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 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 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 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

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 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 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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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: How about a Cupcake (cabernet sauvignon) with that Halloween Candy?

It is a well known fact in my house that certain Halloween candy will mysteriously disappear from my children's stashes. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "Hey, where did that big Snickers bar go?" or "I had some Peppermint Patties, I know I did." I say if you can't keep track of your candy under lock and key, you deserve what you get.

So imagine my despair this year, now that college son wasn't here to trick or treat...and the 15 year old daughter was sick!! (Yes, she and some pals still head out - it's pretty much a girls night out at that age.) I was stuck at home handing out the candy. Yes, I was prepared with bags of Snickers, Peppermint Patties, Hershey Bars and Twix (I don't really like Twix, but by purchasing them, I could at least assure that there would be some candy to hand out). It was a damp, frosty evening to warm myself up as I admired costumes and passed out treats, I decided to pour a little Cupcake.

No, I don't mean that I was drinking raw cupcake batter (DO NOT put that past me though). I am referring to Cupcake Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Central Coast of California. (13.5% alcohol, $9.99.)

I have to admit that I was taken aback when I first opened the bottle...cause I got a definite noseful of yeast. But that was just for a moment and while it wasn't bad, it was a bit surprising. But after 45 minutes of breathing time, my nose was much happier. Now I took in pepper, cinnamon and dark fruits - think cranberry. Maybe even a tiny bit of peppermint. First taste was of oak and cherry...not fighting each other - they did very well together. The finish of this full bodied wine was warm oak - smooth and lasting. More sipping brought out the spices - especially that cinnamony taste from the "warm" oak. I was one happy candy wrangler. At $'s enough to get me off the aforementioned Snickers and Peppermint Patties (well...almost).

(Side note: Locally, the Heinen's/WVIZ World Series of Wine is coming up this weekend. An article in today's Plain Dealer about the job of wine judging (aka: Winey Mom dream job), reveals that Cupcake Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc was one of the event's highest rated wines -- winning the Chairman's Award, Triple Gold. Sounds like a very promising trip to the bakery, doesn't it?)

I found this wine paired very nicely with tiny witches, some very chilly princesses, lots of super heroes, a few zombies, and yes, Snickers and Peppermint Patties. Oh, and it especially paired well with my own little helper:
Chloe as Ladybug
Halloween 2011

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: The Naughty Wine Names Series: promisQuous Red

There are quite a few wine bottles out there with some very naughty little names on them. Some of them have a double meaning, some are just meant to make us blush. Either way, it's kind of fun to announce their names at the dinner party and see all the different reactions. Hence the first review in my Naughty Wine Names series: promisQous Red.

I can only assume the promiscuity comes from the fact that this is pretty much a four way: promisQuous Red is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. They are all California wines, with 42% coming from Lodi, which, according to the promisQuous web site, is "the next new hot appellation" (you can take that for what it's worth, I just like that it makes me sound really, really wine smart). I came across this wine because it's included in Heinen's (my favorite gourmet grocery store here in Cleveland) Bin 75. That means that, in their well tasted opinion, this is one of the best 75 wines under $10. As usual, they are right.

The wine is a lovely clear red color. My nose went right for the cherries - the juicy back kind. The cherries continued on in my mouth and rounded the bend for a nice long, just-a-bit-peppery finish. The words that come to mind are round, luscious and full bodied.  I would even go so far as to suggest this wine for those of my challenged pals who "only drink white". A great place to start on their travels through the red world.

This is a keeper and a repeat buy in my winey little book. I think the promisQuous web site said it well: "When you’re in a red wine mood and want to drink a red wine that’s not so ridiculously serious."

Just a little promiscuous...and I'm okay with that!

Up next in the naughty names series: I'll be inviting you to a menage a trois!


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