Posts tagged #table wine

Perfect pairings for your Memorial Day cookout

The original Memorial Day was on May 30, 1868 when people were urged to decorate the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. The date is believed to have been chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Today, Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and many Americans observe the holiday with a barbecue.

Here are some of our favorite wines for a cookout. All of them are under $20 and are available at BevMo, Specs, Total Wine, and many other retail outlets.

Go with a Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon. This was one of our first go-to wines and remains a favorite to this day. It's also on our list of Great Wines Under $20.

We're huge fans of Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir, which won a blind taste test at our HalloWine party in 2010. It's a great match with Pork but is also enjoyable on its own.

Simi Sonoma County Chardonnay is a good choice if chicken is on the menu. We often recommend this wine for gatherings because it is nicely balanced without too much oak or citrus.

Our selection here is Cline Zinfandel. It's a repeat from last year's Memorial Day BBQ list, but it's also one of the few tasty Zins that's available at BevMo, Specs, and Total Wine.

Hot Dogs
Most of us will go for a beer if hot dogs are on the menu, but why not wine? Caymus Conundrum, a distinctive white blend, would actually make an excellent pairing. It's a perfect summer wine and we always try to keep some in the house.

National Moment of Remembrance
Let us not forget that Memorial Day is a time to remember all of the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act. It calls on all Americans to pause at 3 pm local time on Memorial Day for a moment of silence to remember those who have died while serving our country.

After the moment of silence, consider raising a glass of something good to honor the memories of our fallen heroes.

2013 Oscar Wine Party Results

Sally and I are always up for having some friends over to the house, opening up some good wine, and doing a blind tasting. We're also big movie fans, so the Academy Awards make a great excuse to throw an Oscar party with wine and wagering.


We keep things simple - everyone chips in $5 and picks the winner for each award. This year's pool was a three-way tie between me, Sally, and our friend Paul. We each correctly picked 18 out of 24 awards. Not to shabby!


Just like last year's party, we served four wines blind at pairing stations and had our guests vote on their favorites. They all sold for less than $20 at San Diego Wine Co and were either current favorites or had been recommended by friends.

4th Place: 2010 Klinker Brick Zinfandel
This was a good wine, but it wasn't nearly as amazing as it was the first time we tried it when we thought it was almost too good to be true. It was paired with beef meatballs in a cranberry chili sauce.

3rd Place: NV Roederer Estate Brut
Surprise! Last year's winner came back to defend it's crown and wound up in third place. It was still tasty, but our friends weren't as much in a bubbly mood. We paired it with Mediterranean pinwheels that contained prosciutto, feta, and basil.

2nd Place: 2011 Conundrum
Yum. This is one of our house table wines, and it was a hit with our friends too. It was paired with puff pastries stuffed with chicken salad (chicken, apples, raisins, mayo, and curry). 

1st Place: 2010 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon
Recommended by our friend Robin, we went into this one blind. It was on sale at San Diego Wine Company for $12.95, which was quite a steal considering how smooth and drinkable this wine was. We paired it with mini sandwiches made with marinated London broil, arugula, and mustard.


Posted on February 25, 2013 and filed under Under $20.

"Table wine" doesn't mean bad wine

Don't let the term "table wine" fool you.

Sure, some people think of cheap, mass-produced wine that any self-respecting wine snob would avoid. For us, table wine is often tasty, versatile wine that pairs well with a wide variety of food. Wines that are marketed specifically as "table wine" or simply "white wine" or "red wine" tend to be blends of several grapes that the winemaker has selected for balance and flavor.

Here are three table wines that we always like to have in the house.

Menage a Trois California Red
We always have a few bottles of this in the house because it is inexpensive, goes with almost anything, and is damn good for the price. It's a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot that is very smooth and drinkable. Did I mention the price? We get ours at the San Diego Wine Company for $6.99 a bottle, but you can also get it at BevMo, Specs, and many other fine liquor stores for a buck or two more.

One word to the wise - this isn't a great bottle to bring over to someone's house. Especially if you are a couple and they are single. People always seem to get the wrong idea.

Lined up and ready for Tuesday's dinner or "third bottle" duty.

Conundrum California White Wine
The name implies it is a conundrum to decide when and how to drink it. It is silky smooth with a little bit of sweetness that is mighty tasty. We've had it before dinner, after dinner, and with all sorts of white wine friendly food. There's a lot going on here with Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier making up the blend, but it all works. A not so secret secret is Conundrum is a side project of Caymus, a winery famous for big, expensive reds.

We get ours at the San Diego Wine Company for $16.95 per bottle. If you aren't in San Diego, you may want to order directly from Conundrum.

A bottle of Conundrum sits in our fridge, ready to go at a moment's notice

Vincent Arroyo "Nameless"
This table wine is a special treat, both because of its $30 price point and its awesome taste. It's a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. It's fairly fruit forward, which makes it stand out on its own or pair well with a variety of foods, but has just enough tannin to stand up to your meatier dishes. We shared a bottle with our parents last weekend in memory of Sally's father, Ken. Very tasty.

Vincent Arroyo sells a lot of their wine via futures, meaning you buy it before it's bottled, but Nameless is typically in stock and ready to go. I don't think it is distributed, so best to go straight to the winery.

That bottle of Nameless evaporated!What's your favorite table wine?