There is snow on the mountains in Aspen, Colorado – and here in my neck of southern California, the temps are expected to hit in the triple digits (because the weather people prefer to say “triple digits” than “the hundreds”). So what to drink?
Here are two wines that are eminently drinkable, no matter the temperature outside.
Fat Cat Merlot, 2012 Napa, California Alcohol 12.5% by Volume; $6.99 on sale at Vons. 95 POINTS | GOLD MEDAL California State Fair Wine Competition 2012
On the Label: “At Fat Cat Cellers, we’re into wines that hit all the right notes, right now. Take our mellow Merlot. The deep ruby red color is prelude to a rich cherry and berry melody, accompanied by mild tannins and oak that close on a palate-pleasing, silky smooth chord. It’s a ballad in a glass. A-dee-dot, a-dew-dot, a skittley-dot-mer-lot. You dig?”
My Take: The color is good in the glass, and the taste works when the temps drop outside. The low alcohol content, however, also make it a good summer night, burgers on the barbecue-type wine as well. Or just sipping while you watch the bats come out at dusk, or while counting snowflakes as they hit the deck.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ and at this price, it’s easy to share with friends for an end-of-summer barbecue or a damn-winter’s-here-early party around the fire.
Beringer Simply Sophisticated Chardonnay California, 2013 Alcohol 13% by Volume; regularly $6.99 at Vons, on sale for $4.99
On the Label: “This carefully crafted wine has subtle aromas of peach, apricot and golden delicious apples. It is balanced, juicy and layered with ripe flavors. If you enjoy our Chardonnay, make sure to try our Pinot Grigio. Serve chilled. Please visit us at beringer.com.
My Take: This is Beringer’s low cost alternative to their Founder’s Reserve selection, which runs $10 to $15 more per bottle. Frankly, this is an excellent Chardonnay for the price and the Beringer name brings a certain comfort when buying an inexpensive wine. You know you’re going to enjoy the product. This wine would work wonderfully with the chowders and soups that come along with winter, and works just as well when grilling fish on the barbecue. (I have barbecue on the brain. Does it show?)
My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ And a good value, to boot. I’ve also tried their Pinot Grigio, and enjoy it just as much.
So whatever type of weather is out there, there’s a wine for that! May your October be one of peace, prosperity, and pumpkins.
Oh – and two weeks from today, CHRISTMAS STAR releases, my new holiday short story from Boroughs Publishing Group! Yeah, I’m a tad excited…*bouncety*
My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”
Thanks so much for stopping by. Now that it’s autumn, the blog is getting up to speed again. If you like what you read, please go on and click on that “subscribe” button, up there on the right hand side. I’d love to get to know you, too, so let me know if you have a favorite wine that I should try!
Wine for the Audience
It’s a thing out here in the Los Angeles area small theaters, to have wine available for a “donation” before the show, and again at intermission. This post is for those Small Theater Producers who regularly commit all sorts of wine crimes against their audience; but the rest of you feel free to listen in.
Dear, wonderful, brave Small Theater Producers. We really need to talk. I know your love for theater is why you put up with having no budget, actors who go missing because they’re getting a day’s pay by working in a commercial or (more frequently) doing background work (because you can’t afford union contracts), and basically worry about paying the bills.
I also know you serve wine to patrons of your theater in the hopes that you’ll make money (and quite often, you do – because only half of the 56-seat theater actually has butts in the seats, but half of those folks didn’t pay squat to get in because your cast is desperate for an audience and no one can find your theater without Siri barking directions at them plus lets not even get into the no parking situation, or the dicey neighborhood you’ve chosen). When patrons arrive at your place, they’re tired, cranky, their feet hurt and they would much rather be home but instead they’re standing in front of you, staring doubtfully at your wine selection and praying it’s not total dreck. A little wine can loosen up a cranky audience. I get it. Truly.
Don’t Go Cheap!
But please, if you’re going to serve wine, please don’t get the cheapest wine you can (that you wouldn’t drink for love nor money) and then charge a $5 donation for three measly ounces. First, three ounces of wine isn’t going to make us like your production more. Second, cheap wine leaves a bad taste in the mouth, which we’re going to unconsciously equate with your production. Which means we’re not going to tell anyone we saw your show, thus killing that much-needed word-of-mouth advertising.
So here’s my white wine choice for you. Don’t think, just go buy, and thank me later.
Kirkland Signature California Chardonnay, 2012 1.5L bottle Alcohol 13% by Volume; under $10 at CostCo
On the Label: “Kirkland Signature California Chardonnay is a classic Chardonnay with vibrant tropical flavors of pineapple and mango surrounded by fresh notes of peach, brisk green apple and sweet citrus which is polished to a finish with hints of oak, honey and butterscotch.”
On the Web: “I have previously stated that I am not a fan of heavy oak, buttery chardonnay. On the other hand, chardonnays fermented only in stainless steel are often taste like lemons to me. I most like a chardonnay that has been aged in neutral, older oak. The Kirkland Sonoma County Chardonnay always fits in this middle ground. I think the current version is even more fruit flavored with less oak than last year and to me, that makes it better.” ~ South Carolina Wine Joe
(I know. Sonoma County Chardonnay and the Signature California Chardonnay aren’t the same, and yet they are because. I haven’t had the Sonoma County Chardonnay, but I have had the Signature California Chardonnay. TASTY.)
“Vineyards and Vintages
“Chardonnay, the most widely grown grape varietal in the world, flourishes in Sonoma County, one of the greatest producers of wine in California – even surpassing Napa Valley AVA! Sonoma County is home to 13 different American Viticultural Areas. The wine from this 100% Chardonnay is blended from a variety of the top AVAs throughout Sonoma County, including Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Carneros and Russian River Valley. Each region offers different flavors and aromas that merge to produce a flawless combination. Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, known for its natural expression of terroir. This Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay reflects the Burgundian ancestry while still harmonious with the style of California and specifically Sonoma County.” ~ CostCo.com
Yes, I said don’t go cheap. Yes, this bottle is under $10, which qualifies in the cheap range. But no. Cheap, to me, is any bottle of wine that you wouldn’t happily drink yourself. This wine is inexpensive, true, but it is TASTY. So, 1.5 liters of wine at under $10 a bottle means you, dear Theater Producer, can fill that plastic cup to the brim. Make that theater goer happy, and they might grab another glass of wine. Or two. They may even buy their ticket price in wine. You can “accidentally” make enough on wine sales to make it look like you actually had a full, paying house! Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Plus, two people buying a glass of wine, and that bottle has been paid for.
Oh, and please – by all that is holy – keep the Chardonnay COLD. Yes, grab a big ice bucket. Have a cooler somewhere. Get all classy. Because warm Chardonnay is almost a worse crime than a short pour of bad Chardonnay.
Next week, I’ll talk about red wines for you Small Theater Producers (because I’m running out of time and need to get to work). Until then, stock up on the Kirkland Chardonnay and fill those cups, people! Your patrons will thank you, and they in turn will appreciate the show much more. Who knows? You may even get some positive word-of-mouth advertising out of it!
~ I’m working hard on my next novel and didn’t have time to write up a new wine blog – but please enjoy this reprint from last year about this time. Wines to go with barbecue season! ~
Today I’m talking about two big reds that are a little more expensive than what I usually highlight. In California, you’re just as likely to have a spicy Mexican recado on your brisket as you are a sweet and tangy southern barbecue sauce. At times, I’ll admit, a cold beer or ale goes a long way with the Mexican flavors. But a big, bold red wine is almost always good.
Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Sonoma County Alcohol, 14.5% by Volume $15.99 on Sale at Vons (normally $26.00)
On the Label: “Our Grand Reserve Cabernet is crafted with grapes hand-selected from specific areas of our Jackson Estates Grown vineyards on Alexander Mountain estate and other nearby properties. Growing vineyards on these mountains and hillsides has produced intense, concentrated grapes. This Cabernet has cassis, currant and black cherry tones with enticing aromas of mocha, nutmeg and cinnamon that are the efforts of 17 months of barrel aging.” – Jess S. Jackson, Founder
This is a wine drinker’s wine. By which I mean, it’s not an easy sipping wine unless you REALLY like complex wines. Which I do. You want to serve this wine with the meal, and preferably before your guests have imbibed too much. With it’s deep garnet color, smoky rich scent, and a vibrant taste it’s a wine that deserves attention. It will stand up to almost anything you toss on the barbecue.
Or, if you’re like me and want to give cooking a pass, you can serve it with rich cheeses and crackers and some salume as you watch the stars come out while having a summer picnic. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can’t drink a big wine!
My Rating: ~ Very, VERY Drinkable ~ though pricy! Watch for sales at your favorite grocery store.
J. Lohr Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Seven Oaks Estates, alcohol 13.5% by Volume $12.99 at Vons on sale.
On the Label: “Our Seven Oaks Cabernet is grown in our vineyards in the Estrella Hills area of Paso Robles, one of only three appellations in California that produce “world class” Cabernet Sauvignon. The Seven Oaks Cabernet has aromas and bouquets of cherry blueberry, violets, and vanilla. The flavors are lusciously full, balanced by firm tannins. Serve it at 65 to 68 degrees F with grilled or roasted red meats.
“J. Lohr Estates wines are best characterized by their intense flavor and remarkable balance. Jerry Lohr practices the French system of planting each grape variety in its ideal appellation. With over 3,000 acres of vineyards, quality control is ensured from selection of optimum rootstock and clones through all facets of artisan winemaking. Each of these steps is focused on one goal…flavor second to none.”
My Take: My husband and I have a fondness for the J. Lohr label, as it was one of the first, affordable, bottles of wine that we remember ordering in a restaurant that wasn’t a half carafe of the house wine. Now of course, J.Lohr is up there in price in restaurants, but you can usually find it in the grocery stores for between $10 and $15 a bottle (which puts it out of my usual price range).
The wine? Juicy. Rich. A hint of oak. Perfect with a nice steak, grilled chicken, vegetables. If there’s any left after the meal, enjoy with a chocolate truffle. Your mouth will thank you. This is an easy wine to drink, and will likely appeal to a broader spectrum of people. I enjoyed it, but for me, this isn’t my first go-to wine.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ A good bottle for that intimate barbecue.
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers! ~
My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”
The wines I’m featuring today are slightly more expensive than my usual under $10 bottles, but since this time of year there are lots of parties (graduations, wedding showers, oh-hell-they’re-out-of-school-where’s-the-wine neighborhood gatherings, etc), a slightly more upscale wine might just be the right ticket. Or, heck, treat yourself; it’s the weekend.
Kendall Jackson Avant Chardonnay 2012 Santa Rosa, CA Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; Regularly $14.99, on sale at Vons for $11.99
On the Label: “Our Kendall Jackson AVANT Chardonnay is crafted in a modern style that delivers a fresh expression of this exceptional grape. This wine is cold-fermented to retain crisp green apple and lemon drop flavors; the resulting wine is sleek and lively, providing a superb affinity for food.
“To learn more about our sustainable practices and the 100% renewable wind energy we employ to make our wines, visit us at www.kj.com.”
My Take: Well, once again if I’d read the label I wouldn’t have bought the wine. Green apple and lemon drop in the same sentence makes me think of hard candy, or perhaps flavored vodka. Wine is the very last thing that comes to mind. However, this is a nice wine – not, to my taste buds, noticeably a Chardonnay, but a clean and crisp white that goes great with seafoods or light pasta dishes, charcuterie, cheeses, etc. I have to say, while I might not be a fan of KJ’s labels, I am a fan of their wines!
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Plus it has a screw top, and I’m all for easy-open bottles.
DeLoach Vineyards Zinfandel 2011 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA Alcohol 14.5% by Volume; Regularly $18.99, on sale at Vons for $11.99
On the Label: “As a family-owned winery widely considered a pioneer of Russian River winemaking, we take great pride in producing distinctive wines that highlight the unique nuances of our appellation, while at the same time nourishing the land with sustainable viticulture and minimally intrusive winemaking. Fruit for this luscious Zinfandel includes grapes from century-old vines in the heart of the Russian River Valley, showcasing the flavor profiles of this unique terroir. Bold fruit and violet aromas blend enticingly with spice, leading to a delightful finish with a perfect balance of acidity and tannins.”
My Take: Any label that uses the word “unique” more than once needs to have the label re-done. That aside, this is a nice, big wine with a lovely mouthfeel. Great, once again, with food; spicy Mexican, zesty ribs, or a really well-cooked steak.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ especially at the sale price. I just checked DeLoach Vineyards web page, and it doesn’t look like they’re selling any RRV Zin right now – so if you see it in your store, grab it.
What wines are you drinking? I’d love to know!
Rose with Limoncello?
It’s hot out there. In my neck of the woods, anyway, it’s been hovering around 100 degrees.
(Amazing that it snowed last week in Colorado! WTF, Mother Nature?!!) And it’s not even Memorial Day, which kind of amazes me! Fortunately, you’ve got a week to plan some tasty drinks to go with your Memorial Day Cookout next week!
Typical White Wine Spritzer over at Martha Stewart
Memorial Day means to barbecue, or laze around the pool while someone else is barbecuing. When lazing (or barbecuing), your typical go-to sip might not be the right one in this blasted heat, which is why wine spritzers are Mother Nature’s go-to heat busting drink. (Oh, just go with it, lol!)
There’s the ever-classic white wine spritzer. Tall skinny glass, fill with ice, fill glass half way with white wine (I’d use a nice Sauvignon Blanc or maybe a Chenin Blanc, nothing too pricey); top up with soda water, add a lemon or lime wedge. Easy Peasy. If you want to get fancy about it, toss in a ball of cantaloupe or watermelon instead of the lemon or lime wedge, the way Martha Stewart likes to do.
Sauvignon Blanc and Raspberry Vodka?
How about some Sangria? No, I’m not talking about the pre-bottled stuff – get that right out of your head! Tasty Trials has several Sangria recipes, but the one that totally caught my interest is the Berry Sangria (and yes, it has Raspberry Vodka in it!). Doesn’t that look yummy? And how perfect for summer, sipping by the pool!
Go check out Tasty Trials. (I love this site so much I’m giving you 3 chances to find them, lol!) They have several different Sangria recipes that will put the whole ugly episode of that one summer night in the park with the bottle of gas station Sangria right out of your brain cells. Forever. Or maybe that was just me? Whatever…
Kitchen Treaty has a wonderful looking Strawberry Lemon Sangria – go check it out! For your visual pleasure, here’s a photo…
However you choose to cool down from the heat, remember to drink a glass of water for every glass of alcohol you drink. Alcohol and heat do NOT mix; it can be a fatal combination, so please be smart about your intake. Have a great weekend, my friends – stay cool!
Do you have a favorite wine cocktail recipe? Please share!
I’m running behind today, duckies, so I’m letting you in on a huge sale going on right now at Vons – Meridian wines are going for $4.99 a bottle (regular price $8.99).
I’ve had the “rich & velvety” Cabernet, the “soft & fruity” Merlot, and the “breezy & fresh” Chardonnay – all drinkable, and at a price that’s barely above the cost of a gallon of gas. It’s a new label, and may be a new marketing strategy. Definitely a new low price point, even at the $8.99, for Meridian.
The Chardonnay is a 2012, but neither the Merlot nor the Cabernet have a vintage on them.
My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ and perfect for summer get-togethers.
Go forth, and give it a try.
Two bottles of Meridian wine.
By the way, I couldn’t find a photo of this label anywhere, so I had to take a picture of the bottles in my house, hence the dirty tablecloth. Tra la!