Wine Tastings

June 23, 2010

Taste Live with Fresh & Easy Tonight!

tasting pour.jpg
Normally I'd break up my Fresh&Easy coverage, but as I was perusing their blog for wine recommendations (taking advantage of the big sale this week) I came across an invite to participate in a Twitter tasting. It is tonight so if you're interested, RSVP ASAP. Here are the basics:

To join
1. Sign up at Taste Live using Twitter, Facebook or creating a new account on the top right corner
2. RSVP here
3. Pick up the wines below at your local Fresh & Easy store
4. Log in to Taste Live on June 23rd starting at 7:00PM (PST) - Hashtag: #FreshEasyWines

The wines in question are all Fresh & Easy exclusives:
Napa Family Vineyards Chardonnay - Under $12
The Vine Yard Late Harvest Riesling - Under $8
Re del Castello Chianti Classico - Under $10

Check out full details of the tasting on the Fresh & Easy blog.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

February 14, 2008

Wine Enthusiast Perfect Pairing Wine Chocolates

P20151B.jpgThree glorious tins filled with elegant drops of dark chocolate - each formulated with an increasingly rich percentage of Cocoa to intensify the love affair between chocolate and wine. The 55% drops pair perfectly with Cabernet Sauvignon, the 61% drops match the smooth taste of Syrah and the rich 72% drops complement Zinfandel wines. Pure delight for guests, gifts and just the two of you. 3-tin chocolate set. Size: 3-1/2 oz.

What a fantastic idea . . . and though maybe a little too late for the Valentine's rush these are a great idea for any chocoholic wino, or anyone looking for seductive new tasting ideas. Less like drops and more like small communion wafers, these chocolates are a great way to end a meal or a tasting party.

At Wine Enthusiast Perfect Pairing Wine Chocolates

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

January 3, 2008

Is China a Wine Taster’s Paradise?

Perhaps - but the chances of us making it to Beijing any time soon - seems remote. Still - the author has some really good points on what makes China and wine great.

“A wine lover’s paradise?” you ask. “Surely that’s just a bit of New Year’s celebratory hyperbole?”

Well, perhaps “paradise” is going too far, but Beijing and Shanghai are great places to be if you speak English and have a moderate amount of money, by Western standards, in your pocket to invest in your budding wine habit. Consider:

Unlike in most other major wine-producing countries - and China is a major wine producer, at least in volume terms – wine lists in Shanghai and Beijing tend to have a wide range of countries and wine styles represented. It is rare to see any North American or South American wines on lists in Australia. It is rare to see any imported wines at all in France, Italy and Spain. The best wine bars, restaurants and quality retailers here have wide selections of wines from around the world. If wine variety is the spice of life, Beijing and Shanghai measure up well.


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October 4, 2007

Time for a tasting

So you’ve been reading CFW loyally and you have a good handle on wine. You’ve got Mr. Cheap’s guide, you just opened your brass knuckle wine opener and you know the difference between a Chardonnay and Chablis glass. You’re ready for a tasting. You don’t need a cellar and a butler to have a wine tasting. All you need is some friends and some wine. We can’t help you with the friends part, but we’ve given endless suggestions for wine. You can design the tasting any way you like; Wines from one vineyard, wines of one grape, dessert wines, etc. The key is relaxing and enjoying the wine. So, put on some Earth, Wind and Fire, call some friends and taste away.

Jean Barret has some great ideas on the subject at

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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

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

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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February 27, 2007

Get Vertical with your Wine Tasting

Wine TastingWe always find we like to get a little bit horizontal after a few glasses of wine, or at least in that "L" shape that allows us to be most comfortable on the couch. It turns out, horizontal isn't always the way to go when it comes to wine. We've found an article at that espouses the virtues of a vertical tasting - the tasting of different vintages of the same wine. We found it interesting, and it has a few tips for how they work and where you might find one in your area.

When I say that I’ve been doing a lot of vertical tasting lately, I don’t mean that I’ve been drinking wine while standing up. Formal wine tastings fall into two categories—horizontal and vertical, both intended to highlight differences and/or similarities among different wines. A horizontal tasting pits different wines from the same vintage against one another. A vertical tasting features different vintages of the same wine. If you’re a wine geek or a budding one, chances are you’ll attend one of these at some point.
Read on at

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November 30, 2006

SWILL Wine Tasting Party Kit

SWILL Wine Tasting KitWe're not sure what SWILL stands for, but it's definitely a verb we think should be attached to wine more often, because sometimes you don't want to swish, sniff and sip - you just want to take a good old drink. But enough of our soapboxing, because SWILL is a wine tasting party game that's a good excuse to throw a tasting for your friends and swill some wine. The kit comes with 8 of everything you need to throw a wine tasting party (other than the wine, glasses, and friends) including wine rating cards, invitations and writing implements.

Amazon - New SWILL Wine Tasting Party Kit and Wine Club Starter Kit

We also found out if you go to the SWILL website at, you can get the same price as Amazon with free shipping through December 20, 2006. Not only that, you can also set up your own wine club page, get refills for the kit, find wine buying guides and wine reviews, and more. How can you go wrong?

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

September 27, 2006

Wine Tasting in Cyberspace

Woman with Computer and WineSo we've been reading a bit about, an online wine tasting service that sounds pretty interesting. Basically, the concept is that you sign up for an event, go to your local liquor store to pick up some wines, and log on to a virtual wine tasting from the comfort of your home. You can have all the fun of tasting wine with others, without having to share a spit bucket. And that's half the battle.

The next Tastoria event will be on November 4, and will be hosted from New York. Not that it matters to you, since you'll be sitting at your computer in your underwear with six bottles of wine to get through. Go you. Learn more about the service at, with specific event information here.

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

June 4, 2006

Italian Reds Rock

Sure, we should have reviewed Italian wines by region or by type, but I don't know shite about Italian wine so we kept it macro. This way we were all able to try a half dozen Italian wines without getting too granular....a little chianti, a little sangiovese, a little cabernet franc (Yes, cabernet franc!) I am happy to report that a red I picked, a relatively expensive sangiovese, was the favorite with four of our eight tasters!

Wahhooooo! I finally win something. Disclaimer: My bottle cost $21, tipping the $20 and under cheapfunwines limit by a buck. I figured that since I bought the wine in a chi chi neighborhood of San Francisco (Laurel Heights) it was probably marked up by more than a few bucks and I'd be able to find it online for, like, $15.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find this wine listed online anywhere, so tracking its average price was difficult. Anyway, I should identify the wine: a 2002 Lambardi Rosso Di Montalcino from Montalcino, Italy. It's 100 percent sangiovese. Most of our tasters found this wine easy to drink. It smelled lovely..... like dark currants and tasted of earthy spice. I love the Lambardi website's English translation of this wine: "it is generous and harmonious." So this is a good-natured wine that's not looking for a fight. Funny, cry, happy!!!

Our uber taster Marlo found this wine fruity and earthy while the PIT (partner in tasting) said this wine "smelled classy," which is more description than he usually offers. Erica described this wine as a complex mouth of fruit with a spicy finish. Jonathan found it SMOOOOOOOOOTH. We are grateful. It was his favorite of six wines we tried. I will review the rest of them tomorrow (or Tuesday).

Next time, I promise that any bottle of wine I like that costs over $20 will be reviewed on Swanky Wine Friday....a new feature we're introducing at Cheapfunwines, which will focus on wines that are a bit more pricey, but worth it.

We give this wine a solid 3 stars.(scale of 1-4) It's a notch above your everyday table wine, with some complexity that sets it apart.

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June 1, 2006

Italian Wine Tasting!

The Italian wine tasting is coming up this Sunday people! K&L wine merchants has a vast array (yes, I am sick of the word plethora) of Italian wines for under $20, so I am going to try to hit the store before the week is done. Some prosecco would be nice, I think. I keep seeing bottles of it on special display at Trader Joe's for about $7. Alorie, a Cheapfunwines taster and reader who recently started her own blog from her new digs in Switzerland, served prosecco at her wedding and raves about its taste and affordability. So maybe we can start with some prosecco and move on to the Italian reds. More this weekend.

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May 17, 2006

Next Wine Tasting

So we're due for a wine tasting....either this weekend or next. My job at the moment is to figure out what we should taste. So far, we've tried some French wines (mostly red), some Syrah and eight or so bottles of pretty lovely Cabernet Sauivignon as a group. (I've tasted many more, of course!) I am thinking we may need to go Italian this time. Maybe include some Super Tuscans, which you can read a little about here in GQ 's wine guide. This article talks a wee bit about Super Tuscans and here's an excerpt:

Super Tuscans are outlaw wines (I love this!) first created in the early 1970s by a few producers who began using grapes that were not traditionally permitted in the Chianti region. Typically, they are a blend of Sangiovese (the primary grape used to make Chianti) and Cabernet Sauvignon. If you like Bourdeaux and California Cabernets, chances are you'll like Super Tuscans.

Here's another article from Forbes that recommends 20 Great Reds under $20 and mentions Super Tuscans. I don't have a lot of tolerance for the heavy use of gratuitous click-generating slideshows on the site, but there are some interesting recommendations. But hmmmm. I am still waiting for an Italian recommendation, since the two listed in the GQ article cost $21 and $100. BIngo!

Here's one: Sedara Nero d'Avola from Morgante Italy ($16.99). Here's a link to WineLibrary, a website that lets you search by place or type of wine. I immediately found a bunch of interesting Italian wines here, including prices. More tomorrow on when and what we'll be tasting.

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March 7, 2006

A Malbec at the Oscars

So I am starting to think that it's not such a great idea to buy the wine that the store strategically stacks next to the cash register. I was at the Cal-Mart market the other day (on Oscar night) and figured we'd need a bottle of wine to toast the winners. Feeling broke I bought the $5.99 bottle of 2002 Septima (60 percent Malbec, 40 percent Cabernet from Argentina). It was the wine that was closest to my left arm as I waited to pay for my groceries. OK, it did have one of those little blurby cards that declared it the best and juiciest, most berriest wine ever (I am getting sick of those deceitful little cards that the wine distributors stick on the crates or shelves that bear many exclamation points and way too many adjectives). I also loathe that these blurbies DO influence my buying habits. Big blast of blackberry with a happy chocolate finish! Sold to the red head in black!!!

ArrowContinue reading: "A Malbec at the Oscars"

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March 3, 2006

The Verdict on the Syrahs (continued)

Miss Erica Sips Syrah

We reviewed the first two Syrahs yesterday, so it's on to the rest that we tasted last Sunday. Most of our picks are from Australia, with a few exceptions. This is for no other reason than the fact that there are many Australian Syrahs. Odds are people are going to buy them. Oh yeah, if you are serving cheese, Gouda is good with Syrah. I only say this because I bought Camembert and garlic goat cheese for my tasting, neither of which go well with Syrah according to my wine and cheese companion book. Stupidly, I checked the book after I bought the cheese. Camembert is good with hard cider and the Chevre pairs with Sauvignon Blanc, FYI. I don't think my tasting guests noticed the faux pas.

And on to the Syrah, Shiraz, la te da....

ArrowContinue reading: "The Verdict on the Syrahs (continued)"

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