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.

I am a happy girl. Rain came to my corner of So Cal. Rain, hail, thunder, lightning, fires (from the lightning), mudslides (from the rain) and flooding (also from the rain). Who said California doesn’t have any weather?!!

When it rains, I like to dig out the stew pot and make a hearty stew, or perhaps a yummy, cooks-forever roast. Since I was at work, I couldn’t get to my happy place today, but the hubby did it for me! As I type, the roast and the bread machine are sending my olfactory senses into happy overdrive. So, for this weather, I’m hauling out three reds I haven’t talked about before – big enough for the roast beast, warming enough for the chill outside. (I even needed a sweater today, and not because of the air conditioning at work, lol!) It’s time to warm up with some red wines!

Clayhouse Red photoClayhouse Wines  Adobe Red, 2009  Central Coast  Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; at BevMo! on their 5cent sale, $17.04 for two.

On the Label: “The Adobe Red is a blend created for that rebellious, hedonistic red wine lover inside of you, rustic like the adobe but refined with sensuous dark fruit flavors. 52% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 15% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 9% Petit Verdot.”

My Take: We bought this on the advice from the guy who works the wine tastings at BevMo. He can be pretty cheerless, but he led us to this wine so I forgive him, lol. Because, Hell Yes. I am a hedonistic, rebellious red wine lover and I’ve never tried to hide it. We just bought this wine during the latest 5cent sale. This wine is big but not too big; soft, but not too soft. It’s got the Zin I prefer (with a nice dash of pepper). It’s what I’ll be opening to go with dinner tonight (sorry, honey! I owe you a bottle).

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~ I can tell you right now, I’ll be going out and stocking up. At $8.50 a bottle, it’s hard to beat.

Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 Russian River Valley Alcohol, 13.5%
by Volume; $11.99 at Trader Joe’s.

On the Label: Vinted and Bottled by Patrick Slater Wine Co, American Canyon, California (GOSH I love their labeling! But when I googled Patrick Slater Wine Co, I got Pat Slater, a female real estate agent up in wine country. So who knows who’s actually making the wine. Not that it matters.)

My Take: I liked this wine. As much as I didn’t think last week’s Trader Joe’s wine deserved the Grand Reserve title, this one does. It’s fruity, juicy, easy to drink yet holds up to food very well. My guess is this one will attain Slut status once it’s a little bit older.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ And even though it’s over $10, I’ll buy it again!

Thanks to for the photo (check out their review!).

Piper Sonoma Pinot Noir 2009 Sonoma Coast  Alcohol 13.8% by Volume; Not sure of price, but I think it’s around $16 at Pavilions; I might have gotten it on sale for under $10.

On the Label: “For over thirty years, Piper Sonoma has sourced the finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes ripened to perfection by the warm Sonoma sun. We’ve crafted this excellent still wine from grapes selected from some of the most outstanding vineyard lots in Sonoma County.”

My Take: I am predisposed to love this wine. Why? Because one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had at a winery was at the Piper Sonoma plant back in 1989. We watched them bottle sparkling wine, and we had a glass of Tete de Cuvee sparkling wine that was probably the best taste of wine I’ve ever had, ever. Ever.

But when I saw this wine in the grocery store, I circled around it for a couple of years. It should have been a no-brainer – my favorite sparkling wine maker, plus one of my favorite drinking wines should equal SPECTACULAR. But – I was worried. What if I didn’t like it? What if it was terrible? What then?

I got over myself and bought a bottle. We drank it. I bought another bottle, just to check it out. Sigh of relief. It didn’t suck!

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ It is juicy, lovely, easy to drink – but not that much better than my favorite Smoking Loon Pinot Noir, and much more expensive. It does have a slightly greater depth to it, though, so when I want a bigger Pinot, I’d turn to this one. I think. Lol!

As usual, these are just my honest opinions, and always 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! ~

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