Friday, January 31, 2014

Windmill Old Vine Zinfandel

It's been a while since I've had any Zinfandel. I forgot how much I like it. It's a varietal that lends itself to a nickname (Zin), because it's friendly and accessable. It's the "Bob" of wines. Everyone knows and likes a Bob. In fact, I have TWO uncles named Bob, and I like them both very well.

This vine looks like it will
eat your soul. Badass.
The Zin I had the pleaseure of making the acquaintence of this week was Windmill Old Vine Zinfandel. Before I get to the tasting, here's an interesting tidbit for you: "Old Vine" is a term used with grapes that are, quite simply, grown on an old vine. Grape vines can live and produce fruit upward of 120 YEARS. As they age, however, they produce smaller and smaller crops. So the thinking is, the smaller the yield, the better the wine. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's interesting to consider. Google My research concludes the oldest known grape-producing vine has been used to make wine since the 1600's. Ho. Ly. BALLS.

A bottle of yum!
But, I digress...
Last night, to celebrate getting the little one to bed in record time (asleep by 8:15!) and irritating the crap out of someone whom I loathe, I poured myself a small glass of Windmill Old Vine Zin. Ahh, what a way to end an evening.

Because I like to pretend I know what I'm doing, I started off my wine tasting experience with a deep inhale. The scent was rich and earthy, like moist, picnic dirt (just play along with me, ok?), and the wine itself looked heavy, a stick-to-you-glass sort of red.

The sip was a powerful experience, perhaps because I don't get to drink wine much anymore, or maybe just because it's a powerful wine. Heavy on the berry flavor, slightly sweet-- or maybe not precisely sweet, but JUICY-- and with a hint of velvety chocolate and fresh cut wood. Yup, I said it. Wood.
Because I can't talk about Windmills
without thinking of this...

Windmill Old Vine Zin is a nice sipper, and was a great way for me to wind down after a long day while enjoying some Thursday night TV. If you prefer to hang with your friend Windmill Zin at a meal, you could do a lot worse than pairing it with something cheesy, like alfredo, or even just a straight up cheese platter (cheese platter is TOTALLY a meal). Windmill would also be good with pulled pork or other assorted barbeque goodies.

Price: $

My Rating: A

Friday, January 24, 2014

Santa Cristina Pinot Grigio

I can't put my arms down!
I'm not usually the sort of person to state/complain about the obvious, but damn it's cold! I'm wearing three shirts, two pairs of pants, and the fluffiest socks available this side of my pajamas, and I *STILL* can't feel my fingers (note to self: put on hobo gloves). So logically, I'm going to blog about a wine best served chilled. Because I enjoy frostbite. Don't you?

In my mind, persnickety people all have
 fancy moustaches for some reason...
Pinot Grigio is the sort of wine that people get all persnickety about, and I'm not 100% sure why. I mean, Santa Margherita is good and all, but it's a little pricey, and you can get a Pinot Grigio that's just as nice for much less. Enter Santa Cristina. At something like half the price, Santa Cristina is a similarly dry-yet-fruity white that goes great with a variety of dishes.

Best lightly chilled, you'll first notice its light straw color and fresh scent. The sip is best defined as crisp and full--I know, I know, "crisp" is a vague-ish wine term that doesn't necessarily carry any real-life applicability (don't even get me started on "full"), so I'll just tell that you once you sip, you'll want to click your tongue and say "Ahhhh!" You'll notice a burst of light citrus, and maybe even some pineapple that lasts through the sip and well after.
Or, you know, with a hot pocket...
Pair this one with crab cakes, light pasta/seafood dishes, or with appetizers at your low-key dinner party. I'm thinking a smoked meat and cheese platter, and maybe some spinach and artichoke dip. With pita chips, not tortillas. 'Cause we're classy like that.

Price: $

My Rating: B+

Friday, January 17, 2014

Silver Palm Cabernet

Well it's official...I no longer have the time and wherewithal to plan out what I'm tasting ahead of time. My days are consumed by work, and my evenings by playing games like "super baby" and "got yer nose". I mean, with a schedule like that, who has time to sit around and drink wine?
God, THAT'S sort of depressing...
OKAY...New Year's Resolution time: In 2014, I resolve to take one night a week, sip a glass of something-or-other, and then faithfully write about it here, along with whatever other silliness enters my head whilst I'm in front of the computer.!

I'm also a fan of THESE
California reds...
This week at PWC we're tasting some California reds (that's tonight from 4-7 if you want to stop by). And while that's sort of vague, it does make me reminisce about many of my favorite wines from days gone by...two immediately came to mind, but in the interest of your pocket book I'm going to write about the least expensive of the two: Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon.

California reds, and Cabernets in particular, are-- at least in my opinion-- sturdy and reliable. You can count on the "nicer*" ones to provide a robust complexity, and a dryness that doesn't obliterate the flavor.

the best kind of shiny.
What drew me at first to the Silver Palm was my habit of judging a book by it's cover. The label is unique, and well, really just gorgeous. I mean, look at it!

The wine itself is pretty, too. It's a deep ruby in color, and has that stick-to-the-glass quality that makes it really fun to swish around-- this also helps open it up.

Unlike some Cabs, Silver Palm isn't a dry, punch-you-in-the-face sort of wine. Rather it has a pretty strong smack of cherry and vanilla flavors, with a hint of menthol-y smoke hiding in there too. While this isn't what you'd necessarily expect when you go in for the sip, it's a pleasant effect. Smooth and satiny, the Silver Palm Cab is superb for sipping, and really nice with a meal. My choice? Steak gorgonzola, garlic mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus. If you decide to make this, you better save me a seat!

Price: $$

My Rating: A+

*not to be confused with "more expensive"...the two aren't mutually exclusive.

Friday, January 10, 2014

And Where the Bleep Have YOU Been?!?!?!

Well hello there! Good lord, it's closing in on a year since my last post. Perhaps you're wondering what happened to me, your friend and confidante the Casual Wine Taster. Well...I got caught up in some stuff...and came out the other side with this adorable baby!

Behold: cuteness.
So, as you can imagine, my foray into wine tasting had to be put on hold for a while. But I'm back (!!) with a delicious red to tell you about...

and there was much rejoicing...YAY!
Named after me, this fantabulous blend is known as Troublemaker (kidding...that's just a coincidence). Now, regular readers (if you're still out there) might recollect that I am generally a fan of red blends. Most are heavy on the Zin, and tend to embody everything that I think makes a red wine delish: they're juicy, layered, rich, and great with food. 

Troublemaker is no different. A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre,and Zinfandel, it has a slightly earthy scent, and tastes fruity and floral with perhaps the slightest hint of smoked vanilla (that's a thing, right?). Hope Family Wines (the wonderful folks who brought Troublemaker to life) craft each batch from a variety of vintages and varietals. Each version of the blend is a little different, so the flavors and aromas can vary, but in a "delightful surprise" kind of way. 

It's good to drink just as soon as you pop the cork, but I say give it just a few minutes to breathe. You won't be sorry. Troublemaker is great as a sipper, or to go with your Burger or Pizza Night.

Price: $$