Rescued by Rachis

Work until 5, then scramble to make it to my daughter’s swim lessons at 5:30. A half-hour drive home, and I realize I forgot to thaw meat for dinner. Somewhere around 7:30, we finally have hamburgers and watermelon on the dinner table, and I am on the floor of my kitchen grasping for anything made of grapes, preferably the fermented variety. Image

I had a bottle of Rachis Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge, a white I gambled on in my last NakedWines.com order. I have no idea what to expect, but at this point in the evening, anything will do. As they say, any port in a storm.

The wine is already chilled, and it gets bonus points for the screw cap, which required absolutely no effort from me. Yes, at this moment, I would have cried if I messed up a cork with a corkscrew. This night is why screw caps were invented. 

Just a recap of what NakedWines.com is about – It’s a wine club of sorts. Members pay a minimum amount of $40 per month, which goes into their account. Technically the money goes to funding new winemakers, but to the end user, we just get to spend that money on the wine. So after three months, I had enough in my account to order a case of a variety of wines. 

I’m not ordinarily a fan of sauvignon blancs, but I couldn’t resist the $9.49 price tag on a bottle that costs $28 to non-members. For a 66 percent discount, I can take another stab at liking sauvignon blanc.

This wine is by veteran winemaker Randy Hester under his label Rachis. It’s a nearly clear, thin white with just the slightest hint of lemon yellow. The aroma is full of sweet florals, honey and lemon. 

The flavor mimics the aroma – floral citrusy sweet. There’s grapefruit mingled with honeysuckle, a delightful mix of sweet and tart. Much to my surprise, it paired perfectly with the smoky char of the hamburgers. To my even greater surprise, I found I really like this wine! It lacks the melon quality that pervades most of the sauvignon blancs in my experience. If this had just a bit more fruit to it, I’d almost swear it’s a pinot grigio. 

This is a wine best served very cold. And beware, the glass somehow empties quickly and you will likely find yourself refilling without thinking. It’s the darndest thing. Like the cookie jar that is always empty even though you just filled it yesterday. Where DO those cookies go? (ignore the crumbs on my shirt, please)

Randy Hester is a winemaker to watch, and this is a wine to keep in the fridge for those nights when you MUST have a refreshing wine chilled and ready to go. 

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Jimmy, Hawaii, Terra Andina

I have Jimmy Buffett on the iPod, Hawaiian chicken on the dinner table, and Terra Andina Sauvignon Blanc in my glass. Welcome to spring!

It’s a rare, warm evening that makes me crave a crisp sauvignon blanc. I’m more of a buttery chardonnay fan or even a fruity pinot grigio if I’m really feeling whimsical. But what the hell, it’s the first truly warm evening of spring, and Jimmy Buffett’s duet with Zac Brown is driving me to something crazy… like pair a sauvignon blanc with Hawaiian chicken.

The Terra Andina pours crystal-clear with just a tinge of yellow. It’s nearly colorless. The aroma is full of pear and apple and a friendly layer of moss. Hmmm, this doesn’t sound like a sauvignon blanc to me! Or perhaps I’ve misjudged other sauvignon blancs!

The flavors of apple, grapefruit and mild vanilla are the perfect complement to the smoky/sweet Hawaiian marinade on my chicken.

terra andinaThe wine is light and bright, but not overly tart. The citrus is refreshing, and the earthy spice is just evident enough to reflect the heat of the marinade but not weighty.

Terra Andina is a South American label, designed to reflect the ethos of the region: free spirited, spontaneous, friendly, energetic, and laid-back. Its Argentinian and Chilean wines are not to be cellared, but to be enjoyed on any occasion where you need a dose of South American fun.

Who knew that a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Hawaiian chicken, and islander music could transport me from my kitchen and into my Happy Place… at least until the kids get home?

(Terra Andina is available in select stores in California and across the U.S. The Sauvignon Blanc retails for around $10.)

Return of the easy dinner and easy wine

I’ve been trying some rather complicated recipes lately, and they haven’t all… um… worked out that well. After last night’s tasteless “Sicilian Meatloaf,” (yeah, you can’t make meatloaf fancy just by giving it a fancy name) I decided it was time to simplify. A return to the easy 30-minute meal was in order. I also needed a no-thinking-required wine. Something tasty and inexpensive.

My back-to-basics (read: slacker) menu centered around a pizza braid made with leftover lunch meats and refrigerated crescent rolls. This is the easiest recipe that can be adapted with just about any filling (ham, broccoli and cheese is pretty good too!). Add a packaged Caesar salad as a side and it’s a complete meal with almost no prep. 

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We mastered the easy dinner, so let’s bring in the wine! I twisted the top on a $15.99 red I found on NakedWines.com (it’s only $9.49 for members, hint, hint!); this is a 2012 Sonoma County Pinot Noir by Ryan O’Connell under the label Kid Sonoma. I love that this younger half of a father-son winemaking team decided to return to the States from their stint in France to make his own wine. How’s that for striking out on your own? Image

On its own (you know, that glass you drink while hiding from your kids in the kitchen, aka making dinner?), the wine is young and fresh, evoking bell peppers and green veggies. The salami and pepperoni in the pizza bread did nothing for the wine, but the bread opened up flavors of clove and vanilla. I love wines that are surprisingly layered! 

This was an all-around home-run family dinner. Easy. Inexpensive. Fast. And capped off with a fun, spry wine from a young winemaker working his magic on Sonoma grapes. Doesn’t get much better for a weeknight.

Note: Read more about investing in new winemakers here