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.***


Octavin Wine Night at Lima

***I attended this event for free ***

Last Monday night, I attended a wine event at Lima Restaurant & Lounge in DC, where I not only tasted a number of Underdog Wine Merchants’ wines, all of which were in the Octavin Home Wine Bar box, but also met and talked with a number of fellow wine bloggers and tweeps.

2009 Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc

For most attendees, the evening started out with the 2008 Monthaven Winery Chardonnay, which I received as a sample earlier in the month.  Therefore, I skipped tasting that wine and went straight for the 2009 Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc (website, snooth).  The Silver Birch was 100% New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc grapes and had a pale lemon-yellow color.  As I mentioned on Twitter, there was a great, citrusy nose—pink grapefruits and lemons.  In the mouth, though, the wine could have offered a little more.  It had a wetnap-like lemon taste and was missing the vegetal characteristics that make a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc so unique.  The wine had a light body and medium-to-high acidity.  At a suggested retail price of $24 for 3 Liters, the Silver Birch Octavin Home Wine Bar is definitely a cost effective way to have wine at a party, BBQ, or picnic.  However, to be honest, buying this wine should more about cost and quantity than quality.  It’s not a bad wine, but it’s not a great wine, either.  Overall: 3 Corks

As I was finishing up my tasting notes on the Silver Birch, I started talking with Virginia Writing Wino, Ellen.  Ellen only recently started wine blogging, so we had a wonderful time talking about how she started, Virginia wines (since that is her blog’s focus), and the Octavin wines, while eating Lima’s tasty beef and potato empanadas and to-die-for chicken and butter shrimp skewers.

2009 Big House White

The next wine of the night was the 2009 Big House White (website, snooth).  The Big House White is a blend of 51% Malvasia Bianca, 14% Muscat Canelli, 13% Viognier, 10% Grüner Veltliner, 5% Pinto Gris, and 4% Riesling grapes.  The wine was a very light straw yellow color.  On the nose, there were white flower and honeysuckle blossoms, followed by a hint of stone fruit.  In the mouth, there were flowers, stones fruits, and a touch of salinity and something metallic.  Considering the sweetness of the nose, the wine was surprisingly dry.  It had a light-to-medium body and low acidity.  At a suggested retail price of $22 for 3 Liters, this wine just didn’t cut it for me.  I wanted to like this wine, particularly after talking with artisan winemaker Georgetta Dane, who was at the event.  Unfortunately, though, the wine felt a little flabby and lacked a strong personality.  Overall: 2 Corks

Almost as soon as I finished my tasting notes for the Big House White, a couple walked up to me and asked if I was Alleigh.  To my delight, I was face-to-face with Mark, from WineLife365, and his wife.  Mark and I started blogging within months of each other, so a natural friendship has developed as our blogs have grown.  While we have exchanged numerous emails and blog comments, this was the first time we met in real life, and I’m so glad that we had the opportunity.

After meeting Mark and his wife, I chatted briefly with LoganDC.  Logan was another person at the event that I hadn’t met before, even though we’ve tweeted with each other on numerous occasions and have several wine friends in common.  Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to do a live Twitter tasting in the near future.

Bodegas Osborne’s Seven

After talking with Logan, I skipped tasting the Big House Red, since I reviewed it a couple of weeks ago, and, instead, went for a glass of Bodegas Osborne’s Seven (winery, snooth).  Seven is made with 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 18% Syrah, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Tempranillo, 8% Grenache, and 8% Graciano grapes and had a medium-to-dark purple color.  On the nose and in the mouth, there was smoked meat, smoked meat, and more smoked meat, followed by a hint of violets and berries.  The wine had a medium body, medium tannins, and medium acidity.  At a suggested retail price of $22 for 3 Liters, this wine was ok.  I preferred the Big House Red, although several people I talked with throughout the night liked Seven better, so, clearly, the preference was up for grabs.  Overall: 2.5 Corks

2008 Boho Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel

By this point in the night, I met back up with Mark and his wife, who were talking with DC Budget Wine Examiner, Rob, and we tasted the last of the wines—the 2008 Boho Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel (winery, snooth).  The wine was a nice, dark purplish ruby.  On the nose, there were dark berries and plums with a hint of cooking spice.  In the mouth, there was berry jam and spice. At a suggested retail price of $24 for 3 Liters, this was my favorite wine of the night.  It wasn’t unpleasantly jammy or overbearing in alcohol, which can sometimes be a problem with Zins, and while the wine didn’t offer anything different, it was decent.  Overall: 3 Corks.

After the event, Mark, his wife, and I were fortunate enough to eat dinner at Lima with Cork’d gurus, Lindsay and Jon, and Patricia Schneider Associates marketing wizards, Patricia and Shelia. The food mirrored the excellent appetizers that were served during the event and the service was impeccable.  The group’s conversation flowed over the delicious ceviches, guava-glazed BBQ ribs, lobster baked with mango-lime butter, and mussels in an Albariño, lime, cilantro and chili sauce.  Before any of us realized, it was midnight and time to head our separate ways.

2008 Big House Red being poured at Lima Restaurant & Lounge

Overall, the event was wonderful.  I had a chance to see the Octavin Home Wine Bar in action, taste some new reds and whites, eat fabulous food, and meet wine bloggers and tweeps that I’ve been corresponding with for over a year. Thanks to Stephen from Patricia Schneider Associates for inviting me to attend as a guest.  I’m sorry we didn’t have a chance to meet, but I had a great time and really appreciated the opportunity.

Up To The Roof With Big House

***I received this wine as a sample***

2008 Big House Red

Normally, I write posts about my workday and the wine I enjoy in the evening, but this July 4th was a big wine holiday for me.  Hubby and I stayed in DC for the long weekend, and, in an effort to avoid the crowds that are drawn to DC for Independence Day, we tried not to stray too far from the condo.  Plus, this year, the high temperatures would have squelched any thoughts of heading to the National Mall for the Capitol 4th Concert and fireworks.  Instead, the holiday weekend was the perfect opportunity for me to open the box of 2008 Big House Red I had on my counter, as I could easily grab a glass on my way to the pool or before heading up to our roof deck, where we can watch not only the fireworks display over the Washington Monument, but also the fireworks in Maryland, which are visible along the horizon.

The 2008 Big House Red 3-liter Octavin Home Wine Bar (winery, snooth) was made with 23% Syrah, 14% Petite Sirah, 9% Grenache, 9% Montepuliciano, 6% Mourvedre, 6% Sangiovese, 6% Algianico, 6% Tannat, 5% Nero d’Avola, 4% Sargentino, 3% Touriga, 3% Barbera, and 3% Petit Verdot grapes.  The wine was a medium-to-dark purple with flecks of ruby.  On the nose, there was a blend of red and black berries, mainly blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries.  There was also black pepper and something oily.  In the mouth, there were tart blackberries and strawberries, cranberries, smoke, cedar, and a touch of vanilla, dark plums, pepper, and something metallic.  The wine had low-to-medium tannins, medium-to-high acidity, and a medium body.

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 $20 for 3-liters, or the equivalent of $5 a bottle, this wine has the quality/price ratio working in its favor.  It isn’t a wine that stands out as something special, but it’s a surprisingly decent option.  Admittedly, the 3-liter container is probably more than you need for after work, and it’s not a wine I would open and drink over a couple of weeks, as after several days, the wine developed a strong metallic taste; however, if you’re having a BBQ and are looking for a cost effective way to provide your guests with a good red wine, the 2008 Big House Red 3-Liter Octavin Home Wine Bar is worth considering.

I paired the wine with Hubby’s homemade Philly cheese steaks, which he makes with provolone cheese, and the wine definitely held its own with the big flavors of the sandwich.  The key role for the wine, though, was played when I brought it with me to watch the fireworks, and there is no question that was a perfect pairing—beautiful fireworks, friends from our building, my Hubby, and a good California red.

Hope everyone had good Fourth!!

Overall: 3 Corks