Sunday, September 16, 2007

Discount Shopping Cart

Do our grocery stores have something in common? Does yours occasionally have a shopping cart or two filled with discounted wines, thrown into the cart all cattywompus and disorganized? Have you ever rooted around in one of those carts to see what was cheapest?

We did the other day and found a nice South African wine with a sub-continent-sounding name. Indaba Chardonnay (2005, reg. $7.49, discounted $5.24) was the cheapest white wine I found in the cart. We brought it home and were pleasantly surprised. It was nice and smooth, not too dry but not too sweet.

Was it in the shopping cart because no one else liked it? Is the winery going under? I don't know. But if you do see it, grab one - especially if it's marked down, but it's still good enough to pay full price. (note: I recently saw it at World Market as well, for regular price)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

West Virginia Wines

I love West Virginia. It might be one of my favorite places on earth. Just driving through the WVA mountains relaxes me. We just returned from a weekend family get-away there and came back with some interesting new tidbits on WVA.

1) A stop at Tamarack, where the best of West Virginia is sold, introduced us to the many fruit wines of WVA. We bought a bottle of blueberry wine but haven't tried it yet. Based on the inventory at Tamarack we inferred that WVA must not be a good place to grow grapes for dry wine.

2) We learned that WVA taxes alcohol 11%. Random, but good to know when checking prices...

3) We learned that WVA's' looser liquor laws allow even Rite Aide to carry hard liquor (including grain alcohol, which is certainly illegal in VA). We called my brother, who's in a VA fraternity, but he didn't need us to pick any up for him. We experienced culture shock at the large amount of alcohol and wine available at the Charleston Rite Aide.

Side note: We were not really in WVA for the purposes of drinking, nor do we only focus on alcohol. My grandmother sent us on a wine run for her party, and although we were confused when her directions took us to the Rite Aide, we soon learned why.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

As simple as you get

If you're deciding between restaurants and the decision comes down to where you can get the most straight-up, normal-but-good wine to go with your dinner, head to the Cheesecake Factory. Their Cheesecake Factory Chardonnay (~$6.25/glass) and Cheesecake Factory Merlot (~$6.50/glass) are the most straight-forward, "This is what wine tastes like" wines we've ever had. This is not meant to be a bad thing - it's actually quite nice. Nothing complex about it, it doesn't make you throw out words like "buttery" or "oaky." It just makes you say, Wow, that's wine.

So if you need to teach your wine neophyte friend what a basic chard or merlot tastes like, Cheesecake Factory has what you need. They also make the best pot sticker I've ever had and a mean tiramisu cheesecake, for what it's worth.