Category Archives: Red

Red wine in general.

Mulling it over

Is there anything so perfect on a cold winter’s night as a warm mug of mulled wine? How about a warm mug of mulled wine while sitting in the glow of freshly strung holiday lights while your true love reads humorous bits to you from the internet? It may be cold outside (about 18 degrees here, btw), but it’s warm in here, where the clothes dryer is providing the perfect backbeat to the comedic reading. It’s awesome.

Some wine purists cringe at the notion of pouring perfectly good vino into a pot and adulterating it with juice and spices and warming it like a big bowl of holiday potpourri.

Well, we don’t care. This is one of the great things about sticking to wine priced under $10 per bottle — you don’t feel too bad about emptying a liter or two into the spaghetti pot. We sacrificed a six-year-old bottle of Driftwood Bay Barbera from Austalia’s Mudgee wine-growing region ($4.99 at Grocery Outlet).

So that’s what we’re doing now Drinking and huddling in the soft glow of twinkling LEDs, thinking about what a really expensive bottle of wine might taste like and that we’ll never know because we are pretty much signing the next two paychecks over to the power company to pay for all the blinkly-twinkly holiday goodness.

Oh well.

Here’s our recipe for hot spiced wine. Feel free to add your own in the comments, or let us know what “secret” ingredients you put in your holiday wine. We won’t tell. Promise.

2 qts black cherry juice (we only had cran-grape; it works just fine)

3 three-inch sticks of cinnamon

6 whole cloves

12 oz. pineapple juice (we drained canned pineapple and floated a few rings in the pot; it works just fine)

2/3 cup sugar

1 bottle of cabernet sauvignon (we were fresh out of cab, so we used a bottle of Australian Barbera. It works just fine.)

1/3 cup of lime juice

1 cup of orange juice

Heat everything but the wine and lime juice until it boils. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in the wine and lime juice. Don’t boil. Discard the chunky stuff and serve warm.

Folks have been enjoying variations of this cold-season nectar for centuries. In Germany, they call it Gluhwein, which sounds kinda gross, but you can get bottles of it in most import shops, including Cost Plus World Market.

According to the Wikipedia, the oldest documented Glühwein tankard is attributed to the German nobleman and first Riesling grower of the world, Count John IV around 1420.

There are seemingly endless recipes for this holiday elixir, but most include cinnamon, cloves and citrus. In Moldova, they make their hot wine with black pepper and honey.

In Latvia, they take their karstvins (“hot wine”) more seriously than anywhere else in the world. When they run out of wine, they mix grape juice with something called Riga Black Balsam, which is basically pure vodka mixed with various natural ingredients. It’s 90 proof — guaranteed to take the chill off a cold winter’s night.

No matter what you prefer to put into your favorite solstice toddy, you’re part of a tradition that predates Columbus’ first trip across the Atlantic.

Whether you are just trying to blunt winter’s hard edge, or whether you’re trying to combine a sugar high with your drunken stupor, it’s hard to beat a nice, warm spiced wine.

Cheers!

 


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.


Lighting up at 30,000 feet

This one earned a half glass.Airline wine. It’s usually more sleep aid than something to savor. I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I mean, Alaska Air doesn’t have to provide free regional wine or microbrew on its flights. It’s a nice perk. But it’s usually pretty forgettable stuff, served in those little plastic cups. My flights are usually short, so there’s not much time to let the wine breathe. And the accompanying food — even the new macadamia-nut and dried fruit snack that Alaska has started handing out — isn’t particularly complementary.

Chuck would drink it straight out of the bottle.

But the Washington Hills 2008 Merlot served on a recent trip was an exception.  I didn’t have great expectations. Mostly, I was just glad that the string of chardonnays the flight attendants had been serving recently was finally over. But this wine is complex and robust. Bold fruit — blackberry and dark cherry along with a hint of cedar — grows from the first taste, and then gives way to strong oak flavors.

The finish is something I’ve read about but never experienced. It can only be described as cigar smoke, and it lingered after the cup was empty. I’m not a smoker, especially not of cigars, but this wasn’t unpleasant. Sort of like the aftertaste you’d expect after hanging out in a fancy cigar shop poking your head into humidors … not like breathing in your uncle’s secondhand stogie smoke for an hour.

How do they do that? I don’t think tobacco is even grown in Washington. It’s nowhere in the Top 10 tobacco-producing states, according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. But hey, if combining vices is your thing, this might be a nice way to go about it.

Although this wine was free (or, several hundred dollars,  if you include the cost of the plane ticket), it can be found on the shelves of regional retailers, or online for under $10 per bottle. Wine Chateau offers it online for $9.79 (regularly $13.49).

Washington Hills is among the many thriving wineries on the eastern side of the Cascades, both in Washington and Oregon, that take advantage of the region’s ample sunshine, well-drained soils and relatively low rainfall. Cool fall nights keep the grapes from losing their acidity and becoming too sugary before harvest. The result is consistent quality that allows vintners to blend their wines with subtlety.

Of course, I’m guessing most of that didn’t matter to the airline. The key here? Screw top. Flight attendants don’t have to mess with corkscrews. Why does the TSA even allow corkscrews on airplanes? I have seen some flight attendants that should definitely not be allowed to handle sharp objects. I mean, I can’t even bring toenail clippers on board, but that woman in a tight polyester skirt being harassed by a half-dozen boozed up frat boys headed to a college football weekend is allowed to wield a deadly weapon? Actually, come to think of it … forget I said anything.

Oh well. Nobody wants to see me giving myself a pedicure in these cramped quarters. That would ruin even a good wine like this, and that would be a shame.

Aromatique: A sniff or two fresh out of the bottle doesn’t reveal much about the wine’s complexity. You get a hint of the oak, along with the usual dark merlot fruit.

SipQuips: Rich flavor that changes dramatically from start to finish — dark berries and cedar to cigar smoke at the end.

Kitchen Couplings: I’d love to try this with a savory buffalo steak, or by a roaring fire with strong cheeses.


Nothing petite about this sirah

Buy enough cheap wine and you’ll occasionally get a discounted bottle that once retailed for a lot more.

There are a few clues that the bottle you are buying for $6.99 at Grocery Outlet is slumming, like this bottle of 2006 Eos Estate Petite Sirah, which must have felt like the debutante who somehow ended up at a seedy bar on the wrong side of town.

First, the primary image on the bottle is actual grapes. Not a race car, or a horse, or comically drawn woman. There’s no abstract art or clever play on words or big black birds. Just grapes.

Second, the winemaker’s own description contains something utterly ridiculous like “rose petals.” I’m here to tell you, red wine does not taste like rose petals. Ever.

Third, the back label will probably wax poetic about how special the wine is and how fortunate you are to have found it. One of the privileged few, for sure. Lucky you.

From the bottle: “This is our private reserve that we made to keep for ourselves and share with only our closest friends. We tenderly nurtured selected fruits from the best vineyard blocks. The barrels were carefully chosen and immeasurable hours were spent to insure that this wine would surpass our highest expectations. After all that, we couldn’t resist sharing it with you.”

Awwww.

Now far be it for me to pass judgment on a wine because the vintner is full of himself. But it’s a little hard not to be critical when someone involved in a process that was taking place when the world was flat takes themselves so damn seriously. Paso Robles is in California’s Central Valley where Spanish missionaries bent on converting the natives were the first to plant grapevines, and commercial wineries have operated here since the 1880s.

But before we get all uppity about the history of grapes here, Petite Sirah is something of a mongrel, being the result of Syrah pollen getting all up in the business of a Peloursin plant. The resulting Durif grapes are popular and widely planted. They usually produce wines with mild, plummy overtones.

You’ll find little of that here.

Eos Estate’s website lists this wine at $25. For that price, it would be a disappointment, but for seven bucks, this is a decent, if unremarkable wine. Both the initial aroma and taste are straightforward and strong, with grape being the dominant flavor, accompanied by plum and blackberry.

The wine started with a sharpness expected of a younger vintage, but aerating and allowing it to breathe smoothed out the flavors and allowed more of the fruit to come forward. It was still a very strong wine, spicy and heady, with lingering tannins. It’s a wine suited to a rich meal, but without the sweet temperament to balance spicy foods like barbecue or Mexican food.

And let’s face it, the bottle looks impressive, with its luscious European-looking grapes behind square latticework. It’s a nice wine to have on the counter if you are looking to impress someone. It also makes a nice gift for the host next time you are invited to a dinner party.

And even better, it’s a wine you won’t mind sharing.

Aromatique: Strong grape aroma, with oak and a bit of plum.

Sip Quips: Grapes dominate, especially on the first sip, but plum and berries come out as it breathes; plenty of tannins on the finish.

Kitchen Couplings: Roasted meats or fish; hearty bread and cheese.


Crabs cure the Monday itch

It's getting hot in here!We’re not trying to lay blame here, but we got a healthy dose of crabs tonight courtesy of Joe.

Throw in a couple of new potatoes, an ear of corn, a few shrimp and a skosh of Cajun spice and you’ll fit right in at Joe’s Crab Shack! Did we mention the waitresses dancing their way to the “Love Shack?” Nevermind that said waitress appeared to be about 16 years old with an intellect to match. She couldn’t name a single bottle on the wine list, which was only about six lines long and didn’t even have words — the wines were all there in pictures.

The lone Merlot available was something we had previously suffered through on an airplane, so we opted for the 2009 HobNob Pinot Noir, which turned out to be a fine choice despite our waitress’s bumbling attempts to serve it.

We have to give her a bit of a break because, according to her, it was only her fourth time actually opening a bottle of wine. It showed.  She left ragged edges of foil around the opening after removing the cork (which she failed to give to us) and she didn’t bother to pour any, leaving that chore to two people whose hands were covered in butter. The slippery slope didn’t end there.

There were flies. Oh, were there flies! They swarmed our bucket of discarded crab shells as though it was a boar’s head on a stick in a tropical island jungle. And there were hornets, buzzing around hoping to slurp sticky drink residue and salty butter drippings from every table. They especially enjoyed swarming patrons that had just acquired their flavorful crocks of steaming seafood. Now, while we enjoy Joe’s overpriced food and festive décor, it is not necessarily the place you go to hobnob with the social elite. But hobnob we did with this less-than-snobbish wine.

We can’t tell you the price of this tasty French wine; we lost the receipt in less time than it took to drive home. But we can tell you it sells online for between $7.99 and $13 a bottle. Marketview Liquor says this wine “Is an elegant and silky Pinot Noir with an inviting bouquet of violets.” Okay, really? Violets? No. No. NO. This wine is a little more reminiscent of dried fruit or even fruit leather. Perhaps, black cherry or even plum. A little intense right out of the bottle, leaving a mysterious twang on the tongue that neither one of us could discern. But given the time it took to dissect a medium-sized crab with a tool that resembled your mother’s Tupperware orange peeler and gnaw our way through an ear of corn, this wine mellowed into something quite pleasing. Even the Lord of the Flies gave it a two thumbs up!

Aromatique: Sweet and spicy! Bring on the black cherries.
SipQuips: Sweet on the tongue, tempers into a mild spice with notes of plum, black cherry and warm vanilla, light body.
Kitchen Couplings: Joe’s Cajun Steampot with loads of butter, asian cousine, shrimp or chicken fettuccine, homemade beef stew.


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…


Just Chillin’

Well, dear reader, we have a mystery on our hands. It concerns the death — or at least the disappearance — of a very promising winery in California. A vineyard isn’t an easy thing to hide, but try as we might, we can’t find Chill Out Vineyards of Ripon and Livermore, Calif., anywhere on the interwebs. The makers of this wine must be chilling out in the Himalayas with no Internet service. Anyone know a good sherpa? We need these guys to make more wine!

And that’s sad, because the Chill Out Sweet Red table wine we picked up for $5.99 at Fred Meyer last week is a delightful, fruity diversion from the ordinary. It’s not a sit-down-to-dinner wine, but a vintage best enjoyed with a few laughs among friends or alone with a dime-store romance. (Or, perhaps a murder mystery?)

Judging from the label, that latter activity should be enjoyed in a hammock tied between two palm trees, preferably within easy walking distance of a sandy beach — just what you’d expect from a wine called “Chill Out.”

We wanted to follow the directions. We really did. The Wine Slobs dig nothing more than unwinding on the patio, listening to the fish pond fountain and sipping our latest find. But we were in full pre-yard-sale frenzy, pulling junk from boxes, labeling the items and dreaming about what we’d do with all the money we were going to make.

And trying to keep Deb’s 3-year-old nephew from turning our huge mess into an even huger mess. (Is ‘huger’ even a word?) Plus we were trying to get some food on the table and do some much-needed housecleaning.

Fact is, this wine really did help us to chill out when the evening’s frenzy was reaching a peak. We could tell from the first pour that this was a good-mood wine. It had a unique strawberry color going into the glass — much lighter than traditional reds, but too dark for a rose.

“Mmmm. Jam,” the sister-in-law declared on first sip. “Very jammy.”

Indeed, this wine is fruity with just a little tartness on the front end. Letting it breathe a little mellows that tart beginning, and it becomes a smooth, but not syrupy blend of strawberry and raspberry flavors with a nice round finish.

We can only hope that the absence of the Chill Out winery from cyberspace doesn’t mean the wine will soon be missing in real life. That would not be very chill at all.

Aromatique: Like your grandma’s fruit preserves. Almost smells too sweet.
Sip Quips: Tooty-fruity, but with enough weight to separate it from the Annie Green Springs your parents used to drink on trips to the beach.
Kitchen Couplings: Actually, this wine probably is best enjoyed out of the kitchen, with some cheese and crackers, pretzels, and potato chips.


Hot Rod Red leaves us cold — and bitter

The bottle proclaims that this red table wine from Cold Springs Winery is “So Good, It’s Bad.” Well, they got it half right.

To be fair, this wine isn’t exactly “bad.” (And trust me, we’ve had bad wine.) It’s just not very good. In fact, it’s not much of anything. Swallow this wine and by the time it reaches your stomach, your mouth has already forgotten it was there.

All revved up, but nowhere to go.Apparently the winery has forgotten as well. Hot Rod Red doesn’t even show up on the Cold Springs website. The label itself offers no clue about what to expect from this blend of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It’s a popular wine, according to other reviews, but we’re hard-pressed to explain why. At $8.99 (on sale at Fred Meyer), this wine was near the top of our usual price range, but as we’ve found time and again, spending a few extra dollars rarely improves a wine.

We wanted to like this wine. We really did. After all, it’s got a hot car and little devil horns worked into the label. And we dig local products. Cold Springs is just an hour away, near the tiny hamlet of Hammett in Idaho’s Snake River Valley. It has a good rep, and we’ll definitely try their wines again — just not this one.

We found the flavors to be indistinct. The wine’s a bit sharp on the front end, but not overly so. I imagine this is the sort of thing Catholics get at communion, to go along with those bland little wafers that are supposed to be the body of Jesus. You can tell it’s wine, but you’re really not supposed to enjoy it.

Speaking of gods (note the segue), Cold Springs has this clever little marketing tool where they put a printed collar-tag on the bottle’s capsule that has an “ology” word on it – like bi/ology, entom/ology, epistem/ology — you get the idea. And the card gives a definition of the word and ties it into the wine somehow. The idea is that science is at the root of good winemaking, and the folks at Cold Springs would rather educate than pontificate about the wine.

So how to explain the collar tag on this bottle, which is the/ology?. Pretty sure that’s the opposite of science, so we’re not sure how that fits into the stated goal to “inform you about the sciences that are involved in winemaking.”

The god on the card is Dagon, which Cold Springs says is the god of Earth and Agriculture. He looks kinda like a merman with a cool hat. He’s an old Babylonian god later adopted by the Philistines who was more into fish and grain than grapes. He’d probably be a good candidate to rep beer.

A better choice would have been Dionysus, the Greek god of the grape harvest. He was the original party animal, and was drawn in a chariot by lions and tigers. Now THAT is a hot rod. This wine could use some of his divine charisma. As it is, this Hot Rod is more like a family sedan. It runs well enough, but its not likely to get anyone excited.

Aromatique: Fairly strong, especially given the taste, with scents more akin to a shiraz or syrah.

Sip Quips: Surprisingly bland, with no clear flavor profile and a weak finish.

Kitchen Couplings: One thing would work as well as the next, but any savory meat dish or something with strong flavors would quickly overwhelm this forgettable wine.


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.