The Best Wines I’ve Drank (Lately)

The Best Wines I’ve Drank (Lately)


What has wine done for me lately?

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A whole heck of a lot! Since getting my WSET-2 from American Wine School, I’ve started working a few hours a week at Underdog Wine Co. in Kansas City, Mo. (p.s. it was recently named one of the best 50 wine shops in the U.S. by Wine Enthusiast!) and have been doing some freelance writing for SOMM TV Online Magazine (which, if you like wine or food, it’s a must-get streaming service!). It’s been AWESOME.

And, here on FBG, I’ve also been sent some new wines to try — and let me just tell you, that new job duty does not suck.

Read on for some of the bottles I’ve tried that have had me feeling like a heart-eyed smiley face emoji with each and every sip.

people drinking wine at a table and cheers

Wine Folly Wine Club Through Wine Access

I’ve loved Wine Folly for a long time, so trying a shipment from the Wine Folly Wine Club via Wine Access was a no brainer when we got the offer.

Every other month the wine club will send you four bottles with an educational focus in mind (cost is $120, plus tax and shipping for each shipment). Our focus was on warm climate wines, with super tasty and not-easy-to-get bottles from producers in Spain, South Africa, California, and Australia. In addition to the bottles, it came with detailed tasting notes and basic info on how a warm climate influences a wine and which varietals thrive in higher temps.

wine folly wine club

How were the wines you ask? SO GOOD. I had some friends over to taste them all (always a good time), and although we each had our favorites, there wasn’t one we didn’t like or wouldn’t drink. And, it’s always fun to taste things side by side to see the differences between the varietals and regions. (Don’t wanna open all four bottles at once? You could totally do these one bottle a night at a time — or consider investing in a Coravin, so that you don’t have to uncork the whole bottle.)

I’m a wine nerd at heart, so I really enjoyed the educational component of the Wine Folly Wine Club, but Wine Access has a number of other interesting clubs at a variety of other price points and themes, too, including the Sunset Mag Wine Club that features wines from the West Coast and the Michelin Guide that is curated in tandem with sommeliers from Michelin-starred restaurants. (See all clubs here.) Wine Access also sells wines by the bottle — with a lovely collection from around the world that aren’t exactly found everyday at your grocery store.

Literally Anything from Unico Zelo

Apparently, there’s not a Unico Zelo wine from Australia that I don’t love.

Because in the last couple of months I’ve had Sea Foam: a deliciously salty and fruity Pet Nat made from Fiano and Vermentino.

sea foam wine

The perfectly balanced River Sand (Fiano) that’s a fab mix of lemon, nectarine, and grilled almond:

river sand wine

Esoterico, which is a zippy little skin-contact (orange wine) blend of Fiano, Zibbibo, Moscato Giallo, Gewurtztraminer, and Greco that’s tastes of mango, nectarine, and spice with lots of minerality racing through (don’t mind the kitchen reno in the background):

ESOTERICO wine

I can’t forget Fresh A.F. either, which is tastes as fun as its name. A mix of Nero d’Avola and Zibibbo, it’s light, fresh, and juicy as … well, you know.

fresh A.F. wine

And, I love them ALL. Truffle Hound is the next one on my list to try, but, let’s be honest: If I see a bottle of Unico Zelo that I haven’t tried yet, I’m buying it. (And, at $25-$35 a bottle, they definitely feel special, but not so special that I horde them for the birth of a child or other major event.)

Adobe Road Winery

Last, but certainly not least, are two wines Adobe Road Winery sent me, which are not playing around.

adobe road winery wines

Started by former professional race car driver Kevin Buckler and his wife Debra Buckler in 2002, Adobe Road Winery sources its grapes from some of the most historic and finest family-owned vineyards in Sonoma and Napa Counties in Cali.

To be honest, I don’t drink a lot of Cali Chard on the reg, but the 2019 Chardonnay Petaluma Gap, Sangiacomo Vineyards, Roberts Road ($31), was just lovely. With ripe peaches and nectarine plus plenty of acid to give it a bright freshness, it is oaked, but not overly so. Think baking spice and a creamy mouthful that’s full-bodied but not too heavy.

Then there’s CARBON, which is, let’s say, not shy. A dark, inky blend of 48 percent Petite Sirah, 26 percent Malbec, 22 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4 percent Petit Verdot, the bottle design itself is as heavy as its mouthfeel (seriously, you could use this bottle as a dumbbell in a pinch). You get aromas of black cherries, licorice, and rich toasted oak that lead to flavors of ripe plum and crushed blackberries with a little violet and plenty of incorporated tannins that give you a crazy long finish. Again, not a timid wine and not something I’d drink every night (especially at $85 a bottle), but it’s definitely delicious for those times when you’re in the mood for something that’s gonna really come after ya.

What wines have you drank lately that are giving you good vibes? Share that love in the comments! —Jenn





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A Drink for Every Mood

A Drink for Every Mood


a drink for every mood

One of the things I learned in my wine education studies (and, hey, I’m officially WSET-2 certified with distinction now — woot!) was learning the basics of how to pair wine with food.

But, what about pairing wine with mood?

I know for me, often I’ll select a bottle of wine (or another beverage) based on not just what I’m eating, but also how I’m feeling.

Here are a few fun examples …

  • Sunshine and smiles? Rosè time.
  • Celebratory vibes after work? Give me bubbles.
  • Cold and rainy night in? A big bold red to warm up with.
  • Easy breezy weekend lunch? Mocktail, please.

I eat and work out intuitively and mindfully (asking myself and my body what I really want and need), and I find that a similar approach to choosing wine and other drinks really brings a lot of joy to my life.

And, I’m all about choosing joy when I can!

If you want to add a little beverage joy to your life, too, read on for some of my recent favorite drink and mood pairings!

Mood: Feeling fancy, but it’s a chilly weeknight and you don’t want to leave the house.

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Pairing: Los Vascos Cromas Gran Reserve Carménère 2019

Bottle of the Los Vascos Cromas Gran Reserve Carménère 2019

Why we dig this pairing: Carmenère is a big, bold grape that just warms your soul. This bottle shows it off beautifully, too. There’s blackberry, plum and black cherry, plus hints of white pepper and herbaceous notes. The tannins are soft and silky, with a lovely acidity to balance it all. Which, is no surprise because Los Vascos wines are made with the same care as Bordeaux Grand Crus and are from Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). Yeah, fancy — but at about $20 a bottle (disclosure: we’re an affiliate of Vivino), it won’t break the bank.

Mood: When your Truly loving friends come over and you want to introduce them to something new.

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Pairing: Owl’s Brew Spiced Chai & Cranberry Boozy Tea

owl's brew can

Why we dig this pairing: This fun and festive drink is (in our opinion) not only tastier than your usual hard seltzer, but it’s also made with good stuff like freshly brewed tea blends flavored with real fruit and botanicals. In flavors like Spiced Chai & Cranberry, Darjeeling Tea & Hibiscus Flowers, and White Tea, Raspberry, & Lemon, they’re never boring. We also cheers to Owl’s Brew being gluten-free, vegan, and female-owned!

Mood: You want to give back, but aren’t ready to go to a fancy fundraiser with a large crowd just yet.

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Pairing: A bottle from Humanity Wine Co.’s wine club

four bottles of wine

Why we dig this pairing: We recently were sent a shipment from Humanity Wine Co., and it was not only a great way to donate to a good cause, but it was also a fun way to try some new wines. You can see our full tasting experience and thoughts in our Insta story here, but they sent us four tasty bottles from family-owned wineries and boutique vineyards. And, the best part? The company donates 50 percent of its net revenue back to the philanthropy, so with each enjoyable sip, you are giving back to these amazing causes.

sipperparty

Oh, and if you’re looking for a fun game to play while tasting some of these wines, give SipperParty a try! It requires no previous wine knowledge and allows anyone willing to sip and rate to play via an app, plus the above goodies. Grab some buds and try it!

Mood: When you want a few beers, but don’t want to feel like you just had a few beers.

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Pairing: A can (or two) of Bravus.

five cans of beer

What’s nice about Bravus is that it’s not a beer alternative — it actually is real beer, just with less than .5 percent ABV.  Using a proprietary brewing process, these taste like craft beer, but are vegan, dairy-free, low-cal, low-sugar, and gluten-reduced. Our fave was the IPA!

 

Mood: You want to sip something really good … but you’re at a tailgate.

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Pairing: Clean and cool NEFT

vodka

Made with just two ingredients (ancient, non-GMO rye grains farmed in lower Saxony and spring water from the Alps of Austria for those who are curious), NEFT is a premium sipping vodka that you can take anywhere — and it stays cold! Packaged in a portable and unbreakable barrel that closely resembles a small oil drum, it keeps cold for hours.

 

Mood: You want something fun to sip on, but you’re staying sober.

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Pairing: So. Many. Options!

Really good and interesting non-alcholic drinks used to be few and far between, but in the last few years the sober-curious market has cured that! We’ve recently had a number of mixers and drinks hit our office that are interesting, tasty, and totally complex. Which we love!

non-alcoholic drinks

Curious Elixirs (disclosure: also an affiliate because we like these so much) are booze-free cocktails infused with adaptogens and complex flavors without being too sweet (hooray!). Created by world-class bartenders, herbalists and food scientists with quality ingredients, each blend targets its own goal, ranging from a pick-me-up to relaxation. In fun foodie flavors like Blood Orange Spritz Holy Basil + Gingseng and Juniper Cucumber Collins Lemon +Ashwagandha + Angelica, you won’t feel like you’re missing the party at all.

wine

For wine drinkers, non-alcoholic Oddbird wine is like nothing we’ve had before (and in a good way). With the goal of creating world-class, traditionally crafted wines, these wines are sourced from the finest vineyards in France and Italy and are matured for up to 12 months before having alcohol removed using a unique method that preserves flavors. We found the Oddbird Low Intervention Organic White No. 1 — which is a natural white wine produced from the local grape varieties Vespaiola and Garganega — to be a little sweet with pear, honey crisp apple, honeycomb, and candied lemon, and the Oddbird Low Intervention Organic Red No. 1 — which is a natural red wine of Merlot and Pinot Noir — to have flavors of apple cinnamon, cranberry, and barely ripe blackberry. By far the most interesting NA wines we’ve had thus far!

mingle mocktails

For those looking for something a little bubbly and sweet, you can’t go wrong with Mingle Mocktails. Crafted from natural ingredients and free from chemical additives, you can get festive flavors like Cranberry Cosmo, Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini, Cucumber Melon Mojito, Moscow Mule and Blood Orange Elderflower Mimosa. Offered in standard 750-ml bottles or 12-ounce cans, there’s a size for every occasion.

Some tasty options, right? Now all we need to know is: what’s YOUR mood? And what will you pair it with? –Jenn





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How to Make Your Own Butterscotch “Beer”

How to Make Your Own Butterscotch “Beer”


Every fall we get the urge to binge watch all of the Harry Potter movies. Anyone else?

There’s just a lot of fall vibes in those movies, and we are here for it! Which, seeing that it’s basically September and all, is exactly why this cookbook caught our attention (HP fans unite!):

Fifty magically simple, spellbinding recipes for young witches and wizards? Yes, please! From breakfasts to desserts to snacks to main dishes, The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids is so, SO fun and educational. You and your kiddos will learn new cooking terms and kitchen skills with recipes that range in complexity so that all kid chefs and their potions masters (AKA parents) can whip up something amazing.

One simple and fun recipe that caught our attention was for Butterscotch “Beer” — which, because this is for kids — isn’t really beer at all. Instead, it’s a mug full of butterscotch-y goodness that you can sip while pretending to be at the Three Broomsticks Inn or any other imaginary wizarding bar you fancy.

butterscotch beer in a mug

Photo courtesy of Ulysses Press

Looks delicious, right?! So frothy and fun. And we want you to try it!

Thankfully, we’ve been given permission from the publisher to share this tasty Butterscotch “Beer” recipe with you. So, grab your best wizard or witch hat, your robes, and your large mugs, and let’s cheers to butterbeer!

Butterscotch “Beer” Recipe

A wizarding world favorite, this “beer” recipe allows you to enjoy a cup full of butterscotch-y goodness whenever you’d like, even if you aren’t at a wizarding bar.

Course: Drinks

Keyword: beer, butterscotch

Servings: 4

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 20 oz lemon lime soda
  • ice
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.

  • When the butter is melted, add the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.

  • Cook the mixture for 5 minutes, until the brown sugar is completely dissolved.

  • Whisk in the heavy whipping cream and continue to cook for 1 minute.

  • Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature, 15 minutes.

  • When cool, divide between 4 large glasses filled halfway up with ice.

  • Slowly top with soda, but be careful not to overfill, as the mixture will bubble and foam! Stir to blend and enjoy.

 

A huge thanks to Alana Al-Hatlani and Ulysses Press for allowing us to share this Butterscotch “Beer” recipe. What are some of your other family fall favorite recipes? This is definitely gonna be one of our new faves! —Jenn

Excerpted from The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids by Alana Al-Hatlani. Copyright © 2021 Ulysses Press. Reprinted with permission from Ulysses Press. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

More Yummy Fall Recipes





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