Cold? Reach for a Red Wine!

Cold? Reach for a Red Wine!

Whether you’re dealing with snow, or sleet, hail, or Arctic rainstorms, red wine is the ticket. Toss some spices in it, put it on the stove and heat gently – and you’ve got mulled wine. Recipes here. photo of a large cauldron of mulled wine over a fire.

If you prefer your wine unspiced, but you want it to warm you up from the inside, take a nice big red – a Zinfandel, Syrah, or Cabernet – and put it with a bowl of chili, or a hearty minestrone soup. Pasta, or steak and potatoes also work to bring your internal body temp up. If you’re calorie counting, go with a clear broth – a chicken or vegetable-based soup, with an Asian flair. I like adding sliced ginger to my clear soups – gives a kick of heat, and the red wine works with the heat nicely.

So today, here are two Syrahs, purchased at Vons during their amazing 30% off sale (and I say that totally tongue-in-cheek), and a French red blend that I’m still remembering happily.

label for Alexander Vineyards Syrah 2008Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah 2008  Sonoma County, CA, Wetzel Family Estate Regularly $16.70; on sale for $10.99    Alcohol 14% by Volume

On the Label: “This 2008 Estate Syrah shows the value of having an experienced winemaker with a deft hand for knowing how to best compliment what the vineyard delivers. Intense work in the vineyard, particularly necessary to get the best from this varietal, yielded lush fruit. In the tradition of the great wines of the Rhone, Wiinemaker Kevin Hall then blended in a good dose of old vine Grenache, adding some breadth to the wine, and a small amount of Viognier to soften the tannins and brighten the aromas.

“This wine exhibits and expressive nose of black cherries and violets and flavors of blackberry jam, strawberry and vanilla. Uncork a bottle to serve with a hearty beef stew and discover why our historic family-owned winery on the homestead of pioneer Cyrus Alexander continues to be recognized for producing superb estate wines that are superbly priced.”

My Take: I had been wanting to try an Alexander Valley wine for awhile, but it was too expensive – usually much closer to the $20 mark than the $10 mark. So finding it at $10.99 seemed like a good deal.

It was better than a good deal. This was a delicious wine, full in the mouth, nice and juicy and complex. The age on it added depth that I am sorely missing in all the 2010 wines I’ve been tasting lately. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any more of the 2008, otherwise I’d have bought some more!

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~  Why didn’t this get the  “Slut” label? I’m not sure, but my notes say VVD so there you go!

Qupe Syrah 2009 Central Coast, California Alcohol 13.5% by Volume;  Regularly label for the 2009 Qupe Syrah$16.99 at Vons, on sale for $11.89

On the Label:  Qupe. Syrah. Central Coast. (and no, I’m not kidding! LOVE it!).

My Take: This was a lush wine. Not as quite as deep as the Alexander, it did have more of a spiciness to it, which I personally love. It smelled nice and juicy but the fruit didn’t hit you in the face – it was much more subdued than that.  If you can find it on sale, definitely give it a try.

My Rating:  ~ Very Drinkable ~ 

photo of Bon Midi Red Wine

thanks to for the photo!

Bon Midi RED 2010  South of France Pays d’Herault  55% Merlot, 45% Grenache Alcohol 12% by Volume Regularly priced at $3.99 at Fresh & Easy

On the Label: “Producing some of France’s finest modern wines, the Midi region has everything French winegrowers need to make great wines. This is Cezanne country, the land of great artists and great wines, where the landscape is covered with sunflowers, rows of lavender and lush vineyards.

“A rich, full bodied red with blackcurrant fruit, chocolate and pepper aromas. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy  on its own, or with barbecued meat dishes or spicy pasta. Made from Merlot and Grenache grapes grown in the premium vineyards across the Midi region. Enjoy now or store carefully for up to 2 years after purchase.”

My Take: I loved this wine. We had Bison burgers at home, and this wine was the perfect accompaniment. It also reminded me of driving in the Netherlands and stopping at a gas station – we picked up two bottles of French wine for about $3 a piece, and they were some of the best wines we had all trip.

This is a wine to share. To keep around on the off chance you’ll have company, or to open when nothing else seems quite right. It’s a warm, ready, willing and easy wine to drink right now, no matter what the weather, and considering its a 2010, that shocked me.

My Rating: ~Very Good ~ Excellent Price~ Run, don’t walk, and stock up on some of this. You never know when I’ll be dropping by!

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 – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Demon HUNT coming soon!

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, Very Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!

High end Syrah, low end Blend

High end Syrah, low end Blend

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10. Please note, however, that the prices I quote are what I paid at my local store; your pricing will probably differ.

Stonehedge Reserve Petite Syrah, 2007  Special Vineyard Select –  Alcohol 14.5% by volume. Cellars located in Arroyo Grande, California. $9.99 at Vons.

The label was uninformative, but a couple of wine sites – the Vino File particularly – had the scoop I needed. Surprisingly, the website for Stonehedge didn’t show the Reserve Petite Syrah 2007 at all.

This Wine Judging site gave it a gold medal. Another site I didn’t bookmark said the $10 price was about right for the quality. So there you go…

My Take: It had a nice juiciness, plus a zing of pepper that I love. If you’re a SWEET red wine drinker, this is not the wine for you. If you like medium-sized reds with a bit of a bite, you would probably like this. Plus, if you give it as a gift, the whole “Reserve” on the label makes it look more expensive than it is – and the taste doesn’t detract from the label. A win-win!

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ I guess I’m getting picky as I taste. I’ve got a few favorites, and this, sad to say, didn’t make my “I’d buy it again” list. But that doesn’t detract from it’s tastiness!

Bear Flag California Smooth Wine Blend  Modesto, California Alcohol 12% by volume Blend of Tempranillo, Touriga, Zinfandel and Alicante Bouschet (I know – don’t know a couple of these, either!!!) $6.99 at Vons.

On the Label: It’s wild. Check out the website. The label, plus it’s low price, is why I picked it up.

Characterized as closer to the “sweet” scale, this is a “sweet” red that I enjoyed. In fact, I was surprised to see they characterized it as such. It was an easy-sipper and went very well with the clean-out-the-veggie-bin soup I made yesterday.

Easy. Not a big wine; if I had to put only one varietal to it, I’d put it close to a Merlot. The label is cool, and they have other blends I’m hoping Vons will carry so I can try them out.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~  Again, it wasn’t a breathless wine – but it’s a solid choice for that rushed evening when you’re really looking to sip something as you make those burgers. Or chicken patties. I will say you won’t regret it!

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and will depend upon my mood, the meal I just ate, 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?

Fish Tacos and Wine…

Fish Tacos and Wine…

It’s Friday – so I must be tasting cheap wines for you, so you don’t have to! Let’s begin, shall we?

Which wine goes best with fish tacos? I’m not talking the batter-fried fish…I’m talking lime-infused, pan-grilled Dover Sole in white corn tortillas with home-grown tomatoes, crisp green cabbage, refried beans…and a flurry of other stuff like saffron rice, guacamole, and sour cream.

So…which wine?

We tasted three. Yes, envy us! I’ll take you from white to rose, to red in our quest, and I’ll make my pronouncement at the end of the posting for the best wine with fish tacos!

La Gioiosa et Amorosa Pinot Grigio ~ Italy ~ Fresh & Easy, $7.99

On the Label: Marca Trevigiana Indicazione Geografica Tipica Alcohol 10% by volume

I found this wine the first year Fresh & Easy opened up in my hometown. It was refrigerated, had a screw top, was only $5.99, and said it was a “Prosecco”. Which is the Italian bubbly wine. I bought it, fell in love with it, and have been buying it ever since. Except last year sometime, it went away. No one knew what happened to it, but it was gone. GONE. I was devastated. This year, however, it came back – but the label no longer said “Prosecco” though it still had bubbles in it, and it had gotten bumped up to $7.99.

Still. Low alcohol content for wine always makes me give two thumbs up. Crisp, clean, almost tasteless but with a hint of the yummy Pinot Grigio grape and the sparkle of the tiny, tiny bubbles. Last night I drank it with Chinese food – it cut through the spices and cleared my palate, the way a good wine is supposed to. Tonight? It handled the fish tacos very well.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ For the price, it’s a good, inexpensive bubbly with an Italian heritage.

Tempranillo Penrosa 2009, Vino de Espana Rose wine BODEGAS REALEZA $4.99, Fresh & Easy

On the Label: “Product of Spain Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon Spain is producing some of the finest rose´wines in the world due to their beautifully ripe grapes and new modern winemaking practices. This rose´has been made to be the perfect al fresco  refresher on long hot summer days.

“Fresh red berry fruit aromas of strawberry and raspberry. Serve chilled, on its own or with light savoury canapes. Made from premium grapes grown across northwest Spain. Enjoy now or store carefully for up to two years after purchase.”

I love this wine. It’s got a lovely hint of sweetness. A pretty pink wine that would go with pork, fish, or vegetarian meals, it’s also got the balls to cut through spice (good for Asian dishes) but works well as a sipping wine, too. It made the fish tacos sing. Another wine with a screw top, to which I say Huzzah!

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ And come on, at $5 a bottle, this could be THE summer wine! Seriously. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Fresh & Easy, go buy a bottle for that summer party that’s coming up. Because there always seems to be a summer party that we’re not ready for, right?

Apothic Red 2009 Winemaker’s Blend, California On Sale at Vons for $9.99 (I think…lost my receipt! But definitely not over $9.99.)

On the Label: “Inspired by the ‘Apotheca’ , a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th  century Europe. Apothic Red offers a truly unique wine experience.

“A masterful blend of RICH ZINFANDEL, FLAVORFUL SYRAH, and SMOOTH MERLOT, creating layers of dark red fruit complemented by hints of vanilla and mocha.”

Okay. Have you ever had a huge party, and after everyone’s gone home, you had like, seven bottles of red wine with maybe two inches of wine left?

Yeah, me neither. Okay, but suppose you did. And you just poured all the wine together into one bottle, and stuck it in the fridge, and drank it the next day. Oh, stop looking so horrified. The wine probably tastes very, very good. The bad part? There is no way to recreate the wine you created the night before. Or…maybe that’s the good part…

At any rate, this wine is approachable. As the hubby says, he can sip it between playing songs on the guitar. It doesn’t demand food. It’s a congenial wine, ready to play, or be a backdrop to the food you’re serving. As to how it went with fish tacos?

Well, it was fine. Not a standout, no more than any of the other wines. To be honest, hubby said to me before dinner that fish tacos only rate a mediocre wine. I don’t agree, especially with the fish tacos I made…

My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ Though hubby says very drinkable, lol!

We ended up drinking the red wine with dinner. But frankly, the Penrosa Rose would have been spectacular with the fish tacos, and the La Gioiosa Pinot Grigio would have cleared our palates in a wonderful fashion. So – with these three wines, all of them would have served wonderfully both the table and the palate.

Do check out the links, wine sites can be totally fascinating. Remember, these are my taste buds and that means they’re subject to tides, winds, and the whims of the family. Your taste buds will vary. And please…drink responsibly!

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