Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bread and Butter Chardonnay

Helloooooo, Bread and Butter! Finally, an oaked Chardonnay that isn't overly oaky!

What an appropriate name for this Napa Chardonnay... It's smooth, exceptionally creamy, with notes of pineapple, vanilla, and even a bit of toasted coconut. Excellent mouthfeel, low acidity, and medium body. It's a wee bit "one-note"—not super complex—but for $12, it's a great wine for the money.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

2014 Ponzi Vineyards Tavola Pinot Noir

Ponzi Vineyards has produced a very food-friendly wine with their Tavola Pinot. "Tavola" is the Italian word for table, which was the inspiration for this wine. 

We were a bit skeptic at first, thinking we'd be opening any old "table wine," as its name would indicate. Boy, were we wrong!

This Pinot is complex, yet super easy to pair with food. We got some plum, forest floor, and very subtle oak notes, with a long lasting finish. Pair with dinner or drink on its own!

Excellent effort from a long time favorite winery of GMW!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

2014 Ponzi Vineyard Pinot Gris

Whether it's seafood, a warm summer's day, or just something delicious to sip on a weeknight, this Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley, Oregon is truly awesome. We get that crisp minerality, with tart granny-smith apples, bringing that nice pucker and tingling in your jaw. This is an exceptional effort by Ponzi Vineyards, who also makes a great Pinot Noir. Ponzi specializes in cool-climate wines and sources all their grapes from their certified sustainable vineyards. Cheers to another great wine by Ponzi.
Body: light to medium
Approx. Cost: $17
Food Pairing: Seafood of any type!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

2013 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc

So, we came across some videos Robert Mondavi released that caught our attention! For those of you who like Will Ferrell's humor, you might find them pretty darn funny. RM came out with these videos to poke fun at the sometimes pretentious world of wine. If you're like us, you just want to kick back and enjoy some great vino, not like some of the wine-o snobbery that you occasionally see. These videos are on YouTube and here are a few of our favorites: Mondavi Central Coast VineyardsAging Wine, and Pairing Wine with Food.

Now, onto the wine. We paired these great videos with Mondavi's Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc from their Private Selection wines.

Before we even poured the wine, we got the awesome aromas from the bottle. This is one of the most aromatic Sauv Blancs we've opened. We smelled loads of peaches followed by freshly cut grass and the way a rock smells when it's wet (some describe this as slate, or a mineral aroma). The aroma alone reminded us of the summer!

The aromas led to some great flavors. This California Sauv Blanc reminds me a bit more like a New Zealand SB, where the grassy notes are more pronounced and, in my book, are freaking delicious. Much like other Cali Sauvignon Blancs, it sports some great citrusy apricot.

This is a dry white, with a notable balance of acidity and a surprisingly long finish. This wine is delicious, juicy, and unlike Bert Merlott, so unpretentious. For only about $10, this gets the GMW Top Pick Badge for sure!!

Body: Light-Medium
Approx. Cost: $10
Food Pairing: Grilled white pizza with figs and prosciutto, Paella

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2011 Cranetown Chardonnay

This Napa Valley Chardonnay's aromas remind us of pears and crisp apple. It's got great acidity (that back of your jaw zinging type!), with a long lasting flavor of pear and a touch of mineral. We found it to be fairly smooth and well balanced. This chardonnay isn't very complex, but at this price-point, it's definitely a keeper.

Body: Medium
Approx. Cost: $14
Food Pairing: Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta

This wine can be typically found and purchased here at, someone we have ordered from multiple times in the past and had great luck!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

2011 Noble Vines Red Blend

Great aromas of blackberries and oak fill the glass, making for a very inviting swirl! Flavor profile offers blackberries, plums and finishes off with a toasted oak and vanilla. There is a hint of spice that adds to it's complexity. It's smooth, slightly dry, and has a good balance of flavor. A typical red blend, but it is better than most. We would definitely recommend you to give this one a try!

Friday, December 27, 2013

2012 Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon

Holy moly. QPR alert! Black fruit and spice on the nose make a really nice beginning while swirling in the glass. We get blackberries, green pepper, and toasted cedar for flavor. It's not all that complex, but great for an every day wine. It is dry with a great mouthfeel, and a long lasting finish. This will pair well with grilled pork chops. We were super surprised to find out it was only about $8. EXCELLENT buy! We got ours from Wine Chateau here:

Wine Chateau: Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon ($7.97)

Body: medium-full
Approx. Cost: $8
Food Pairing: grilled pork

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Finger Lakes: Dessert Wines

We had the pleasure of being part of Finger Lakes Wine Alliance's virtual tasting recently, and that may have been one of the best ones yet! This time, they featured some of the Finger Lakes region's finest wineries with their sparkling and dessert wines. We have experienced such wonderful wines from this cool-climate wine country—it's a gold mine for mouth watering Rieslings and some deliciously interesting dessert wines. Here are the wines for that night's tasting....

Goose Watch Pinot Noir Brut Sparkling Wine: Holy strawberries! This slightly dry sparkling wine is crisp and light—very refreshing. It has great balance and acidity.

2003 Glenora Brut Methode Chempenoise: It has a faint nose with apples and honey. Its flavor was full of Granny Smith apple, with a creamy smooth mouthfeel. The bubbles were tight, the acidity decent, and it had a good overall balance. We thought it was a touch flat on complexity.

Hedonia Traminette: This is an interesting one. Wine meets limoncello meets dessert! We weren't sure what to make of this wine, but man is it good. Exploding with flavors of honey, citrus, flowers, and lychee, this wine packs a punch. With 20% alcohol, a punch it shall pack!

Thirsty Owl Cabernet Sauvignon Ice Wine: Cab sauv ice wine??? Where do we start with this one? It was by far our favorite and we can't say enough about it. Loaded with sweet raspberry and strawberry jam! It has a little bit of spiced honey to add to its complexity. Its acidic, smooth, and juicy!! You've got to get your hands on a bottle of this remarkable dessert wine.

2011 Standing Stone Vidal Ice Wine: Peaches and honey dominate this wine, with a little pear. We didn't get a great feeling about it, as it was a touch alcohol forward and unbalanced in its flavors. It is still a good effort, but it didn't stand up to the rest.

2012 Wagner Riesling Ice Wine: The Finger Lakes' star grape, Riesling, in ice wine form is fantastic. It is bursting with flavors, floral, honey, peaches, and a little slate! It's got mouth-watering acidity, luscious sweetness, and excellent balance. Smooth, bold, and spicy!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

2010 Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso

This is a Sangiovese of Montefalco located in Umbria, Italy. We found aromas of toasted cedar and black fruits and tasted vanilla along with some more of that cedar. Ripe blackberries dominate the flavor profile with a little black pepper for spice. The balance is wonderful—a perfect balance of significant body and gripping tannins. The finish is long and enjoyable. The alcohol content is on the higher end (14.5%) and is on the verge of alcohol forward, but its flavor and mouthfeel outweigh the heat. We like this one!

Body: Medium-full
Approx. Cost: $17
Food Pairing: Beef roast

Monday, July 8, 2013

2011 Vitivinos Azua Bobal Roble

The nose on this Spanish red is wonderful, displaying some deep ripe blackberry notes with some toasted oak. The grape is called Bobal, something we've never tried before!

We get the same blackberry flavor along with a little tobacco on the back end. The tannins are just right—smooth, but with a firm grip. This red is medium to full in body, with a long lasting finish. It's a touch alcohol-forward, even after a couple days of being opened. That doesn't stop us from enjoying it, though. Solid effort by Vitivinos on this wine; it gets our thumbs up!

Body: Full
Approx. Cost: ??
Food Pairing: Wood-Grilled Steaks

Friday, June 7, 2013

Capabunga Wine Bottle Caps

We came across these neat little wine caps recently and discovered they're pretty different than most wine stoppers you'll see. The Capabunga wine cap is a simple, yet well performing, solution to storing your wine once opened.

What Are They?

Capabunga caps are reusable silicone wine caps for storing your wine between pours. Some caps feature clever slogans and designs printed on the top, which we found fun! They also offer solid color caps, but we found the printed caps to be much more appealing. Despite their simple construction, they boast a leak-free design. We'll see about that!

How They Stood Up

We used these little guys to cap our wines throughout the month in different scenarios. The Capabunga caps are not ideal for preserving our red wines, as we prefer to store them on out wine rack and seal them under a vacuum system (like VacuVin) to prevent oxidation of the wine. With white wines, however, we don't have as much of a need for a vacuum seal. Whites do fairly well for 2-3 days capped in the refrigerator, making the Capabunga a perfect storage solution!

You wouldn't think a simple cap would seal so well, but we found it to stop wine left, right, up, down, and all around! LEAK FREE! Another cool thing about it: it stood up in the dishwasher! The print has lasted through at least five washes without any sign of wear.

A pack of 2 Capabunga caps retails for about $8 plus shipping. All of us felt that $8 for two might steer away some buyers (including us), and that a pack of three for the same price would be a better value. All in all, we like the Capabunga, and after a long period review, it gets our thumbs up for performance and our approval! FIVE GLASSES! Learn more and buy them at their website!

Friday, April 12, 2013

2008 Di Majo Norante "Ramitello"

Interesting and inviting aromas show leather, bacon, green peppers and currants. Great depth of flavor with licorice and leather followed by some heavy spice. This isn't very fruit forward, but has a little bit of strawberry flavor. Mouthfeel is excellent, dry with great balance and lasting finish.

Body: Medium to Full
Approx. Cost: $19
Food Pairing: Pasta Bolognese

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Enza Prosecco

Perfect Valentine's bubbly? This sexy Italian Prosecco sure could do the trick!

This wine has great aromas of wet slate and peaches--very refreshing. Flavors of pear, apricot, and honey dominate. Its balance of acidity is just right, but with a slight bit of residual heat from the alcohol. We didn't find that it was extra dry--we would say moderate dryness that would satisfy most palates.

Enza Prosecco is a simple, yet tasty glass of bubbles, and would be a great accompaniment to your Valentine's Day meal. Of course, its flavor profile lends to a versatile food pairing. We'd recommend that you try it out for yourself!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2009 X Winery "Red X"

This California blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Zinfandel, and Grenache proves to be a simple, very versatile everyday wine. We got some ripe red fruit and oak on the nose. This led to some super juicy fruit with some smoky vanilla oak flavors.

The wine makes up in bold spicy flavor for what it lacks in complexity. It's a super tasty red with great mouthfeel--good balance, just-right tannin, and a long finish. This red blend is bound to be enjoyed by many, making it a great party wine, and at <$15 a bottle, it won't break the bank!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wines of Abruzzo & Le Marche, Italy

We tasted two wines from two wonderful regions, transporting us back on a journey to where they started in Italy. Our first was the Saladini Pilastri "Pregio del Conte", a 50/50 blend of Montepulciano and Aglianico, coming from the Le Marche region of Italy. Le Marche is just East of Tuscany and Umbria. This is a deep ruby wine--pure beauty in a glass--possibly as awesome as the picturesque views of Italy itself. The Pregio del Conte has inviting aromas of black cherries and dark chocolate. We loved this wine before tasting it! Those black cherries showed through in flavor, along with some spice and a nice rustic dusty basement. Tannins were well balanced and were followed by a long smooth dry finish. This is a steal for an Italian wine at this price point.

Our second wine was a 100% Montepulciano by Barba wines. This "Colle Morino" Montepulciano d'Abruzzo was a special treat for us, because a portion of my ancestry traces back to Abruzzo, Italy. Needless to say, we are always excited to taste wines from the lands of our ancestors. We got loads of fresh cherries and a "farmy" earthiness that, if we closed our eyes, transported us to an old rustic farmhouse in Abruzzo. The wine was smooth and easy drinking. It paired especially well with a homemade pasta in meat sauce. This wine really brought us "home" and would recommend it to anyone. Again, at a sub-$15 price, you can't go wrong.

Saladini Pilastri Pregio del Conte
Body: medium to full
Approx. Cost: $15
Food Pairing: Grilled or Roasted Pork

Barba Colle Morino Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Body: medium to full
Approx. Cost: $13
Food Pairing: Pasta Bolognese

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2009 Domaine des Sénéchaux Châteauneuf-du-Pape

This CdP of Southern Rhone France opened with a nice aroma of cherries and spice. We found that its flavors mirrored the nose and also displayed a heavy vegetal component and a hint of licorice. The spicy red fruit was nice, but found the green pepper was a bit overwhelming. There was a little bit of heat (alcohol) on the back end, which wore off after we let it breathe. We felt the acidity was lacking making for a slightly flat wine. The mouth feel was great--medium to full in body with well balanced tannin. We expect a bit more complexity out of a Chat du Pape at this price, but it could very well be that it needs more time in the bottle. It will develop as years pass, so hold on drinking for now.

Body: medium to full
Approx. Cost: $35 Buy it here! 
Food Pairing: Grilled or Roasted Pork

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2010 Greystone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

This California Cabernet has a huge amount strawberries on the nose with a hint of vanilla and cedar chips. The strawberries translate to a juicy flavor, almost like jam. We also got generous amounts of dark chocolate and a nice layer of toasted oak. It's a little fruit forward with a little added spice. We felt it was a little flat and one-dimensional, however it is well balanced, has a decent amount of tannin and a long smooth finish. This cab doesn't achieve a high score, but it does earn our seal of recommendation based on its sub-$10 price-point. It is highly serviceable in a group and most definitely stands up to everyday drinking.

Body: Full
Approx. Cost: $9.97 can be found here at WineChateau
Food Pairing: Bone-in veal chop or Pasta Bolognese

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2010 Juana De Sol Malbec Reserva Single Vineyard

Vibrant bright violet in color, this single estate malbec showed us great beauty in the glass. We smelled chocolate and espresso with a little bit of mushroomy moss! We tasted those same coffee flavors along with juicy ripe blackberries. The tannins are chewy and lead to a long finish. We noticed a decent amount of heat upon opening, but luckily that went away after hours of breathing.

This is a big bold wine with interesting flavor. It isn't very complex in flavor, and the balance isn't all that level. However, for the price tag it is likely to please most. We do feel there are better malbecs out of Argentina at a more affordable price point.

Body: Full
Approx. Cost: $12
Food Pairing: BBQ Pork Ribs (smoked if you can)

Friday, July 20, 2012

2011 Big House Wines Unchained Chardonnay

Delicate nose of sour apple and pear. We tasted flinty notes of gravel along with juicy pears. The bright acidity on this unoaked Chardonnay finishes beautifully. A little bit of heat on the back-end, but it diminishes quickly when the long finish takes over. It's not particularly complex, but for the price tag you can't go wrong!!
Body: light to medium
Approx. Cost: $10
Food Pairing: pasta with pesto; roasted chicken

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ordering Wine by the Glass: You should Enjoy it

If you're like any of us who enjoy wine with our meals, you've probably ordered wine in a restaurant. Usually your table will order a bottle if there are three or four people, but you're more likely to order wine by the glass if it's just one or two of you drinking it. Restaurants have broad ranges of the size of their wine list, from ten to thousands of choices! All of the wines aren't typically available by the glass, leaving a choice of maybe a half-dozen to a dozen or so from an average-sized wine list. This smaller list might have one or two of each of popular often-asked-for wines—cabernet, merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, and...ahem... white zinfandel. Having a small list of wines by the glass offers guests variety in case the rest of the table either doesn't drink wine or wants a white instead of a red. Having your own choice of what wine goes in your glass in the restaurant without the added purchase of a full bottle is great, but what could go wrong?

As soon as the bartender or waiter opens a fresh bottle of wine from the bar for a guest's beverage order, guess who joined the party? A not-so-welcome party goer: oxygen. As you may already know, oxygen is not wine's friend after popping the cork. Yes, oxygen is a crucial part of the winemaking process and development, but what goes on after you pop that cork is bad for the wine. Oxygen will eventually begin to deteriorate the wine's aromas, flavors, and then develop a sour stale taste. After replacing the cork in the bottle, most wines will be fine for a day or two, especially if you refrigerate them—although, drinking reds cold isn't our cup of tea. So, what's the big deal? 

Imagine you place your order with your waiter for a glass of your favorite Argentine Malbec. You notice the bartender who's preparing your table's drinks opens a new bottle for your wine order, pours you a nice big glass, and replaces the cork on the bottle. Excellent; you can hardly wait to enjoy it! Finally it arrives to the table, and you couldn't have loved it more. Now, four days later another guest sees the same Argentine Malbec on the wines by the glass list. Guess where it came from? That same bottle you ordered from with the same cork that was pulled from it. I'm sure you already see where I'm going with this one. Because oxygen was trapped in the bottle, heavy oxidation occurred over the four-day period, spoiling the wine to a sour rancid disappointment. Sure, Mrs. Unhappy Customer should say something to the waiter about it, but why should she have to? That can be uncomfortable for some people. This situation isn't always the case, but it happens frequently enough for us to write this post. 

The last straw happened to us recently at a local restaurant (to remain nameless). The night was great, we were having a lovely dinner before a show. I ordered one of my favorite go-to wines, Vinalba Malbec, a wine that I knew was going to pair wonderfully with the duck breast I had coming. After tasting it, I knew it had been sitting in an open bottle for at least a week. I didn't feel comfortable sending it back, although I wish I did in hindsight. I feel like I shouldn't have to make that type of decision. I sucked it up and slugged it down; the worst $9 I've ever spent. Luckily the Côtes du Rhône I ordered after was fine. I just wish the restaurant would take responsibility for and take the proper steps to ensure maximum freshness of their wines. We did a little research on a couple of other local Rhode Island favorites to see how they store their wine between pouring.

Pane E Vino and Blush Wine Bar, both of the RI's historic Federal Hill in Providence, use specialized systems to preserve open bottles. Pane E Vino uses a system that places a vacuum on the bottle, removing any oxygen from inside. Blush's method involves replacing the oxygen in the bottle with an inert gas, argon. Both of these methods are common and work well. These advanced systems can be costly, but are crucial in establishments that serve a great amount of wine by the glass. For restaurants that don't, a simple vacuum pump shown above is easy and inexpensive. Whatever the investment budget, restaurants should think twice before shoving that cork back on the bottle—for the customers' sake.

Restaurant owners, waiters, sommeliers, and customers: Tell us your experiences with wines by the glass!