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Affordable Wines for Romantic Occasions

Woman on Wine--affordable wines for romance

Woman on Wine

with Amy Reiley

An inexpensive wine CAN be a perfect choice for a romantic celebration, here’s why:

A few weeks ago, the marketing team for Noble Vines approached me. They pitched me on the notion that affordable wines are a viable choice for a romantic evening, be it Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, or whatever day you’re celebrating. I thought about it for a while and realized they have a solid argument. I mean, we always point to “special occasion” wines for making romance. But it is absolutely true that inexpensive wines can fit the bill just as nicely, depending on the circumstance. Read more

Shut Up and Drink

amy reiley

Woman on Wine

with Amy Reiley

I generally try to give my monthly column some sort of educational framework, featuring a region, a style or maybe a particular winemaker. But sometime you don’t want a lecture; you just want a drink. I feel that. So this month, I’m simply highlighting 5 wines I want to drink right now. They’re great for the season, reasonably priced and just, well, good.

2010 Domaine Vincent Careme Les Clos
France
This tangy Vouvray is a little bit of a splurge for a summer white, but well worth it. There’s a minerality that carries through from the aroma to the lingering finish. Its stone fruit flavors are faintly sweet. But what makes this wine stand out to me is an amazing, peaches and cream texture.

Shut Up and Drink a Great Bordeaux Blanc2014 Légende Bordeaux Blanc
France
If you’re looking for a wine that tastes like summer, look no further. This Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend stands out from the pack for its high percentage of Semillon (45%). That Semillon adds layers of richness to the fresh lychee and melon notes of the Sauvignon Blanc. It’s like fun in the sun days and sultry nights in one bottle.

2013 Le Vigne Di Zamo Ribolla Gialla
Italy
Ok, this one might be a little hard to find, but once you get it, you’re going to have fun. It offers something green and fresh, yet it’s a wine with complexity and depth. Its flavors of apple and citrus linger long.

2004 Montenidoli Sono Montenidoli
Italy
This 100% Sangiovese is just right for wild game BBQ night or a romantic evening for two. On the nose there are notes of damp earth that spark sensuality. It might be a little young, but its strawberry flavors are absolutely luscious right now.

2012 Joseph Jewell Grist Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
California
I’ve never made a secret about my passion for Dry Creek Zin. It’s one of my favorite summer red styles, for sure. This Dry Creek Zin is compelling with pretty cherry and blueberry fruit, nice balance and just a little bite of black pepper. My favorite characteristic is a saline note that makes the mouth water for the next sip.

A Rosé for Every Season

amy reileyWoman on Wine

with Amy Reiley

I’ve featured wines from Bonny Doon Vineyard in this column before. In fact, just last July I wrote something of a love letter to Bonny Doon’s founder, Randall Grahm. Normally, I wouldn’t feature recommendations from a single winery again so soon. But Bonny Doon sent me samples of their latest rosé releases last month and I was so struck by the tasting that I had to share the experience with you.

Like many wine drinkers, I love rosé and I drink it all summer. But rosé in winter?—That’s like wearing white shoes before Memorial Day (Yeah, I do that, too). From the day the first pumpkin product appears on the grocery store shelves until the Easter bunny’s tail wiggles its way into the sunset, rosé is a wine style in hibernation. I will admit that the thought of an icy, Provencal rosé in January gives me a shiver. An almost room temperature glass of nutty Chardonnay or a robust Shiraz is a better fit with an après ski mood. But that’s what’s so compelling about these four Bonny Doon rosés. The lineup offers a style perfect for every season, even one suitable for drinking in front of a crackling fire on New Year’s Eve. (True, I’ll be drinking bubbly on New Year’s Eve, but that’s a whole other article… )

2015 A Proper Pink
This is a rosé with a deep blush, the color of ripe watermelon flesh. It’s more full-bodied and serious than your typical blush but it tickles the senses with hints of strawberry. Perhaps it’s the fact that it instantly drew me to thoughts of Easter dinner, but I can’t help pairing this wine with the season of spring.

Bonny Doon Rosé2015 Vin Gris de Cigare
This wine is summertime in a glass. It’s a classic dry blush with cherry and strawberry aromas and flavors, a hint of herb and a refreshing, acidic finish. Made from a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Cinsault, it dances lightly across the tongue in a way that makes you want (need) to reach for more.

2013 Vin Gris Tuile, Central Coast California
This wine is autumn in a bottle. It’s stylistically very different than what you would expect from a blush thanks to some unusual winemaking. The wine was aged for 9 months in glass containers in full sun, allowing it to evolve into something earthy, nutty and, for lack of a better word, roasted. It has a sherry-like quality that helps it pair well with fall flavors, aromas and moods. But it will also work in front of an open fire when the weather turns crisp.

2015 Il Ciliegiolo Rosato
The color of a gleaming ruby in the glass, this wine’s appearance hints at its robust body. Made from a little-known relative of the Sangiovese grape, this Cilegiolo offers cranberry fruit and big body. It’s not the most complex or indulgent wine but it fills the role of “winter pink” perfectly.

My Cheap Champagne Secret

amy reiley

Woman on Wine

by Amy Reiley

I have never tried to hide the fact that I love Champagne. I could drink it morning, noon and night. (True, I’d probably never get anything done, but it would be worth it.) Here’s the thing: as wonderful, miraculous and damn tasty as Champagne is, it only comes from a very small region of France. That means supply outweighs demand and Champagne’s prices are, well, let’s just say I couldn’t afford to drink it morning, noon and night.  Thankfully, there are wonderful sparkling wines made all around the world, including some exceptional bottlings made right in the U.S.A.

However, when I want something to drink on say, your average Wednesday, or a casual breakfast with a couple of friends, my “cheap Champagne” secret is Spanish Cava. If you like sparkling wine, Cava is the word you need to know. It is not Champagne, but like Champagne, Cava has to be produced in the champenoise method, or methode traditionelle, (where the bubbles are made in the bottle). But unlike Champagne, Cava is downright cheap. Now, no Cava will ever replace a bottle of vintage Champagne but for saving money on a party, making Champagne cocktails or, if we’re being honest, drinking alone, Cava is your wine.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava
This is one of the world’s best-recognized sparkling wines. And as the poster child for Cava, it does a nice job of delivering bright citrus and apple flavors and a clean finish. Simple, easy-drinking, affordable—this is brunch wine at its finest.

Codorniu Cava Sparkling WineAnna De Codorniu Brut Cava
This lovely bubbly recently got a bottle makeover. Its all white bottle gives the wine a certain chic appeal that the wine inside manages to live up to pretty well. Lots of tropical aromas and flavors make it easy to drink and great for an aperitif.

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Rosé Cava
I don’t think you can do better for under $10. (I don’t think you could do much better under $25!) This wine has freshness, acidity and a nice clean finish. But it isn’t boring, it offers lovely red berry aromas and flavors.

Paul Cheneau Blanc de Blancs Reserva Brut Cava
Although slightly pricier than most Cavas you’ll find on the shelf, this wine is definitely on the complex end of the spectrum. It offers compelling bready aromas, the zing of citrus and an interesting herbal note

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava
I freely admit it, one of the best reasons to buy this wine is the bottle. The appliqued silver crest is enough to impress anyone. But the wine’s estate-grown grapes offer a kind of meaty richness.

Better Than Candy

amy reiley

Woman on Wine

with Amy Reiley

Riesling. I’ve made it no secret that this is my favorite wine grape. And although I have no problem drinking Rieslings from around the world, it’s German Riesling that really gets me excited. In fact, German Riesling is about the only wine I would choose over a big bowl of Halloween candy. (And for those of you who know never to get between me and my Haribo, this is really saying something!) Rieslings made in a sweet style have something your average gummy bear can’t offer: acidity. These wines have a lovely, bright note that, when done right, beautifully balances the sugar, adding complexity, dimension and, quite simply, pleasure.

Schlossgut Diel
2013 Riesling Kabinett
This is the kind of Riesling you’ve got to love, weighty on the tongue with light sweetness that is balanced by citrus acidity—love this!

Reuscher-Haart
2012 Piesporter GoldtröpfchenRiesling Spätlese
This one might be a little hard to find now, but it sure is a special wine. What I like best is what this wine has to offer beyond sweetness. There’s a lovely minerality and a surprising hint of game.

Schneider
2014 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese
If you’re looking for a wine with sexy staying power, this is a wine that lingers. Its flavors are of pears and apples with a hint of minerality.

LoewenLeitz Geisenheimer Riesling Eiswein
2014 Thörnicher Ritsch Riesling Auslese
2014 Think wildflowers and honey—seductively sweet but with a compelling, vaguely herbal edge. And that’s just the beginning. Packed with complexity, the sweetness leads to a fresh, citrus acidity and a surprisingly refreshing finish.

Leitz
2010 Geisenheimer Riesling Eiswein
This is nectar of the gods. Beautifully balanced, it offers most of my favorite flavors in one tiny, alluring package, including: apricots, passion fruits, tart lemons and vanilla buttercream frosting. Seriously—it’s all that.