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.

Recap_ Four Go-To Wines of the Moment.jpg

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.

Blog Signature 3.jpg

Tasting Notes: Underwood Rosé Bubbles

Last summer, I tried Underwood's The Bubbles canned wine and loved it. So when I saw that Whole Foods was now carrying the rosé version, I was pumped! Sparkling rosé is my favorite thing to drink at the moment, so this was right up my alley, and with the first version being surprisingly tasty, I had high hopes for this can. 

Underwood Rose Bubbles.jpg

The Facts

  • Producer: Union Wine Co.
  • Region: Oregon
  • Vintage: Non-vintage
  • Variety: Unknown
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $6.99/can

The company's notes read: Wild strawberry, fruit cocktail, and tart cherry. Carbonated wine. This says a lot and definitely set up my expectations for the wine. I expected it to have a sweetness to it, and I expected the bubbles to very fine. "Carbonated wine" means the carbonation was added similar to a soda, as opposed to most other sparkling wines being made through the traditional method or tank method where the bubbles integrate with the wine and become the wine. Both of those expectations were correct. I definitely got a sweet strawberry flavor and even a hint of bubblegum. The residual sugar was more apparent in the rosé version than the classic and it felt flabby, like there wasn't enough acid to balance the sweetness. After our Whole15, I have developed the habit of asking, "Is this worth it?" in relation to calories, sugar, alcohol, etc. In this case, I decided no. I did not find it pleasant to drink, and I could see the sugar giving me a headache later in the evening, so the can went unfinished. Overall, the wine fell very short of my high hopes. I'm not sure I'm totally on the canned wine train, but if I had to choose one, I'd go with the more classic "The Bubbles" version I reviewed previously.

Rating:

1 bunch.png
 

Tasting Notes: Trader Joe's Reserve Brut Sparkling

I'm back, everyone! It was nice to take a break, especially since it was my first "busy season" at my new job. There were some long nights in there, but I pulled through! To celebrate the return, I thought what better than to have a sparkling wine. Plus, in case you haven't noticed, they're my favorite.

While we were on the Whole30 (which if I'm being honest, I didn't finish), we did a bit of shopping at Trader Joe's. I've always been a little intimidated by their wine section because I just don't know where to start. I know there are some gems in there, but I'm more worried about the bad apples I may have to try (ex: their canned wine) to get to the gems. Anyway, the last time I was there, I decided to risk it and put this inexpensive bubbly into my basket.

Trader Joes Reserve Brut.jpg

The Facts

  • Producer: Trader Joe's (I guess?)
  • Region: California's North Coast
  • Vintage: NV
  • Variety: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Trader Joe's
  • Price: $9.99

After looking at the bottle more, I had high hopes for this wine. It said "Methode Champenoise" on the label which means the wine goes through secondary fermentation in the bottle... same as Champagne. Plus, it is the same grapes as Champagne, so that combined with the "methode champenoise", I was hoping for that hidden gem I mentioned earlier! When I opened the bottle, I did not get any hint of breadiness (often described as yeasty, brioche, toast, etc.). This comes from the wine being on the lees, or dead yeast cells. It's my new favorite flavor and aroma in a sparkling wine, so I was a little disappointed. But for $9.99, my expectations were way too high, and I could move past it. The wine was definitely fresh and zingy. Lots of citrus and tart apple notes. It was almost a little too zingy... definitely no shortage of acid in there. I'd say at first, it made my eyes go wide, but then I got used to it and found it to be refreshing. I think it'd be great for mimosas or with fried foods because that acidity would be perfect to cleanse the palate. I think I'll try their rosé next time! 

Do you have any favorites at Trader Joes? Leave a comment, if so. I'd love to try them!

Rating:

3 bunches.png
 

Tasting Notes: Rondel Platinum Cava

Sparkling wine has far and above become my favorite wine to drink, and while I wish I could afford delicious Champagne on a regular basis, it is always important to scope out value options. This is where Cava comes in! It is made in the same manner as Champagne, is still delicious in its own right, and comes with a lower price tag. Rondel may sounds familiar to you since I have used Rondel Brut in its identifiable blue bottle many times in the past, mainly for sparkling cocktails. It is inexpensive, flavorful, and comes in the handy split bottles. However, when I came across the Rondel Platinum, their elevated version, I thought I'd give a whirl to see if it could make the cut for New Year's Eve!

Rondel Platinum Cava

The Facts

  • Producer: Rondel
  • Region: Pendes, Spain
  • Vintage: NV
  • Variety: 40% Macabeu, 40% Xarello, 20% Parellada
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $12.99

This Cava is a deeper straw yellow color and has finer bubbles. While the bottle's description boasts citrus and tropical fruits, I definitely picked up on more of a tart apple aroma. There was also some toast or bready smell, which comes from the yeast that is used to ferment in bottle. The same flavors come across on the palate, with an addition of a zing of lemon. While this Cava is definitely acidic, it is more well-balanced than the Rondel Brut and is extremely easy to drink. As my mother stated, "It is very smooth!" There is nothing complex about this Cava and don't expect it to hold up against Champagne, but at the price point, it is a good choice for an everyday or even a NYE sipper. 

Rating:

3 bunches.png
 

Christmas Cocktails: Sweet and Savory

Merry Christmas everyone! While it's hard to believe Christmas is already here, this time of year is my absolute favorite. What's better than time spent with friends and family, sharing meals and listening to cheerful music?! Nothing, I tell you.

I have been seeing lots of posts about various Christmas cocktails and felt like I should get on that train! My creative side was sparked when my cousin mentioned trying to make a cranberry sparkling drink, and I was even more inspired when my aunt sent me a huge box of delicious citrus from Florida. I knew I wanted to make more than one recipe, so I went with one sweet(er) and one savory version. Fair warning, these syrups need lots of time to cool fully so make sure you prepare them in advance!

IMG_1836.JPG

Also, I know it's a little late in the game, but these simple syrups, especially the cranberry version, would make a great hostess gift for any holiday party. Get a cute little bottle like this one (the 8.5 oz one is perfect!), fill 'er up, and attach this recipe (or other recipe ideas!) as a tag. 

Cranberry-Orange Spritz

This sparkling cocktail is made from a simple syrup of, you guessed it, cranberries and orange zest! It produces a syrup that is a beautiful, vibrant, light red color that's perfect for Christmas. If you like sweeter drinks, this syrup is right up your alley.

Cranberry Orange.jpg

Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 heaping cup of fresh cranberries
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Cranberry-Orange Spritz

  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • Top off the champagne flute with a bottle of brut bubbles (Cava works great!)
  • Add some cranberries and an orange slice for garnish!

Combine the water, sugar, and cranberries in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Once boiling, stir mixture until sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn down heat to where it's a heavy simmer or low boil for 2-3 minutes. This is when I added the orange zest. You'll hear the cranberries pop, which is what we want! After the 2-3 minutes, remove the pan from heat and let it cool for another 10-15 minutes or so with the berries. Pour the syrup through a strainer into the bottle and let it cool fully in the fridge. Syrup should be good in your fridge for about a month.

The beautiful thing about this sparkling cocktail is you can adjust the ingredients as you see fit! I suggest the mixture above, but if you want it a little less sweet or a little sweeter, you can pour the syrup accordingly. Enjoy!

Grapefruit-Rosemary Spritz

Now onto the savory syrup. Don't get me wrong, there is PLENTY of sugar in this one too, but the rosemary really gives it that savory flavor, which is perfect for this winter season.

Grapefruit Rosemary.jpg

Rosemary Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 big sprig of rosemary

Grapefruit-Rosemary Spritz

  • 1/2 oz rosemary simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Top off the flute with a bottle of brut bubbles

Combine the water, sugar, and rosemary sprig in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir mixture until sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from heat and let the rosemary steep for 5 minutes. Remove the sprig and let the syrup cool until it can be poured into a bottle. Once in the bottle, let the syrup cool fully in the fridge. Mixture should be good in your fridge for about a month. To enjoy the cocktail, combine the ingredients for the spritz above and enjoy!

Blog Signature 3.jpg