In these tough economic times, it can be difficult deciding which wine to buy, and how much to spend. But no worries – I’m your guide through this interesting dilemma, showcasing wines that can be purchased (usually) for under $10.
Today I’m looking at two Trader Joe’s wines. Both are under $6.00 a bottle – both deserve a second look.
Trader Joe’s Coastal Chardonnay 2009 – Central Coast. Alcohol 13.5% by volume, $4.99 regular price. Vinted and bottled for Trader Joe’s by Castoro Cellars, San Miguel, California
On the Label: “Located in the beautiful valleys of the Central Coast, Trader Joe’s presents this lush Chardonnay. Tropical hints of melon and peaches give way to a crisp and clean finish.”
My Take: This is an interesting wine. It’s not an oaky chardonnay by any means, but neither does it have the steel-infused flavor of a non-oaked chardonnay. It’s as the label says – tropical, crisp, clean. It almost tasted like a cross between a Pinot Grigio and a Chenin Blanc, with the crispness of the Grigio and the hint of sweetness of the Chenin Blanc. I really enjoyed it, to my total surprise. We had it as a sipping wine before dinner, and then with the meal – a lovely Moroccan-inspired dish my Hubby made. With the Hubby off to a big movie shoot late last night, and with me on carpool duty at 9:30pm, we didn’t imbibe the whole bottle – there was enough this morning for hubby to have a glass before he collapsed into bed at 5:15am, and enough for me to have a post-dirty kitchen cleanup glass when I got home this evening. And you know what? It was still a lovely wine.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Especially for the price!
Tuscan Moon Sangiovese 2009 California – Alcohol 13.4% by volume. Vinted and bottled by Trader Moon Wine Co. Manteca, California $4.99 a bottle (or maybe $5.99 – not too sure! But UNDER $6.00)
On the Label: “Sangiovese, the star of the Tuscan wine varieties, is a luscious, full-flavored grape with a shape reminiscent of the full moon in autumn. Tuscan Moon Sangiovese celebrates a lovers rondesvous in the vineyards by the light of the full autumn moon.
“Tuscan Moon Sangiovese is a smooth textured, medium-bodied wine. Enticing aromas of black cherries and plums with flavors of juicy blackberries, ripe blueberries with a hint of spice. Pairs well with a wide variety of foods including pork, beef, duck, creamy pasta dishes or just a plate of olives.”
My Take: This is a nice wine, straight after opening. Do not let it air; instead pour heartily for your guests. Unlike the Chardonnay, this wine did not age well in my refrigerator (even with the proper technology to keep it from spoiling). However, that said, that first day it was a nice wine, big but not too big.
I bought it because a couple days earlier the Hubby and I had gone to see the Kings and the Ducks in a pre-season hockey game. We got to Staples Center so early that we had plenty of time to eat at Wolfgang Puck’s Grill across the street. I chose a pricy Sangiovese to go with our meal, and we thoroughly enjoyed both while people-watching in the common area.
Does this wine match up to the fancy bottle of wine from Wolfgang Puck’s? No. Of course not. But the same Sangiovese grape flavor was there, you could tell they were kissing cousins, and because of that, I was not disappointed.
Plus, I’m a sucker for Moon in the title of just about anything. (Hmmm…must put Moon in the title of my next book…)
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Or maybe I just have higher standards for red wines? At any rate, of all the Trader Moon wines I’ve tried, I’d willingly drink all of them again. And at under $6 a bottle, it’s a bargain.
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As usual, this is just my honest opinion and it definitely depends upon my mood, whether my kids have done the dishes, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Have you read it yet?
Today is Meet Me Monday, so I need to tell you something you may not have otherwise known about me. It took me awhile to decide what to divulge – I have SO many secrets, you see – but I finally hit on one.
I’m an extremely vocal fan of sporting events. It can be any sporting event, professional or amateur; on TV or in person. I am the girl who will pick a team “just because” and then become VERY vocal during the game. If my side is falling apart and I’m watching on TV, then I go into a different room and refuse to watch the game because my heart can’t take it. I get WAAAY involved – Basketball, Soccer, lately Hockey – I jump up and down, scream at the refs, chew my team out – chew out the other team when they batter my guys – it quite entertains my hubby.
When my kids were in soccer, I had to learn to keep it clean and positive; but I regularly lost my voice cheering our team on.
Got a little known fact about you that you want to share? From all the comments today, I’ll be giving away a copy of DEMON SOUL!
Are you following along in the blog hop? Check out Rachel Firasek’s site for other blogs!
It’s a Meet Me Monday blog hop! Check it out. It’s a show and share type blog – I’ll post about me, and we’ll have some fun. Then we hop on over to the next blog on the list and have fun there…
I really hope to get to know a bunch of new people’s blogs this way and spread the word. If you’re interested in participating, add a blog post to your site and use the linky below – but do so before midnight central time! That’s when the linky closes.
Looking forward to meeting and visiting with a whole bunch of new people tomorrow! Cheers and welcome!
Rachel Firasek, the goddess who began this!!
Mabon was September 21st; the Autumn Equinox is today. Since they celebrate the same thing, the balance of light and dark in the sky, it’s strange they aren’t celebrated on the same day, but there you go.
According to Scott Cunningham and his Wicca – A Guide for the Solitary Practicioner, Mabon is the completion of the Harvest begun at Lughnasadh, or Lammas. As he puts it – “Nature declines, draws back its bounty, readying for winter and its time of rest.”
One of three Harvest celebrations in Wicca, the name Mabon to delineate this neopagan festival of the autumn equinox was invented by Aiden Kelly in the 1970s as part of a religious study. Considered to be an American invention, few Briton pagans use it; but as more American Neopagan publications are sold in Britain, the term is gaining in popularity.
“Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World. Considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from toiling in our gardens, working at our jobs, raising our families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life.” For more on Mabon and all Autumn celebrations around the world, drop by a fantastic website called Crystal Links.
But what does this have to do with wine? It’s also a time of winemaking, the first crush, the picking of the grapes. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that?
So by the beautiful Lynne Marshall’s request last week, here are some under $10, juicy Old Vine Zinfandels that you can sink into to help you enjoy the changing of the seasons.
Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin Lodi Zinfandel, Vintage 2009 Alcohol 14.5% by volume – $9.99 at Vons and other fine establishments.
On the Label: “As the truck pulled up to the 80 year old Zinfandel vineyard, my first impression was, “wow, those vines sure have some gnarly heads!” Thus began my love affair with Old Vine Zinfandel. Lodi has some of the oldest vines in Caliofrnia. Unlike modern rows of trellised vines, these old Zinfandel vines were grown as free standing “head trained” vines. Today they resemble wild bushes with twisted old trunks and branches that spread out in all directions sprouting leaves like unruly umbrellas – truly “Gnarly Heads”.
“Our grapes are hand-selected from some of the oldest and most respected vineyards in Lodi. Older vines produce fewer grape clusters, but the small berries yield concentrated fruit flavors characteristic of great Old Vine Zinfandel. Rich, dark berry flavors from the small grape clusters are balanced with French and American oak, which creates layers of licorice, plum, pepper and vanilla. This luscious combination provides a lingering and spicy finish. This wine pairs well with barbecue, pizza, hearty pasta, chili and ribs.”
My Take: Wow, what a label. I enjoyed it, lol…and I don’t always, but this one had just enough information to intrigue me. As to the wine? My first impression was big – thick. Sweeter than I prefer (heads up to those of you who like sweet wines). Lots of dark fruit, with a nice balance of pepper, the first taste was good but the aftertaste even nicer. I quite enjoyed this wine, which means I’ll have to keep checking out Gnarly Head.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ But on the sweeter side. Not my absolute favorite, but a solid wine that didn’t disappoint.
Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 California 13.9% Alcohol by volume. $9.99; on sale fairly regularly for $5.99 at Vons – from the Sebastiani family
My Take: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m a fan of Smoking Loon. Quality wines at reasonable prices – what’s not to like? The Old Vine Zin tastes expensive. It’s big, bold, nicely fruity but with complexity – not a sweet wine at all. Give it some time to open up in your glass, and pair it with hearty, autumn dishes, and it’ll be a wine you will return to again and again. After all, there is much to be said for consistency.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~
AND ONE MORE…
Big House Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines 2010, California $9.99 at Vons
On the Label: “It’s the Cardinal Zin who consoles the straying souls of The Big House. Proud of these dark berries that evoke a sense of envy for their blackberry and peppery flavors, this Zin has been known to elicit lustful feelings and cause mere mortals to covet those long silky legs as they drip down the glass. To avoid the ire of your guests, this wine should be served with a gluttonous feast that includes sloth. Hallowed be thy zin.”
My Take: Love in a glass. I opened it, I poured it, and I fell in love. Big, peppery, warm and comforting, it was the perfect glass to drink with the ever-popular roasted chicken, and broccoli and cauliflower in a rich garlic Alfredo sauce. Plus, with a screw top, you don’t have to fuss too much before you actually get to the wine. It’s a fun wine to give, to serve, or to savor by yourself by the fire on a chilly night.
My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable! ~
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As usual, this is just my honest opinion and will totally depend upon my mood, the weather, and how much sleep I’m getting. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Give yourself a present – buy it now, lol!
When the world is in an uproar, there’s something about cooking that, for me, is comforting. Even better is when the recipe takes simple ingredients and a bit of work – chopping, stirring, cooking time over an hour or so. This past weekend I indulged and cooked two fairly simple dishes that took some time.
On Saturday, I was scrolling for “healthy vegetable recipes”, and came across one for Mushroom Sugo over at Simply Recipes. Intrigued, I looked further, and they had me at the first sentence…”The onions cook for a long time…” bingo. Just what I was looking for.
(Doesn’t this look yummy? And it’s NOT a beef dish!)
Scanning the ingredients – dried porcini mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, a bunch of other fresh herbs, wine, etc – I could almost smell the rich scent in my kitchen. So when it came time to head off to the store to buy my new dishwasher, I took the recipe with us.
Unfortunately, the dishwasher drama took longer than I thought it would. Then finding Porcini mushrooms was another epic drama – three stores. THREE. In Southern California, no less.
But finally, I got home with everything I needed, and I began chopping. Whoops, change that to mincing, which takes four times as long as chopping. Half way through the forest of vegetables I had to mince, I was now thoroughly irritated with myself and everyone around me (except the cat). I had envisioned starting the dish around two in the afternoon, never mind the fact that we didn’t even set out to shop until 3:30p. Mincing onions that needed to cook for 40 minutes at 6:30p wasn’t my idea of a good time.
Anyway – the onions eventually turned a deep goldeny brown color, all the other vegetables were minced in good order, everything got put into the pot at the appropriate time, and finally – finally! – I was able to sit back, exhausted, and enjoy the scents wafting from the covered pot on the stove. It needed to simmer for 90 minutes.
What I received, as a thank you for all that chopping? A wonderful, thick, gravy-like bit of vegetable nirvana. I served it over rotini and backed it with a terrific Zinfandel, but it would be fabulous on top of a broiled chicken breast, or as a sauce on mashed potatoes. The porcini liquid (from soaking the mushrooms) added a richness usually found in beef dishes, and the flavor from all those onions, carrots, celery and garlic melded with the mushrooms to make a winter night glow. I definitely give this recipe a “You Gotta Try It!”
On Sunday, I made Braised Root Vegetables and Cabbage with Fall Fruit – wanting to stay in that hearty-but-healthy mode – from Food & Wine’s website. A medley of onions, carrots, radishes, turnips, Savoy cabbage, apples and pears, it was surprisingly mellow and tasty, and nothing needed to be minced – so it was quick to chop those vegetables, too. Ten minutes on the stove top and half an hour in the oven, and it was a fabulous complement to our steak dinner. On Monday night, it did double duty – heated up, it went great over pasta with a sprinkling of fresh parmesan cheese. This recipe, too, gets a “You Gotta Try It!”
So there you go – two hearty vegetable recipes. I swore the next time I made the Mushroom Sugo, I’d make a triple batch, teach the teens how to mince, and then freeze most of it for heating up in the depths of deadlines – but that would also mean getting a bigger refrigerator/freezer. Which is a different posting, all together. Until next time, here’s to eating healthy and drinking responsibly!
The Autumnal Equinox comes September 23rd – it’s time to get ready.
~ Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Get your copy today!~