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!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Salivating for my next glass of wine.......

OK, so at 7 months pregnant I can still tell you the last day I had a glass of wine. July 16, 2011. And I am eagerly counting down the days until I can savor a nice glass of wine. Once I can, and do, I have full intentions of trying to rate and taste some wines that I will share with you!!!

You may also see my baby wearing this onesie, that I JUST HAD to share from

"Life is like a box of never know whatch-ur gonna get"

And that is exactly the case with "Two Buck Chuck" wine....or as the label says Charles Shaw wine. No two bottles of the same grape varietal of Charles Shaw wine ever seem to taste the same.   Now, before you read on, don't get your hopes of of immediately trying "two buck chuck wine." Trader Joes started carrying the wine in 2002 and seems to be the only major carrier to this day. If you are sitting in a state without a Trader Joe's grocery I AM RIGHT are going to have to hold off on trying this fantastic economical wine until you can get to a state in which it is sold.  I have tried scouring the internet for other retailers that carry such luck. I even tried my local Total Wine store to see if they would order me a case....again no such luck.    We were fortunate enough to have some friends from Atlanta DRIVE us a case when they were in town visiting and also were able to visit Trader Joes in Napa Valley to bring home two bottles !!!

Find a Trader Joes here....

What makes it so cheap? There are a ton of rumors as to why it is so cheap. The real reason?  The grapes are from California's Central opposed to the more prestigious grapes from Napa Valley. However, the wines parent company owns a winery and bottling company in Napa Valley, they are able to put the "Napa Valley" distinction on the label of Charles Shaw wine. A ton of Napa Valley grapes can cost around $2,000 whereas a ton from the Central Valley can get as low as $

I do not claim to have tried any of the Charles Shaw whites, but have tried the Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz and all are tasty in my book.

They really should call it Three Buck Chuck as it is now about $2.99 a bottle...but hey that's a bargain in my book.

One of my sources....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wine Glass Woes- Is it really better to buy that fancy crystal wine glass?

OK so the above glass is fun, girly, and just my style....a shopaholic wine glass? YES PLEASE.... the one above by Lolita will definitely make your wine experience fun....but will it help to make your wine experience better? Maybe or maybe not .  Keep reading for more on what you should consider when choosing your next set of wine glasses.  

If you are drinking a red wine...which is my favorite, small glasses are all kinds of WRONG. Try and get and a good swirl and sniff with a smaller opening and my friend, its just not happening.  For red wine you want a glass that holds at LEAST 12 ounces, but the best ones hold in upwards of 16 to 24 ounces. Those big bowl glasses let our red wine come into contact with more air, letting it breathe and intensifying its aroma.   For white wines, you want a glass that holds 10 to 12 ounces and for sparkling wines you are fine with 8 to 12 ounces.  I used to think it was ridiculous to get those gigantic red wine glasses... but now I know, they are the best for getting a good, stick your nose in the glass, sniff. Don't fill that puppy up all the way or you may be wearing your wine as you swirl.

Go to a winery, invest in a tasting....and I guarantee you they will not be serving you wine from some thick wine glass like you would find at a cheap restaurant. They do this for good reason. The thinner the glass, the better your wine tastes. Go ahead and try it.   Get one of those thick glasses and then a beautiful crystal one and I guarantee you it will taste better. There are conflicting reasons as to why it tastes better .Some argue it is because of the roughness of crystal as opposed to regular glass, some argue it is because we taste with our eyes and the thinner crystal just looks better. Whatever the reason I am a believer and will be sticking to my crystal wine glasses.

Colored glasses are not for wine. Those big blue glasses. No. Don't do it..... please. PLEASE do not serve your wine in those!!! Use a regular clear wine glass.

My favorite selection....

Are they pricey? Yeah, they are, but their quality speaks for itself.   The Robert Mondavi collection for Waterford is my choice and what I choose for serving wine at my house! If you choose to shop at a convenient retailer, you can find them sold in a pair at Macy's for $50.   If you prefer to shop around for a deal, you can get lucky and find them at or anywhere from $22.99 to $40 for the pair. Hard to find, but the Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon glasses are my favorite.  Take good care of those may want to hand wash them so you don't wind up crying over a broken wine glass. We have lost 2 glasses in our household. One to the dishwasher and one to my golden retrievers tail. Like I said they are not cheap, treat them well.

If those hand painted wine glasses are more your fancy...go for it...there are hand painted wine glasses for every occasion on the Lolita site....they meet the criteria of size, shape and thickness...but may make it hard for you to really swirl and check out the color and clarity of your wine.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Was your New Years Resolution to eat healthy? Drink more wine!

I would love to say that I made a New Years Resolution this year....but I did not. However, the top resolutions for 2012 according to Drink Less Alcohol and #2 Eat Healthy. Ok well. I say here is to moderation of your alcohol in achieving goal be healthy.   I don't believe in diets, I don't believe in limiting yourself of what you love.....its all about moderation, right? AND WINE, in moderation, has been long proven to actually be good for you.

According to Health Magazine( the top 6 reasons Why a Little Glass of Wine Each Day Will Do You Good.

1) Feed Your Head
Wine could preserve your memory. When researchers gave memory quizzes to women in their 70s, those who drank one drink or more every day scored much better than those who drank less or not at all. Wine helps prevent clots and reduce blood vessel inflammation, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline and heart disease, explains Tedd Goldfinger, DO, of the University of Arizona School of Medicine. Alcohol also seems to raise HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, which helps unclog your arteries.
2) Keep the Scale in Your Corner
Studies find that people who drink wine daily have lower body mass than those who indulge occasionally; moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less abdominal fat than people who drink liquor. Alcohol may encourage your body to burn extra calories for as long as 90 minutes after you down a glass. Beer seems to have a similar effect.
3) Boost Your Bodies Defenses
In one British study, those who drank roughly a glass of wine a day reduced by 11% their risk of infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a major cause of gastritis, ulcers, and stomach cancers. As little as half a glass may also guard against food poisoning caused by germs like salmonella when people are exposed to contaminated food, according to a Spanish study.
4) Guard Against Ovarian WoesWhen Australian researchers recently compared women with ovarian cancer to cancer-free women, they found that roughly one glass of wine a day seemed to reduce the risk of the disease by as much as 50 percent. Earlier research at the University of Hawaii produced similar findings. Experts suspect this may be due to antioxidants or phytoestrogens, which have high anticancer properties and are prevalent in wine. And in a recent University of Michigan study, a red wine compound helped kill ovarian cancer cells in a test tube.
5) Build Better BonesOn average, women who drink moderately seem to have higher bone mass than abstainers. Alcohol appears to boost estrogen levels; the hormone seems to slow the body’s destruction of old bone more than it slows the production of new bone.
6) Prevent Blood Sugar Trouble
Premenopausal women who drink one or two glasses of wine a day are 40 percent less likely than women who don’t drink to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a 10-year study by Harvard Medical School. While the reasons aren’t clear, wine seems to reduce insulin resistance in diabetic patients.

And Finally ........A little Wine Reading Material to FEED YOUR HEAD !

I have not yet read the book above, but have added it to my reading list for 2012 and just ordered on Amazon for a mere $3.48 plus shipping...not bad for a nearly 400 page paperback on the health benefits of wine. Now this book and red wine in general are not part of the "diet to help you lose weight," but instead maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. Roger Corder chronicles in this book the health benefits that red wine drinkers achieve. Wine drinkers are less prone to heart disease, diabetes, and dementia than non- wine drinkers. But also gets into what exactly is it about wine that keeps us healthy? Which is better for you, a California Cabernet or Syrah from the south of France? How can you choose wines that both suit your tastes and benefit your health? Happy Reading!

Updates to Posts- Cork Creations and Sparkling Wine!

Wine Cork Letters(from my 'Cork Creations' post)
I received a few emails and facebook posts about the wine cork letters....soooo for those of you that love the wine cork letters, you can find wooden letter cut outs(if you don't want to attempt yourself) at I originally included this link, but have now ordered a wooden letter from them myself.  I ordered a big "H" for my baby to be's nursery, and it was a very easy pick your font(and there are MANY to choose from), the height and the thickness of the wood. EASY PEASY.  The choices of height range from 6" to 48" which makes it nice to choose based on the number of corks you have to work with and the wall size you have to hang your letter.  Once the nursery is done, I will be making a letter out of corks myself, so stay tuned for my project!

Domaine Carneros Sparkling Wine(from my New Years Eve post on Champagne 101)
In shopping for a bottle of champagne to give for a friends 30th Birthday....we found a couple of bottles of Domaine Carneros at a local grocery store!!! We live in Florida and have looked at Total Wine, ABC Liquor and Publix Supermarket on many occasions with no luck in finding Domaine Carneros.  I am not sure if it is readily available at other Publix locations, but keep your eye out! We found 1 bottle of the 2007 Brut Sparkling wine for $28.99 and a few bottles of the 2008 Rose Cuvee for $36.99...which is only a couple of dollars more than what you would spend if you were buying it on site at the vineyard and MUCH cheaper than the shipping cost in ordering online. HAPPY SHOPPING!