Wine Shipping Map

Source: Wine Enthusiast Magazine


Does wine ship to your state?  I can remember when North Carolina had restrictions so we weren’t even able to join any wine clubs. Most states have lifted the restrictions, but as you can see from the map above (courtesy of Wine Enthusiast), not all states allow wines to be shipped in.

The “Red” states don’t allow wine shipments at all and the “Yellow” states still have some restrictions making it difficult to have wine shipped in.

Wine shipping regulations are complex and confusing, and penalties for breaking the rules can be harsh. While consumer-to-consumer shipping is prohibited nationwide, most licensed wineries and retailers allow you to send wine to yourself as well as to others as a gift. Whether you’re shipping wine from California to New York, or from Michigan to Missouri, this resource tells you everything you need to know to get your wine from A to B.

Wine Wednesday’s Terminology: Breathe

A few weeks ago I did a post about a sommelier’s tool called a Tastevin and promised to do posts on Wednesdays about a wine-related item or wine terminology.  Thankfully I didn’t promise to do this EVERY Wednesday (even though that was my intent).  So I have missed a few weeks, but hopefully I am back on track.

This Wine Wednesday we are talking about letting your wine breathe.  (I actually was going to do an article about wine legs, but the research I pulled up was so extensive I was overwhelmed.  A person could write a whole book about wine legs – and there’s just not enough room here to do that!)  😉

A while back I did a post called The Lighter Side of Wine Looking back at that article now, I realize I didn’t discuss letting your wine breathe.  This is an expression we have all heard.  Hopefully we can answer some of your questions here about letting wine breathe and keep it light and easy.   What does it mean to let your wine breathe?  Which wines need to breathe?  How do you let wine breathe?  Why do you let a wine breathe?  How long does the wine need to breathe?

A little music to set the mood:  Anna Nalick, Just Breathe

What does it mean to let wine breathe?  A wine starts to breathe the minute it is opened; however, simply opening the wine and letting it sit in the open bottle will not do much to help the wine breathe (sometimes referred to as aerating).  For a wine to breathe, you have to expose more surface area of the wine to oxygen.  You can do this by using a decanter.  Try it for yourself.  Pour half the bottle into a decanter.  Taste a sip or two of your wine poured from the bottle and then taste some poured from the decanter.  Even if you thought the wine was good from the bottle, you will be able to tell a significant difference from the decanter.   This is all because the wine was exposed to oxygen.  You can accomplish a similar effect by using an aerator to infuse oxygen into the wine as it is poured.


Image credit:

Which wines need to breathe?  You can let any wine breathe, but young, tannic red wines, like Cabs, need to breathe.  One might think that you should let older wines breathe as well.  Typically you decant older wines but mostly just to keep the sediment out of the glass.  Once you have decanted a wine that has reached its peak maturity, you should serve it quickly to take full advantage of the aromatics and not let it breathe too long.

How do you let a wine breathe?  You have a few options to let wine breathe:  (1) As mentioned above, you can decant the wine, (2) you can aerate the wine as you pour it into the glass, or (3) You can simply pour it into your glass and let it sit for several minutes before drinking.

Why do you let a wine breathe?  I mentioned above that you should let young, tannic wines breathe.  The reason you do this is to soften the tannins.  The wine mellows and both the flavors and aromatics become more pronounced.

How long should you let a wine breathe?  There is no tried and true answer to this one.   If the wine suits your taste as soon as it is decanted, drink up.  If it is still too tannic for you, let it sit a while, maybe even a couple of hours.  The reality is (just like wines you prefer), your personal preference determines how long your wine should breathe.

Happy Wine Wednesday, All!  If there is a wine-related item or terminology you want more info on, just let me know.

Taster’s Tablet

Okay, let’s be honest.  If you are reading this article it is because you love wine (almost) as much as I do.  We love wine festivals and events, especially if it offers us the opportunity to taste new and different wines!  But what happens when we encounter too many great wines.  How do we remember all of them – what was good, what was mediocre, what do I want (need) to remember for my next shopping trip – or for that matter, so I can go back later that same day and buy a whole case of that perfect wine???

I always think I will remember the wines I like, but truth be told, I am more likely to remember the ones I don’t.  And if I am at a major tasting event, by the time I get through the tasting,, going back to buy a specific wine (or case) is the furthest thing from my mind.  So we should all take good tasting notes that include special markings by the wines we really like, but where do you put your wine while you write and score these wines.  You need your hands free!

The Taster’s Tablet was invented to free up our hands so we can take notes and retain a little bit of our dignity as we do so.  Don’t be caught with a wine glass dangling around your neck sloshing wine all over your shirt.

Wine Glass Necklace

Wine Glass Necklace

Instead, use Taster’s Tablet.  You will have both hands free to take tasting notes, greet people or sample delicious tidbits of perfect pairings.


Here you have the wine perfectly balanced in the glass holder at the top of the tablet.  You have a free hand and the glass is stable.  You can take notes and score the wines as you go.  The glass slides easily in and out of the glass holder for tasting.  The tablets come with taster’s note sheets and flavor descriptors to help identify the flavors and aromas you are picking up in the wines – perfect for the wine connoisseur or the novice.

Put your logo or design here!

Put your logo or design here!

You can also have the tablets customized with your own logo or design.  Use them at your next event or as giveaways so that your brand is front and center at the next BIG wine tasting in your area.

You can find Tater’s Tablet on Facebook and Twitter (@TastersTablet) as well.

Taster’s Tablet was a media sample received for review purposes.

Wine & Cigars

Everybody has a story to tell; sometimes they have an audience and sometimes they don’t – AND sometimes you create your own venue and let the audience come to you.  This is what Juan Carlos & Isabella Jiménez have done.  Six months ago they opened  “ta-ca-ron“.  They now have their piece of the American Pie and the audience for their story.

I was driving home from Beaufort the other day and in typical Red Wine Diva fashion, I spotted a sign for “Boutique Wines” and knew immediately, I would have to pay a visit to this store.

Juan Carlos, a marine biologist specializing in whales, left Cuba on April 19 (not sure what year) to find a better life.  Well he did more than that, he found a partner to share that life with.  When Carlos and Isabella got married, Carlos packed up and moved from Florida to Arizona, Isabella’s home.  After six years, he missed the ocean and the marine life he had studied and worked so closely with for years.  He convinced Isabella they should head back to the East Coast.  Their intent was to visit major cities along the coast and find the one that suited them best.  Driving south from Charleston, they decided to take a detour through Beaufort.  It was December 30 and most everything was closed.  The only thing they could find open for dinner was the Breakwater in Beaufort.  The place was packed with no seating room so they opted to sit at the bar.  You learn a lot about people and places sitting at a bar.  Three bottles of wine later, the couple had decided that the quaint, beautiful, historic Beaufort would be their new home.

Ta-ca-ron is still a work in progress.  Today they specialize in gourmet condiments and sauces, specialty beers from around the globe, Latin coffee, boutique wines and the most unique gift items.  But let’s not forget the cigars – they really specialize in cigars!  Carlos actually owns a factory in the Dominican Republic where Cuban seed cigars are manufactured.  Originally the cigars were only sold at wholesale but today ta-ca-ron has limited hours where they are open to the public and these cigars can be purchased.

The cigars are where the stories come in.  Each cigar is named after an event or a story in Carlos’ life.  Ta-ca-ron’s premier cigar is an anniversary cigar called 4/19.

Carlos' Anniversary date of leaving Cuba

4/19 – Carlos’ Anniversary date of leaving Cuba

The next cigar represents a Chevrolet Impala owned by Carlos’ father.  The Impala mysteriously went missing without any trace of what happened to it until they saw it being driven by Castro on TV.  A few weeks later it mysteriously reappeared (crashed) back home.

Castro Impala

Proud of his heritage, Carlos also sells items that represent his family.  This private label coffee shows his Mother and Father dancing.


Carlos and Isabella are very philanthropic and believe in giving back.  They have created their own Foundation, El Campesino Foundation.  Funds raised through this foundation provide shoes for less fortunate children in the Dominican Republic.


Juan Carlos visiting the children

Juan Carlos visiting the children

Ta-ca-ron is in the process of setting up a wine boutique to go with their cigars.  They already have a few wines on the shelf and have more coming in.  Once again, celebrating their heritage, the wines will come from Spain, South America – and beyond.

Sangria reminiscent of the Spanish Sangria Carlos' Father used to make.

Sangria reminiscent of the Spanish Sangria Carlos’ Father used to make.

Gazela Vinho Verde

Gazela Vinho Verde

Typical hours for ta-ca-ron are Thursday thru Saturday but I have it on good advice that if you see a little red convertible outside any day of the week that you are welcome to come in and browse or visit.  You’ll be glad you did!!!

Cheers to Juan Carlos & Isabella for living the American Dream!!!

Wine Wipes

This was a media sample from Wine Wipes through Michael Rogers Public Relations

Everyone who drinks red wine gets that shadowy tint to their teeth after a couple of glasses, some more than others.  Some people actually have teeth that turn a purplish color by the end of a night imbibing on red wine.  Fortunately, I guess, I only get the shadow and it is probably more noticeable to me than anyone else around me.  The reality is though, it doesn’t matter if anyone else can  tell that it is there or not, I can tell!

So here come “Wine Wipes,” a disposable cloth composed of a unique combination of baking soda (known to whiten your teeth), salt (a natural tooth cleanser), hydrogen peroxide (to kill bacteria), calcium (which has been known as being good for your teeth for years now), glycerin (to keep the red stains from returning while you continue to drink) and orange blossom (supposedly a flavor naturally found in red wine used to enhance the flavor of the wine wipe).

image from product website

image from product website

Here’s the deal, they work.  They wipe the wine stains off your teeth and off your tongue.  The ingredients are neutral and do not affect the taste of your wine so you can continue to drink.  The wipes come in a little plastic, circular box with a screw-on lid and fit easily into a pocket or purse.  The compact holds 20 wipes and has a little mirror inside the lid so you can use them privately instead of in front of the big mirror by the sinks in the restroom.  Initially you can taste the salt and the hydrogen peroxide, but they actually make your mouth feel refreshed.  You don’t have to worry about the wipes going bad either.  The worst thing that can happen is that they dry out and then all you have to do is sprinkle them lightly with a few drops of water to make them moist again and they will naturally get more moist as you use them.

My recommendation would be to keep them with you but use them immediately after dinner before going to the wine bar or to the planned party; after all, if the glycerin keeps the stains from coming back, why let them even start.  Enjoy your meal, take the wine wipes with you to the bathroom afterwards, wipe your teeth (and your tongue), leave the restroom with a mouth that feels refreshed and enjoy the rest of your evening stain free.

Wine Wipes retail for about $6.95 for a compact of 20 wipes and can be purchased online at

The Corkscrew

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AWWW – the infamous corkscrew!  I don’t recall ever buying a corkscrew except for the “rabbit.”  But somehow I have ended up with all these corkscrews in my drawer – and this is not all of them.  I was trying not to duplicate the style so this is the various styles I have in my drawer over the wine fridge.  My least favorite would be the little green one – you know, the cheap one where the cap inserts back into the pig tail.  The problem with this one is that removing the cork requires muscle and brawn.  All it does is twist into the cork.  There is no leverage at all; you just pull (and pull and pull and pull) to get the cork out.  These are frequent give-aways at wine festivals but you are better off just leaving them behind.  They don’t deserve space in your wine cabinet.

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The Rabbit

Now the “Rabbit” is relatively easy to use; and I have used it numerous times and even given it as gifts; however, there is something about the Rabbit that just doesn’t appeal to me.  I like the feeling of that twisting motion as I insert a corkscrew into the cork and then use the lever to force the cork lose from the bottle so that it can be pried out.  Mechanically, the Rabbit is very well crafted and does a great job.  Even though I don’t use mine daily, I would never get rid of it – it is one of those things that you should always keep on hand.  When I have guests over, it is a nice option to keep out for them to open wine with if they choose.

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Red Wine Diva favorites

My two favorite corkscrews both have a double lever system.  If you look at the picture above, you will note that you have two levels of action behind these corkscrews.  You can pry the cork with the closer lever and then start again with the longer portion of the lever and pull the cork 90% out of the bottle allowing you to pull it the rest of the way by hand.  I actually carry one of these in my purse at all times.  Afterall, the “Red Wine Diva” should never be caught without her corkscrew!!!  (Unless I am flying – really don’t want to give up a corkscrew to security at the airport!)

Airline approved corkscrew

Airline approved corkscrew

Of my favorites, the one pictured above, is “supposedly” approved by the airlines to be packed in your carry-on luggage.  There is no knife or blade to this one so no danger to others.  The foil cutter is the square section at the back of the handle.  There are little rotator blades that cut through the foil making this a safer option for travelers while still giving you the double lever system of removing corks.  Of course, you are not allowed to bring your own wine onto the plane, but you should always be prepared for when you have a lay-over or get stranded somewhere.

The corkscrew dates back to the 1700’s but nobody knows for sure who invented it or exactly how long it has been around.  Very early bottles of wine had corks that protruded from the bottle providing something for you to grab onto while prying the cork from the bottle by hand.  These corks also fit much looser than today’s corks.  The corkscrew worm design is believed to be derived from early gun tools and was very simplistic.  Ancient corkscrews are being collected by wine connoisseurs all over the world and can actually be worth quite a chunk of change in today’s market to the real collector.

Corkscrews Online

Corkscrews Online

For more information on collecting corkscrews:  Corkscrew Collecting

And for more information on the history of the corkscrew:  Bottlenotes

Antique corkscrews:  Corkscrews Online

Kool Bag (Really Cool!!!)

This was a product sample from Koolbag.


This is one of the handiest items any wine lover can own!  Hands down!

Fold it up and stick it in your bag to take on your next wine tasting adventure or better yet, keep it in the trunk of the car – that’s where I’m keeping mine!  Just pull it out when you get to your destination and ask for some ice.  You’re set.  It is even good for red wines in the heat of summer as you can add a small amount of ice to keep your wine from getting too warm on those sweltering summer days.

This bag is also a great gift idea.  Fill it with a favorite bottle of wine and use it for the gift bag.  The Koolbag becomes part of the gift – and there is a place for a gift card to slide right in (where you see the gray “Koolbag” card inserted on this one)  – or a business card if this is a busness or promotional gift.  You can even have your own brand or logo put on the bag!  Businesses can order in bulk to get special discounts – some orders may even qualify for free shipping.

The bag appears very durable – made from lightweight flexible PVC with heat-pressed handles to hold the weight of a full bottle of wine and ice.  The bag I have shown in the picture holds a regular 750ml bottle of wine, but it is also available in a smaller size for the 375ml bottles.  AND rumor has it that they are coming out with a bag that holds a 6-pack of beer.  How kool is that???

On a Robert Parker scale, I would give the Koolbag 99 points and recommend that everybody own at least 2!


The Bottle Tree – Legend & Lore

When a soft wind blows, you can hear the moans
of the trapped spirits whistling on the breeze.
The way the spirits get free is if a bottle breaks,
so take care around the Bottle Tree!”

   Jerry Swanson – Bottle Tree Creations  

According to legend, slaves from Africa brought the idea of the bottle tree to the “New World” with them.  They would use a real tree and place colored bottes on the branches.  Supposedly this would trap evil spirits inside the bottle and the family that lived on the property would be safe from evil and harm.  Today’s bottle trees are a true Southern tradition but instead of being covered with old blue canning jars or even medicine bottles, they are covered with wine bottles (typically blue, but not always).  When I see one in someone’s yard, the first thing I think (with a smile) is there lives a kindred spirit (pun intended!).

My research on the bottle tree surprised me.  I have always thought they were a neat feature for the yard or flower and herb garden.  Not knowing there was any superstition surrounding how they started, I was just curious and wanted to know more about how today’s chic garden accessory came to be.

So how far back does this tradition go and why has it made such a comeback?  I haven’t found anything that tells why we are experiencing such a comeback of the bottle tree, but I have found from several sources that the tree dates as far back as the 9th century in the African Congo.  The practice started with plates being laid around the graves of deceased family members but was changed to hanging bottles off a tree once the practice was brought to America.  This was as much to keep away deceased family members as it was to ward off evil spirits.  The belief was that family Spirits would enter the home to take family members with them back to the “land of the dead.”

You can buy bottle trees online as well as at local wineries.  One winery here in North Carolina that sells them is Weathervane Winery.   Until doing my research, I had not given much thought as to why the ones on display at Weathervane were only blue bottles.  There are definitely no evil spirits in Weathervane, just good wine and good times so maybe it works!!!

All of this intrique makes me want one even more!

For more information on Bottle Trees, I would recommend: 

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