Tuesday, November 10, 2009
BOONE'S FARM STRAWBERRY HILL
Flavored Citrus Wine
x-fact ~ oh come on. don't act so surprised. it's not like you didn't see this one coming.
paid then; 98c
paid now; 3.49
what can you write about love? what can you say that hasn't already been said and spin it anew? a girl and her drink. often a cautionary tale, but in this case just a love story.
boone's farm strawberry hill was cheap and sweet when i didn't have the finances or palate to know any better. thank god, right? because as far as cheap and sweet go this particular 'wine' had staying power. thus here sits the girl on a relatively normal tuesday evening, a little older, a little softer, and so much wiser than she has a right to be considering the shit she still pulls. drinking boone's strawberry hill and enjoying every single sip. perhaps it's the carbonation paired with the sweet paired with the nostalgia, but i might go so far as to say this is a pretty darned balanced flavor.
and holy mama! the carbonation paired with the sugar content puts the boone's right in the driver's seat at the first few sips. the breath lets out, the shoulders let down, and the corners of the mouth go up. nice.
now, i can't say for certain because i only had the two or so odd and illegal sips of cold duck so long ago it's maybe just a figment of my imagination, but i think i can reasonably compare the two. for those of you who haven't ever had boone's strawberry hill and need a touchstone. though the boone's is better than pink champagne, they are definitely similar. you know, if i'm remembering correctly. always a dicey proposition. and i know, that's not exactly a ringing endorsement, the brain addled encouraging drinking something that may or may not taste like a champagne that should have never been served even once. but, it's what i got.
boone's is definitely sweet, but not sticky. okay, it's a little sticky, more so if not drunk ice cold. but if it's cold it's really not cloying, with just the right amount of fizz cutting through. at least not if you're one who can appreciate a sweeter drink. i'd add in something like a floral undertone or something like that, but let's face it. it's boone's. it is what it is. and that's enough.
think of a summertime cocktail. like a pink lemonade and vodka, or a royal blush. something one might call a girl-drink-drunk. only easier. the drink, not the girl. stick a straw in the bottle and call it good.
let's be honest, i'm old enough to know there is no 'right' time to drink anything called a 'flavored citrus wine.' i'm also not too old to know that there is no 'wrong' time to, either.
good for the hotter weather, obviously. BBQs, picnics, hanging out by the river with your ne'er do well friends. even the more respectable ones. a kegger before your 20th high school reunion, swigging from the same bottle your new old friends are swigging from, too. all the better if you can swipe a bottle on your way out the door for later. good times.
of all the memories i have of boone's strawberry hill the one that stands out most is the college boyfriend i drank it with. though i remember him being a bit more 'accomplished' at the task than myself, it was a shared love. along with beat poetry and being together. boy, was he cute and i was a goner. he was already ahead of the game by saving me from a disastrous affair with my boss from the burger joint, but the piercing eyes and whole 'dark soul' thing didn't hurt either. i fell about as hard as a girl can fall.
of course when you're newly 18 everything is 'forever' until the fucker dumps you and you end up on the rebound for about a minute with a boy far prettier than you are. always sucks when the boys are prettier than you are.
ahh, but isn't everything meant to be broken? and in the end a good story is better than nothing.
the beauty of life is that time passes. which is a good thing. and some things remain the same. which is an even better thing.
the bottle i bought at target the other day, along with the laundry soap and band aids and socks for the eight year old boy who calls me mama, tastes just exactly the same as it did when i was younger and drinking it in parks and back seats and while wishing on shooting stars with an 18 year old boy who called me by a name nobody else knows and who i thought i would always love.
and when you wake up some days and look in the mirror and still feel 17 inside but everything external screams OTHERWISE! it's nice to know you can just slide a bit into the past. a little run away to when things were not 'easier,' just different. because you didn't know better. and things really could last 'forever.' which, as it turns out, can be about 2 1/2 months long.
hey, despite all that this is a good bottle. for whenever. just because. it's not everybody's taste, sure, but i'm almost certain there's a bottle of something out there that falls into this same category for you. your taste.
and i say the next time you're at the store pick it up. this bottle, another boone's flavor (if you must. but this in the *only* one for me), or the bottle you remember. not to be ironic or hip or anything more than to take a swig and get swept off your feet by a bit of the past.
even just for minute, to remember that boy or that girl or that time in your life. a different time than now. not better, just different. because it happened, however long ago, and it got woven somewhere in your soul. it sits somewhere in your heart or orbiting some atmosphere in your person. maybe just to say hi to your younger self and bring the story up to date.
because as kerouac once said, things don't tire of going and coming.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
x-fact ~ "oak aged" just means wine that's stored for a particular amount of time with some amount of oak. this could be in the form of storing it in an oak barrel, or by adding oak chips during the fermentation process if the wine is stored in something other than oak. this process affects the color, flavor, and texture of the wine.
because we almost lost our house and then we didn't, my father in law brought this wine to me. so this is a celebration. a celebration of the house and of the return of the wine blog. and the wine is EXCELLENT. whew, right?
first off it's a terribly presentable bottle. often times i find that the bigger the bottle (this was a 1.5 l bottle) the less i appreciate the appearance. thrifty in price for the size seems to spill over to the design. but this is a nice clean label, good lines, great graphics, and the foil at the top is the absolute best kind of blue. i once had a old BMW the exact color blue. cirrus it was called. i miss that car.
and who doesn't love a black sheep. always the life of the party, a seminal crowd pleaser. even if you are one of those who pretend to be offended. especially you. you love a black sheep. you just won't admit it.
so at first sip i didn't care for this wine at all. there. i said it. too much of that fetid fruit taste going all unformed and wonky on my tongue. same with the second sip. hmmm. but i am nothing if not a "patient" drinker so i pressed on.
by the fourth sip though it's tuesday i'm in love. oh my goodness this is goodness. smooth and jammy and juicy. all bursting on the tongue and begging to be drunk. the wine i mean. well, okay, and the girl.
it's a sexy pour too. a vixen if you will. all legs and sassy in the glass. and bear with the big official winewords here, but there is just the little smack at the back of your tongue of the ripest, juiciest black cherry you've ever eaten. it's just a smack, though. a love pat. not overpowering, and sweet, but certainly not overly sweet. in fact, it's quite dry for all the juiciness. god that makes sense somewhere. it makes sense here. tonight. with this wine in my glass. sip sip.
so i discovered after the first glass that this wine really needs a bigger glass. it's just too pretty and smells too good to be all cooped up. like a girl who needs room to groove, all hips and lips with her own back beat, so does this wine. so i abandoned my everyday glass and went for the big guns. the fancy glasses hidden in full display under glass. all lighted and pretty and begging to be used. i am so glad i did.
i needed to give it a minute to breathe in the bigger glass, a swirl, some time to warm in the hand. but when it had a chance to primp and preen it was perfect. that black cherry just hit my nose in the best way, bigger and juicier than before, but still a bit dry. still a bit mellow. and it just set the stage for the sip. which is big, but it isn't heavy. not in the least. like i said, mellow.
a perfect date wine if you ask me. all the best without the heft. though i'm sure the big ass bottle might seem a bit "presumptuous." but i'm certain with enough sips and the right company that would cease to be so.
and what i love about a wine like this is that it can go anywhere. a perfectly set table with a perfectly coordinated meal and the perfect balance of guests penciled in on the perfect seating chart. from the asiago stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto accompanied by the wilted greens with a warm sherry vinaigrette to start, to the flatiron steaks with creamy juniper sauce and hash browns to continue, to who needs desert after all that and with such a wonderful wine?
okay, something rich and decadent and gooey if you must. chocolate. or a warm caramel over a white whipped or melting concoction of some sort. or just a plate of cheese, some grapes, a knife. serve 'em if you got 'em. you won't need it, but why not gild the lily, right?
and hey, who says you might not need a little after after midnight snack for two, huh? providing one of the perfect guests decides to stay on a bit. a bit of forgotten, uneaten desert would be just the thing. hold the forks.
or if not a perfect dinner for many how about a hot tub for two on the edge of the pacific ocean? with only the cypress and the stars for sustenance. or for that matter, a tent in the middle of nowhere with just a fire and the person you love best in the world for company. and that's when you'll be thankful for the big bottle. what with the hot tub or the campfire relaxing muscles and stress you didn't even know you had? well, who wants to get up?
that's what i just adore and appreciate the most about a good wine. you do what you want with it and it just goes along. and like i always say, good wine need not be expensive, it just needs to be good.
and i love how indifferent this wine is in its charms. it just sneaks up on you until all of a sudden you realize how much you love it. how you are promising to buy it again. planning dinner parties that will revolve around it. stocking up for the fall and winter holidays and all their attendant parties.
it's just too charming and too drinkable and too reasonably priced to leave it for too long without drinking, and more importantly, sharing. well, when you're ready to that is.
this wine is like falling in love with the boy and getting to spend as much time as you want doing just that. then getting to introduce him around to everyone you know. and then you just sit back and accept the knowing smiles, the winks, the open jealousy and outright hostility disguised as happiness for you by those who only wished they had found him first. yeah.
wait, where was i? oh, yeah. i really think you'll like this wine.
delicious, sexy, accommodating? a wanton luxury that's easily acquired? well, shit. what in the hell are you waiting for?
really, in these economic times, or any times for that matter, could you ask for anything more?
don't answer that. just try this wine and be happy you did.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
OAK LEAF VINEYARDS
x-fact~ please do not let the fact that this is a white zinfandel fool you. really, i know you're scared. so was i. but it's going to be okay. oh, and you can only get it at wal-mart. okay, okay, simmer down now, i told you it would be okay. trust me? of course you do.
when i was a younger lass and unequipped with the basics, like a legal drinking age, much money, or any taste, white zinfandel was the classy wine. no foolin' this was it. oh sure, this was right about the time of the boone's. but let's face it, the boone's was just for the "every day," your out in the middle of the country parties, your surreptitious drinking in the park. the white zinfandel was for the special times.
and judging from historical pictorial evidence, i cannot for the life of me figure out what possessed me to think that the wearing of sunglasses and hawaiian skirts and drinking with a bunch of sweaty guys screamed special times, but apparently, judging from the bottle in my hand, it did.
so, as love affairs often do, my love affair with white zinfandel only lasted so long. as i aged so did my taste buds. and for the better. and while i thought fondly of my special times with the white zin, boy was i happy never to have to drink it again!
now. it was easter of this year, and this bottle was brought into my home. i did not seek this bottle out. and i had no wish to drink it. rather, i stuck it in the fridge and figured, at some distant point, i'd get a taker.
well, take one long rough day a few weeks later that finished in a early spring, warmish, evening and that taker ended up being me.
may i say i love this wine? may i say this wine is not the white zin of my youth? if it's a white zin at all? this wine is more like a rose'. a delicate, dainty rose', and it's delicious.
it pours out into the prettiest pale pink color. and if you have it chilled just right, it's crisp and clean and sweet right away. but not too sweet, and just *the* right amount of crisp. but it has to be chilled right. i know this because i do extensive research on these things exclusively for your benefit. extensive.
and when i said it's delicate i mean that it's got just the flirtiest hint of floral undertones. and you know i don't use the word "floral." ever. so you're just gonna have to trust me on this one.
and even though this is all sounding precious and pearls, like i've just told you my colors are blush and bashful, please do not be mistaken.
oh, certainly, this would be a perfect before or during wine for that sunday brunch, spring luncheon, baby or wedding shower. perfect.
but i don't think this wine would like to be limited to the table. because i think deep down, underneath all the pink and the delicate, is a good ol' porch wine. meant to be pulled from the bucket of ice (not to be mistaken for an ice bucket, but literally a bucket filled with ice and a few bottles of this wine), pulled and then poured into a jelly jar and drunk on your front porch while you watch the afternoon go by.
the rocking chair and creaky screen door are optional.
all right, so yeah, if you serve this at the brunch, the lunch, or the shower, of course it would pair beautifully with any number of canapes, appetizers, or small flavorful bites. just be sure to be deferential to the individual flavors, keeping things simple, clean, true. don't try to get too fancy with the food of spring. it's got its own fabulousness that only needs a light hand and the chance to shine in its own glory. and darlings, you do know that presentation is everything. right? okay. good.
but what does a girl eat when she's decided to wile away the afternoon, sittin' on the porch, drinking from a jelly jar?
whatever the hell she wants. and who in the hell really cares?
because really, when you've decided to give the day over, i think the rest of it works itself out. quite beautifully in fact.
from my own porch i see the lilacs bursting forth, putting on their annual show. one of the best in the business. blink and you'll miss it. blink and they are already turning brown. the show that we bought the accompanying house for just to be sure we had front row seats for the rest of eternity.
i see the last of the pie cherry in all its fading glory, still holding its own against the lilacs. the apple blossoms are readying themselves, getting all primped backstage, waiting for their curtain call.
and the tulips are just doing what the tulips do best. brazenly turning themselves face up and seeking to soak in as much of the sun and sky and air as they can take.
what more could you ask for? well, maybe a sweetie to share the wine and the afternoon with? someone else who could really care as less as you do for what the food plan may be?
this wine is flirty and it's fun. the perfect color of a blushing cheek, bringing to mind those days before. days that afforded an afternoon spent on a front porch with a sweetie, without any sense of the passage of time, without even having to carve it out. without having to ask.
this wine makes a girl want to hike up her skirt a little more and soak up a little sun of her own. and sitting on her own porch she can do just that, and whatever else she wants.
and at 2.97 a bottle (and no, that's not a mistype. crazy, huh?) this wine can do all of the above, the fancy themed parties or the day on the porch, for the best price a girl could ask for. seriously, this is a stock up price for the season. and that's not the sale price either.
buy a bunch for the party and steam off the labels and add your own. a picture of you and your sweetie and your wedding date. a baby's footprint and due date. a beautiful picture of your yard for your spring/summer garden luncheon. or don't. the color is so pretty that just the naked bottles on the table or ice bucket or bucket of ice would be striking, too.
whatever you do, the effort you make, or don't, will be richly rewarded with a glass or two of this wine.
i know times are tough, and getting tougher all the time. all the better reason to purchase some cheap, yet delicious, wine and gather people together. or even just that one special one. even if that one special one is you.
me? the first possible afternoon i have i'm going to gather my own sweetie, the galvanized bucket from the shed (i'll give it a good rinse out), some ice, and a few bottles of this wine.
and we're going to sit on the porch here at the big red house and drink this wine from our wedding jelly jars and count our blessings. and i cannot imagine, as the afternoon fades away and the early evening comes on slowly, that we will possibly run out of blessings to count.
go ahead. pour your own glass and count your own blessings.
celebrate your one beautiful life.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
x-fact ~ the razor's edge is defined as "a difficult or precarious position."
shiraz grenache mclaren vale australia 2006
for some time now, "economic downturn" has been at some times a four letter word and at all times a very real and very pressing concern around these parts. so imagine my delight and surprise at being gifted such a nice bottle! and right when i was hoping to get back to the wine blog, too!
with not much more than my wal-mart special (please don't ask. it's good. really. for $2.97 it's good. it's no two buck chuck, sure. but, really, let's speak of happier things right now.) i didn't feel i had much to offer you other than a depression V2.0 special. which is all fine and good. but i'm glad to make it back with something a bit livelier. thank you jane!
so the bottle isn't anything i'd ever pick up. all that gray and red nonsense reminds me of someone who is trying too hard. and two decades too late to boot.
but the magical words shiraz and grenache were on the label with a big ol' bow from the giver and a tag that boasted 91 points from Wine Spectator. (psst. that's good.)
first off it's a great color. deep. and sexy like the great nail polishes you find once before they discontinue the color.
i took a sip and it was smooth right away. admittedly there was a little "ting" at the back of the throat. not metallic, really, but close to it. i can't really put my finger on it, but it lasted about 3 or 4 sips in then went away.
in the meantime the rest of it right away was just mouthfuls of jammy and belly warming fabulousness. and it clings to the glass like a pro.
it's been some time since i've had a real sassy, full bodied, take charge kinda wine. it's so different to have a whole body reaction to a wine. your mouth is filled, your belly warmed, your extremities get the initial tingling then the all over relaxation.
it's not unlike a perfect kiss. but then again you know my love for the grenache. a date in a bottle, baby! and this bottle promises to NOT be an exception to that proclamation. furthermore, good lord but this girl could use a date in a bottle right about now!
this wine stays smooth. getting ever so more jammy with little fruit bursts here and there. juicy, and yet there's a bit of the brisk to it. right on the top. marrying with the jammy, and keeping it from going full boar into too much. you know, when your good heavy jammy wine gets that bottom of the fruit bowl taste after awhile? no? maybe it's just me.
rest assured, this wine won't do that. even if you didn't know it did it in the first place. wait? where was i? and how many times can i really use the word "jammy?"
oh, yeah, anyhow, what i really loved was how the flavors just continued to develop and even gain some complexity as i drank on. in fact, i started out with our "new" drinkaday wine glasses when i first poured this. you know the kind. the short little ones they have in your middle of the road italian joints. they aren't new, but newish. i got them a few months ago when all the "good" glasses kept getting broken (by me) and couldn't get fully clean because they don't really go in the dishwasher and they are so thin they scare me when i hand wash them.
i eliminate this issue in the summer by just putting out jelly jars for our gatherings, but the winter holidays dictate something "fancier" and we couldn't afford to replace the pricier glasses.
but, i digress.
can i say about the drinkaday glasses that i LOVE them! i do! the perfect glass in terms of size and care. each pour is just enough. and when you're on a budget and sharing your wine it's good to portion it out to make the bottle stretch. and these glasses do just that.
sigh. i did just write that? my wine soaked muses are turning over in their barrels.
anyhow, i was drinking from one of those glasses at first and then i realized i couldn't get the full scope of the smell or bouquet (fancy, right!) of this wine. which i didn't really take notice of at first. but as i continued it became more pronounced.
so i got out a "good" glass. big enough to really get my nose in there before i took a sip. and it just turned the whole thing up.
full bodied and fruity with none of the overpowering alcohol notes you sometimes get. just a really good whiff or, you know, bouquet.
this wine makes me happy. sure, yeah, the nearly 15% alcohol by volume of the wine has something to do with it, but it's more. a touch of the fabulous when things, by necessity, feel as though they have become routine and required and regimented due to forces outside of your control.
like eating an amazing meal out, wearing kick ass heels, checking into a hotel and only having to pick up the phone for anything you want at top notch personalized service. there is just something to be said for quality. finesse. attention to detail. sexiness.
or, being able to get exactly what you want at the grocery, not having to decide which utility to pay and which to ignore, negotiating which kid possesses the most pressing need for this that and the other and which can make do with the existing, hand me downs, and cast offs. there's something to be said for making every day decisions without stress and fear of mis-utilizing meager resources.
lately, it's been my reality to default to the ultra and then some practical part of my self. though i am generally a practical gal anyway. that hasn't changed. my ability to purchase my way out of practicality, even for an evening, has gone away.
but along with my practical, i maintain my creative. my kids will always have what they need. we will always be warm, we will always eat. further, a fine meal can be made on any budget. one must only have a bit of skill at the grocery store and the stove.
"not poor, resourceful" as my mother would say.
but the incidentals, the "extras" if you will, good wine being chief among them, hell WINE IN GENERAL, are the first to be slashed when the budget goes south and then just stops all together.
i am the queen of liking wines of all budgets. even the non existent ones. but while inexpensive, those wines do come at the expense of a great deal that a wine can potentially offer.
you don't get the same wine at $2.97 that you do at other price points. not the kind that really involves all of the senses and transports you to another place and time, real, imagined, or otherwise.
the kind that engages your body and soul and gives just enough to help you to remember it hasn't always been like this. that life was a different life at one point. even as you have chosen this life, there was another. like the kind of wine that leaves you imagining sitting across the table from someone you love sharing a bottle and an afternoon. a wine that makes you want to share it. glass by glass you are giving a gift of deliciousness and time.
that kind of wine can't be had for $2.97.
and i have to say the one thing about our personal "economic downturn,"okay, well, shit, there have been so many! but apropos of our conversation here, one of the more particular and beautiful lessons i have been left with through this whole "economic downturn" here at the big red house is that i wouldn't need to concoct fictitious lovers or imaginary friends to share this bottle with.
that there are many i could call to my table. and they exist. with their open arms and their open hearts. that i have a partner in this, i have my kids, i have so much.
that even as so much falls away, and will likely be taken away in the near future, that the love i share with so many will not.
i knew this, and then again i needed the lesson, too. a little shake up to the soul.
that's what i love about good wine. this wine. a little engaging of all the senses, some reflection, a letting go enough to let the sap flow and run free.
in vino veritas, right?
i would drink this wine with a lovely and simple, but well thought out meal. sumptuous, yet not too heavy. a bit rambling even, with breaks for sipping and visiting.
a bite here and a nibble there and they all add up eventually. a late afternoon lunch on the perfect spring day. a little chilly towards the wane of the afternoon because the sun is not yet accustomed to our neediness and the demands of a change of seasons. perfect for pulling on a sweater and sitting a bit closer. maybe a fire outside later to chase the chill. giving an equally perfect excuse to open another bottle and visit longer.
what reminds you of spring? what do you eat when the weather is teasing us all with the promise of brighter sunnier days ahead?
this wine is bringing to mind the promise of brighter sunnier days ahead for me. even as the frigid temperatures outside and the rocky financial road i am on suggest otherwise.
the thing is about food, and wine too!, is that those brighter sunnier days are always attainable. sure, we can't create the menu and meal of our dreams each night, nor can we indulge in wine we can't afford each night, either.
but for a moment, a few moments strung together, we can indulge even in lean times. a table of food made with love, a bottle of wine, friends and loved ones gathered. perfection comes so simply if we just adjust our ideas of what it can be.
even more special if we can get those first california strawberries, a bunch of asparagus, some spring lamb, a few meyer lemons to juice for a tart.
a bottle of this excellent wine and an afternoon.
and indulging, even as we decidedly have positive proof that we simply cannot afford to, can be done and can make all the difference in the world. perception and optimism are everything when you are faced with very little.
the dictionary defines the razor's edge as "a difficult or precarious position."
the back label on this bottle defines the razor's edge as "the thin line representing a perfect balance between extremes."
well, i have been on the razor's edge for some time now. and seriously, the wine bottle nailed it.
again, in vino veritas, right?
so should you find yourself with your arms wide open, stretched out and maneuvering the razor's edge, know that your arms wide open are your first and best move.