Thursday, January 31, 2008

pinot noir.

no vintage

x-fact ~ pinot grapes are said to be difficult to make into wine

pinot evil pinot noir
paid 5.99
reg. 7

couldn't find a label to share with you without stealing an image from someone else. which is unfortunate indeed, because the label is perhaps the most fetching thing about this wine.

a detailed sketch of three monkeys. one covering his eyes, one his ears, one his mouth.

see no evil...pinot evil.

clever, no?

not that it's a bad wine. because it's not bad. i've had bad wine. one day i'll tell you about the wine i had that tasted like rotten smoked meat.

boy, and i'll tell you what, it was a challenge to choke that whole bottle down. whew.

so, no, this was not bad.

i've not had this wine before, though i've seen it around. the forever designated driver bought this at the state run liquor store the other day.

now, i must make a case for all of you who live in states wherein hard alcohol is only sold at state run liquor stores. open 10-7, closed sundays, never a sale. and if there is, it's a dollar off if you're lucky.

sucks if you suddenly feel like a cocktail at home on a sunday and the cupboard is bare.

BUT, they often have good wine deals. and not just on mediocre wines either. for instance, a few weeks ago the forever designated driver got an $18 bottle of favorite champagne for 7 bucks.

they don't keep wines around that don't move rapidly. which in a town that has a lot of cheap rum and even cheaper vodka and chilled fruit flavored wines drinkers, i doubt the pinots and champagnes are flying off the shelf. which means more for me!

so back to the wine. you know, wine doesn't need to be a big celebration. sometimes it just needs to be wine.

and that's what this wine was. wine.

i had a clean pile of laundry in the living room that was roughly 6x2x3. and that's in feet.

soooooo, i had my evening cut out for me.

i opened a bottle of the pinot evil and set to work.

at first sip the wine was a bit bracing. perhaps it me? i thought, so i took another sip.

better, a bit. smooth this time, not as bracing. but there was no real, um, ooomph.

i know, oomph? but for lack of a better term, it was pleasant enough but nothing really to attach to in terms of flavor.

as i folded and sipped i listened to the democratic presidential debate. and, it seemed, for at least this evening, the skirt and the upstart were finally making tracks towards their own version of "can't we all just get along?"

sip, fold, sip. even while sparring and lobbing (fairly toothless) barbs, these two were a bit more complimentary than usual. suddenly the lack of oomph didn't matter so much. sip sip.

though i have to say i will miss the hunk. now that he finally got that constant upper lip licking nonsense under control, he was looking pretty darned good. and yes, i appreciated his political positions and ideology, too. but that honeyed southern voice as smooth as a bottle of maker's mark in front of the fire. sigh.

where was i? oh, yeah.

i love wine. i especially love red wine. and when you love something as much as you possibly can, you open up your heart up as big as it will go and inadvertently you also open yourself up to EVERYTHING else that comes your way.

it's not unlike unzipping your skin and allowing your heart front row to the elements. the good bad and the ugly. but, no matter what, you love so you move forward.

you are optimistic, and even if you are detoured or detained, you move forward. because you know love is fickle and unpredictable. and your heart is exposed so you do what you can to keep going because love will help to cover what is raw and gaping.

and you know, because all the songs and movies and books tell you, that even into the greatest love affair rain must fall, but then the sun comes out again. even the most intense connection the power will fail, and you know it will return again.

love is not a guarantee. especially for the wine drinker.

one bad bottle, one bad glass. one well meaning host who pulls the bottle of red from the coldest part of the fridge, or the long opened bottle of white from the cabinet. "i know it's here somewhere. this is where i put it after we had some at easter." it's now autumn. you accept the glass because what else do you do?

it doesn't take much for the tides to change.

i have had wine that i declared right then and there my new favorite! yessir! gulp gulp! totally forgetting and leaving behind whatever came before. without even so much as a passing goodbye.

i've had wines that were nothing to write home about and wines i knew i would never drink again. i've had wines that tasted like swill, even as the person who poured it for me went on and on and on about the price and the greatness of it and blah. blah. blah.

and i've drunk them all with a polite smile and thoughts of better days with better wines. and better hosts.

but, such is life. especially so in the life of a wine drinker.

this bottle of pinot did not get worse with drinking nor did it get particularly better. it did not warm in the glass or on the tongue, it did not give me that spreading flow, it did not make me draw ridiculous cultural parallels as some other wines have.

but, what this wine did do was provide me with a bit of sweet reprieve, sip by sip, during a tedious task. well, two, if you count folding the mount vesuvius of laundry AND listening to yet one more presidential candidate debate.

and that was just enough.

and i daresay, by the end of the glass or two i had i no longer saw the pile of laundry that had been daunting me all week, the debate, however cordial, was over, and the wine in my glass tasted pretty darn okay.

no need for covering my eyes, my ears, or my mouth.

not bad.

a votre sante!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008


x-fact ~ pronounced gren-ash

bitch south australian grenache 2006
paid 9.99
reg. @12.99

(the label is 2005, i had a 2006)

i love this wine. not because the label is so bitchin', but because this wine is!

i first saw this wine months and months ago at my store. i've bought it at least once for my little sister (sis in the city) perhaps twice, but have never had it myself.

okay, i know she gave me a glass at some point at her house after i gave it to her, but seriously, i'm sure it wasn't my *first* glass for the evening or even second, definitely not the . . . and as a result i don't really recall drinking it.

anyhow, the forever designated driver bought this for me and brought it home. i was so excited by the girly pink label that i didn't even think to ask why my forever designated driver of more than 13 years brought me a wine called "bitch."


no matter because i am in love. i am in love with this wine. this wine is gorgeous in the bottle, and even better looking in the glass. a crystal clear, deep garnet color, with a drink me mantra firmly gripping your palate and legs like you wouldn't believe.

at first sip it's delicious. mmm. i do love a grenache. a grenache generally lacks tannins, which is a boon for those who don't really like a "red winey" kind of wine.

and which for some, can be boring and no better than a wine to blend with something a bit more assertive.

but for me, it's fun and flirty and so unabashedly drinkable. which suits the label and the name and the whole shebang.

as i've mentioned, i do love a wine that i can just *be* with. great at first sip and remains so throughout.

and like one of those epic first or second or . . . totally great dates it's delicious and beautiful and doesn't make me think.

well, okay, yes i do appreciate a brain. but c'mon! don't you think there is a place for the empty calorie in the world of romance? just a teensy glass every now and again?

the thing about this wine that surprises me, though, is there is an underlying complexity. one must be open to it, but in the first few sips and beyond, underneath it all, i really got a layer of flavor not unlike a port.

not the port your uncle frank pushes on you from a dusty and long been opened bottle that sports a label you are sure you've seen on perpetual sale at the drugstore in the canned soup, canned fruit, "wine" aisle. but a delicious port perfect for sipping from a properly fiddly little port glass.

yet even though there is that hinty layer of port, this wine is light and juicy and totally fabulous in that floating on your tongue before it hits your stomach kinda way.

i can't say when to drink this wine. it's so good just as is on a tuesday night after a long day. a day of hearing things come out of your mouth that you swore never would. just sadly confirming that yes, ma'am, you can be the mom you never thought you would become. sigh.

and in the blink of an eye you are stronger and funnier and more patient than you ever knew you could be. and in an instant you are the mom you always dreamed you could be. sigh, double sigh.

i want to gossip on the phone after a few sips of this. juicy AND true the gossip must be to do this wine justice. well, and isn't that the best kind?

i want to watch a movie that has romance, but isn't a romantic comedy. dogfight. as good as it gets. knocked up.

ANY movie with john cusack.

this wine is kelly and dylan and that summer on the beach when brenda went to paris. an undeniable attraction to someone who could "belong" to your best friend, who's flawed, perhaps dangerous, maybe a loser, and has no business in your life to begin with. (though dylan was perfect. sigh, triple sigh) there is more than one obstacle and really it's probably gonna end badly, or, and this is a BIG *or*, maybe not. and yet, there you have it.

and do you remember the song they played during that episode?


bitch by meredith brooks.

ah, 90210. that season in particular. at that time, not since m*a*s*h in syndication and magnum p.i. on prime time did t.v. so fulfill me body and soul.

like what those shows gave me at the time, this wine is charming, engaging, and goes down easily without a lot of thought or none at all. and damn it if you don't feel worlds better for having had a glass or two of it.

best to drink this wine with a long distance chatty catch up phone call or an intimate gathering of good friends or sisters. because as we all are prone to, given the right circumstances, or the perfect bottle of wine, right and wrong and all that in between seems to fall away with each glass and what you're left with is just the idea of what the moment could be.

which works perfectly well in tv land zip codes and songs of assertiveness and romantic but not romantic comedy movies.

in the real world, the world of the been there done that and as a result the, ahem!, presumed wiser, it's nice to just have a tuesday as is.

with a wine as good as this, and memories as, ummm, yeah, as "bad" as that.

cheers, bitches!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

dry red table wine.

x-fact ~ this wine is described as a "young super
tuscan". a "super tuscan" is simply any table wine from tuscany that is a blend of grapes.

dogajolo dry red table wine of tuscany 2006
paid 8.99
reg. 11-12

i've had this wine before and it is delicious. this is a table wine which a lot of people assume somehow is "less than" or not as "good" as a regular wine. i disagree. but, i would.

i love a table wine. there's a certain satisfaction in a table wine i don't get with some other wines. i don't know if it's the blending of grapes, the sort of unfussy "bastardness" of it all, or just for the simple fact that when i drink a table wine i can imagine it plunked down in front of me with two glasses and no label in some cafe somewhere where i don't know and can't speak the language and i do not worry...because i know it will be good.

this bottle was purchased at my grocery store by the forever designated driver last week sometime and i can't believe it was still lying about untouched! a nearly unprecedented event i can assure you.

it's a gorgeous bottle. and even though it's still winter and my thoughts are daydreaming towards spring, the label brings to mind the bounty and beauty that is autumn. and if you can believe it, when i first bought it i grabbed the bottle just to look at it before looking at the price.

at first sip this is immediately wonderfully spicy and delightfully smooth. which is delicious, but i'll be the first to admit one must be in the mood for that combination. knowing the wine, i knew i was in the mood.

the second sip is juicy, not bursting or obvious, just a nice hint of juicy. and as your glass empties the spicy, smooth, and juicy give way, only slightly, to a luxuriously thick sip.

huh? to a whaaat?

okay, a know "thick sip" isn't a terribly palate pleasing term. but, it's the truth. some nights i like my wine to be my friend. hang out, laugh a bit, enjoy the evening. and some nights i like my wine to be in charge. i like a wine that lets me know it's there and it's got my best interests in mind, or at the very least lets me know i don't have to make one more decision for the rest of the evening.

for lack of a better term, thick sip. it's heady and intoxicating. it coats. you can feel it in your mouth and in your stomach right away. not a slowly spreading fire, but a bolt from the blue that can radiate without having to spread.

this wine is catching the eye of a stranger and realizing your plans for the evening have just been changed.

it takes charge and it requires you to appreciate the intensity. and as the bottle goes on, you especially appreciate that the spiciness becomes less spicy, but no less intense.

despite, or perhaps because of this intensity, i especially like to drink this wine while i'm cooking like i did tonight. cooking relaxes me. better still is cooking while enjoying a glass or two of wine. by the time the food is plated and served, i am relaxed and smiling.

better even still, this is a bottle to share while cooking. to share at table.

while a table wine, it is not in any way a pedestrian wine. this is a bottle to bring out when you mean to say something about the day, or the occasion, or the moment, but in your giddiness or shyness or lack of a better word you pour the wine and let the rest come.

this is the bottle for your first home together in some distant city. it's coming on fall, there's a crisp to the air, but not enough to close the doors or windows quite yet.

the soundtrack to big night is playing, not because it's easy, but because you LOVE it, and you're pulling your dinner from the bags you carried all the way home. a first big night in your first shared home.

fresh sausages from the butcher, a crunchy, chewy loaf from the baker, and a splurge of long, creamy tapers from the candle-stick maker.

there's cheese from that fancy shop you noticed when you first looked at the house, the tiny, cheap, plastic, chopping block you were forced to buy as a temporary replacement for the two you can't find, and this wine you grabbed for its fabulous label at the little neighborhood grocery (you have a little neighborhood grocery!) while rounding out your dinner shopping.

one of you locates the glasses and candlesticks while the other gets out the big pan.

garlic and onions and thyme. sip sip. fire roasted tomatoes and olive oil and just a pinch of sugar. sip sip.

with the sausages sizzling and the sauce bubbling and the water nearly at a boil, it's just you and your beloved and louis prima serenading you with what you both hope is the first of many collaborations in the kitchen and otherwise.

and as the meal and the evening wind down you re-cork the now long empty bottle and stick it up on the shelf above the stove.

maybe it will become a vase in a pinch during your housewarming party, maybe a candle holder during some romantic rolling blackout, or maybe just a reminder of some of the best days, and a really good wine.



Sunday, January 20, 2008


South Australia

x-fact~viognier is an ancient grape whose vines don't start hitting their peak until about 15-20 years.

yalumba viognier 2006
paid 7.98
reg. 10-11

okay, so i know i already said i wasn't so into the whites. but after two days of celebrating my kid's birthday replete with appropriately kid-satisfying, carbtastic birthday food and a trip into the big city for two-fisted burgers with all the trimmings, my stomach was begging for something "light."

you may have already guessed i would not be reaching for the peppermint tea. in the world i live in, "light" means white instead of red.

the main criteria for choosing this wine was simply that i had not had it before and at its sale price it was the cheapest wine in the cold case. it doesn't take much. in fact, i don't think it takes any. thing. at all, but that's not much of a story now is it?

right off the bat, out of the bottle, i realized i may have misjudged this wine as just another girly white entirely. the legs on the wine are incredible for a white. hmm. and at first drink, there is the cool crispness of a white, but a hearty depth. double hmmm. perhaps my stomach wasn't going to get its break after all? perhaps i had made a mistake in my choice for the evening?

though mistakes and choices didn't matter so much after the second and third sip. ah, the hallmark of a good wine. ah, lucky me.

it's sweet, to be sure. frankly more sweet than i generally like and was looking for this evening. or ever. but this wine works in its sweetness. the crispness of an italian white table wine blended with the creaminess of a california chardonnay.

and it smells like a just sweet enough, drinkable heaven. i can't describe the smell, but you'll know it when you're lucky enough to smell it. and i daresay, for this wine the more than proper term is aroma, and not smell. well, then.

it brings to mind a less cloying ethiopian honey wine or japanese plum wine. just the sweet and just the cold and just *the* complement to a hot and spicy dish. and though i haven't asked them, i'm sure a dash of awaze or smear of wasabi would be more than happy to share the palate with this wine.

as with all whites (that don't bring a headache right away, of course), one could casually sip away a sunny afternoon with a bottle of this.

but, like very few whites (that don't bring a headache right away, of course), one could close down the evening with this wine.

a long evening at a long table filled with friendly faces where the remnants of a delicious dinner served family style still remain. everyone stuffed just a bit too much but the food is so delicious who can stop? so maybe just a small spoonful more. every one stuffed just a bit too much but the food is so delicious who can stop? so maybe just a bit more on the fingertip for taste.

but not too stuffed, and the consent to opening yet one more bottle of chilled viognier is unanimous. and glasses at the ready and quickly at the tipping, the meal and the evening are brought to a delicious, aromatic, and satisfying end.

i am impressed and charmed and surprised by this wine.

this is a white that drinks like a red. a liquid yin and yang if you will.

and frankly if ever there was a more ringing endorsement, for a white or otherwise, i haven't yet thought of one.

cheers, mate!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

red wine.

x-fact~when a label says "red wine" it means it's a blend of two or more grapes.

red truck california red wine 2005
paid 9.99
reg. 10-12

while that label says 2004, the wine i had was 2005.

i've been drinking this wine for years. initially drawn by the striking label, even on sale i felt it too rich for my blood and heaved a flagon of casarsa into the cart. i am not ashamed of my days with casarsa. not in the least. a girl's gotta have her wine, even if she must suffer through.

tonight my forever designated driver (husband) purchased this bottle at the little store down the road. and at a fair price i might add. true, while i could get it for 7.99 on sale now and again at my grocery store, 9.99 at the store less than a mile away is more than worth it.

let me interject something here about the "little store." if you live in a rural or even slightly rural area the little store is a part of life. though it generally has the essentials, gas (if you're lucky), beverages, snacks, it all too often doesn't have anything you would buy if you could shop anywhere else. and very rarely at anything that could be remotely deemed a "fair" price.

there are exceptions to this. and if you are lucky enough to have a little store near you, do check it out. even for wine. while my little store basically satisfies the miller light, novelty lighter, fake rose in the plastic tube crowd, it actually has a very decent wine selection. which is saying a lot considering when we first moved here the red wine used to be stored in the cold case beneath the white wine, above the half and half. /shudder.

they've got several bottles that i have and would drink, plus a few interesting choices i may not have considered in the past at my own grocery store due to the huge selection i am usually faced with there. like i said, it's worth checking out.

hey, even if it's only a bottle of boonesfarm strawberry hill sitting lonesome in the "wine section"it's good to know your options. and while i don't have this tattooed on my ass i should, there is never not a good time for a bottle of boones. (coupled with a bottle of advil, of course. but, you knew that)

i will stand by that sentiment till the day i die such is my love for the boones.

when we went to vermont for a month last year the rental place we had was a few miles on the other side of the "little store" from my very best friend's house. for one month, for the first time ever, we both had the same little store!

she had lived there for years and it took me visiting to point out the small wine section in the back. she had never gone back there. and lo and behold they had more than a few bottles of very good wine, the same wine she and i drank, some even organic, at very reasonable prices. all those years and she had been driving over 10 miles to buy wine, and here this great selection was 1/4 mile down the road! to a place she went every day for mail!

that's stumbling distance right there. we should all be so lucky.

okay, red truck 2005 california red wine. boy is it tasty. i don't know if it's because it's a blend or what, but the first sip or two does have a bit of a "bite." not quite as smooth as some, but goodness it more than makes up for it by the third sip.

smooth, and rich, and really fills the mouth. it's got a real jammy quality. not like a pb and j, jammy, but lets say you've reduced some preserves with a bit of liquid into a thick rich syrup. you take that syrup and brush the top of a thin layer of fresh baked, cooled, sponge cake. then after you brush the top with the syrup, you frost it with a delicious butter cream. repeat with the remaining two layers.

when you are done and you slice a piece and take a bite you've got the rich butter cream meeting the syrup soaked cake and you know why marie antoinette though it perfectly reasonable that the people should be happy with cake.

that kind of jammy.

this wine stands up more than well to a big meal. despite the intensity or fussiness or spiciness of the dish it never loses its place. tonight i made a pasta of pepper fettuccine with a red sauce of fire roasted tomatoes and whole spicy sausages and a mixed green and fresh herb salad dressed in a garlic vinaigrette.

it was absolutely perfect.

but, it would be equally perfect, if not more so, drunk from a jelly jar under a backyard shade tree, the uncorked bottle resting on an old battered ice chest as you lean back in your lawn chair and savor every sip.

you can take the wine out of california, but you can't take the california out of the wine.



Wednesday, January 16, 2008


x-fact ~ malbec is a thin skinned black grape that needs a lot of sun and heat.

tierra del sol malbec 2006
paid $6.99
reg. $9.99

i haven't ever had this particular wine, though i have enjoyed many wines from argentina. i bought a bottle this afternoon after an end cap display caught my attention. mainly the $6.99 in big bold black letters is what caught my eye, but i consider this a character plus on my part.

there were three wines from the tierra del sol label. immediately i dismissed the white in the middle. don't get me wrong, i like white wines just fine. give me a sunny day with nowhere to go and no one to go there with and i enjoy a chilled white wine as much as the next gal.

but, white is no red. the difference between white wine and red is the difference between the boy with the 1985 honda spree scooter and the good department store sweater and the boy with the 1991 harley davidson heritage softail classic and the beat up leather jacket.

when the bottle will likely just last the night, there's no time for crisp and polite sipping.

for red, they had a malbec and a tempranillo.

i love both varietals, but the malbec won out because of the end of the description alone.

"...along with velvety tannins."

i tell ya, right then the black velvet leggings i used to have and wear as a much younger lass popped into my head and that was all i needed to pick one over the other. they were some leggings in their day. plus, i've picked bottles over less.

sadly, the velvet leggings are long gone, but if i was lucky i could sip this delicious wine and think of more debaucherous times.

well, it's absolutely delicious. from the first sip there was the velvety smoothness promised on the label. at my general sip a day price point, the smoothness generally comes later. either after a glass or two and it mellows on my tongue, or the whole bottle and i'm drunk and who cares from smooth, huh?

this was "it" from the get go. it had a creeping warmth, too, that grabbed hold and kept the wine smooth sip after sip. sometimes, even an initially smooth wine can fall flat and become slightly drooly on the sides of the tongue after a bit.

oh, and the color. it had that great deep color you want to see in a glass. the kind of color one might imagine being sipped from a pewter goblet at a great feast, all roasting meats on the spit and flouncy shirt cuffs on the men and heaving bodices on the women. one can only imagine how the feast and the night will progress.

this is a wine meant to be savored with whatever you want to pair it with, and definitely shared with those you want to be with.

rich, romantic, potential debauchery in a bottle.

salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo!