Monthly Archives: September 2015

2013 Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills (H3) Cabernet Sauvignon (3 out of 5)

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This is a beautiful label. I went a couple of go-rounds with Columbia Crest years ago- if memory serves me correct, it was the 2007-2009 era. My friend Matt N. was a HUGE fan. I daresay it was one of his favorites. I think. It may have been the Columbia Merlot. One of them- the Merlot or the Cab- did NOT agree with me at all. It must have been the Merlot, because here I am sipping this to try it out and I’m not projectile vomiting. That’s not to accuse the fine folks at Columbia Crest of any wrongdoing; my body has some very weird reactions to certain wines and spirits. I get violently ill with ANY chardonnay or rum. Sadly. I used to be able to drink tequila, but it also did a number on me for many years. Happily, that’s no longer the case, so Mr. Cuervo has been hanging out with me every once in a while. Reds usually don’t produce a reaction, but Columbia Crest Merlot (as I recall) made me sicker than a dog on more than one occasion. So no more of that. This wine, the cabernet sauvignon, is great. Very hearty flavors throughout. Right off the bat, you can taste overpowering black cherries and blueberries. Not so much that it overpowers the wine and its palette, but it is very quickly established that this is no cab to be fucked with. Real wine collectors and drinkers will love this one. In fact, Wine Spectator awarded it 92 points. Wine Spectator? Highly respected. If they like a wine, you’re fine. I am also fine, but it’s too much for me. I guess I’m a light cab girl after all! After it’s been aired out for awhile, you can taste currant, vanilla, and some very strong oak… and other indefinable notes that I can’t get a handle on. It’s a rich purple color and it smells absolutely out of this world when first uncorked. As I said, the flavor is magnificent and incredibly rich with flavor. However, if you’re a big wine wuss like me, this one might be a bit much to take. Especially if red wine gives you a headache, you may want to proceed with caution. Try their other fine wines. Columbia Crest is well known for their award winning wines. You can see why. Their marketing, their labels, and their product- speaks for itself. If not, there’s people like you and I to speak for them as well, and try to get people more interested in the wine. 14.5% on the alcohol content front, if you are wondering. This fine cab usually retails for $15.00 and is readily available in your standard grocery or neighborhood liquor store. Enjoy!

Crispin Cider: Pacific Pear (5 out of 5)

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Well, day one of Social Media Blackout 2015 was Sunday. Mourning the loss of the Bears and still trying to figure out why people like David Tennant more than Matt Smith, I decided to go get groceries (multi-vitamins with more punch for Dad, as well) with D. That’s when we found the Chariot Gypsy red blend I reviewed last night. We hit Target for a few items that TJ’s didn’t have, and walked past the cooler. Something about the packaging for this cider caught his eye. I had heard about this from my friend Vega Nova, who is always, like D, on the lookout for gluten-free drinking options for me (Thank you both, as always!). Here it was! Maybe my Target has had it for awhile, but I wouldn’t know- it’s all the way on the top shelf of the refrigerated beers and wines, so I normally don’t go that high up! (Laugh, bitches, I’m 4’10”!). I told him Vega had given it good reviews, so we picked it up. I finally had one tonight when I got home from more HR stuff for a potential new job, and it is OUT OF THIS WORLD.

First thing first, this is gluten-free. Drink up, celiacs and gluten intolerant homies! I also like it a hell of a lot more than the Angry Orchard Ginger Apple cider that I was drinking for about three months straight last year. It has more distinctive flavor and it’s a lot less bitter. The Angry Orchard has some bitterness to it that I didn’t care for; not the case with Crispin. I will definitely be checking out more of their ciders when I can find them. This one has a 4.5% alcohol content, so don’t expect to be robbing old ladies of their marble ryes after having a few. The 4 pack was around $8.99..totally worth it. There’s a natural pear taste here, and that’s likely due to the fact that Crispin naturally ferments their cider with 100% pear juice and not some gloppy concentrate. You can taste the difference! This cider has a whole lot of nothing – no colorings, no preservatives, no additives, and did I mention no gluten? NO GLUTEN! It’s light, refreshing, and crisp, and not at all bitter in aftertaste. It’s there and it’s gone, light and airy. Really, a great compliment to any salad or light seafood meal. I think it would go great with a piece of lemon or lime meringue pie, so you could try it. And let me know how it works out. Or what you think. Because it’s divine!

Chariot Gypsy Red Wine (3 out of 5)

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This one was a find at Trader Joe’s. Not quite a “find” because they seem to have it often, but a find in that I hadn’t tried it before and they had a huge fucking display of it waiting for me and D when we went Sunday to pick up a few things. It retails for $4.99 and is a blend; something I normally love to try. Coming off of the unbelievably fabulous Candle Light wine, though, this one paled in comparison. Not so much that I’ll not drink the rest, but I’ll leisurely sip it. The Candle Light wine? No sipping there.

It’s a nice cherry red color, but not so dark that you can’t see through the wine to the other side of the glass. This has notes of maraschino cherry, strawberry, spice, some pepper, blueberry, and some floral notes that I can’t identify (dandelion? Dandelion wine??). It’s a great tasting red blend, but it’s not overpowering, nor super flavorful. The lovely taste wears off pretty quick and you’re left with a long finish. This is a hearty wine AFTER the fact- meaning you’re toward the end of the glass and Whoop! There it is! After sipping the wine for a few hours while reading, I went to finish the glass and I got walloped. There’s some mild acidity, but a lot of sweet flavor, but not so much that you’re putting this into a category with rose and lambrusco. Not the case. Just a nice flavorful wine. Sort of like a pinot with a good dose of cabernet sauvignon. It’s a good blend, clocking in at 12.0% alcohol content, so not too much of a punch, but still, a decent flavored blend for five bucks- NOT easy to find these days!

Candle Magic Cabernet Sauvignon (5 out of 5)

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D found this bottle at Target- it’s a wine he’s only seen around the fall/Halloween time. Why he nor I haven’t tried it sooner I cannot answer. But I’m glad he brought it over to help me along with my Social Media Blackout week… I guess he figured the loss of the appendages known as Facebook and Twitter would result in extreme boredom or anxiety over not being able to read a newsfeed full of bad news and bad puns. Happily, that hasn’t been the case yet. But I DID need some delicious wine to celebrate the season premiere of one of the few television shows I watch- Castle. So I popped that sucker open, let it breathe, and had a glass. Holy hell! I felt in love. Deep, deep abiding passion for this cabernet.

I don’t know much about Candle Magic Vineyards. The label tells me that 25% of the proceeds from their wine sales go toward scholarships for women. It’s predominantly a wine that helps women! The vineyard itself is owned and operated by women, according to their website. I couldn’t be more fucking pleased at this! Anyway, this bottle is a 2012, but it matters not, for the quality of this cab is superb. It aired out for a hour, and then I dove right in. Right off the bat, the nose has a long finish and smells of delicious, ripe fruit. The tasting notes are cherry, blueberry, and cocoa. I haven’t had a wine that had predominant blueberry notes in a long while- until this gem. I can’t tell you how delicious this wine is; if you like cabernet, get this. It just moved to the top of my cabernet list. And yes, that one small glass packed a punch, weighing in at a robust 13.8% alcohol content. Go get this wine! Not only is it out of this world delicious, but the proceeds go toward scholarships for women. Win, win. This bottle was purchased at Target, where it retails for around $12. Well worth it!

White Wines Can’t Control It! : My top 10 White Wines

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Most of you are aware, my favorite drink is red wine. I do, however, have to knock things down and around a bit, and once in a while, white wine appeals. Usually in the middle of June when sitting on the porch listening to bad puns on the radio by my favorite DJ’s. Or when I’m trying out new wine with D. D is my wine buddy; he likes white, I like red. But I’m trying to expand my drinking; NOT like it sounds! I mean branching out and trying and reviewing new wine and spirits. I have a few new posts coming up very soon. My favorite time of year to drink is coming up- the months of harvests, outdoor campfires, falling leaves, falling pants, and the howling winds of winter soon upon us. A lot more drinking occurs during football weather- being a Chicago Bears fan with a tofu cutlet for QB, well, it’s unavoidable. Drinking will take place the more aggravated I get. Anyhow, a few weeks back I did a post about my ten favorite cabernets. Today I’m bringing you to the top 10 white wines that I enjoy. I can’t do top 10 pinot grigios or cabernet blancs, because I’m not that into various whites enough to compile such a list. So here goes my list of top 10 white wines!

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1. CHATEAU STE MICHELLE Gewurztraminer: D is responsible for this one. I had never had it and I’m not sure how I discovered this. I think we were at Houlihan’s, one of my favorite places ever, and I was in the mood to try white wine. Love at first taste! And it’s a sweeter wine, which I am not normally a fan of, but this one- wow! Holy crap. Delicious. This one is a 12.0% alcohol content, with some a LOT of lush fruit taste and a good smattering of clove on the finish. Nice hint of nectarine and a crisp finish. Usually retails for around $12. Well worth it. And yes, I was once known for demolishing entire bottles of these back in the day. There was a memorable Super Bowl party at my sister’s old place, in which I allegedly disappeared with a whole bottle, my crappy cell phone, and when I woke up hours later with a pounding headache, I had called everyone in my cell phone and had a conversation with them. None of which I remember. What I did remember- this wine is STILL my favorite white. Go try it out.

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2. RELAX RIESLING-Erin was responsible for this one. When my sister had her old condo, we would go over there and watch it for her when she was out of town. This was at least 10 years ago, so it’s been a long, long while. Erin loves Riesling, and although we had gone the rails with a few different ones over the years, this one was absolutely my favorite one. That bottle is fabulous. And it’s a very reasonably priced wine as well, and easy to find. It is refreshing and crisp, with a lot of apple and pear, and slight citrus notes, but finishing with a slight dryness. It is high on the flavor. This one usually retails for $10, with an alcohol content of 9.5%, so it’s not messing your shit up. We used to drink this a lot with seafood and salad, and it never disappointed.

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3. ECCO DOMANI PINOT GRIGIO– This one I discovered on my own one Sunday while still living in Willow Springs. I had gone to the new 7-11 because their wine offerings were better than Kay’s Food and Liquors at the other end of town. This one was on sale, and it was Football Sunday, and I needed some white wine for once. I liked the label, so I got it, and oh boy, what a great little discovery this was. 12.5% alcohol, so it will give you a little loop de’loop, with apple and pineapple predominantly featured, and a crisp, light flavor throughout and a long finish to this one, it normally retails for $7.00 and up. Simply irresistible.

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4. BAREFOOT SWEET WHITE WINE SPRITZER– This one was a recent discovery- as recently as three weeks ago. I had no taste for my usual, so I was off to Target and found this on a “Clearance” shelf (likely because it’s largely marketed a summer item, and fall is upon us). I figured, I loved their refresh pink and red blends, this one wouldn’t disappoint. And it didn’t. I feared it would be too sweet, but it was actually perfect. I got this for $5.00 and it usually doesn’t retail for more than that, so file this under “Cheap and Good”. This one is a mixup of Moscato and Pinot Grigio, with long notes on the peach and tangerine with a kick of sweetness on the end of the glass. It is incredibly light and at the end, a bit sweet. I had it with grilled chicken pasta salad and it was perfect! I would recommend this one for those hot summer nights.

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5. SUTTER HOME SAUVIGNON BLANC-This one is a little bit more on the dry side and less on the sweet side. Or normally how I’d like my wine (and my men!). This one retails for around $5.99 and has notes of honeydew, grapefruit, passionfruit, and a little kick of spice at the tail end of the glass. Really, a very tasty little wine. Pair it with various cheeses (like I did) and or grilled chicken or a fruit salad, and you have a winner.

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6. PACIFIC RIM DRY RIESLING-This one was a recent discovery from D. He picked it up at Trader Joe’s. The first taste I had was when he brought it over to the house- I think I was drinking the Incognito still, and he was drinking this. I had a little bit and was charmed. Then he poured me a glass or two when I was hanging out by him and we were watching Doctor Who. That time, mixed with my favorite of all centuries, orange juice, instant nirvana! It’s a Trader Joe’s exclusive, and retails for $9.99. It has a 12.5% alcohol content, so you’ll get a little buzz. I tasted peach, pineapple, and citrus. It was dry and tasty, and light. Not very crisp, but definitely a winner.

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7.WINE SISTERHOOD DRAMA QUEEN PINOT GRIGIO– This one goes back awhile. For my original thoughts on this one, here’s the original post:
https://sippingsentiments.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/wine-sisterhood-drama-queen-pinot-grigio-3-out-of-5/

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8. SANTA MARGHERITA PINOT GRIGIO-I drank a lot of Santa Margherita back in the days of Houlihan’s. It was tremendously good wine, no matter which one you picked. I was on my pinot grigio kick when I discovered this. I was having some seafood dish peppered with capers, and this was the accompanying wine. This actually may have been on that infamous BAM field trip to Indianapolis with Thompson & Fontenot, where they told us to get whatever we wanted to eat and drink. I do remember really loving the wine, not so much the hangover once I mixed it with vodka and whatever me and Jeff and Joe M. were drinking (we were all green the next morning).
It retails on the higher side of $20.00, and has an alcohol content of 12.5%. It has notes of quince throughout, and multiple citrus fruits. It’s incredibly light and crisp. Has a long lasting finish that doesn’t quit. Definitely worth the higher price for the long-lasting quality.

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9. WOLLERSHEIM DRY RIESLING– D used to go to this winery in Wisconsin and brought some of this back. Then Lillian, my friend and former coworker, and her husband got in the act and got hooked on this. This is a great, great semi-local winery that you should check into. They ship, if you’re not near the state of Wisconsin. This was the best of the ones that I did try from there. It boasts serious green apple flavor, along with licorice and basil. It is a semi-dry wine that lingers on your palette long after you’re done. I would recommend pairing this one with pasta of any kind. I do recall having many a pizza at Lucca’s and then heading home and capping it off with a glass of this. It’s definitely something you should check out.

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10. SUTTER HOME PINOT GRIGIO-This one is what I like to call “Old Reliable”. It’s a wine I can find at almost every neighborhood store, and it’s ridiculously affordable (normally retailing for around $5 a bottle). It’s also the only white that my neighborhood bar carries, so it’s good to have that available there, instead of the gacky chardonnay that makes me sick (literally). This wine has notes of peach, melon, citrus, and some notes of lime. It’s a nice little bouquet of fruits and just crisp enough to qualify as “airy”. My friend Marc and I went to the neighborhood bar years ago and he wanted a “light white wine”. He heard “Sutter Home” and scoffed, but I told him to try it before he judged it. And guess what? He ended up enjoying it more than he thought he would. Don’t judge a pinot noir by its price and rep, this one is a great buy and a great try.

That’s all for now, folks. Not sure what the next Top 10 list will be. ALWAYS up for suggestions and feedback. Thanks, as always, and hope you enjoyed the post.

Throw That Wine Bottle Back Into the Ocean!: Porte Ste Germaine Bordeaux (0 out of 5)

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I found the best image possible–so you, my dear wino, can avoid this bottle at all costs, if you see it. Unless you’re shopping at the Land of No Bags, Aldi, you probably are safe from its mocking label. It was on special- you know why? Because it sucks! IT SUCKS! This has led to me beginning a new feature on here: Throw That Wine Bottle Back Into The Ocean! This one is the first. I’m sure there will be more….

This sucker was a gift from my friend after I got bad news the other day. I had been saying it’s been a long, long while since I had a good Bordeaux (NOT an euphemism for anything…this time!), and then this. Well, friends, this did not make the bad news any better. It made it more…bitter. Kind of like this wine. Bordeauxs are typically complex tasting wines and not on the fruiter, light side of the red wine cellar. They’re made with 8 grapes, most reds are 3 or 4 grapes at most. There’s a lot of complex tasting notes with a Bordeaux. They’re known for their intensity and dark flavors that finish long on your palette. That’s why it’s usually advised to serve a Bordeaux with food that isn’t overcooked- for example, stir fry with a soy-based sauce would be a good pairing. Pork tenderloin with a sesame ginger rub, also a good example. It compliments the hearty darkness that’s usually classified as a good Bordeaux. A bad Bordeaux? You’re about to find out.

This wine retailed for $5.99. You could have gotten two bottles of Winking Owl for what was paid for one of these. That’s not a comforting thought. It’s a 2014 offering from this vineyard. Alcohol percentage of 12.5%, not on the higher side for a Bordeaux. That alone should have been an indication. It’s such a dark, ruby red color and after letting it breathe, there is a small, nicely fragrant nose to it. But then you go to drink it. Big time oak, cassis, blackcurrant, and plum. No underlying notes of anything else. There is enough of a strong oak and cassis finish on this wine that it lingers LONG after the first, second, or third glass. It is beyond dry. I mean, if you love the idea of drinking a glass of paint chips, well, here you are. Throw in some varnish and you have an unbeatable combination. I took my time drinking this, hoping that it would kick into something fantastic or at least palpable to the taste buds, but it got worse and worse. I had the worst case of dry mouth that I’d had since drinking that awful Firecracker Wine years back. One glass of wine equals four 12 oz. glasses of water- and I was STILL thirsty. If you imagine being caught in an arid stretch of desert between New Mexico and Arizona, but bottled and sold as wine? This would be what it tastes like. There isn’t enough flavor as there is acidity to the wine, to mean that it could compliment whatever you chose to have with it. I tried it with a cheeseburger- no dice. I tried it with chicken teriyaki stir-fry and it overpowered the sweetness of the teriyaki sauce. So much that it ruined the meal. No, thanks, if this wine came floating up out of the ocean (like the empty Corona bottle in that new Corona commercial that airs during the NFL Sunday Gameday), I would toss that bottle back. I encourage you to look elsewhere for a Bordeaux worthy of your attentions and your dollar. This is not the one.

Labor Day! Let’s Get Drunk on Some Cabernet! G’s Top 10 Cabernets.

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Don’t get too excited with this post. I haven’t had many wines or other spirits of late that bore much excitement in ways of turning you all onto new wines and spirits to try. So.. here are my top 10 cabs to try. I hope you try, agree, come back with feedback on some of them, or better yet, recommend some new ones for me to try! Always open for suggestions from my wonderful followers!

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1. 2011 Louis Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon- Pretty much my newest favorite cab. This one came as a gift from my best friend. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it, except I did. (see review from two weeks ago).

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2. Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon- I discovered this one around Christmas last year. What a fun discovery. My friend Dylan found this one. This is a hearty fare, with wonderful, lasting notes of berries, cherries, cassis, anise, chocolate, and coffee. What a delicious blend. Again, a higher alcohol content, so you may want to make sure you have some delicious food stuffs with this one. I would recommend a steak or prime rib. No flimsy little McDouble from McDonald’s or crappy burger will compliment this one. Nothing less than steak will do.

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3. Bone Dry Cabernet- This one goes back a few years. It was available around Halloween a few years back. Not sure if it’s available all year round, but wow, what a great little surprise around that time of year. I love any sort of mulled wines around the harvest time, but this one was bone curdling delicious. Tasting notes of lush berry and chocolate notes throughout. It’s got major flavor on the palette, but not so much that you’ll need a bottle of Excedrin for the aftermath. Just a really, really good cab for the witching hour.

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4. Beringer Founders Estate Cabernet Sauvignon- This one was another surprise. I tried and loved the 2010 one, but I’m sure they’re still making it and it’s still as fantastic. I shouldn’t always say that, however, because you can never count on Mother Nature and your wine vines to peacefully coexist and produce the same flavor as the harvest before. This one has some great notes of cassis, blackberries, and a whole ton of spice. It’s a fragrant, flavorful wine. Perfect for pulled pork.

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5. Yellow Tail Big Bold Red- I’m cheating here. I have no idea if this is actually a cabernet, because Yellow Tail has made it the biggest mystery this side of “Why do the Kardashians Matter?”. I highly suspect there is some cabernet here, and maybe a dash of pinot. But mostly cabernet. This is one delicious and affordable wine. Lots of strawberries and raspeberries in this one. Seriously good wine.

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6. Barefoot Cabernet- One of the “Old Reliables” that I can always count on. Not only that, but affordable and easy to find. Your neighborhood Walgreens or CVS almost always have it. This one is a simple, good glass of cabernet for that lunch rush crowd. It’s a very light cabernet, so not a high impact from this one. Wildberry, oak, cloves, and some small bit of plum round out this tasty little wine.

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7. Sutter Home Cabernet- This is always available at my favorite bar, Time-Out Countryside. I can ALWAYS count on them having it. As with the Barefoot, Sutter Home is a well-known, affordable, and light and easy wine to find at pretty much any neighborhood grocery, drugstore, or liquor store. It’s another cab that I would deem “lunch crowd wine”.. which means you could have a glass with your lunch and go back to work, while not really having to worry about it having a detrimental effect on your productivity. I’m NOT encouraging it, people, just saying! This light, fun wine has notes of cherries and light vanilla notes. No heavy spice here, just some good flavor. Old Reliable indeed.

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8. Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Cabernet- No, it’s not a KISS cover band playing at the world famous Colorado arena…it’s a pretty fantastic cabernet. I have gone to several weddings in the past two years (several. Many of my friends wised up and don’t take that final step). The last one I attended was two weeks ago. My friend got married and THIS was the cabernet that they had. Good lord, I almost died! Delicious, delicious, delicious. Also, from what they told me at the reception, terribly hard to find and also a bit on the expensive side (anywhere from $59-$136 a bottle). Shazzbot! Not having any of that, unless I’m at a wedding! However, for those of you who have wine cellars and are always looking for great wine (or those who are looking at vintages for matrimonial nonsense), THIS cabernet should be on your list, or your final offer… It’s notes are dark, hearty, but the finish is light, with cherry, mint, and black currant. The mint in the tasting notes really livens it up, believe it or not! A little of this goes a long, long way!

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9. Winking Owl Cabernet- Your typical broke-ass retail worker would NOT have a list complete without some cheap wine to complete it. I HAD to throw this onto the list. Cheap, light, affordable, and available at your nearby bag-less grocery chain, Aldi. It retails for 3.59 a bottle currently, and it’s perfect for a grill-out. It’s incredibly light and has just enough flavor to keep you from flaming out at the picnic table. This one has flavor of blackberry, plum, and vanilla present. Good flavor, but if you want Lights Out, London, France, Some Hot Guy Take My Underpants, well, this is NOT the way you want to go, but it’s a fun, quick drink.

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10. Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon-I tried this at a wine tasting with some jackass a few months ago. The only worthwhile thing about the cabs I experienced that evening (the ones I drank, and the one home without the jackass with me) was this blend. It retails for around $15-20 a bottle, but has outstanding flavor. A fuller tasting cab rounded out with lush blackberry, black currant, plum, and cedar notes on the finish. It’s not a lightweight cab, so be careful with the consumption of said cab, but you won’t regret a moment of it!

Well, that’s my list of top 10 Cabernets as of right now. I hope to have some new wines for you next week, to celebrate my two year anniversary here on the blog! TWO YEARS! I’m up to 2,003 wonderful followers. I appreciate all of you and your feedback on anything and everything. I hope this top 10 list finds you some new ones, reminds you of some old ones, and brings you to my door with some new recommendations. Always looking for new wines to try!