Brrr….Pass Me a Red Wine, Please!

Brrr….Pass Me a Red Wine, Please!

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.

It’s winter – bring on the reds!

Unruly Red 2011 – California Red Wine Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; $14.99 per bottle, bought on a 5cent Sale at BevMo!

On the Label: “Unruly Red has massive red fruit aromas with colossal flavors of plum, black cherry, and blackberry.

“Not just for the weekend warrior, relish during the week with a juicy ostrich burger, zesty buffalo back ribs, venison steaks or wild boar sausage.”

My Take: Well, the label is at least a brief attempt at being humorous. Either that, or they put the Australian label on the American release – not sure which. At any rate, it is much as advertised – a relatively big wine that is on the lighter alcohol content side of things. It would go well with chili. Spicy curry. Any food that needs cutting through with alcohol. Because while this is a fairly big wine, it’s not an easily classified wine – my tongue can’t pick out the dominant grape (okay, not that I’m that good because I’m not but still…) and it’s what I would classify as a fairly good all-around red blend on the hearty side. Not a good wine with delicate foods.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ but not one I’ll likely buy again, at least not at full price.

[yellow tail] Shiraz Cabernet Casella Wines – Product of Australia
13% Alcohol by Volume $7.99 at Vons

On the Label: “Flavors: plum, blackcurrant & raspberries. Enjoy: with your favorite pasta dish & good conversation.

“For 3 generations the Casella family has been making wine at their winery in the small town of Yenda, situated in South Eastern Australia. It is here that [yellow tail] is created with a simple purpose in mind: to make great wine that everyone can enjoy.

“[yellow tail] is everything a great wine should be. It’s approachable, fresh, flavorsome and has a personality all its own.”

My Take: I am coming to really enjoy Shirazzy wines. If you like the Shiraz style, it’s my bet you will like this wine. Went great with steak.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ especially for the price.

Layer Cake One Hundred Percent Pure Pinot Noir Vintage 2011 Central Coast ~ California Alcohol 13.5% by Volume  $14.99 at my butcher shop/fish monger, Green Acres.

On the Label: “My old grandfather made and enjoyed wine for 80 years. He told me the soil in which the vines lived were a layer cake. He said the wine, if properly made, was like a great layer cake, fruit, mocha and chocolate, hints of spine and rich, always rich. “Never pass up a layer cake,” he would say. I have always loved those words.” A. Orlando Tribute to Jayson Woodbridge’s Grandfather.”

“Caution: This wine may cause Pinot envy. Winemaking by Jayson Woodbridge Bottled by One True Wine, American Canyon, Napa County, CA”

My Take: I’ve been wanting to try Layer Cake. When I was in the fishmonger part of Green Acres last night, picking up my two pounds of Ocean Fresh, freshly made clam chowder, I checked around for a wine to go with the steak we were also having. I saw this and, even though a bit out of my normal price range, decided to splurge. I am SO glad I did. The wine had a beautiful Pinot nose on it and the flavor was delicious. It definitely passed the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir test by miles. (Is this wine better than the $5.99 bottle of Smoking Loon Pinot Noir?)

My Rating: ~ Very Very Drinkable ~ I’m looking forward to trying more Layer Cake wines.

Today I’m also over at Kate Evangelista’s blog, talking about my five favorite Christmas songs – feel free to hop on over, and join in the giveaway! Hope to see you there!

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

Ironstone, Kenwood, and Salmon Sausages, Rah Rah Rah!!!

Ironstone, Kenwood, and Salmon Sausages, Rah Rah Rah!!!

As usual, I’m here tasting cheap wines so you don’t have to. I’ve got a couple of winners below – white wine drinkers, rejoice!

With a broken leg, I treated myself and the family to more salmon sausages for dinner. Pre-dinner, however, the hubby and I needed a booster shot – and we decided to sip a wine we hadn’t heard of before.

Ironstone Obsession – Symphony 2010 Ironstone Vineyards, American Canyon – Napa Valley, California. Alcohol 12.5% by volume. $11.99 regular price, $6.99 on sale at Vons – they’re pimping it on an end cap.

On The Label: “For four generations, sustainable viticulture and farming have been our way of life. Our family invites you to share a glass of this seductively aromatic, refreshing Obsession Symphony wine. Symphony is a modern grape variety which began development in 1948, in California. It is a cross between a Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. The first wines made from this grape were declared they showed “a symphony of aromas and flavors,” which is evident with the first taste.

“This delightful wine is at its best when served fresh and youthful. We like to have a glass on its own, but it is an incredible accompaniment to any spicy dish or summer salads.”

Since the label mentioned Muscat, I decided this would be a good before-dinner drink – and am not disappointed. The flavor of Muscat is strong and lovely, a nicely grapey taste that I don’t often get in a white wine. Better? It’s very faintly sweet – reminiscent of a true Muscat wine, but not overpoweringly, gaggingly sweet. Which makes it a perfect summer sipper, in my book. It is also, very faintly, effervescent. Not a sparkling wine, but it has a lively zing to it that would, I expect, go very well with Thai or Chinese foods, or crisp salads. Perfect for ladies and gents who lunch under a summer umbrella, shading them from the heat of the sun.

Unfortunately, since I’d just brought the wine home, it wasn’t chilled. So I poured it in a short glass over a few ice cubes – and it was lovely. Run, don’t walk, and get a couple of bottles of this for pure summer enjoyment.

The hubby likes it, too, and has approved purchase of this wine to take camping with us. Huzzah!

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable!~ I have yet to find a white that inspires the slut in me. But this came extremely close!

Regarding Salmon Sausages…

While I was there today, walking awkwardly in my boot, I talked to the lovely owner of OceanFresh (who I recognize by sight but, alas, always manage to forget his name), and told him of my pimping out his salmon sausages in my blog a few weeks back. He told me he’d been getting calls from all over, wanting him to send the delectable items. I believe he’s working on that. I do know that they were such a hit that first weekend, they are a staple now at the fish counter – YAY! PLUS, they’re still $5.99 a pound. Folks, what a deal – sausage that’s GOOD for you! Plus it’s one of the tastiest ways to cook salmon – in the casing, it stays nice and moist.

Recipe for Salmon Sausage: 1 per person. With a fork, poke the sausages three times on one side, then three times on the other. Put all the salmon sausages in a frying pan large enough to hold them all (or two pans). Add 2 tlb water per two sausages, squeeze half a lemon over all if you wish; put heat on medium low, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, watching pan every now and then. After 5 minutes, take the cover off and continue to cook, allowing the water to cook off. Brown sausages until desired color.

Remove, and eat. Yum! I pair this with smashed potatoes and green beans, plus the wine highlighted below.

My Rating: ~Stay away! These are MY salmon sausages, you slut!~ Seriously. If you live in Simi Valley, or the San Fernando Valley, and you HAVEN’T come out and tried these, you’re a fool. Those of you who live more than an hour away are exempted from this pronouncement.

Kenwood Chardonnay 2009 Sonoma County 13.5% alcohol by volume. Regularly $13.99, but cut to $8.99 for fast sale (?!!) at Vons.

On the label: “This Chardonnay is made with fruit grown in select cool climate vineyards. The wine was partially barrel-fermented in small oak barrels and aged on its lees, giving it an appealing balance of fruit and oak.”

From the website, more informative than the label: “Combining grapes from the cool climate regions of southern Sonoma Valley and the Russian River Valley, Kenwood’s Sonoma County Chardonnay nicely balances the classic fruit flavors of this varietal with subtle notes of French oak aging. Fruit aromas of Pippin apples and Meyer lemon combine with gingerbread and vanilla notes, lush and viscous mouth feel with a crisp mineral quality to the finish.”

First off, I must confess I love Kenwood. That’s all wrapped up with the 1980’s and the guys I worked with (see My Wine Credentials, to the right), plus going to Sonoma and visiting the winery way back when. So I am predisposed to LOVE Kenwood wines.

So…it’s all there. The fruit. The Meyer lemon. (For my money, there is no other lemon. Meyer is king.) Okay, maybe the gingerbread is missing, lol…but the subtle oak is there. Is this a huge Chardonnay? No. Is it deep, fruity, with oak and a nice finish? Absolutely. The French oak is the perfect touch. THIS is the under $10 bottle of Chardonnay I’ve been looking for – and Von’s is dumping it? WTH? Okay. So I go back tomorrow and pick up a couple more bottles. I can handle that. Summer, after all, is half over.

My Rating: ~Very, Very Drinkable!~ Again, it’s not a heart-tugger. It doesn’t convert me to slut status. But it’s close!

Remember, these are my opinions based upon the phases of the moon, which bone is currently broken, and whether my cat is by my side or not. Your taste buds will undoubtedly vary. Please drink responsibly!

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