July 31, 2007

Taste Wine for Free in Napa

We remember a time when free wine tastings were common, if not the norm - the winery wanted you to taste their wines so you'd buy some on your way out. Nowadays, however, the free tasting seems to be going the way of Lindsay Lohan's self control(read: nonexistent) as more and more wineries charge per glass or ask for a flat fee.

There's a great article at SFGate rounding up the Napa Valley wineries that will still let you sample their wares without paying a fee (Frog's Leap and Sutter Home are among the ones we've heard of), as well as recommendations for wineries where the fee is worth paying.

Read the full article and get further information at

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July 30, 2007

Vermont Wineries Get a Leg Up

We have to admit, when discussing domestic wineries, we're more prone to think of California than Vermont, but apparently there are some vino makers in the state. We lived in VT for years and years, and we had no idea, but we're definitely planning to check out the ones we can find. It should be easy with the Grandview Winery, which is located in East Calais (pronounced cal-US), because of its proximity to the home of some folks very near and dear to us.

We found a very interesting article (to us, anyway) in local paper the Times Argus about the trials and tribulations of making wine in the Green Mountain State. For more info on Grandview Winery and their selection of grape and other wines, check out their website. We hope to do a full writeup of the place next time we make it up there.

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July 27, 2007

Clif Bars and Wine

cliff-wines.jpgWe've liked Clif Bars for a while - among the energy bars we've tried, they've got the better flavors and taste the least like chocolate covered poo. Our personal weakness is the peanut butter chocolate chip-type variety, but that's not why you're here, is it?

The same folks who make Clif Bars have entered into the wine world, and have released four different wine varieties:

  • The Climber, 2004 North Coast Red Wine
  • Kit’s killer cab, 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Gary’s Improv, 2003 Napa Valley Meritage
  • Syrah, 2004 Napa Valley
We're hoping the wine is as good as the bars, and we're excited to give 'em a try.

Clif Family Winery [via Winehiker]

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July 26, 2007

Screw Caps Are All Right

screwcap.jpgFound a great story on the use of screw caps on red wine bottles. With some great struggle some folks have finally learned to accept whites (wines you typically open and enjoy on the sooner side) in screw cap bottles, but there's still some hesitation in terms of red. People say you're more likely to lay away your reds, which is why they don't like screw tops. We're saying the screw caps work as well or better than corks, which can dry out.

Our two cents? The future is here, baby, so get with it.

Read the article at Seattle Times

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July 25, 2007

The Five Best Wine Blogs


We just found out that Wine & Spirits Magazine has laid out the top five wine blogs to read, and while we didn't make the list (this year anyway) we thought it was interesting enough to share it with our readers. The list was compiled by Tyler Colman of Dr Vino's Wine Blog, and contains some pretty darned interesting sites, though there are a few we read regularly that didn't make the cut (where's Basic Juice?). Anyway, we're still learning here at CFW, and there's a lot we could learn from these folks.

Top 5 Wine Blogs:
Brooklyn Guy's Food and Wine Blog
Good Wine Under $20
Tasting Room
Wine Terroirs

via Good Wine Under $20

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July 24, 2007

Can You Say Sexy Sommeliers?

Want some cheesecake with your wine at your next function or cocktail party? It might be time to look into hiring a Sexy Sommelier, the service that will supply wine and the aforementioned sexpots to liven up the festivities (actual 'sommelier' pictured). We're not sure what their qualifications are, but do you really care?

Looks like it's time to throw together a little get-together of 12 to 400 people...anyone care to help us brainstorm a reason?

via Thrillist and Martini Groove (thanks Kevin)

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July 23, 2007

10 Wacky White Wines

white wine glass_2.jpgWe found a great white wine roundup over at SFGate that really helped un-constipate our thinking about the paler grapes. Check out the intro paragraph and tell us it doesn't get you pumped to sip some whites this summer. If it doesn't, let us know and we'll come smack you upside the head.

Wine shouldn't be boring. That's not its job. With food, predictability is often an asset: your favorite takeout joint, grandma's coffee cake, the burger at Original Joe's. If you want to enjoy a predictable drink, that's whisky's job. (Talisker and a wee drop, thanks.) With wine, if you ever stop thinking and talking about what's in your glass, you have to wonder if it's an improvement on water.

Bargain Wines are the best way to experiment, because there's less money at stake. The consequences of telling your wine merchant "I need a little variety in my life" are less than they might be if making the same statement on Market Street at midnight. So with that in mind, let's walk on the wild side of white wines this week.

at SFGate

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July 20, 2007

Not Fat Bastard, It's SonOfaBitch

We're used to wines with cheeky or edgy names by now, with Fat Bastard and Cardinal Zin and Poizin - and we have to say we like 'em. The newest kid on the block is SonOfaBitch Pinot, a Canadian label that's part of a trifecta called Megalomaniac wines, from Vineland Estates Winery. We just hope people keep hitting the swear button for their brands - we've always wanted to sip a Motherf*cker Merlot.

Read more at Globe And Mail

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July 19, 2007

Good Wines for About $7-$8

We're constantly on the lookout for wine under $20, but some days (right before pay day, for example) you just need to swing a few cheaper bottles. Read on for some whites and reds from all over the world that will most likely be under $10.

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July 18, 2007

Welcome the Wine Whisk?

Aeration is important to many wines, but the actual act can be kind of a pain. Whether you're decanting it or just letting it breathe in the glass, you're probably like us and just want to drink it NOW! Enter the Wine Whisk, an aerator for the impatient.

The reviewer does mention some drawbacks to the Whisk - our first thought was the $20 price tag, and we weren't sure what it could do that a $2 whisk from a grocery store might - then we realized it doubles as a stopper, so if that's worth $18 to ya, get there.

Wine Whisk [via Contra Costa Times]

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July 17, 2007

Two Buck Chuck Turns Five

When was the last time you paid $2 for a bottle of wine? We can tell you we never have, but the below article about Charles Shaw Chardonnay, aka Two Buck Chuck, is enough to make us want to move to the Left Coast.

Last year, Two Buck Chuck - available only in the Trader Joe's grocery chain and priced at $1.99 in California, hence its nickname - accounted for at least 8 percent of California wine sold in-state, said Jon Fredrikson, who tracks wine shipments through his Woodland-based company, Fredrikson, Gomberg & Associates. National market share figures are not available. A bottle can range as high as $3.49 elsewhere.
As high as $3.49 elsewhere? Say it ain't so! Don't let the high price keep you from going to Mercury News for more info. Oh, and if Chardnnay's not enough to uproot you, they have Cabernet as well.

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July 16, 2007

Pondering Riesling

Riesling can be a tough nut to crack, with bottlings and varieties that land all over the taste spectrum. A recent "Riesling Rendezvous," a three day event to make sense of the wine, may help you wrap your mind around this misunderstood grape.

Riesling is doing much better these days. Tastes are changing, and younger consumers are interested in elegant, aromatic white wines. Tony Stewart, the winemaker from B.C.'s Quails Gate Estate Winery, hit the nail on the head when he said, "Brightness, freshness and acidity are in vogue these days."

Riesling sales are up dramatically. Vineyards are adding more riesling, rather than ripping vines out. Celebrity winemakers are jetting into Washington to make riesling here. And winemakers all over this country are making better rieslings than ever before, showing off the chameleon grape in its many guises, from bone dry to off-dry to diabolically, seductively sweet.

More at Seattle Times

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July 13, 2007

How to Enjoy Summer Wines

from found a good piece on how to differentiate wines to drink during the summer that we thought we'd share with our devoted readers. At first we thought it was just basic stuff, then we noticed it was a five page article instead of just one. Plus, we liked the angle of finding the exact right wine for a family barbecue or sultry sunset.

As picnic season starts, it's a good time to find wines to accompany grilled foods and sandwiches. White wines match most summer food, as do roses. Red wines bring out the flavors of grilled or barbecued beef or pork. All are good year-round of course, but some match summer evenings as if they were made for each other.
From Helium

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July 12, 2007

Taste Wine Like an Expert

We've found an article with some great ideas on how to train yourself to taste a variety of wines. We splurged on a fancy wine essence kit, but you can get the same results with things you have at home. Check out the items below and see if you can guess which wines they're associated with; click on to the story to find out.

1st glass: 5 drops of canned pineapple juice and a small 10mm slice of banana

2nd glass: 5 drops of the brine of canned asparagus

3rd glass: 1 tsp of melted butter

4th glass: 1 tsp of strawberry jam

5th glass: 2-3 grains of ground black pepper

6th glass: a tiny piece of green bell pepper/capsicum

From The Star Online

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July 11, 2007

Vinos Sin-Ley G2 Red Wine Review


We're not familiar with Vinos Sin-Ley, but we like their attitude, considering the name means "Wines without law." They have a cool naming scheme for their Garnacha that lets you identify the quality of the wine easily (G1 is the cheapest, right up to G5, the most expensive). The review we found is of the G2; the next thing we hope to find is actual bottles of this wine, especially since Wine Weekly gave it 90 points.
Bright, ripe, open nose of red and black berries, earth, tar, hint of tobacco. In the mouth you get juicy, almost candylike (jolly rancher) wild berry flavors, along with mild earth, a touch of tar and sweet tobacco. Clean, with a polished, smooth texture. Acidity and tannins are mild, making this a better match for lean meats and fish rather than fatty beef and cheesy plates. Enjoyable on its own as well – fine for a cocktail quaffer. This is an enjoyable, easy drinking wine with more complexity than you’d expect from an under-$10 bottle. Great value.
From Wine Weekly
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July 10, 2007

Cracking Down on Crazy Wine Tastings

Image from womenwithwine.blogspot.comApparently the fine folks of New York are having a tough time discerning between the proper locations for bachelorette parties, and wineries. Long Island has been swarmed by cackling, shrieking hordes that are upsetting the folks who are planning to spit the wine into a bucket, not throw it up there. Part of us wants the winos to get the sticks out of their asses, but the bachelorette ladies have to realize what setting they're in too.

As a local girl who grew up in a home where Coors Light and Zima were the drinks of choice at family parties, I’ve never been surprised that some of my fellow Long Islanders blur the line between a wine-tasting tour and a bar crawl. I’ve always loved the casual vibe of the North Fork tasting rooms, though I’ve never witnessed anything as extreme as “the bachelorette parties that often culminate in tabletop dances, to the horror of nearby oenophiles sniffing or sipping the local chardonnays.” Man, there’s no place like home.
The New York Times (subscription required) [via Chow Grinder]

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July 6, 2007

Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery


For some reason, the idea of Wayne Gretzky-branded wines has set the media's phasers on "pun". We've seen a bunch of headlines, ranging from "He Pours, He Scores" to "The Grape One" - we even percolated something about trying his wine on ice. We've decided to play it straight, however, and just say - introducing Wayne Gretzky Winery. If he's half as good at attaching his name to a wine as he was at that sport of his, we're pretty sure we're going to be in luck.
"We picked wine styles that best express Niagara's cool climate conditions and wines that we would be able to make year-in and year-out with consistent quality. " The first wines to wear No. 99 and the Wayne Gretzky Estates label are a 2006 unoaked Chardonnay and 2005 Meritage produced from vineyards in Niagara. A special bottling of Wayne Gretzky 2004 Family Reserve Merlot was done in 3-litre double magnums. Ninety-nine bottles were produced, the first and last bottle were presented to Gretzky during Tuesday's launch.
The Standard [via The Sporting Life]
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July 5, 2007

Sonoma-Cutrer 2005 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Sonoma-Cutrer 2005 Chardonnay>

When we read today's story on Liquor Snob about the whiskey aged in wine casks (Woodford Reserve), we got it in our heads it'd be cool to check out the wine they used. We've never had it and it's slightly higher than our typical price range (closer to $30 than $20), but we like Woodford Reserve enough we'd like to try both side by side.
It's somewhat fitting that as we launch the inaugural vintage of our Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, we were blessed with an abundant harvest full of intensely flavored fruit. Flavors of lemon, apple, pear, pineapple and cantaloupe-the full array of Sonoma's cornucopia of fruit, joins a nutty, spicy, lightly oak profile that stakes out a unique territory sure to please those who love Chardonnay.
Sonoma-Cutrer 2005 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay - White Wine
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July 4, 2007

Liberty School Wines for Independence Day

Happy Fourth from your friends here at Cheap Fun Wines! When we were trying to figure out what to post, we realized we needed to tie it in somehow to the holiday, and the best we could come up with was Liberty School wine. Luckily, Wine Enthusiast rated their Cab with 89 points, so we can rest assured the wine is good as well as fitting with our theme.

The 2005 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon displays upfront aromas of ripe red fruit and hints of vanillin, followed by similar vibrant red berry flavors. Solid tannins lend excellent structure, while maintaining a soft approachability reflective of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine has a ripe full finish. Its fruit-driven style lends ease to food-pairing; it's an excellent choice for grilled, braised or roasted meats, Mediterranean fare and semi-aged cheeses.
Liberty School 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - Red Wine

Varieties: Syrah, with a small amount of Viognier

This vintage of Syrah is brimming with up-front, ripe berry aromas. Its high-toned, red fruit flavors of mulberry and loganberry are complemented by full notes of exotic spice and cigar tobacco. This wine has a robust mineral backbone with well integrated tannins.

Syrah is an excellent choice for pairing with grilled, braised or roasted meats and game, as well as stews and hearty soups.

Liberty School 2004 Syrah - Syrah/Shiraz Red Wine

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July 2, 2007

CFW Monthly Roundup: June 2007

OK, so we didn't get an iPhone in June, nor did we even mention. We might be the only website that didn't. You win some you lose some, eh? What we did do is drink wine. We drank a lot of wine.

We discovered how to make Bonny Doon Blagueur show its true jokester heritage. We covered all sorts of celebrity wines - did you know Madonna's dad is making one? We also covered some sweet gadgets, figured out how to invest in wine, and even learned how to read your wine horoscope. Maybe you should call your friends on your fancy new iPhone and tell them about it.

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