The Budget Sommelier

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Absence of Vino and Postings

My apologies to all who have taken the time to check out The Budget Sommelier. I've had some health issues the past several months and this has severly impaired my ability to keep up with the blogging (and the tasting!!). But I have still been buying wines (old habits are hard to break) and I'm looking forward to getting the decanters flowing again soon and reviving The Budget Sommelier. Thank you for your interest and patience.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wine Blogging Wednesday - Rosé

Alright, Wine Blogging Wednesday’s has brought me back to the boards after a bit of an hiatus. I actually have a backlog of wines to post about and review, but I’ve been backed up at work. “But where are your priorities, man!!” you say. Well, I got to pay for this wine habit somehow.

This month's WBW theme is Think Pink. Wine Blogging Wednesday #9 is hosted by Sam of Becks & Posh

So rosé it is. The first bottle to recommend is one I have mentioned previously, but warrants a second mention. It is 2004 Vida Organica Malbec Rosé . I don’t think you’ll find a more summery, refreshing rosé that actually has some character to it for this value price of $8.99 (at Whole Foods, no less). We enjoyed two bottles over an incredible pairing of pork roast, haricots verte, mashed sweet potatoes – the quintessential rosé meal. The wine is very dry, with tart citrus, particularly grapefruit. Beautiful peachy-pink complexion. I’m growing very fond of Argentinian wines at the moment. More on the reasons why in the coming weeks. I’m trying to find a reliable retail source for them, so if anyone has any recommendations in So. Cal., let me know.

The second offering is not one that moves a notch higher in the Budget Sommelier pricing brackets – a $12.99 that we picked up at The Cheese Shop of Silverlake. It is from a small boutique winemaker (we drank bottle #486 out of 135 cases) in Santa Barbara, 2004 Core Santa Barbara Rosé . The wine is beautiful in the bottle, an incredibly rich red, this is not a whimpy rosé . It actually reminds me of hummingbird food (in a good way). The wine was perhaps a bit to strong for my tastes and rosé expectations. The alcohol is very high, 13.9%, so it’s nice and dry, but I found it to be a bit overwhelming in the nose and in the mouth. It overpowers the nice notes of cherry and strawberry. I will try other wines from this winemaker, whoever I didn’t find this particular bottle to be a very good taste/value.

Most importantly, I want to pass along a fantastic rosé sangria recipe. I’ve made this several times with the Vida Organica and it just knocks your socks off. It’s a slight variation on a recipe from our good old summer culinary outdoorsman, Bobby Flay.

Rosé Sangria

1 bottle (750ml) dry rosé
1 cup OJ
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup triple sec
3 tablespoons cane syrup
3 cups sliced oranges, lemons , limes, apples, blackberries or blueberries

In a pitcher, combine all ingredients (except 1/2 the fruit and the ice) sweeten more to taste if necessary. Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, strain out the fruit and discard. Stir in remaining fruit, serve over ice.

* Mr. Flay uses a “simple syrup” instead of the cane sugar syrup. Simple syrup is made by heating equal amounts of water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. This is good if you can’t find the cane syrup. He recommends using 1/4 cup.

Friday, April 22, 2005

2 new Reds tried last night

2003 Cote Zero, Orleans Hill Winery, CA
2003 Liberty School Syrah, CA

Didn’t really have a great shine to either of these wines. Both were picked up from legendary cheap wine purveyor TRADER JOE’S market. Liberty School was a $10 over-peppery tight young thing with too much pucker. There are better places to lay down a 10-spot.

Cote Zero is in the organic and “sulfite free” category of wines. It’s a sub $10 bottle. To me it tasted tight and chalky, but not undrinkably so. Other folks at the table were actually pretty happy with it. I have to go back and look at my receipts to see how sub-$10 it really is. For $5, it would actually present pretty well, if it’s pushing $10, I’ll have to think twice before buying more. And I’ll have to remember who really liked it. It’s one of those things, people really do taste things differently, not just that people have different likes and dislikes, but often people actually will taste something else, some other flavors or characters of a wine. Anyway, I like to try to remember which of my friends liked what and serve accordingly when they come over, or I bring a wine to them.

As for the Organic thing, more power to the vintner who produces excellent wine with organically grown grapes. At home, we definitely try to go organic in the kitchen as much as we can (and as much is as reasonable on the pocketbook - $6 for organic strawberries? I’ll stick to oranges.)

But on the topic of “sulfite-free,” it is a much queried and debated issuee. My understanding is that small amounts of sulfites are a natural by-product of the fermantation process. So a “sulfite-free” wine is not really a possibility. However it is the practice of many vintners to add sulfites as a preservative, thus giving birth to the class of “no sulfites added” wines. There are also many in the know who say that, contrary to urban legend, sulfites are NOT responsible for the dreaded “red wine” headache.

The Organic Wine Company has a nice article clarifying some confusion and myths about sulfites in wine.

Andrew Waterhouse is apparently a Master’s student at UC Davis in CA (I came across his posting on the web). He has some pretty succinct comments on the sulfite issue. Also he’s willing to do some research on the issue, maybe we’ll start a collection to get him some funding ;-p

Friday, April 15, 2005

Damn the Bugs, There's Wine to Be Had!!

Alright, viruses beware – I can’t wait any longer, there’s wine to be drunk tonight.

I’m not sure what I’ll be opening, but I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, if the weather is good and summer-y wherever you are this weekend, I highly recommend chillin’ in the backyard with ice cold bottle of VIDA ORGANICA MALBEC ROSE. This is another Whole Foods purchase, I can’t remember the price, but it’s definitely under $10. Vintage is not important particularly, this Argentine vineyard is pretty consistent, and W.F only has 2003/2004 stock. I know a lot of people who are anti-rose, but on a warm summer day, a GOOD rose - dry, not sweet, fruity – nothing beats it. I’ll also dig up my recipe for a great rose based sangria and post it ASAP.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wandering for Wine

O.K., so I may not have picked the best time to launch this blog. I’m fighting a virus so it’s going to be a few days until I get to pop another cork. But that doesn’t keep me from shopping – or “Wandering for Wine” as I like to call it.

So on my lunch break today I hit Whole Foods. “Whole Foods?” you say. “For wine? Cheap wine?” It took me awhile to come around, but I am more and more frequently finding some tasty wines here. And their “buy 6 or more and get 10% off” program makes them even cheaper!!!

So here’s what I bought but haven’t tasted yet:

Cotes du Rhone
2002 Domaine des Coccinelles $8.99
2002 Chateau de Domazan $8.99
2001 Domaine du Vieux Chene $9.99

2001 Cote de Bourg $9.99
2001 Saint-Emilion, Chateau La Marsalle $12.99

2001 Mostroberardim, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio $7.99

The Domaine du Vieux Chene I have actually had within the last couple of weeks and I bought everything they had in stock – but they’re getting more. It is just killer, incredible blossom in the mouth, not tannic, delicious berry fruit. You pretty much can’t go wrong with any 2000 or 2001 Cotes du Rhone in my opinion – trouble is supplies are drying up.

So as soon as I start opening bottles, I’ll let you you know how these babies fare.

Hoping to keep updating the blog site. I gotta figure out how to put pictures up here. Once I do, I’ll post label images. I don’t know about you, but the French and Italian names go in one ear and out the other (and when we get into Germany – forgetaboudit!!)

Also going to find some links to other cool wine internet spots so be sure to keep checking the sidebar!!


Monday, April 11, 2005


Welcome to The Budget Sommelier. Here you can join us on our never-ending quest for great wines that won't bust your wallet. We'll let you know what we're drinking, how good (or not so good) we think it is, what it cost and where to get it. We're in stores regularly and we'll keep you posted on any Hot Sales we see so you can dash off to the store and take advantage of good wines at a value.

This is not a "wine afficianado" blog. We're just happy foodies who love a good wine with just about anything - meats, fish, veggies, cheese, pizza, chocolate, sushi -that's right SUSHI (more on that to come). We speak in laymens terms about wine - we tell you what we taste, what we smell - all the subjective stuff - but pretty much it comes down to thumbs up or thumbs down. We'll refine the ratings process as we go along and the best way for us to do that is to POST COMMENTS, PLEASE. Let us know what you think, try some of the wines we talk about - do you agree with our tastes? Also tell us more of what you would like to know.

Also if you like what you see here, please support our efforts by clicking on ads from our sponsors or making a donation.

Thanks, and keep on coming back!!!