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.

Posted in Chardonnay on November 19, 2011 – 4:17 pm | Comments (3)
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There’s gonna be a Hardy-ache tonight

My grandma used to have this pair of diamond earrings she called her “Canardlys.”  When you would ask what Canardlys were, she would say, “They’re so small, you can hardly see them!”  This weekend, the family and I broke out one of the nine newly acquired bottles from last week’s Gross Out Winopalooza.

This cool vino was a clear pick when compared to the other dozen or so blasé bottles occupying the rack. The tattoo design on the label is hip and edgy with what appears to be one seriously pissed off eagle keen on  ripping someone’s lungs out, quite possibly in mid-flight.  But after several sips,  I “Canardly” understand why this wine would have any popularity at all if it weren’t for the funky design on the bottle.

The 2008 Ed Hardy Cabernet Sauvingnon can only be described as unremarkable.  I must confess I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for this vino from the get-go.  Brad had a co-worker purchase the same variety at the Grocery Outlet a few days back; she described it as tasting like “rotten fruit.” I don’t know that I concur with rotten fruit, because honestly it didn’t taste like much of anything.  We did however, find  at least one reviewer who likened the smell to “asparagus piss.”  We tried aerating the wine, letting it hang out for awhile and I personally swirled it until I was dizzy, but after all that, the only thing to linger in my mouth was the taste of bitter disappointment.  This promising Cab had no body, no real flavor and ended on a very flat note. I had hoped this wine would be more in tune with the label and that somehow I would experience a provocative, robust explosion of spicy structured goodness the moment it hit my tongue.  And that somehow, the screaming eagle and lightning bolt from the label would propel itself onto my taste buds! But, it never happened. It’s a dirty rotten shame too, because everything that bears the name Ed Hardy seems to turn to gold.  Make that, almost everything.

However, something good did come from my less than pleasant tasting experience that you fine readers might find interesting.  After a little research, I read that Don Ed Hardy, the renowned tattoo, graphic artist and author from California, had been fascinated with the art of tattooing as a young boy. By the age of 11 he was drawing complex tattoos on friends with colored pencils.  Colored pencils? I wonder what cancer causing agent could be found in those back in the 1950s?

As an adult he spent time in Japan where he studied tattooing with the classical tattoo master, Kazuo Oguri (known by his tattooing name, Horihide) in 1973 and throughout the 1980s.  It was highly unusual for a person of non-Asian decent to gain access to the art of traditional Asian tattooing. As a matter of fact, prior to World War II, tattooing was forbidden in Japan. Horihide began his rigorous training with a tattoo master right after the war ended at a time when apprenticeships lasted five years and pupils were nothing more than house servants to their masters, given little food and in the case of Horihide, sometimes beaten for the first two. Pupils would learn the ancient art and meanings little by little.

Ed Hardy was able to fuse his newly acquired techniques with his classic American style, and create a uniqueness  all his own. His designs exploded in popularity. In 2004, a gentleman by the name of Christian Audigier walked into Hardy’s shop looking to buy his entire portfolio and later licensed the rights to produce the Ed Hardy clothing line, which is based on his imagery. And what do you suppose Hardy’s commission check was after the first year of sales?  You’ll want to sit down for this one. Go ahead. I’ll wait… Hardy’s proceeds ended up being around 50 Million. That would buy a LOT of colored pencils!

How's about a little Spam Sushi to go with that fine wine? It's all the rage. Promise.

A French native, Audigier left school to start a career at the age of 14 with fantasies of  living the American dream.  In 2000, the accomplished fashion designer moved to L.A. with just $500 in his pocket, quickly gaining a clientele of celebrities eager to strut around in his fashions. This master of marketing paid paparazzi to photograph celebs like Brittany Spears and Madonna emerging from his shops wearing his clothing and hats, but Audigier had a broader vision. He made certain the Ed Hardy brand is plastered on everything from something called “structured water” to belts, sunglasses, shoes, lighters, stemware, trendy night clubs and pricey vodka. Not only is he a marketing genius, he’s attractive, tan and every word he mutters is sexy as hell because he’s French. Circa 2008, Audigier teamed up with Nicholas Wines, an importer of French vino, to bring us his very own line of Ed Hardy wine.  And this, my friends, is where I think he should have stopped at just making vodka. But what do I know, he is worth over $250 million,  and just this year he sold the Ed Hardy brand for a cool 62 mil. We bought his wine for $3.99 at Grocery Outlet.

Personally, I think a little vino can only help some of us be more artistic. But rarely does the artist help to make a good wine. Anyone up for a free tattoo and swanky new outfit?  I’m feeling artistic, have a can-do attitude and plenty of cheap wine on hand!  Better yet,  I’ll just stick to sampling vino and rub-on Ed Hardy tats.  C’est la vie!

Aromatique: Nondescript aroma. Mild spice. Described by one reviewer as smelling like “asparagus piss.”

SipQuips: Probably won’t be the worst wine you’ll ever taste (see review for Buckley’s Cove). But it will be the worst wine you have today.

Kitchen Couplings: Asparagus. Rotting fruit. Anything strong enough to cover up the flavor of the wine. Anchovies, etc.

Dare we try the Rose’ ?  Click the pic! We are still laughing! Enjoy!

Posted in Dribbles and drivel on November 16, 2011 – 10:16 pm | Comments (0)

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.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Dribbles and drivel, Red on November 13, 2011 – 10:10 pm | Comments (0)

Cheap is good; cheaper’s better

We make no bones about the fact that we drink — and enjoy — cheap wine. We aren’t part of the 1% that the folks at Occupy Wall Street keep talking about. That’s not to say we don’t occasionally splurge on a vintage that goes beyond our usual $10 ceiling, especially if we’re at a nice restaurant. It’s pretty hard to buy a bottle for $8.99 when you’re out on the town, unless you plan on dining at the local 7-11. What wine pairs best with those nasty all-day-on-the-rollers hot dogs, I wonder.

Gross Out wines

Pretty wines, all in a row...

So, it kinda goes without saying that we jump at the chance to get our inexpensive vino on sale. I mean, who doesn’t love a sale?

Double-plus good if the sale is at our fave wine outlet. Grocery Outlet’s 20%-off sale only lasts for five days; we made sure to show up on Day 1 so the shelves wouldn’t be picked over. Of course, buying wine on a work-week Wednesday kinda precludes us from sampling too many of the vintages right away. We do both have real jobs. Honest.

So, by way of preview, here’s a look at what we bought, just in case any of you actually give any credence to our opinions. If you like wine — and we know you do, unless your name is Nick M. — then get thee, to the Grocery … Outlet, for some bargains.

NOTE: Prices here are the shelf prices; actual price paid is 20% less. (You’ll have to do your own math. And show your work!)

Pine and Post 2006 Chardonnay — $2.99: We’ve had the P&P 2009 Merlot and loved it, so picking up a bottle of this Washington Chard for under $3 seemed like a no-brainer.

Sawtooth Winery 2006 Ice Wine Gewurtztraminer — $4.99: It’s unlikely that Nampa will ever be confused with Napa, but this local winery has a rep for good whites. And this skinny little 375 ml bottle with an image of a dry fly (that’s a fishin’ term for you easterners) will make an awesome vase when we’re done.

Speaking of small bottles with flies on them, we also picked up Sawtooth’s 2006 late harvest Sauvignon Blanc for $4.99. This will be a nice wine for a weeknight when we want to spend a little extra time on dinner and enjoy a single glass of crisp fall flavor.

Our final Sawtooth Winery selection is the 2006 Merlot ($7.99). All of the Sawtooth picks are from their “Reserve” line, which will make us sound a lot more impressive when we review them.

From the Treasure Valley to far-off Tuscany, our next pick is a Corte Mura 2010 Chianti ($5.99). I’m not sure either of us has actually drank a chianti, which is a dry red wine, but we are looking forward to making that little thup-thup-thup sound with our tongues when we serve it with some fava beans.

Continuing our world tour, we picked up the Shingleback 2006 Merlot ($6.99), from Australia’s McLaren Vale, known for its hearty reds. I confess to first picking up the bottle out of curiosity over why anyone would name a wine for a popular rock band, but then I realized this wine actually gets its name from one of the local lizards. You can’t go wrong with reptiles.

Speaking of rock and roll, we couldn’t resist picking up the Ed Hardy ’77 Tattoo Cabernet Sauvignon ($3.99), a red table wine from France. France. Really. A wine that looks like it was bottled by a Hell’s Angel doing 20-to-life for stabbing someone in a bar fight, made in France. OK, then. The fellow cheap-wine fan who tipped us to the Gross Out sale has taken this one for a ride, and her review was less than glowing. We’ll reserve judgment, but we probably won’t serve this in mixed company.

Next, we get to the Turn Me Sweet 2010 Tempranillo ($5.99) from Spain. We’ve had good luck with sweet reds that feature women on the bottle (think Mad Housewife), so this seems like a good bet. For the record, Brad did not pick this one out despite the busty pin-up-girl label.

Finally, the only wine that was (sort of) actually recommended by someone is the 2010 Bodega Privada Syrah from Argentina ($5.99). The wine guy at Grocery Outlet was telling anyone who would listen that this was the best red on the shelf. The smoked-glass bottle and the distinguished label kinda set it apart on our new wine rack (more about that later), but the price was right. The tiny italic font — and the fact that it’s in Spanish — makes the label a bit hard to read. The website indicates that this wine is best with barbecued “lamp” or steak. Hmmm. A “light” meal, perhaps?

OK … that’s the lineup. Nine new wines to go with the half-dozen still awaiting the corkscrew. And an impressive variety … three locals, plus wines from France, Argentina, Spain, Italy and Australia. Here at TwoWineSlobs.com, we span the globe to bring you the best in cheap wine.

We’d be interested to hear from others who take advantage of the Grocery Outlet sale. Tell us which wines you picked and which ones you liked or disliked. We’re always looking for suggestions!

Posted in Dribbles and drivel on November 11, 2011 – 10:46 am | Comments (0)

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.

Posted in Merlot, Red on October 23, 2011 – 10:23 am | Comments (0)

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

Posted in Pinot Grigio on October 19, 2011 – 10:40 pm | Comments (0)

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.”


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.

Posted in Red, Syrah on October 5, 2011 – 9:40 am | Comments (0)

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.

Posted in Pinot Noir, Red on October 3, 2011 – 10:30 pm | Comments (0)

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…

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon on October 1, 2011 – 10:30 pm | Comments (0)

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.

Posted in Red on September 29, 2011 – 10:12 pm | Comments (2)