Thursday, December 2, 2010


My super-cool cousin, Lori, gave me a lovely bottle of wine during our last visit. (I knew she was my favorite cousin for a reason.) Lori, bless her heart, is not a wine drinker, and I haven't had time to convert her yet. I mean, yeah, I've known her since before I was born, but she lives far away and I don't get to see her often. Thus, Cousin Lori's wine-drinking status is a work in progress.

Meanwhile, I get to enjoy the (fermented) fruits of her shortcoming. At some point she had been given a 2004 bottle of Rosemount Estate Shiraz as a gift (from someone who doesn't know her well, obviously. OR . . . could it have been a fellow wine evangelist?) The bottle followed her on several moves and quite possibly had questionable storage circumstances on more than one occasion, but I have high hopes that the wine will still be enjoyable. And tonight--tonight!!--I will find out.

But wait, there's more. During my most recent hunting and gathering expedition to the Party Factory, I picked up a pair of bottles for a horizontal tasting (yeah, I had to look up the terminology to refresh my memory, so to keep you from having to do the same thing: that's a comparison of wines from the same vintage but different wineries) and the pair I picked up happened to be two 2008 Shirazes. (Shirazi? Shirazeses? Whatever.)

By a happy coincidence--or perhaps some sort of strange subconscious guidance?--guess what one of those two bottles was? None other than a 2008 Rosemount Estate Shiraz. I didn't even realize the serendipitous duplication until I got the two new bottles home where they belonged. So tonight I bring you not only a horizontal tasting, but a concurrent vertical tasting as well (different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery).

The other 2008 Shiraz is a [yellow tail], and as the odd man out, I will begin with the description of that one. The label claims mulberry, spice and smooth vanilla (sounds excellent), as well as an "approachable, fresh, flavorsome personality all of its own." Now THAT sounds like a wine I could be friends with.

The 2004 Rosemount is described as "intense, spicy fruit with a richly textured finish . . . [and] subtle oak." I guess by 2008 they gave up trying to describe their Shiraz, because that label doesn't give me any help. I guess I'm on my own there. But the bottle is kind of cool because it's square at the bottom. Unique. I just hope that's not the best part of the wine.

The 2004 bottle, by the way, isn't without its own pleasant little idiosyncrasies: a cute little red wax seal on top of the cork instead of foil, and a great big lip around the edge of the mouth that almost kept me from letting out that extra (and for me, apparently inevitable) drip.

First, a good look at each. Of course they're all a beautiful deep dark red, and nearly opaque. The 2004 Rosemount has a discouraging brownish tinge which I'm hoping is not a portent of doom. The 2008 Rosemount is a pure ruby red, and the [yellow tail] is just a tad purplish. I am not sure if Shiraz is commonly an amputee, but I'm not really seeing much in the way of legs on any of these three. The 2008 Rosemount is a definite Bob (you know, what you would call a legless man in the ocean). But since I have no idea what legs on wine might signify, I'm not too worried about that.

Now for the sniff test. Mmmm, the 2008 Rosemount smells good. Good and spicy. The 2004 Rosemount smells disappointingly bland. But, urg, it smells better than the [yellow tail]. (Do I really have to type those pretentious little brackets every time?) It doesn't have a strong aroma, but it smells a bit green. Already I'm predisposed to prefer the 2008 Rosemount.

And now--yippee, the best part!--to taste each one.

Ahhh, the 2008 Rosemount is lovely. Spicy, a little tangy, and a very smooth finish. I'm afraid this may be one of those that is all too easy to drink!

The 2004 Rosemount is not as bad as I expected, though it tastes every bit as bland as it smells. It really just tastes kind of watery, though I'm sure several years of less-than-ideal storage conditions are to blame.

The 2008 [yellow tail] is a pleasant surprise. I think I really do taste a bit of berries and vanilla. It doesn't have the zippy spice of the 2008 Rosemount, but it's definitely worth drinking--though I must admit I've not met many wines that aren't.

My vote is for the 2008 Rosemount Estate Shiraz. I'm still in search of the Best Wine Ever, but this was a nice little pit stop on the journey.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Alexander Valley "Sin Zin" Zinfandel 2007 California

Tonight, for the first time in too long, I broke out my super-sassy uptown foil cutter (I'm still amazed at how well it works!) and pulled the cork on a new wine, suggestion courtesy of Tracy. It is "Sin Zin," and check out that uninhibited fellow on the label. That's me right now, except I'm on my couch instead of under a tree. And, OK, I'm clothed more modestly. And not exactly doing funnels.

My great big goblet is filled with a deep dark ruby-red wine. Call me crazy, but I smell nutty almond with a faint breath of apple. It's not an especially loud smell, but I like it. My first sip: very tart, to the extent that any flavor seems overpowered, but there's this wonderful, amazingly peppery aftertaste. Spicy, spicy! I love it.

If I am to believe the back of the bottle, I should be smelling "a bright, expressive nose bursting with red fruits" and tasting "a palate loaded with raspberries, strawberries and black pepper." I kind of wonder if the person who made up that description even tasted the wine, except for the part about the pepper. I'm picturing a freelance writer who threw a bunch of wine words into a hat and this is what he drew out. He is now excitedly telling his friends and family members he's been published on the back of the Sin Zin bottle.

According to the Alexander Valley website, if I'd had the 2008 instead, I would have been the recipient in a delivery of "heady aromas of black cherry, eucalyptus, cocoa and mint, and flavors of black cherry, plum, vanilla, and black pepper." That sounds like a completely different wine from their description of the 2007. Sure makes me wish I had one of each so I could compare them!

Oops. I just remembered I forgot to let this wine breathe before I tried it. Impatience strikes again. Maybe that is why I am missing out on the raspberries and strawberries. But, you know, missing out with a glass of wine in hand is not really missing out.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quady Electra Orange Muscat (didn't get the year) California

I was thrilled to try a new wine at Wine Club Book Club tonight. This was another light and fresh Muscat and it was quite good. To me, it tasted a bit more sweet than both of the Purple Cow Muscats I've tried, but I still enjoyed it. It's a low-alcohol wine (just barely beyond grape juice) but it paired nicely with our book discussion.

Here's the winemaker's description:

"With the first sip you feel the wine--light as springtime, delicately sweet, refreshingly crisp, a bouquet of flowers with the taste of peach and melon. Electra is electricity for the mouth!"
I don't know about the electricity part, but I definitely agree that it's light, sweet and crisp.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kendall-Jackson Meritage 2006 California

I'm high class now. I got me a foil cutter. I love it! It's so much more convenient (and neat! and efficient!) than pulling the cork out through the foil and then peeling off the loose pieces. Now all I need is one of those drip-catcher ring thingies, because no matter how I pour it I can't help but end up with a dribble of wine down the bottle's neck, and then I can't help but lick that drip off the bottle, and this is a habit I need to break before I catch myself doing it in public. Because, foil cutter or not, licking the bottle is not high class.

Anyway. I've been wanting to try a Meritage (rhymes with heritage) ever since the last time my friend Amy came to visit and told me about it. (By the way, Amy, it's time for another visit. It's been too long!) The label calls this a "Bordeaux-style blend [66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot] from several cooler regions with elevated vineyards delivering distinct flavors [and a] sumptuous texture. Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, pomegranate and black cherry intertwine [ha, I almost typed "interwine" and wondered what the heck kind of word that was] giving you a multi-layered full mouthfeel." 

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. How in the world did they come up with that combination of flavors? Well, I love the smell of coffee, and dark chocolate could quite possibly be the best thing ever invented (even better than that sliced bread everyone keeps talking about). Throw in a few fruits and you've got yourself a party. 

As I was giving the bottle a bit of time to breathe, my ever-helpful husband came poking around and gave his own keen analysis of Meritage: *sniff sniff* "Your wine smells like puke." *sip sip* "Tastes like puke too." Sounds like he needs to stick with his Jack Daniel's. 

The wine is a beautiful, deep, dark purplish red, nearly opaque. I really can smell rich chocolatey goodness. Unfortunately, I didn't especially like my first sip. I mean, it definitely didn't taste like puke, but it surprised me with its somewhat bitter flavor. Remember how I said I like the smell of coffee? Well, curiously enough, I don't like the flavor of coffee. Maybe that is my problem with this wine. 

Perhaps I was more prepared for the wine's flavor during subsequent sips, because it grew on me a bit, though it never became an absolute favorite. It does have a nice, warm, spicy finish. I like spicy. My verdict: I probably won't buy this wine again, but I won't mind finishing off the bottle. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Muscat You've Been Waiting For

My husband hates his job and is threatening to quit (again), so pretty soon I may not be able to afford wine, or at least I will have to drink it all from a box. May as well enjoy these bottles while I can. But what better wine to enjoy than my wonderful new discovery of Purple Cow Muscat! Here's that 2008 vs. 2009 tasting flight I promised you.

This Muscat is made from the Muscat Ottanel grape, while the Moscato d'Asti I'd previously tried (which I didn't really care for) is from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. I'm not sure how much of the difference comes from the grapes themselves and how much is from the winemaking process, but I found a huge variation between these Muscats and that Moscato d'Asti. I loved these Purple Cow wines! Both of them!

I first opened the 2009, which is called "off-dry." The Purple Cow website says it has 1% residual sugar with a coconut, peach, and honeysuckle nose, and that it's dry enough to enjoy with food.

Next was the "supremely dry" 2008. The website says this "was a very cool year with a long, dry autumn. Its effect on the Muscat vintage was near perfection. The varietal character came out strong and naturally created a nice sugar/acid balance. The only downside to this vintage was that the yield was very poor, so there isn't much to go around . . . classic Muscat aromas of peach, honeysuckle, magnolia, and coconut are framed in a very subtle package that is excellent for many food pairings." It's also described as a very intense vintage with a high skin/seed to weight ratio.

The 2008 does have a stronger aroma than the 2009, in which I can certainly smell more sweetness, but they both smell great. I could probably convince myself that I'm smelling peach, honeysuckle and coconut, but then if the bottle had claimed it smelled like strawberries, lemons, and rocks, I probably would have believed that too. The 2008 has no sweetness to it at all and has a nice tart aftertaste, but it is still light and fresh, just like my sister said. The 2009 seems calmer and more relaxed. (Or maybe that's just me). I can definitely taste more sugar in the 2009. It's almost like the 2008 is wine with the essence of grapefruit juice, and the 2009 is the same with an added dusting of sugar on top.

Along the way, I learned something new. Allow me to pass it along to you! What I have done tonight is called a "vertical tasting," meaning I have compared the same wine through different vintages. This is as oppposed to--you guessed it--a "horizontal tasting," which is not at all what it sounded like to me. That would be comparing a group of wines from the same vintage or of the same style (such as all Pinot Noirs, or that Malbec vs. Malbec tasting I last did), and has nothing to do with bed. Both differ from my usual willy-nilly tasting, which I suppose would be considered "diagonal," or perhaps even "skew."

I believe in this vertical tasting we have what one might term a draw. There is a slight though distinct difference between these two wines, but I wouldn't kick either one out of bed. And it's great to have finally found a white wine that I love. Keep that in mind if you see me on the side of the interstate holding a hand-lettered cardboard sign that reads, "Will work for wine."

Friday, July 30, 2010

The package has arrived!

My smiling Mr. FedEx just paid me a visit and left me a box I've been eagerly awaiting all week long. It's merely inauspicious brown cardboard, but it's just the right size and shape to hold two bottles of wine. It's my shipment of Muscat from the Purple Cow Vineyards in Forest Grove, Oregon!

It all started when my sister told me about a Spanish Muscat she tried that was very similar to those she has enjoyed in Alsace. I was surprised by this, because I know she's even less interested in sweet wine than I am, and I thought it must be similar to the Moscato d'Asti that I didn't especially care for. When I asked her about this, here's how she described the kind of Muscat that she likes: "The ones I have had have been very dry. It has a very fruity flavor, with a distinct note of citrus. So the wine has a very light, fresh taste."

Though I tend to like reds much better than whites, this description sounded great to me. So when I researched Muscat online and found that those of the Purple Cow Vineyards are favorably compared to what is made in Alsace, I was pretty excited to try it. I was even more excited to hear that the 2008 vintage is considered "dry"--in fact, the Purple Cow website called it a "cult classic for its supreme dryness"--and the 2009 is "off dry"--it was chilled with 1% residual sugar--which sounded like a perfect combination for one of my fun little taste tests. If there is anything I enjoy more than tasting a new wine, it is comparing two or three so I can try to decide which one I like best.

My only complaint about this whole procedure is that, in ordering these bottles from the Purple Cow website, I basically ended up buying two bottles for the price of . . . three. But I am in hopes that it will have been worth it. I've got the bottles chilling right now. I'm not sure I'll be up long enough for a taste test tonight, since I have to get up at the butt crack of dawn for work in the morning, but I promise one is forthcoming as soon as is humanly possible.

Oh, yeah, and speaking of "as soon as possible"--I do realize it has been more than two months since my last post. Rest assured that this is not because I haven't been enjoying a glass of wine on occasion. If you were pitying my lack of posting, understand that this did not mean a lack of quaffing. There was just nothing to write home about . . . until now.

Are you wondering at the picture? No, that's not what my FedEx guy looks like (thank goodness). That's not even what I look like right now, even though I am pretty happy. It's because for some reason, no matter how I rearranged my Google search terms for a Purple Cow Muscat image, Austin Powers kept popping up. I took it as a sign.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Malbec vs. Malbec

Tonight, for the first time, it's a fair fight. (I think.) Not only am I comparing one Malbec to another, but they are both freshly opened.

First we have Don Rodolfo's 2007 Malbec, which happens to have an annoyingly hard-to-read sideways label, but I have gone through the great effort of reading it for you to find that this wine is described as "big, rich, and deeply flavored, with notes of red berries, cassis, and plums." Sounds great, but of course I know that's the whole point of putting a description on the label--to make the wine sound good. I had to look up "cassis"--it's a synonym for "black currants," which I have heard of before. I hope you are relieved.

Next we have High Note 2008 Malbec, with a "deep violet hue, smooth velvety texture and vibrant fruit aromas." A slightly more generic description, but still sounds like something I might like.

So here is what I think of the two wines. The Rodolfo is a very deep brownish red, and the High Note looks almost identical except it is slightly more purple. I really can smell red berries, maybe strawberries, in the Rodolfo, and it makes me want to eat cheese with it which isn't such a good thing at this time of night. The High Note smells more bright and green. The Rodolfo is smooth and dry and spicy, and has a slight coffee-like aftertaste; the High Note really does feel velvety (just how suggestible am I?), and is even more dry, but is a little bit bland.

I think I prefer the Rodolfo, but I may need to do a blind test next time because I have a feeling I was swayed by the yummier label description. I also wonder how much difference the vintage makes between these two wines. Would the High Note be more complex and more enjoyable next year? Too bad I'll never know.

Here's something interesting about Malbec: Argentina (where both of these wines originated) is very well-suited to growing the Malbec grape, due to its high altitude, intense sunlight, cool temperatures and dry atmosphere.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

St. James Winery Strawberry Wine from Missouri

Finally a new post. It's been a while, hasn't it! Well, here's my excuse. After cutting back to just a couple of glasses of wine each week to avoid the fatness, it took me a while to finish off several open bottles I had on hand. I downed the rest of the final bottle last night in conjunction with a re-stocking trip to the Party Factory. In keeping with my new resolution to compare apples to apples, I bought two different bottles of Malbec, which you will be hearing about in a future post. (I would have purchased three or four, but the store only had 4 kinds of Malbec available, and I've already tried two of them. Obviously I bought the other two).

Now for Something Different. Just out of curiosity, I bought me a bottle of Strawberry Wine. It's in a screwcap bottle and there's no year on it, if that tells you anything. If not, the photo ought to say it all. It looks just like a bottle of strawberry soda pop. It's a pretty, clear, pinkish red color, and doesn't have much of a smell to it at all. I'm not getting the "hint of almonds and the essence of violets." Not surprisingly (especially since right there on the bottle it's called "sweet wine") it is very, very sweet. The only thing that keeps it from being a wine cooler is the lack of bubbles. That doesn't mean I don't like it, though. It's just that, for me, it really doesn't belong in the "wine" category. It fits with Cherry Limeade Frosties and Fufu Berry Jones Soda (both of which I really enjoy, but neither of which I turn to when in search of wine).

Bottom line: fun stuff, but even with 11.5% alcohol it doesn't deserve to be called wine.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's time . . .

I worked all weekend and my house looks like an elephant took a dump in it. In other words, it's Sunday night. This calls for another of my own personal private wine tastings. Maybe then I can focus on the fact that my kids are in bed and there's all kinds of peace and quiet to be appreciating until 7 a.m.

Tonight it's the Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Rex-Goliath Pinot Noir, Layer Cake Primitivo, and a boxed Cab. (It's Franzia, in case you wanted to know, but does it really matter?) Since you probably don't feel like going back and reading those posts (heck, I don't even want to), I'll give you the short version of what I thought of each previously.

The Jacob's Creek was smoky, spicy and nice. The Alexander Valley was a little dry, and mild but complex. (I'm expecting this one to be the winner tonight, by the way.) The Rex-Goliath was fruity but unremarkable (and my favorite in the last tasting flight). The Layer Cake was acidic, green, and smoky--good but not great. The boxed Cab was green and tart.

Ok, so first I'm giving them each the sniff test. They each have a distinct smell. The Jacob's Creek, well, it just smells like wine to me. The Alexander Valley still has that flowery smell. The Rex Goliath smells beer-y (though back when I opened it, it smelled fruity. Maybe it's gone bad . . . after all, it's been more than two months since I opened it). The Layer Cake smells sweet. The boxed Cab smells kind of bad. Like cheese. Or feet. I wonder if I would have had a more favorable opinion if this had been a blind test.

I think I actually like the Jacob's Creek Shiraz the best, although the Alexander Valley (definitely the unique one of the bunch) is nearly as good; it's just different, and I find the Shiraz more pleasant. I'm afraid the Rex-Goliath just isn't right anymore. It is definitely my least favorite of the five, but it would be nice to be able to compare a freshly-opened bottle of it to the others. The Layer Cake is a little bit too sweet, and I'm sure it has changed since I first opened it a month ago, because my previous call (acidic, green, smoky) does not match up at all anymore. The boxed Cab was the most boring one, but it is a decent backup, and it actually tasted the best with the crackers and cheese I tried with each wine.

I know what I need to start doing: I should do my taste tests on freshly-opened bottles. Guess that means I need to get me some more unopened bottles.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Healdsburg, California

I suppose I have been saving this bottle for a semi-special occasion, and what better occasion than Friday night, herald of the weekend? My reason for waiting to try this wine is because my expectations are so high and I have been postponing the inevitable disappointment. The wine guy at the Party Factory assured me that any Alexander Valley wine has excellent flavor, no matter the varietal. (Apparently they have more than one wine guy; I don't think I've seen the same one twice, but I wish I could find the one who sold me the Mark West Pinot Noir, because so far he's the only one who has convinced me he knows what he's talking about) Funny that this is the second bottle in a row I've had that could have been cellared; the label claims it will "continue to develop in the bottle for a decade or more." Suffice it to say that won't be happening with this bottle.

The label isn't very descriptive. It's one of those that is more about the history of the vintner. That's OK, though, (if not as fun), because most times it seems like the creative label descriptions I often come across are just completely made up. It's like they just throw together an interesting combination of fruits, spices, and other odoriferous compounds to see if you'll fall for it and buy the bottle. Anyway, the most this label says about the wine is that it is "rich in color with concentrated fruit and moderate tannins." It also mentions that the blend was achieved with small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. (And yeah, I know I'm a wine dummy, but I thought Cabernet Sauvignon was a varietal all to itself. I would have thought if it was mixed with other kinds, they would have called it something else. But what do I know. I'm good at drinking it, and that's about it.)

I boogered up the cork when I was opening this bottle. It's not like I haven't done this a time or two. But rather than complain, I will just appreciate the fact that it didn't have a screw-cap.

The label was certainly correct about the rich color. It's very opaque, and a deep reddish purple. The wine smells excellent--an almost flowery smell; also maybe a little bit nutty . . . not almond . . . not cashew . . . not peanut . . . I don't know, maybe it's not a nut at all. Maybe it's a sunflower seed. Seriously, I'm thinking sunflower seeds and roses. It makes me think of my garden. Even though I don't grow roses. I would like to, but they intimidate me.

The wine is somewhat dry, and has a mild but distinct flavor. There is a faint pineapple-like tartness and a comforting sense of white rice, but the main flavor is a warm and cozy caramel. It took me a long time to figure that out. A long, enjoyable time. I think this might be what they call a complex wine.

Gosh, they should hire me to make stuff up for their label. Roses, sunflower seeds, pineapple, rice, and caramel. Who wouldn't buy that?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz 2006 South Australia

It's been a while since I've opened a new bottle of wine, even though I've had two waiting on me for weeks. This is mainly because one of the other things I learned from Mark Phillips' book is that drinking wine makes you fat. So while I still don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with drinking one glass of wine each evening, I have cut back to one glass once or twice a week.

Well, it's Friday night, the kids are in bed, one of my stupid dogs ate one of my stupider chickens this afternoon, and I have a whole mess of laundry to fold, so I'd say the situation calls not only for a glass of wine, but for something new instead of my old standby out of the box. I'm going with the Shiraz I picked up two trips-to-the-Party-Factory ago, which was the first time I was looking for a bottle of Layer Cake and chickened out because it was too expensive. (Don't laugh. Remember, I'm cheap. I mean thrifty.)

The description on the back of the bottle, as always, sounds great: "This premium, full-bodied wine . . . displays intense ripe plum flavors with pepper spice, balanced by soft tannins and leading to a lingering smooth finish." Of course it also adds that this is "a wine that will develop further with cellaring," but I just don't do cellaring since I lack the resources and the patience.

So. The wine is nice. I liked it a lot. Didn't really notice any plumminess. (Is that a word? Even if it's not, I'm sure you get the idea.) A little smoky (or is this from the Chick-fil-a sandwich my son set on fire in the microwave earlier this evening?), nicely spicy, but in need of a comparison for me to decide if I like it more or less than other wines I've tried. After I open the last bottle I have waiting on me I'll have to do another tasting flight. Wait, did I say "have to"? I meant "get to"!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Layer Cake Primitivo a.k.a. Zinfandel 2007 IGT Puglia, Italy

I got the Layer Cake. I bit the bullet and sprung for the $17+ bottle of wine. This may be my most expensive one yet!

I was headed for the Layer Cake Shiraz, but the Party Factory was out of that, so I ended up with the Primitivo instead. That's just fine with me, because I like to try new things. And apparently Primitivo is not just one new thing for me, but two: the Primitivo variety of grape is genetically equivalent to the Zinfandel variety, and although I've certainly had white Zin before, this is my first red.

I love the way Layer Cake's web site describes this wine (except for maybe that bit about tar):
"A balance of elegance and power; inky black fruit, spice and white pepper, jammy black cherries, plums, blackberry fruit, truffles, tar, and espresso. Warm and rich in the mouth with a creamy texture; the ripe fruit is well supported by the deep structure of the wine."
Even better is the description on the bottle label:
"Wine, if properly made, is like a great layer cake: fruit, mocha and chocolate, hints of spice and rich, always rich. 'Never pass up a layer cake.'"

Words to live by!

But mostly what I got from it was an acidic and green but smoky flavor. Good stuff! But I'm not sure it's worth twice as much as some other decent wines I've tried.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bridgeview Blue Moon Riesling 2007 Oregon

Why do I keep buying white wines? Granted, I don't buy them near as often as I buy reds, but I haven't quit yet, even though I never like them. I guess I just keep hoping I'll come across one that I enjoy. Or, should I say, one that I enjoy as much as I enjoy a red.

Part of my problem on my most recent trip to the Party Factory was that I had about 5 minutes in which to make my selections. I didn't want to be late to work on account of spending too long in buying wine. I was actually looking for a bottle of "Layer Cake," which I'd seen on a menu at a restaurant. It sounded so good to me, being a huge fan of chocolate cake (so much so that I am on an unofficial mission to try the chocolate cake at every restaurant in town to try to figure out whose is the best, which is the sort of mission where the journey is more important than the destination). I don't even remember what type of wine it was, except that it was a red. Well, after spending too many of my five precious minutes looking for Layer Cake wine, I found a bottle of their Shiraz, but I lost my nerve when I saw that it cost $17+. I'm more of a $12 to $15 bottle kind of girl. Not that the few extra dollars would break me; instead, this is based on the psychology of a cheapskate. If I know I can find something I like for cheaper than $17, it's hard to spend a little extra on something untried. So I bought a cheaper Shiraz that was right next to the Layer Cake (you'll be hearing about that one soon enough). I like to buy at least two bottles to make the drive to Arkansas worth my while, and the pretty blue bottle of this Riesling caught my eye.

I first tried this wine on Saturday night, and really didn't care for it, but I couldn't blog about it then because the Internet was broken. (At least at our house, not sure about the rest of the world). I must also mention that, as completely inappropriate as I'm sure this is, for half the day on Sunday I had a case of the stinkiest farts I can ever remember. I won't know until tomorrow if this was because of the wine or if it was some other unknown, never-to-be-discovered factor. I hope for the sake of the friends I'll be meeting with in the morning that it was the latter.

I am actually appreciating the wine more tonight on its second trial. Who knows if it is just because it is sufficiently chilled tonight (perhaps it didn't chill long enough before I tried it on Saturday), or if a few days in contact with oxygen has actually been good for this wine, or if it is related to what I have or haven't eaten tonight compared to the other night. Whatever the reason, without having to use my imagination too much I can taste the apple and honey-spice notes that the bottle label mentions, and it's not too bad. It isn't overly sweet, which is nice. But when I imagine a good robust red in comparison, I know this is just not my kind of wine. Suffice it to say that a pretty bottle is not a good way to choose a wine. As much as I like the idea of broadening my horizons, I really need to stick with the reds. At least until summer when I would appreciate the extra chill in my drink.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tonight I have a buddy!

My husband is off work tonight, so I decided to share my wine with him while I do my new tasting. We have the previous Alamos Malbec, Rex Goliath Pinot Noir, and boxed Merlot along with a boxed Cabernet Sauvignon which I have not yet tried.

First I must mention that I recently read a book which I really enjoyed: "Swallow This" by Mark Phillips. One of the things I learned from it is that I may not be getting these bottled wines at their best for these tasting flights. Apparently wine can become "off" in just a few days after uncorking. Well, to be honest, I've never noticed this. Sure, after a few weeks or certainly months an opened bottle of wine will go bad. But just a few days? I'm not too worried about it.

So let's start with the Cab, since it's new to me. It smells a little bit green and has a somewhat tart taste (which I guess I'm supposed to call acidic). Hud thinks it tastes watered down and bland, but I'm not getting that at all. It's not bad. I'd buy it again.

The Merlot kind of smells like vanilla, but not like a cupcake or anything. It's a little more sour than the Cab. Hud says it tastes more dry and tart. I'm not really noticing that it is any more dry than the others. It has a slightly different flavor from the Cab, but I think they're about equal.

OK, maybe the Malbec has turned by now. There was a lot of sediment in the bottom of the bottle and it tastes a little odd. Maybe it's unfair to compare it to the others, because I'm afraid it's been exposed to air for too long and it's not at its best. Hud says it tastes less tart, but at this point I'm not sure how valuable his opinion is. It does taste a little weird, though.

The Pinot Noir is kind of bland. I can smell grapes (imagine that!) and it tastes like beer. Hud thinks it would be better with a little Jack Daniels in it. Of course, Hud thinks just about everything would be better with a little Jack Daniels in it. I didn't try that.

Hud's final prouncement was, "I don't know. They all taste like crap." I don't know what's wrong with him, because I say they're all pretty good. My least favorite is the Rex Goliath, but even that is decent. I think next time I'll just keep my wine to myself. No sense in wasting it on someone who doesn't appreciate it!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Pinot Noir

I fell for a kitschy label, but happily it's a pretty decent wine anyway. It's a beautiful ruby red, and has a nice fruity but not sugary smell. The taste is a little unremarkable, but nice.

This was the first time I noticed how easy it is to reuse the fake corks. They're not only good for helping to conserve cork oaks!

My only question is, what does it say about a wine if it's not even labeled with a year?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Alamos Malbec 2008 Mendoza, Argentina

I found another good one! It's a deep, dark, purplish red, and it smelt of elderberries. (Not really. I have no idea what elderberries smell like, actually. I just had a small Monty Python moment). I'm having a little bit of trouble smelling this wine, as I was given a very nice-smelling hand soap for Christmas by my good friend Margaret, and that's sort of all I can smell. I tried holding the goblet at the base and nearly poured the wine up my nose. So for tonight I'm just going to have to go with a combination of "it smells good" and "it smells like wine." Which is the same thing, really.

I seem to have lost all my descriptors tonight, because all I can think to add is "it tastes great too." It's a little acidic, but not in a bad way, and has a great flavor. Nice legs, too.