Raw, Local & Organic Eggnog: Delicious and Easy to Make!

Once Thanksgiving Day is over, I always get excited about two things, holiday decorations and eggnog. Normally I would buy a carton of eggnog from the market, but this year as I reached for the store bought brand it occurred to me... I have never had homemade eggnog! I started to look up recipes and was disappointed with what I found. I wanted eggnog that would be remarkably different from processed store brands.

What I found was that many recipes use raw eggs but that is as far as they go. With this in mind I decided to make my eggnog as raw, fresh and local as it could get. I used raw eggs of course, but I also used raw sweetener, and my favorite ingredients of all raw dairy products (milk and cream). The only thing that could not be raw was the bourbon. After researching a number of recipes, I decided to make my own concoction. In the end, my eggnog turned out just as I had hoped and was a big hit with my family.


My ingredient list was as follows:

4 egg yolks

4 egg whites (make sure there is absolutely no egg yolks in the whites)

2 cups whole raw milk

1 cup heavy raw cream

6 oz bourbon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/3 cup agave plus 1 tablespoon agave

For the eggs, I choose a local and organic brand. The more locally produced the eggs are, the fresher the eggs will probably be, which will most likely result in better tasting eggnog. I would also like to add that the safety of consuming raw eggs is highly debatable. I don't claim that they wont give you salmonella, but I was raised in a family that consumes raw eggs occasionally and has never had a problem. If you have a compromised immune system, or you are a very young or very elderly person, you should not eat raw eggs. I am not a scientist, so I won't claim that they wont make you sick, but for many others and myself, eating raw eggs works fine.

When it comes to dairy ingredients, I absolutely love raw organic dairy products. They taste amazing and also maintain a high amount of the good bacteria your body needs to absorb the protein and lactose. Lucky for us living in the Bay Area, it is easy to find raw organic dairy products in many natural food stores in Northern California.

For a sweetener, I used Agave nectar. Unlike honey, agave nectar is flavorless, which makes it great to add to your drinks when you don't want that honey taste to overpower the other ingredients. Agave also absorbs in cold liquids and is a low-glycemic sweetener. Currently there are no regulations for labeling sweeteners as raw, which causes all kinds of debates. Most agave nectar brands are labeled as raw, but some people consider agave nectar to be a processed sweetener since it is brought up to a temperature of anywhere between 118-140 degrees. As far as options for sweetening your eggnog go, agave is pretty minimally processed compared to most sweeteners.

My eggnog preparation went something like this:

Whisk the egg yolks until they start to thicken and lighten in color. Then gradually add in the 1/3 cups of agave while still whisking. Once the sugar is completely dissolved gradually add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl and with a different whisk start by whipping the egg whites slowly for a minute and then gradually work up to a faster speed until you start to see soft peaks. Then slowly add the tablespoon of agave and whisk at a high speed until the consistency produces stiff peaks.

Then whisk the egg whites into the mixture.

Chill and serve!

The Importance of Cause-Related Marketing in the Wine Industry

Note: This is an updated version of a chapter I wrote in 2003 for the Wine Public Relations book called "Spinning the Bottle" the premise of cause-related marketing in the wine industry still holds true now more than ever and is a tenet of Charles Communications Associates to this day.

-Kimberly Charles

In my 20 plus years in the wine industry, working in both the imported and domestic wine arenas on both the East and West coasts, I have been witness to the largesse of the industry be it charitable associations, educational institutions, health related issues, and cultural endeavors among many other great causes. The Business for Social Responsibility organization defines social responsibility as "achieving commercial success in ways that honor ethical values and respect people, communities and the natural environment." The wine industry's connection to nature coupled with the diversity of backgrounds of people working within the business naturally attracts people who are generous of spirit and who celebrate friendship, sharing and giving. Philanthropy is an organic extension of this philosophy and it has been and will continue to be a great platform from which to launch wine marketing programs.

It is important to note at this point that creating a cause around a brand is not an end in itself. If a cause-related program does not help impact sales, it has failed. Oftentimes, public relations and marketing professionals become self-congratulatory over the merits of a really creatively designed program, but unless it helps sell cases, it will be difficult to justify the investment in public relations. When a program is carefully crafted with both rational and emotional drivers, it can have more impact on sales than price incentives, advertising and other common tricks of the trade.

When executed well, these programs have resonance and impact when they truly connect with a brand's essence. Two such programs are illustrated here representing a successful integration of either the brand's name and identity, the personalities behind the winemaking or the vision of the principals who owned the winery.

The Environment


Perhaps one of the biggest challenges the wine industry is facing in the 21st century is how to manage its role as a vital, growing agricultural business that inherently wrestles with environmental issues everyday in light of its water use, erosion control, herbicide/pesticide use, labor issues among many other elements that have an impact on the environment. Recognizing this early on, Sequoia Grove Winery in Rutherford, Napa Valley realized that raising the consciousness of consumers of wine about the need to preserve and protect our environment was of utmost importance. In the early 1990s, long before the sustainability movement had gained momentum within the wine industry, Sequoia Grove, together with its partner and marketer Kobrand Corporation, devised a program that targeted the restoration of trails in the Sequoia Kings-Canyon National Park in Northern California.

To put the program in context, it is important to note some of the challenges the winery was facing at the time. Its delicious estate and Napa designated Cabernets and Chardonnays were receiving great accolades, however, the winery was competing with more established "big gun" names in the Rutherford district and needed a creative program to gain entree into top accounts. Taking inspiration from the grove of majestic 100-year old Sequoia trees that graced the property, we designed a program that partnered with the National Parks and Conservation Program. The NPCA works on local, regional and national levels to help preserve and restore the national park system.

The name association of the park and the wine made it a clear connection with the brand, and consumers were asked to send in their Sequoia Grove corks to help restore the trails in the park. The program consisted of a campaign both on and off premise that described Sequoia Grove's involvement in the NPCA through shelf talkers, bottle-neckers, posters, menu cards and a full court press program. It was such a "natural" fit that it caught the eye of the Hyatt Hotel group, who decided to make the program part of its national hotel restaurant campaign. The only hitch to the program was that the winery was inundated with corks coming back in the recycled envelopes provided.such a headache to have!

Health & Wellness

Ehler's Estate is a winery founded in Napa by Sylviane Leducq and the late Jean Leducq who first purchased vineyard land in Napa in 1987. In 2001 they reunited the original 1886 Ehler's Estate vineyard and winery property by buying the remaining 30-acre parcel comprising the estate. The Leducq's had sold their commercial businesses in 1997 and created a trust to benefit the Leducq Foundation, which supports cardiovascular research. Today it is the third largest medical research foundation in the world and the largest dedicated to one cause. Jean and Sylviane chose cardiovascular research as the focus as they knew it to be the leading cause of death worldwide and they wanted to help fund ground-breaking research to seek answers and solutions to this endemic problem.

A portion of the proceeds of the sales of Ehler's Estate wines go towards the foundation. The story is told simply on the back label of the wines and the design on the front label subtly reflects a heart symbol integrated into the "E" of Ehler's Estate. A dedicated holistic communications and sales campaign has been developed to educate both trade and consumers and the winery will launch in the summer of 2003. The integration and integrity of the Leducq's philosophy and compassion into the winery's branding provides a great opportunity for a strong dialogue with the socially aware consumer.

A number of other great programs too detailed to elaborate upon here have met with success in the areas of scholarship, the arts and the welfare of those who support the wine community such as the farmworkers who are the backbone of the wine industry. Particularly in this time of corporate governance coming under great scrutiny, it is all the more important for wineries to demonstrate to their customers a sense of consciousness, integrity and connectivity to a larger picture. "A 2001 Hill & Knowlton/Harris Interactive poll showed that 79% of Americans take corporate citizenship into account when deciding whether to buy a particular company's product; 36% of Americans consider corporate citizenship an important factor when making purchasing decisions."

The future looks bright for the wine industry leading the way towards a more socially conscious enlightenment. Continued and generous charitable support together with programs such as the Wine Institute's recent launch of the Sustainability Code wherein wineries have an opportunity to adopt and grow with a sustainable business model for both the vineyard and winery, are indicators that the wine industry has an opportunity to create a business model that other industries can emulate.

Footnote: Since the writing of this chapter six years ago, the California Sustainabile Winegrowing Alliance is now moving towards certification in 2010. CCA is happy to be a part of the communications campaign to share that great evolution with the press and public.

Passion for Pinot Fireside Chat with Jordan Mackay

On April 8, 2009 Charles Communications team worked in conjunction with the staff at DeLoach to host a Passion for Pinot Fireside Chat to commemorate the release of Jordan Mackay's book, Passion for Pinot, A Journey Through America's Pinot Noir Country and to solidify DeLoach as a preeminent pinot producer in the Russian River.

The event was a great success with attendance from both the wine trade media, sommeliers and growers. As the event was away from San Francisco, many invitees had expressed their sincerest apologies for their inability to attend the event. The event featured a panel discussion, in which Jordan asked a series of questions regarding pinot noir and winemaking to a group of panelists consisting of Brian Maloney of DeLoach, Dan Goldfield of Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Adam Lee of Siduri Wines and Michael Browne of Kosta Browne Winery. The layout of the event consisted of causal sofa seating, but with a formal tasting mat to highlight each wine, and was very much conducive to encouraging audience participation.

Prior to the discussion, Jean-Charles welcomed everyone to DeLoach and introduced the concept of the afternoon. Jordan introduced the panelists and a freeform discussion followed on: trends of single clone production, changing styles of pinot noir in California, reactions to critics and writers on the trends of pinot noir, site specific challenges and accomplishments in growing pinot noir and the solidarity of the panelists love for the grape.

Six different wines were tasted during the course of the event. As guests arrived at the DeLoach guesthouse at 3 p.m., they were offered four different wines from the Russian River Valley from the wineries participating at the event. Once the discussion was underway, the guests were poured wines from four different appellations, and the winemakers were given a chance to discuss the select wines being poured. We purposely requested that each winemaker bring a wine from different and unique AVAs to showcase not only Russian River, but also the nuances of terroir and how it affects this varietal.

Wines poured at the event:

Kosta Browne Winery

1. 2007 Koplen Vineyard, Russian River Valley

2. 2007 Rosella's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands

Dutton-Goldfield Winery

1. 2007 Dutton Ranch Freestone Hill Vineyard, Russian River Valley

2. 2007 Devil's Gulch, Marin County

Siduri Wines

1. 2007 Keefer Ranch, Russian River Valley

2. 2006 Arbre Vert, Willamette Valley, OR

DeLoach Vineyards

1. 2007 Green Valley, Russian River Valley

2. 2007 Mast Vineyard, Redwood Valley

Overall, the event went very well. We received numerous comments on the appealing layout and style of the event. Attendees appreciated the casual fireside set up and earnestness of the winemakers' discussions. We also received a number of comments on how nice the DeLoach Guesthouse was and the hospitality that they received while there. Press was interested and happy to familiarize themselves with the DeLoach pinots, and we were told by some press that they were not familiar with the extensive pinot noir program that was in place at DeLoach. The wines showed very well and allowed attendees to catch a glimpse of the talent of the winemaking team at DeLoach.

Thanks to everyone at DeLoach who helped on this project. We really appreciate it!

The informal and intimate layout of the event was conducive to active audience participation.

Value and Values in Wine

We’re living in interesting times where there is much discussion of the ideas of both green and value, green-sizing and downsizing. With green, it may be the concept of environmental consciousness or greenbacks aka money. With value, it may encompass the monetary term related to the economic conditions and therefore discounted products. Or, it may be of values, as in company values, social values, environmental conservation and quality of life and quality of products. Both definitions are of equal importance to today’s consumer with stories reporting that they are reducing their expenditures, choosing quality over quantity and seeking to support companies with like values. This goes for wine purchases as well.

Below are a few recommendations for Value(s) wine purchasing during down times: - Continue to drink what you like to support your favorite winemaker.
- Every wine has a story so support wineries whose values reflect yours.

- If you are environmentally minded, look for those that promote organic and biodynamic growing practices, or those offering green packaging.

- Find a wine that supports your favorite cause, and particularly wineries who support the communities in which they live and work.

- Seek out new wines at lower price points, as nothing feels better than discovering a great new wine, a $50 Napa Cab, a $10 pinot noir, a $20 bubbly, or a Beaujolais in a reusable aluminum bottle!

- Drink wines from local wineries if you are so lucky to be in a winegrowing region, as it helps support your local economy and leaves a smaller carbon footprint.

For how other wine lovers are reacting, check out he story on NPR this week - Economy Forces Some To Buy Less Expensive Wine -\?storyId=99235468


Pause: it's a powerful word

Do you ever notice how we forget to pause and reflect or breathe for that matter in these hectic times we live in? I have a friend who is a story teller professionally who tells me that the pause taken in the course of telling a good story, is just as important as the words themselves. All this to say that I’m taking a pause in the middle of the holiday season, when we’re blessed with being busy making 2009 plans for our clients that encompass the worlds of tea, chocolate, fine wine and environmental causes, to share Charles Communications' insights into beverage trends be they green, vinuous, spirituous or non-alcoholic. These were presented at the 2009 San Francisco Trends  Think Tank organized and presented by my long term friend and colleague Andrew Freeman, who has a knack for what’s next. I’d like to think that our curiosity and desire to quench our thirst for knowledge, informs what we envision to be the trends for next year.  I plan on making this forecast annually, and I hope the research helps you in whatever way possible.  So get a glass of your favorite beverage, and sit back for a look see into the crystal glass of 2009

Trends Think Tank

Top Beverage Trends for 2009General Overarching Trends:

Going Green Organic, Biodynamic, Fair Trade and Sustainable offerings are continuing their upswing in many arenas be it fine wines, mass market wines, craft brew beer, spirits, coffee, teas, juices. It’s becoming more of a standard than a specialty item, but still has a ways to go. Also because there are so many shades of green, consumers have yet to have complete confidence in or understanding of the degrees of greenness in products.

Mr. McGuire to Benjamin in the Graduate, I’ve Got One Word for you: Plastics As the beverage industry responds to two incentives 1) consumer call for more green packaging and 2) the economic realities of rising fuel costs and shipping rates, packages are getting lighter and carbon footprints are getting smaller. More beverages from Coca Cola to Appellation Controlled Rhone wine are being packaged in PET plastic bottles, meant for early, quick consumption, not aging.

Small is Beautiful Sample sizes are not just for beauty products any more. Many wines are being offered more often in ½ bottles now for those who are watching their intake or who are being savvy shoppers. There are even juice size boxes for wine in 250 ml sizes. Ready to drink is not just for non-alcoholic beverages.

It’s a Small World After All As the internet has brought us closer, and as people who enjoy beverages travel and seek value, we are seeing more exotic wines show up on wine lists from places such as Croatia, Uruguay, Turkey, India, China. Beverage managers for top restaurants are now visiting distilleries around the world, in addition to wineries as well as other locales where unique beverages are crafted.

Alternative Packaging: Recycling Many products are either making their packages more environmentally sensitive (note the new water bottle shape using less plastic), or are made of post consumer recycled product or are 100% recyclable. Tasty affordable wines are showing up in trendy modern designed boxes and tetra paks, aluminum bottles and lighter weight glass. Some bottles are being designed by spirits companies for re-purposing, re-use.

Drinking outside of the Box: High end designed boxed wines are no longer the stigma socially that they used to be. Quality across the boards from import to domestic is on the rise, and with premium wine prices rising, boxed wines are the chic alternative for big gatherings and at home consumption.

Education: No Glass Left Behind From servers to clientele in hotels, restaurants, wine shops the thirst for education has never been stronger. Certification programs are abounding for wine knowledge at the consumer and trade level. Staff are being trained to know everything from sakes to teas to artisan tequilas so they can up sell their clientele. Staff trainings and tastings are more prevalent than ever. Many restaurants are offering their clients an opportunity to be educated on specific subjects of interest i.e. Single Malt Sundays at the Viceroy in L.A., Sommelier Unplugged Nights with Chris Sawyer at the Carneros Bistro in Sonoma, Eno-Versity at Eno in Chicago where clients learn about wine, chocolate, cheese once a month.

What a Pair Going beyond the traditional, restaurants are pairing all sorts of beverages with their menus these days from beer to sake to coffee, and are also giving clients suggestions right on the menu of wines by the glass or bottle to enjoy with their dish, helping clients get over the hurdle of what to pair with their meal.

Flight Instructors It’s taking off, sample sizes or tastes of different wines, beers, spirits, sakes are being offered in wine bars, restaurants, hotel bars/lounges. Two ounce pours of different offerings are offered in flights for people to learn about nuances i.e. difference between blanco and reposado tequilas, to experimenting with new wine producing regions around the world in a glass. Bars are encouraging trial and sampling, Try Before You Buy. Small tastes of top luxury wines/spirits are also popular where one can have a taste of something that may be out of normal affordability range: a bit of luxurious indulgence.

It’s the Economy Stupid As goes the general world economy of haves and have nots, while value sensitivity is increasing in restaurants and wine shops where consumers are quietly downshifting their price points for wines by the glass or wine purchases by the bottle, at the same time, people are splurging for $2,000 shots of rare single malt whiskeys or spending $75 for a vintage dated top growth Bordeaux by the glass.

Here Come the Millennials One of the most influential groups to affect the world of beverage especially wine, but it extrapolates to the cocktail and beer culture too. Many are price resistant, well-traveled, internet savvy and total networkers: encouraging and sharing wine, beer, cocktail faves like never before. They are being credited with helping the wine industry have one of its strongest year’s ever. Unorthodox in their approach, they are leading the way with trial and experimentation across the boards.

For everything there is a Season Seasonality in ingredients is not just for the menu any more, there are seasonal farmer’s market based cocktails exploding on the scene in the world of mixology. Craft brews made for a limited seasonal time are at an all time high in terms of popularity fueling the locavore movement and the sense of being sensitive to the season we’re in resonate with consumers.

Trends in Specific Beverage Arenas:

Raise the Wine Bar It has been said that Wine Bars are the Coffee Bars of the 2000s. Wine Bar concepts are exploding around the country with mutiple bottle lists, themes (i.e. only South African or California based wine lists), large numbers of wines by the glass i.e. 50-100 offerings are quite common in many new wine bars. Themes that get people’s attention from ‘Oak vs. Stainless’ chardonnays, to ‘Funky Reds’ are popping up on lists to get consumers to have fun while they’re getting educated.

Will we see Wine at McDonald’s? As we see institutions such as McDonald’s serving the needs of coffee drinkers seeking lower priced alternatives to Starbucks, perhaps wine isn’t far off. Some early adopter upscale fast food locales such as Q-Shack in North Carolina or Taylor’s Refresher in California are offering wines by the glass or ½ bottle with your pulled pork and hamburger. Noodles & Co. and Pei Wei are chains that are offering wines now. Why not? It might slow the artery hardening... :)

Are you Local? All 50 states produce wine today in the U.S. and as the quality levels continue to improve, we’re seeing more local wines on lists in urban markets as well as more demand to have wines consumed locally that have a lower carbon footprint. Sommeliers are encouraging trial with tastes and local farmer ingredient driven menus for pairing.

SpiritsFrom Sea to Shining Sea From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Bay Area, mom and pop distilleries are all the rage with over 100 independent spirits producers in Northern America (up from 5 in 1990), small spirits producers are being championed by the urbane mixologists across the country, creating a market and demand completely unexpected. Called the “gourmet-fication” of spirits by experts, expect to see more on the scene.

Corpse Revival Playing off the term used for a classic cocktail including Absinthe, obscure, once forgotten spirits are coming back due to high demand from the creative cocktailians mixing it up across the country. Spirits and liqueurs such as Crème de Violette, Absinthe, Swedish Punch are being brought back by purists who want to see classics revived.

Ying and Yang in Cocktail Culture Borrowing from the savory and sweet side of many menus, and crossing over between bartender and chef, never before have the kitchen and the bar collaborated so closely in the making of cocktails. Gone are many of the super sweet cocktails (dessert cocktails excepted), and mixologists are opting for the palate cleansing balance of a good cocktail.

Drink Your Dessert Many mixologists are finding innovative ways to forego dessert in favor of a dessert like cocktail or even a cocktail that is half eaten and half drunk such as the French Toast cocktail at Benoit Bar in NYC or the White Russian Rice Krispie flavored treat at Tailor in Soho, NYC.

That’s the Spirit Certain spirits seem to have a buzz going, meaning that they’ve become the darlings of the mixology set…2008 saw a rise in popularity of 100% agave Tequila, Absinthe with its legal status granted for the first time in 75 years, genever style Gin gaining favor over traditional gin, Small Batch Whiskey from different states in the U.S., artisanal Bourbon still rising in popularity as an American original.

Beer: Roll out the Barrel Cask ales from craft brewers are now offering limited releases and are being aged in cellars in restaurants like wine. Restaurants are beginning to pair specialty cask beers with menus and it is one of the least known but rapidly growing areas of interest in beverage right now.

Big Bottles The 22 ounce beer bottle is no longer the domain of the frat boys, it is now an offering in restaurants for food pairing similar to wines for specialty beers. Especially popular are the Belgian beers and lambics both at retail and on premise.

Other cool trends in beverage:

Tea: Lose the Doilies Tea is no longer associated with only the formal hotel service of British heritage or the yoga set, it has gone mainstream and modern. Tea sommeliers are working the floors of tea salons in urban areas, teas are showing up in cocktail infusions and in hot toddies, Ready to Drink teas are more popular than ever with all sorts of healthful flavorings from green tea to ginger, to pomegranate to white and red teas. Chefs are cooking with tea for savory and sweet items on the menu.

Water Pressure With water becoming a more precious resource and with sensitivity to packaging and waste becoming more top of mind, restaurants are now switching to inhouse filtration and carbonation systems to produce water options from the tap and offering it complimentary to guests.

Focus Your Energy The proliferation of energy drinks and vitamin/energy infused waters doesn’t seem to be losing any ground. For people on the go, getting nutrients and energy boosts is a global phenomenon.

For more "trends to watch for 2009", check out the following live interviews. Popular Spirits for 2009

Watch more video clips on: Organic Spirits, The Impact of the Internet on Wine, Economic Effects on the Wine Industry, The Rise of Sake, Wine Bar Popularity, Overarching Trends for '09.

Visit our video library on YouTube.


Confessions of a E-Shopaholic

My name is Andrew and I am a shopaholic. There, I said it. People often say that acceptance is the first step to recovery. I have no problem admitting to my addiction; stopping myself from typing, on the other hand, has proven to be rather difficult. Having gone to college in the middle of nowhere, I quickly fell victim to the lure of online shopping. First, it was a few special edition sneakers but as we all know, the problem with online shopping is that it makes you realize how meaningless your life is without those USB robots that dance to the music from your computer, or those beanbags shaped like puzzle pieces. However the benefit to e-shopping is that it allows me to research/ learn about products with ease, and there’s never a shortage of stores that are selling what I want for a cheaper price than the ones before them. And with the current economic downtown, I’ve come to favor discount codes more than ever. Before I finalize my order on the check out page, I search for all kinds of discount codes that might apply to my order to get that 5 or 6% off. And when I do locate a discount code that’s applicable to my order, not only do I feel smarter than Stephen Hawking, but I also pat myself on the back for my ‘advanced’ researching abilities. On the rare occasion that I find multiple discount codes available, I apply the one that offers the most discount to my order, and then write the rest of them down in the “Do you have a comment or a suggestion?” box, hoping that whoever is processing my order will take notice of my ingenuity, have a good chuckle to him/herself, and decide to apply all the discount codes to my order.

As Christmas season is fast approaching (or is it here already?), I thought I could talk about one of my favorite websites to shop for fun, quirky gifts. I wish this e-store were a ‘hidden gem’ that I could introduce to the world and people would awe at my discovery, but alas it is not. However, that does not mean it is a bad store by any means.

Lush is a store that sells fresh, handmade natural cosmetics and bath and body products. As an avid fan, I knew their handmade natural soaps, bath bombs, shampoos, lotions etc. were total crowd pleasers but only recently did I realize how ‘green’ their offerings are. According to the Lush website, you can purchase 70% of their products without any packaging, and with the products that require packaging, they use post-consumer recycled, recyclable and biodegradable materials. How commendable is that, considering that some stores feel obliged to tissue paper your purchase to death?

How Bath Bombs Work (Picture courtesy of

How bathbombs work (courtesy of

And these are some of my favorite bathbombs:

Big Blue Bath Bomb

Sakura Bath Bomb

Ickle Angel Bath Bomb