Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Hi all.  Yes, I am aware that this blog seems to have gone by the wayside.  I haven't been blogging for a couple reasons.  The first is, I've been pretty busy.  The second reason is I stopped writing for Drinking Made Easy so I have pretty much been drinking wines I've already blogged about (mostly the Double Dog Dare) since I didn't have a reason to buy/try anything new.  I have started sharing some of my non-wine DME articles on my recipe blog if you would like to check those out (the link is on my sidebar).  I am hoping in the next month or so to start blogging here on a regular basis so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Double Dog Dare You to Try It

Recently I was visiting a friend who is also a bargain wine lover and she told me about Double Dog Dare wines. She said she had picked some up at one of the liquor stores I usually frequent so I was immediately interested. When she told me the price, the deal was sealed. She said it retailed for around $4. Now, some people might be skeptical but she’s never steered me wrong and she insisted it was good. So, one my next trip to pick up booze, I looked for it.

Double Dog Dare has several varieties. My friend had tried a couple of the red varieties but she told me they had a chardonnay. So, I picked up the chardonnay, the merlot and the cabernet sauvignon. And like my friend said, they cost $3.99 each for a 750 ml bottle.

My husband and I tried the cabernet first. When we got home from the liquor store, I made a simple marinated flank steak for dinner and I figured the cab would be a good pairing. It had a fresh nose with hints of current and a bit of spice. Both of those carried over to the flavor. The acidity was quite low and I found it to be quite smooth. It wasn’t bold like some cabernets. It was subtler with smooth tannins and a nice, clean finish. It seemed a bit more like a pinot noir to me but I thought it was very good and it went great with the flank steak. Even Hubby approved and said he would definitely get it again.

I tried the chardonnay next. I tried it alone at first. The nose was very citrusy with a hint of apple. It tasted of apple and pear as well as a bit of lemon. It was very light for a chardonnay and I am guessing it is unoaked. It had a very pleasant finish as well. The next night, I used it in my chicken piccata and drank it along with the dish. It went beautifully together. I have to say this went to the top of my list of favorite bargain chardonnays.

The last variety I tried was the merlot. I poured my first glass as I was making a meal of spaghetti, meatballs and garlic bread. Like the cabernet, the nose was fresh with a hint of cherry and a bit of currant. It was medium bodied and smooth and tasted of the cherry and currant. I had a glass with dinner as well and it went great with the meal. It would probably pair nicely with red meat too.
All of these varieties come in 1.5 liter bottles as well. At my store, they cost $7.99. They also come in boxes that cost $9.99. At the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine, that comes out to about $2.50 per bottle. Who can beat that?

Double Dog Dare also makes a sweet red wine, a moscato, a sangria, a sweet white wine, and a white zinfandel. Hubby and I will be heading back to our store this weekend to get a case of the chardonnay as well as three bottles of the cabernet and three bottles of the merlot (our wine rack holds 18 bottles). These will definitely become wine rack staples. I urge you to go and try this wine. You won’t regret it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wine Enthusiast’s Top 3 Best Buys

I see Wine Enthusiast magazine every once in a while but I have never really read it.  Wine magazines that I have looked at in the past have rarely contained wines that fit my budget parameters.  So, when someone forwarded me Wine Enthusiast’s List of Top 100 wines, I was curious.  Imagine my delight when I noticed that they also had a list of Top 100 Best Buys.  A few of the ones on the list I have already tried but when I got to the top, I noticed I had never tried any of the top 3.  So, I went out to my trusty Total Wine and picked them up to try.

I’ll start with number three which is Bogle’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.  Now this is my favorite varietal so I am always excited to try a new one.  According to the list, this wine retails for around $9 which was spot on.  I got it for $8.99.  It had a very pleasant nose with hints of citrus zest.  It was very clean and crisp, just the way I like it, with a lovely citrus taste.  I also detected a hint of tropical fruit.  I sampled the wine alone but Bogle recommends pairing it with appetizers and light dishes like fish and shellfish as well as goat cheese and fruit salsas.  I will definitely be trying some of those pairings.

Number two on the list was a 2009 Protocolo Tempranillo by Dominio de Eguren.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find this one but luckily, Total Wine has a large selection of Spanish wines.  Again, the list was spot on with the price.  It said the wine retails for $7 and I got it for $6.99.  The nose had strong berry flavors, mainly raspberry, with an herbal hint.  It had a very fruity flavor that was pleasant on the palate.  It had a bit of spice, which I like.  I think it would go well with any spicy red meat dish.

And last but not least, the number one pick was a 2010 Riesling by Pacific Rim.  The list said this wine retails for around $10 but Total Wine had it for $8.99.  I haven’t had Riesling in quite some time so it was nice to try a new one.  It had a nose of tropical fruit and melon which I also detected in the taste.  These flavors were intertwined with a hint of spice.  It was very crisp and not too sweet which I found very pleasant since some Rieslings can be very sweet.  Recommended pairings were spicy foods, richer foods and even fish.

I had to agree that these wines were all very good and the prices couldn’t be beat.  If you are interested in seeing the rest of the list, you can find it here and you will also find links to their other top 100 lists.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Coyote Yummy

With summer coming to an end, I am backing away from my use of boxed wines and trying to find some new bottled wines to try.  On a recent trip to Total Wine, one of their displays caught my eye.  The display was for Coyote Creek wines and each bottle was a dirt cheap $6.99.  As you know, I love a good bargain so I picked up a couple bottles to try.
Coyote Creek Winery is in Santa Rosa, CA.  Technically it is part of Adler Fels Winery which also produces Coastline, Kitchen Sink and Leaping Lizard…all favorites of mine.  Once I knew that, I figured the Coyote Creek wines had to be decent, at the very least.

The bottle I opened was the 2010 Chardonnay.  This wine is a blend of 95% chardonnay grapes and 5% mixed white varietals.  It had the aroma of citrus and fall fruits.  I detected pear and citrus in the taste.  It had a bit of a mineral tone with a buttery ending.  I really liked it.  I had hubby try it and he agreed that it was good and he isn’t a huge white wine fan with chardonnay being his least favorite.  We did drink it alone but Coyote Creek suggests paring it with fresh tomato and cucumber salad, risotto with mushrooms and parmesan cheese and roasted chicken and vegetables.  I make risotto quite often so I think I will definitely buy another bottle to accompany it the next time I make it.

The second variety I opened was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine of comprised of 76% cabernet sauvignon grapes, 8% Rubired, 7% ruby cabernet and 9% mixed red varietals.  I immediately noticed the aroma of dark berries with a hint of herbs.  The taste was full-bodied with hints of berries and plums.  I also detected and undertone of rosemary.  We drank it with a simple pasta and turkey meatballs and it paired very well.  Coyote Creek recommends pairing it with pasta with spicy tomato and black olive sauce, beef tenderloin and potatoes au gratin and slow cooked lamb shank.  I had just mentioned to hubby that I haven’t made pasta puttanesca in a while and I think this wine would go beautifully with it.

With everyone’s budgets being a little tight these days, I think these two budget wines are staples to have in your wine rack.  It’s always great to find good wines that won’t break the bank and these definitely fit the bill.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bzzz Bzzz Junebug

So, hubby and I were in Target the other day and he voiced his displeasure at the fact that I had only been buying boxed wine for the last couple of months.  We were in need of wine anyway so I went down the wine aisle and grabbed a familiar bottle of Yellow Tail Sauvignon Blanc but I also wanted to try something new.  A wine called Junebug caught my eye.  When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, L, she was due in June so we called her Junebug until we knew she was a girl.  Pus the bottle was pretty and cheerful so I grabbed it.

A couple of days later I chilled it and opened it.  It was a 2010 Pinot Grigio that had cost $9.99.  I didn't see any other varieties but I'll look next time I'm in Target.  I tried to do some research on it but I haven't been able to find much info aside from people blogging about it or asking people on Yahoo Answers about it.

I sampled it alone at first.  It was light and fruity with a hint of citrus...perfect for summer.  next, I paired it with grilled chicken and it went really well together.  I think it would be great with light, summery seafood dishes too.

I wish I could find more information on it.  I'll keep looking and add to this is I find out anything more.

Monday, September 26, 2011

More Thinking Inside The Box

When I posted my last post about boxed wines, I ended by saying I had heard that the Target Wine Cubes were very good and that they were on my list to try.  Well, I finally got around to trying a few of them and I have to say that I agree...they are VERY good.

The first one I tried was my favorite variety, Sauvignon Blanc.  My Target sells the 3 liter cubes for $17.99 though they occasionally go on sale for $15.99.  Even at the regular price, that comes out to about $4.50 per bottle of wine which is an excellent deal.  Anyway, I chilled the cube a bit and they poured my first glass. The first thing I noticed was the tropical nose. I thought to myself that it was very similar to my favorite Sauvignon Blanc, Nobilo.  I took my first sip and I was in love. The wine was light and crisp with a hint of tropical fruit and citrus...much like Nobilo.  I had already found a slightly cheaper wine that was very similar to Nobilo but the cube was an even better deal so it has now become my go-to Sauv Blanc.

The second variety I tried was the Pinot Grigio.  It had the aroma of apricots and the taste was light, slightly acidic and a bit dry.  The apricot carried over to the taste and I also detected a hint of honey.  Like the Sauv Blanc, I thought it was very good. It goes very well with chicken and light seafood dishes.

Now, my husband is more of a red wine drinker so he asked me to buy one of the red varieties. Consumer Reports had just rated some bargain red blends and had recommended Target's Cabernet/Shiraz blend.  Well, unfortunately, once I got to Target, I couldn't remember which one they had recommended so I grabbed the Vintner's Red Blend.  I really liked it...it was light and quite fruity with hints of dark berries.  My husband however, is not a fan so next time I'll get the Cab/Shiraz blend.  I think the Target Wine Cubes have found a permanent place in my fridge and wine rack....good wine for a great price.  You can't beat that!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Super Affordable From South Africa

My interest in South African wines started when Zane Lamprey went there on Three Sheets.  He sampled some of Fairview’s Goats Do Roam wines and I went right out to find them myself.  Since then, I have tried all three (?) varieties and I LOVE them.  I’ve tried some of Fairview’s other wines and I have liked them all.  So when I needed a new topic, I though why not expand on affordable South African wines?

I found that our local Total Wine had plenty of affordable South African wines to choose from.  My first choice was Star Tree Nouveau Rouge.  It was a 2009 vintage and cost $9.99.  It was a medium bodied red with hints of raisin and nuts.  It was well balanced and a bit different, which I liked.  I drank it alone but I think it would pair well with cheese and red meat.

My second choice was a 2010 Spier Chenin Blanc that was a steal at $7.99.  I noticed the color at first since it had a bit of a greenish hue.  It had the aroma of tropical fruit which carried over to the taste.  I also detected a bit of kiwi.  It had a nice acidity.  I sampled this alone as well but Spier recommends pairing it with goat cheese, sushi, pasta and pizza.  Total Wine had several Spier varieties in stock and almost all of them fit my budget criteria so I plan on picking some of them up to try.

My third and last choice was a 2010 Chardonnay by Excelsior that also cost $9.99.  Like the Chenin Blanc, this wine also had a bit of a green hue.  It had aromas of peach and orange and had the taste of green apples.  It was a bit creamy and nicely fruity with a medium body.  I really enjoyed this one and I am guessing the fact that it is only lightly oaked had something to do with it.  Recommended pairings are grilled seafood and lightly spiced Thai chicken dishes.  I LOVE Thai food so that is a pairing I definitely want to try.

In my opinion, South Africa has a plethora of good, affordable wines to offer and I plan to stay on the lookout for more!