Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wine Tasting!

So it has taken me a while to get this post done, but it is a must that include it in my blog.  In February I hosted a wine tasting at my home with some classmates and their significant others. 

Well, while I had thought we could taste wines in the "proper order" and pair them with the "proper cheeses" that thought process almost immediately went to the wayside and everyone just tasted what looked interesting and devoured any and all food.  You know, the way a wine tasting should REALLY go.  :-)
Stephanie, Yisell, me and Annie

Ahem... farther along in the evening.

...And I am so glad that it did!  The eight of us had a great time, and although we had planned on seeing a local band in Lakewood Ranch that evening, well, we just never got around to it. We really need to do this again!

Friday, February 1, 2013

How I Create the Magic that is My Wine Blog

I am sure you know that preparing to write wine blog posts is hard work and requires steadfast dedication... and you may be wondering how all of this magic happens. Am I Wonderwoman? Perhaps... but I'll let you judge for yourself. The video below will give you a behind-the-scenes tour of the blood, sweat and tears that go into every post. Enjoy!

Preview of My Next Post: I'll likely be focusing on the three wines by Dreaming Tree, the wine produced in part by Dave Matthews Band (yes, I am that old).

There is a Chardonnay, Cabernet, and "Crush," a red blend, so it'll be a mixed bag for varietals. I think I'll have to get the full effect by sampling each of them while listening to some DMB.  :)


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Merlot - Continuing the Red Trend

A nice dinner with some great friends has inspired me to write about Merlots.  Why?  Well, they brought a prime example of why I write this blog: a great wine at a very reasonable price (that, and I thought I should probably do justice to any negative connotations from my "Sideways - Pinot Noir" post).  :)

Our friends brought over 14 Hands Merlot which I quickly added to my list of wines. It's from Washington State and is available at Total Wine for $10.99. 

I really enjoyed this Merlot, so I figured I would post a couple of others I enjoy too. 

First is Columbia Crest H3 ($12.99 at both Norman's and Total Wine).  It received 90 points from Wine & Spirits and comes out of Washington State.

If you're wondering what that weird ladle-looking thing in the picture is, it's my Skybar wine chill drop, which chills my room temp wine (yes, even red wine should be chilled slightly and not served at room temp).

They were a gift from my brother-in-law who evidently knows me all too well.

The second is Santa Ema Merlot Reserve ($10.99 at Norman's and $11.99 at Total Wine) which is also a nice choice.  This Chilean wine received 90 points from Wine Advocate.  

Unrelated side note: I found Vivino, an awesome (and free) wine app that you can use to keep track of what you like. You can actually snap a picture of the wine bottle and the app will match it to its database and recognize the wine.  I have yet to find a wine it can't recognize.  For all you HIMYM fans out there: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

In any case, hope you get to try these - cheers!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

5 Great Cabernet Sauvignons

(Credit: Annefield Vineyards)
Back by popular demand!  I heard you loud and clear after my first post and have decided to ignore my own made-up rule of alternating between red and white wines.  Instead, I am throwing caution to the wind by going right back to reds - featured in this post: Cabernet Sauvignons.

Maipe Cabernet
Maipe (Total Wine)
My first choice when it comes to Cabs is Maipe from Argentina. It runs $9.99 at Total Wine and is a very approachable wine but it can still hold its own with a nice steak.

Idea to try: I found this blog which did something that sounds like fun.  They did a group blind tasting of Cabernet Sauvignons.  They each made comments and rated them before the big reveal of what they were drinking - and if you think the wines on my blog are a deal, you'll love their price points.

Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon

Chateau Ste. Michelle ($10.97)
Chateau Ste. Michelle comes to the rescue again! Out of Washington State, it received 90 points from Wine Enthusiast and is available at Total Wine.  

Waterbrook Cabernet Sauvignon

Waterbrook ($12.99)
90 points from Wine Spectator, Waterbrook is another great Washington State wine and is also available at Total Wine.

Sagelands Cabernet

Sagelands ($14)
Cherries, vanilla and chocolate - need I say more? This Washington State Cab is on the upper-end for this blog but hopefully you'll agree that it belongs here. Find it at Total Wine. 

Main Street Cabernet (Trinchero)

Honorable Mention:
Main Street ($9.49)

Available at Total Wine, Main Street is 92% Cab and 8% Petite Sirah (close enough, right?) and is out of California.

On wine glasses: I know people may be skeptical, but I am a big believer that the type of wine glass you use makes a huge difference in how the wine tastes. The shape of the glass and the size of the opening change both the nose and the where the wine hits on the tongue.  Take the same wine in two different types of wine glasses and there is a difference.

I have five types of wine glasses which cover most varietals. I went with Riedel's Vinum series, but it depends on what your personal preferences are.  Whatever your needs, I guarantee that if you treat yourself to a quality wine glass, you won't regret it.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Right out of Sideways - Great Pinot Noirs

I discovered Pinot Noirs after seeing the movie Sideways and it's now my favorite type of red wine (nothing personal, Merlots...). I don't think the movie had anything to do with it, however - I think PN's and I were destined to be together. I tried new Pinots out for this post, only one of which is included.

My husband sits rolling his eyes as I try to explain my dedication to the blog information-gathering process... I realize that perhaps this is a losing battle. However, I know he would join me in my research with the first of the Pinots I am going to mention here.   And that would be...

Le Grand Noir (Norman's, Total Wine)
And why is that? Well, this is one of the wines that we served at our wedding reception.

From France, it's an award winning wine that's available at Norman's for $7.99 and Total Wine for $8.49 but in a pinch you can pick it up at Publix for $9.99. Perhaps it's all of the happy memories I have tied to it, but I can't say enough good things about this fantastic Pinot Noir - love, love, love it.  

Don't fear the cap! It is no longer the sign of a poor quality wine. You'll also be ensured that your wine won't be "corked," but you can read more about that here

Side Note: The red blend GSM (which stands for Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre), also by Le Grand Noir, is another award-winning wine. For some reason I have only found this one at Publix ($9.99), but I highly recommend it. Don't tell my husband, but I might like it even better than the PN.

Other great Pinot Noirs:
Ok, so I only have two, but solid Pinot Noirs in this price range are few and far between.

Block Nine ($11.99)
This California winemaker only makes Pinot Noir, so it makes sense that they're pretty good at it. It received 88 points from Wine Enthusiast and is also on their best buy list. Like the Le Grand Noir, this wine is also a better deal at Norman's (it's $2 more at Total Wine).  

Layer Cake ($14)
On the upper price range for this blog, I know, but Layer Cake is good enough that it deserves a mention. This wine is also out of California and is a great choice.

I know I mentioned WineStyles in my previous post, and while they are pricier than where I usually shop for wine, I wholeheartedly agree with their eight "styles" of wine (hence, WineStyles).

The styles are:
Crisp, Silky, Rich, and Bubbly for white wines and Fruity, Mellow, Bold, and Nectar for red. Varietals don't always fit neatly into each category - though there are definitely trends - but this really helped me figure out what I like (and why). If you sometimes feel like it's hit or miss regarding which wines you like, it may be worth it to you to experiment with some of the styles to see which you like best.

Happy sipping and until next time, cheers!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wine-ing About Wine Prices - Let's start with Sauvignon Blancs

(Credit: Chiyacat via iStock)
So... I don't claim to be an expert on wine (though some might disagree if they saw my recycle bin) but I love finding great wines at reasonable prices.  If you're like me you can't discern the difference between a $25 bottle of wine and a $150 bottle - at least not enough of a difference to warrant the cost - and that's where this blog comes in.

My goal is to share the great wine buys that I've found (and those I will find, I promise to leave no wine bottle uncorked in the name of research) and where to get them. I live in the Sarasota area so my "where to get" will be relative to my area.  If you don't have the stores I list near you, you may need to do a little sleuthing.  Most of the wines will be around the $10 mark (some are are a little more, some less).  Again, I am no Sommelier, but this is meant for the average person who is simply looking for an enjoyable glass of wine.

I'll probably alternate between whites and reds, but to start things off, I am beginning with my personal favorite: Sauvignon Blanc (unorthodox, I know).

My go-to wine is Nobilo from New Zealand.  It's not only reasonable but it also received an 89-point rating from Wine Spectator (among many other accolades).

Nobilo Sauvignon BlancIt's available at Total Wine and Norman's for around $10.  It's also available at Publix, but you'll pay $2-3 more there.

It pairs great with mild cheeses (may I suggest Geit-in-Stad, available at WineStyles in Lakewood Ranch?) and seafood.

A few other favorites of mine in this category are:

Anakena Sauvignon Blanc

    Anakena (Total Wine)
    At $7.99 this Chilean wine is a bargain and was even named a Best Value by Wine Spectator in 2010.

    Chateau Ste Michelle Sauvignon Blanc

    Chateau Ste Michelle (Total Wine)
    This wine is $8.99 and comes from Washington State.  It's available at Total Wine but hard to find most other places. The Riesling is carried most everywhere but the Sauv Blanc is much more elusive.

    Brancott Sauvignon Blanc

    Brancott (Total Wine)
    Like Nobilo, Brancott comes from New Zealand (those Kiwis know their Sauvignon Blancs...).  It received 91 points from Wine & Spirits and is $9.99.

    I hope that you get to try (some, or all) of these and find them are great as I do - and by all means if you have a favorite Sauvignon Blanc in the $10-range I would love to hear from you.  Until next time, cheers!