Money Saver

BevMo 5 cent wine sale is on

For the Bevmo 5 cent wine sale lovers out there like me: the discount is on!

I went to my local Bevmo this weekend and walked away with 10 bottles and saved $75. I got a mixture of oldies, but goodies and new wines I’ve never tried. Look out for blog posts about the newbies on the list.

My haul:

And to top it all off, while waiting in line at the cash register, I saw the Ommegang Game of Thrones beer. It’s called Fire and Blood and has a dragon on the label!

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I was going to a Game of Thrones premiere party that night, so I had to grab a bottle. This red isn’t sour like Imperial or Scottish reds, rather it was reminiscent of a Belgian Dubbel. It had that weighted feeling as the beer makes it’s way down your tongue.

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).

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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.

Review: Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir and Doritos

I got tongue-tied playing Celebrity at game-night with friends. I pronounced Zach Braff as Jaques Braff and Adolf Hitler as Adolf Hilter. I blame my pronunciation faux-pas on this fruity, easy-drinking, somewhat-nutty Beringer Pinot Noir.

A deep red (well, all the wines I had on Sunday night looked deep red in the blue solo cups), this silky wine had an earthy, plummy taste. And since the flavors didn’t stick to my tongue, it didn’t overwhelm my palate when I stuffed my mouth with Doritos during a short game-playing intermission! It’s not everyday you get to pair wine with Doritos!

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Beringer
  • Type: Founders’ Estate Pinot Grigio
  • Origin: Napa
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $6.99, according to wine-searcher.com
  • Alcohol content: Unknown (I didn’t write it down!)
  • When to drink: This is another easy-drinking wine, that would do you good if your goal is to drink with friends and get buzzed on the cheap.

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.

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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,

 

 

Review: 2012 Herdade de Gambia White Wine Blend

I’m telling you, I’m on a Portugal kick.

But this white wine blend from Herdade de Gambia was even better than the cryptically-labeled red blend I talked about a few days ago. Cloudy yellow, this wine smells like peach and oranges (yum!) and it has a smooth, drinkable je ne sais quoi quality about it. It’s bright, dry, a bit bubbly (maybe from the muscatel) and refreshing. It doesn’t have an overwhelming alcoholic taste like another white I’ve blogged about before. And most importantly, it makes you yell “Yippee!” when you drink it, well at least inside your head if you’re easily embarrassed.

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It’s from Peninsula de Setabul, which is known for producing sweet Muscat grapes with candied orange flavors. The wine, a blend of Moscato Graudo and Fernao Pires grapes, reminds me of a smooth Argentine Torrontes. Torrontes is a white wine grape that has aromatic flavors and a crisp burst of acidity.

According to the bottle, Herdade de Gambia is in the heart of a river estuary that hosts migrating birds. Perhaps that’s why there’s a pink flamingo on the label!

I want to buy this wine again, but I snagged it when I visited a friend in Berkeley and I’m having trouble finding it near me on wine-searcher.com. Suggestions? I’d rather not pay to have it shipped, but I would if I got desperate. It’s that good.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Herdade de Gambia
  • Type: White Blend (Moscato Graudo and Fernao Pires grapes)
  • Origin: Peninsula de Setabul, Portugal
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $11
  • Alcohol content: 13%
  • When to drink: If you’re down-trodden after a tough day at the office, don’t go to a bar and wallow in your sorrows. Go home and drink a glass of this white wine blend and say “Yippee!” The aroma and drinkability will cheer you up, stat. 

Review: Arrogant Frog Syrah Rose

Twist off!

I am a cork lover through and through, but I’ve been seeing more screw caps as I browse wine store shelves and honestly, they have their benefits. Think of all those times you headed to a picnic with a beautiful bottle of wine only to get there and uh-oh, you forgot the cork screw! This has happened to me many times and I have tried to life hack, unsuccessfully…more on that in another post.

I was scavenging for a rose at BevMo the other day during their 5 cent wine sale. They don’t have a lot of Roses covered by the discount, but Arrogant Frog Syrah Rose fit the bill.

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I unscrewed the bright pink cap earlier this week and poured the translucent pink liquid into a glass. The bottle calls it “Lily Pad Pink”–how cute! I was busy shooting off emails and picking out new glasses as I sipped. The wine smelled like cherry blossoms and tasted like them too, at least what I think they’d taste like. Very flowery; the taste of candied fruit lingered on my tongue.

It reminded me of cherry blossom season in DC, my favorite time of year when I used to live in the capitol. Look how pretty the trees are! I have this first picture hanging in my living room.

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I tried the Syrah Rose again a couple of days later at dinner and it got tarter with time, but for me, that was a good thing.

It’s creator, Jean-Claude Mas, is known as the “humble winemaker” and he harvests grapes from the five main valleys in the South of France: Aude, Orb, Herault, Peyne and Uzes valleys. How fun are those names!

I’d buy this again for a picnic or as a gift to a floral wine lover, but I probably wouldn’t get it again to keep around the house.

Nuts and Bolts

courtesy of food.com

courtesy of food.com

Shop: Vintage Berkeley

While I didn’t have time to head to Sonoma this weekend while I was visiting a friend in Berkeley, I did stumble across a gem of a wine shop. After having lunch on Monday at Gregoire, a cute-as-a-button French takeout spot, I mean check out this quiche and blood orange French soda:

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my friend, a graduate student at UC Berkeley, had to head to class and I had an hour to kill. Lucky for me, there was a wine shop nearby that my friend recommended I check out.

From the outside, Vintage Berkeley doesn’t look like a wine shop. It doesn’t look like a store at all. It’s housed in a former water pumping station built in 1930. The station operated until the 1980s, but it sat vacant until nine years ago when Vintage Berkeley moved into the city landmark. 

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While the exterior remains the same, the owner made some tweaks to the interior and rather than pumping water, the site now pumps out wines from labels you’ve most likely have never heard of. And here comes the selling point: most of them are under $25.

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Vintage Berkeley throws the age-old point system out the window and instead offers descriptions of the wines written by staff. It reminded me of the staff picks at Skylight Books, my favorite book store in Los Angeles. When I told Ryan, who started working at the shop after being a frequent visitor at tastings during his time at Cal, that I’m on a kick to try wine types I’ve never had before, he pointed out wines from Slovenia, the Basque region of Spain, Corsica, and other exotic locales.

He sold me on the Slovenian number, a blend of dry muscat and riesling that came topped with a bottle cap. It’s a 2012 Crnko Jarenincan.

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I also picked up two others–a red and a white–from Portugal. The white is another dry muscat, 2012 Herdade de Gambia, and the red is a 2011 HMR Varal Tinto. All were $15 or less. As soon as I get my package in the mail and can uncork (uncap for the Slovenian wine) those suckers, you’ll be sure to see some reviews.

If you’re in the Berkeley area, check out their free tastings on the weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

It’s very beautiful right now, as the fall leaves come in and crisp breezes bookend the days.

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Review: Laya Garnacha Tintorera/Monastrell

I was picking up dinner at Whole Foods and right before I hit the check I saw a Spanish wine for $8.99 and my heart fluttered.

I have a soft spot in my heart since I studied abroad in Spain while in college, although I have to admit–get ready to cringe–I drank a lot of calimocho when I was there. That’s a drink made from red wine, coke and grenadine. I grimace now, but six years ago, in a sweaty club blaring David Guetta, that was the thing to drink in Spain. Despite the calimocho and the cheap sparkling wine, I did squeeze in a nice Rioja every now and then.

Back to Whole Foods and the Garnacha. I picked up a bottle and tried it immediately when I got home.

As soon as I popped it open, I got a whiff of alcohol–this wine was strong. The alcoholic smell and taste makes sense with the Monastrell grapes, which tend to amp up the alcohol level and add a dryness to a wine.

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It’s the type of wine that makes you pucker. Super bold, super chewy, it warms up your tongue. It’s a deep purple, and yes that purple showed up mixed with my toothpaste in my bathroom sink later that night. The deep color probably comes from the Garnacha Tintorera grapes, which have red skin and red pulp, different from other grapes that have red exteriors and white interiors. 

I had it again two days later while catching up on Homeland and it’s punchiness resided slightly, but just barely.

According to the bottle, the grapes were grown “between 700 and 1000 meters above sea level, within the region of Almansa, we selected those [grapes] who can design a unique wine that combines complexity, structure and intense color with the explosion of fruit and ease of consumption…”

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Laya
  • Type: 70% Garnacha Tintorera/30% Monastrell
  • Origin: Almansa region of Spain
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $8.99
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: After coming off the slopes in Big Bear, warming up in your cabin.

 

 

Review: 2011 Baileyana Pinot Noir

A friend of mine hosted a fancy fundraising event with wine and naturally, since she’s a good friend, she gave me a whole case of the leftovers, which included Baileyana’s “Firepeak” Pinot Noir. Free wine, and lots of it can’t be beat! She gave another friend a case, too and I wasn’t surprised to see it out on the refreshment table at a pumpkin carving party I went to this week.

Despite having several glasses of the easy-to-drink red, I still managed to carve a pretty good pumpkin. It’s a Cockateil! Alright, alright, it was supposed to be a cat, but I mistakenly cut off its tail. Luckily for me, I know how to problem solve. Sometimes it looks like a bunny, sometimes it looks like my bird, Pepe, but I’ve decided to just describe this jack-o-lantern a bird.

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The Baileyana tastes chocalatey and fruity and is easy to drink, but it’s not for me. I tend to like Pinot Noirs smoky and this, to me, didn’t have that essence. However, it was a crowd pleaser at the pumpkin party. Hey, everyone–and their tastebuds–are different.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Baileyana
  • Type: Pinot Noir
  • Origin: Edna Valley
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: I got it for free, but it seems to range from $17-$20
  • Alcohol content:13%
  • When to drink: While entertaining friends who come over early before going out to dinner.

 

 

Wine for cats!

A Japanese pet supply company has released wine for cats. Yes, you read that right.

The drink is a mix of Cabernet grapes, Vitamin C and catnip, which sounds similar to frat party jungle juice to me.

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Courtesy kotaku.com

It’s non-alcoholic and sells for $4. It’s called Nyan Nyan Nouveau, a play on the Japanese version of meow and the fancy English (with French roots) word for modern.

I think the whole idea of wine for cats is absurd. I can’t wait to hear what their sales are like. Any vets out there think this is a bad thing?