Category: Tasting Notes

25 Red Wines Under $25 to Try Now!

Every year we publish our compilation our report of quality red wines we've found that are under $25.  These wines are a result of various tasting events, restaurant experiences, and sommelier suggestions we've had this year.  Some usual suspects pop up, as well as interesting bargains from under-appreciated regions such as Lirac in Southern Rhone. The Top 5 Value Wines We have identified five special wines from this group of 25 that are exceptional values and really noteworthy: Palazzo della Torre The Allegrini Family makes some seriously great wines at many price points.  This wine has always impressed us with its consistent quality and value, and it is easy to find.  Allegrini uses an innovative "ripasso" method that gives this wine a style similar to higher end Amarone wines.  Bursting with dark, dried cherries, blackberries, and hints of dates, this wine has a lasting finish bolstered with just enough tannin to make it interesting, and worthy of a few years in the cellar.  Pair with pasta, chicken, or mild sausage. Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese. (typically $17 to $20). Tua Rita Rosso The Tua Rita winery is located on the western side of Tuscany, near the sea.  They are world-renowned for [...]

Wine & Chocolate Pairings: Discover New Ways to Wow Your Valentine

It's a great time to plan for a great Valentine's Day experience.  And we're here to help to plan around two universal elixirs of love:  Wine & Chocolate. Wine & chocolate seems strange to some, but the right wine with the right chocolate is a beautiful thing - magical, in fact.  There is so much exploration to do, since there are so many interesting taste combinations to discover – nuts, fruits, types of chocolates – it really is an endless experiment.  We’ll give you some pairing tips to keep in mind, then some fun wines to discover. Tips for Successfully Pairings Wines with Chocolate Here are a few simple rules – not hard and fast, but more like guidelines: 1.  Chocolate is very complex – just like wine.  For pure chocolate, you’ll find some subtle flavors which are inherent to the region, the cocoa content, and the fat content.  It is best to do some experimenting to find the best wine and chocolate combinations for you. Try to detect some underlying flavors of the chocolate, then the wine separately.  Play with the matches.  If you have several types of chocolates, always work from light to dark. Start with a more [...]

Avignonesi Cortona Desiderio

Avignonesi has been a winery on our radar screen for a long time.  While we have mostly focused on their Vino Nobile, we recently came across a few curious bottles at one of our local wine stores:  Grifi Toscana IGT (a blend of cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese) and  Desiderio (85% merlot, 15% cabernet sauvignon). The grapes come from one of the newer Italian appellations called Cortona.  Cortona DOC wines must contain a minimum of 85 percent of any one of several approved grape varieties: Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Pinot Noir for reds, and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for whites. The other 15 percent can be a blend of any approved grapes, though the wines can be made entirely from a single grape variety.  This area in the southeastern corner of Tuscany (also encompassing a northwestern corner of Umbria) has an unusual micro-climate which always the grapes to ripen which giving enough cool breezes to avoid jammy fruit bombs. We opened a bottle of the 2006 Desiderio, and we were surprised by the power.  Wine Spectators notes:  “Aromas of blackberry, with hints of black olive. Medium-bodied, with fine tannins and a smoky berry aftertaste. Surprisingly forward.”  That about nails […]

Spelletich Family Wine Company – A Review & Wine Pairing

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Spelletich Family Wine Company is a relatively small family owned Napa winery, started about 20 years ago. While not well known outside of the region, it has a loyal following (check out their Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews). The husband wife team (Barbara and Timothy Spelletich) and their daughter Kristen are responsible for all aspects of the winemaking, marketing, sales and direction of the winery; Barbara has been the winemaker since their founding in 1994. They produce Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and a blend called Bodog Red (which combines Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah). Their premium brand is the Spelletich Reserve collection, while their Spell Wine brand and 3 Spells brand are all under $25. Their fruit comes from Napa County as well as several other wine producing counties within California; winemaker Barbara focuses on a “natural” style that emphasizes the characteristics of the native fruit. The Serious Foodie team was able to visit the Spelletich winery recently, and we were impressed with their artisan and family-oriented approach to their business. Their tasting room felt more like walking into a friend’s family room, were a glass of wine and a friendly smile is always waiting for you. Here we report […]

Ten Fun Wines to Try in 2015

The holidays gave us a great opportunity to try many wines, some old favorites and some new delights.   After sorting through all of our tasting notes, we found ten fun wines that we highly recommend for 2015 – some are bargains (under $25), while others are splurges.  Either way, there is something here for everyone. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1420387087343{background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.12) !important;*background-color: rgb(0,0,0) !important;}”] Red Wines [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text] Soliste is one of those hard to find cult wines, sold only through their mail order list, or found at high-end restaurants.  We were very fortunate to have come upon a few bottles, including the outstanding 2010 L’Espérance Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($65).  Our tasters all felt that this wine might be the best US pinot noir they’ve ever experienced.  It is a moderate reddish purple color in the glass, with intense aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, with a bit of sweet herbs and spice.  The taste is silky soft. feminine in character, with layers of black cherry and black raspberry fruits touched by an array of sweet and savory herbs. The wine fills the mouth with pleasure that carries over to the long and expansive finish.  This wine has a lot of […]

Five Fun Summer Red Wines

  On a recent trip from South to North, we had the pleasure to stop at one of our favorite airport oasis – Vino Volo.  They have this uncanny ability to surprise us with fun, interesting wine – which is hard to do for Dr. & Dr. Serious Foodie.   We had a glass of the Domondimonti Picens 2008 red blend (a Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon blend from the Marche region of Italy) and the Coriole Vineyards Sangiovese-Shiraz (from the McLaren Vale of Australia). The Domondimonti (organic certified) was well balanced and juicy, with mocha, spice and earthy accents (tobacco, leather) hints that were highlighted by the ripe flavors of black cherry and other red berries.  We would definitely use this wine again to serve in the summer months – light enough to drink on its own, but would stand up to smoky flavors from the grill. We were particularly impressed with the Coriole Vineyards Sangiovese-Shiraz – we typically will not drink any Sangiovese wine from anywhere but Italy.  This Sangiovese-Shiraz blend was a very refreshing style, with very soft tannins matched with a nice amount of acidity – making this a very food friendly wine.  It was […]

Tuscan Reds Under $25 – Our May Tasting Event

Our May tasting event took us to the Central NJ area – specifically Ringoes, NJ – where we had the enviable task of selecting Tuscan red wines that were easy to drink, food friendly, available locally, and relatively affordable (nearly all our wine selections should be available nationwide, or via internet sales).  Proceeds from this affair went to the wonderful folks at the Princeton Festival.  If you are in the area from June 7 through June 29, or willing to travel, you would not be disappointed at the outstanding selection of jazz/opera/chamber music/etc from this award winning group (click on for more information).  I know that Serious Foodie is certainly looking forward to the A Capella Jazz concert on June 7, and Porgy & Bess on June 22 and June 29.   Roasted Tricolored Carrots As with our other events, we worked to match our wine choices with an array of foods that would match, focusing on simple Tuscan inspired dishes.  Here is the menu from this event: Proscuitto wrapped mango, with the Serious Foodie Orange & Fig Finishing Sauce Freshly made Parmesan crisps Genoa salami crisps Pesto bruschetta with home roasted tomatoes Mascarpone and pancetta stuffed crimini mushrooms […]

Pairings 101 – Wine with Passover and Easter Feasts

Passover and Easter meals are always about family and friends – and it is an ideal time to wow everyone with your knowledge on the best wines to match with the foods of the Spring.  The challenge to any meal with a large number of people is finding foods that fit all tastes and dietary requirements.  In this article, we explore possible Spring menus, and provide some general rules for matching wines, with recommendations from our previous tastings. Wines to use while waiting and noshing Brunch wines Wines with poultry & fish Wines with meats The finishing touch – wine with dessert and after the meal    For Starters, Let’s Try…. We are very fortunate to live in a climate where we can serve our guest outside for most of the year – but this is especially true in the Spring.  We like to use wines with a bit of acidity and a bit of tropical flavors – a refreshing treat that can sipped on its own, or used with mildly flavored appetizers.  The general rule of thumb is to keep it light when starting out.  You will focus mostly on white wines such as sauvignon blanc, albarino, gruner veltliner, […]

The California Versus Oregon Pinot Noir Battle

We recently overheard an argument between a sommelier and a couple at a high-end restaurant.  The couple was trying to order a California Pinot Noir, and the sommelier was working hard to have the couple try an Oregon Pinot. The sommelier was adamant that the Oregon Pinot matched with the food, while the two customers argued that the California Pinot had much more flavor.  Where they both right? The Pinot Passion fight between the California advocates versus the Oregon  folks does sometimes turn into more of an WWF event.  Before we put our hat into the ring, here are a few points to keep in mind that might help in your choice: California Pinot Noir The dominant style of California pinot noir has been, and for the majority of wine, is round, ripe and extravagant taste, with sweet flavors of dark fruit and high alcohol levels approaching and sometimes surpassing 15 percent.  Wines from Kosta Browne, Sea Smoke, and Merry Edwards make wonderfully sophisticated wines that can be sipped on their own, or matched with oily, rich meals of fowl or fish.  Duck and boar match perfectly with these wines. Warm weather provides intensely flavored fruit, especially in Sonoma – […]

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