Friday, December 27, 2013

Hijinx Red Blend 2012

Dis ish rilly good wine.  I mean, rilly good.  My brudder gave it to me for Chrishmis, an ish sooo
good!  I love my brudder an' shishter in-law.

The wine is billed as a "boisterous and daring Paso Robles Red blend."  I dunno.  It goes down like milk.  My husband made this amazing prime rib with herbed butter and bleu cheese, and this was a perfect companion.  (It also pairs well with Milano cookies, if you want to know the truth.)

Look.  The bottle has a picture of a man with an umbrella.  Love it!  What's more, there's a freakin' piano about to drop on his head!  Genius!  I love a wine that playfully hints at a cartoon death.

I know I haven't written in a while.  I've been working on a "healthier lifestyle" with more "balanced nutrition" so I don't have to worry about my "liver enzymes."  I'm even training for a "half marathon."

This wine makes me want to forget all that and just freakin' drink.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rex Goliath Pinot Noir

Roq the coq!
I've been holding out on you.  I'm sorry.  I've been waiting for the Muse to sing to me so I have just the right words to do this wine justice...

Apparently, the bitch is off helping James Patterson crank out yet another book, so you'll have to bear with me.

Rex Goliath Pinot Noir.  Rex Goliath Cabernet.  Rex Goliath Just-About-Anything.

In previous posts, I've alluded to the fact that I love wine with pictures of farm animals on the labels.  This is the wine that got me started on that.

Rex Goliath wine is named after a 47-pound rooster.  Take a moment to think about that.  A freaking 47-pound rooster.  My five year-old niece weighs about that!  So as far as I'm concerned, that's reason enough to try this wine.  Honor the rooster.

My husband first met Rex at a liquor store attached to a gas station and bait shop on a long and winding road in the back hills of northern NJ.  It was $7.99.  So, you know, expectations were high.

This stuff is so freaking good!  It's a "big" wine, but it's not overpowering.  It pairs with anything.  It's good on its own.  The Rex Chardonnay is an easy drink, too.  Their website has some recipes that I'm probably too lazy to try, but I will tell you that the Pinot Noir is just lovely with a Lean Cuisine lasagne.  (I wouldn't recommend eating the Lean Cuisine lasagne without this wine, actually.)

Rex is The King.  (King of our wine fridge, anyway.)  So...a little less conversation, a little more drinking.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Naked Grape Chardonnay

Sometimes, after a long day of not being listened to, I like to unwind with a glass of wine.  (Not sometimes...often.  OK, fine.  Always.)  Now that the weather has been getting warm, I'm switching over to whites.
The bottle is empty, and I'm a little sad.

This wine is good in a way that sneaks up on you.  I mean, I was drinking it and really liking it without thinking too much about it.  Let's be honest--sometimes, drinking $10 wine is about compromise.  It's about telling yourself, "Hey!  This doesn't taste like total ass!  It'll do for a Wednesday."

But this wine is sooo much better than simply "not ass."  It's light and refreshing "with aromas of pineapple and peach."  I didn't taste the pineapple and peach, really, but I did taste the that's-okay-I'll-do-the-dishes-so-you-leave-the-kitchen-and-let-me-drink-iness of it.

That's a huge compliment.  I really hate doing the dishes.

So if it's been a rough day, and your kid wanted to wear his pajama top to school, or the plumbing in your house has gone wonky and you have to fill the toilet tank with the hand-held shower head, or your students think it's unfair for you to collect a project--one you assigned two weeks ago that they've worked on in class, for which you've given extensive support, directions, and examples--on the due date specified on the handouts, the board, and your website...if you've had a day like that, or an even better one, crack open a bottle of The Naked Grape.

Because we deserve so much better than "not ass."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2012

I had a zen moment while cooking recently.  If you know me, you know that this is unusual.  Even if you don't know me, you can probably infer as much from the numerous references to frozen pizza, bagged salad, and cheez-its in my previous posts.

It's Not The Years, It's the Miles.
There were a few reasons for this blissed-out time.  First of all, the weather has been warming up, so I was enjoying a sunny afternoon with the windows open.  There was a nice breeze coming in as I sipped my wine and listened to one of my favorite cds, "It's Not the Years, It's the Miles," by my favorite song-goddess, Debbie Davis.  Let me tell you about the music--if you are remotely tense, blue, or tetchy, this New Orleans gal will cheer you up and mellow you out.  It's the perfect end-of-day, cooking-with-a-glass-of-wine album.

(Full disclosure:  Debbie is one of my oldest friends, but you still have to trust me on this.  We go way back; she beat me out for the good roles in the school musicals.  I should hate her, or be sickly envious of her talent, but I can't help it.  Girlfriend has a damn sexy voice.)

So...good weather and good music.  Now onto the wine.

Taken close-up so you can't tell I started drinking.
Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc is this very clean, citrusy wine that's just lovely on a warm day.  As I sipped it, I though of margaritas and key lime pie, but without the tequila and sugar.  Turns out, I wasn't off base here.  The label reads, "The aromas are integrated, delighting the senses with flavors of Meyer lemons, Key limes and a finish that awakens the appetite."  I was indeed delighted.

Really.  I bought the bottle with the expectation of writing a snarky little passage about the screw-cap that's been embraced by New Zealand and the name "Cupcake," which I found cutesy and obvious.

But you know what?  I didn't care about any of that.  The wine was so tasty, the music so fine, and the afternoon so lovely that I didn't care about being witty or sarcastic.  I didn't even care that I was cooking.  I was just enjoying myself.

I encourage you to take the Cupcake-and-Debbie Davis Challenge, and see if it doesn't put you in a better frame of mind.  No cooking required.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Put a Cork in It.

So...what to do with all these corks?  It seems wasteful to throw them out.  As much as I love wine, I don't decorate with grapes and I'm not that into crafts, so I'm not making one of those cork wreaths.  (I think I've pinned exactly two things on Pinterest and I can't remember how to get into my account, anyway.)  Years ago, we made trivets and napkin rings as gifts for family during what has come to be known as the "Glue-Gun Christmas."  That put a slight dent in the collection, but they keep piling up.
Oh, we have a helluva lot more than this.

How about a wine cork diorama?  It's a shame that teachers and administrators would probably frown upon the use of corks in a school project, as I'm sure we could build a model of the Titanic out of them.  And since it'd be made out of corks, it would probably stay afloat a whole lot better than the real one!  But sending your kid to school with a cork model of a doomed ship is like calling CPS on yourself.

One thing we like to do is commemorate certain events by writing on the cork.  My favorite is a cork marked "Jamie!" to honor the birth of our younger son.  Yes, my husband sneaked a bottle of wine into the hospital.  (Applewood Winery's Cabernet Franc--a little above the $10 mark, but totally worth it, and besides, I'd just had a baby, for Pete's sake!)  It's a very special cork, and it's around here somewhere.

Marking the cork doesn't require major life event, either.  It can be an anniversary, a fun dinner with friends, or just "Tuesday."  Our friends marked a cork to celebrate getting their buddy drunk after he was laid off from work.  Cheers, you poor bastard!

Those same friends later had a tree fall on their house, which punched a hole in their roof.  We sent them a bottle of wine to cheer them up.  I'm pretty sure they saved the cork.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

The hardest part about this post is finding a corner of my house clean enough to take a picture.  The easiest part is drinking this wine.  After the day I've had, it's going down like mother's milk.
Chileax with the Basques.

It's the first day of spring break, and my kids are coming down from an Easter candy sugar rush.  It rained today and the younger one spent most of his time running around naked, except for a pair of bunny ears.  I really, really, really appreciated this bottle of wine.

This wine is from Chile, and the front label is in French and Spanish.  I'm not sure why.  (It's probably explained on the back label, but I started drinking before reading, so there goes that.)  Los Vascos means Basques, which refers to "an ethnic group which primarily inhabits an area traditionally known as the Basque country, a region that. . . . straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France."    Thank you, Wikipedia!  Glad I looked it up, too.  I thought Los Vascos meant cows, because, well, I don't speak Spanish.  Anyhoo, that clears up the whole French-Spanish thing.

I generally find that Chilean wines are a bit much, but this is gooood stuff.  Fruity, mild, with a wee bit o' spice at the end.  It's purty, too, with a nice ruby red color.  And guess what?  It's really, really tasty!  So tasty that I didn't mind that while I was in the middle of researching the Basques, the toilet in our master bathroom overflowed, causing it to rain in the basement.  So tasty that I didn't mind that I was standing in a small lake in the basement in my pink crocs, stabbing holes in the insulation with a steak knife so that the water would pour out and hopefully not create a death-mold situation.  So tasty that I didn't mind that in the midst of our shop-vaccing and mopping, our son was honking away on his saxophone and demanding compliments.

I didn't mind because I knew there was half a glass of Los Vascos Cab waiting for me.  It's that tasty.

That's all I got.  Drink up, y'all.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2011

Louie, Louie.  Oh, yes.

Louis, my man.  Where have you been all week?

In my previous post, I was a little cranky about Georges.  Well, now it's Friday, my husband has been in effin' Arkansas all week, so Louis Jadot is my new luva.  He's my first, my last, my everything.

What I like about Louis' label, besides all the Frenchy details and sculpted face, is that he tells me all about him, but not in a self-absorbed ex-boyfriend way.  His grapes are 100% Gamay.  I have no freakin' clue what that means, but I don't care.  Louis likes to be paired with "hors d'oeuvres, mild cheeses or poultry dishes--especially turkey," but he works just as well with cheese-its and frozen pizza.  (Did I mention my husband's been away all week?)

I believe in miracles.
This wine is a "plump wine with notes of strawberry, black cherry, and spice."  It's strong, but not overpowering.  Smooth.  You know the beginning of "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Baby" when Barry White is talking over that wee-oooh, wee-oooh, and his voice is low and deep and...smooth?  Yeah, like that.  Only with wine. 

It's strong, full, and smooth.  Qualified to satisfy you.

This is the Barry White of wine.  I scream your name.  Look what you got me doin', Louis.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2012

Beefy George has a cherry finish.
Oh, Georges.  It's not you, it's me.  No, maybe it's you.

I'm just not that into you.

I remember liking Beaujolais before, so I was really bummed by this wine.  It tastes like someone melted a Luden's cherry cough drop into it.  After a long day of grading some pretty mediocre essays, I was hoping for some cheering up from you, Beefy George!

But maybe it is me; or rather, my palate.  See, the last time I remember drinking Beaujolais, I was out in Jersey City having dinner at this awesome French BYO.  Therese and I were plowing through the bottles we'd brought with us, when the women at the next table offered us their bottle of Louis Jadot.

"We opened the bottle, but we have to drive.  Do you want it?"

Hell, yeah!  Twist my arm, why don't you?  We're walking home, anyway.

I remember thinking it was awesome.  I remember thinking everything was awesome.  It was just one of those nights.  But who knows?  Maybe my palate was shot.  (I once followed a wine trail and visited five wineries in one day.  I came home with dessert wine because that's all I could taste after a while.)  Maybe after all the wine, and the bouillabaisse, and the mousse, I couldn't taste a thing.

A little while later...

Truth be told, I'm not as angry at this wine as I was at first sip.  I poured a second glass--strictly for research purposes--and it's working out a little better. Wine Enthusiast says, "...This has a rich cherry flavor, with firm tannins and ripe acidity. The finish bears a tangy, textured character."  So the cherry explains the cough drop flavor.  The "tangy, textured" finish initially felt like little spikes on my tongue, but it's mellowed out since. 

Or maybe I have.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I'm on a roll...

Leese-Fitch, Chardonnay 2010
Sonoma, California

Wine Enthusiast – 2012 Best Buy (88 points)

Recently, my sister and I shared this wine while at my parents' house for dinner. We just had a fresh snow fall and enjoyed the wine before dinner while watching through the family room windows as my kids went sledding in the back yard.

One look at the bottle and my wine blogging counterpart will most likely scoff at the estate on the label as it is devoid of cute farm animals. Apparently the appearance of grazing mares in a field is her code for “best wine ever”. (Editor's Note:  Roosters, actually.  But that's for another time.  Smart-ass.)   The Leese-Fitch Adobe that appears on the wine label is indeed a residence, but has also functioned as an all girls school, military barracks, hotel and a saloon/restaurant. It is an historical landmark that currently stands in Sonoma Plaza.  (Another Editor's Note:  I would definitely drink this wine.  The label features an old building with a cross on it.  You know some serious shit went down in there.  People probably had to stomp on some grapes for penance.  Sorry.  Carry on, Stacy.)

That being said, it's a great wine for the price. And while I do appreciate the more traditional traits of Chardonnay, this is a wine for all the haters out there who don't care for its typical buttery, oakey and heavy flavor. Leese-Fitch Chardonnay is clean and fruity with hints of pear and lemon. It was so easy to drink that the bottle was finished in less than an hour at which time my sister put a scotch on the rocks in front of me...not so easy. Had it lasted, the wine would have paired nicely with the roasted chicken and potatoes we had for dinner and would also go well with fish or a vegetarian meal.

Here's the kicker folks. My mom found that the plastic cork doubles nicely as a beer bottle cork. Yes. Because only my mother cannot finish a beer and is frugal enough to cork it for tomorrow's enjoyment. Cheers!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chilean Flava

Caliterra Reserva, Carménère, 2009
Colchagua, Chile

I found this little gem on the sale shelf this week at my local “Rite Shop” wines & spirits for only $5.99. I've enjoyed it before at its regular price of $9.99 so I wondered if it would taste even better on I bought a few bottles. Sure, it's a twist off, but at least there is little to no chance of experiencing the putrid smell and flavor of a wine that has been “corked”.

Now at home, I slip on my comfy clothes and slippers, tune out my kids, and open a bottle. After a swirl and a few sips, I am magically transported to a villa on Vina del Mar on the coast of Chile where my dark and handsome male companion...let's call him Rodolpho, basks in the sun along side of me. He showers me with compliments, massages me with tanning oil and laughs at my jokes while pretending not to notice our young temptress of a housekeeper.

I can see that this fantasy is not leaning in my favor so I snap back to reality and throw back another glassful. This delicious inexpensive red drinks like a wine at a slightly more expensive price point, say...$15 and that's even a bit generous. As is typical for Carménère, this wine has a deep red color with soft tannins and flavor reminiscent of black berries, tobacco and...who cares! It's only $5.99! Enjoy it with steak, pasta, pizza, pop corn, whatever. And remember, Carménère is best to enjoy while it's my Rodolpho.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Overcoming My Own Brand of Snobbery: Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay

No kidding.
Several years ago, I attended the wedding of two people I didn't know because my friend, Therese, didn't want to drive out to Long Island by herself.  It was a lovely evening, made even better by the father of the bride.

Late into the festivities, the FOB sidled up to the bar, clasped his hand on his buddy's shoulder, and made this boozily earnest confession:

"I gotta lay off the Kendall-Jackson."

It was the best thing I had ever heard.  I immediately vowed that when I write that script for an independent film, that line would be in there somewhere.  I tried not to be obvious about my laughter, so I ended up snarfing my drink, which was a white wine spritzer, and it stung.  (A side note:  For dressier occasions that require heels and/or spanx, I go with spritzers.  They keep me hydrated, and in the very likely event that I spill something on myself, they don't stain.)

"I gotta lay off the Kendall-Jackson" was a line oft-repeated in the ensuing years.  I don't know why I found it so funny.  It's like hearing someone say, "I'm so tired.  I was up all night watching Matlock."  Or, "Geez, will you turn down the Kenny G?  People are trying to relax around here."  Kendall-Jackson is not the sort to lead you astray.  You're not going to go heavy on Kendall-Jackson and wake up in the neighbor's swimming pool on a turtle float.  Even I'm too cool for K-J, I thought.

Fast forward to a year ago, when, through some cosmic alignment of stars and planets, my husband and I were off from work before our kids got home from school.  We decided to celebrate our 20 minutes of free time with a drink at a local restaurant.

I ordered a glass of Chardonnay.  It was perfectly chilled, crisp, citrusy, and smooth.  Maybe I was giddy from the quiet, or maybe it was the wine.  But it was lovely.  I had to ask, "What wine is this?"


Kendall-Jackson?  Kendall-Jackson?  How could this be?  It's!  And popular!  And I didn't discover it myself!  I was appalled, and my husband was laughing his ass off.  How could I be so square?

 It turns out I am square, because I dig the Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay.  (I'm square for many other reasons as well.)  It's got a clean taste; not too sweet, not too oaky.  A little lemony.  Nice enough to pair with nothing.  I'm square.  So there.

But too bad I don't actually know the bride or her father, because we could totally hang.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Arrogant Frog Pinot Noir 2011

"You're wearing an ascot.  You look like an asshole."
I bought the Frog for my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.  I had never tried it, but chose the wine based solely on the label.  See, my brother and I enjoy speaking bad French with each other.  It's just this thing we do.  My brother took two years of French in high school, and boiled all his learning down to one sentence:  "Je ne mange pas le fromage en hiver."  (I do not eat the cheese in winter.)

My mother and I once translated "Unchained Melody" into French.  I enjoy singing that into my husband's face at weddings. 

But I digress.  Arrogant Frog.  What a name!  And a picture of a frog in a smoking jacket and ascot!  What more could a pseudo-Francophile ask for?  The best part was that my brother forgot his Christmas present at our house, so we drank it!  And I liked it so much, I bought another bottle, and I'm drinking it as I write.

And no, I still haven't given them their own bottle.  I know my lovely sister-in-law will read this and see the wine she has yet to drink.  (She'll also know that I spent a whopping $10.99 on their Christmas present.  Joyeux Noel!  Je t'adore!)

Mais, mon Dieu!  This is good stuff--screwcap and all.  Fruity with a strong finish.  Tannic.  The label on the back suggests serving it with "grilled meat, rack of lamb, pot roast, poultry, game, or soft cheese."  In case you're wondering, it also pairs well with white cheddar crackers.  (Yeah, I didn't cook tonight.)

Perhaps I should buy une bouteille pour mon frère.  Santé, y'all!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rule #1

If it has a yellow label with a picture of a plantation house on it, it's probably crap.

Do NOT pour that piss in my glass!
I mean it.  I'll drink just about anything, but if my husband brings home some pinot grigio, and the label features a mansion,* I go all Dame Maggie Smith on his ass.  When it comes to indignation over which cheap wine I'll drink, the Dowager Countess has nothing on me.

*I would make an exception if the label featured a picture of Downton Abbey, or Highclere Castle, as it is known in real life.  Has anybody thought of this?  Is there Downton wine?  There should be.

If, on the other hand, the label sports a half-assed sketch of a barnyard animal, I'm in.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Homage Ravenous Red--$8.99

Can't turn off the flash.
"Subtle as a kick in the head."  --My husband. 

I agree, but I'm not complaining.

See, most of the time, we're doing the healthy eating thing--chicken, fish, rice, veg, salad.  But tonight is the Superbowl, and all that's out the window.  I'm eating bar food.  I'm eating "mac n cheez bites."  I'm not sure that what I'm eating qualifies as real food.

Homage is  a blend of cab, merlot, zinfandel, and petite syrah.  This wine is not mild.  It's got a little legs, some tannins, and a strong finish.

So I offered my husband a sip, and he said, "Whoa."  Then I handed him the battered glob of cheez and told him to try again.  The verdict?

"It totally works."

So I'm going to green light the Ravenous Red--provided you're not taking pride in the meal you just cooked.  It could overpower it.  But should you find yourself eating wads of fried God-knows-what, go for it.  It's pretty badass.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Estancia Chardonnay 2010

Pardon the scratchy label.

This is a splurge.  It was on sale for $11.99, down from $13.99.  I know.  Back that trolley up!

So, so good.  My husband made this nice arctic char with some roasted veg and couscous, and this was perfect.  The bottle says that Estancia Chardonnay "displays lush, tropical fruit flavors and a soft, creamy finish."

It's like butter.  I say that without summoning Mike Myer's Linda Richmond.  I say it with all sincerity.

Look, this wine is smooooth.  Like Lando-greeting-Leia-in-Cloud-City smooth.  You look absolutely beautiful.  You truly belong here with us among the clouds.  But unlike Leia, I'm buying it.  I'm all like, Han who?  Gimme another sip of this and I'll re-braid my hair for you, Mr. Calrissian.

Buttery and light, without any of that scrunchy-face at the end.  If there's an oenophile who can explain to me how wine can taste like butter, please do. 

It even smells good.  I know you're supposed to "take in the bouquet," and generally I do, because I'm kind of a dork.  But right here, right now...I want to smell this wine.

And drink it.  Estancia Chardonnay. Works every time.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mommy's Time Out--Rosso Primitivo 2011

I first tried this when my sister-in-law gave me a bottle as a joke.  I think I'd just had a baby or maybe one of my kids did something awful...who knows?  But yeah, we had a chuckle about the label and then drank it down. 
Send me to my room.

Now I know there's this whole market aimed at wino moms.  Everyone wants to cash in on our stress and the fact that it's acceptable now to post Facebook pictures of 1950s housewives with smart-ass thought bubbles rising above their vacuous faces.  So, is it a cynical marketing ploy? Or is it an acknowledgement that women are hard-working consumers with money to spend and a taste for vino?

I don't care.  This stuff is good.  And cheap.  At $9.99, Mommy's Time Out has never done me wrong.  Tonight, we paired it with hanger steak and a salad with pears and gorgonzola, and it was perfect.  It's fruity, but not too sweet.  A teensy bit of spice to it and smooth going down.

(It should also be noted that this wine passes the pairs-with-frozen-pizza-and-bagged-salad test.  You know what I mean?  It elevates the whole meal.)

Now I know there's another wine from the same maker called "Dad's Day Off."  (OK, I'm pretty sure it's from the same maker.  They're from the same region and they use the same font on the bottle.  Don't you love my research?)  I've never had it, and I will admit it's for a whiny reason (see what I just did there?), namely, why does Mommy only get a time-out and Dad gets a whole day off?  No fair!  (Yeah, I know, that Dad's Day Off is alliterative and that's fun, but they caught me at a bad moment.)  Has anyone had it?  Was it any good?

But anyhoo, I digress.  All gender politics and condescension by marketing bigwigs aside, this is some nice wine.  It's like a well-fitting black blazer.  Dress it up or dress it down.  It goes with anything.  And guys like it, too.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I have no business telling you what to drink.

The night I met my husband, I spilled a glass of wine in his lap.  I wasn't exactly tipsy, but I tend to talk with my hands when excited or flirting, so yeah.  Glass of wine.  In his lap.  I made him look like he peed himself.

That's not the embarrassing part.  The embarrassing part is that I was drinking white zinfandel.  I spilled pink wine on my future husband's crotch.  But wouldn't you know, he bought me another?

That's the last pink wine I ever drank.  A week later, when he took me out to dinner, he picked out a lovely red (God knows what it was.)  It was the first time I'd ever seen the whole bottle presentation schtick--feeling the cork, swirling the wine.  It was impressive and pretty sexy, too.  (Whatever.  I was 24.)

So now, many years and two kids later, I'm a bit of a wino.  I have my opinions and a budget.  I'm pretty much only going to talk about wines around the $10 mark because...did I mention the kids?  Yeah, they use up all my money.  So I'm always on the lookout for a nice wine to pair with a frozen Freschetta pizza or something even fancier, like chili.

I'll leave you with the words of The Old Man in A Christmas Story:

"Hey, this wine's not bad.  It's not good, either..."