Club W | The Stitch Fix of Wine

Hello lovelies!

I cannot believe how the year is flying by! Adjusting to a new job and getting settled in our new home has been a whirlwind, but 2015 has been shaping up to be a good one. I typically like to write my blog posts around items I’m swooning over and products and services I am infatuated with. Well – this one is no different.

As we’ve seen, monthly subscription boxes have taken the world by storm. From treats for your dogs (BarkBox) to makeup (Birchbox & Ipsy), to clothing (Stitch Fix) to fashion jewelry (Rocksbox) to children’s clothing (Citrus Lane) to even having recipes and fresh ingredients delivered right to your doorstep (i.e. Blue Apron – although there are a plethora of others), the consumer shopping experience is changing dramatically. It not only offers convenience, but also a unique, personalized experience that you do not receive in a normal retail environment.

Being the marketing junkie that I am, this is all truly a dream. Why? Because it’s the perfect example of why Big Data is changing the experience of the customer. Most of these sites have you take a survey to determine your taste, likes and dislikes and based on your feedback, a carefully cultivated subscription box of hand selected items is delivered right to your door. Not only does this offer a customer the option of providing continual feedback on what they received so the company can continue improving the user experience, but also allows the consumer to try products they may not have been exposed to before. Not to mention, the packaging and marketing collateral in these boxes are usually swoon worthy.

So enough of my marketing soapbox…here is what I have to share. To all my wine lovers out there – let’s talk about Club W. Today, my boss received a beautiful box today that immediately grabbed my attention. Of course, I had to ask what was in the box which is when she proceeded to tell me that she signed up for something called Club W – a subscription box of wine.

Now if you know me, I had to do it. Why? A. I’m a sucker for this stuff and B. come on, it’s wine. So why is this subscription box so cool? You sign up, take a survey regarding your taste and palate and then Club W selects different wines that you might like based on the answers you provided. See below for my personal user experience – it was exceptional.

Step 1: Take the questionnaire to determine what your “Palate Profile” is.

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Step 2: Club W hand selects wine based on your taste and provides their recommendations (you can also change the settings to display up to 12 different red wines and 6 different white wines).

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Step 3: Learn about the wine: you can hover over each bottle for a description or you can watch a video showcasing their wine experts diving deep into the flavors of each bottle.

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Step 4: Add your bottles to your cart and check out! FYI – They are running a killer promotion right now and most of their bottles of wine only run around $13/each.

Step 5: After you receive your order and try out the wine, Club W invites you to review the different bottles you received.

Y’all – I’m simply bursting with excitement over this! I should receive my Club W box soon (expect a follow-up post on it). But in the meantime, check out the wines below that were recommended for me! Stay tuned – I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out! Interested in trying it out too? Get a discount using my promo code link: https://www.clubw.com/jarminoei

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Lavish Liquid | The Obscure Flavored H2O Trend

Happy Monday, lovelies!

So, today’s topic may be a bit random to discuss, but it’s one that has left me scratching my head. Over the last few years, we’ve seen tremendous popularity in flavored water. According to the International Bottled Water Association, flavored bottled water sales in the U.S. accounted for over $200 million in 2011. Although some of the larger beverage conglomerates such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have dominated the market (Coca-Cola owns Vitaminwater, Dasani and Glacieau Smart Water, while PepsiCo owns Aquafina), there are several smaller companies out there that provide some truly obscure but fascinating H2O options! So you may ask, why not just drink regular water? Believe me, I have no problem with the taste of “old faithful”,  but I’m an adventurous kind of girl and when it comes to my palate, I want to try new things and pick up different flavor profiles. Below are some interesting flavored water options (starting with the one that everyone already knows about). Enjoy!

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coconut water { the good, the bad and the ugly }

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If you’ve been to any grocery or convenience store, you’ve probably noticed the abundance of coconut water on the shelves. However, just recently one of the largest coconut water distributors, iTi Tropical, claims that approximately 15% of the coconut water sold in the United States is not properly labeled and actually has added sugar. In other words, many consumers think they are drinking something nutritious when in fact, they are not. Now, I am one who really dislikes being duped or mislead. Being in marketing, I can understand the various tactics some of these companies use, but I just cannot stand for dishonesty. Although iTi Tropical would not disclose the names of these businesses that are deceiving consumers, I think it’s safe to say that one must be cautious if they are trying to stay away from any artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Note: this is not speaking negatively about coconut water, I’m just trying to shed light on some factual information and warn those of you who are looking for a natural flavored water option to be particularly cautious when it comes to the coconut water craze.

 

wtrmln water { the new coconut water }

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It’s safe to say that coconut water has lost some momentum but there’s a new water in town that is gaining a great deal of attention and is being called “the new coconut water”. Two words: WATERMELON WATER. Particularly the brand, wtrmln watr. Here’s the run down: it’s extremely hydrating as it’s a fresh, cold-pressed juice and consists of 91% water while being vegan, gluten-free and loaded with tons of antioxidants and vitamins (not to mention it has double the potassium of a single banana). The company just opened a retail store in NYC but for those of you who do not reside there, you can order wtrmln watr online (check out Amazon). This is one bev I am just dying to try!

 

artichoke water { say whaaa!? }

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I know…it sounds crazy, right? I was a little stumped when I saw it too. I mean, how good can artichoke water be? But then I thought: I love water and I love artichokes. So what is really so wrong with combining the two? This is one I actually think that I am going to order soon so I should be able to provide a follow-up review to this blog post in the next month or so. The drink is described as unusual, sweet and savory. It turns out, the two co-owners had experience drinking artichoke infused water and tea in their past. One of the co-owners was provided with superior hydration from artichoke infused water during his triathlon training while the other would drink artichoke infused tea that has grandmother prepared on special occasions. After a couple of years of research and development, the two finally cultivated Arty Artichoke Water. Now, let’s get to the good stuff: what are the benefits? It’s cholesterol-free, vegan, full of vitamins and antioxidants and is a natural dietary fiber.

 

almond water { not just for milk anymore }

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We’re all aware of what almond milk is (the dairy-free milk option available to those who are trying to cut it out of their diet or are perhaps lactose intolerant). But have you heard of almond water yet? Victoria’s Kitchen (named after the founder’s grandmother), stays true to his roots as the almond water recipe originated from his grandmother, who grew up in the South of France. The company markets the beverage as a healthy alternative to lemonade or sweet tea as it provides a refreshing and slightly sweet taste while making your taste buds dance! The water is made with all natural ingredients (purified water, cane sugar, natural flavors and natural extracts) and is dairy-free, GMO-free, vegan and gluten-free.

 

maple water { when you think you’ve heard it all }

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Some of you may find this odd (like the other varieties, weren’t?), but for those of you who are feeling adventurous should definitely put this one on your list of flavored waters to try! The company, that provides Pure Maple Water literally just takes maple from trees and bottles it as is…that’s it. Nothing added. Crazy, right? It’s an incredibly hydrating and refreshing water with a subtle hint of maple flavor. What are some of the health benefits? It gives you energy, has 20 calories per serving, is considered an anti-inflammatory, has no added sugar or preservatives and is gluten-free, dairy-free and GMO-free.

 

blossom water { may your beverage be as beautiful as your garden }

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Two ladies from New England cultivated this idea and it’s really captivated an audience already. With four flavors so far (the company was only born in May 2013), each beverage is sweetened with agave nectar (a plant derivative), which is one and a half times sweeter than sugar and much lower on the Glycemic Index (GI). The colors of the water are not artificial dyes, rather, extracted from fruits and vegetables. The flavors are made with fruit and flower essences which is much different from regular “natural flavoring” as it is done using a steam distillation process (to learn more, click here). This water is also gluten-free, dairy-free, GMO-free and does not contain any preservatives.

Top Ten List | Fav Craft Brews of All Time

The weather is finally starting to heat up here in the Carolinas but what it is really doing is making me crave an ice cold craft brew on a picturesque patio. There, I said it. Of course there are tons of summer activities to plan like concerts, festivals and road trips…but nothing truly beats good company and the frothy, carbonated goodness of a delicious beer. So in honor of all the beer lovers out there, I have cultivated a list of my top ten favorite craft brews of all time. Some are year-round while others are seasonal – each bring something very special to the table.

Now, I will go ahead and give you my “fine print”: I am not a craft beer guru or connoisseur…nor do I claim to be. However, I would consider myself a craft beer advocate and I know what I like. So without further adieu, below is my go-to list of beers that I’ve experienced and loved. Maybe if you see one that you haven’t tried yet you can give it a go next time you’re out and about! { What are your favorite craft beers? What style of beer do you love? Share in the comment section as I’m always looking for something new to sip on! }

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 10.  Delirium Tremens from Huyghe Brewery – Belgium

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I remember the first time I picked one of these up at Common Market. I loved the bottle but wasn’t too sure what to expect regarding the beer itself. Delirium Tremens is a golden colored Belgian Strong Ale that is both fruity and hoppy with a slightly bitter finish.

 

9.  Maharaja Imperial IPA from Avery Brewing Company – Boulder, Colorado

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This is a beer I have been drinking for a few years now – why mess with a good thing? Maharaja is an American Double/Imperial IPA with a very high alcohol content of 10.2%. This smooth, amber colored beer is fairly hoppy but truly encompasses the perfect blend of bitter and sweet. Maharaja definitely has some subtle notes of pine and citrus (perhaps some orange) and the aroma is divine.

 

8.  Anchor Steam from Anchor Brewing Company – San Francisco, California

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This year-round brew is a solid go-to and I would even consider it a classic. I’m a big fan of San Francisco and as silly as it sounds, the taste of this beer reminds me of the city in every shape, way and form. It’s clean, refreshing and magical.

 

7.  Hazelnut Brown Nectar from Rogue – Newport, Oregon

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If you’ve never experienced any Rogue beer before, stop what you are doing right now and find the closest store that carries them. I’ve been an advocate of Rogue for several years because they consistently put out a solid beer. Their Hazelnut Brown Nectar in particular is hands down one of my favorites although there probably isn’t a Rogue beer I haven’t loved. As you can probably infer from the name, this beer definitely tastes like rich, roasted hazelnuts. Sweet in flavor and copper in color, this beer is another good one to have in your arsenal.

 

6.  OMB Dunkel from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery – Charlotte, North Carolina

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Where do I begin with my love affair with OMB Dunkel? If it was a year-round beer, I would be in serious trouble. This seasonal brew is only around in the Winter but it will warm your soul on those frosty nights. Olde Meck’s Dunkel is a rich brown color, medium bodied with slightly sweet malts and an earthy flavor.

 

5.  Hop Drop N’ Roll from NoDa Brewing Company in Charlotte, North Carolina

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{ nodabrewing.com }

So, you need to take me seriously when I say that I swear I am not biased. I know the owners and employees of NoDa Brewing Company quite well. Not only does my husband work at the brewery part-time, but I’ve known many of the staff members for years. No words can explain my love for these people – Chad, the head brewer, knows what the heck he is doing…and the owners, Todd & Suzie? They are truly some of the best people I know. Now, to the beer. Hop Drop N’ Roll is beyond any other American-style IPA that I’ve had. It has an intricate and complex flavor profile – seriously incredible. I’m a big fan of all of NoDa’s beers but this one definitely stands out among the rest. In fact, it just took home the Gold Award at the 2014 World Beer Cup® for American-Style IPAs which is a huge deal. The best part about it all? You do not have to go the brewery to enjoy this beverage as this past year they started selling them in cans all around town. Convenience at its finest!

 

4.  Cottonwood Spiced Pumpkin Ale from Foothills Brewing Company in Winston Salem, North Carolina 

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If you know me, it is no secret that Autumn is my favorite season and that pumpkin flavored anything makes me the happiest girl in the world. So of course, I am pumpkin beer obsessed. However, when it comes to this type of seasonal beer, I am very particular about the taste. I’ve had some where you cannot taste pumpkin at all and some that are way too sweet…to the point of nausea. I remember first tasting Cottonwood Pumpkin when I was out having a post-work beverage with a coworker. I ordered it on a whim, not expecting to completely fall head over heels…which I absolutely did. WOW. Everyone will give you an opinion on the “best” pumpkin beer and I truly believe it’s all personal. Not everyone’s palettes are the same and what each individual is seeking is very different. But Cottonwood Pumpkin is the perfect balance of a pumpkin taste with hints of nutmeg and spices without being overly sweet.

 

3.  Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, North Carolina

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I cannot even begin to take credit for discovering this beer – it was truly all my husband. Shahin is a huge craft beer guy and has been in the scene for several years now. But when it’s Winter time, all that I hear him talk about is getting his hands on a Cold Mountain Winter Ale by Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC. It’s clear as day that Asheville is a major craft beer hub and there are so many incredible breweries up there, but Highland Brewing is most definitely one of my favorites as they always put out a quality product. Cold Mountain is a deep, copper color beer with a creamy texture and subtle, soul-warming flavors such as nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. This well-balanced beer is definitely a wise choice for cold, winter nights.

 

2.  Coco Loco from NoDa Brewing Company – Charlotte, North Carolina

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Without a doubt, this is my favorite NoDa Brewing Company beer and number two on my favorite craft brews of all time. This American Porter is a rich, dark brown color (almost black) with a creamy, light tan head. What I love about this beer is it encompasses two of my most beloved things: chocolate and coconut. Let me sum it up for you…taste bud explosion! The flavor profile is ridiculously enchanting: the marriage of the slightly bitter chocolate with the sweet notes of the organic coconut (toasted on-site at the brewery) is pure perfection. It was even awarded the Silver Medal in 2012 at The Great American Beer Festival. Go…go try it now.

 

1.  Hopslam Ale from Bell’s Brewery – Kalamazoo, Michigan

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There are no words to explain Hopslam except when you can actually find it…it’s like gold. You think I’m joking, but I’m totally not. Aside from this also being a Winter seasonal beer, only a certain amount is released to specific locations. That means…if I were you, I’d start researching now how to get it this Winter because those who know which bars or pubs receive shipments do not share with others. Would it be bold of me to even say that Hopslam almost has a cult-like following? Probably not…and I’m pretty darn guilty of being a part of it myself. But y’all, it’s really that good. This beer is a rich amber color and very easy to drink and goes down smoothly. As noted in the name of the beer, it is quite hoppy. But if you’re not a fan of hoppy beers, do not let that deter you from trying this because I too once felt that way and this beer changed my entire way of thinking. The aroma and flavors are so pungent: strong grapefruit, pineapple, honey and floral notes. I recommend this beer time and time again – it is worth all the hype.

Trying to better understand what kind of beers you enjoy or wish to discover something new? Check out beeradvocate.com