Tag Archives: relaxation

Soccer Mom Sommelier: The Seven Deadly Zins 2012 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel

Soccer Mom Sommelier: The Seven Deadly Zins 2012 Zinfandel

This week I was on a mission to revisit types of grapes that I had at some point in my life decided were not to my taste.  One such wine on my dislike list is Zinfandel.  I’ve only ever had a few, and I can’t even remember which specific brands, but for some reason I’ve avoided Zinfandel for years.  It doesn’t really seem fair to write off an entire selection of wines from a few bad experiences, so that is how I found myself at the grocery store recently trying to decide which lucky bottle was going to redeem the entire Zinfandel name for me.

After about fifteen minutes (hubby, knowing my indecisiveness, usually leaves me alone in the wine aisle and continues shopping) had it narrowed down to two bottles.  One appeared serious and “respectable,” the other boasted a cheesy moniker on a faux-burnt label: The Seven Deadly Zins 2012 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel.  It was so corny looking that it couldn’t be legit– so of course that’s the bottle I picked.  Priced at $12, it wouldn’t be a huge loss if it turned out to indeed be terrible.

An intense ruby, almost blood red color in the glass, it was actually a very attractive wine.  I took a whiff before I tasted any– it smelled pleasant enough.  First sip– “Oh!”  I think I actually said that out loud.  It was full of deep, complex flavors and I really liked it.  Subsequent sips (or gulps) only solidified my happy surprise.  There’s plenty of smooth, jammy fruit: ripe cherries, blackberries, and plums.  There is a dose of warm vanilla and cinnamon, balanced by a hint of the spicy burn of black pepper.  A little earthy leather rounds out the palate.

It is still a bit difficult for me to look past the kitschy bottle and name, and maybe it’s not what you’d give the boss as a meant-to-impress Christmas present.  However, it is a really tasty wine and I would absolutely buy it again to enjoy in my home or to take to the rare, but much-needed “Girls’ Night.”  And really, for $12 you can call it whatever you want as long as it’s good!

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Soccer Mom Sommelier: Alexander Valley Vineyards 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

The hubby is actually very supportive of my blogging.  Every day he bugs me to see if I have written anything and if I haven’t yet, reminds me of how important it is to keep up with new material.  But somehow I have the reputation of being the nag…hmmm!

Another, more appreciated form of support is that every time he goes grocery shopping, he always brings home a new bottle of wine or two for me to try for my Soccer Mom Sommelier section.  This week he presented me with a bottle of Alexander Valley Vineyards 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.  My last job was Sales & Marketing Manager at a high-end steakhouse– unbeknownst to hubby, this was our house red.  However, I was pregnant most of my time there, so I never had a chance to taste it.  How funny that this is what Mateo grabbed for me!  I was very curious, as house wines are usually nothing to write home about.

I loved this wine at first sip!  I should have known it would be a quality bottle– I spent a few months training under our Wine Director, and he really knew his stuff.  It comes as no surprise that the cabernet he selected for our house red would be more than just your average swill.

While the wine is primarily made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes (it has to be in order to carry the name), it is blended with small amounts of the classic Bordeaux varietals: Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.  This, along with 14 months barrel aging adds a complexity not usually found in Cabernets in the bargain price range (this one was right at $15.)

As is common is California reds, Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is decidedly fruit-forward.  Black cherries, plums, currants, and ripe blackberries burst on the palate.  What I especially love about this wine is the smooth texture that I can only describe as velvet in your mouth– so unexpectedly luxurious.

I’m enjoying a glass as I type– my reward for cleaning the laundry room (which seems to be the area of the house we let slide– I know I’m not the only one!)  But really, who needs an excuse to have a fabulous glass of red wine?

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva

Soccer Mom Sommelier: Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva 2011

This is another favorite of the hubby’s from his days at an Italian restaurant.  Maybe you’ve heard of it already.  Ruffino is a well known Italian winemaker, and their Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva sets the standard for everyday Italian reds, specifically Chiantis.  If you’ve yet to try this grocery store gem, rest assured that like all of my other wine picks, you can usually find it for under $15.

As a classic example of an Italian red, Ruffino Riserva Ducale is rich and earthy.  You’ll taste smooth Oak (it’s aged for 24 months), supple leather, and fall leaves.  Don’t believe that these could be good things to have in your glass?  Just trust me and give it a try.  Ripe cherries and dried fruits like figs add brightness and balance.  It will definitely have a different profile than your usual California red (see last week’s “lesson” on Old Word vs. New), but simply put, this is a great introduction to Italian wines.

The weekend is just about here, and if you even need an excuse to pick up a bottle of wine, you can always say that you are broadening your horizons and going global.  I’ll toast to that!

2012 MacMurray Pinot Noir

Soccer Mom Sommelier: 2012 MacMurray Estate Vineyards Central Coast Pinot Noir

I wasn’t planning on reviewing wine tonight, but after an exhausting evening I figured it was a good excuse to have a glass!  When I was studying for my sommelier exam a few years ago, my hubby (just boyfriend at the time) brought me a bottle of his favorite pinot noir: MacMurray Ranch (also known as MacMurray Estate Vineyards).  To reward myself for hours of reading and memorization each night, I would taste different wines to help better understand what I was learning…seriously!  I was studying! 🙂

Back to the wine: hubby used to work at an Italian restaurant and often got to sample wines as they were added to the menu.  At the time, MacMurray Ranch was newcomer to the wine industry, but Matt thought their pinot noir was something special.  Fortunately, so did a lot of other people, as today it is pretty easy to find.  Not only is it widely distributed, the Central Coast bottle is inexpensive– we can usually find it for around $13 at the local grocery store.  But don’t let the price fool you– this is a quality wine– better even than some for which I’ve paid significantly more.

This is one of the richer pinots I’ve had, full of fruit, notably black cherry, raspberry, plum, strawberry, and blackberry.  A touch of oak adds a spiciness not often found in pinot noir– it reminds me a little of a syrah in that sense.  In very basic terms: this is fruity, yet complex wine bursting with flavor.  It is smooth and well-rounded– easy to drink for red-wine “beginners,” but interesting enough to please sophisticated palates as well.

This is our go-to red wine at the Rodriguez house.  Every time I open a bottle I am surprised by how much I like this wine and just how good it really is.  It tastes like a splurge bottle, but you can fit it on a soccer mom’s budget.  What’s more to love?

Golden Saddlebred

Mom’s Happy Place

I found myself getting to be in a bad mood today.  For some reason, I seem to get less sleep on Saturdays than any other morning of the week.  Both kids were up and ready to start the day by 8:30.  This after being awake with Annabelle at 1:30am, 4:30am, and 5:30am.  As a bar/restaurant manager, Matt works late on weekends, so I decided to treat him to sleeping as late as he wanted– which happened to be 1:30pm.  Yeah.  I can’t even remember the last time I was able to sleep 7 hours completely uninterrupted. (To his credit, he put Annabelle back to sleep after her 5:30am waking).

So Matt rolls out of bed while the girls and I are finishing lunch, and I caught myself scowling as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.  I forget what I asked, but his response was not in the tone of undying gratitude that I felt I deserved for being a martyr this morning.  I got madder.  Then he asked if he could run to the store real quick before I left for the barn– he bribed me with Starbucks, so I obliged.  The “quick” trip ended up taking an hour and a half.  I was pissed.  I stomped off with my coffee that wasn’t even hot anymore and started the 40 minute trek to go visit my horse Goldie, who Matt didn’t seem to care that I hadn’t seen in TWO weeks and I felt very guilty about.

When I finally arrived at 4:00pm, what little sun was able to make its way through the clouds was hanging low in the sky.  A brisk breeze was blowing, putting a chill in the 60 degree air.  Amazingly, Goldie wasn’t very dirty, so we didn’t have to spend too much time cooped up in the stall grooming and were able to get right outside.  I instantly felt better.

There’s no turnout on Saturdays, so Goldie was thrilled to get out and stretch her legs– actually, it turned out to be more of a strut.  Cool, crisp days are her favorite, and she had an extra spring in her step which reminded me of our long ago horse show days.  I couldn’t help but smile at her youthful exuberance– she looked far from twenty-four years old.  She looked so beautiful I actually whipped out my phone (which usually never leaves my pocket during barn visits) and took a short video of her prancing.

When she was finished with her workout and we headed back inside to clean up, I realized that every trace of anger and resentment that had built up during the day had faded.  I wasn’t really mad– I was just exhausted.  I needed a couple hours to get away to what I have always called “my happy place,” wherever Goldie is.  I love the smell of barn– the fresh sawdust, dirt that always seems to float in the air, leather.  As a child I played outside most of the time, but as an adult I spend so much of my life indoors.  Obviously I get a little stir-crazy and the only cure is fresh air and equines.

At home later that evening, I tried to be patient with Matt when he still seemed tired.  He works so hard to take care of all his women and deserves a rest too.  We are a team, and sometimes you have to pick up the slack for your teammate.  Maybe I can get a nap on one of his days off– or maybe, just maybe, the girls will sleep past 9am this morning!  One can only hope… 🙂

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The Soccer Mom Sommelier: 2013 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier

It’s Friday night so you know what that means– mommy gets to have a glass of wine after the kids are in bed!  I generally prefer red, but I recently stumbled upon a deliciously drinkable white (hubby took note and grabbed a bottle for me for the weekend– definitely earned himself some brownie points!)  Pine Ridge 2013 Chenin Blanc + Viognier is an interesting, non-traditional combination of varietals (80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier).  It’s really affordable too– I got it for around ten bucks.  What’s not to love?

In my “past life” as a working mom I did some time as a sommelier, so while I’m no expert, I do know a little about wine.  I’ll provide my unofficial tasting notes–basically what the wine tasted like to me– this may or may not be how the wine is described on the winemaker’s website.  I’m not a wine snob (if it’s not total garbage or spoiled I’ll drink it), so I like to keep it basic.

The wine has a smooth mouth-feel, with a pop of effervescence, which especially after just poured gives it a hint of “sparkle.”  The nose is bright and citrusy; on the palate I get apple, golden pear, peach, and lemon with a hint of floral.  To keep it super simple: it tastes and smells really good and I like that it has a few bubbles– it does not have that flat taste that some whites do.

So, if you’re like me and treat yourself occasionally after a long week– go get this wine!  It would also be great if you’re having company over– it’s so easy to drink that it will definitely be a crowd pleaser.

Happy Friday mamas!