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Wine Brunch on a Budget in New York City

blackberry waffles

Mark’s Comment: Today I bring you a guest post from Avery Phillips.  New York’s an interesting market for any number of reasons.  One of the big ones for me though is because it’s about equidistant from many old world growing regions in Europe as it is from 90% of American wine production (the states we cover for our wine clubs, California, Oregon and Washington).  Plus, given the utter ridiculousness of many state by state shipping laws in America, it can actually be easier for New York based stores to access wine from France rather than California.  It’s a competitive marketplace and one that virtually every small winemaker would love to have access to both direct to consumers, as well as, through a distributor or broker.  Last, if you can write for us, as well, if you’re willing to produce something truly local for our blog.

Wine and brunch go hand in hand, but when you’re looking to wine and dine in New York City on a budget, things aren’t so simple. Sure, you could spend a little less and settle for a mimosa or a bloody mary, but if you’re looking for a rosé paired with your benedict, you’ll have to agree to spend a little more – or get frugal with your spending. New York is an expensive city filled with amazing wine and fabulous food, so when you’re looking to experience both on a budget, you’ll need to get creative. In NYC, the possibilities are endless as long as you know where to go.

Find a Free Tasting

You can’t get much cheaper than free. Though few things are actually free, there really are some establishments spread throughout the boroughs that offer free wine tastings – though the cab fare might offset the free price tag a bit. You may not find an establishment offering free tastings with brunch, but in order to work with your budget you may want to adapt. Go get brunch, then head to a wine tasting afterwards. Some places that have been known to offer free tastings are:

Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit – Manhattan: This location has fun, themed tastings every now and again that will turn free tasting into an entire adventure. Check out their calendar and stop in to end a brunch outing right. They are near Zio Ristorante for a great brunch spot.

Dandelion Wine Shop – Brooklyn: This little gem has free tastings every week and has  a vast and eclectic selection of wines. The tastings are pretty popular, and usually on Thursdays. They are near Early for a great brunch spot.

Chelsea Wine Vault – Manhattan: Chelsea Wine Vault offers a ton of tastings per week offering 4 or 5 wines. They are pretty good about putting their tastings on their calendar and allow you to just drop in. They are near Catch for a great brunch spot.

Astor Wine & Spirits – Manhattan: Not only do they offer free tastings, they also occasionally offer discounts on the bottles that are featured. They are near Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery for a great brunch spot.

Wine and Brunch in the Park

In reality, going out for brunch and wine in the city is going to cost you a little. It might cost you in terms of the food, the wine, or the cab to get there. However, you can choose where to put that money by deciding to have your own brunch adventure in one of the amazing parks in NYC. The parks in the city are not like the parks anywhere else and serve as an amazing backdrop for a weekend brunch. This way, you can spend a little less on food and wine but get a little more. Grab a basket and have a brunch picnic. Grab a few bottles of wine, some pastries, jams, and savory additions and make your way to a park. Plus, you won’t have to wait ages for a table. Some of the parks that serve as a good brunch destination are:

The High Line: The High Line is such a great location that it’s one of the top choices for places to go in NYC on a Sunday morning. This is because it’s a unique and beautiful location created from freight rail line elevated above the city. Your wine can’t be in glass, and your brunch must be in the designated concessions area, but it’s a lovely place for a picnic brunch with your choice bottle of wine.

Central Park: Central Park is an NYC staple, and with a new take on rules about drinking in public, it’s become a popular area for a wine and a picnic. However, it’s still technically illegal, just decriminalized. Police officers now consider drinking in public to be low on their priority list given the other things that need their attention. So as long as you’re being respectful, chances are you won’t be given a summons.

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Brooklyn Bridge Park is amazing and offers views of city lights and, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge. Again, if you stay in designated areas and be respectful, you should be fine with your chardonnay and your toast and marmalade.

Spend Less on Food and More on Wine

In some cases, brunching on a budget involves finding the best deal on food in order to spend any extra cash on wine. The city is great for many reasons: it’s one of the best cities for young professionals, it’s a foodie’s dream location, and it is a place that really does have something for everyone. However, it’s also not a cheap city to live in. Luckily, New York has a lot to offer in terms of affordable and bottomless brunch options. Granted, they almost always get paired with mimosas and bloody marys, but don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life. If you’d rather have a sparkling wine, you do that. The key is knowing where to spend less on food so that you can spend more on wine.

The Bluebell Cafe – Manhattan: The Bluebell Cafe’s brunch starts early and is extremely affordable. They have a great wine selection as well as an amazing food selection.

Le Parisien – Manhattan: This bistro offers an amazing brunch special as well as a great selection of French and regional wines.

Agave – Manhattan: Agave tops the list of many brunch destinations in Manhattan. It’s located in the West Village and has a higher price tag than some other brunch locations, but the food is bottomless and the higher expense is well worth it.

Sweet Chick – Manhattan: The food is good and the drinks are great at Sweet Chick on Bedford Avenue. They even have vegetarian chicken and waffles.

Hosting Wine Brunch

Obviously, the best way to brunch on a budget in NYC is to host your own wine brunch at home. This way, you can focus on the wine you’d really like way cheaper than a glass you’d get at any restaurant. Talk to some friends and arrange a potluck, or do all the cooking yourself. Find some fun brunch recipes from cinnamon roll bakes to savory egg casserole dishes and enjoy brunch in the comfort of your own home. Create a buffet style spread and create some fun brunch pairings to go with it. When you host your own wine brunch, you have the freedom to create an atmosphere and menu that you’d prefer. So, for the ultimate in brunch and wine freedom as well as sticking to your budget, just stay in and create it on your own.

New York is an expensive city, there’s no doubt about that. When you already have to spend a fortune on rent, who can afford the extra expense that it takes to find a wine brunch? Well, everyone can if you get creative. Instead of following the crowd to the locations the rest of the city goes to on a Sunday, create your own hidden gems. Find the best free wine tastings next to an affordable breakfast, brave New York’s open container laws and take your own picnic brunch to the park, find the cheapest eats and spend your extra cash on nicer wine, or just host your own wine brunch with your people at home. New York is the city of possibilities, and that includes finding cheap brunch and a glass of wine.

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Health Benefits of Red Wine

Old Vine Zinfandel Fermenting

Old Vine Zinfandel FermentingI’m getting an increasing number of requests to write for us here at Uncorked Ventures.  Most get turned down flat, but sometimes it’s an interesting business and an interesting enough article.  This comes from a “competitor”. The folks at Block 78, sell wine in Australia and while that would be an awfully fun export market (hat tip guys….need any California, Oregon or Washington wine for the shop?) it isn’t exactly a place we can ship to tomorrow.  So, below is their founder’s thoughts about the health benefits of red wine.

Surprisingly Unexpected Health Benefits Of Drinking Red Wine

Wine is consumed for pleasure every-day by many people right around the word. With its pleasurable taste and its alluring smell, it’s become a common afternoon or pastime drink that both men and women love and enjoy. However, did you know that while you may be drinking red wine to relax, you’re also receiving some great health benefits as well? Yes, it’s true! For those who aren’t aware, this expert guide will give you an idea of the surprisingly unexpected health benefits of drinking red, wine in moderation, of course. Let’s get started.

Red Wine Health Benefits You May Not Have Known About


  • Resveratrol Health Benefits


In red wine, there’s a natural chemical that’s found in the red grapes that are used. This chemical is called resveratrol. Over the years, resveratrol has been known to provide many health benefits when consumed in moderation. Some of the health benefits you can expect from the resveratrol in red wine include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Improved cardiovascular function with the protection of the arteries endothelial lining. This helps to keep blood circulating as it normally should be.
  • Helps to lower the risk of cancer with its ability to reduce oxidative stress. This can help with preventing premature aging of the body’s cells.
  • Improved mental functions with its ability for supporting proper function and creation of cells in the brain.
  • Blocks nf kappa b production. Nf kappa b is a noxious inflammatory agent that can harm the body.
  • Improved weight loss by helping to turn white obesity producing fat into good beige fat that is able to burn a lot easier.  

The resveratrol in red wine is very beneficial to your health, but it’s important to only consume it in small amounts at a time.


  • Helps To Promote Regular Heart Function


Red wine can also help to promote healthy heart function and to reduce the risk of arrhythmias from occurring. Why is this you ask? Red wine contains a lot of potassium which is a mineral that’s well known to help with regulating the heartbeat. When the body is low in potassium, the heart tends to work harder to beat which in turn causes it to skip a beat or to cause the common PVC heartbeat. Along with regulating the heart. Improving low potassium levels by drinking red wine can also help to ward off other symptoms associated with this condition including:

  • Depression (low potassium levels have been linked with sadness and depression)
  • Constipation
  • Breathlessness with the inability for the heart to pump properly.
  • Tingling, numbness, and the onset of paralysis in very severe cases (however you should seek medical help immediately if you begin to feel paralysis of the hands or legs.)
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps

In consuming a small amount of red wine daily, you’ll have the chance to maintain optimal potassium levels within your body.


  • Optimal Teeth Health and Protection


Red wine contains high amounts of fluoride which is well known to help with protecting teeth. The high amounts of fluoride in red wine can help to fight tooth decay, improve bad breath, and prevent cavities from forming. It can also help to lower the risk of:

  • Toothaches
  • Bitter tastes in the mouth
  • Sensitivity
  • Gum swelling and infection
  • Painful chewing
  • General tooth pain discomfort while eating

Fluoride is a powerful preventive mineral that is able to help you maintain a healthy mouth overall. Who would have thought that red wine was so good for your teeth!


Red wine, while used by many as a common afternoon drink, can provide you with more surprising and unexpected health benefits than you may have imagined. As you can see above, there’s many advantages of drinking red wine, however, always in moderation. So, are you going to have a small glass every afternoon after work?

David Wilson

David is a wine professional with over 20+ years of industry experience.  His love for wine has seen him travel and work in various locations throughout Australia, a four-year stint in the USA and a lot of trips to New Zealand.  He spent eight years with one of Australia’s largest retailers before working for the fourth largest wine producer globally; he is the owner of Block78 an Australia online wine company based in Australia.  If he could be a wine, it would be Shiraz!


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Creating a Beautiful Wine Storage Space in Your Home

wine rack

This is our 2nd Guest Post here on Uncorked Ventures.  It’s been said that 98% of wine is consumed within 48 hours of purchase, so not many people are holding wine for long….but that being said, I know a few of our customers do, do so. Thus, the interest in publishing at least a little something about a wine rack, or in general, wine storage. If you’re interested in sending us some information about writing here, please take a moment and read our write for us page, you’ll find the relevant information there.

Creating a Beautiful Wine Storage Space in Your Home

Do you have a small (or large) collection of wine that you’re not sure how to keep well? There are lots of options today for home wine storage. This article will go a bit into the best environmental conditions for keeping wine, and then share some ideas for choosing the right wine storage unit for your home.

Optimal Conditions for Keeping Wine

The ideal temperature for storing wine is 45-54 degrees(A note from Mark Aselstine of Uncorked Ventures: generally I think 45 degrees is too cold.  Established norms in France for first growth Bordeaux run from the ideal of 55 degrees which is about where our warehouse is, to close to 70 degrees. The easiest way to think about the aging of wine in my opinion, is to think of an old French Chateau built about a millennium ago, it does not have central heat and it’s generally pretty darn cold during the winter and also pretty damp in the warmer summer months because it is close to a major waterway….in essence you want your wine storage to keep everything cool, not cold and damp but not wet so the cork doesn’t get ruined which Jeriann has explained well), depending on the type of wine. You usually want a humidity range of 60-70%. This is why basement cellars are so popular, because they are often cool and humid.  Wine fridges can be great for short-term storage, especially for white wines, but if you are aging wines, refrigerator will not likely provide the amount of humidity your wine needs. Also, don’t keep wines in your regular refrigerator for the long term (more than a couple weeks), as corks are porous and scents from other items in your fridge can leak through and change the flavor.

When choosing a space to store your wine, think about what area in your house stays the coolest and is the most consistent in temperature. You can always buy wine cooling units to control the temperature and humidity, but in order to save money and energy; you still want to pick the spot in your house closest to optimum conditions.

Wine Racks

Wine Racks, beautiful storage
Image Courtesy of Wine Cellar Innovations

There are a lot of wine racks out there, so it can be hard to decide what kind you want. There are wall hanging racks, large shelves, and even racks that double as a tasting center like the one above. It’s important to think about the size of your space, as well as how much wine you typically have around. Tasting Centers are great because they offer lots of storage as well as a place to pour. You can even get a glass rack to hang from the top! I also love that you can pull out certain shelves, and that most of the labels are visible at a glance.

Once you decide the general size and shape of the wine rack you want, you have to decide whether you want to buy one or make one. There are some great DIY wine rack ideas. I love this one because it optimizes space and also allows you to show off the full bottles and see the labels immediately. If you decide to go the DIY-route, make sure you use a sturdy wood, at least 3/4th” to 1” thick to make sure it can hold the weight of wine bottles.

Wine Accessories and Decor

creating wine storage in your home
Image Courtesy of Cuded

There’s more to making your wine storage space look great than just your wine rack! Think about how you can really communicate your taste and passion for wine. Maybe you could think about making some wall décor with your used wine corks, like the picture above!

These are just some of the things to consider when building a beautiful wine storage space. Feel free to share your experiences showing off your wine collection in the comments!

Author Bio: Jeriann Watkins is a writer and wine drinker at Jeriann creates lamps and other crafts out of bottles, so is forever looking for efficient and attractive ways to store her leftover wine bottles!

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How to Plan an International Wine Excursion

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Jenna for providing our first guest post here at Uncorked Ventures. If you’re interested in writing for us, please have a look at our guest posting guidelines.

Thanks to the conveniences of the Internet, global supply chains, and interconnected economies, anyone can order a bottle of wine from anywhere in the world and have it in their hands in a matter of days.

However, there’s nothing quite like uncorking a bottle in its native country. More specifically, there’s nothing quite like tasting wine on the very estate from which it was harvested.

Six Tips for Planning Your Trip

If you’ve never considered planning an international wine tasting excursion, now may be the time to give it some serious thought. Don’t worry: we’ve collected some tips and tricks to guide you through the process of planning your trip.

1. Choose a Location Whether you’re a fan of Cabernet Francs from France’s right bank, or your fancy Syrahs from Australia’s Hunter Valley region, there’s a destination waiting for you. The hard part is selecting a particular area and not spreading yourself too thin. The goal of your trip should be to see, taste, and experience as much as possible – leisurely. Planning for too many stops along the way can make you feel rushed and stressed. Hone in on a single area, and never plan on visiting more than three or four wineries in a single day.

2. Read Plenty of Reviews Review websites are your best friends. Spend some time reading both about positive and negative experiences at each winery. This’ll give you an idea of the good and the bad. You’ll also learn some insider tips about what’s worth trying, what you should avoid, and how much certain things cost.

3. Let Restaurants Direct You Many people have trouble figuring out a logical itinerary or schedule of wineries. It’s typically challenging because people don’t have an end goal. One of the best ways to direct your travels naturally is to design daily itineraries around lunch and dinner. Find out where you want to eat, and then stop at locations along the way. Once you have a start and a finish, everything else will fall into place.

4. Hire a Local Driver This should go without saying, but make sure that you hire a driver if you plan on visiting multiple wineries in a day. Not only will a driver keep you safe, but they also allow you to soak in the views and forget about directions. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

5. Consider Making Reservations You won’t need to make a reservation everywhere you go, but don’t assume that every winery allows you simply to walk in and taste. Some of the more popular ones may actually limit the number of people who visit each day by requiring an advanced reservation. Keep a look out for this requirement when reading through reviews.

6. Learn About the Region You’ll get a lot more out of your trip if you spend time learning about the region you’re visiting. Read up on the history, learn some interesting facts, brush up on your vocabulary, and prepare questions. Employees at wineries love talking about what they do. Asking questions about why they grow certain grapes, how weather affects the harvest, and what’s drinking really well will only improve your experience. Start Planning Today While there’s plenty to see on this side of the world, don’t eliminate the possibility of taking an international wine tour. In taking one of these excursions, you can open yourself up to new tastes, cultures, and experiences. Using these six tips, you can make sure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible. And, always remember: the goal is to see, taste, and experience as much as possible in a leisurely fashion (with an emphasis on “leisurely”)!


Jenna Cyrprus Head ShotJenna is a freelance writer from Renton, WA who is particularly interested in travel, nature, and parenting. Follow her on Twitter.