Edition Maximilian Riesling Spatlese

Cost: Average, $17.99

Where buy now: I forgot where I bought this

Grapes: Riesling Spatlese

Region: Rheingau,Germany

Vintage: 2009

Rheingau - Riesling
Rheingau – Riesling

As I walked into Surdyk’s one afternoon, I was quickly approached by a lovely gal who asked me what I was looking for. “I bought a couple pounds of bacon and cheddar brats from legendary meat purveyor Nueske’s in Wisconsin,” I replied, “and we’re grilling them up tonight. I need something to wash ‘em down.”

She immediately took me over to the German Rieslings. I sheepishly admitted that I don’t know much about Rieslings, so she gave me a brief lesson. What I do know is that Germans do NOT make mistakes (only the big ones). German Rieslings are a rich subject matter. They are sweet, yet dry. She said to stay away from the California and other New World Rieslings as they would be higher in sugar and much sweeter.

She immediately recommended a 2009 late harvest Riesling Spatlese. There are five classifications of German Riesling, none of which I can pronounce without sounding like a WWII Looney Toons villain. Spatlese [pronounced SHPAT-lay-zuh] refers to the degree of the grape’s ripeness upon harvest. Spatlese is on the dryer side of the sweet Riesling scale. The grapes are left on the vine until they are almost raisins. This maximizes sugar content, thus yielding a sweeter wine. [You can do your own Google search and read up on the others- I need to get to the food and booze!] I was a bit skeptical, but the way the German language rolled off her tongue, I wasn’t going to argue.

I brought the bottle to my friend Pete’s house who was hosting a small soiree and we grilled up those succulent bacon and cheddar brats. For a single dude, he put out a nice spread of hummus, olive tapenade and salsa. Oh, wow, sweet mother of Wisconsin sausage! The cheese of the smoked bratwurst is warm and bursts in your mouth just enough to taste, but not overwhelmingly so like when you bite into a Juicy Lucy too early and curse the Lord’s name in vain because you’ve burnt your whole mouth. I looked at this golden white wine that is supposed to be sweet but dry, shrugged my shoulders and took sip of the Riesling. Yup, that’s the stuff- I’ll have more, please. Flavors of orange, lemon, and melon hit the palette with ease after each bite of juicy, smoky bratwurst. The dinner party consisted of folks that didn’t know each other all that well, but soon we were all grunting and nodding, sipping and grinning. Everyone commented on how well the wine and brats paired together. My only regret is that I didn’t buy more.

For all those skeptics who think Riesling is icky-sweet and only for women who are used to drinking wine coolers, I say pick yourself up a bottle of this and enjoy with smoked brats and kraut. Heavy German food not your thing? Pair this Riesling with Thai or perhaps Vietnamese food. Sweet enough to make salty treats sing.

Radio Boca

Cost: Average price $7

Where buy now: St. Anthony Wines & Spirits [aka, The Muni – 2 for $10]

Grapes: Tempranillo

Region: Valencia, Spain

Vintage: 2010

Radio Boca
Radio Boca

So, here is my thought process: I haven’t worked out in several weeks, so I decided to hit the gym last night. “Why not take a class to get back in the saddle?” I thought. Not only did I take one class, I took two- back-to-back, even. First, it was Zumba class, which is a cross between Salsa, belly dance, aerobics and hip-hop. The instructor acted like she took a bump or three before class: forgetting steps, spewing jibberish, generally thumping around like a crazed mule. The middle-aged Betties all laughed and thought it was a great time, but it was mostly just a bunch of arrhythmic geriatric gyration from my vantage point. [Hang with me, this story is going somewhere- just building more sympathy.] I followed that dog and pony show up with a yoga class. I haven’t taken yoga in, well, nearly a decade, so I thought “Hey, why not start up again now?”. Half-way through class I try to strike some pose no regular-jointed person should be invited to strike, and… Yikes! I catch a glance of myself in the mirror, and nearly pass out in disgust.

Fast forward to today: sore…as…hell. My triceps are on fire, I can barely manage to turn my head, and I need a spotter to use the powder room [thanks, Sue!]. After all this, I figure I deserve a night off. Voila! I find myself at a liquor store.

My husband and I are obsessed with watching the Trailer Park Boys. Yeah, I know we are late to this bandwagon, but if you haven’t seen it, find it ASAP. The character “Julian” is habitually drinking rum and cokes and I’ve been hankering for one. I like to add lime and make a Cuba Libre for a ‘classier’ touch. While perusing the aisles, I pick up a tried and true Italian IGT friend, and then I spot this sale: 2 for $10, Radio Boca Tempranillo. So, naturally, I picked up four.

Tempranillo is a Spanish wine and this one is from Radio Boca made by what the wine label says, “Danes, Spains, Americanes, and one plain jane”.This one even has a screw top: lazy man’s wine, just twist and pour!I slowly, painfully poured a glass and took a sip. Not bad.This little ditty goes down smooth: no strong tannins here, even the finish is brief. It is a simple wine that won’t offend.

Tempranillo is typically dark ruby red in color, and often has a berry fruit flavor with a smoky kind of finish. My sexy dinner of eggs and bacon actually went quite well with it (and not just because I enjoyed the fact that I was drinking wine with breakfast). The smokiness really emerged with the bacon I was chomping away on, but it certainly did not overpower. You could enjoy it in Winter (perhaps with some bacon and eggs) or bring it to a Summer BBQ, as it will go well with grilled meats.

At only $5, buy a case. Unless the land-lady is up your ass for rent this month, get a couple. As I continue sipping and pouring, pouring and sipping, I notice I can move with a little more ease now. This is palatable, wallet-friendly, and temporarily takes away bodily pain from overdoing it at the gym. Thus, I deem this the January skank bottle of the month.


Conquista Malbec

Cost: Average price $7

Where buy now: Costco – $5.59, Muni – $5.99

Grapes: Blend – 88% Tempranillo, 6% Bonardo, 3% Shiraz, 3% Merlot

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Vintage: 2010

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Conquista Malbec

What did I do today? I played hooky.  That’s right, a good ol’ fashioned day of cuttin’. A weekend spent at my folks’ house (full of relatives) ignited the desire for some much needed alone time. Oh sweet, sweet nectar of the gods, to what shall I surrender my sobriety this fine day?

I look into my wine fridge to see… two bottles.  Shit! TWO bottles!?! Not just any two bottles- both are from our trip to Sonoma County a couple years back. I’m not breaking into the $28 bottle of Cline’s Mouvedre nor B.R. Cohn’s Cabarnet that I bought for a cool $55! [Don’t ask. Well, if you must know, it was the last winery stop of the day. I was D-runk and D-vorced from all acumen; I thought nothing of it when I slapped down that plastic.] I ain’t drinking these on a Wednesday afternoon.

Alas, it’s off to Costco. We “need” a new microwave and I need a fix. I spent roughly $60 and came home with seven bottles.  Not too shabby.

I cozy up with the dog, a wine glass, a corkscrew and the ever so classic Malbec from Conquista. What’s this? I don’t even need the corkscrew?  Just screw the top off, baby, and watch it gush.  No shame here: screw top wines are perfect for when you’re camping/tailgating/lazy.  Function equates to quick consumption, kiddies!

Mendoza, Argentina is where many bang-for-buck wines are coming out of lately. Malbecs are generally pleasing, and this little number was like easy-listening music. I don’t hate it but I ain’t crankin’ up the radio, either. That said, with a price-point of $4-$6, right now I’m loving this “Air Supply”.

I bought this bottle at Costco for $5.59.  However, I’ve seen it at many other liquor stores for $5.99 (or once in a while a 2/$10 deal can be found). Don’t bring this to a dinner party or as a hostess gift, though.  They’ll probably know it’s inexpensive and you don’t care to spend much on them. DO drink this during the week when you are home, it’s 2:30 in the afternoon and you’re looking for a cohort to play hooky with.