Wine Review: Big Bold Red, [yellow tail]



Why do I never notice the lack of cork at the store?

I guess it’s one of my special skills.

Anyway, once again I found myself being concerned over the lack of vintage or cork but here’s the thing; expectation management.

Back in the late 1990’s I used to work as a wedding photographer at several “little chapels” on the Las Vegas Strip.

These places are notoriously cheap and fast. Double booked every 15 minutes, we cranked out weddings complete with flowers and photos for less than my car payment; a situation which necessarily lead to a good deal of conflict.


Because when people would call, the receptionist would explain the details of our services but conveniently fail to mention the 7.5 minutes part.

Then couples would arrive, expecting to be greeted by people who give a shit, and would promptly be rounded up with the rest of the cattle. Brides who had spent their girlhood dreaming of the day they could finally be a princess were butt hurt when fantasy didn’t match reality.

But here’s that thing again, expectation management.

It’s simple math is all. Real estate on the Strip is EXPENSIVE, employees are not volunteers and, as always, Vegas wasn’t built on winners.

Chapel weddings are cheap so they have to make up the difference in volume.

I mean, duh, right?

For a real wedding, where people act like they care and think you’re special, it’s going to cost more than the finance payment on a 1997 Honda Civic.

For a $6.99 bottle of wine, [yellow tail] Big Bold Red isn’t bad. It’s typical of the red blends. If I had paid $20 for the bottle, I may have been miffed, but it was $6.99 so I’ll say it was alright. In my opinion the oak was splintery making the flavor seem a little unbalanced but we still drank it.

If you want something that’s a step up, spend five more dollars.


Wine Review: Sweet Red Roo, [yellow tail]



Sweet Red Roo has a screw top.

I was concerned about the lack of cork but Xavier said it was ok because, “Now I can get to my liquor quicker.”

He’s funny like that.

We used to drink [yellow tail] Moscato all the time.  This was back in the day before I became interested in exploring the wide world of wine.  Some time ago I wrote a review about their Cabernet Sauvignon and, to be honest, I wasn’t that wild about it and hadn’t bought anything else from [yellow tail] since.

But then one day I was in the mood for something red and sweet, something like the Sweet Katherine from Elk Run Vineyards here in Maryland but maybe a little less expensive, and while perusing the liquor store noticed the Sweet Red Roo from [yellow tail].


I decided it was time to give [yellow tail] another chance. As a matter of fact, I got the Shiraz too.

As it turns out forgiveness does indeed benefit the forgiver because I liked this wine quite a lot.

Maybe they put more Miracle Gro on the grapes.

The label on the bottle puts it at one hop past the dividing line between dry and sweet. I believe the name for that is semi-sweet and it pretty much hits the nail right on the head.

Pleasantly sweet, but not overpowering, the vanilla and chocolate overtones make it smooth and prevent the tanginess from getting out of hand.

I give it the Murphy dog seal of approval!








Wine Review: Viva Vidal, Loew Vinyards


A couple weeks ago we took a little field trip out to Loew Vinyards in Mt. Airy, MD. Like many of the local vineyards in our area, Loew is a small, family owned, business. They are listed on Frederick Wine Trail along with two of our other favorites: Linganore and Elk Run.


A general wine tasting at Loew Vinyards is only $7.00 and that includes going home with a “free” set of wine glasses.  🙂

The fact of the matter is that it’s awkward and rude to be taking cell phone photos during a wine tasting when the owner is talking about all the interesting facts pertaining to their various varietals. It’s rude so I don’t do it but I did save the tasting menu and took a photo of it later.


Believe it or not, Xavier and I don’t agree on every single thing in the whole world.

I know, shocking. Right?

My three favorites (in order of appearance) were the Harvest Red, Country Classic and Viva Vidal.

He liked the Honey & Grape, Strawberry Jubilee and Viva Vidal.

So we bought the one we both agreed on.

That being said, I have to say that I thought the Harvest Red was very good. To me, it was smooth like a straight line. Naturally, it was also the most expensive bottle on the menu. Xavier said that he thought it tasted sour. While I honestly have no idea what he’s talking about, this is not an unusual difference of opinion for us.

Different strokes for different folks.

While tasting the Serendipity, the bar tender mentioned that some previous patrons had thought it tasted like grapefruit.

I said, “Well… it is grape.. fruit…..”

And after a moment of crickets and tumbleweeds, she got the joke and we had a nice laugh.

Thank you, I’ll be here all night.

So anyway, about the Viva Vidal.  

We came to a unanimous agreement that it literally tastes like a grape Blow-Pop. I am not misusing the word literal in a figurative expression. This wine is blow pop in a bottle.



Pork chops are good with sweet flavors like grilled onions, sauteed apples or pears, or Blow-Pop wine.

While Viva Vidal does indeed taste like candy, it manages to avoid going into the land of nauseatingly sweet. I don’t know how they pull it off because this wine is quite sweet but I thought it was perfectly fine to have with dinner.

A word of caution: just because it tastes like candy doesn’t mean it won’t knock you on your booty. Vival Vidal is 12% alcohol so be sure to sip responsibly.

Wine Review: 2015 Shiraz, [yellow tail]


I may have gotten a little carried away with the [ yellow tail ] wine this week.

In my defense, it was on sale [ buy one at $6.99 and get the 2nd one for $4.99 ].

I mean, hey, what’s a gal to do?

Unlike Sweet Red Roo, the Shiraz has a cork and a vintage.

We had it with baked salmon and vegetables but then we were still hungry so the rest of the bottle disappeared along with a bag of blue corn tortilla chips and salsa.

Xavier and I don’t own a dining room table so we eat at the coffee table. When the food appears so do the animals. The funny thing is that the dog wants the broccoli and the cat wants the wine. Neither of them is very concerned about the baked salmon.


For those of you who aren’t aware, Shiraz and Syrah are made from the exact same grape.

So why the different names?

Despite being made from the same grape, the final product is very different. Shiraz and Syrah have distinctly different flavors that are accounted for by a wide variety of climate and soil conditions along with different fermentation processes.

Syrah often comes from France and is considered to be more refined and sophisticated while Shiraz comes from everywhere else and is generally thought of as being more crass.

Crass, that was Xavier’s word.

“You mean it swears in public?”, I asked.

“I mean it hits the top of my mouth like a mushroom cloud”, he replied.

Well, that’s one way to put it.

This wine does open with an upper cut to the upper pallet but then diffuses to a softer finish.

Considering it was on sale for $4.99, I say it’s not bad.

Is it exceptional? No, but it’s alright and didn’t give me a headache. I’d drink it again.

Wine Review: Malbec, Menage A Trois


Should you have wine with breakfast?

Absolutely, but only if breakfast is served at 8:30 at night.

Trust me, nothing goes better with cheesy eggs and a baked potato than a nice glass of Argentinian red wine.

This was actually the 2nd Malbec wine that we tried but the first one wasn’t very good so, for now at least, it shall remain nameless.

In case you didn’t know, regardless of the specific winemaker’s locale, almost all Malbec is sourced from grapes grown in the Mendoza region of Argentina.

Anyway, as I was saying, the first Malbec we sampled was mediocre and I wanted to try a different one so I decided to give Manage A Trois a chance, figuring that if anyone could get it right it would be them.

Looking for a red wine that won’t punch you in the throat? Menage A Trois is your huckleberry.

In my opinion, the signature quality of all Menage A Trois red wine is an almost magical soft and velvety finish.

Their Malbec shares in the unique complexities and spicy quality that Malbec wine is known for but it finishes by rolling out a velvet hall runner.

In other words, we loved it!

A brief word of caution though.  It is very easy to keep pouring another glass but, despite it’s incredible drink-ability, this is wine is potent!

Slow down and enjoy, don’t give yourself a bad morning.


Wine Review: 2015 Dark, Apothic


The Apothic website describes Dark as tasting like coffee and chocolate.

Did someone say coffee?

In a round about way I would agree with that assessment but I think they left out some adjectives like heavy and deep.

This wine has the specific gravity of an intergalactic black hole from which no light can enter into nor escape from.

My 5 (fluid) ounce serving weighed 104 pounds but it was damn good with baked salmon.

So good that we killed the bottle in one night.

Xavier said it gave me penguin mouth but I say it was his wine goggles.





Wine Review: 2014 Apothic Red Winemaker’s Blend


This one is brief, but gets right to the point.

I’m tired and fed up, coming home late at the end of a long day.  Xavier texts me this photo with the caption, “for tonight”.


I say, “hellz yeah”, and hurry home.

I never did take any other photos. Didn’t wipe the gunk off the table and stage something nice with a plate of food. Didn’t even change out of my work clothes, just plunked down on the couch and this bottle was gone before you could say, “hey, who’s wine is that?”

I very much enjoyed the previous bottle of Apothic wine that we tried. That one was the Crush and it was mighty fine. The Red Winemaker’s Blend is not entirely dissimilar but I think it’s more subtle and smooth. The Crush is a little brighter, a little more oak, a little more in your face with it’s wine-i-tude while the Winemaker’s Blend is stronger on the mellow.


The perfect reward for making it through another day without killing anyone.

Wine Review: 2012 Crianza Rioja, LAN


Despite disagreeing with Kricket about California wine being inherently flawed, she has still been successful in peaking my interest in what she refers to as “Old World Wines”.

Xavier and I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Cacique.  

Cacique is special to us for a number of reasons. We went to dinner there during my first trip out here to visit. We’ve taken my cousin and his wife there when they were passing through town and we’ve also treated my mom to a dinner at Cacique when she came out to see us. Most notably, we dined at Cacique after our wedding.

So anyway, we had dinner at Cacique, again.

I used to always order a Margarita but this time I asked for the wine list.


I chose the Enate Tempranillo and it was fer-damn-delicious.

There was a depth and a spiciness to the flavor (enhanced by the incredible salsa at Cacique) that I have yet to come across in my wine adventures.

Xavier said something luke warm like, “Meh, it’s ok.” but I was hooked and wanted more. On the way home I requested a field trip to the Frederick Wine House in search of my very own bottle of Enate Tempranillo.

On a side note, the next day my online bank statement read, “FREDERICK WINE HO”, which I thought was funny.

C’mon, it’s a little funny.

As it turns out, they did not have what I was looking for so I picked another Spanish wine made from Tempranillo grapes, 2012 Crianza Rioja from LAN.


The following night we had it with dinner.


Naturally, it was a little bit different than the Enate Tempranillo, but the LAN Rioja still had the depth and the spice coupled with a silky smoothness that makes it very drinkable.

I truly enjoyed this wine, with no adverse side effects, but Xavier started getting a headache almost immediately. Well, you know what that means…  More for me!

I’ve heard a rumor that Tempranillo grapes will grow in New Mexico. In fact, there is a winery in Albuquerque growing them right now and I am already making plans for my future garden.

If Maynard from Tool can grow anything at all on the side of a hill in Arizona, I can surely grow some Tempranillo grapes in New Mexico, right?


Wine Review: Red Moscato, Beringer


Today is what’s trending on Twitter as #DayWithoutAWoman; the day when women are encouraged to participate in a show of solidarity for equal pay and equal rights by staying home.

I get it, but there is a certain overlooked irony. Go ahead, take your time….

I would say that I’m on strike but, coincidentally, I was off today. I might be a rebel but then again, I may just be an opportunist.

Today is interesting for other reasons. As I write this I am fully expecting to be fired from the gym, thus closing the door on a four year long chapter in my career.

I decided not to renew my personal training certification and I thought they probably wouldn’t notice.

I thought wrong.

They contacted me yesterday requesting an updated copy of my training certificate.

Today I told them that I don’t, and won’t, have it.

So, like I said, I’m expecting to be fired.

On the one hand it makes me sad.

To think I’ve been busting my ass in the fitness industry for the last four years only to have it end this way.

On the other hand, continuing in this professional makes me sad, and mad, for all kinds of reasons. Into every life falls an occasion to decide which fork in the road will lead to money in the bank and peace in the mind.

Which brings me to my next point.

I’ve also been busting my ass at my new, non fitness related, job for the last three months and last week I was rewarded with a promotion and a fat raise. 🙂

Oh yes, now I remember why I didn’t renew my training certification.

When I got home from work that night, Xavier and I celebrated with a bottle of Beringer Red Moscato.


I had been wanting to try it based on how much I enjoyed their Pink Moscato.

As it turns out, the red and pink are not actually very similar but the red is also quite tasty. The pink is sweeter and definitely has more oak whereas the red is almost more of a Rose’. The back label describes it as “semi-sweet” and Xavier describes it as “a liquid sweet tart”.

Margot, the alcoholic cat, describes it as “the best thing ever”.

Down and dirty facts:

This wine costs about $7.

Xavier had no headache but I woke up at 4:00 in the morning with the ice-pick-through-the-temple.  He is usually more prone to wine headaches than I am but there’s not always any rhyme or reason to this stuff.

Individual wines affect individual people individually.

My advice: If you’re staying home today, for whatever reason, have a glass of wine with dinner. It’ll make you feel better about the path not taken.