Monday, December 29, 2008

The Three Days of Sam Adams' Christmas: Days Two and Three

Ah, the holidays, when one's hopes tend to be shattered by the inability of others to give worthy gifts. Fortunately, my fam hooked me up with some lovely stuff; I fulfilled a years-old dream to go to a Christmas Day Lakers game, and I got a kickass new coffee maker, a stainless steel monster by Cuisinart that should keep me in a jittery state for years to come. The flip side: Sam Adams failed on most counts.

As the 23rd drew to a close, Beth and I decided to uncap a bottle of the Sam Adams Cream Stout and Holiday Porter. The Cream Stout was awful; the "cream" taste was there, but it was overpowered by a horrific twist on the coffee flavor touted on the bottle's label. Yes, it tasted like coffee - coffee that's been sitting in the pot for a day. The finish was sour and stale. The Holiday Porter fared a little better; much more drinkable than the Cream Stout, it was decent, with a mellow chocolate scent and taste, and a slight hint of honey at the finish. Still, nothing about the Holiday Porter was special - one expects a little bit of holiday magic from a holiday release, and the Holiday Porter was good, but not great.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were a blur, thanks in no small part to the drinking. I was lucky enough to score a bottle of Samichlaus for Christmas Eve. Wow. Too good. It's like Beer Crack. It's a good argument against the "I wish everyday was Christmas" sentiment, in that we'd a have a ton of Samichlaus addicts on our hands. When we got home on the 26th, Beth and I split a bottle of Adams' Limited Edition Chocolate Bock. This was a winner. Made with Swiss chocolate, it delivered on the taste; lightly hopped, with a rich, malty flavor. It was like Yoohoo for grownups.

Finally, I should mention Adams' Winter Lager. Eh, actually, it's not worth a mention. It's surprisingly lifeless, failing to deliver on the spiciness promised on the bottle. The flavors in general were underwhelming; I'd have liked to have tasted a bit more citrus, or cinnamon, or anything, really. Again, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't memorable, and the Winter Lager is further proof that Samuel Adams is no longer a "microbrewery"; there's something artificial and manufactured about this particular beer.

So while we're still in holiday mode - there's a couple more days left in The Season - I'm gonna venture out and see what other festive beers I can find. Have a safe and happy New Year! Prost!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Three Days of Sam Adams' Christmas: Day One

It's possible that I could have come up with a more awkward title for this, my first The Whinery post. Give it time, folks. Anyway, hi, glad to be here. A few things about me, alcoholically speaking: I love good beer. I am, in fact, a Beer Snob. So my focus here will be on beer. Hooray beer! (Boo Red Stripe!)

For Beer People, there really is no better time of the year than Christmastime. For starters, we now have an excuse (as if we need one) to drink beer! And Christmastime is that magical time of year when brewmasters around the world release their seasonal offerings. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he loves him some caramel and chocolate malts and festive spices. This year, my wife Beth and I hit up the BevMo - hooray BevMo! - in search of yuletide brew. The selection was somewhat daunting, so I grabbed the Samuel Adams Winter Sampler box (containing 2 of the following: Cranberry Lambic, Old Fezziwig Ale, Cream Stout, Winter Lager, Holiday Porter, and their boring old Boston Lager) and a 750 ml bottle (1 pint, 9.4 ozs - close enough) of Sam's Chocolate Bock. I'm a highly efficient holiday shopper, I am. But you don't care about that part. You wanna know how the stuff tastes. Alrighty then.

Tonight I started with the Cranberry Lambic. I will tell you that along with my love of stouts, porters, amber ales and lagers - the heavy stuff - I do like a good fruity beer. The Germans and Belgians excel at these, and the Cranberry Lambic was heavy on the cranberry. As in, it tastes like an Ocean Spray Shandy. This was a bit off-putting - I like my beers to taste like beer, not Fanta - and the Cranberry Lambic suffers from the same overpowering fruit flavor that marks Sam Adams' Cherry Wheat. Sweet with a very tart finish, light despite the deep reddish and amber hue, it didn't strike me as a winter brew - this would be ideal on a hot summer day.

Next up: the Old Fezziwig Ale. Now this is a Christmas ale! Very complex, with strong caramel notes, and the flavor of mulled cider - orange, cinnamon, and ginger. I didn't get the bitter hoppiness that I found with the much less interesting Winter Lager. The dark brown color and relatively low carbonation scream "heavy", and indeed it was. Highly recommend this one; serve it before or after Christmas dinner, as the spices might be a bit much for the meal itself. I will say that a beer like this almost demands a higher alcohol content; both the Cranberry Lambic and the Old Fezziwig Ale have a 5.9%.

On tap for tomorrow: the Cream Stout and the Holiday Porter.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Just a quick post to Welcome our newest contributor.

And a reminder to share any new adult beverages you enjoy over your various holiday celebrations.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Drinking Barefoot

You know what's better than wine? Free wine. Actually, free wine that comes in a gigundo-sized bottle. Allow me to explain. The other night I had event at work. When we do these types of things, we usually get some food to nosh on and a few bottles of wine (yes, since you asked, I do love my job). Well, I picked up some puff pastries (similar to calzones, but made with, what else, puff pastry) from the Gourmet Kitchen and my boss brought two large bottles of Barefoot Wines - a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay. We had a decent turn-out but we had plenty of leftovers and, surprise, surprise a nearly full bottle of the Cabernet. Needless to say, I didn't feel right just leaving it there, so home with me it came.

I have to admit that I have a bit of a wine snobbery streak in me. I look at large bottles of wine almost like I do the ubiquitous box-o-vino and they both invoke a similar image: a bunch of woo-girls sitting around, drinking wine with ice cubes as they ready themselves for a night of clubbin'. Thankfully, with this particular bottle of Barefoot, I have put my prejudice aside and welcomed the fact that the bottle seemed never-ending. It is very fruity and I was able to taste the raspberry and blackberry flavors. I also found the tannins to be well-balanced - it didn't leave much of a bite on the back of my throat, but it wasn't like drinking a fruit punch either. As far as value wines go, I don't think you'd be disappointed in this choice.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wear it proudly

Two posts in one day.... I know, can you believe it?

I was just reading some news, and stumbled on this article -- about this nifty little company -- they make all kids of cool wine apparel -- neck ties, scarves, tote bags, headbands.... all with subtle, tasteful wine designs.

Check 'em out!

Not exactly wine, but.....

I've posted here before (or, well.... I think I have) that I'm a big fan of Bailey's Irish Cream. Last year, a co-worker recommended using the new caramel variety Bailey's to spike egg nogg. I was pregnant last year, so I didn't take her up on the recommendation (although I probably will try it this year) but I posted it here for you guys to try..... did anybody try it?

Anyway, this year Baileys has come out with a new flavor Bailey's -- it's Bailey's with a hint of coffee. At first, I'll admit it -- I thought this was kind of silly because..... that's generally what I use Bailey's for ... to amp up my coffee. What's this going to do for me? Coffee flavored coffee?

But, I was curious enough to get a bottle and Yum! I just had it on the rocks and it was a lovely sipper --

Give it a try!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Buen Vino de la Argentina - Si!

So, now that we're on Twitter, I figure it's probably a good time to get back in here and do some reviews.  It's been a while since I wrote about any wines we've enjoyed (or not), but I'm not alone - look at that list of contributors - seen any of them lately?  No, neither have I.  I hope they know I'm just kidding.  I am you know.  Really.  Anyway.

Last week we decided to give another Malbec a try.  In the rack we had a Bodega Norton Malbec 2007 (you'll excuse me if I hear Jackie Gleason's voice in my head right now) that we decided would be a good match for some pasta we were having.  I opened the bottle, poured two glasses and let them sit for bit.  I took a sip a few minutes later and was a bit overwhelmed by tannins and some acidity.  I'll admit, I was more than a little nervous that this a poor choice.  However, after letting it sit a while longer, eating some dinner, I picked up the glass again and was pleasantly surprised by how it had mellowed and accented the pasta quite well.  It is a fairly fruity wine with plum and cherry accents and a hint of currant.  It should definitely be given ample breathing time to bring out its more subtle notes and allow its character to develop.

It lists anywhere between $7.29 and $9.99 and is quite a good bargain.  Quick story: I went into a closet where we have more wine stored (the rack is full) looking for another bottle for this evening and grabbed another bottle of the very same Norton 2007.  This was bought two weeks ago and about five days before we enjoyed the reviewed bottle.  Apparently the wine gods influenced this purchase knowing we would find one we would like.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Being the wine and football freak that I am (and I really am, normally I don't discuss both of these things in the same place but I know you guys are cool.)

I haven't tried it yet, but as soon as I can track down a bottle I will be reporting back to you.

I mean seriously, it is a Stags Leap Napa Valley Cabernet. What is not to love?

Well, assuming it isn't $129 per bottle.

Has anyone else tried this yet?*

* Never mind that last part. According to the TwentyFour website it won't be released until November.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

We're Twitter Tweeple

We've gone social! You can now find The Whinery on Twitter: Posts here will automatically feed to Twitter as well - we're all about increasing readership. Thanks for stopping by and tweet ya later.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

C'mon, Can I get a Woop Woop?

Ah yes.... to commemorate our 10 years together, the Big Dubya and I opened a bottle of Woop Woop Shiraz.

Yes, I know..... Darren & Sue already reviewed Woop Woop a month or so ago, but we had it on the old wine rack, so.... we thought this would be a good time to see just how wine-compatible we all were. As I recall, Darren liked the Woop Woop (yeah, I'm going to keep writing it 'cause saying Woop Woop over and over again makes me giggle) and Sue thought it was a bit on the heavy side.

Now, it could be that different years have different attributes and textures, but the Big Dubya and I really liked the 2006 we had this evening (Darren & Sue had the 2004). has the following winemakers notes:

It is deep in colour and the nose is inviting. With oodles of rich, opulent Shiraz fruit the palate delivers a lush mouthfeel, bursting with blackberry fruit juice, blueberry jam and licorice - chock full of quintessential Aussie character.

I tend to like wines that complement, rather than over power. I tend to like subtle flavors -- rather than bold..... and I really enjoyed this bottle. I found it to have a nice roundness and a flavor that was full and rich -- without being heavy.... perhaps it was because "The wine is matured with the light use of French and American oak."

The Big Dubya thought it was "satisfying" -- fruity -- and complimented the pasta we had for dinner... not conflicting with the acidity of the tomato sauce at all.

We both agreed that it was light on the tannins and that we agreed that we wished we had a second bottle.... has it listed as $10.79 -- that sounds like roughly what we paid.

Bottom line -- It's a nice glass, would definitely buy again.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mr. October

Even though baseball season is over...  What?  It's not over?  Hold on.

Nope.  I checked.  It's over.

Even though baseball season is over, Sue and I picked up a bottle of Longball Cellars Jorge Cabernet named for New York Yankees' catcher Jorge Posada. Can you guess I've been waiting to post this one?

If you haven't seen these wines, Longball Cellars is a division of Charity Wines which partners with athletes and celebrities to market wines that raise money for charities.  Last year, Mr. Big Dubya posted about a Charity Wines Cabernet named for a player on some other ball club.

In the case of Jorge Cabernet, a portion of the proceeds benefit the Jorge Posada Foundation which supports children and families affected by craniosynostosis.  Posada and his wife have a son who was born with this condition.

As for the wine, it was a bit surprising.  We expected a subpar novelty wine.  Instead, we both enjoyed it.  It was certainly no great wine or amazing find, but like a catcher batting .330 or hitting 30 home runs in a seasonthat's Posadathis wine delivered.  It was lighter than the average Cabernet, but not too light.  It lived up to its description of a warm fruity wine with a "firm tannin on the finish."

There are quite a few other Charity Wines and, based on this one, I'd try another.  What else have we got to do this month anyway?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Don't let it be forgot that once there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment that was known as Camelot.

Tell me, did you ever buy a wine because it looked interesting and then go home only to find that you must have already found that wine interesting...... because it's already on your wine rack? Yeah, uhm me either.

Okay, so.... maybe it's just a case of Mommy-brain, but -- a couple of weekends ago I went to our local wine shop (that's just fancy Connecticut talk for liquor store) and decided to pick up a few bottles of wine -- maybe breath some life into this site.

While browsing the reds, I saw this 2002 Merlot with a little star-shaped sign that said "Ray's Pick -- Great Value". Now, Ray's just a dude that works there, so don't get too excited -- but for $6.99, "great value" seemed right up my alley, so -- into the basket it went.

My job is investment-related and although it's only Wednesday..... all this upping-and-downing of the markets has made for a really long week, so I decided a glass of wine was in order..... and Camelot seemed like a good mid-week choice.

The bottle's label doesn't offer much in the way of a description, and their website only mentions the 2003 Merlot, which has won some awards -- but includes the following winemakers notes for the 2002:

"Appealing cherry aromas carry onto the palate with deep plum richness and a subtle herbal distinction. Well balanced throughout, this wine has soft, round tannins without angular distraction. Delicate vanilla oak accents are apparent in a rich and complex finish."

I'd say that I agree with the majority of that -- this wine was very mild and as I was drinking it I said to the Big Dubya that it would be a perfect wine to just have on hand -- it's mild and unassuming enough that it would work with pizza or even something more involved -- and then I joked that it was a decent "table wine".

Bottom line --Ray was right -- for $6.99, it is good value. I probably wouldn't serve it to company, but it's perfect for a middle-of the week glass, to cook with or to accompany a casual dinner...... and, lucky me -- I've got another bottle.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Summer Abroad

If you wonder why I haven’t posted here lately it’s because I’ve been traveling. A trip around the world can take a lot out of a guy. That’s right, I said around the world. Five continents and at least six different countries. You didn’t know I was gone? Neither did my wife—and she was with me.

Okay, you called my bluff. We actually didn't leave the country—or go further than about one hundred miles from home—all summer. But we have had a few wines from around the world and I’ve been saving up the reviews. (You can read that as too lazy to write and post them.) I think we had a South American wine over the summer, but I don’t remember it and didn’t save the bottle or the website as I did with the others. We’ve had a couple of American wines recently too, but Sue reviewed one (Jarhead Red) and the others are some favorite ones (like Red Truck) that we’ve already reviewed. Here—from Australia, Europe and Africa—are what we remember. All of them were in the range of ten to fifteen dollars.

I’ll admit that we bought an Australian 2004 Woop Woop Shiraz only because of its name. Woop Woop describes this Shiraz as “deep in colour with great intensity, bursting with blackberry fruit juice, blueberry jam and masses of clean varietal Shiraz fruit” and “well balanced with black liquorice, pepper and spice giving tremendous flavour and length.” I’d say that it was true to that description. If that sounds a little dark and heavy, you’re right. And if you’ve been following Sue’s tastes and mine, you can guess that I liked this one and she didn’t. So that would be one thumb up from us.

We’re no experts with French wine and know next to nothing about how to choose one. So, I can’t really tell you how or why we picked a French 2006 Vieille Ferme Blanc. Vieille Ferme describes this blend of Viognier, Vermentino (called Rolle in southern France), and a few other grapes as having “lots of peach and pear fruit backed by a round, creamy finish.” It was a light type of fruity wine—which is exactly what I don’t like. In this case though, Sue and I agreed that we didn’t care for it much. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good wine—it just wasn’t for us.

Our South African 2005 Fleur du Cap Pinotage was forgettable. And by that I mean that neither Sue nor I can remember too much about it. We didn’t hate it, but we didn’t love it enough to want to remember to buy it again either. Fleur du Cap describes this one as having a “dark ruby colour with purplish edges,” “ample berry fruit aromas dominated by plum and sweetish mulberry flavours,” and “rich and ripe plum flavours…supported by a good tannic structure.” Like the dark Australian Shiraz, it’s one that I liked and Sue didn’t so much. Another one thumb up.

Sue and I have almost always agreed on liking Spanish red wines and a 2006 Tapeña Tempranillo was no exception. Spanish riojas and tempranillos are often dark enough for my liking, but light enough for Sue. Tapeña describes this Spanish red as a “rich, bold blend of fruit, earth and structure, rounded out by a deliciously soft mouthfeel. We think of this Tempranillo as something like Pinot Noir in blue jeans.” A Pinot Noir in blue jeans? I’m not sure we would have come up with that, but we can agree that the wine has a hint of “luscious red cherry fruit wrapped around an earthy, intense center” with a finish “long and layered with a hint of coffee and chocolate and a pinch of spice.” Actually, we wouldn’t have come up with any of those words either. But we do give it two thumbs up and we’re buying more.

So, without leaving home, we made it around the world this summer. I don’t think any of these are strictly summer wines though. Let us know if you try them too.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Chef Mickey

So, I just got back from vacation and while I was away I decided to try some new cocktails. I don't typically drink hard-alcohol, but I decided to dabble a bit..... rather than just sticking with the typical beer & wine..... it was vacation after all.

Although this is "The Whinery"..... I thought I'd share a few of the tasty concoctions that I enjoyed on my trip.

At the Big River Grille, I tried a Raspberry Ice Pick (Stoli Raz, Tangueray, Captain Morgan's, Chambord and a splash of Sprite) and it was lovely. Smooth, refreshing and despite all the booze -- very mild -- this is one that could sneak up on you and knock you off your nut!

I also tried (on a different evening of course) Big River's Chai Latte Martini (Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur, Kahlua and chilled coffee), which was also lovely -- but didn't taste like there was much "power" in it.... just like a $9.00 glass of chocolate milk in a pretty glass.

While at the Leaping Horse Libations, I was able to try a Poolside Lemonade (Bacardi O, Bacardi Raz and Sweet & Sour) -- yum! The only problem is that when you are poolside, these go down like lemonade -- and they are far more potent than that. They are cool and refreshing, but will catch up to you in no time.

At Chef Mickey's (Contemporary Hotel) I had a Mudslide Martini (Bailey's, Vanilla Stoli, Kahlua, vanilla ice cream) and it was delicious. It was lovely and rich, but again, it tasted like an expensive chocolate milk in a fancy glass (decorated with chocolate syrup)-- but it did have a bit of a kick.

I may try to recreate some of these at home.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


So a couple weeks ago Darren, Clare and I were in the wine store trying to chose a wine for that evening (well, not so much Clare - she just has to touch everything and make me nervous because she's attracted to the most expensive bottles for some reason). I saw this red and with Darren's former college roommate being a Marine and all, we decided to try it.

Jarhead Red is "a wine made by Marines, for Marines (ed. note: I didn't know Marines drank wine, but you learn something new every day I guess), on California’s Central Coast. Net proceeds from the sale of this wine benefit the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which provides educational assistance to children of U.S. Marines, with special attention given to children of fallen Marines". So far so good - red wine (always good) and a good cause.

Upon opening the bottle, the first sniff made me a bit nervous. The wine smelled a bit acidic and I was afraid it would be vinegary. The first sip was very light, and while the Jarhead Red website states: "Jarhead Red is a robust, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged in French oak barrels for eight months. It offers flavors of plum, cassis and black currant with fine tannins on the finish" it took awhile for any flavor to begin to show up after sipping.

The wine definitely improved after being in the glass a bit - if you were to get this wine, I'd recommend opening the bottle and letting the wine breathe a bit before taking the first sip. I think we paid about ten dollars for the bottle, and if you're looking for something that supports a good cause and could be a conversation piece, if you can find this wine it would be a good choice.

This is posted in honor of Lt. Col. Brian P. O'Keefe USMC, currently serving our country in Kuwait.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

So the dingo ate your baby, huh?

I just couldn't face the stove tonight, so we got take-out from a local Italian place. The food's just okay -- but it's cheap and easy and I didn't have to cook it. As the Big Dubya left to pick up our order, I suggested.... how 'bout I open a bottle of wine -- he accused me of talking dirty and then said he'd be back shortly.

I went to the wine rack and grabbed a bottle of 2005 Jim Jim Shiraz. I know very little about this wine, but it was purchased at a wine shop in the Berkshires which described it as "Big" (there was a sticker on the bottle).

There was no price tag on this bottle.... I know the wine shop specializes in good wines that are less than $15 and these guys have it listed for $10.99, so.... I'll say it's in the $10-$12 range.

I put the bottle on the kitchen table, grabbed some glasses and the corkscrew...... then I noticed the bottle's a screw top. I know screw tops are all the rage these days and that lots of reputable, high-end wines are moving in the screw top direction..... but I'm just not there yet -- I immediately thought "Ugh, we're screwed".

I opened the bottle and waited for dinner to arrive. The big guy thought that the acidity of his marinara conflicted with the wine and accentuated the tannins in a less than complimentary fashion. His feeling was that this wine probably would have been better had it been paired with steak, as he enjoyed his after-dinner glass more than his during-dinner glass.

The Big Dubya and I agreed that we wouldn't have classified it as "Big"..... we were thinking more "Medium". He was able to appreciate the berry flavors at times and he called it subtle whereas I didn't really find it to be very fruity.

I'd be more apt to describe it as mellow and almost a little flat -- there wasn't a ton of flavor which isn't meant to be a criticism..... it almost adds to it's versatility -- this is a wine that might work well with a buffet -- it wouldn't interfere with most foods.

Bottom line -- good, not great -- I'd buy it again if it were on sale.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

D'Vine Wine

Lone Star Chardonnay

A close friend of mine, who lives in Texas, sent me a wonderful care package after I had surgery back in March. In that care package was a bottle of wine from D'Vine Wine of Texas. This white wine was from their Vintner's Select Wines and was called "Lone Star Chardonnay." According to the website, it has a peach flavor. Last night, my husband and I finally got around to popping the cork and giving it a try.

Why did it take so long? Because I am not a huge fan of Chardonnay. I normally find them to be too dry for my taste. But my husband needed a white wine to cook with so he opened this one up and we imbibed on the rest with dinner.

The first sip was actually quite delightful - very fruity and light - not dry at all. Unfortunately, the delight didn't last long for me - I thought the aftertaste was a tad bitter, though my husband thought it was fine. Would I buy this one again? Probably not, but it was a nice change from the usual Chardonnay.

3 out of 5 grapes.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Summer, Summer, Summertime....

I'm a red wine girl.... I like a nice glass of red wine on a chilly evening.

Problem is.... it's July -- and although the humidity has finally broken here in CT, it's still in the mid-80s. I'm not complaining -- believe me, I'm not complaining -- but..... a glass of rich red wine that warms your insides just doesn't call to me this time of year -- so what does that leave? white wine. I know nothing about white wine.

We have some friends coming for a visit this weekend and so, I asked the Big Dubya to pick me up a bottle of wine. He asked what I wanted..... and I struggled.... I just honestly don't know.

I hemmed and hawed and came up with pinot grigio.... I wanted light and sweet -- something cold that that I could sip leisurely.....

Anyone want to suggest a good white?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Talk me into (or out of) giving Yellow Tail another try

Several years ago, a guy at work told me that Yellow Tail was a terrific affordable (a.k.a. cheap) wine. So, when I saw it on sale.... I picked up 3 bottles (it was something like 3 for $20).

One night, the Big Dubya and I decided a glass of wine would be nice and we busted open a bottle of the yellow tail -- I want to say it was Merlot, but I can't be sure.

It was disgusting -- I would have preferred to drink a glass of Robitussin. We didn't even finish the glasses -- we poured them down the sink, followed by the rest of the bottle. If I recall, the Big Dubya noticed something suspicious about the cork and so we deduced that it was probably just a defective bottle -- those who'd recommended it had never steered us wrong before.... we must have just gotten unlucky.

Well here we are..... it must be 4 or 5 years later, the other two bottles are still on my wine rack. Not sure why I haven't either opened them or thrown them out -- but, I haven't.

Do any of you have an opinion of Yellow Tail that you'd like to share?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Doing Time

“We need to write a wine review,” I told Sue.

“What do we have?” she asked.

“We have Red Truck, but we reviewed it already. And we have this,” I said, holding up a bottle of 2004 Big House Red, a California blend of Carignane, Sangiovese and Charbono.

I grabbed two glasses and the corkscrew from the kitchen gadget drawer. Then I noticed something.

“I’m not so sure I want to review this one,” I said.

“Why?” she asked.

“This is why.” And I unscrewed the cap.

“A lot of good wines are going to screw tops now,” she told me.

I’m still not sure if that’s true or she was making something up as she sometimes does. But you couldn’t prove it with this bottle of wine.

Neither of us liked it.

According to the website, Big House Red has “lush tannins” and is “criminally rich—a riot of blackberry, raspberry & black pepper.” Hardy har har.

I got the tannins. I think I got the blackberry and raspberry. I even got the black pepper—in the bottom of my glass. I usually like dark heavy reds, but this one was just off. Sue liked it even less.

Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator both supposedly liked it. Maybe it just wasn’t our thing. Anybody else ever done time with Big House?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Maine to Mannheim

You don't think that just because Mrs. Big Dubya was pregnant I gave up drinking, do you?  Bite your collective tongues.  Someone has to take up the slack when one member goes down.  I do it for Johnny, man!  I do it for Johnny!

So, yes, I have been drinking; expanding my horizons; and developing (and treating) my palate.  First up is the Saranac Imperial IPA.  I've been on a hoppy kick for a while now, so when I buy some beer, there will usually be one or two IPAs or something similar in the mix.  I've always liked Saranac's offerings - the Pale Ale is good as is the Adirondack Lager - so when I saw the Imperial IPA I thought it would be a nice diversion.  I tried an Imperial Stout which pleasantly surprised me so the Saranac seemed a logical choice - Imperial + IPA = must be good.  And you know what?  It is.  Saranac boasts that this beer uses 10 different hops and 10 different malts to brew this complex beer.  I was not overwhelmed by the aroma of hops upon my first sip - something that surprised me given the amount of hops in this brew.  It sports an IBU of 85 (up there on the bitter scale) but you wouldn't know it by the nose.  It pours a nice amber color and has a nice medium mouth feel.  It comes in at a healthy 8.5% ABV which doesn't make it a "pound these all night" sort of beer.  It is a seasonal so unless you can find it on your retailer's shelf, you might be out of luck.

Since this is spring/summer and baseball is in full-swing, I opted for the Stone Coast Knuckleball Bock.  I must admit not having been a bock aficionado - it's never been one I've been drawn to or one I have sought out when I do my beer shopping.  I've seen the Knuckleball a few times and decided I would give it a go.  Last summer, I gave Stone Coast's 420 IPA a whirl and found it to be very tasty so I was hoping the same would be true for the Bock.  After being on a hoppy kick for a while, this was quite different.  The bock is a malty beer and that comes across in the first whiff.  It pours a nice dark amber/brown with an off-white head.  The first sip caught me a bit off guard but pleasantly so - it was malty followed by some hoppy bitterness which added a nice balance.  All in all, a nice beer and at 5% ABV, not an ass-kicker so you shouldn't feel compelled to stop after 9 or 10.

One more.  I love me some hefeweizen (Hefeweißbier).  As far as beer goes, hefe and Guinness are the creme de la creme; tutti di tutti beer - for me anyway.  But it has to be German for it to be really good.  I've drunk Harpoon UFO, Widmer Bros., etc. but none of them have ever matched the goodness I found in Ulmer Munster, Gold Ochsen or many others.  Hefeweizen is an unfiltered wheat beer and, in contrast to what I've been digging lately, is low on the hops - usually only about 15-20 IBUs.  One of my favorites that I can get around here is Julius Echter which pours a pale gold color with a nice white head that remians throughout.  I've noticed distinct clove aromas as well as a hint of banana and vanilla.  It has a very high carbonation level which is a signature characteristic of the hefeweizen.  If you're not afraid of unfiltered wheat beers, you should really try and find the Julius Echter.  If you can't find this one, find a Tucher or Paulaner - you can't go wrong.

The choice of Dr. Frank-n-Furter

Ok, honestly, when you look at the label you say, "Look, a novelty wine."  But, I'm here to tell you, it's no novelty.  It's actually pretty good.  Good enough that it will be added to the list of "buy agains."  That is if I had a list of "buy agains."

Mrs. Big Dubya got this bottle as a gift at her office baby shower.  Yes, a baby shower for a third child.  These work people of hers just like their parties.  Anyway.  So, we enjoyed the Vampire Merlot 2004 this evening.  Well, Mrs. Big Dubya had one glass.  I had...well...more than one.  Maybe the rest of the bottle.  I'll never tell.  Don't judge me.  Once you get past the kitschy vampire references on the label - "favorite among the nocturnal elite"..."Sip the blood of the Vine" - you'll learn that it has am "intense dark plum bouquet" and that it can "take on the biggest chargrilled steaks and barbecued meats."  The wine is a deep, ruby red bordering on dark purple and you can taste some plum as well as some black cherry on the palate.  It is also mild on the tannins which I find particularly nice.  As with any Merlot, there is an oakiness to it, but not as intense or as distinctive as most - if you like that deep, oaky smoky flavor, you might not like the Vampire.  The Merlot is also blended with Cabernet (8%) and Zinfandel (8%) which add to its complex nature.

For the price ($7-$11 depending on retailer) you really can't go wrong.  I give it two fangs up.  I'm sorry.  Drink it.  You won't be cross.  I'll stake my reputation on it.  Someone please stop me

Friday, June 20, 2008

Where do you buy your wine?

Just wondering -- where do you buy your wine?

I know in some cities/towns/states, you are able to purchase wine in the supermarket. Where I grew up, our town didn't allow it -- but a few neighboring towns did.... this seemed really cool.

As I became more interested in wine, I realized that "supermarket wines" were typically limited to the Riunites of the world -- but, in recent years some of the supermarket chains have really expanded their wine offerings.

Wine shops aren't as predominant in some areas as in others -- although some liquor stores have wine shops within.....

So, I'm wondering -- where do you buy your wine?

Supermarket ?

Specialty Wine Shop?


Liquor Store?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Summer Sippers

I may try to find a couple of these.....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaack

No, this is not my child

That's right friends..... I'm back.

My gorgeous son was born happy and healthy last week -- and now that I've stopped taking the pain meds.... I've been ceremoniously drop kicked off the wagon and I'm ready to start talking about wines, beers....... or booze of any description.

For some people, giving up alcohol during pregnancy is difficult..... I have to be honest -- it's never been a problem for me. It seems like the minute I get pregnant the scent (or even the sight) of wine, beer or liquor just turns my stomach -- so, abstaining is no problem at all.... but I'm glad to be back in the land of adult beverages.

It seems that traffic here has been light as of late, so I'm hoping to give the group a jump start and get us drinking again........ so, the new assignment is:

Share your favorite summertime cocktail..... it can be wine -- or, if you prefer...... it can be beer or a mixed drink..... whatever you enjoy during the dog-days-of-summer or as we say here in New England dawg-days-of-summah

I have lots of favorite summer cocktails -- but one that is super refreshing and simple -- Malibu Rum and Pineapple Juice. I caution you against putting this concoction into the blender.... my friend and I tried this in an intoxicated state and it forms a meringue of sorts. I like this cocktail because it's light and refreshing but not too strong.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

It’s Juuust Right…or Is It?

One of the reasons that Sue and I don’t post here too frequently is probably that we don’t really know what we’re talking about when it comes to wine. We know what we like when we taste it, but when it comes to using words like balance, body, bouquet, nose or finish, we’re little at a loss. Instead, our discussions of wine often go something like this:

“You like it?”

“It’s not bad, you?”


We drink it anyway.

Sue and I drink reds more than whites and, usually, one of us likes a wine more than the other. Sue favors lighter Merlots and Pinot Noirs; I usually like heavier Cabernets or Zinfandels. Sometimes, of course, we both really like a wine. This seems to happen most often with Italian Chiantis or Spanish Riojas. When we find one we both like, we usually buy it again.

A few weeks ago, we tried a 2003 Chianti Classico from Castello di Gabbiano that Sue picked up for $12.00. According to Cellar 360, Castello di Gabbiano’s sales partner, the Chianti Classico has “delicate floral aromas of violets and soft scents of fruity blackberry [that] mark the nose. The dry, medium-bodied palate is filled with robust tannins and flavors of black pepper, sweet spices, and a touch of light, toasted oak. The finish is long and dry.” Like I said, I never could have come up with the description myself. I could agree with it though—except for the violets, I’m not so sure I tasted violets.

A couple weeks later, we picked up another bottle specifically for the purpose of reviewing it here. (Yeah, that’s the only reason we bought it.) Same wine, same price, same store even. This time though, we didn’t really like it. It tasted more acidic and a little vinegary. We were hoping we could recommend this one, but now we’re not so sure.

Has anyone else had a bad second experience with a wine they liked the first time?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Abominable Snowman and the Man-in-the-Moon

Hey there! How are you? Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and that you find yourself motivated and energized in this new year. Ha! I actually wrote that with a straight face. Let's just say I hope you're able to stay awake late enough in the evening that you can enjoy a fine glass of wine or a nice cold beer or, hell, two fingers of your favorite single malt.

So, since this is only January, I am still abstaining from wine until Mrs. Big Dubya is able to, once again, knock back a bottle or two in a sitting with me. So, beer it is until then. I know, I know, can't you just sense the disappointment in my voice? It's just soooo hard. Anyway, let me tell you about what I've recently had worth trying:

Great Divide, Yeti Imperial Stout: Now, those of you who know me know of my affinity for Guinness. I loves me some Guinness. This is the stout I know and the one I compare all stouts to. Big mistake. Who knew that when I started reviewing beers here I would learn so much? Guinness is an Irish stout (huh, go figure). Imperial Stout, aka Russian Imperial Stout or Imperial Russian Stout, is decidedly not an Irish stout. Imperial Stout was first brewed in London by Thrale's Brewery for export to the Czar of Russia and was known as Thrale's Entire Porter. You're saying to yourself, "How the hell did we get on to porters?" We haven't - porter is just an alternative name for stout. Ok, getting back to the review. Holy crap I wasn't ready for that first sip. Remember what I said about Guinness? Yeah, this is not Guinness. In the glass it looked very much like stouts I've had before - deep, rich black with a medium-to-dark-brown, foamy head. The aroma was malty with hints of coffee. On the tongue it was full of flavor - the malt and coffee with some chocolate thrown in and also hints of some fruit and a touch of spiciness - but those had their asses kicked by the malt and coffee. The alcohol is also very evident, but mellowed by the richness of the flavors. I also appreciated the generous amount of hops which gave it a nice IPA quality (though not quite and I hope I'm not being sacrilegious at all by saying so). Overall it was a very nice beer that warmed the cockles of my heart and made my feet all tingly.

Victory, Old Horizontal Barleywine Style Ale: Note to self: beware a beer whose label shows the moon sleeping horizontally - could be taken as an omen and not a good one at that. It had been a while since I've had a barleywine - I believe I had a tasting of some at Barrington Brewery and that about knocked me out of my socks. I figured that since it was the New Year, might as well give something good and strong a go. For those of you who don't know, a barleywine is a strong ale which originated in England. It's called barleywine because it can be as strong as wine, but since it is made with grain - not fruit - it is indeed a beer. In the US, barleywines are required to be called "barleywine-style ale." In keeping with Victory, I chose to use a smaller font for STYLE in this header - much like they do on their label. This is what I would call a "fine, sippin' beer." This is a not a quench your thirst on a hot summer's day beer at all. It pours a deep-red/purple bordering on black. The aroma is full and fruity - there's grape and cherry - with hints of anise. In the mouth you can taste the grape and cherry - it is very sweet, but that sweetness is nicely balanced with a hoppy bitterness. It does have a strong alcohol content and will kick your ass if you're not careful. I recommend this one for after dinner - it makes for a very nice dessert beer or for sitting around a fire with a nice cigar.

Post-Script: Did you know that if you drink a White Russian followed by a Bloody Mary (or two) and then drink Ipswich IPAs, you will find yourself remarkably warm at the AFC Championship? You'll also find yourself eating Italian sausages covered in mustard, but you'll be warm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ahead of the curve?

Who knew?

Hope all is well.... I'm counting the months 'til I can resume the joys of wine exploration.... until then, I'm living through all of you, so -- please fill us in on what you've been drinking... even if it's not wine.