Two Whites to Whet your Appetite

Two Whites to Whet your Appetite

Wine Friday is mostly about the bargain. 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.)

Today, I’ve got two whites, for the white wine lovers in the crowd (and I know there are many!).

creme dy lysCreme de Lys Chardonnay 2012 Sonoma, California Alcohol Content, 13.5% by Volume. $7.99 on sale at Vons

On the Label: “Slow down, exhale and enjoy this rich, creamy Chardonnay.  You deserve it! Our Winemaker chose California vineyards that yield incredibly lush flavors of tropical fruit, baked apple and citrus.  Sur lie aging gives this wine its soft, creamy style. Aging nine months, primarily on French oak, adds hints of vanilla and creme brulee on the finish, making this wine the perfect reward at the end of your day.”

My Take: For those of you who love the new “naked” Chardonnays, i.e., a Chardonnay that doesn’t have that big, buttery 1990s flavor, relax. Even though this wine is aged in French oak, it’s got a nice richness to it that does not harken back to those big, buttery days. As well, those of you who MISS those big, buttery Chardonnays, take heart. This has the creaminess that many of the newer, “steel” Chardonnays could never have. A little bit of  the old style in a new, creamy flavor. Excellent with chicken, or a creamy pasta.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable Plus ~ It’s not quite up to my Very Drinkable standard, but it will definitely fill the bill when you need a white wine for dinner OR for sipping. It’s versatile and very mouth-friendly. Enjoy!

Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc, 2013  Napa, California Alcohol Content, 13% by Volume. OnGP_VarietalTier_SauvBlanc_2012 sale for $6.99 at Vons.

On The Label: (Front) “Our historic winery is perched on a hillside overlooking the picturesque vineyards beneath Geyser Peak Mountain.” (Back) “Founded in 1880 by pioneering winemaker Augusts Quitzow, Geyser Peak Winery became California’s 29th bonded winery, and sits in the heart of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley.  Our Sauvignon Blanc, with fresh fruit character and balanced acidity, comes from a diversity of rugged, coastal-influenced growing regions.  We seal our Sauvignon Blanc with a screwcap to ensure all of the delicate aromatics and flavors captured at the winery are delivered to you in the bottle – enjoy!

“Taste profile: Crisp and refreshing, with flavors of lime, grapefruit, honeydew melon and lemongrass.

“Suggested pairings: Fantastic with Asian food, especially Thai and sushi.  Also great with salads, oysters, shellfish and grilled seafood.”

My Take: Whew. That’s a label that says a mouthful, plus tells you not only how to taste it but what to serve it with. Kinda pushy, don’t you think? Or maybe that’s just me. Anyhoo – despite the pushiness of the label, I really enjoyed this wine with the crab quiche I’d made. It’s definitely crisp and clean, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it to any spring or summer party. Definitely prefer it with seafood.

My Rating:  ~ Very Drinkable ~ And at that price, stock up on a few bottles. You never know when you’ll need a terrific wine.

What are you drinking? I’d love to 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.

Susie Strong, and Wine Friday

Susie Strong, and Wine Friday

Today an amazing woman who is a WANA friend is undergoing surgery for breast cancer. As today is also the day I get a mammogram, I felt that I had to give a shout-out to Susie Lindau (along with a LOT of our other WANA friends), tell her that I’m thinking about her, and to remind my other dear friends to not forget about scheduling your mammograms. I’ve been scolded for not getting one since 2010; both my doctor AND her nurse chided me about it. So here I go, into the squeeze machine, and you can bet I’ll be thinking of Susie and her doctors while I do so.

In Surgery Today.

In Surgery Today.

Susie writes with humor and grace, and you can find her at Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride. Go check her out; she’s totally a blogger worth following. And to show your support, tweet her at #SusieStrong – Susie know you’re thinking about her!

For more information about the WANA Revolution, check out Kristen Lamb’s blog today. Talking about wine after discussing Susie seems a bit trivial, but – onward!

Wine Friday – Two Chardonnays for Summer

In these days of high unemployment and wild uncertainty, 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.

seekerThe Seeker California Chardonnay 2010 Alcohol 13.8% by Volume  Website:

On the Label:  “The Seeker relentlessly tracks down the world’s finest wines across time zones and continents.  Our wines are made with care by talented winemaking families, crafting flavorful, individual wines from selected grapes where they grow best.  The first Seeker wines come from France, New Zealand, Argentine, California, and Chile.  If you share the joy of discovery, this wine is for the Seeker in you.

“The grapes for our Chardonnay were discovered across California’s finest cool-climate vineyard sites to deliver a wine with ripe pineapple, golden apple, and pear flavors with a smooth, creamy finish.  Pour a glass and transport yourself to Sunny California wine country.”

My Take: I’m not usually a fan of what I like to call “consortium” wines (though that’s probably the totally wrong word); by that I mean, I prefer wines from a winery. From what the label says, these people go all over the world to find wines, then put their own label on them and import them. So it makes me kind of wiggly tentative about trying the wine.

But luckily, I bought before I read the label. This was a nice, easy-sipping wine, perfect for summer and fish on the grill. Barely any oak, so you stainless steel Chardonnay fans will be happy (though I’m glad I can say there’s no “tinny” taste at all). To top it off, it’s got a screw top, which makes it easy (especially for arthritic hands) to open.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

Ooh La La Chardonnay 2011  California Alcohol 9.0% by Volume  oh lala                     Website:

On the Label: “Ooh La La wines are light and refreshing with just at touch of mouthwatering zing that allows the fresh fruit flavors to rush forward.  The Chardonnay is lush and juicy with flavors of apple, tropical fruit and vanilla.  The perfect start to any occasion! SERVE WELL CHILLED.”

My Take: At 9% alcohol, THIS is the white wine you want to serve at parties. It is ever-so-slightly effervescent, which was a delightful surprise; and it stood up to appetizers just fine. Plus the bottle is – wait for it – capped, like a soda. How innovative! I’ve only seen that on a couple of bottles in the past. (Bonus – they also put out a Rose´, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling.)

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~ Stock up, so you’ll be ready to go all summer long, no matter where you’re invited.

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.

My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to get that mammogram! ~


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

Red Wine and BBQ

Red Wine and BBQ

In these days of wild uncertainty about everything, 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.

We’ve arrived at Memorial Day weekend – the tail end of May (already!!). In the northern hemisphere, this heralds the beginning of summer. And while Memorial Day is the American holiday to remember and reflect on all the soldiers who have died for our freedoms, it also tends to be the kick-off to barbecue season.

So what better way to get back into the swing of Wine Fridays than with a blog about wines to go with your barbecue? Many people think you need a big wine to go with the sometimes really zesty flavors of BBQ, but I say, not always. Below are two wines that work beautifully with bold flavors and yet are also terrific sipping wines.

Blackstone Winemaker’s Select Red Blend 2010 Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; $8.99 at Vons.

On the Label:  “Our Blackstone red wine is produced from vineyards located throughout CAlifornia’s finest grape-growing regions.  After harvest, each vineyard lot is carefully developed to capture its distinctive flavors and aromatic qualities.

“Our wine is a blend of California’s best red wine varietals and emulates Blackstone’s style; smooth, flavorful and balanced.  This wine is soft and silky with flavors of ripe plum, blackberry and dark chocolate with a long, lush finish.”

My Take: The hubby brought this home one night and we had it with barbecued chicken, smashed potatoes and a big salad. The wine is definitely as advertised – soft, easily drinkable, yet it held up against the strong flavor of the barbecue sauce just fine.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ A good wine to bring to a Memorial Day cookout, or any summer party.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2008 Columbia Valley, Washington  Alcohol, 13.5% by Volume $9.99 at Vons

On the Label: “Grand Estates is synonymous with quality, consistency and value. Combining the best vineyards fromt he columbia Valley with artisan winemaking results in a world-class wine.

“To add a layer of complexity to our Grand Estates Merlot, we ferment our juice with whole berries to create a rich aromatic profile, highlight exceptional fruit flavors and exhibit a lush, velvety-smooth texture.”  – Ray Elnberger, Winemaker

My Take: Many people have been swayed by the movie SIDEWAYS and no longer drink Merlot, which is a pity. A good merlot has a wonderful mouthfeel; not too big, but definitely big enough to handle anything a barbecue can spit out at you. We had this wine with grilled sausages, grilled veggies, with a side of pasta parmesan (no red sauce, just butter, pepper and parmesan cheese). It handled the spicy sausage just fine and was a lovely complement to the veggies and pasta.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Yet another good value, and a crowd pleaser. I think I might have snagged the last bottle of 2008 at my grocery store; if you find the 2009, I’m expecting it to be just as solid a wine.

As usual, this is just my honest opinion, which will depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ. Enjoy the weekend my friends, and stay safe out there.

~ Until the next time, cheers! ~


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

Snarking on Winter Whites

Snarking on Winter Whites

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.

Today I’ve got three white wines. Yes, despite the fact that I am a red wine whore fan, at times the food, the day, the palate cry out for a white wine. I’m not entirely sure when, but my husband makes sure to point out all the signs. Like, he opens a bottle of white wine and pours it for dinner. That’s usually a really good sign that it’s time for a white wine. So, without further ado, here are the three that have managed to sneak onto my dinner table in the past couple of weeks.

It’s A HeadSnapper Pinot Grigio 2011 D.O.C. Trentino, Product of Italy Alcohol 12.5% by Volume,  $9.99 at Vons

On the Label: “When a wine is so memorable that it makes you do a double take, you know “It’s a HeadSnapper.”

“Zesty and floral, our Pinot Grigio has delicate notes of honeysuckle and figs which finish with a crisp, soft note. Enjoy its refreshing finish with wood-fired quatro pizza or simply as an aperitif.


My Take: In my opinion, people in the wine industry should not try to become standup comics. Neither should they try to be “cute” with their labels. Honestly, it took me several years after seeing my first “HeadSnapper” label to actually get up the nerve to buy one.

On the one hand, the subliminal message of the label could be, “hey, we don’t take ourselves too seriously and neither should you” – but it could also be saying “we’re a really bad wine disguising ourselves with a funny label”.  I finally got up the nerve, in spite of the label, to give it a whirl.

I liked it. Crisp, refreshing, just the way a Pinot Grigio should taste. I didn’t taste any figs or honeysuckle, but it was a nice, clean wine that was in no way offensive.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable Plus ~ Yeah, technically that’s not a rating, but it didn’t quite elevate itself up to Very Drinkable so I had to come up with something else. Drinkable Plus seems to work for now.

Toad Hollow 2010 Unoaked Chardonnay Francine’s Selection, Mendocino County Alcohol 13.9% by Volume, under $10 at Vons.

On the Label: “2010 Unoaked Chardonnay. Clean, crisp and full flavored with hints of mango and melon and a rich, creamy mouth feel. Pair with herbed chicken, braised pork, grilled shellfish, sushi. Also great with goat cheese and gouda. A treat for the senses!

“Seriously crafted from three Mendocino County vineyards that produce clean, bright flavors in Chardonnay.  Whole cluster picked and pressed into tanks, racked and chilled to 52 degrees F. Slow fermentation process to retain fruity characteristics. Absolutely no oak!”

My Take: Okay, okay, no oak. I get it. Though why they would brag about leaving out an important (to me) part of wooing the chardonnay grapes is totally beside me. Though I do understand there are fanatic Chardonnay drinkers out there who actually prefer the stainless steel taste in their Chardonnay and in fact, am friends with more than a few, I do believe this is just a fad and will fade with time. My fondest hope is that there will be a middle ground – not the huge buttery, oaky Chardonnays of the 1980s (which was a fad in itself), but something milder, and without the metallic taste so often prevalent in the unoaked Chardonnays.

My Rating: ~ Thiscloseto Very Drinkable ~ Yes. Despite my rant above, this is close to being a Very Drinkable wine. Not too metallic (but that does creep in a tiny bit to my personal palate) but drinkable. Despite the cutesy label  (with Mr. Toad, in waistcoat and walking stick, lifting a glass to the sky), too – I guess after the HeadSnapper label, this one was mild in comparison. At any rate, all you Unoaked fans will appreciate this one.

Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay 2011 The Earth Friendly Winery™ Pioneers in sustainability; Established in 1968. 14% less carbon emissions. Alcohol 13% by Volume. Under $10 at Vons

On the Label: “Renewal. With each new vintage, I recall why I enjoy making wine. Starting fresh each spring energizes me. My sense of personal renewal shows in our popular Chardonnay. This is a wine with a medium body, full of easy-to-drink flavors of apple, pear and tropical fruits. So when the day is done, I like to relax and refresh with good friends. Our Chardonnay is always invited. Perfect with most fish dishes and white meats like chicken or pork.” Dennis Martin, Winemaker

“Fetzer now uses lighter glass bottles, runs the winery from mostly green energy, recycles, the list goes on…enhancing our heritage of sustainability.”

My Take: There is so much wrong with that back label that I’m stumped as to where to start. I’m not sure, for instance, that I want to know what part of Dennis’ sense of personal renewal shows in the wine. Is it the sweat of work well done? *shudder* And how about where he “invites” his friend, Chardonnay, to relax with him – and then CONSUMES said friend? It’s just – disturbing. But for me, the icing on the cake is their trumpeting of their “green” practices. If you have to shout about it on the label…*shakes head*. I suppose it is a good thing that I make a practice of NEVER reading the back label before I buy.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ When all is said and done, Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay has been a favorite of mine for over 20 years. They’ve kept the price low, which means I can still afford it, and it’s a solid producer, year after year. What’s not to like?

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. Thanks for dropping by! I love your comments – what new wine (or old favorite) have you enjoyed recently?

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

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

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


Clearing Wine Bottles Off My Desk

Clearing Wine Bottles Off My Desk

There are so many empty bottles of wine on my desk, that the cat now refuses to come up and sleep in his box. The wine bottles scare him when they fall, and the last time it happened he glared at me and went off in a huff.

As I looked at the bottles, however, I realized there were a couple that I either didn’t like or I couldn’t remember how they tasted, and my notebook had gone missing. So…those got tossed. No big loss; one was a Concannon Petite Syrah that I wasn’t that impressed with, and the other I couldn’t remember but was a new label called Handcraft – a Pinot Noir, both from 2010. I will get back to the Handcraft because I don’t have bad memories of it, and because it’s still a new wine to me.

So on to the wines that are left!

Clos du Bois Pinot Noir 2009  North Coast – Alcohol 13.5% by Volume. Regularly $14.27 at Vons; $6.99 on sale

On the Label:  “Grown in north coast vineyards influenced by cooling ocean breezes and persistent morning fog, our Pinot Noir exhibits aromas and flavors of red cherry, raspberry, and hints of cranberry harmonized with vanilla and spice from aging in oak barrels.”

My Take: A lovely wine, at a lovely price. It definitely meets/beats the Smoking Loon test (is this better than a $5.99 bottle of Smoking Loon Pinot Noir?) and was a treat. We had this with a lovely home made red pasta sauce with ground pork, pureed tomatos and fresh zucchini, onions, carrots and mushrooms sauteed with the pork. That and a raft of garlic bread made a fantastic meal.

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~  Especially for the price!

Cut The Fluff  Comique Revolution White Table Wine 2010 Central Coast  

photo of the label of cut the fluff wine

thanks to for the photo

Bottled by Central Coast Wine Warehouse – I could not find the alcohol content on the label. $6.99 (?) at Trader Joe’s.

On the Label: “We had no choice but to CUT THE FLUFF – our white wine smells like apple blossoms, juniper berries & honeydew. TASTES LIKE white peaches, custard & salted pain perdue.”

My Take: This was an interesting wine. It tasted smooth, went down very well, I had no problems with it at all. But surprisingly, neither have I gone out of my way to pick up another bottle, even when I’ve been to Trader Joe’s – and usually I’ll do so if I like it. Not sure what that says about the wine, lol.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~  But not memorable. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

a photo of the tato wine label, 2005

thanks to for the image

Tato Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2009  Denominazione di Origine Controllata  Alcohol 13.5% by Volume  $6.99 at Trader Joe’s.

On the Label: “Dry Red Wine. Product of Italy” (Brief – gotta love it!)

My Take: Italian wines are, to me, luscious. When I was in Italy in 2004, I couldn’t get a bad glass of red wine, and I always asked for the house wine. Every restaurant seemed to have its own supplier; and while each glass tasted different, the wine inevitably was wonderful.

This wine is, I’m happy to say, no exception. It needed airing; but it was a lovely, full-bodied, rich red wine that went perfectly with hamburgers topped with blue cheese, and lovely roasted smashed potatoes.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ and at a great price! Plus the label is really cool.

As usual, this is just my honest opinion – which will 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 now. BLOOD DREAMS, a Caine Brothers Short Story, will be available on June 1st. Demon Hunt coming Summer, 2012!

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