August 5, 2006

We Never Met a Malbec We Didn't Like

malbecLooking for a good, solid inexpensive red wine to try? Get out of the California section of your local wine shop and head on over to South America, where you'll find a varietal that's quickly becoming our favorite. We've been delving into more and more Malbec, a grape primarily grown in Argentina that tends to make wines with a plummy, berry flavor. The bottles we've bought have been between $10 and $15, and we haven't been disappointed yet.

Q: I am really enjoying Malbec from Argentina. What can you tell me about the wine?

A: Back in the middle ages, long before the emergence of Bordeaux Malbec, there was a wine known as the Black Wine of Cahors -- a staple throughout Europe. In time this grape became a significant component in Bordeaux blends.

That changed with the arrival of phylloxera and the replanting that followed, as Malbec became a minor blending partner. It was a Frenchman who brought the grape to Argentina where it flourished in both quality and quantity.

Read more at the Monterey Herald.

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

August 4, 2006

Don't Judge a Wine by its Label?

Choosing WinesPicture yourself wandering up and down the aisles of your local liquor store, having been sent there to "pick out a nice bottle for dinner." Maybe you know everything about wine and you know EXACTLY what to pair with the chicken pot pie.

Not everyone has that skill, however, and most people are relegated to choosing their wines based on three factors - price, varietal and label. While it's often easiest to go for the prettiest bottle on the shelf, we've found an interesting article at Wine X magazine that says that might not net you the best of wines. In fact, they even offer the following motto: "choose ugly- drink lovely and if more has been spent on design than wine, decline."

It is a sad fact and a perplexing paradox. The look of a bottle is of no importance but also the utmost. It has no bearing on the taste but is the main reason for purchasing. Visual appeal is one way a wine drinker can be tricked into buying something that is not as good as it should be. Consequently it is incumbent on an enthusiast to hone their senses of taste and smell and totally ignore their sense of style. It's crucial, especially for the fiscally challenged. Some of Australia's best wines and best bargains lurk under some of the most god awful labels. Boutique wine labels are like people's houses - there's plenty that's quirky and gaudy but for plain ugly bargains the big companies rule.
from Wine X

Note - We're fans of Wine X online; if you're a bigger fan of reading on ink and paper you can get a subscription at Amazon for $15 for 6 issues.

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

August 3, 2006

Clear Your Palate With Budget Summer Whites

Summer White WinesWe've been focusing on a lot of red wines lately, but we don't think you should neglect whites, especially during summer's heat. Chill them down and sip away - and we've found an interesting list of budget-conscious whites you should try. See some of our favorites below and click through to the story for more.

2005 Francis Coppola Bianco Pinot Grigio, California ($10.99) - The label is classy and cool but understated. The looks are pale yellow and silver, indicating youth and lightness of flavor. The aroma is mild citrus and kumquat. The taste is light, crisp and refreshing; just what it should be. This is no monster, but a good summer quaffer. 83 points.

2005 Zenato Pinot Grigio, Delle Venezie, Italy ($9.99) - This wine is from Winebow, who was an early importer of Italian wine and can be counted on for great selections. If you're waffling in a wine shop, check the back label for Winebow or Leonardd Locassci Selections. If either of those names turns up, it's OK - buy it. This wine is a bright light gold. The aroma is mineral with lime and lemon oil. The taste is full of good fruit, citrus and warmth, with a clean refreshing finish. 86 points.

2004 Kenwood Vintage White Wine, California ($5.99) - The color is golden and shiny. The aroma has melons and soft ripe fruit with a little oxidation. The taste is soft and simple with a lingering creaminess. It's a good alternative to an inexpensive Chardonnay and better to serve at cocktail hour than with a meal. 81 points.

2004 Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California ($9.99) - This is a great price for a Sonoma Appellation Chardonnay from a reputable winery. The color is white gold. The aroma is wooded and toast with lush pear. The taste is crisp pear with structure from the oak and a smoky finish. It's a lot of taste for the money. 85 points.

from AZCentral

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

July 30, 2006

10 Wines for Under $10

Cheap Wine ShoppingDon't believe what your wine snob friends tell you - there's no shame in paying under $10 for your wine. Believe us...we stopped wearing the glasses and fake mustache to the liquor store years ago. We've found an interesting story with a list of 10 good wines for under 10 smackers and while the listed prices are for what this guy paid in Indiana, you should be able to find most of these wines in your area for a more or less similar price.

    Long before the screw cap got sexy, this Santa Cruz, Calif., wine came cork-free. If you're still wary, read the bottle's label, which makes a good case for the cap.

    Don't let the pink fool you. This refreshing wine from southern France is surprisingly not sweet.

    Don't be afraid of the price tag - this red is a great table wine because it's not too robust for the white zinfandel crowd or too weak for the dark red crowd.

    "South American wines are hot," said Boise Co-op wine buyer Christian Robertson. Plus, malbec, made from black grapes, is Argentina's most popular red.

    Three summers ago, some friends served this white wine at their afternoon outdoor wedding, and it worked well with everything from the buffet to the ice cream sundae bar.
Get the Full list at

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

July 25, 2006

Skip the Chardonnay and Get Some Austrian White Wines


Want to get a nice peppery wine or two instead of the same old oak-bombed chardonnays you get from California? It looks like Austrian wines are rising in prominence in the world of crisp refreshing wines. They apparently even have some interesting desert wines.

At New York Times

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking

May 27, 2006

More on Muscadine

Here's what my travel editor friend Kim has to say about muscadine, that sweet southern wine with a name that I have been pronouncing incorrectly for the past few weeks. It's musca-dyne, which I failed to specify in my past ramblings on muscadine. Who knew? Anyhow, here are Kim's thoughts on muscadine and her comments on how hard it is to get your hands on a good bottle of it.

"Muscadines are higher in antioxidants than any other grape. Our wine
expert told me that sales of muscadine concentrate are skyrocketing in
health food stores because of this. With muscadine wine, you have the
added benefit that it reduces blood pressure (ok, so all alcohol does

Sweet wines, and specifically muscadine wines, make up the vast
majority of what's sold in Tennessee. While many of them are toe-curlingly
sweet, a few are truly good. Highland Manor Winery in Jamestown, a small
town in East Tennessee, has a waiting list of ONE YEAR for a $10 bottle
of muscadine wine. It's worth the wait. I spent about a year and a half
picking up bottles here and there as I travelled through TN, and we
tasted about 14 different wines in our test kitchen (a very fun work day).
Highland Manor's was, hands down, superior to the rest. Unfortunately,
state liquor laws restrict sales to other states. You may or may not be
able to get a bottle. Call them and tell them I sent you, and see if
they'll sell you one ahead of the wait list.

Bottom line, though: If you hate sweet wines, don't go here. Most
dry-wine drinkers find them cloying and icky sweet. But if you're open to
something different, I recommend sampling with an open mind. What's truly
great about muscadine wine is that, unlike any other varietal, the wine
smells exactly like the grape picked fresh from the vine, and tastes a
whole lot like it, too. I remember picking these from a trellis as a
child. To eat them, you have to bite a little hole in the tough, rubbery
skin, then suck out the pulpy inside."

Kind of like the concord grapes I'd pick off the school yard fence when I was a kid. Yes, we did this - in between bouts of collecting caterpillars in coffee cans. These grapes were pretty gnarly. Best left for the birds. But we managed to eat a few if we could get beyond the sour skins.

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking

March 28, 2006

Cheese and Wine and Wine and Cheese, Please

Here's an interesting article about pairing wine and cheese from Wine Spectator that comes from my PIT (Partner in Tasting) by way of a friend of a friend. I am embarrassed to say that I know about as much about pairing as I do about the fine sport of cricket. This is perhaps because the PIT can't eat cheese, an unfortunate circumstance that causes me to sneak the stuff so as to not upset him. He takes my cheese eating personally.
Nonetheless, this article really boils it down to an easy science. Young and soft goat cheeses, which are my favorite, pair well with Sauvignon Blanc-based wines. (The PIT liked a $16 Mauritson's Sauvignon Blanc that we tried recently) Hard cheeses are good with leftover red from the main course. They also pair more easily with both whites and reds. Hmmm. A blue cheese should be eaten with a sweeter wine. These are only fundamentals. For the more complicated questions I've consulted my little book of cheese, which often only makes me more confused because I've not heard of half the cheeses the book covers and only have so much energy in a day, where I typically wash more sippies than I do wine glasses. (Thus the photo: Still life: Shiraz with a sippy.)

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking

March 13, 2006

Fill Her Up with Some Red, Please

A friend told me about this winery called Obester in Half Moon Bay, CA., that will fill an empty wine bottle for you for under $10. In all the time I've lived here (Seven years, I think) I've never heard of this winery. Maybe that's because it's in Half Moon Bay, a quaint little seaside hamlet about 20 miles south of San Francisco that has a cracker pumpkin festival but isn't exactly known as a mecca of fine wine. Nonetheless, bottle filling is a cool idea and the winery, which crafts wines from grapes grown in the coastal hills above Santa Clara Valley, has a large picnic area and bocce courts if you want to make a morning or afternoon of it. Here's some more information about the next bottle event, which will be held April 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Obester, which makes reds, whites and sparkling wines and offers whites all priced under $20, will be pouring red that day.
Price per bottle of red (Information on the type of red isn't available yet) includes the cork and label and are as follows:
$4.45 for 750 ml, $8 for 1.5 L, $17 for 4L and just $18.50 for a gallon if you are really filling it up, but hopefully aren't planning on driving home.
The winery's website tells you how to clean your bottles before you fill them. You can also buy 750 ml bottles from Obester for $1 each. One note: don't even try to clean the inside of your bottles in the dishwasher.

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking

March 9, 2006

Best Bottle of $8 Wine I Ever Had

A friend who is devoted to Bordeaux recently told me that he is crazy about an under $10 bottle of California Pinot Noir he bought last year from a small Anderson Valley winery called Lazy Creek vineyards. "Best bottle of $8 wine I ever had," he said. Unfortunately, Lazy Creek's wine is hard to find, unless you go to the winery or join their wine club, and its website is on holiday or just not live any more so I couldn't check out what wines they have make and how they make them. However, this website, which tracks wine releases, says Lazy Creek's next release is expected in April -- a 2004 Estate Pinot, along with a Syrah. So next month I will hopefully get to review a bottle or two.

ArrowContinue reading: "Best Bottle of $8 Wine I Ever Had"

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking

March 8, 2006

Wines of Spain

Peter Marks, director of wine at Copia and "Wine Guy."

The non-profit Copia, (The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa, CA), which runs a restaurant and cafe and hosts food and wine classes, is featuring the wines of Spain this month. I've tried very few Spanish wines. But since there are many recommended on the Copia website for under $20, this might be an excuse to try some more. I think this might even make a great tasting list for the CheapFunWines gang's next monthly tasting.
Here's the list, which sounds pretty interesting. The "wine guys" who picked these wines are Peter Marks and Burke Owens who together have over 50 years experience in the wine business and have won sundry prestigous tasting awards.

2004 Espadana Verdejo, Rueda
Bright and lemony, this Verdejo is refreshing, juicy and easy to love.
Pair with a simple tuna sandwich for maximum wine and food pleasure.

ArrowContinue reading: "Wines of Spain"

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking
Mailing List
Enter your Email

Powered by FeedBlitz
Subscribe - RSS
Site Navigation
Wine Reviews
Buy Breathalyzers
AlcoHawk ABI Breathalyzer Alcohol Tester
AlcoMate Breathalyzer

Visit our other properties at!




This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Powered by
Movable Type 6.3
All items Copyright © 1999-2016 Blogpire Productions. Please read our Disclaimer and Privacy Policy