Category Archives: White

Chalk It Up To Change

wineglass_fullI have a little chalk board I use to celebrate special moments; Spring, Christmas, family photos, Mother’s  Day, birthdays and this year… graduations. It might seem silly to break out my little Land O Lakes butter container full of old chalk to make note of a certain day, but ‘wiping the slate clean’ and starting anew is quite significant. Another year, another season, another moment of growth, love and experience comes with each new scribble. Just as in life, my chalkboard is ever changing.

Although, more frequent are the days I wish things weren’t changing quite so quickly. Our ‘Brady Bunch’ family has grown up in the blink of an eye, our once stray wisps of gray are becoming more dominant, our parents have grown older, and our crazy-busy life will begin to slow… just a little, but noticeably so. There are moments (more often than not) I find myself wanting to scream, “STOP!” and live in the moment, THIS moment for just a little while longer.  It’s futile, I know, for just as the vibrant magenta peonies in our garden burst into bloom, they wither and slowly fade away.  Change and transformation are inevitable; nothing lasts forever, so drink it in while you can.  IMG_2434

Wine is grace in a glass; patient, resilient and unassuming. It’s an expert when it comes to change. The sheer process of vine to wine is astounding and yet, despite the trauma and captivity each grape must endure during its transformation, once uncorked it breathes deeply, releasing all its pent up aromas and flavors before whispering, “Change can be good.”

It isn’t any wonder I was immediately drawn to the display of Chalk Board Chardonnay at our local Fred Meyer, for I knew it would be a wine to ponder and celebrate. From the label it promises fresh aromas of pineapple, melon and notes of vanilla and spice, and I would have to agree it delivered on all but the spice. It is packed full of juicy fruit flavor with a hint of sweetness on the tongue and low acidity.  It’s definitely an easy going, ‘roll with the changes’ kind of wine and at less than ten dollars a bottle, a wine I would buy again and again.

This summer we will have celebrated two daughters; one graduating from high school and one from college, a son becoming a man, and another entering his adolescent years.  However unsettling and exciting theses glorious moments might be, we will all gracefully embrace and grow from them as they happen.  In the meantime, we’ll just chalk it up to change. Here’s to all the changes happening in your life! Cheers!

Aromatique: Very fruity. Melon, juicy pineapple with notes of vanilla

Sip Quips: Mild acidity, slightly sweet

Kitchen Couplings: Any white meat, fish, grilled veggies and summer salads

P.S. Chalk Board wine is available exclusively at Kroger stores. 😉


A sleepover for seven

It's getting hot in here!A couple of months ago, the door burst open and, without so much as a knock, a wave of giddy 16-year-old girls bounced through the living room. Soon they were clad in their favorite pajama bottoms and chattering a mile a minute; our house was anything but quiet.“Hi mom!”, “Hey, mom!” some called out as they plopped on the couch. What a joy to have all seven of my “daughters” over for the night. The standard request for pizza, popcorn, soda and junk food was right on cue. “Can you get grapes too?”Grapes!? It was already high on my list but would not be found in the produce department. Before my sprint to the checkout line, I ordered pizza on the fly and veered my cart to the wine aisle. CIMG0403 - Copy2I made a single pass before a bottle of white nearly leaped off the shelf and into my cart. The name, “Seven Daughters” immediately resonated with me. After all the countless trips to that same aisle at Fred Meyer, I hadn’t noticed it before, but there it was, as perfectly matched as my evening with my daughter and her friends.

Being a parent is hectic. Between work, school, sports and trips to the grocery store, there are days I’m not sure whether to get out of my car or sleep in it. It’s the weekend and at this moment, it’s quiet. A candle flickers across the room and to my right our old cat is doing what she does best, napping in her favorite spot. While I welcome the tranquil interlude, the silence is deafening. As a parent, it’s the soundless moments that really grab your attention. What parent hasn’t thought, “It’s much too quiet”? Rarely does our parental Spidey-sense fail us completely.

I am sad to report, in a few short years those deafening moments of silence will steadily increase at the same rate my daughter matures. When she was 2 and when she was 10, it seemed like I had an abundance of time to spend with her. But now, that she is in high school, I am painfully aware how quickly the minutes pass. I still have so much to give her, show her, and teach her before she goes out into the big bad world on her own. It is because of my acute awareness that time is fleeting, I try to be involved the world she currently lives in, even when it means hosting sleepovers for a passel of teen girls.

They plowed through pizza, snacks, pop and grapes as if they hadn’t eaten in days. The movie, “27 Dresses” played on in the background as multiple conversations rose over and above it. I retired to my room, door wide open, relaxed on the bed and caught sentences ev27 Dressesery now and again.They chatted about boys, other girls, school, boys, preps and boys. They did hair and makeup and would occasionally pop in to show off their look or chat for a few minutes. I sipped my wine, thankful for the night, my life, and the moment. What a joy to be part of such a wonderful evening with my beautiful daughter and her equally beautiful friends.

By the way, the wine was great! I knew it would be. It’s a little tart on the tongue but mellows with a hint of sweetness. With notes of orange blossom, tangerine and a little spice, this California blend is very well balanced.Labeled as NV (and no, that doesn’t stand for Nevada) but rather a non-vintage wine. This usually means the grapes used are from different years as well as different varietals and/or vineyards.This is no way indicates the wine is “bad.” Seven Daughters White, is a blend of seven different grapes; Pinot Gris, Orange Muscat, Symphony, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

I had to research the Symphony grape because quite frankly, I had never heard of it.Turns out it isn’t just music to my tongue, but rather a California cross between two grapes developed in 1948, but not commercially released until 1982. Its intent was more for the hotter climate of California’s central valley, but is now grown mostly in the Lodi and Sierra Foothills region. These grapes are typically used in off-dry or late harvest wines.Can you believe I managed to get a little wine information amongst my drivel? Although this vino cost a little more than what we typically purchase to review, it was worth it. Fred Meyer currently has it on sale for $11.99, so hurry in and pick up your bottle! Especially if you will be hosting the next big sleepover. Cheers to parenthood! GULP!

Aromatique: Fresh melon packed with orange blossom and a hint of vanilla.

Sip quips: A little tart at first, but full of juicy fruit flavor. Not overly sweet or spicy. Has a nice creamy finish.

Kitchen couplings: Mild fish or chicken dishes would do well. Mild cheeses and any Asian cuisine pairing would be fantastic along with a little fresh fruit or salad.


Ooh la la … Lots to like about this wine!

Today’s French lesson is brought to you by someone who lasted exactly two weeks in French 101.  Lucky for you dear reader, I have mad Google skills. You’re welcome. According to About.com: “The French phrase ooh là là isn’t so much an expression as an interjection. It can indicate surprise, disappointment, commiseration, distress, annoyance … any moderately strong reaction to something that was just said or done. It can be strengthened with additional ‘s, always in pairs.” Examples of such an interjection could include, “Oh dear!”  “Oh my!” or “Oh no!” Although, the literal translation is, “Oh there there.”

I see London, I see France, I see you’re wearing granny underpants.  And frankly, my dear, those just won’t do if you’re planning to break open a bottle of Ooh La La 2011 Pinot Grigio. Trust me on this.  I’m feeling slightly under-dressed in an oversized sweatshirt and my favorite pair of granny panties.  Need a little boost of estrogen? All you need to do is hold the bottle in your hand. Bust out those frilly polka-dot undergarments ladies, we just might have found THE most girly wine yet!  

I read somewhere its innovative and unique packaging appeals to the “millennial female.”  Okay. Sure. Sign me up! I’ll be the new face of the millennial female, even if I might have been born a few years too early.

I wouldn’t say I have fetish, but I do have a black and white polka dot purse. Actually, my family has corrected me many times, because it’s actually a lunch bag. But since it seems to hold my wallet, car keys and enough crap to save the day at any given moment, I call it my purse.  So, it only seems natural that I would be drawn to the bottle without a second thought.  After all, when hasn’t a bottle of wine saved the day?

Ooh La La 2011 Pinot Grigio was just as I imagined it would be. It was crisp, and light on the palate, with hints of green apple and pear.  It’s fermented clean and cold versus using oak barrels, which ensure a slow fermentation. This method is used to preserve the virginal flavor of the fruit. This slightly effervescent wine did have one surprise: a bottle cap.  That’s right. No cork, no twist-off cap, just a simple bottle cap. You might be thinking, “That’s not wine! That’s just a very large beer minus the hops!”  But, it’s the truth and nothing but the truth.  Two Wine Slobs’ honor! (What little honor there is in being a wine slob.)

The Purse…or the lunch bag.
Depending on who you ask.

I did have one complaint, however.  Not about the wine, but about the website. It’s still under construction, much like Franklin Road in Idaho.  Will they ever finish it?  I hope so.  Millennial females like to be in the know. You know? But, “Oh there there,” don’t you fret.  They did manage to launch a Facebook page in August.  Which you can find here: http://www.facebook.com/OohLaLaWines.

And there you have it; a little French lesson, a new use for your favorite lunch bag, an occasion to wear polka-dot panties, and a fresh perspective on cold fermentation — all in one blog post. Ooh La La 2011 Pinot Grigio would be a great addition to any casual gathering with the girls whether you’re into polka dots or not. Ciao, wine lovers!

Aromatique: Fresh and fruity

SipQuips:  Crisp green apple and pears.  Very light on the palate.  Refreshing and fun!

Kitchen Coupling: Fresh green salad, white fish, light cheeses and fruit, pasta with white sauce.


Fishy fingers and goat’s breath

Have you ever hoarded a bottle of wine because you knew it was going to be absolutely fabulous? Not that you were saving it for a special occasion, per se, but because you wanted to serve it with a mouthwatering spread of cheeses, crackers, fruit and perhaps a little smoked salmon?

You cue up your favorite British comedy (okay, so it’s not for everyone), plate some tasty nibbles and finally, the piece de resistance! Anxiously, you pour the wine, knowing you are on the verge of being insanely amazed by its fruity goodness. And then, you sniff, sip, pause, swallow and almost in the same moment, become utterly disenchanted. Welcome to our Monday night.

Thankfully, we still had our sitcom and tasty nibbles, but the wine. Oh, the wine! How you let us down! It wasn’t bad enough for the drain. We did finish it after all, mostly because I think we were hoping it would get better. That somehow, we might warm up to it if it warmed to room temperature.

We found our bottle of Charonge, a California wine, on an end cap at our local Fred Meyer and on sale for $7.99. The bottle was cool, and in the midst of one of the hottest summers on record in Idaho, naturally a white wine spiked with oranges would be a refreshing treat once chilled. Right? Wrong.

After our less than perfect new wine adventure. I thought I would check out the website, in case there might be a taste disclaimer. Instead, this is what I read:

It’s a white wine, but like no other. Its sun kissed with a twist. The flavors are so mouth-watering & refreshing, you’d swear citrus mermaids from far-off Orangeopia just hand-squeezed their magical nectar of refreshment into your mouth. No sniffing, no swirling. We buried the pretentions in a sandy spot along the warm coastline. We return from time to time just to throw a party full of kicking back and relaxing. That’s what Charonge is all about. Lift your glasses to the sky. Your thirst will thank you & so will your taste buds.”

Gag. Citrus mermaids from Orangeopia? Really?

I seriously doubt the wordsmith who crafted that little ditty has actually sampled this wine at all, because if they had they would have written something more like this:

It’s a white wine, but like no other. The flavor is so bitter, it’s like eating an orange rind and the aftertaste akin to a bad sunburn that won’t end. You’d swear incontinent mermaids from Pirates of the Caribbean just pissed in your mouth. No sniffing, no swirling. We buried the pretentions, along with our integrity in a sandy spot along the warm coastline. We return from time to time, just to kick sand in the faces of all the hopeful patrons who purchased our product and to roll around in our profits. That’s what Charonge is all about. Open your wallets and buy something else! Your thirst will thank you and so will your taste buds.”

A little harsh? Perhaps. (Especially if you actually enjoy a tart white wine with a finish of bitter orange rind.)

Yet, even though our love affair with Charonge was over just as soon as it began, we will purchase a second bottle. That’s right. We are willing give it a second chance. Think of it like a bad first date. Maybe, the expectation was a little high and it didn’t go as planned, but the evening wasn’t a total loss because you remembered you had a bottle of coconut rum in the pantry. And coconut rum makes everything better. And so, our next date will be with a Charonge Sunset. A little coconut rum, orange juice, Charonge, a splash of raspberry liquor and garnished with a slice of fresh orange. Shaken, not stirred of course. Cheers wine lovers!

Aromatique: Fresh oranges and peaches. Very fruity.

SipQuips: Slightly effervescent feel.Tart flavor, even when served with salty food. Unfavorable bitter finish of orange rind.

Kitchen Couplings: Served with strawberries, nectarines, grapes, herbed goat cheese, Oregonzola (gorgonzola from Oregon – AWESOME), dill Triscuits and smoked salmon.


The Sisterhood and the traveling…bottle?

This one earned a half glass.Whether you have a sister or you have friends you consider sisters, sisterhood is kind of a big deal. Not to discredit the men in our lives, brothers, husbands and the like, but it’s difficult to describe the bond woman share all over the world  in the name of sisterhood. Our “sisters”, always seem to know just what we need to get through this thing called – life.  If we are feeling low, sisters give us wings.  When we are successful, they share the moment and encourage us to keep on shining!  When we are completely out of control, they meet us head on until we can keep our cool. When we need a defender there is no greater a warrior goddess. And when we are filled with delusion, they tell us the truth – even if it hurts.  Sisters love us for who we are at every stage in our lives regardless of time passed.  Distance is irrelevant and status has no bearing.  Sisterhood really is quite magical.

The Brutus sisters of Seven Sisters Wines

The Brutus sisters of Paternoster, South Africa are an inspiring group of women who embraced their sisterhood to break into the white male dominated wine industry. In fact, they are one of only two black family owned wineries out of 3,000 in their country. That seems utterly amazing to me.  But what is more amazing is how they started. While very young, the family was evicted from their home after their father lost his job of 20 years in the fishing industry. Due to their financial circumstances, the family was not able to stay together and the children were split up among various relatives. The seven sisters and their baby brother John had aspired to one day return to their quiet village in Paternoster, but twenty years would pass before their hopes would come to fruition. After extensive research, diligence and funding on the part of eldest sister Vivian, the sisters reunited to create a new destiny when they launched the Seven Sisters wine brand in 2007 (African Roots Wine)

As African women, they had no land or vineyards.  They were basically a virtual company.  Today, their wine can be found in 27 states and only recently has their own country started to take notice of not only their wine, but their accomplishments too.   Each Seven Sisters Wine has been skillfully created to match the style and character of each sister.  Tonight I am enjoying a 2008 Chenin Blanc – Yolanda that we purchased at Albertson’s for $7.99 . If your new to vino or if you found yourself overpowered by a white wine like a dry chardonnay, this is the wine for you!  This wine doesn’t scream for your attention, like an overzealous first date.  It’s more of a go with the flow vintage.  It’s light and a little tart on the palette, but finishes well with hints of passion fruit.  Perfect for a hot summer day when you want a chilly glass of vino to sip in the shade.  Personally, it was a little too mellow for me, but it is a great for someone who wants to drink wine without it really tasting like wine. Kinda like that first date; no commitment.  Heck, you could even throw in a splash of lemon-lime soda and invite a few sisters over! I don’t want to say it’s a great “housewife” wine, but during my taste test, I envisioned a hard working housewife rounding out her day with a glass vino just like this.

Ironically,  Yolanda is the housewife of the bunch, but almost all the sisters contribute their talents in some manner to the winery’s success whether it is sales and marketing, event planning, logistics or flower arranging and catering.  According to their website, the sisters have obtained 9,000 acres of land near Stellenbosch. There are several areas in South Africa that have a gravel under-structure of shale, granite and sandstone, making the need for formal irrigation unnecessary.  The soil is able to retain its moisture during dry and hot summers. Perfect for growing grapes!  Seven thousand acres will be planted in vines and will be tended by their brother John who will take over the wine making when he has finished his studies in oenology and viticulture at Elsenburg. They  also plan to add another wine to their line, appropriately named, “John Brutus.” (although I think this has already happened…time to update your site ladies) What’s sisterhood if you can’t help a brother out now and again? Empowerment is a beautiful thing.

And while we are basking in the glow of sisters and sisterhood, this review would not be complete without mentioning the Seven Sisters constellation (click here to read a version like you’ve never read before!) and Cyndi Lauper’s classic, “Sisters of Avalon” embedded below.   I witnessed her perform the acoustical version live several years ago and loved it.

(A special note of ‘thanks’ to all my sistas. I am forever grateful. You know who you are.) Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aromatique: Had a very difficult time getting much from the nose. Almost nonexistent.

SipQuips; Light on the palette. Very mellow semi-tart wine with hints of passion fruit.  Beautiful golden color. Finishes well.

Kitchen Couplings:  Salads, fish, light pasta with white sauce. Asian cuisine.

 


Break the mold

This one earned a half glass.My heart is heavy tonight as I sip a glass of Sawtooth’s 2006 Chardonnay past its prime, and it’s got me pondering the similarities between life and wine. I know what you’re thinking, “Wine and life might be a bit of a stretch don’t you think?” But the reality is this; every varietal, every vintage is as unique, perfect and flawed just as each and every one of us right down to how we are labeled. It’s hard to know what to expect when you open a new bottle of vino regardless of any preconceived notions. Maybe it’s a fast favorite at first sip, maybe it just takes a little time to grow on you, or perhaps it’s awful, and you’re bitterly disappointed with the attempt. Life’s a little like that. We don’t know what to expect with each new day and experience. Sometimes life is one bad bottle of wine after another, but more often than not, each day and new experience or challenge we might face is a beautiful blend of balance.

We attended a memorial this evening to celebrate a man I had never met, and I have to admit that I wish I would have been as lucky as the masses in attendance to have known and loved him so dearly. It is clear after witnessing the endearing chuckles of laughter, sniffles between tears and sighs of sadness with each narration of memories that this man’s spirit was like that of a fine wine. His essence, scientific created through thoughtful passion, time and diligence will live on through his efforts just as the vines from this bottle of chardonnay. Think about it. We all have the ability to leave an amazing legacy for future generations.

Tonight’s service reminded me that life is meant to be lived uncorked. And that each moment should be breathed in deeply, without judgment or reservation and shared freely. My intent is not to encourage anyone to run off and join the circus, drop off the grid or become a snake charmer. After all, the vast majority of us have responsibilities to tend to and deadlines to meet. But, I do want to stir the notion that we all have lingering dreams or interests that seem to, for whatever the reason, get lost in the hum drum of our everyday lives (myself included) which yearn to be fulfilled. And quite frankly, there is no better time to make them a reality than in the present, for if not now, then when? The man I never met was keenly aware that time stands still for no one. I am no one, and so are you.

According to the folks at cellarsnotes.net, a higher-priced bottle of chardonnay ($25 or more) should be consumed within 3 to 5 years, whereas a $10 bottle should be consumed right away. This mini bottle, of “The Coeur d’ Alene” Sawtooth 2006 Chardonnay, was only $2.99 at our local Grocery Outlet. A more current vintage, 2009, sells for about $9 a bottle, and it doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out the mini bottle, while positively adorable, is every bit past its prime. And you know what? It isn’t horrible, and I’ve had horrible. It has distinct notes of vanilla, pineapple and tropical fruit with crisp acidity. In its heyday, I bet it was downright fabulous, but we will never know will we? At the end of the day, it was yet another wine adventure for a wine slob, and I’m happy to have risen to the challenge.

I encourage each and every one of you to join me in broadening both our circle and imagination and think about what has yet to come to pass; to make time and take the time to live the life we yearn to live and explore the possibilities of what we are truly capable of. The only thing any of us have to lose is time. What are you still doing here? Don’t you have a mold to break? Cheers!

Aromatique: Tropical fruits and vanilla notes

SipQuips: Clean finish, with pineapple, peach and a hint of vanilla

Kitchen Couplings: Would go well with pasta, chicken or fish. Or if your in the mood for a simpler fair of hummas, cucumbers and pita bread or a variety of cheese, crackers and fresh pear.


Flight Of Fancy

This one earned a half glass.What do Howard Hughes, Walt Disney, Captain Michael King Smith and a small Oregon vineyard all have in common?

Think big wooden airplane.

The Spruce Goose, perhaps the biggest intact relic of World War II, sits in the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum near McMinnville, Oregon. More importantly, it’s right next door to the Evergreen Vineyards, makers of the 2008 Spruce Goose pinot gris.

The Spruce GooseWe weren’t sure this Grocery Outlet purchase ($5.99) would ever get off the ground, but we try to keep wines from Idaho and other Northwest growing regions front and center on our wine rack. As it turns out, this is a very lively white wine with plenty of lift.

The citrus and apple notes are evident from the beginning, with a sweetness of pear rounding out the flavors and keeping this wine from being overly tart. It’s medium-bodied and is best served lightly chilled, just below room temperature.

Critics of the would-be transport plane also known as the “Flying Boat” thought it wouldn’t fly either. The largest airplane ever constructed was built by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, Jr. He also piloted the huge craft on its one and only flight — a one-mile hop designed just to prove he could get it airborne.

It’s highly unlikely that the man who began this story, who was born wealthy and grew moreso throughout his life, ever had a wine this cheap. But it’s a decent all-around wine, good with a light meal and something you won’t mind pouring for friends when they stop by. That’s something else Mr. Hughes didn’t have, at least later in life — friends. Perhaps if he’d been more free with his wine…

In 1988, the Walt Disney Company bought the plane, which had been kept intact by a crew hired by Hughes until his death in 1976. Four years later, the museum’s founders, Michael King Smith and Delford M. Smith cut a deal to bring the wooden behemoth to Oregon.

Despite its name, the plane is actually made primarily of birch. Wartime restrictions on aluminum and steel forced Hughes to use the lightweight, light-colored wood. Turns out, it’s pretty close to the color of this wine, which is on the pale end of the spectrum generally covered by wines made from pinot gris grapes.

Evergreen Vineyards labelA lot of Oregon pinot gris trends more toward copper and has a fruitier nose and taste than the Evergreen. But this is not an overly dry wine, and the mouthfeel is more substantial than you’ll find in a lot of whites.

Oregon is more widely known for its pinot noir, of course, but the pinot gris (a mutant descendant of pinot noir dating back centuries) is becoming more popular. This is largely due to the efforts of an Evergreen neighbor, the King Estate winery about 100 miles south on I-5.

The full story of the Spruce Goose is pretty amazing, and you can check out the real thing at the museum. It’s just 40 miles from Portland. The Evergreen Vineyards tasting rooms are located right inside the museum.

Aromatique: A little sharp, but the fruit is evident, especially after the wine mellows a bit.

SipQuips: Apple and citrus, moderated with rounder notes of pear. Smooth mouthfeel and a fairly clean finish.

Kitchen Couplings: Ideal for a light meal or hors d’oeuvres; light- or medium-flavored cheeses.


Some the wiser …

Well, this was a no-brainer.

I mean, really? Putting a bottle of wine called “Wise & Heimer” in front of the Wine Slobs is like throwing raw meat in front of a pair of starving … um … starving … well, what’s more bad-ass than a tiger? A werewolf maybe? Hyenas might be more appropriate in our case. Whatever, you get the idea.

It’s not clear from the label whether this 2009 German Riesling was inspired by the vaguely insulting “wisenheimer” or was merely the brainchild of the worst law firm name ever. It was, after all, imported by Prestige Wine Group (which, incidentally, must be fresh out because it no longer appears on their website).

Smarty pants wineBut, dear readers, there is a reason you come here for your wine edification. We know you deserve more than just a casual glance at the label. We take our wine-drinking seriously, imbuing our libations with deeper meaning and conveying that understanding to our legions of dedicated fans — all four of you. You know who you are. 😉

Call it the Zen of Tippling[?].

In this case, our witty vintners have achieved a sort of verbal yin and yang, balancing the semantically opposite “wise” and “heimer” on an ampersand fulcrum [?]. “Wise” evokes thoughts of the oracular elder contemplating the essence of his daily glass. Think Yoda sipping in his little hut on Dagobah.

The other half, the Heimer, is the foil in this little fencing match. According to the indispensable Urban Dictionary, it derives from the 90s-era insult “dingleheimer,” and means “a person exhibiting severe ignorance and inability to comprehend simple ideas.” Think GOP presidential candidate.

And there you have it: Balance. And that’s what we want in our wine, isn’t it? A balance of flavors and aromas within the wine itself and a balance of the wine with food and a match between the wine and the mood. In all things, balance.

Now if only we could balance the checkbook after buying this modestly priced bottle.

We had already committed to spending an ungodly amount of cash on a new kitchen table and chairs in preparation for the Thanksgiving in-law invasion. Either of those events would justify a trip to the wine aisle which, at Cost Plus World Market, just happens to be right next to the kitchen furniture. Go figure.

The selection at Cost Plus is awesome, but we didn’t browse long. We needed to get home and start drinking so we could decipher the instructions for assembling our new table. Fortunately, it didn’t require power tools or the ability to translate Swahili. This vintage with the clever name, in its bright blue (probably lead-tainted) bottle caught our eye right away.

As dedicated reviewers of inexpensive wine, we accept the fact that, sometimes, the pretty bottle and the cool label are the best part. (See Ed Hardy review, below.) But this wine was well worth the $7.99.

It opens up nicely with bright, crisp apple and peach/apricot flavors. The hint of lemon isn’t tart, but moderates the fruitiness. It starts sweet and warms nicely on the tongue, finishing clean and smooth. If you find some whites too dry but you also don’t like them overly sweet, you may find this well-balanced wine just what you’re looking for.

This is not a wine that is going to stand up and make you take notice. For one thing, it’s only 10% alcohol by volume (so get a couple of bottles). It’s refreshing and easy to drink, making it a good choice to have with a light snack or over ice while chilling with friends on the patio in the summertime.

It plays a nice second-fiddle at your table, provided you don’t overwhelm it with red meat, red sauce or bacon. (I know — supposedly bacon makes ANYthing better, but trust us on this one … save the bacon for a hearty red or something sweet like an ice wine or late-harvest riesling.)

Frankly, I don’t remember what we drank it with. I just know it wasn’t bacon.

So get on down to Cost Plus and buy a bottle or three for your holiday party. Maybe you can pick up a nice table on your way out.

Aromatique: Fresh, citrus-y nose with a hint of sweetness.

Sip Quips: Apple and peach lead the way, but there’s enough citrus here to balance the flavors nicely.

Kitchen Couplings: Lighter fare would be best. Salad, salty cheese or other hors d’ourves.


Woop Woop … Whoops!

Remember those old TV for commercials for Foster’s Lager? “Foster’s … it’s Australian for BEER!” Well, Woop Woop apparently is Australian for “out of the way” or “not even close.” This Chardonnay from down under is, well, not even close to being good. Just the look on Debbie’s face when she takes a swallow is enough to tell you that this 2004 Chard is best left on the shelf.

Mmmm. Roasted veggie and goat cheese ravioli.

Grilled vegetable and goat cheese agnolotti with a fresh thyme and parmesan.

We’ve been saving this wine to enjoy with the perfect meal, for the name alone seemed to promise some festivity. We opened the screw top with anticipation. The sticker, from some retailer called “Rudy’s,” says $9.99, but we got it for free. Some non-wine-drinking friends gave it to us in exchange for a promise to review it for this blog. Listen, Scott & Traci. We’re sorry, but this particular vintage is sub-par … and we don’t mean like Scott’s golf game. You can consider it a favor; we saved you from drinking this bottle of wine. That’s what friends are for. You’re welcome.

The wine had clear, bright color, offering hope for plenty of crisp, clean citrus flavor that would pair nicely with the tasty ravioli in wine sauce we had planned for dinner. Buttoni’s Grilled Vegetable & Goat Cheese Agnolotti makes a great weeknight gourmet meal, especially with the addition of fresh thyme and parmesan cheese.

The glass revealed a hint of effervescence, which often implies a dry white wine. The first whiff revealed little hint of fruit; it was sharp and strong but not particularly appealing. Tasting didn’t improve the experience much … an astringent beginning led to a metallic (one favorable online review called it “steely”) finish, as though it was served from a rusty tin can. In reality, it’s hard to say this wine even really has a finish; it lingers like a house guest who won’t take a hint.

Of course, maybe WE should have taken a hint. This wine is a 2004 vintage, which puts it very long in the tooth for an inexpensive Chardonnay. Consider this a lesson for the Wine Slobs. The folks at cellarnotes.net and elsewhere say that even a Chardonnay that lists for $25 should be consumed within 3-5 years. We aren’t mathematicians, but seven years seems well outside of the optimal window. Bottles under $10 should be opened right away, as they don’t age well. Well, lesson learned.

So, now that we’ve talked a little vino and learned that it’s not good to let cheap wine sit around (drink faster!), let’s look at this Woop Woop phenomenon more closely. How did two nonsensical words become so ingrained in the pop culture? Besides being the Aussie version of “out in the boonies,” woop woop is also a term used to express approval, happiness or joy and is often accompanied by fist bumps. It’s also, for those of you who might need to know such things “the sound of the po-lice” comin’.

well, mistakes are a part of life.Woop woop reached the apex of its popularity a few years ago when some Danish rapper named Natasja recorded a reggae fusion remix of Enur’s “Calabria” (original video may be NSFW depending on your co-workers). We have no idea what the words mean, but “woop woop” runs throughout. The fist bumps were short-lived however; Natasja died in Jamaica in 2007 at age 32.

Apparently there’s no respect for the dead anymore, because her version of Calabria has spawned innumerable remixes, many of them serving as testament to the fact that not everyone should be allowed to post on YouTube. There’s even a Teletubbies version. Have you people no shame?

No? Well, neither do we, which is why our favorite Woop Woop remix is included below.

The Woop Woop madness doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Apparently the term has become a standard greeting for fans of the Insane Clown Posse, often referred to as Juggaloes. No, really. We aren’t making this up. ICP recorded a “song” (loosely defined) a while back called Stomp (lyrics definitely NSFW), in which the “singer” (again, loosely defined) says “I say stomp, you say” and the response is “woop woop.”

Whatever, yo! We say “bottoms up!” (You say “woop woop” – but maybe toast with a glass of a nice 12 Apostles Chardonnay.)

Aromatique: A hint of citrus but mostly acidic and strong alcohol scent.

SipQuips: Not good. Very tart, watery mouth feel with a metallic aftertaste.

Kitchen Couplings: Don’t bother. It’s not worth wasting a good meal on this wine. If you must pair it with something, very strong cheese or meats with significant fat content will help to mellow the heavy acidity.


Pin-chardasshean-oh Grigio

This one earned a half glass.One of the first lessons we learned while attending Wine Review School (St. Vincent of Saragossa Academy, Class of 2009) is to never let the quality of the food influence your opinion of the wine.

Just because you guzzled that $200 French Chablis while snarfing a plate of bad chili fries doesn’t mean the wine was bad. It just wasn’t a proper pairing. (We could recommend some vintages that would be appropriate, but that’s a different post.)

Matching your vino with your grub is important to enjoying both. So we’re trying not to let a disappointing culinary experience shadow our opinion of this 2006 Rheinhessen Ars Vitis Pinot Grigio from Germany.

We picked up this bottle of Qualitätswein (that’s what it promises on the label) for $3,99 from the Grocery Outlet. Think of that. A five-year-old bottle of wine was shipped all the way to Idaho from Germany, sold for under four bucks, and someone still made money. That’s nuts.

But I digress.

This is a perfectly serviceable wine, especially if you like your whites a little on the tart side. The fruit here is all green apple. It’s definitely not a sweet wine. There are some earthy undertones, especially after it warms a bit.

Our tasting of this wine may have played second fiddle to a kitchen adventure that had mixe

Check it out. Reality looks just like the recipe page!

d results. Debbie concocted a gorgeous looking casserole of polenta, fresh rainbow chard from the garden, cannelloni beans, and asiago cheese. I thought it was quite tasty; Debbie said the chard-asiago dish tasted more like charred ass. (Recipe here … if you dare.)

That’s a lot for any wine to compensate for.

The truth is, we haven’t drunk a lot of pinot grigio, despite the fact that it’s the most commonly imported white in the U.S. Apparently, at least according to some sources, it’s also the most maligned. It’s often referred to as uninteresting.

I don’t know if this wine validates that position. It’s one-dimensional, to be sure, but it wasn’t bad. And with the right meal, it might be downright enjoyable.

Now, about that chard-polenta casserole…

Aromatique: Sharp, fruity aroma, like a Granny Smith apple
SipQuips: Tart, but not quite sour. Green apples, with a hint of earthiness.
Kitchen Couplings: Spicy Thai or Asian food; sushi