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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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. 

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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.

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Tasting Notes: The Path Pinot Noir

I typically shy away from wine with Asian food. I don't know what it is about the flavors, but I usually decide that beer is the way to go. However, there are times you are just really wanting a nice glass of wine with dinner, even if you're having an Asian dish! Because of this, I starting researching what people recommend with Asian flavors. Spicy dishes are you usally told to pair with off-dry Riesling. For dishes with umami flavors (soy, oyster sauce, ginger, etc), I read that fruity and low tannin reds work well. Their specific suggestions were California Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. Based on this, I decided to tackle the wine section at Whole Foods while picking up my other groceries and came across this lower-priced Pinot.

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The Facts

  • Producer: The Path
  • Region: California
  • Vintage: 2015
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $12.99

Cherry, cherry, cherry! While I've had some California Pinot Noir with darker fruit notes, this one was tart cherry through and through with some cola notes. There was also a hint of earthiness , but nothing like what you'd get from Burgundy or Willamette. It had a good weight to it, as I sometimes find Pinot Noir to be too light bodied and thin for my taste. As to be expected, there was lower tannin and bright acidity. I had to agree with the article I read that the fruit-forward nature of this Pinot went well with our soy-ginger chicken. While there are Pinot Noirs I prefer more than this one (see this post), the convenience of having a tasty, easy-drinking option at the grocery store we visit almost daily is nice and the price is right.

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Tasting Notes: Juvé y Camps Brut Rosé

For as much as I love sparkling wine, there are surprisingly few reviews on sparkling wines. When I came across this sale at Whole Foods, I couldn't pass a bottle up! I first tried the Juvé y Camps brand at Corkbuzz a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it. But this was their rosé, which is even more up my alley! 

The Facts

  • Producer: Juvé y Camps
  • Region: Penedès, Spain (near Barcelona)
  • Vintage: Non-vintage
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $14.99, on sale

Eyes: This wine is so pretty. Is that weird to say? It's such a lovely deep salmon, almost cherry red color. And I think the bottle is awesome. The label looks classy and fancy... like it's expensive, but it's not!

Nose: The Cava smelled of bright red fruit, like strawberry and cherry. There was a hint of biscuit or toast, which is typical of Cava because it's made in the same method as Champagne, but I would say that it was more fruit forward than toasty. 

Mouth: Tasty! This is a wine that "what you see is what you get", meaning that it tastes fruit forward and refreshing. The strawberry that's on the nose really comes through when you drink it, and I personally don't get a lot of the toast flavor when drinking it. It's very acidic, but has more depth in flavor than a non-rosé Cava. 

Thoughts: I think this is a crowd-pleaser and a good value. Is there great complexity here? No, but for $15, I think it's pretty awesome. I think it's a great bottle to take over to a friend's house or to a celebration if you're not looking to bust out an expensive Champagne. This will likely be my go-to now when I want to pop a bottle at home!

Story: I actually really like the story behind Juvé y Camps. It's a family owned winery near Barcelona that was founded in 1921. The history behind the winery actually started 200 years earlier with the founder's grandfather, Joan Juvé Mir, who was a grape grower. He faced many challenges, including phylloxera and the subsequent replanting of his vines. The first wines were made in the cellar under the family home, and the grandson, Joan Juvé Baqués, decided to start an official winery. Now, Juvé y Camps is regularly served at state banquets by Spain's royal family and is offered to guests of the national government, Senate, and Congress. 

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Tasting Notes: Underwood "The Bubbles"

Canned wine was very trendy last summer, and it certainly hasn't died down yet. In fact, Underwood has released even more options this year! Their rosé and Pinot Noir have been around for a while, but I came across "The Bubbles" at Whole Foods the other week and obviously could not resist. I'm a sucker for anything bubbly!  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I gave Trader Joe's canned Simpler Wines a try a few weeks back, and let's just say it was $4 down the drain. Then again, four cans for $4... did I really expect it to be good? After that debacle, I was curious to see how Underwood's would turn out.

The Facts

  • Producer: Union Wine Co.
  • Region: Oregon
  • Vintage: Non-vintage
  • Variety: Doesn't say on the can or website, but I saw Chardonnay when I scoured the internet.
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $6.99/can

Eyes: Well, it's hard to tell because it's in a can, but the can looks nice and classy! Just kidding... I mean not about the can looking nice, but I did end up pouring some into a glass just out of curiosity. It's a very pale color and the bubbles are very fine. 

Nose: Silly me forgot to smell the wine when I poured that small bit into the glass. I think that brings about a good point, though, that the biggest downfall to wine in a can is you lose the aromas which play such a large part in how a wine tastes. Convenience is great, and I like what Union Wine Co is trying to accomplish with their #pinkiesdown motto, but you can't argue that smell and aromas don't matter with wine.

Mouth: I was a little apprehensive, but I have to say that it exceeded my expectations. It has a slight sweetness to it, which is not surprising given it's only 11% ABV (lower alcohol percentages means more residual sugar in the wine, average is probably 12.5-13.5%), but it was definitely not overwhelming in sweetness. Perhaps the residual sugar was a way to combat the lack of aromas from the can? Anyway, there was a good acidity to it which helped counteract the sweetness, and the apple and citrus flavors were front and center. The bubbles are very subtle, not like normal sparkling wine. It's almost like mineral water. When cold, it's very refreshing.

Thoughts: Is this the best wine I've ever had before? No, but I didn't (and you shouldn't) expect it to be. Is it the best wine I've ever had in a convenient container and affordable price? Yes, hands down. This stuff can be dangerous... wine in a can seems to go down much faster than in a glass! And be careful because a single can is half a bottle of wine! If you think about it that way, this would equate to a $14 bottle of wine which is a pretty great price point. Plus, with the added convenience of being in a can, that can be priceless. Are you going to a BBQ and don't want beer? Will you be heading out to the beach or on a boat or to a picnic and don't want to carry a bottle, corkscrew, and glasses? Definitely pick yourself up a can and be sure to keep it cold. I'm looking forward to trying their rosé that's in my fridge, and I'm keeping my eyes peeled for the sparkling rosé. If you've seen it in Charlotte, let me know where!

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