$15 Fridays- Valentine’s Value


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


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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$15 Fridays: Affordable Après-ski

ab fab wine

Holy El Niño! Guess where I am? The mountains, yo. After about 112 years of no water fall beyond whatever Shamu splashes over his tank, California is seeing some serious precipitation. So the family made the trek up to Mammoth to carve up some fresh pow pow. Well, the other two are. I’m pregnant so all my favorite mountain activities (snowboarding, Jacuzzis, drinking) are off limits. Don’t feel too bad for me, though. Currently the husband is off solo and the kid is in a snowboarding class being taught how to inevitably break a limb by some stoned college kid. That means I’m all alone, holed up in the cabin, writing while sipping a Gatorade neat. I’m practically Jack fucking London.

I figured this was a perfect time to talk about wine to bring along for ski or snowboard trips. And it’s also the perfect time to unveil my new Friday posts: $15 Fridays. I know that there are many delicious yet affordable bottles out there, mostly because if I didn’t curb my booze spending, the car was going to be repossessed. And I’m really excited to have the opportunity to introduce quality and unique wines for $15 or less every week. Plus, you can use the money you save on my new venture: custom haikus.

A great birthday gift
or for your two weeks notice,
Find me on Etsy.

So what $15 wine should you pack for your mountain getaway? A wine from Savoie. Often referred to as ‘ski wine’, Savoie, or Savoy, is a French wine region tucked far east against the French Alps. So far east it’s practically Switzerland, which is why you will often see a white and red cross logo on the bottles. They’re also Swiss-like in that the wines are light, fresh, and rarely take sides in arguments. Being a somewhat isolated area with a variety of difficult growing conditions, most of the grapes utilized in Savoie wines are indigenous varietals you will not find in the grocery aisle.

Typically, most of these wines never left Savoie as it was guzzled down in chalets by guys dressed like those Swiss assholes from “Cool Runnings”. But a combination of improved winemaking and of increasing export has resulted in these little gems popping up in wine shops and on wine lists all over the U.S. Here is both a red and white bottle of Alpine to try without dropping Alpine cash.

2014 Domaine Labbe, Abymes


Most of the wine coming out of Savoie is white, and most of that wine is made from the grape Jacquere. And even though this a high yield grape, its not thin or lackluster. Clean and crisp as Lake Geneva is more like it. A lot of minerality, citrus notes and even a bit of grassiness, this would be a great new find for all my Sauvignon Blanc lovers- so, you know, skinny girls. Jacquere’s classic pairing is cheese fondue but it also pairs well with mountain cuisine such as roasted vegetables and smoked trout. And like most light whites, drink young and often.

2013 Domaine Jean Vuillien et Fils, “Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte”
t1431794p3_1The major red grape of Savoie is Mondeuse Noire. After a battery of DNA testing, Maury Povich announced that it is indeed a distant relative to Syrah! *raucous cheers from the audience* And Syrah should have totally known as they both display the same purple hue and spicy cherry notes. This wine has some earthy intensity with an acidic bite if you’re used to drinking New World wines, but makes it a perfect pairing for roasted meats.  This producer may have changed to a more ‘contemporary’ label in the current vintage, which is annoying as I like to pretend I’m a fancy French woman when I’m drinking. And when I eat entire bagettes in my car.

I will try to always provide links to websites with current inventories of the wines for under $15, but please know that internet wine commerce is a mess of state alcohol tax laws and cross-border shipping restrictions. You can go into any decent wine shop and specifically ask for Savoie wines and be sure to find some great values to try out as the average prices of these wines hover right around that $15 mark. And by decent wine shop, I do not mean Rite-Aid.

Now I’m back to walking around the lodge in my new sick ass snow boots. Actually, I haven’t taken them off since I got here. I have them on with my pajamas right now. I have to get my money’s worth because it’ll be another year till I get to use them again. The only place you can wear them in San Diego is with a white fur bikini, dancing in a cage during a nightclub’s Winter Wonderland theme night.*

*Bucket list.

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S&M.. Plus G


There is an actual “Fifty Shades of Grey” wine. If it were properly marketed to its readers, it would come out of a box with a free pair of yoga pants.

One of the three people that reads this has really been on my ass about churning out more regular posts. It’s my friend Tara and she is pretty aggressive. In life, in wine sales, in bed. Whatever. She just tells it how it is and lately she has been telling me if I don’t get my shit together, she is going to hog tie me. Which is weird. But Tara is also trying to find a quality man in San Diego which is akin to trying to find meaning in an Adam Sandler movie (OMG. Did Adam Sandler become Pauly Shore? Jesus. Its really been downhill since The Wedding Singer), so she may be branching out….

I was thinking about horny Tara and her S&M threats and I immediately thought of GSM blends. Mostly because she said S&M and I’m kind of a hack. GSM is short for Grenache, Syrah, & Mourvedre, the three main and most popular grapes used in this blend that originates from the Côtes du Rhône region of France. And while those French wines can technically allow up to 19 different grapes, the GSM are the real magic makers and what you will typically find in similar blends out of Australia, central California, and Washington. All of these wines pair well with grilled game, sausages, and my favorite, mushroom DiGiornos.

So, in honor of Tara and her love for both men and wine, I compare the grapes to hot guys. In the words of  the late, great David Bowie, lets get this completely male threesome on.

Grenache, or Garnacha for all those Latin Lovers..


Grenache is the lightest of the three grapes in all around mouth feel, although it does bring a punch of alcohol to the blend. And much like Jake Gyllenhaal, its also kind of fruity. Like, not full on fruity… but he has an “eye brow threading girl” and occasionally does shit like this so you wouldn’t be totally surprised if he came completely out of the cellar one day. But really, strawberry and raspberry notes and maybe just a touch of clove.  Two surprising facts, Grenache is the world’s most widely-planted grape and Jake Gyllenhaal once peed on someone’s leg.


Syrah, or Shiraz if you’re down under..


Syrah brings the muscle to this three way. The hammer if you will. It immediately clobbers you with dark, black fruits, and a bit of leather. While the French grapes can exhibit olive tapenade and bacon flavors, Australian and California representations are thicker with stronger fruit. The best metaphor I’ve ever heard for Syrah is from the queen of wine education literature herself, Karen MacNeil. “Syrah reminds me of the kind of guy who wears cowboy boots with a tuxedo.” Australians are kind of like cowboys. Wait, did I say cowboys? I meant felons. But I could see Chris Hemsworth wearing cowboy boots with a tuxedo. I could also see him wearing nothing but sushi but that’s because I’m pregnant and haven’t had Ahi in 6 months.


Mourvèdre , The Grand Finale


Mourvèdre brings color and bitterness. So there you go. All jokes aside, I love Kevin Hart. All women love a funny man. The only sub-population routinely marrying out of their class more often than comedians are Nascar drivers.  Most importantly, just like Kevin Hart, Mourvèdre doesn’t shut the hell up. Its brings a nice, long finish to the blend since, surprisingly, the first two grapes are kinda short. In all honesty, Mourvèdre is the most obscure grape here, but if you love Cabs you might want to try a single varietal version of a Mourvèdre sometime soon. Its exhibits similar bold dark fruit and eucalyptus flavors and will definitely make you look more chic when you’re drinking it out of a paper bag during a showing of “Ride Along 2”.


You’re welcome, Tara. Hopefully that got you off…. my back.


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Orange You Glad I’m Back?

It’s been a while. Stuff has been happening. Biological stuff. As in a tiny creature is currently doing the Electric Bugaloo on my kidneys. Yeah, the tequila worked. I am making a tiny human. And in all honesty, it’s quite exhaustive work that makes most extraneous projects (read: anything other than eating in my car) pretty difficult. It also is a silver bullet for getting out of a myriad of things, from lifting heavy objects to obeying traffic laws. It might also be a cop-out for not writing blog entries, something at which I’m spotty regardless of pant size. And pecking away at a keyboard while shoving Moose Munch into my mouth is basically all I do anymore so why not do something constructive? Or, at least get my husband to stop asking when I intend to ‘turn off Law & Order and do something about those Halloween pumpkins’.

So, an update is long overdue. While scouring my half addled brain for ideas, I decided to take a quick look at the current cultural landscape for some topical inspiration. And immediately I was met with a singular, overwhelming theme.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Donald Trump and Melania Knauss-Trump attend the Comedy Central Roast Of Donald Trump at the Hammerstein Ballroom on March 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images) Original Filename: GYI0063876060.jpg

Orange. So much orange.

Which is perfect as orange wine is actually enjoying a bit of a hipster renaissance. And as it increasingly pops up in weird corners of wine lists, more and more people have been asking me about it.

Orange wine is kind of the badass step-cousin to rosé, if rosé’s WASPY mom married into a family of repo men who love the Steelers. While rosé is pink and glistening, doesn’t like to swear and carries Nicholas Sparks novels around in her Michael Kors bag, orange wine is loud and tans too much and refuses to wear panties. Orange wine’s name is Trisha.

Ok. That’s not really accurate. Orange wine is kind of the opposite of rosé. While rosé is made from red grape varietals and the juices are left to macerate on the skins for just long enough to glean color and flavor, orange wine is made from white varietals and is left to macerate for a very long time, more like a red wine. This allows the process to extract as much color and tannin as possible resulting in a very unique wine. It’s typically an amber hue, often times a bit cloudy, and can exhibit an array of flavors, from mushrooms to stewed apricot skins.


Orange wines have been made in the Republic of Georgia, Italy and Slovenia for centuries, but like all weird and kind of cool things, hipsters are jumping on ship, too. And as is the case with all crafty, hipster nonsense, there is a hefty price tag. Most domestic bottles don’t dip far below $25.

As this wine is definitely acidic with grippy tannins, follow my famous advice, “Eat something, you goddamn alcoholic” to really get the most out of it. This wine shines best alongside substantial foods such as roasted Brussels sprouts, fatty charcuterie, and salty hard cheeses such as Pecorino.

There you go. Something orange and incredulously popular that won’t try to kick all the Mexicans out.

It’s good to be back!

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I spent the Fourth of July weekend in Baja Mexico. So patriotic, I know. But what am I going to do with a rare three day weekend? Colonial Williamsburg? I’m, like, 10 minutes from the border. And my few dollars equal several dollars down there. It was a gorgeous trip full of $1 street tacos, smirks at my butchered Spanish, and what is now a firm, established muffin top. I ate everything. And I drank a lot of tequila. I love tequila. Its hands-down my liquor of choice. When I’ve been tasting wines all day at those big, fancy sommelier gatherings, going to the DMV, or taking my toddler to the dentist, all I want is a shot of tequila. Maybe two. And, like, 4 tamales. Yes, I’m Gluttenous McFatty-pants. I didn’t end up in this line of work by accident.

People still hate on tequila. The most common complaints I hear are usually actually just thinly veiled trips down memory lane, people regaling me with stories of body shots at a fraternity party or throwing up at the Margaritaville in Myrtle Beach. And I get it. My all-time worst drunken experience was born from too many tequila sunrises in my early 20s. Let’s just say I was never asked to housesit there again.

But this is a new era for tequila. It currently ranks as one of the fastest growing spirits. And with China guzzling all the Scotch and Cognac, it has left a nice little pocket for premium (read: expensive) tequilas. Even celebs are scrambling to get on this tequila boat. (I would sign up for that cruise immediately.) Justin Timberlake has one. Ray Liotta’s new baby smooth face is a spokesman for one. George Clooney and Mr. Cindy Crawford even have their own tequila, Casamigos.


Apparently its what they all drink in their Mexican vacation compound. Yes. Cindy Crawford, her stupid husband, George Clooney and that hot human rights lawyer all share a compound in Cabo. What if the Tequila Boat™ cruise ENDED at the compound and you got to drink tequila with them and watch old reruns of House of Style and E.R. and wear high waisted one piece neon color swimsuits?

Sorry. 90’s seizure.

The thing is, if you haven’t had tequila since college or in a frozen margarita from a slushie machine, you probably live in some bunker. Or you’re, like, in a cult. Or maybe you’re in recovery. I don’t know. But, I think grown ups should revisit tequila. No worm, unless you’re breaking it down.


Much like Champagne, all tequila only hails from one particular region in Mexico: specifically Jalisico and some surrounding counties.  Its soil is perfect for growing those Koopa-looking blue agave plants. The plants take up to 12 years to fully mature, just like English Bulldogs. Then the heart of the plant is roasted and crushed, with its juice pressed kinda like wine. That is what will go on to be distilled, typically twice. Its like a big, scary Mexican artichoke… you know, if artichoke dip gave you the courage to teach others how to Dougie.

And, again, much like my high-maintenance mistress Wine, what happens to the distilled spirit after is equally important. That first distilled spirit is blanco, or “white”. This will show the true essence of the agave’s flavors. This is what you want in a margarita. Clean and clear, letting the other components of the drink equally shine. Ugh. I hate myself so much for just typing that.

Tequila can then go on to be aged in oak barrels, usually bourbon barrels. Anywhere from two months to a year you get reposado, or rested in Spanish. This one’s my jam. It can be used in a high end cocktail or sips well on its own. I think its pairs really well with food, too. Especially my new favorite meal: 14 street tacos. Añejo, or “aged”, is in barrel anywhere from 1-3 years. This one pours a deep amber color and drinks more like a whiskey. Its not my favorite. It leans toward that peaty Scotch thing that makes me think of Republicans. Its also very expensive and men don’t buy drinks for women in their 30s nearly as much as Sex and the City lead me to believe.

 So shots. Sipper. Margaritas. Get it. Pair with tacos, ceviche, or just drink it all night and prepare yourself for some questionable decisions. Its all so grown up. And if you’re like me and you don’t want to leave your house, here is an amazing reposado cocktail recipe to utilize all those cans of Squirt you have in the house. Man, you really ARE like me…




  • Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt.. JUST KIDDING! Just salt.
  • 1 1/2 oz. reposado tequila. Don Julio, Forteleza, or Cazadores if you're down
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. OJ
  • 6 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 4 oz. Squirt or knockoff grapefruit soda, you Wal-Mart shopper, you
  • Agave nectar
  • Lime to garnish


  1. Fill a glass with ice. I use a coffee cup so others at the PTA meeting don't know what the Treasurer is doing. Add the salt, tequila, and juices. Gently stir. Top with the soda, dash of agave, and garnish with lime. Or just squeeze and drop it in.. you know, after your Instagram post.
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Ripasso: The Little Brother You’ve Got a Shot With….


They actually make wine in Boston. They taste rather deflated. AFC Joke! HahahahahahahaIhateTomBradysomuch…

I know I’ve been away for a bit. But I’ve been pretty busy! Basically eating rotisserie chickens out of the container while Googling which weddings in the Maroon 5 “Sugar” video were real. Its a part of the creative process. Like how Don Draper goes to the movies and emotionally tortures various women to stoke his right brain. But at some point, we all got to get back to work. Sterling Cooper waitresses and various supportive relatives are counting on me!

This is my second installment of the Heard it Through the Grapevine Series, which is a look at wines that utilize dried grapes. And while there are quite a few of them from around the world, we started with the Mack Daddy of them all, Amarone. Today’s wine is from the same part of the Veneto in Italy- Ripasso della Valpolicella.

Ripasso is basically the Casey Affleck to Ben Affleck’s Amarone. And yes, Ben Affleck is a compulsive gambling man whore, but I saw that animal cracker scene from Armageddon during a pivotal point in puberty and I’m really into Mallrats, so Ben > Casey.

So how is Ripaaaaaaaso like these two Bostonian brothers? (See what I did there?) Ripasso is an Italian word meaning “review”. As in, “Gigli got terrible ripassos, driving JLo and Ben Affleck apart.” Actually, no. It means review in, like, “Jennifer Garner is currently ripasso-ing the terms of her pre-nuptiual agreement.”

As you now know from my expert explanation, Amarone is made by drying out the grapes before fermentation, resulting in raisiny flavor profile. The ripasso method takes the pulpy mass of dried skins after the Amarone fermentaion, and throws it in with traditional Valpolicella, the blend of grapes used in “base” Amarone. By letting it saturate it with a little of that yum yum dankiness, it takes on some of that bold raisin and toffee profile. Kinda like when you thought hanging out with the popular girls in high school would somehow make you a size zero blonde. But then you realized you were doing all their Literature homework and your cystic acne was only getting worse. But, this actually works!

The best thing, its way cheaper than Amarone! So its like getting Ben Affleck but for Casey Affleck money! Well, its like getting Casey Affleck for Casey Affleck money. Gone Baby Gone instead of Gone Girl. Whoa. I just realized that. Poor Casey, man. Eli Manning level shit, right there. But then again, he is a rich film actor and director and he got to spank Jessica Alba in that one weird movie, so I’m sure he is feeling fine.

Ripasso della Valpolicella is one of my gateway Italian wines. Its the perfect way to lure 40-something businessmen away from overpriced Napa Cabs and into the Old World. Before you know it, they’re hooked, blowing up my phone at 2AM, looking for Barolos. Messed up, huh? I’ve been in this game for years- it made me an animal. Here are a couple I love, that you can afford, and that you can drink while watching Good Will Hunting… or while you seek out that clip of Jessica Alba being spanked. Ha. I know you so well.

Tommasi Ripasso Valpolicella, 2012


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Affordable Spanish Wines *lisps*


 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


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


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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Grüner the Crooner


Drake drinking white Burgundy with a creepy little owl.


As a sommelier, I spend a great deal of time and energy trying to convince people to try new wines. It’s basically the brunt of the gig. Well, the brunt of the gig is breaking down cardboard boxes, but that’s not something we like to talk about all that much. You assemble this giant, complicated, (and hopefully award winning) list with the intention of providing guests with memorable and life-changing experiences. That you will be the person to single-handedly launch Savoie wines into the lexicon. That the celebratory wine you suggest to a newly married couple will be the wine that leads to the incredible and momentous conception of the future President/Aaron Rodgers/inventor of painless bikini waxing.

But most of the time, they scowl at you and order a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…. But it’s incredibly frustrating and just a little demoralizing. Why am I here? Why have I spent so many hours and so, so very much money studying wine? Why don’t they just create a computer system that dispenses Cakebread while making cutesy one liners? Never mind. Let’s not just freely give them ideas.

I’ve decided that I need to take a new tact. I need to go Rick Ross on this shit.

The influence hip hop has had on wine sales is pretty incredible. The most iconic ones that come to mind are Cristal Champagne and rosé. I mean, Rick Ross changed his name to Ricky Rosé. Although that may not be legally binding. If rappers can basically create a domestic moscato industry, I can surely get an old lady to drink a glass of Old Vine Carignan. I need an alter ego. A Sasha Fierce, if you will. Or, rather, a Stefan Urquelle.

Allow me to introduce you to Grüner the Crooner. In the tradition of Eminem, she is Caucasian, has documented anger issues, and once threw up her mother’s spaghetti at a recital. Also, like Iggy Azalea, she has a big butt. And she has gone to her lab, with a pen and a pad, trying to get this wine education off…

When you need something spicy and a lil’ leaner/

Imma pour your mouth full of some Veltliner

I’m on fleek, stacking that cash/

Assyrtiko grapes are grown in soil full of ash

Cheese plate, cheese plate.. put down your port/

You need a Bual Madeira for that Roquefort

So, not exactly spitting fire. But are most rappers these days? Not. Really. It’s about the flash. The Moët and Kia World Tour of the biggest wine bars, gastropubs, and corporate team building outings. In the videos, she can dump bottles of Pinotage on men in white wife beaters and then spank them with battonage stick thingies. And, of course, she will have a Swavorski crystal encrusted goblet around her neck, Dornfelder sloshing about to the beat. It’s a start. I have to do something before I have a nervous breakdown, throw my osso into the ocean and start selling Kendall Jackson to high schoolers out of my trunk.

Watch for the first album: “A.O.C.- Naughty by Hectare”.

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I’m Changin Grillz Errday


Memorial Day means summer is right around the corner. And a PTO-free three day weekend (well, for people with normal jobs that don’t involve side work and hiding tips from the government) is basically a bonus drinking day over a hibachi. It also apparently is an homage to soldiers that have fallen to protect our civil liberties, but whatever! Lets do shots in Dad’s backyard!

I know the thought of outdoor grilling automatically brings to mind ice cold beers and Fireball, but do me a favor and give wine a try. Several wines offer fantastic pairing opportunities for classic BBQ fare and can still be quite refreshing. And, honestly, you can stand to be a little classier today. You’re already wearing an American flag halter, for Christ’s sake.

Grilled Veggies

Crisp California Sauvignon Blanc like whaaaaat! The sharp acidity and inherent herbacious notes are a perfect complement for veggie shish-ka-bobs and especially dishes featuring tomatoes. Its also a great pair for grilled shrimp if you’re anything like me and can’t go, like, 48 hours without shrimp. There’s pineapple shrimp and lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp , pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew… I prefer versions that aren’t overly oaky, so stay away from anything saying Fume Blanc or Robert Mondavi.

My Current Jam: 2013 Ojai, McGinley Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc 


I love a good burger. They’re about as American as Carrie Underwood’s calves. And while I can immediately think of a handful of West Coast IPAs that work wonders with a juicy burgers (Green FlashSociete The Pupil, Avery), a chilled Beaujolais can be equally refreshing without making you look 5 months pregnant two drinks in. Beaujolais hails from southern Burgundy in France and is 100% Gamay, a red fruit forward grape with silky soft tannins. A versatile people pleaser… just like your mom.

My Current Jam: 2013 Chanrion Domaine de la Voûte des Crozes, Côte-de-Brouilly, France 

Ribs & Other BBQ

Carolina, Texas, Memphis, Korean: BBQ is what this damn country is about. And for a people that are young, bold, and increasingly fruity, you need a similar wine. My vote is for Zinfandel. Write that down. You won’t see me recommend Zinfandel often because they drive me coconuts. Overblown and boozy, they’re often at best a cocktail replacement and at worst a vehicle for cougars to get enough liquid courage to yell at their husbands in public. But this is actually a great pairing, with its big ripe fruit and spicy notes. You’re welcome, Zinfandel growers of America. I know you’ve anxiously been awaiting my endorsement.

My Current Jam: 2013 Bedrock Zinfandel, Sonoma County, CA

So there you go. Three easy and affordable ways to class up your BBQ. And yes, I know all these wines are 2013.  I like my BBQ wines like I like my unpaid parking tickets: around 2 years old.


*In all honesty- Memorial Day is a remembrance of the many, MANY Americans who valiantly died fighting for our country. Take a moment to honor them. Personally, I think there should be a law requiring people to watch Band of Brothers in in entirety before being allowed into any rooftop pool parties today. #donniewahlberg





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Heard it Through the Grapevine Series: Amarone



Remember the California Raisins? They were all the rage in the late 80’s and everyone was clambering for the figurines midwest hamburger chain Hardee’s was giving out. My grandmother actually sent me a compete set from Indiana when I was about 5. They basically looked little turds. I wish I had kept them though. eBay fodder fo’ sho.

Anyway, I was thinking about them recently because a guest asked me about Amarone, the famous Italian wine made from dried grapes. Amarone is most certainly iconic and ranks amongst some of the best displays of human intervention in its crafting. But people tend to buy it, sip it, and look at me like I made them put, like, a live fish in their mouth. Its chewy. Its raisiny. Its not Cherry Cola, but its syrupy as hell. Then they scowl at me and order a mojito instead. This is a shame. Much like electronica, its all about context. Rave? Yeeeeessss! Doing my taxes? What’s with the effin’ sirens?? Amarone is a perfect pairing for big old slabs of meat. I think of it as Christmas wine. Aged beef, cable knit sweaters, three month food babies. Its Hibernation Wine, not exactly Sexy Time Wine.


Amarone hails from the Veneto of Northeastern Italy. Home of Romeo and Juliet, a popular 90’s teen tom-com starring a barely pubescent Leonardo DiCaprio and that crazy girl from Homeland. This alone gives the wine some mystique, but the true magic of Amarone lay in the process of its production. The technique was initially utilized to afford winemakers the ability to craft rich and full-bodied wines in cooler climates. The best grapes, a combination of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara, are left on the vine to ripen as long as possible.

Then comes the real trick: appassimento, Italian talk for drying out. Traditionally, the grapes were then spread on wooden beds for three to four months to dry out, concentrating the wine’s sugar and losing quite a bit of water weight. (Wish it was that easy for us ladies, amiright??) These days, winemakers use fancy temperature and humidity controlled rooms for the process. I assume they rent them out for hot yoga classes and jerky making the rest of the year. The wine then undergoes fermentation often to over 14% in alcohol, pretty high for the Veneto and pretty great for catching a sweet buzz, and a long maceration period which means the skins are left in the fermented mushy-mush to get the full effect of color and flavor. Then its aged in oak at least two years and four for Riserva.

Amarone translates to Great Bitter, which translates to Brandi Glanville. This characteristic is most evident in the high tannins of the wine as well as its searing acidity. Both these qualities make it very age-able, transforming into a lusciously bright and complex wine as time goes by. Notes of cherry, raisin, caramel, mocha ring throughout, only layering as time goes on.

As with a lot of my faves, this bella bambina ain’t cheap. The selectiveness of grapes and expensive winemaking puts most good bottles over $50 retail. This isn’t necessarily a Tuesday night wine. Unless your husband typically brings home a buck he shot and you make roast venison on Tuesdays. That would be really special at my home, since we live in a city and the only gun we own dispenses hot glue.

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