Finding Quality, Affordable Wine in Your Own Backyard

Since my husband and I began drinking and enjoying wine on a somewhat regular basis we’ve discovered that you quickly tap out your local liquor store in a hurry. Most neighborhood stores carry the general, “bar” wines and big name labels you can get anyplace and it’s hard to find unique wines that you haven’t tried before. Here are some ways we’ve found that you can expand your repertoire without breaking the bank or traveling to far-off wine regions!

  1. Find a locally-owned liquor store that specializes in wines and make friends with the owner. Over time he/she will learn your tastes and will start to look out for wines you might enjoy. Sometimes they can even order specific wines you might have heard about that you want to try. My favorite in the Syracuse area is Vinomania, run by Gary Decker.
  2. If you are fortunate to live near a wine region, by all means visit! And while you’re tasting decide that you will purchase at least one bottle at each winery. By the time you’ve completed your journey you will likely have a new case of wines to enjoy.
  3. Sign up for a wine-of-the-month club, such as the WSJ Wine or Tasting Room. You can cancel at any time but before you think about canceling, you’ll have been introduced to many new types of wines without ever leaving your home. The shipments come complete with tasting notes so you can learn more about the wines as you drink them. Many clubs allow you to specify the types of wines you enjoy the most and some help you discover your tastes, if you aren’t sure!
  4. When visiting wineries, or locating them online, see if they have their own clubs where they regularly ship their wines and sign up! It’s another way to get new wines that you might not find at the local liquor store.

Finally, don’t discount the big box liquor stores in your community. If you have the time and patience, you can still find great buys to diversify your wine palette. Happy drinking!

Slowing Down for Summer Vacation

Summer vacation is in full swing and like many other people, I’ve slowed down a great deal – at work, at home, online, etc. It’s a time to relax and pause to take inventory of everything in your life, as well as to enjoy the here and now.

Last week we took our annual family vacation trip to Delaware to see my father-in-law. They live about an hour from the beaches so it’s a convenient way for us to visit and to spend some time on the sand with the kids. Each year it’s a little more fun for the kids. Christopher now splashes around and makes sand castles and the girls can swim better this year than last. They look forward to it and we have fun watching them enjoy themselves. While on the trip, I tried a German red wine made from the Dornfelder grape. It was a lot sweeter than I expected it to be and it went very well with the non pareils I bought on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk’s Candy Kitchen!

While there we also stopped at Atlantic Liquors to stock up. The store has a wide variety of wines and liquors at discount prices, plus no tax. I put together a hodgepodge of wines from different regions. Since returning home, we’ve sampled a few!

My favorite so far this summer has been a Merlot from Red Rock. Yum!

It’s the latter part of July now and time to turn attention to the next school year. I’m teaching two public relations classes at the Newhouse School this fall, plus we’re busy preparing for the upcoming year at the Whitman School, as well. The girls start summer camp for two weeks next week. Busy! Busy! I’m sure we’ll continue to find great wines to accompany the fun!

Official Start to My Summer

So I haven’t posted in a while because I was busy starting my summer in earnest. I took the last week of June off for a “staycation” with the kids. We saw “Finding Dory,” took a trip to The Wild in Chittenango, N.Y. and picked raspberries among many other activities. Best part? I took a break from the computer for the week. No emailing, no blogging and no work. It was nice to just check out and hang out with the kids, spending time and enjoying the beautiful Upstate New York weather we’ve been having.

The ending to my time off coincided with the 4th of July holiday. To celebrate, we opened a bottle of Big Head Wine’s 2013 Syrah Select. This wine was perfect for the 240th birthday of our nation. It was big. It was red. And it was delicious! Funny thing is, I normally don’t really like Syrah much. It’s too peppery for my tastes. But this one didn’t even taste like other Syrah’s I’ve had. One of the reasons is the winemaker’s apassimento style of drying the grapes prior to fermenting them into wine. It’s an Italian approach and one that I think really brings out the unique flavors of the grape.

We had a few other wines over the weekend, as well, but none that spiced up our holiday as much as Big Head Syrah! Happy drinking!

Closing Out Father’s Day Weekend with a Shiraz from Canada

Another Father’s Day weekend is in the books. After spending Saturday strawberry picking and making jam, we relaxed on Sunday at my parents’ house in the pool and on the deck.

My father has always been the one to push me the hardest and expects the most from me. I often resent it but then I also realize it’s made me who I am today. It’s still hard for me to hear his criticism sometimes and often I don’t even think he realizes he comes across that way. My husband says my dad is my biggest fan. I suppose that’s how dad’s are supposed to be, particularly with oldest children and the only daughter. While we haven’t always seen eye to eye, as I get older, I try.

The perfect wine to end a day of reflecting on my relationship with my father turned out to be the Shiraz my husband chose to accompany our Outlander viewing. From Niagara-on-the-Lake, this wine is bursting with bold fruity flavor. Kind of like a bold, strong-willed father! So while it wasn’t my turn to pick the wine last night, it turned out to be the perfect ending to the holiday weekend and beginning to what we hope is a long, hot summer!


New Title, New Look

So I’ve been wanting to get into blogging again, somewhat for my own enjoyment but also so I can help my students learn how to  be excellent bloggers themselves. I decided I needed a fresh start and a new look so “A Wine for all Times” was born! I will continue to write on all the same topics surrounding public relations, motherhood and life but this time, I’ll share my thoughts through the lens of wine. You will both learn more about wine and you will hopefully enjoy  my stories, as well.

Louis Pasteur once said, “A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world. ” I tend to agree. Cheers!

It’s All Fun and Games Until…

So this week is the busiest of the school year in terms of extracurricular activities. A couple of weeks ago, Maria had her fourth-grade chorus concert. This past week, she had a band concert (she plays saxophone), followed by Lucia’s kindergarten show and then both girls’ participation in Liverpool Elementary School’s annual “Gator Games,” named after the official “gator” mascot.

I try to take time away from work to experience all these events with the girls. They are so appreciative and happy when I can come support them. I think they know it’s not easy to get away from work and they know I really do love them when I make it happen.

But as much as I enjoy watching them have fun, it’s nostalgic and bittersweet for me, too. I cried like a baby when Lucia’s slide show started… all the songs attached to the photos of their past year of kindergarten were so sappy. And when the slide said “Class of 2028,” I nearly lost it! What will our lives be like in 2028? I can’t even imagine.

Funny thing is, as I looked around the room, there were only a few others who looked teary-eyed. I wondered why more people didn’t seem moved by the whole thing. Maybe it’s their first child and they don’t know any better yet!

I do know better. Time doesn’t slow no matter how much we want it to. My mom recently shared this song with me that sums it up perfectly. Slow down. Enjoy the moments. They are all we have.

Winter Days

So this usually is the time of year when I have time to devote to my hobbies and career development. Long, cold snowy days make it easy to justify staying warm inside reading, cross stitching, scrapbooking or whatever. This year, though, I feel like I just can’t get into anything. I’m more content to just read fun books and/or snooze on the couch. I suppose it’s only January so maybe my productivity mojo will kick in soon. How do you jump start your productivity this time of year?

Baldwin Artist Grand Piano For Sale – Asking $10,000

Baldwin M1 artist grand piano
Baldwin M1 artist grand piano

Make: Baldwin
Model: M1 Artist Grand
Serial Number: M1 EBY 380578
Age: Approx. 11 years
Size: 5′ 1″
Last tuned: 12/2014
Asking price: $10,000
Location: Liverpool, New York

This piano is one of the last manufactured by Baldwin in the United States. With a concert sound, it fits comfortably in a living room. It’s being sold due to a divorce settlement. This instrument is well maintained, and in extremely good condition; no repairs are needed. Asking price is in line with recent appraisal. Price includes artist bench and heavy duty piano cover.

• Type:  Grand
• Finish: Ebony
• Comments: Excellent Condition-Well Cared For.
• Your Name: Kerri Howell
• Your Contact Email:
• Your Phone Number: 315-406-6766

Baldwin certified seal
artist bench included in sale price
piano cover included in sale price
piano last tuned in December, 2014



Customer Service Fail

So I am sitting here very sad this morning. Sad because a vendor that I have always loved and used for a variety of my family’s keepsakes has disappointed me so much that I can never use them again. I’m talking about Tiny Prints, a division of Shutterfly. Just this past year alone, I used Tiny Prints for my son’s baptism invitations and my daughter’s first communion. I’ve used Shutterfly for three photo albums and a photo card. But, never again.


That’s because this vendor has completely and totally botched an order for my place of employment. They have reprinted our cards FIVE times! And are nearly three weeks late with delivery of the last batch. What’s more, since Wednesday they have said these cards will be here “tomorrow” and now it’s Sunday and we still don’t have them. My colleagues are upset with me that their cards are not going to be here in time for Christmas and I am beside myself at the horrible customer service we’ve received.


I can no longer trust this vendor and I would challenge all of you to find a new vendor for these types of services, as well. They don’t deserve our business. And I’m sad to share this news this morning.

Baby Food

Last week, it was 80 and sunny. The family all went to pick apples at Behling Orchard.

Today is a rainy, fall day in Syracuse, N.Y. So I did what any crazy mom would do with bushels of apples…I am making homemade applesauce for my baby!

He’s just starting to eat solid food but doesn’t much care for the rice cereal we’ve tried. Still it’s only a matter of time and what better way to nourish this growing boy than with yummy New York apples?

I’m doing it in a crock pot and will blend it smooth with an immersion blender. Then I’ll put it all into small jars and preserve it until it’s time for him to eat. I can’t wait!

What homemade foods have you made for your baby?