Pour it on me!

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

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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.

Review: 2012 Gainey Vineyards Limited Selection Chardonnay

I’m not usually a Chardonnay fan. Something about the artificial butter taste turns me off. But we picked up the 2012 Gainey Vineyards Chardonnay at a friend’s party and I’ve had it sitting in my fridge for month. Then came a hot day and I was tired of beer, so I popped open this baby.

“Mmm, that’s pretty good,” were the first words that came out of my mouth. The super yellow–almost pee-colored yellow (sorry, but it’s true)–wine isn’t too buttery…just the right amount of smooth with a hint of vanilla. The wine has a full-mouth feel with longlasting flavor–think apples and melons– that kind of takes over and relaxes your tongue, almost like an anesthetic.

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It smells like lemon bars and has a slatey/flinty bite at the end, which gets more pronounced as it warms up.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Gainey Winery
Type: Chardonnay
Origin: Santa Rita Hills, California
Vintage: 2013
Price: $38 (Straight from the vineyard, but we picked ours up as a leftover from a party. Score!)
Alcohol content: 14.1%
When to drink: This wine is perfect for picnics in the grass.

Easy Sangria Recipe

I’m a fan of sangria, that’s no secret, and for my picnic birthday this year, I wanted to make a whole lot of it for my friends to enjoy as we played bocce ball and croquet. The sangria made me very bad at croquet, by the way. Yes, I’m blaming it on the sangria!

For the novices out there, sangria is a Spanish drink made of red wine, juice and fruit. The red wine part isn’t a hard and fast rule. I’ve had many a delicious white sangria, swapping the orange juice and other traditional citrus fruits for lemonade and peaches. That being said, I like my sangria red.

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Here’s how I made my sangria:

-2 bottles red wine (I used 2-buck Chuck Merlot from Trader Joe’s, but a cheap Sangiovese or Grenache would work, too)

-1 cup OJ (I like no pulp, but pulp is fine because you’ll be adding fresh orange in there anyhow).

-1/2 cup Captain Morgan’s Rum (We didn’t have brandy, but you can do it with that, too. I say start with 1/2 cup and pour in a few more shots after you give the lighter version a taste first). Vodka works, too. Why not throw in a little bit of triple sec? Have fun!

-1/4 cup granulated sugar

-2 Oranges (Sliced and quartered)

-1 lemon (Sliced and quartered)

-2 limes (Quartered)

-2 green apples (Roughly cut into chunks.)

-1 cup frozen berry mix, defrosted (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s and it was a mix of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. I feel like pineapple would have tasted good, too.) You can also throw in some red grapes if you prefer something fresh.

-1.5 cups seltzer water (Optional)

Pour the wine, OJ and Rum into a pitcher. Then add the sugar and fruit. Let the mixture sit in your fridge for 24 hours to fully marinate. It’s that easy! You can leave the rind on the fruit, but be wary, the longer the wine sits, the more bitter it will become because of the peel. I suggest removing most of the rind to avoid that unpleasant aftertaste on Day 3. Yes, you can keep sangria in the fridge for several days. I made two batches of the recipe above for my party and had about 1/4 of a pitcher left, which my other half and I finished a few days later. The fruit was super saturated with sangria goodness!

Review: 2013 Morgan Winery Cotes du Crowes Grenache Syrah

I’ve had my share of GSMs (Grenache, Syrah, Mourevadre), but it wasn’t until my birthday earlier this week when I tasted just a GS.

Distinctively missing the high tannin, rich Mourevadre, this unique blend of 52% Grenache and 48% Syrah really caught my attention. Let the wine breathe for a bit if you don’t want a high kick to the cheek. This wine, featuring two prominent Rhone varietals, is not a shy wine at first sip.

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Full of plum and other dark fruit flavor, the wine smells delicious. The scent is very inviting and just a hint of smokiness near the finish makes your lips magnets for the glass. It’s a nice pairing of the lighter Grenache and the plummy Syrah, which gave it some upfront flavor.

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I had this blend at my birthday dinner in Atwater Village with one of my best friends that I’ve known for 10 years and my fiance. My friend wanted a red and I was vacillating between picking a pure Syrah and the GS. But a little nudge from our waiter at All’Acqua, and we were sold. (By the way, we were first-timers at All’Acqua and it was great. That silk handkerchief pesto pasta…yum!)

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Morgan Winery
Type: Grenach Syrah blend (52% Grenache, 48% Syrah)
Origin: Salinas, CA
Vintage: 2013
Price: $44 at the restaurant, $14 retail, according to wine-searcher.com
Alcohol content: 14.2%
When to drink: Surrounded by good friends in the midst of good conversation. Seriously, if it wasn’t a Monday night, I think the three of us could have kept on gabbing and finished a second bottle.

Review: 2013 Wolff Vineyards Dry Riesling

I’m a big fan of Wolff Vineyards, especially their 2013 Dry Riesling. This Alsatian style riesling is fruity, flowery and cool, but still is able to warm the mouth and give you that mouthwatering feel. Or maybe that’s just me drooling over this insanely good white?

The dry riesling is lemony and goes right to your head, so get ready to feel that summery buzz. Just as good as the 2012.

I forgot to snap a pic, but check out my Instagram for photos of other wines 🙂
Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Wolff Vineyards
Type: Dry Riesling
Origin: Edna Valley
Price: $21
Alcohol content: 13.6%
When to drink: On a hot summer day.

Review: 2013 Saucelito Canyon Grenache Blanc

So you’ve all seen me write about my other half. He’s my humorous sounding board when I get too metaphorical about the wine I’m drinking. Well, I’ll soon be Mrs. Other Half and we did our engagement photos recently. Since wine is a passion we both share, we decided to incorporate it into our shoot.

The problem was—and not sure this is no much a problem as a dilemma—we picked a bottle that was too good. After we poured some of the 2013 Saucelito Canyon Grenache Blanc for the pictures and started sipping, we couldn’t stop.

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We picked up the crisp white on Valentine’s Day while visiting San Luis Obispo, so it was sentimental. But it also came with a screw top, making it practical. Win, win.

The Rhone varietal is fruity, melony, in fact, and zesty.

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Saucelito Canyon
Type: Grenache Blanc
Origin: San Luis Obispo
Price: $24, but we got a free tasting at the winery when we bought the bottle
Alcohol content: 14.2 %
When to drink: Get a B&B by the beach and open up this baby at sunset while sitting on the deck.