Monday, April 7, 2014

Wineducation: Wine in a Book

I love wine, but like many things that I proclaim to love I don't know all that much about it.  Being a busy Mama I tend to find something I like, in this case a Merlot or Petite Sirah, and keep moving without taking the time to figure out exactly what it is I like about it.  The web is a great place to research and gather information like little eggs in a wire basket, but I do enjoy a tangible item that I can hold, mark my place, and add notes if I feel so inspired, so to fulfill those needs I turn to a good old fashion book.

I decided to create my own "I want to read Wine Biblio-List," and here are the must-haves I found:

The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil:
What else needs to be said, nothing screams, "I am full of knowledge," quite like creating a book and calling it a "bible." Glancing at the available for view pages on Amazon it was easy to see how comprehensive the Wine Bible is, I think it would make a great wine reference book.
photo credit: Amazon.com


















Wine for Dummies by Ed McCarthy & Mary Ewing-Mulligan:
It is okay to admit when you don't know something (this is what I tell my six year-old on a pretty regular basis), and once you can admit you know nothing, well, then you can start to learn and Wine for Dummies is a pretty good place to start. I wouldn't necessary classify myself as a wine "dummy," but....I am in definite need of some wine wisdom.

photo credit: Amazon.com



The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert by Richard Betts:
Learning does not have to be serious and stuffy, if there is a fun way to glean some new information, I say go for it.  This Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide may just be the right path that will lead you to wine expertise (or at least teach you what varieties of wine you prefer and why).

photo credit: Amazon.com

Monday, March 31, 2014

Wineducation: Upcycle That Wine Bottle

There is one thing about drinking my beloved wine that causes me to pause, this particular nuance of sipping the garnet elixir can be slightly embarrassing when the neighbors are around to witness it, that is the huge crash of broken bottles when you take out the trash from a weekend (or a work week, I don't judge) of delightful wine drinking. That sound, the glass on glass shattering, that in your face reminder of just how much you have been partaking in, gave me the inspiration to start upcycling my empty wine bottles.

Now, I could just line up the empty bottles along the top of a cabinet as in a murderers row of deliciousness, but I decided that in the current state of DIY in our world I would dig around the web for more inspiring ways to upcycle, and here is what I have to offer you (warning, get ready to fall in love with these ideas):

Wine Bottle Garden Edger: by Commercial Appeal 
I love this idea, no cutting, no crazy tools that I would not be able to master in a weekend, just plain old fashion digging a hole, sticking in the bottle, and letting it age.  I am going to start collecting my empty wine bottles tonight and do this in our back yard asap. Please visit Commercial Appeal for the details.
photo credit: http://commercialappeal.com

Wine Bottle Center Piece: by Curbly
This center piece screams romance, or when the kiddies are home, whimsy, but either way I adore this.  You can't go wrong with white twinkly lights, but add a wine bottle to the scenario and you've bumped it up a notch.  Check out Six Heavenly Wine Bottle Center Pieces on Curbly for five more fantastic center pieces as well.
photo credit: http://curbly.com
DIY Wine Bottle Soap Dispensers: by The Red Chair Blog
These soap dispensers are a great way to add interest and spruce up that soapy sticky corner of your kitchen sink, not to mention what an upgrade these upcycled bottles are from the Palmolive bottle or the little travel sized bottle full of soap from the dollar bin.  I found this charming upcycled wine bottle idea on The Red Chair Blog, please visit the blog for more details.

photo credit: http://theredchairblog.blogspot.de

Although, I was inspired to look into upcycling my finished wine bottles in an attempt to escape the stigma that comes with the heavy crashing of wine bottles sounding from my recycling bin on trash day, I have to say that I am thoroughly inspired by these projects and will be putting those empties to use right away.  Please visit the sites above for more details and ideas of how you too can disguise your empty bottles by upcycling them.

Until next time...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wine 20: Anakena Chile Carmenere

It’s been awhile since I’ve had the chance to try any new wines, I have been searching my normal haunts (Trader Joe’s, Costco, and the Wal-Mart) and have been striking out in finding anything interesting that fits into my Middle-Class wine parameters (under ten bucks a bottle). Then, while on his own perfect brew mission, the Hubs returned from the Total Wine with something different, a Chilean Carmenere, and viola a new bottle to taste and share my thoughts on was found.

The Anakena Carmenere, as I mentioned, was purchased by the Hubs at the Total Wine for the close to the Middle-Class Mama cut-off price of $7.99.  Considering the general price range of the wines I drink are closer to $5 (or less), I considered this Anakena Carmenere on the fancier side of the wine rack. When I have a bottle of wine that I think is a little too highfalutin for a Wine Wednesday, I feel the need to hold onto it until a special occasion rolls around, or at least a weekend evening.

So this past Sunday evening, I looked at that bottle of Anakena Carmenere and thought, “tonight’s the night.” I pulled it out of it’s snug cubby of the wine rack, and twisted the aluminum cap off.  Grabbing a shatter proof wine glass (that we have managed to shatter two from the set), I poured the Carmenere, and the first thing I noticed is the very rich red color. Intense ruby coloring is a typical characteristic of this wine variety, "Carmenere" is a derivative of the French word carmin which translates to crimson, and so after a quick swirl of the vermilion wine in my glass, I was ready for tasting. 

The Anakena Carmenere has a bold spicy fruit aroma that is indicative of it’s robust flavor.  This Carmenere is no joke, it has a big well-rounded flavor, but it’s not just the grapes that are doing all the work in this wine, there is some serious spicy-earthy aspect that is putting in some flavor time as well.  This Carmenere is not for lightweight wine drinkers, it is delicious and was worth the $7.99 price tag, but the boldness of the flavors may not be for everyone.

I recommend the Anakena Carmenere for anyone who, like myself, has that adventurous epicurean side, because the many layers of flavor and vivid color of this wine will keep you happy sip after sip.  Although, the wine lovers who enjoy a smooth, even keel wine experience, the Arakena Carmenere may not be for you and you would most likely be more satisfied with a tasty Merlot, such as the Green FinMerlot from Trader Joes.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wineducation: The Miracle Machine


Over the weekend I read an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times about the future of wine and it's being called: The Miracle Machine. The proposed Miracle Machine is the blessed counter top product that would give the everyday wine lover the ability to turn water (and a few prepackaged ingredients) into wine.  

Two big time wine guys (with lots of fancy wine related titles after their names), have been burning the midnight oil alongside the computer geniuses in Silicon Valley, to make the water into wine Miracle Machine a reality.  The plan is this: a modular counter top fermentation machine will sync with an app downloaded onto a smart phone, that is then partnered with prepackaged ingredients (sold by the company) and water to create your very own wine.  This machine’s purpose is not to produce the kind of homemade-wine of our grandparents generation, but actual Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and more beloved wine varieties.  
The Miracle Machine (photo credit: themiraclemachine.net)

Of course, the ability to create your own Cabernet that won’t cause blindness (a la moonshine), comes at the hefty price tag of $499 (the prepacked ingredients pricing was not listed). I am not against dropping some hard earned bucks on a great tech item, but I would need to try some of this Miracle Machine vino before I could make this commitment.  Also, I was wondering, at my current Middle-Class Mama lifestyle, would I be willing give up on my other go-to wines and stick strictly with my grape-concentrate tap water wine made on my counter only?

Part of my love affair with wine includes the trip to the store, browsing the different varieties, enjoying the label art, and the thrill of finding a new inexpensive great wine.  I don't know how long the rush of cultivating the miracle of water into to wine would last before I would stray, looking for a new wine to shake things up a bit.

As a wine lover, are you willing to spend the big bucks on the Miracle Machine in favor of creating your own wine, or would you rather stick to purchasing the wines you know and love from your local market?

Check out the Miracle Machine at their website here to see their proposed wonder of turning water into to wine.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Wineducation: Girl Scout Cookies and Wine


If you are the one bringing home the literal bread in your household then you have seen them, the bright eyed, loom band wearing, merit badge earning Girl Scouts and Brownies outside your supermarket doors selling those cookies.  Those cookies, the ones that can’t help but bring back my memories of selling those rectangular boxes while wearing knee high socks and a brown smock, offering my best seven year old sales pitch to unsuspecting supermarket customers, and as you know those cookies are hard to pass up. 
Thin Mints: a favorite.


Although, now that I have ditched the knee high socks for Ugg boots, I prefer to pair those cookies with a glass of wine rather than a glass of milk, and luckily for me someone has already tackled the challenge of pairing different Girl Scout cookies with the perfect wine.

An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by Gretchen McKay and Nicole Martin, titled Pairing Girl Scout Cookies with Adult Beverages, answers the fun question of which Girl Scout cookie pair’s best with which variety of wine.

These are the characteristics the article suggested you want in your wine to best compliment your choice of Girl Scout cookie, I also added my budget friendly wine choices to help get this cookie and wine party started:

Thin Mints: The article suggests a spicier red wine to compliment the dark chocolate and strong mint flavors.           

Tagalongs: The article suggests a wine heavy on the grape flavor that will give a traditional peanut butter and jelly combo.
            My wine suggestions: Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon or Double Dog Dare Cabernet Sauvignon

Samoas: The article suggests a complex wine with notes of orange, spice, and a coffee flavor finish.
            My wine suggestion: Recas Cabernet Sauvignon

Trefoils: The article suggests a champagne or white wine with buttery flavors to compliment the shortbread style cookie.
            My wine suggestion: Crow Canyon Vineyards Chardonnay

I LOVE these cookies!
So, when you are out picking up those Girl Scout cookies, don’t forget to grab a bottle of wine that is not only easy on your wallet, but is going to enhance the already deliciousness of those old school favorite cookies.

For even more Girl Scout cookie and wine pairings (beer, too), read the article, Pairing Girl Scout Cookies with Adult Beverages here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Wine 19: Blue Fin California Petite Sirah


Blue Fin's friendly label.
After two weeks of suffering through the bug that refused to leave my system, causing a lack of those all important senses of taste and smell, I am finally back to sipping and sharing my wine loving opinion.

This weeks bottle of budget friendly wine, Blue Fin California Petite Sirah, was purchased at the Trader Joe’s a month ago. No, I wasn’t attempting to age this golden glass encased wine, it just so happens that I had picked up this wine on a regular Joe’s stop before the dreaded illness sunk in, and it remained in the wine rack, lonely, and hoping to be poured into a stemmed glass for a month.

Once the Amoxicllin kicked in I was ready to taste, so I grabbed the bottle of Blue Fin Petite Sirah, purchased at the nice price of $3.99, popped the cork and gave it a pour. If you are unfamiliar with the Petite Sirah variety of wine, you should know right off the bat that it’s not necessarily user friendly, and by that I mean it has specific flavors that are a little harsher and not common to most reds. 

No description of the wine.
The Blue Fin Petite Sirah gives you it’s Petite Sirah’ness right out of the bottle, the scent is strong, with an edge that is not necessarily unpleasant, but dark and earthy.  The color is not unlike a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, but once you taste your first sip the difference in the body of the wine is evident.  The Blue Fin Petite Sirah is aggressive, it is peppery, smokey, and mildly tart.  The fruit flavors are reminiscent of blackberries and deep rich cherries, but that sweetness is quickly over come by the darker edginess of the wine.

Personally, I liked the Blue Fin Petite Sirah because I am the type of person who enjoys shaking things up a bit (especially when it comes at a easy to afford price tag), and I can appreciate the tartness and darker flavors of the wine.  If you are more of a cautious wine drinker, get more wine joy out knowing what to expect when you pour that glass, steer clear of the Blue Fin Petite Sirah and head toward something a bit more friendly like The California Rabbit Pinot Noir.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wineducation: Don't Just Drink Your Wine



This past week’s wine drinking was interrupted by a very vile virus that attacked our home and took my boy and I out for most of the week. The inability to taste or smell anything for days on end kept me from uncorking and giving a new budget friendly bottle of wine a try in order to offer you a review. While wine-less and laid up under a pile of blankets and pillows, I was able to spend plenty of time perusing the web and reading blogs, which is where I stumbled upon the ingenuity of wine drinkers who have whipped up new and novel ways to ingest my beloved wine.

1. From the blog The Busy Bee: Winesicles. I can't even imagine this deliciousness....I must make them.

photo credit: http://thebusybeesia.blogspot.com
 2.  From the blog Thrive-Style: Wine Fruit Snacks. "There's always room for Jell-O," well, I couldn't argue with that statement when it comes to these.

photo credit: thrive-style.com
3. From the blog Sprinkle Bakes: Red Wine Lollipops. It's a lollipop, it's wine, it's a LOLLIPOP made of WINE (enough said).
photo credit: sprinklebakes.com
I would have happily devoured any of these wine creations last week while laying in my deathbed, if only I could have got the hubs to hit that kitchen and get to wine creating, what a different week it would have been.

Please visit these brilliant blogs by clicking on their titles and give one or all of their recipes a try!

This shamrock mold would be perfect for wine fruit snacks! (photo credit: amazon.com)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wineducation: Valentine's Wine Picks


There is many a besotted couple that only wine on Valentines Day because of the pressure to make this day special. The rest of the three hundred and sixty-four days of the year they rely upon other sorts of spirits to provide that warm and fuzzy buzz, so when this holiday focused on Love rolls around every February, these once a year wine drinkers are left staring aimlessly at the wine aisle with no clue what wine to pair with their impending evening of amore.

Don’t worry lovers, I’ve got a few safe (and of course wallet friendly) wines for you to choose from that will impress your object of affection on this Valentines Day:

·      If you and your love enjoy the darker side of life, collectors of odd treasures, lovers of The Walking Dead, and prefer a smidgen of edge in all that you do, pick up a bottle of Benefactor Cellars Shiraz (available at Trader Joes). The Benefactor Cellars Shiraz is a spicy red wine with warm fruit flavors; it’s a stylish bottle featuring a rather macabre label drawing and will only cost you $4.99.

·      If you are like the Hubs and I, busy multi-taskers who love taking a moment to be together, but enjoy that time even more if we can accomplish something else at the same time (killing two birds with one stone type of couple), then pick up your bottle of Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon during your weekly trip to Costco for $7.99. The Kirkland Cab is a smooth wine that will go great with almost any home cooked special V-Day extravaganza (and in true Costco fashion, it’s a big bottle).

·      If you are the couple that recycles together, share in the joy of a compost pile, and make informed purchases that include green packaging and fair trade ingredients, well, this one is for you: Green Fin Merlot (also available at Trader Joe’s).  Priced at $3.99, the Green Fin Merlot is an easy-going red wine with a darker smoky finish that will work well with a spicy Mexican influenced dinner of enchiladas filled with fresh spinach from your very own pesticide-free organic garden.

A word to the wise, these wine choices will all run you between four and eight dollars, this is not too much to spend on the one day of the year that you are putting in an effort to show your love just how much you think of them, but do stay within this price range and refrain from dipping below.  Wines priced lower than the four dollar mark (Pacific Peak, Oak Leaf, and/or Charles Shaw) are for the daily wine lovers, by all means pick up a bottle or two those wines as well for a particularly great or bad Monday, but not for Valentine’s Day (please, seriously, don’t damage your relationships).

Happy Sipping on Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wine 18: Buffalo Grove California Merlot

I used to consider myself a Cabernet Sauvignon type of girl. I loved the rich red hues, bold flavors, and the security of what to expect when ordering a glass of wine when out at a restaurant, but recently my taste have changed.  Now I would say that I gravitate more towards Merlot and Pinot Noirs (which is unfortunate because of the Pinot's more expensive price tag), but I find these two reds range of taste more broad, and usually more enjoyable as well.
The Buffalo.


The wine for this post, Buffalo Grove California Merlot, was purchased by the Hubs at the Total Wine, priced at $5.99, and handed over to me with a look in my husbands eye that said, "I hope this doesn't suck" (that look generally accompanies his wine choices).  This look mostly stems from the fact the Hubs chooses completely based on labels alone, and this particular bottle has a picture of a Buffalo on it, why this buffalo interested him, well....your guess is as good as mine.

I was lucky that the wine was a Merlot, it could have been a red table wine or Beaujolais for all the Hubs knows, so when I thanked him and said, "Nice, a Merlot," he smiled and replied, "Oh, is that what it is?" I guess it's the sort-of thought that counts in this case.

The reverse side of the Buffalo Grove Merlot's label is kind of ridiculous, the writer tells a tale of how the majestic buffalo (as in the animal) searched out the best places to live and feed, and in a similar nature, this wine maker exhausted themselves to find "artisan" grapes to create their Merlot (wow, I think a description of the wines taste would have been sufficient, but someone was feeling creative).

The fairy story-style label.
I twisted off the Buffalo Grove Merlot's cap, poured it into my glass, and noticed immediately how dark the color of the wine was. Merlots are typically darker in hue, but this was drastic.  I am talking almost black, I held the glass under a light and both the Hubs and I commented on how it virtually lacked any color whatsoever.  Fortunately, the dark color has little to do with the Merlot's flavor, which is surprisingly fresh, fruity, and light.  The Buffalo Grove Merlot starts out with a crisp currant flavor and ends with a deeper taste, reminiscent of dark chocolate (who doesn't love that), and is overall very enjoyable.

I think the Buffalo Grove Merlot is a great inexpensive wine find, even if it was a complete fluke that it ended up in my house. I say if you are looking for a Merlot that has a bit more to offer and have six bucks burning a hole in your pocket, definitely pick up a bottle.


Maybe this for the Hubs for Valentine's Day??


Monday, January 27, 2014

Wineducation: Age it or Drink it?


It couldn't hurt. (amazon.com)

One of the perks of my love of wine is that people gift me bottles for most any occasion, dinner parties, birthdays, and the Christmas holidays have all added a nice selection to my wine rack (if only there could be more reasons).  With all these beautiful bottles of wine comes the lingering question if whether some of the higher end bottles we should drink right away, as in, “Thank you for this…now let’s pop the cork of this bad boy,” or be saved as in, “Thank you, we will save this lovely bottle for a special occasion.”

So before I reach the bottom of my wine rack and have delightfully devoured every single bottle, I thought it was high time I figured out how to tell the difference between a bottle meant to be enjoyed “young” (meaning: it was vinted with the intention to be poured right away) or when to cellar a bottle (meaning: allow that bottle to shine by giving it time).

My “age it or drink it” quest was not a lengthy process, thanks to the abundance of wine blogs and news sources available by dancing our fingers across the keyboard these days, I found a site that answered my questions (and that I will be revisiting for future wine inquiries as well), Wine Folly dot com.

In the article, Is it Worth Cellaring, by Justin Hammack, the mystery of whether a wine is destined to age well is easily explained. Hammack let’s his readers know right out of the gate that 99% of wines are NOT created to be aged, thanks to a handy-dandy infographic he shares which varieties are meant to be aged and for how long, as well as, he offers up the plain truth that a lofty price tag is usually attached to a bottle of wine worth aging, priced at $30 or more (Hammack, Winefolly.com). Seems easy enough, right?

If you find yourself in the same quandary as I was, pondering over aging or drinking that higher-end bottle of vino that Aunt Gertrude brought to your house warming, you need to read Hammacks’ article, Is it Worth Cellaring (here). Once you have solved the “age it or drink it” mystery of the gift bottle filled wine rack, you can finally get to drinking those alluring bottles that have been calling to you ever since they ended up in your wine-loving hands.

Reference:
“Is it Worth Cellaring?” Winefolly.com. 20 June 2012. Web. 26 January 2014

I wish this lived in my house! (amazon.com)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wine 17: Found Object Malbec


After a lovely dinner at Maria's Italian Kitchen, that was accompanied by a delicious Robert Mondavi California Pinot Noir, the Hubs and I decided to pop in to Trader Joe's and pick up a bottle of wine to complete the evening.  The Hubs is a lover of "real booze" as I call it, you know sipping bourbon or an aged whiskey, so the decision making involved picking a wine that would offer a slow burn.

As in typical Middle-Class Mama fashion, my eye immediately dropped to the bottom shelf, searching out any prices under ten dollars, and I zeroed in on a bottle of Found Object Argentinian Malbec priced at $3.99. A Malbec is a wine that typically brings forward a more robust flavor that I thought would fulfill the Hubs likes and considering some of the wines I've drank in my day, I knew I would be fine with almost anything.

I am a sucker for a cute label and the Found Object does not disappoint, with a drawing of a bell being rung by a disembodied hand and a quick quip on the reverse about the versatility of something that is taken for granted and the re-purposing of it to work in a new way, which is a thoughtful introduction to the wine (as well as, if the winery put some thought into the label, maybe they did the same with the wine).

I cut the foil, with my new nifty foil cutter, and twisted out the synthetic cork to pour the very deep purple wine into our waiting wine glasses. Robust is a very good description of The Found Object Malbec, the strength of the dark grape creates a flavor that is smokey and full of burn, but not past the point of pleasant.  Both the Hubs and I enjoyed the wine, it only lasted a glass or two before the bottle hit the recycle bin, which is usually a sign of a more than decent bottle of wine in our house.

Here we go, if you enjoy BIG flavor, go for The Found Object Malbec, it is priced right and it will expand your wine drinking tastes.  If you enjoy wine, but aren't looking to do the work of acquiring a taste for the wine before you can enjoy it, I would say pass on The Found Object Malbec, because it may take more than a glass or two to get past the headiness (if you find yourself in this second group of wine drinkers, stop by Costco and grab the Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon from last weeks review).
Love the thumb grip on these!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wineducation: Go Californian


You may follow what is trending on twitter, buy the latest “it” shoes from Nordstroms, or covet the newest must-have gadgets, but do you devote any time to what is trending in the world of wines?  

Admittedly, I am an on-again-off-again wine trend follower. I enjoy visiting Google News and typing  “wine” in the search queue to see what interesting tidbit of information pops up, but for the most part the job of mom-wife-wine drinker is a lot to handle, so the wine trends fall off my radar.
Maybe, a little light reading...



Although, inspired by the New Year, I decided to take a moment to see what is happening in the world of wines and was excited to read the prediction that California is going to be leading the trends in wine in 2014.

The San Francisco Gate posted an article, Cheers! Banner Year Forecast for California Wine, by Stacy Finz, that connects the many dots that give the impression of California’s upcoming wine winning year, such as: 

·      The grape harvest in California is expected to be the second largest in state history (3.9 million TONS).
·      The quality of the California grown grape is high, which means even better tasting wines.
·      With the large abundance of wine producing grapes comes the ability to produce MORE wine allowing for lower prices in the market.
(Finz, sfgate.com)

All this glorious California wine news makes me proud to be a budget-wine drinking SoCal Mama, as well as, it gives me a good direction to look while searching out my latest inexpensive wine finds.

Please take a moment and experience all the expected California wine glory in Stacy Finz's article at the San Francisco Gate here.


Reference: 
 “Cheers! Banner Year Forecast for California Wine,” Stacy Finz. San Francisco Gate. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wine 16: Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon


Yup, you read the title correctly, Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, this weeks wine pick is a Costco private label product. I am sure you were aware of the fact that Costco produces Kirkland sweat socks, trail mix, and cheeses, but you may have missed their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wine offerings.
 
There are many reasons I chose the Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon, one being that I trek to the Costco weekly. I know what your thinking, "Isn't the idea of buying in bulk that you don't have to go every week," and yes that is the concept, but it doesn't work that way in this milk guzzling household. Another reason for the Kirkland Cab choice is the price, yes my wine drinking amigos, the price is good: $7.99 for a 1.5 liter bottle (that's the BIG bottle ladies and gents).  After picking up the apple juice and cheese slices, I put that sizey Kirkland Cab in my ridiculously difficult to manage Costco cart and headed to the check out lanes.

I did have the concern, when picking up the Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, that if the wine isn't necessarily my taste, I am going to be stuck with a rather large bottle of wine I am not interested in drinking (this is part of the reason I chose red over white wine, my fridge would not have been able to manage such a large addition to it's already over flowing shelves).  Then I remembered my husband is the human in-sink-erator and a bottle of red will not gather dust in our house, so I was making a safe purchase either way.

To read the label on the back of the Kirkland Cabernet is to take a trip down wine terminology lane, including such terms as: vibrant, linger, palate, and surrounded, the Kirkland writing team left no wine stone unturned.

Finally the time came to pop the Kirkland Cabernet's synthetic cork and get down to the good part of this whole tale, that is the drinking part.  My unskilled wine palate doesn't allow for first sip and "I am in" tasting, I need a second, and sometimes a third to be able to describe what's going on with the flavors of the wine.

This is how those sips went:
Sip one: "Okay, it's taste good."
Sip two: "It has a lot of spice at the end."
Sip three: "Actually, it's very smooth to start, maybe a little to smooth, it's bordering on boring."

And to be honest, that is the best way to describe the Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon, "smooth bordering on boring," but that's not necessarily bad.  I like a kick in my wine, food, or even music, and the Kirkland is kick-less.  Although, if you enjoy smooth (i.e. milk chocolate, satin sheets, and Issac Hayes) the Kirkland Cab is perfect for you.  That's really what it comes down to, the Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon is a safe wine choice for mixed wine sipping company and your budget, so give it a try.


 
Side note: I received one of these PacMan
style foil cutters for X'mas...love it!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wineducation: Vinturi Wine Aerator


I have been an aerator from way back. I received the Vinturi Wine Aerator as a Christmas gift many years ago, and was hooked on the screeching addition to my wine pour ever since. I also tout the benefits of the Vinturi Wine Aerator to my fellow wine lovers because I truly believe it smooths out the rougher aspects of the flavor of wines (especially the budget-friendly fare that I talk about here).

photo credit: amazon.com
For those of you still pouring your glass of wine straight from the bottle, the lovers of the traditional or skeptics of the NEW must have gadget, I say broaden your horizons and the flavor of your wines with an aerator.  You don’t have to take my word for it, but you may want to take this article’s word for it, “How Do Vinturi Wine Aerators Work?” by Sarah Meadows, the technical writer and editor at The Wine’d Up blog.

photo credit: amazon.com
Meadows reminds her readers that exposing a wine to oxygen has a chemical reaction with the properties of a wine, these reactions enhance, downplay, and blend the complex flavors (Meadows, thewinedup.net).  Aerating a glass of wine is a quick way to expose the body of the wine to air, as opposed to decanting and allowing the wine to breathe prior to drinking, and really…who has time for all that. 

Take a moment to read the article, How Do Vinturi WineAerators Work, to gather all the not-so-complicated reasons that the author gives that suggest purchasing a Vinturi to allow for even further enjoyment while sipping a glass of wine.  Read the How Do Vinturi Wine Aerators Work here.

Reference:
“How Do Vinturi Wine Aerators Work?” Wine’d Up.net 12 January 2014, Web.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wine 15: Green Fin Merlot

I think I enjoy the process of looking for wines almost as much as I do drinking them (I said almost, I am not a crazy person). Well, except for when the pesky wine clerk keeps asking me if I need help, which I never do, I simply enjoy the label art, reading the descriptions, and hopefully uncovering a new bottle that will blow my Uggs off.

This week, while picking up banana chips and spiced chai tea bags at the Trader Joe's, I did my normal walk through of the wine section and decided to give a bottle of Green Fin California Merlot a whirl.

The Green Fin Merlot grabbed my attention because it's label features classic California styling, a woody wagon with a long board on top and a relaxed sketched title, it feels very Venice Beach.  The price, of course, is always a deciding factor when choosing a wine to share with you, dear readers, and the Green Fin Merlot price is just right, $3.99.

The Green Fin bottle called to me day after day while laying horizontally in my dark wooden wine rack, "Drink me Mama," and yesterday I gave in and popped the cork. The wine pours as a deep, dark red, and has a great aroma of black currant, not exceptionally sweet, but more clean and fresh. The first sip offered a sweet start, a delightful middle, and a tastefully smokey finish. The second sip was even more enjoyable and that's what concreted the deal for me, I decided this Green Fin Merlot is a fantastic wine (and it's produced from organic grapes...I am losing my wine loving mind, how much better can the Green Fin get?).


I am very happy to be able to recommend a great wine to you, after a run of contemptible wines (see: Tisdale and/or Three Winemakers), and I was ecstatic to sip a wine that is worth sharing. On your next trip to the Trader Joe's, while grabbing gluten free pretzels and hummus dip, grab a bottle of Green Fin Merlot and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Wineducation: Screw Cap Wines


A twist off cork does not a bad wine make,  this is a stance that I have taken for some time. While others make snide comments as I am twisting the cap off a wine bottle, “Wow, your breaking out the good stuff,” I smile with an understanding that they are not in the know. I don’t waste my time trying to change the minds of these particular people, they have cork on the brain and there is no changing their air leaking dry rotted wine sealing opinion, but others, those who minds are open to change and not stuck on the pomp and circumstance of the “pop” of the cork, I divulge the benefits of the twist off cap.
photo credit: totalwine.com

While reading the Google News headlines, I happened across an article that brings the twist off wine cap into the acceptable light of wine drinking, and it offers great information to support my side of the twist off cap debate.  The article, Cork Versus Screw Cap: Don’t Judge a Wine By How It’s Sealed, by Allison Aubrey, offers great reasons to not discredit a wine with a screw cap. Aubrey offers views from the senior winemaker at the popular and delicious Cupcake Vineyards and a Washington Post wine writer that include, screw caps seal out oxygen (important for crisp wine varieties), are better for wines that are not meant to be aged, and screw caps increase the ease in opening a bottle (wine three seconds faster, yes please) (Aubrey, npr.org). Basically, the article explains how a screw cap is not a sign of a cheaply made wine anymore, there are real scientific reasons that the drinker benefits from the screw cap, so now you can unscrew the cap off your next bottle of wine with impunity.

Do yourself a favor and read, Cork Versus Screw Cap, especially if you are interested in schooling those snarky know-it-all cork loving wine drinkers (or if you and a friend are enjoying a bottle with a twist cap and you want to offer a little wine lovers info). Click here for the Cork Versus Screw Cap article.

Reference:
“Cork Versus Screw Cap: Don’t Judge a Wine By How It’s Sealed.” Npr.org. 02 Jan 2014, Web.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wine 14: Tisdale California Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy New Year my fellow wine drinkers!

Since the official onslaught of the holidays, which according to retail stores started before the sun set on Halloween, I have been attempting to keep my normal wine tasting schedule, but with parties where I was sipping delicious family vineyard wines and gifts of wine being offered, my wine drinking was kicked up a notch (above my review parameter of only bottles under $10).  Aware of my budget wine neglect I stepped out in our fabulous weather to make a special trip to the Pavilions (our version of Von's or Safeway) just to pick out inexpensive wines in hopes to find a few more delicious budget wines.

The inexpensive wines at my Pavilions give the concept of bottom-shelf a whole new meaning, the bottles in the three to ten dollar price range are about an inch off the shiny supermarket tile floor, and half of the bottles were hidden by display boxes of cases of much more pricey bottles of wine or champagne. So risking serious back injury, I spent my time perusing bent ninety degrees at the waste, and came up with a few different brands.

The bottle I offer for you this post is Tisdale California Cabernet Sauvignon, found almost on the floor of Pavilions, for the price of $2.99. The label on the back of Tisdale Cabernet Sauvignon describes the wines' flavors as ripe blackberries and plums with an "impressive finish." That's a pretty big expectation, "impressive," so I pour that carmine colored wine into my stemless wine glass, took in the Tisdale Cab's sweet berry aroma, and took a healthy sized sip.  Unfortunately, the flavor closely matches the sweetness of the aroma, with a taste that is more prune than plum, and this combination is not for me (or fans of a more dry, robust, or multi-layered wine).  I keep an open mind with the budget wines I choose, I know it is not easy to make something great and inexpensive, but the Tisdale Cabernet Sauvignon is missing the mark on too many different levels, which means I can't recommend it as a safe budget bet.

The price of the Tisdale California Cabernet Sauvignon is great but the taste, not so much.  There are too many other fantastic bottles of budget friendly wines out there (Don't under estimate Pacific Peak) to spend your hard earned dollar on.