Wine, No Matter the Weather

Wine, No Matter the Weather

There is snow on the mountains in Aspen, Colorado – and here in my neck of southern California, the temps are expected to hit in the triple digits (because the weather people prefer to say “triple digits” than “the hundreds”). So what to drink?

Here are two wines that are eminently drinkable, no matter the temperature outside.

Fat Cat MerlotFat Cat Merlot, 2012 Napa, California  Alcohol 12.5% by Volume; $6.99 on sale at Vons. 95 POINTS | GOLD MEDAL California State Fair Wine Competition 2012

On the Label: “At Fat Cat Cellers, we’re into wines that hit all the right notes, right now. Take our mellow Merlot. The deep ruby red color is prelude to a rich cherry and berry melody, accompanied by mild tannins and oak that close on a palate-pleasing, silky smooth chord. It’s a ballad in a glass. A-dee-dot, a-dew-dot, a skittley-dot-mer-lot. You dig?”

My Take: The color is good in the glass, and the taste works when the temps drop outside. The low alcohol content, however, also make it a good summer night, burgers on the barbecue-type wine as well. Or just sipping while you watch the bats come out at dusk, or while counting snowflakes as they hit the deck.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ and at this price, it’s easy to share with friends for an end-of-summer barbecue or a damn-winter’s-here-early party around the fire.

Beringer Simply Sophisticated Chardonnay  California, 2013   Alcohol 13% by beringerVolume; regularly $6.99 at Vons, on sale for $4.99

On the Label: “This carefully crafted wine has subtle aromas of peach, apricot and golden delicious apples. It is balanced, juicy and layered with ripe flavors. If you enjoy our Chardonnay, make sure to try our Pinot Grigio. Serve chilled. Please visit us at

My Take: This is Beringer’s low cost alternative to their Founder’s Reserve selection, which runs $10 to $15 more per bottle. Frankly, this is an excellent Chardonnay for the price and the Beringer name brings a certain comfort when buying an inexpensive wine. You know you’re going to enjoy the product. This wine would work wonderfully with the chowders and soups that come along with winter, and works just as well when grilling fish on the barbecue. (I have barbecue on the brain. Does it show?)

My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ And a good value, to boot. I’ve also tried their Pinot Grigio, and enjoy it just as much.

So whatever type of weather is out there, there’s a wine for that! May your October be one of peace, prosperity, and pumpkins.

Oh – and two weeks from today, CHRISTMAS STAR releases, my new holiday short story from Boroughs Publishing Group! Yeah, I’m a tad excited…*bouncety*


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

Thanks so much for stopping by. Now that it’s autumn, the blog is getting up to speed again. If you like what you read, please go on and click on that “subscribe” button, up there on the right hand side. I’d love to get to know you, too, so let me know if you have a favorite wine that I should try!

Meridian Wines – Big Sale!

Meridian Wines – Big Sale!

I’m running behind today, duckies, so I’m letting you in on a huge sale going on right now at Vons – Meridian wines are going for $4.99 a bottle (regular price $8.99).

I’ve had the “rich & velvety” Cabernet, the “soft & fruity” Merlot, and the “breezy & fresh” Chardonnay – all drinkable, and at a price that’s barely above the cost of a gallon of gas. It’s a new label, and may be a new marketing strategy. Definitely a new low price point, even at the $8.99, for Meridian.

The Chardonnay is a 2012, but neither the Merlot nor the Cabernet have a vintage on them.

My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ and perfect for summer get-togethers.

Go forth, and give it a try.

Two bottles of Meridian wine.

Two bottles of Meridian wine.

By the way, I couldn’t find a photo of this label anywhere, so I had to take a picture of the bottles in my house, hence the dirty tablecloth. Tra la!

Two Casual Summer Wines

Two Casual Summer Wines

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 unless noted otherwise.

butterfly kissButterfly Kiss Chardonnay 2011 Vinted and bottled by Diageo Wines, Sonoma, California Alcohol 13.5% by Volume

On the Label: “Treat yourself to sheer bliss with a glass of Butterfly Kiss.  In this delightfully soft Chardonnay, you’ll taste a kiss of lush pineapple, pear and vanilla bean flavors.

Please Enjoy Our Wines Responsibly.”

My Take: I was in a rush. Making a garden veggie dinner for the fam, and I needed a bottle that wouldn’t break the bank and that was already cold. Luckily, there was this bottle of Butterfly Kiss in the refrigerated wines section of Vons, and it was in my budget. Plus, hello. Screw top!

I was completely prepared to love this wine, but like the label said, it’s soft. As in, almost taste-free. NOT something you particularly want in a white wine. I needed more flavor, and didn’t smell or taste the pineapple, pear or vanilla bean. It was a meh wine that cleared my palate between bites, but did little else.

My Rating: ~ Barely Drinkable ~ I mean, it wasn’t bad. It might be a good wine to give to folks who don’t usually drink wine; this one will certainly not offend anyone (but neither will it make them jump up and down with glee).

flipflop Merlot 2009 Vinted and bottled by flipflop Wines, Livermore & Ripon,flipflop California  Alcohol 13.5% by Volume

On the Label: “Medium bodied, silky Merlot with plum and mocha notes, soft tannins and a balanced, luscious finish.

“Jammy aromas and soft tannins pair well with TExas chili, black & blue sliders or cheddar cheese broccoli.

“Serve at room temperature now or store away from direct sunlight for up to 3 years after purchase. “

My Take: Bland in a bottle. Inoffensive. Would I pair it with chili? Not chili that has any kind of heat behind it (and I’m not talking temperature here). Again, this might be a good beginner wine, as it doesn’t have a big mouth feel and isn’t too dry. It’s an easy sipping wine, but not very flavorful. I didn’t find any “luscious finish”. I doubt I’ll buy this again, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect wine for you.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ But not my first, second or third choice of wines.

When it comes right down to it, my tastes most likely aren’t yours. It doesn’t matter what I think of the wine. The only criteria that matters when it comes to purchasing wine is: Do you like it? and Can you afford it? (Because there are many wines I adore but can’t afford!) But I do hope that I give you a place to start looking, and when confronted with the daunting selection at your local grocery store, you will come to recognize the wines – which ones you like, and which ones you’d like to try – all while staying within your budget. (Yes – I am doing a public service, lol!)

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! ~


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

Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are 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?

Two Buck Chuck, Revisited

Two Buck Chuck, Revisited

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.

It has been years since I regularly purchased Two Buck Chuck, the ubiquitous Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw wines. Since the ready cash has been less ready as of late, the hubby thought it would be a good idea to give some of them another try. So here we go, delving into the mysteries of Two Buck Chuck.

photo of Charles Shaw MerlotCharles Shaw Merlot 2011 Alcohol 12.5% by Volume; $1.99 at Trader Joe’s

On The Label: “Cellared and bottled by Charles Shaw Winery, Napa and Sonoma, California”

My Take: Well, the label is interesting. They take grapes from the premier growing areas in California and use those in their wines. Hm…

The last time I had a bottle of Two Buck Chuck (actually I’m talking several years ago now), it was awful. I have a strange tolerance for bad wine – after the first few gulps, you can get used to anything – but that bottle turned me away from the wine for a very long time. This Merlot, however, was flavorful, with lots of fruit and a hint of depth. It went well with the chicken quesadillas and guacamole we had that night for dinner. Plus the lower alcohol content was nice; reds tend to hover between 13.5% and 14%.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~

(TIP: If you don’t want your dinner guests to know what name brand of wine you’re pouring, decant it first and hide the bottle. There’s no need to tell a soul!)

Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Alcohol 12.5% by Volume – $1.99 at Trader photo of bottle of sauvignon blancJoe’s

On the Label: See above, lol.

My Take: Like almost all Sauvignon Blancs, this one has a crisp, almost sharp flavor. It’s a terrific spritzer wine, very like the Shaw Pinot Grigio, though we are past spritzer season here at Chez Ashworth. Will I rush out to buy it again? Um, not until next summer. Perhaps.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~

Overall, I was pleased that, should the worst happen and I be out on the streets with my hands out, begging, I can still find a bottle of wine that I can drink and only pay $1.99 for it. I still have a Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon in my wine cellar to try…I’ll admit I’m a bit scared! But as I was poking about the internet, I saw an article that said since Two Buck Chuck started selling, they’ve sold over six hundred million bottles. So they must be doing something right!

Have a great weekend, folks – and be good to one another.

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

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