Wine Review: Malbec, Menage A Trois

img_8995

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: Red Moscato, Beringer

img_8848

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.

img_8887

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.

Wine Reveiw: 2015 Crush Smooth Red Blend, Apothic

img_8301

I read the news today, oh boy….

Bill Paxton died on Saturday.  He was 61.

I read the news on Twitter and I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t particularly old. He wasn’t a drug addict. He wasn’t grossly overweight. He died of complications following  heart surgery.

The past year has brought us a mass die off of celebrities.  Most of them didn’t cause me too much grief but I am bothered by the death of Bill Paxton.

His magic was in seeming like such a benign and regular guy but his work was anything but benign and regular.

I loved Bill Paxton in Tombstone and A Simple Plan but in 2001, when I saw the movie Frailty, I took a step back and said, “gawd damn…”

It is because of these films that I watched the HBO series, Big Love and, because of that show, I discovered The Black Keys.

A mutual love of The Black Keys is one of the first excuses Xavier and I had to chat on facebook way back in the day.

Last night Xavier and I decided get a bottle of wine and watch Tombstone to honor the passing of Bill Paxton.

I was in the mood for something sweet and wanted to try Beringer Red Moscato.  The liquor store down the street had it a few weeks ago but last night it was sold out.

It turned out to be fortuitous because the wine we got instead was fantastic! 

2015 Apothic Crush.

Just to avoid any confusion, this is a dry red wine and bares no resemblance to Moscato.

What it is, however, is damn delicious!

Apothic wine is bottled in Modesto, CA and let me tell ya, California tastes just fine.

Crush is a smooth and incredibly tasty dry red that makes it all too easy to keep refilling the glass. Their website says Crush tastes like caramel and chocolate and I say that it doesn’t disappoint.  If you haven’t tried this, you’re missing out. Seriously.

I love red wine with red meat and yesterday I spent eight hours slaving over a hot crock pot making a kick ass pot roast for our Sunday dinner. Of course the dog is waiting patiently for his left overs while the cat is more interested in the wine and keeps trying to put her face and/or paw into Xavier’s glass.

img_8861
Apothic Crush is Murphy dog approved.

Apothic is not messing around when it comes to alcoholic content and Crush is 14.5% alcohol.  Despite it’s heavyweight status, I experienced none of the problems that a lesser quality wine would have caused.  No icky feeling. No headache. No intestinal complaints. Honestly, didn’t really even feel all that tipsy.  I appreciate a wine that I can enjoy without paying for it the next day. It cost about $12 but is absolutely worth it.  Don’t waste money on poor quality wine that leaves you feeling crappy.  Spend a few extra bucks on the good stuff.

 My review of this Apothic Crush is simple.  Go buy it, it’s good.

Wine Review: 2014 Merlot, Dark Horse

img_8810

Dark Horse Merlot: The Yum Continues…

I’m not sure what they mean by “jammy” but if it means chunks of grape residue stuck to the inside of the bottle and settled at the bottom of my glass then, yes, it’s “jammy”.

Tasty? Absolutely.

Goes well with pizza?  Damn skippy!

Penguin-mouth factor? Low, it did not turn my teeth blue.

img_8761

I would describe Dark Horse Merlot as a lightweight Merlot.  Not that it’s intended for amateurs but that it’s not as heavy feeling and flavored as other Merlot wines that I’ve sampled. As previously mentioned, it did not give me penguin mouth. Additionally, it didn’t give me a headache either.

Am I supposed to be using terms with universally agreed upon definitions?

Sorry.

It’s a little dark-fruity, a little oaky and, if you squint real hard, maybe a vague notion of molasses. Honestly though, “molasses” is a bit of a stretch.

I am rapidly becoming a fan of Dark Horse wine and, possessing a certain proclivity for being a creature of habit, would probably resort to buying it all the time except for the certain inevitability of running out of stuff to write about.

But not to worry. I’m not in panic mode, yet. There are still a few Dark Horses yet to be explored and, for a wine that continues to be on sale for $8.99, you can’t go wrong here.

 

 

 

Wine Review: 2015 Silk Soft Red Blend, Menage A Trois

img_8645
Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

Love. Love. Love.

There’s a new sheriff in town.

This wine is ecstatically delicious.

Seriously, it’s not even fair to the other winemakers of the world.

While Xavier was switched on by the Menage A Trois Gold Chardonnay, in my opinion there is nothing finer than the Silk Soft Red.

This wine is rated at 90 points.  No arguments here.

70% Pinot Noir. 20% Malbec. 10% Petite Sirah

Alchemy in a barrel.

But nothing is simple. To be human is to be caught in moments of conflicting emotions and events.

Earlier in the day Xavier was in a car accident.

Less than a mile from home, on his way to buy me fancy popcorn, Xavier was stopped in traffic when a distracted old lady plowed into the back of his car at 35 miles an hour.

Apparently Mrs. Too Old To Be Driving looked up from her knitting just in time to see to see his taillights and say “Oh Shit!”

She had longer skid marks in her Depends than she left on the road trying not to hit my husband.

She pushed his car 20 feet and into the next lane. Fortunately other drivers were paying attention and no one else hit him during his slide across the road.

Xavier was so excited about this car and had only bought it three weeks prior.  It still had the temporary plates and he had not even made the first payment yet.

While not dead or paralyzed, he is definitely hurt and this situation is a long way from being resolved.

In a real time example of yin and yang, we sat on the couch drinking the most delicious wine in the world while he told me the story and showed me the police report and the photos. Being human, in all it’s conflicting glory.

Two of the most important questions in life are: What will you focus on? and What does it mean?

Could something good come of this seemingly unfortunate turn of events?

Without overplaying my hand, I believe there will be a positive outcome and, when that day arrives, we’ll celebrate with another bottle of Silk Soft Red Blend.

Wine Review: 2014 Pinot Noir, Robert Mondavi Private Selection

img_8572

“Will stay in a situation well past the point when a sane person would have quit.”

That’s (always been) me, in a nutshell.

I don’t know if the picture on the label is supposed to be light house or a church but either one seems appropriate for pondering a moral dilemma.

Shelly recommended the Pinot Noir from Robert Mondavi and it did not disappoint.

Xavier and I killed a bottle of this dark and swirling smooth red wine while debating the following situation.

For the past two years I have been teaching a group fitness class called Strength And Balance For Seniors. After all that time I still only have three regular participants. They each only pay $35 a month for the class and it meets twice a week.

Of the three participants, I like two of them well enough but one of them, a women named Sally, pushes me like a sore tooth. Every conversation with her is like chewing on tin foil.

Further complicating matters is that I’ve recently started a new job which is consuming quite a bit of my time and making it increasingly inconvenient to keep the class going, in part, because that class time comes out of the precious few hours I have left of “me time”.

Hold on, let me pour another glass wine.

The problem isn’t that she’s not nice and it’s not that we have opposing political views. She is a nice person who agrees with me on most things. She even loves animals but this is not the problem.

The problem is two-fold, well, actually three-fold if we’re being honest.

The #1 problem is that she likes me a little too much. She stalks me on facebook, digging back through years of my photos and posts, and then announces her findings during class as if she has solved some great mystery. This habit alone makes it hard to keep my cool.

Problem #2 is that, bless her heart, but she’s just a god damned idiot. Literally every word that escapes her mouth is without forethought or reason. I have often wondered how it is that husband hasn’t drowned her in the tub – not for the life insurance money but just to shut her up.

Problem #3 is that, after working on the same exercises with the same simple explanations twice a week for two years, she still stumbles through them like a drunk baboon.

Honestly, by now I could’ve taught monkeys to do these exercises better than she does them.

I spoke to my life coach about it. Kim is pretty blunt. She said, “You need to work smarter, not harder. Cut ’em loose.”

And I had just about decided to do that when….

Wait, need more wine.

I had just about decided to end this class when the Sally’s 38 year old son died of a drug overdose.

Well, fuck.

How am I supposed to fuel this decision with righteous indignation when now all of a sudden I am forced to consider her as a real person with real feelings? Forced to consider what she lives with on a day to day basis, terrified that her worst fears will come true and she will have to bury her own son. Remembering a conservation from the previous week where she shared with the class that her disoriented brother-in-law had called her the night before to ask for her sister’s phone number.  Her sister died five years prior and he is the widower.

An old woman trying to make the best of her remaining years, latched on to me as someone she sees as wise and brave, maybe like the daughter she wished she had instead of a drug addict son.

Maybe the most difficult people in our lives are the ones who need the most compassion. Maybe each of us is the most difficult person in someone else’s life and we don’t even realize because we’re just trying to show affection in the only way we know how. Maybe someday we too will be old and sad.

Maybe I allow guilt to cloud my judgement.

About this latest update Kim said, “Showing support for her situation and keeping the class going are two different issues.”

Xavier said, “This is not what you signed up for. Your job is to teach the class, not to get sucked into these personal situations. If you want to stop teaching the class then stop. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Due largely to it’s deliciousness, the Pinot Noir from Robert Mondavi is a wise and gentle wine, allowing my mind relax just enough to be reasoned with. Shelly’s recommendation was spot on and I would absolutely serve a glass of this delectable wisdom to my mother and to all of my friends.

I canceled the class.

Wine Review: 2014 Chardonnay, Cupcake Vineyards.

img_8557
Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

So many wines.

So few nights of the week…..

There is a McDonald’s in the same parking lot as my office. I am always starving when I leave work and have the same argument with myself over and over again. Playing like a broken record in the soundtrack of my own personal hell, the internal conflict goes something like this, “Let’s stop at McDonald’s. I know it’s overpriced and poisonous but can’t we do it just this once? Please…..”

Immediately countered by my condescending Jiminy Cricket, “So you want to be fat and sick? You’re trying to get diabetes? No, absolutely not, we have food at home. Besides, if you want to waste money on something unhealthy, spend it on wine.”

I’m not a slob after all, I have standards when it comes to choosing a poison.

Some of you may wonder why I couldn’t be kinder and gentler to myself and splurge on both?

Can’t a hardworking gal have a Royale With Cheese and tasty glass of Chardonnay?

No.

Mixing wine with McDonald’s is like dropping Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke.

Very, very bad.

Speaking of wine…

Cuteness in a bottle, that is Cupcake Vineyards.

Xavier and I sat on the couch watching Wine For The Confused with John Cleese and sipping our ice cold glasses of Chardonnay.

It didn’t taste the way I expected.  A little harsh, a little tart, a little not like the description on the product label.

Then John Cleese said that wine is often served too cold and I remembered the label on the Chardonnay from Linganore Winery.  It read “serve at 55-60 degrees”.

Hmmm.

I decided to let my glass sit for awhile, you know, for science.

As it turns out, Chardonnay is not Bud Light and ice cold is not it’s ideal state.

I wouldn’t have thought that it should make any difference but as the wine warmed an incredible transformation began to take place.

A wine that I initially didn’t care for suddenly became full of delicious flavor.

I’ve read the official tasting notes including the description of what this wine is supposed to taste like. Maybe some people can actually pick out all of those things, caramel and caterpillar legs, but for me the dominant flavors were apple, butter, and oak.

The apple was quite prominent and it reminded me of a fancy, wine-esque, apple cider that I tried recently when I attended a party at Blue Bee Cider in Richmond, VA. It is called Charred Ordinary, an obvious play on the word Chardonnay, and it was hands down the best apple cider I’ve ever had. Blue Bee makes a cider that almost tastes like Chardonnay and Cupcake Vineyards makes a Chardonnay that almost tastes like cider. I would love to do a side by side comparison some day.

My thoughts: I enjoyed the 2014 Chardonnay from Cupcake Vineyards, especially after allowing it to warm up a bit.  For best results serve at just slightly cooler than room temperature.  Additionally, during the 2nd glass watch the Top Gear episode featuring the Reliant Robin.
At 13.5% alcohol, everything is funnier is wine.

Watch here -> https://youtu.be/QQh56geU0X8

Wine Review: 2013 Vinters Blend Merlot, Ravens Wood

2529_1092189553721_5335063_n
Indigo The Crow. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

Three ways not to get away with murder.

  1. Ensure that you are the beneficiary of the victim’s life insurance policy.
  2. Drug victim before drowning them in the bathtub. Wait two hours then call 911.
  3. Marry jail bait girlfriend less than a week later.

Xavier and I watch Forensic Files while enjoying our wine in the evenings. It is our new favorite show and from it we have learned some valuable tips such as: killing someone for life insurance money is a bad plan and that most murders can be avoided simply by getting divorced.

Why is divorce so expensive?  Because it’s worth it.

img_8567

Xavier brought home this bottle of Ravens Wood Merlot as a surprise and, it was indeed surprising.

I had never tried a Merlot because for some reason I thought I wouldn’t like it. Somewhere along the way someone probably told me that they didn’t like Merlot and I just took their word for it.

Ever find yourself in possession of an opinion that is completely unsubstantiated? You know, something along the lines of believing the Earth to be flat or that Jesus rode a pet dinosaur? Yeah, it’s just like that.

So he brings home this bottle of Merlot that I think I won’t like but agree to try anyway and, low-and-behold, turns out to be completely delicious!

Who knew?

img_8562

Merlot is the proverbial garlic and Corn-Nuts of wine in the sense that if you have some, your date better have some too.  This is a thick and juicy dark red wine, smooth and positively decadent, and it actually does taste just a very tiny bit like black olives.  I found myself greedily slurping it down like eating grape jelly straight from the jar with a spoon BUT, and pay close attention to this part, it turned the entire inside of my mouth purple.

Not realizing that such a thing would occur, you could imagine my surprise when I went to brush my teeth and found myself looking like Danny DeVito in Batman Returns.

penguin

Dude, nothing says “Kiss Me”, like penguin mouth.

Now, this purple teeth business, I don’t mean to portray it as a deterrent but just some useful information for deciding when and where to enjoy a fine bottle of Merlot.

I say at home and preferably in the dark.

NOT in the car on the way to a first date.

My recommendation: Just like not wanting to be featured in an episode of Forensic Files, exercise a bit of discretion before uncorking the plan and everything will be just fine.

 

 

Wine Review: Cabernet Sauvignot, Kendall-Jackson Vinter’s Reserve

img_8401

Twenty years ago I had dinner at Olive Garden with Monique.  We were there to celebrate (Thank God We’re Not) Mother’s Day and I wanted a glass of wine because it seemed like an adult thing to do.

Despite living in sin city, I had grown up on a dirt road and had no idea what to order. Monique’s family, on the other hand, was in the habit of attending cultured events like the Santa Fe Opera and she was somewhat better equipped to differentiate between a decent wine and a bottle of cough syrup.

“Get this one”, she told me, “You’ll like it.”

So I did.  And I did.

“This one”, was Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon.

Burned in my memory for all of time because, at the tender age of 21, I had notably fewer things to keep track of.

Which brings us to the present moment.

Xavier and I made an afternoon adventure out of visiting Costco in Leesburg, VA. We live in Maryland but in these parts packaged liquor can only be sold in state regulated liquor stores, ergo not Costco.

Hence the drive to Virginia.

We bought two wines on this trip.  I have already reviewed one of them, the Sofia Rose’, and the other – based on the recurrence of an old memory, was 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Kendall-Jackon Vinter’s Reserve.

img_8340

I had meant to pair it with food, take some nice photos and to write something eloquent about it, but that’s not what happened.

I came home from work on a Friday night feeling exhausted and fed up with the steady stream of idiocracy that had filled my shift. Poor Xavier got home and asked how my day was.

Now faced with wild gesticulations and an ongoing rant, Xavier silently opened this bottle of wine and poured me a glass because he’s a good husband like that.

It worked like a charm and by the the second glass I had calmed right the fricky-frack down.

How was it? I would call it a solid “pretty good”. A far cry better than the yellow tail Cabernet Sauvignon, though not quite as smooth as the one from Tarara Winery that started this whole wine review business in the first place. It’s worth noting that the Kendall-Jackson is about $14.50 at Costco – as opposed to the $45 price tag on the Cabernet from Tarara.

For $14.50, I think this wine is a good buy. If you want me to say that it tastes like cedar, vanilla and cherry…. um, sure. Yes, it tastes just like that.

My review: A fairly smooth red wine with a pleasant woody aftertaste and enjoyable sedative qualities. May save a marriage.

 

 

Wine Reviews: Cabernet Sauvignon, [yellow tail]

img_8355
Cheap wine in a dirty kitchen. No counter tops were cleaned in the making of this photograph.

I suppose I should’ve know better but I decided to live cheap and dangerously.

This is Cabernet Sauvignon from yellow tail.

The price: $6.59.

That means no Mircale Gro for the grapes.

Now, to be honest, it’s not terrible, not pond water by any means, and it does start to taste better by the 2nd glass.

That first glass though.. it punches you in the throat on the way down which means it’s not very smooth and I figured out that this characteristic is what determines whether or not I like the wine.

It’s 13% alcohol so after the first glass, with the throat numb anyway, the punch is nearly painless.

While my review of this wine could double as zen wisdom for surviving a bar fight, it’s not all bad. If expendable income is tight and this is what you brought home to have with dinner, drink it fast, the pain is short lived.