Friday, August 24, 2012

Cru Cellars, Tampa Florida

Good friends. Good times. WINE. I get together with two of my good friends of more than 18 years for dinner once a month.  This month we went to one of my favorite haunts, Datz.  For a post dinner treat, we went to Cru Cellars, just one block away.

I have always driven past Cru Cellars with intentions of stopping in to browse their wine shop. From the street, thats exactly what the location looks like, a wine shop. Tucked away in the back of the store is a quaint bar with 8 tables or so surrounding it. The menu offers a variety of wines by the glass, bottle, or for purchase. On Tuesdays, they have a no corkage day.  Purchase a bottle from their store and enjoy with friends with no fee.  The menu has two dozen or so wines by the glass. They also offer wine flights, if you want to taste a few...and get a wine lesson with it.  My friend Leslie had the "study abroad" flight, which included wines from Argentina, Italy and France.  Jessica and I went with wines by the glass.  We did not eat while there, but the food being served looked scrumptious. They offer a nice variety of cheeses and meats. 

My wine of choice for the night was a Petite Sirah Blend(shocker, huh?) Listed on the menu as the "1448, Red Blend from Califorina," you can actually find it listed for sale under the name Jeff Runquist Red Blend 1448. It is just 14.99 at Total Wine and can be picked up in store or shipped.  The flavors in this wine are big, and if you hadn't told me the price, I would have guessed it to be a MUCH more expensive bottle.  Hints of chocolate and blackberries are abundant. 

According to the website, Cru Cellars has a garden opening in October. Sounds like a fun date night to me.....or another trip with the girls.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Judd's Hill 2007 Petite Sirah Old Vine Lodi

In a previous post, I mentioned Judd's Hill winery as being one of our favorites on our trip to Napa Valley.  We recently opened our 2007 Petite Sirah Lodi that we had brought home from vacation.    IT WAS JUST AS GOOD AS I REMEMBERED!!!! We paired it with a goat cheese and chive covered steak, loaded baked potato and asparagus....YUM!

Although the 2008 vintage is currently the only Petite Sirah available with Judd's, it promises to be just as good.  However, if you make it out to Napa...the 2007 is available in the tasting room.,-Old-Vine,-Lodi/

The cool thing we learned about Judd's Hill is that they cater to small groups for events and will allow you to make your own wine and design a label.  The indoor tasting room walls were lined with different companies and groups that had come in to participate. Kate Spade was one that I remember adorning the walls ;-)

While sitting down to write my husband asked a good question...WHAT IS LODI? One of our favorite Ravenswood wines is a Old Vine Lodi...and looks like our favorite Judds is also a lodi. WHAT IS IT? I found a website that describes it to a T...but to sum it up....Lodi is actually a city in California famous for Zinfandels. In the area they have vines that date back to 1880!! SOOO it looks like some of our favorite wines are coming from these old and very rare vines!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summers- Napa Valley -2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

AHHHHHH WINE! I may have mentioned this before(ok a few times)...but I have not had wine since July 16, 2011! Post pregnancy I was put on blood thinners. Not just a pill you pop each night, was injections in my stomach! Between that and feeding my sweet baby, I was not able to enjoy wine.

Last night my husband Brian and I enjoyed my first glass since pregnancy..ok half glass...of WINE! While I would have loved to have opened up a bottle of wine that I have been saving from my Napa Valley vacation... I didn't want to waste it on my half glass of wine that I was planning to enjoy. However, the bottle we purchased was WELL worth it and stacks up there with my favorites currently waiting for me in my wine fridge.

Brian recently stopped by a local store that reeled him in with their advertised craft beer selection and while he was there he made friends with the owner and talked wine. The bottle recommended to him was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Summers Vineyard in Napa Valley. More specifically, Calistoga. It was a 2009 and fabulous.  Surprisingly it had silky tannins and went down very smooth. It has a hint of black cherry and cedarwood and a medium body.   Retail cost was about $30. Check with your local specialty shop or wine retailer such as total wine to order :-)  ENJOY!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Opening your wine... without cork fiascos!

The best thing I ever did....was invest in a good wine opener. Sure, you need to know how to use the handheld cheapy ones, but being able to open your wine with ease and NOT damage the cork is a priority. (Especially because I know we are all saving our corks :-)  !!)

The opener we own has been Brian's for about 9 years. ( I bought it for him as a gift - wink wink)  He was drinking wine at the I thought it was a nice gift. Who would have thought it would become mine someday too ;-)   Ours is from Brookstone and came in a nice fancy box, where we still store it... and it looks and works just as good as the day we bought it.   I went on their website and found one that looks comparable, but I bet these days it doesn't come in the nice fancy storage box. Any "lever opener" like this really will do...but I have been impressed with the quality of ours.  The "rabbit" brand makes a similar opener and can be slightly cheaper on amazon.|CategoryProductList|749396p

However.....those cheapy openers I referenced. Well. You do need to know how to use those too...BLECK.  When you go to someone's house, that a) might be all they have or b) you could save the day if you whip one out of your purse or pocket to get that wine opened...QUICKLY.   I can't tell you how many times I wound up with a broken cork or the cork stuck in the bottom of the bottle when using one of those traditional openers....but the trick is all in the angle and making sure you start off in the center of the cork.  Here is a quick and easy little video to show you how....

Still looking for more reviews? I found the following site to be useful... I also love how they share the same passion for lever openers. I think they are truly the best!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nice Legs!

I have been a little MIA lately with my wine blogging.....the final preparations for baby have been keeping me quite occupied to say the least. Now..... I am on maternity leave and the waiting has begun. It is HOT out in sunny Florida....and I am INSIDE so it makes for good time to catch up on blogging.

I hardly have NICE legs as my post title describes, more like a swollen cankle mess....BUT I bet you would love to know a little more about the legs on your WINE :-)  I started to write up information on just what those legs mean about your wine...we learned quite a bit on our Napa Valley trip.  Prior to that I thought it meant you had a REALLY good wine on your hands....but as I got to writing I found a great video that describes what I wanted to write, perfectly.


Legs on Wine

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wine Apps...Yes theres an app for that!

Wine not appetizers....apps as in applications for your iPhone or iPad.  I have found a few that really help you in finding the perfect wine, some that even allow you to purchase on the spot and others that are just great for reading up on wine.  All of the ones I am currently using are try them out and see if they help you! If not, it was free!

Wines and Vines- Reference App
Read up on the wine industry and other hot topics in wine through Wines and Vines magazine. The entire last years worth of magazines are available to scroll through for free!!! The July 2011 issue's cover story is even on the topic of how mobile apps are changing Viticulture. HA. I saw this AFTER I decided to do this weeks blog on apps. I am on it, huh?

Vintage Chart- By Wine Spectator Magazine- Reference App
The key reason I use this app is to figure out which year is best to drink.  Say you are at a restaurant and trying to decide between a 2004 and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.....well this app will help you to choose which year is best to drink. It does not sort by specific wineries or labels, just by the type of grape and wine region. It also takes into account how the weather was that year and how it effected the grapes that particular year. Pretty nifty, huh? 

Wine.Com- A combo app of reviewing wines, rating wines, searching for wines and BUYING
I saved the best for last. This app is my absolute favorite. I will say though, that it works best on an iPad to get the full experience. It is still pretty cool on an iPhone, but the graphics and searchability functions are just SO MUCH better on the iPad. With the app you can search by name if you have a particular wine in mind or search by region or type of wine.  In my picture below I was searching for top rated champagnes in California. Once you have set your search criteria you can scroll through the wine bottles with a flick of a finger. You will then see the price, the rating on a scale of 0-100 and more winemakers notes....see something you like? BUY it! Add it to your cart and have it shipped to you! :-) How easy is that.  OR you can add to your "cave" on the iPad or "cellar" on the iPhone and review later. The iPad version also has the option to show you the deals of the day. I LOVE IT!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Florida Wine- Keel and Curley Winery

I am normally not one to rave about a sweet wine, but I must say this past summer I truly enjoyed my experience at the Keel and Curley winery in Plant City, FL.   Off Interstate 4 on Thonotosassa Rd. you will find the winery and BLUEBERRY farm.   

I went with my husband, Brian, for the first time this past April when the winery hosted its annual bluberry festival. This particular weekend, usually the last weekend in April, first weekend in May they kick off blueberry season. The main parking lot to the winery was full of vendors, so we had a good quarter mile hike to the winery ...because man, there were a lot of people! On this particular trip we started with a pulled pork sandwich from one of the local BBQ restaurants that had set up shop for the day. We then immediately went out back behind the winery where we found acre upon acre of blueberry fields. Many folks were taking a trolley(thats how big this place is) to get out into the thick of the fields, but we chose to walk.  You pick up your bucket, on a sting, and get to work.   We picked about half a pickle buckets worth in a few hours. It was so relaxing.....and might I add we only spent about 6 bucks on blueberries.

It had to be at least 90 degrees outside and probably a "feels like of 100." You better believe when we finished picking blueberries we were HOT, sweaty, and I was probably a little cranky.  A nice glass of a dark red wine, which I normally would love, was not so refreshing at the time. Instead, we sampled all Keel and Curley has to offer.   Here is their wine list, all of which we tasted.....

Wine List
My favorites were the Wild Berry Pinot Noir and the Key Lime wine. Hands down, my favorite thing there was a wine freeze. It was a pina colada mix with the Wild Berry Pinot Noir put in a blender with ice. You better believe we bought a bottle of each to take home. If you want to purchase and ship to your can purchase the wine from the Keel and Curley site at: and then the wine freeze in Pina Colada at:   At the winery, its about $19.99 for the set. Not bad, and it lasts for quite a while.

We haven't tried it out yet, but I have heard that the Friday night "uncorked" event that the winery puts on is really fun! They offer 2 for 1 beer and wine out on the back deck...along with live music from 6:30-10:30pm.....and even have some appetizers to munch on. Ahhhhhh......a lovely FLOIRDA FRIDAY NIGHT!

I never thought Florida wine was for me......but Keel and Curley is one worth trying!