Juvé Y Camps Rosé Brut Cava

by Amy

It's about time we had a rosé on the Vixen.

And I'm giddy this gets to be our first.

As my boss very publicly pointed out on Facebook, yesterday was my birthday! I've been taking advantage of celebrating for the past few days (because Monday isn't exactly prime party time, ya know?). Over the weekend my friend Lauren and I went to Nashville's Chauhan Ale & Masala House (owned by Chopped judge Maneet Chauhan) for some delicious haute Indian fare. The rich, jewel-toned décor and screens of Bollywood dancing made for a festive birthday atmosphere, but that didn't hold a candle to the delicious food. Oh, if you enjoy Indian food, you need to get a reservation here: the lentils are especially to die for.

And a key component to any birthday celebration is the bubbly, is it not? 

Allow me to geek out on the Cava we imbibed. You're gonna want to listen to this.

Cava is Spain's national bubbly, the equivalent to France's Champagne and Italy's Prosecco. A wine celebrated by Catalonians for generations, Cava isn't overly sweet and is usually aged for nine months to three years.

Made from Pinot Noir grapes, Juvé Y Camps Rosé Brut Cava is fruity, floral, creamy, and delicious. This one's a Brut, meaning it's the driest of dry bubblies. As an apértif, this makes me happy—I don't want to start with something overly sweet. The color on this wine is gorgeous, a dark coral. With hints of strawberries and honeysuckle on the nose, a full, creamy mouthfeel and a palate of tart berries, I could've happily downed a few more glasses (had they not been overpriced at $10 each).

But great news: in the vein of Prosecco, Cava isn't nearly as expensive as Champagne (thanks to Spain's mechanized production), but it's definitely worth a buy. You can get a bottle of this Rosé Cava here for only $16.99—a great excuse to party anytime! 

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Sutter Home Pinot Grigio

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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Laguna Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2013


by Amy

I started 2016 off as a cliché. I resolved to save money this year.

I know exactly what my problem is, too. Anytime I want something, I start justifying the indulgence. 

"Oh, but I never buy (purchase item here)!"  

"I've worked so hard this week."

Or (my personal favorite) "It's Saturday!!" Unfortunately, many a purchase has been justified by the mere fact that it was Saturday. I'm not proud of this, kids.

And I've decided to kick that thinking to the curb before I start living out of my car.

As I started crunching numbers, I bemoaned that in order to save some cash, I really shouldn't partake in my favorite pastime: finding new restaurants and indulging in multi-course meals (and, because I like red meat, that usually means a big ol' steak—JT can vouch for this).  But, like the sensible man he is, Boyfriend said we shouldn't eliminate my ritual entirely—we should just do it sparingly and on budget.

He's a smart cookie, that one.

So we decided we'd still find new restaurants (or, more accurately, new to us restaurants), but do it only once a month instead of, you know, whenever we felt like it. And our first selection was The Southern Steak & Oyster, which skirts the edge of downtown Nashville. 

Y'all. Despite the bar-like atmosphere and noise level, the food is on point. As is the Laguna Chardonnay on the wine list.

This Chardonnay has ample bunches of honeysuckle and citrus on the nose. The palate boasts delightful notes of pear and lemon, and the tannins are pronounced, but not overpowering, and long on the finish. This was deliciously paired with slightly sweet-and-salty oysters from the outer banks of North Carolina. I can't wait to try this with some melon and strawberries in the spring.

Good news: you can find this vintage for less than $20! Get a bottle here for $19.74.

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Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio

By Amy

Have you ever had something follow you around til you were sick of it? 

A younger sibling. An unrequited crush. A black cat. Things that make you want to cringe if they just don't back off.

Gnarly Head Vineyards is not one of those things.

I've been running into Gnarly Head a lot lately, both in store displays and social gatherings. I just commented on how much I enjoy their Chardonnay as my go-to, affordable white. Their marketing department must be working overtime these days—but at least it's for a worthy cause.

My friends and I had our annual Friendsgiving last weekend, and this year's theme was a pasta night (aka Carb-o-palooza). One of our friends was nobly charged with bringing booze (his taste credentials had been vetted—an important but sometimes unfortunately overlooked trait in selecting the booze chooser), so when I peeked in his bag upon arrival, I was pleased to see Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio. 

Light and bright, with a honeysuckle aroma and citrus flavor of Meyer lemon, this Pinot Grigio was delightful alongside a spicy penne alla vodka. I bet it'd also be great with some fish tacos in the summertime (or even some lemon chicken and broccoli!). 

And since it's in the Gnarly Head family, you're getting a good product at a good price: it's only $9.99.

Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio

By Amy


That's ridiculously fun to say. It's even more fun to say if you feign an Italian accent a la the waiter in Lady & the Tramp.

Google Translate defines "mezzacorona" as "half crown." I'm not sure why the vineyard decided to go with that name, because it certainly doesn't match the majesty of the property where they cultivate their grapes. Mama miaset in the foothills of the Italian Dolomites. And with its rolling hills and sapphire blue skies, it's utterly and completely gorgeous.

But I digress.

Mezzacorona makes a delightful Pinot Grigio that complements soups, salads, and white meats. Its green apple and honeysuckle notes pair delightfully with crisp acidity, and make you think you've paid more for the bottle than you have. 

I've seen a bottle retail for $16, which isn't bad at all, but shhyou can find it here for only $8.70!

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