Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: Oliver Moscato - From Indiana? Yup!

I recently attended a wine tasting that featured wines from across the United States. Let's see, there were wines from California, Washington, Oregon and Indiana. That's right, I said Indiana. Imagine my surprise to find out that there is a winery just north of Bloomington. Up until now, Indiana had simply been the state next to Ohio, the last state I hit on my journey to college during my collegiate years (NJ-Illinois....we always knew we were getting close when Indiana cornfields surrounded both sides of I-80).  But wine? Nope, this was a new Indiana concept to me.

It is also kind of a new concept to the state of Indiana. Seems that until Professor William Oliver got legislation passed in 1971 making small wineries legal in that state, the only wine making to be found was in the basements and garages of die hard wine hobbyists. Professor Oliver wanted to take his wine hobby to the next level....and he sure did. Today Oliver Winery is one of the largest wineries in the Eastern US and definitely the most prominent in Indiana.  Perfectly logical to include them in the Wines Across America theme then, wasn't it?

The Oliver wine featured at this tasting was the Oliver Moscato (12%, NV, Bloomington, IN) I had to admit, I was a little suspicious, since I am not normally a sweet wine drinker. And I had heard so much about Moscatos recently (one friend loves them...another um, not so much) that my antennae were up. First sniff was of oranges and citrus-y things (as if you were walking through and orange grove, not just sniffing an orange alone). In the mouth it was fizzy and peachy. And yet, it had a lot more depth than I originally thought it would (so did another gal at my table). There was a teeny bit of tang to it as well (the wine's label says it's got apricot, and I think that just about hits it right) that gave it that depth.  Served very cold..it was quite yummy. It didn't hurt that it was paired with a dazzling array of desserts: cream puffs and brownies and cheesecake bites and cream horns!! It was actually rather refreshing after sampling Chardonnays and Cabernet and Syrahs to sip the Moscato.

I actually found another great pairing for this wine a week later, when my sister in law (Queen of the Gewurztraminers and Rieslings) and I polished off a bottle at Thanksgiving dinner. (My husband seemed shocked that 2 women could drink an entire bottle of wine in one day. OK, he's not a wine drinker, but he still has a LOT to learn about Winey Moms, doesn't he?) It worked perfectly with the turkey and the stuffing and sweet potatoes and cranberries.

So while I probably would never have picked this wine up off a shelf and brought it home (despite the really cool polka dots all over it), I have to say I'm glad I got to taste it. Knowing me, it might not show up in my house until next summer's patio picnics....but for anyone who likes a semi-sweet white, I would invite it over right now. Not bad for a state where wineries were illegal until about 40 years ago, huh?

Oh and  a quick note for all of you in Northeast Ohio - the tasting was held at Creekside Restaurant and Bar in Brecksville, Ohio. They really know their wines there! Great list, great advice!!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: I REALLY Needed Some Hob Nob Pinot Noir

Now, I may be a Winey Mom, but that's because I love wine! I normally do not advocate using this wonderful beverage to drown your troubles or to get you through stressful times. That's what Diet Coke with lime is for. But 3 days ago, I REALLY NEEDED A GLASS (OR 2 or 3) OF WINE.

Here's why. Last Wednesday was the day the entire world had been waiting for (OK, the day my 15 year old had been waiting for): The 16th Birthday. Which translates to "The Driver's License" (unless you live in my home state of New Jersey, then you have to wait until you are 17..but I digress). After one last hour of maneuverability practice and a nerve-wracking trip (for both of us) to the ever so friendly BMV, the license was in her hands!

Thursday, she drove herself to school. Bittersweet? Sure. But she was so happy.

Friday morning. The doggie and I stand in the doorway and wave as she backs out of the garage. And into the side of the garage door, promptly ripping and shattering the side view mirror off of the passenger side door. OUCH! But hey, it's just a mirror. She pulls back in, I reassure her and she pulls out again. And promptly slams the side of the car into the SAME side of the garage door. CRUNCH. And GRIND. I honestly don't know how you do that kind of damage to a fender and a bumper unless you are hit side on by another vehicle. But she's always been an over-achiever.

Car in the body shop. New driver home from school. College aged brother also home from school. The teasing began as soon as she walked in the door. Drama ensued ("It's too soon to tease me about it!" Dramatic exit from room.) And then it was time to head up to her high school basketball game. Brother decided to do a few warm up shots with the team. As he passed the ball to sister, his comment was "Whatever you do, don't dribble backwards." OH GREAT. Is it  a wonder that by the time I got home from the game (did I mention I had to work concession stand and smelled like popcorn oil?) that I REALLY NEEDED SOME WINE.

Hence, the Hob Nob Pinot Noir (13%, 2010, Southern France). I had first tried this wine with a group of girlfriends after an evening of mani-pedis at a local spa. I didn't see it in stores right away, but one day, there it was! I grabbed a bottle intending to sip away some nice quiet evening in front of the fire. Well, it was evening. But not quiet and the only fire was coming from the ears of the highly insulted 16 year old. (Did not pair well with the laughter coming from her 19 year old brother.) But really, what better time to unscrew (not uncork - screw top here and boy was I glad about that this night) a new bottle of wine? Please note that even in my deeply agitated and needy state, I was able to take some descriptive and coherent notes: The color was a deep red - almost a maroon. The nose on this wine was deep cherry. The taste was of warm oak and cherry. The finish was smooth - not one bit of bite (which I didn't need any more of that night) - and stayed on in my mouth and left a nice warm feeling. No drying tannins - just lovely, round medium bodied Pinot Noir. Exactly what The Winey Mom had ordered.

I totally recommend this one - especially since it normally retails for under $10 a bottle. And while I still don't advocate using wine to drown your troubles, it is illegal to drown your teenagers, so if you must, go with the Hob Nob.


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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winey Thoughts: The Cut Glass Decanters On My Shelf

There are A LOT of decanters on the market these days. They are sleek and modern or quirky and fun. Some come with aerators, some with foil cutters and corkscrews. I own none of these.

I do own two decanters though. They are not sleek. And they are years removed from being modern or probably even very decanting-friendly (I made that word up, I think). To look at them, you'd pretty much expect Major Nelson and Jeannie to be walking into the room soon. It's a style that not everybody loves...or even tolerates. But to me they are priceless.

Take a look at the clear decanter on the left in the picture below. It's just about 15 1/2 inches high - 4 of which are the stopper. It's got some heft to it - it's cut glass, after all. The designs cut into it are starburst-like patterns with horizontal lines in between and underneath. The stopper has the same designs cut into it. I suppose you could say that this decanter sealed my fate as a Winey Mom. Here's why:

My mother (Gail Ann - you'll need the names here to follow along), was best friends with her grandmother, Anna (her mother's mother). Ever wonder how I got my name, Ann? Well now you know. They were always close - the families lived next door to each other for a time in the little New Jersey town my mom was born in. According to my mom, every time she visited her Grandmother, they'd have a glass of wine. Apparently this went on even after I was born. My mom would bundle me up and head to her grandmother's house (at this time we all lived at the Jersey shore - no cracks here about a certain reality show, okay? MY Jersey shore is and was a wonderful place to be...I spent my summers there until I was in high school). And they'd have a glass of wine. So of course I was destined to be a Winey Mom - I was exposed to it as an infant!!! This little ritual continued, and Anna and her husband Frank celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. My mother bought them this decanter as a gift, in honor of the precious hours she spent with her grandmother sipping away. When Anna passed away, the decanter came back to my mother, who presented it to me as a gift one Christmas years ago.

The purple decanter you see in the picture also stands about 15 1/2 inches high. Again, four of those inches are the stopper. It is a hefty little thing too. Much heavier than its counterpart. You'll need your upper arm strength once you actually add liquid to it. It too is decorated cut glass - featuring flowers and grapes and some star-like designs. There's even some etching that is supposed to look like a grape vine alongside the grapes. It's old...really old. I don't know exactly how old...but it was an antique when I was a newborn (and I am decidedly NOT a newborn anymore so....)

The purple decanter came into my possession one Christmas a few years back. It had been my grandmother's. Her name was Elizabeth (again, you'll need the names). When her daughter, my mother (the aforementioned Gail Ann), got married in 1962, she received a similar decanter as a wedding gift. Elizabeth loved the decanter - always commented on it and generally "made a fuss over it". So one day, as my mother wandered through an antique shop: BAM! A duplicate of the decanter she had gotten as a wedding gift. She bought it for her mom and gave it to her as a present. So now there were two purple decanters in the family - the original (which is always in my mind's eye as I remember the dining room of the house I grew up in) and its twin.

My grandmother was one of my best friends. Ever wonder how MY daughter got the name Elizabeth? Well now you know that, too. So when she passed away 5 years ago at the age of 90, my mother took the purple decanter and gave it to me. Mother and daughter once again have a pair of purple, cut glass decanters.

Yes, I'm noticing a pattern here. Anna and Gail Ann drinking wine together (as baby me lay nearby obviously taking it all in and committing it to memory!). Elizabeth and Gail with matching decanters. Is it a wonder that I am thrilled to have these two items in MY house now? MY house - with an Ann and an Elizabeth under its roof. Yes, I know where they will end up one day.

My Elizabeth is 16 at this writing. So I am 5 years away from introducing her to the ritual of mother daughter wine sipping. But history tends to repeat itself and it is doing so right now. Because my mother, Gail Ann, and my daughter, Elizabeth, are best buddies. So it might not be my job to bring her into the sipping mode...that honor will most likely go to my mom. But I will absolutely make sure that those decanters make it into my Elizabeth's house someday...so she can continue the tradition with her daughter (name to be determined.....MUCH later!).


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: Getting formal with the Little Penguin Shiraz

I have to admit - I have always thought that penguins were one of the cuter birds out there. Even if they don't fly. They swim. I was a swimmer. And once you get past that fishy smell, honestly, how can you resist a guy who always dresses formally?

"the Little Penguin" wines are named after the real life little penguins, who live along South Eastern Australia's coast. Some of Australia's best vineyards can also be found along that coast. Nice combo.

This is another wine that I am a long time fan of. This review is going to talk about the 2010 Little Penguin Shiraz (13.5%, SE Australia) - but my first taste of the wine came with a 2003 vintage. So "little" does not translate to "insignificant" here folks....it's wine worth coming home to (or swimming home to if you happen to be a cute little flightless well dressed bird) time and time again.

The bouquet is, mercifully, not at all fishy, despite its mascot. Nope, with this one, you get warm spices and plums and cinnamon. Its color is a lovely garnet red . The taste is smooth and full of blackberries (maybe with a hint of sweetness - just a little hint though) with a kick to them. More spice and warmth...and closes with a nice long tannic finish. Not too dry (penguins live in the water, for heaven's sake) - just a perfect zingy Shiraz. You don't even need to pair this with a food - I usually don't. It stands very well in its own, just like a stately penguin in the snow. (OK, running out of corny penguin analogies here..) The last time I had some, though, it was with a bowl of penne pasta with a mushroom red sauce.  So good!

Did I mention that this wine retails for around $6.00 a bottle? No. Well consider yourself fully informed. Go put on a tuxedo and buy some.

It's worth noting that a trip to the Little Penguin website is a lot of fun, kind of like watching penguins waddle around in the snow (I promise, I'll try and stop that now). You can take a wine test to find out what your wine personality is (I am a Merlot, and here I always thought I was Irish.) You can find ot everything you always wanted to know about Little Penguins and you can learn some penguin party games. Their wine tasting tips actually made me laugh out loud, so I thought I'd share them with you:

How to get the most out of drinking the Little Penguin wines.
The Basics:
  1. Open a bottle of wine.
  2. Pour it in a glass.
  3. Open your mouth.
  4. Tip wine into your mouth.
  5. Swallow. (preferably before reaching full capacity)
  6. Enjoy. (In moderation, of course.)
This may sound simple to you, but to a penguin this is no small task. (http://www.thelittlepenguin.com/winetips/tastingtips)

And here I was totally oblivious at how difficult it is for penguin to sip wine. Shame on me. (NOTE: Be careful if you play the Guide Your Penguin Safely Home game...it's kind of addicting. And hard.)

  A little picture of the Little Penguin Shiraz!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winey Gift Giving Guide, 2011

     It's that time of year again when all our thoughts turn to: gifts. (You thought I was going to say wine, didn't you?) Well, you wouldn't have been that far off, since my Winey Gift Giving Ideas have to do with wine (mostly...please read all the way to the end of this posting). I don't know if the rest of you are like me, but one of my great delights of the season is to pour through all the catalogs that come in the mail. A great way to escape from sweeping up the pine needles that are STILL hiding in my floors from the great "let's bring in the Christmas tree" project that occurs here the day after Thanksgiving. Anyway, these are some of my favorite finds from those catalogs this year - some are a bit out there, some are funny...and some are very, very dear to my heart (see above comment about the end of this posting)......


Caudalie Crushed Cabernet Scrub ($29.00) - seriously, who wouldn't want Cabernet all over their being? And if that wasn't enough, the Caudalie website claims that the scrub "also contains the 6 draining and cellulite-fighting organic essential oils of the Contouring Concentrate." Bring it on, baby!

Swanson Vineyards Modern House Wine - send a message in on a bottle. (With apologies to Sting and The Police.) No seriously, haven't you ever gotten a little sick of those sappy greeting cards? How about sending a bottle that says "Thrilled for you" or "Merci" on it? Swanson Vineyards has 9 different message bottles filled with their 100% house Merlot that will say it all for you. Winey Mom favorites include "Swell Swill" and "Lucky Night"!! I never said I was subtle. ($25.00/bottle, 6 bottle minimum.)


Space Saving Countertop 4 bottle Wood Wine Rack Recycled
Cedar - Not only will this wine rack clear up some room on your counter, but you can put your opened bottle on top and it is angled so that it won't drip. Now if we could just get this for certain members of my family, many of my cleaning issues would be resolved. The rack is made by 8point8 in San Diego (I found them on Twitter - yay tweets!) and not only solves your wine-space issues, all their products are made from recycled cedar or redwood...so you can feel good about being green as well!


Truer words have never been spoken (unless wine really makes you think you know how to dance like a pro. Then you have other, entirely different issues to deal with.)  $17.95 at Catalog Favorites.

I'm no wine snob. I like to include everyone in my winey gift giving. So for all my redneck friends out there, here it is: The Rednek Wine Glass. (Not to be confused with juice glasses - this one has a stem on it!). Plus, it has the screw top lid for when you need to go mobile in the middle of your sipping... and it holds 16 ounces. Remember: drinking two glasses of wine a day is good for your heart. I have seen this for as low as $8.99...just google "Rednek Wine Glass and you can find a whole slew of them there places what sell this nifty little sipper.
Keeping on my including all theme, how about a little throw pillow that embraces both wine and beer drinkers?
(apologies again, this time to Sir Clement Moore)
($19.95 Catalog Favorites).
I am never one to discount the wisdom of our greatest writers and statesmen and forefathers. Which is why I love these quotable wine towels. Yes, Mark Twain really believed that "Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough" (I just know he had teenagers) and Ben Franklin preached that "There cannot be good living when there is not good drinking" (don't even try and tell me he was talking about Diet Coke, I KNOW he wasn't, okay?).  What better way to get your guests to smile in the powder room? (set of 4, $45.00, Uncommon Goods)

I know I put this in the giggles section...but the more I look at it..the more I think it should go in the "absolutely essential" section...but since I don't have one....
Here is the answer when your doctor asks you how much wine you drink a day:
"Just one glass, Doctor."
Yes, this glass actually holds an entire bottle of wine!!
Is that a dream come true, or what? There are lots of these on the market, I found this one for $9.99 at Vat 19.


 Anyone else out there wine cooling challenged? I am actually on a crusade to get this listed as a medical condition (kind of like the "wrist unable to load dishwasher" condition that my family suffers from). Sure, I have the wine keepers that I fill with ice. They're fun at a party cause you can entertain your guests with the drips as you pour the wine. Or you can go with these nifty little coolers: The Cool Sack. They fold flat to store in your freezer and the cute little gel packs look very festive on your table. Notice the carry handles...transporting is very user friendly. ($9.98, Solutions)
Seriously, it DOES happen: sometime you don't finish a bottle of wine in one evening. Go ahead: wussies, lightweights, wastrels....but whatever you call them, there are times when people need to seal up the bottle for the next day. And although a little oxygen is a good thing for your vino, too much of it can give you a very fancy vinegar to go with your salad. The solution? A vacuum pump. There are tons of them out on the market...prices range from $9 on up depending on how fancy you want to go. My mother in law gave me mine: your basic, get the job done and the air out model.

When I was younger, I thought one of the saddest sounds ever was the pinging of M&M's as they fell all over the movie theater floor. Now that I am a Winey Mom, one of the saddest sounds I hear is "Oh sorry, I spilled the wine." I regret the wasting of the vino....someone else may regret that it just spilled all over their heirloom table cloth or family room couch. There is a product called "Wine Away" (perhaps a poor choice of naming...no one wants to send wine away, right?) that claims to banish the stain - on almost any fabric, without bleach. What I find amusing is that it comes in a gallon sized refill, a purse size and an emergency kit as well as the normal 12 oz. size. Kind of makes you think, doesn't it??

Because these are gifts that have absolutely nothing at all to do with wine. They have to do with honoring the men and women of our Armed Forces. You may have gathered from other posts on my blog that I am the very proud mother of a West Point Cadet. (Go Army!) And since my child has entered West Point, I have had the honor of hearing about and seeing the amazing work that is being done to help our veterans and their families. A donation to either of these outstanding organizations would be one of the best Christmas presents you could give (to honor someone specific or to just help out in general). Because sometimes, it's just not about the wine and the fun...it's about something way more important.

Their purpose:

  • To raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members.
  • To help injured service members aid and assist each other.
  • To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.

  • "Providing a "home away from home" for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury."

    I encourage you all to head to their websites and read some of the truly inspiring stories you'll find there. Personally, I've had my eyes and my heart opened by these organizations - they deserve our gratitude and our support.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah...Happy New Year! Cheers!

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    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: 2010 Guenoc Pinot Grigio & Cabernet Sauvignon: Hoo-ah!!!

    As a former theater major, I was intrigued when I heard that actress Lillie Langtry had founded the estate that this wine comes from. All the way back in 1888...staying  power, huh? But what really got me interested in this wine was the United States Military Academy at West Point. And yes, there is a story to this. (You knew that, didn't you?)

    Each year, our West Point Parents Club (Northeast Ohio) hosts a wine tasting fund-raiser. To make things more interesting, we hold a wine naming contest as well. Members of the club submit wine names that have something to do with West Point. The winning entry gets their wine name turned into a label (by a very talented West Point graphic artist uncle) and that label is in turn pasted onto a bottle of wine chosen by the manager of the wine bar where we have our tasting. The wines are then bought by club members and many of them wind up under  the Christmas trees of various West Point friends and family. (Side note to both our Moms: if you are reading this, try and act surprised, OK?)

    This year's winning name was Hoo-ah Harvest. Hoo what??? Hoo-ah, which is a West Point expression meaning "Hooray", "Yippee", "Wonderful" and some other expressions that do not belong on this blog. You get the picture, right? So why am I talking so much about the name of this year's wine? Because it was my entry!! I named a wine!! Hoo-ah for me!!

    And wasn't I happy when I was informed by our club's president that as vice president, one of my jobs was to help her paste the wine labels on the wine chosen as this year's vintage: Guenoc Pinot Grigio (Langtry Estate & Vineyards, Lake County, CA, 13.5% alcohol on the bottle...website has it at 12.5%) and Guenoc Cabernet Sauvignon (2010, 13.5% alcohol on the bottle - website lists it at 14.5%). To make sure we knew exactly what we were giving the club, we tasted these wines extensively as we pasted. (To this very day, I am surprised the labels were all attached straight and right side up.)

    Let's start with the Pinot Grigio (we did at the wine tasting). Great tropical bouquet - mostly of pineapple and a teeny bit of pear. A beautiful pale gold color. The taste was of pineapple and had some great acidity that made it feel like a light wine, but really not a lightweight wine at all. I'd say it had a fairly medium body to it.  The finish was crisp, mellow pear (this wine is fermented in  stainless steel so no oakiness here). We sipped this wine with an antipasti platter and boy, did it do well with the cheeses and olives!!

    Eventually we wound our way to the Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of black cherry in the bouquet and on the palate. A little peppery kick at the finish that kept it from being too "fruity" - it had some nice body to it. In fact, we sipped this with a pasta bolognese and it help up nicely!

    Both of these wines run around $10 a bottle...and when you combine that with their great taste, well, I'd give them each a big old Hoo-ah!
    The design of the winning wine name in the 2011 Northeast Ohio
    West Point Parents Club contest.
    Design by Mike Blanc, winning name submitted by
    The Winey Mom!
    Go Army! Beat Navy! Cheers!

    (If you live in the Northeast Ohio area, I highly recommend a trip to Creekside Restaurant and Bar, where we held our tasting. The Harpers really know their wines - huge wine list -  and the food is wonderful!!)

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    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: Root 1 Cabernet Sauvignon

    You know how there are certain things in life that you can always count on? The black pants that go to and with everything. The best friend who will always listen. The fact that if you just run into the store for milk and have on your oldest sweats, no bra or makeup and haven't put your contacts in yet that you will see everyone you have ever met? Yup, the constants in our lives. That's how I feel when I see a bottle of Root 1 Cabernet Sauvignon. I can always count on it being fantastic!

    The root 1 of this wine has nothing to do with the last, un-highlighted grey strand on your (my) head. When you sip this wine, you are sipping grapes from original, ungrafted roots. These roots happen to reside in the Colchagua Valley of Chile (their white wines come from the coastal Casablanca).

    The latest bottle of Root 1 that I have sipped from is the 2009 vintage (14% alcohol) which is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah. I looked back at my notes though, and noticed that I have also tried the 2004...so I've been sipping this one for a while. I can't even remember when I first tried it. But it's a keeper. Like those black pants.

    The bouquet of this dark red wine is cherry, with a hint of thyme (it took me a while to figure that one out, but thyme it was) and some pepper. The taste was dark fruits and ripe cherries and spices. The finish was oakey and warm - it tingled on the sides and the front of my tongue. The wine has legs too - full bodied and round in your mouth. It really is one of the best Cabs I've ever had. The fact that it continues to be so year after year really speaks for the winemakers and for those Chilean valleys!

    I have seen this wine sell for as much as $14.99, but it's also been priced at $11.99. I paid $9.99 for this bottle. The price seems to fluctuate, so I always watch and buy it when it drops (don't you just love it when you get something on sale?).

    This is a great wine to stock up on for the coming holiday season. You will be sure to please many a red wine lover with it. And you'll be pretty happy too!


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    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: The Naughty Wine Names Series: The Naked Grape

    I have nothing against naked. I loved it when my kiddies were tots, shedding clothing (randomly - I worried a bit til I found out that WAS a toddler thing) and running through the house. My beloved dog is an avowed nudist. (I will never give up my fight to get her into her Halloween costume each year, though.) I like naked trees, as long as they are covered with snow.

    So, why not a naked grapes?  I can hear you now: "Um, aren't they all naked?" Well, yes, on the vine they are. But after harvesting, on their way to my mouth, many make a stop off in an oak barrel - some for quite a while. And let's face it, no one looks good in a barrel.

    That's kind of the idea behind The Naked Grape wines. Winemaker Hillary Stevens does use oak barrels, but not a whole lot. Steel is her fabric of choice...kind of letting the grapes do all the work, and then letting the oak just add the accessories. But she called her wines The Naked Grape, so of course, I grabbed a few bottles for my Naughty Wine Names Series (again, the deciding factor for making it onto my naughty names list is this: would you blush if you presented a bottle to your grandma?) This is not to be confused with another naughty names list that gets a lot of attention at this time of year. That list is put together by a big guy in a red suit and is the BEST way to get young children to behave from, oh, about Halloween on. OK, moving along here....

    First up was The Naked Grape Cabernet Sauvignon. (13% alcohol, California, non-vintage.) My first whiff of it was almost a vinegary aroma - maybe with some (wet?) leaves. It wasn't bad - just very pungent. It poured out bright, deep red with medium legs. In my mouth, I tasted smoke and ashes with oaky undertones. That was my first taste. I then used my handy-dandy aerator and the dark fruit popped out ahead of the oak. Also some finish to it. Nice. Not "wow". Just nice. Might be worth a second try.

    Next on my naked list was the Chardonnay. (13.2% alcohol) Smelled of mellow lemon and some zesty citrus. It was a pale gold color that had a lively taste to it. The lack of oak really made the fruitiness jump out at you, but it wasn't a sweet, sticky fruit. Some pear, some apple. The finish was lingering with no bite to it - just a teeny bit zesty. Again, very nice. I would buy it again. I should also note that I used the Chardonnay to make what turned out (in my humble opinion) to be a killer Risotto Milanese!! It really did well in and with it!!

    So would I get naked again? Well, I'm not a toddler, so public nudity would pretty much get me in trouble. I'm not a dog, thus naked is not my natural state. So we'll have to talk about buying The Naked Grape Wine. I purchased these wines for $6.99 on special (I think they usually run about $8 or so.) At that price, I'd definitely try them again. They also make a Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and a Moscato, but I had to cut my nakedness off somewhere. I'll get naked with the others someday and then write my review. (That's quite a sentence if you take it out of context, isn't it?)

    Naked dog.


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    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: 2010 The Crusher Rosé of Pinot Noir

    I could also title this review: How I Got Punked By My Mother. So go ahead and take your pick, but either way, I, an intelligent thirty-eighteen year old woman,  pretty much got snookered when I tried to serve The Crusher Rosé of Pinot Noir to my mom.

    As you may or may not know from reading a previous post on this blog, my mother likes pink wine. To a fault...only pink...only White Zinfandel. (See Winey Tasting Notes: Mommy Juice White). I did get her to admit liking a Chardonnay, so this time, on her pre-Thanksgiving visit, I decided to be kind to her and get her a pink wine. I thought I was on to something when I saw the 2010 Crusher on sale (normally $16.99..on special for $9.99). Hmm....intriguing. A rosé from pinot noir grapes...might just be the best of both worlds for mom (pink) and me (Pinot Noir grapes).

    The Crusher refers to the fun they have at Don Sebastiani & Sons each year when the winemakers join their growers on the happy road from vineyard to the crusher (squish). Kind of a vivid, if not a bit sadistic, picture, huh?

    The Rosé of Pinot Noir is 97.5% Pinot Noir and 2.5% Viognier. It has an alcohol content of 13.6% and comes to us from good old Napa (Clarksburg, CA). It really is a lovely, clear pink color. The nose was extremely light - a bit fruity, a bit flowery. OK, I could handle a light nose if the taste came through big time. Well....let's just say the crusher did its job, not only on the grapes, but on the flavor as well. I was expecting something light and refreshing with fruit and zest and maybe a bit of a body to it. I didn't get that. At all. Very hard to get any taste, let alone a finish. Yes, there was a little fruit - but they might as well have skipped the Viognier, cause it was undetectable. Watery.

    But....given my mother's prejudice towards fruity and pink wine, there was still some hope here. Just because my taste buds were disappointed didn't mean hers would be! So, when she asked me if I had any wine open, I proudly displayed the bottle and told her it was a rosé wine. I don't think she knew what that meant, but it was pink, so she said "Good."

    The evening progressed, next to a roaring fire in the fireplace. Hubby and daughter joined us. My mom was nearest the kitchen, so she would fill our glasses every once in a while. I really wasn't paying attention. I was getting kind of buzzy though. And then I saw it: her glass had a wine in it that was a totally different color than mine. Hers was...pink. Really pink. Not light pink. But PINK. Whattheheck? And having now noticed that fact, I sort of realized that I was probably on my third (or so) glass of the Crusher. So, being the crack detective that I am, I said "Hey, your wine looks different than mine."

    BUSTED. That's when she admitted that she really didn't like the Rosé of Pinot Noir (not sweet enough?) and had switched to her own little travelling stash of White Zinfandel about an hour ago. I jumped up and ran (tottered) into the kitchen to discover only about 2 inches of Crusher left in the bottle. The woman had been sneaking me a wine that I didn't even like because she didn't like it either! And she had snuck me quite a bit in the course of an evening. Well.

    So, in the end, all I got out of my little experiment to get Mom off the White Zinfandel was a nearly empty bottle and a very big headache (typical of me and sweeter wines) the next morning.

    One step forward, two steps back. I will get her off the White Zin someday. Just not by getting myself crushed!
    Beware visiting mothers pouring this wine.

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    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: Mommy Juice Red

    As I have previously stated, Cheryl Durzy, the mom behind Mommy Juice Wines is a genius. Not only did she get MY mom to like a Chardonnay (see Winey Tasting Notes: Mommy Juice White), but she gave her wine a name that won't require you to fib to your children when they ask what you are drinking. "Mommy, what's in your glass?" "It's just my mommy juice, honey." See what I mean?

    So I was so happy to get my hands on some Mommy Juice Red (full disclosure: I won a bottle by having the best reason for needing a glass of wine on the Mommy Juice Facebook page. It had been a long week.)

    Mommy Juice Red is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. It comes from the Central Coast of California and is 13.5% alcohol. My first bottle of Mommy Juice Red had the mommy-needs-wine-now friendly screw top. But, this bottle was corked. So I kind of had a little Mommy ceremony and uncorked it for this tasting. How very civilized of me, don't you think?

    The nose on this rusty red colored wine was of black pepper, smoke and spices overlayed with some dark cherry. Quite a nose to live up to, isn't it? The taste was of oak and plums and smoky ashes that finished sharp and spicy and surprisingly, a bit cinammony later on. I loved the way the tastes stuck to the sides of my mouth - kind of like they were fighting to stay there (not unlike the fighting of a child who does NOT want to leave the playground....or a teen who does NOT want to leave the mall. Trust me, I know about these.)

    This is not a red for the faint-hearted of mommies. Nope, this is a red for a blustery cold evening (inside or out) that will warm you and leave a nice glow on your taste buds. I happened to open it on a night that I was preparing buffalo steaks for the very first time (not counting the "cook your own" steak house in Colorado where we'd first had some). Wow!! Talk about a great pairing. And this from someone who usually only needs air and a straw to pair with her wine.

    Mommy Juice wines generally run under $10 a bottle. Is that just wonderful or what? I suggest you buy early and often when you find Mommy Juice Red! And hey, go ahead and pair it with a glass, not a straw, okay?

    The Winey Mom and her winning bottle of Mommy Juice Red,
    complete with Mommy Juice Wines glass, which gives new meaning to the
    advice to have 2 glasses of wine a day!!

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    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    The Winey Mom's Little Helper

    Helping me sort through wines from the recent wine tasting
    sponsored by The Northeast Ohio West Point Parents Club.
    Go Army! Beat Navy!
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    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: The Naughty Names Series: Hot to Trot

    If that isn't a phrase straight out of my 1970's childhood: hot to trot! For some reason all those old 70's sitcoms are flashing through my brain right now ("One Day At A Time", anyone?). Anyway, on to the wine.

    "Hot to Trot" really doesn't refer to someone who's got a certain sort of reputation. It actually refers to the wild mustangs who used to trot around the hills of eastern Washington State. It's produced by 14 Hands Winery - which, in turn,refers to the height of these little horses (yup, 14 hands high). But when I saw the name, my mind went the other way, so it ends up here in my Naughty Wine Names Series.

    As you may have guessed by the above horse lesson, this is a Washington State wine. Actually, it's another winning white blend. (I am REALLY starting to like those blends!) The 2010 Hot to Trot White Blend (13% alcohol, $9.99) combines Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Viognier. The grapes are all harvested from different vineyards throughout the state, giving them some depth due to all that different soil.

    The nose on Hot to Trot was big and strong! I could smell it all the way across the room after opening the bottle and then running to the cabinet to get my wine glass (note to self: need to work on  timing and/or routine a bit more).

    What was my nose detecting? Flowers, lemon, lime and sunshine (yes, it does have a smell, at least to my winey little nose). The wine was a very pale gold color and tasted of melon and citrus and some minerals that made me think of the beach (kind of how a salt water wind tastes in your mouth). The finish was nice and long and juicy.

    So you've got an outstanding, medium bodied white blend from a state that continues to impress this winey mom. Let's add something else: how about the awesomely cool artwork on the label by artist Cynthia Sampson? And yes, I am shallow enough to love it when the label on a wine is pretty or cute or funny or insulting (that last category refers to over the hill birthdays, of which my friends and I seem to be celebrating more of recently).
    label by Cynthia Sampson


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    Winey Tasting Notes: Mommy Juice White (with MY Mommy)

    For the purposes of clarity, in the following review, I will refer to myself as Mommy and my mother as Mimi. She was christened with that name about 17 years ago by my now 19 year old West Point Cadet. (For the record, she thought "Gran" was the way to go - really cool and young - but when your beloved first grandchild yips out "Mimi" because he was obviously confused between you and his Mommy, well, Mimi you stay - through 5 grandchildren.)

    I am like Mimi in the fact that we both love our wine. And that's where the winey mother-daughter resemblance stops. Seriously, I have enhanced and encouraged (good use of pretentious verbs, huh?) my palate as the years have gone on. Zinfandel, Cabernet, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc....I try them all. But Mimi stopped exploring wine after the color pink first poured into her glass. (I like to think that her love for pink is inspired by the fact that the only girl she ever gave birth to is so wonderful and amazing..so let's just go with that, shall we?) Seriously, it's almost a Pavlovian conditioning thing: say the word "wine" and she responds "White Zinfandel with ice" (yes, ice..but one thing at a time here).

    There's nothing wrong with White Zinfandel on its own. But when it is the ONLY wine you drink, time after time, occasion after occasion, year after year, it gets on your daughter's nerves. Hence my new goal in life: to get Mimi to try non-White Zin. Mimi frequently visits us and if the weather is nice, we wind up out on the patio. So one lovely summer day, I decided it was the perfect time to bring out my secret wine weapon and make her sip something non pink: Mommy Juice White Wine. Without giving her time to think, I unscrewed (that life- and time-saving screw top for when you need wine and need it NOW) the cap, filled the glasses and handed her one without saying a word. She must have been tired from the drive, because she didn't say a word either.

    Mommy Juice is 100% Chardonnay from Monterey County, California. It's 13.5% alcohol and was brought into this world by Cheryl Durzy, a California mom who has worked in the wine industry in her family's business for over a decade. The bouquet that greets you on opening Mommy Juice White is citrusy and lemony and a bit tropical-y (had to keep the -y thing going there). The taste is pure sunlight and grass with the citrus still chiming in. I would say that this is a light wine - but not a lightweight wine. While it's not what you'd call oaky dry, it's NOT sweet (IE: pink). It is crisp and refreshing with a tangy finish.

    And MIMI LIKED IT! True, it wasn't a Sally-Field-at-the-Oscars kind of moment, but she liked it...she really liked it!! (Pause as I sit back and get a bit cocky about my winey little victory.)

    As far as I'm concerned,  Cheryl "Mommy Juice White" Durzy is a genius. Not only did she get Mimi to like a Chardonnay, she also named her wine something that you can honestly tell your children you are drinking. "Mommy, what's in the glass?" "That's my mommy juice, honey." (Hmm...would work with husbands, too, wouldn't it?)

    Did I mention that this is under $10 a bottle? Buy. Drink. Repeat. And I'll send Mimi over for some too!


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    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: The Lure of the Sale! 2007 Gnarlier Head Old Vine Zin Zinfandel

    I really, really didn't need another bottle of wine. I had just bought some a few days before. I wasn't even planning on using them for a dinner party or some special occasion - I just like to have a few bottles around for cooking and of course, for sipping (in between high school basketball game nights and parent group meeting nights and...I digress).

    I had run into the store to grab a loaf of french bread...and there it was. Stacked shoulder high: a huge pyramid of 2007 Gnarlier Head Old Vine Zin Zinfandel. ON SALE. OK, not just a few dollars off - on sale for $15.00 off! So I could get a $25.99 bottle of wine (remember, it's Ohio and we tax everything here) for $10.99.

    HOW COULD I RESIST THIS? As a person who takes more pleasure in anything bought at below retail, the thought of passing up a bottle of this wine was....really hard. Come on, I have been known to buy another 5 pack of macaroni and cheese mix cause it was on sale - when I had 4 at home. An adorable purse on sale = overflowing  purse area in closet. Shoe clearance? I don't care if they are black - they're different from all the other black shoes in the closet. So how in heaven's name was I supposed to pass up grabbing a bottle (from the top of the pyramid, thank you very much) and doing a little jig of money saving glee?

    Apparently, I wasn't. Cause I'm writing the review of the wine, aren't I?

    Gnarlier Head (don't you just love that name) is related to the Gnarly Head Wines.(Think well-off cousin.) No, they don't wear boarder shoes and ride on skateboards and use the word "Dude" a lot - the gnarly here refers to the knobby appearance of the old (35-80 years old) vines the grapes are grown on in the Sonoma Valley. According to the bottle label, these "grapes lead a Gnarlier life with hotter days, cooler nights and a longer growing season." That'd make me gnarlier too, I guess.

    The wine began with a bouquet of coffee right upon uncorking. (Although, that may have had to with the Starbucks run my 15 year old and I had completed after basketball practice...nah.) The coffee gave way to a spicy, wood smoke smell - maybe with something a little bit minty in it?  The taste was of oak and coffee and some very, very dark fruit. It was so nice and smooth in my mouth and the finish was of cherries and blackberries that melted into some warm wood. OK, that sounds a bit like a poem, doesn't it? But this was on serious wine!

    Did I like it? I did. And I will fully admit to being a bit wary of old Zinfandels...I've been oaked one too many times. This is an old zin I could fully learn to live with. That said, it really begs to be sipped with food to bring out the flavors (we had bison rib eye steak with it). It isn't a wine you pull out and just sip away to relax with. I will head back to my beloved Cabs for that I think.

    $26 worth? Maybe not for me. But hey, I only paid $10.99!!!!

    Worth a try if it's on sale, dude!

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    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Winey Thoughts: Why Wine?

    Did you ever stop and wonder why you love your wine so much? I mean, other than loving a certain wine..a certain varietal...why do you love wine. I know for me, it's the whole set of experiences behind a glass of wine that draws me to the grape.

    It's funny, too, because I really didn't start drinking wine until about 10 years ago. I was a bit hampered by the fact that I grew up in an Irish household where beer (and my grandma's ever favorite Scarlet O'Haras) ruled the holidays and family get togethers. Even in college, it wasn't wine. Nope. Gin and tonic (and Tab!). Ok, it was the 80's and that's all I'm gonna say in my defense of  that. Besides, the beer available to college students back then was just barely classified as safe for human consumption.

    I started into the wine just like a lot of other women/moms when, about 10 years ago, marketers started going after our business full cork. Ah, those nights of peach Wild Vines and a new episode of "ER"...fond memories. But my sweet and fruity wine tastes slowly gave way to a wider range of wines. And wine became more accessible...less exclusive. I tried them all...from pink to white to red to bubbly.

    But what is it about wine that makes it such a ritual in my life? It starts when I buy it, I guess. I have had some great conversations (and caught up with more than one former neighbor) in the open wine tasting areas of local stores. It's fun to chat as we try the wines...to get each other's opinions. Rarely do I even get these people's names, but it's clear that we're all having a bit of fun during what would usually be a  tedious, errand filled day.

    Then there is the idea of getting together with friends for "a drink". Doesn't matter if it's a restaurant, someone's deck or the monthly Bunco game - it's just so wonderful to sit and talk with other adults and find out that yes, they too want to throttle their teenagers on a regular basis. Not only do you get to sip and talk, you find out that you are not the only parent with homicidal tendencies. Very reassuring, let me tell you.

    Do I drink wine alone? You betcha! Not sure where that whole drinking alone thing got such a bad rap, but let me tell you, it will be the RARE day that I invite someone into the master bathroom while I'm in a nice hot bubble bath with a glass of wine. Some things you just need  to experience alone (many apologies to my hubby on this one....but I'm not changing my mind). Or the one in a million weekend night where it's just me and the doggie and a fire in the fireplace and an old movie in the DVD player. (The doggie loves it cause I seem to give better tummy rubs the more wine I drink. At least that's what she says.)

    So no, it's not about getting tipsy or trying to forget all your troubles. For me, that glass represents good times spent and stories shared....or the rare time alone to just...be.

    Cheers! Now go ucork something!

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    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: Linen Chardonnay - No Ironing Required!

    Finding this wine is yet another good argument for doing my grocery shopping on Saturday. Yes, the store is a bit more crowded and yes, if I happen to meet up with a pal I haven't seen in a while I do tend to walk by the things I need (like milk)....but my wonderful, locally owned, gourmet filled store (Heinen's - Cleveland) has wine tastings all day long back in their wine department! Yay grocery shopping! They also have some awesome new cheese to go along with the wines every week, so I make sure I go before lunch.

    Anyway, I headed to the tasting, um, shopping, one week and was very happy to find a Washington State Chardonnay on deck back in the wine department. The more Washington Chards I taste, the better I like them.... the added plus for this wine was that it was one of Heinen's Bin 75 wines, which means the gurus at Heinen's (and they're consistently voted best wine store in Cleveland) have deemed it one of the best bottles of wine for under $10!

    As much as I do love a good Chardonnay, I can be a bit suspicious of them - some of them can slam you with their oakiness..others can be a little thick (never did like dispensing or taking cough syrup -just ask my kids). But that happy shopping day I found one with body and flavor that didn't punch back.

    Linen Chardonnay (2009, Bergevin Lane Vineyards, Columbia Valley, Washington) is medium bodied with a very light gold color. The bouquet was pure pear.  It tasted of pears and apples and even a bit of honey. A clear, crisp blend of flavors. The finish had just a tang of oak in it. I remember commenting that this was a perfect Chardonnay for fall -  it brought to mind clear, frosty night air and sitting around the fire pit in your big comfy sweater. Needless to say, I spent the $9.99/ bottle.

    Another nice thing about this Linen - you don't have to iron it!!

    Well worth the pain in the butt of grocery shopping, wouldn't you say?


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    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Winey Thoughts: Turkey Day Sipping Suggestions

    We are two weeks from Turkey Day, and you know what's on your mind: Whattheheck kind of wine can I serve that goes well with turkey and a roomful of annoying relatives? OK, maybe not totally or constantly annoying, but if you're doing the cooking, doesn't that adjective crop up at least once or twice during the day? The feeling usually begins for me when I once again have my hand stuck in the nether regions of the turkey trying to get the #@*$ giblets out. Let's not dwell on that mental picture, shall we?

    So what vino should you invite to your table this year? Tradition has it that pinot noir does very will with turkey and all the trimmings. But I gotta, tell you, I find more pinots I'd rather pass on than invite home. The exception for this being Mirassou Pinot Noir. You'd be hard pressed to find a brighter, tastier Pinot Noir to serve your guests. Another go to Pinot is Hob Nob. The perfect not too sweet, not too woodsy cherry with a great finish wine for the feast.

    How about a Shiraz? One of my all time favorites is The Little Penguin. Lots of spices and a bit of mocha. A full body that stands up well to Tom Turkey and his intimidating giblets. (They also make a Pinot Noir, which is worth trying too.) The wonderful thing about The Little Penguin is that you'll never pay over $7 a bottle (unless you are going for the super size...which might not really be such a bad idea now that I think of it). One of the best Shiraz at any price!

    Let's not forget the red blends either. As I've said before, they're slowly becoming a larger presence on my hit parade of wines. Apothic Red is an amazing blend that I have recently discovered. Menage a Trois' California Red Blend will bring out the best in your main dish and your sides.  Or for another really embarrassing wine name, try promisQuous. At under $10 a bottle, you can forgive any promiscuity and just enjoy dinner. 

    If you have someone that just doesn't do red, make sure you have a nice full bodied Chardonnay to serve them. The Little Penguin has one. If you want to stay in the US (it is OUR holiday, after all), Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay has been one of my favorite whites for years now. It can take anything you throw at it, though hopefully your holiday will not involve  too much food throwing.

    And if you and yours don't like any of the above varietals....just drink what you like! After all, you want to have a thankful heart and not an upset stomach on Thanksgiving!!

    Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers to you and yours!

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    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: The Naughty Wine Names Series: Menage a Trois Red

    First of all, I never would have found this wine if my son hadn't graduated from high school and we hadn't been invited to billions of graduation parties. It was at one of these parties that a fellow grad mom told me I had to try a "Menage a Trois".

    Now, knowing this woman to be stand up elementary school teacher with a great hubby and 2 very nice children, I pretty much just stared at her. So she laughed at me and showed me the bottle of Menage a Trois red perched on the "adult beverage" table. Somewhat breathing a sigh of relief, I took a glass.

    Well, right away, there it was. One of the best reds I've ever had. Kind of odd when you like a wine that much at very first sip...but I did. Admittedly, on this outdoor party night, I couldn't tell you what it really looked like or what the bouquet offered...but I have sipped Menage a Trois many, many times since. (2009, 13.5 % alcohol, Napa Valley, CA.)

    The racy name comes from the fact that this is a blend of three wines: Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The winemaker ferments each wine on its own, and then blends them before bottling. So it truly is a 3-way (in wine terms, people..wipe that smirk off your face NOW.)  The bouquet is fruity and zesty at the same time. Not fruity sweet, but you get that nice just-canned jam smell (at least that's what I think it would smell like if I canned fruit.) The wine itself is a lovely maroon-ish red. The jammy taste comes from the Zin, I believe. (I don't drink Zin that much, don't taste "jammy" that much...so this is a total deduction on my part.) Then comes the Merlot with its dark fruits that I so love. And the Cab gives it that little tannic zing that rides through the finish and hangs around a bit.

    I have a few select wines that I can always count on (and I notice that blends are making that list more and more). This is one of them!! Plus, the fact that it makes it into the Naughty Wine Names Series only makes it that more fun. Just this morning, I told a 27 year old, highly educated, well mannered young man that my favorite red was Menage a Trois and he snorted and laughed like a frat boy. I have a girlfriend who told me she totally trusted my opinion on wine, but was too chicken to bring a bottle with THAT name on it to her grandma's house.

    I would (and do) buy this wine over and over and over. It usually sells for around $12 a bottle, but I  often find it on special for $9.99. A very reasonable price for a menage a trois, don't you think?

    (Note: I have also tried their white blend, which I will review at a later date. They also make a Chardonnay, Rose and a Moscato...but I'm still looking for them!)


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    Monday, November 7, 2011

    A welcome computer error message....

    Why would anyone, ever, ever click "no"?

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    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: A Classic Little Black Dress (Pinot Grigio) for the Holidays

    I will never be one to thumb my nose at a classic. And what could be more  classic than the LBD (little black dress for those of you who are not female or do not have daughters)? So imagine my delight when a friend told me about Little Black Dress wines. How classic! And speaking as a person who owns three little black dresses (hey, you need one that goes anywhere, anytime, another in a sweater dress and one in velvet), I jumped at the chance to sip them. Unfortunately, I could only find the Pinot Grigio (not that I don't love Pinot, I just wanted to taste a red as well) but will not give up the hunt.

    So anyway, The LBD that I slipped into was a 2010 vintage, California, 12.5% alcohol, $12.99. It actually is only 84% Pinot. It's rounded out with 11% Chardonnay and then 5% Viognier. It smelled of melon and basil and fresh cut grass.

    First sip brought the word "round" to mind. I knew it was a lighter bodied wine, but it certainly wasn't a lightweight wine. It had a fullness to it that was very, very pleasing (dare I say: classic). You definitely get the flavor of melon, but there's also some citrus (lemon, lime...a teeny bit of orange) and some wonderful herby tastes: basil and thyme snuck in there (thank you, Viognier).  The finish was nice and warm and sparkly and I detected some wood in it, which was odd, since this Pinot is fermented in stainless steel. But who am I to argue with my own taste buds?

    You could say this is a summer wine, but I also think the lightness and sparkly feeling would pair very well with any LBD occasion...and diamonds.

    Side note: I highly suggest you visit the LBD Wines website and take their LBD quiz.. I found out that my perfect LBD is one with a cutting edge style. I take that as permission to go shopping for my fourth LBD, don't you?

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    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Winey Tasting Notes: Apothic Red

    It's funny how sometimes a certain item seems to "follow" you around. You'll hear a song mentioned and then suddenly it's playing on the radio. Or you try a new food and the recipe then pops up in a magazine. It was that way with me  and Apothic Red Wine. I had seen it in a number of stores....my eyes drawn to the striking black and red label. Then, in a Facebook conversation, someone mentioned they had tried the wine and loved it. And shortly after that, at a Halloween party, I wound up in a discussion with two other women who said it was their new favorite red. Never one to discount the opinions of a Spanish revolutionary and the female SNL Spartan cheerleader, while I myself was dressed as the red Angry Bird (hubby, who hates to dress up, carried the slingshot), I decided that this was some kind of message from the vino gods and went out and procured a bottle.

    Apothic Red, 2009, California, 13.1% alcohol, is actually a blend of three wines: Zinfandel, Syrah and Merlot. It takes its name from the Apotheca, a mysterious area where 13th century European wine makers blended and stored their wine. (Yes, I read that on the Apothic website. I don't know everything for heaven's sake.)  It's a beautiful, clear, dark red color - that amazing red that just screams "Christmas". The first sniff of the wine gives you a nose-ful of red pepper and dirt with some sharp, fermented cherries.  Wow!

    The amazing bouquet makes good on its promise once you start sipping. The wine is full bodied and smooth and tastes of cherries, deep plum, pepper and something that actually warms your mouth. The finish is long and peppery and tingly and actually might make you feel happy that the weather outside is turning frosty. (I say "might" with last winter's epic snow total in mind.)

    I will be inviting Apothic Red to our holiday celebrations this year. In fact, at $10-12 a bottle, it has an open invitation.

    This paired very well with cheddar cheese, brie, crackers and a family room showing of  "From Here To Eternity" (great movie - and even though you can't drink it, I'm going to give that a high rating too).


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