Top 5 Memorial Day BBQ Wines

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is always the start of cookout season in the A Glass After Work household.  This year, while we’re not hosting our own BBQ, we are heading out to several, so Hubby asked me what wines I was planning on bringing.  Admittedly, I didn’t have a list put together, but his asking seemed like the perfect opportunity to go through some old posts.  Here are 5 crowd pleasers that go nicely with hot dogs and hamburgers without breaking the bank.


2005 Lolonis Zinfandel

The 2005 Lolonis Zinfandel (winery, snooth) is made with organically grown Zinfandel grapes and the winery uses ladybugs for pest control.  If you’re headed to a cookout, you can’t go wrong with a California Zinfandel, as the wines tend to be big, bold, and beautiful with high alcohol content.  The Lolonis is no exception. I gave the wine 4.5 corks and, while it was given to me as a gift, I’ve found it for $18.

2008 Big House Red

The 2008 Big House Red 3-liter Octavin Home Wine Bar (winery, snooth) is a blend of 13 different red grapes.  The wine is a solid, oaked red, so if you see it in a regular sized bottle, don’t hesitate to grab one. I’ve brought the Octavin Big House Red to several parties, and while people are sometimes hesitant to try a boxed wine, once they have a glass, they always come back for more.  I’ve never left a party where the box wasn’t empty.  I gave the wine 3 corks, and while I received it for a sample, the suggested retail price is $20 for 3 liters (which works out to be $5/bottle).


2008 Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio

The 2008 Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio (winery, snooth) is the epitome of a great BBQ wine.  It is bright, fruity, and refreshing.  It is inexpensive.  It is very food friendly.  And, it has a winery name and label that could be a fun conversation starter.   I gave the wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $9.


2007 Martin Codax Albariño

The 2007 Martin Codax Albariño (vineyard, snooth) is a very aromatic wine that has a nice blend of limes and flowers, with a hint of honey.  The wine is crisp and refreshing without being too acidic, which makes it easy to drink.  It would pair particularly well with both regular and pasta salads.  I gave this wine 3 corks and purchased it for $13.


2009 Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah

The 2009 Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah (winery, snooth) was made from 100% Syrah grapes and is a perfect wine for a Memorial Day BBQ. Don’t be fooled into think that because this wine is a Rosé that it’s sweet.  This wine is what I expect from a good Rosé—nice flavor, good acidity, and a light-to-medium body that was refreshing and flirty. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and while I received this wine as a sample, the suggested retail price is $17.

***While I know it’s not quite Memorial Day, as we are about to enter into the holiday weekend,
I would like to take a moment to remember the amazing men and women who lost their lives while defending America
and send my thoughts to their families.***


Going Kosher with Ella Valley Vineyards

This past Sunday wasn’t a workday, but it definitely was busy.  As my Twitter followers know, I’m training for a half marathon, and this past Sunday was my last long run before the big race.  It’s been 20 weeks of training, slowly building up from running 4 miles to the longest distance I’ve ever run—14 miles.  It took a couple of hours, but after finishing the run, stretching my aching muscles, rehydrating, and cleaning myself up, instead of resting, I started preparations for Passover.

The holiday didn’t start until Monday night, but Hubby and I were headed to a Seder that my family was hosting.  As you can imagine, I was in charge of the wine, so Sunday night involved some last minute tastings to determine which wines would make the cut.  Plus, there was a little cooking that I wanted to do for myself.

2005 Ella Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2005 Ella Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) was made with 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot grape and had an opaque, purplish ruby color.  On the nose, there were blackberries and pomegranates, along with something reminiscent of Listerine tabs.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, pomegranates, and cherries, followed by menthol and tobacco on the finish.  The wine had a medium body, medium tannins, and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass of wine. At $30, this wine was a decent Passover Seder option.  It definitely needed to breathe a little, which helped the unpleasantness of the Listerine tab aromas blow off to create a more pleasant, minty character.  That said, there was still something in the finish that, while not a complete turnoff, definitely caused me to raise an eyebrow.

In the end, I decided not to bring this wine to dinner because it needed too much time to decant.  However, I enjoyed it as I let my muscles recover from my long run, as well as used it to make my charoset.  It also paired nicely with a baked garlic, herb, and wine chicken that Hubby made.  The wine ended up lasting me a few days, and really stood up to the test of being opened over an extended period of time.


Price: $30
Purchased at Arrowine
Overall: 3 Corks

An Extraordinary Xestal (Wine Blogging Wednesday #70)

More than six years ago, Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report launched Wine Blog Wednesday (WBW), a designated day for wine bloggers to write a wine-related blog post on the same basic theme.  I have participated in several WBWs (here, here, and here), but unfortunately, over the last year, there haven’t been many WBWs.  That’s about to change…WBW is back!

This re-launch of Wine Blogging Wednesday (#70) is being hosted by Catavino, so it’s no surprised that the theme is unique Spanish wines.  As someone who won Catavino’s Spanish Wine Education Scholarship competition to attend The Wine Academy of Spain’s 3-day Certified Spanish Wine Course in DC, both Catavino and Spanish wine hold a special place in my heart.  Therefore, I was particularly excited about this month’s WBW theme and had a bottle of red in mind for my WBW post.  The problem, though, is that I saved my wine for WBW itself, and today was one of those days that I thought would never end.  It started with a dentist appointment, where I was told that I have my first cavities and need fillings, and ended with an awful commute home.  In between, I was crunching budget number, running from meeting to meeting,  and answering a lot of questions.  When I left my office today, it was the first on-time departure all week, and I couldn’t wait to walk in the door, do some yoga, and then open up the Bierzo I’ve been waiting to try.

2005 Mencía Xestal

The 2005 Mencía Xestal (winery, snooth), which is a Bierzo, is from northwest Spain.  The wine is 100% Mencía grapes and had a deep, blackish purple color.  On the nose, there were raspberries, strawberries, earth, and a touch of ash, cedar, and something almost like animal hide.  In the mouth, there were tart cherries and pomegranates, followed by raspberries, cedar, and earth.  The wine had a medium body and acidity, with low-to-medium tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $35, this wine is on the higher end for an after work bottle, but it is worth every penny.  The wine is big, complex, and a little different, but also easily accessible to the casual wine drinker.  The lusciousness of the wine makes it perfect for enjoying on it’s own.  I’m sure that it would also pair well with an earthy dish, although I admit that I enjoyed my several glasses with the episode of Castle that was on my TiVo.  Just make sure when you open a bottle that you give it enough time to breathe.  Without a little air, the alcohol can overwhelm the interesting characteristics.

Price: $35
Purchased at: Schneider’s of Capitol Hill
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Kicking-Off Virginia Wine Month with a VA Wine Overview (Part 1)

October is Virginia Wine Month, and while I’m behind in my month of blogging about Virginia wines, I’m looking forward to focusing on them over the next few weeks. Blogging about VA wines couldn’t be more timely, as Virginia is one of the largest wine producing states in the US, and the quality of VA wines has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, which means there are some yummy wines to share.  In addition, the 2011 Wine Bloggers’ Conference is going to be held in Charlottesville, VA, which means that wine bloggers will be paying a lot more attention to the Commonwealth’s wines before heading out here next summer.  With all of that in mind, blogging about the September Virginia Wine Festival seems like the perfect way to begin Virginia Wine Month.

Back in the middle of September, several friends and I met Dezel (from My Vine Spot) for a fun, relaxing afternoon of wine tasting at Bull Run Regional Park.  Three of us took the Washington Wine Academy’s shuttle from Vienna Metro station.  If you’re thinking about going to this annual wine festival next year, I highly recommend taking the shuttle.  For $25, we had a comfortable, 20-minute minibus ride to Bull Run, and five hours later, when we were ready to leave, we were given a bottle of water as we boarded the bus and were safely dropped off at the metro 20 minutes later.  Not that any of us were drunk, because we weren’t, but it was nice not to have to worry about driving after a very full day of wine tasting.

View of the VA Wine Festival Tents at Bull Run Regional Park

The three of us who took the shuttle arrived at the festival before everyone else, but we decided to dive right into the tasting.  The first stop for was Rosemont Vineyards and Winery tasting table.  Rosemont is a family-owned winery in Southern Virginia that released its first vintage in 2007.  Unfortunately, the winery doesn’t have a DC distributor, but their wines are for sale on their website.  The 2008 Cabernet Franc and the Meritage were my favorite Rosemont wines, and if you see either (or both), grab a bottle.

Rosemont 2008 Cabernet Franc ($21)—cedar, earth, molasses, vanilla, with some dark berries; medium tannins, good body.
3.5 Corks


Rosemont Meritage ($30)—dark berries, cedar, smoke, vanilla, & tealeaves; good tannins with a full body; would be nice with a soy sauce marinated steak.
3.5 Corks


2009 Rosemont Pinot Grigio ($16)—Granny smith apples & limes; good acidity.
3 Corks

2008 Rosemont Traminette ($15)—stone fruits with a hint of limes; very dry, but somewhat non-descript.
2.5 Corks

2009 Rosemont Rosé of Chambourcin ($13)—dark pink color; strawberries & something herbaceous.
2.5 Corks

Rosemont Lake Country Red ($15)­—smoke, oakiness, & dark cherries; medium body.
2.5 Corks


Rosemont NV Merlot ($19)—dark plums, cherries, & vanilla; medium body and tannins.
2.5 Corks


Rosemont Lake Country Sunset ($13)—juicy pears, flowers, & honey; very sweet with little acidity; not my style.
2 Corks

After tasting all of the wines available at the Rosemont table, we headed down a few tents to the Delfosse Vineyards and Winery table.  Delfosse is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 30 minutes from Charlottesville.  Having opened in 2000, they are relatively new VA winery.  While their wines show potential and they had one of the nicest people we met all day pouring, there weren’t any wines that I fell in love with.

2008 Delfosse Chardonnay ($18)—apples & pears with some vanilla oakiness.
3 Corks

2006 Delfosse Cuvee Laurent ($18)—blackberries & oak; good acidity.
3 Corks

2007 Delfosse Deer Rock White ($15)—pears & pineapples with some residual sweetness.
2.5 Corks

2006 Delfosse Merlot ($18)—plums, cherries, & oak.
2.5 Corks

2007 Delfosse Deer Rock Red ($15)—flowers with a vegetal hint; sweetish.
2 Corks

2007 Delfosse Grand Cru Olivier ($18)—cranberries, vanilla, & twigs.
1.5 Corks

The Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard tasting table was our next stop.  Kluge is located in Charlottesville.  They were one of the only tables that charged an additional fee in order to taste several of the wines, but since the whole purpose of the festival was to taste, we all shelled out the additional money to taste both the 2007 Kluge Estate Blanc de Blanc and the Cru aperitif.  The Blanc de Blanc was well worth the extra fee; Dezel even bought a bottle for us to drink with lunch. My surprise favorite wine, though, was the 2009 Albemarle Rosé.  I actually purchased a bottle to review separately for VA Wine Month.

2007 Kluge Estate SP Blanc de Blanc ($25)—100% Chardonnay; persistent, tiny bubbles; lemons & cream with a touch of toastiness; high acidity.
4 Corks

2009 Albemarle Rosé ($13)—cherries, strawberries, limes, & peaches; slight effervescence; bright acidity.
4 Corks

2005 Kluge Estate New World Red ($25)—blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec; blackberries & black currants; full body with good tannins.
3.5 Corks

2009 Albemarle Sauvignon Blanc ($20)—light, greenish-yellow; citrus galore; good acidity.
3 Corks


2004 Albemarle Simply Red ($14)—blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot; blackberries, vanilla, & smoke; medium body and tannins.
3 Corks

Cru ($25)—100% Chardonnay; strong bourbon flavor mixed with sweet peaches, pears, and vanilla; not my style.
2.5 Corks

After tasting everything at the Kluge table, we met up with a few more members of our group and decided to visit a few more tables before breaking for lunch.  The next stop was Tarara Winery.
*See Part 2 for reviews of Tarara Winery, Davis Valley Winery, Wintergreen Winery, and Mountfair Vineyards.
*See Part 3 for reviews of Veritas Vineyard and Winery, Villa Appalaccia Winery, and Unicorn Winery.
*See Part 4 for reviews  of Cooper Vineyards, Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery, Paradise Springs Winery, and Château Morrisette.


Winers on the Roof

Thursday was one of those days at work that I was thankful that I had a lot to do; otherwise, I would have spent the day thinking about my evening plans.  My neighbor invited me to a wine happy hour, but this wasn’t just any happy hour.  Not only had the group I was joining been together for a while, but also several of them are regular “A Glass After Work” readers.  Meeting readers in person is always exciting, but it also can be a little nerve-wracking because there are expectations that are sometimes hard to live up to.

Clearly, I had nothing to be worried about.  This group, which originally coalesced while putting together a back-to-school school supply donation program, is affectionately known as the Winers.  They’ve been gathering on the rooftops of DC for wine happy hours for a while, but they welcome newbies (like myself) as if we’ve always been part of the group.  As one of the original Winers described it, it’s an evening where a “group of strangers become friends with the magic of a glass (ok, two) of wine.”  I definitely had more than two glasses, and there is no question that I also made some new friends.

I spent most of the evening talking with Doug, Jeff, and Judy—all three of whom are regular Winers—as well as with Susan and Richard, neither of whom are part the original group, but are fellow wine lovers.  In fact, Richard does some work with Vienna Vintner when he’s not at his day job.

The evening started with a refreshing rosé, which was contributed by Jeff.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I missed all of the details on this wine, but it was a good way to start the evening.

Our Virginia wines for the night

After that, there were a number of Virginia wines, which Doug kindly brought.  Unfortunately, I only tasted the 2005 Chrysalis Rubiana (winery), and I was not a fan.  I know they are a popular Virginia winery, but I am regularly underwhelmed by their wines.

I do want to try Rappahannock Winery’s Viognier and Meritage wines (winery).  There was a bottle of each at the happy hour and a number of people mentioned enjoying them, so it’s clearly time for me to revisit Rappahannock.  I’m sorry I missed the chance on Thursday.

2006 Château Croque-Michotte

Judy brought a bottle of the 2006 Château Croque-Michotte (winery) back from her recent visit to France.  There is something particularly exciting about opening a bottle that was carried back from Europe, and I’m thrilled she wanted to share.  Admittedly, the wine was a little light on the fruit and a bit high in acidity, but it would probably pair well with food.  Several of us were thinking lamb.

2005 Les Crêtes Coteau La Tour

The winner of the night for me, though, was the 2005 Les Crêtes Coteau La Tour (winery), which Jeff brought.  This wine was 100% Syrah grapes and was beautifully balanced.  It had a nice mixture of ripe fruits, sweet spices, and a hint of smokiness.  It may be difficult to find the wine and it looks like it costs around $40, but even at that price, if you see a bottle, it’s worth grabbing.  The wine was delicious!

I definitely feel like I was invited to be one of the “cool kids,” and I hope I have a chance to drink with the Winers again.  The view was magnificent, the wine was fantastic, and the company was outstanding.  What more could a social, wine-lover want? Thanks for including me!

Our backdrop while drinking wine on the roof