Cabernet Sauvignon

Review: Berenda Road Cabernet Sauvignon

My other half’s family lives on property in Temecula fit with a donkey, a mule, turtles, barn cats, a Great Dane, a Border Collie, cockatiels and chickens. They don’t have vineyards, but there are plenty in nearby wine country.

The last time he went up to visit he brought me back wine from some local wineries. One of them was Berenda Road Cabernet Sauvignon.


The wine, which is made by South Coast Winery, was a hit with several friends who came over to our place for an advanced screening of “Girls.” Drinking wine is to sipping a cosmopolitan as “Girls” is to watching “Sex and The City” eight years ago. If that SAT-style comparison gave you a headache, you’ll be glad to know that Berenda Road Cabernet Sauvignon won’t.

The herby, rich Cabernet tasted like ripe berries. Although the bottle descries it as having a “warm oak character” it didn’t taste too oaky to me. It was hard to describe during intermissions between episodes, but I was trying to get across to my fellow wine drinkers that to me it tasted tightly-wound. All the flavors were packed together. At $10 or less a bottle, it’s a great value.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Berenda Road, South Coast Winery
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Temecula
  • Vintage: Didn’t see it on the bottle, but I could have missed it…
  • Price: $10
  • Alcohol content: 14.3%
  • When to drink: This Cabernet is a good one to bring to a dinner party. It’s inexpensive, but will taste like it costs more. it’s very “approachable” as the label says. Everyone who drank it at my house enjoyed it. So, definitely a crowd-pleaser.

Review: 2012 Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon

After two-buck chuck became three-buck chuck, I shucked my allegiance to the wine on the cheap for a $4 bottle of Trader Joe’s Coastal Cabernet Suavignon, a quality inexpensive red to have lying around the kitchen.

For just a smidge more than its more famous neighbor in the wine aisle, The 2012 Coastal is quite a good QPR wine (quality price ratio). It doesn’t have any special tricks, but it does have all the tenets of a traditional Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s got a full-mouth, oaky feel, a toasty dry finish and a bold fruity flavor that can veer into bitter cranberry at times (the one down side).


Overall, this is a good buy for the wino on a budget!

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Coastal
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Central Coast
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $4.49
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: During the week, when your wearing your pajamas and slippers to dinner at home, preferably one featuring tri tip.

Hiking through deep snow to get wine

Remember that mile-long trek in the snow for wine I mentioned, well here’s the scoop on that adventure:

After playing many rounds of “Things” and “Cards Against Humanity,” we were running low on wine and vodka, so we decided to make a trip to the liquor store. The snow had piled too high to drive a car down the long driveway of our friend’s woodsy lodge near Zion National Park, where we spent the weekend, so we donned hats, gloves and boots and went on a liquor run by foot.

As our fearless leader pushed a shovel through the thick white blanket of snow to create a path, we passed cows, sheep and horses along the way.




I even saw a snow-covered teepee for the first time.


Finally making it to the liquor store, which doubles as a gift and sundries shop–I’ve always liked that word, sundries, it just has a certain elfish quality about it–there wasn’t much variety. There was a lot of Sutter Home and Barefoot Wines. I ended up picking up a 2011 Malbec by Bodego Navarro-Correas and a Tisdale Cabernet Sauvignon. Neither of which are really wines to write home about and both were overpriced by about double.

The Tisdale Cabernet Sauvignon was too watery for my taste. I felt like it was too open. It couldn’t hold its attempt at berry and plum flavors together, so the wine just fella part and  tasted like a glorified grape juice. But, it turned out to be perfect for Sangria! I’ll share the recipe in another post. Here’s a picture teaser:


You’ll also have to wait until later this week for my review of the Malbec.

Review: 2010 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon

With a rear beef roast and mashed potatoes swimming in garlic and butter on my plate, I sipped more than a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Robert Mondavi Vineyard Saturday night.

Mondavi, aka the godfather of Napa Valley, made a name for himself boosting the reputation of the famed California wine region and improving wine techniques. It’s no surprise then that Mondavi wines are so popular. The 2010 bottle was well-received around our table of six.


This a bold, deep purple wine that fills your mouth with flavors of tobacco, dark cherry and dark chocolate. It has a brisk feeling on the way in, but a leathery finish.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Robert Mondavi Vineyard
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Napa Valley
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Price: $39
  • Alcohol content: 15%
  • When to drink: This is definitely a wine for a special occasion, not only due to the price, but also the quality.

Snow storm? Make mulled wine

I drove out to Zion National Park to spend a weekend hiking with friends, but our athletic plans went astray after the fourth largest snowfall since 1904 slammed the region. The snow just kept climbing–8.5 inches in total–and I felt like I was living in a snow globe!


To warm up in this winter wonderland, I decided to make mulled wine. I’ve had a special place in my heart for the cozy beverage ever since I visited Prague, where you can buy mulled wine from street carts and then stroll through a park. I’ll never forget the night I went to a bar in Prague and ordered mulled wine. The bartender just laughed. They said it was like me ordering coffee at a dive bar in the U.S. I switched my order to Pilsner, but the next day I made sure to get mulled wine from a street vendor!

My take is pretty traditional: red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Beaujolais), orange, honey, cinnamon sticks, ginger, cloves and brandy. We were missing a few of the ingredients, so I had to whip up a little variation, but it came out great.

Too bad we each could only have about a quarter of a mug since I spilled a little wine as I was trying to snap a photo of the pour, whoops, and we only had one bottle left -_-


Don’t worry, I’ll tell you about the mile trek in the snow that piled almost as high as my knees to get more wine in an upcoming post.

Without further adieu, here’s how I made this crowd-pleaser:

-Poured a bottle of red wine in a big pot, much like the kind you’d used to boil Spaghetti. I used Three Wishes Cabernet Sauvignon (You can buy it at Whole Foods for $2.99). I wouldn’t buy the other Three Wishes’ varietals Merlot and Chardonnay, but the Cab is passable, especially if you’re going to use it as a mixer).


-Cut up a whole orange and added it to the pot, peels and all

-Poured in a third of a cup of Crown Royal…it was that or Johnny Walker Black and I thought the former would be sweeter.


-Added 1/8 of a cup of Agave Sweetener. We didn’t have honey and I’d usually double that portion if we did, but Agave can be sweeter than honey.


-Tapped in two teaspoons of ground ginger and a teaspoon of nutmeg. We didn’t have cinnamon sticks, so I added three teaspoons of ground cinnamon.


-Heated it on medium/low for 20 minutes. You want it to get hot, but not boil.




Review: 2011 Edna Valley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2011 Edna Valley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is soft on the way down. It’s oaky, fruity–blackberries, mostly– spicy and has a hint of coffee. It’s a solid Cabernet Suavignon. Drinking this at a party, a friend of mine said it’s a perfect red to loosen up a crowd. I totally agree.


Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Edna Valley Vineyard
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Central Coast; Paso Robles
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $9.99
  • Alcohol content: 13%
  • When to drink: At a business mixer when you need to loosen up the crowd.

Review: 2010 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon; Kosher Wine

My dad is what I like to call a cafeteria Jew. He picks and chooses what he wants to follow. Same goes for how kosher he is. He’ll eat lobster, but when it comes to wine, he’ll only buy kosher wine.

Celebrating Hanukah at my parent’s house, he brought out his favorite Kosher wine: Terrenal’s Cabernet Sauvignon.


It’s a simple, dry Cabernet Sauvignon. I tasted a bitter grapefruit flavor, but I was the only one. Other guests described it as a tart berry. Not overly special, but great quality for the price. It’s not bad for $3.99 at Trader Joe’s! Speaking of under $5 wines, it beats the Green Fin.

So what makes a wine kosher?

According to Wine Spectator:

Kosher wine is made just like other table wine, with an extra set of rules to make it consistent with Jewish dietary law. In order for a wine to be deemed kosher (Yiddish for “proper” or “fit”), it must be made under the supervision of a rabbi. The wine must contain only kosher ingredients (including yeast and fining agents), and it must be processed using equipment rabbinically certified to make kosher wines. No preservatives or artificial colors may be added. The wine can only be handled — from the vine to the wineglass — by Sabbath-observant Jews, unless the wine is mevushal.

Mevushal wines, unlike ordinary kosher wines, can be handled and served by non-Jews. To be considered mevushal, a wine must be heated to 185 degrees F.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Terrenal
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Yecla, Spain
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Price: $3.99
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: When you’re off to a Passover Seder, be thoughtful and bring along this Kosher for Passover wine.

Review: 2012 Velvet Moon Cabernet Sauvignon

This is another Friendsgiving wine, because what makes Friendgiving better than regular Thanksgiving? You get drunk with your friends because you’re having fun, rather than getting drunk with your family to forget the dysfunction.


The 2012 Velvet Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, like the name, is smooth throughout. It is sweeter than most Cabs I’ve had, but that’s not a bad thing. A caramel flavor takes over after the initial tart cherry floats away when the wine breathes for a bit. It’s a good Cab for the price–if you’re a fan of smooth over bold– and can be found at Trader Joe’s.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Velvet Moon
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Manteca, Calif.
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $6
  • Alcohol content: 13%
  • When to drink: When you’re with a traditional white wine drinker who wants to venture into a red for the evening.

Wine bar review: Mignon in downtown Los Angeles

At the edge of downtown Los Angeles, in that nebulous part of 6th Street that borders Skid Row, is the cutest wine bar I ever did see. I’m serious.

Not only is Mignon adorable with a very Parisian vibe, think dark wood, dim lighting, mismatched glasses and minimal seating, it has quite the wine list. There were representatives from Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Spain, and of course, France.


The menu, printed on lined white school paper, changes often, but when I went last week it included:

  • Torley, Gala, a Hungarian sparkling wine
  • Cascina Val del Prete, Luet, Roero Arneis, an Italian white
  • Val de Mer, Chablis, a French white
  • Cornellison, “Contadino 9,” a Sicilian red wine

And many more.

On top of the extensive list, they have a lovely happy hour: $5 glasses of wine and $5 small plates from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 p.m. to midnight on Sunday. The bar is open 6 p.m. to midnight seven days a week. Usually, glasses of wine are about $8, and bottles mostly range from $32 to $62.

At a recent happy hour, I had a 2010 Cascina Val del Prete, an Italian wine made from Arneis grapes. The white wine was creamy, sweet, and left pear lingering on the tongue. In Piedmont, where the grape is grown, Arneis in the regional dialect, means “little rascal,” because it’s difficult to grow.


I switched over to the red side and tried the Domaine de Cuoron Marselan. They swapped that wine in after running out of a Slovenian number: Zajc Cvicek Dolenjska. I really wanted to try that mouthful, but the dip in supply turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The Marselan, a French red grape and a cross-blend between Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon was a pleasure to drink. The chewy, toasty, leathery wine emits blackberry and cherry aromas. If we didn’t have to leave for the night, I would have ordered another glass! Luckily for me, a bottle’s just $13, according to

Mignon is at 128 E. 6th St. For more information, call 213-489-0131.

Review: 2011 Challis Lane Cabernet Sauvignon

This was the last of a recent BevMo 5 cent wine sale grab and I was sort of sad my haul ended on a meh note.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is fine, but it’s nothing special. When I first sipped it, I felt like it fell flat on the tongue. I think that’s because it’s light; I prefer fuller-bodied Cabs. Bottom line: there’s better Cabs out there.

This wine is Ruby-red in color and fruity–to me, it tasted like cherries. The bottle says it evokes flavors of raspberries and blueberries, but I didn’t taste that medley.


After being underwhelmed, I used the Cab in a steak wine marinade I whipped together using soy sauce, honey and worcestershire sauce. Now, that I’d recommend. I’ll share the recipe in another blog post.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Challis Lane
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Manteca, Calif.
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $9.95 (But I got it for 5 cents)
  • Alcohol content: 13%
  • When to drink: On a Tuesday, when you’re watching re-runs of Law & Order and you’re hankering for a glass of wine, but aren’t searching for something to knock your socks off,