I picked up the 2012 Double Decker Red Blend on sale. It was one of those "Buy any 6 bottles, get 30% off" deals (which I highly recommend), plus I had a coupon.
The bottle is gone now, but I'll be trying the Red Blend again next time it goes on sale. Why? There are some wines that overwhelm the senses with full-bodied complexity, each sip leaving a new sensation to linger on the tongue, mingling with memories of past delights.
The Double Decker Red Blend doesn't quite reach those levels of subtlety. I'd say it's a solid, full-bodied red, but too simple for the ten dollar price tag. Where's the nuance? Where's the complexity?
It left me thinking, "Nothing to complain about... but nothing to brag about either."
Oddly enough, that's why I'll be trying this red again.
See, every wine deserves a second chance. Someone has poured their imagination and skill into that bottle, done their best to create a product that will help you slow down and enjoy life. And so many factors can influence how we appreciate a bottle.
-Have you prejudged the value based on the label?
-Was the wine too warm, or too cold?
-Did something you just ate leave residual flavor in your mouth?
I could go on. But the point is, every wine deserves a second chance. I think there's more to the Double Decker Red Blend than I first sensed, and I'm not ready to give up on it quite yet.
About the Wine
Double Decker wines come from the Wente Winery in the Livermore Valley, just east of San Francisco (another reason to give this red a second shot. These people know how to make good wine). Wente boasts of being the oldest continuously-operating, family owned winery in the U.S. Their premier labels include handcrafted, small lot wines available only to wine club members.
So what's in the Red Blend? Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Barbera. Barbera lends the fruit-forward elements to the mix, while the Cab offers dry tannins and the Sirah rounds it out with darker berry flavors.
Double Decker 2012 California Red Blend
Nose: Dry, like a Cabernet with some extra sweetness. Hints of fruit at the top of the nose.
Taste: Dry, straightforward red with a touch of strawberries.
Recommendation: If you're intrigued and want to give this bottle a taste, I won't discourage you. Try pairing it with something savory, like a barbecue chicken pizza, or some barbecued ribs. You might not love it, but I guarantee you won't hate it!
"What?! A screw cap?" This is not the time to be a snob. Screw caps are perfect for picnics and traveling- anytime you are likely to forget your corkscrew.
Onil Chibas has a gregarious laugh. We used to work together catering parties for Pasadena's elites (he was the chef-owner of Elements Kitchen and Catering, and I worked for him). I can say without a doubt that in the fast-paced catering world of tight deadlines, over-stressed wedding planners, and creative competition, you won't find a kinder, more genuine person. Recently we met at The Market on Holly, an American Fusion Restaurant tucked away on a side-street among the quaint brick buildings, hip cafes and European bistros of Old Town Pasadena. Over an extended brunch of farm fresh omelets and bold, black coffee, we talked food, wine and the mysteries of life. Throughout our two hour meal his laugh cut through the clatter of dishes, the staccato sizzle of frying butter, and the boisterous conversations of other guests. You can't spend time with Onil Chibas without feeling better about life.
R: Let's start with the basics. What is food to you? I was talking with my brother the other day, and he put it really well when he said that growing up, food was fuel. In the Midwest culture where I came from, the rural farming community, you make hearty food that sustains you. If it's salty, it's good. If not, add a little hot sauce. But that's it. It's fuel. So how do you think about, what do you think of when you think of food? Its obviously more than that to you...
O: Absolutely. that's a terrific question. I think for me it's a lot of different things. Certainly it's fuel. But I think that when it is fuel, when it's at its basic, it should be tasty. Food is love. I also then think it's a time for people to come together. We didn't say, "Let's just go talk at the park." I mean we could have, "Let's meet at x place." But we said, "Let's meet, let's have coffee, let's get lunch or breakfast or whatever." So food plays a very unique role. It's the one thing that everybody does, from ISIS to the Pope. And every culture has some sort of ritual with food involved in it.
Have you taken advantage of the buy 6, get 30% off wine deal at Kroger stores? (You can find this deal in many Kroger affiliates like Ralph's as well, although in some states the discount is only 15-20%). If not, you should. They tend to mark up their prices compared to Trader Joe's, so it's the only way I'll buy wine there. There's no real downside to buying 6 bottles at once. Even if it takes you a month or more to go through all of them, you can add a little style to your kitchen by displaying them with a nice wine rack.
My routine whenever I go to the store is to swing by the wine aisle just to check for sales. Frequently, you'll find an additional sale being offered on top of the regular buy 6 discount-- either a simple $2-3 coupon hanging off the neck of a bottle, or an additional buy 6 deal from a particular group of wineries offering you a discount on your total grocery purchase. As a result, I've picked up some halfway decent bottles of wine for under $6, and buying in bulk usually means I get a discount on gasoline too, discounting the bottles even more. Plus, buying 6 at a time encourages experimentation, and I've been pleasantly surprised by some random wines that I normally wouldn't even have considered. In my humble opinion, the buy 6, get 30% is not only worth it, it's the only way to buy wine at Kroger stores.
The town of Napa sits as a quiet guardian at the southern end of Napa valley. Like many other small towns that suddenly came into money, it retains its quaint turn-of-the-century charm on Main Street, and among the quiet neighborhoods that stretch a few blocks back on either side. Revitalization is most evident along the riverfront, where newly constructed buildings and a grassy green park boldly confront the eye.
After three hours of wine tasting in Napa on Saturday night, we were ready for a full day's adventure on Sunday. The goal was to get out of town and drive further into the valley to see more rural scenery among the vineyards. After some googling, we download the Winery Finder onto our phones. This free app offers coupons for many of the wineries in both Napa and Sonoma (mostly 2 for 1 passes, but occasionally you'll see a complimentary tasting). Wine tastings and tours at Napa vineyards are not cheap. $25 seems to be the average starting price, and it goes up from there. Granted, many of the wines available for tasting cost upwards of $100 per bottle, so a $25 tasting here and there isn't a bad deal if you can afford it. Still, the Winery Finder is the way to go.
This weekend we were in Sacramento for a wedding and decided to make the most out of our trip by stopping by the Mecca of American wine, Napa Valley. With the limited time I have to write while I'm here, I'll update this page with a day-by-day itinerary, but check back soon for a more comprehensive guide to touring Napa on a budget.
"I need to drink less alcohol." We've all heard, and probably used, that phrase. After all, drinking less is a great way to spend less money and improve your all-around health (let’s be honest—alcohol is not on anyone’s weight loss plan). But most people have a hard time changing a habit they enjoy.
We're not talking about quitting cold turkey (if that's what you are looking for, click here). Life is meant to be lived, and all good things are here for our enjoyment. So even if the only six pack you have is chilling in your fridge, here’s five easy tips to help you drink less without even trying.
1. Start later: Cracking a cold one when you get home from work is a nice way to relax after a stressful day (if you commute, you might be reaching for something a little stronger). And there's nothing like a glass of wine while you cook to make you feel like a gourmet chef. But if your goal is to drink less alcohol, wait a little longer before your first glass. If one drink when you get home turns into two when you start dinner, and three before bed, move your schedule back. Pour the wine while you make dinner, instead of when you get home. Or save or beer for after your meal, instead of drinking it while you eat. If you wait until later to start, you’ll have less time to drink, so you'll drink less.
3. Spend more for less: Most of us are not willing to do shots of expensive alcohol unless someone else is buying. When you're home and drinking your own hard-earned money, two fingers of Jeremiah Weed often turn into a finger and a half of Jack, or a single finger of an 18 year old Glenmorangie. If you’re downing half a bottle of two buck chuck on a nightly basis because it’s cheap, find a nice $5 wine that you like and you’ll find that your drinking magically reduces to a glass a night (if a $5 bottle won’t do it, increase the price point until psychology kicks in. At some point, this will work… hopefully somewhere south of a dom perignon).
4. Drink with friends: You might need to ignore this one. If you and your roommates are putting away a 12 pack every night, you can skip this step. They are part of the problem, not the solution. But if you tend to drink alone, and you are drinking more than you would like on a regular basis, make it your goal to only drink with friends.
5. Keep an empty refrigerator: I learned this from a doctor I used to live with in Indianapolis. He would buy a huge case of Moosehead beer, but only chill one at a time. If you have a six pack in your fridge, you’ll be more tempted to drink it. If you only have one in there, you are well on your way towards building a habit of moderation and self-control.
What tips have you found helpful for drinking less?
Commonly Fine is a blog about great beers, wines and spirits... at great prices.