Yeah, I’m all about the under $10 bottle of wine. Why? The economy, of course. Plus, I’m not that sold on more expensive bottles being THAT MUCH better. Hopefully, some day I’ll be able to prove myself wrong, lol. I apologize in advance for the lack of photos – they aren’t readily available on the internet, and my camera battery is dead. Sigh.
Today, I’ve got two Trader Joe’s wines – ever since we met up with that wonderful guy who works at Letitia, who let us in on a secret – wines with a lot number usually come from VERY reputable wineries in the Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles wine countries, we’ve been snatching up the bottles when we can.
Trader Joe’s Reserve GSM – Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County 2012 Lot #96; Alcohol 14.5% by Volume Vinted and bottled by Liberate Wine Co. Hopland, CA (Okay, not ALL the wines are from Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles.)
On the Label: “Bright strawberry, cherry, and raspberry notes with hints of spice and vanilla oak leading to an exceptionally well-balanced finish.”
My Take: If you don’t know what GSM means, let me clue you in to this fairly new nomenclature in wine terms: It means a Grenache, Syrah, and Morvedre blend. In this case, the wine is 52% Syrah, 38% Grenache, and 10% Morvedre. It is what is known as a Cotes du Rhone blend. And considering the times me and the hubs went to France and Belgium and bought Cotes du Rhone wines at the gas stations, and the wines were A-MAZ-ING, we gave it a try.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Sigh. As my husband says, if you can’t remember the wine a week later, it must not be too wonderful. BUT – the price is good, and it IS drinkable. Check it out – you may really like it.
Trader Joe’s Reserve Pinot Blanc Arroyo Grande Valley 2012 Lot #86 Alcohol by Volume: 13.1% Vinted & Bottled by Reluctant Wine Co.
On the Label: “This Pinot Blanc is rich and aromatic with a round mouth feel and displays flavors of fresh apples, mango, honey and citrus.”
My Take: I really liked this wine. It was fresh, lively, drinkable without food, better with food, an all-around favorite for any number of dishes. Not too sweet, but with a hint of sweetness.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ get it while you can! These Lot # Wines tend to go fast and disappear.
Thanks for stopping by! What are you drinking these days? Alcoholic or not, I’d love to know.
Today on Wine Friday, I’ve got a white wine on sale for $11, and a red wine on sale at under $6. As I’m all about the tasty wine under $10 when possible, these two are a good fit for the blog (despite the $11 sale price).
Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Yellow Label Alcohol, 13% by Volume; Regularly $14.99, on sale at Vons for $10.99
On the Label: “Dramatic style, vibrant packaging and fruit-forward, smooth wines are the signatures of Francis Coppola Diamond Collection. Our Sauvignon Blanc delivers a beautiful perfume of tangerine, pink grapefruit, and honeysuckle followed by juicy flavors of tropical fruit, zesty citrus, and a int of minerals. Delicious with grilled fish or spring greens with fruit and goat cheese. Learn more about our wines at FrancisCoppolaWinery.com.”
My Take: It’s a good sipping wine, a good wine with crab quiche, good with your Easter ham. I don’t know what I was expecting; I’m finding that one Sauvignon Blanc tastes very like another, which is rather disappointing. I suppose some day I should have a Sauv Blanc tasting party, just so I can see if I’m right and they DO all taste alike, or if some have a better something than the others. Hmmm.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable to Very Drinkable ~ and if you’re going to relatives for Easter lunch or brunch, this would be a good bottle to bring along with you. It does have a certain panache, after all, with the Coppola name on it.
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2012 Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; $5.98 on sale at Vons.
On the Label: ” ‘One of a winemaker’s most valuable companions is patience.’ – Robert Mondavi
“Pinot Noir is a challenging grape to grow in any climate Winemaker Rick Boyer patiently selects fruit from our best California vineyards to create a wine with classic notes of violet, rose petal and red cherries.
“Become our valued companion on Facebook.”
My Take: Facebook? Hm. Maybe I will click “like” on that page. That said, I like Mondavi wines. They tend to be reliable, solid structurally, and rarely is there a bad bottle among the Mondavi line. This Pinot, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, doesn’t make my Smoking Loon test. (Which is, is this wine better than the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir, which I can almost always get for $5.99?) I usually don’t bring that test up when the price point is so dead on, but for some reason, while this is a perfectly acceptable Pinot Noir, it didn’t hit my sweet spot this week. Which means, of course, I’ll have to try another bottle (because at $5.98, why not?).
My Rating: ~ Drinkable to Very Drinkable ~ Maybe I was just in a mood.
With the continuing unpredictable weather we’re having, what are you going to be drinking this Easter Sunday?
Me again. Wines that won’t break your pocketbook but that are tasty. (Or that you should really stay away from.) These are both under $10, though I don’t recall the actual price. And I’m talking California prices, so if it’s a California wine and you’re elsewhere in the country, so sorry. You’re probably paying more.
La Vieille Ferme Recolte 2012 Rose Wine Alcohol 13.5% by Volume – Southern Rhone Valley
On the Label: “The Perrin family are the producers of this excellent rose wine. The vines from the appellation are planted on the hills of the renowned Mont Ventoux, and benefit from great sunlight and fairly cool temperatures for the Southern Rhone Valley. The Blend is made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault and the wines have a beautiful rose color, a floral nose with hints of aniseed and brown sugar. The mouth is on notes of white flowers, cherries and fruit drops. The finish is fresh and balanced. Winemakers reviews, recipe ideas, for all details, go here.” (My thanks to Pull The Cork for the photo. Go check them out!)
My Take: Okay, well – the label is obnoxious. Really? You’re gonna tell me how it smells AND tastes? Maybe it’s the translation, but when I read this I got irritated. (As if you couldn’t tell, lol!) But it’s a French wine from the Rhone Valley. I usually like those wines, and this fit into my price range, so I tried it.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Though I will say its not that different from a stringent (i.e., no oak) white wine. Fine when well-chilled – just don’t expect sweet from this wine.
[Noble Vines] 337 Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Lodi, California 14.5% Alcohol by Volume
On the Label: “Born in France…Raised in America. Not all wines are created equal. Noble Vines 337 is the most coveted Cabernet Sauvignon vine stock in Bordeaux, France. These rare vines are prized for their concentrated flavor and thrive in the red soils and cobblestones of our Lodi vineyard.
“This wine exudes seductive atoms of mocha and dark cherry followed by intense flavors of ripe blackberry and spice. Enjoy with savory pasta, pot roast, thick steaks and creamy cheeses.”
My Take: Richer than I had suspected it would be. I’ll definitely try this wine again. It has a bunch of potential, even if it’s a bit pretentious. I wanted to try a Lodi wine, and I’m glad I chose this one.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ I keep searching for the Very Drinkable wines for you, my dears! But this will definitely do, in the meantime.
What’s your favorite?
Good wines without breaking the bank. I’m all about that. I believe that a good bottle of wine can be had for under $10, and I’ve appointed myself the job to sniff those out. (I’ll be sure to let you know if it’s MORE than $10, because every now and then I taste those, too.) If YOU have a favorite wine, I’d love to know – so please leave a comment!
As the title says, I’m mad for red wines. I mostly prefer Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels, but there are some surprisingly good red blends out there, too. So sit back and enjoy!
Trader Joe’s Reserve Zinfandel 2012 Paso Robles, California Lot # 84 Alcohol 14.5% by Volume
On the Label: “Juicy raspberry, boysenberry and black cherry notes lead to vanilla oak and spice notes with a smooth, jammy finish.”
My Take: First off, a bit of snark. I’m really, really tired of wineries saying their wines taste “jammy”. I’ve never tasted a wine and said to myself, gee, that tastes like jam! I should dip my toast into it with breakfast! (Okay, so that IS a good idea – but you get my meaning.) On the positive side, that’s it for label chat. Boom. Done. LOVE it.
A bit of wisdom for you – when Trader Joe’s puts out a reserve with a Lot # on it, you can almost guarantee that it’s a good winery wine in that bottle. I met a wonderful guy who works at Letitia when Tom and I were up in Cambria; he told us that Letitia wine was in one of these bottles (I’d tell you which one, but TJ’s doesn’t stock it any more so there’s that). We grabbed two bottles and wish we’d grabbed more, as they were $9.99, and I don’t think you can find much Letitia wine under $10.
Oh, and the wine – yes, tasty. TASTY. Not “jammy” to my tastebuds at all, but definitely full of flavor and perfect with steak and potatoes or maybe a hearty lasagna. No, I don’t know which winery it’s from. If you find out, please let me know! BTW, here’s an article on it from Trader Joe’s online Fearless Flyer.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ The only danger is having a love affair with this type of wine can lead to heartbreak when they – suddenly – no longer carry it. Sigh.
With every conservative bottle of wine (see above), there is its wicked cousin who comes to dinner (below).
Stark Raving RED by Rosenblum Cellars Sonoma, California Alcohol 12.5% by Volume $8.99 at Vons
On the Label: “Some might think quitting your day job to pursue your passion for winemaking is crazy – even stark raving mad. Stark Raving ™ from Rosenblum Cellars is a tribute to our founder’s maniacal obsession with experimentation, which still inspires us today. Our Red Wine is a playful and bold blend of plum and bright red fruit flavors, proving that a little dose of madness can lead to extraordinary things.”
My Take: I loved this wine. I picked it up for the label – I bought it for the fact that it came from Rosenblum Cellars, and I can tell you I’ll definitely be buying it again. It’s a big wine, and does better with a little airing. It’s also got a screwtop, which I love (makes it fit in my fridge easier).
My Rating: ~ Drinkable Plus ~ I did love this wine, but I didn’t LOVE it. There are some who won’t like it – it might be a bit too brash. It’s DEFINITELY a food wine – not a sipper, in my opinion – but that’s okay because I like to eat when I drink wine, lol! But do give it a shot and let me know what you think. Here’s a link to a YouTube video that’s really fun – give it a shot!
So, what do you think?
Hey, all! It’s been a long time, but Wine Fridays are back! I’m always on the lookout for wines that are tasty, easily available, and won’t break the bank. Below is my honest opinion of the wines I buy and drink; they are all available for under ten dollars, unless specified. (My rating system is at the very bottom of this post.)
Belle Ambiance Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Manteca, CA Usually $9.99, on sale for $6.99 at Vons; Alcohol 13.0% by Volume
On The Label: “Belle Ambiance is a beautiful spot nestled in one of our family vinehards. During our 80 years of winemaking, we’ve enjoyed many perfect moments here under the shade of its ancient oak tree relaxing, watching the sun set, and basking in the moment with friends and a glass of wine. We created this luscious, rich, indulgent Cabernet Sauvignon to share that feeling with you.” BelleAmbianceVineyards.com
MyTake: I liked that the label wasn’t too into wine-babble; it struck me as a family-friendly label, lol. However, this was a meh wine to me. Either it hasn’t reached its peak yet (being a 2012), or it has passed its peak; it wasn’t memorable for being big and rich, nor was it past its prime. This is a new wine to me, and maybe I just need to try it again. For the price, and maybe for a second bottle at dinner, it’s fine and won’t upset anyone; but it’s nothing to brag about, either.
They’re owned by the Delicato Family Vineyards, and have a raft of wines under $10: for more on them, go here.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Though there are other, more enjoyable wines out there for the same price.
Rosenblum Cellars Vintner’s Cuvee XXXV Zinfandel Sonoma, CA Usually $13.99, on sale $6.79 at Vons; Alcohol 14.5% by Volume
On the Label: Zinfandel is our signature wine, and with rich and layered flavors, it’s an excellent introduction to the Rosenblum Cellars style of wine making. We designate an anniversary number to each Zinfandel Cuvee blend, honoring our history with ‘America’s Heritage Grape’. Kick back around the table and enjoy this wine’s intense and robust flavors. Notes of blackberry, wild raspberry and cassis make it a delicious complement to hearty pasta and barbecue dishes.” rosenblumcellars.com
My Take: This was a lovely Zinfandel blend that perfectly accompanied the honey-balsamic pulled pork sliders I made last weekend. Its richness cut through the sweet-sour of the pork, and worked well with the purple cabbage Asian slaw side dish. It is most definitely a wine you want to sip with dinner, or at least with snacks, either in front of a fire (for those of you buried in snow back east) or while watching the sun set (for us west coast types). It feels young, still, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it ages. (Ha! As if I can keep a bottle that long…!)
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Especially at this price (which I’m guessing won’t be long, since it’s such an odd price point)! As soon as my paycheck clears, I’ll be grabbing a couple more bottles of this, just in case we grill some steaks this weekend.
What are you drinking these days? Does the weather outside change what you’re drinking inside? Sound off, and let me know.
Until next time – Cheers!
My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!” All opinions are my own. You’re welcome, lol.
I’m copying an old post on mulled wine here, plus at the bottom there are recipes for other, hot and festive drinks for the holidays. Cheers!
Who “invented” mulled wine? Why? What’s supposed to go in it, and what type of wine should you use? All the sites I found on the internet seemed to crib off each other. To distill it for you, basically mulled wine has been around as long as wine has been around. It warmed people up in winter (and some people said it was to make bad wine taste better – a winter version of Sangria, I suppose) as well as gave them something “healthy” to drink (because water – well, it wasn’t very clean “way back when”). It can be found in almost every European country, and is often called “boiled” or “burned” wine. Of course, you don’t want to boil or burn the wine! (Boiling burns off all the alcohol.)
First off, start with a hearty red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel will work nicely. If you’re making enough for a crowd, use two bottles – pour into a non-reactive pan (or hey, use that crock pot you got for your wedding and has that thick layer of dust on it – make sure to clean it first). If just for two to four people, use one bottle. DON’T use the cheapest wine you can find (although if you must, go ahead…); but likewise, don’t waste an expensive bottle. Anything that you like the taste of non-heated should be fine.
Next, add the spices. This will totally depend on your tastebuds. I like two cinnamon sticks – hubby likes only one. I generally put six to a dozen whole cloves, and if I had allspice, I’d toss that in, too. You can add ginger – either 1/2 teaspoon grated, or a small slice; or you could put in 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger (but fresh is much better). I’ve seen recipes that include cardamom pods, star anise, even bay leaves. Experiment!
Your next addition should be another liquid. Amounts kind of depend. You can add up to a cup of plain water, a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice, or a cup of apple cider; many recipes call for adding 4 ounces of brandy (some say cherry brandy). I started with water; next time, I think I’ll add brandy AND some OJ.
Then comes the sweetener. The amount depends on how much wine you start with. So you can add anything from 1/2 cup of white or brown sugar to 1 and 1/4 cup of honey; start on the stingy side, and taste as you go. Add more if you need to. My guess is if you’re using Agave syrup or Stevia for your sweetener, you can use them here, too; just be VERY stingy with your amounts until it’s where you want it.
Lastly comes the fruit. Whether or not you’ve already used orange or apple juice, you might want to add strips of orange zest or lemon zest; thin slices of orange and lemon; either in the pot, or in the bottom of the mug.
Let everything sit on low; either on the back of your stove, or in your crockpot. As the day goes on, the spices and the fruit really open up into the wine, and turn it into something magical. Plus, it leaves your house smelling really festive.
Hot Buttered Rum
Here is my version of Hot Buttered Rum. Put the tea kettle on to boil. In the meantime, get out a couple of heavy mugs that feel good in your hand. Add a tablespoon of sweet, unsalted butter at the bottom; top with 1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar (to your taste). Add a shot to a shot and a half of rum. Once the water is boiling, fill the cup with the hot water about half way. Stir briskly with a fork or a small whisk, if you have one (I do). Add the hot water the rest of the way. Cuddle up by the fire and watch Scrooge deal with some pesky ghosts!
Rachael Ray has her own way of doing things, adding spices and Captain Morgan spiced rum and doing it up with a blender. Go here for that recipe.
Of course, Martha Stewart also has a recipe. It’s a bit more complicated, but still sounds just as tasty. Go here for that recipe.
Other Hot Holiday Drinks
I found a fun spot online called Secret Tips to the Yumiverse, and they have eight hot holiday drinks to indulge you. Of course, there are the coffee drinks – Coffee and Bailey’s, Coffee and Kahlua, or Coffee and Irish Whiskey – but there are some other, really tasty drinks. Go give Yumi Sakugawa a look-see for some fun and festive drinks.
There you go, my dears. Enjoy this holiday season, be safe, stay warm, and hug your loved ones. Sending out love and big squishy hugs to you all! What’s YOUR favorite hot holiday drink?