Desperately Seeking Crappy South African Wine

pinotageAnne Spectator has never met a South African wine she didn’t love.

Is there a crappy South African wine out there? Seriously. This is not a rhetorical question. If you know of one, you can tell me, but I pretty much already don’t believe you.

Which brings me to today’s Tuesday night indulgence. Barista 2012 Pinotage. And by “indulgence,” I’m talking in terms of taste, not price. $11.99. Whatwhat?

What a little darling. Rich coffee, red fruit, and no small amount of band-aid. The description says I’m supposed to be tasting mulberry, but I don’t know what a mulberry tastes like. Does anyone? Seriously. This is not a rhetorical question.

It also says I’m supposed to be tasting maraschino cherry, which I hate. So I don’t get that either. But you know what – who cares? Try it and decide for yourself. And do it on a Tuesday night. Because a Tuesday night without a pinotage is about as exciting as Delaware.

Sorry, Delawarians. Is that what you are called? Is it an exciting place? I don’t know. Seriously. THESE ARE NOT RHETORICAL QUESTIONS.

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Supermarket Slammer: Steak House Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

About Supermarket Slammer reviews: You aren’t going to find a bigger advocate for drinking-global-and-shopping-local than Anne Spectator. A locally owned wine shop is a labor of love deserving of both our curiosity and patronage. But Anne Spectator also gets it. Sometimes you’re late for book club and you need to grab a bottle of wine at the same time that you purchase a bag of organic cheesy poofs – and in that moment, you may need guidance on the best bottle of supermarket wine. Anne Spectator isn’t judging you. In fact, Anne Spectator has your back. I’m tasting the wines that are most readily available to help you make good drinking decisions in those harried times when every bottle looks the same.

I never would have picked up this wine as a normal consumer. I’m not a fan of the name and I find the label a little over-the-top. I feel like I’m being marketed to. Of course ALL of us are being marketed to ALL OF THE TIME, but I do appreciate a little subtlety when it comes to such matters. These turnoffs are exactly why I thought this bottle would make for a perfect supermarket slammer selection (alliteration).SteakHouse

Surely it’s drawing a lot of consumers and it is Anne Spectator’s responsibility – nay, obligation – to share my opinion.

In turns out that I was shocked by my own opinion.

I love this guy. He’s an enthusiastic fellow – juicy, dark fruit, and ready to rock.

Really, I should have known. I mean, it’s Washington after all and their wines are consistently made for fun times.

He’s a total Yes Man (in the most flattering sense of the phrase).

  • Want to pair up with some pesto I made in 2013, but just thawed tonight? Yes!
  • How about working with some dark chocolate almonds for dessert? Yes!
  • Up for an old Hugh Grant movie later? Yes!
  • Thoughts on needing to do some dishes before we get to the movie? Cool with me.

This is just what I’m looking for on a Wine Wednesday. Anne Spectator is giving you the green light. Steak House Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 for $10.99 is another solid supermarket slammer. Go for it.

Supermarket Slammer: Poppy Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

About Supermarket Slammer reviews: You aren’t going to find a bigger advocate for drinking-global-and-shopping-local than Anne Spectator. A locally owned wine shop is a labor of love deserving of both our curiosity and patronage. But Anne Spectator also gets it. Sometimes you’re late for book club and you need to grab a bottle of wine at the same time that you purchase a bag of organic cheesy poofs – and in that moment, you may need guidance on the best bottle of supermarket wine. Anne Spectator isn’t judging you. In fact, Anne Spectator has your back. I’m tasting the wines that are most readily available to help you make good drinking decisions in those harried times when every bottle looks the same.

I’ve been drinking wine long enough to know Rule #1 of selecting a wine: Don’t judge a wine by its label. But I also know that some labels are so pretty, it’s impossible for the wine inside the bottle to not be amazing. It’s science. And since I’m guessing you (or, at least the ladies) are thinking the same thing, so I know that a bottle of Poppy cabernet sauvignon will find its way into your grocery cart at some point. With that clean, creamy label with a single poppy and the perfect amount of poppythe coral accent color – so elegant and understated! – how could it not?

Well, I have good news for you, spectators! The science is right! This wine is a solid choice.

You are going to be really happy with your selection of Poppy Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. Medium tannins, long finish, and big flavors of dark fruit and tobacco. This wine is everything you want a California cab to be. And the price tag – $10.99 – is the dark cherry on top!

So, go ahead! Throw it in your cart with confidence. This wine is more than just a pretty label.

P.S. I’m feeling a bit sheepish that my first two supermarket slammer reviews are positive. I swear that I’ll tell you when I run across a Supermarket Slammer that is not good (Apothic Red, I’m looking at you).

Supermarket Slammer: Pennywise Pinot Noir 2012

A photo(1)word on the “Supermarket Slammer” feature: You’re not going to find a bigger advocate for drinking-global-and-shopping-local than Anne Spectator. A locally owned wine shop is a labor of love deserving of both our curiosity and patronage. But Anne Spectator also gets it. Sometimes you’re late for book club and you need to grab a bottle of wine at the same time that you purchase a bag of organic cheesy poofs – and in that moment, you may need guidance on the best bottle of supermarket wine. Anne Spectator isn’t judging you. In fact, Anne Spectator has your back. I’m tasting the wines that are most readily available to help you make good drinking decisions in those harried times when every bottle looks the same.

Anne Spectator is feeling her Gemini nature tonight – torn right in half on her wine choices. A Saturday night typically calls for quality wine time, but tonight’s plans don’t necessarily warrant a top shelf wine. I’m alone (Spectator, party of one!) and our first snow of the year is coming down pretty hard. Macklemore is cranked on the Pandora and I’m craving soup n’ noodles (recipe: open soup, boil noodles, combine). It seems like a good night for…wait for it…a supermarket slammer.

I’ve selected the Pennywise Pinot Noir 2012 and I’ll be straight with you. It’s good. The color leans to purple and it has that hazy, unfiltered look that I always associate with a velvety mouth feel. It doesn’t have a ton of depth, but the nose is interesting enough (is that rosemary?). And it has my favorite California wine characteristic – no food required! It drinks fruity and satisfying all on its own. Especially for $10.99. I’ve slurped the last of my soup n’ noodles, but I’m pouring myself another glass and cozying in with a stack of old magazines and a sleepy pup. I hope your evening is just as safe, cozy, and delicious!

My Squash are Mocking Me

Wine: Cave de Lugny Macon Lugny Les Charmes Chardonnay 2012
Winemaker: Cave de Lugny
Vintage: 2012
Grape: Chardonnay
Region: Macon, Burgundy
Price range: ~$16

les charmesThe problem with living in Wisconsin is that when you grow gorgeous, fragrant, abundant sage, you spend all summer feeling guilty that you are “not in the mood” for it yet. And, of course, by the time sage season really kicks into high gear, your sage has been deep frozen into blackened waste (Really, this is just one of a million problems with living in Wisconsin, but that could be a whole-nother blog and Anne Spectator has been working on a Wisconsin attitude adjustment, so we’re not going to go there right now).

So then, tonight we made these lovely stuffed acorn squash from Love and Lemons using the last of the acorn squash that magically grew out of my compost bin this year. It turns out that they are the best thing I “grew” all season, even though I was totally unaware of their existence. I’m enjoying them, but I also feel like they are mocking me a bit.

In any case, the recipe is a good one and the wine pairing a delight. We backed that whole thang up with The Head and the Heart – soothing and grounded with a pulse. Not a bad way to welcome the first polar vortex of the season.

Such a Tool

Such a lovely evening. An indulgent, glutinous, lovely evening.

  • A table full of wine and food, surrounded by close friends
  • A big bowl of creamy pasta (thanks be to Giada. Again.)
  • Fresh greens, blood oranges, and our favorite mustard to pronounce with an exaggerated German accent (Brennan’s Dusseldorf)
  • Death By Chocolate cake and espresso (nearly died)
  • A game of high-stakes art collecting with a snooty Brit, a ditzy blonde, a southern socialite, and a hard-bargaining German (Bonus! We played the originalMasterpiece.)
  • A spot of limoncello (okay, Anne Spectator was the only one participating in this activity)
  • Cozy time on the couch with killer comedy (Bill Burr, I love you.)

Let us not forget the impetus for this lovely evening – Caduceus Wine. Turns out that Tool’s front man, Maynard Keenan, has spent the last several years laboring to bring the unique flavors of Arizona to the wine bottle. And judging by the documentary about his work, it’s been a labor of love. But so worth it. Bottle after bottle (yes, we tried 6) brought something all new to the world of wine. We had so much fun sniffing, tasting, pairing and ultimately gulping. If you can get your hands on some, do it!