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I took a survey on olfactory pleasures: What are the best things in life to sniff?
Some said they love the smell of a campfire on the beach.
Others like garlic sautéing in olive oil.
Many prefer the subtlety of clean air the morning after a lovely rain.
Quite a few enjoy the fresh pine scent of a Christmas tree.
I asked my boyfriend what he likes to sniff and he said… Well.. never mind what he said.
But by far the most popular reply was, “A glass of great wine!”

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Wine holds a beautiful mystery which can be deeply explored with a swirl of the glass and a twitch of the nose. Properly sniffing the wine’s aroma prior to tasting it, will bring forth a plethora of fragrances from your scent library allowing the many flavors to be revealed. Whether you prefer the earthiness of fresh dirt or love the aroma of sweet cherries, chances are you will find your opthalmic ecstasy in a glass of fine wine. But before you slip into wine bliss and share the Nectar of the Gods with Dionysus, you must first release yourself of common sins that many wine mortals are guilty of and learn to bring out the best in your spirits.

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Do Not Hold The Wine Glass By the Bowl

Eeeek…I’m guilty!! I know it’s a taboo and not recommended, but I sometimes tend to hold my glass by the bowl too. It can be as comforting as caressing a mug of hot cocoa with two hands on a cold winter day…mmmm. However, I vow from this day forward, I will never do this again (certainly not in public), and neither should you. If you want to hold the glass by the bowl, I suggest you take your snifter over to the Cognac Club where it is considered desirable to warm your glass with your own awesome body heat.

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I used to believe the wine glass was a poor design; I have knocked over, spilled, and broken more wine glasses than I’d like to confess. Combining stemmed glasses and wine is like pairing yoga and stilettos; they can both be tipsy turvy once you start having too much fun.  So can you imagine my delight when stemless wine glasses came to Target? Not only did I look hipper, but I had no other choice than to cup the bowl. However, numerous wine years ago after I started thinking outside of the Chablis box, I realized that the stem of the glass is there for good purposes. For one, your body temperature is a hot 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If you wrap your paws around the crystal clear bowl of your spotless stemware, you are not only making your glass look like a greased baking dish, you are dramatically altering the temperature of your wine. Red wine should be served from 62-68 degrees Fahrenheit and white wine is chilled anywhere around 49-55 Fahrenheit (depending on the type). So unless your are tasting in Antartica, please keep your heating pads off the glass.

Learn to Do the Twirl

Come on try it…Oxygenate your wine. Wake it up. Take your glass by the stem, the axis for your wine whirligig, and release the complex aromas to enjoy the full spectrum of your vino. Don’t be shy, give it a whirl. Gently spin the wine around in a circular motion and expose its legs (the streaks left on the glass that clue one in on the alcohol content). If you do it right your glass will be barely moving but your wine will be rocking & rolling, but not rockin’ like a Black Sabbath concert. Be gentle and rhythmic like a Billy Ocean tune with a touch of samba. It’s okay if you aren’t a master spinner at first…baby steps please. Soon you will get the technique just right…little circles. You’ll want to start practicing at home with your glass on a table, and then again while you are standing up. I personally don’t stand and twirl often; I’d rather sit n’ spin. It’s actually quite fun and in the wine world it is socially acceptable.

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Just Do it! Sniff the Wine!

I’m not suggesting that you sniff like a blood hound on a search & rescue mission, but after mastering the art of holding your glass, and refining your swirling moxie, you now MUST put your whiffer to work. Give your tastebuds some foreplay. By sniffing the wine prior to drinking it, your taste buds will be turned on and ready to receive. Hover your nose just above the rim of your glass and gently breathe in the aroma. What does it remind you of? Can you describe the bouquet? Swirl it around in your mouth and let the notes linger on your palette. See how long the flavors last and notice how they change from the tip of your tongue to the back of your mouth. Keep from taking another sip for a few moments; savor it. Remember, we aren’t shooting tequila so don’t just toss it back. Your nose and tastebuds are companions that enhance each other in the sensual experience of wine tasting. Allow them to interplay with each other, like lovers do. Together they will help you discover the essence of the wine and your personal preferences, thus leading you to, what I call, wine nirvana.

Wine nirvana is not alcohol induced; it is reached by practicing the above wine tasting tips and finding a wine that satisfies all your senses. A good wine is a wine that YOU love. But how will you know if you love the wine if you aren’t fully acquainted with it. Price alone doesn’t indicate a good wine; there are plenty of good wines in the twenty dollar range and lower. The artist in me is enticed by clever names and beautifully designed labels with touches of gold leaf, but that in its self doesn’t make a wine fine either. So whether you go through life with your Reidel stemware half empty or half full, take a moment to stop…. swirl…. and smell the Rosés…. and the cabs..and the rieslings etc etc..along the way.

Bon Apéritif!

Heather Vine Wine ~~

I love writing about and photographing wine, food, fashion & travel.  I split my time between my home near Temecula Wine Country, our villa in Baja Mexico that is close to Guadalupe Wine Valley or wherever fine food and wine are found. If you are looking for a unique touch for your photography, writing and promotional needs, I’d enjoy working with you.

Photograph of the 5 little piggies was taken at Peltzer Family Farm & Cellars in Temecula, California.

All photographs and text are copyright: Heather Van Gaale





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Dia de los Muertos is a fall celebration in Latin America dedicated to welcoming the return of the dead. Ooooh don’t be scared, its really quite beautiful. In fact, I am so in love with the traditions of Day of the Dead as opposed to the gore of Halloween that I vow to never “Trick or Treat” again (yes I am 45).   Even though they are both harvest celebrations and share many similarities in theory,  I totally love that Mexico’s Day of the Dead isn’t scary or fear based. It’s all about family, humor, love, festivity and honor.  Rather than wearing spooky costumes & carving pumpkins to scare away spirits and all of the other frightening traditions that Halloween has morphed into;  families in Mexico invite the dead to stay for a feast and have a party! Woop Woop! No tricks just treats! For it is the only time of  year when the gates of heaven open up and allow the dead to return to earth for a quick visit!!! The dead are greeted with flowers, candles, photographs, fruits, toys for the children, dinners, and maybe some of their other favorite things. It might be a pack of Marlboros, a deck of poker cards, her favorite lipstick and even Mezcal, if thats what they like!

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To see, if only a small portion of traditional Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, we headed to Tijuana for the day with “Pancho & The Boss” (pictured above with Beva the Zebra). Shhh she doesn’t know she is really a painted donkey.

dia de los muertos celebration tijuana mexico november 2PINPancho (aka Andrew Hussey) is wearing green velvet vintage Prada trousers with a silky 70s button up featuring a saguaro cactus print with a Tequila sunrise on the back…so Baja!

The Boss (aka Amber Flowers) is wearing a traditional Mexican gauze dress that we purchased locally. We chose orange because orange represents the marigolds (cempazuchil) that attracts the dead to the altars. We also chose it because orange is fall!  Come fall everyone flocks to orange. Suddenly it is everywhere; pumpkins, autumn leaves & the glow of campfires have us embracing orange. Orange is enthusiastic, inviting and it stimulates the appetite! Face it, there is nothing bad you can say about orange. Well, fashionably speaking it had its hey day in the 70’s and although you may opt out of getting an orange carpet with an orange sofa and matching orange curtains, as soon as October approaches the orange/fall wardrobe desire strikes. Finally, one can wear a long orange dress and perfectly rustic brown leather wooden platforms (Hecho en Mexico of course) and embrace the change of seasons without looking like an inmate in the state penitentiary.
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OK I’m ranting I know… its just that Im feeling really passionate right now with a severe case of the warm and fuzzies. Maybe I’ve had too much orange…or perhaps its the Mescal (that was served with an orange). Either way I love this holiday!

Pictured above Amber drops flower petals on the ground in honor of the Mexican tradition of creating carpets with a mosaic of dried flower petals, colored sawdust and other natural materials during religious holidays.
flower petal dia de los muertos celebration tijuanaPINMexican religious holidays always include traditional dishes & festive foods. Market places are energized as families and businesses prep for the holiday with seasonal displays of exotic spices and rainbows of colorful produce, thus we headed to my favorite place in Tijuana, El Mercado Hidalgo. Mercado Hidalgo is Tijuana’s historic open-air market that appeals to all your senses. Approximately 80 vendors are centered around a chapel and a parking lot which hosts elaborate holiday displays.

heather-van-gaale-photoPINPlan on spending a couple of hours here roaming through the maze of produce and homemade sweets while interacting with the welcoming vendors who are happy to practice their English on you. The people are genuine and the prices are plenty affordable that even the toughest haggler will surrender his sparring match and gladly pay the low prices.

During Dia de los Muertos a symphony of decorative paper flags rise from the center of the parking lot which features a massive altar covered with marigolds & offerings in anticipation of the souls returning. Framed photographs of the departed, candy skulls and seasonal fruits are placed on the altar with generosity and good humor.

catrinas katrina fashion dress cultural for dis de los metros tijuana blogger at hidalgo mercadoPINSkeletons dressed in clothing that feature the hobbies, occupations or characteristics of deceased loved ones poke fun at the inevitable and clearly show the Mexican cultures acceptance and relationship with death.

Mui fashionable are the lady skeletons with the large fancy hats called Katrinas. Katrina’s are inspired after upper-class Spanish women and I must say the dresses these slender skeletal ladies wear is all I want for Christmas (size 4 please). Talk about fashion inspo! Minus the fact that the ones pictured above are made out of paper mache and not velvet or dupioni silk, I can see myself in any one of them..strutting the catwalk for my favorite label…(ok maybe next life). But I do think the black & white outfit would be perfect for my upcoming art show.dia de los muertos children skeletonPIN

I love watching the children at Mercado Hidalgo with painted faces and starry eyes selecting sugar skulls and candied trinkets to place on the altars to welcome back their ancestors. Sugar skulls are intricate little folk-art forms decorated with dyed sugar and colored foil. Pinatas in all shapes and sizes greet you at the entrances to the candy stores that sell Mexican sweets by the pound. Lets just say, if Willy Wonka (bless his soul) were a Mexican, I would expect to see Oompa Loompas helping customers with their selections of which chile & salt covered lollipop to purchase (tamarindo is my favorite). Hey, maybe Willy will make a guest appearance.

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Store owners set up altars in their shops such as the one below during the week leading up to Dia de los Muertos. I too will be making an altar with marigolds, incense and chocolates in hopes that my grandpa will pay me a visit. I might need to add some Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch to the list of gifts in order to lure him out of heaven for the day.
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There are so many cool things to see and taste at the Mercado Hidalgo that my camera and my mouth were at war fighting for my attention. I’m a foodie, but in this case… my camera wins.

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It was a wonderful day at the market where preparations for the honored ‘out-of-town’ guests begin, but we also wanted to see where the actual celebration Dia de los Muertos takes place…the cemetery.

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Flower vendors and trucks selling marigolds galore are on every corner in Tijuana. We purchased a bouquet of 15 large sunflowers and some marigolds (for only $3.00 USD) to place on some lonely gravestones as we wondered around.

dia de los muertos at the cemetary in tijuanaPINdia de los muertos tijuana cemetary travel blogger mexicoPINAttention Gringos: There is nothing scary about this cemetery, not even at night. It is like a Sunday in the park. There are musicians, children running around, families picnicking with Mexican blankets spread out on the lawn while they adorn the grave sites with their gifts.  Upon entry we were asked not to take pictures without permission so out of respect we kept our shots to a minimum and just took it all in.

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orange dress fashion mexico bloggerPINCredits & Info

We divide our time between California and our beach house located just outside of Rosarito Beach in Baja California Mexico. We have a great appreciation for the culture and love to share information about Mexican food, travel & fashion with our fellow gringos from the states.

We are available for all  your photo needs throughout the country or the US.  Message us, (our Spanish isn’t too bad).

Photographs & story: Heather Van Gaale @photohussy

Male Model: Andrew Hussey @andrewthehussey

Female Model: Amber Flowers @ambersflowers 

Mercado Hidalgo: Corner of Blvd Sanchez Taboada & Independencia Tijuana Mexico


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When la petite boheme Sophia, visited us at the Blue Lagoon my camera was immediately held hostage by her day-glo eyes!!  She has a quiet beauty and an anarchist spirit that I love.  I didn’t have much time with my little soul sister but Im kidnapping her this summer. It  will be fun, like a summer camp for models and photographers! We’ll do water sports (and take pictures), we’ll eat ice creams (and take pictures), we’ll have outdoor movie nights (and take pictures). I’ ll even take pictures at nap time.  Lots and lots of pictures. Just kidding…I won’t be a total photoholic and spoil all the fun.  I’ll use film and shoot conservatively (wink wink). But you get the point, I  love documenting and telling stories with my photos. I especially enjoy photographing kids. When I have someone like Sophia within reach of my longest lens it excites my photons. Every photogeek needs a muse and a willing subject. Right now my muse is my dog and a pretty photogenic glass of wine that are always by my side. But I can’t wait till summer when Ms. Sophia returns!

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Model @sophia_feinberg

To shoot at this tropical paradise and still be 45 minutes from minutes from Los Angeles, please contact us for more details.



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Model Amber Flowers takes a magic carpet ride back in time wearing treasures from our vintage clothing trove! We are Rock n’ Roll bohemes and we loove jewel tones, rich textures and mixing it up with pieces from the 40s thru now!

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Amber is styled in all vintage and thrifted finds. “Eek” you say…”but those poor wee minks”… Well.. before you throw red paint on my furry friends with their precious little faces.. talk to your great grandma..because its antique. I know the heads weird people out, I suppose I could alter it and clip them off so we aren’t reminded that it was once a living breathing creature with feelings too, if that makes you feel better. But really we are essentially being “green” and we are actually helping the planet by shopping vintage.  Everything in our shoot is recycled fashion, handmade and sourced from local charities. The 70s striped ruffle blouse with gold metallic threading and off-center buttons that extend high on the neck is bold, feminine and handmade. No-one at the party will be wearing the same shirt. It looks great mixed with a floral skirt of the same tones and a suede color block mod/hippie era belt.

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Below Amber wears a 1950s genuine leopard fur coat. Yes, it’s really real. We are Bohemians, we love authentic! We don’t do fake or “faux”.  Maybe you weren’t that upset over grannys petrified varmint accoutrement pictured above; everyones grandma had a fur stole. When it comes to big cats though..whoa.. watch out. I understand, it ain’t right! I don’t support hunting cats nor do I long for exotic furs. I inherited the coat from my grandmother and because of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) it is illegal to sell even vintage leopard furs. Sooo… I’m stuck with it. Oh poo. Rather than have a medium perform a seance and try to bring it back to life or release my hoarding tendencies and actually give it away, we store the heirloom lovingly… in 1 of my 7 closets. Amber rocks it with 90s purple crushed velvet leggings, a vintage Kiss tour tee, a tangle of silver and antique glass bead necklaces and a delicious pair of 1970s glam rockstar platforms.

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bohemian rock and roll hippie blogger photographer heather van gaalePINFor this look,  Amber wears a slinky green slip dress, and to make it more rock n’ roll glam and less “night at the theater dahling”, we added contrasting red fishnets, a green leather and brass studded blingy belt and a glass bead choker that we embellished with a gold star.


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Photographer: Heather Van Gaale

Model: Amber Flowers @ambersflowers

Hair and Makeup: Amber Flowers

Wardrobe: Speaking Bohemian. Contact us for purchase or rental.

Amber is also available for makeup and styling.

If you would like to shoot at our Orange County bohemian lair, it is available for rent. We can accommodate small and large crews.


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