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Blog

Wine Recommendations from a Thrillerchick

Filtering by Category: Reds

Damilano Levinquevigne 2011 Barolo

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Y'all know I'm an Italian girl. I can get on board with all kinds of varietals and blends from my homeland.

But this Barolo?

Be still my heart.

Hubby and I had this phenomenal Damilano Levinquevigne 2011  Barolo at Bice in San Diego. Verdict: this combo platter of five different Nebbiolos is a blend well worth your attention. 
 

Tasting Notes

The nose was almost too easy: lush berries, orange, tobacco, rose and violet, but the finish was heady tannins and rough leather. 

Price Point

You can find it for a very reasonable $17.84.

Pairings

We had this with a cheese pairing, 7 different kinds of Italian cheeses, including a smoked provolone that made the smoke in this Barolo stand up and howl. No doubt it'd be delicious accompanied with gamey meats.

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Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2010

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Let's talk about Italian reds, shall we?

There are many wine-producing regions in Italy, but one of the most prolific is in the northwest of the country, in an area called Piedmont (Piemonte, in Italian). Nestled at the base of the Alps, Piedmont produces some fine wines, particularly from one of my favorite grapes: Nebbiolo. Since Piedmont is has lots of hills, temperature and terroir vary wildly—and so does the grape. You've heard of Barbaresco and Barolo, right? This is where they come from. Grown in a lower elevation and warmer temperature than their Barolo brethren, Barbarescos tend to be a bit lighter and fruitier; Barolos usually pack a bit more punch.

Wasn't that a fun geography lesson? Context is important; you'll see why in a minute.

Operating in the town of Barbaresco, the Produttori co-op is one of the finest in Piedmont (trust me, I’ve been there), and this Langhe Nebbiolo is hands-down my favorite for the price.

What Chianti is to Tuscany, Nebbiolo is to Peimonte.


Tasting Notes

I’ve had several vintages, and the 2010 is a real standout, perfect for lunch or a light dinner of cheese and antipasti. It’s supposed to be lighter than its Barbaresco cousin, but I find it has more flavor and depth. It’s very leathery, with a touch of earth combined with fresh red fruits and a bit of menthol, which really makes it stand out. A bargain every day table red.


Price Point

You can find this particular vintage for $18.99.


Pairings

A friend to meats and cheeses, this wine would pair beautifully with antipasti, roasted mushrooms, and entrées starring roasted beef or game.

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Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dolce

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Y'all. It's really, really hot outside.

Thankfully, I've been in Colorado this week visiting family, so I've been spared a bit. But I'm headed back to Tennessee today, and I know what's waiting for me:

Humidity to the nth degree. 

Oh, southern summertime . . .

When it's hot outside and I need a little something boozy, I know just the cold beverage to reach for: 
 

Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dolce


Tasting Notes

Served ice-cold, Lambrusco is the perfect drink to sip in the summer shade. Light-bodied  and bubbly, it's sweet and fruity, tasting of strawberries, raspberries, and cherries.

Price Point

You're going to love me for this: it's only $6.99.

Pairings

Think antipasti and cured meats: salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, cheese. Lambrusco and nibbles—a great party combo!

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Belle Ambiance Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Happy Friday, lovelies. 

Care for a young Red (wine, not head) suggestion today?


Tasting Notes

Belle Ambience made a pretty good Cabernet Sauvignon in 2014. I can't quite place the nose—it's more than earthy, it smells a bit green, like fresh oregano. Oddly enough, it's super plummy palate, like blackberry jam, an intriguing combination. It's got a luscious body, nice and thick, medium-lowish alcohol, and glowing tannins that are long on the finish. It's young and bright, and mellows a bit if you let it open up for about 30 minutes or so.


Price Point

We can all agree with this one. I believe I got mine at my local wine merchant for about $9.99. Check out the vinter's website to see where you can find it.


Pairing Suggestions

Bright, acidic tomato flavors would go nicely with this young red: something along the lines of spaghetti with fresh marinara sauce, a caprese salad with lots of fresh basil, or paella would be scrumptious. 

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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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McWilliam's Hanwood Estate Shiraz 2013

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

I love good wine. Especially good wine with a great value.

Which is why I've been a fan of McWilliam's Shiraz for years. Dry and fruit-forward, with raspberry, black cherry, plums, vanilla, and a touch of oak, this wine is a flavor powerhouse at a great value. Pair this with a nice gluten-free pizza from Publix (a discovery that has transformed my weekends... and maybe a few weeknights), and you've got a delicious Friday night ahead of you!

Pick up a bottle for only $7.99, and you'll see what I mean. If you've got a hankering for a meat-lovers pizza, this would pair just divinely.

 

Tell your pizza-loving friends about this Shiraz.

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Wines for Valentine's Day

J.T. Ellison

Wines for Valentine's Day

by J.T. and Amy

Red Alert: it's almost Valentine's Day, people.

Are you prepared to show your dearly beloved how much you care? It's not like you need candy, flowers, and grand gestures to prove your affection—really, VDay should be no big deal because you're a bundle of love every day of the year, right?

But life is too short not to celebrate.

And when there's celebration and Wine Vixens, you know there's gonna be wine.

Here are a few of our favorites that'll spice up the special day (broken down by budget because, let's be real, that matters:


Under $20

 

Totally-Worth-It Splurges


We hope you enjoy celebrating all the love in your life. And as we say when we toast, ching ching!

Xoxo,
J.T. & Amy


Share the love!

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Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2010

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

I'm dating a health nut.

I find this to be a good thing for many reasons. Some are more selfish than others (oh hello, biceps), but I do appreciate Boyfriend's willingness to try any lean protein, veggie-heavy dish I make, no matter how outlandish, like Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai or Turkey Sweet Potato Chili. 

Boyfriend's also a very good money manager. But when it comes to his wine budget, he's more Ebenezer Scrooge-like than anything else. As in, spend-no-more-than-$4-on-a-bottle-of-battery-acid kind of budget. And since I love him, I'm willing to overlook that.

But on a recent trip to the local wine store, Boyfriend started toting around a $18 bottle of wine—and there was nearly a cleanup on aisle 3 because I had just about passed out.

Me (aghast): You . . . you know how much that bottle costs, right?
Him (beaming): YES! And I'd pay it again and again!
Me:  I don't know you anymore.

Turns out, Boyfriend hadn't been bitten by a radioactive vinter and turned into a wine snob—he'd been reading a book called The Blue Zone. In a nutshell, the book describes places on the planet called "Blue Zones," where people live longer, look younger, and feel better while doing it all. Off the western coast of Italy, the island of Sardinia happens to be one of those places. And one reason why, according to the book, was because of the very wine my boyfriend was proudly toting around. 

Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2010 is a Grenache blend that, according to The Blue Zones' author, supposedly carries more polyphenols in it than any other wine in the world. What are polyphenols, you ask? They're a chemical compound found in plants that, when consumed, protect human cells from oxidation and reduce the risks of diseases like cancer and heart disease. Polyphenols in grapes are found in skins, stems, and seeds; during fermentation, these parts of the grape give red wine its tannic structure. And the more tannins in the wine, the higher rate of polyphenols present, and thus more antioxidants that fight cancer and heart disease. 

So what's the world's most polyphenol-filled wine taste like?

Whoa, mama! These tannins will rip your face off, which some people might like (like Boyfriend). But if I had to do it over again, I think I'd have to decant it for an hour to tone it down a bit.* It's very earthy, with lots of leather and herby notes, highly acidic with a bit of cherry. I'd want to cook with this, just to see what it'd do to a tomato sauce. 

And you can find it for a reasonable $18.99.

*And methinks I'll be doing this over again very soon. Over the weekend, Boyfriend and I stopped by the wine store . . . and the only thing he purchased was two bottles of this wine. Giddily, I might add.


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