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 www.chateaudiana.com . Meanwhile, I’ll see if we can get some of that Zombie Zin in the store before October.

Feeding frenzy sign

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2011 Flirt California Red & White Wines

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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.

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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:

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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

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Now for the White:

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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.

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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.

Oliver Marshall Black Label Chardonnay

I may not be qualified to write an ‘official’ wine blog, but I try as many of the new wines that come into the wine department as I can (it’s a tough job). And, I know what I like! So, I thought I would share what I think about them as I try them.

This week, I had to skip the front porch as my venue (it was pretty hot). Luckily, there is a pretty comfy bar right inside that served as a nice back-up. I chose the 2011 Oliver Marshall (or, OM) Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast because a random YouTube chief suggested a Sonoma Coast Chardonnay to go with the grilled tuna I was cooking.

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The label says “Our Chardonnay is from the Rockin’ H Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap, influenced by cool ocean breezes along the banks of the Petaluma River. Fermented in Concrete and French Oak for the perfect layers of fruit and depth.” Only 290 cases were produced. On their web site, http://www.omwinery.com/collections/frontpage/products/black_label_chardonnay , this Chardonnay is listed at $28 a bottle but it’s sold out. You can find it at Manteca Grocery Outlet for $6.99. WOW! That’s a Bargain

While I was waiting for dinner to marinate in the fridge, I tried the wine. It smelled lightly fruity and the first taste was very smooth. I’ve been told to always try wines with food to see how the taste changes, and boy this one sure did!

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Not that I didn’t like it at first, but after adding a spicy Gouda ~ I really loved it! The flavor of the wine came alive when accompanied by the cheese. Beware, I ate way too much cheese because of this.

Here’s the cheese I had: cheese

(as recommended to me by the infamous Nate Reed, cheese connoisseur)

I had two glasses before dinner and another with dinner. I really don’t know anything about tannins or why people say they’re to blame for wine headaches, but I did not get any hint of a headache even though this is more wine than I usually have on a weeknight.

I recommend this wine as good enough to serve to your friends, even those that may fall into the wine-snob catagory :-p

Five Ways to Spot a Good Wine

Everything you need to know to find that perfect bottle

by Tina Benitez

Here’s a shocker: Good wine is neither expensive, nor old. So how do you know what makes for a good bottle of vino? Well, for starters, it’s deep, complex and stays with you long after you’ve tasted it. You’re saying, “but there are so many. How do I choose?” The general tasting rules of swirl, sniff and sip are a start, but there’s more to learn when determining if a wine is worthy of your taste buds and cash. We went to the experts to find out exactly what to look for.

Check Out the Backside

First appearance isn’t everything. Front labels can be enticing, but check out the full package before you purchase. Read back labels for more information about a wine. Sometimes there are some clues about the wine like fruits, flavors, the aging process, importers and region. Keep an eye out for any stamps of approval like awards or reviews—all signs of a good wine. Go ahead and ask for recommendations. Don’t be shy! “Ask the wine steward or a friend for a recommendation to help make your selection,” says Peter Click, president and founder of The Click Wine Group (Fat Bastard Wines). “If you’re on a date, chances are the woman across the table will appreciate your humility, vulnerability and security to ask for help from a trusted expert.”

Scent of Attraction

Swirl and sniff. Here’s where two rules of tasting 101 come into play. Does it have nice legs? You know those slender lines of liquid that slowly drip down the sides of the glass. Legs mean little when it comes to a good wine, but it can clue you in on its alcohol content. Sniff. What do you smell? Honey? Peppers? Apple? Oak? Chances are, the more you smell, the better the wine may taste. “Juicy impressions of three types of fruit or aromas of three things (that you like) the nose knows,” says wine industry veteran Tim McDonald. “I am a big believer of sniffing and swirling; the taste is confirming what you sense. Good [wine] is the combo of all of it, the sum of the parts. If you think it’s bad, it probably is.”

Use Your Tongue

Sound sexy? Well it is, but focus. Once you’ve swirled and sniffed your way around the glass, go in for the sip. Let the liquid move around your tongue. Do you taste dark cherries, grapefruit? Use your taste buds to figure out how many different flavors you can pick up on. Hint: as long as it’s in balance and isn’t putrid-smelling, the more you can taste the more complex the wine. When all of the flavors stay on your tongue for some time, even better! “If the wine’s fruit flavors (think plums, blackberry, cherry, raspberry, citrus, melon, peach) dance across your tongue and the finish lingers you know you’ve got a complex and balanced wine,” says Click.

Get its Digits

Is that a 2005 Bordeaux? Good vintage. If you do some homework and know your years and some favorite regions, you’ll know if climate and weather conditions produced a perfectly ripe harvest—and good wines. Extreme heat or cold or too much rain can take a toll on the quality of some grapes. Do some research before you buy, particularly if you’re trying a new region, and don’t be fooled by age. “Older wines aren’t necessarily better,” says Click. “Many wines under $15 are intended to be enjoyed young. In general you can drink whites one to two years and reds two to three years after bottling. Higher-end wines have more staying power and can last three to 10 years or more.”

Embrace What You Really Like

If you purchase the wine again, chances are you like it. When you find one you like, stick to it. It’s simple, but be mindful of the grapes varietals in the wines you prefer. If you like Pinot Noir from Oregon, you just might dig a Burgundy from France. Then again, a Syrah from the Rhône region may be slightly different from a South African or Australian Shiraz. Explore the world of wine. “Taste is subjective, which means the best wine is the one you like,” says Click. “Take time to try new varietals from regions all around the world and find your own personal style.”

Wine Tip: Screw It!
“Don’t be afraid to try wine with a screw cap closure,” says Click. “A screw cap doesn’t mean the wine is cheap, it means the winery is committed to quality. Approximately 8 percent of wine bottled under cork is cork-tainted or undrinkable.”