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2014 Moderna Artist’s Red Blend (Wine Shop at Home) 4 out of 5 corks

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Late last year, my friend Dylan had a wine tasting that I attended. His mom was involved with WINE SHOP AT HOME (www.wineshopathome.com) and she discussed being a consultant for them. I decided to do something that I could really enjoy and scheduled mine for my 44th birthday in Jan, 2017. Of course, I made it through the holidays without being sick, only to get that sucky stomach flu on my birthday. I rescheduled it and thanks to my buds Fareeda and Lisa and Dylan, I had a great event. This is one of the bottles I got. I sold a case, so I got two free bottles. This is the red. I had no idea what to expect. What a pleasant surprise! Most of you who follow know that I like the string, dry reds that can paralyze a moose. This was the direct opposite. Light and fruity. 

Let me tell you a little bit about WINE SHOP AT HOME. Based out of Napa Valley, they are a licensed & bonded winery and member of the Direct Selling Association. They are the only direct seller to offer their exclusive wine brands for sale. They have a wine club, and multiple opportunities to become a consultant. Their wines? Every single one I have tried (many!) Has been fantastic. I actually quit drinking for awhile, not just because of my health, but because every fucking bottle I tried gave me funky headaches the next day. Whatever Wine Shop At Home’s filtering process is, it’s golden. These wines do not leave me with headaches, not funky aftertaste. And they are smooth in flavor. Visit the website and find out more: http://www.wineshopathome.com. 

The Moderns Artist’s Red Blend is an off-dry red blend that bring flavors of blackberry, raspberry, plum and cherry. Also noted in the tasting notes are lightly toasted oak notes, along with fruity candy-like flavor. Not too much, though. Just right. This blend is made up of 45% Sangiovese, 25% Zin, 18% Muscat (NOT muskrat!), And 12% Merlot. A very nice, balanced palette that works well with pasta, pizza, or burgers. It carries a 13.5% alcohol rating and should be served at room temp. A win-win for the red wine lover, even with my love of dry reds. A definitive light and slightly darker red that satisfies. 

Beringer Founder’s Estate Merlot (4 out of 5)

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D got me a bottle of this awhile ago. A month? It was right after Duran Duran, and that concert was the first time I had indulged in a lot of wine in a long time. The month since? Has been a fucking nightmare. I am long overdue for a few drinks. I decided Tuesday I was going to have a glass. One turned into two. This is some quality grape juice here, my friends. I encourage you to give it a whirl. Or a swirl and swish. With some pungent cheese. Or a pungent cheese pizza. Whatever you choose! 

This is a 2013 vintage. Merlot is my original wine mistress, and a defining characteristic is their full-bodiedness. This one has that in droves! It knocked it out of the park on the first sip. 13.8% on the volume. No wonder! It is a dry Merlot and a slightly peppery taste on the tip if the tongue. Or some sort of toasted spice, which I cannot quite identify. It blends in seamlessly with the natural flavors of blackberry and plum that are present in this Merlot.Beringer knows how to put out a quality wine. The Beringer Brothers-Frederick and Jacob- founded their vineyards in Napa Valley in 1876. They still have bragging rights as the longest operators in Napa Valley, and their wines continually show their dedication to the craft. I highly recommend this to go along with steak. Its heady scent and flavor would lend itself to a happy partnership with a Porterhouse. I would tell you that if you enjoy a spicy, dry Merlot, this is a great place to start. 

Wollersheim Winery Carignan (4 out of 5)

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I’m sorry, people and followers of this blog. I am still not drinking much these days, as you’ve no doubt noticed from the lack of posts on this blog. Besides that, life has handed me a basket of lemons lately, so I’ve been dealing with that. I’ll try to be more diligent in my postings. This being the week of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sure I’ll have a few drinks here or there, so that’ll be the blog posts for you all. This fine wine was a birthday gift from my friend D. He was in Wisconsin and picked up some wines that you just cannot get in the Chicago area. The other wine didn’t tickle my ivories as much. This one? Much, much better!

Wollersheim is a winery located in Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin. Carignan is a wine I have never heard of. It’s a dark red, dry wine and was made in honor of Hungarian Agoston Haraszthy, who planted the first vineyards in the 1840’s. After that, he headed to California during the Gold Rush, and helped develop the wine industry, where it’s still going strong to this day. Carignan is aged in barrels for a year and then bottled for your enjoyment. And enjoy it? You will! The fragrance after letting it air out for a hour and half were dusky and spicy, like a pantry full of pepper. That’s the best analogy I have at the moment. Tasting notes are cherry, nutmeg, and pepper. Lots of kick with this dry wine. It’s a medium bodied, but very, very dry. You’ll need a lot of water to drink along with this wine. I had one glass and went through 3 glasses of water! Alcohol content is 13.8%, so nothing to sneeze at (although if you inhale the bottle enough, you might!). Good shit, friends. Get yourself a bottle if you like dry red wines. I am a fan, as most of you know. You can get a bottle at the winery itself, D tells me that liquor stores in Wisconsin carry it, and there’s always the option of ordering online at http://www.wollersheim.com/products/all. I would pair it with steaks, meats, and I actually paired it with a heaping bowl of turkey chili and it went great! Live it up, friends. Get yourself a bottle of this fine wine.

Tall, Dark Stranger Malbec (5 out of 5)

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D saw this and picked it up for me. Since he has been finding and dropping off random bottles of alcohol at my house since November, I have lost track of when this one entered the mix. I want to say sometime this month for Valentine’s Crap. I do know this- I didn’t open anything or drink anything until Tuesday night. Then it got opened. And some was drank. I won’t say how much, but there’s not much left! It is delicious! I hadn’t had a Malbec in awhile, so I think that, paired with the distinctive name and the bottle (it’s a gorgeous wine bottle. If you’re into that sort of thing. Clearly, I am…)

When you uncork the sucker and get a whiff, you get a noseful of the aromatic delights known as chocolate, blackberry, plum, and black cherry. I let it air out for a hour, then went for it. My first thought was that it’s very smooth. Sometimes, you’ll get a Malbec that is SO potent that the one flavor overtakes the rest (black cherry and Carnivor is what I am comparing this one to at present) and it’s not smooth as a result. This one? No such issues. It’s a perfect blend of all of the above flavors. It’s got some very nice spice, and some licorice tasting notes in there as well. It is ridiculously easy to drink multiple glasses of this if you don’t keep count! (Guilty as charged). My second thought was that it was very robust- no laying back on this one. It’s not so much that it overwhelms the palette. I would have to recommend you pair this one with beef, spicy pasta dishes, or Cajun chicken. I think it would go great. I made it with garlic herb chicken and wild rice and it was PERFECT! This one, according to the website, generally retails for $12-$14. Worth every penny!

Cherry Southern Comfort (4 out of 5)

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Most of you who’ve known me many years know of my love of Southern Comfort. The booze, not actual Southern Comfort (we call that Ex #2 and an abysmal failure). THIS is NOT abject failure, my friends. This is some kickass booze. I honestly have no idea if this is seasonal or if this is a year-round thing, but Dylan got me a bottle as part of my birthday booze. Southern Comfort was concocted by a bartender in NOLA. Of course it would be NOLA; land of humidity, wonderful cemeteries, history for miles, and booze drenched sidewalks (that’s my love letter to NOLA. I LOVE it). It came out after Southern Comfort tried its hand at Southern Comfort Doctor Pepper, which was a failure and vanished, with good reason. I don’t even remember it except that it was so sugary I was surprised my molars didn’t walk out of my teeth after trying it. My friend used to call me the Queen of SoCo, and oh boy, I probably kept some silly bastard in their McMansion beating off to troll porn, with what I used to consume of it. In my aging wisdom (call it ancient wisdom, I’ll allow for that phrase to be bandied at me), I have modified and greatly decreased my drinking, to the disappointment of many who used to enjoy the trouble I caused while under the influence. I also discovered wine, which I enjoy a great deal more, so the whiskey and other things took a backseat to that. However, once in a while, I get the urge to merge with some SoCo or whatever else is out there. Dylan, my good friend, works part time at Target and finds some interesting things. This was one of them. Here goes!

When you open this bottle, holy hell! What an abundant fragrance of cherries is thine nose greeted with. There’s the pungent kick of the whiskey, but with cherries… wow. It’s a nice honey color, would likely be darker if not for the cherry essence that is present. It looks red in the right light… which is my kitchen light. I tried checking out the color by porch light, except that almost resulted in me getting skunked! Super Bowl Sunday- never a dull moment in my casa! You can taste cherry and slight vanilla and peach overtones along with the whiskey. I like it a lot more than the Doctor Pepper concoction of years back. It’s a nice flavor, no joke. I didn’t mix it with anything. I’ll have to try that next time out, maybe some of my old friend Coke Zero will gel it up with this one next time. It most certainly improved what was a pretty fucking dull Super Bowl game. Before that, I was rocking out to Duran Duran and jumping rope. Yes, jumping rope. For which THIS SoCo hybrid worked out very well. I’ll have to try it out next time with some cola or other fruit juice, to mix it up. I would recommend trying this liquor with some BBQ, hamburger, or red meat of some kind. I think it’s a bit too rough and fruity for chicken or seafood. My stupid ass tried a glass with salmon and rice, and gack! Not a good idea. it’s 70% proof, for those who wonder. I liked it a ton, just not with this dish I made for dinner. It had a smoothness to it that it doesn’t normally have, without the presence of the cherry added in. So for that, I’ll give it four stars.

Smirnoff Peppermint Twist Vodka (5 out of 5)

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I didn’t think last winter’s discovery of the Pinnacle Peppermint Bark vodka could be outdone. HA! It has been… and by a former enemy. I had one too many rounds with the porcelain gods after Smirnoff binges in my younger years (the 30’s were rougher than the 20’s!). So I swore it off after the Riverside Romeo and I were through and I had one too many dances with the Smirnoff through the years. So when Dylan mentioned he had found this, I was a little hesitant. However, my friend and trust liquor advisor told me that it was fantastic. He has rarely led me astray. So he gave me a bottle for a birthday gift. Late Christmas gift. Happy New Year, You Haven’t Ended up Killing Your Employees yet. Any of those would be appropriate. So…onto this.

I thought this was the balls, the penis, and the cat’s stained pajamas. I barely had opened the bottle and was overcome by sheer, minty bliss. The bottle- very distinctive. And also, I’m afraid, a seasonal offering only? (Not sure on that, but it’s a hunch). Refrigerated? This stuff is baller, kids. Seriously good. No aftertaste, no overly pungent alcoholic tinges, just a pleasant kick with a shit ton of flavor. 30% alcohol, so no fucking around here. One glass is enough to make one feel very, very relaxed. It would be VERY easy to drink more than one of these. It’s ridiculous how good this vodka is. I would highly recommend it. The web tells me it retails for $10 and up, so it’s an affordable nicety. So get out there and try it while you still can!

Menage a’ Trois Silk (Soft Red Blend) 2014 (4 out of 5)

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The Heart song “I Didn’t Want To Need You” kept going through my mind. Except I changed it to “I Didn’t Want To Like You”. I felt I was being unfaithful to the original Menage a’ Trois because this was a soft red, which is not my usual fare. I am happy to report I have been unfaithful. But it should be okay, because I stayed in the same family. Right? Right??!!!

Anyway, this one got opened last night and I had one glass while listening to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” album, in honor of his passing. It was very late, I was very tired, and very sad. Then I was taken over the side of something resembling happiness. Sweet, semi-dry happiness. That was due to this splendid wine. I had a boring veggie burger with some vegetables, but this did nicely. It also kept me away from the gluten-free dark chocolate toffee that my friend got me for my birthday. Bad, G, Bad (diet going on one week and I already want to cheat. I had pizza Sunday, that was my cheat day). So I really took my time drinking this and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t extremely hearty nor super dry. It was just right. I am glad it wasn’t super sweet, which I feared with the words “Soft Red Blend” on the label. No need to worry!

This one is 13.5%, so not super industrial strength grapes at work, but enough that it makes you feel VERY relaxed after one glass. Not to the point of balloon rape or anything fatalistic, but still very good in the chill zone. The soft red blend is comprised of Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Petite Sirah. It has a lovely fragrance once uncorked, and after a hour, still pretty fragrant. Not in a stinky, vinegar way. A pleasant smell of fruits and some floral notes, and a heaping of promise. Geez, that sounds like a margarine commercial gone wrong. The tasting notes are chocolate, cherry, and raspberries. There is a strong taste of chocolate with this one. I haven’t tasted that much of a chocolate note in wine in a long time, friends. That probably helped me stay away from that alluring mistress Dark Chocolate Toffee. There’s some taste of charred something or other  (oak, cedar) in the finish of this wine, and it’s splendid. Again, not very sweet, nor very dry. It’s just right. And it’s lovely. I would highly recommend this one to someone who wants a nice, balanced glass of red, but not so virulent that you’ve got a migraine the next morning from one glass (I could write a blog on those!). So- highly recommended. I think it’s a newer wine from the Menage folks, and I can’t wait to see what they cork up next.