Mad for Red Wines…

Mad for Red Wines…

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!

TJ Reserve Zinfandel Paso Robles Lot 84 FrontTrader 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.”

Hmmm.

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 stark raving redVolume $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!

)O(

So, what do you think?

Two Musts for a New Year’s Eve Party

Two Musts for a New Year’s Eve Party

If you’re going to a New Year’s Eve party this year, be a sweetie and bring two important things that every hostess needs. First, a yummy appetizer that doesn’t need reheating; second, a couple bottles (one champagne, one not champagne).

The Appetizer

This is one of the easiest, tastiest, and most surprising appetizers that I’ve ever run across. I was introduced to it via my good friend Kristin Reeves. Some day I must do a post about her, because she introduced me to so many tasteful, joyful, easy and luscious things that she’s truly made her mark on my life, even though we’ve lived across the continent from each other for over 20 years. I had this dish as a part of an impromptu afternoon snack, with white wine and…well, that’s a story for another day.

Lox, Cream Cheese, and Onion Spirals  Ingredients: Lox, cream cheese, onion, 8-inch soft flour tortillas.   Take four ounces of good quality lox (found in 3 or 4 ounce packages near the butcher case in the grocery store) and add to your mixing bowl. Add an 8 ounce block of cream cheese (not the pre-whipped stuff). Cut a good sized onion in half, and chop half of it finely. Add to the bowl. (If you have small onions, use the whole thing.)

Turn your mixer on low; mix until well-blended, stopping to scrape the beater at least once. When it’s done, the lox and onion will be well-incorporated into the cream cheese.

Take out a flour tortilla; spread about a third of the cream cheese mixture over the tortilla. Roll up tightly and place in a large ziplock baggie. Repeat with the rest of the mixture and two more tortillas. (I had some left over; made a lovely snack on crackers.) Put the rolls into the refrigerator and let rest for an hour.

Prior to the party, cut the rolls into 1/2 inch thick pieces and lay them flat on a plate that you don’t mind leaving at the party (I usually pick up a festive one at the dollar store). The rolls will show bits of salmon and onion and look very festive. Wrap the plate with plastic wrap, and add a festive note on it describing what is in the dish (for those who may be allergic or sensitive). Voila – you’ve made your hostess very happy!

As for the bottles… if you like champagne, bring the bottle you prefer. That way when the

Mumm Napa Valley

Mumm Napa Valley

 time comes, you’ll have the one  you like to sip on as the year turns over. If you don’t have a champagne that you prefer, do yourself and your hostess a favor and stay in the $10 to $20 dollar range; there are a lot of more expensive bottles on sale right now that will make you look like a hero. For “brand names”, I like Domaine Chandon, Mumm Napa Valley, and Korbel. As I don’t like sweet champagnes, I go for the ones that say “Brut”. For an explanation on levels of sugar in champagnes, go to this post here.

Trader Joe's Sparkling White Chardonnay Grape Juice

Trader Joe’s Sparkling White Chardonnay Grape Juice

For the non-alcoholic sparkler, my sons really liked Trader Joe’s Sparkling White Chardonnay Grape Juice, and I must admit it was very tasty. Not overly sweet, but just sweet enough, and with a nice sparkle to it. As a matter of fact, I need to hustle over there and grab a couple bottles for New Year’s Eve…

What are your plans for the New Year? We’re most likely staying home and enjoying family. Whatever you do, do it with gusto and love, and you can’t go wrong.

Okay, so there you go. I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and may 2014 be your best year yet! Sending love and hugs, from my home to yours.

)O(

My Adventurous Weekend

My Adventurous Weekend

It was not quite a Retreat For One, but it was close. Unfortunately, this morning I am racing against the clock to get everything done and to work on time (too late!), so all I’m posting is this one photo and a teaser…

Photo taken by Tom Ashworth

Photo taken by Tom Ashworth

My Adventure really started very close to home, took almost six hours, and has changed my mind about how to get to the airport from now on. Any guesses? Most creative answer will WIN something! (Don’t know what yet, but it will be something, lol!)

~ Until the next time, cheers! ~

~oOo~

Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?