Calling All Bubble Lovers! (Quality and Won’t Break the Bank)!

Oh, the joy of bubbles brightens everyone’s day, especially a delicious Cava from Spain! 

I received samples of the Freixenet (“fresh-eh-net”) Cordon Negro Brut a.k.a. “the black bottle bubbly” from their PR agency a few weeks ago and my oh my, I was not surprised to taste the most elegant (inside and out) sparkling wine that I have tried thus far in my wine journey; it’s the world’s #1 imported sparkling wine, to say the least (screw top included!).

When I was getting ready to pour a glass, I had to find the chicest glass I had available to keep up with the quality of this Cava. This champagne coup did the trick!

Sipping this sparkling Cava could be considered an art in itself as the pungent bubbles, crisp style, and sleek black bottle are a masterpiece. Very much a show-stopper at any party.  Did I mention a great pairing and aperitif  with raw almonds?

A nice blend of Cavaare Macabeo (35%), Xarel-lo (25%) and Parellada (40%) was crisp with tastes of pear, apple, and citrus yet a tinge of smoky flavor came out of the bottle for me.  A dry sparkling (not too overbearing) and fluttery in the mouth could be considered a good middle-man between a prosecco and a champagne.

And of course, it’s all about the bubbles, you can actually feel the bubbles run down your esophagus and brighten up your whole body.  The best part is, the bubbles never die.  I was sipping on this and taking in all of its flavors for over 20 minutes and it still had just as many bubbles when poured (maybe a hint less, but still!).  One word – QUALITY. Case and point, it feels good all around drinking this Cava and I’m hoping it’s at your ‘End of Summer Soiree’ or at an event outside in your cocktail dress or suit (skinny tie included).

Can be found in the majority of wines stores and numerous restaurants around NYC!  Retails for around $10.95.

Also, want some fun cocktails using this delicious Cava?  {here}


Sunday Sips and Mean Irene!

Well looks like we are all safe and Mean Irene has passed!  So, what do we do with all of the leftover stock in the fridge!?  A Sunday Funday is in order!  We thought it would be fun to get a few $12 and under bottles of sparkling wines to try in case we should be stuck inside all day without power.  Of course, thankfully that isn’t the case so a reason to taste them – Sunday Funday!  

Here are a few tasted, are loved, and under $12!  Of course I had to add in a ‘Go To’ favorite just for comfort in case Irene got really out of hand… Enjoy and hope everyone is safe and well for those along the East Coast who haven’t been hit yet.

Giovello Italy Cuvee Rose Spumante

I loved the bottle and logo and was craving a sparkling rose and this jumped right out at me. Only $12 this wine totally blew me away with it’s refreshing taste, lively bubbles and its vibrantly dry yet ripened fruity taste!  A beautiful color and great to serve as an apéritif with a bit of cheese and almonds.  

Voveti Prosecco NV

This was another great $12 bottle for it’s taste!  The Italian Prosecco was very fruity and had these tiny bubbles that lasted all the way through to the finish.  A green apple taste with hints of ripe peach made us forget about any sort of hurricane coming!  A incredible length for a Prosecco and price!  

Mionetto Prosecco Brut NV

Another great Prosecco, one which could be considered my ‘go to’ and great for mimosas is the Mionetto.  It also has tiny long lasting bubbles and has a lovely tart, green apple taste.  Full of citrus and a bit dry this tastes very close to a champagne but you mustn’t let it sit in your glass for too long as the bubbles start to fade.  A GREAT Prosecco for a brunch party especially if you are serving mimosas for lots of people because it’s only $10!

Box, Can, Keg O’ Wine…

From the WSJ, take a look at the life of Box O’ Wine… A great alternative for situations where bottles might be too bulky and inconvenient (i.e. on boats, park, near hard surfaces etc…).  They also share a few suggestions on good types of Box O’ Wine that not only taste good but are available at a reasonable price point!  These are perfect for your outdoor Spring Celebration!

Happy Monday!  Enjoy!

Paper or Plastic? Wine by the Box, Keg and Can


The ancient Romans are said to have pioneered a packaging breakthrough by putting wines in glass bottles. As subsequent generations of wine producers realized, wine tasted better, looked better and lasted longer this way. Glass also allowed winemakers of different countries and regions to tailor individual looks—tall, thin green bottles for wines of the Mosel, square-necked bottles for Bordeaux and rounder, brownish bottles for Burgundy.

[Wine1]F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street JournalPACKAGE DEAL: Pouring a glass of Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Today’s wine-packaging breakthroughs include metal barrels, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, aluminum cans and even test tubes (available only in France, at least for now). Winemakers proclaim the ecological friendliness (smaller carbon footprint!) and the economy (cheaper than glass!) of some of these new formats, but I wondered if any of them actually one-up the Romans. Do they make a wine look better, taste better, last longer or, for that matter, express a regional identity? I don’t think, for example, I could tell a Bordeaux from a Burgundy in a Tetra Pak.

The Tetra Pak container is the most widely distributed of these alternate wine packages. First created in 1943 by Ruben Rausing in Sweden as an “aseptic” cardboard container for milk, Tetra Pak cartons have since been employed to hold a variety of liquids, including wine.

Tetra Pak has attracted many ambitious wine producers, some of whom have even begun turning out vintage-dated products. However, California winemaker Joel Gott, who owns both Gott Wines (packaged in traditional glass bottles) and Bandit wines (packaged in Tetra), says vintage dating on these packages is just “a marketing ploy.” Though one of his Bandit wines, a Merlot, carries a vintage date, most of them have “bottling” dates embossed on the box tops. Mr. Gott says it’s more important to know when the wine was packaged than its vintage. “Tetra wines oxidize after about 24 months,” said Mr. Gott. “And whites age faster but reds lose their color sooner.” He counseled consumption within the first year of production.

Mr. Gott is a bit of a packaging impresario; after an attempt to revive the old “fingerhook” glass jug of the 1970s, he was a pioneer of Tetra-packaged wines in the U.S., launching Bandit in 2003. It’s been a great success, according to Mr. Gott, who sold an impressive 300,000 cases of Bandit last year (versus 90,000 of his glass-bottled Gott wines). The Bandit boxes come in a Crayola-colored array: green for Pinot Grigio, blue for Merlot. Unlike conventional bottles, whose labels convey information about the wine, the Bandit boxes are covered with facts about packaging: “Made largely of renewable resources! 33% more wine! 96% wine, 4% packaging!”

Mr. Gott is currently experimenting with PET bottles (aka polyethylene terephthalate, a recycled plastic used for cheap wines in Europe) but says it’s been a challenge: “It’s hard to make the PET bottle look large enough. When you put a regular-sized [750 ml] bottle in PET plastic, it looks like a 500 ml bottle,” said Mr. Gott.

Jean Charles Boisset, scion of a famous Burgundy family (now married into the yet more famous Gallo clan) is another PET proponent. The Boissets produce Fog Mountain California Merlot in a 1-liter PET bottle. Originally produced for the Marriott hotels, it’s now available at a handful of retail stores.

The Boissets (who also produce California Rabbit in Tetra Pak boxes) surmounted the problem of the seemingly too-small bottle by putting a cardboard collar around the neck of the Fog Mountain bottle. The collar notes that the PET bottle holds “33% more wine” than a regular bottle as well as a few more interesting facts, including a note that the bottle has a “60% smaller” carbon footprint than a regular glass bottle and that seven recycled Fog Mountains could produce a single extra-large T-shirt.

The future production of clothing seemed like a peculiar incentive to buy a particular wine (unless said T-shirt would be yours at some point in time). So, too, did the fact of a wine’s carbon footprint—though this phrase was cited over and over again on wine packages. In fact, “carbon footprint” seems to be the “terroir” of winemakers using alternative packaging—a phrase everyone likes to hear, even if they don’t know what it means.

Almost as popular is the phrase “wine on tap,” used by makers of wine in kegs. Barreled and dispensed much like Budweiser, wine kegs have been attracting more and more winemakers in the past several years. Sonoma-based Dan Donahoe, one the first wine-on-tap producers, told me he sold “the equivalent of 5,000 cases” of Silvertap wines in 2010 and expects to sell four to five times that much in 2011. Once pretty much alone in the market, he estimates there are three or four more companies producing wines on tap and numerous wineries (Saintsbury, Palmina, Syklark) who use his “custom kegging” services.

One of Mr. Donahue’s first clients was Todd Rushing of the restaurant Two Urban Licks in Atlanta. Mr. Rushing opened his restaurant six years ago serving only wines on tap. For Mr. Rushing, the biggest incentive to go total-tap was “the green aspect, first and foremost” he said, citing the (inevitable) “carbon footprint.” But the system used to keep his kegs full—sending barrels back and forth to California by Fed Ex for refilling—seems like it could leave a fairly sizable carbon footprint as well.

Bruce Schneider may have a solution to that problem. Mr. Schneider, who produces keg wines from New York State grapes under the Gotham Project label, has a list of proposed “filling stations” around the country that would localize his barrel returns. “As we expand we’ll have filling stations across the country,’ Mr. Schneider said unfurling his map over lunch at the Breslin in Manhattan, one of his top wine-on-tap customers. The map looked like something a wildcatter might use—not to drill for oil but to barrel Riesling and Cabernet Franc.

His wines, on the other hand, were a delight: the Gotham Project Riesling and Cabernet Franc were fresh, lively and bright, and quite reasonably priced at $8 a glass. “Wine on tap is about 25% cheaper than their bottle equivalent,” said Mr. Schneider. “And we pass the savings along to our customers,” said Carla Rzeszewski, the ebullient manager of the Breslin who joined us.

A week or so after my Breslin lunch, I began amassing various alternatively packaged wines. It wasn’t easy—in fact I probably I left a pretty large carbon footprint tracking them all down.

Was it worth all the effort (and carbon)? With a few exceptions, I’d have to say no. Or, in alternative-packaging-speak, the expended energy wasn’t commensurate to the pleasure experienced. The wines in aluminum cans tasted tinny and thin and left me thinking (longingly) of beer. Ditto the Fog Mountain Merlot, which I mostly admired for the amount of information they managed to fit on its cardboard collar.

The California Rabbit Pinot was pleasant (and cheap) enough, and I did think a couple of the Bandit wines were pretty good—a light Pinot Grigio, a simple, juicy Merlot. I was quite impressed with a Spanish rosé and an Argentinian Torrontés, both from Yellow+Blue, an all-organic producer that buys wines from all over the world and packages them in Tetra. I also have hope for wine on tap, given my Gotham Project experience.

Sometimes it wasn’t the wines but the boxes themselves that failed. When my Bota Box wine leaked all over as I poured it, a friend who was watching commented, “I can’t say I’ve ever had that experience with a glass bottle.” I had to agree (and find something else to wear).

Though I admire the ambition, not to mention of the resourcefulness and the ecological mindfulness of these producers, my carbon footprint isn’t likely to be getting much smaller soon. I’ll be doing as the Romans did—at least for now.

Oenofile: Alternate packaging

Although I also loved some of the wines on tap that I tasted, they’re only served at restaurants—hence, these five in boxes and Tetra Paks.

Bandit Pinot Grigio, 1 liter, $8

[boxwine1]Bandit Pinot Grigio
Most Pinot Grigios are styled for immediate consumption rather than depth or complexity. The Bandit California Pinot Grigio, a light, simple white is in the former category but it’s an excellent aperitif to serve at a pool party—or a boat. (A retailer whose shop isn’t far from the water told me she carries Bandit especially for boaters.)

2009 California Rabbit Pinot Noir, $6 (500 ml, $5)

[boxwine5]2009 California Rabbit Pinot Noir 

A pleasingly light Pinot from Boisset Family Estates—whose holdings are in both Burgundy and California—makes a Tetra Pak wine that spans both continents as well. It’s a California wine that’s lively, drinkable and, well, quite cheap.

2009 Yellow and Blue Torrontes, 1 liter, $12

[boxwine2]2009 Yellow and Blue Torrontes 

This fresh lively white from the Salta province of Argentina is made from Argentina’s Most Favored White grape. It’s also made from certified organic grapes (as are all Yellow and Blue wines). Marked by a bright acidity, it’s a particularly delightful aperitif.

2009 Yellow and Blue Malbec, 1 liter, $12

[boxwine3]2009 Yellow and Blue Malbec 

If there is one company that seems to be doing particularly right by Tetra Pak, it’s Yellow and Blue. I really liked the three wines (there was also a rosé) that I tried. The Malbec, from San Juan Argentina is light to medium bodied with soft tannins and notes of strawberry.

2010 Domaine Le Garrigon Cotes du Rhone, 3 liters, $41

[boxwine4]2010 Domaine Le Garrigon Cotes du Rhone 

Made by respected Rhone winemaker Daniel Couston, this Grenache-dominant red is juicy, bright and positively delightful. The package is a combination of old and new: a plastic bag inside an attractive wooden case.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page D6

90+ Cellars – “Rated Wines at an Extreme Value”

90+ Cellars Label

I read an article on (take a look!) about this company 90+ Cellars who offer high quality and high rated wines for a discounted price!  They make sure that their oversupply is a 90 or higher in rating and is the best buy from a respected winery.  In this sense it’s like a Marshalls when you find that great designer bag for half the price!  They literally have bottles that would be $75 for only $25!  The only catch (and I think the really fun part), is that you have no idea what winery the wine came from!  So take a chance and indulge in a gold medal wine at an affordable price and try to guess where it came from!  For all of those wine enthusiasts out there it sounds like a great idea as an activity at your next house/apartment party!

I’ve outlined a few stores in NY and Boston that carry the brand but you can find all locations on their website!  Can wait to try this!!


International Wine & Spirits
2903 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

Uptown Wine Shop
1361 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10128

(UWS is the first store to bring 90 into NYC!)

Chelsea Wine Vault
75 9 Avenue
New York, NY 10011


Salem Wine Imports
32 Church Street
Salem, MA 01970


106 South St
Boston, 02111

189 State Street
Boston, 02109

Charlestown Liquors
10 Thompson Square
Charlestown, MA 02129-3316

Golden Goose
179 Commercial St
Boston, MA 02109

Charles Street Liquors
143 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114

216 Border Street
Boston, MA 02128

Wine Woot! – Deal of the Day

If you’ve heard of (daily deals on electronics) then you must know of or at least grasp the concept of wine woot!  For those of you looking for another website that is great for getting wine steals, sign up for Wine.Woot! and get amazing deals daily!

Today they are featuring a “Red Ty Affair” which consists of 3 bottles of Ty Caton Vinyards, Sonoma, CA 2005 which is made up of 62% Syrah, 26% Merlot, 6%Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petite Sirah (sounds pretty darn fruity and delicious) for $49.99.  What a STEAL!

So, for those of you who haven’t signed up for a wine club yet and are hesitant to do so, sign up for Wine Woot and feel free to choose whatever deals you like and be in control of your own wine club!

Unfortunately,  due to state legislatures wine can only be delivered to the following states so for my friends and family who live in Mass.. Let me know what you want, but you must come visit me to pick it up!!!! :)

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming – Daily Wine Steals

Want a fabulous website for great deals on amazing wines!?? Sign up for invino!  I receive a newsletter from them daily that offer discounted bottles of wine.  Some are too good to be true!  Each wine offered displays extensive background giving the viewer insights into the wine’s tasting notes, ratings, details about the winery itself, insider reviews, and recommendations  for food pairings.  I have yet to purchase anything from this website but log on everyday to see what great deals they have going on and just to see what wines they are displaying for inspiration into my next delectable purchase.

So sign up to receive free newsletters and offers they present everyday!  And as an added bonus, get a $20 credit for all friends/family that you get to sign up with you!


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