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!

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Too much wine?

 Can there be too much wine? Maybe.  I guess there can be too much of anything. Over eating, over shopping, too much TV, too much talking, etc. So yes, there can be such a thing as too much wine, I guess…..

When a 5-year-old tells his mom, as they are coming over to my house at 1:00 in the afternoon, that he needs to bring me a bottle of wine (his 3-year-old brother argues no, she needs a coffee) it lead me to ask the question:  “Am I drinking too much wine?” I mean, if a 5-year-old thinks he needs to bring me a bottle of wine when he comes to my house (prior to that comment, he saved an old Trader Joe’s paper wine bag to give me as a present for my wine) and my own 5-year-old argues she must drink her milk/water/apple juice out of a wine glass at dinner – maybe I am talking about/drinking too much wine.

Some of you may agree, but some may think not. We all have our own opinions, especially the topic of alcohol.  What I do know about my interest in wine, is that I enjoy learning about it, just as much as tasting and drinking it. I have a fond respect for wine, without over indulging in it. So does that mean it is too much?

I feel the history, making, and the process of wine needs more respect than the abuse of it. Yes, I have a glass of wine with most of my dinners, when we go  to a dinner party I make sure to bring a bottle the host will enjoy, random evenings with my husband we will have wine tastings (when kids are finally in bed), I take wine classes and  have a growing number of wine books around my home. Maybe by some standards, yes I do focus too much on wine.  But in no way would I do the wine industry injustice by abusing it. 

My answer on this topic is: I will keep on enjoying wine..I work hard, love my family and friends and have other non-wine interests. However, after a long day there is nothing better than getting the kids in bed and relaxing on the couch with an amazing glass of Cab (or Merlot, Syrah or blend)!  So, if a 5-year-old wants to bring me a bottle of wine, bring it! I just ask that it not be a Carlo Rossi!!

Tonight’s Tastings

In light of my topic, tonight’s tasting will not be on wine – but on Sparkling Wines. Champagne/Sparkling Wines are not my forte, yet. However, I do know a delicious Sparkling wine, Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, when I taste it. I will give you a very brief low-down on the four I mentioned:

Champagne: Carbonated wine from the region of Champagne in France. Legally, it can only be called Champagne if created in that region. Usually, Champagne is medium bodied and will pair well with many different types of foods. Just remember for “real” Champagne, most decent bottles will cost you a decent penny. (fyi – you can find some value Champagnes around the $40 price point).

Cava: Spanish medium-bodied sparkling wine from the Catalonia region of Spain. When I lived in Spain, this stuff poured out of barrels like crazy. It was actually on “tap” at many local restaurants, and it was almost a requirement to have a glass or two during lunch (which is probably why they still have Siestas). Cava has to be one of my personal favorite Sparkling wines (see below for a recommendation).

Prosecco: Italian light-bodied Sparkling Wine from the region of Veneto. You can also find a great Prosecco at a steal of a price in many speciality wine/grocery stores.

Sparkling Wine (U.S.): Many great Sparkling Wines are coming out of California and Washington these days. Some tops wines recommended by Wine Spectator are: Domaine Chandon, Napa $18, Domaine Caneros, Napa $25 and Domaine Ste. Michelle, Lux Columbia Valley $23. These are great deals! Sparkling Wine, Cava and  Prosescco are great way’s to add a touch of class to any dinner party (and obviously you don’t have to spend a lot). If you are going to a dinner party and in doubt about what kind of wine to bring the host – always grab a bottle of bubbly.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva (non-vintage) –$8.99 Whole Foods

This is a Cava I had the other night – it was clean, fresh and fragrant – with a scent of honied apples. The price is outstanding as well, $8.99,  a can’t beat price for a delicious glass of bubbly.

Segura Viudas - Spanish Cava

I hold up my wine glass and cheers my daughter’s wine glass of milk! And cheers to all of you as well!