White Wine Spritzers for Summer

White Wine Spritzers for Summer

It’s hot. Muggy. The humidity is rising faster than the heat, and the air conditioning can barely keep up. What’s a rational person to drink while barbecuing pizza at night, with the temps still in the upper 80s?

Try a white wine spritzer. Any white wine will do, actually, but I like going for the less expensive wines. Here’s the recipe:

One large glass – either a tumbler or a big wine glass.
Fill with ice
Fill half full with white wine
Squeeze half a small lemon or lime or – heck – an orange – into the wine (or get fancy, like the picture)
Add sparkling water (soda water) to the brim

(Contrariwise, you can always add some Sprite or 7-Up or other lemon-lime type soda instead of plain soda water. But beware; you add calories, too.)

Last night’s Spritzers were made with two different wines.

Side By Side 2010 California Chardonnay Alcohol 13.5% by volume; closeout sale at Vons, under $10.

On The Label: “Beyond the strategic relationship, so many of us from both nations have fought literally side by side, that this modern relationship between the US and UK military means a great deal to us. It has a depth and an emotion to it that is profound.”     –Major General Phil Jones

Proceeds to benefit Azalea Charities Aid for Wounded Warriors program at http://azaleacharities.org ”

My Take: This was an easy-drinking wine, and the soda water and lemon made it go down even easier. I tried and failed to find the wine on-line; the label is a beautiful painting of two soldiers, one wearing a US flag, one wearing a UK flag. I wish I knew more about the wine; and where to get it. As it was on close out sale, my guess is its gone from the places I usually get wine.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Perfect for a Spritzer, but just as drinkable without the extras.

Discoveries Vineyards 2009 California Chardonnay Alcohol 13.5% by Volume Label of Discoveries Vineyards Chardonnay showing a pier stretching out to Anacapa Island, California$7.99 at Vons

On The Label: “It’s not always the journey that changes our lives. It’s often the discoveries we make along the way. Our first discovery shows the silhouette of Ventura Pier and Anacapa Island in the distance warmed by the setting sun. Our second discovery is this Chardonnay. Both are soft and tranquil. Only one has fresh fruit and toasted oak in the finish.”

My Take:  I sipped this wine straight out of the bottle after Tom made me a spritzer with it, just so I could get a sense of it. I went back to the spritzer. It turns out the lime/lemon added along with the soda water really made a difference in how the wine tasted, which made it perfect for a spritzer.

My Rating: ~ Perfect for a Spritzer ~ A new rating. I would otherwise rate it on the Barely Drinkable to Drinkable scale.

Two More Wines For Summer (that I would not use for Spritzers):

photo of the Cupcake Vineyards Angel Food wine bottleIf you haven’t yet tried Cupcake Vineyards 2011 Angel Food, do give it a try. At first taste it does remind me of angel food cake, which is my all-time favorite. It’s got a great vanilla flavor with a little more than a hint of sweetness, cut by some green apple. I was vastly surprised that I liked it. My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Under $10 at Vons, on sale.

Also new to the stores is Be. Fresh Chardonnay 2011. Introductory price under $10; don’t know how long that will last. It’s a Beringer Vineyards wine, so the lineage is strong. I liked it; fresh, fruity, and when really cold, revitalizing. It was not in a typical Chardonnay-style bottle, but I got over it pretty quickly, lol. My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ (I couldn’t grab a picture of the bottle – but here’s the web page http://bewinery.com/fresh.php .)

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, how many political ads I’ve been bombarded with, and if Mercury is in Retrograde or not. Your taste buds will differ.

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

DEMON HUNT Arrives July 16, 2012!

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

Two Cupcake Wines

Two Cupcake Wines

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.

birthday cake

http://birthday‑cake.png via webweaver.nu

Because its my birthday, because I didn’t tackle this post yesterday, and because the hubby is making me a scrumptious birthday breakfast, this is going to be a two-bottle posting.

Today I’m featuring two wines from Cupcake Vineyards. Mainly because I finally decided not to hold their Red Velvet blend against them, lol.

Cupcake Vineyards Chardonnay 2010 Central Coast Alcohol 13.5% by volume; less than $9.99 at Vons.

On the Label: “Our vineyards work hard to bring you the biggest, richest chardonnay from California’s desirable Central Coast, where the sun-drenched grapes create full and elegantly-textured wines. Decadent flavors of butter cream, bright citrus and vanilla melt into a balance of oak and subtle spice. In other words: Sinful. Serve chilled with crab cakes, seared Ahi tuna on waffle crackers or fresh-baked French bread and cheese.”

My Take: I’m glad I took the chance with Cupcake Vineyards. I really liked this wine. It has the buttery flavor that I prefer, but it’s not a heavy wine. We had it with roasted chicken and rice, and it was the perfect accompaniment.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

Cupcake Vineyards Pinot Noir, 2010 Central Coast Alcohol 13.5% by volume, under $9.99 at Vons

On the Label: “Our vineyards work hard to bring you the finest, brightest, most elegant Pinot Noir from California’s desirable Central Coast. Here the bright sun is paired with the cool maritime fog, which develops these elegantly structured berries. The bright aromas of cherries carries through the palate with a touch of red currants and a hint of spices. Its reminiscent of a cherry cupcake with currant coulis. Serve with lamb kabobs, smoked sausage, or your favorite mushroom risotto.”

My Take: Pinot Noir is one of my very favorite varietals, and I have two very good go-to Pinots so it takes a lot to impress me now. This – well, it doesn’t, sorry to say. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this wine; it is a perfectly good Pinot Noir. It just doesn’t beat the Smoking Loon test.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Absolutely! Many will find this wine perfectly enjoyable; I kept looking for something that wasn’t there. I think that’s my issue and not the wine’s fault!

So, there you have it; two wines from Cupcake Vineyards. If there’s a vineyard you particularly like, I’d love some suggestions – I’m planning on doing more spotlights this spring.

May the weekend be kind to you, and may your glass never be empty. Cheers, all!

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! Have you read it yet?

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


A Quartet of Red Blends

A Quartet of Red Blends

I drink cheap wines so you don’t have to. In these strange economic times, you still need a good wine to either serve guests, take to a host, or just enjoy with a loved one, but you don’t want to break the checkbook, shelling out for a $40 bottle of wine that you might not actually like. That’s where I come in. There are some terrific wines out there under $10. I’m searching them out, and reporting back to you. Enjoy! ~~

In California, red wine blends are often called a “Meritage”. This just means that it’s more than one grape varietal in the wine, but it sounds sexy. Meritage. See? Sexy!

I am a huge red wine fan. I love my reds with a passion, and don’t much care who knows. Often, a red blend (labeled anything from “meritage” to “red”  to “table wine” is less expensive than their varietal cousins, but not always.  Some blends have vintages; others don’t.

Hubby and I spent a week in Rome, Italy during a February with rain, sleet, and wind. We had a marvelous time in the relatively tourist-free city, and in every restaurant we went to, we stuck with the house wine. Invariably this would come to us from a cask, or a big jug (no label), and served in what looked like jelly glasses (no stemware anywhere). I can say without a doubt that we did not have a bad glass of wine in any restaurant we went to. I can also say with certainty that all the wine we’d been served were blended wines. What a discovery!

Thanks to http://barrellsonline.com for the photo.

Today I’m bringing you four red blends that I think you red wine drinkers will like. White wine fans, check back next week for some goodies, okay?

pro.mis.Q.ous <California red table wine> Santa Rosa, California Regularly $16.99; on sale for $9.99 at Vons.

On The Label: “[referring to many partners.] The act of blending multiple, mutually attractive grape varieties in an assortment of unorthodox combinations. Implies a wanton disregard for convention. May result in an intense sensory experience. Practice safe sipping.”

This wine is a Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Syrah blend. It’s color is deep red. The taste is big and bold, with a hint of the Zin pepper coming through. Terrific with a traditional steak dinner, or any hearty fare – bbq in the summer to lavish Italian dishes in the winter. (Not, however, a wine that goes well with sweets.)

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ especially at the sale price! Plus the label is fun, lol.

Red Velvet 2009 Cupcake Vineyards $11.99; on sale for $7.99 at Vons.

On the Label: “Our Red Velvet is made up of grapes from some of the finest vineyards in California. This wine shows a heady nose of chocolate, deep rich blackberries, red fruits, and a creamy mocha finish that is unmistakeable in its intensity and length. Its reminiscent of a blackberry chocolate cupcake with a mocha coulis. Enjoy with a sweet and spicy Hoisin steak, a bbq bacon cheeseburger, or even dark chocolate fondue.”

Hubby and I were divided about this wine. I believe the wine lived up to its label; hubby wasn’t as enthusiastic, but I have to add in his preference for lighter wines. I found it smooth, straight from the bottle (no fussy airing needed). The blackberry, the chocolate, the mocha finish – all were there for me. It’s got a big-mouth feel for a price I’d expect to be three times what I paid for.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

The House Wine, 2007 Red Wine The Magnificent Wine Company, Walla Walla, Washington $10.99; on sale for $7.69 at Vons

On the Label: Not too much, actually. But here’s the breakdown for you: 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Syrah, 30% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 2% Zinfandel, 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petite Verdot

Upon first, straight-from-the-bottle taste, it’s big, full of tannins. After it mellowed for an hour in a pitcher, it settled nicely into a terrific food wine.

I personally like sipping big, chewy wines where many people won’t do it without food. In this wine, the Cab. Sauv. and the Syrah blend to make it a robust wine, and even though there’s almost the same amount of Merlot in it, the Merlot doesn’t have much of a mellowing influence. Waiting for this wine to settle made me itchy. If you are a timid red wine drinker, this one isn’t for you.

We had this with bratwurst fresh from the butcher, corn on the cob, melted onions, and cucumbers and lime.

My Rating: ~Drinkable~ But for goodness sakes, don’t pay over $10 for it!

Hey Mambo 2008 Bistro Style Wine $8.99; on sale for $6.49 at Vons. Vinted and bottled by The Other Guys, Napa, California Part of the Sebastiani Family of Wines Alcohol 13.5% by volume.

On the Label: A blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Barbera, Petite Syrah, and Alicante Bouchet grapes.

I loved this wine. I loved this wine so much that I went back to the store the next day and bought two more bottles of it, just to make sure I loved it. My first crack at it came when the family was all in a good mood – home made pizza on the table, hubby telling stories about how he chewed his arm off that day for a movie shoot. The wine had aired in my glass for about 15 minutes, and as the night grew later and the laughter kept coming, the more I appreciated the wine. Big in my mouth, but gentle and luscious, too – with hints of smoke and berries. I deliberately set my notebook aside, and just enjoyed the wine.

There’s a lot to be said for blends – they can give you a more complex and enjoyable time than a varietal can, and yet the quality can vary wildly. This blend is three years old, and my guess is with one more year under its belt, this will be an absolute wow of a wine.

My Rating: ~ Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut! ~

Plus, I’m really digging on the Sebastiani family – now they’ve got two labels under their umbrella (Hey Mambo plus Smoking Loon) that I’m totally gaga over. Thanks, folks!

Remember, this is my wine experience, with my moods, phases of the moon, taste buds, and all that jazz. Your tastes will undoubtedly vary. Cheers, and remember to drink responsibly!

~   ~   ~

Have you read DEMON SOUL yet? You can find it at Crescent Moon Press or Amazon.com. Happy Reading!