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Great Wines Under $25

I am often asked by friends and family as to which are my “favorite” wines. The answer is that it depends on what I’m in the mood for and what I’m going to drink. And it also depends on the occasion. I’m not going to open up a $60 bottle of wine for a weekday meal night. But here are my personal favorites for under $25. Please add your favorites in the comment section!

Michelle’s Great Wines Under $25.00

General Tips:
Since it is not always easy to find a particular wine at a store, here are my recommendations for browsing…

  • Wines from Argentina, New Zealand, Chile, Spain are great buys right now
  • Cheap California and French wines tend to be questionable. In general, CA/French wines under $10.00 should be avoided.
  • Look for little-known varietals for good buys: Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Torrontes, Petite Sirah, Vouvray, Carmenere
  • Hot California regions right now: Mendocino, Paso Robles, Lodi, Monterey (St. Rita Hills), Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara
  • Stainless-steel (or “unoaked”) Chardonnays pair well with a variety of foods and are easy to drink

White Wines

How to read:
1. Varietal
2. Producer
3. Region/Country
4. Descriptors
5. Price

Sancerre
Chavignol, Domaine Vincent Delaporte
Sancerre, France
Crisp, tangy lemon, grapefruit, granite, excellent white wine.
$20.00

Torrontes
Crios de Susana Balbo
Salta, Argentina
Intensely floral, lavendre, mandarin, honeysuckle, long finish
$14.00

Sauvignon Blanc
Picton Bay
Malborough, New Zealand (South Island)
Tropical flavors, pineapple, pear, twist of lime, fresh and zesty
$10.00 at Trader Joe’s

Roussane, Marsanne, Viognier
Anglim Cameo
Paso Robles, USA
Spicy finish, lower acid, minerality, aromatic, floral
$16.00

*****************
Red Wines

Cabernet Franc
M. Cosentino Cab Franc
Napa Valley
Rich, chocolate, lush, ripe
$13.00

Red blend
La Loggia Barbera D’Alba
La Loggia
Barbera D’Alba, Italy
Beautiful acidity, blood orange, tart, juicy, pomegranite
$6.00 at Trader Joe’s

Malbec
Catena Zapata ** Excellent all-around producer
Mendoza, Argentina
Dark stone fruits, lush, chocolate, cherry
$20.00

Petite Sirah
Bogle Vineyards ** Excellent all-around producer
Lodi and Clarksburg, USA (East of SF Bay)
Leather, nice full body, dark prune, plum, tobacco, orange rind
$9.00

Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, Mourverde blend
Phantom, Bogle Vineyards
Lodi, Clarksburg, Amador, USA
Dark, earthy, leather, blackberry, plum
$17.00

Malbec
Ben Marco
Mendoza, Argentina
Leather, dark plum, blackberry, blueberry, smooth, low acidity
$20.00

Pinot Noir
Chalone Vineyard ** Excellent all-around producer
Monterey County, USA
Fresh raspberries, orange rind, cranberry juice, light tannins, red stone fruits
$16.00

Zinfandel
Edmeades
Mendocino County, USA
Rich, almost sweet, relatively light body, tannins nearly absent, easy to drink on its own
$20.00

Pinot Noir
Morton Estate White Label Hawkes Bay
New Zealand
Well-balanced Pinot Noir with sweet cherry, licorice, earthy, mushroom, long finish.
$16.00

Tempranillo
Fuerza Winery/Laurel Glen Vineyard
Mendoza, Argentina
Chocolate, coffee, cassis, nutty, hazelnut
$5.00 at Trader Joe’s

Negrette
Santa Barbara Winery
Santa Barbara, CA
Fragrant berry aroma, dark blackberry, coffee
$24.00

Red wine blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Montepulciano)
Trentatre, produced by Santini Wines
Montepulciano, Italy
Lush, rich, ripe, rich plum
$6.00 at Trader Joe’s

Carmenere
Casillero del Diablo (Concha y Toro)
Rapel Valley, Chile
Complex, fruity, long finish
$9.00 at Trader Joe’s

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Posted by on September 6, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Quick Cookies, Muffins and Pancakes, Oh My!

I have recently become a huge fan of the Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking and Pancake Mix (don’t live near a Trader Joe’s? Don’t fret — many health food stores have a similar multi-use baking mix on their shelves). Yearning for some healthy chocolate chip cookies? Want some pancakes or waffles on Sunday morning?

This mix makes baking super simple. It’s like using a pre-made cake or cookie mix, but because you add some of the ingredients, you can control how much sugar and fat you’re using. Plus, you control the mix-ins!

Thus far, I’ve made chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies, a multigrain fig quick bread, a blueberry coffeecake and chocolate-chip banana pancakes. Yes! All with one mix!

Here’s the deal: The mix includes flour, oats, baking soda and baking powder, a little oil, buttermilk, oat and wheat bran, a little sugar and salt. The basic ingredients for many healthy baked goods. You only need add a little more sugar, some butter/oil/applesauce for moisture and the goodies!

Here are some of my favorite recipes using this mix:

Blueberry Walnut Coffeecake

1 cup soymilk

Juice from one lime

1 egg

2 Tbsp Spectrum Spread or butter

2 and 1/2 cups of Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking Mix

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 and 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

1/2 cup walnuts

*****

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and coat an 8 by 8-inch pan with cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl, add the lime juice to the soymilk until it curdles (if you don’t like soymilk, you can skip this step and just use 1 cup of buttermilk).

3. Stir the egg, melted butter/Spectrum Spread, and sugar into the soymilk mixture and mix well.

4. Add the Multigrain baking mix and stir until the flour mixture is barely moistened.

5. Fold in the blueberries and walnuts.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean.

7. Allow the pan to cool for at least 15 minutes and serve!

*******

Chocolate-Chip Banana Pancakes

2 and 1/2 cups Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking Mix

1 cup soymilk

2 eggs

2 Tbsp melted butter or Spectrum Spread

1 mashed banana

1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

1 cup chocolate chips

******

1. Preheat a saute pan or griddle on medium heat and lightly coat it with butter or oil.

2. Mix of the ingredients together, being careful not to overbeat, lest you want tough pancakes!

3. Using a spoon, carefully ladle about 2-3 Tbsp of batter into the pan to create a nice, round pancake. Keep the griddle on medium heat so that the pancakes don’t burn.

4. When a few bubbles appear on the top surface, flip the pancakes over. Your pancakes should be lightly golden brown and cooked on the inside. If you still have raw batter on the inside, cook a little longer before flipping.

5. Serve warm!

 
 

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Spring Crunchy Grain Salad


So, as promised, here is the recipe that I entered in the Trader Joe’s recipe contest this spring. The inspiration was a roast chicken stuffed with olives, oranges and onions covered with an herby rub. I needed a side dish and was looking for something warm and comforting, a dish that resembled a stuffing. But, it being spring and all, it needed a fresh, crunchy, light update. Hence, this recipe was born. While we served it with roast chicken, you can easily serve it for lunch on its own.

The recipe uses Trader Joe’s ingredients, but you can easily make it with regular or Israel Couscous. Israeli Couscous has larger pearls and makes for a nice, squishy salad.

Spring Crunchy Grain Salad

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend (you can substitute Isreali Couscous or even regular couscous)
2 oz (roughly 1/4 package) of Trader Joe’s Light Feta Cheese
2 small Fuji apples
4 celery stalks

******
1. Bring 1 3/4 cup water to a boil. Stir in the Harvest Grains Blend. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer with a cover for about 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.
2. Chop the Fuji apples into small dice and the celery stalks into thin slices and add to the Harvest Grains Blend.
3. Crumble the feta cheese over the salad.
4. Voila! You’re ready to go!

p.s. The Trader Joe’s recipe contest allows for only four ingredients, but to further spice up this salad, I would add some toasted pine nuts, drizzle a good glug of a fine olive oil and sprinkle generously with fresh-ground pepper.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2008 in Grains, Salads

 

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