What To Keep in Your Wine Bag

That’s right. If you keep a diaper bag, why not a wine bag?  

Let me tell you what to always keep in your wine bag – even if it’s the one you pick up at the grocery store after buying a dozen bottles for 10% off. If you have a busy lifestyle like us and you never know when you're going to need those little extras for a picnic, these items are worth keeping handy when you’re on the go, grabbing it on your way out, or like me, keeping it now in my car.

We have three nice wine bags but if they’re not filled with necessary items, we might as well not bring them to the picnic. These are items you don’t think to take with you until you're laying out your food and saying, "ughhhhh!!".

Here are top 7 items to keep in your wine bag.

  1. Tiny cutting board
  2. Cheese knife good enough to cut sausage
  3. Cloth napkins – not paper. You’re likely to throw out paper napkins and you'll have to remember each time to stock up. Cloth napkins make pseudo place mats too.
  4. Plastic wine cups – not red cups and not the plastic kind you throw away. Sure you may find plastic cups someone else brought but if you forgot them, you better be prepared to drink from the bottle.
  5. Wine Opener – Just have an extra one in your bag at all times. This would be the worst thing to forget.
  6. If you're bag doesn't come with insulation, have one in your wine bag or a reusable water bottle to keep your wine chilled or at room temperature.
  7. A table cloth - you can get these at the dollar store and just keep in your bag too. 
Malibu Wine Tasting.jpg

Sure, you’ll have plates, forks and plastic knives that came with your takeout food but it's good to keep those in your bag too. However, I was so glad to have the above items already in my bag. All I had to do is remember to add a bottle of wine.

If you keep these items in your wine bag all the time, you’ll have 1) something to drink your wine in 2) something to open your bottle 3) something to cut any cheese or sausage 4) something to clean up your spill and 5) something to cut your sausage and cheese on instead of your napkins that you’ll end up needing for that spill.

Now, go on a picnic! Just make sure you have a picnic blanket in your trunk too!

The Rush To Syrups

Are You Still Putting Sugar in Your Coffee/Tea?

If you love food and wine as much as I do, you’re probably watching how much sugar your eating. Wine has a lot of sugar and if you're going to be drinking it, you might as well get creative with your sweetener.

A great way to experiment is with different flavors in a simple sugar. So instead of using the inevitable, reach for a simple syrup instead.

Cocktails are far exceeding wine consumption nowadays in popularity but that's ok. The experiments with simple syrups and all their uses are opening the doors to get creative in how you mix sugar in your drinks and foods. Save that sugar for that wine! Let cocktails grow in popularity as you put a few drops in your coffee on your way to work.  

As I was conjuring up a story here, one of the gals at work created a few simple syrup concoctions for the office and sure enough, I was hooked! Have you ever had Lavender Simple Syrup in your tea? It’s amazing! 

If you want to know how darn simple it is, here is the recipe for simple syrup.

Below is a list of ingredients you can add to simple syrup or just by themselves without the sugar. There were so many variations to write about I broke them out by category.


Aromatic Herbs:


This is my short list but this can go on forever with all the different herbs there are.


My number one favorite - I love this as a substitute to sweetener. I use it mostly in tea but also in ice cream, smoothies and can't wait to try this in a cake. 

Fresh Vanilla Bean

Fresh or just about anything. I added this to a seltzer water and gave it to my sister. She was like, “ooh! This is nice! what is this?” Yes – it has few calories than a cream soda.


This might be great for an elixir but also added to the bottom of your steamer for an aromatic touch to your veggies. Having a hard time with grapefruit juice? Add this flavored syrup to a ruby red grapefruit juice with a splash of seltzer and it’s amazing! Add gin and you have yourself a dainty cocktail.


Add this to your water with lemon for a quick water infusion!


Oh let me count the ways; desserts, teas, coffee, a hot toddy.


Add to Lavender syrup for lemonade


My favorite herb although I hardly can find it - mix with a peach puree, a squeezed lemon and spritzer.


Mix with lemon and whiskey and you’re cured from whatever it is you have.



Do you often find your fruit going bad? Here are syrups that you can create instead of trying another water infusion.

Any citrus Rind

Orange, Lime, Grapefruit, Lemon, Kumquats,


I wouldn’t think blackberries would work but with raspberries, this is a nice combination. Before both of these get bad in your fridge, why not steep them like tea to store in your fridge longer? Add to melon and pears for a beautiful fruit salad that quietly knocks all the ladies socks off at a brunch. No sugar even needed.


Add in a milkshake for a true summer drink.


Spiced pear syrup= ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and pear puree as its base liquid for some fancy cocktails. Hint: the harder the pear, the better the syrup.

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 10.29.55 PM.png


From Your Cabinet

Look no further.


Fennel Seeds

I want to think about this one but when fresh fennel is infused with apple, it’s great for digestion. How about in a spritzer?

Rose Extract

This is beautiful in teas but of course also as wonderful in desserts – blend with one scoop of vanilla ice cream, serve in a vintage dish, and it will taste as pretty as it looks.


Great mixed with pancake syrup and of course coffee.


Chocolate and sugar - I'll let you take a crack at that.

 Whenever you see them on the bar, ask for a squirt in your coffee or tea instead of sugar packets.

Whenever you see them on the bar, ask for a squirt in your coffee or tea instead of sugar packets.

The Exotic

Maybe you won't keep a stash in your fridge but maybe you will because you like this sort of thang.


Growing up, I loved how my mom added fresh cloves to an orange - the smell was so amazing. So with this, add oranges for an aromatic flavor to any dish or maybe Rosemary


Coffee, desserts and a twist to Indian or Malay drinks

Star Anise

Add this with Cardamom and I learned that together, these two are added in a mango lassis drink or any other exotic dish.


I say, skip the sugar and let this steep for awhile for soup. However, what a great way to stir your senses in a simple syrup for your tea before starting your morning. What inbox?


This would be great to add as a medicinal, which is what I did for a homeopathic tea when I was sick. I pierced peppercorns in a sliced pear and steeped it with honey and ginger and it was the only drink that cut my cough.



You didn't think these would qualify?

Think again

 Thai Chili

Sweet spicy and bitter for not just a spicy margarita but a kick to a dip without making it too hot. Just add a few drops at a time?

Black Pepper

Dips, salad dressing or my favorite Greyhound drink of vodka and grapefruit juice for an even better health kick.

Black Peppercorns

You want to add this to the fruit that you’re steeping and skip the sugar altogether. I never thought to add peppercorns into an Asian pear and boil with honey and ginger but boy did it remove my cough. If you're boiling any kind of sauces, remember to add the peppercorns and not just sprinkled over for a kick to your foods. Surprise others.

 This is from my friend Kathy - she was the one I wrote about in my book when we were in Korea Town. She advised me to slice an Asian pear, insert peppercorns and steep with honey and ginger. I was cured!  

This is from my friend Kathy - she was the one I wrote about in my book when we were in Korea Town. She advised me to slice an Asian pear, insert peppercorns and steep with honey and ginger. I was cured!  



If you thought these wouldn't go well in a shake, maybe now they do!


Maybe you need the red for color but the orange are just as beautiful. Try them in smoothies, greek yogurt, or other cooked fruit like poached peaches and pears


Many people can’t seem to break the habit of adding sugar to everything even though a lot of store-bought foods or restaurants already have sugar. So you might as well take control now.

The idea is to broaden your use of different foods instead of just adding sugar. This is actually a great way to experiment and add health to what your body is going to absorb anyway. Like everything else, as long as we do this in moderation, we’ll be able to continue enjoying our wine because boy, does wine sure have a lot of sugar!







 Flowered Toast at Kendall Jackson's wine pairing lunch

Flowered Toast at Kendall Jackson's wine pairing lunch

Welcome to Wine Body and Spirit

More than ever before, there are new foods emerging; from jackfruit, cashew cheese, tofu sour cream and many more from our plant-based community. Never before has the non-eating meat eaters had so much impact on our food culture. There is a lot to learn about the chemically changing effects this has on our bodies too. It's not about just losing weight, it's about getting healthy. 

But what does this mean? 

There is a lot of confusion as to what is considered a luxury and what is not when considering foods. I find often that what actually is a luxury is what is simple and good for you not the other way around. Richness doesn't always have to be found in the foods that make us fat. 

Take wine for example. There is such a difference between bad wine and incredibly good wine like the difference between great foods and unhealthy foods. However, we have it backward; healthy food shouldn't taste like cardboard boxes and good wine shouldn't always give you a headache. 

Let's start with your taste buds. 

If we think of getting healthy like training our bodies, why don't we train our taste buds? If most people can understand how the taste buds of a smoker change when he/she stops smoking, then isn't it the same effect of a carnivore who stops eating meat? Do healthy foods really not taste like anything or is it your palette that might be accustomed to the nitrates that suppress your ability to taste food? This is what I have had to think about. This is what I found in my diaries called 26 Days; A Plant-Based Diet and What You Need to Know.

Welcome to Wine, Body and Spirit where I share what I'm learning. I want to continue promoting how living simple is the absolute luxury. It's not about living below your means, it's about increasing your means with simple living. This is much more than learning how to pair healthy food with wine although I'm very much working on that and will continue to purse that endeavor!

As I learn how truly wine is a luxury, I understand how not to over rate it. Wine is what a farmer works so hard for. It's that moment of having a glass of wine where one indulges -- on the back porch! 

I can show you how the richness of great food can be found in it's simplicity too. Like the fisherman who can eat the scallops right out of the shell -- on the boat he just caught it in. It's about when to have succulent ribs and when to stick with cashew cream. This is the place to find and share ideas on healthy food while also finding great wine information.

Let me help you start to unscramble the confusion in your head. It starts with exercise, breathing, walking, eating what's good for you, but ultimately drinking good wine  too.

Share your ideas here and let's start the conversation. Let's indulge in ways we never thought we could.