Dance Party!

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No, not really.  Well, unless you incorporate laying around as much as possible as some form of interpretive dance.

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I’ll cut right to the dance and step in where I can, this dance party was brought to us by our friends from Trader Joe’s.  The 2014 Cotillion Pinot Noir is an exclusive to TJ’s and I wouldn’t expect it any other way.

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I can’t fully explain into words but there’s certain stores you walk into, and you can just tell the food, the drink, or what have you is synonymous with that store.  If I saw this bottle somewhere at a friends house,  I would sense this can only come from one place. That’s a testament to the bottle and the energy of this store.

The fact that I’m expounding on this so long on this may come off as an indictment of the wine itself than a love for the label.  Well there is a love for the label.  How do you not like animals dancing the Cotillion.

My one issue is the price.  I think in general they’ve steadily raised their prices $1-$2 (and sometimes more) for most of their exclusive wines.  The same wines I used to see for $3-4, yes you read that right, are now in the $5-7+ range.

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This wine goes for $10 and it’s ok for that price.  The tasting notes have been provided for you, and Trader Joe’s is so good with making that accessible and easy for anyone to understand.  The berries are easy to detect as with many California wines, but the vanilla spice is the stand out here. Maybe in colder temperatures I’ll appreciate this even more.

It screams fall and it screams a cozy situation where doing nothing as much as possible is ideal. That’s more projecting and a personal observation than anything else.

Since it’s a Pinot Noir, it can be paired with anything and nothing all at the same time. After a few minutes of letting it breathe, it improved in taste.  Initially I was weary.  But that’s why you know never judge a wine on first sip, immediately upon opening.  And you never judge a wine by its label, unless it’s as charming as this one.  In that case, judge away, as long as it’s positive. Animal friends always deserve to be happy.

And we should be happy with whatever wine we’re drinking.

I would be happier if this was a few dollars less.  And I may have been spoiled since I’ve had many great wines at $7.00 or less from Trader Joe’s.

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As seasons change so does our eating habits.   Some dear friends supplied a wonderful spread of cheese, crackers, and finger foods to complement the vino.  It’s a team effort! For even more on this group collective, go here.

And the team at the Trader Joe’s in Alexandria, VA has always been accessible.    Since my first time visiting I’ve always had a good feeling about this store.  It’s been one of my go-to wine shoppes for the past few years.  And when I make my way to the vicinity I make it a priority to stop by.

Even though prices for certain vintages have gone up, there’s still bargains that are second-to-none, that you can’t find everywhere.  Being a national chain is part of why they can lower their prices.

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Lower prices doesn’t always mean lower quality.  Just as a cheap bottle can lead to cheap wine. So have fun and do some research.   Before you know it the holidays will be here and if you live near a TJ’s that sells wine consider yourself fortunate and find some great deals.

Here’s a sampling of my Trader Joe’s posts from the past.

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We’re just getting started and more sweet deals are hopefully to come.

Cheers,

Ideen

 

Fresh Air

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If I’m correct, this is the first time I’ll be writing about a Carmenere since starting this blog.  What took me so long?  Well there’s so many amazing wines to talk about.  I will never get to them all.  And why would I want to?  That’s what makes this journey brilliant. There will never be enough time to try them all.  Fortunately there is time to try an assortment.

Carmenere was one of the original six grapes in France, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.    It faded into obscurity until the early 90’s and now found its proper home (as the national grape) in Chile.    If this story sound familiar, the same thing happened with Malbec.  And now that’s the most popular grape of Argentina.

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So this brings me to the 2011 Car Men Air distributed by Bronco Wine Company.    I purchased this for under $10 at my favorite Trade Joe’s in Alexandria, VA.

The play on words funny yet nothing about this wine is.  It’s a straight-forward and no-thrills bottle.  It’s got just the right amount of oak and spiciness that it doesn’t taste like a rock-bottom priced vino.  But not much more than that.   If I’m to assume correctly, black cherry, smoke, spices, and the aforementioned oak are all easily detectable.  Anything else is not as discernible.  But hey, that’s just my opinion.  It did have a darker tint than many wines we’re accustomed to.

I brought this bottle over to a friends house to relax, sip, and crack some jokes.  Not about the wine but in general.  The weather is warming up and spirits are doing the same.  It’s about time.   As long as this wine was somewhat acceptable, then it’s going to taste that much better with good company and a good energy.  If this or any wine were appalling then we’d be hard pressed to enjoy ourselves. Then again we might move on and find a suitable replacement.

I’m sounding like I’m down on this wine.  Not at all.  I think I’m just excited and all over the place with this sudden heat wave that’s hitting the east coast.   I’m salivating at the thought of all the outdoor activities and all the great wines that I’ll be having during some of those fun events.   I hope you’re getting amped up too.

After perusing their list, I’ve noticed many I’ve had in the past.  This will be revisited at a later date.

If you’re interested in finding this or other wines, click here.

Lastly, here is my most recent post on a great wine from Trader Joe’s.  And here’s one that wasn’t as golden.

Winter time is winding down but some of these impeccable wines I’ll try will not. We’re just getting started.

Best,

Ideen

 

Traders’ Trios

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It’s been a little while since I wrote up on a Trader Joe’s food and wine pairing.   How thrilling that is turned out that our entire meal was based in items from one of our favorite stores.

It wasn’t planned that way or was it?  Cue mysterious music.

There are wines sitting my stash that have been cozy and snuggled in hiding for more than a year.  And some for a couple of years.    The 2011 Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Lot 27 Napa Valley Meritage is one of those I’ve had for a while.

If memory serves me correct I purchased this in mid-to-late 2014 and I sadly put it off to the side. Perhaps it was being set aside for a special occasion.   Not all wines are created equal, even though many table wines should be.  This I would put up just a notch higher as I purchased it for around $13.00.   For a TJ’s wine that is a bit higher.

I have no idea what this Meritage included.   Nothing on the bottle would tell you any different. But I will say it was surprisingly good and got better with each sip.  It was breathing for a while and definitely improved as time went on.

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I did detect some oak, spices (including cinnamon or vanilla?) and most likely some black cherries.  A wide assortment of berries could be another component, and you could take your pick as to what they might be.  I just thought it was a solid wine that exceeded my expectations.

Why exceed?  Because sometimes cheap doesn’t always mean good.   I love Trader Joe’s and my go to for wine is their store near Old Town Alexandria, VA.  I’ve wrote about them before.

Maybe it was the first time, feeling like a kid at a new toy store or discovering something brand new.  It felt fresh and inviting.  And there were so many bottles between $5-$8, that you could get in trouble.   Maybe the good kind of trouble. That feeling hasn’t been back as much.  Is it because I have expectations?  Well the last few bottles have been a bit disappointing, and those cheap prices have slowly gone up.

So I went with one just a little bit higher and we’ve been rewarded.   If you see this in your local Trader Joe’s, I would give it a shot.  It’s not going to be the best wine you’ve ever had but that isn’t the intention.  It can go with anything you please.  My hunch tells me a sweeter meal woks more effectively here.

Luckily for us, we paired it with some Korean-Inspired Pork Shoulder sliders and Sweet Potato Frites, all brought to us by our aforementioned pals.

This was the different kind of sweet treat than we’re used to having.  But sweet nonetheless.

Hopefully more love to Trader Joe’s to come.

Best,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Food and Wine Pairing Pals

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Sometimes what I write about is predetermined.  At other times the topics find me.   This one is a combination of both.

The plan was to have cheeseburgers for a meal, and I wanted to find a wine that pairs well with them.  As per usual, I did a Google search, and you get two dozen opinions on what goes well with anything.   There is something to a food and wine pairing, but it’s all perception.  What might look good to some, might be hideous to others.

Based on the consensus; Malbec, Syrah, and Zinfandel were the ubiquitous suggestions to complement burgers.  Do you detect a theme?  These are three of the more full-bodied reds, with alcohol contents higher than 13.5%.

I have reviewed the first two wines in previous posts.  These can be seen here and here.  So Zin is the big winner today.

In looking at our collection of bottles, I only saw one Zin.  And I present the 2012 Old Moon (Old Vine) Zinfandel from our pals at Trader Joe’s.   This is part of an exclusive collection, that can only be bought at their stores.

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Not much in the way of superlatives to say about this wine.  It’s pretty standard.  But for $5.99 you really can’t complain.   I didn’t care for it at first. But, after a few minutes of breathing it got better.  It’s extremely fruity.  And in reading various reviews of it, every fruit known to man has been detected.  It’s best to go with your senses as to what you taste.   There’s little oak that I could detect.  And not much in the way of tannins.  It’s very easy to drink.  It can be enjoyed without food, for any occasion.

But if you’re looking for something groundbreaking, this is not it.  It’s a very basic wine.  This is a great wine for folks who are new to wine drinking.  And then your palate can only expand from here.

Not every wine is going to pair well with your dish.  My bacon cheeseburger with sides of regular and sweet potato fries was tremendous.  However, the wine didn’t heighten anything or bring about any new flavors.  It’s a decent and affordable bottle that serves its purpose.  If you are fortunate enough to be in a state where your local TJ’s sells wine, this is not one I would go out of my way to buy. For the price alone, it’s ok.  But there’s plenty of others at a few dollars more, with better quality. And I will be getting to those in proceeding posts!

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How great does that look? 🙂

Thankfully, like I stated in the beginning, sometimes the topics are shown to me.  This is a great lead in to talk about my first visit to a Trader Joe’s that sold wine!    It was a serendipitous visit around the holidays in 2013 to their Old Town Alexandria, VA store!    I will be discussing some of my past and recent purchases in hopefully a fun and harmonious way.

And if I feel the need, I will be talking about my sadness over the Charles Shaw wines.

Thanks so much for reading!

Best,

Ideen