Plonk.

As many of you know, I love wine. Let me repeat. I LOVE WINE. This January I made a commitment to use 2008 as my first real foray into Wine Country, meaning THIS YEAR I would be judicious, thoughtful, and disciplined in my consumption. AKA, not just a drunk.

I started with a plan. I would select modestly priced wines – as many as I could muster – and I would drink them, paying special attention to each & every nuance, bouquet, hint of fruit and je ne sais quoi. In this new & thoughtful manner, I would MASTER the Art of Cheap Wine. And so, glass in hand, I began my quest in earnest. And although that first bottle of wine, consumed Wednesday, January 16th, was really quite awful, earning just a C rating, I was excited. B/c I knew the CHALLENGE was ON.

Since that first evening, I have sampled many, many wines. Some of them exceptionally good, as iterated in my First Quarter Summary. And a few of them inexcusably bad. There is nothing worse than going out, buying a bottle of wine, and bringing it home – or worse! presenting it to a friend – and finding you’ve been HAD.

BIG HOUSE WHITE 2006, California

This wine should be the poster-child for DON’T JUDGE A WINE BY ITS LABEL. The bottle looks truly appealing, with its cute artistic label. Don’t fall for it sucka. The wine inside merited a candid “YUCK” in my wine journal. Granted, a mix of 7 varietals could go either way, but this one is not a success. Very tart apple flavor, paired with high acidity and a distinctly unappealing aftertaste make this a wine to avoid. Even drinking it ice cold didn’t improve the lot. Thumbs down.

BAREFOOT SHIRAZ, Calfornia

The bottle features a *2 GOLD MEDALS* sticker prominently, so I went into this wine thinking YUM YUM YUMM. Unfortunately, once I tasted it I went “BLEECH”. This mass-produced red is not a great wine – cheap or not. It is strongly acidic and dry, with a pronounced aftertaste. If you are looking for another inexpensive, big-bottle wine for a party, I suggest trying Nathanson Creek Merlot instead, which for the same price provides a decent, tasty wine to be enjoyed by all.

RUFFINO LUMINA PINOT GRIGIO 2006, Italy

I must confess, my husband & I were divided on this wine. While I gave it a C+ for its low acidity and almost-imperceptible aftertaste, John stated that it “SMELLS LIKE A DEAD ANIMAL” and rated it an “F for FUNK.” You be the judge.

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Wine Review: Chateau La Grange de Grenet, 2005 Bordeaux

You’ll be pleased to hear that my 2008 resolution is going well, and I have been steadily gathering a whole boatload of information about my most-favorite of subjects: WINE.

For my first recommendation, I’d like to present a very moderately-priced ($10 here in Philly) red wine from France.

Chateau La Grange de Grenet, 2005 Bordeaux, 12.5 % Alc./Vol., 750 ml

For such an inexpensive wine, this one is a real treasure. Dark cherry color, bouquet hints of cherry, raspberry and plum. Well balanced. Good acidity, light clean finish with a subtle aftertaste of oak and ripe berries. All-in-all, a very lovely, highly drinkable wine. AND CHEAP.

Highly recommended!

A-

My 2008 wine challenge

As some of you know, I like wine, a lot. I like drinking it. I like sampling it. I like buying it. I like stockpiling it for the future. All-in-all, I am one wine-loving gal.
So last year when we did our shoestring-budget kitchen remodel, one of the things my husband surprised me with was a small 12-bottle Haier wine cellar. It looks super fancy, but really is just a freestanding dorm fridge with glass door and inner wine rack. I love the thing, but frankly it does the worst job – if any at all – of either chilling or refrigerating the wine. It looks a lot like this one:

haier

Only a lot less high-tech. No do-hickies on the top to regulate the temperature. Instead it has a turn-knob on the back that has two labeled settings, “white” and “red” with gradations in between. Turn it to red, and I think the thing goes off completely. Turn it to white, it gets just cool enough to tease. A bare whisper of cool. but enough to keep you from throwing the thing in the trash, especially since it wasn’t THAT cheap, and it looks so good in the kitchen. I guess what I am getting at is the thing is just a glorified wine rack, we store our bottles in it and they look so pretty and tempting, but if I am going to be drinking white wine, I have to remember to put it into the REAL fridge. I like my white wine chilled – actually COLD – and anytime I forget to put it into the REAL fridge for a cool-down (and have to pull it directly out of the Haier), I have to drink it with ice cubes in it. It makes me feel slightly less classy. Long story short – if you are going to invest in one of these Haier wine fridges, make sure it works. REALLY works.

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2008 is to be more disciplined when it comes to my wine drinking. Less unrefined knock-back swilling this year. And now that the Target Brand Box Riesling is finally gone, I can commit to that. This year, I will be taking a more considered approach to my indulgence. Although my husband and I have made a point over the past couple years of selecting new wines each time we stock up, this year I will go farther. I have set myself a new and worthy goal. This year I will concentrate on moderately priced to dirt-cheap wines ($15 and under), which I have not yet tried (or at least not in my new disciplined manner). I have even begun a **WINE DIARY!** to meticulously document all of my accumulated wine knowledge – all those nuances and bouquets, the fast-forgotten facts one inevitably sheds once the bliss is gone. Never before have I been so enthusiastic about a task. I have done research the past three nights and have been been ASTOUNDED not only by my findings, but by the amount of wine I can drink without feeling guilty! Yes, I know most wine tasters spit out their wine between sips – but NOT ME! I am UP TO THE CHALLENGE.