Upcoming Budget Wine Review Series

I’ve been reviewing a lot of decaf coffee lately, but I definitely haven’t forgotten about wine. It’s kind of impossible in these pandemic times.

Just in the past week I’ve been gifted some bottles, supplemented with a few grocery store purchases, and I’m eager to share. That Ava Grace Vineyards rosé was perfect with a bowl of pot roast and I’m already a longtime fan of Dreaming Tree. There is a ton of goodness out there that doesn’t require you break the bank. As such, I’ll be starting a budget wine review series to supplement my decaf coffee review series. Red wine, white wine, blushing wine: all of them at $30 or less.

It’s all about spreading the good word and saving money these days. These reviews will explore flavor notes, aroma, mouthfeel, packaging design, and food pairings. The rare time I step out of my $30 threshold and purchase a more expensive wine I’ll still review the bottle, but separately. If you like wine, or want to get into it, stay tuned. If not, I’ve still got plenty of coffee-related pieces on the way.

galaxy

Caffeine And Alcohol Are Wrecking Your Sleep Patterns

Caffeine is a drug (yes, a drug) that I’ve dispensed with years ago.

Back in the day I used to drink a triple-shot latte during or after work…and that was before I worked as a barista. I would still be able to sleep just fine afterwards, all hail community college exhaustion, but it was a gamble. Nowadays? Just two cups of decaf coffee without a span of time in-between will be enough to have me jittery. It’s incredible how much has changed. I think my former usual would give me a heart attack now.

Alcohol isn’t all that different. While I love a cold beer or a glass of wine at night, I have to have it early enough for it to leave my system. If I drink it too close prior to laying down my body goes into ‘nap mode’, with no more than three hours in before I’m waking up again. This short TED Talk dives into the science behind why our bodies react the way they do to caffeine and alcohol, from how our REM is affected to just how long caffeine actually stays in your system.

Caffeine and alcohol are great in moderation, but can easily wreak havoc on your health unchecked. I think I’ll skip a day or two this week.

You Don’t Need To Shell Out $50+ For A Great Bottle Of Wine

Expensive wine and good wine aren’t always one in the same. Who knew?

A lot of people, as it turns out. Just unlikely the ones pricey bottles are actually aimed at. Vox released this short and amusing video on the convoluted nature of the wine market: already infamous for gatekeeping and snooty attitudes, it always goes a step further with its pricing model. The idea that expensive = quality is so pervasive that experienced wine tasters will outright contradict themselves on taste tests.

I rarely spend more than $30 on a bottle of wine, with my range usually between the $15 to $25 mark. If you could use a little more convincing that affordable is the way to go, my roommate’s parents are long-time wine drinkers who are all too happy to share their wine knowledge. When I asked if they’ve ever had a really expensive bottle of wine, they told me yes. When I asked if it was worth the price, they promptly told me no.

And there it is. At the end of the day, what you like is what you like.

Are You A Fan Of Sparkling Wine? You’ll Want To Keep Your Eye On Brazil

My favorite wine really depends on my mood and what I’m eating. That’s nothing new. What is new is how Brazil is set to take center stage.

Beverage Daily has a brisk, yet detailed breakdown on Brazil’s sparkling wine scene and why it’s set to dominate over the coming years. According to a few studies and interviews, it’s a mixture of several factors colliding at the perfect time: rising interest in sparkling varieties, high-quality flavors and very proactive marketing campaigns. That latter’s importance cannot be understated, as a lack of wine knowledge and exclusionary attitudes can be a huge barrier for new drinkers.

If you’re like me and are a fan of wine and coffee, Brazil is the perfect place to start looking.

You don’t have to be a wine expert to know the most prestigious wine origins hail from France, Spain and Italy. Following close behind is the ever-popular California, as well as a smattering of notable Canadian and South African producers. Wine is undergoing a very vivid cultural shift these past few years as drinking demographics change and the environment sees yet more blows to stability. What we know as traditional quality may very well not apply in the next decade. Why shouldn’t Brazil toss its hat in the ring?

Sparkling wine is fun. It’s tasty. This is far from the first time I’ve heard of its growing popularity and it won’t be the last.

Wine Tasting in Florida at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards and San Sebastian Winery on Winetraveler.com — History & Wine

Florida wine? Yes, you read that right. I’m not just talking about tropical fruit juice either. Wine made from grapes, albeit not the grapes you may be used to, but grapes nonetheless. There are currently 88 wine producers in Florida generating a lot of money for the state. Though most of these producers are smaller, […]

Wine Tasting in Florida at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards and San Sebastian Winery on Winetraveler.com — History & Wine

I’m often reading about (and trying out) wine from California and Washington. Occasionally I’ll pick something up from a third state, though Florida has yet to fall into that list. This is a very interesting look at Floridian wine and the unique varieties it brings to the table, from a specific kind of grape I hadn’t even heard of to experimental sparkling styles. Wine innovation is a huge deal these days and something that’s only going to get more common to bring in buyers.

I might just have to add one of these sparkling wines to my to-buy list…

Beer Doesn’t Have The Appeal It Used To

Left and right I see the shrinking appeal of alcohol. I’ve even felt it myself.

Once or twice a week I dip into my alcohol stores. I’ll crack open a hard cider over a baked potato for dinner. Pour myself an inch of wine during a lazy Sunday in front of a movie. As time goes on, however, I find myself getting more selective with what I put in the fridge. How many calories it has, how it lines up with my current diet and exercise regimen. This is a far cry from a few years ago, where I was less picky as long as it tasted good.

While the United States has been seeing a consistent dip in beer and wine sales (with the reasons usually lining up with health concerns), it’s far from an American phenomenon. This analysis from The Guardian goes into a similar trend in the U.K., exploring how younger drinkers are starting to skew toward lighter beer or no beer at all. Craft beer, beloved for its unique local varieties and limited-edition offers, is starting to dip after a strong past five years.

This is lining up with another prod to the beer-making bubble: a lack of CO2 connected to the ethanol industry’s current struggles. While recent spikes in beer purchases have been attributed to COVID-19, those numbers are not going to be easy to maintain when breweries don’t have the supplies they need. Combined with an overall shrinking interest in party culture and binge-drinking, this is a slope that will only get steeper. Drinks are going to have to continue getting creative (and healthy) to keep people’s attention.

What about you? Do you see your beer-drinking habits changing this year?

The Best Of Both Worlds: Wine Ice Cream For All Your Depression Needs

What helps puncture doom and gloom? If you answered ice cream, you’re correct. If you answered wine, you’re also correct.

As a wise girl in a taco commercial once said…”Por qué no los dos?“. I recently saw these wine ice cream varieties and immediately found a new product to try once I start ordering things online again. I absolutely have to try the riesling, though the cherry merlot sounds sumptuous (see: addictive). Whether or not they actually boast the unique notes and aftertastes that differentiate basic fruit flavors from wine remains to be seen. I’ve had champagne gummi bears that lived up to their potential, so I’ve got high hopes.

Frankly, just the sight of this was enough to perk me up after days of dismal news and even more dismal statistics. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled marketing critique and industry news, but for now? Salivate with me.

roasted coffee beans

What Makes Mexican Coffee So Special?

Stepping into the coffee world is a lesson in multiculturism.

Variety doesn’t end at whether you prefer lattes or cold brew, but rather, where the coffee comes from and how it’s made. Are we talking about hearty robusta from Vietnamese coffee farms or floral Arabica from Ethiopia? Are we doing wash processes or a honey method? If you need something to read while stuck at home, this in-depth piece from Daily Coffee Grind will catch you up on the magic of Mexican coffee. I was fascinated reading about the subtle flavors found in the region, with some coffee tasting like jasmine and bergamot.

As a long-time tea lover, that’s music to my ears. Mexican beer is also seeing some interesting developments for their unique approaches to craft brewing and flavor varieties. If you’re thinking of expanding your horizons a little, don’t miss this piece.