Saturday, January 31, 2009

Day 16-Lil' Red Truck by Illinois River Winery for under $15

This winery is in Utica, Illinois just down the road from the August Hill Winery. We went to Utica with a day off in early December to wine taste at the three wineries in that area. Utica is about 2 hrs from Des Plaines, all expressway, but a bit of a drive. The woman at the Illinois River Winery was super friendly and gave discounts on the cute shirts they sold that I had to get two of since the price was right. For the wine drinkers of Illinois, I would emphatically reccomend a trip to Utica to visit the wineries and take in lunch, Utica is very close to Starved Rock and if you want to make a weekend of it there is a waterpark hotel in Starved Rock.
This is a concord wine, very similar to the Mt Pleasant Harvest Red. I find this wine more tart than the Mt Pleasant and it is slightly higher in alcohol at 11.8%. It has a strong grape aroma and taste that reminds you of of Welch's grape juice. If you like one concord, my thoughts is that you should try them all, because they range in sweetness and finish. The Illinois concords that I have run across tend to be sweeter wines, and have very grapey flavor. I love the smell of this wine and find it to be one of the most fragrant grapes in making wine. In terms of pairing this wine, I am going to say that this wine may seem overpowering for main courses, however I don't think you could find a better match for a cheese plate or chocolate sampler.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 15-New Age White Wine under $10 dollars at WineStyles in DesPlaines

I tried this wine for the first time at WineStyles in Des Plaines and it was so popular it came back once or twice for a repeat. This is labeled a while wine from Argentina and has a very cool bottle with a picture of a lady on the inside of the bottle. This wine has some fizz to it however is not in the category of a sparkling wine or a champagne. This is just your slightly sweet, slightly fruity, crisp, slightly bubbly table wine. I am drinking it tonight with spicy pasta with a white sauce and it goes well. I stayed home with the peanut today, peanut is code for Tyler Graham, and waiting until 5 pm for a glass was a difficult endeavor. Peanut has run a fever for the last 2 days. My friends also enjoyed this wine when they joined us at Winestyles for an evening and bought a bottle themsleves. This was wine became so popular at Winestyles that it sold out continually. New Age White wine with a twist of lime was the hot drink of the summer of 2008 and there is no question why. It is sweet and refreshing and quenches your thirst versus some wines that make you more thirsty. A great barbecue wine, birthday party wine, and wine for novices. You can't be the price and it is wonderful wine.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day 14- Gancia Asti for under $10.00 at Binny's Beverage Depot

I want to start out today's blog with a sad note. The WineStyles of Des Plaines owned by Mark and worked by Jim and Lindsey is closing at the end of next week. I have been going to WineStyles since they opened only taking a break for the 9 months I was pregnant. Going there on Thursdays for the wine tasting was our date of the week. The atmosphere was always very festive and friendly with choice cheeses and crackers and wonderful wines. Winestyles was my favorite tasting locale, it was the Cheers of wine, and I won't forget the times I had there and the wonderful people I met there. I wish Mark the best in his future endeavors and I hope he will keep me on the email list if he decides to open another wine shop. Jim, our fellow sweet wine drinker, I hope you will keep in touch and I see you around at other tastings in the area. Lindsey, good luck in your wedding and upcoming marriage.
In order to understand about this wine you need to understand Asti. Asti is a region of Piedmont, Italy known for their sweet sparkiling wines made from Moscato grapes. Basically speaking all wines labeled Moscato di Asti or Asti are sweet sparkling wines. Sorocco, the first Moscato di Asti we ever bought was the springboard for me and better half in the wines from the Asti region and sweet wines. This wine, like all Moscato di Asti's taste better well chilled. This wine is a sparkling wine, but not very sparkling or bubbly, it is sweet and would do well as your every day moscato di asti since the price is right and it is not overly sweet like some moscato di asti. My sister complains that moscato di asti's taste like juice and there is that point that these wines taste more sweet than alcoholic. This wine is only 7.5% alcohol which is only slightly higher than beer and/or a wine cooler. This is a good wine for celebrations, New Years Eve if you need to buy in bulk, however, tonight I would say this wine does not match my mood at all. I am sad that my Thursday nights will now be empty and that I will not be seeing some very friendly people who loved wine like I do on a weekly basis.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day 13- Trapolino of the August Hill Winery at $14.95

Obviously, I drink too much wine because I have 2 Day 11's and no Day 12. Please forgive me the Strawberry is Day 12 and hopefully I will be able to keep my days straight. I am not trying to say one wine blends into another, but keeping to the schedule of a sweet wine day is allowing me to separate my days individually so I can revisit the night before. Back to the Trapolino, described by the vintners as being a sweet red table wine. I agree this wine makes a great table wine, however I did not find this wine to be particularly sweet and not particularly dry. The wine seemed to be a blend, and was very tasty. The wine has a lot of body with a strong fruit aroma of cherry, blackberry some oakiness, however my significant other will agree I am not very good on determining if something is aged in oak for any time because I think I miss label some like flavors for oakiness when it is something else. What that is, who knows? This wine was a good sipping wine and I drank a large glass while watching Srgt. Bilko on the on demand free movies. The wine is very smooth and has a great finish. This wine is a great wine to bring to a dinner and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. August Hill just doesn't make bad wines, you make not like the type of wine or the style, but the wine is always true to the grape and very elegant.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 11-Strawberry of the Montelle Winery in Augusta, MO priced at around $10

I am a social worker for a managed care company where I am connected to a computer all day, therefore when I am not answering calls I am able to surf the web a significant amount. I bought about 7 bottles of wine direct from this winery in Missouri because the offered a significant amount of money off if you bought 6 or more bottles and their wines had won awards, so I said why not. My personality is to try new things all the time, which is why I am very excited about trying 365 different sweet wines. So I spend a lot of time on the internet looking for new and interesting fruit and sweet wines.
Back to the Strawberry that Montelle reports is made from 100% strawberries and is not blended with other grapes. I have tried a strawberry that was blended with a white zinfadel from the Village Vintner that was very good, so I am not bashing on blending wines with fruit wines. Lynfred fruit wines and Cooperhawk wines are renowned for their 100% fruit and a certain # of pounds of fruit go into each bottle and most are very good also. The Strawberry from Montelle is also very good. It is the color of a White Zinfandel and smells of strawberry with out being overpoweringly sweet. The winery reccomends possibly spritzing this wine or serving it over ice and I don't think any of that is neccessary. It is a very light and crisp wine with that first taste of sweet strawberries with a tart finish. I was pleasantly surprised that this wine did not taste like liquid strawberry jam. I have tasted some wines that blended strawberry with two other fruits and needed to be spritzed because it was so heavy and thick. Some fruit wines you can pour over cheesecake, however this wine is not like this at all, basically this tastes like a strawberry wine not like a strawberry spread. This wine is definitely a summer wine with its clean, fresh taste and its light finish. If you like strawberries, but you don't like wine you may not like this wine, because this wine is not a liquid strawberry it is more of a strawberry flavored wine. This wine reminds me of strawberry picking in the summer, with my significant other getting strawberries all over his jeans and complaining that we would never fill our baskets and then after filling our baskets complaining we would never eat all those strawberries, which we did not.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 11 La Sera Red Malvasia at $16.99 at Vintages in Arlington Heights and Grand Cru

Red Malvasia is an Italian sweet red sparkling wine. This wine like the Rosa Regale is a sweet Italian red bubbly. This bubbly is a more intense fruity and sweet and less elegant than the Rosa. Don't get me wrong, I like this wine a lot, it is simply different than Rosa Regale. I find this wine to be a replacement for dessert. However, this wine is good by itself as simply a drinking wine, chilled, which is typical for most sweet wines. When I first opened the bottle I thought it had strange finish, but after airing the wine for a short period of time I did not notice the finish. I bought this wine for the first time at an Italian wine tasting with my sister, who felt it was of course, too sweet. I am partial to sweet red sparklings and think is one of the wines I will drink year after year as long as they continue to make a quality red sweet sparkling.
This is a great festive wine that can be used at any occasion for a ice breaker or for dessert and the alcohol content of 5.5% will keep you sober enough to conitinue to enjoy the party well after you have polished off the bottle.

Day 10 cont..

Sorry about that but sometimes I am pulled away by Tyler Graham, my 14 month old son, and I have trouble finishing a thought. What I was trying to say was that if you have tried the Winter Whites and Winter Reds of Lynfred Winery and Cooperhawk and did not like them, still give Glogg a try because I found the Winter Whites and Winter Reds medicinally and not much like the Glogg at all except they were both served warm and had some spices in common.

Day 10-The Glogg at $16.99 by the Village Vintner Winery

The Village Vintner Winery is a unique place where they make their own wines by the batch. They do a lot of fruit and wine blends that are just delicious and are very reasonably priced. They offer packages where you can make your own batch and then make the labels for wines for all types of special occasions. I am a member of their wine club because in addition to having a sweet wine club, they offer all kinds of discounts like bring in your corks for $1 off, 30% on your first 3 bottles when you join the club, and other little goodies that make this wine club a pretty good deal.
Back to the Glogg, I lover their glogg. I first tasted it at the store and it was served warm, glogg is suppose to be served warm but never boiled, and I could not stop putting my cup under the spout for the free tasting. It's hard to describe a Glogg, it is sweet with a lot of spices, but not too sweet. According to the bottle, the Village Vintner uses port as a base and blends it with fruits, nuts, clove, cardamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a twist of brandy. For people who do not like the thickness of port do not worry, the glogg does not have that consistency. I am able to drink glogg warmed like people drink warm apple cider in the winter. Thankfully, it is only 10% alcohol other wise I would really be in trouble. I have tried the Lynfred Glogg which I found to be more of an apple tasting glogg, and a homemade glogg by a wine shop in Galesburg which was also good. If you like the variety of spices, tend to like a spicey apple cider, like the taste of wine overall, my guess is you will like glogg. For people that have tried the winter spice wines both red and white of l

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day 9-Mount Pleasant's Harvest Red found at Winestyles in Des Plaines for about $11.00

This bottle of wine almost was not to be because I put it in the freezer to chill it fast and forgot about it until the next morning. My mom found it in the freezer frozen solid and left it out to defrost. She was surprised the entire bottle did not bust in the freezer and wondered since it was alcohol why it froze at all.
The reason it froze is because unlike a vodka which is 80 proof and does not freeze when you put it in the freezer, this bottle is about 7% alcohol or 14 proof. This wine is your classic concord wine, basically your alcoholic grape juice. Welch's grape juice uses the same type of grapes, hence there are great similarities between the Harvest Red and the Welch's grape juice. This is a very fragrant wine with a very grapey nose and is light and sweet. It is a sweet wine that tastes very similar to grape juice which why I would really never pair it with food. This wine may be best with cheeses and desserts, however this is one of my favorite concord's. My better half is also a big fan of this wine, he loves most concord's and at this price you really can't go wrong. It is a great beginner's wine for someone who likes grape juice and has really never tried wine or believes all wine is dry.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day 8- EOS Tears of Dew Late Harvest Moscato in Estate Bottled in Paso Robles

This wine is extremely sweet. Wine flavored honey would be the way I would describe this wine. I tried this wine at a Wine Festival in Grant Park in Chicago in September 2008. The presenters described the wine as an ice wine, however it only resembles the Ice Wine in the amount of brix and sugar content with it being around 17.65 brix. The wine tastes of a thicker, sweeter moscato with flavors of orange and pineapple. I find this type of wine to be too sweet for me, and it feels like it leaves a film on my teeth it is so syrupy. The wine comes in a half bottle of 375ml which is another indication that this wine can only be drank in small doses. To a certain extent, this wine is like the white counterpart to port. This wine does not pair with dessert, in my opinion, because the wine piles sweetness upon sweetness and would be best served as replacing dessert.
Getting back to the Windy City Wine Festival that I tried this wine at, I just want to report that this wine festival was a great time. There are over 100 wines to taste for all palates and most price ranges, I don't think many of the wines tasted are over $40. It is a good chance to see some new wines, try some new wines, and get a discount on ordering some wine from Binny's. I had to come home early form the wine event because my better half was struggling with the baby and I was still able to try over 40 wines. Also, ordering the wine from your nearby Binny's was no problem I did it over the phone on the following day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 7-Rosa Regale by Banfi 2007 found recently at the lowest price at Costco for $16.99 found previously at Vintages in Arlington Heights and Binny's

I love this wine. I have never a person who does not like this wine, even the dry wind drinkers like Rosa Regale. It is so good it comes in half as well as full bottles, and unless you shop around it is rather pricy. Rosa Regale is a bubbly red wine with the flavors of raspberry and rose petals. Every occasion calls for Rosa Regale, romance, friends night out, house warming, valentines gift, bad day at work, good day at work, you name it, drink Rosa Regale with it. I have tasted this wine at WineStyles and Vintages with both chocolate and without and I enjoy it more and more every time. Whenever this wine is opened, many people are opened up to the possibilty of a sparkling wine not being dry and being sweet with distinct fruit flavors that do not overwhelm. My sister tried this wine and thinks it was ok, she prefers a off-dry wine versus a sweet wine, however she did not share any of her rosa when I bought her a petite bottle. This wine has a low alcohol content of about 7% so you can drink the entire 750ml bottle and wake up without a hangover, however, the calorie count may be quite large, so find someone to share it with, my better half, would absolutely kill me if I drank the bottle of Rosa without him.

Day 6- Grandma's Blush around $13.00 of Fox Valley Winery

The Grandma's Blush was the second wine in January's sweet wine club. I did notenjoy this wine. The wine is described as a red table wine and it has the color and the consistency of a white zinfandel, however I did not find this wine sweet or fruity. I found the wine to be very acidic and maybe it was recently bottled and still has the bottle shock taste, where the flavors of the wine have not had a chance to come out. I don't know. I am surprised that this wine was such a disappointment because the other wines I have received from this winery, the niagra, the spice wine, and the late harvest zinfandel were all very good. I didn't pair it with food because their were no distinctive flavors to the wine, no strawberry, no raspberry, and so we just choked it down on its own. This will also be a 2 day wine since it was not very good, however tomorrow's wine we have had before and it is delicious.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day 5- Niagara around $13 at Fox Valley Winery located in Oswego, Illinois

You may be asking why I have so many wines from Illinois and the answer is because the wines in Illinois tend to be sweeter and more focused on fruit wines. In addition, a lot of Illinois wineries have sweet wine clubs and I am a member of the Fox Valley Winery sweet wine club which means I receive two bottles of sweet wines every other month for about $20 including shipping. The niagara wine from fox valley is one of the best niagara's around. Niagara is the grape and it is the grape used in making white grape juice, and so niagara tastes like white grape juice. Niagaras are almost always sweet, however, somtimes they overally sweet and thick feeling and too much. However, this niagara is delicious and can be chilled and sipped on through out the day without feeling that you need to brush your teeth or you have been eating candy all day. The wine is very gold in color, tends to be lower in etoh content around 10% and is generally labeled as a white table wine.
My significant other and I have made it a mission of ours to visit all the wineries in Illinois, we have visited around 15 of the wineries and there are over 40 wineries in the state. We are members of the sweet wine club at August Hill Winery, the Village Vintner, and Fox Valley Winery and the white wine club at Lynfred so a lot of wines that I will be posting will be from these wineries and that is why. I go tasting for different sweet wines outside of Illinois at Binny's, Vintages in Arlington Heights, WineStyles in Des Plaines, and other shops nearby that offer quality tastings.
Side note: The Steelers won! I wish I would have been up to see it!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 4-Sweet William-August Hill Winery around $15.00

You may ask why this is my second review of an August Hill wine and the answer is simple, I am in their sweet wine club which gives me 2 bottles of their sweet wines every other month. And I really like their wines. Sweet William is a very sweet wine, august hill describes the wine as a white table wine , however I do not find this wine goes very well with food. The wine is a pure gold color and tastes thicker than your average wine. If you don't like sweet wines, this wine is unappealing, If you like sweet wines then this is a good choice for wine, however I found after my third glass, if you never go this far don't worry that it gets a little heavy. It is a blend of various grapes and has a very honeyed taste with aromas and flavors of peach and a lot of pineapple. This wien was drank while cheered on Arizona over Philadelphia in the NFC championship game, if your have no idea what I am talking about , you are obviosly not following football and don't worry about, the Bears are not playing, I like this wine, however, it is very sweet, August Hill states that it is their most popular sweet wine, generally 1 or 2 glasses is enough, it is not the type of wine your could drink all night. Well, on to the AFC Championship game! Go Steelers!

3rd day-2007 Gewurtzmeiner of Lynfred Winery $20.00

I am in the Lynfred Winery White Wine of the Month Club. This is the white wine for the month of January. I was in this wine club previously and then dropped out because the white wines tend to be too dry for my tastes and since Lynfred does a tasting every month of 7 different wines every month I thought I was wasting my money on dry wine. However, in November Lynfred created a Cabernet Blush for $20.00 in the white wine club that was only available to club members, we asked to try it and were floored, the wine was awesome, and was only available to wine club members at that price for the month of November and after it jumped to $35.00, needless to say I joined the wine club again, and keep kicking my self for not buying a case versus just 2 bottles. Lynfred Winery on Roselle Rd in Roselle, Il is always happening we will go there for a tasting on a Tuesday and it will be packed, the otehr Lynfred Tasting Rooms in Wheaton and Naperville and now in Wheeling not so much. The Lynfred tastin Room in Roselle has a gift shop, cheeses, chocolates, jellies, and fresh bread. They give pretty good size tasters, however it is $7 for 7taster or $6 if you are in the wine club.
Back to the Gewurtz, this is one of the wines that caused me to drop out of Lynfred. It has a greatnose/smell and you think it is going to be sweet and fruity and its not, It is dry and very acidic. The best way for me to describe it as you swallow it feels like a slow burn not unlike heartburn. My better half hates wines like these, which is why this wine is going to take 2 days to finish. A lot of people will say this is a good wine for asian food, I tried the wine wih jalepeno poppers and it did not improve, and then with some chocolate shortbread cookies which was ok because the shortbred absorbed some of the burn. Overall this wine was a bust, however, I generally do not consider gewurtz a sweet wine and do not drink it generally.
Hopefully, the wine I am drinking while we, my better half, Peanut-my 14month old son Tyler, and Poopsie, my extremely barky, and most people think annoying dog, are cheering on the Steelers to victory!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day 2 of 365 days off sweet wines-Adesso 2007 Cagnina di Romagna

Day 2-Adesso 2007 Cagnina di Romagna-found for under $17 at WineStyles in Des Plaines

This is labeled as a sweet red wine and is described as jammy, silky smooth, sweet without being cloying. It is a wonderful wine, it is a very light red wine with sweet finish. It has the tastes and smells of raspberries and cherries and it is overall a very versatile wine. This wine is not just a dessert wine, unless you a serious dry wine drinker, however this wine is great for parties. I would say it is very similar to a sweet lambrusco without the bubbles. It has a lower alcohol content under 10% which allows you to have a couple of glasses without slipping completely under the table. If you haven't really drank wine this is a great wine to get you started in the wine drinking direction. It is very reasonably priced for an italian wine and you won't find an occasion that it does not suit, girls night in, romantic dinner, neighborhood party, family dinner, and/or holiday festivities. Whether warm or cold weather this wine slightly chilled fits the bill!

Friday, January 16, 2009

starting our journey through 365 days of sweet and fruit wines under $20

JANUARY 15, 2009 DAY 1-ALMOND INFUSION-AUGUST HILL WINERY, UTICA, ILLINOIS-$16.95I am starting a blog to pass along the information and knowledge I have acquired while tasting wines throughout the state of Illinois. Wine is no longer just for the rich and the variety of wines that are on the market lend itself to mass confusion and buying of a lot of expensive, but maybe not so tasy wines. I am my better half started drinking wine in response to Troy's stomach difficulties with beer. However, all the wines we have ever tried in our history consisted of Boone's farm Strawberry Hill which we liked and Mad Dog 20/20 which we did not like. And over our 3 yrs together we have found many sweet and fruits wines that we have liked, verusus the dry wines which we do not like. There are wines that make you more thirsty, wines that need to be paired with food, and these are the wines that we do not like and do not drink. We like to drink wine, and we drink the wine for the sake of tasting the wine, not to improve the taste of the food, or to intake more water. We drink fruit wines, sweet wines, ports, and port-style wines that are all wonderful by themselves and are $20 or under! Today we will be drinking the sparkling almond wine out of August Hill Winery called Almond Infusion, we are members of the sweet wine club of August Hill, and this was one of the November's New Releases and wine of the month. We have had this wine previously, once we tried it at the winery, we hadn't opened it as of yet and all I can say is Wow! This is the best almond sparkling wine around! And this wine prices out a $16.95 at August Hill! We have tried the JJJ Almond sparkling which is good and very reasonable- I think you can get it at Binny's at under $8 a bottle. We have also tried the CooperHawk Almond Sparkling which is also good and is around $14.99 a bottle. However, there is no comparison with the Almond Infusion of August Hill Winery it is like a light almond cookie, slightly sweet, great smell, gentle bubbles, and very smooth finish. Needless to say, if you like the flavor of almond this wine wil be a winner for you.