Category Archives: pretty in pink

$15 Fridays- Valentine’s Value

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Which is why your mom drinks so much White Zinfandel. Boom. Roasted.

It’s that time of year! Boxes of candies, Mylar balloons, filet mignons in overbooked restaurants. National Make Women Happy Day! Or, The Bouquets for Blow Jobs Exchange Program. Most of my fond Valentine’s memories come from primary school, when several boys with various lengths of rat tails offered me Sonic the Hedgehog and Goof Troop cards. I really peaked out in about ’94, before I grew half a foot and everyone decided advanced reading skills were no longer a “desirable female trait”.

But as I’ve spent the better part of a decade working in food and beverage, Valentine’s Day has been reduced to a terrible night (or in this year’s magically calamitous President’s Day overlap, a terrible weekend) of non-stop, amateur diners who have hinged the whole of their relationship’s value on this one, overpriced, rushed meal, cramped together at an uneven poker table the establishment clearly pulled out of a storage unit just to accommodate this glut of patrons. Its so hot. No, not the romance. The room is hot, because of all the sweaty people and crying waitresses.

Before you brand me a total cynic, I get it. Its a special night. And a special night calls for a special wine. I can’t think of anything that screams Valentines more than rosé Champagne. Bubbles are sexy and women love pink shit. Salmon. Yoga pants with “Pink” written in rhinestones on the ass. P!nk. They just do. But lets face it: Champagne is effin’ expensive. I have a solution though. Its only 140 miles East of Champagne, and probably about $140 cheaper for you. Crémant d’Alsace.

Being a French bubbly isn’t the only reason I suggest this as a Champagne substitute. The word crémant itself implies that the wine is held to many of the same pain-in-the-ass standards as Champagne in the way of grape harvesting, aging requirements, and that the second fermentation (where those bubbles come from) is to take place inside the bottle. Also, the Alsace region is almost as far north as Champagne, ensuring the cool weather needed to produce high acidity resulting in the same delicious zippiness. So you’re getting a pretty great knockoff without the hefty price. Like Jessica Simpson’s clothing line for Macy’s. Yeah. I said it.

Unlike other French regions, Alsace is very specific and upfront with the varietals they use in all their wines, and the sparkling rosés are no different. It will always be 100% Pinot Noir. One of my personal favorites?

Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, NV
$15.99

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NV meaning non-vintage, this wine is so sensual. I can’t believe I said that, but it literally smells like rose petals to me. And with its perfectly tiny pink bubbles, soft raspberry flavor and long, crisp finish, it just makes you want to wear silk or, I don’t know, put on a K-Ci & JoJo video on YouTube while wearing silk. Or sateen. Whatever this Kohl’s robe is made out of.

So skip the overpriced pink Veuve or Dom. That is for basic bitches wearing Jessica Simpson peep toes. Look for a Crémant d’Alsace rosé in that murky “Other Sparkling Wines” section of the list. Or you can bring in your own bottle and pay the corkage fee, still saving yourself a ton. Yeah, your server will hate you for it. But trust, he already does.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Get some!

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Affordable Spanish Wines *lisps*

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 It’s a verifiable fact that the extent of the average American’s knowledge of Spain is based solely on Madonna’s “Take a Bow” video. 

Some of my readers have complained my wine suggestions are too expensive. Ok. It was only two people: my husband and someone named Rachel Goldman. And my husband is just hating because I spent all the Disneyland vacation money on a bottle of Penfolds. I mean, who cares? I’ll put on a blue dress and sing that song from Frozen. I do that at karaoke every weekend anyway. And would a toddler really know that a churro was from Costco? I digress.

I get it. The problem with drinking good wine is that its impossible to return to drinking anything less. Once you go Pauliac, you don’t go back. And the thing with fine wine, much like fine cars, fine women, and fine Frappuccinos, they’re expensive. There are delicious values out there, though. Lesser known and up-and-coming regions are a great way to find a fantastic bottle without overdrawing the checking account… again.

I know no one would ever describe Spain as up-and-coming. Archaeological digs have unearthed evidence of sophisticated winemaking tools in the Valdepeñas region from as early as 700BC. It is ranked third in amount of wine produced in the world, after stuck up France and sexy, oily, disorganized Italy. But most people will say they A) “dislike Spanish wine”, B) “have never tried it”, and C) “Why are you asking me this? I’m pumping gas. Please stop touching my arm.”

There is more to Spain than big, aged, leathery, dusty, rip your face off Tempranillos. And, while several Riojas rank up there with Bordeaux and Burgundies in price,  there is a treasure trove of sparklers and rosés, or rosados, that over deliver on their crazy low prices. Just like a Crunch Wrap Supreme around 1 AM. Here are two you should immediately snatch up.

2013 Bodegas Naveran Brut Cava, Barcelona

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Cava gets a bad wrap. Like its just poor man’s Champagne. And I guess it kind of is, but only in price. Get your hands on this pretty little bottle. Literally pretty. It has a vintage pretty girl on the label, making it perfect for any place that kind of looks like Monica Geller’s pretty apartment. And pretty in taste: its smoky flavors are punctuated with fresh acidity and perfect, baby bubbles. The fact that Cava is produced in the same way as Champagne (Méthode Champenoise) is the best kept secret in sparkling wine. Well, that and that if you buy three bottles of Cristal in a club, you automatically get a congratulatory text from Lil’ Wayne. Somehow, even his texts are hoarse. This sparkler is perfect as an apéritif, with a dessert or cheese course, and in all bathtubs.

 

 2014 Armas de Guerra Rosado, Bierzo DO

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A rosé made from little known red grape Mencía. And unlike the Carlos Mencia Show, its completely unique. BOOM! 2005 joke!! Mencía is herbacious, with a hint of bell pepper flavor that is also present in Cabernet Franc, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons, and several of Chili’s® fantastic Lunch Combo offerings, starting as low as $6. It also has beautiful juicy strawberry notes, with a hint of minerality in thanks to the clay and slate soil of Northwestern Spain from which its birthed. I always prefer a rosé with a little more junk in the trunk for food pairing and this babe’s medium body making it a great pairing for duck, Asian seafood dishes, and Chili’s® Smoked Chicken Quesadilla, smoked over real pecan chips!

 

 

There you go. Two easy, cheap ways to feel like you’re already in Spain. Go ahead and take a four hour nap. You’ve earned it, cariño

 

This post was not sponsered by Chili’s®… but I’m open to the conversation. The baby back ribs are in your court, guys.

 

 

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My Never Ending Battle

All great heroes have enemies. Peter Pan had Captain Hook. Mario had King Koopa. Hillary Duff had Lindsay Lohan. I’m no different. I, too, wage a daily battle against a wily and ruthless adversary.

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Yeah. Its artichokes. But they started it. Let me explain.

Artichokes are basically the bane of my existence. The chef I work for is obsessed with artichokes. He puts them on, in, or somewhere near what seems like every single dish. I’m surprised we don’t use them as centerpieces. I’m surprised we aren’t called ‘Chokes’. Some days I just want to march into the kitchen and ask him what’s the deal with all the artichokes. But then I remember he owns the place and is much larger than me.

The thing is, I love artichokes. And in all fairness, many great heroes harbor deep love for their antagonists. Like how Carrie loved Big. I mean, she married that piece of shit. Even after he jilted her the day of the wedding and left her in front of the NY Public Library with that dead bird on her head.  Why in the hell did it not work out with Aiden? He was just as tall and he made furniture and now he does voice overs for Applebee’s and like 9 different drug stores so you know he has money. Even that Russian ballerina guy who beat her in Paris would have been a better idea. Carrie is so dumb. Just sitting at her laptop in her little apartment, wearing boy shorts and typing out vapid narrative, making inane pop culture references…

Sorry. I just had a white girl stroke.

Artichokes. I know they are delicious and I eat them all the time. When I was little, my parents routinely steamed them with creamy, drippy, GMO-loaded cheese sauce that I would have drank out of an old Tom & Jerry Edition jelly jar had they let me. My problem with artichokes is that they are a bitch to pair with wine. They contain an acid called cynarin that actually makes wine taste sweeter. Likes 4 packets of Splenda sweeter, all artificial and Diet Rite-y.

Grilling artichokes will actually cut the cynarin levels by up to half, evening out the playing field a bit. After that, go as dry as you can. Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc come to mind. But, the princess of my little Francophile heart is the best bet here: Tavel rosé. Greanche dominant, this babe is dry enough to withstand a tad bit of sweetening. And its crisp, berry forward notes makes it a perfect BBQ wine. You can drink it while your chokes grill.

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