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The world sure has changed since I started this little wine blog many years ago. My life has changed too! I was living in New Jersey and drinking wine with neighbors and friends pretty much every night. Then moved to California and started visiting lots of wineries, so I started documenting my winery experiences and giving recommendations to friends. I now live close to Livermore wine country, and do more cooking than wine drinking (yes, I married a man who is not a wine drinker!) but still love finding great value wines and sharing those gems.

I’ve switched to posting my content on Instagram, so find me there if you’d like to see which beers/wines I’ve been enjoying, wineries I’ve been visiting, and what I’ve been cooking.




2013 Essential Cabernet Franc – California

Guess who’s back?!    I apologize for the long hiatus.   I’ve had plenty of bottles lately that have inspired me to write an article, so I will certainly be posting more in the coming weeks.

When I went to Whole Foods tonight to get ingredients to make a cauliflower crust pizza (always delicious, and yes, I was skeptical at first too), I wanted to get a half bottle of red as well.   While I can finish a 750ML bottle on my own, I really prefer to share a bottle with friends.   I grabbed a $12 half bottle of zin, but then saw a bottle of Cab Franc on sale for $16.   I couldn’t say no to that!

The nose on this Cab Franc is lovely.   Surprisingly, not one hint of bell pepper… just delicious ripe raspberry and a bit of barnyard dust.   Quite a bit of acidity on the mouthfeel and finish.   This is a charming, food friendly Cab Franc that is quite a bargain at $16.



$16/bottle – sale at Whole Foods (regular price $19)


2010 Montecillo Tempranillo Crianza – Spain

Some wines benefit from decanting, and this is one of them.   Pretty closed when I first opened the bottle, but after an hour the fruit, tobacco and spice start to show off.   Initial notes of cherry, sweet cigar smoke, vanilla.   Cherry is the dominant fruit but oooh, a bit of plum too!    But don’t get me wrong… this wine is fruit forward on the nose but the mouthfeel and finish are astringent.   Try this one with food…  would be delicious with grilled sausage, and also with creamy cheeses.   Something fatty to stand up to the acid in this wine.





2014 Nortico Alvarinho – Minho Portugal

Alvarinho is – as I had suspected –  Portuguese for Albarino, also known as a grape that makes a pretty fantastic wine for a 100+ degree day.   This lower in alcohol, delicate white wine has great stonefruit and tropical notes.   Peach comes out immediately but then it blends with the citrusy notes for a refreshing mouthfeel and finish.   Excellent bright fruit.   This wine would be delicious with ceviche, a salad, or just enjoy it on its own… it is light enough to be an aperitif.

After trying this wine, I would love to find more albarino (alvarinho) from Portugal.   I found this bottle at my local Whole Foods, and will seek out others!


$12.99/bottle (sale price, regular is $15)

Home Run

Buehler Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2013

It is dungeness crab season, and I can’t go into my supermarket without spotting these delicious crabs in at the fish counter.

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I gave in, picked out a meaty looking crab, and went to get a bottle of Chardonnay.   Buehler is a great producer and I love their cabernet, so lets give the Chardonnay a try!

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Swirl, sniff, lots of pineapple and sweet lemon on the nose.   Definitely a touch of creamy vanilla as well.   Fresh fruit with a hint of caramel on the mouthfeel and finish.   Very nice juicy pear notes.   This is a delicious Russian River Chardonnay at a great value!


Home Run


2010 Chinon Domaine de Beausejour

I very rarely consume a wine that is made up of 100 percent Cabernet Franc.   They aren’t the easiest wines to find.   Imagine my excitement when I found this bottle from the Loire Valley!

I had some super ripe raspberries as a snack today, and when I smelled this wine it took me back to that snack.   Juicy, ripe raspberry clearly dominates the palate, but there is a hint of white pepper as well.   Not a heavy mouthfeel, but this is a cabernet franc so that is to be expected.   This is not a tannin-heavy wine, but it has great backbone.   The finish definitely has some spice and acidity.

This wine would be excellent with some cheese, cured meat and freshly baked bread.

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2012 Poppy Pinot Noir Monterey County

Because I need more Pinots under $20 in my life…  don’t we all?

Pie spice, cherry, strawberry, dirt (yup) and thyme on the nose – OK, so this smells like a savory cherry pie.   Medium bodied, with succulent cherry on the finish.   Lots of red fruit but not a fruit bomb.   Maybe a bit of a chchchchcherry bomb, but tart cherry, not sweet cherry.   I like the little bit of zest as well as earthy spice on this wine.   Light, bright, and delicious.

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$14.99/bottle at Whole Foods

Heirloom tomato & grilled corn salsa, and the wine that loves it

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go camping with a group of wonderful people.    I wanted to make a good impression, so I brought some homemade salsa (OK, and lots of wine).   It was a hit, and so I have decided to post my recipe.   Take advantage of the amazing summer corn and tomatoes right now… because unfortunately summer won’t last forever.   Sad, sad…   now I need a glass of wine.

Heirloom tomato & grilled corn salsa

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3 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
2 ears of sweet white corn
1 poblano pepper
1 cup red onion, diced
3/4 cup diced cilantro
1 lime – juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon smoked sea salt

Preheat grill. Shuck corn completely, rub with olive oil and paprika. Grill corn until browned and slightly charred in spots – about 20 minutes, turning every 4 minutes. Grill poblano pepper until skin blisters, about 10 minutes. Once corn has cooled to room temperature, cut kernels off cob. Once poblano pepper has cooled to room temperature, peel off the skin and dice. Mix corn kernels, poblano pepper, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime and sea salt. Strain salsa in fine mesh strainer before putting into jars/containers. Serve with tortilla chips, or grilled fish.

Now for the wine!

I thought this salsa paired really well with Round Pond’s 2013 Rosato di Nebbiolo.   It is a delicious, light, crisp rose.   A friend of mine (Ashley , I’m looking at you) will not drink rose but actually purchased a bottle of this wine when we went to the winery.   Style – dry.   Color – very light pinkish/orange.   Flavors – ripe strawberries, apple, grapefruit and melon.   Perfect bite on the finish.    This is an awesome wine to pair with salads… and salsa!

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$24/bottle (Yes it is over $20.   Yes, it is worth every penny) 

Grand Slam!

Zoodle Pad Thai, and the wine that loves it

My parents got me some kitchen utensils as a birthday gift, including a vegetable spiralizer aka zoodle maker!

I consume enough carbohydrates in the form of wine, and I do love pasta but try to avoid excessive carbs in the form of food.   I also really enjoy veggies, especially while so many are in season in the summer.   Pad Thai is my ultimate weakness, so I decided to try to make zoodle “Pad Thai”.   Recipe and wine pairing below:

Pad Thai Sauce

1 tablespoons tamarind paste, mixed with 1/2 cup of warm water (which makes tamarind juice)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup palm sugar

Mix together all sauce ingredients in saucepan, cook over low heat for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Zoodle Pad Thai

2 carrots
4 small zucchini
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 eggs
1 small red chili, seeded and diced – optional (or you can use 1 tablespoon red curry paste)
1 cup sliced green onion – just the green part
4 cups bean sprouts
2 cups crushed peanuts
Pad Thai Sauce
1 lime

Using a spiralizer, twist carrots and zucchini into “zoodles”

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In a wok or large frying pan, saute garlic and shallots in vegetable oil on medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until garlic/shallots start to brown. Raise heat to high, add eggs, scramble until eggs start to brown. Add red chili or red curry (add more if you like it spicy!), zoodles, green onion, bean sprouts, peanuts and 1 cup of pad thai sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes.   Serve with lime wedges.

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One of my favorite white wines to pair with Asian cuisine is a dry or slightly off-dry gewurztraminer.   Hook and Ladder makes an insanely delicious one…   notes of lychee, stonefruit, and meyer lemon.  The ripe and juicy fruit makes it a nice pairing with spicy dishes.

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$18/bottle at Whole Foods – or stop by the winery in Santa Rosa!

Grand Slam!

2012 OZV Old Zin Vines Zinfandel Lodi

Remember Gushers, those fruit snacks that had the ooey goey super fruity center?    Well, if I had a craving for Gushers I would open this Zinfandel instead.   Lots of California Zinfandels are fruit forward, but this one approaches Aussie Shiraz territory.   Massive ripe raspberry, strawberry flesh and a woody chocolate finish.   Now, I did just compare this wine with Aussie Shiraz but please note that this is MUCH softer.   Not much structure/backbone….   There is literally no bite or spice on the back end, just a dollop of juicy fruit fused with creamy chocolately oak.   I would pair this wine with buffalo wings smothered in blue cheese.

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Single for me.   Triple for those of you who love ripe, juicy zins.