is at James, an unassuming venue at the bottom of Parnell which you might have driven past but not noticed before. I’d been there for dinner with The Koala before years ago but it’s not somewhere that gets much foot traffic. It’s a shame because it’s a great venue. The space was beautifully transformed with flowers, cloth and blue lighting…an event planner’s wet dream. Gin is enjoying a revival these days and if you thought you didn’t like gin (as I once did) I urge you to rethink it. With so many flavours and ways to prepare drinks these days, gin cocktails have come a long, loooong way. Bombay Sapphire is made from 10 botanicals and each botanical was celebrated and translated into a cocktail and food pairing. A $40 ticket buys you a two hour session with two cocktails and two …


Wine AKL, Scarecrow 7 course dinner and Milse

Last Friday, my friend Miss A and I devoted ourselves to an indulgent evening of wining and dining. There was a wine tasting marathon, a 7 course seafood dinner, cocktails and the night ended at what is easily regarded as the best dessert restaurant in Auckland. We began at 5pm sharp at Wine AKL, a celebration of New Zealand’s wine from 80 vineyards across 2 levels down at Shed 10, Queen’s Wharf a special for Restaurant Month. This was followed by a 7-course dinner of sustainable seafood at Scarecrow on High. There we met a couple of foodies from out of town so we (well, actually Miss A was the instigator) decided to accompany them to Milse for dessert.    Wine AKL Wine AKL started off with a performance by Java Dance Company and with a bang as Bob Campbell (Master of Wine) and wine maker Daniel Le Brun dangerously ceremoniously opened a couple of bottles of the new No. 1  Assemblé (pronounced: a-SOM-blay) which we got to sample.  This was absolutely delicious. We headed upstairs area which was …