Wine Wednesday – 2011 Napa Cellars Merlot

Hello, hello!

It’s time for another edition of Wine Wednesday!


I’ve really been wanting some Merlots lately. I can’t explain it.

Normally, I’m all about the big grape (Zinfandel or Syrah) or a blend but lately…….

So, when I saw this one – I was TOTALLY drawn in by the label, the fact that it was on sale happened to be a bonus! – I decided it was time to give it a taste. 🙂


I know nothing about Napa Cellars. In fact, I’d never heard of it before.

But, there are quite a few wineries in Napa that I don’t know of, so that shouldn’t come as a shock.

But, I’ve never even seen that label before. EVER. And, I’ve been in a lot of wine shops and looked at a lot of different wine labels.



 Some of my favorite things about a Merlot are the fruit flavors and the soft tannins.

There’s something to be said about enjoying a glass of wine that almost seems to WANT to be savored. 🙂


On the nose, I got warm spice, vanilla, and fruit. Not too much berry – more of a deeper, denser fruit.

The tasting notes indicate that it was plum but I didn’t pick that up specifically. I’ll tell you what though, if it had been raspberry, I coulda told you in a heartbeat.  I am not friends with the raspberry.


When I tasted it, I knew I had selected well.

Luscious berry fruit, a hint of mocha, soft and silky, lightly spicy undertones.

You can pair this Merlot with many things (fish and spicy foods, not so much) or just enjoy it on its own.

Seriously, this wine wants to be savored. And shared.

We paired it with grilled chicken, veggies, corn, bread, and brie.


Would have shared it with you had you been our guest. 🙂

Talk to me: Have you ever been sucked in by a wine label and been pleasantly surprised? Disappointed? If you could, would you grill all the dinner all the time? (Um, my answer to that is YES!!!)

– jennifer

Wine Wednesday – Rare Red (or as I liked to call it – “Guess the grapes”)

Hello, hello!

Guess what day it is?!?!

I ❤ Wine Wednesdays!

fermented grapes

And, you’re in luck! I remembered to get the pictures off my camera!

Usually I take them with my phone but for some reason, I decided to be all fancy and use my regular camera.



Don’t worry, it won’t happen again.

Anyway, this is another wine I found at my local wine market.

The Rare Red 4 Grape Blend.

Mike knows I like blends so he wanted me to give it a try.

wine 2

I can’t remember exactly how much the bottle cost and I’ve since thrown my receipt away but I’m pretty positive this was one of my less than $10 bottles.

I bought 6 bottles that day (1/2 case discount, thankyouverymuch) and only spent around $60 total. After tax. #winning

As with all blends, I flipped the bottle around to read the breakdown of the grapes.

And discovered that they didn’t say ANYWHERE on the label what ANY of the 4 grapes are!

Oh, ho, ho, it’s a guessing game now, is it?

challenge accepted


The first thing I noticed when I poured the wine was the dark ruby color.

wine in glass

When I swirled and took the first sniff, I was treated to lovely earthy aromas, some black pepper, and dark fruit. I also thought I smelled a little chocolate which, honestly, I’ve only smelled in a Port so I wasn’t really sure.

I was pretty positive I knew one of the grapes just from the color and the aromas, maybe two, but you know I had to taste it. I mean, c’mon, it was practically inviting me in!

glass from the top

My first sip was luscious and smooth, all fruit and earth and yumminess. There was a bit of spice/pepper on the back of my throat but not too much. The tannins, for a wine that’s 13.5% alcohol, were really mild which surprised me. Especially since I knew at that point that I definitely knew what 2 of the 4 grapes were.

I said with certainty that the wine was a blend of Syrah (hello fruit!) and Zinfandel (hello earth & pepper/spice).

And those wines can be quite tannic and big. Like maybe 14% alchohol or more!

(If you don’t know, tannins come the skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes. Red wines are more tannic than white because the skins are left in the juice longer. That also helps to add color and depth to the wine. Tannins are what makes a wine taste “dry” – like you want to pucker a little and not because it’s sour like a green apple. High tannins are also known to cause massive headaches in people that drink too of the much wine. Wine hangovers can really suck. #justsayin)

Anyway, I swished and swirled and sniffed and tasted my way through that glass in the hopes that I would come up with the other 2 grapes used in the blend.

I never did figure it out but I can say with definite certainty that the Rare Red 4 Grape Blend is a very delicious wine!

And, because it’s so smooth, you can pair it with a variety of foods. Pasta, burgers, pizza, grilled chicken, grilled salmon or tuna (I think a white/lighter fish might not be a good choice), chili, stews, hot dogs, sausages (that’s what we had!), etc, etc, etc.

The other two grapes? I had to look them up. Barbera and Sangiovese.

I never would have gotten that.

I can’t remember the last time I drank a Sangiovese and it’s been a few years since I had a Barbera.

Guess it’s time for me to grab some of those and refresh my taste buds’ memories! 🙂

Talk to me: Do you like challenges? Can you pick out different aromas and tastes in a glass of wine/beer/whiskey/bourbon/etc?

Wine Wednesday – 2011 Bonterra Merlot

Hello, hello!

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means!!

wine gif


I decided to try something different for this week’s wine review – an organic wine!

Okay, okay, fine. It was on sale.


But really, I was interested anyway.

I mean, I wanted to see if I could discern a difference in taste – much like I can taste the difference in the beef I used to buy at the grocery store and the local farm raised beef I now buy at the farmer’s market.

In general, in my opinion, foods that are produced locally (whether that means it’s a cucumber grown in your back yard, your neighbor’s yard, or by the farmer down the road) taste better than some foods that you can pick up in your grocery store/supermarket.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not discounting grocery store produce. I LOVE the produce I get at Harris Teeter! Next year, though, I’m growing my own.

My mom used to have a garden when my sister and I were little and I remember her sending us out to pick the sugar snaps.

Pretty sure we ate more than ended up in our baskets!

But, I digress…..

I grabbed this lovely bottle of merlot from Bonterra Organic Vineyards.



Bonterra’s grapes are considered organic because they use organic growing techniques like composting and cover crops (other plants planted between the rows of grape vines that help keep the soil loose and prevent run-off).

According to their Web site, they rely on the assistance of farm animals to help “mow” the grass and keep the insects at a minimum.

I have visions of Gonzo’s chickens hanging out and picnicking in the vineyards.



I uncorked that baby and poured myself a glass.


I really need to find a better place to take my wine pictures. #justsayin

I gave it a swirl and a good sniff and was pleased with what my nose was telling me.

I smelled yummy fruit and some vanilla-y spiciness.

Sometimes I have trouble discerning the specific fruits but I definitely smelled some cherry and maybe some berries. I’m usually pretty spot on with vanilla and oakiness.

Whatever it was, it smelled delicious!



The color was dark and fruity but not inky like a heavier zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon might be.

Sometimes, it can be quite mesmerizing to swirl, sniff, and drink with your eyes. 🙂  Just don’t forget to breathe regular every now and then otherwise your carpet might end up drinking the wine.


As for flavor, this Merlot was pretty doggone tasty.

Merlots tend to be fruity and soft. Sometimes, this can give them a bad reputation – some people say they all taste the same, I say those people are clearly missing taste buds.

This Merlot tasted of soft, elegant fruit (kinda made me want to tip my pinky up a little, in a non-snobbish but fancy sort of way) and silkiness  with some spicy undertones. Like, the spice didn’t make the back of my throat tickle and the tannins didn’t make my mouth want to dry out but I could sense them both there.

Did that EVEN make sense?

What I’m trying to say is – it was YUM!

Now, as for the organic difference? Well, I didn’t really notice much of a difference. But, that’s probably because I wasn’t directly comparing it to a non-organically produced Merlot.

(although, honestly, how are all these other vineyards growing their grapes if they’re not composting, etc?)

What I did notice is that I enjoyed it and I would happily drink it again.

Except we drank it all already.

Road trip!

Talk to me: Have you ever had organically grown wine? Did you notice a taste difference? Do you have a garden? What do you grow?

– jennifer