Summer

 

 

A family fun 4th of July!

A family fun 4th of July!

I truly love summer, especially a Seattle summer. Hot sun, long nights, BBQ’s with friends and a slower pace life. However, with this love comes some headaches.. known as school summer vacation. My kids are home, all day long. I have put out more arguments then I can count. I am continually finding new activities to entertain the little darlings. Begging my friends for play dates. Constantly looking at the clock wondering if it’s an acceptable time to crack open a bottle of wine (if that already hasn’t happened during a play date)

I am really not complaining though. Summer is my favorite time of the year. I just find it exhausting entertaining (or finding things to entertain) my children all day long. But the perks do outweigh the negatives.. by far. And wine tastes so much better, sitting out on my deck in the sun, watching dad play with the kids so I can unwind.

Summer wines can vary for me. I do tend to drink more whites and rosé’s. However, with the long summer nights, we tend to open some amazing reds we have been saving for special occasions. But for the sake of this blog, I am going to give you my top 5 summer wine varietals. This is a fun list to explore. Head into your local wine merchant and ask about this list. They should be able to point out some stellar wines for you (or check out http://www.vinwineseattle.com if you want someone to come and pour a tasting of these varietals for you).

5. Vinho Verde – an inexpensive, Portuguese, high acid, light bodied slightly effervescent white wine. There are many reasons why I love a Vinho Verde. First of all, it’s a low alcohol wine, which is nice for those evenings where you want a glass of something, but don’t want to feel all wobbly. Also because of the low alcohol, it pairs very nicely with loads of summer friendly foods. I personally love a Vinho Verde with Mexican foods, seafood, Asian foods, and anything spicy. The slight bubbles help tone the spiciness down. Check out the Espiral from Trader Joes, only $4.99 and surprisingly delightful!

4. Sauvignon Blanc– this is a staple summer wine. Again, pairs deliciously with summer foods. A Sauv Blanc can be light – medium bodied, acidic and depending on the country of origin, it may be grassy, citrusy, or even slightly oaky. I prefer either a more citrus or slight oak Sauv Blanc, especially to pair with food. I have many go to Sauv Blancs between France, WA and CA, but my all time favorite is Salvestrin Winery Sauvignon Blanc ($24.00) out of CA. The problem with this wine is that you cannot find it in WA. But if you take a Napa Valley trip, make sure you stop by! Check out their website though. http://www.salvestrinwinery.com

3. Chardonnay – a medium to full bodied white wine, produced in many parts of the world. I know this wine can often get a bad rep. But this summer I have fallen (hard) for this delicious, rich, white wine. Give me a smooth Chard and I am one happy gal. I do prefer the crisp, mineral, slightly oaky Chardonnays (Chablis) from the Burgundy region of France. I find them slightly complex and enough minerality to keep my attention. However, I have discovered many WA Chardonnays (and a few Chilean)  that also keep me interested. My two favorites WA chards at the moment are Revelry Vintners (around $15.99) and Baer Winery’s “Shard” ($24.00).  Both are stainless steel, crisp and heavenly.

2. Petite Verdot- This varietal has long been a blending varietal into Bordeaux wines from France. But in recent years, it’s been standing beautifully on it’s own. It has stout tannins and can have a violet, dark fruit and vanilla flavor on the palate. It is a particular grape, so it can be a hit or miss. With food, you need weight, protein and fat.. so basically cheeses and heartier meat dishes. The Petite Verdot I am in love with this summer is the Blue Print Petite Verdot from El Corazon ($34.99)

1. Rosé – really, a no brainer this summer. This light to medium bodied wine is perfect for a long summer evening. Almost every region makes a rosé (Rosado in Spain, Rosato in Italy). A rosé goes perfectly with summer meals as well. Charcuterie, grilled fish, pork, salads, shrimp, egg dishes, pretty much anything you would eat in summer. I am a big fan of Provençal rosé’s and Spanish Rosado’s. The AIX rosé from Provence ($14.99) is a standard in our home. I also have fallen in love with Espelt Rosado ($12.99) and the 2013 Red Car rosé from CA ($19.99 and Pinot Noir grapes, delicious).

There you have it! A must try wine list to survive the summer heat (or your children). Enjoy exploring this list… and let me know what you try!

Cheers!

A successful summer play date!

A successful summer play date!

Check out your local wine merchants rosé selection!

Check out your local wine merchants rosé selection!

 

Another Saturday night in

It’s Saturday night and you are staying home because you are broke, cannot find a babysitter, don’t feel like going out or  none of the above. For whatever reason you are in for the night, but have the urge to pop open a bottle of wine. Yet, you are broke and need to find a bottle of decent wine for $10 or under. That, my friends, is where I come in to help you.

It is Saturday night and I am home, due to most of the above. In my need to blog more with interesting wine bits for my readers,  I have decided to help my Saturday night, feeling poor, friends by tasting 4 different wines under $10 (for those needing to stay within their budgets).

The 10 dollar challenge goes as this:

Pick 4 different wines from 4 different locations, all under $10, to see if they are worthy enough to drink. I decided to focus one region – Spain was the choice tonight. I opened all bottles, knowing most of them will be thrown down the sink. I wanted to taste the differences, not to drink tonight. This is all for you my readers!

The Wines:

The good news is most of these wines I found in at least two stores!

#1: 2009 La Aldea : 100% Monastrell- Jumilla region  Trader Joes $7.49

I was able to find a  TJ’s wine expert to help me decide what wine I should choose for my challenge. Many of their Spanish wines were under $10, so I wanted to hear his expert advice on wine. He a promised full bodied, full tannin wine, with a very nice finish. The description of the wine states a ripe wine with blackberries, dark cherries, earth and wild flowers.

The verdict: bland, tart, not bold at all. There was very little flavor. I did not taste a hint of any fruit. This would be a wine to buy when you just want to get drunk. Not a sipping, enjoyable wine at all.

Sorry Trader Joe wine expert, I question your knowledge.

#2: 2009 Coto de Hayas- Garnacha/Syrah  Fred Meyer $8.49

Ok, I am feeling hopeful with this challenge. First of all, I give a lot of credit to Fred Meyer (Kroger) – their wine section impressed me!! I was blown away by the selection of wines, not just Spanish, but all regions. I stood there, in shock and awe, trying to decide on a wine. The negative is that I received no help. So, I blindly chose.

The verdict: Smooth wine, with a berry finish on your tongue. Not a favorite wine by a long shot, but a decent wine for the price. A wine to take to a party. It is different enough to impress your usually non-drinking wine friends!

#3: Don Ramon Red- 75% Grenache, 25% Tempranillo Greenlake Wines $9.00 (also at Fred Meyers)

The help at Greenlake Wines was appreciated. The selection was small, so I had little hope in finding a wine under $10. However, the sales clerk showed me a couple Spanish wines within my budget. He thought this wine would impress me, so I took his advice.

The verdict: Very, very nice medium bodied wine and a great buy. I had a very hard time deciding what this wine tasted like though. The wine left a spicy dance on my tongue with some berry tones – but hard to determine which berries.

 I was only tasting these 4 wines (otherwise I would not be able to write), but this bottle of  wine I could sip and enjoy. It is hard to describe, but a joy to drink.

#4: 2007  Campo Viejo Rioja – Crianza  Safeway $9.99

As I went stopped at my final store, Safeway, I was nervous I wouldn’t find a $10 Spanish wine. I was very happy to find a Rioja within my price range. I love Rioja’s. They have to be one of my favorite wines. So, I was excited to try my find.

The verdict: Undrinkable. I couldn’t even finish my taste. Even foods wouldn’t help this wine (in my opinion). I may try it again tomorrow, just to give it a second chance. Sadly, I was very disappointed. A wine I will steer clear from. Sorry Safeway – you scored the lowest tonight.

 

The final verdict is that I was not 100% sold on 3 of the 4 wines. Number 2 was decent enough to take to a non-wine drinking friends party, but Number 3 was by far the most enjoyable. For the price, it has the most fun potential. You will find it at Trader Joes, Fred Meyers and possibly small wine shops (I purchased it at Greenlake wines), which makes obtaining this wine a breeze.

Your next Saturday night in and you want to try something different, pick up a Don Ramon, you will be happy with your investment.

Enjoy your wine night in!