What Wine Goes With Chocolate?

What wine goes with chocolate

So you find yourself with a tempting brick of dark chocolate in one hand, the other aimlessly gliding across a full wine rack, unsure of which bottle to pull.

 What wine goes best with chocolate?

As one of only a few Carmel Valley wineries who hosts visiting wine lovers from all over the country, we have learned that pairing wine with chocolate can be a tricky endeavor, even the devoted wine enthusiast. Due to its sweetness, as well as the various types available, the wrong combination can produce an unpleasant and often bitter tasting experience.

That’s why we’ve created an in-depth guide to help you select the ideal glass of wine for whatever type of chocolate treat you find yourself enjoying and bring out the delicious and complex flavors of both items.

The Basics of Wine Pairing

In order to begin pairing, there are a few helpful rules that can make selecting an appropriate wine much easier.

  1. Find the balance: with wine, there are several important characteristics that apply to taste and composition.  These include:
  • Acidity
  • Fat
  • Bitterness
  • Salt
  • Sweets
  • Alcohol

Balancing these flavors with similar or oppositional tasting foods creates a more complex experience.  Mixing and matching these flavors together also opens up many different pairing possibilities that you can experiment with.  For example, if you’re trying to pair a sweet white chocolate, go for an equally sweet Ice Wine.

  1. Wine first: when tasting pairings together, it is recommended that you sip the selected wine first.  This is especially true when tasting chocolate and wine, as chocolate is typically a much sweeter taste.  

Potential Wine & Chocolate Pairings

Because of the number of different chocolate flavors, it is important to look at chocolate and wine pairings in categories.  

While a rich Cabernet may go wonderfully with extra dark chocolate, it would be far too bitter for a white chocolate. Because of this diversity in flavor, our guide is organized by chocolate category to bring you unique and well-balanced pairings.  

The Classics

Pinot Noir and Dark Chocolate pairingRanked by the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate from the highest (dark chocolate) to the lowest (milk or white chocolate), we start with the classics.

Dark Chocolate: Generally chocolate is defined as ‘dark’ if it contains more than about 40% cocoa, but there are is a considerable range of products available from 35% to 99%.

  • Smooth Dark chocolate, containing around 54% or less of cocoa, is typically the most popular type of dark chocolate as it balances the amount of sweetness with more bitter natural cocoa.  
  • Medium Dark chocolate contains around 60% cocoa and as opposed to smooth dark, goes best with drier reds such as:
  • Extra Dark chocolate pairs similarly to medium dark chocolate because of their relatively high percentages of cocoa.  For chocolate that is above 70% cocoa, dry wines are an excellent selection, including:
    • Cabernet sauvignon (15)
    • Zinfandel (15)

Milk Chocolate typically contains less than 35% cocoa and is a creamier, sweeter variety, making it a better match for slightly sweeter reds, such as:

  • Creamy Sherry
  • Aged Vintage Port
  • Rose

 Sauvignon Blanc and White Chocolate pairingWhite Chocolate exchanges cocoa butter for cocoa powder, giving it a unique taste compared to other traditional chocolates. This sugary delight is complimented best by sweeter wines and may bring out the more subtle fruity or nutty notes in them. These might include:

  • Our Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Sweet Love, is a Sauterne inspired dessert wine that is the perfect blend of sweet & tart.
  • Ice Wine(13)
  • Champagne (2)

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Wine not only tastes spectacular with solid chocolate, it can also enhance flavored chocolates.  

The key with flavored chocolates is finding wines that pair well with the flavor within the chocolate first, then looking at the type of chocolate itself.

Classic Caramel & Dark Chocolate is a perfect match for our late-harvest Pinot Noir, like our warm and robust Big Daddy with prominent dark chocolate notes, has a subtle sweetness to it that strikes a pleasant balance between the more sugary caramel and the slightly bitter dark chocolate. (3)

Pinot Noir and Chocolate covered nuts pairingNut-Infused Chocolate or Chocolate Covered Nuts do best with a wine that will emphasize the already present nutty flavors.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon with dark chocolate covered almonds (11)
  • Marie Claire suggests Pinot Noir with Snickers! Given how well this delicious wine compliments caramel and chocolate, it’s not a big surprise. Try our 2011 Hunter’s Cuvee Pinot Noir with this snack.

Mint & Dark Chocolate is one of the more sophisticated types of chocolates to pair with. Try with Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. (12)

Fudge is typically much richer and sweeter than traditional chocolate. A Michigan fudge maker recommends Tawny Port for milk chocolate fudge and Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvigon, Bordeaux, Merlot, and Zinfandel for darker chocolate fudges.

Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate pair best with wines that will bring out the natural nuttiness. Some have found that Peanut Butter Cups pair especially well with wines such as Riesling (10)

Salted Carmel & Milk Chocolate plays on the ever popular pairing of sweet and salty.  For an excellent wine pairing, the wine should be congruent with the chocolate and balance out the salt.  Some options include:

  • Moscato d’Asti (9)
  • Lambrusco (9)

Chocolate Covered Fruits

Pairing with both fruit and chocolate simultaneously could leave any casual wine drinker guessing. These tips will help you find the right fit.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries, is there anyone who doesn’t adore them? This fruit fusion pairs well with wines that bring out the strawberry flavor, such as:

  • Chardonnay (1)
  • Red Zinfandel (8)
  • Rose Champagne (8)

Chardonnay and Chocolate Fruits pairingOrange-Infused Dark Chocolate is complimented best by white wines with citrus notes, according to She Knows.

Chocolate blueberries pair wonderfully with Merlot, which can help to bring out the sweetness of the blueberry flavor. (17) 

Raspberry & Dark Chocolate or Raspberry Truffles are incredibly rich and sweet. Because of this, they can pair well with lighter, sweet whites or full-bodied reds with fruit flavors, such as:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon (1)
  • Sparkling Brachetto (7)

Cordial Cherries produce triple the sweetness with milk chocolate, syrup center and sweet cherries. Pairs with red varietals that can bring out the unique cherry flavor.  These blends include:

  • Port (4)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (5)
  • Syrah (5)

The Unexpected Twist

Chocolate Covered Bacon has grown in popularity in recent years. With the flavors of salty & sweet playing off each other, possible pairings include:

  • Riesling (6)
  • Chardonnay (6)

Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans work well with Shiraz due its natural mocha flavors. (16 & 17)

#HolmanRanchWine – Share Your Favorite Chocolate & Wine Pairings with Us

While they are certainly some helpful guidelines for discovering what wine goes with chocolate, you may find that the answer depends heavily on your own personal preferences, not to mention the unique type of chocolate you’re enjoying.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with combinations you suspect will have a nice finish.

When you uncover your winning wine and chocolate pairing, tells us about it in the comments below or share on Instagram with hashtag #HolmanRanchWine.

 


From Chocolate, To Wine, To A Long Kiss — There Are Fun Ways To Beat Back Deadly Stress

Ever stop and measure the stress in your life? You should. The amount of stress — and how you deal with it — can cause serious illness and shorten your life.

Most people don’t really understand the power of stress and what it can do to our bodies. Instead they trivialize and ignore it. Doctors call stress a weapon of mass destruction and never doubt its lethality. Fact: Stress is responsible for 75 percent to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians.

Perhaps you’re dealing with a demanding career, or maybe financial woes have you down? It could be a failed marriage, or a certain presidential race? Stress is simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. In other words, it’s an omnipresent part of life.

Here are some easy — and fun — counters to stress. Pick one, or all, and make them a part of your daily routine. Your body will thank you.

 

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Chocolate meditation

This may seem frivolous and self-indulgent, but go with it. Everyone has a chocolate moment, but rather than gobbling it down, savoring it helps you reconnect with your senses, which is vital in this fast-paced world.

Choose dark chocolate (it’s high in antioxidants, improves circulation and lowers blood pressure). Open the package and, with your eyes closed, inhale the aroma. Breathe. Break off a piece and put it in your mouth. See if it’s possible to hold it on your tongue to melt. Don’t let your mind wander. Instead focus on the intense flavor and the indulgence of it all. After the chocolate has completely melted, swallow it very slowly and deliberately. Open your eyes, and get back to your life.

Drink a glass of red wine

This wouldn’t be responsible to try at work, but perhaps the moment after you arrive home. As long as we drink it responsibly, wine is an excellent stress reducer. On top of that, a single glass of red wine has several additional health benefits. Wine helps to reduce stress because it has sedative qualities and acts as a central nervous system depressant. Doctors suggest that having a single glass of wine can have a calming effect. However, if you consume too much alcohol too close to bedtime, it can actually interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythms and have an adverse effect on relaxation.

Connect with nature

Just looking out your window can have a relaxing effect. In a study the University of Washington in Seattle, participants in an office were shown one of three views: a natural setting, a digital display of the same scene, and no view. When stress levels were artificially increased, those looking at the real natural scene returned to their normal heart rate more quickly. Those who looked at the digital display did no better than those looking at a blank wall. It seems we do best mentally and physically when we’re connected to nature.

Pucker up for 10 seconds

A kiss (or four) a day can keep the stress away. You’ll feel less isolated, which is a common source of anxiety. According to Laura Berman, a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University, women in particular respond to locking lips by releasing endorphins. She recommends at least one 10-second kiss a day—deep and emotional, but not necessarily sexually arousing. It’s important to just enjoy the physical connection.


When It Comes To Thanksgiving Wine, Buy Early, Buy Often, And Don’t Forget The Bubbly!

Red, white, pink, dry, sweet or fizzy, there are many acceptable colors and flavors to uncork for your Thanksgiving feast.

  While there are a few ideal wines to pair with the prized bird, there’s more to consider than the turkey when choosing bottles for Thanksgiving dinner. In fact there is much to consider:

  • You may want to begin the festivities with light appetizers.
  • Dinner also includes yams, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and other varied foods.
  • Your guest list probably includes some finicky wine drinkers (the only-Chardonnay crowd or the big, bold Cabernet crowd).
  • You may be on a tight budget after buying all the food.
  • Ideally, you’ll be drinking all day, so buy enough for the marathon.

 

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A few hard and fast rules

  • It’s always nice to start the day with a glass of bubbly. Whether it’s Champagne, Prosecco or Cava, it all helps create a festive mood. And a glass of bubbly prepares the palate for all the food to come.
  • Don’t break out the expensive stuff. Odds are good the majority of your guests will not appreciate your vintage Barolo, so save it for another occasion.
  • Choose low-alcohol wines because through the family squabbles, football games, post-dinner naps and turkey sandwiches, it’s always a long day.
  • Plan on one bottle of wine per person, which is more than enough, but will save you from a late-day wine run. And remember, there are many fine bottles at wine shops for $15 or less.

Best wine to pair with the bird Roast turkey works well with many types of wine. It’s the flavors of the gravy, stuffing, and side dishes that have a greater impact on the palate. Here are some options:

  • Zinfandel is America’s sweetheart, and is an ideal wine with turkey because its lower tannins help moisten even the driest turkey. And its secondary flavors of cinnamon, clove and vanilla work well in this season.
  • Often people assume red wine should be served with the Thanksgiving meal but don’t overlook light, refreshing whites. Just try new varietals, such as a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. They are light-bodied, but have nice acidity and are under-valued.
  • A dry Riesling is another versatile choice. Bright acidity cuts through all the fat in the gravy, stuffing, potatoes, yams and the richness of spice in cranberry sauce. Every sip feels like hitting the reset button on your palate.

Best wine with pumpkin pie

  • The best wine to pair with dessert isn’t a wine at all. A Belgian-style beer (with its essence of coriander, natural creaminess and lots of tiny bubbles) is a light option to lead into the evening’s end.

What Do You Really Know About The Traditions And Lore Of Thanksgiving?

In many ways, Thanksgiving incorporates the very history of America. But there are many myths surrounding the holiday and the first feast held by the Pilgrims in 1621:

 

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  • The pilgrims started Thanksgiving: Settlers in the New World survived a horrific first winter, saved only by Native Americans who befriended them, gave them with food and taught them to cultivate corn. They decided to celebrate the next harvest with a grand feast, but recorded history does not include the word “thanksgiving.”
  • The first feast included all Pilgrims: History says it wasn’t just a dinner. It lasted three days, and only about 50 Pilgrims came — all men. There were almost twice as many Wampanoag Indians in attendance (also all men). It was considered a political gathering, with the two sides cementing a military alliance. The women undoubtedly did the cooking, and the feast was held outdoors to accommodate a large crowd.
  • The guests ate turkey: Historians don’t believe so. Most accounts say the Native Americans brought five deer with them, while the settlers brought fowl, but probably ducks and geese, which were plentiful in autumn.
  • They ate pumpkin pie for dessert: There most certainly were cooked pumpkins on the menu, but not pies. Those sweet desserts would not show up for another generation at least.
  • It was a dry first Thanksgiving: On the contrary, that first feast included copious amounts of beer and wine, which was much safer to drink than the local water.
  • The feast included cranberries: Cranberries may have been served but not as a sweet sauce or relish. Sweet cranberries need maple syrup, an ingredient that wasn’t plentiful till 60 years later.
  • The modern Thanksgiving was President Abraham Lincoln’s idea: Actually, author and magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale led a 40-year campaign to start Thanksgiving. She wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Ladies’ Magazine. Hale’s campaign became a reality when, in 1863, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
  • Americans have always eaten turkey for Thanksgiving: Again we have Hale to thank for the modern Thanksgiving experience. She read about the 1621 feast and decided to use it as a model for an annual holiday. She published in the popular “Godey’s Lady’s Book” recipes for turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie, starting traditions that had nothing to do with the colonists.
  • Lincoln started the presidential pardon of a turkey: The tradition dates back to 1989, when president George H.W. Bush officially pardoned the first one. According to legend, Lincoln’s 10-year-old son Tad supposedly became fond of a turkey given to the family for a holiday feast, and begged his father to save it. Lincoln did. The only problem with that as a Thanksgiving story is that Tad’s plea was to save the Christmas turkey!

Forget The Negative Myths: You Can Have That Perfect Winter Wedding

We’ve all heard of a white wedding, but the expression can take on a whole new meaning when a couple chooses the winter season for their nuptials.

Believe it or not, winter is becoming more popular for weddings — and with good reason. White mountaintops and snow-covered scenery set a spectacular backdrop, but even no-snow locations can lend a magical and mystical atmosphere to any ceremony.

 

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 Despite this evidence, several myths still surround winter wedding dates:

  • Most couples believe that they cannot have an outdoor ceremony. While winter weather can be tricky, if your heart is set on creating a matrimonial winter wonderland, heat lamps and tents can help warm things up. Just keep the ceremony on the shorter side, and advise your guests to dress appropriately. Then you can all head inside for a reception toast of hot toddies.
  • Regarding the dress. Don’t automatically believe that long-sleeves are the only option. You probably won’t be outside for too long, so be brave and go sleeveless or strapless, and cover up with a warm shawl or a winter coat (and turn it into your “something blue.”) Also, consider adding white gloves, warm tights, and even fuzzy ear muffs. As for the groom, it would be a shame for him to have to cover up his slick tux.Instead, he can wear a formal black coat to coordinate with his attire. For an added punch of color, have him pick out a cool scarf that goes along with your wedding colors and style.
  • When it comes to flowers, of course, the cold season naturally limits a bride’s options. Some flowers, such as peonies, are available year-round, but it will cost you. But don’t think rows of poinsettias are your only option. Flowers such as roses, daisies and tulips are available all year from the right florist, and their price won’t break the bank.
  • As far as transportation goes, consider valet parking so that guests don’t have to walk far from their cars to the entrance. And have the number of a car service on hand at the reception just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.
  • At the reception, have a place for all your guests to put their coats and scarves. For parties of 50 or more, you’ll most likely need to hire a coat-check attendant to take care of your guests as they enter and exit the festivities. And make sure the entrance has a proper all-weather mat for guests to wipe their shoes to avoid slipping. If you’re having a tented wedding, definitely make sure you order heat lamps. Place them around the room, 1 lamp per 10 guests should be sufficient.

In the end, a winter wedding may not be bathed in warm sunlight, and adorned with the best fragrant blossoms, but there is beauty and meaning in a cold winter. Much like a marriage, there is a new beginning just ahead.

 


Lay Off Those Expensive Beauty Treatments And Turn To All-Natural Olive Oil

From the days of Cleopatra, olive oil has been a sacred element of a woman’s beauty regimen.

The last active pharaoh of Egypt used it on her skin, her hair and her nails. Centuries later, another legendary beauty, Italy’s Sophia Loren, raved about her olive oil baths. Truth be told, women all over the Mediterranean have passed down olive oil beauty secrets for centuries.

Olive oil is redolent in vitamins, minerals and natural fatty acids, and is perfect for sensitive skin. Olive oil has long been a powerful anti-aging ingredient in skin care products. Rich in antioxidants, it staves off skin aging, the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, while it also nourishes, rejuvenates and protects the skin.

Olive oil hydrates the skin, helps it maintain elasticity and softness, and actually aids in skin-cell regeneration.

holman_ranch_olive_oil

Following are some easy suggestions to use olive oil in your daily beauty treatments:

  • Get scrubbing: In her book “The Passionate Olive,” Carol Firenze recommends using extra virgin olive oil as an exfoliator for dry, flaky skin. She suggests mixing olive oil and sea salt so as to make a scrub and massaging it into the skin with the fingertips.
  • For nail care: To ensure that your cuticles stay moist, rub some extra virgin olive oil on and around the dry nails to help give them a healthy sheen.
  • Pre-shampoo hair treatment: Thank Cleopatra for this tip, because olive oil has been used as a hair treatment since ancient Egyptian times. First, warm the olive oil in the microwave or in hot water. Then apply it generously to the ends of hair and scalp. Leave it in for up to 10 to 20 minutes, before shampooing it out.
  • Lip balm: Combine coarse sugar with a teaspoon of olive oil for a chapped-lip fix. You can also add a splash of lemon juice for added flavor and acidic exfoliating properties.
  • Eye-makeup remover: It’s counter-intuitive, but slathering olive oil all over your face will not clog pores. In actuality, the oil grabs onto other oil-based products, making it a great pre-cleansing step to remove stubborn eye makeup. It is also said to smoothen out lines and wrinkles.
  • For shaving legs: Run out of expensive shaving cream? Head to the kitchen and slather legs with olive oil before applying the blade. You’ll ward off razor burn and bumps with the help of a natural lubricant.
  • Earwax remedy: If you suffer from earwax buildup, use olive oil to flush out the excess. For 3-4 nights, put a few drops in your ears before bed and it will do wonders.

So forget those expensive treatments, fancy moisturisers and other beauty aids. If you want that glow on your skin, look no further than your kitchen. Grab a bottle of olive oil and go natural.


It’s Your Honeymoon — So Why Take The Same Tried-And-True Beach Vacation?

Couples who plan on tying the knot naturally start thinking about the honeymoon. It used to be that their first inclination would be to plan for a stay at a luxury hotel on a beach. But this is now a world where many couples have already traveled extensively, and they are beginning to search for something with a little more substance, and definitely something that fits their combined personality.

Here’s a thoughtful list to consider:

  • Cooking classes: Thanks to the Internet, getting comfortable in the kitchen has never been easier — and more popular. These days, honeymooners are feeding body and soul with cooking classes in destinations from Mexico to Thailand. Sessions often include market tours and tastings — and many incorporate wine.
  • Locavore: The concept of consuming within, say, 100 miles of your home sweet home, originated in restaurants. The idea is to source food, ingredients and experiences as close to the earth and local surroundings as possible. In addition to eateries, locavore is also a major trend at spas. Bonus: It is green living at its best.
  • Volunteer vacations: Tour operators are now offering packages that help honeymooners who want to give back in profound ways. The adventures can include monitoring dolphins, helping hatch leatherback turtles or planting trees in the Amazon.
  • Minimoons: With vacation time in the U.S. at a low (especially compared to European countries), these quickie getaways offer ample romance over a long weekend. Add a day on each side of a weekend and travel regionally to preserve prime vacation time.
  • Eco-tours: Whether it’s making a minimal impact on the surroundings, serving local fare in their restaurants or using solar power to run their electricity, eco-friendly resorts have proven that going green can still be totally luxurious. Modern couples love this approach, and seeding out “off-the-grid” resorts have a genuine, feel-good moments built in.
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  • Adventure-moons: With less emphasis on conventional fly-and-flop honeymoons, more and more couples are looking for a more adventurous and fulfilling way to start off married life. Couples start married life by ticking off bucket list items such as trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru, exploring once-prohibited Cuba or riding a Harley across the USA.
  • Unusual destinations: Rather than picking conventional spots, some couples opt for less obvious alternatives. For example, Montenegro or Malta rather than the Amalfi coast. Finding new parts of old-favorite countries is a growing trend, and gets you off the beaten path.

In the end, no couple wants something run-of-the-mill for their honeymoon. So get off the beach and the lounge chair, think outside the box and make profound memories.


Hosting Your Own Wine Tasting A Good Way To Discover New Wines, And Reconnect With Old Friends

Wine lovers can easily find themselves in a drinking rut, meaning they find a bottle they like and it becomes their “house wine,” week after week, month after month.

That’s why hosting a wine tasting party is a great excuse for gathering your favorite friends together. Attendees can explore new varieties otherwise not on their radar, giving everyone an opportunity learn a thing or two about wine at the same time.

 

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Hosting a wine tasting party isn’t difficult, but it starts with choosing a theme. You must decide which kind of wines you want to serve. There’s no right answer that will please all your guests or lead to a perfect party, but here are some suggestions:

  • Sample different wines from one region, such as Monterey County, Napa Valley, Santa Barbara, Rioja, New Zealand, the South of France, or dozens of others.
  • Taste varietals produced in different parts of the world, such as drinking only the Cabernet Sauvignon produced in Napa Valley, France, or Argentina.
  • Do a horizontal tasting. For example, taste only 2012 Chardonnays produced all over the world.
  • Feature wines that can be purchased for $10 or under — except one that’s $40 or more. But don’t tell any of the guests ahead of time, just that they are to evaluate each separately. At the end of the tasting reveal the secret and have them guess which bottle was the more expensive one.
  • Do a tasting by one winemaker. If you really like Stag’s Leap, or Duckhorn wine, for example, try several different wines from this one producer.
  • Sample only reds, whites, sparkling wines, or dessert wines. Just remember that dessert wines tend to be sweeter and may be more difficult to taste.
  • Host a progressive wine tasting party, where each host can prepare an appetizer and pair it with wine from different regions. To make each wine tasting special, have each host add a few decorative touches that relate to the wine region or country they’re representing.

Get guests involved

Want a clever way to display the wines for your party? Lay out oversized craft paper onto a table. Place the bottles on the paper and write the name of the wine, region, and any other details. Place pens by each bottle. Guests can write comments about each wine right on the paper, and it’s fun to see what everyone writes about each wine.

How much wine should you serve?

The general rule of thumb is 2 ounces per person for the specific wine you will be tasting. So each bottle will serve about 8 guests. So if you will be having 8 guests present, 1 bottle per category should be enough.

Other important tips

  • Have various types and sizes of wine glasses on hand. For a formal wine tasting, have a minimum of 2 wine goblets per guest.
  • Use dump buckets, glass cups or use plastic cups for those who want to spit. If you will be tasting a lot of wine, the best way is not to swallow, ensuring your palette stays fresh.
  • Have water glasses and water pitchers available. Use bottled water only.
  • Put out crackers or pieces of bread, but they should be plain and not flavored.

Diamonds May Be Forever, But More And More Couples Don’t Go All Out On The Engagement Ring

Through the decades, time-honored wedding traditions have fallen by the wayside, and so to have the many expectations and rituals surrounding the engagement.

And that starts with the ring.

In Western cultures, the engagement ring represents a formal agreement to future marriage. Traditionally it’s placed on the ring finger of here left hand, because at one time it was believed that this finger contained a vein (the vena amoris) that led to the heart.

While this is a time-honored process that kicks off an exciting time in the lives of couples, it’s also becoming a potentially sensitive time given the cost surrounding this major milestone.

 

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It’s long been accepted that men follow the Three Months Gross Salary Rule. This rule stipulates that if a man makes, say, $80,000 a year, he should spend $20,000 on an engagement ring.

Another crazy rule is for the man to buy a quality ring whose size is equivalent to the age of the woman. For example, if the man proposes to a 32 year old woman, he should buy a 3.2 carat diamond engagement ring.

As priorities shift, those rules have fallen out of favor. More and more women do not want or expect their fiancé to spend that much money on a ring. In 2012, the average cost of an engagement ring in United States as reported by the diamond industry was $4,000, much lower than the three-month rule but still a hefty sum.

Today couples are making it a personal decision based on the importance of that ring to the fiancée. Diamonds and a traditional gold or silver band are no longer de rigueur, either. There are several affordable alternatives to pricey gold, platinum or silver. Some couples are using stainless steel, which is very inexpensive. It looks to any novice exactly the same as silver but it doesn’t tarnish and it lasts virtually forever. Plus, you don’t have to have clean it constantly. Mixed metal rings are also gaining favor, since the combination of gold and silver is more versatile and will likely match whatever other jewelry or watches you wear.

Remember a large diamond solitaire may look impressive in the store, but it may not be practical for daily wear, especially if the wearer is active. Plus, a grouping of smaller diamonds is usually cheaper than one big rock.

The popularity of diamond engagement rings grew after the diamond cartel De Beers began a marketing campaign after the Great Depression. One of the first elements of this campaign was to educate the public about the 4 Cs (cut, carats, color, and clarity). Then they introduced the slogan “a diamond is forever.” Ultimately, the De Beers campaign sought to persuade the consumer that an engagement ring is indispensable, and that a diamond is the only acceptable stone for an engagement ring.

Today, more and more couples know better.

 


Protein-Rich, Moisturizing Horse Shampoo Still Showing Up In Human Showers

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First created in 1970, horse shampoo became popular in stables from coast to coast. The special formula would rid the horse’s tail and mane of split ends and make their hair smooth and shiny instead of rough and dull.

Horse shampoo became the rage because it was hypoallergenic, contained no additives in the formula, and was not perfumed. It cleaned while moisturizing, and made horse hair thicker. It worked so well, though, that horse owners decided to try it and see if it would work for their hair as well.

They were pleased to see that it did. In the horse-owner’s world it became a secret to lush, healthy hair — for both man and beast. The secret didn’t last long, though, and horse shampoo for human use became more widespread, with products such as Mane N Tail selling well in mainstream stores.

Human hair and horse hair are not very different. They are both comprised of the same types of proteins. This means they will most likely react to shampoos the same way. The type of hair, though, makes a difference when horse shampoo is used. Not all hair will react the same way to this product.

For individuals with dried out hair, this product may moisturize and bring life back to a dull mess. Those with oily hair, though, may find the product too heavy for their hair type. Almost all individuals will experience a decrease in the daily amount of hair loss.

Many of the ingredients in commercially available horse shampoo marketed to people are the same that were used when it was designed for horses.

Most people who make their own horse shampoo do so to save money and reduce the number of chemicals that would end up on their horses. Horse shampoos made with natural ingredients can clean your horse without exposing him to chemical products. You should check with your veterinarian before using any homemade products on your horse, to prevent potentially negative side effects.

Here’s a simple recipe to concoct your own horse shampoo. Where you use it is up to you:

 

Horse Shampoo

Mix together 1 cup of distilled water, 1 cup of liquid castile soap — an olive oil-based soap — 1 cup of aloe vera gel, 4 tsp. of glycerin and 1 tsp. of avocado oil. If desired, you can also mix in a small amount of essential oil. Essential oils are supposed to provide number of benefits, including pain relief and relaxation.

Alternatively, you can boil 10 bags of chamomile tea in water and allow them to sit covered for an hour after removing it from the heat. Remove the tea bags from water. Mix in ½ T. of glycerin and 1 cup of castile soap. Add essential oils, if desired.

Pour solution into sealable storage container. An empty, clean shampoo-type bottle is ideal. Close the lid tightly.

Place the bottle in the refrigerator and allow the mixture to cool down.

Remove the mixture from your refrigerator, when you are ready to use it. Shake the bottle well, then pour a small amount of the shampoo on a sponge or washcloth. Shampoo your horse (or yourself) as usual.