Recap: Four Go-To Wines of the Moment

It's hard to believe that I've been writing in this space for two and a half years now. That's a long time to journal about what I've been drinking and learning. My understanding of and appreciation for wine has grown since I started, and there are quite a few Tasting Notes on this site. Because of this, I thought I'd sum up my top four go-to wine recommendations of the moment. My main goal with this list is value, so you won't necessarily see all four-bunch wines, but this way you'll be introduced (or re-introduced!) to a few of my favorites that you may have missed over the years.

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Honora Vera Garnacha

This Grenache (or Garnacha in Spanish) is food-friendly, fruit-forward, and light to medium body. I think it's a crowd pleaser! I typically purchase it at Total Wine, but I have started to see it pop up other places. This brand also makes a white that I've been curious to try. Now $8.99 a bottle, this wine is still a steal! See my full post here.

Gnarly Head Zinfandel

This wine is my #1 go-to recommendation for anyone that is looking for a good value. It can be found anywhere, which is great because not everyone has access to local wine stores, Total Wine, or even more gourmet grocery stores like Whole Foods or Fresh Market. I have found it even in the smallest of towns when I was traveling for work. Full-bodied with dark fruit and pepper notes, this wine is going to please most red wine drinkers. See the full post here. Note: Gnarly Head has changed their label a bit, so the photo in the full post is not what you will find in store!

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a great white to have around. It's crisp, refreshing, and typically works great for cooking, especially if it's a dish with lemon and herbs. I bought this at Harris Teeter, our local grocery chain, so my guess is you can find it at yours. With balanced acidity and grapefruit notes, this classic portrayal of Sauvignon Blanc will be great for the upcoming warmer weather. See the full post here.

Trader Joe's Reserve Brut

You all know I love my bubbly, and this one is a great affordable option! Available for $9.99 at Trader Joe's, this wine will bring fresh acidity with the typical notes of lemon and apple. This is perfect for brunch, festive parties, or just a regular Tuesday night! See the full post here.

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Weekly Tasting Box: You Say Grenache, I Say Garnacha

Last week, I got my first order of Weekly Tasting. For those who have not heard of it, Weekly Tasting is a new concept where a box of four wines with a theme is curated by one of two sommeliers, Elizabeth Schneider of Wine For Normal People and Laura Maniec, owner of Corkbuzz. The boxes are $69.99, including shipping, and each box comes with 4 wines, tasting note cards with a recipe suggestion, and a short video that has the sommelier going through a tasting of each wine.  This week's theme, if you can't tell from the title, is Grenache! Grenache, or Garnacha in Spain, is a new favorite grape of mine, so I was super excited to put in my order.

Weekly Tasting

I busted into the box like it was Christmas morning. The box was well packaged, with the nice cardboard bottle holders AND laminated note cards! I've always wanted to try one of those subscription things where you get a fun box of goodies full of things you don't need, but this is even better! Wine shipped to my door + notes so I can learn + no subscription fee = genius.


The note cards are well done, with all of the basic information you would want to know about the bottle as well as a blurb from the sommelier (in this case Elizabeth) with her thoughts. In this box, there were two from Côtes du Rhône in France and two from Spain. I wanted to try them all immediately, and luckily, with our Coravin, I could! One was a screwtop, so we opened that bottle for dinner, but for the other three, I used the Coravin to pour a small taste. I was amazed to see how different they all were from each other despite being made (at least the majority**) from Grenache. From fruit forward to smokey to earthy to hints of leather, these wines showed it all!

**Remember from my previous France post that wines from Côtes du Rhône are Grenache based with some Syrah and Mourvedre thrown in. There are other grapes that can be included, but this blend has been nicknamed "GSM" for obvious reasons. 

Grenache Wine Flight

Overall, I think Weekly Tasting is a great idea. Where else can you find a hand selected box of four wines for less than $20/bottle that have detailed notes about each one?! I know that Elizabeth and Laura have both spent a lot of time tasting through hundreds of bottles to select these groupings, and I think the hard work showed in my first box!

The box available to order this week is from the French region of Bordeaux, which is famous for being very expensive. Wines from Bordeaux are usually blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, although Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot are also allowed varities. Wines from France are typically a bit "earthier" than wines from USA (ex: Napa Valley Cab), but if you typically like Cab or Merlot, I encourage you to give Weekly Tasting a try! 


Tasting Notes: Domaine Mousset Rosé

Life is busy. So. Busy. That's no excuse, I know, but May and June have been crazy with work travel. I've been on the road six out of the last eight weeks, and it's exhausting, let me tell you. On the plus side, I've been racking up those HHonors points for future fun travel, so score! Now onto the wine... I returned home from my travels last weekend to an empty home (plus a dog). Kevin was off gallivanting around Charleston and I wanted a nice, cold bottle of rosé for the weekend. I stopped in the Total Wine that just happens to be across the way from where our dog was being boarded, and what do you know... they have a huge display of rosé! I browsed through the description cards, liked the sound of the Domaine Mousset, and the price was right. I just hoped it didn't disappoint!

The Facts

  • Producer: Domaine Mousset
  • Region: Côtes du Rhône, France
  • Vintage: 2015
  • Variety: Grenache - 60%, Carignan - 30%, Cinsault - 10%
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $12.99
  • Eyes: The picture does a pretty good job of showing an accurate color. It may be a bit lighter than it shows, but not much. There's a definite pink tinge or salmon-ish color, which to me gave me an idea of bold flavor. My advice: DON'T fall into that trap! I listened to a great podcast on rosé from Wine For Normal People and the guest, a rosé expert, pointed that out specifically.
  • Nose: This wine was very fragrant, smelling strongly of strawberry and watermelon, if you can believe it. There was also a hint of cherry, but it was very fruity on the nose.
  • Mouth: Wow, STRAWBERRY! That was definitely what stood out the most. Fruit, all fruit. It had good weight and what they call "mouth feel"... wasn't too heavy or too light in body. With it being chilled, the acidity was very nice. I think some people could see this as "sweet", but I really think it's just really fruity. 
  • Thoughts: I am a HUGE fan of this rosé! If you tend to lean toward more of a mineral flavor profile when it comes to white or rosé then this may be too fruity for you, but I love it. I think that it has great flavor and I still find it has enough minerality to be refreshing. This is perfect for the summer and rosé is actually a wine that pairs with a lot so it'd be a great addition to a July 4th BBQ! At the low price of $12.99, this is a must!


Tasting Notes: Honoro Vera Garnacha

I probably say this at the end of every month, but I can't believe another month is over! How is it almost JUNE?! That just blows my mind. For this "Favorite Friday", I went with one of our favorite values. We had asked for good "every day" choices one time when we were in Total Wine and the girl pointed us toward this Spanish grenache. Since it's part of the series, it's no surprise that we enjoy it, but read on to find out more about its flavor profile!

The Facts

  • Producer: Bodegas ATECA
  • Region: Calatayud, Spain
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Garnacha (Grenache)
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $7.99
  • Eyes: This wine is a nice garnet color and was "medium clear", so not quite translucent or opaque. The bottle indicates it is 14.5% ABV which shows through the legs of the wine.
  • Nose: This wine smells of red berries and jam. Think raspberry compote or cherry pie. There is also a tinge of alcohol which is not surprising given the ABV mentioned above. Beyond the initial aromas, I also picked up on hints of vanilla. This plays in nicely with the fruit aromas. 
  • Mouth: The first thing I notice on this wine is the acid. There's a tartness to the first sip, but not in an unpleasant way. There were also notes of cherry and raspberry jam, as mentioned above. I would not say that it has a lot of spice to it like some Grenache I've had, but there's some and the acidity helps give it some oomph. 
  • Thoughts: At $8 a bottle, this is a GREAT find! It's got enough pizzazz to appeal to drinkers of the heavier and bolder stuff, but isn't so heavy that it can't appeal to those who like lighter wines too. It's easy to drink and doesn't linger too much, so I think it'd pair nicely with meals. Plus, beyond the random model's face, the bottle has a colorful label (you can't see it all in the photo above) and who doesn't love a nice label?! We like to pick up a bottle or two to have on hand if we want something drinkable and good. I highly recommend you give it a whirl the next time you're at your local Total Wine!




Tasting Notes: Joel Gott California Grenache

The Facts

  • Producer: Joel Gott
  • Region: California
  • Vintage: None listed
  • Variety: Grenache
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: I lost my receipt, but I believe it was around $14.99.
  • Eyes: This wine was a maroon color, definitely a "purple-y red". It was translucent which always makes me think it will be more subtle in flavor. I'm pretty sure that's not a fair association, but it is there nonetheless. I also noticed the legs on the wine. The legs were very pronounced which indicates a higher alcohol content. This was corroborated by looking at the bottle... it was 14.3% alcohol!
  • Nose: The first thing I noticed on the nose was pepper. There was a also a hint of raspberry. The last thing I noted was kind of a weird aroma... I couldn't think of exactly what to call it other than cough syrup. I know that sounds horrible, and it was definitely not my favorite aroma, but it didn't deter me from proceeding on. In fact, it made me more curious to know what it tasted like. Did it also taste like there was a hint of Robitussin?
  • Mouth: First, I did not taste any hint of Robitussin, which was a relief. The flavors I tasted first were vanilla and dark red fruit like raspberry and plum. I think the pepper I smelled on the nose was actually more of a smokey flavor on the tongue. There was definitely another non-fruit flavor present other than the smoke. I had to do some research on Grenache to identify what it was, and I think what I would pin it as is leather. Finally, I felt that the wine had a velvety finish despite the higher alcohol content. 
  • Thoughts: I enjoyed this wine and so did K. I thought the flavors were tasty and the bottle was on the less expensive end of our collection, although it is on the border of what I would pay for an every day wine. If you like medium bodied reds, I think this would be a great one to try! The medium body of the wine also lends itself to being paired with a variety food dishes, so it's a great choice for a wine with dinner. While I haven't seen this one widely available (although I haven't really looked), if I ever came across another bottle, I would definitely pick up one for a dinner party. I think it would be a crowd pleaser!