A friend in need needs this. Naked Grape Cab $7.99 –

 Naked Grape Cab $7.99
The bouquet smells like leather, blackberries. The first sip is dark fruit, berries, fig – like it really wants to be a cab but falls just short of the complexity or richness. Not harsh or tannic – weak, sweet, quickly made – easy to drink and grape juicy. Naked grape essentially says what it is. I was drinking this with a woman going through a bitter divorce, and a friend in need is a friend who needs wine – Naked and I were happy to be there for her of course. Other than that, c’est toute!
Rated drinkable, especially when listening to heart breaking stories about an ex in progress and who would get custody of the money.
Stay curious!

A philosopher, a Texan, a Rastafarian & me sharing a bottle of German Pinot Noir for $6.99

{With and without night vision – check out the moon}


Edition Maximus 2012 Pinot Noir Rheinhessen Germany $6.99

Available at Trader Joe’s 

I bought this Pinot not even knowing that it was German! Timely, as the German team just won the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I then decided to educate myself, only to discover that there is a long tradition of Pinot Noirs in Germany grown in the Baden, Pfalz, Rheinhessen and Württemberg wine regions where you will also find the more popularly imbibed Rieslings. These red wines are referred to as Spatburgunder. I was fortunate at the time to be tasting this wine with a guest who is a professor Emeritus in Philosophy and Religious Studies who had been a Fulbright Scholar in Berlin alas, she could not do the tasting due to a contraindication with her medications. Such is life, Schade. But we did have a long and winding discussion on wine and the degenerative impact on the soul albeit it is considered a sacred substance throughout the centuries of known history and world religions. We got much deeper than this wine. Luckily I had a Texan and a Rastafarian to help me drink the bottle and discuss the notes without moral encumbrance.

The nose was immediately grapefruit and hibiscus.  I immediately picked up the German style to making wine. This is not like any Pinot Noir I have ever had. Light, sugary and fruit forward. Much like their Reislings except with a little more body . If I was doing a blind tasting, I could tell it was a red wine, but would be very confused about it’s origin and varietal. The Texan said it was very barnyard – look up that term, I am not that familiar with it and was told it is a combination of earthy manure, wet hay, dirty socks – I fortunately did not pick that up.  The Rastafarian said it was very light, sugary and grapey. I was more aligned with the later description. If you are expecting a Pinot Noir, you will be surprised. However, I did find it refreshing and enjoyable. If served chilled it would be a nice compliment to an arugula and steak salad with a side of German potato salad.

Sadly, I don’t think I would buy this again unless I was in a peculiar mood, therefore, I’m giving it a drinkable +. If you are up for something different, go for it.

Stay curious!


This rosé gave my guests a 90’s flashback & they liked it!


2012 Regio Dry Rosé, El Dorado County CA $7.99

Available at:  Sonoma Market or find it on Wine-Searcher.com

I was thrilled to conduct a tasting with my esteemed house guests this weekend. These well versed oenophiles were actually shocked that the Rosé was quite delicious. Although I was happy to redeem myself, I’m not sure if the contrast to my other selections tainted their lens (to be revealed in my coming review of my red, white & blue selections for the 4th.)

Nose is immediately strawberry, pineapple. Has a nice complexity for a rosé this inexpensive. Acid is moderate and keeps this rosé bright, crisp very refreshing especially if served well chilled.  The lemony finish pleasantly lingers. We had this wine with a spiced pork loin cooked on the BBQ, roasted seasoned potatoes and a summer salad while listening to the Sneaker Pimps – 90’s flashbacks ensued. After laughing hysterically about something related to an episode of My So Called Life and 21 Jump Street (the original my dears) my guests remarked a second time that they were pleasantly surprised by this wine. Quite impressive after a day of sipping $70+ a bottle vintages of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the like in a doting of wineries along the Sonoma Valley. (Shame, I think we spent too much!) I’m sticking to my $10 and under creed moving forward, unless my guests insist on buying – that’s the proper protocol for a hostess with a knack for tour guidery.

Rated buy-again, without a second thought.

Stay curious!


In a pinch Pinot Noir.

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2012 Vinters Collection Reserve Carmenet Pinot Noir, CA

Available at:

Petaluma Market

For other places to buy click here

Well, this is not such good news. Does not taste like a classic Pinot Noir. It has the structure of a Pinot Noir, light body red with some berry, light smoke – my taster said heavy smoke and peppery. I would not be that extreme in my description, but a more refined palette, like my colleague’s could take offense. This wine does not finish smoothly and I did not find it particularly enjoyable. I am certain in a pinch many would find this perfectly drinkable but there are better ones out there for about the same price. Sadly, even for $7.99, this wine gets a rating of barely drinkable. Have you every accidentally left your bottle of wine for the picnic on your kitchen counter and your only solve miles from home is a gas station on a lone highway, well, this could work in a pinch, but I suggest turning around and going home. On to the next….

Stay curious!


Curiosity did not kill this cat!


2012 Fat Cat Pinot Grigio, CA $8.99

Rating: Drinkable +

Available at Petaluma Market

The bouquet hits you with peach, nectarine and woodsy cedar. First sip is crisp, fruity but not too sweet – what you would expect from a decent Pino Grigio. It finishes clean. As professed on the bottle, you get the hint of honeysuckle. Acid is nice and I think this is perfectly respectable – it won’t impress anyone and honestly I’ve tasted inexpensive Pinot Grigios that we’re better. There is a slightly tangy citrus aftertaste that lingers, but hey for $8.99, this is not so bad, it’s actually quite respectably drinkable. The cute jazz playing cat on the label will lure some cheapeaux winos to buy, where I’d normally pass, but net-net it’s a fun party wine. No one will fault you unless they are one of those insufferable types allergic to cats who aren’t fun at parties anyways. Include a lint brush and you have the perfect housewarming gift set for a cat lover.

Stay curious!


¡Me Encanta! A Spanish Rosé You Will Love $7.99



Bodegas Borsao 2013 Rosé, Borja,Spain


If full bodied and Rosé were ever mentioned in the same sentence it would have to be now. This wine has a beautiful color and you immediately realize it will be more complex and interesting than most inexpensive Rosés. Bouquet immediately hits you with strawberry and honeysuckle. First sip is crisp, fruit , very aromatic and finishes with a light berry. It is not sweet but has a lovely fruity dryness that makes a great Rosé. Perfect before, during or after a summer meal. I would definitely buy this wine again and it is perfectly respectable to serve to your guests.

Stay curious,


¿Te Gusta? A Spanish White that’s not mucho dinero pero muy bien. Ressò 2012 garnacha blanca $9.99


Ressò 2012 garnacha blanca, Catalunya Spain

Ressò in Spanish mean ‘echo’. Let’s say this wine does resonate…it has a remarkably rich golden color, and that gives one hope you are in for more complexity than most inexpensive white wines. Bouquet is citrusy and white floral. First sip is crisp, lemon, tart and finishes with a floral perfume that is a touch buttery. I drank it chilled and then room temperature to let it open up. This is a white you can drink without ice cubes – there is a nice complexity and you won’t embarrass yourself if you bring it to a dinner as the label is quite chic. For a very cheap Spanish white, this is a buy again. In the right time and place, you can respectably set this on the table as this white is on par with many other wines 2x as much. I think I’m going to bring it to the Ladies Auxiliary luncheon to sip while eating chilled crab salad with micro greens.

Stay curious!


Better than 2buck Chuck? Grand Cru Vineyards 2012 Merlot $6.99

Avail at:
Sonoma Market Sonoma CA
Lake Liquors Ronkonkoma NY


Bouquet, eh. Body, eh. Underdeveloped, a bit harsh and frankly, I’d prefer 2buck, which is a RARE occasion for me. I do like the bold, red, richness that is indicative of a Merlot, but this is definitely not a fine wine. Pair it with leftover pizza – we did.
This wine is not guest worthy – but in a pinch – it works for the less discerning….I suppose that would be moi? I rate this drinkable, but not good enough for a repeat. I’m certain there are better cheapo wines out there so I will keep buying and trying.
Stay curious!

Guests Request! Rare Red Grape 4 Blend, Lodi CA $7.99


Available at Sonoma Market

I had a discerning group of tasters this time – all squeamish when I mentioned I wrote a cheap wine blog and would they like to try a wine under $10 – in fact it was only $7.99 and it was from Lodi. This was a group of acquaintances in the Sonoma Square at the Tuesday night farmer’s market picnicking around elaborate cheeseboards and much better wines, or so they thought…{ insert sinister Frenchman laugh here – heh, heh, heh.}

Bouquet was young, fresh with hit of berry and dried cherry. First sip, surprisingly smooth, full bodied, pleasantly earthy and bursting with a nice grapey, ripe red strawberry jaminess you want in a lovely everyday red. I must make a second mention to the smoothness, impressive for the prix.

One guest commented that I had made an “excellent selection” and that this was the perfect everyday red. I failed to mention that I select these wines with the precision of Russian Roulette, but accepted the complement with humility. This is a mindblowingly good wine – Caseworthy!

Stay curious,