Category Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

No One Expects The Dark Horse


Notice the wine glass hidden in on the label and cork?

wineglass_fullHe wants you to underestimate him. Mysterious, confident, stealthy and sleek, the dark horse is a force to be reckoned with. Skilled at flying under the radar, he waits for the perfect opportunity; to break from the pack, take the lead and silence the naysayers.  His fans find him elusive; disappearing as quickly as he arrived. He doesn’t crave pithy accolades, a ring of roses or a sash. The win was his all along. Quietly, the dark horse stands alone, waiting for the next occasion, the next assuming opponent, to let him run…

Will you be the next to liberate the Dark Horse? Go ahead and pull the cork. Let it flow freely into your glass and across your palate with reckless abandon. We dare you. Pretentious wine drinkers beware, for no mercy will be given. If the juicy essence of ripe blackberries doesn’t get you right out of the bottle, the warm flavor of vanilla, black cherry, chocolate and smoky spice will. Unbridled by expectation, Dark Horse lunges gracefully to a mild, but winning finish!


Blackberry plucked from our garden

A portion of the wine was fermented on oak staves or planks, this process helps impart the flavor of the oak, especially notes of vanilla and smoke in a matter of weeks versus years. Following fermentation, it was ultra-filtered to refine the tannins and a portion aged underground in oak casks.

Dark Horse isn’t a complicated cab. Life’s already complicated, why must our wine be too? Pleasure is simple, and this vino is quite gratifying; especially at less than ten dollars a bottle. What it lacks in complexity, The Original Dark Horse 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon makes up for as an easy-going, moderately-priced, drinkable wine.  We’ve found it at both our local Fred Meyer and Walgreens store for $7.99, but have heard it’s available at Trader Joe’s for slightly less.

The next time your hosting gathering, attending a dinner party or simply wanting to soften the day with a nice Cabernet, you’ll find a winner in Dark Horse. Cheers!

Aromatique: Juicy blackberries and black cherries with hints of vanilla, chocolate and smoky-spice.

Sip quips: Full berry flavor, mild spice. Refreshingly tart, with moderate finish.

Kitchen couplings: Do not pair with McDonald’s chicken nuggets (trust us, it wasn’t pretty). That whole “pairing” thing is serious business. Would be better suited, with beef, pork or lamb; a meaty salad or hearty stew.


His pace is patient, his gallop is rote,

His hoofwork is sure, yet no one takes note.

He follows the inside track of the course,

Persisting in silence, running with grace,

Unknown by the masses minding the race,

For no one expects the distant dark horse. – Shane Hubbard

Charles Shaw-shank Redemption

It's getting hot in here!Cheap wine sometimes gets a bad rap. Sure, it’s nothing like serving two life sentences for killing your wife and her lover, but at the very least, it deserves a fair trial.  Trials don’t come cheap; just ask any attorney, but with a public defender like Trader Joe’s in your corner, you can bet it will cost you less than five bucks — which is admittedly much less than one would pay for a two-minute phone call with counsel.

Charles Shaw wine, warmly known by its legions of fans as “Two Buck Chuck,” is a cheap wine. From 2002 to 2013 the cost was just $1.99 per bottle in most states. After 11 years, the price swelled to a staggering $2.99 due to the winery’s cost increases. It seems like it might be due for a new nickname as well. I was thinking something along the lines of “Three Bill Thrill or Three Bone Bender.” Remind me to write some big marketing exec about that. Charles Shaw Cab

I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me Dionysus! Listen; there are a few naysayers out there who will testify you cannot make a decent Cabernet Sauvignon for less than eight or 10 bucks, and to those people I must say, “I object!” Wine snobs we are not. Sommeliers, well … we aren’t that either. However, we are lovers of good ol’ cheap wine. I cross-examined the case of the Charles Shaw 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (not the entire case, just a bottle or two) and my findings are this: it’s good. Actually, it’s better than good for the price!

For those who love a rich and hearty cab, I will say you might be a little disappointed. It doesn’t have a long finish, and it is much thinner than what you are accustomed to. But overall it’s a decent wine. Right out of the bottle it is a little heavy on the alcohol, but in its defense, if you aerate — or at the very least let it linger in the glass a little while — it will mellow with notes of cherry, blueberry and raspberry. Think Smuckers infused with booze, a little black pepper, citrus, mild acidity and a smooth finish. It’s mildly tart, not overly sweet but the fruit is there. And for around three dollars, you won’t get shanked at the cash register. So raise your glass, raise your right hand and lower your standards when it comes to giving cheap wine a swirl. You might end up finding a little extra cash in your wallet and a nice addition to your wine rack. Case closed!

Aromatique: Very fruity. Cherry, blueberry, raspberry and citrus

Sip Quips: Mild acidity, slightly peppered with smooth but moderate finish

Kitchen Couplings: Lighter fare; summer pasta, veggie pizza, mild cheeses, beef kebabs/satay

19 Crimes: Going Rogue Down Under

It's getting hot in here!Making bad wine isn’t a crime, but it probably should be. How many times have you dropped some hard-earned cash for a bottle advertised as a fine vintage that turned out to be useful for nothing more than marinating tough meat? It’s like stealing, damnit!

Turns out that stealing used to get you a one-way ticket from England to Australia, back when the latter was considered one step above Purgatory rather than a vacation destination.

19Crimes_0725Petty theft was just one of the 19 crimes for which bad guys and gals could get sent to the British Empire’s furthest corner in the late 18th Century. Stealing fish and bigamy were also “transportable” crimes. America had recently earned its independence, so the colonies were no longer a dumping ground for British baddies, leaving the Land Down Under as the preferred destination.

The handsome, but scowling, young lad on the bottle is Mr. John Boyle O’Reilly, an Irish-born poet and novelist who was shipped to Australia after being given a reprieve from the death penalty. His troubles began when he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and eventually was convicted of supporting an armed uprising against the British government. Apparently being a Republican in those days was a severe crime. Hmmm.

It’s not clear from the winery’s website exactly how the scion of the Bailey’s of Glenrowan winery, Mr. Richard Bailey, ended up down under. But we can be glad that he did. And we can be glad that his descendants have a sense of history — and a knack for making good wine.

The 19 Crimes 2012 Red Blend is an excellent table wine with balanced berry and spice notes. It’s strong enough to stand up to a hearty meal, but smooth enough to be enjoyed while impersonating an Egyptian (another of the 19 crimes punishable by “transportation”). This medium-bodied blend of Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon manages to retain its unique character despite its mutt origins — kinda like the place where it’s born.

The winery is located in Victoria, in southeastern Australia. It was established in 1870 when Mr. Bailey, a former shopkeeper, needed to find a new gig after the gold rush dried up and took much of his mercantile business with it.

Just as well. Nobody remembers the guy who sold salt pork and dungarees to ex-cons-turned-gold-miners. But plant some grapes, and you can grow a legacy that extends for generations.

That alone ought to make up for whatever crime ol’ Richard Bailey — or his forebears committed — to get a one-way ticket to Aussie Land. Was he the child of a clandestine marriage? Was his old man a riverboat captain who carried too many passengers on the Thames? Or was he just an incorrigible rogue? Any of the above was enough to get banished from Britain proper.

Whatever the case, it is well that he ended up in what has become one of the world’s finest wine regions, and that we can pick up one of his family’s wines for around $10 at the local Fred Meyer. 19 Crimes has a 2012 shiraz and shiraz grenache on shelves now. It would be a crime not to give them a try.

Aromatique: Spicy with berry and plum undertones.

Sip Quips: In the glass, the berry comes to the fore, with a hint of spice, and round finish.

Kitchen Couplings: Pork, seafood, lamb chops. Medium cheeses.

Hills, horses and heaven

It's getting hot in here!Few images evoke the romance of the West more strongly than a herd of wild horses roaming grassy hills, steam from their collective breath diffusing the sunrise into a golden mist. This symbol of fierce independence and perseverance descended from horses brought to North America by Spanish conquistadors 400 years ago.

Wine grapes established themselves much more recently but have just as assuredly become a fixture in the western landscape. Washington’s Columbia Crest vineyard unites both bits of regional history in the 2010 Horse Heaven Hills Les Chevaux red wine.

“Les Chevaux,” for those of you whose knowledge of French is limited to fries, toast and whatever you learned in the back seat of first car, means “the horses.” The “hills” refer to the dry-but-fertile ground in eastern Washington where Columbia Crest grows grapes of consistent quality and intensity. The terrain and ever-present winds challenge vintners here, but the result in this case is an interesting, affordable wine.

We picked up a bottle for $11.99 at Fred Meyer on a co-worker’s recommendation. That’s a little more than we usually spend, but there’s value in knowing that someone’s already taken the wine out for a spin and enjoyed it. To be honest, we were so busy enjoying the first bottle that we had to buy a second to review. (This happens more often than we’d like to admit.)

The dark cranberry color and fairly unremarkable nose don’t immediately reveal this wine’s complexity. It brings a combination of berry and earthy oak flavors, with a hint of smokiness. The winemaker also claims notes of licorice, chocolate and mocha. Hmmm. Chocolate, maybe, but this wine doesn’t seem to aspire to those darker regions of the palate. The finish is slightly acidic, with tannins that excite the tongue without lingering.

This vintage is 80% merlot, 13% cabernet sauvignon and 7% syrah. According to Columbia Crest’s website, the 2010 growing season was cooler than previous years, and fruit was generally less plentiful. A consistently warm autumn ripening season resulted in grapes that produced wines of fairly low alcohol content and balanced acidity.

This is no sweet summer sipper, nor is it a heavy red best paired with beef or hearty pasta meals. It’s a delightful middle-of-the road blend that doesn’t skimp on drinkability or flavor.

Overall, this wine pairs nicely with the creamy Finnish summer soup we were enjoying in the dead of winter. There aren’t many things that are better on a cold winter night (it’s down around 0° as this is being written) than a warm bowl of homemade soup — unless it’s a warm bowl of soup and a glass of wine. And a vision of a wild stallion roaming the rolling hills of the upper Columbia River Valley.

Aromatique: The thin, almost watery nose is deceiving. It hints at a much lighter wine.

Sip quips: Intense blueberry and dark cherry backed by a hint of earthiness, oak and distinct tannins.

Kitchen couplings: Mild fish or chicken dishes would do well, as did our version of this creamy Finnish summer soup. Apparently summer in Finland is a lot like winter in Idaho.

A Cellar Full of Noise

It's getting hot in here!How’s that for a catchy title? While we were both drawn to the name, I gravitated to the image on the label. It reminded me of Anne Taintor’s humor, which left me wondering what this vintage Archie and Edith Bunker might be singing. “Those Were The Days?” Or perhaps it was something more appropriate like, “The Days of Wine and Roses?” Which, by the way, I have played and sung (not well, mind you) with my late grandmother. I still have the sheet music in my piano bench. Perhaps I should tinkle those ivories and take it out for a spin … or not, out of respect for the innocent victims in my home and the neighbor’s dog.Those really were the days. *smile* Whatever the tune, the label is meant to remind wine drinkers of happiness and good times shared between friends over a great bottle of vino. Now, I’m quite certain there are a few of us out there who have downed a bottle or two during some not-so-happy times, in which case the noise in the cellar might be the screams of whomever did us wrong. Which reminds me, I need to pick up another roll of duct tape and some baling twine.

No matter the reason for consumption, the vintner of our latest wine find believes purchasing and drinking wine should be enjoyable, unpretentious and never intimidating. A Cellar Full of Noise winery is located in the Paso Robles appellation halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, near California’s Central Coast. The 40-acre Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard is in San Miguel, just 25 miles from the ocean. The vineyard is on a mostly flat piece of land with gentle rolling hills to the east which block most of the morning sunlight. More often that not, this vineyard and the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards surrounding it are covered by the coastal fog. It is because of these conditions, the region is said to be the premier location for growing this type of grape.

Like a few other vineyards we have researched, A Cellar Full of Noise grows its grapes in blocks or sections. This helps maximize individualized maintenance of the vines through pruning, irrigation and harvesting. Who knew grapes could be such attention whores? The vineyard keeps about 15 to 20% of its grapes to produce its own brand of lush wines and sells the rest to other vineyards, who want to keep fruit local, but don’t have the patience or the means to grow certain types of demanding varietals.

The winemakers, James B. Judd and Eric R. Alvaraz founded the winery in 2002. James Judd isn’t new to the wine biz. He also partnered with this father back in the mid-70s on their  their sister vineyard, James Judd and Son Vineyard, which is still going strong. James and Eric share their philosophy about wine at every opportunity. Eric Álvarez: “When I tell people I’m in the wine business, they almost invariably say, ‘I don’t know anything about wine.’ I always say to those people, ‘You already know everything you’ll ever need to know about wine. If you like it, it’s good. If you don’t like it, it’s not good. Your opinion is the only opinion that matters. Wine should be a fun experience,” insists Álvarez. “There is no right or wrong. Just keep tasting until you find what you like.” Indeed!

And hopefully our little blog continues to encourage readers to experience and explore various wines until you too find something you like that won’t break the budget. We found this clever bottle of 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon at our local Grocery Outlet for less than $7, and I have to say, it was worth it. If you like intense tart cherry with a hint of chocolate and a relatively mild peppery feel, this definitely is a wine you should check out! This particular vintage was harvested in 2005 and bottled in 2008 after spending 29 months aging in American, French and Hungarian oak barrels. The winemaker suggests the best time to partake of this bottle is between 2009 and 2015. Finally, I’m on time for something!

I want to add a little fun fact if I may with regard to the name. During my research, I found an autobiography titled, “A Cellarful of Noise” by Brian Epstein. Did you know he discovered and managed the Beatles until his death from a drug overdose in 1967? It seems Epstein was a child no school would consent to having, a would-be aspiring dress-maker, and a record store clerk with a bleak future prior to managing the most famous group in music history. How’s that for a long and winding road? If you are a Beatles fan and haven’t had the opportunity to read his personal account it sounds quite interesting! Cheers!

Aromatique: Intense Cherry, with a hint of chocolate and mint

SipQuips: Fairly tart on the tongue, gives way to a mild peppery but smooth finish. Not overpowering.

Kitchen Couplings: Would be great with savory meats; pork roast, juicy cuts of meat like prime rib, a hearty beef stew, or hamburgers smothered in blue cheese!

Wild horses and campfire smoke

This one earned a half glass.

14 Hands

After a long day of work, a two hour choir concert and the promise to pick up a vehicle afterward at the airport, nothing’s better than enjoying a meal you didn’t have to prepare, especially if it includes a much needed glass of wine! We were fortunate enough to find a restaurant for which we could both agree at a relatively late dining hour on a rather frazzling Thursday evening and were thrilled to find the wine list front and center on McGrath’s Fish House menu.  We spent little time making our individual selections, thus giving us a few extra moments to check out the food options.   Our waiter was most accommodating, delivering our wine in short order. (we must have looked as though we really needed it!)   Despite being a chain, there is something wonderful about white linen napkins, tidy wait staff, interesting décor and the ever popular mood lighting.   Honestly, even blackberry colored water would seem appealing if served in an oversized wine glass with that kind of atmosphere.   I selected the 2009 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon, while Brad chose a 2007 Cab by Geyser Peak.

Wine, yes. Spring rolls, no.

Poised with my pen and the little notebook I had pulled from my purse, we started our swirling and sniffing ritual.  For those that know us, this is just about as uppity as we get. But, it is a necessary task if one is to capture the entire wine experience even while wearing faded jeans and flip-flops.  While my Cab had a very fruity and mild peppery aroma, Brad’s exhibited the extremely distinct scent of charred or smoked wood with  a very earthy quality that neither of us could seem to get enough of.  It was warm and pleasant, reminiscent of sitting around a campfire on a cool fall night, which left me thinking I might have made a poor decision with my selection.    Not that mine was bad by any means, after all who could not like a wine named after little wild mustangs that ran free amongst the hills of Eastern Washington?  Measuring just a little over 4 ½ feet tall (fourteen hands) at the shoulder, these tenacious steeds would race to the mighty Columbia to drink and graze upon the vast vegetation and hide in the hills to cool off in the evenings.     The vintner describes the soil as “loamy-sand and gravel” requiring a “strong and determined vine.”  Their Cabernet Sauvingnon is big and bold, much like the legend of the 14 Hands region.  If you like your wine to have notes of tart cherries and dark spicy chocolate, take a ride on the wild side with this vino!

It's getting hot in here!

Geyser Peak

Perhaps you like your wine to smolder on your taste buds rather than run rampant in your mouth.  If this is the case, the 2007 Geyser Peak Cabernet might just be the wine you’ve been looking for!  Founded in 1880, Geyser Peak Winery sits high on a hillside just across from Geyser Peak Mountain in Sonoma County overlooking Geyserville and the Alexander Valley.   It is one of the oldest wineries in California coveting honors such as Winery of the Year and Winemaker of the year.   They pay special attention to the Cabernet vineyards picking the fruit in blocks and then fermenting them separately.   This allows the wine to be made from grapes plucked at their prime, ensuring suburb quality and well balanced flavor. Through tedious labor and timing, this vintner delivers an intense fruit forward wine with notes of blackberry, black cherry with hints of spice, vanilla and mocha.   Its lush tannins allow this wine to linger without being overpowering.

We savored our wine over freshly caught sturgeon, steak, stuffed prawns and effortless conversation.  All in all, it was a relaxing end to yet another crazy weekday and we owe it all to McGrath’s wonderful service, good food and a nice selection of new wines for us to try!  But do yourself a favor and pass on the seafood spring roll appetizer.  Trust us on this one!  Cheers!

Aromatique:  14 Hands – Tart cherries, mild spice and chocolate! Geyser Peak – Dark berry scent with loads of woodsy smoke.

SipQuips:  14 Hands – Very tart on the tongue, lingering chocolate notes and mild peppery flavor.  Geyser Peak – Earthy warmth, mocha with hints of vanilla and a hearty dose of blackberry and black cherry. YUM!

Kitchen Couplings:  Both went very well with our freshly caught seafood dinners.  Either would be great with steak, a piping hot bowl of homemade beef stew or a simple plate of cheese and fruit.

Kudos with a Cab

A couple of months ago, gal pal co-workers bestowed a funky bottle of wine upon hers truly.  This precious little gift served as kudos for a job well done after a grueling project I had been tasked with.   I try to make a point of not writing about work, but these fine ladies and I are employed by a rapidly growing company that keeps us hopping every minute.  Each day is full of new challenges (and rewards) which test both our talents and patience.  Add planning a big event and well, it can become a bit overwhelming! My benefactors do an amazing job in their own right making their offering even more humbling.   They are fully aware of my spirited personality (yes, I’m a handful) and my cheap wine fetish, so choosing a “special something” I would enjoy wasn’t terribly difficult.  True to form, they were right on the money with their selection!   From the quirky skeleton admiral on the label (and no it’s not a Paso Robles) to the fun ribbon and card, I was excited to give it a go.  Given the spooky theme, I’ve been trying to wait until Halloween to uncork this baby, but thought, “Why wait a couple extra days when October has already started?”    And, I might be a little impatient.  Nah.

Okay, virtuous I’m not, but I adore the upcoming wicked holiday and decanting this lovely little bottle of “spirits” made for a great excuse to drag out at least one Halloween decoration. Benefactor Cellars 2010 SE Australia Cabernet Sauvingnon is produced by an outfit called International Wine Negociants.  According to Wikipedia (the leading source for all accurate information) a négociant is: “the French term for a wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers and sells the result under its own name.[1]

Négociants buy everything from grapes to grape must to wines in various states of completion. In the case of grapes or must, the négociant performs virtually all the winemaking. If it buys already fermented wine in barrels or ‘en-vrac’—basically in bulk containers, it may age the wine further, blend in other wines or simply bottle and sell it as is. The result is sold under the name of the négociant, not the name of the original grape or wine producer.”   So, basically it’s a hodgepodge of grapes, growers, winemakers and distributors making sure cheap wine fans like the wine slobs never run out of affordable vino. And that’s fine by us. After a little research, I believe this bottle was probably purchased at Trader Joe’s for around $5.00.  Of course I could verify my findings, but asking the cost of a gift is in poor taste, which ironically I seem to have a lot of.   Never mind my shortcomings, because frankly I don’t have the time to list them all and you, dear readers, are spending precious moments to read about wine.  So, on with it!

My better half (far better half) uncorked this bottle after dinner. Now, if you have been following our little blog we have mentioned using an aerator on several occasions.  This is one of those occasions.  Benefactor Cellars 2010 SE Australia Cabernet Sauvingnon is a young red wine barely out of the crib. You wouldn’t expect an infant just learning to crawl to run a marathon would you?    This is why you must aerate!  Because this wine has a high tannin concentration, it was a little bitter fresh out of the bottle, but once it had a little time to breathe the aroma and flavor mellowed.  When discussing wine, the term “tannins” always seems to be thrown around, which may leave you asking the burning the question of the day, “What the heck are tannins!?”   Simply put, tannins are a naturally occurring preservative in wine.  The riper the grape usually means the lower the tannin.  Tannins are fairly easy to discern.  Do you ever get that dry and fury feeling in your mouth after drinking wine?  It’s all about tannins. The lower the tannin, the softer the taste.  Often, wines with a lot of tannins are paired with red meat.   This helps balance the astringency of the tannins.  It is all highly complicated and scientific of which I am not, so if you want to delve further into the mystery of tannins, be my guest. If you run across something you’d like to add please put it in the comment section.  We are always eager to learn more about wine! 

Outside of being a little bitter, this wine is quite tart from start to finish. It has notes of cherries and strawberries with a peppery finish.   It is a middle of the road, burgers on the grill kind of wine that’s alright for sipping.  Just don’t expect this youngin’ to win any gold medals at this age.   We finished the bottle and savored the spirit for which it was given.  To my gal pals who work hard for the money, we give thanks for prodding us onward and upward to yet another wine tasting adventure. You help the workday and the liquor go quicker! Thanks ladies!

Aromatique: Strong after uncorking.  Intense cherry scent.
SipQuips: Quite tart and peppery all the way through. After time to breathe flavorful strawberry and ripe cherry flavors come forth.
Kitchen Couplings: Goat cheese and crackers, grilled red meat, spicy mexican or italian food.

This one’s for the girls…

The Mad Housewife

It still feels like the middle of the night when the alarm goes off and she tumbles out of bed. Gently she wipes the sleep from her eyes and begins her morning ritual of brewing coffee and making lunches for children still fast asleep. The laundry left in the dryer needs folding, the cat wants to be fed, and the man in her life is bellowing from the bathroom because he can’t find his razor and asks if their teenage daughter has stolen it yet again. One by one she wakes the children for a quick bowl of sugary cereal (as if they aren’t hyper enough). But what of it? In another hour, they will be safely dropped at school where their teachers are paid to deal with them.

Mad Housewives commiseratingShe jots down a few necessities needed from the store. The last bit of milk and bread had been used up between breakfast and lunch. Her husband emerges from the bathroom filling the kitchen with the scent of Irish Spring and aftershave. He takes a few sips of her coffee, and in an instant, he is out the door.

Empty bowls with splashes of sticky milk line the countertop where her children sleepily sat just moments before. “What now?!” she mutters on her way down the hall to break up an argument between the teenage girl and boy fighting over precious bathroom time, and it’s barely 6:30 a.m. The second-grader has proudly dressed himself in summer shorts, a sweater and his favorite cowboy boots. It almost breaks his heart when informed he must change. Half an hour later, the family van is loaded with backpacks, lunches, children in clothes that match, a plastic dinosaur and one pet hamster. Ten minutes later, with the hamster safely back in its cage she speeds out of the driveway, backs over a skateboard and without missing a beat, drops each one off at school, wiping away second-grade tears with promises of a new skateboard and a trip to the skate park by the weekend.

Mad Housewife CabBy 8 a.m. she has cleaned the kitchen right down to the last cereal bowl and by noon she has made all the beds, washed, folded and put away four loads of laundry, drank half the pot of coffee and ate the last bit of last night’s leftovers. By the middle of the afternoon, the floors have been vacuumed, rugs have been shaken, litter box cleaned and the bathrooms are respectable once more. She can finally get ready for the day. By 9 p.m. her family has been fed, another load of laundry started, and the kitchen has been cleaned for the second time. She has helped with homework, heard about her children’s adventures, conquered a quick trip to the grocery store and listened to her husband complain about the traffic. Finally, her tidy house is quiet and she is able to relax on the sofa with her thoughts and a much-needed glass of wine.

Are you a “Mad Housewife?”  Does your day resemble that of the woman in this story?  Are you mad that your children don’t pick up after themselves, are constantly fighting, the man in your life can’t find even the simplest of things that are seemingly right in front of him? Are you mad that the cat can’t remember that he was just fed? Are you angry that dishes seem to dirty themselves and that the laundry breeds in the shadows of the night? Does it piss you off to no end that you are the only one who sees that the garbage needs taken out and that skateboards belong in the garage? Are you incensed  that everything you do seems unappreciated and unimportant? Are you seriously regretting not marrying better so you could hire a nanny and a housekeeper?

Or are you just MAD because each and every day you do what needs doing because you are a lovely person who adores her family in spite of it all? We live in a mad world. Crazy isn’t it? Many of us go to work each day on top of all the daily rituals for the sake of our families. And this is why we must drink.

We drink to relax, we drink to cope, we drink to be social, but most of all we drink because on occasion we find a great wine like “Mad Housewife” that keeps us coming back for more. We found this Cabernet Sauvignon at our local Fred Meyer on sale for $6.79 and it was worth every last cent. In fact, we love everything about it. We tried this wine with and without our aerator. This wine is better the longer it has time to breathe. If you don’t own an aerator, get one!  We cannot stress how much it improves the flavor without having to fondle your glass while it breathes. Who has time for that with so much to do?! This wine tends to be sweet on the tip of the tongue, but gradually mellows into a mild and smooth flavor of cherries with a hint of chocolate. It goes down easy with its lush and silky texture. In fact, it goes down a little too easily!

Since 2007, the Mad Housewife Cabernet Sauvignon from California has won several medals in various wine competitions, and after enjoying a bottle we can understand why. From the fun label, corks with humorous sayings (ours says, “I enjoy cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.”) to the distinct but not easily categorized flavor, this wine has it all. So whether you’re a mad housewife, a single dad or mother trying to do it all, or if you are just mad about wine, we encourage you to find a special spot on your sofa and enjoy a glass — or four.

Aromatique: Sweet and pungent (especially strong before it breathes).

SipQuips: Ripe cherries and a hint of chocolate.

Kitchen Couplings: Spicy grilled chicken with new potatoes and fresh green beans; pasta, pizza or chocolate of any kind.

’Tis a bargain, indeed

This one earned a half glass.The Tisdale Wineries’ Cabernet Sauvignon of California is pretty good right out of the bottle, and better once it breathes a bit. In fact “pretty good” — especially on sale for $3.99 — is an excellent description of this middle-of-the-road vino from Modesto. After all, you can’t spell Modesto without “modest.”

The first sniff of this dark cranberry colored cab is fruity, heavy with blackberry and plum, but the taste is mild. This is no sweet red, nor does Tisdale bear the spice of its more full-bodied cousins. It’s like the ordinary bird resting in the unremarkable tree on the label: pleasant and unassuming.

Tisdale Cabernet SauvignonDeb bought this bottle at Smith’s Food and Drug on a recent trip to her parents’ place, and that seems like just the right place to pick it up. This is an unpretentious, everyday wine that will come in handy for numerous situations.

The nervous (and broke) young beau trying to impress his date with a home-cooked meal will do well to pick up a bottle while cruising the grocer’s deli for a precooked pot roast and mashed potatoes. It’s an ideal starting point for mulled holiday wine or a girl’s-night-in sangria.

Keep some on-hand for that dinner party where one of the attendees always invites himself to the wine rack after the main course. It makes a good second (or third) bottle for those “sit at home after the breakup” nights, after the Häagen-Dazs is gone and before the second Lifetime movie begins.

Like the label says: “Life is full of quality experiences.” Well, it can be full of suck, too, and long stretches of soul-crushing boredom. Fortunately, this wine won’t bring memories of either. It’s more like a nice quiet evening on the patio, with a good book and a minimum of flying insects.

In our view, that’s pretty good.

Aromatique: Ripe plums and sweet berries that mellow as the wine rests.

SipQuips: Medium-bodied, not too sweet, very smooth finish.

Kitchen couplings: Leftover spaghetti, garlic bread, deli pot roast and mashed potatoes.