We picked this up on sale at Liquor Direct right before Christmas on a recommendation from Ass't Wine Buyer Shannon. She was right!
2006 Michael-David Petite Petit, Lodi, $11.99
Petit Petite, from Michael-David out of Lodi, is a blend of 15% Petit Verdot and 85% Petite Sirah. The label shows us two friendly but gigantic circus elephants – a perfect illustration of the wine.
It's a dark wine, both in color and in flavor. I was a little worried,
for once, as I sat on my white couch with this glass. I recently heard
that Petite Sirah is as dark as it gets, although I'd say Norton is
darker and inkier. But this is certainly in the running.
This wine is, as Kevin would say, a berry explosion in the mouth. Jammy jammy jammy. It's full of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries – all those dark berries are just everywhere. But there's more complexity than just berries. On the finish, I get a little bit of coffee (but not too much) or maybe mocha is more accurate. It coats your whole mouth, and makes it feel like your teeth are turning red. They're not, but the wine is that full and structured.
Last week I learned that 100% Petit Sirah is too heavy and big for me, but the small added amount of Petit Verdot seems to make all the difference. This is a bit too high in alcohol for me, at 14.5%, but I've grown accustomed to what seems to be the new norm.
I hosted a small dinner party the other night for several couples. Had Kevin let me, I'd have invited about 8 more people, but I had to cut back. (So if you're a dear friend, don't be mad at me. I picked couples I thought would gel nicely and well, our house only holds so many people.)
Usually when we host a party, we shell out at least $500 in food and alcohol. Then we kill ourselves trying to make everything from appetizers through to dessert. Kevin often spends about half of the party in the kitchen and sometimes the food goes awry. This time we tossed that entire model out the window.
I did two things differently. First, I asked everyone to bring an appetizer or a bottle of Spanish wine. This worked beautifully, as we ended up with a gorgeous cheese plate and several dips. Kevin also prepared some mini quiches, baked cheese sticks, and mini herbed goat cheese balls. Good Spanish wine can be found for under $15 – in many cases under $10 – so we weren't asking our guests for too great of an expense.
Everyone brought a bottle or two of wine, which was fantastic. In fact, we emptied 10 bottles plus a magnum. I kept the wine out on our bar and just let everyone serve themselves.
Wine and appetizers. So far, an easy party with very little expense to us. But what about dinner? Well, for dinner we brought in Hector Esteve of Paella at Your Place. Hector arrives with his burner, a giant paella pan, all the ingredients and a great personality, and then he whips up some paella. I was worried about the small size of our kitchen, but Hector requires only a stovetop and a small countertop. Alternatively he can use a garage, or in the warmer months, your deck or patio.
We had a sausage and chicken paella, but he made a portion of it meat
free for our two vegetarian diners. He offers other paella combinations
of various meats and seafoods as well. Hector also arrives with a great salad and bread that starts off your meal. Once the paella is ready, he brings it to the table and sprinkles it with sherry. Alcohol makes everything better, yes? Then he serves the paella to your guests.
Hector left our kitchen even cleaner than it was when we arrived. Outside of the appetizers, Kevin and I had no need to even be in the kitchen. It was the easiest party I've ever put together and because of that, one of the most fun. I could actually enjoy my guests instead of worrying about feeding them. In fact, we wouldn't have been in the kitchen at all except that everyone was fascinated with the paella process. Hector will tell you about it, step by step, if you wish, with all the patience in the world.
Hector requires a minimum of 10 people (those pans are big you see) and starts at $10 per person. We fed 15 people, although he can feed a party of up to 150. At those prices, feeding 15 people paella is a cheaper option for us than what we would normally shell out to host a dinner party. Kevin just mentioned that by using Hector, we saved about $200 in party
hosting and more than that in time and stress, therefore this is a
Recession Tip! Host a party with your own chef and save money – who
I know I'll be bringing Hector back for future parties at this house and once we move in about a year. I recommend Hector and his paella (and apparently his tailgating options as well). In fact, I'm trying to figure out how to get him to the pre-Jimmy Buffett parties out at Riverbend. How perfect would that be?
Not sure how you feel about paella? That's okay. Hector will be dishing up his excellent paella at several local stores in the next few months. You can find him at The Party Source on Jan 31 and March 26. I think, although I'm not positive on this one, that he'll also be grilling up some paella at each Liquor Direct for a Jorge Ordonez tasting on February 27 and 28.
I'm embedding a slideshow or you can view our photos on Flickr.
Contact Hector at PaellaAtYourPlace.com or via email (hfesteve [at] fuse [dot] net) or phone: 513.528.5241.
Sometimes we all need some Champagne to perk us up. But Champagne, the real stuff (even Grower Champagne), can be a bit pricey. If you want to keep your pocketbook under control, then I have two recommendations for you. I'd love to hear your own recommendations in the comments.
Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvée Chardonnay Champagne, NV, $6.99:
This is the perfect sparkling wine for a lot of things. In the past,
I've purchased this wine in bulk for wedding showers. At $7/bottle,
well, you can't beat it. And as far as cheap sparklers, it has a lot
more flavor than your average cheapie. It's not the best, mind you. And
on its own, it satisfies that sparkler craving, but it's missing those
wonderful pear aromas and that bread-y taste I like so much in the real
stuff. But, it's not too sweet and not bone-dry either. It's actually
What does this wine excel at? Mimosas. If I'm making a bourbon and
coke, I might use Old Crow or Dowling as my bourbon, because they're
decent but cheap. I won't be pouring Four Roses into my Coke. What a
waste! The same theory applies to a Mimosa. I'm not going to pour more
expensive Champagne into my orange juice. I'll lose all the flavor!
But I do want a decent sparkler. My rule of thumb with mixers: I need to be able to drink the mixer on its own, without the urge to dump it immediately.
Barefoot is the perfect, absolutely perfect, Mimosa sparkler. On holidays,
Kevin & I like to have Mimosa Days. All Mimosas, all day. That
takes at least 3 bottles of sparkling wine and 2 cartons of orange
juice. We found a deal on Barefoot last week at Party Town (Turfway).
As we were wandering through the sparkling aisle, we spied a coupon
hanging over the Barefoot section. The coupon gave us $18 off of 6
bottles – making each bottle around $4. I couldn't have been happier.
We plowed through 3 bottles on New Year's Day, mixed with some nice
pulp-free, low-fat Tropicana.
Sofia Minis, "California Carbonated White Wine" , 4-187ml cans, $12.99 – $15.99 for four:
Sofia is canned sparkling wine. The target market? Me (not my Mom). It's a hot pink can
with a pretty floral design and a pink bendy straw. In fact, Sofia was
one of my earliest blog posts, back in June 2004. Here's the thing about Sofia-in-a-can: Sometimes a girl just wants to kick back with some bubbly.
know I don't need to open an entire bottle, but the can is the
perfect serving on those nights when I want to relax with a sparkler.
No, it's not the best sparkling wine in the world, and the bottled
version does taste a bit better, but this isn't bad either. There's a
bit of green apple, with some pear finish. I prefer to pour it in a
glass, as I can taste (or imagine I taste) the tinniness from the can. I won't drink beer from a can either (I'm such a snob). It
gets a pretty decent rating from me, more for convenience than taste.
Oh, and for the bendy straw.
Admit it folks, the economy has got you down. Here we are, moving into a new year, and all they can talk about on the news is war and depression. It's enough to send you into a bottle – but those bottles are expensive! Oh what to do?
Fear not, Wine-Girl is coming to the rescue. While I'll do my best not to intrude on Tim's CheapWineRatings.com territory, I'm going to dip my toe into the pool about once a week. At the beginning of 2009, we'll be launching a new series called Recession Wines.
Each week or so, we'll review a low-cost wine – preferably under $10, but definitely under $15. Remember my $10 and Under post from October? You had some great suggestions for us in those comments. I would love it if you'd add even more to this post. (Or email me. I know, you all are tentative about comments but you love the email.)
In the meantime, I want to offer out two different tips for drinking wine when the money is tight:
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