Newsflash: Trader Joe’s Now has BOXED WINE

Trader Joe's Boxed Wine

The headline says it all. Maybe the most important headline of your/my/OUR lives.

According to a smug, boxed-wine loving friend, this Trader Joe’s boxed wine has been a thing for awhile now.

But I just found out about it. So I figured a lot of you didn’t know, ether.

Well, it’s here, and it’s more than adequate. I LOVE YOU TRADER JOES. Thank you and good night.

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Endless Pairings: Emeril’s Chophouse

Emerils

While it’s clear we that love craft beer here at ES, we do not play favorites. Which is why we took advantage of an opportunity to attend a four-course wine pairing dinner at Emeril’s Chophouse at Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA.  The event was based on South American Wines (from Chile) and some fall-themed foods. My expectations for this event were pretty simple – learn more about wine (how it’s made, how to choose a wine for particular meals, what’s so special about Chilean wine?), have some great food that I couldn’t have otherwise, and taste wine that truly complements the food I’m eating with the wine. Rather than boring you with my oh-so-important and attention-worthy opinions of every course, I’ll give you the cliff notes version.

First, let’s talk about my educational expectations. Whenever I go to these kinds of events, I want to leave knowing more than I did when I first arrived. The woman in charge of the “educational” aspect of the event was a very well-versed representative from Southern Wine. She did a great job of explaining why she chose Chilean Wines for this event (it is under-represented and often under-rated) and giving a good run-down of the people that made the wine. Something that I appreciated was learning about what the winemakers intended for the wine, what kind of grapes they picked, and why they picked a particular region. For instance, when drinking my favorite wine of the night (Ritual Pinot Noir) I learned that the grapes are pressed with the berries still in a bunch. When this occurs, more pronounced tanin flavors come through in the wine (which is something that I look for in a dry red).  The one thing that was missing from the education aspect of the event was that she really did not discuss why she chose the particular wine for each course. Like I said – she gave great information about the wines, but not as much about why the wine was chosen for the courses.

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The Best/Worst New Invention for Your Summer 2014 Drinking Agenda

BeatBox Booze

Cool, look, a new stereo system!

No, wait, it’s just sugary pre-made cocktails in a candy-colored boombox packaging. Who needed wine in a box when you can have “wine-based cocktails” in a Beatbox? I was too afraid to purchase and taste-test for myself when I saw these at my local HEB, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty curious. If these aren’t 100% horrible, I could see myself ironically bringing some to a summer pool party this year.

The three flavors I’ve seen, ranked from most to least offensive:
3. Blue Razzberry Lemonade (“raspberry” spelled with not one, but two Zs!)
2. Box A’Rita (you can’t make a real margarita with wine, come on now)
1. Cranberry Limeade (it’s the one that sounds least like Guy Fieri named it, so I have to give it my thumbs up)

Someone out there has tried these, right? Y’all know my affinity for funny/novelty cheap packaged booze. Tell me if the joke is worth it.

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Battle of the Corkscrew…Part I

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VS.

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Since we’re now grown up, we took a different route for New Year’s Eve. Fancy-shmancy dinner out, then drinking at home with some friends. Of the elite, mature, grown-up group was ML and her main squeeze. Fiancée and I have gotten to know them pretty well, and lucky for them we now live closer together. We even popped his Brazilian steakhouse cherry. But I digress. The most you need to know is that he likes to talk smack. And THIS is where it begins.

As we were all getting ready to leave, he says “OH, look at you—an electric wine opener, you must think you’re effing fantastic.” (of course I may/may not/may be exaggerating here) The electric wine opener was a gift from the future sister-in-law and we were looking forward to trying it. Our feelings were demolished, the solid relationship we’ve created with ML’s squeeze was emotionally damaged and we were highly offended. How dare he. Words were thrown across the room and finally, we realized—this calls for a battle.

Which wine tool would work better? The classic wine key that they use at the restaurants and has taken most of us years of college to realize how to actually use? Or is the electric opener that literally requires you to push one button? I’ll let you decide before I explain the “part I” piece. Judges…see below:

Yes…it looks like the hand-cranked wine key won. However what you don’t see is my foil cutter owning it. Also, ML’s squeeze has had years of practice when he was a waiter in a restaurant. This was my first time. See, the problem was that I repeatedly hit the “down” button and then the “up” button. I thought once the cork went down, you hit the up button. Turns out you hold the down button until the cork comes out. The up button is only to get rid of the cork. Therefore, we need another battle…now that we both know how to use our weapons. There WILL be another battle. And I WILL win. Get your favorite wine key…I’m comin’ at you, brah.

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Now That’s a Spicy Wine!

Cabanero Wine 2

As we all know, my local HEB grocery store is a treasure trove of inexpensive novelty alcohol products and this weekend I stumbled upon the latest discovery. At first it appears to be just another bottle of mid-range cabernet sauvignon, but take a closer look. This isn’t cabernet, but cabanero. Yes, as this delightful wordplay suggests, this is wine infused with habanero.

Cabanero Wine Label

While I enjoy a nice, full-bodied red with my spicy BBQ or other red meat, I don’t know what I think about spicy wine itself. Obviously I love Fireball, which is semi-spicy, but that’s more cinnamon-y than actual heat. I’ve had pepper-infused vodka before and hated it. What to do!

Rob and I were strongly tempted to buy a bottle, but I sadly resigned myself to the fact that a habanero-infused spicy wine would give me instant heartburn. I saved the $8 and walked away. Sigh. If any of you spice-lovers out there pick up a bottle, make sure to drop a comment and let me know how it is! Olé!

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Cocktail O’Clock: Ginger Toddy

Ginger Toddy

Whiskey or wine when the weather gets cold? You can have both. And add some ginger while you’re at it—for health benefits, of course.

2 oz Powers Irish Whiskey
4 oz Pinot Grigio
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced ginger

Combine all ingredients into a pot over medium heat.

When ingredients have dissolved, strain, then place back onto heat. Add 1 sliced orange and keep warm.

Pour into coffee mug. Garnishwith a slice of lemon.

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Cocktail O’Clock: Serious Mulled Wine

Mulled Spiced Wine

It’s about that time of year when we start heating our wine, and cocktails suddenly feel less sinful, more warm and comforting. Well, this tea and wine concoction still packs plenty of punch, amping up your mulled wine with vodka and port. Plus, you get to light things on fire.

Moonlight by the Fire: Mulled Spiced Wine

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