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Blog

Wine Recommendations from a Thrillerchick

Filtering by Category: America

Francis Ford Coppola Votre Santé Chardonnay 2013

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

I have to tell you something. And you have to promise that you won't think less of me, ok?

I don't really like Chardonnay that much.


*cue the crickets*

Oh, I know, I know—I like this one. But most of the time, if I see Chardonnay on a wine list, I'm going to skip it. 

I feel like there's something I'm missing, like with truffle oil. Everybody goes ga-ga over truffle oil, practically melting with giddiness anytime it's on a menu. And then there's me:

What's all the fuss about??

I dunno. I wonder if my palate is broken, like the owner of a local eatery told me once. I had inquired if his tarragon chicken salad was actually supposed to taste "that way"—which, I didn't say aloud, "that way" tasted like a rotting corpse (apparently, it was). Oops.

Anyway. After a tasting hosted by the awesome Dan Hutchinson of local wine haven The Wine Shoppe of Green Hills, I had a revelation:
 

💡 I Don't hate all Chardonnays—
I just dislike oaky Chardonnays. 💡
 

That, my friends, was a game-changer. Given my affinity for lighter whites, it all makes sense. So now I can go about my merry way and find some lightly-oaked to non-oaked Chardonnays and be pleased with my purchase.

Like with today's recommendation:
Francis Ford Coppola
Votre Santé Chardonnay 2013
.
 

Tasting Notes

Light, buttery, and slightly oaky with a lovely pale-gold color, this wine's got a little minerality to it, along with lemon and vanilla notes. Medium-high alcohol content will make this a good accompaniment for rich meals—it lingers a bit on the tongue.

Price Point

Coppola wines give you a lot of bang for your buck. This one clocks in at $15.99.

Pairing Suggestions

Something with a bit of richness or creaminess, like curry, carbonara, or salmon with a buttery sauce.

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Kenwood 2011 Yulupa Zinfandel (with two bonus recipes!)

J.T. Ellison

By Amy

I promise I'm not shirking my white wine duties.

But. 

I really couldn't let you go another day without hearing about this zinfandel. And what I paired with it.

As for the wine, Kenwood's 2011 Yulupa Zinfandel is just delightful. Fruit-forward and balanced, with a nice touch of acidity and mild tannins, this zin was a refreshing to drink while I prepared dinner. And the price isn't bad, either; it was about $15 at my local wine shop. 

But I daresay this wine was even better when I paired it with pan-seared red snapper and mango-avocado salsa. 

Oh. Yeah.

I owe you an apology: I don't have any photos of this dish. I know, I know, that's a cardinal sin in the food blog world. But Boyfriend and I scarfed it down too quickly to snap photos (fish gets cold fast, you guys), so you're just gonna have to trust me on this, ok?

You need to make this fish.

I don't even like fish that much, but I'm trying to justify when it's ok for me to make it again (answer: this weekend).

That is how much you need to make this fish. Ok?


Pan-Seared Red Snapper

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil (or your favorite high-heat-compliant oil: olive, canola, etc.)
  • Two 6-oz. red snapper fillets (keep the skin on, if you'd like a little crispy texture—it looks weird, but tastes so good) 
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin—for dusting the fish


Directions

  1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the coconut oil on medium-high, until melted and rippling.
     
  2. Sprinkle both sides of the fillets with spices (a light dusting will do—you don't want to go overboard, you've got a salsa to eat with it!).
     
  3. Place the fish in the pan, flesh-side first, cooking for 5 minutes per side. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
     
  4. Top with mango-avocado salsa, and serve alongside a light salad, or green beans with cilantro pesto (want this recipe? tell me in the comments).


Mango-Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 mango, diced into ½-inch pieces (Don't know how to cut a mango? Click here.)
  • 2 avocados, diced into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ one medium red onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or a light-tasting olive oil)
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions

In a big ol' bowl, mix all the ingredients. Feel free to make this before the fish, so the flavors can meld together in the fridge while you're prepping the snapper.

*FYI: this makes about a quart of salsa, and it's perfectly acceptable to eat this with a spoon. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience. 

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Joel Gott Zinfandel 2013

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

Looking for a lighter red under $20?

I think I may have something for you.

Joel Gott Zinfandel's 2013 vintage is a bit earthy on the nose, with hints of sage, rosemary, and plum—a bit fruity without being too jammy, thanks to some leather and tobacco notes. A little acid and silky tannins round out a nice, long finish. 

If you're looking for a lighter red this spring (maybe to go with some aromatic Cinco de Mayo fare?), this one's a good buy at $18.99.

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Cycles Gladiator Syrah 2010

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We've all had a long week. Today is Friday, the day we long to cut through the clutter, tidy our inboxes, wrangle the week's remaining cats, and go home and watch Netflix.

I'm all for that. Especially today.

So without further ado, I give you today's wine:

the delicious Cycles Gladiator Syrah 2010.

This Californian syrah's got some nice fruity, earthy notes with soft, mild tannins. On the nose, I picked up plum, raspberry, leather, and topsoil. These notes transferred nicely to the palate filled with earth, plummy berries, and black pepper. I'd say the alcohol level is pretty middling, but the wine does have a nice zing that lingers on the back of your tongue, a tantalizing tease that says, See? You know you want some more . . . 

I'll bet this would taste pretty fine next to a spring dish laden with strawberries—savory or sweet (some crostini with goat cheese, strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and basil, perhaps?). And, because I always think ahead, this syrah would pair spectacularly with flavors of fall: apples, sage, sweet potatoes.

You can't go wrong with a perennial pairing, y'all.

I think this one's a steal at $9.99.

Go forth, and get thee some wine and Netflix. You deserve it! 

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Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling 2014

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

hi, we're back!

Well, hello there!

Long time no see! 

I promise we're not dead. We've been a wee bit busy with the book part of our world, launching a new book you might've heard us mention one or twice.

Or a million times. 

But we're finally back in the wine saddle, thank goodness! 

A couple things you might wanna know:

1. We're going to be posting new wine every Friday, just in time for you to hop over to your favorite wine shop and stock up for your weekend!

2. We're on Instagram! And by "on Instagram," I mean we'll be posting via J.T.'s account using #thewinevixen on all our wine posts. Use that hashtag to follow the fun.

Alright, back to our regularly scheduled programming!


Ahh, it's springtime!

Longer days, warmer nights, lots of budding trees and the return of the color green.

'Tis the season for white wine!

Today I've brought you a value wine that's got some bang for its buck. You'll want to pair this one with your spring dishes: anything with chicken, asparagus, mild cheeses, or something light and fresh.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling 2014 is a medium-dry Riesling—it's not too sweet, lending itself as a delicious apéritif (but it drinks well by itself, too!). It's lightly floral, tasting of apple blossoms, peach, and lime, and offset by slight minerality, giving the wine a nice balance.

And guess what?

It's only $9.

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Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Red Blend 2013

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

When it comes to birthdays, it seems like when it rains, it pours. 

In my life, I've got two birthday seasons I've noticed: March – May and  October – November. Which, if you think nine months backward, makes sense.

And since we've just entered March, it's Birthday Season #1 around these parts. And you know what that means? 

I'm on a quest to find wines that pair excellently with cake!

I know, I know—it is a hard life I lead.

First up in Birthday Season is Boyfriend, the resident dark-chocoholic and red wine addict. Thing is, Boyfriend isn't a fan of sweet, cloying wines, so I knew we couldn't go the way of dessert wine. 

A great solution: this Coppola Red Blend, which paired excellently with the dark chocolate cake we served.

A medium-bodied, fruit-forward wine, the Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Red Blend 2013 contains Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot—and you can taste the complexity of flavors at work. Fairly plummy, with notes of cherry and blackberry, it was a lovely wine to serve with dessert—without making everything over-the-top sweet.

You can grab a bottle here for $18.99 (though my local wine merchant sold it for $16.99).


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Sutter Home Pinot Grigio

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

Whether you want to or not, sometimes you have to follow directions.

For those of us who are rock-solid stubborn, this is a hard realization to come to. But the sooner you accept this, the happier you'll be. Because sometimes things aren't built according to your preferences and the way your brain works. Sometimes you have to meet things halfway in order to have an optimal experience.

This phenomenon is why I.T. professionals characterize 90% of the service calls they receive as PICNIC: Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.

In other words you, the human, are responsible for the problems you're having—not the computer. Your real problem is that you've forced a piece of machinery to meet your expectations when that piece of machinery was not built to be your mindreader. Just like a good relationship, you've gotta meet the computer halfway in order for you both to function harmoniously.

The same holds true for wine. 

Serving temperatures are important. The delicate aromas and structural compounds of wine are severely influenced by the temperature. Serving temperature for reds can vary depending on varietal, around 55 degrees F to 72 degrees F, but a good rule of thumb for whites is to chill them around 45 degrees F.

And guess what? Your white wine doesn't care if you've just come home with your takeout and you're ready to start eating sushi and drinking wine and watching Netflix right now—you need to let that sucker chill for a bit.

I bet you can see where this is going.

Such was the case last Saturday night. I'd brought home a bottle of Sutter Home Pinot Grigio and some sushi. But I was ravenously hungry, so I didn't wait to chill my wine—and I was punished. It was not a pleasant drinking experience, one I'm pretty sure I likened to drinking fruit-flavored rubbing alcohol. And I blamed it on the wine.

That's what I get for paying $5 for wine! my brain fumed. (Though, to be fair, I've had some delicious $5 wines, and have known to imbibe Two-Buck-Chuck with great pleasure. But hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by her wine choice, and so I raged on.)

But later that night, I needed some wine to go with my SNL (I mean, right?), and thought, "What the heck?" So I pulled my bottle out of the fridge and poured another glass. And this time, it was a completely different drinking experience—the wine was actually tasty because it was finally the correct temperature.

Duh. Duh, Amy. 

Sutter Home Pinot Grigio, when served at the proper ice-cold temperature, is a pretty solid wine. With notes of honeysuckle and lime, this wine sports medium acid with a high-ish tasting alcohol content, rounded out with flavors of peach and cantaloupe. If I had chilled this properly, I bet it would've gone well with my salmon and tuna nigiri. 

You can find a bottle of this online for $6, but I routinely see it for $5 at my local wine merchant.

Lesson learned. Don't be like me.

 

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Mark West Pinot Noir

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Parties are always a bit of a crapshoot, aren't they?


Although you map out every detail, the variables you can't control slowly dismantle your best laid plans: someone needs the oven at 350 F for their spinach artichoke dip, even though you're finishing up your sausage balls at 425 F. A whopping three guests have brought the same dish, even though you policed the signup list like a hawk. And you forgot that everything but the veggie tray has gluten in it—which is unfortunate for your best friend with a gluten intolerance, who waves off your apologies with a sad stick of celery. 

But no matter how far the party strays from your good intentions, there's always one constant:

You can never have too much booze. 


If you're looking for a red to take to a big social gathering (i.e. Super Bowl parties and summer barbecues) when you're unsure what to bring, Mark West Pinot Noir would be a delightful accompaniment. The fruit forward flavors of strawberry and cherry cola, along with soft tannins and a nice bite of acid, complement meats of all kinds—cheeseburgers, bbq chicken, grilled salmon—along with a good cheese plate. It's a light-bodied red that goes well with so many foods and palates, you really can't go wrong with this one.

And lucky for us: it's only $10.99!


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Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio 2014

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

When it comes to my drink choices, sometimes I'm a broken record. But I don't really mind.
 

Honestly, this isn't a recent phenomenon: I've always been this way. I could quote The Little Mermaid word for word when I was 5 because it was the only movie I'd watch for days on end. Even now, if I like something, even after the 50th time of indulging in it, I'm still gonna love it as much as I did the first time.

This is a great trait to have when you're broke and you don't mind eating beans and rice for days on end. It's not so great when you binge-watch the night away instead of folding the mountain of laundry that you allow to sit in the dryer for an embarrassingly long time. (talking about a "friend" here, guys)

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy trying new things. But some nights, all I want to do is curl up with a nice, comfortable favorite, whether it's a TV show or a drink. And I generally know which varietals are my favorites: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling really turn my crank. So on this blog, I'm going to do my best to try not to be a broken record, but bear with me if I post about these gems a bit more than some other varietals. 

P.S. You have full permission to suggest new varietals for me to try. In fact, I'd rather you speak now than forever hold your piece!

ANYWAY. Onto this lovely Californian Pinot Grigio.

Clos du Bois' 2014 Pinot Grigio was everything I love about this varietal: it's light, crisp, and just delightful to drink. There's lots of candied lemon on the nose, with notes of grapefruit, ginger, and tiny bit of grass on the palate. This isn't too acidic, so I think it'd be phenomenal paired with sushi or some really aromatic Thai food, like Tom Kha Gai or a green curry. I would order it again in a heartbeat. 

And good news: it's only $11.99


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Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel 2012

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

It's never too early to plan for Valentine's Day, y'all.
 

I'm not trying to rush you—I know you just put away your Christmas decorations. But whether you've got one special someone or a bunch of people you want to show your love to, the best way to do it is through food. Because, honestly, who doesn't like food?

Yeah. That's what I thought.

The Italians know a thing or two about love and food, which is probably why their food is synonymous with a meal shared with loved ones. Whether it's a family-style meal or a candlelight dinner, there's probably going to be something sauced in red with lots and lots of garlic. Mmm...

So what should you pair with this dinner?
 

With hints of black cherry, licorice, nutmeg, black pepper, Seghesio's Old Vine Zinfandel is a spicy-sweet combo that would pair excellently with any Italian meal you've got in mind (come on, what's more romantic than a Lady & the Tramp moment?). There's a nice hit of acid in this, a perfect complement to tomato-based dishes.

Why "Old Vine," you ask? Seghesio's not playing around: their old vine wines are at least 50 years old, which gives you some rich, complex flavors, and tannins that lead to a nice, long finish.  It's a lovely, lovely wine.

You can pick up a bottle here for $34.99. 


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