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.
In the Northern Hemisphere, December means Winter. This year, even here in sunny So Cal it’s been chilly. We’re used to 70 degree days, not 52 degree days. And nights below 40 degrees? Get out of town! So here are three red wines to warm you up on those chilly nights.
Found Object Carmenere, 2010 Colchagua Valley, Chile Under $10 at Trader Joe’s. 13.5% alcohol by volume
On the Label: “Context, it can change everything. Consider, for a moment, a wine among the crowd – yet not of the crowd What could be taken for granted (grape juice) becomes special when repurposed into something thought provoking. Consider this Carmenere worthy of your consideration.”
My Take: Okay, the label’s kinda weird. Like maybe the translator missed out on a few words. But at least it doesn’t tell us what to taste in the wine, and I like it for that reason.
If you’re not familiar with the varietal Carmenere, I can tell you that it was originally planted in the Medoc region of Bordeaux in France; but little of it remains there now. The largest producer of Carmenere is Chile, with a few acres planted in other places such as California, Walla Walla, Washington, and eastern Italy.
The wine – silky. Not as easy a wine as a Pinot Noir, but not as in-your-face as a Zin or a Cabernet can be. It was the right wine, and went well with Turkey Pot Pie. This is my first time with this varietal (okay – that I can remember), and I really enjoyed it. It’s going on my list. The good part? Chilean wines are still low in price, and the quality is usually very high.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ It’s something a little different, and any discerning hostess would be pleased to receive this as a gift when you go to your holiday party this year.
Viriato 2008 Tinta de Toro, product of Spain. Under $8 at Trader Joe’s. Alcohol 14.5% by volume.
On the Label: “A modern well balanced Toro wine, aged for three months in French oak barrels with hints of mature red berries and notes of leather.”
My Take: Viriato is a Tempranillo – and (for my sake) translating again, similar to a Zinfandel. This wine is a lovely wine, great for sipping (would go fabulous with cheese and dips!) or with a juicy steak. This is not a “thinker’s” wine – not a wine you want to contemplate too much. It’s easy on the palate (but doesn’t “tease” your tastebuds) and has a high alcohol content – what more do you want to stir up your party? (Just sayin’.)
My Rating: ~ Good ~ Again, something a little different for your party-giving friends.
Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Alexander Valley Alcohol 13.5% by volume Regularly $17.00; $11.49 at Vons on Sale.
On the Label: “In the heart of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley we blend our wins from small lots to fully express the essence of the varietal in each particular vineyard block. Winemaker Mich Schroeter and his team are passionate about crafting wines that engage the senses and inspire the soul. Taste profile: Black cherry and blackbery flavors and mocha nuances with a long, rich finish. Enjoy with: Grilled or roasted beef, sauteed mushrooms and mature cheeses.”
My Take: I’m an unabashed fan of Geyser Peak, and have been since my travels to Sonoma County in the late 1980’s. We had this wine with steak, smashed potatoes and tiny asparagus and it was a lovely accompaniment to the meal. If you can get this at under $12 in your neighborhood, do – it’s a great price for a really lovely wine.
My Rating: ~Very Good~ Take this to a party only if you need to make a good impression. Otherwise, keep it at home and enjoy it with those you love. Or, you know – open it at the party and keep the bottle for yourself and one or two select friends!
Thanks so much for dropping in. Remember, these are my experiences based on my taste buds, how many near-misses the Eldest son had while driving that day, and how high the tides were. Your wine-drinking experience will undoubtedly vary. Remember – drink responsibly! Make sure you take along a designated driver to your holiday party.
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The Holidays are here – time to buy your copy of DEMON SOUL! Makes a great gift for that reader in the family, lol!
It’s Friday – so I must be tasting cheap wines for you, so you don’t have to! Let’s begin, shall we?
Which wine goes best with fish tacos? I’m not talking the batter-fried fish…I’m talking lime-infused, pan-grilled Dover Sole in white corn tortillas with home-grown tomatoes, crisp green cabbage, refried beans…and a flurry of other stuff like saffron rice, guacamole, and sour cream.
We tasted three. Yes, envy us! I’ll take you from white to rose, to red in our quest, and I’ll make my pronouncement at the end of the posting for the best wine with fish tacos!
La Gioiosa et Amorosa Pinot Grigio ~ Italy ~ Fresh & Easy, $7.99
On the Label: Marca Trevigiana Indicazione Geografica Tipica Alcohol 10% by volume
I found this wine the first year Fresh & Easy opened up in my hometown. It was refrigerated, had a screw top, was only $5.99, and said it was a “Prosecco”. Which is the Italian bubbly wine. I bought it, fell in love with it, and have been buying it ever since. Except last year sometime, it went away. No one knew what happened to it, but it was gone. GONE. I was devastated. This year, however, it came back – but the label no longer said “Prosecco” though it still had bubbles in it, and it had gotten bumped up to $7.99.
Still. Low alcohol content for wine always makes me give two thumbs up. Crisp, clean, almost tasteless but with a hint of the yummy Pinot Grigio grape and the sparkle of the tiny, tiny bubbles. Last night I drank it with Chinese food – it cut through the spices and cleared my palate, the way a good wine is supposed to. Tonight? It handled the fish tacos very well.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ For the price, it’s a good, inexpensive bubbly with an Italian heritage.
Tempranillo Penrosa 2009, Vino de Espana Rose wine BODEGAS REALEZA $4.99, Fresh & Easy
On the Label: “Product of Spain Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon Spain is producing some of the finest rose´wines in the world due to their beautifully ripe grapes and new modern winemaking practices. This rose´has been made to be the perfect al fresco refresher on long hot summer days.
“Fresh red berry fruit aromas of strawberry and raspberry. Serve chilled, on its own or with light savoury canapes. Made from premium grapes grown across northwest Spain. Enjoy now or store carefully for up to two years after purchase.”
I love this wine. It’s got a lovely hint of sweetness. A pretty pink wine that would go with pork, fish, or vegetarian meals, it’s also got the balls to cut through spice (good for Asian dishes) but works well as a sipping wine, too. It made the fish tacos sing. Another wine with a screw top, to which I say Huzzah!
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ And come on, at $5 a bottle, this could be THE summer wine! Seriously. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Fresh & Easy, go buy a bottle for that summer party that’s coming up. Because there always seems to be a summer party that we’re not ready for, right?
Apothic Red 2009 Winemaker’s Blend, California On Sale at Vons for $9.99 (I think…lost my receipt! But definitely not over $9.99.)
On the Label: “Inspired by the ‘Apotheca’ , a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe. Apothic Red offers a truly unique wine experience.
“A masterful blend of RICH ZINFANDEL, FLAVORFUL SYRAH, and SMOOTH MERLOT, creating layers of dark red fruit complemented by hints of vanilla and mocha.”
Okay. Have you ever had a huge party, and after everyone’s gone home, you had like, seven bottles of red wine with maybe two inches of wine left?
Yeah, me neither. Okay, but suppose you did. And you just poured all the wine together into one bottle, and stuck it in the fridge, and drank it the next day. Oh, stop looking so horrified. The wine probably tastes very, very good. The bad part? There is no way to recreate the wine you created the night before. Or…maybe that’s the good part…
At any rate, this wine is approachable. As the hubby says, he can sip it between playing songs on the guitar. It doesn’t demand food. It’s a congenial wine, ready to play, or be a backdrop to the food you’re serving. As to how it went with fish tacos?
Well, it was fine. Not a standout, no more than any of the other wines. To be honest, hubby said to me before dinner that fish tacos only rate a mediocre wine. I don’t agree, especially with the fish tacos I made…
My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ Though hubby says very drinkable, lol!
We ended up drinking the red wine with dinner. But frankly, the Penrosa Rose would have been spectacular with the fish tacos, and the La Gioiosa Pinot Grigio would have cleared our palates in a wonderful fashion. So – with these three wines, all of them would have served wonderfully both the table and the palate.
Do check out the links, wine sites can be totally fascinating. Remember, these are my taste buds and that means they’re subject to tides, winds, and the whims of the family. Your taste buds will vary. And please…drink responsibly!
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Have you read DEMON SOUL yet? What are you waiting for? Thanks for reading!
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