Pour it on me!

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

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You get free wine on Virgin flights to Vegas

I went to Vegas with some friends for my bachelorette party and rather than drive, we flew, yay! And rather than have to pay for wine, our virgin flight gave us a free drink. Too bad they didn’t have champagne. We opted for the only white option, a chardonnay, because it was 10 a.m. and I felt white was probably more socially-acceptable. If we were camping, I would have been OK with beer for breakfast, but this was my bachelorette celebration!

Now, I’m not usually a fan of Chardonnay, but when in Rome… This wine had a Food Network label on it, so it had to be some sort of partnership. It was meh. Tasted of apples and it was easy-drinking. Wasn’t expecting much—I mean, it didn’t have a vintage on the label— so it was fine for what it was. But since I didn’t have to pay for it, why not?

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While in Vegas, I got to see the Beatles show, which was amazing, and even got a delicious Kahlua/ coffee milkshake from BLT. The perfect end to a fun weekend.

kahlua

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Entwine
Type: Chardonnay
Origin: Dubiously just says California on the bottle, but it’s made by Wente Vineyards, which is in Livermore.
Price: Free.99
Alcohol content:13%
When to drink: I probably wouldn’t pick up a bottle of this, but would drink again on a flight to Vegas.

Wine jam is the best jam

One of my favorite dishes to make during Passover is Matzo brie. It’s like a dense, sweet pancake made of broken up bits of Matzo, eggs, water and lots of sugar. Matzo is the flat, crunchy cracker Jews eat during Passover as a reminder of our ancestors slavery in Egypt and the continuous need to focus on social justice.

jam

I had gone the eight days of Passover without having time to make Matzo brie, but the day after, I made sure to fry a big one up for my other half and I to share. You can top Matzo brie with powdered sugar, syrup or jam. I chose to give it a dollop of this Muscat fig preserve we got as a giveaway gift at a recent wedding we went to.

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The Kozlowski Fig & Muscat Wine Preserve is thick and chunky and reminded me of a fresher version of the insides of a fig newton. It was the perfect compliment to the fried Matzo brie. I love wine jelly, but this preserve was definitely something special.

When to eat: On pancakes, matzo brie or even a nice thick wheat toast.

Review: 2012 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Pinot Noir

We drink so much wine, that our landlord finally noticed. After my other half did him a favor using his technical ninja skills, our landlord gifted us a bottle of a 2012 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir. The Diamond Collection wine has a fruity, long-lasting flavor— think raspberry! raspberry! It’s a bit dry, but does the job.

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For those staring at the photo, yes, we watched House of Cards as we finished off the bottle.

This is an average pinot noir, I’d say. It’s not the best, but it’s pretty good, as my other half said. But, he was quick to point out, it’s no Wolff Vineyards Syrah.

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Francis Coppola
Type: Pinot Noir
Origin: Monterey
Price: Gifted, but on wine-searcher.com, it’s between $14-$20
Alcohol content: Forgot to write it down!
When to drink: Have the in-laws over for dinner and bring this red out. It can be a conversation piece—who doesn’t want to talk about The Godfather—and it’s middle-of-the-road enough to please a crowd.

Review: 2012 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon

This Napa Valley wine was a welcome treat after several mishaps at a hotel I was staying at in New York for work. The Dream Downtown left the half-bottle in my room after my heater broke twice and a drunk man pounded on my door at 5 a.m.

This red tickles your tongue and leaves behind a longlasting warm feeling. It’s chock full of dark cherry flavor and has soft tannins.

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Also a plus: The winery is solar-powered.

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Honig
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Napa
Price: Unknown
Alcohol content: 14.5%
When to drink: Wrap yourself in a quilt and get cozy when you sip on the 2012 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon.

Audacia Winery Says Goodbye Sulfites, Hello Rooibos

The rooibos tea latte at Starbucks is my jam on days I am too hyped up for caffeine, so when I heard about a South African company using rooibos chips as a wine preservative, my ears perked up.

Audacia Winery has patented the technique, which reduced traditional preservatives like sulfur dioxide by using the natural one–a plus for folks like me who are technically allergic to sulfites, but drink wine anyway.

Trevor Strydom, a managing partner at Audacia, told Reuters that he, along with the company’s winemaker dropped rooibos teabags in wine to experiment with the effects. And they were pleased by the effects. While rooibos leaves are used for tea, it’s the wood chips that Audacia incorporates into its process.

Check out Strydom’s conversation with Reuters in the video, below:

Wood has long been incorporated into winemaking–think oak barrels and chips, which are thought to be more sustainable than the former–but not rooibos chips.

Rooibos has no caffeine and is low on tannins, making it a good option for winemaking. Strydom told Vice last year that the rooibos wine could cut back on headaches.

Rooibos and honeybush chips are used to make Audacia’s Merlot, which has a sulfur dioxide level of 3 mg/liter, according to wine-searcher.com. I was curious and checked my wine bottles at home, but most say “contains sulfite” and not an exact amount. But Winemaker Magazine instructs that the rule of thumb for sulfite concentration is 25 mg/l to 50 mg/l with 100 mg/l being used if you’re using moldy grapes.

This Chilean Wine has a Chinese Label

Let me tell you a story from my annual Oscar Party (I know, I know, the Oscars were weeks ago! Forgive me.): My friend brought over two reds from Chile, but the labels were in Chinese! Well, maybe Chinese, maybe Korean, but for sure Asian characters, and my money’s on Chinese.

She bought the wine, a 2012 Sapphire Merlot, at a grocery store in LA called Jons, which is known for international fare. I feel like the wine could have had the funky label–fit with a female Anime character–because Jons caters to an Asian and Latino population, but more likely, the language-specific bottles were residuals from imports to China.

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Imports of foreign wine into China have been on the rise since the early 2000s, but at the beginning of the year, import tariffs on Chilean wine were lifted in mainland China, which further underscores why this Chilean wine most likely had a Chinese label. Imports from Chile jumped by 37% in volume in 2013 and in the firs nine month of 2014, increased by 50% in volume, according to DecanterChina.com.

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So with that economics lesson taken care of, let’s get into how this wine tasted.

My reaction: “I don’t hate it.”
My friend who brought the wine: “I’m not offended.”

The truth is the Merlot didn’t taste like much. It was pretty plain, flat had soft tannins, and emitted little smell. It kind of just exists there in your glass. We all thought it would make for a good Sangria base or maybe a reduction for a marinara. But I must say my other half tried marinating some steak with leftovers of this wine’s Cabernet Sauvignon cousin and the result wasn’t pretty–too grapey and not smokey enough.

That said, we did finish off a whole bottle of the Merlot that night, so it was easy to glug.

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Sapphire
Type: Merlot
Origin: Central Valley, Chile
Price: Unknown
Alcohol content: 13%
When to drink: I’d skip this unless you want to buy the wine for the novelty of the Chinese label.

Review: 2013 Kynsi Barn Owl Blush Pinot Noir Rose

You know that euphoric feeling you get when the sun is shining, you’re lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds as you snuggle up alongside someone you love? Well my other half and I got a heaping dose of all that mushy stuff this past Valentine’s Day when we visited San Luis Obispo. We went for the wine, but also got a pleasantly fun surprise by saying at the quirky, and sometimes creepy, Madonna Inn.

Credit: Madonna Inn

Credit: Madonna Inn

Kynsi, a small winery we visited while there, made a special Pinot Noir Rose and we just had to bring some home. This Rose, which is more orange in color than pink, is crisp and lemony and just reminds me of summer days playing lawn games. The strawberry essence helps there, too.

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The rose is different than your traditional White Zinfandel or White Merlot, so if those are your jam, be weary that this isn’t as sweet. It does have a spritzy body and a creamy aftertaste, though, and best of all purchases benefit the Arroyo Grande Hospital Breast Cancer Fund.

Plus, we when we bought the wine, Kynsi–which has an air of Anthropologie about it, perhaps because it has a French Country charm with its dairy farm roots–gave us complimentary chocolate bark. Yum!

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Kynsi
Type: Pinot Noir Rose
Origin: Edna Valley
Price: $24
Alcohol content: 13.6%
When to drink: Valentine’s Day, duh!

Review: 2012 Wolff Vineyards Syrah

So good. I mean it’s so good. That’s all my fiancé and I kept saying as we finished a bottle of 2012 Wolff Vineyards Syrah, which we picked up on a recent trip to San Luis Obispo.

Funnily enough, when we tasted the Syrah on the vineyard’s patio, which is super cute and worth a visit, we liked it, but not as much as we did when we popped the cork at home a few nights ago to finish up the final season of Parks and Recreation (The show’s finale was so good, too, so we were on quite a roll with our entertainment choices that night).

Plus, I had found a home for this cute stray and I needed to celebrate, which made finishing the bottle on a weekday an easy task.

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This Edna Valley syrah has a hint of pepper and a full-bodied toastyiness that smoothly slips down your tongue. The longlasting flavor kinda tastes like a delicious berry jam, when it’s cooling down to be canned. You know that kind of warm, juicy, stewed flavor? It has a bit of a leathery texture, but it’s not overwhelming.

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These are words that I don’t hear often coming out of my jokeleaning other half when we taste wine at home: “I dig it, a lot.”

Now I just wish we had brought home more than one bottle of this smooth Syrah!

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Wolff Vineyards
Type: Syrah
Origin: San Luis Obispo
Vintage: 2012
Price: $24, $19 if you’re part of the Wine Club
Alcohol content: 14%
When to drink: Take this to your next family dinner to impress the folks.

The Ultimate Wine Reviews for Suburban Moms and Goats

Comedian Jeff Wysaski, a joke-planting connoisseur, has dipped his toes into the often stiff world of wine reviews. Robert Parker may have his 100-point scale, Wysaski has sass.

The comedian added his personal reviews to a store’s wine section and recommended the perfect pairing for each bottle. Popping the cork on a bottle of a red wine from Sterling Vineyards? Don’t forget to share some with your goat! It pairs well with “pasture grass and repeatedly headbutting a wooden fence post,” according to Wysaski. And his preferred use for Seghesio’s Zinfandel: using the bottle as protection against night Orcs.

My favorites, from Wysaski’s tumblr, Obvious Plant:

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[h/t Huffington Post]

Review: 2012 Etc. Malbec

When I think etcetera, I think of it as an aside, everything lumped in that category is not worth mentioning after some standout examples are thrown out first.

Now, this bottle of Malbec was a nice drink, but I would say it matches it’s name, it’s not THE BEST Malbec I’ve had and it may not be worth mentioning as the first example in a list of good, cheap Malbecs, but it is a sturdy wine that can hold it’s place during a weekday family dinner, especially if you have dark fruit lovers at the table.

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This wine is fruit-forward–dark cherry, perhaps?–and has a pungent flavor that lingers on your tongue, with a hint of plum and black licorice (which was nicely spotted by my other half).

It’s a very juicy wine that smells like flowers.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Etc.
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
  • Price: $12, but gifted
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: When you’re in the mood for a red at dinner in the middle of the week that is happy to deliver without stealing the spotlight.