Oreana Winery un-Questionable Wine

Trader Joe’s came to the rescue once again this week with a great wine that pairs Imagewith anything. This week’s choice was Oreana Winery’s “?” Red Table Wine. The wine sells for $10 on the Oreana website, but Trader Joe’s has it for $5.99 (score!).

The first night I opened it, we were having a homemade pad Thai, and I have to admit, I have no idea what wine goes with pad Thai. However, the Oreana red worked perfectly, the somewhat peppery tannins playing well with the noodle dish.  Tonight I paired it with chicken cordon blue, and it again stood up well to the meal, this time bringing out notes of chocolate and berries. True, a real openophile would not pair a table red with a chicken dish that screams for a buttery chard, but hey, it was already open and I wanted to see how it would taste with the chicken.

This Santa Barbara wine is a silky blend of god-knows-what, created by a colossal mix-up by the winemaker. But he turned lemons into lemonade, as it were, and I thank him for that. This is a wonderful pour that will go with any dish, or stand alone.

I love when I find a hearty, dependable red that I can proudly serve to guests or just enjoy on my own while I’m playing around in the kitchen. I’ll be stocking up on Oreana ?. 



Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

We just celebrated Father’s Day in true American fashion: a reprieve from IPW13Iphone 210yard work and honey-do’s, and a big barbecue dinner. A hearty tri-tip on the barbecue called for a bold red in my glass, so I tried the Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon I found at Trader Joe’s for $7.99.

Dark Horse hails from California and “challenges the belief that premium-tasting wines must be premium priced.” You’ll find a slough of great reviews of this wine online, and consider this one more glowing review. This is a hearty cab that could easily land on the top shelf of any wine shop, but you’ll actually find it lower on the bargain shelves.

The wine is thick, the color of muddled bing cherries. The aroma is earthy with notes of vanilla spice. The flavor, however, is the most wonderfully rich mix of blackberries, vanilla, chocolate and espresso. The thick tannins give it structure without the pucker factor.

If you want to serve a solidly impressive cabernet without breaking the bank, this is a steal at $7.99.


La Granja Tempranillo

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Trader Joe’s? I don’t think there’s a bad wine in there; enter Exhibit A: La Granja 2008 tempranillo.

This $3.99 find is a nice weeknight red — perhaps not the best player on the team, but a solid alternate, dependable and always there.

It’s a little tart, but balanced nicely with tobacco and coffee. I have been loving tempranillos lately for this feature — fruit and smoke in one nice gulp.

If this were a $7.99 bottle, it might not make the cut, but at $3.99, it’s a good find to pair with a casual weeknight dinner of leftovers. And hey, that’s what this busy mom is looking for!

La Ferme Julien… redeux

I recently trekked to the California coast to taste Santa Cruz wines during the quarterly Passport weekend (more about this adventure in a future post). I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t go home with a couple of bottles, so I found some value wines at Trader Joe’s before tasting so I’d feel less compelled to buy the expensive wines I was about to taste. (For the record, I fully believe in supporting local vintners and I try to buy what I like and make it worth their while to pour me a taste. But I really needed to stick to my budget this weekend, so I cheated with Trader Joe’s.)

My friend pointed out one of her favorites: La Ferme Julien Rouge 2009. At $4.99, I couldn’t resist!

It’s a Rhone Valley blend of 50 percent grenache, 20 percent syrah, and equal parts carignan and cinsault. My friend who recommended it swears by blends, which I think is a kind of vague and broad statement, but this wine exemplifies why she can say that with such confidence. The grape varieties meld well into a laid-back, drinkable Tuesday night wine.

The 2009 Rouge is a crisp, plummy red with just a hint of chocolate, clove and cigar. Not heavy on the spice and smoke, two components I usually like to wallop me over the head, but this wine presents them subtley in the aftertaste so it’s very drinkable for those who like an easier, lighter red.

Again, at $4.99, this is truly a find and will become a staple in my wine rack. And as it turns out, it’s a staple in my friend’s wine rack too. So much so, that when she offered to write about a great find for this very blog, she wrote about this wine! Great minds think alike, as they say. And it says something for the versatility of this wine that two of us with very different palates enjoyed it enough to write about it.

It’s been a rough night, bring on the Rootstock

My baby decided to hang on my leg while I made dinner. And she screamed. And she tried getting into the dishwasher soap. And she discovered the “junk drawer” with scissors in it. And she fell and bumped her head.

And I melted down.

My 3-year-old freaked out over god-knows-what. My baby wouldn’t let go of me or shut up. My mind was on dinner and my husband was oblivious to all of this. Yes, I lost my temper. And then some.

But somehow through my meltdown, my husband jumped into gear and gave the girls a bath, then I put the baby to bed, the 3-year-old settled down to eat dinner and I managed to clean up dinner dishes and relax a little bit myself. But it’s one of those nights where If One More Thing Goes Wrong, I’m Gonna Lose it!

So to everyone’s relief, tonight’s wine is good. Lemme tell you, if I opened a bottle of crap wine, I might have cried. I swear, I’m really not a lush, but I enjoy wine and tonight is a night when I plan to REALLy enjoy it!

I found tonight’s pick at Trader Joe’s (moment of respect for the glorious wine aisle at Trader Joe’s!) — Rootstock 2007 Zinfandel for $6.99. I’d never heard of Rootstock but the label is interesting and the price is right. It’s a little spicy, but very easy to drink. No oak or heavy tannins and quite dry. It’s just a good, easy-to-drink zin. It’s a wine I’ll buy again to get me through a rough night with the kids and hubby. Or tomorrow night. Whichever comes first.