Down Under Shiraz (2008)

It was a perfect day. I have tried to imprint it in my mind so I can remember it always! The weather was gorgeous. I ran a good 1/2 marathon with some of my girlfriends. Our son, Tommy, and his girlfriend, Amanda, came over for dinner. This was my kind of day!

Tom & I started our cocktail hour with a cold and fizzy gin & tonic with a fresh wedge of lime. Then, out to the grill to start the steak. We opened a bottle of this Down Under Shiraz, which was the perfect choice for our steak dinner. I also made oven-roasted potatoes (potatoes cut up in chunks with skin, mixed with olive oil and freshly ground salt & pepper, then roasted in the oven for about 90 minutes), and a really delicious fresh salad.  I grilled aspargus on the grill, as well. I also made brownies for dessert with ice cream. Everything tasted delicious.

But, back to the wine. A perfect choice for a grilled steak — full of berry flavors with a  generous complement of black pepper and hints of oak. Excellent!

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2006It is Friday night and I have had a lovely week — on vacation, but hanging around home while Tom works. Tom always says that he has never met another person that enjoys time off as much as I do! I just enjoy myself, every minute. So, we are celebrating the end of a relaxing week with this Liberty School Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from California. This wine is lush and full with generous bursts of blackberries on both the nose and the palate. A touch of pepper and firm tannins create this succulent, medium-bodied quaff. In reading about this wine, I noted that the wine was aged for only 12 months, which may explain the silky feel. The finish, on the other hand, is lovely and long lasting.

I purchased this wine today, actually, on a jaunt into Ann Arbor where I was just bumming around on a beautiful sunny day. On my way home, I stopped at the local Meijer’s and perused the wine section (natch). I bought 4 bottles, including two of these, which were on sale for $12.99 (marked down from $14.99). A funny story — while I was shopping and studying the wine isles, I noticed a small sign hanging from the shelf advertising “Pepperwood Grove” Cabernet Sauvignon. I wanted to try that wine, but couldn’t find any bottles by the sign so I asked an employee. She headed off to find an answer for me and while I was waiting, two different people approached me and asked me for advice on which wine they should purchase. I had so much fun asking them questions and then recommending a good wine for them. I have no idea why I looked like the resident wine expert, but it was a lot of fun! (Unfortunately, I did not get my Pepperwood Grove Cabernet but I did find a Pinot Noir.) I had heard about this particular wine from one of our readers who commented — thanks, Marty & Jeannie!

Bella Sera Chianti (2006)

I bought this Italian Bella Sera Chianti at our local grocery store for about $9. I chose this wine tonight to go with our spaghetti dinner. I started the sauce in the afternoon and it has been simmering in my big old cast iron skillet for hours. (There is something about spaghetti sauce in a cast-iron skillet; I am convinced it tastes better that way.) This was my third vacation day and I am loving my time off. I suppose many people would wish for some entertainment for their vacation, however, I just like being home and doing simple things. I really enjoy it.

This wine starts with a spicy nose. The taste is fruity (raspberries) and dry; to me, this is a very typical Italian table wine.  It is light bodied with medium tannins. I would definitely purchase this again and I would save it for our spaghetti nights!

Hayes Ranch (In the Saddle) Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)

Hayes Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006Tom purchased this California Hayes Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 at our local grocery store for way under $10. In a word, it’s yummy. Lots of dark berries and oak. A balanced blend of tannins and fruit makes for a silky finish. This is a great value for a California Cabernet.

It is a stormy May night in Michigan. Everything is green and fresh. The air just smells clean! We have our windows open and there is a light breeze with thunder rumbling in the distance. I have a whole stuffed chicken roasting in the oven tonight. Althought it is midweek, I am on vacation so I have time to cook more extravagant mid-week meals than usual. It smells fragrant and delicious. But, back to the wine; I recommend it!

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 2006It is Memorial Day and we are relaxing after an active day working outside on various projects. Tom is finishing the bottle of wine we opened last night (P.K.N.T. Carmenere). It was very good

However, that bottle is now empty so I opened this Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. I knew immediately that this was going to be one of those special wines that I especially enjoy. It starts with the nose. As soon as I pulled the cork, aromas of cherry and cedar were evident.  In the glass the color was blackish purple with good legs. The taste is so good it makes me swoon! This is absolutely my kind of wine. In the mouth is a  layered feel, abundant with black currants and cherries.  This tannins are mature and lush.

The price tag on this bottle is $20.99 but I know I bought it on sale for a lot less. I wish I would have purchased every bottle available! This will go very well with our dinner tonight. Unlike many of our neighbors who are grilling outside tonight, I decided to cook inside and give my husband a break. I started with country-style pork ribs, which I browned in hot oil in a heavy skillet until they were browned on all sides. Then to the skillet I added a mixture of ketchup, onions, green peppers, worcestershire sauce and cream of mushroom soup. I covered the skillet and put it in the oven (I also added cubed, golden potatoes with the skins on) and it has been baking for over 2 hours. Whenever we finish our cocktails I’ll make a fresh salad and take the skillet out of the oven. Tom says it smells heavenly. . .we’ll see! Happy Memorial Day especially to my father in Traverse City who (I think in 1944) was shot down out of his B-17. He parachuted safely to the ground only to be captured by German soldiers. He spent his next year as a prisoner of war in horrendous conditions. He is my hero.

P.K.N.T. Silver Collection Carmenere 2007

P.K.N.T. Silver Collection Carmentere 2007This P.K.N.T. Silver Collection Carmenere 2007 (on sale for way under $10 at our local grocery store) is an interesting find.

Somewhat alcoholic, mild in flavor, some dark fruit, and some sweet, caramel-ish notes.

It doesn’t taste particularly like a carmenere, but it’s interesting and different, and has served as our table wine the last night or two.

We’ve done a ton of yard and house work over the holiday weekend and are feeling virtuous and enjoying this cocktail hour…

Ramirez de Velazco Malbec (2008)

This Argentinian Malbec is an unusual wine.  I have to work hard to describe it because it is not your ordinary Malbec. Initially, the wine is a bit overwhelming on the finish but with decanting it mellows. The nose is strong vanilla and spice. The first taste is quite fruity but the finish is. . .vanilla taffy. That’s the best I can do. I am not terribly fond of this wine but I imagine it will be better tomorrow after it opens a bit. It’s not bad wine; it’s just not to my particular taste.

It is Friday night and Memorial weekend! What fun! I didn’t feel much like cooking tonight when I got home from work, but I had a pound of ground beef in the fridge so I went searching for an interesting recipe. I ended up making something that is smelling quite yummy. The basic gist is this: I sliced 6 golden potatoes (skins on) and mixed with cream of chicken soup, milk, sour cream, onions and parmesan cheese; I browned the ground beef and added garlic, onions and seasoning. I put the potato mixture in a casserole dish, topped with shredded cheese and then the ground beef mixture. I covered it and it has been baking for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. I am going to remove the cover and continue baking another 20 minutes and serve with a salad and a vegetable. Comfort food for the start of the weekend. Cheers!

Vina Correa Albano Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)

It is a Monday evening. I arrived home late tonight because I did a presentation at a Detroit  high school after work. So, our dinner is going to be pretty late (it is 9:15 p.m. and dinner is on the stove but I am in no hurry to sit down and eat; a girl needs her wind down time).

I really (really, really) like this Chilean (Correa Albano) red wine. This is just my kind of wine — dry, big, tannic — fruity, but more chocolate than fruity — a touch of vanilla. It is superb. (I know someone at my office who would love this, too.)

For dinner I am reheating leftovers from a weekend meal of beef stroganoff, which was delicious the first time around so it will be even tastier tonight. Cheers!

Deepwater Point Zinfandel (2007)

We have had Deepwater Point Zinfandel quite a few times. Tonight we are having it with a dinner of slow-cooked marinated pork loin. (My recipe is pretty basic: Place pork loin in heavy skillet. Sprinkle with dry onion soup mix. Add 3/4 cup of dry red wine, 1 cup of water, 3 TBS soy sauce and mix. After turning the loan to make sure it is soaked thoroughly in the marinade, chop 2 cloves of garlic and press into the pork. Cover and simmer at a very, very low temperature in the oven (mine has been cooking for nearly 6 hours). I will serve this  Au jus with cheddar potatoes, steamed green beans and a fresh salad (made from baby lettuce leaves from my garden).

This wine is pleasant and easy to drink. It is surprisingly gentle on the palate for a Zinfandel. The first taste is almost watery, but then it explodes in the mouth with strawberries and green pepper. The finish is peppery and delicious.

My neighbor is mowing his lawn (poor fellow; doesn’t he know it is cocktail hour?) and the children across the street are playing basketball. I enjoy all the sights and sounds. Cheers!

Bolla Bardolino (2007)

Ahh, a Friday night and I am home from a 5-day trip to Atlanta for a conference. Everything is fresh and green at home on this mid-May evening in Michigan. The first thing I did when I got home (after kissing my husband and hugging my dog) was to see how my garden was doing. I have little green onions that are about 2 inches tall and I have lettuce that is ready to be harvested!

I chose this Italian Bolla Bardolino tonight for our laid-back evening. I set the table and was going to prepare  dinner, but Tom insisted that I should not cook on my first night at home (eat your heart out ladies). So, we will order a pizza and it so happens that this wine is the best choice from those available. (Our supply is getting sparse; we need to bring up bottles from the basement AND we need to purchase more.) This Italian red wine is  medium-bodied with intense flavors. The nose is robust with cherries and vanilla.  It is crisp, clean and dry — fairly acidic with firm tannins.

I like this wine and would defintely purchase it again. It is wonderful to be home.