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October 31, 2006

Lord of the Wines

Legolas in Drinking Contest

We've made no secret of the fact that we're geeks. On top of being wine geeks, we also read comic books and trade in other Nerdly arts - though we must say we don't go as far as our Editor in Chief, with his LOTR 4EVA tattoo. We do like to throw him a bone every once in a while, however, and we've found a great roundup of Lord of the Rings wines to send you on a nerdly drunk. We're only going to include the introduction and the shopping list here, however - you'll have to go to SFGate.com for the full text and story.

One thing that always strikes me about Tolkien's mythical Middle Earth is the pleasure taken in drinking: Each race has its own tipple, from the hobbits' beer to the ents' growth-inducing drafts. Even the evil orcs carried flasks of a liquor that caused hobbits' pain to vanish.
Find the shopping list for your own Middle Earth excursion after the jump. Oh, and one thing - we'll support you in your Lord of the Rings love Mr. Editor in Chief, but we'll never understand your obsession with The Nanny fan fic. ArrowContinue reading: "Lord of the Wines"

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October 30, 2006

Pairing Halloween Candy with Wine

Halloween CandyHalloween is a time to gorge on so much candy your arteries turn to chocolate and your teeth dissolve like those Nazis' faces at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you're looking for a little extra zing with your diabetic shock this year, Wine Enthusiast has put together pairing recommendations for everything from candy corn to jujubes. We've included their recommendation for chocolate, our favorite, but head over to their site for more recommendations.

Port is perhaps the most classic pairing for chocolate, but pour anything in the red-wine family such as Banyuls or Shiraz alongside handfuls of M&M’s, pint-sized candy bars, or other chocolate Halloween treats. Baby Ruth, Snickers, or other nutty candy bars in your bag? Select a Sherry or Madeira to complement rich nut flavors.
Wine Enthusiast (via Chow)

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October 24, 2006

Blogpire Podcast - Liquor Snob - All The News that's Fit to Drink 10.24.06

Blogpire 144 Our special guest Jake Jamieson from Liquorsnob.com teaches us about Tequila, and we taste test P.I.N.K. caffeinated Vodka. And of course, we have the latest news and views from around the 'pire. We also answer your questions from the past couple of weeks so keep sending them in to podcast at blogpire dot com.

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With Hosts: Russell Miner and Jay Brewer and guest Jake Jamieson

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October 24, 2006

Un-Americanized Wines for Under $20

'MericanA while ago we posted a story about people complaining about too much alcohol in wine, and from what we can tell it's becoming a real epidemic. We never thought it was that big of a deal, and in fact we welcomed some additional booze in our plonk, but people really don't like the "Americanization" of wine. Yep, that's right, we're seen as the bull in the china shop that's making everyone focus on chardonnay and cabernet grapes and make big fruity wines with high alcohol content. Sue us.

We've found a great article that will let you find some other, non-Americanized wines to make sure your palate is always properly challenged. See below for the ones we want to try most and click through to Miami.com for more:

2006 Simonsig Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa: Lightly sweet, bursting with tropical fruit aromas and flavors, excellent as an aperitif or with salads or sandwiches; $11. This used to be popular in California, but it declined rapidly as growers found their vineyards made much better quality chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. It comes into its own in the shale soils of southwestern South Africa.

2004 Concannon Assemblage Red, Central Coast, California: Big, red and robust, with firm tannins, it's an excellent steak wine; $14. For some years, California winemakers have been making ''meritage'' wines that copy the wine varieties in France's great Bordeaux wines -- cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot and malbec. But some winemakers find that too limiting, so they're adding grapes from other areas. Assemblage Red has cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petite verdot, but also a bit of petite sirah, a grape from France's Rhne Valley, for some extra backbone.

2004 Shenandoah Vineyards Reserve Tempranillo, Amador County, California: Big and rich and concentrated, with black cherry and black coffee flavors; $24. Tempranillo, of course, is the grape of Spain's famous Rioja wines. When it's grown in California's sunny climate, it becomes bigger, fuller bodied. This one has 20 percent cabernet sauvignon to make it even bigger and rounder.

2003 Forest Glen Malbec, California: Dark and sturdy, with black cherry and cinnamon flavors; $10 (recommended). Malbec began in France, as a blending grape used to add color to Bordeaux wines. It was black as ink and powerfully tannic. Then it migrated to Argentina, where it turns out smooth, ripe, chocolate-and-cherry flavors. Now it's being planted in California, where it turns out somewhere in between.

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October 23, 2006

Woot Wine 10/23/06: Reininger Walla Walla Trio

Reininger Walla WallaWe're going to come right out of the gate and say this week's Wine Woot is a bit on the spendy side for us, but we figured we'd cover it anyway in case you have deeper pockets than us. The trio of bottles on sale this week includes a 2002 Cabernet and Merlot, as well as a 2003 Syrah, and at $69.99 plus five bucks shipping comes in around $25 per bottle.

Of course, the folks at the Wine Woot blog are saying they can't find the three bottles for less than $94, and all three bottles are around the 89-90 points area, so they're probably worth the money if you've got it. Guess it's up to you to dig around in the piles of money you have lying around and decide if you want to spend some of it on wine or keep saving up for the yacht.

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October 20, 2006

Armand de Brignac Champagne is Jay-Z Approved

Armand de BrignacOur Swanky Wine Friday story this week comes from our friends over at Liquor Snob, who took it upon themselves to cover Jay-Z's new champagne of choice. As you may know, Mr. Z has stopped drinking Cristal after the company's managing director expressed that he was less than pleased about his brand's association with hip hop. Sounds like someone might be eating his words if the bulk of the rappers stop wrapping their grillz around Cristal and move to Brignac country - though we're sure Cristal won't end up in the poor house.

Armand de Brignac has a swanky looking label featuring a golden ace of spades (pictured) and we can't seem to get our hands on a price per bottle. We can only guess if Mr. Premiere Rap Producer and High Mucky Muck at Def Jam endorses it in his video (unofficially of course) it's gotta be spendy.

Armand de Brignac (via Liquor Snob)

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October 16, 2006

Woot Wine 10/16/06: Poizin Zinfandel

Poizin Zinfandel TrioThis week's Wine Woot has the greatest wine name EVAR (prove us wrong) and we were all fired up for it as soon as we saw Massachusetts on the list of states available for shipping. We mean "Poizin," with a skull and crossbones on the label? Sign us the hell up. Then we remembered that with the delivery times you can expect for Massachusetts, we'd be seeing our bottles in time for Thanksgiving or Christmas, when the humor would be gone.

Anyway, Poizin sounds like good stuff according to the Wine Woot description, and costs in the neighborhood of $25 per bottle in comparison to Woot's $52.99 for three bottles (plus $5 for shipping). It's a blend of Zinfandel and Petite Syrah and it seems like a good deal, plus you can buy a bottle of Antidote (a pinot gris) from the winery's website. Get your claws on a bottle of Poizin through Woot Wine and don't forget to check out the blog for reader tips and catty comments.

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Dracula Wine: Great for Halloween Parties

dracula-wine.jpgOK, so Dracula wine might be a bit of a misnomer, but we've found some Romanian wines that will make your Halloween party the talk of the town. Also mentioned are a bunch of other good wines for less than $20, and as an added bonus they also give some advice for picking out Scotch, especially if you're going to give it as a gift. We're always looking out for our readers, no matter what the holiday.

Newly staking out old territory in Romania are Vampire wines. Perfect for your mock Goth party, or even to help protect yourself from the hordes of candy-plundering children on Halloween. The white, Vampire 2004 Pinot Grigio ($10.95, 87) shows nice spicy apple, lime and lemon peel accents, and the red Vampire 2003 Pinot Noir ($10.95, 87) displays strawberry, candied cherry and vanilla notes, bloody good for the price.
read on at the Toronto Star

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October 13, 2006

Wines 'Til Sold Out

logo_WinesTillSoldOut.gifWe've been paying a lot of attention to Woot Wine lately, but it's come to attention they're not the only "sell wine for an allotted time period" game in town. We've recently discovered Wine 'Til Sold Out, another online venture that works on the Woot model.

This one offers wine deals updated daily instead of weekly like Woot Wine, and from what we've seen they tend to sell single bottles that are significantly discounted, from 30-70% off. Even so, they still seem to come in at a slightly higher price than we usually spend (today's deal is a $70 Tuscan wine for just over $40).

If you're looking to widen your online wine deal horizons, put these guys in your bookmarks and check them out every day (you can also sign up for email alerts). They currently ship to 20 states, and they seem to offer free shipping on orders of two or more bottles. Check out the deals and get the full rundown at Wines 'Til Sold Out.

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October 11, 2006

Cheap Fun Wines in Sonoma

SonomaSo the Cheap Fun Winers (and a couple Liquor Snob interns) went straight to the wine source this weekend when they visited Sonoma, CA for a wedding. We thought we'd talk about some of our experiences while on the Left Coast, and let you know about some of the wines we tried. First of all, it was frickin' beautiful, and if our camera wasn't on the fritz we'd have put up some pictures to prove it. Second of all, we drank some really, really great wine that was less than $20 out there - they had gas stations with better selections of California wines than our local wine stores. See below for the highlights.

Our first stop was at the Gloria Ferrer winery, where we tasted some sparkling wines - a Blanc de Blancs, a Brute Rose, and a Carneros Cuvee. Very tasty, but sparkling wine isn't really our thing, and we were kind of disappointed when we found out they actually had still wines and we were just in the wrong line. On the down side, some of it was kind of spendy - like $10/glass spendy; on the up side they liked our Liquor Snob hoodie.

Next, we went to a gas station across from our hotel and picked up some assorted Blackstone and Kendall Jackson bottles for less than a six pack of good beer at home. The real treasure, however, was the bottle of Reserve Chardonnay we nabbed from the Bonneau Winery for $19. We figure if it tasted as good as it did when we drank it damn near blacked out at 3 AM, it must taste great with a clean palate.

One of the weird down experiences we had whilst in Sonoma was at the Wine Exchange, a little store in the downtown area. Maybe we caught them on a bad day, or maybe they knew we were hung over idiots, but while they were very knowledgeable and helpful, it seemed grudging and on the snooty side. Plus, the guy who served us our beers at the tasting looked like Santa Claus's evil twin. Their beer list is off the charts, however, so we'd go back in a cocaine heartbeat.

The culmination of the weekend was, of course, the wedding, which was held at the Nicholson Ranch. Not only was the scenery absolutely gorgeous as we looked across a serene little pond with grape vines at our backs and mountains in the distance, but they made kickass wine too. Most of their online prices are steeper than we'd normally pay, but we highly recommend you go check the place out and have some dinner and a couple bottles if you find yourself in the area.

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October 10, 2006

Woot Wine 10/09/06: Parker Station Critter Quartet

Parker Station Critter QuartetYe gods we look forward to each week's Wine Woot. Overall they're great deals, and if they would ever work it out so we could order it (stupid no shipping to Massachusetts) we'd be getting there every week. This week's Woot includes four bottles (2 Syrah, 1 Chardonnay, 1 Pinot Noir) from Parker Station for $29.99. Even when you include the $5 for shipping that comes in at less than nine bucks a bottle.

Nothing heart stopping when you compare it to the typical price of $10-$12 plus shipping at other wine sites, but it seems like it'd be fun to experiment with. Check out this week's Wine Woot blog for customer feedback, and check the main Wine Woot page to see if they're shipping to your state. Oh, and make sure you're not drunk when they deliver it.

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October 9, 2006

BlogPire Podcast - Autumnal Festival Episode - Fun Fall Products 10.09.06

Blogpire 144We feature all the things you need to get your Fall spirit rolling. Recipes and products from TheCookingNews.com and KitchenContraptions.com. Hear about all the latest natural products at ReallyNatural.com, and find out why we're excited about the Magic the Gathering card game expansion.

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With Hosts: Russell Miner and Jay Brewer

Program details after the jump...

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October 4, 2006

FreeRange Wine from JuiceBox

FreeRange Wines LogoThe latest addition to the "wine in a box" trend is FreeRange from JuiceBox. They offer seven varieties of wine in 3 liter boxes for around $30. What does that mean? It means you can get four bottles-worth of wine for a price equivalent to $7.50 per bottle. Not too shabby - see below for a snippet from their press release including the types of wine they're peddling.

Two self-avowed "wine nuts" have combined forces to bring exceptional wines to consumers at reasonable prices. Jonathan Barry and Tom Eddy's JuiceBox Wine Company has released seven different types of premium FreeRange wine, all 2005 vintage, in an innovative three-liter 4BottleBox(TM). They are Pinot Noir, Merlot, Red Bordeaux, White Bordeaux, Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
Read more at Snack and Bakery.com

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October 3, 2006

Woot Wine 10/02/06: St. Supery Merlot and Cab

St. Supery Merlot and CabernetThere's big news over at Woot Wine this week, and we're not necessarily talking about this week's deal. Wine Woot is out of beta now, which means it's here to stay. Good news if you're a wooter, even better news if you're looking for good wine deals.

That being said, that doesn't mean every single Wine Woot will be a winner. They've got a trio of St. Supery wines up this week (2 Merlots and a Cabernet Sauvignon) that have gotten a lukewarm reception at best. You get the three of them for $49.99 plus $5 shipping, but everyone seems much more excited about the Cab than the Merlot, and you only get one bottle of the Cabernet. Still, at around $18 per bottle (down from a typical price closer to $25) this doesn't seem like a bad deal if you're looking for some reds to drink right now.

Get the full scoop, including states eligible for shipping, at Woot Wine, and don't forget to read the comments on the blog.

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October 2, 2006

Meet the Wine Diva

Wine Diva Goes ShoppingAs the name implies, it's our mission here at Cheap Fun Wines to find cheap wines for the masses, but we also like to offer other kinds of information as well. Just because you put a $20 spending cap on your wine purchases doesn't mean you don't need good solid advice on how to choose it wisely. That's why it's sometimes nice for you to have access to an honest-to-goodness wine professional instead of amateurs with big aspirations.

That's where Christine Ansbacher comes in. She's one of only 180 Certified Wine Educators in the states, she's forgotten more about wine than we'll ever know, and she's known around town as the Wine Diva. Sounds pretty intimidating, but we found this snippet from the newly started Wine Diva blog that we thought was very down to earth - "her credentials are daunting but her ethic is simple: people just want to know how to select and enjoy a good bottle of wine." The blog offers lots of great tips, from Christine's POV on corks vs screw caps to pairing wine with savory foods. She has also recently released a book called Secrets from The Wine Diva (available at Amazon), which we'll be receiving soon, so expect a review.

Also, we've been in touch with Christine and we're hoping to set up something in the 20 questions format, so if you have any questions you'd like to ask a Certified Wine Educator, shoot them to us at:
news [at] cheapfunwines [dot] com.

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CFW Monthly Roundup: September 2006

Wine PourAlas, September has come and gone, and all we have to look forward to this winter is cuddling up under a warm blanket with a couple bottles of wine. Oh wait - that doesn't seem so bad actually.

In September we checked out some swanky gifts like sommelier glasses and a crystal decanter, as well as offering advice including pairing notes for wine and cheeseburgers and how to order wine in a restaurant.

Also check out the hubbub over accusations that Americans allow too much alcohol in their wines and read our thoughts on bum wines like Thunderbird and MD 20/20. Read on for all the story highlights from last month, and bottoms up!

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