Bubo 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel

This medium ruby red colored wine opened with black cherry and black plum on the nose. On the palate I experienced plum, fig, and black cherry flavors with a nice peppery finish. Hints of chocolate and mocha floated on the back palate. At a price of $6.99 this is a very good buy.

I had this with a tuna casserole and it was okay but not a wine I would pair with this again – hey sometimes you pair a wine with a food and it just doesn’t work out. I’m thinking white wine next time.

Chateau Souverain 2001 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

I had this Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel hanging around in my wine cellar that I bought about six or seven years ago and decided to try it again to see if it tasted the same as when I first tried it. The winery isn’t located in the same spot off Independence on the 101 as Francis Ford Coppola has now occupied the building and I was unable to find Chateau Souverain‘s new location. Maybe my next visit to wine country in CA will prove more fruitful!

This wine was everything I remembered and then some. After pouring this in my wine glass you could tell it was an older wine as a brownish orange hue appeared on the rim of the wine. Black currant, blackberries, and toast notes on the nose with blackberry jam, blueberry, and plum flavors. At the time I purchased this it cost me $18.99 so it was a decent value for the money. I really like this Zinfandel and it goes very well with a supreme pizza but hold the anchovies.

BTW, I couldn’t find a 2001 label. Enjoy this if you can find the vintage.

St. Francis 2008 Old Vines Zinfandel Bacchi Vineyards Russian River Valley

This delectable old vines zinfandel was aged for 16 months in French oak which sported a whopping 16% alcohol by volume. The hand picked grapes went into a five-day cold soak before pumping the juice into the oak barrels.

The deep garnet color yielded aromas of black cherry (dominant aroma), smoke, and bacon on the nose. The flavors consisted of black berries, mostly boysenberry, some black cherry with a hint of roasted herbs, mostly sage. A subtle eucalyptus finish rounded out this wine. I would think this would cellar well for 5 or 6 years, maybe longer. Although this particular bottle didn’t last the night.

The price of $32 earns it a 3 1/2 cork value. We paired this with roasted Italian chicken breast topped with roasted red pepper, black rice, green beans, and a spring mix salad. Visit the St. Francis website here.


Truro Vineyards

North Truro is almost to the Eastern end of Cape Cod save for Provincetown and is a three hour plus ride from Southeastern Connecticut but then again I’m on my quest to visit as many, if not all, of the New England wineries within the next year. I’m about 40 % complete so I’ve got a ways to go. You can really see the devastation Hurricane Irene left as many of the trees have lost their leaves and they are severely salt damaged by the storm. However, Mother Nature has a way of mending.

Driving just off Route 6A, the winery is a couple of hundred feet to the right as you enter a spacious parking lot which was nearly full. To the left of the winery tasting room, the vineyards had a lot of grape clusters just waiting to be harvested. This is a sight wine enthusiasts get excited about. The tasting fee for five wines is $8 and if you go with a partner you can taste all ten wines if you “partner up” and each of you pick alternate wines, etc. You also get to keep their signature wine glass to add to your collection.

Upon entering the tasting room the gift shop area is just to your left with many wine items to choose from to make your wine experience a more enjoyable and albeit, easier one from the many gadgets available.

The wine bar was spacious enough but I learned that the wine tastings would be on the patio where there was another wine bar and each party had their own table to sip the wines being offered.

I chose a sunny table to sip and taste the wines. The tastings are held every hour hour and the sommelier greets you with an overview of each of their wines prior to pouring them. Just a note here as I chose one white and four reds to taste, I should have opted for more whites as I found the red wines to be a bit flat, some were watery or lacking deep fruit flavors. Although the red grapes do look delicious.

The one white I chose however was the best of what I tasted hence in retrospect I should have tasted more whites. So, on to the wines I tasted:

2010 Vignoles: This semi-dry white wine had tropical notes on the nose with a hint of cantaloupe and orange zest. Upon first sip a subtle sweetness approached the palate with a delectable tropical blend with undertones of citrus, apricot, and pineapple. A slight mineral finish complemented the tasting experience.

2009 Cabernet Franc: A medium bodied ruby red wine with dense forest, herbs, and earthy aromas. Although the nose was quite pleasing the flavor did not blossom as it did with the nose as it had a touch of cherry and pepper but it didn’t pop.

2009 Zinfandel: Raspberry and plum artfully balanced on the nose yielded an oaky cherry and raspberry flavor with hints of plum and spice. Probably the best of the red collection.

2008 Triumph:  A Meritage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot revealed raspberry and cherry notes on the nose with a slight hint of bacon just starting to cook. The aroma was very pleasing, however it stopped there as the raspberry and black cherry flavors were flat and missing was a mocha finish I seem to experience with many red blends.

Cranberry Red: One of their Lighthouse Series and a blend of Rougean and Syrah varietals and infused with cranberry. I got mostly cranberry on the nose which is what I expected but that was it. This was served chilled and the cranberry flavor was as I expected but I didn’t expect the pomegranate finish which delighted my expectation of the wine.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…

Twist And Shout

Seeing as the winter is almost over (yeah!) I can remember as a teenager getting in the last ice skating of the year, weather permitting, and the song Twist and Shout by Chubby Checker would be blaring from the public address system on the town pond. I danced better on skates then than I do now on the dance floor. Although at my age, slow dancing is the norm when I do get on the dance floor that is. Then of course later in the afternoon or early evening while we were still skating the version of Twist and Shout recorded by The Beatles would have us dancing and skating even more intense than earlier in the day.

Which brings me to a story when I was in my early teens and we were having the Christmas Eve celebration at my parents house when we would purchase a gift that would cost somewhere between 25-75 cents and it couldn’t be a penny more or a penny less. And those were strict rules, tax included. Our gift swap rules were simple. Everyone who brought a gift received a number drawn from a hat. You chose a gift on the table and if you were the first one then you had to open and keep the gift – luck of the draw. Then whoever was the number 2 person to pick would chose a gift on the table and had a choice to make – they could either take your gift and give you the one they chose or they could keep it (they could not open the gift unless they were going to keep it). So, they blindly had to make a decision to grab your gift from you or they took a chance and opened the gift they chose which they had to keep. Think of all the possibilities when you have around thirty people playing this. It gets to be a lot of fun real quick.

Are you confused yet? I think I am (and I used to play this), oh well.

On with the story. As luck would have it on this particular Christmas Eve I had the second to last pick and I chose one of two gifts left and opened the “Story Book Lifesavers Package” – remember those? Oh, what a gift. Lo and behold, my Uncle Tony had the last gift on the table and he decided that the lifesavers would be his choice of gifts. Well, the consolation was that I got to open another gift. But the agony was that I opened the gift my Uncle Tony brought and he new what was in the package which is why he decided not to open it – are you ready for this? I opened – and got to keep – a pair of girl’s ice skates pom-poms that attached to the top of the skates. Now, can you imagine me putting these on top of my hockey skates??? Although we joke about this whenever we remember when we’re together it is part of those good memories we had growing up.

What about you, any good memorable stories?

Anyway this post is about a bunch of other twist top wine bottles that in my mind are pretty good (don’t tell me I’m warming up to screw tops $#@&?*^%).

Twisted 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel. I bought this on a whim and just liked the name of the wine and I figured what the heck! Upon opening the wine I experienced a jolt of blackberries like in a jam, very pleasing along with cherry, anise, and grated nutmeg greeted the schnozzola snifter. The wine, once tasted, reminded me of chocolate covered cherries and ripe plums wrapped around your taste buds which ended in a very nice nutmeg mouth feel and a jammy finish. My wife said: “Ohhh, I really like this”. For a screw top and a winery I’ve never heard of, this is a very decent Zinfandel even Mike’s Cellar Emporium would stock (now, if I can only get him to agree with me…). I tried this with homemade pizza one night and pulled pork another night and it went very well with both. And a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. $7.99, 88 rating. (most of you that are on the small mailing list of oenophiles know we’ve discussed this wine already but it deserves another mention here as one of our members received the coveted fancy schmancy initials because of this wine).

Cupcake 2010 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This wine opens with lemony aromas leading to key lime pie and melon flavors sure to delight. $9.99, 86 rating. Try this with shrimp cocktail with plenty of spicy cocktail sauce and a plethora of appetizers. Spicy Asian food also pairs well with this wine as does a number of cheeses and crackers.

Cigar Box 2009 Reserve Malbec. This wine began with earthy tones on the nose with rich plum and blackberry and a hint of vanilla. The palate exhibited flavors of Cassis, red cherry, and boysenberry jam with nice tannins! A delicious chocolate mocha finish paired well with a ham & chees on a French baguette. This also went well with homemade chili. Although many times a white wine will go well with chili especially if it is spicy this Malbec was a pretty good good choice for this meal. I also had this on another occasion with grilled chicken topped with mozzarella cheese, tomato slices, and fresh parsley. Not to mention this was good with a pulled pork sandwich too. All four meals were great with this wine. $9.99, 88 rating. I do enjoy a good Malbec.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…


Hamburger Helper

Well we’ve talked about the great American hot dog so I guess we need to give the beef hamburger it’s due as well. There probably are just as many hamburger joints as there are hot dog stands so let’s get on with some famous hamburger places.

Charm City Burger Company is located in Deerfield Beach, FL (yes, I’ve been here) and their fare includes hamburgers called the Cowboy Style, Volcano Style, The Big Sloppy, and the Emperor to name a few. Visit their website at www.charmcityburgers.com

Next is Eagle’s Deli in Boston, MA and this is so close and I’ve yet to visit this establishment (ya gotta love those road trips though). Anyway, Eagle’s Deli is home to the Challenge Burger. This burger is a whopping 5 pounds of meat, 20 pcs of bacon, 20 pcs of cheese, 5 pounds of fries, and 1 deli pickle – that did it for me, after adding the pickle I know I’d never be able to finish this now. Do you know how much food this is? A whole bunch (and you remember my definition of bunch?). They also have varying degrees of weight limits to their burgers such as the King Kong (1/2 lb. burger), the Godzilla (1 lb. burger), the Cowabunga (2 lb. burger), the Reilly Burger (3 lb. burger), and the Paul Jones (4 lb. burger), and of course for you lightweights the Kiddie Burger (a mere 1/4 lb. burger). See their fare at www.eaglesdeli.com

At Fuddruckers (say this ten times fast) (oh, and I want to be there when you do this) you can get burgers in 1/3, 1/2, and 2/3 lb. sizes with all kinds of fresh toppings for your burger. You can also order Buffalo, Elk, Wild Boar, and Ostrich burgers too. Visit them at www.fuddruckers.com

Five Guys Burgers and Fries burger chain offers burgers and other stuff too. What’s unique about this chain is their enormous toppings menu which you can view at www.fiveguys.com When you order fries ask for the small size in either regular or Cajun style. You’ll be surprised what you end up with.

Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, CT is the birthplace of the hamburger. The story behind the burger began when a customer explained he was in a hurry and Louis took one of the meatballs and made a patty out of it and put it between two slices of toast. It’s still made that way today. Why have I never been here? Yeah, you guessed it, another road trip, anyone want to go? Go to www.louislunch.com and check them out.

Another place I’ve never been to is Ted’s in Meriden, CT. This establishment steams their burgers and they have a delectable array of toppings to add to your burger bliss. See them at www.tedsrestaurant.com Might as well be the same road trip, don’cha think?

Burgermeister in San Francisco is one of the best burger joints I’ve been in. You can get the San Francisco, the San Diego, the Colossal, and of course the Burgermeister. Go to www.burgermeistersf.com for their menu items.

One of the best fast food burger joints I’ve been in is In ‘N Out where you can order the Double-Double while you watch them make fresh fries in the background. Although the Southwestern chain only has four items on its menu: the Burger, the Cheeseburger, the Double-Double, and Fries they have a unique sub-culture for ordering them which is not on their menu. Phrases such as the 2 X 4 will get you two beef patties and four slices of cheese on a bun. What about the 3 X 3, the 4 X 2, and the 4 X 4? What do you think they mean? Or how about the Flying Dutchman, Mustard Grilled, Protein, or Animal Style? Try www.in-n-out.com to find out.

Bobby’s Burger Palace name their burgers after famous cities such as the Philadelphia, the Dallas, the Miami, the Santa Fe, and the LA. This burger place is so close to where I live it’s a shame I haven’t been here yet. What am I waiting for? Yes, a definite road trip. All of about three miles down the road. Check out Bobby Flay’s at www.bobbysburgerpalace.com Note: After I wrote this post I decided to complete the road trip to this hamburger heaven and I had the Philadelphia and it was the best burger I’ve ever tried. It was amazing, I highly recommend going there if you can. It’s located at the Mohegan Sun Casino. I must get there at least once a month to try each one of the burgers on the menu.

White Castle gets an honorable mention as their uniqueness is in the size of their burgers. Unlike what you’ve seen in the large size challenges this chain boasts the mini-burger. This is unique in today’s world, even though they give you four of them as a serving but you don’t have to eat them all at one sitting. See them at www.whitecastle.com

Another burger establishment gets an honorable mention because they were voted best juicy hamburger in South Florida. Cheeseburgers and More located in Jupiter, FL boasts a juicy burger with the likes of the Rodeo Burger, the Garbage Burger, the Chili Burger, the Gorgonzola Burger, and the Salsa Burger. Let’s not forget to mention the 1 & 2 lb burgers that if you finish them you get to have your picture taken and put up on the walls. The neat niche about this burger joint is the amount of memorabilia hanging from the ceiling from model planes to model cars and full size bicycles. Oh, and you know those toothpicks restaurants use to hold your burger concoction together are stuck on the ceiling too. One of the dining rooms sports an arcade for your pinball pleasure. See them at cheeseburgersandmore.com

Here are some wines I believe go well with burgers.

Cupcake 2007 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine opened with black cherry, clove, leather, and smoked bacon aromas. Flavors were of black currant, clove, and pepper with a slight tart blueberry finish. $8.99, 83 rating. I also paired this with Venison stew with carrots, potatoes, scallions, butternut squash, zucchini, banana peppers, celery, and spices.

Peachy Canyon 2007 Incredible Red Paso Robles Zinfandel. This wine exhibited a red ruby color (I’ll get you my pretty! Sorry that was red ruby slippers. Different story altogether). Cherry, black cherry, and vanilla bean aromas leading to black cherry and clove on the palate. This had a simple but smooth finish. $7.49, 85 rating. I also paired this with grilled chicken, a baked potato, and sweet peas. Also sauteed onions and mushrooms to top off the chicken with. Love those indoor grills where you can pour red wine in the channel of the ring that goes on top of your gas stove. I tried this on an electric stove and it doesn’t work as well.

Paolo Scavino 2008 Rosso Vino Da Tavola. This wine is a blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with a deep ruby color leading to floral, fennel, anise, mocha and smoke aromas – wow! Flavors included cherry, orange zest, and red berries (I couldn’t pinpoint which red berries so I just included them all). Nice tannins. $12.99, 90 rating. This is an Italian gem that I’ll buy more of and cellar for 5-10 years. Yes, I can wait this long as I have approximately 60 bottles in my wine cellar that I have not yet tried so I am very patient. I have a feeling this wine will be even better than it is today. But don’t take my word for it, go out and buy some and judge for yourself. I don’t think you’d be disappointed. And yes, this did go well with a burger!

Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a white wine that went well with burgers. Can anyone make a recommendation? Maybe I should write a post about dishes that go well with white wine. Nah, I couldn’t drink that much white wine in a week to give you three wines to choose from. Now, let’s see what sparks debate among the white wine lovers for that comment in this forum. Here’s your chance!

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…


Hot Dogs, Get Your Hot Dogs Here!

Of course you need to say this with a Bostonian accent to get the real flavor of what’s so great about the hot dog. Although we think of hot dogs as a summer food, even in the winter I enjoy a good hot dog. Although I associate beer, more so than wine, as the beverage of choice when consuming a hot dog I’m sure we can come up with a few wines that will suffice. But first let’s talk famous hot dogs, not just your ordinary run of the mill packaged hot dog, but by some of the more notable hot dog establishments. Let’s see how many of them you have been to. I’ve been to a few but wish I could get to ’em all someday.

First, let’s talk ballparks for the great hot dog experience. I’ve heard of three places where you need to go to enjoy a ball park frank. One is Dodger Stadium – I’ve been told these are some if not the best ball park franks. I couldn’t tell you as I have not been there but the results come from reliable people I know. Next is the hot dog at Wrigley Field. If it’s anything like the Chicago style hot dog we’re onto something. And lastly, the Fenway Frank. Now this I can attest that they are the best ballpark franks. I have tried hot dogs from Fenway, the old Jacobs Field in Cleveland and Yankee Stadium. So, my repertoire of ballpark franks is limited, many have commented that the Fenway Frank is the best. Though I am a Yankee fan my hats off to the Fenway Frank. What’s your best ballpark frank?

Now, famous hot dog eateries around the country.

First up is Pink’s in Hollywood. I’ve been by it but never stopped in. When my son lived there for eight years he did frequent it a couple of times. He said it was an okay hot dog but that they did have a plethora of ways to eat the hot dog. You can check out their menu at www.pinkshollywood.com and take a look see at their menu.

Next we take you to Atlanta. What’ll Ya Have? What’ll Ya Have? Those are the famous words spoken at the Varsity as you enter the eatery (I haven’t been here yet, but this is what I saw on the Food Channel). They also have the world’s largest drive-in. They have the naked dog, the chili dog, the heavy dog, the cheese dog, the slaw dog, the chili slaw dog, the chili cheese dog, and the chili cheese slaw dog. Now that’s a mouthful! And they serve a gazillion people a year. Some of their employees have worked there for over fifty years. Wow! Next time I’m in Atlanta I’ll have to stop by. Check them out at www.thevarsity.com

Next is Nathan’s Coney Island. Home of the hot dog eating contest. Their hot dogs come with toppings of chili, cheese, chili and cheese, sauerkraut, red onions, and salsa. I’ve never been here but must try this one as I am fairly close. They boast the best corn dog in the country. Go to www.nathansfamous.com

Next is a novel place to see. Although I have not eaten here I did drive by it coming back from New Mexico. It’s the Coney Island Hot Dog Stand in Bailey, Colorado. It’s shaped like a hot dog in a bun. You can view a picture of it at the following website. www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/1532

In Denver, Mustard’s Last Stand you can get a real good hot dog. Yes, I have been here and I can attest to the greatness of their hot dogs. They have a whole bunch (remember my definition of bunch?) like the Chicago style, the Mork, the Reuben, the Discovery, the Yankee dog, the Boston Dawg, the Spudtacular, the Meathead, and the Cowboy to name a few. What did I get – the Yankee dog of course along with the Chicago style hot dog. You can’t just have one. You can view their locations/menu at www.mustardsinc.com

Jimmy Buff’s in New Jersey is unique in that they serve Italian style sausages in an Italian style bread loaded with delectable looking food. This sounds like a road trip to me. Check out their website at www.jimmybuff.com

For a healthy style dog look at Franktitude in Miami. You can get a salmon, turkey or veggie hot dog with a multitude of toppings. I think I’d like to at least try this place. Another road trip perhaps? see their food choices at www.franktitude.com

Now Chicago, I have found, is the hot dog capital of the world. Three notable spots are Superdawgs, Hot Doug’s, and Portillos. I’ve been to the last two.

First Superdawgs. They don’t call it a hot dog but a Superdawg. They only show the Superdawg with all the trimmings but will make you the Superdawg any way you want it except they won’t put ketchup on it, they’ll give you a packet of ketchup but they won’t put it on the Superdawg. go to www.superdawg.com

Next is Portillos. I got the chili dog and the jumbo hot dog. They were scrumptious. And good for ya too! See them at www.portillos.com

My favorite hot dog place is Hot Doug’s, the Encased Meats Emporium and Sausage Superstore. You have to go to their website at www.hotdougs.com to view their fare. I had the Dog with all the trimmings and the Frankie “Five Angels” Pentangeli. I think I’m hot dogged out. Can’t wait to go back. What are your favorite hod dog eateries?

Okay, here are some wines that “might” go with a hot dog – you decide.

Campo de Borja 2008 Vina Borgia. Made from the grenache grapes and bottled by Bodegas Borsao S.A. Floral aromas preceded black raspberry and cassis flavors with a sweeter boysenberry finish, more like boysenberry jelly than boysenberry jam. Know what I mean? I’ve had this with a hot dog and it was pretty good. $5.99, 85 rating.

Ravenswood 2002 Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel. A few of us were around the supper table and opened this. We found tobacco, clove, and pepper on the nose. Others found it to be earthy with mineral undertones. Black cherry, spice, and pepper flavors followed the aromas and it portrayed a slight mocha finish. My wife says it “stinks” (I think she is referring to the earthy tones – like dirt) and it tastes like “cough drops” but I like it. Thank goodness for pure and simple wine critiques. $16.99, 89 rating.

Beringer 2001 Clear Lake Zinfandel. Bing cherry, clove, tobacco, and bacon aromas aroused the nose while black cherry and clove flavors danced on the palate. A fruity smooth finish rounded out this wine. $11.99, 85 rating.

What could be better than enjoying these wines with the great American hot dog?

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…



I’m sure when we discuss Zinfandels we can debate new vines vs. old vines. I believe that in order to be considered an old vine the vines should have existed bearing fruit for 25 years or more. Although there is no legal definition for what constitutes an “old vine”. I have read that 25, 35, and 50 years is generally accepted as the starting point for “old vines” depending on the wine critic, the winery, or the winemaker. I’m not really sure. Maybe Mike’s Cellar Emporium can shed some light on this subject. I know he is more familiar with Zinfandels than I am. I do get a feeling that wine producers recommend that “old vines” should start at the age of 50 years. Winemaker, Joel Peterson (founder & winemaker for Ravenswood), categorizes Zinfandels into four distinct age groups. 0-10 years is a young wine, 10-50 years is a middle age wine, 50-80 is an old vines, and over 80 years is ancient vines status. (Re: http://www.sonomawinegrape.org/old-vine-zinfandel).

If you are familiar with Zinfandels please send me a note back and tell me what you think. Here are three Zins I have tasted.

St. Francis 2007 Nuns Canyon Vineyard Zinfandel. A clear red color led into black cherry, tobacco, and smoked bacon aromas. Cherry, licorice, and white pepper dominated the palate while there was a smooth, delicate, clove finish (although this finish took awhile to appear). Let this decant for at least an hour before serving. $38, 91 rating. Yes, this is “old vines”. I served this with Dreamfield’s spaghetti and Grandma’s Spaghetti sauce complete with meatballs and lots of garlic.  Also, this meal didn’t stop with the spaghetti. We had maple glazed garlic salmon, a tossed salad, and Italian star bread.

The next Zinfandel is considered a new vine.

Forest Ville 2002 Zinfandel. This wine exhibited fruity notes on the nose with cassis and black cherry flavors. The best deal about this particular bottle was the $4.99 price tag compelling me to give it an 84 rating. I believe it may be difficult to find a bottle at this price as it has been sitting in my wine cellar six years but you never know where another bottle of this is hiding in some wine shop. I did try a 2005 version of this wine and found similar aromas and flavors as the 2002 but gave it an 83 rating due to the dollar increase in price to $5.99. Nonetheless, this is a very decent Zinfandel to keep as an everyday table wine that you won’t be embarrassed to serve to your friends. If you do find this buy yourself a couple bottles of this and let me know where you found it.

Clos du Bois 2007 Sonoma Reserve Alexander Valley Old Vine Zinfandel . A deep garnet color opened with an array of aromas of cranberry, blueberry, plum, cherry, vanilla, clove, spice (gee, did I forget anything?). Yes, it was a concoction of a lot of different aromas yet you were able to pick out the differences fairly easily and quickly. Maybe there were so many aromas I started to confuse them. Nice way to get confused, don’t you think? Anyway, the flavors consisted of blackberry and strawberry. A very nice soft peppery finish. $35, 90 rating.

Can anyone recommend a less expensive Zinfandel?

Also, for you white wine drinkers can you recommend a white zinfandel. I don’t believe I have ever tried one. Well???

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends….

Screw Tops Anyone?

Most of you know my thoughts on screw top wines. Yes, I believe in the cork and I believe the wine experience isn’t complete without first examining the bottle, perusing the label for any hints of what to expect in the bottle you’re holding. Once you cut the foil off the bottle your senses begin to come alive with anticipation of that great bottle of wine. Your schnozzola perks up with eagerness to greet those enormous aromas you’re about to experience. The millions of taste buds start to orchestrate a concerto on your tongue in great expectations of the fruits of the vine to soon flow over them. Your brain is beginning to tell you that this is a chance in a lifetime and you’re here to be a part of it. You begin to wonder if you chose the best bottle of wine ever and you’re the one that discovered it.

Next you determine which cork screw you should use. Should I use the quick and easy rabbit uncorking the wine in 2.2 seconds flat, or should you use the screw pull where nothing much can go wrong, or the Capitano cork screw with your Last name embossed on the handle with your own personal wine cellar or your trusted waiter’s cork screw? Maybe you’re inclined to play it safe with the French Coutale two-stage cork screw or you’re going to take the challenge with the two-prong Ah-So wine opener.

Whatever cork screw you desire to use is utterly shattered when all you have to do is unscrew the bottle top. Now, where is the wine ambiance in that? Yes, I know the wineries are having trouble obtaining cork and we are supposed to embrace the screw top, after all some of the most prestigious wineries are utilizing the screw top, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Anyway, here’s to screw tops?/$#@&?!

Argento 2008 Mendoza Malbec. Upon pouring your first glass of wine, the color is a deep, dark purple and the first aroma to waft through your nose is blackberry fruit with a hint of clove and smoked bacon. On the palate you’ll discover mixed dark berries ending with a delicate fig sandwich cookie. I paired this with a Romaine salad with shaved carrots and ripe tomatoes from the farmer’s market topped with tuna salad with chopped celery and onion. Actually, both the wine and the food complemented each other. Both were very simple and enjoyable. $8.99 and an 85 rating. Not bad for a screw top.

Okay screw top #2…

CK Mondavi 2008 Wildcreek Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon. A deep, deep red color produced black currant and blackberry aromas with hints of vanilla bean. Black cherry flavor with an oaky, mixed fruit finish. Paired this with lasagna, plain and simple. This wine is part of the Peter Mondavi family wines and their CK series are reasonably priced and provide a good value for the buck. This one won’t disappoint. $6.99 gave way to an 83 rating.

And screw top #3…

Cardinal Zin 2006 Beastly Old Vines Zinfandel. The nose exhibited plum, raisins, and hints of leather and smoky tobacco leading to blackberries, plum and spice flavors with a peppery finish. You guessed it, had this with another pizza. If I don’t have a beer with pizza then I really like the taste of a Zinfandel. $18.00 and an 85 rating.

There you have it, three screw top wine reviews. What do you think? Is the cork dead? Or do you still yearn for the wine cork ritual?

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends….