casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 351 – Saving One for The Girls

3 GirlsSo much coming and going.  Up early in the morning; many times, home late.  New people and other things in the house.  When you’re a dog, we think that life is built around routine.  For our girls, the routine is up around 6 every morning to take care of business. . .followed by breakfast. . .followed by taking care of business. . .followed by their infamous, early morning nap!  By any human account, it’s a schedule made in heaven.  Food, sleep and relief and it’s all repeated in the evening.

Over the past three months, the routine has been somewhat skewed.  As D#1 has settled in with her dog, the routine became–well, less routine, and more like a circus.  Consider that for the past 90 days, we have gotten up at our usual time to try and be as ‘routine’ as possible; however, her dog has begun to adopt our dogs’ routine hours.  So, guess who gets up at the same time?  Yeah. . .the only problem with this is that the puppy wants to play and our brood wants to go back to sleep.  In the evening, the energy level of the puppy was so great that Jean figured out that they could have a certain amount of play time together followed by alone time.  Once this plan was hatched and started, routine started becoming a reality in our house–again!

Now, that D#1 and the puppy have moved to their own digs, we’re left with the 3 girls.  They know something is different and are pretty sure it has to do with that DOG that had been here, but they’re not quite sure.  We know that it will take a few days for them to ‘let their guard down’, but until then we’ll be watching to see if they start to get back into their routine–come to think of it, we’ll probably be up around 6 tomorrow, so we guess that all is right in the dog world!

To mark the moment of returning to the three dogs, we found at World Market a 2011 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvigon from Lodi, California.  It’s from a familiar place in our wine blogs, Oak Ridge Winery.  This wine isn’t going to set the world on fire.  It’s your basic cab–medium body, dark ruby color; earthy, tart cassis, tart plum nose; tart currant, earthy palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points—in case you missed it, it’s tart–but good.  It actually rates higher than we would have thought because it’s so young.  And a mass-produced wine like this typically isn’t one that you’ll cellar for 10-15 years, so buy it and try it. . .available exclusively at World Market, here’s what they say about this wine, “Ripe, dark fruit, smoke and vanilla notes add to the full-bodied sweet fruit and creamy texture of 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvignon. Sourced from Lodi, California, which is ideally situated between the Sierra Nevada foothills and the San Francisco Bay, the climate features warm days and cool evening breezes. An instant customer favorite, try it with burgers, meat-lovers pizza or simply on its own.”  Priced below $10 a bottle, it’s probably worth at least a try because there are a lot of more expensive options that may not offer the taste of this wine.

Our girls are exhausted. . .after their early morning nap, they had to take a mid-to-late morning nap followed  closely by an afternoon nap.  That was interrupted by a potty break outside and then a late afternoon/early evening nap. . .fortunately, we rescued them from the routine and they enjoyed a full dinner with chew sticks for dessert!  It just doesn’t get much better than this—if you’re a dog!  For us, after a day of shopping at the Outlets in San Marcos, a stop at Target, a run for some furniture shopping, stopping at D#1’s apartment and unpacking — followed by dinner at Dave & Busters—which brought back some serious memories from when the kids were growing up–for us, it’s time for “lights out”.

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 315: We’re Just Not That Into It . . .

into zinFriday nights are great nights for kicking back, firing up the grill and relaxing after a long week.  Part of the challenge with that ‘process’ this time of year is that it’s still 100 degrees plus at 8 o’clock at night . .  not exactly the kind of weather that’s conducive to deck time on a Friday night.  The grill part, on the other hand, is always a good option and after finding some steaks on sale at our local H-E-B, we decided that tonight would be a good reason to cook them up.  We like to fix roasted potatoes when we grill steak . . . using some nice red potatoes well cut them into bite-size pieces and cut up some red onion and we like adding red, yellow or orange sweet peppers.  Mixing all three together in a bowl with some olive oil and seasoning, put them into a 9 x 12 baking dish – – or if you’ve got stoneware, like is offered from Pampered Chef, use that – a great tool for cooking, and finally into the oven at 375 degrees for–initially–20 minutes.  After the first 20 minutes, stir them up, turn the dish around and put another 25 minutes on the timer.  In the meantime, we’ve picked up some beautiful, fresh green beans…long, great color and they have a great snap – – after cleaning them and soaking them in some water, we like to add just a hint of bacon grease or two or three slices of bacon to the pan with some water just covering the top of the beans.  After bringing them to a boil, we’ll simmer them on medium to low for 15 minutes at which time, we’ll pour in a third of a bottle of Italian salad dressing.  Put the lid back on, turn down the heat to low and let cook for another 20-25 minutes.

These two vegetables combined with the steak made for a nice way to wrap up the week – along with daughter #1 and Bruce Wayne(who is in for a weekend visit) –  but it wouldn’t be complete without some wine, and tonight we opened at 2011 Into Zin Zinfandel from Oak Ridge Winery…the same folks that make one of our favorite everyday Zins, OZV and Maggio!  They’re located in Lodi, California…a superb part of the state for growing zinfandel grapes.  While this Zin isn’t going to set any records for awards or get rated by Parker, it did earn a gold medal at the 2012 Alameda County Fair…not sure if that means anything, but even as a value-priced entry, it’s not bad.  But, it’s probably not going to make us go out and scoop up mass quantities of it either…the nose is certainly typical zin…peppery, dark fruit, a little leathery.  The taste was –well, just a little too tart for us.  We like a zin to have that warm, spicy taste and a finish that allows you to taste the fruit and other characteristics of the wine.  Even as the wine had some time open up, it didn’t deliver anything that made us jump for joy.  So, while some of the Oak Ridge products are among our favorite everyday-type wines, this one won’t be joining them.

Fortunately, good food is just that…good food and we enjoyed the meal immensely, but the wine, while disappointing, is a great way to enjoy good food.  We hope you have a terrific weekend and as you enjoy your favorite wine, we hope that you’ll do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 188 – A Crack of the Bat and Pop of the Glove

ozv zinfandelWhen February gives way to early March, few things capture the attention of a winter-weary world than baseball.  It’s that magical time of the  year when everyone has a clean slate; when everyone is undefeated, the pitching looks great and the hitting looks even greater.  It’s the time of the year when kids who were in high school last spring are now playing for roster positions in “The Show”.  For the fans, it’s an amazing time to watch spring training, watch spring training games and seek autographs from players who may or may not become the next Hall of Famer.

About a dozen years ago, before we left St. Louis, we remember the spring training that changed the Cardinals . . . there was a young hitter in the Cardinals organization who played third base, the outfield and first base.  He was living in the Kansas City area, and even though he didn’t have a tremendous amount of minor league time under his belt, what experience he did have was used very effectively.  It wasn’t his glove that made the coaches, manager and other players take notice.  It was his BAT.  At a tender age of 21, he wasn’t even supposed to be at the major league club’s spring training.  But, one of the true beauties of American professional sports is the rite of spring training.  It truly is a time when veterans and rookies can work in a totally different environment than during the regular season, and with that different environment, legends have been born.

And so it was . . . back in the early part of the 21st century when a young Cardinals hitter stepped up to the plate in spring training and within a short period of time cemented himself as a true Major League ballplayer.  During his inaugural spring training, he tore up Grapefruit League pitching–singles, doubles, triples, home runs, runs batted in, high batting average.  Each article that ran in the paper heralded this player as someone who could make a difference.  That year. . .a legend was born in the Cardinals spring training complex in Florida.  Albert Pujols was barely a blip on baseball’s radar screen before that amazing spring training, but by the time it was over, “King Albert” had already started the process of rewriting the Cardinals record books.  Who would have known that in 11 seasons, he would go on to hit well over .300; slam more than 400 home runs and drive in thousands of runs–things like this ONLY happen in the movies, right?  He was a big man with a bold swing and he lifted an entire roster onto his huge shoulders and for a dozen years, they rode the wave!

In deference to spring training and the refreshing start that it represents, we went back to an old favorite–only because we’ve enjoyed this wine before–and it was part of the big sale recently at Twin Liquors!  Tonight we opened a 2009 Oak Ridge OZV (Old Zin Vines) Zinfandel.  We’ve enjoyed this wine for many years–enjoying vintages in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and really enjoying the 2009 vintage.  It’s a Zin-lover’s delight—lots of fruit on the nose and on the palate; gorgeous deep, dark purple color and a superb taste on the finish.  For a $10 bottle of wine, you’re not going to stand up to the finest wine makers in Europe or even California, but with OZV, you’re getting a very drinkable, fruit-forward wine that’s both affordable and relatively easy to find.  We paired ours with a homemade pizza complete with ham, green olives, yellow peppers, red roma tomatoes, fresh basil, prosciutto ham and a huge helping of grated cheese.  It’s a great combination when enjoyed with a glass of wine!

Who knows what this year’s spring training class of rookies will yield down the road.  It could be as simple as–no talent, no hit, no pitch and we’re done, or it could be a future fire-baller from the bullpen; a pinch-hitter deluxe or a position player with a great glove and a greater bat!  And, because it’s spring training, we’re counting on the fact that during this magical time of the year–‘hope springs eternal’ as every major league ball club hopes to have all of the players it needs to win a Championship!

Before we get too far along in the spring training and World Baseball Classic season, remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.