Frivolous Friday: Let’s Talk Wine

I like wine. Do you? I prefer wine in the fall and winter months, and I tend to navigate toward buying red wine. So, I guess you could say this is my season to look at all the wine labels in the grocery store for a good one.

Truthfully, my favorite time to enjoy wine is while I’m cooking.  I guess you could call me a sip and stirrer.

Here’s the kicker.  I don’t know a lot about wine, and I’m guilty of buying a bottle of wine because it has a label that appeals to me.  I know.  Graphic artists probably love me, but true wine connoisseurs probably want to stick a cork in my mouth for saying that. Sometimes I get good results, and, sometimes, not so much.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse "Bottle Wars" wine tasting event this month. 

Will and I attended one of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar’s “Bottle Wars”wine-tasting events last week. It was so much fun. We participated in the battle of the hemispheres. Charles Leary, my Raleigh Fleming’s sommelier, oversees 100 wines by the glass on any given night.  This night, he picked ten wines for us to taste: five from the Northern Hemisphere and five from the Southern Hemisphere.

It was great to learn about these wines.  My husband and I had totally different favorites.  He loved a white wine from the Southern Hemisphere called INDABA, a chardonnay from South Africa.

As usual, a red was my favorite. I learned that I like Dave Matthews.  Yes, the singer makes wine.   Musician Dave Matthews and renowned Sonoma wine maker Steve Reeder teamed up to create a smooth blend from California’sNorth Coast vineyards.  It was my affordable favorite.  I’ve done a little research, and it appears the average cost is $15 per bottle at a retailer.  I will definitely seek it out on my next outing.  

The  Dancing Tree, Crush North Coast. My overall favorite. I learned that I'm a red blend girl. 
We had a great time learning about wines.  I learned that I’m not a big fan of Cabernet Sauvignon compared to the other categories.  I also have a new splurge. The Prisoner Napa Valley was fabulous, but it’s $95 a bottle in the restaurant. It's less if you buy it retail, but still expensive. It cost more than two pairs of children's jeans at The Gap on sale. I think you know where my VISA card has to go. 

But, on this evening, I went back for some more sips of that one just because I could. 

An Instagram photo:  Tara from our local TV station, "WRAL's Out and About" and I lingered around the red table. Here, I have The Prisoner from Napa Valley and she has its rival, YALUMBA from Australia.  She preferred the Southern Hemisphere variety. 

Here’s what we tried, and I’ll put a star by the ones I personally liked best. 

Sauvignon Blanc: Sonoma vs. New Zealand
Hanna, Russian Valley Sonoma 2010/12 vs. *Kim Crawford, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2010/11 

Chardonnay: California vs. South Africa
Women of the Vine, California Central Coast, 2010/11 vs.* INDABA, Western Cape South Africa, 2010/12

Red Blend: Napa Valley vs. Barossa Valley, Australia
*The Prisoner Napa Valley, 2010/11 vs. YALUMBA, GSM The Strapper Barossa Valley, Australia, 2010/12

Cabernet Sauvignon: .Napa Valley vs. Chile
Educated Guess, Napa Valley, 2010/11 vs. *PRIMUS, Colchagua Valley Chile, 2010/11

Merlot Blend: California vs. New Zealand
*The Dreaming Tree, Crush North Coast 1010/11 vs. ESK Valley, Gravels New Zealand, 2010/11

Based on my tasting, I left knowing that expensive is not always better. Fleming’s will be addressing that exact topic on the Sept 28 tasting. 

Friday, Sept. 28 5:30 p.m-7:00 p.m.
What makes one wine twice as expensive as another? And is it twice as good? There are many factors that contribute to price: the cost of vineyard real estate, vine yields, imported oak barrels and winery equipment, famous winemakers and consultants. ... At this event, we'll blind-taste five of the best wine values from the Fleming's 100 against five premium wines that cost twice as much. Will you taste the difference?

Want to Go:
4325 Glenwood Avenue
*All National Fleming’s will be hosting this same event. Cost is $25, and the restaurant serves some great appetizers and chocolates with the wines.

Disclosure:  I was invited by Fleming’s Raleigh to attend the event as a guest. All wine opinions are my own, and I’m not an expert on the subject. Drink my recommendations at your own risk.  All selections are on Fleming’s wine list, and the Fleming’s sommeliers know their wine. 

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