Judy’s Comments

The Centenary Stage Women's Playwright Series

The Centenary Stage Women's Playwright Series

If you haven't seen a play from the Women Playwrights Series, you are really missing out on a quality production. Take a break from life and go with some friends or family to see a very well-written and directed play by some exceptional women! Now in its 22nd year, the Centenary Stage Company Women Playwrights Series ( WPS) presents 3-4 new plays each year in rehearsed staged readings throughout the month of April. Led by Program Director Catherine Rust, the WPS is dedicated to providing a working forum for the unique and underserved voice of women writing for the theater today. The Series features the finalists in the Susan Glaspell contest, which offers the winner further development support worth $35,000 in a full production on the CSC professional Equity main-stage season, as well as a cash payment to the author.

Their second play in the line-up will be "In the Car with Blossom and Lent" by Joni Fritz, which will be presented on Wednesday, April 26th at 7:30pm in the Lackland Center in Hackettstown. In this funny and poignant new play, a basket full of unpaid bills for chemical engineer Lenny Gold's laboratory is discovered by one of his adult daughters, unveiling a lifetime of secrets, a mysterious silent partner, and a few other challenges which must be met by this family. "In the Car.." is a delightful family saga about growing up, growing older and .. where you put the keys.

Playwright Joni Fritz has worked in theatre and television as a writer and actress, with appearances in NYC and regional theatre, film, television and commercials. Her writing credits run the gamut from theatre to videos, documentaries , and sketch comedy for USA Network. Most recently, Joni's play "Girl's Room," starring Broadway legends Carol Lawrence and Donna McKechnie, directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, enjoyed successful runs in NY and LA. Her work has been seen in several theatres in the NYC area, including Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Women's Theatre Company and Dreamcatcher Rep. She is a member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA and the Dramatist Guild, and resides in Pompton Plains, NJ.

Broadway veteran Lynne Taylor-Corbett helps bring this play to life as director in this Hackettstown presentation. Taylor-Corbett has been nominated for Tony Awards and a Drama Desk Award for Broadway's Swing!, and received Drama Desk and Lortel nominations for My Vaudeville Man and Wanda's World. She recently directed and choreographed a new production of The Seven Deadly Sins for the New York City Ballet with Patti LuPone in the role of Anna. Her choreography can be seen in feature films Footloose and My Blue Heaven and in Disney's stage show, Aladdin, at the Hyperion Theatre in California.

Admission to the "In the Car with Blossom and Len" is by donation and reservations are requested. For reservations and information contact the Centenary Stage Company Box Office at 908-979-0900, or visit online at www.centenarystageco.org.

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Cape May Wine Festival


With Atlantic Ocean as Backdrop, Attendees to Enjoy Great Music, Wine Tasting From 24 of New Jersey's Finest Wineries and Shopping

For the sixth consecutive year, the historic Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal will be the setting for the Cape May Wine Festival sponsored by the Garden State Wine Growers Association on October 6 and 7 from noon-5 p.m. 

At the Festival, attendees will enjoy the fall weather surrounded by the picturesque beauty of the surroundings as they sample over 300 award-winning wines from 24 GSWGA wineries, shop craft tables and listen to great live music. The Festival is held on a grassy field, surrounded on all sides by water. Attendees can watch the arrival and departures of the ferries, walk along the waterfront and boardwalk and enjoy a day of great entertainment, food and wine.  The younger generation will also be entertained as they visit the Kids Zone, which features face painting, sand art and other great fun.

Live music will be provided Saturday by the band Jingo Jive and Sunday by the Funktion Band.

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Jazz & Wine Festival

The Jazz It Up Festival Returns to Allaire State Park on September 1 & 2, 2012.

New Jersey's Largest Wine Festival Features Live Jazz Music and Wine Tasting from Over 20 of New Jersey's Finest Wineries.

New Jersey's largest wine festival will once again headline the Labor Day weekend on Saturday and Sunday, September 1 and 2 from noon to 5 p.m. when the Garden State Wine Growers Association holds its annual Jazz It Up Festival at historic Allaire State Park in Farmingdale.  Sponsored by the Asbury Park Press, the event will once again feature over two dozen GSWGA wineries, sampling nearly 300 different, locally-produced wines along with great live jazz music, craft and food vendors and the ability to tour Allaire State Park's historic 19th century village. 

Tickets for the festival are $25 a person at the gate. Advance discount tickets for $20 can be purchased only at the association website www.newjerseywines.com. Advance ticket purchases are only available online until 11:59 p.m. the Friday night before the Festival begins. All ticket purchases on-site are cash only. Large groups and bus groups can call 609-588-0085 for more information. Admission includes a souvenir wine glass.

The Jazz it Up Festival is a family-fun event. Anyone under 21 is admitted free and children can enjoy the Kid Zone and other kid-friendly attractions on-site, including touring the historic Allaire Village and seeing demonstrations of life in the 19th century bog iron producing community. Costumed interpreters and craftsmen in period garb will explain and demonstrate their trades in their shops in the historic village.

Once again, a highlight of the weekend will be the live jazz entertainment.  This year's featured performers are New Jersey jazz musician B.D. Lenz on Saturday and an appearance by the Tizer Trio on Sunday.

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A Great Spur of the Moment Weekend

My husband Jack had a Board meeting to attend in Concord, NH on a recent Friday. I tagged along to keep him company on the drive. We left at Friday at 5 a.m. along with our 85 pound German Shepherd Faith. When she travels with us we have flexibility.

It's a 320 mile drive each way so, by the time the Board meeting ended at 5, we decided driving back that same night would be just too tough. Rather than just find a motel along the way we elected to divert a bit and head to the NH/MA coast and look for a New England B&B.

Using our smart phone and Google we settled on the Linden Tree Inn (www.lindentreeinn.com) in Rockport. Our original target had been Gloucester but we just could not find anything that appealed to us.

We made it to Rockport, checked in; walked Faith who loves sleeping in the car on trips like this when we stay at a place that does not accept pets, and walked down the hill into town for a great Lobster Dinner at the Fish Shack on Main Street. Jack had the boiled lobster and I had the lobster scampi which was exceptional. The strawberry shortcake for dessert was just like from the good old days, everything fresh and home made.

The town wraps around Rockport Harbor and is simply just a really terrific place for a get-away weekend with lots of interesting small shops and plenty of local places to eat, particularly fish in all of its many forms!View From Restaurant Where We Had Lunch

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NJ Wine Takes Second Place!

History does have a way of repeating itself.  A tasting took place in Princeton on June 8, 2012 modeled in every detail after a wine-world altering event that ocurred in Paris on May 24, 1976.  Many of you may have heard of The Judgment of Paris.  If not, a small wine shop owned by a British man, Steven Spurrier, held a tasting to compare the well-respected French wines against the not-so-well-known California wines.  If it were not for one man, George M. Taber, a Time magazine reporter, the event would have surely been swept under the rug.  Although many from the press were invited, all invitations were declined and only Mr. Taber attended.  Luckily, he happened "not to have anything better to do that day".  Simply put, California stole the show placing first in both red and white.  The event is well documented in Taber's book, Judgment of Paris and very loosely in the movie Bottle Shock.

This time it was The Judgment of Princeton where top French wines were compared against top NJ wines.  The event was held by the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) with Mr. Taber acting as facilitator.  As in Paris, nine judges tasted 10 Chardonnays (4 French and 6 from NJ) and 10 Cabernet Sauvignons or Bordeaux blends (4 French and 6 from NJ).  The wines were randomly ordered.  The outcome was not as shocking as Paris but impressive just the same.  In the white wine tasting, three NJ Chardonnays placed second, third and fourth with one French Chardonnay placing last.  In the red tasting, a NJ wine came in third. The results are below and note that the French wines range in price from $50-$400 where the NJ wines do not.George M. Taber and Unionville Winemaker, Cameron Stark

I, an admitted wine snob, must painfully concede that NJ wines have increasingly improved in quality with white wines taking the lead.  I had the pleasure of tasting the Unionville 2010 Single Vineyard Chardonnay, the second place winner, that same evening and was pleasantly surprised to find the wine quite enjoyable.  Other notables I tasted that evening were the 2011 Pinot Grigio and the 2010 Big O Montage.  Although my wine preferences lie elsewhere, I would encourage us all to visit the wineries.  Besides supporting our NJ wine industry and our farmers, it is a beautiful day in the countryside.  Call your friends and catch an event at one of the NJ wineries.  It is worth taking a look at the winery schedules posted by the Garden State Wine Growers Association.  Cheers to NJ!

White Wine Results:

  1. Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos Mouches 2009 (France)
  2. Unionville Chardonnay Pheasant Hill 2010 (NJ)
  3. Heritage Chardonnay 2010 (NJ)
  4. Silver Decoy "Black Feather" Chardonnay (NJ)
  5. Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet (France)
  6. Tied: Bellview Chardonnay 2010 (NJ) & Domaine Macr-Antonin Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2009 (French)
  7. Amalthea Cellars Chardonnay 2008 (NJ)
  8. Ventimiglia Chardonnay 2010 (NJ)
  9. Jean Latour-Labille Meursault-Charmes Premier Cru 2008 (French)

Red Wine Results:

  1. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 2004(France)
  2. Chateau Haut-Brion 2004 (France)
  3. Heritage Estate Reserve BDX 2010 (NJ)
  4. Chateau Montrose 2004 (France)
  5. Tomasello Cabernet Sauvignon "Oak Reserve" 2007 (NJ)
  6. Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2004 (France)
  7. Bellview Lumiere 2010 (NJ)
  8. Silver Decoy Cabernet Franc 2008 (NJ)
  9. Amathea Cellars Europa VI 2008 (NJ)
  10. Four JG's Cabernet Franc 2008

George M. Taber's book, Judgement of Paris: California vs. Paris and the Historic 1976 Tasting that Revolutionized Wine, as well as his new book A Toast to Bargain Wines: How Innovators, Iconoclasts, and Winemaking Revolutionaries Are Changing the Way the World Drinks are available at amazon.com.

Maria Baniel is a Wine Correspondent for Garden State Woman.  She is also a Wine Consultant and offers affordable educational wine seminars and tastings for private, corporate and fundraising events.  To schedule your next wine experience, contact Maria at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Recipe Challenge

Garden State Woman will be sponsoring a monthly Recipe Challenge.  This month’s theme is:  BBQ.  June’s winner will be posted on the GSW website in July.

Detailed recipes submissions should include picture of the prepared recipe, your name, town, your picture and any business information you would like to share with the Garden State Woman audience.  All recipes must be originals and must list ingredients and preparation instructions.  Garden State Woman does not take responsibility for recipes that are not originals.  Recipes for this month’s challenge must be submitted by June 30, 2012.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Here’s a recipe from a Garden State Woman staff member to get you started.


BarbeQued Eggplant Salad

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Parsley, Chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Cut off top of eggplant, remove skin (optional) and slice lengthwise as thin as possible.  Put 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl and brush both sides of the eggplant slices.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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NJ Wine Events Schedule

The month of June is loaded with activity for Garden State Wine Growers Association members and wine consumers across the state. We start the month off with our second outdoor wine festival, scheduled June 9th and 10th on the campus of Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ with a picturesque mountain setting providing the backdrop. Seventeen GSWGA members will be sampling wines at the event. Tickets are $25 per person and include a souvenir glass. Advance tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased by visiting newjerseywines.com. Remember, advance ticket sales end at 11:59 p.m. the night before the Festival begins.

Wineries will host a variety of entertaining events throughout the month including special Father’s Day activities. Check newjerseywines.com/events.html for all the fabulous events coming your way.

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Great Get-Away Spot

The Inn at Starlight Lake in northeastern PA goes back over 100 years and is owned and managed by Sari Schwartz, only its 3rd owner. Starlight Lake resulted from a stream being damned nearly 100 years ago. The Inn is separated from the lake by a country road seldom used. We counted about a car every 30 minutes mid day on a Saturday.

Sari and her late husband had been going to the Inn for decades. She mentioned being there every New Year’s Eve for 19 straight years. That’s how much they cherished their get-away from their home in Connecticut. When the previous owners were ready to sell Sari and her husband bought it as part of their retirement plan. Sari now runs the Inn with the help of her son and daughter who was the Chef the Saturday night we were there. Her daughter and husband recently opened their own bakery shop in Hancock, NY.

We like to travel with Faith, our German Shepherd. The Inn allows “nice” dogs so it was an ideal spot for us to try. One real positive that came out of the overnight get-away is that we learned for the first time that Faith loves the water. As soon as we went lake-side she jumped in and had the time of her life paddling around. The wooden Inn has about 20 rooms. We stayed in an adjoining building with attached rooms that Sari referred to as lake-side cabins. A fan and open windows substituted for air conditioning on the hot evening we were there but it worked. The rooms are certainly peaceful without phone service or a TV. So, it’s either sleep, read or talk once you get to your room.

We had dinner in the Inn on the Friday night we arrived. They serve up until 9. We showed up about 8:30 so we just made it into the dining room. The dinners were excellent. We had their turkey and pork chop entrees and split a really nice vanilla cake for dessert. A carafe of their house Pinot Grigio worked fine for us. Even though we were the late arrivals we hardly felt rushed at all. Both Sari and her excellent waitress were quite prepared to spend quality time with us talking about the Inn, its history and the surrounding area. We learned that many in the area are prepared to travel 30-40 miles to food shop either in Honesdale, PA or close to Binghamton, NY.

Judy and FaithSari was an engaging hostess and spent enough time with us so we got to understand her passion for the Inn while learning how challenging a business it is being remotely located in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania. To drive local business to the Inn Sari has started a Starlight Inn Dinner’s Club that now has over 700 members whom she keeps alerted about special events at the Inn. It was pretty clear that Sari is an innovative entrepreneur doing whatever is needed to grow her business.

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Recipe Challenge Winners

Congratulations to our winners!  June's BBQ-themed Recipe Challenge presented the Garden State Woman staff with a difficult decision.  In the end two health conscious recipes took the lead.  Try the Grilled Shrimp Tacos or the Spiedini with Speck, Asiago, Figs, Shrimp & Balsamico and send us your culinary comments.

This month's theme is: Blueberries.  July's winner(s) will be posted on the GSW website in August.  Detailed recipes submissions should include picture of the prepared recipe, your name, town, your picture and any business information you would like to share with the Garden State Woman audience.  All recipes must be originals and must list ingredients and preparation instructions.  Garden State Woman does not take responsibility for recipes that are not originals.  Recipes for this month's challenge must be submitted by July 31, 2012.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Grilled Shrimp Tacos

Recipe Submitted by:  Randy Rabney of Maplewood, NJ

This dish is so simple to make and produces a delicious result. To me, little compares to the combination of the shrimp and guacamole. If you're not into the carbs for some reason, skip the tortillas and you'll still have something delicious. You can even serve the shrimp and guacamole on a big platter as a great appetizer at a party (in this case, I'd leave the tails on the shrimp).

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Cruise from Greenwich

Need a gift idea for that special someone who has everything?

Looking for something unique to do with your friends or family?

Have an important client to entertain?

Well, I have great suggestion for you. Sign up for a fantastic yacht cruise on the Pegasus. The yacht is located at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor, a luxury hotel in Greenwich, CTSalon with Teak Flooring. My husband and I took a magnificent three-hour cruise with some friends. Although catering is offered, we chose to bring our own food and wine. We sailed from the Greenwich Inlet, past beautiful homes and islands and into the open waters of the Long Island Sound. Here we anchored and took advantage of both sun and water. Some of us chose to swim, others to relax on their large raft and the rest us stayed on board to enjoy the scenery. The three hours went by extraordinarily fast.

My Husband (center), Captain Jonathan (standing) and Friends Enjoying the CruiseCaptain Jonathan Wilkes has a lifetime of boating experience and is very warm and welcoming. The Pegasus is a Grand Banks 42’ Europa Motor Yacht. This incredible boat is meticulously maintained.   The woodwork, including the teak flooring, is magnificent.   The galley is well equipped and supplied with dining essentials. Captain Jonathan offers many packages that start as low as $395. There are a variety of choices from picnic to sunset cruises. You can choose by time of day, length of cruise or destination. You can also choose to bring your own refreshments, have the cruise catered or let the Captain take you to a harbor side restaurant in style!

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Expensive Wines

In response to my recent blog on Pinot noir, a dear friend wrote to me saying that "Pinot noir may be for girls but real men drink Two-Buck Chuck". I have to painfully admit that he has a point. There are many fine wines that are in an affordable range. So why do so many wine aficionados, myself included, opt for the more expensive wines?

 I can summarize the rational in one word: consistency. Do I find wines that I like in the $10 to $20 range? Absolutely. Do I purchase them year after year? Absolutely not. Why? Personally, I don't have the time or energy to scan wine magazines searching for reasonably priced high scoring wines. If I stick with high quality vineyards when I purchase a wine, even in bad vintages I am sure that the wine will still be good.

Being raised in a family that at one time made homemade wine I can vouch for the inconsistency of the wine making process. Our wines were enjoyable as the fruit of one's own labor always is. Would we have been able to sell our wines? I really don't think so. Wineries now invest millions of dollars in state of the art equipment to produce extraordinary wines. Can that really be reproduced at $3 a bottle (yes, the economy has also effected Chuck)? I think not.

This all comes to a head when I'm sitting in a restaurant, wine list in hand, and I'm at the mercy of my guests (most often my husband) to select a wine. Do I search for a recent highly rated wine or do I stay with my "consistent" favorites? I often opt for my "consistent" wines especially in off years where quality at a decent price can be found. In the end a bad good wine is always better than a good bad wine.

Maria Baniel is a Wine Consultant and offers affordable educational wine seminars and tastings for private, corporate and fundraising events. To schedule your next wine experience, contact Maria at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Tip Your Bartender!

I have a newfound respect for bartenders. I recently completed a bartending course thinking it would be a "fun" thing to do and one more item I can cross off my bucket list. However, I also mistakenly believed that it would be easy. After all, how difficult could bartending be? It was HARD! I haven't studied this intensively since my engineering college days.

The class was filled with an interesting and eclectic group of students. There were 18 year olds looking for a means to support their college educations. There were students in varying ages older than 18, myself included, who were there for an assortment of other reasons. And somehow our amazing instructor, Gen, was able to not only keep us all captivated but also motivated to complete the course.

The evening course consists of 8 days of 5 hours per night classes. The classes are held Mondays through Thursdays for two consecutive weeks. That alone is an intense schedule especially for those who work or attend school during the day. The classroom is set up as a bar with liquor bottles, soda and juice guns, drinking glasses, shakers, muddlers and more. We learned the difference between a straight whiskey and a single malt scotch. We studied the flavors of too many liqueurs to mention. We learned our legal responsibilities and received practical bartending advice.

We began mixing drinks and practicing behind the bar from the very first day. Each drink requires knowledge of included liquors and/or liqueurs, fillers (as in soda or juice) and measurements of each. It is also required to know whether it is served on the rocks, up, in a shot glass, in a wine glass, champagne flute, specialty glass or in a snifter. Is the drink built on ice, mixed and rolled, shaken, stirred, swirled and strained or neat? And by no means ever forget the garnish. Do you need a cherry, orange slice, lime slice, olive, cocktail onion, lemon slice or lemon twist?

I did have the opportunity to practice on my ever-so-fortunate husband who seems to benefit from all my educational or otherwise excursions. He didn't seem to mind becoming my guinea pig as he taste-tested my Vodka Gimlet, Blue Hawaiian, Melon Ball and Cosmopolitan (and that was just one night). I now not only know what to do with all those accumulated liquors and liqueurs in our liquor cabinet but also how to confidently order a drink at any bar. By the way, I now have my Bartending Certificate. Is anyone out there looking for a bartender with an extensive amount of wine knowledge?

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Tips for Escaping Winter Blahs

We all have our blah months, mine is February! And I go to Ixtapan Spa in Mexico (www.spamexico.com) for a budget spa deal.

Tips for choosing a fitness + fun vacation.

1. Make sure your hotel includes fitness and/or spa treatments in its prices. Do not be fooled by discounted room prices. Remember service charges on spa treatments are usually 20% more.

2. Ask what is walkable from the hotel. Why? Everyone wants to leave the confines of a resort, no matter how lovely and many destination resorts are remotely situated.

3. Shopping? Is there shopping nearby as well as in the hotel? Most hotels have ridiculously overpriced shops for guests who must scratch their shopping itch, however high the prices. If you like relaxed shopping, make sure there are fun places- hopefully walkable- but if not, taxi-near. Same with transfers to the resort from the airport.


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I Give Parker an 89

At a party, I was introduced to a fellow wine collector. I inquired as to the kind of wine he (notice the masculine pronoun) cellared. He responded he has a case of the 96 point 'this', the 97 point 'that', the 95 point 'this' and let's not forget the 99 point 'that'. Has he tasted any of these wines? Well, he hasn't yet he replied. So how does he know if he even likes them? Of course he will, they were all rated in the 90s. Enough said. Admittedly, I have fallen prey to the almighty point system. It didn't take me long, though, to conclude that my palate is just as good as any critics. By the way, critics are mostly men despite the scientific fact that through evolution women have developed more taste buds.

I don't dispute that the point system is helpful. However, I recently opened a 1988 Clos Pegase Pegaso Napa Cabernet blend that was rated an 82 by a major wine publisher. Most people wouldn't even touch an 82 point wine. After sitting in my cellar for a good 20 years, it was one of the most amazing, well balanced, delicious, intriguing wines that I ever had the pleasure of drinking. I was happy I didn't heed the advice of that critic. On the other hand, I've tasted many 100 points wines that are nice but are not worth the price especially after receiving a high rating's inflation. I often prefer the 89 point wines that fall under the radar and provide an interesting flavor profile that I am challenged to match with food.

Have you ever taken the time to compare tasting notes? Here are the notes from two well respected critics on a 2000 Bruno Giacosa Barolo that is now selling for well over $100:

Critic #1: "Superdecadent and rich, with layers of plums, blackberries, strawberries and raw meat. Then turns floral. Full-bodied, yet fresh and lively, with a silky and caressing texture. This is not about concentration but about subtlety and complexity. Goes on and on. Best after 2008." Rating: 97 Drink from: 2008

Critic #2: "The 2000 Barolo Falletto is a burly and intense effort with much tar and licorice in its aromas and flavors. Solid and well concentrated, its muscular tannins and burly texture are characteristic of the more concentrated wines of the 2000 vintage. Authoritative and with plenty of grip, it will undoubtedly improve over the next 15 years of useful life it will doubtlessly enjoy."
Rating: 91 Drink from: 2005-2020

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Pinot Noir is for Girls

At a recent grand wine tasting, in order to help guide a fellow attendee (who cannot be named) through the wide selection of wines, I asked where his preferences lied. He responded with your typical male answer: just red, bold wines, California Cabs and anything but Pinot noir. In fact his exact comment was "Pinot noir is for girls." Normally those would be fighting words but instead I took it as a challenge to expand his limited wine horizons.

Many wines get a bad reputation for many reasons. Sometimes it is over production or extensive marketing. Other times it is just a new trend or even Hollywood. For instance, the sales of Merlot took a huge dip following the release of the movie "Sideways." Over the years I've heard that Chardonnay is too "oaky", that California wines aren't worth drinking, that French wines taste like dirt and let's not mention Zinfandel.

Wines made from Pinot noir have a very distinct flavor profile. Especially in the United States, they tend to have a fruit forward taste and a perfumed aroma. Pinot noir wines from the Russian River Valley in California or Willamette Valley in Washington can be extraordinary. The wines of Burgundy, France are some of the best in the world achieving a wonderful balance of fruit, earthiness and finesse. The famed wines of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti from Cote de Nuits sell in the thousands of dollars per bottle. And what would Champagne be if it were not for the Pinot noir grape?

Admittedly, Pinot Noir is not one of my favorite grapes but it definitely has its place on the dinner table. It pairs well with bacon, corned beef, game birds, ham, lamb, mushrooms and pork. It is also the wine of choice at many Thanksgiving feasts since it goes very well with turkey. So, in conclusion, since I drink Pinot noir I must be a girl! Are there any other girls out there?

A personal thank you to he-who-cannot-be-named without whom this blog would not exist.

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Grape Groupies

Are you what I call a "Grape Groupie"? I have encountered many wine drinkers who claim they only drink one varietal of wine. "I only like cabernet sauvignon" or "merlot" or even worse, "chardonnay" they tell me. I have yet to understand the reasoning around this one-grape addiction. It may possibly be the overwhelming wine shop choices, a fear of the unknown or even a lack of adventure. Some go so far as to consistently drink the same grape from the same winery. Even those who explore past the confines of Californian wines will search for the same one-grape in another country. To me, this is the equivalent of only eating, let's say, pizza.

Many wine regions use multiple varietals in production of their one wine. Five different grapes can be used in Bordeaux, France. In Chateauneuf-du-Pape they use up to thirteen grape varieties. The delicious port wines of Spain mostly use five varietals but are approved to use up to one hundred. And what about clones? Do "Grape Groupies" like every clone of a varietal? In Burgundy, their wines are made from the one grape Pinot Noir and can include twenty to thirty different clones of that same grape. Isn't diversity the spice of life?

For me, the wine I choose each night depends on where I am, what I'm doing, who I'm with and definitely what I'm eating. I usually don't drink the same wine two nights in a row and I don't have pizza two nights in a row either. The world of wine is meant to be explored. There are over 10,000 grape varietals used to make wine. For all you "Grape Groupies", you have 9,999 to go.

To receive counseling on your grape addiction or to schedule your next wine experience, contact Maria Baniel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Maria is a Wine Consultant and offers affordable educational wine seminars and tastings for private, corporate and fundraising events.

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So Sorry Sulfites

I wish I was given a bottle of wine for every person who has told me that they get headaches from the sulfites in red wine. For all those people, I send my sincere apologies to the sulfite community. If you have ever eaten a fruit you have ingested sulfites. If you have ever eaten at a salad bar you have ingested sulfites. And if you drink white wines to avoid sulfites, you ingest more sulfites than the red wine drinker.

These poor misunderstood sulfites are naturally occurring sulfur-based compounds found on earth. They can be found on fruits and vegetables and act as a preservative providing beneficial antimicrobial, anti-browning, and antioxidant properties. Due to the fact that they are natural, the FDA allows their use in cooked or processed food. Foods such as soup mixes, pickles, vegetable juices, teas and even potato chips contain sulfites. If you think you might be sensitive to sulfites eat a bag of chips and find out if you are in the minority of people who are truly allergic.

Since wine is a "processed food" the US and most wine regions, if not all, allow the addition of sulfites into wines to promote longevity. Some wineries add less than others and wineries that strive to be organic add little to none. Whether they are added or not, sulfites will still naturally be found in your favorite wine.

Now for those of you who suffer from red wine headaches I have a few suggestions. First, drink plenty of water while drinking wine. Red wine has a higher alcohol content than white and the headaches may be caused by dehydration. Second, you may be having an allergic reaction to the histamines absorbed from the oak barrels. White wines tend to be oaked less therefore causing fewer headaches. Some red wines spend years in barrel so search for wines that are aged for shorter periods of time in oak, wines that use old oak, or wines that are aged in vessels other than oak.

So please stop blaming those poor sulfites and give red wine a chance.

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How To Avoid Going Goofy at Disney

I just returned from a spontaneous weekend trip to Disneyland with my husband and two daughters, ages 11 months and 3 1/2 years. Most of my friends thought we were crazy and, in hindsight, we may have been!

My oldest daughter had a great time touring Disneyland and she'll always remember meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse. However, I learned a lot from this trip and the next time we make a visit to the "happiest place on earth," I'll spend more time planning. So to help other mothers plan a more perfect Disneyland getaway, I put together several tips based on the lessons I learned during this experience.

1. Character Dining

Make the most of your time at the park and skip the "Meet and Greet" lines for Disney characters. Waiting in the "Meet and Greet" lines doesn't always guarantee you'll meet your character of choice. Opt instead for Character Dining, where your child is guaranteed to get an up-close encounter with their favorite Character. You'll find these opportunities at:

Disneyland Park - Plaza Inn Disney California Adventure - Ariel's Disney Princess Celebration
Disneyland Hotel - Goofy's Kitchen
Grand Californian - Storytellers Breakfast
Paradise Pier Hotel - PCH Grill Breakfast

2. Best Time To Go

Crowds are overwhelming during school holidays and three-day weekends. The summer months are extremely busy as well, but the park is open longer and most of the rides and attractions are operating. Try Sundays, when the park is usually less busy.

January and February weekdays are the least busy times, but the park is open fewer hours.

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Favorite NYC Restaurants

For anyone looking for some great dining options in NYC, here is an extensive list covering the entire city and budget. David Aragona, a really good friend of Judy Chapman and the whole Garden State Woman mission thrives on finding great spots for dining out both in NJ and NY. We asked David recently for some of his favorites in the city.

Let's have your suggestions. Send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Becco - 46th Street (Between 8th & 9th Avenues)

Website: http://www.becco-nyc.com/

Good choice in the Theater District. I recommend the "Sinfonia Di Paste" - you get 3 pastas that the chef has prepared for the day served hot from the pan. It's $23 and you can have as much as you want. They also have an excellent wine list where all wines are $25.

Café Boulud – 76th Street (between 5th and Madison)

Wonderful French food, great service and nice wine list. One of the top dinners I've had in NYC and much less expensive than it's sister restaurant Daniel. We had the Chef's tasting menu here and it was fantastic. Every course was amazing – complicated preparations, complex flavors – truly haute cuisine. Special night out.

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Spring's Becoming Attractions

We have all waited, through a long and difficult winter season, to finally get to this wonderful season of rebirth and rejuvenation. The dark color palette of winter has given way to the lovely pastels and dramatic brights in new floral and geometric patterns. But, the key to wearing any color is to keep to your Body Harmony colors; your natural hair color, complexion and eye color is your guide to knowing whether or not a garment is well suited for you. There are warm colors which look sun-kissed with a yellow undertone to complement your peach, yellow or bronze complexion. The cooler colors seem to have a white overcast, and complement complexions which have pink or blue undertones in a range of porcelain, lightly beige, olive to rose brown.

It is important to wear garments and accessories which complement your Natural complexion. The best way to judge whether a color is right for you, is To place that color under your chin in a well-lighted room. If dark circles, lines, folds, and uneven complexion are more pronounced, that is a wrong color for you. The wrong color makes you look very tired. The right color gives you a smooth complexion, and a refreshed look. This spring, there is an abundance of Neutral colors to choose from. From camels, caramels, to bone, sand and taupe, you must be careful that the neutral shade works for you.

In The Nude!

Nude colored shoes are the "it" shoes for the season. Whether they're flats, Sandals, pumps, or sky-high platforms, this is a fabulous color to add to your Collection. They go with everything and they make your legs look really long!

But! Shopper beware!

Take the time to look for the hue that best matches your Natural coloring. Don't just grab any old pair of beige colored shoes. Most of The shades I've seen have too much pink for the majority of women. If your Skin is more golden, go more camel. If your skin is darker, try a more Caramel shade. Tip: If your legs are short, or you have thick ankles, stay away from straps or other busy designs that can break the line of your leg. Opt for shoes or sandals with a lower throat instead. There is one exception: the single strap, low-heeled thong sandal. They look good on everyone and go well with skirts, pants and dresses. If you select to wear opened-toe shoes to work, a pedicure is essential. There are so many sandal styles this season, I would suggest getting a pedicure mandatory for all occasions, as callused feet is not very flattering. Toe nails look pretty and fresh whether in Corals or Pinks.

(As seen in the Spring issues of LUCKY, Marie Claire & Harper Bazaar magazines)

A Twist for the Wrist

For Additional color, bracelets are more fun than ever, in rows of elasticized Beads which fit your wrist snugly and do not make the annoying sound of separate clanking bangles! They are in every store, in either natural stones, Indian or chalk beads, and instantly update your wardrobe!

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