2006 Guenoc Lake County Petite Sirah: Wonderful nose, but acidic

aug. 29, 2010: we invited emilie over for a dinner that turned out very well. victoria made homemade guacamole via http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/guacamole-recipe/index.html and figs with english stilton blue cheese (with some figs without the cheese just for emilie). we had purchased a rotisserie bar to add to our grill, and greg seasoned a whole chicken with his own seasoning mix and left it on the rotisserie for 1.5 hours. we also boiled some tiny new potatoes in salt water. we got the new potatoes and the figs from the asian market on north green river.

we paired everything with this lake county californian petite sirah. the nose was very aromatic, evoking cherries and blackberries. but the texture had turned acidic. this 2006 probably just didn't hold up, since when we last had this wine, it was smooth and gentle. unknown price. big red liquors. 13.5 percent alcohol.


2008 Sola Fred Montsant Celler El Masroig: Somewhat rough, not as good as the 2007

this was bought by accident. we thought it was the 2007, and it didn't measure up. it reminded us of a malbec because it was somewhat rough. it wasn't as gentle and soft as the 2007. winetree. 14 percent alcohol.

Grabner Vineyards Plum Wine: Some bubbly, sweet and tart

this was a tart match with the brownies victoria made with almonds and chocolate chips for greg, chris and emilie. 13 percent alcohol. grabner winery.

2007 Sola Fred Montsant Celler El Masroig: Smooth, gentle, berry flavor

this was very easy to drink, very inexpensive (less than $15), and a much better sipping wine than some others in its price range. some berryness to the nose, balanced with both tannins and acids. it had sediment. 13.5 percent alcohol. winetree.

White Owl Winery Persimmon Wine: Bad. We probably opened it too late

we opened this as a dessert wine over dinner with chris and emilie but it wasn't that good. i think we waited too long before we opened it. winetree. 11.5 percent alcohol.

2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio: Easy to drink, crisp, light

we invited chris and emilie over for dinner, and this was a valdadige we'd had before. it was lemony, smooth, easy to drink and paired well with a chicken recipe from martha stewart's "living" magazine (the recipe wasn't that good, though). we roasted parsnips, carrots and shallots in the oven (that worked out well, but the parsnips needed more time). a decent under-$20 italian pinot grigio. schnucks. 12 percent alcohol.


2008 Decero Malbec: Smooth, fruity, heavy, better with lamb and veal than on its own

aug. 28, 2010: we went to madeline's restaurant in evansville for our second wedding anniversary dinner. we started with two dishes: scallops, and foie gras and liver. both dishes were delicious. our entrees were rack of lamb and veal chops. we ended the meal with homemade avocado ice cream with canadian bacon, and black forest cake.

our wine for the evening was this mendoza, argentinian, which emilie had recommended when she went to madeline's with sean. greg and i agreed that this wine had a very fruity nose, but by itself it wasn't that flavorful. with the veal and the lamb, however, it was wonderful. against the lamb, it was slightly sweet and a perfect textural match. this decero was also good with the veal, but the flavor wasn't as sweet.

14.5 percent alcohol.


Marinated chicken kebabs: No wine this time

aug. 22, 2010: i prepared marinated chicken kebabs with this recipe via http://turkish-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/marinated-chicken-kebab-recipe. i used half a cup of lemon juice instead, added more salt and white pepper, let it marinate for about 30 minutes, and topped it with italian seasoning. then i grilled it for about 10-12 minutes. i soaked the wooden skewers for about 20 minutes and alternated the chicken slices with zucchini, squash and red peppers. greg liked it and it turned out well. it was also easy to make.


2002 Mueller Emily's Cuvee Pinot Noir: Robust flavor yet soft texture

aug. 15, 2010: as an entree, i made curried butternut squash soup (an elie krieger recipe that emilie gave me), and baked salmon with oranges and dill via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Salmon-with-Orange-Herb-Sauce-102205. the side dish was roasted asparagus with olive oil, salt and freshly cracked pepper via http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/101/Roasted-Asparagus-Spears.

both were big hits. the soup was definitely spicy, and the non-fat plain yogurt helped cut through that heat. the salmon was also very good, though it took about 20 minutes in the oven -- not the 8 minutes this recipe advised.

we paired the salmon with this russian river valley californian. it just gets better every time we have it. 14.7 percent alcohol

2002 Domaine Arlaud Roncevie Bourgogne: Acidic, maybe not a good bottle

aug. 15, 2010: greg and i had alan, marie-paule and emilie over for dinner. i made figs with proscuitto as an appetizer, and alan brought this red burgandy to pair with it. we all thought it was acidic, with hard-to-pin down flavors; the acidity was its most memorable aspect. 12.5 percent alcohol.

2006 Roam Central Coast Red Wine: Uncertain mix, but very soft and mild

aug. 14, 2010: tim at winetree recommended this californian, which was more than affordable at less than $8. it's 13.8 percent alcohol. it had a softer texture than the don ramon. greg thought it was a good second-bottle wine, with some fruit flavors.

2008 Don Ramon Grenache and Tempranillo: Slightly rough, flavorful, easy to drink

aug. 14, 2010: greg and i went to eclipse, a new tapas restaurant in evansville, where we had some red wine sangria, cheese-and-spinach stuffed meat balls, escargot, scallops and a tomato mousse with manchego cheese. some tapa were good, others not so good. the best part about this restaurant is the ambiance.

when we got home, we were still hungry (the portions were smaller than what the tapas restaurants in chicago used to serve), so we opened this don ramon. we'd had it before, one of dennis' recommendations from winetree. this spaniard is around $14, a nice relaxing wine to go with pizza, which is what we had as a late-night meal. it's 75 percent grenache, 25 percent tempranillo. 12.5 percent alcohol.


2009 Picpoul de Pinet Coteaux du Languedoc: More flavorful than the 2008

aug. 8, 2010: we opened this up to have a second bottle of a light wine on a beautiful sunny evening. we both thought this vintage was more flavorful than what we had last year. victoria thought it had some hints of honey and lemon, but there was nothing overwhelming about it. it also had a slight amount of bubbling to it, which was probably an imperfection in this speciman alone. 12.5 percent alcohol. big red liquors.

2006 Monte Antico Toscana: Berries, tannins, it's a party

aug. 7-8, 2010: victoria first paired this sangiovese (85 percent), cabernet sauvignon (10) and merlot (5) with a leftover very highly non-low-fat lasagna, and with that, this italian was slightly sweet. on the next night, we paired the rest of the bottle with grilled chicago-seasoned steak, potatoes from chris' garden, green beans, tomatoes with a new recipe via http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1206226 and this italian vinaigrette recipe via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Italian-Vinaigrette-106557.

this monte antico was very cold on the second night because it was refrigerated, but the flavors really started to express themselves once the wine started to warm up. 12.5 percent alcohol. winetree.


2007 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Earthy, lively, smooth

aug. 5, 2010: we opened this 2007 because the 2006 was just so disappointing. it was interesting to match these two vintages. we both thought the 2007 was much more flavorful, with fewer tannins than the 2006. as an added critiquing bonus, emilie and sean stopped by for a few drinks. they both agreed that the 2007 was a much better bottle. not sure where we bought this 2007. it might have been schnucks. it was probably in the $20 range. 14.3 percent alcohol.

2006 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Tannic, sour and without much flavor

aug. 5, 2010: victoria got home early from work, and greg grilled some t-bone steaks with chicago-style seasoning. we also had some green beans victoria prepared last night and some cold ratatouille (also prepared last night). we paired the steak with this californian. victoria had purchased this 2006 at schnucks for about $15, which was at a substantial savings from the usual price (about $22-$24). we didn't like this vintage. but it could have been this particular bottle (why else would you sell a wine at such a reduced price?) or possibly this vintage just breaks down after four years ... not sure. we are curious since greg has two 2006s in alan's cellar waiting to be had. hopefully this bottle was just a bad example. 14.3 percent alcohol.


Ratatouille with fresh zucchini and eggplant: No wine this time

aug. 4, 2010: we are still overflowing with vegetables. no one can say we didn't get our nutrients this week. so victoria whipped up this ratatouille recipe, substituting zucchini for the red pepper and summer squash. she also didn't add any more salt, since the eggplant had marinated for a full two days in salt to rid them of their moisture. here's the recipe, which we wouldn't make again (it was too heavy on the cinnamon): http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/ratatouille_la_casablancaise.html

String beans and garlic: No wine this time

aug. 4, 2010: we're overflowing with vegetables from nancy and fred's garden. so victoria spent several hours tonight doing what she could with what we have. this string bean and garlic recipe is one result: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/string-beans-with-garlic-recipe/index.html

we think it's pretty good.

2008 Beringer Founders Estate Chardonnay: Crisp, apple-ish, easy to drink

victoria bought this californian on saturday so she could make a butternut squash risotto; the recipe called for a dry white, and this $8.99 bottle at schnucks seemed like a good choice. the risotto worked out well, but that wasn't the point ... we kept this bottle around just to have some other dry white to add to other recipes, then ended up finishing it tonight, after a meal of lasagna. it wasn't bad. we've been hesitant to try more chardonnay since neither one of us likes the buttery or vanilla tones of the other, higher priced californian versions, but this one goes in a refreshingly apple direction. would get it again, definitely.

2008 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel: Earthy, easy to drink in late summer

aug. 4, 2010: victoria had made a breaded eggplant and italian sausage and mushroom lasagna the night before, and since she got home a little earlier today, we paired the leftovers with this californian. the eggplants were gifts from greg's parents, which they had grown in chris' garden. the recipe was essentially this (with added strips of dried lasagna pasta): http://www.jerseybites.com/2007/09/eggplant-and-sausage-lasagna/

it was a pretty decent match; this zin almost seemed sweet against the lasagna. not sure where we got this cline, or what we paid for it, but it had 15 percent alcohol.