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Central Coast Wine Insider Blog

Central Coast Wine Insider Blog

Wine Cork Crafts for the Holidays!

Upcycle those wine corks for amazing Holiday Décor!

With the Holiday Season in full swing, the timing is perfect for an amazing day in wine country with Breakaway Tours! Whether you use the trip as a way to find the perfect bottle of wine for that festive gathering you have on your calendar, you decide to take your Holiday Party on the road (no cleanup-yay!), or you simply want to escape the chaos of shopping and baking with a special someone, we have you covered!

It’s no secret that we love wine! We love tasting it, talking about it, drinking it, and remembering that special sip long after the glass is empty. But how can you treasure the memory of that amazing bottle you bought on your wine tasting trek with Breakaway AND get into the Holiday? We’re so glad you asked!

Here are some amazing DIY projects to help you turn wine corks into wreaths, jewelry, and ornaments that will impress your friends and make your home feel Merry and Bright:

Wine Cork Knives

Wine Cork Knives

Wine Cork Cheese and Canape Knives

What goes better with wine than cheese and canapes? We cant wait to use these quirky cutters at our next Coaktail Party. To make them yourself, follow the link HERE. And be sure to invite us!



Wine Cork Stamps

Wine Cork Stamps

Wine Cork Stamps

We love the versatility of these cool Cork Stamps. Whether you use them to decorate wrapping paper, or to seal your holiday cards with a flourish, they are sure to make an impression. Fun for kids and adults – just make sure you leave the cutting to the adults.



Wine Cork Pendant

Wine Cork Pendant

Wine Cork Pendants

What do you get for the wine loving gal who has everything wine-related? A custom made wine cork necklace. With a few items from your local craft store, you can easily upcycle that cork into the statement necklace of the season. Check it out HERE



Wine Cork Wreaths

Wine Cork Wreath

Wine Cork Wreath

Greet your guests in style with this Wine Cork Wreath! Some hot glue gun and a wreath frame, and you’re in business. Warning: this one requires more than a few corks, so you may have to enlist the help of some friends…or simple drink more wine yourself!



Wine Cork Ornament

Wine Cork Ornament

Wine Cork Ornaments

Have a few corks laying around? Looking for a way to gussy up your tree this year? HERE are some whimsical ideas on how to kill two birds with one stone and feel like a vino-inspired Martha Stewart in the process.


Wine Tour in Santa Barbara County

Private Wine Tour in Santa Barbara

Wine Tours on California’s Central Coast

Welcome to Wine Country on California’s Central Coast! Here at Breakaway Tours and Event Planning, we’re passionate about wine and sharing it with others. We’ve been Uncorking it since 1995!

We specialize in Deliciously Fun, Educational Wine Tours in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.For an afternoon, all day, or the weekend, we have a wine tour for you.

Private Bespoke Wine Tours

In 1995, before the term “Wine Tourism” was coined, ahead of the industry and with keen vision, Breakaway Tours began leading “Deliciously Fun, Educational Wine Tours” in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

Specialty Tours & Experiences

Our Specialty Tours include in-depth Wine Education Options, including Blind Tasting, Cause ‘n Effect, Blending Trials, Winery Tours and Vineyard Walks. For groups we also serve Hearst Castle Tours, Combination Castle & Wine Tours, Zip ‘n Sip Wine Tours, Private Winery Dinners, Culinary Tours and more… All available from the most experienced, connected, trusted and respected wine tour operator on the Central Coast.

Our wine tour business quickly grew to encompass all aspects of wine and culinary tourism including destination management. Today our long term relationships afford our guests access and privileges within the wine industry that no other wine tour operator can provide. We are considered the premier wine tour company on the Central Coast with an emphasis on Corporate and Incentive Groups. Our level of service has earned us Rave Reviews and high rankings across the board.

We focus on Wine Education but you won’t find any wine snobs or geeks here; we look to dispel the intimidation that can follow wine tasting. We will tailor the level of education to meet your needs and interests; whether you’re a novice or enthusiast. We welcome you to put our reputation to work for you and look forward to having you on board soon!

Until then ~ Cheers!

The Shape of Things – which is the best Wine Glass?

Your WINE GLASS really can make a big difference in how your wine tastes!various shaped wine glass stemware

In principle, you can use anything to drink wine out of and depending on the situation, the vessel you employ to help the nectar reach your lips may not make much difference. But enthusiasts will tell you, you should pick your wine glass with care and attention; the more care you give to buying and tasting wine, the more care you should give to having the right wine glass, just ask Riedel Glassware.

Wine Glass Best Color

Although the color of a wine glass seems like it should be irrelevant to how wine tastes, it does impact how the wine appears when you look at it. Because proper enjoyment of wine begins with appreciating the wine’s appearance. To understand its color, clarity, and consistency, then we need a wine glass that doesn’t  alter the wine’s color.

What this means is that some of the most visually appealing wine glasses are also some of the worst wine glasses for wine tasting. Colored glasses will completely alter the wine’s color. Etched glasses or glasses with any sort of pattern will interfere with your ability to get an accurate picture of what the wine looks like. Angles around the wine glass aren’t quite as bad, but they should also be avoided for the same reasons. The best glasses for tasting wine are therefore completely clear, round glasses — wine glasses with no coloring, no designs, not angles, and no patterns. Plain, boring wine glasses are the best wine glasses.

Wine Glass Best Material

Although it might seem like nothing more than an excuse for snobbery, experience has shown over and over that higher quality glasses can have a big impact on how wine tastes. Apparently, it’s possible for the exact same wine to taste completely different to people if simply served in wine glasses made from different material.

No one has been able to determine if this is merely a matter of aesthetics or if there is an actual physical reaction between wine and quality glass that doesn’t occur with wine and plastic or wine and lower quality glass. The best explanation offered so far is that crystal is rougher than regular glass and this roughness creates turbulence in the wine which, in turn, causes more of the aromatic compounds in the wine to be released.

You may need to use plastic glasses in some situations, like picnics, but otherwise you want to stick with genuine glass — and, preferably, higher quality crystal glasses if possible. You want to avoid lead crystal, though, because research has shown that wine can leech the lead out of the glass very quickly. Lead crystal glass is especially ill-suited for decanters and other containers which will hold wine for any length of time.

Although you will certainly have a better wine tasting experience with the highest quality, thin crystal glasses, they probably cost too much for most consumers — and that’s before taking into account that their fragility almost guarantees that they will break regularly.

Fortunately, you can find good, quality wine glasses at reasonable prices — and this includes crystal glasses as well. They’ll cost more than the average drinking glass and even more than wine glasses at discount retailers, but it’s worth a little extra expense to get the most out of every bottle. You should be prepared to spend around $50 per dozen for standard glasses and perhaps $75 per dozen for crystal glasses. If you’re looking for the best wine glasses, though, you’ll be spending between $50 and $100 each.

Wine Glass Best Thickness

It’s a lot easier to appreciate what your wine looks like if you use thin glasses. Even if the qualify of the crystal is very good, there’s no avoiding the fact that a thicker wine glass creates distortions which will impact what you see when looking for color and clarity. The thinner the glass, the less you’ll have between you and your new best friend.

Additionally, thinner glass helps create a finer stream of wine to run across the taste buds on your tongue. A finer stream means more mixing with the air in your mouth and also interacting with your taste buds. Taken together, these factors ensure that you’ll get the most out of what you’re drinking.

Wine Glass Best Size

Yes, even the size of the wine glass plays an important role in what your wine tastes like. Whatever you’re drinking, don’t use small glasses. You want larger glasses because you want to be able to only fill them a third to half way and still have room to swirl. If you try to do this with a small wine glass, you’ll barely have a sip to drink before having to refill. Small glasses should be used only for sherry, port, and desert wines.

That said, you ideally need larger glasses for reds than you do for whites. Reds are best served in glasses that are 12 to 16 ounces, though you can get them as large as 24 ounces. Whites are best served in glasses that are 10 to 12 ounces. Because few people can afford good crystal glasses for every sort of wine, most compromise. You can manage well with most varietals by using a wine glass around 12 ounces.

stemless wine glassesStem Glasses vs. Stemless Glasses

Stemless tumblers have become very popular in recent years and there is no denying that they can look very nice. However, there are good reasons to avoid them if you want to get the most out of your tasting experience — as opposed to simply wanting to look hip and stylish.

Stemless wine glass forces you to hold the glass by the bowl which creates two basic problems. First, the warmth of your hand will heat up the wine, changing its temperature. Your body is around 98.6 degrees F. Wine is best served around 55 degrees depending on the varietal. Do the math. No bueno. Wine glasses have stems not for the sake of looking elegant, but precisely so you can hold them by the stem. This ensures that the heat of your hand isn’t transferred and keeps the glass bowl from being smudged.

Wine Glass – Best Shapes

Although the material, color, size, and thickness of  your wine glass is all important, the single most important aspect of a proper wine glass is its shape. Different wines require different sorts of shapes to best appreciate the varietals flavor.

Holiday Wine Pairing Inspiration

You have slaved away for days to create the perfect Holiday meal. The sweat, the tears, the last minute runs to the market because you apparently *don’t* have baking powder in your cupboard. Now what? Wine, of course! The good news is that this may be the easiest part of your Holiday celebration. Follow these helpful hints and suggestions for pairing your most delicious dishes with their perfect adult-beverage companions. And don’t worry – we won’t revoke your foodie card for going off the grid and bucking tradition. You will find no rules here, only a world of possibilities!


Ham & Pinot NoirPinot Noir wine pairs with Ham

Every Thanksgiving my dad cooks a ham. It is magical. It is basted in sugar and spice and everything that is good about the world. My favorite wine to pair with this ham is an Edna Valley Pinot Noir. Edna’s Pinots tend to be spicy and berry-rich, and light on tannins. A great partner for ham. Try pairing with Baileyana Winery’s Halcon Rojo Pinot Noir/ $33

Viognier wine pairs with turkeyTurkey & Viognier

The star of the Holidays, this roasted bird is succulent, rich and delicious. It lords over the rest of the table like Brando in The Godfather, making our taste buds an offer they can’t refuse. Traditionally paired with Chardonnay, I think its time we switch it up a bit and set Turkey up on a little date with my good friend Viognier. California is producing some amazing Vio’s these days:  complex with hints of stone fruit, honey and minerals. Try pairing with Jaffurs Bien Nacido Viognier / $27

Don’t hesitate to switch these two wines up, yummy either way!


Brussels Sproutsb & Dry ReislingDry Riesling wine pairs with brussel sprouts

I prefer mine roasted and crispy, with bacon, onions and toasted nuts. However you prepare them, these green machines are packed with flavor and just a hint of sweetness. I love a great Dry Reisling with some good acid and maybe a hint of effervescence. Try pairing with Claiborne & Churchill Winery Dry Reisling/ $22

zinfandel wine pairs with sweet potatoesSweet Potatoes & Zinfandel

Paso Robles Zinfandels are a natural for this earthy yet sweet root. The moderate tannins and deep fruity flavors of zinfandel hold up well in this duo. Try pairing with Shale Oak Winery’s Zinfandel/ $45



Quinoa Stuffing & Grenache RoseGrenache rose wine pairs with Quinoa stuffing

For those eschewing gluten for any reason, quinoa stuffing is a scrumptious alternative to bread based stuffings. For this particular dish I love a Grenache Rosé. It has enough sweetness to bring out the richness in the grain, but also balances with bright acid and fruit.  Try paining with Sextant Winery’s Grenache Rose/ $21

Teroldego wine pairs with celery rootCelery Root Puree & Teroldego, 2 standards to be sure!

Ok, so you probably didn’t grow up with Celery Root around your Holiday table, but there’s no reason not to invite this amazing side dish to this year’s festivities! What’s it taste like, you ask? It tastes like celery, yet heartier and earthier. It tastes like earthy Autumn. Because of the depth of the flavor here (did I say earthy enough?) Try pairing with Wolff Vineyards Teroldego/ $29. This wine matches the Celery Root step for step, bringing notes of forest fruit and black minerality.

Thanksgiving table in wine countrySo, when you gather round with family and friends this Holiday season, enjoying your sister Hilary’s perfect mashed potatoes, or Uncle David’s classic Banana Cream Confection, you can start a new tradition: Bringing that incredible bottle of wine that everyone will still be talking about come New Year’s.  Grab a bottle of wine listed above – you can do it without ever breaking a sweat or the bank! Drink up and let us know your thoughts, Gobble Gobble!

Hot Topic: Stem vs. Stemless glassware

Stemmed Wine Glasses vs. Stemless Glasswarestemless

Stemless wine tumblers have become very popular in recent years and there is no denying the aesthetic appeal of their design. Not to mention the countless times I’ve knocked over my top-heavy glass of vino while reaching for something across the table. However, there are good reasons to avoid them if you want to get the most out of your wine drinking experience — So, what’s more important – that perfect sip or looking hip and stylish? Ahhh….decisions.

Stemless glasses force you to hold the glass by the bowl which creates a very basic problem. First, the warmth of your hand will heat up the wine, changing its temperature. Your body is around 98.6 degrees F. Wine is best served stem glassesbetween 40- 55 degrees F depending on the varietal. Glass transfers heat very well. Do the math. No bueno.

Wine glasses have stems not for the sake of looking elegant, but precisely so you can hold them by the stem. This ensures that the heat of your hand isn’t transferred to the wine and also keeps the glass bowl from being smudged.

So – for my two cents, I have to go with function above form on this one. Stems are a necessary part of a wine glass. Tradition is born of what works, and I like my wine to stay cool. I’m okay if that means I’m not.

Here are some fun options for both stem glasses and stemless glassware: Stemless Glasses, World Market , Classic Wine Glasses, Bed, Bath & Beyond

What are your thoughts on the Stem vs. Stemless debate?