Baller Budget Bubbles

So at the end of the year, everyone is looking for a nice bottle of Champagne. I love it because it’s a truly under appreciated wine. Sparkling wine in general. A lot of people think of it as only a celebratory wine because it’s “expensive.” Naahhhh. There are some incredible sparkling wines that are totally wallet friendly. First of all, let’s talk about sparkling wine itself.

Most people us Champagne is used as an all encompassing word for sparkling wine. They could mean Champagne, but chances are they are looking for Prosecco or something to make Mimosa’s with at brunch. Here are the basics:

Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France. That’s right, it’s a region and not a grape. True Champagne is usually above $40 a bottle depending on the producer. Any other sparkling that comes from France is usually referred to as Cremant. Prosecco is Italy’s version of sparkling wine. It’s extremely popular in restaurants around town(Shreveport-Bossier) and usually ranges from $9-25. There are some exceptional higher end Proseccos around. Cava is Spain’s sparkler and also is usually very affordable. Much like the others, it’s crisp and dry. North America doesn’t actually have a name for it besides Sparkling Wine. There are some pretty great ones out there and they range all over in price


These are a few of my favorite “Baller Budget Bubbles:”

Monmousseau Brut Etoile, Loire Valley, France $12

This little gem has been one of my favorites for years. It’s remained pretty consistent in price and always consistent in flavor. It’s made with one of Loire’s best varietals, Chenin Blanc, and it’s produced with the same method that Champagne is. It has stone fruit flavors(green apple/pear), plenty of minerality, and it’s sweet. Just a bit fruity from the Chenin Blanc.

Serenello Prosecco Extra Dry, Italy $16

This is the Prosecco that we pour by the glass at Wine Country Bistro. It’s not super dry but has beautiful aromatics of white flowers and stone fruit. High acidity and a clean finish make it great for everyday.

Montmartre Brut, Tournan, France $9

This guy right here. Inexpensive and over delivers. That’s a deadly combo. This is what’s called “Blanc de blancs” which means only white grapes, like Chardonnay, were used to make this wine. Montmartre is bone dry and has a fresh, slightly fruity feel. This is super easy to drink solo or great for sparkling wine cocktails like Mimosas or French 75s.

Sparkling wine doesn’t just have to be for special occasions. If you look, there are some great quality ones available in our market that won’t give you a headache after one glass or cause you to have to break out the credit card. Bubbles are meant to be consumed everyday. I don’t think anyone’s day would be worse if there was a glass of bubbles waiting for them when they are done.

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Wines for Winning Thanksgiving

Last year around this time, I started this blog with a list of my top wines for Thanksgiving. It’s been a fun year of writing about wine and my shenanigans while drinking wine so I will press on and get you some great juice ideas for the day. In random order, here we go:

Francois Montand Blanc de Blanc, France $19.99

I love sparkling wine so much that I affectionately refer to it as bubbles. The huge misconception, despite my trying still goes on, is that it’s all Champagne, expensive, and only for special occasions. False, false, and definitely false. The accessibility sparkling has to food pairings is just as unlimited as your imagination. Clean, crisp, with a slight yeast flavor and minerality for days makes this wine an easy beginning to a meal or the perfect accompaniment to complaints of having eaten too much after dinner is over. 

Seven Hills Merlot, Walla Walla, Washington $41.50

If you think Merlot is some bastard grape varietal that should only be drank by those that buy their wines at Walmart, then you are horribly mistaken. There are some cheap Merlote out there, but there are some cheap Cabs and Pinots too. 

This bad boy isn’t cheap and is completely delicious. Since Washington State Merlot tends to give us softer tannins than California, you’ll get a more elegant finish here. Soft and delicate. Before the finish though, there will be some big and robust fruits with hints of oak and flourishings of earth. Perfect density for keeping up with turkey and tons of flavor to stand with anything you can put cranberry sauce on. Probably my personal favorite this year. I’ll be having a glass or 2 Thursday.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier, California $14.50

I can’t help myself. I love this wine. I always have. It  is a go to for me with tough pairings because it is so versital. Peach, honeysuckle, and white flowers can go beautifully with fish or even a dessert like sweet potato pie.

2014 Cellars Can Blau “Blau,” Montsant, Spain $13.99

Go figure, I’d put a Spanish wine on this list. Well I did.

Blau is a blend of Mazuelo, Syrah, and Garnacha(Grenache to the rest of the world). It sees only 4 months in French oak barrels just to give it a little tease of vanilla. It has some great lavender, blue berry, and plum flavors. It’s not super heavy like a Petite Sirah, but it’s just a hair weightier than your average Cali Pinot Noir. Take me seriously and try it with anything that’s meat coming off the grill or… Pecan Pie. Seriously.

All of these wines are available at Wine Country’s Bottle Shops for the prices I mentioned. Drink plenty and have a happy Thanksgiving!

5 TV Shows That Drive Me To Drink

It’s not a surprise to anyone that we are influenced by what we see on television and digital media to want to buy… Or drink. We’ve seen a clever ad and then some how, magically, have an uncontrollable urge to use, eat, or drink that product within the next few days. It’s almost like we are being told what to do…..

Now when I say drive me to drink, I’m not talking about a suspenseful plot line or stressing me out about which of my favorite characters will die next(*cough* Game of Thrones *couch*). I’m saying I want to drink what my fictitious friends are drinking while I’m watching whatever shenanigans are happening in front of me. Basically, I don’t feel completely fulfilled in finishing an episode unless I’m having a beer Tim Riggins or drinking all the Dornish wine with Tyrion Lannister. So here are my top 5 TV shows that drive me to drinking:

5. Friday Night Lights and Shiner Bock  

Personally, I think FNL is one of the best shows ever made. And for the record, I’m not even super into football. Coach Taylor taught me a lot about life in 5 seasons. “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” has been a mantra for me in many situations. But it’s not Coach Taylor, Buddy Garrity, or even the incredible soundtrack by one of my favorite bands(Explosions in the Sky) that make me want to drink. It’s Tim Riggins. The troubled bad boy that can’t find peace is relatable to everyone right? Not me but I just like raising an ice cold bottle of that Texas beer in the air whenever I hear anybody say “Texas forever.” Shiner Bock is the flagship beer of the Spoetzl Brewery out of Shiner, Texas about an hour to an hour and a half out of Austin. Shiner Bock is easy to get and FNL is on Netflix.

4. Treme and Great Raft Southern Drawl

New Orleans is probably one of my favorite places in the world. It’s history, culture, and community pride overwhelm me every visit. New Orleans is more than Hurricanes and Bourbon Street and Treme shows the rest of the world that. The show isn’t action packed like creator David Simon’s previous shows(The Wire and Generation Kill), it about the struggle of chefs, musicians, politics, and the community trying to build their city back just 3 months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it. Musically, it’s everything New Orleans from Rebirth Brass Band to the street musicians trying to get by. So why a Shreveport beer like Great Raft Southern Drawl with a New Orleans show? Seeing the struggles and triumphs of people building their city back up all the while fighting to keep their traditions of Mardi Gras, festivals and dancing alive makes me proud to be from Louisiana. What better way to show local pride than with a tasty brew from my home town? The entire Emmy award winning series of Treme is on HBO Go. If you’re reading this or live in Shreveport and don’t know what Great Raft is or where to get it, you should probably move to Canada.

(Sidebar: GR broke into the New Orleans and Baton Rouge markets just these last few months and are killing it)

3. Bloodline and Patron Añejo

Friday Night Lights’ Coach Taylor, Kyle Chandler, stars as a protective family man when his black sheep of a brother comes home to their Florida Keys family business and wants in. Shady things start happening and conspiracies arise. The shows tag line of “We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.” is enough to draw anyone in. The world dominating tequila brand Patron is all over the show from the Silver to the Añejo. It’s architectural web of secrets and lies around this family are enough to make you want to sip on some Patron Añejo or take a shot of Patron Silver. Bloodline is a Netflix original series and Patron Añejo is readily available at any spirit shop worth it’s salt, and lime, for around $60.

2) Justified and Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon  

This is one of my favorite FX shows ever. U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, played by God’s gift to swagger Timothy Olyphant, is sent back to his poor coal mining Kentucky town of Harlan from Miami after he shot a fugitive on sight in a quick draw contest. Set in modern day, it’s a roller coaster ride of devastatingly intelligent banter, hill billy organized crime, meth turf wars, and betrayal. People in the show are constantly drinking bourbon and I always get the urge to sip on on of my favorites. You see people drinking Pappy Van Winkle throughout the show so Buffalo Trace is as close as I can get(Pappy is distiller at the Buffalo Trace Distillery). The Justified series is finished now and all seasons are available on DVD and Blueray. A liter of Buffalo Trace Bourbon(liters are the best value for your buck with spirits) will run you about $32-33 a bottle.

1) Game of Thrones and 2013 Pierre Chermette Beaujolais 

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Probably the most frustrating show ever made. George R. R. Martin(author and creator of the series)has a super natural ability to get you to love a character, pull for them, and then kill them off. After every episode ends, I have to take an extra glass of wine and 20 minutes to collect myself and process what I just saw. I like to think Dornish wine, which is always referenced, is like Beaujolais. I don’t know why, that’s just where my oenophile mind goes. Probably because its exotically French, fruity, and easy to drink when watching the devastation at Hardhome is tough to swallow. Game of Thrones is available on HBO Go streaming and on DVD/Blu-ray and you can pick up a bottle of Pierre Chermette at Wine Country Bottle Shop for $17.

If you need a weekend binge on TV shows and get hobo hammered while you do it, here’s your starting point.

Wine

Top 5 Sexiest Wines for Valentine’s Day

No Valentine’s Day is complete without a list right? Maybe that’s Christmas. Whatever. But worry not! For all of you in the dark about what to drink this V-Day with ya boo thang, I’ve compiled a top 5 list. Mainly because I like to list things. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Top 5 Sexiest Wines Under $30!

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  1. 2013 Idrias Chardonnay from Somotano, Spain $18.99

Picture yourself and your significant other taking a romantic vacation to Spain and staying in a small cottage at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains. The gorgeous view would look like a scene from a 1000 piece puzzle your grandma used to make you work with her. What are you drinking? A Chardonnay that comes from a vineyard that is a few yard from the bed you are sleeping in.

Idrias Chardonnay is a sleek chardonnay with a body build by cross fit. It’s lean and crisp with intoxicating flavors of apple, pear and subtle spice that comes from a Burgundy style oaking process that’ll tease into pouring more.

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  1. Jean Paul Brun’s FRV 100 from Beaujolais, France $19.99

Role playing on words, FRV 100 is meant to be pronounced “F-R-Ves-Cent” and is a French sparkling wine from the Beaujolais Region of Burgundy, France. It’s pink like Steven Tyler of Aerosmith’s favorite color is made from Gamay grapes. Gamay tends to yield a sweet, fruity wine.

This sparkling rose has delicious strawberry and cherry fruit flavors to it and a long finish that just won’t quit. With the added sugar makes this bottle of bubbles less dry than most and it can turn a so-so sushi date into an evening hotter than wasabi. (I am subliminally telling you to pair this with spicy sushi)

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  1. 2012 SloDown Wines’ Sexual Chocolate from Napa, California $26.50

What can you say about a wine called Sexual Chocolate that hasn’t been said already? Maybe… that it’s not a chocolate wine? The guys at SloDown have a crazy sense of humor and an approach to wine making that is completely accessible to a new, younger generation of wine drinker. I mean, they drive around the country in an old Cadillac they rebuild and spray painted.

Sexual Chocolate is a busty, curvy wine with a lot going on in the glass. Here’s what the SloDown guys say about it:

From the guys who brought your daughter home late comes the fifth release of Sexual Chocolate Wine. This is not a wine for the pursuit of balance, this is a wine for the pursuit of having a good time with friends. As the dudes say: “Bursting with intense red fruit on the nose. Massive entry with blackberry, black cherry, dark chocolate and spice with a delicate, smooth finish. Concentrated and complex with flavors that will continued to be teased out. Displays the high quality of the vintage. 60% Syrah, 30% Zinfandel, 10% Petit Sirah.”

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  1. 2012 Babcock Winery’s Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County, California $22.50

If you want a Southern Girl, you have to look in the south. If you want a great Pinot Noir, then look in Santa Barbara. Babcock Winery is one of the wineries that keeps me coming back for more. I can’t find anything wrong with what Bryan Babcock is producing.

This is a wine to impress a date with. You don’t have to wear a suit, but have some respect for the wine and tuck your damn shirt in while drinking it.This is what I, while writing this, decided to call “everyday elegant.” Rich and subtle at the same time. The dark cherries flavors and a little bit of spice will set the mood for you. Don’t screw it up.

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  1. Marcel Martin Tete de Cuvee Cremant de Loire Brut from the Loire Valley, France $27.99

Even though I think you should drink bubbles every day, most people like to save it for a special occasion. When that time comes, like this Saturday, Marcel Martin will make you look like a boss without spending that boss money. Its not technically Champagne because it doesn’t come from Champagne, France but it’s still French from Loire Valley and is made from Chenin Blanc grapes.

The Chenin Blanc creates layers and layers of subtle fruit that you have to slowly undress. The bubbles will tickle your nose while the dry finish will create a thirst that’s only quenchable by another glass. It’s perfect for a 1st course salad dish or light fish entree at your favorite restaurant.

These wines are some of my favorites that I think would be great to celebrate with or to step outside of the comfort zone and try something new on Valentine’s Day. As always, let me know what you think.