Happy Thanksgiving!

My little turkey says “Gobble gobble!”

From the Wannabe Wino Family to yours, wishing you a Thanksgiving full of family , friends, good food and wine!


Sparkle this Season

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for the brand.

Thursday of last week was the annual arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau from France. That is really not my thing, so I celebrated by drinking French wine, but not Beaujolais Nouveau.  The holidays tend to make people think of sparkling wine to toast at all the parties and belt-widening dinners and cookies. I’ve made a big effort the last few years to drink sparkling wine throughout the year, but must admit I still drink more of between now and January 1 than I do the rest of the year! We started out this season with the Jaillance Cremant de Bordeaux Cuvee de l’Abbaye.  The Jaillance has a traditional Champagne closure, clocks in at 12% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $19.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) It’s never a bad thing when my first note for a wine is “yum.”

2.) The bready-yeasty notes just jumped out of the glass.

3.) If you greeted me at the door with a glass of this at your party I’d think you are awesome.

4.) I’m adding this to my list of sub-$20 house sparklers.

On the nose I got lemon, pear, yeast, sourdough, bread, and apple notes. In the mouth the yeast carried through with lemon, green apple, and pear. The wine had great acidity and bubbles. I was definitely happy with my selection to celebrate French wine!


A Little Port, Please

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for the brand.

On a cold, blustery night, with a fire roaring in the wood stove, what could be better to cap off the evening than a glass of port?  Not much.  With daylight savings in full effect, the nights are long and dark, the only cure for which is a huge fire and a warm blanket.  Some red wine and a hearty stew helps as well.  On one such night we pulled out the NV Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port.  The Terra d’Oro is a 375 mL bottle with a plug cork closure, clocking in at 19% alcohol by volume and retailing for around $18.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Chocolate covered figs, currants, and blackberries in a glass make it a fabulous complement to homemade vanilla ice cream.

2.) Pour it directly on your ice cream or drink it on the side.

3.) It’s a fun dessert wine for the price point and would make a great companion to those rousing after-holiday dinner Pictionary tournaments.

4.) Everyone will have room for at least a small taste of this wine even after the turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, green beans, sweet potatoes, pie…..

On the nose I got chocolate, spice, pepper, blackberry, fig, plum, sage, and chocolate syrup.  In the mouth I found blackberry pie, creamy vanilla, chocolate, chocolate syrup, fig, and currants.  Not too sweet, not too dry, this would be great as dessert or to complement the dessert course.

Drink with Me and Rodney Strong!

Last week I participated in a Twitter Taste Live Event with Rodney Strong featuring holiday wines.

On Dec. 6 we are repeating the experience and hoping that some of our readers will join us live and taste along!

For all the details, go here and I hope to see you on the 6th!


Climbing High

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for the winery.

Clif Family Winery is brought to you by the same folks who make Clif bars.  Now, I must admit that I can be a bit skeptical of branching out from one product line to something completely different, but the Clif Family has managed to pull it off in spades. In addition to the 2010 Clif Family The Climber Red which I’ll tell you about here, this week I also tasted the 2007 Clif Family Kit’s Killer Cabernet Sauvignon, which was, indeed, killer.  The 2010 The Climber Red is a blend of 50% Zinfandel, 36% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Sirah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Merlot.  It has a screw cap, clocks in at 13.9% alcohol by volume and retails for $14.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) The nose on this wine rocks. Way more than expected for a $14 wine.

2.) Think turkey day on a budget for this wine.

3.) I’m totally impressed with the quality I’ve seen so far from Clif Family.

4.) Overall this wine way overdelivers for the price point.

On the nose I found the wine to be spicy with mint, red fruits, pepper, coffee, chocolate, black cherry, and earth. One of those noses that I just wanted to keep sniffing, but if I did I’d miss out on my share of the wine!  In the mouth I got tart red fruit, cherries, cedar, earth, blueberries, spice, and pepper.  The wine had good tannins and acidity.



Happy Half Decade Wannabe Wino!

Five years ago today (or perhaps it was a few days before that since it took me a couple days to get this whole blogging thing set up and then maybe a few more to decide I actually wanted to push “publish” on the blog) I said to Mr. Wannabe Wino: “Hey, I think I’m going to start a wine blog.” At the time I think he probably said something to the effect of “Mmm hmm, sounds good.” He probably thought it was just another hobby I’d take up and abandon shortly thereafter, like jigsaw puzzles or calligraphy. Lo and behold, here I am, 5 years later, and not only going strong, but with Mr. Wannabe Wino actually joining in the fun!

This past year has been necessarily slower on the blog as I adjusted to having a baby, then going back and being a working mom. Finding a balance there, and the time to not only taste the wine, but write about it here on the blog, without taking time away from my family has been a challenge. I hope to work more on that in the coming year. Even so, I managed to attend the 4th annual Wine Blogger Conference held here in my home state after taking the previous year off since I was all pregnant and such. I have plans to attend the upcoming 2010 Conference in 2012 with Mr. Wannabe Wino in tow!

Thanks to all of you who have been with me from the beginning, to those who have joined along the way, and those who have just found me. 1372 posts later, I appreciate each and every one of you. Cheers!


Sitting in the Corner

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Cellars

We actually got some snow the other day/night in VA. In October.  That is pretty much unheard of for this area of the country.  The snow turned my thoughts to the big red wines that have been patiently waiting in my cellar all summer for me to drink them. I decided it was the perfect time to crack open the 2007 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine clocks in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and retails for $60.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) It’s still a baby. But some time the decanter cures that easily.

2.) If you’re thinking about serving something along the lines of beef tenderloin for any of your holiday meals, this is the wine for you.

3.) Cornerstone Cabs have been among my favorites since I first tasted them…many moons ago now!

4.) If big, black fruit and hints of pepper are what you look for in a Cab, you will love this wine.

On the nose I got berries, chocolate, earth, pepper, herbs, and black cherry. In the mouth I found more black cherry, blackberry, chocolate, blueberry, and anise.  The wine was quite tight at first, with tannins to spare. I ran it through my Soiree which definitely helped open it up, but I think a few hours in the decanter before serving would really do the trick for this wine. I served it with NY Strip steaks on the grill, and as always, this Cab is plenty big and firm to marry nicely with the steak.


Greek Crisis Wine Paring: Retsina!

*Editor’s comments: Mr. Wannabe Wino, aka my husband Matt, is going to be joining Wannabe Wino as a contributor. Since he deals with politics and current events on a daily basis, he will be offering his (often tongue-in-cheek) thoughts on wines to pair with the events of the day.

Not sure what sort of wine to serve alongside a heaping serving of Greek financial doom and default?  Why not a wine sometimes described as having a bouquet of turpentine: Retsina!

Making up a significant percentage of modern white wine production in Greece, retsina been produced in Greece for thousands of years.  Retsina’s unique characteristics are believed to have originated in the ancient world as a side effect of sealing amphorae with Aleppo Pine resin to limit wine oxidization.  Although such storage methods are unnecessary today (and actually haven’t been necessary since the Romans began widely using barrels in the 3rd and 4th centuries), the velvety pine flavoring has remained popular with many Greeks down to the current day.  Today, without the need to store wine in clay jars, the scrumptious sap flavoring is created by adding small pieces of Aleppo Pine resin during fermentation.
This Greek specialty hasn’t always gone over well with northern Europeans.  Most infamously, during the crusades undiluted retsina was blamed for causing the deaths of two European monarchs, King Eric I of Denmark and Sigurd I of Norway.  (Makes you wonder if the Greeks should send a few amphorae of retsina to Brussels…)  So if you’re looking for something especially pungent to pare with a protracted crisis, consider giving retsina a try!

Another Pinot. But Not Chilean.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Back to one of my favorite areas to get Pinot Noir from, the Russian River Valley. The Russian River Valley is where I fell for Pinot Noir, hard. Now, I love it in many of its incarnations, however, time and again I come back to the Russian River to seek out the Pinot Noirs. Tonight we tried the 2009 Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Pinot Noir which clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for about $20. Sorry for the lack of pictures lately, I lost a lot of photos when I killed my computer by dumping wine on it…

1.) Think Thanksgiving. This is a crowd-pleaser of a wine.

2.) Rodney Strong consistently impresses with the value for the price point.

3.) I loved the nose on the Pinot Noir.

4.) I would think this wine would retail for quite a bit more than it does.

On the nose I got smoke, campfire, caramel, earth, herbs, strawberry, and raspberry.  In the mouth I found tart fruit, raspberry, cherry, strawberry, flowers, earth, and a bit of the smoke from the nose. The wine had great structure and acidity and displayed the red fruit and earthiness I’ve come to love from the Russian River Valley.



More Chilean Pinot Noir

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Wines of Chile.

Told you I found some lost tasting notes! I think this 2009 Ritual Veramonte Pinot Noir was the second wine for the Chilean Tasting. Veramonte is a winery that I have recommended many times in the past, particularly for their Sauvignon Blanc. This time I’ll give out a hearty recommendation to the Ritual Pinot Noir. The Ritual had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $18.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) At $18 this is a wallet friendly option for Thanksgiving. Or Tuesday.

2.) The nose and the palate both had a lot going on. I love that at this price point.

3.) Veramonte wines continue to deliver bang for the buck for me.

4.) This wine could help sway me to the “fan of Chilean Pinot Noir” camp.

On the nose I found cigarette smoke, barnyard, earth, leather, a meaty note, herbs, and berry. In the mouth I got dark berries, earth, leather, mint, Vicks Vapor Rub, and more dark fruit.  This is not a light and delicate Pinot Noir. It is a bigger and darker version, so keep that in mind if you are going to go for it.