My Rating System

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been trying out a rating system at the end of each post.  As the point of this blog isn’t just to taste and rate wines, but to find excellent everyday wines, it seems most appropriate to ask whether the wine I’m reviewing “is worth a glass after work.”  So, I’ve started asking that question of every bottle I open.  I’m trying to give a quick summary that includes the price I paid for the wine.  I may include food pairings, as well as any last minute thoughts.  Finally, each post will end with an “overall” rating of 1-5 corks—1 cork being the lowest and 5 corks being the highest.  

Generally speaking, this is what the ratings will look like:
Is this worth a glass after work?
No…it’s not worth dirtying a perfectly clean wine glass. (0-1.5 Corks)
Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either. (2-2.5 Corks)
Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll definitely have a decent, reliable glass of wine. (3 Corks)
Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. (3.5-4 Corks)
It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? (4.5-5 Corks)

If you have any questions about the system or suggestions on how to improve it, just let me know!

A Predictable, Yet Playful Nymph

The medium-ruby colored Tranquility is a blend of Mouvedre, Syrah, & Grenache grapes, so it was no surprise that there was a spicy, white pepper smell on the nose.  Behind the pepper smell, there was grape and raspberry.  As far as taste, the wine felt a little light in the mouth, particularly because the spiciness was even stronger on the palate.  As the spiciness gave way, a nice raspberry jam and hint of cherry flavor emerged.  The wine has a long finish that focuses the fruit flavors, although there is a touch of cough syrup right at the end.  Some people might enjoy that, although I could have done without it.  The balance of the spiciness and fruitiness might be a little off, but overall the wine was good. 

It turns out that Flying Nymph is a second label for Cass Vineyards and Winery, and after having tasted the second label wine for the vineyard, I’m excited about trying one of their first label wines.  What’s interesting about the 2005 Tranquility is that when I tried to do a little research about it on the Internet, very little showed up.  Most of what I found, though, linked to three restaurants in the DC-Metro area that have it on their wine list.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…For $20, you know what you’re going to get when you open the bottle—a spicy wine with a long finish.  The medicinal taste at the end means that it’s probably done aging, so if you see a bottle, grab it now and drink it.

Overall: 3 corks

Dark Moods and Dark Wines

This week is moving week in my office, which is quite depressing really.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my current space is wonderful.  The new space has a gorgeous conference room and about half the office, including my boss, will definitely have an upgrade in everyday workspace.  I, on the other hand, will be moving with the other half of the office to what has nicknamed “the bullpen.”  15 of us will be put in one room, and while I’ll have a small 5 ft wall to enclose my little space, there are only three of us fortunate enough to be even semi-closed off.  That leaves everyone else sitting desk to desk in a big open space, with 20 ft ceilings.  I can only imagine how loud it’s going to be, not to mention how much I’ll miss my balcony.

As you can imagine, preparing for the move has made for a long, busy, and tiring week, which obviously called for a deep, brooding wine.  The 2006 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (vineyard; snooth) proved to be the perfect match for my mood.

This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and its intense ruby color is very inviting.  The nose on this Cabernet was very pronounced—dominated by dark plums and vanilla, with a slight hint of anise.  As soon as you taste this wine, you’ll feel the high tannins pull at your gums, and when mixed with the spicy, ripe blackberry and black cherry flavors, it’s very enjoyable.  The flavors are very lively and can even lift the spirits of someone who is mourning her impending loss of wonderful space and hating every moment of packing up her files and books.

Is this worth A Glass After Work? Definitely. For $20, the 2006 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon has a nice, long finish that makes it easy to really savor the delicious smell and taste.  It’s perfect for drinking alone while putting your feet up at the end of the day and sinking your teeth into a good book.  If you’re going to eat it with food, I recommend something that is equally strong in flavor—roasted beef and lamb would both pair nicely—this way the vibrant flavor of the wine doesn’t overpower the food.

Overall: 4 Corks

All You Need is a Little Patience…

I admit that before taking my wine class, I’d only had a few Zinfandels, and this unfamiliarity caused me to shy away from them.  I had no idea what I was missing.  As winter comes to a close, and with it my desire to drink heavy red wines, I decided to do some last minute exploring of California’s Zinfandels.  I chose California, as the majority of Zins come from this area of the US.  I opened the first of these recent Zin purchases last week—a 2006 Paso Creek.

The deep color of the 2006 Paso Creek Zinfandel was very inviting.  When smelling the wine, I found hints of black pepper, semi-sweet chocolate, and a heavy fruit smell that I couldn’t quite place.  The smell was very pleasant. 

As for tasting the wine, the first night didn’t live up to the expectations I had from the smell.  The taste seemed very muddled and chewy.  Itreminded me of a fruit stew. 

On the second night, after the wine had time to breathe, the stewy taste transformed into spicy, warm fruit pie flavors that were enjoyable.  The wine still felt thick in my mouth, but with the change in flavors, it was very pleasant.  Finally, as you can see from the label, the wine is high in alcohol.  

Is this worth a glass after work?  Definitely. For $17, the wine offers something a little different from your usual, everyday red wine, but the difference is still a pleasant, enjoyable flavor, as long as you have the patience to either decanter it or let it breathe for a little.  Paso Creek’s website describes the wine as “a big, full-bodied, frank, and forthright wine that somehow manages to retain a touch of its wild side,” and I think that is a fitting description.  I drank the wine with a grilled steak marinated in Worcestershire sauce, and this was a wonderful pairing.  You could also eat it with other any bold flavor food,though, especially something like lamb or dark chocolate.

Overall: 3 1/2 corks

2005 Red Bicyclette Merlot

While it doesn’t happen often, I occasionally am attracted to a bottle purely because of its label.  A couple of weeks ago, my mind must have been particularly “fun label” focused because I actually grabbed two wines because of their label (hanging my head in shame).  With the 2005 Red Bicyclette Merlot, Hubby actually cracked a joke saying that he could have picked it out and he hasn’t taken my wine classes.  Still, there is something to be said for marketing.  The bottle looks fun and fresh, so it grabbed my attention…the big question was whether the taste would hold up.

Even knowing that it’s a mass produced wine, I was hopeful, but the first night of drinking the 2005 Red Bicyclette Merlot was somewhat disappointing.  By the second night, the wine had definitely improved, but I still didn’t love it.

The RB Merlot is 100% Merlot grapes and has a nice, deep ruby color.  The wine has a strong plum aroma with hints of vanilla.  When you sip it, the wine feels a little thick in your mouth, which when combined with the blackberry and cherry flavors, creates a very fruity, “jammy” taste. 

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either.  Even at $9 a bottle, you can find more enjoyable Merlots.  It shouldn’t be hard to find a bottle, though, if you want to taste it.  If that’s the case, definitely let the wine breathe before drinking it.  You can probably pair it with something like meatloaf or stew.

Overall: 2 corks