California (que OC theme music)

So, I’m in California for the week.  And although this post isn’t about any one beverage in particular, I’m writing to announce that the next few posts I make will be (a) about California-based alcohol and (b) in quick succession of each other.  Hopefully at least two will come out of this week.

And I’m expanding to beer, which will happen with this blog occasionally, but not often.  I’m making my first exception for the Karl Strauss Brewing Company, based out of San Diego.

I just had their En Fuego Jalepnio Cheeseburger and three of their premium drafts in La Jolla– one of the pricier areas of the world– and it cost me $28.  Back in the low-income area of East Tennessee where I’m from, I could get a burger and three beers for $28, and it would be half the quality.

Oh, and on top of that, the Karl Strauss brews I had were 8.1% alcohol at least, with their Belgian-style seasonal ranking it at a full 10%.  This is over double what Tennessee state laws prohibit beer of being.

Screw this legalization of marijuana.  If I lived here amongst 10% alcoholic beer, I wouldn’t even think of weed.  You Californians don’t realize how great you have it.  But I support your self-parodying progressive liberal laws nonetheless.  Let’s see what other ridiculous shit we can pull off, Golden State!

More to come later.


Tilia Torrontes 08

I’m more of a red wine person than a white wine person.  I love some Sauv Blanc, but aside from that there’s not a white I’m fond of.

So I was more than eager to dive into a bottle of Tilia Torrontes, as I didn’t even know this varietal existed.

Chardonnay is too boring for me.  Even to this day I haven’t found one that I like.  They’re not bad, but they’re not good.  They’re like the Coldplay of wines– served to the masses and met with lukewarm responses, but no one ever turns it down, especially at wedding receptions.

Torrontes, as it turns out, is a common South American varietal, at least in the same sense that Malbecs are common.  They’ve been dropped by the wayside slightly, but are still popular in niche markets.

The taste is fruity, but wholly unlike any other kind of wine.  There’s (I swear) a cherry taste in it somewhere.  The citrusy fruits aren’t present at all, and what fruits are blended in can only be described as aromic.  I know it sounds disgusting, but it’s like drinking perfume if it were wine.  But it’s not sweet, tart, or sour.  It’s like the underlying tones of a fruity smell mixed into a wine.

There’s no way for me to describe it where it sounds appealing, but trust me, it’s worth a try.  It’s the most off-flavor wine I’ve had in a while.  But don’t think of it as a table wine, because it’s definitely not sweet.

It’s as if the fruits that usually don’t make it into a wine mixture were given a shot with this one.

At the very least, it’s an extremly interesting wine.

3.5 out of 5 strikes


Dyed in the Wool Sauvignon Blanc

Dyed in the Wool Sauv Blanc was my introduction to Sauv Blancs in general.  Much like how the Beatles were my introduction to music and the Ghostbusters my introduction to cinema, this brand has a special place in my heart.

I like sour beverages.  I always have.  In fact, my favorite non-alcoholic beverage is unsweetened grapefruit juice, which not a whole lot of people would say.

Dyed in the Wool tastes quite a bit like grapefruit juice.

This New Zealand brand packs multiple citrus fruits into the Sauv Blanc, with the sour ones shining through.  It’s crisp, clean, and doesn’t have an aftertaste to speak of.

With Sauv Blancs the main area for variation is exactly how sour they are and how much you can taste the alcohol.  With Dyed in the Wool, the sour factor is high, and the alcohol taste is minimal, making it all the more refreshing.

Like other Sauv Blancs, this one goes well with spicy food.  But it also serves as a pleasing beverage to sip on the porch on a warm evening.

4 out of 5 strikes


Relax Riesling 2008

Over the years, it has become obvious that I have quite a Teutonic streak. I usually have one German obsession going at any given time. Werner Herzog, Popol Vuh, Kraftwerk, etc. I’ve been reading a little about German wines and my mother-in-law was in town and wanted a Riesling. Coincidence? I will find any reason to drink.

I’m not going to drink a lot of Rieslings, but this was a fun, fruity wine that went well with the warming days. This particular bottle was from the Schmitt Sohne label, who produces a lot of wines from the fatherland (uh, Germany). I wasn’t particularly fond of the packaging and branding attempt at all, but I forgive Europe all the time for more serious transgressions, so what the Hell.

Relax Riesling is fruity like a fresh peach and a tart apple. it did have a good acidity to cut through the sweetness, which sort of calms after a few sips. It smells of fruit peelings, which I really liked, and it coats the glass with an almost oil-like viscosity. It reminded my of a dry Muscadine.

If your looking for a wine for an outdoor party or cookout, grab a Riesling. Germany is really coming into its own, according to many experts (of which I am not). I am sure you will have fun with it, though.

3 out of 5 strikes.

(post by Tre)


2008 Root One Sauvingnon Blanc

Root 1 Sauvignon Blanc has been one of our favorites for a while now, and it’s embarrassing to think about how much money we’ve spent on it.

 The white wine is pretty sour and citrusy, typical of Sauv. Blancs.  More fruit taste breaks through than in other types of the same varietal.  It has a strong bite, and if that’s not something you enjoy then this wine isn’t for you.

 Many whites tend to be bland.  Even though the Sauv. Blanc varietal is more like grapefruit juice than grape juice, Root 1 in particular is strong.  It goes extremely well with spicy food, especially Asian or Mexican food.  The spice and sour flavors even each other out.

 It’s refreshing in a weird way, like a glass of sour lemonade during the middle of summer. 

 Interestingly, this wine is one of the only ones available in the US that’s made with actual root stock, hence why it’s called Root 1.  But we’ll get into this more later, with our second post about Root One.

4 out of 5 strikes


Ruggero di Tasso’s Nero d’Avola 2007

Trader Joe’s has a way of making you buy things you normally would not. Chocolate covered candied ginger, shortbread cookies, and pre-seasoned fish to name a few, but ultimately the wines get me. I’m all for the more challenging $20 bottle, but I’m also not made of cash, so a solid bargain wine is welcome at our house anytime.

Ruggero di Tasso’s Nero d’Avola had the rock bottom price of $4.99 and, for a solid table wine, tasted better than the price suggested. Disclaimer – if I had bought a $5 bottle of wine where I’m originally from, I would have been planning on drinking it in the parking lot…cause life was bad.

This Sicilian was round and sweet with a deep nose. I could actually smell the fruit, like most big production labels (think animal or body part bottles), but I could also smell black cherries and little oak. Light tannins made for a slippery finish, but it wasn’t soft enough to roll over the garlic I was cooking with.

This is a pretty darn good table, or rather, jelly jar wine for the summer. It doesn’t even need a wine glass proper, just pour it in to a small glass after you pour some into your sauce. It has a blackberry flavor that I really liked. Took the bruschetta with white cheddar & parsley I was snacking on to a wonderful place. Increasingly looking forward to my garden.

3 out of 5 strikes

(Post written by Tre)


Trentatre Rosso 2008

When it comes to reds, I usually want dirty, oaky ones. I like a little compost flavor. Deep, dark, full and rich. I really like the South American stuff of the past few years. The Australian’s seem to be a little too sweet for me on the whole, but I’m game. I’m beginning to revisit American and Italian wines. This is all easy, considering my love of drinking.
Trentatre is a three-part blend that has spent six months in oak barrels. The name literally means thirty-three in Italian. It is 33.3 cabernet, 33.3 merlot, 33.4 montepulciano grapes all grown in the Apulia Region in Southern Italy. It has a bruised flavor upon opening that gives way to a really nice oaky-ness once it’s had some air.
Trentatre Rosso was recently featured on the San Francisco Weekly’s “Cheap Wines That Don’t Suck” blog. They speculated that it tastes older than it is because the vintner uses older barrels, which is a practice that is not necessarily popular today.
It was full and fruity but with a moderate finish. Plums and cherries make for good company. I loved its oak tinge, and it was just tannic enough to be perfect with a ripe tomato, a handful of basil from the garden, some fresh mozzarella and bread. All drenched in olive oil.
A good summer food wine. Bring it on!
4 out of 5 strikes.

(Wine sampled by/post written by Tre)

July 2018
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