Pour it on me!

Chronicling my transition from wine novice to oenophile (sort of).

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Review: 2014 Lenz Moser Gruner Vetliner

Light, fresh, limes, easy drinking: Those are the notes I jotted down on my phone before I saw my friends try to cheers and then drop a glass of beer at a bar. It was a birthday after all. Mazel Tov!

Lenz Moser is an Austrian winery and I hadn’t heard of it before. But it was a hot summer day, I was out for a friend’s birthday and I wanted something fresh and crisp. I got what I ordered. This spritzy wine has a bit of creaminess in there, too. Truly was a pleasure to drink.

Hot summer night, cool Lenz Moser Gruner Vetliner

A photo posted by Wine For The Win (@wineforthewin) on

If you want to order it with a fried chicken sandwich, head on over to Hermosillo in the Highland Park neighborhood of LA.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Lenz Moser
Type: Gruner Vetliner
Origin: Austria
Vintage: 2014
Price: It was $8 for the glass. A bottle is about that much too, according to wine-searcher.com
Alcohol content: 12%
When to drink: When it’s hot outside and you need something to cool ya down.

Review: 2013 Zenaida Cellars Zephyr

We came across Zenaida Cellars towards the end of a recent Paso Robles trip. It was supposed to be our last winery of the stay as we made our way out of town, but upon the recommendation of the woman serving us 10:30 a.m., we headed up the road to Ecluse. We are now members at Ecluse and I am always so grateful for the recommendation.

In addition to the wonderful recommendation, Zenaida had solid wines of its own. The 2013 Zephyr, especially. This blend is 55% Syrah, 40% Zin, 5% Viognier (!!!, more on the !!! later).

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It’s smooth, velvety and just lovely. The meaty red blend has notes of cherry (it’s fruit-forward no doubt), too. Now you may ask, what’s with all those exclamation points? Well I was surprised to see Viognier, a white varietal, mixed in with the predominantly Syrah/Zin blend. Not only was this a yummy wine, but it provided a teaching moment. File under: TIL!

The white grape once was commonly blended with Syrah in France as the varietals grow alongside each other in a region in the northern Rhone Valley. The practice still occurs in France, but not as often as back in the day. You will also see it done in Australia.

As an aside, Zenaida also has a cute little loft on the property where you can stay. The room was out of our budget, but if you’ve got the dough, it’s a good location.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Zenaida Cellars
Type: Syrah (55%), Zin (40%), Viognier (5%)
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2013
Price: $42
Alcohol content: 15.8%
When to drink: With a juicy, rear steak.

Review: 2015 A to Z Rose

The first time I had an A to Z wine, my husband and I were in Vegas. We were hungry, walking through Ceasar’s Palace and stopped at a restaurant that would take us right away. We weren’t in the mood to spend a lot, but wanted wine, so picked a Pinot Gris. It was from A to Z in Oregon and we were pleasantly surprised.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was in a grocery store hunting for a rose for one of our outdoor movie nights. I was trying to spend $12 or under and then what do I see but another A to Z wine, the 2015 Rose.

I popped this baby in the fridge as soon as we got home and enjoyed while we were watching “Big Trouble in Little China.” (Yes, both the movie and wine were crowd favorites, so much so I didn’t get a pic until most of the bottle was finished!)

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This dark rose is a bit tart up front, but an easy drinker. Lots of cherry, smooth finish, very juicy.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: A to Z Midnight Cellars
Type: Rose
Origin: Oregon
Vintage: 2015
Price: $10 (on sale)
Alcohol content: 13%
When to drink: Rose all day! Jk, jk. This one’s nice for sitting in a hammock as you race through a summer novel.

Review: 2015 Midnight Cellars Aurora

We almost didn’t go to Midnight Cellars on out last trip to Paso Robles. We had already been to three wineries and I had made a rule that this time, we would cut ourselves off after three. That didn’t happen. We slid right back into our 4 to 5 wineries a day bit. Oh, well.

Walking into Midnight Cellars, it was just half an hour before most of the wineries were shutting down for the day. The winery was down the street from a few others we had visited (Caliza, Grey Wolf, Niner — no worries, I’ll talk about them all in future posts) and I had seen it when I was googling around for new places to visit during our anniversary trip to Paso.

We walk in and our greeted by a very, very old cat. Chardonnay has been around for 17 years! We were the only ones there and ordered up two tastings. The woman who helped us was very sweet. She had grown up in Paso and many of the winemakers in the area were her her childhood friends’ dads. Outside the window we caught a group of ducklings running around with mama out of sight. It was all very quaint on the 28-acre estate.

"Oh yea, that's from the winery with the 1,000 year old cat." Sipping @midnightcellars' 💫Aurora 💫 tonight

A photo posted by Wine For The Win (@wineforthewin) on

We took home the Aurora and the winery kindly waived both our tasting fees. We cracked open the bottle a few days after returning home. It’s been hot outside and we were craving a white. Right away, the wine emits a sweet smell, but it doesn’t taste saccharine. Instead, it tastes tart with tropical fruit flavors shining through. Grapefruit!

This is a crisp wine that’s a quarter each Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne. Rhone varietals represent! I’m a fan of rich, dry Rousannes and I was surprised to see it quite a bit while we were in Paso this time around (Paso tends to be a red-loyal town with few wineries that I’ve seen offering a healthy white wine tasting. One winery even told us that they stopped putting whites in their wine club shipments because so many people complained that they wanted all reds!) You could taste the citrus of the Marsanne shining through and the mixture made for a flavored dance bopping around in your mouth.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Midnight Cellars
Type: Aurora
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2015
Price: $29
Alcohol content: 13.6%
When to drink: We drank this while watching the 2nd Harry Potter as we are revisiting the entire series, but I can see this as a perfect wine for sunny picnic days. Would be great even sitting out in the yard, munching on a citrusy ceviche.

WTF is blue wine?

Blue wine is a thing. And we can all thank a Spanish winery for bringing this Windex-colored alcohol into our lives.

The self-described sweet wine is made from red and white grapes. But how does it get that color? Anthocyanin (colored pigments) and indigo pigments. A good amount of sweeteners are tossed in there, too. Gik Winery developed the wine along with professors at University of the Basque Country and the food research arm of the Basque government. Gik is marketing the blue brew as a way to break from the norm; a wine revolution if you will.

First things that come to mind when scrolling through the company’s Instagram page:

1) Will this wine turn my teeth blue?
2) Do you drink it cold?
3) Stella Rosa must be kicking itself for not doing this first!

#GikLive y @softonic se unen para el #MobileWorldCongress 👌 #JustUnwine #VinoAzul #BlueWine #VinBleu

A photo posted by Gïk Live! Vino Azul (@giklive) on

Ok, I’ll bite. Expect a review here as soon as I can figure out how to order a bottle on the company’s website.

Review: 2013 Riven Rock Cabernet Sauvignon

Before heading to an outdoor movie event at a Hollywood cemetery where 1920s stars are buried (Yes, we do that in Los Angeles and like it), my husband and I went to check out the new Whole Foods 365 near us. It’s Whole Foods’ attempt at a smaller neighborhood market. We were lookin for some wine to bring to see “Singin’ in the Rain.” But we didn’t want to spend a bundle, so I picked up the least expensive red I could find.

That would be the 2013 Riven Rock Cabernet Sauvignon.

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This is the wine that gives meaning to you get what you pay for. This cherry-flavored red tastes watered down. It’s a lame-version of Trader Joe’s 2-buck Chuck. Maybe this could pass for a Sangria wine? That’s probably it’s only redeeming quality: It’ll taste better when you mix it with a lot of booze.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Riven Rock
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: McFarland, Calif.
Vintage: 2013
Price: $6
Alcohol content: 13%
When to drink: Never.

Review: 2013 Ecluse Cabernet Sauvignon

When I went up to Paso Robles last, my goal was to find a new wine club. I had been a wine club member at a Temecula Winery for about two years, but was itching for something new. Over the weekend, I visited about seven wineries and was about to give up. Then at our last stop on Sunday before we headed back, another winery owner suggested we try Ecluse up the road.

Ecluse is on the westside of Paso Robles. It’s an unpretentious winery with a steel shed tasting room where they let you taste wine straight from the barrel, an experience I highly recommend. After our tasting, my husband and I were sold; we became winery members right then and took home a dozen bottles.

Got to barrel-taste the 14 Improv from @eclusewines this weekend. It's gonna be sooo good

A photo posted by Wine For The Win (@wineforthewin) on

This week we drank the 2013 Ecluse Cabernet Sauvignon. It smelled delicious and tasted like candy! No, no, it’s not like a sugary-gives-your-teeth-cavities candy, but a delicious dark licorice that you savor. The wine weighs heavy on your tongue, burrowing deep with its full-mouth feel.

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The dark purple liquid had a short-lived and somewhat bitter aftertaste, but that went away with time. I think the burn could be attributed to the high alcohol level of 14.9%. The wine, which also had a coffee flavor that complimented our steak dinner, needed some air. I bet if we drank this wine in 2017 rather than a few days ago it would have calmed down a bit more. Only 240 barrels of this award-winning wine were made.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Ecluse Wines
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2013
Price: $40, Club $32
Alcohol content: 14.9%
When to drink: This wine is perfect for philosophical discussions.

Finally, there’s proof: 3 glasses of wine can make you silly

A Brazilian photographer crafted a new drinking game with his friends to test out his favorite saying and the results are masterful.

Marcos Alberti took four photos of his friends, one after they arrived at a party, drained from traffic and work, and then three more, each after a glass of wine. As his favorite saying goes, “The first glass of wine is all about the food, the second glass is about love and the third glass is about mayhem.”

The proof is in that final shot.

Below are a few of Marco’s experimental photos. To see the rest, visit his website.

A photo posted by Thamiris Dias (@thatasd) on

What’s a wine aerator?

I got a cute little ram aerator for Christmas. I kind of knew what aerators were supposed to do, but had never really used one before that gift.

An aerator is something you stick in the top of your wine bottle; when you pour the wine through it, air gets mixed in. The same thing happens when you let your wine sit open or swirl it around in the glass. It’s what fancy wine people call letting your wine breathe.

Air is supposed to let the flavors settle down and mingle. Ever had a wine that’s supposed to be really good, but the first time you pour it out of the glass, it’s super puckery and leaves you with an alcohol punch to the throat? Try an aerator to calm that baby down.

Using the deliciously fancy aerator gifted by the lovely @ak_scrumpy on this fine evening

A video posted by Wine For The Win (@wineforthewin) on

Not all wines need an aerator. They’re typically used on red wines, particularly young ones.

If you’re into an aerator that looks like an animal is puking wine into your glass, like I am, you can find them here. You’ll also see them at wineries all over Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, et al.