This holiday season, we're inviting you to serve up the good stuff. If you’re hosting for the holidays this year, it's time to remix your friendsgiving cocktails. From a Ginger Bells Spiced Zin to our Apple Pie Magic Mimosa, let us make hosting easier. Make the perfect playlist, decorate your home & send out the invites for your best friendsgiving yet!
12 Days of Cocktails Wine Set
With this six bottle wine set, we’re sending you home with the best holiday cocktail recipes hand crafted by some amazing mixologists and our winemakers that we’ve teamed up with!
Includes an exclusive friendsgiving drink recipes for 12 holiday cocktails using this set of six wines. Recipes will be accessible on the luxe insert included in your wine set.
How To Remix Your Hosting
The Perfect Friendsgiving Drinks Table
Make the cocktails the center of attention for your holiday events. Decorate and set up the perfect drink station for your guests. Include the written recipes, glassware and ingredients for each guest to create the holiday drink of their dreams. Add some extra decorations to this table and make sure you can hear the music from this spot in the room. Don’t forget to have an area to add a spiced rim to each of the cocktail glasses depending on the recipes!
Make Great Memories
Grab about 5-10 polaroid cameras and have them by the entrance of the holiday party. Put up a sign to encourage each guest to grab a camera and shoot photos of the party as they sip, sing and enjoy the event! Make sure to let them know to leave the cameras after the event ends so you can get them developed and then send the digital prints to each attendee afterwards.
Extra: Build A Letter Balloon Background
A night to remember is better when your guests are encouraged to take photos! Set up a balloon background that spells out the name of your event, such as, Friendsgiving, New Year’s Eve, Tis’ the season, etc. It will give your guests a reason to take photos in front of the sign but also add some unique festive decorations to the event.
A Potluck To Remember
Ask guests to bring their favorite holiday dishes. Before the event, create a full list of dishes being brought so you know what’s still needed! During the event at the dinner table, ask everyone to explain why the specific dish they brought is their favorite and what memories it brings up. Close out these special stories with a Friendsgiving toast!
For far too long, the “rules” have overshadowed the experience when it comes to wine. With the McBride Sisters Collection, modern epicureans (aka Foodies) finally have a home that matches the fearless way they want to live. The only rule of McBride Sisters Collection is that … there aren’t any. This pairing guide is for those who love to cook, experiment and expand their palate when it comes to wine and food. With recipes created by Alex and beautifully paired with our McBride Sisters Feelin’ Myself set of wines, download the e-cookbook to start cooking these incredible, exclusive recipes!
Alex Hill is a former Brooklyn girl now Washington, D.C. based, self-taught cook with a passion for making food that’s filled with flavor, functional and affordable. Her affinity for cooking developed at an early age watching her mother, Evelyn, create mouthwatering dishes for their family combining both her Puerto Rican and African-American heritages.
In 2017, she created Just Add Hot Sauce as an outlet to show an expression of love to the people you care about the most … through their stomachs. From dinner parties and blogging recipes to teaching cooking classes and trying new techniques, cooking is what brings her joy. Whether you want to add a little flavor in your recipe or a boost in your day, you can always get a kick when you ‘Just Add Hot Sauce’!
Get To Know Alex Hill
As a food expert, how does wine play a role in the dining experience?
Alex: Everyone loves a good glass of wine and as I’ve gotten older I appreciate it even more with good food. Wine should always be a compliment to a dish and vice versa. One shouldn’t outshine the other, you know? Some wines bring out more flavors in a dish while other wines almost act as a palette cleanser to others.
How do you create a dish from scratch that’s designed to pair with a specific wine?
Alex: I always think about the notes of a dish and what feeling am I trying to portray through a dish. Is it cozy with notes of cinnamon so I think about how a specific wine will compliment that dish? OH, and whenever I’m using a certain wine in a dish I always, always drink a glass (or two) first and think “Do I want to drink this?” then of course it is going to be amazing in a dish.
What’s your favorite food & wine pairing?
Alex: Ugh, a good hearty pasta with red wine! FAVE PAIRING EVER! Especially if the wine is used in the sauce.
Family is the foundation to the McBride Sisters Collection, how does family play a role in your brand, Just Add Hot Sauce?
Alex: Family is my foundation as well. My whole brand started because of my Mom. She taught me how to cook and more importantly she taught herself how to cook when she was in the midst of a divorce from my Dad. She was always a good cook but she wanted to become better being that now she was a single mom. So whenever we were at my Dad’s house on the weekends she used that time to try new recipes then she would test it out on us. I loveeeeee being in the kitchen with my Mom, plus I feel like Mom’s cooking is ALWAYS better.
Your Mother’s cooking has played such a pivotal role in your life and the career you’ve built. You’ve mentioned how no matter what, she made sure to have a sit down family dinner every night with you and your family. How has that shaped the way you enjoy food and the meaning of a family meal?
Alex: It’s so, so important to me. When I was younger we would have such great convos over dinner and my brother being the class clown, we would be cracking up laughing at dinner - so bellies full and heart full. For me food is community and an expression of love so my favorite part is not just the cooking process but enjoying the food with my friends & family - and a good glass of wine.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite wine & food experiences? From the varietal, setting, music, any details you can remember — but a moment that is frozen in your mind as a perfect wine experience.
Alex: OMG, definitely when me and my partner went to this amazing vineyard in Cape Town, South Africa. It changed my life! We went to multiple vineyards via a tram and it was so beautiful and this may sound dramatic but I feel like every note they were describing, I tasted it every single note and it paired so well with what we were eating. I distinctly remember having this amazing sauvignon blanc with notes of pears and they served a cheese board with this thinly sliced prosciutto, I swear my mouth exploded with flavor. The fattiness & saltiness of the prosciutto with the wine wine was a match made in heaven!
What role has your cultural background played in your cooking and how does it influence how you envision the future of the food and wine industry?
My background is so important to me, I’m Black and Puerto Rican and I honor both sides of my culture through the cuisine I cook. It’s both soul food and hispanic with a mix of caribbean culture. I tell stories through my food and I hope there are more multi-cultural women in these spaces of food media represented. There’s so many white women in food getting these opportunities like book deals, TV shows,etc. so it always feels good when you see someone that looks like me and talking about the food I grew up on - and also, I’m a millennial! Where are the spaces for us?! I love to cook and also enjoy a really great glass of wine or cocktail!
How does the Sister’s story resonate with you?
I’ve known about the sisters for a while but listening to their NPR’s “How I Built This” interview really resonated with me, I cried listening to it and often refer back to it when I doubt myself in this new entrepreneurial world or having imposter syndrome. What really resonated with me was their ‘dream drives’, I do something similar on my morning walks where I dream and manifest about my life. The sisters really went for it, beyond their wildest dreams and look where they are now! It’s truly beyond inspiring.
What was your favorite part about creating this e-cookbook Pairing Guide and how can the audience use it this holiday season?
Oh my gosh, what was really great was serving my friends after! I made all this food and called them like do you want to come over and eat! I loved creating these recipes and loved photographing them even more! My aesthetic is comfort and really showcasing the food and I really think that came across.
What’s next for you in your career? We know you love manifesting, what’s something you’re manifesting for yourself right now?
I’m getting intro products right now which is really fun! I recently released a kitchen candle which sold out twice and I’m releasing another product for the kitchen soon! I’m manifesting a published NY Times Best Selling Cookbook & a cooking show on a streaming platform - If I was in the car with the sisters on their dream drive, I would definitely say this!
Here in the Golden State, we’re joined by Head Winemaker, Amy Butler, on the blog to take us through the exciting California grape harvest this year. For Amy, harvest started on August 28th with the fruit for our sparkling wine. Now, we’re in October and this week is going to be the last week we have fruit scheduled to arrive at the winery. At the tail end of this year’s harvest season, we wanted to take a look into what this year brought and what made it special! Learn more about how Amy joined our winemaking team here.
The fruit we’re bringing in this year is primarily from the Central Coast of California. From as far south as the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County to as far north as the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County and everywhere in between.
“The growing season was long and varied, with low temperatures during flowering and fruit set leading to fairly light yields. The long hang time, provided by a relatively mild summer, meant that the fruit had plenty of time to develop full flavors without the quick accumulation of sugar. In Monterey County especially, morning fog lingered in the vineyards, delaying ripening even more. What we’ve seen so far is exceptional quality with only slightly diminished yields, and a very long, protracted harvest season.” - Amy Butler
One of the most important aspects of sourcing grapes and making wine is building relationships throughout the process. This year, Amy had the pleasure of meeting Kirk, a farmer she met sourcing grapes for our sparkling wines. Everyone plays an important role in the bottles of wine you know and love. “From the tractor operators, to the barrel coopers, to the harvest schedulers, the sugar samplers, and the press operators. It’s crucial to create fruitful partnerships with our grower and production colleagues, the people who work side by side with us every day to make what we do a success.”
Kirk is a grape-grower who also has avocados and pigs too. For Amy, the grape farmers are some of her favorite people. Without our viticultural (grape-growing) partners, it would be impossible to do what we do.
Harvest With Amy Butler
“As soon as I began tasting the fruit Kirk had grown, I knew it was exactly what I wanted for the sparkling base wine for this vintage. My first visit to his vineyard I knew I needed to measure the sugar content, pH, and acidity as soon as possible. I could already feel the wine that was inside those tiny, seedy little pockets of juice we call grapes.
I was not expecting the grapes to be so ripe yet that I’d forgotten my gear. I had my clippers, but no buckets, and two blocks of Chardonnay that needed sampling!
Lucky for me, Kirk also raises pigs. That’s when he handed me a large, transparent, blue plastic sock, with an elasticized top, meant for pulling on over one’s boots while mucking around pigsties. This would be the perfect container for 10-15 pounds of Chardonnay grapes.
How I wish I had a photo of these blue booties filled with grapes, like a neon gift from Santa. My team at the winery were also amused with my new containers for picking. We crushed the grapes from Kirk’s vineyard, tested them and scheduled the harvest for that Saturday.
After I left the winery that day, I got a text from Kirk: “Do you need more pig booties for your other vineyards?” Humor is part of what builds a long-term winery/grower relationship. Along with impeccable fruit quality. We’ll be back for more next year.”
and the Winemaking Team
We love a great glass of McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Zinfandel. Right now it can only be purchased online and is not available in stores! Produced in California, this wine can welcome you into the world of complex reds. From a fruit forward beginning to a hint of spice at the end, this grape is best paired with food (see our pairings below) and can be a great wine to expand your palate! Scientists predict that Zinfandel is one of the oldest grape varietals still being produced today. According to Zinfandel.org, it’s been traced back to 6000 BC. Zinfandel dates back to the 1700’s in the United States, being brought over from Austria into the Boston Harbor.
The late-ripening red Zinfandel wine produces a jammy flavor bursting with fruity aromas of blackberry, cherry, plums, black pepper, and cinnamon with varying levels of oak. A fuller bodied wine that is high in alcohol content, Zinfandel is known for its fruity meets spicy kick with a smoky body. Previously known as California’s grape, it used to be made in a sweeter wine style but is now grown all over the west coast and internationally as well produced in a more dry style.
Zinfandel is a grape that can be largely misunderstood due to the ways in which it was produced in the New World (United States). With grape origin being somewhat of a mystery, scientists are now linking its roots to Croatia. Zinfandel, in Italy, is called Primitivo but while they have different names, they are the same grape.
Zinfandel Tasting Notes
The taste of a Zinfandel wine can vary greatly, depending on the producer, region and winemaking. The style of the wine can be altered with winemaking techniques, making it important to try multiple producers to find your favorite style. Our Zinfandel is a red wine is a lovely purple-tinged ruby red wine with intensely aromatic fresh plum, dried cherry and delicate crushed black pepper followed by soft oak notes and a hint of spicy Madagascar vanilla. This wine has a generously fruit forward palate with bold flavors, berry jam and dried fig with a grand finale of dried cherry and subtle peppercorns.
Due to its unique flavor profile, Zinfandel pairs well with pizza, cheese lasagne, or any other dishes with tart sauces or cheese. It would also pair well with BBQ meat dishes (think juicy ribs) or even a spicy curry. Try any of these dishes with our online exclusive McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic California Zinfandel.
Zinfandel Vs Other Red Wines
A popular red wine comparison can be found in Zinfandel vs Merlot. Merlot is known for its soft, sensual texture, and one of the world's second favorite red wines (after Cab Sauv). It is extremely food friendly and produced for a range of price points. The easy-drinking red has an approachable style that makes it great for those new to red wine. With notes of chocolate and plum, this smooth and velvety medium bodied red wine has a versatility that makes it perfect both on its own and in blends. Zinfandel is typically more jammy than Merlot but both can be made in medium-bodied styles. Zinfandel is usually a more heavy-bodied red wine than your typical Merlot.
Another comparison we hear about often is Zinfandel vs Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is a popular light bodied red wine native to Burgundy, France, that is known for its flower and spice aromas which are complemented by a smooth finish. Despite being notoriously difficult to grow, the internationally produced wine is one of the few fruits that is often made into red, rosé, white, and sparkling wine. Typical flavors of a French Pinot Noir will be mushroom, cherry, potting soil and rose. Pinot is a lighter-bodied red wine. There are less intense ripe fruit notes than on Zinfandel.
Have you been enjoying our wine guides? If you're hoping to learn more about the wines you drink, join our McBride Certified Wine 101 community for a wine course to learn all things wine, winemaking and wine tasting to give you the tools to feel comfortable in any situation.
Black Girl Magic: Bold on purpose, sweet by design, refreshingly complex.
It was at ESSENCE Fest 2018 where we first launched our McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic label. The incredible event is a “Party with a Purpose,” put on by ESSENCE Magazine, which has grown over 27 years to be one of the premiere gatherings for Black music, entertainment and culture — drawing averages of 500,000 attendees annually. It was a festival where thousands of Black women came together in one place to empower, educate and elevate during the day and party(with a purpose)at the music festival at night. Headlining with TRUE icons - we’re talkin’ Beyoncé, Barack & Michelle Obama, Missy Elliott, Diana Ross, and many more.
“ESSENCE is where Black Women Come First for news, entertainment, and motivation.”
When we launched the label in 2018, it also happened to be the first time New Orleans had a Black woman mayor, LaToya Cantrell. Since ESSENCE Fest is such a huge contributor to the city, the mayor hosted the opening party and we knew that’s where we wanted to introduce McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic to the world.
We only launched one wine in 2018. Riesling, a noble grape that originated from the Alsace region of France, was one of our favorites. It’s beautifully floral, with jasmine, honey and punch-you-in-your nose aromatics. Our style of Riesling remixed the traditions; you know the way that we do it! We wanted gorgeous acidity balanced with residual sugar. It was at the Essence Fest opening party where we announced our McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Riesling. And let me say we have NEVER in our lives had people respond to a label and to a bottle of wine the way that they did that weekend. We ran out of this inaugural Riesling so quickly, that we knew right away we needed to give this label the attention it deserved. Robin & I tapped into something really special, something rare.
Since the incredible launch of our McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Riesling, we’ve added a Red Blend, Rosé, Sparkling Burt, Merlot and Zinfandel to our the Black Girl Magic collection. These wines and this label have received so much love from you all! We see your amazing Instagram posts showcasing your Black Girl Magic and that’s the reason we made this brand.
McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic was cultivated at a time when we were seeing Black women breaking barriers as judges, scientists and in sports and entertainment. Black women were a huge part of the wine industry consumer demographic but were being underserved. If we were to honor the direct women in our family and the women within our community with a wine to celebrate their beauty and their resilience, what would that label look like?
Black women have been at the forefront of beauty, culture and style since the dawn of time -- yet are always last when it comes to products and services designed with them in mind. If our mission has always been to shake up the industry, how can you really drive innovation and serve people from diverse backgrounds in different countries and cultures if you have a small exclusive demographic of people making all of the decisions? It was time for Black women and everyone who supports Black culture to have a wine that was made with Her in mind. Black Girl Magic is more than a phrase. It’s a feeling. A look. A mood. A taste. Our wines are a celebration for us, by us, of all the things passed down from our ancestors to today. Our features, our skin, our beauty, our magic … and the wine inspired by it all.
These wines were made to celebrate the groundbreaking accomplishments of Black women including the small victories. Whether you’re sipping on them after work or for your wedding, there’s an indescribable joy in turning lowkey moments into unforgettable celebrations. That’s the power of these wines, we can turn ANY vibe into a celebration.
She is fun, fresh and fly. Sun-kissed and ripe. Full-bodied and luscious. She is one of a kind, she is McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Wines.
It’s time to elevate your charcuterie board prep skills & have the wine pairings ready to go - we’re ready to entertain!
How To: Build Your Board
Our Go-To Wine Pairings:
Crisp, dry white wines
Crisp, lighter-bodied white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris or a bubbly Sparkling Brut pair well with fresh, unripened cheeses such as mozzarella, feta and burrata. Fresh, young and soft cheeses are perfect with our crisp McBride Sisters Collection Sauvignon Blanc, our new McBride Sisters Collection Pinot Gris or the McBride Sisters Collection Sparkling Brut Rosé — turn any vibe into a celebration!
Fruit forward, medium bodied white wines
White wines that are more fruit forward and medium bodied with subtle oak pair well with creamy cheeses like Brie or Camembert or with your salty charcuterie, like salami or prosciutto. We highly recommend our McBride Sisters Collection Chardonnay from Central Coast, California to pair with your soft, buttery cheeses + aged, cured meats.
Medium-heavy bodied, fruit forward red wines
Aged cheeses pair perfectly with the medium to heavy bodied red wines with complex tannins. Wines with ripe fruit profiles such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. These cheeses include Cheddar, Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano, with a bite of berry jam or chutney. Reach for our McBride Sisters Collection Red Blend, a balanced blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Sip on this with one of these hard cheeses and jam, thank us later!
Thank you to everyone for your kind & thoughtful birthday wishes this year. This one is really special to me. For my birthday, I’ve wished for all women to feel empowered. Not a small feat, but we’re asking you to contribute to a cause that’s close to our hearts. A contribution can be a pledge to raise women up at your company, encourage your best friends to apply for that dream job or if possible, donate to our professional development scholarship program. But before that, I want to tell you a little more about where our drive to shake up the industry and empower women throughout business originates from. I’m hoping to give this amazing community a look into who I am and this company I’ve built with my sister, Andréa. I think the story of my life as a woman becoming an entrepreneur, in a male dominated industry, leads perfectly into the purpose and drive we have to empower other women with our McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund.
As you know, I’m Robin McBride — the other half of this sister run company. I am currently the head of winemaking operations, human resources, finance and our direct to consumer program. My role taps into the things that I care about the most, the science of grape growing and winemaking, my interest in people and my drive to run my own business.In a speed round of “get to know me”, here are some of my favorite things!
- The cocktail I’m always reaching for is a French 75, that’s why we made our own twist on the classic. Mix up our Oakland 75 using our McBride Sisters Collection Sparkling Brut Rosé for your new favorite drink!
- I love farm life. Cultivating from the earth and living on land that has a purpose. I eventually hope to make my own cheese and raise my own goats
- I love music, Bossanova is close to my heart as my grandma used to listen to when I was younger. My eclectic taste is rooted in memories and moments that a song can take me back to and Lizzo just makes me feel amazing. Here is my birthday spotify playlist, turn the music up!
- My favorite wine ever is Chateau Y’quem, a Sauterne from France where I ended up working a harvest!
Why Wine? Becoming An Entrepreneur
I get asked often who my role models in wine or business were and truthfully I really didn’t have any. When I was growing up I wanted to be so many things, from a flower farmer, a volcanologist, and a particle physicist. I always loved science and I knew my dream job needed to include science. Wine was always in my life growing up in Monterey, California. As one of the main industries in that area, I was surrounded by vineyards and wine professionals.
The reason I started to thoughtfully pursue a career in wine was because I felt that wine, as a product and process, ties in with agriculture and a social experience. It’s not only an incredibly complex product that taps into my childhood dreams of wanting to do things in science and chemistry, but it also is something made for people to enjoy. They can laugh, cry, give a toast, share stories and connect with others over a simple, yet tasty, glass of wine. Wine is science, wine is agriculture and wine is an experience.
As an adult, I was having dinner with friends for our weekly Sopranos night, we’d watch an episode and my friend would chef up an italian dish from the show. One night, we had finished a bottle of Merlot and brought out another bottle of Merlot from the same place, with the same terroir. The wine was completely different. It caught my attention and I couldn’t shake my interest. What are these winemakers doing to make these products so different? I felt all of my interests in the chemistry and biological processes ignited as I continued to think about how much went into a bottle of wine and the power you had to alter the experience. Wine, for me, was never the same. I was hooked.
When I first met Andréa, the bond and relationship truly solidified so many things for me. First off, Andréa’s uncle in New Zealand was a grapegrower and she had also grown up in wine country. Further reinforcing that I needed to explore this industry and now I had her by my side. At the time, I was living in Atlanta. I had moved there after one visit because I was so amazed to see Black Excellence and professionals and universities in the 90s. I saw so much success in the Black community and such incredible culture. It was a really cool melting pot and I saw so much opportunity.
We get asked a lot why we eventually chose to build our business out of Oakland. And we like to tell em’ loud and proud that Oakland is where it's at! When we started making our own wines, I was commuting from the Central Coast, where I chose to raise my twins. Being close to San Francisco was key as it is a business hub and brought us closer to Northern wine country. But in the end, we chose Oakland because we wanted to find a place that had heart. Culturally, Oakland was a better fit and at the time a resurgence in the culinary and wine scene had begun. The city felt diverse and creative.
Empowering Women Along The Way
We wanted to break the rules of the wine industry but more importantly break the unwritten rules of women being pushed to the side. I grew up around only strong, independent women and am still under the impression that you don’t need men to make something successful. It was appalling to see the inequity in the business. Not only what Andréa and I experienced, but also witnessed across industries. Luckily, we're tough and were not going to be pushed off our path. But some women are not so lucky. It was painful to see the talent of the women in the industry being held back by the archaic nature of the business. The second we had a penny or a minute, we wanted to make sure we did something to help change that. That’s why we started our McBride Sisters SHE CAN FUND.
Our Impact To Date
The McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund stems from the mission Andréa and I focused on from the beginning — We want to transform the industry, lead by example, and cultivate community, one delicious glass of wine, at a time. As our company grew, so did our goals to help empower, educate and support women in their careers. We need more women in leadership positions, that’s why the SHE CAN Fund is investing in women. We’re helping build the next generation of women leaders by supporting the continued education, coaching and professional certifications for women working in traditionally male-dominated fields through our non-profit. You can now donate directly to the fund and learn more about the 42 women that have been awarded professional grants & scholarships so far on our website here.
Are you able to Donate? Find direct access to donate to our McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund here.
This year for my birthday, I want women to be empowered. I want to do my part in raising up the next generation of women leaders and create pathways for them to work their way to the top, where they belong. The moment Andréa and I had a penny or a minute to spare, we wanted to make sure we did something to help change these gender inequalities in business — and we have no plans on stopping anytime soon. Celebrate with me and wherever you can, raise up the women in your life. SHE CAN do anything.
White and rosé wines are popular during the summer months because they're usually served chilled, making them so crisp & refreshing. They are placed in ice buckets at your table while dining out and pulled out of the fridge on warm Saturday afternoons to drink on a sun-drenched patio. We've been told that white and rosé wine varietals belong in the fridge and red wine belongs on the wine rack, served only at room temperature. We don't know who wrote these rules on wine drinking, but we’re here to break them once and for all! This summer, let your red wines have the limelight and serve them chilled. We promise, you’ll never want to go back.
The beauty of a chilled red wine is that as you sip, it will slowly warm up in the glass, making every sip a little bit different from the last — giving you the full expression of the wine. When red wine is chilled, the warm fruit and hot alcohol will be slightly muted, resulting in a crisp and refreshing mouthfeel while maintaining the tannic structure and boldness of the wine. As it warms in your glass back to room temperature, you are slowly introduced to the flavor characteristics and the influence of the alcohol and tannin.
Since you’re still reading, we know you’re interested! Read on to find out:
- The best red wine varietals to serve chilled
- How to successfully chill your wine to the perfect temperature
- Our favorite chilled red wine cocktail recipe and food pairing
Make chilled reds your new summer crush!
Which Wines To Chill?
Truth be told, sometimes we chill all of our red wines! Why? Because we love the flavor expression and evolution of the wine in the glass. Also, in the warm summer months our red wines get too warm and it can ruin the complexity and depth of the wine when they’ve warmed above room temperature.
But as a rule of thumb, the best reds to enjoy chilled are usually light to medium bodied with a lower alcohol volume. It’s best to avoid heavy reds with heavy tannin and oak influence. We’d recommend focusing on lighter, fruitier red wines. Young bright Pinot Noirs, Beaujolais from the juicy Gamay grape, or Cabernet Francs from cooler climate regions are ideal for chilling.
- Try chilling our vibrant and opulent Reserve Pinot Noir, which has succulent aromas of crushed raspberry, rhubarb and candied cherry. We’re always reaching for a Pinot Noir when we want a nicely chilled red wine. Pair with a warm summer evening, grilled salmon and vegetable kabobs.
- For a wine that’s more full-bodied, chill our McBride Sisters Collection Wines 2019 California Red Blend about 20 minutes before you’re ready to sip. Enticing black cherry and warm cocoa aromas are mixed with fresh raspberry and plum on the nose. As the wine warms up, the nose evolves into toasty oak, vanilla and black tea leaves. Chocolate and cherry follow you into the palate with luscious and silky tannins. It’s a great wine to pair with seared tuna or a filet mignon. Get the wine in our Bold & Boujie red wine six pack here.
Even though some reds may be more suitable for chilling, we suggest you try chilling any red varieties you want and see what works best for your taste and palate!
Be mindful of approaching chilling red wine with care, as overchilling can alter the flavor profile. The key is to make sure the wine is chilled but not cold. According to Vinepair, if a red wine is too cold, below 55 degrees, the flavors will almost be completely muted making the astringency a bit overwhelming. Here’s a few tips to maximize your cool red wine experience:
- Chill your wine in the fridge for approximately 30-40 minutes before drinking
- Use a metal or plastic wine cooler (or ice bucket) to help keep the temperature low once the wine is out of the fridge
- Avoid adding ice cubes to your glass as it will water down the wine
- For those in a hurry, pop the bottle in a freezer for 8-10 minutes
We absolutely love wine tasting. You get to try wines from across the globe and learn about your palate, which is how you individually identify characteristics of wine through sight, smell and taste — while also spending time with your partner, friends, family or all of the above. We consider wine-tasting elevated day drinking and it’s fun to do at home. You can dress up all fancy, try different wine varietals, set up a delicious spread and enjoy the day. With incredible weather, sunny beach days, and ideal outdoor temperatures, summer is the perfect time to throw a wine-tasting party!
You don’t have to be a wine expert to host a wine-tasting party. To simplify the process, we have provided you with a guide to everything you need to have an exciting self-hosted wine-tasting event. Pro tip: Invite those you enjoy drinking with the most!
Party Tips & Tricks
One of the key ingredients for a successful wine-tasting party is preparation.
- Store white and rosé wines in an ice bucket or fridge to ensure each wine is served at its optimal recommended temperature. But don’t serve them too cold or the aromas and flavors will be muted.
- A classic clear wine glass is the best glass to use as a default if every guest is given one glass each. Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson’s The One is designed to suit red, white, rosé, and bubbly - a must for our next wine-tasting party!
- It’s important to always have snacks at a wine-tasting table for the hungry guests, but also to help cleanse your palate between wines. While the guests are snacking, ask them to take note of which snacks pair well with which wines and compare them after the tasting!
- For snacks, a cheese board is always a good idea. Have each guest bring their favorite cheese, charcuterie and fruit and build the ultimate cheese board.
- Other fun snacks to try: Caprese skewers, hummus plates, sliders, chicken wings, popcorn or other snacks are a great go-to — more recipes and ideas below!
- Embrace the seasonal colors and decorate the space with summer flowers and unscented candles to highlight the accents and set the mood.
- Welcome tip: When guests arrive, set the party mood by handing them a surprise glass of white wine when they walk into the party. Once all the guests have arrived, ask everyone to guess which wine they are drinking. A small gift goes to the winner!
The Wine List:
You'll want at least one white and one red for your event but ideally, it’s great to try to have two whites, two reds, a rosé, and a sparkling wine in order to taste them all side by side.
- Our most highly recommended wine-tasting set of wines is our McBride Sisters Collection Reserve Wines. This California Reserve Wine Set includes our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Reserves are single vineyard wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County. This gift set is perfect for your smaller and more intimate wine-tasting party. These wines are complex and express their terroir beautifully.
- For larger wine-tasting parties, look no further than our McBride Certified Tasting Pack. This 9-bottle pack of wines includes an array from our collections to give you the full lineup. We recommend starting with the Sparkling Brut and ending with the Zinfandel.
- Plates and utensils to dig into the canapes!
- A discard bucket to use if someone chooses to not finish their wine.
- Water to rinse out the glass and keep everyone hydrated between glasses.
- Pen and paper for each guest to take notes on the wines being served.
Themed Party Ideas
It’s always fun to add a unique element to a wine tasting by creating a theme for the night! Try some of these different theme ideas to make your wine-tasting one to remember:
- Cool California Classics: When all the leaves are green and the sky is golden, California dreamin’ becomes a beautiful reality. Make a playlist of Californian bands and arrange the tasting around Californian wines. Try our sophisticated California Reserve Wine Set (Chardonnay & Pinot Noir) and pair it with Californian canapes, such as this California-style shrimp cocktail, which will complement our Chardonnay perfectly.
- A Summer’s Night in Tuscany: Transport your guests to the romantic hills of Tuscany, where beautiful architecture meets fresh produce and breathtaking scenery. Create an Italian playlist, an all-Italian cheese plate complete with olives, and decorate the area with vines to really set the mood.
- Show & Storytelling: Ask each guest to share a story that corresponds with their favorite glass of the night, this could be a story the wine reminds them of, a drinking experience that they just can’t forget or maybe their dream destination to be enjoying the glass of wine. Alternatively, for a more educational experience, ask each guest to prepare 1-2 facts about the wines of the night and have each share their facts while sipping the corresponding wine, this would require telling them the wines in advance!
- Guess the Price: A variation of blind tasting, this game focuses on guests guessing the price of wines being served. Have everyone taste each wine and rank them in order of low to high, along with their reasons for choosing so. This fun game will work well with our California Reserve Wine Set, which is on the higher end, in comparison to our McBride Sisters Collection Black Girl Magic Trio, our most popular, but lower in price point than the Reserve Wines.
Wine & Food Pairings
Light whites with fruity or vanilla hints and floral rosés make the ideal summer drink, but we can’t forget about a vibrant and opulent Pinot Noir or a cherry plum Red Blend. The perfect summer wine can be based on cooling you down in the hot climate, or it can come down to pairing with your favorite dishes - the choice is yours!
For this wine-tasting party we’re exploring untraditional and elevated food pairings to match our prestigious California Reserve Wine Set and McBride Certified Tasting Pack. Open the tasting with some truffle popcorn, and save the rest of the food until after the tasting activities to ensure a clear palate. If guests get hungry in between tastings, you could also have a cheese board to snack on. Check out our cheese board guide here.
Wine Tasting Key Vocabulary
Impress your guests with some of our wine-tasting key vocabulary words below, it’s a great way to teach your wine-loving guests more about the wine-tasting process and give them the chance to become an expert as well!
- Palate: The sensory experience that you have individually while the wine is in your mouth. Understanding your palate is more than just the flavor of the wine in your mouth, it's the physical sensations (acid, sweetness, astringency, etc) of the wine after you take a sip.
- Aroma: The sensory experience of smelling and sniffing the wine, aroma also contributes to the flavors you taste when the wine is in your mouth. Aromas of a wine can also change the longer it is exposed to the air, oxygen so be sure to go back and smell the wine multiple times throughout the tasting.
- Terroir: The natural environment where a wine is produced and the grapes are grown. This includes the soil where the vines are planted, topography, climate and other factors that influence the composition and characteristics of the wine.
- 5 S’s of Wine Tasting: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Savor — the 5 S's are the 5 steps to tasting wine in order to activate your senses and identify the different characteristics of the wine. The 5 S's are steps to understand the wine's characteristics.
- Single vineyard: A wine where all of the grapes that go into the winemaking process for a wine come from a single vineyard. This can be from different vineyard blocks or even all from the same vineyard block. Single vineyard wines are not blends from multiple vineyards and are considered representative of the terroir of where they are grown.
- Vintage: The year that's present on the wine label, this is the year the grapes were harvested from the vines to begin the winemaking process.
To optimize your wine-tasting experience and provide the most enjoyable event, consider these final tips.
- Keep in mind the order of tasting. Not an absolute must, but aim to follow the order of wines to taste, starting with sparkling then working your way from lighter to heavier.
- To take things to the professional level, share the 5 S’s of wine tasting with your guests prior to taking your first sip. See, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor.
But most importantly, enjoy yourself! Wine tastings can often be intimidating, but we’re here to break the rules. It's time to drink the wine, however, whenever and wherever you want. Cheers!
The Perfect Summer Wine
The wine of the summer! Chardonnay is made in some of the world's most iconic winegrowing regions and is one of the most popular and loved white wines. For us, this grape varietal gives us the opportunity to break the rules of fine winemaking. Chardonnay can be medium-full bodied, cool or warm climate, unoaked or rich in oak. The winemaker can cultivate and create the style that they love, for us, we love a cooler climate Chardonnay with light to minimal oak because we want the varietal characteristics to shine through.
Our McBride Sisters Collection Central Coast Chardonnay 2019 is a wine we cannot live without. It’s a crowd pleaser at all of our events and one of our favorite wines to sip with a summer cheeseboard. This is not your gramma's Chardonnay. Drinks well with salmon garnished with fresh dill, Alfredo pasta with spring peas, or grilled portobello mushrooms. It’s not only a seasonal wine, you’ll find our glasses filled with Chardonnay all year round.
This white wine is the perfect match for fresh seafood, buttery chicken, and caramelized vegetable dishes. A wine we love, always have in our wine rack and part of the story of Robin’s journey into winemaking. Celebrate this wonderful wine with us as we delve into the history, pairing suggestions, and recipes for Chardonnay.
We recently released our new McBride Sisters Collection Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2019. This wine, called The Great Escape is very special to us and comes from one of the most incredible winegrowing regions in California. The Santa Lucia Highlands are located in Monterey County, California and given the proximity to the Pacific Ocean, unique topography and California sunshine, you're left with what we think are some of the best vineyards in the world. The Great Escape embodies our love for the Chardonnay grape, the beauty of Monterey County and the childhood memories that have brought us to winemaking.
Learn more about the story behind the name and label on our website here.
“When I was a baby, my mom drove our bright red Volkswagen bug up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to a small town called Monterey. This is where I fell in love with vineyards and winemaking.” - Robin McBride
The Chardonnay Grape
The world’s most popular white wine originated in the Burgundy region of France, with the earliest reference to the wine dating back to 1330. It wasn’t until the 18th century that Chardonnay was introduced to California by Spanish missionaries who planted the first vineyards in Alta California. The popularity of the light green grape grew rapidly over time, now being responsible for over 93,148 acres of vineyards, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual 2018 report.
A rich, buttery flavor is what comes to the majority of people’s minds when they hear “California Chardonnay.” But that’s because that style of California Chardonnay become widely produced and popular until more recently. California has varying regions and microclimates that have a range of cool and warm climate conditions in the vineyards.
Other than California and France, Chardonnay is also cultivated in the majority of major wine regions around the world, from New Zealand to Chile, and Australia to South Africa. All producing great wines in unique and regional styles. Our Reserve Chardonnay is breaking away from the overly oaked style and using minimal oak to complement the grape and terroir characteristics instead of overpowering it. The maritime influence from the vineyard proximity to the ocean gives this wine it's special and delicious qualities. See the where the vineyard is located below.
Chardonnay is a chameleon of a wine, with its flavors varying depending on the terroir (where it is grown and the climate, soil and topography conditions of the region), and the winemaking decisions, including how much new oak that is used in the ageing process and how long it’s in contact. Cooler climate Chardonnays can have gorgeous notes of apricots and citrus, and warmer climates can showcase tropical fruit and honey flavors.
The Ideal Pairing Dos and Don'ts
The perfect wine of the summer, Chardonnay is an easy wine for food pairings due to its versatile flavor profile. Whether you feel like whipping up a refreshing seafood salad, or a spring vegetable risotto, Chardonnay is the ideal drink to accompany you on a warm summer day. Below are our families pairing dos and don’ts to make sure you have the best experience possible. Cheers!
- Serve Chardonnay with mild, creamy or buttery dishes.
- Accompany with hearty fishes such as cod or halibut as well as shellfish, such as shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, scallops, oysters, and mussels.
- Pair with pork and poultry dishes that have subtle flavors and plain seasonings.
- Accompany oaky Chardonnay with foods that have a smoked or toasty flavor, such as roasted nuts or baked bread.
- Pair Chardonnay with sweet flavored and silky textured foods, such as caramelized roast vegetables, sweet corn, creamy soups, and risottos.
- Pair with aggressively, overseasoned foods and spicy dishes typically found in Indian and Southeast Asian meals. Also avoid pungent or over flavored cheeses.
- Pair with acidic or bitter foods that can make the Chardonnay taste sour or enhance the bitter aftertaste.
- Leave Chardonnay sitting on the table, or serve it too cold as this can reduce it’s pairing abilities. Aim to remove the bottle 15 to 20 minutes from the fridge and let it warm up to approximately 40 degrees.
Now that we have run through the dos and don’ts of food pairings, it's time to indulge in some delicious food recipes to try this season. Whip them up for your next happy hour on the patio, cheeseboard at the park or girls night at home.
Cheese Pairings & Snacks
Pair unoaked Chardonnay with soft and creamy cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Mozzarella and Ricotta. Oaked Chardonnay pairs well with semi-soft aged cheeses with nutty flavors, such as Gruyère, Emmental and Comté.
The rich, buttery flavors of this French-inspired dish pair perfectly with our fruity, yet balanced McBride Sisters Collection Central Coast Chardonnay. These salmon rillettes make a delicious appetizer, or a snack to take for a picnic on the beach!
The main course. You can sip on Chardonnay by itself, with appetizers, entrées and even dessert. These are our go-to summer recipes using fresh seafood and savory chicken. Do you have a favorite Chardonnay pairing?
Chef John's Bay Scallop Chowder
Scallops and Chardonnay are a match made in heaven, and this creamy chowder, complete with Yukon Gold potatoes, is no exception. This dish makes an excellent meal for a dinner party, or a chill night at home where you want to indulge in comfort foods.
Dijon-Tarragon Cream Chicken
The chicken dish we make every week, a Dijon-Tarragon Cream Chicken recipe that is full of Chardonnay-lovin’ ingredients. Pair with a fresh side salad and a glass of our crispy and beautifully balanced McBride Sisters Collection Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2019 and you’re all set for a summer date night, solo or with company.
Butter Pecan Crunch
Ice-cream makes the ideal summer treat anytime, but when combined with vanilla and butter pecan flavors, the result is a mouthwatering dessert that pairs perfectly with the lemon curd and honey flavors of our McBride Sisters Collection Central Coast Chardonnay.
Image via Spaceships and Laser Beams & recipe here.
For us, Chardonnay is so much more than just a wine, it is part of our heritage and heart, it is an origin story. Taste our Chardonnays and get ready for your next summer feast by ordering on our website here or finding the wines in store near you. Get out and enjoy your summer, one glass of Chardonnay at a time!