Simple DIY Kitchen Island-Turned Patio Table

It’s been awhile since I felt the need to build something, but when the idea strikes.. I cannot get it out of my head. Just like old times.

The Front Porch is currently going through an expansion of sorts, big changes are-a-comin! And, because of that, I had a need for a longish/skinnyish patio table. I wanted to be able to put my feet up on it, like a coffee table and Terry didn’t want to have to reach far to put her glass down. So, it needed two levels.

I consulted my old friend Google for a simple design. Countless hours of scrolling through thousands of photos later (and a new pair of reading glasses), I found a simple design that could work. Bonus, it was simple enough for me to wrap my head around. kinda like these:


Paint Rustic Wood Dining Table – Modern Kitchen

I wanted to re-purpose the table tops that I made for the original NOSH (Natural~Organic~Specialty~Healthy) tables we used in the store a few years ago – if you remember they were used in front of the Deli case before we moved all the NOSH into its own aisle. I just needed a base.

I almost skipped work to build it, I was pretty excited. But, I am a responsible adult, sigh. I went into work, got everything that had to be done –done, and left early.

The table was built in about 2 hours. Might’ve been quicker if I didn’t have so much help from Baby Cree.

less teal more white seemed Front Porch appropriate

Of course, I made it too tall. So, I had to take it apart, cut off its legs and put it back together. That took an additional two hours. That’s how I roll.

Whatta ya think?

Perfect for wine tasting!


Petit Maison Chard, Lodi ~ Gray Mountain Chard, Paso Robles

Nitty Gritty Merlot, Napa ~ Luke Donald Collection Red, Napa


2015 Petit Maison, Lodi $5.99

We started with this very pale, clear chardonnay. Larry liked the aroma, might be some citrus in there. Terry found it sweet and refreshing, but not too sweet. Arvin called it fruity, he tasted peaches. Connie said she liked it, she found it spicy and fruity. I thought it paired well the spicy cheese. Terry agreed, she said: when you’re mouth is on fire, this is real nice.

Grocery Outlet Exclusive: There are currently no on-line reviews of this Lodi Chardonnay as I believe it has been labeled for Grocery Outlet specifically. The back label reads: Cellared & Bottled by Rutz Cellars, Sebastopol, Ca. As a result, there is also no elsewhere retail price available for comparison.


2015 Gray Mountain Cellars Chardonnay, Paso Robles $5.99

Next up, this beautiful golden pale yellow –on the clear side- Chardonnay from Paso Robles. Terry said the aroma tickled her nose. Arvin thought it was very mellow. Scott, who arrived very late so he started with this wine, said: OH, that’s nice – smooooth. Connie called it buttery and snapped a picture to remember the label for later.

3.9/5 stars from

From the Label: This full-bodied Chardonnay from Paso Robles, California, temps the senses with aromas of ripe melon and honeycomb, with a rich and creamy mouthfeel. It’s a perfect match for soft cheeses, lobster bisque or pasta with cream sauce.


2012 Nitty Gritty Merlot, Napa

Retail Price 20.99 ~ Grocery Outlet Price $8.99

This Napa Merlot was a dark ruby red in the glass. Larry said drinking it was like sucking on a blackberry. Scott thought it was very smooth and dry, but not bitter. Arvin agreed. Connie said: even a Chardonnay drinker likes this red.

86 points from

From the WineMaker: Delicate tannins and rich acidity. Aromas of barrel spice and dark cherries. FOOD PAIRING: Hearty lasagna, pork-stuffed mushrooms


2012 Luke Donald Collection Red, Napa

Retail Price $29.99 ~ Grocery Outlet Price $9.99

I took the advice of an on-line reviewer and decanted this baby for about 45 min -1 hour before serving. Arvin found this Napa red blend to have a good nose and nice legs. Larry said it was oaky and he tasted tobacco. He said he doesn’t care for oaky. Arvin said he does, it’s oaky and I like it! I always love a red blend, but especially when it’s dry. Great paired with dark chocolate and also with sharp aged cheese. I loved it. 43% Merlot, 43%Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot.

91 Points from (Wine Enthusiast Magazine)

WineMag Review #1: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are equally represented in this soft, robust blend that also includes smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Juicy blackberry and plum combine with dusty, integrated tannin, as a length of dark cherry and sage weave in and out.

WineMag Review #2: This is a well-balanced wine with excellent structure. I’m tasting it in January 2018 and I find that with a little aeration a lot of lovely fruit emerges. Lots of concentrated berries but not in any way jammy. The structure is clean, focused and the tannins very present. This is an excellent food wine.

Luke Donald Collection

Luke Donald plays an active role in crafting the wines that bear his name. His personal involvement in the blending makes the wines original and unique; wines that best reflect his own personality and style. Luke’s personal style is also reflected in the non-traditional, contemporary labels, which connect with today’s luxury wine consumers. For wine drinkers who share Luke’s passion for culture and competitive spirit, LDC delivers wines from Napa Valley that reflect Luke’s own sense of style, taste and artistic expression. Legendary balls ;^)



Time to Decorate!

This past summer, instead of wine tasting (gasp), the Front Porch Wine Tasters spent most of our free time making fall decorations for the Manteca Pumpkin Fair. (All the proceeds go back to our local community).


GOOD NEWS!  Follow Manteca Grocery Outlet on Facebook for a chance to win one of these next month!

It was a long dry summer.

I finally dusted off the Front Porch this past week to get back to drinking our way through all the great wines that Steve has in the wine department @MantecaGroceryOutlet.

Quick update (for those of you who’ve been following): Steve has yet to make the senior tour and the stairs remain unfinished.



Camelot Moscato ~ 49Crows Chard ~ Adobe Red ~ ChopHouse Merlot



Camelot Moscato from California

Elsewhere price $7.99 ~ Grocery Outlet price $2.99

500 Medals for Quality!

I wasn’t sure how this varietal would go over on the Front Porch as we don’t try many sweet wines. Terry took a sip, she liked it! She called it a desert wine and thought it had a nice blend. Scott is definitely not a fan of sweet wines, however he said it was nice paired with the spicy sausage as the spice cut right through the sweet. Larry tasted apricot, Ethan agreed. Terry commented that this wine was also nice with chocolate, it changes the flavor.

Winemakers notes: Pale lemon hue, vibrant aromatics of jasmine and peach nectar, intense floral and grape flavors, and inviting sweetness balanced by bright acidity.



2013 49 Crows Chardonnay from Mendocino

Elsewhere price $19.99 ~ Grocery Outlet price $5.99

Scott started us off here, with a, “oh, that’s… That’s Nice!” Larry found the aroma interesting – maybe toffee? Steve commented that this was much better than the Moscato – good and fruity. Citrus, he added. Terry thought this chardonnay had a nice a finish. I thought it felt like a sauvignon blanc, Dara agreed.

4/5 stars from This pure and focused Chardonnay from Alder Springs Vineyard is on the lighter side and drinks well on its own or paired with lighter foods. Wines from this Mendocino vineyard have made it on the wine list at The French Laundry in Yountville and Alder Springs also supplies fruit to some of the best winemakers in the country for a variety of projects. A very well made Chardonnay with amazing fruit. This wine is a great value.



2013 Adobe Red Blend from Paso Robles

Elsewhere price $12.99 ~ Grocery Outlet price $3.99

Larry tasted berries. Dara thought it was more like cherries, nice paired with the sea salt dark chocolate. Ethan thought this red blend left a taste of pepper on the tongue. Scott simply likes this, lol. Dara added, also pairs nicely with sharp cheddar.

3.7/5 stars from This is a great wine to share with friends that are just starting to enjoy red wines. It is medium bodied with light acidity. It does have small sweetness to it but it is not over powering.



2016 Chop House Merlot from Paso Robles

Elsewhere price $11.99 ~ Grocery Outlet price $4.99

Oh, I knew I’d like this one. My first reaction was: smooooth. Steve commented that this merlot was on the dry side and he tasted tobacco. He added that it paired well with the sea salt dark chocolate. Terry agreed with me, she said “mmmmm smooth. I like it.” She also said it was easy drinking, be careful with this one.

No on-line reviews for this wine… you’re just gonna havta take our word for it – This is a good wine.

Why drink wine?

Why not? There are so many great reasons to drink wine. Here are my favorites:

1. Drinking wine actually could be good for your health Click to read more, it’s really great info!

2. Something about drinking from a stemmed glass is just sexy. Picture yourself taking a sip, your hair blowing back in the wind… Yeah. Sexy like that.

3. Choosing new wines each week is like a fun adventure that ends in drinking wine.


4. Some of the wine labels you find are really fun.

5. Sipping wine makes me feel sophisticated, even in my jammies.

6. wine with dinner makes the food taste better.


7. A glass of wine takes the edge off a stressful day.

8. You can make really cool stuff with the corks.


9. Enjoying wine can be very social and it makes me friendly.

10. How else can you make these without empty wine bottles?

wine bottle candles

Now go ahead and start up your own weekly wine time with friends and drink like classy people!

Here’s this week’s picks:

five new wines

~Rock Hollow Sauv Blanc ~ Heritage Ranch Chard ~

~Valentine Cab ~ Emma Pearl Merlot ~ Chianti Classico~


Rock Hollow Sauv Blanc

2010 Rock Hollow Sauvignon Blanc $8.99

elsewhere price $22.99

Larry started us off by announcing that he has really started liking Sauvignon Blanc (he usually prefers Chardonnay) He says It’s much lighter than most Chards. I thought I tasted crisp. Steve and Larry both tasted melon. Steve commented that it was very tasty and Larry said he really liked it.

86 points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine: Nicely crisp in acidity, this has a minerally scour that cleans the mouth. The pineapple, lime and guava flavors are strong, and the finish seems just a little sweet

90 points from Cellar Tracker: Excellent QPR


Heritage Ranch Chardonnay

2010 Heritage Ranch Chardonnay $4.99

elsewhere price $9.99

Terry noticed that this Chardonnay started sweet and Steve pointed out that it had a buttery finish. Larry tasted vanilla. I thought it would have more of an oakyness, but was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t. An enjoyable Chardonnay. Wow, we are really getting the hang of this!

84 points from Pale golden color. Aromas of vanilla salt water taffy and dried pineapple with a dryish light-to-medium body and a pencil shaving and floral bath talc accented finish


Valentine Cab

2000 Valentine Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon $6.99

elsewhere price $24.99

I tried this Cab as I was getting ready for wine tasting. I was a little worried about it’s age, not sure if it held up over the years, lol. I didn’t even let it breath, and I immediately liked it even though it had a touch of oak and was on the dry-er side. Later, Terry thought it was bold and Larry really tasted the tannins.

92 points from Wine Enthusiast magazine: Bright yet plush, with black cherry, currant, sage, herb, spice, licorice, blackberry, chocolate, toast and smoke flavors all neatly layered for complexity. Firm, solid, ripe tannins add good structure. Finishes long and lush.

93 points from Wine & Spirits magazine: Long and sleek, this dramatic mountain cabernet has a reservoir of flavor at its dense core, a lovely fruit richness that keeps giving with overtones of the underbrush in a pine forest by the sea.

Awards – Valentine Vineyards 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon

June,   2004 Valentine   Vineyards 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon wins a Bronze Medal at the 2004 San   Francisco Wine Competition.Source:



Emma Pearl

2010 Emma Pearl Merlot $4.99

elsewhere price $19.99

I was excited to try this Merlot, the label was so pretty. Tiffany blue. Very elegant. I also, tried this one ahead of time and I think it may have ruined all the other wines for me. I liked it that much. But, I powered forward and tried them all anyway. Terry commented on the smoky-ness and Steve tasted the spicy finish. Larry liked the tart red cherry that he tasted and I really enjoyed how smooth it was.

89 points from New Hampshire Wine-man: In the glass, the color appears slightly more ruby than pomegranate and is quite clear, but is crowned with only a thin clear rim. Mildly aromatic, the nose is a sweet red cherry, light cinnamon and cedar, with just a whiff of alcohol (14.5%). Good acidity and mild tannin are carried by its medium body and a “normally” smooth and textured Merlot. Flavors of  tart red cherry, plum, with hints of smoke and alcohol trail long into a spicy finish. I was pleasantly surprised by this Merlot, and I would certainly recommend it, but the caveat is that great spice on the finish: some may prefer less of it.



2007 Chianti Classico $6.99

elsewhere price $21.99

Chianti is Arvin’s favorite, but we had to try this one in his absence as he and Connie were on vacation this week. We missed you guys, hope you thought of us while you enjoyed the tropical beach!

Arvins beach

I noticed right away how dry this Chianti was, which would definately make it go well with food. Larry said it made him pucker and Steve decided that this was his absolute favorite!

93 points from A vivid garnet red color with flashes of violet fading to the rim reveals an elegant bouquet of wild berries and violets with notes of roasted coffee beans and flinty minerality. The core of fruit is plush and caressing with notes of dried strawberry, Bing cherries, pipe tobacco, leather and violets and a long, silky finish. The silky tannins are ripe and integrated into the wines forward personality. This is textbook Chianti that will continue to develop for 5-7 years. Enjoy it with anything Italian, burgers and grilled meats.

Chianti 101 from ‘Almost all producers of Chianti Classico belong to a consortium that acts as a watchdog and ensures that high quality is preserved in the wine. Wines made by these high standards are identified by a black rooster on the neck of each bottle. (Why a rooster? That’s a whole ‘nuther story…)’

What does the Rooster signify?: What makes unique Chianti Classico compared to other Chianti wines is the unmistakable pink label with the Black Rooster seal. This particular label is the symbol of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, founded in 1924 to protect, promote this wine and prevent wine fraud.

Chianti Classico is a DOCG wine and shows unique peculiarities and characteristics. To be named “Classico” is not enough to be produced within the Chianti region. In fact Classico wine has to respect specific rules. Its blend is 80% for Sangiovese, red grape typical of this area, 20% for other grapes that can native grapes such as Canaiolo and Colorino, as well as other international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

You deserve some Wine Time

Some people have a sixth sense. A ‘gift’ they may call it. Their intuition may alert them to someone who needs help or something equally heroic.

Mine is connected to salvaged things of awesomeness.

Ridiculous? I think not! I can prove it…

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The plan for the day of watching football with Steve’s nephew & family was hijacked by my increasingly nagging intuition. So, I sent this text:

text message

We drove straight to the thrift store. Not the closest one, or even one in town. We drove 25 minutes across two cities. And, waiting there for me – in the pile outside of stuff that was just donated, not even priced yet – was two wonderfully Mid-Century night stands. Sure they were hideously painted green ‘shabby chic’ style, but that’s no deterrent. It was like the Universe sent me a text message via mental telepathy. That’s how the Universe works.

Universe: Your nightstands were just delivered – come pick them up.

Me: I’m on my way.

nightstand     faux gator skin

Here’s a repainted nightstand with the faux gator skin that will be held in place with decorative upholstery nails and, in turn, transform it from salvaged junque to one-of-a-kind-awesomeness.

Just in case you’re not convinced…

I designed this bed frame for our new mattress:

new bed diagram     new bed

The upholstered part is a genius idea that DOES NOT REQUIRE SEWING. See it here. Notice the angle part of the headboard for Steve to prop himself up? I’ve been trying to decide how I was going to build that when the Universe took pity on me. I found this on the side of the road:



This picture was taken after I cleaned, sanded, primed and painted one coat (it still needs another coat of paint). It’s not exactly what I had planned, it’s much better and the angle is perfect! Thank you Universe.

There you have it, indisputable proof.

Needless to say, I deserved some wine time on the Front Porch!

Here’s this week’s picks:

four wines 2

Blackboard Chardonnay ~ Deep Sea Chardonnay ~ Cerro Chalten Malbec ~ Red Willow Cab


blackboard chardonnay     blackboard chard saying

Blackboard Chardonnay ~ California $3.99    elsewhere price $11.99

Terry said this Chardonnay was very light and not too sweet. Steve commented that it is a good drinking wine and Larry really liked this pick.

On-line review:  Tropical fruit nose, apple pie on the palate followed with a toasty finish. A tasty go to Chardonnay. Perfect with seafood, salmon, roasted chicken, and creamy cheeses

From the label: Like children, grapes need proper care and encouragement to grow and mature. Similarly, winemakers use the skill and patience of teachers to craft grapes into the highest quality wines. Blackboard wines earn high marks for being delightfully balanced – and for donating a portion of the proceeds to support the educational development of children.


Deep Sea chardonnay

2009 Deep Sea Chardonnay ~ Central Coast $3.99    elsewhere price $17.00

This Chardonnay did very well the last time we had it in the store, I’m glad Steve chose it for tasting. Becky recognized it from the last time we had it in stock. She enjoyed it with hand seared Tilapia with a basil crème sauce. Yum. Steve said it was dryer than the first Chardonnay and Arvin thought it would go well with chicken.

On-line review:A crisp, clean Chardonnay from the Central Coast of California.  This wine does not have any of the off-putting butter or oak that some Chardonnays do – instead, this is easy drinking with enough acid to keep the wine refreshing throughout your mouth.  An excellent value Chardonnay that will please Chard lovers and those skeptical of Chards as well.

Winemaker’s Notes: The 2009 Deep Sea Chardonnay is a brilliant golden hue. Welcoming aromas of mandarin orange with a hint of green apple, fresh dough and honey greet the senses echoed by soft, notes of citrus zest and just enough oak to add a layer of complexity. A sprinkling of vanilla, butterscotch and nutmeg, add to the supple mouthfeel complemented by a refreshing crisp acidity and minerality.



Cerro Chalten ~ Mendoza, Argentina $4.99    elsewhere price $11.99

Mmmmmm, I really liked this one. Becky said it was a lighter red that would go great with food. Arvin and Larry both liked it. Terry commented on how it finishes mellow on your pallet and Connie said this is delicious, great with chocolate!

On-line review: This Cerro Chalten tastes young and is on the mild nose to speak of but smooth with a bit of earth. I liked it and in fact bought it again to make sure..I still do.


red willow cabernet

2007 Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Yakima Valley, Washington $5.99    elsewhere price $15.99

This Cabernet was recommended to Steve by one of his loyal wine customers that had tried it, then came back for a whole case. Becky noticed the blueberry aroma and called it a ‘good hearty’ wine. By this time in the evening I noticed that I was failing at taking good notes on everyone’s comments. I sure was having a good time though.

From the winemakerTasting Notes
Dark red color. Aromas of red fruits accented with cocoa, sage and lavender. On the palate, cassis and plum are balanced with moderate oak flavors which lead to a medium-long finish.

On-line review: All three wines are excellent. The 2007 vintage is drinking beautifully right now, and the 2009 vintage, while still young, may be their best wine yet.

The Meaning of Life


This blog is written in memory of Frank Malorzo, my good-friend’s best-friend. You will be impossible to forget.

What is friendship? Simply put, it’s just connecting with others, humans are very social. We feel each other’s pain and celebrate each other’s joy. Friends inspire us to be more interesting, have more fun and to be all around better people. They also inspire shenanigans. Like Lucy and Ethel. Whether you are a ‘Lucy’ or an ‘Ethal’, having fun, being silly, and yes, participating in shenanigans with our friends is what makes our potentially mundane daily lives worth it.


Do you remember Lucy and Ethel singing about friendship? They were mad at each other for wearing the same dress during their performance and, well here, you check it out:

That’s the song I hear as I’m typing this blog. I don’t know why I tend to think of black & white television shows when I reflect on anything and everything. I guess I relate to them. Don’t we all? Life lessons – learned through situational comedy.

It’s not how we connect to friends thats important though- it may be texting during football, dancing in the sand at a beach party once a year, or spending an hour or two each week tasting wine on the Front Porch – it’s only important that we connect. Touching each other’s lives for the better, making memories – good and bad – living life & having fun.

I just stumbled on the Meaning of life! You-Are-Welcome. Tell your kids.

Our friends at home took over Front Porch Wine Tasting this week. Steve and I went to meet up with all the friends we’ve made since being a part of Grocery Outlet. Mostly other store owners, and a lot of corporate friends too. We appreciate everyone who joined Joe & Becky on their Back Porch to help us all choose the right weekend wines. Thank You!

friendship wines

Lot 205 Chardonnay ~ Roblar O Pescador ~ Harlow Ridge Cab ~ Independent Producers Merlot


lot 205 chard

100% California 2012 Lot 205 Chardonnay $3.99 elsewhere $11.99

Chris says this Chardonnay is very smooth and sweet tasting. Bob and Misty both found it to be citrusy and Becky thought she tasted pear. The label offered no ‘clues’ as to what to expect except: Lush, Vibrant & Aromatic… Think Grilled Seafood or Chicken.

On-line review: “I was pleasantly surprised by this wine, because it was a nicely balanced, creamy Chardonnay without aggressive oak flavors. It was pale straw in color, and had aromas of butter, cream, and apples. These aromas carried through into the flavors and there was a citrusy, creamy aftertaste that was pleasant and not at all artificial. This wine would be great with grilled chicken with lemon, fried chicken, or grilled halibut. But don’t underestimate the appeals of a white wine like this served with some simply munchies and an ice bucket on a Sunday afternoon.”



Santa Ynez Valley 2010 Roblar O Pescador $3.99 elsewhere $8.99

Click here for Roblar Winery Pairing Cuisine recipes

Becky has been trying to get me to taste this wine since we started Front Porch Wine Tasting! and I missed it… :-/ She really liked it but couldn’t remember the name, she called it fish wine because of picture on the label. Christine said this white blend is light, an enjoyable summer wine. Bob likes it dry and found it to be light and airy. Joe S. commented that, “it doesn’t taste like fish at all.” Whew! That fish pic on the label confused me too Joe, what a relief. Larry thought it had a sharp taste and Thelma said it was fruity with a hint of peach. Dan wanted to make sure we knew there were no peach pits :-p

I could not find any on-line reviews except for the wine-snob that harshly (in my opinion) reviews Grocery Outlet wines and is sometimes hard to understand if you happen to be regular people. But, this particular review is pretty funny. He clearly does not like it at first, but it becomes ‘drinkable’ to him in the end.

The label reads: Roblar Winery is committee to producing the highest quality varietals that best reflect the viticultural diversity of Santa Ynez Valley. Our logo is a symbol of our winery, our vineyards, and the meaning of our name: strength. Strength you can count on for quality and value.


harlow ridge

Harlow Ridge

Jerry Mead’s New World International Wine Competition 2013
Pacific Rim International Wine Competition 2013

Lodi 2011 Harlow Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon $4.99 elsewhere $9.99

The label reads: When Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown in regions where summer days are warm and nights are cool, the wine is full-bodied and vibrant with varietal and fruit complexities. Meticulous cellar practices promote these attributes while imparting a pleasant, long finish on the palate. The enjoyment in composing this wine can only be enhanced when gracing your table with family and friends!

Local Lodi Wine! So, what did the Porch think? Bob says the 6th glass of wine is always good. Misty thought it was a good nightcap wine. And Dan, my new favorite Dan, said, “just a couple of sips and my cough went away. Is there a grape flavored Nyquil?” Yes. Yes, there is Dan. It is not good. But, wine flavored Nyquil, Now that’s what I’m talking about! (This must’ve been the last wine that was tasted, judging not only by the comments but the notes are kinda harder to read than the rest) Somebody said warming is the word that describes this Cab and two other people agreed that it had staying power with a little heat in the front. Well worth the price – it does Lodi proud.

 Wine Maker notes: “The striking appeal of this wine is the complexity of fruit and spice characters. Black cherry with hints of black olive and plum greet the palate. The wine continues with lingering notes of vanilla, cedar, and nutmeg.”


independent producers

 Washington State 2011 Independent Producers Merlot $7.99 elsewhere $14.99

On-line review: Post modern northern latitude west coast style. Soft with some angularity, focused acid, somewhat wildly intoxicating, and picked early for greater vintage precision, yet medium high PH for smoothness. Coffee, pencil lead, anise, and earth. A vineyard focused place of origin wine.

Did you read that? ‘Wildly intoxicating’ Yes, please! I checked the notes Joe took twice, nobody tasted pencil lead or earth. Terry liked the intoxicating smooth scent. Larry thought the aroma reminded him of black cherry and Misty’s chocolate cake intensifies the flavor of the wine. Joe noticed a strong smokiness and wrote in the notes that everyone really liked it. Bob commented that it had a Merlot aftertaste with a little bite. He enjoyed the bouquet, even though while swishing it around in his mouth, he got it into his nasel cavity 😦 Ah, poor Bob.

What would we do without our friends? Well, we wouldn’t have any wine reviews for this weekend and we wouldn’t have discovered the meaning of life either. So, if you haven’t already found your ‘Lucy/Ethel’ (or ‘Oscar/Felix’, as the case may be) go out into your community, get involved in something, and find them. You don’t know what you’re missing!

Explosive Finish

So, for the last couple of weekends, Steve and I have been travelling. But, through the invention of technology and the widespread availability of Wi-Fi, I was able to continue sending out email blasts (sign up here) and posting Bargains on Facebook to completely fool you into thinking we were at work. We spent a long weekend in Palm Springs visiting family and we went to Green Bay, WI to watch football for our anniversary. Yes, we are Packer Backers. And, before all you Niner fans decide to hate us, just remember that without us you would’ve started the season 0-3. You’re welcome. (Congrats on last night’s win over the Rams!)

But, I digress. This post is about wine not football.

Let me regroup.

Since we’ve been away from home, not only has my DIY projects been on hold, (I like to have multiple major projects going on simultaneously – even at the risk of Steve’s sanity – that’s a whole other blog that has yet to be written) but, obviously there’s been no time for regular household cleaning. So, I headed home early to put the house in order. As orderly as it can be without any kitchen cupboard doors. It’s a work in progress…

blog 4

This week we heard a rumor that there were A LOT of people coming to the Front Porch to taste wine, so I had to do something about the kitchen dust (from sanding the cabinets) that covered everything in the entire house. When I say everything – I mean I own a ridiculous amount of wonderfully useless, but treasured, items and they all had to be dusted. Dusting is such a tediously stupid chore. Every week it has to be done again, even if you didn’t sand your kitchen cabinets without covering everything in plastic.

blog 2

Also, somehow the flowerbed in my front yard became neglected. The flowers are all gone and the grass has taken it over! Weeds are fairly easy to pull, but grass? Not so much. No time to fix that just yet. I cleverly disguised the problem with pumpkins and scarecrows. It seems as though I grew the grass 12” tall on purpose to accent my Fall decorations. Brilliant.

blog 10

Whew! Done. I’m ready for wine tasting.

First up, Riondo Pianello Soave $3.99. Sounds so Italian! blog 11

The color was incredibly light and the aroma was so – I don’t even know how to describe it – so delicious! Terry thought it had a very pleasant bouquet – understated. Kerri said it was not too over-powering, very mellow. Arvin said it was fruity and Larry also thought it was mellow. The Red Hat Ladies (new to the Front Porch this week) said it would good with fruit like crisp apples.

The label reads: ‘Excelsea, the new style Soave. Generous floral nose; elegant, zippy, apricot and pear palate, zesty acidity and lingering mineral finish. Delicious with classic Italian and Asian dishes.

Of course, we indulged! 48 piece Asian Appetizers $9.99 with Jamaican Style Jerk sauce 99¢.blog 9

Wine #2, 2011 Stonefly Vineyards Chardonnay $4.99 – elsewhere price $19.99! blog 6

On-line description: ‘Russian River Valley Chardonnay is renowned for acidity and lean, Burgundian style. StoneFly’s Chard follows suit, with apple, pear, and toast aromas trumping candied-citrus-peel aftertaste. The wine is light-bodied (an advantage to the balance—the softness is a foil to bright acidity) but offers enough to be a serious food-pairing white. The creamy lees contact and French oak regime come through with each taste. Drink now.’  ~source

We paired this wine with chilled green grapes, perfect. Larry and Terry both tasted apricots and said it was heartier than the first wine. Larry said it was more prominent, Terry didn’t agree with that, lol. Kerri said it had a delightfully fruity flavor without being too sweet. And, not overpowering like typical Chardonnay. Connie had a second glass and as she poured what was left in the bottle she announced, “I like this one!” Becky said it is dry with a touch of sweetness and would be good with chicken noodle soup this Fall.

Next up, Totally Random Sweet Red Wine $3.99. blog 8

Sometimes choosing a wine by its label is just the right thing to do.

Of course I liked this blend! I always love a blend, we all know that. The Red Hat ladies both liked it, not too sweet with a nice round flavor. Arvin said it was peppery – in a good way. Larry, who always prefers white wine, said it was not oakey. Just sweet enough, and he likes it!

To check out the tasting notes, click here. The label reads: ‘When a quiet night at home becomes a dance party, or a dinner with friends starts at dusk and ends at sunrise – life is giving you its best when you least expect it. So prepare for the unexpected. Be. Live. Think. Totally Random.’

Last, but not least, Roudon Smith Winery 2007 Syrah $5.99 – elsewhere price $16.99! blog 5

This was my favorite of the night.

We paired it with Premium White Cheddar $2.99, Hard Salami $5.99 and Toasteds $4.99blog 7

Larry says this one is oakey. Steve said it starts to mellow out when allowed to breathe. Whoa! Where did that come from Steve? You sound like you know what you’re doing… Rudy commented that it would be great with a nice big slab of red meat – Yeah. Steve seconds that. Becky thought it was smokey with a bite and should go with a rack of lamb and winter vegetables. Joe liked the smoothness and said there is not much to at first but has an explosive finish (who doesn’t like an explosive finish?). Definitely dry.

‘The wine is done in a Rhone style and shows layers of fruit with a herbaceous finish.  The wine has little oak influence, again very similar to what you would find from the Rhone, since most was aged in neutral American oak.  It is a delightful bottle of wine to be enjoyed over the next year or two.’ – source

Wow! Great comments this week, thanks to all for joining me on the Front Porch.

A Wine You Could Bathe In!

Time to celebrate the end of Summer and welcome in Fall. I love Fall. I guess I love the change from any season to the next, but Summer to Fall is my favorite (until we get to Winter/Spring lol) It’s a combination of the cooler weather, the chance of rain, baking homemade goodies (check your email for my Moist Banana Bread recipe. Click here to sign up to get our emails) and smaller electric bills. Plus, the holidays are coming (don’t groan), which to me, means getting together with friends and family and enjoying some good wines!

3 wine

This week on the Front Porch we mixed a little Summer and Fall wines with Chocolate! A delicious assortment of chocolate. What a wonderful world we live in that we can have wine and chocolate whenever we want 🙂 Click here for Lindt’s wine pairing guide.


We had three wines this week. 2009 Vinum Cellars California Petite  $5.99, Rex-Goliath White Zinfandel $1.99 and 2011 Bandana Chardonnay-Torrontes $2.99.

1 wine

This Sirah had an intense fruity aroma, cherries and black berries I think. I’m no expert and have trouble identifying tasting notes, but this is one of my favorite red wines!. It pairs extremely well with a Mediterranean cheddar cheese and both the 70% and 85% dark chocolates. Neighbor Terry says it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, to me it felt like a relaxing sigh after a long day.

2 wine

This 30 Gold Medal Winner White Zin is truly reminiscent of Summer. It is very light and fruity. Terry would’ve liked to add fruit to it and Connie thought it would make a great Sangria. (we may have to try that!)

4 wine

The biggest hit of the night! Bandana Chardonnay-Torrentes blend. It has a very clear color and a crisp bright finish. Connie commented that is was supple and excellent with the Terry’s Orange Chocolate (no relation to neighbor Terry) The absolute best comment of the evening was: ‘This is the type of wine you want your husband to pour over your body’. And, at $2.99 a bottle, you can actually afford to bathe in it!

Feeding Frenzy

The 2011 Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County are an exceptional value at $3.99 this week under the Feeding Frenzy label. Not to be confused with the addictive Feeding Frenzy game by Gamehouse .  Although, I could develop a mild obsession for these wines with the attractive colorful label marketed towards the ‘The Foodie’ in all of us. Being called a Foodie makes me feel young & hip like a single gal living in the big city.

cab label

This week, my husband and a couple of friends joined me on the front porch to ‘help’ me review the Feeding Frenzy wines. Of course when people join me, we talk about all kinds of things, enjoy each others company and have some laughs. But, we still managed to take some notes on wine tasting.

Feeding frenzy

First the Cabernet Sauvignon:

The label says “this wine possesses aromas of dried cherry and fresh ground nutmeg. The flavors are indicative of dark currants, black fruits and blueberries, with a subtle, round body and long finish. The multiple layers of dried herbs and cranberries carry throughout with a seductive hint of dark chocolate. A well-balanced wine to serve with food. Might we suggest pairings such as a gourmet Pizza with Pesto, Eggplant Lasagna, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, or Grilled Tri-Tip.”

I Thought it smelled of red fruit like dark red cherry, but definitely no nutmeg. It tasted pretty sweet like blueberries and was light and smooth. I tried this with Johnsonville Salami Deli Bites ($1.99) and Tilamook Smoked Black Pepper Sharp Cheddar Cheese($1.99). The FF Cab is very food Friendly. However, I don’t know about the pairings that they suggest on the label. Pizza with pesto & Eggplant lasagna? mmmm, no. Ribs & steaks, for sure. Regular lasagna (any Italian food really) or a nice grilled pork chop would pair nicely with this Cab.

Steve tasted the wine before he read the label and thought for sure it would include the word ‘buttery’. nope. Thanks for playing Steve. Larry & Terry both preferred the Chardonnay, but took a sip of the Cab for all you faithful readers. They we’re surprised that it was a sweeter Cabernet and it got a nod of approval.

And, the Chardonnay:

The label says “this wine possesses ripe summer fruit aromas of peaches and mangoes. The splendid flavors are indicative of crisp lemon-lime, which linger fresh and long on the palate. Containing many complex layers of tropical fruits with hints of rich, creamy vanilla and decadent ripe melon. A well-balanced wine to serve with food. Might we suggest pairings such as a classic Caesar Salad, Dill Poached Salmon, Grilled Shrimp Scampi, or Chicken Fajitas.”

I actually tried this wine when we got it in earlier this year (I’m a sucker for a great label). I knew I liked it. It smelled of peaches, but I’m not sure of mango. I definitely tasted the citrus fruits and melon. I was pairing it with a Tuscan Melon (99 cents) and Danish Havarti with dill ($2.50). Very refreshing summer wine. I liked it with Dill Havarti but I don’t know about dill poached Salmon (or anything poached). I like the rest of the food pairing suggestions on the label, I just prefer to grill my Salmon 🙂

I don’t think Steve gave me his opinion on this Chardonnay. I know Terry & Larry enjoyed it, but after Larry’s review I’m pretty sure we all agreed with him and just left it at that. His review was that this is the first bottle of wine that tastes exactly the way the label says it does. LOL! Thanks Larry 😉

I managed to read some on-line reviews, but there really is very little on the internet about these wines. I found the Chardonnay was scored 85 points and the Cabernet 87. Both pretty solid according the all-knowing wine reviewers. Personally, I don’t even know what those scores mean or how they arrive at a numbered score. I’m sure there’s some detailed science behind it though. I checked out the web-site on the back of the label, even there I could not locate the Feeding Frenzy. They offer some other wines I recognized though. Black Oak, 707 Estate Wines and Zombie Zin among others. Check it out here . Meanwhile, I’ll see if we can get some of that Zombie Zin in the store before October.

Feeding frenzy sign

2011 Flirt California Red & White Wines

wine tasting 6 wine tasting 7

This week my sister joined me on the front porch for wine tasting. She usually only enjoys Moscato (I have a great one to try later), but she wanted to find more wines that she liked. So, I figured a couple of blends would be a good place to start. I gathered up my supplies…

wine tasting 1

…and headed out to the porch.

wine tasting 2

I love blends! There is no other more enjoyable wine than when the winemaker blends different varieties of grapes, in my opinion. Usually the label simple says ‘ Red Wine’ or ‘Red Table Wine’. We tried both the Red and White bottles of 2011 Flirt wines from California that are on our ad this week at $3.99 each. The label reads, ” It’s the shrug of a shoulder, the wink of an eye, the tossing of hair and the pursing of lips. Playful and provocative, naughty and nice, Flirt is a blend of lively white grapes/ frisky red wines guaranteed to leave butterflies in your stomach.” That’s fun 🙂

We started with the red:

wine tasting 3

The label says, “With hints of juicy plum, vanilla, butterscotch and cherry spice, you can’t help but be tempted. So go on, don’t be shy. Take a sip.” (for a more detailed description, click here) I thought this red blend was warm and smooth. A little hint of sweetness and very drinkable. My sister wanted to put ice in hers. Of course any self-respecting wine snob would cringe at this suggestion, I told her lots of people do that with their red wine. Especially in summer time. The Flirt California Red was nicely complemented by a very sharp cheese, Armour Summer Sausage ($3.99) and Milton’s Garlic & Herb crackers ($1.99). When she tasted the wine with the sharp cheese, she didn’t even need the ice. We finished about half the bottle 😉 I was pretty happy to see her enjoy the way the wine tastes different with various foods. I would pair this wine with a nice grilled steak or tri-tip.

If you’d like to read more about this wine from people who know wine, click here

wine tasting 8 wine tasting 9

Now for the White:

wine tasting 5

The label says it’s wonderfully refreshing with a hint a of honeysuckle and fresh white peach (for a more detailed description, click here) . I thought it was refreshingly crisp. My sister said it was okay. I had her try an Aidells Mango Jalapeno meatball ($3.99) then have another sip. She was hooked, we finished the bottle! The Flirt California White is perfectly paired with spicy food. I would serve it with Mexican food or Chinese food. We also had Sugar Brook Spicy Gouda ($2.99) and chilled green grapes (1lb $2.99) with this wine.

wine tasting 4 cheese

Drinking Red Wine Will Extend Your Lifespan, Prevent Cancer, and Make You Thin

If you aren’t drinking red wine right now, stop reading and fill up a glass. Take a sip. Congratulations!! Recent studies show that if you drink red wine you will live longer, be healthier and look thinner.

Wow. This 20-year study, performed by Dr. Leonard Guarente of M.I.T., and recently confirmed by Dr. Richard Weindruch of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (Go Packers), shows that Resveratrol, a chemical compound in red wine, peanuts and green tea, can do some pretty fantastic stuff for humans.

Sure… this isn’t the first study to find fantastic health benefits in wine. And I am sure that next week, I will read an article about the grievous dangers of alcohol abuse. This has been an ongoing debate for decades. I’m no scientist, but I see it this way: French people eat lots of butter and drink red wine. They are thin and healthy. People from Wisconsin eat lots of butter and drink beer. They are not. These scientists might be on to something.

But before you fill up a glass, make sure that it’s red wine. Resveratrol comes from the skins of grapes, so you will find it in higher concentrations in red wine which is fermented with the skins.

Eat, drink and be merry (and thin and healthy and old). You’re welcome.