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. But when you check out the hundreds of wines available in the grocery store, what do you buy? Relax! I’m here for you, sorting out the memorable from the truly awful. Each bottle is under $10 unless noted otherwise.
Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha, 2008 Calatayud Product of Spain Alcohol 14.1% by Volume. $14.99 at BevMo! – bought on a 5 cent sale (1 bottle regular price, 2nd bottle 5 cents).
On The Label: Just the typical government warning.
My Take: I had bought Las Rocas Garnacha on a 5 cent sale earlier in the year, and just recently drank the second bottle. It is very like a big, full-bodied Zinfandel, with lots of lovely pepper and dark fruit to it. When I noticed it won “Best of Class” in it’s section at the L.A. Wine Fest this year, I decided I really needed to pick up another bottle. Or two.
I’m SO glad I did. The wine went very well with the BBQ’d pork ribs I’d made for my family. I’ve got one more bottle up in my wine bin, and I may just have to bring it down for this July 4th BBQ. It’s great with grilled meats of any kind, and would also be fabulous with just about any Italian dish.
My Rating: ~Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!~ Yes. It’s been awhile, but this wine deserves the rating. Plus, on the 5 cent sale, you can buy two bottles which puts each individual bottle under $10! (I’m sneaky that way…) 2008 seems to have been a VERY good wine year.
Barefoot Pinot Grigio n/v Alcohol 12.5% by Volume $6.99 at Vons
On The Label: “Barefoot’s Pinot Grigio Blends have won BEST BUY from the Wine Enthusiast, March 2011 ‘Consistent Quality, Proven Value’.
“Barefoot Pinot Grigio is a crisp and refreshing wine with bright aromas and flavors of citrus and fresh green apple. Hints of jasmine complement a bright, delicate, flavorful finish.
“Barefoot Pinot Grigio is a perfect match with poultry, seafood, spicy pasta, and pizza. Refreshing!”
My Take: This (along with just about every Pinot Grigio) is the perfect summer wine. Often I don’t remember to chill my white wines in advance; this wine, in a big glass filled with ice, is the perfect party sipper. Plus at this price, it won’t break your wallet. Take two bottles and make your hosts happy! (Note to self; Pick up a couple bottles at the store before heading out to the drum circle today.)
If you notice, I’m not raving about the wine. I have a hard time raving about whites; I don’t know why. But it is a solid player and one I’m not ashamed to serve – or give.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Stock up on it for the summer, so you’ll always have some on hand!
My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, how much writing I’ve managed that day, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Blood Dreams is now available, just 99 cents! Demon Hunt, Book 2 in the Caine Brothers Series, coming late Summer 2012.
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, unless noted otherwise.
Finally, the dust is settling on my whirlwind vacation and new job. I can divulge a few more wines that we indulged in, while enjoying nature at close to 8 thousand feet in the Eastern Sierras.
Steelhead Pinot Noir, 2009 Sonoma County Alcohol 14.3% by volume – $9.99 on sale at Vons. Check out the winery here.
On the Label: “Better wine. Better world. Earthy, dark cherry flavors, notes of spice and cocoa and a long, velvety finish. Pair with wild salmon, poultry, pork and lamb. Sonoma County Vineyards with ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir. French Oak. This wine honors our commitment and efforts to restore the Steelhead habitat. We are the official wine of Trout Unlimited and support their conservation efforts with a donation for every bottle purchased.
My take: It’s a lovely wine. It has depth, a nice velvety texture (as advertised), and went brilliantly with campfire smoke and hamburgers. Plus, it’s makers are altruistic. How cool is that?
I checked into the Trout Unlimited group. I didn’t have time to really dig into the website, but for any avid trout fisherman, it’s fascinating reading. I, however, am not an avid trout fisherman. Go to the site though, because it does look interesting.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ I truly enjoyed this wine. Though it could be the campfire talking…
Winery Wine – Harmony Cellars Harmonie White Table Wine Paso Robles $14.50/bottle
On the Label: “My goal is to produce wines that taste delicious. With over 800 awards and accolades since 1989, the wines of Harmony Cellars simply speak for themselves. Harmonie is our white table wine, a lovely blend of Chardonnay, White Riesling, and Muscat Canelli. Harmonie, with it’s light tropical aromas and flavors, pairs wonderfully with summertime fare, cheese and crackers, and good friends. Please visit us in Harmony, or on the web at HarmonyCellars.com or call 1-800-432-9239.” – Chuck Mulligan, Winemaker
My take: As he says, this is the perfect summer wine. I recognized that in February, when we visited the winery on our way home from Big Sur. Hubby loved it – I purchased four bottles of the stuff. (I did end up filling a case – six bottles of the 2007 Zin, two of the Private Reserve Pinot, and the four Harmonie.)
If you’re in central California and you can, I encourage you to visit Harmony (population, 18) and the Harmony Cellars off of Highway 101 (just south of Cambria and near HW46). The people are friendly, the wines tasty (though they do vary in price – $14.50 seems to be the bottom of the range), and the memories lasting.
My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~
Okay, one more…
Dynamite Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Red Hills Lake County 13.99% alcohol Regularly $19.99, on sale at Vons for $9.99
On the Label: “Our Cabernet Sauvignon offers luscious blackberry, cassis, chocolate and cedar aromas and flavors. Hints of toffee linger on the fruity finish. The rich, velvety flavors make a dynamite match with grilled steak, roasted game, garlicky lamb chops and aged cheeses.
The inspiration for the name Dynamite came from hillside vineyards so thick with volcanic rock that we blasted with dynamite to plant the vines. Our colorful label by Stephen Ward illustrates the Pomo Indian legend behind the diamond-like quartz that sparkles in the soils of our volcanic vineyards: “The Moon wept when she could not be with her love, a Pomo Chieftain, and her tears fell to the earth, forming glistening ‘moon tears’. ” Taste the magic in our legendary wines.”
My take: Way too much info on the label and way too diverse info on the label. Any one of those things would be interesting – volcanic rock, dynamite, Pomo Indians, ‘moon tears’ – but put it all together and it’s a label I find terribly confusing. The painting that’s on the front is beautiful, and so is the Indian legend (even though it comes out of the blue), but…eh. Of course, now I want garlicky lamb chops. Bustards.
As to the wine – well, the first bottle we had earlier in our camping week seemingly disappeared after I opened it. And then the top got cut off, and the bottle disposed of…so I had to get a second bottle, especially when I saw it was going for half price.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ It just wasn’t memorable. Though I certainly wouldn’t spend $20 for it!
When I went to their website, the consensus was overall that the wines were high quality, but also “every day” wines, and I’d have to agree. I just don’t think an “every day” wine should be $20.
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and how much writing I’ve done that week. 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?
Cooking. Recipes. I used to follow them to the letter, until I had kids. Then shortcuts started happening, or I didn’t have the exact ingredients, or I just thought it might taste better if…
My husband is still a slave to the recipe, no matter what it may be. Which is better? Someone who follows a recipe down to the last quarter teaspoon of water in the pan, or someone who is creative as they cook?
It all boils down (pun intended) to the recipe itself. The trick is finding the right one – and I still go by instinct rather than solid knowledge when I look for a recipe.
For instance, about three months ago hubby decided he’d make a fish chowder. For some reason I wasn’t home that day, so he found a recipe online and made this chowder. When I got home the next evening, he stood at the stove, reheating his creation from the night before.
“Fix this,” he said to me, and thrust the spoon into my hand. “It was bland and boring last night. Please, make it taste better.”
I sipped. He was right, bland and boring. But once you’ve added the cream to the chowder, there’s not much more you can do to it. I tried; I added creamed corn and some thyme, and a little bit of sherry. That brought the chowder up to not-bland and not-boring, but certainly not the chowder he was trying to recreate (from a restaurant we’d eaten at in Monterey in early March).
Time rolled on, until this past weekend. Fish Chowder, says the husband. I agreed to make it if he bought the fish. And it was my turn to hit the internet for a recipe.
Photo from http://simplyrecipes.com
Most of the flavor of a good seafood chowder comes before you add the fish and the cream. The recipe I ultimately found had all the ingredients it needed to be tasty – olive oil and butter, onions, dry white wine, potatoes, clam juice, Old Bay seasoning and thyme, for starters.
The New England Fish Chowder recipe that I found from Simply Recipes had everything I needed. The interesting thing about this recipe? If I wanted to omit the fish and add shrimp, clams, and crab, that too would taste amazing. Because most of the flavor is in the base of the chowder, not the fish itself. Two cups of clam juice was what it took to make this chowder lip-smackingly good.
The recipe itself calls for Pacific Cod, as its a sustainable fish here in the west. I used Tilapia because it’s cheap. I also, at the last minute, threw in a pound of cut-up raw shrimp just before the Tilapia was cooked – the shrimp cooked up in a minute or so and added nice color to the chowder (and as the shrimp was on special, $5 a pound, I didn’t totally blow the grocery budget).
Overall, it was a winner. We had the leftovers last night, and I didn’t have to do a thing to make it taste better! Oh, and we had a Chenin Blanc wine to go with it. Decent pairing, but I would have preferred an oaky Chardonnay.
Some people may think fish chowder is a funny recipe to make during the summer – but days can be foggy and cool here in June, and sometimes a hearty fish chowder can both warm you up and still make it feel like summer, with that taste of the sea.
What are some of your favorite summer dishes?
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Have you read DEMON SOUL yet? You can find it at Crescent Moon Press or Amazon.com. Happy Reading!