Cola and Wine. It’s a Thing.

kaimotxo

According to my Instagram feed, this was the summer of Frosé. Everywhere I looked this pink, slushy wine cocktail was being slurped.

And although delicious, one of the perks of being a wine drinker is no measuring, no mixing, no blending.  Find a bottle, open, pour, drink. It’s a simple process and one I value immensely.

But, there is a novelty to a summer cocktail and you shouldn’t miss out on its pleasures. Enter the Kalimotxo. (Pronounced cal-ee-mo-cho). This wine cocktail requires pouring half a glass of wine and filling the other half with cola. And if you want a little added brightness (and you’re not exhausted from the above steps) add a squeeze of lime.

Voilà. Complete. Your late summer cocktail.

The Kalimotxo is popular in the Basque region of Spain and tastes similar to sangria (with less fruit chopping) or cherry cola (with alcohol).

Use a dry, tannic Spanish Rioja for the mixture. Tempranillo and Garnacha are the grapes traditionally found in these wines. Because you’re adding a sweet cola, you’ll want a structured wine with strong tannins. Also, because this is a wine cocktail, use a cheaper red wine. Don’t waste a pricey bottle on something you’ll be mixing and covering up some of the flavors.  

I chose the Albero Tempranillo. It’s dry and lighter-bodied, with lots of cherry flavor and spice. And six bucks.

For your cola, choose something  made with real cane sugar, like Boylan’s Cane Cola. They are less sweet than colas made with artificial sweeteners. That is unless, you want a super sweet red wine cocktail.

Follow the directions below closely and enjoy. Salud!

Ingredients:
Ice
Chilled red wine, preferably Rioja (Tempranillo or Garnacha)
Lime wedge

Directions:
Put ice in glass
Combine equal parts red wine and cola
Squeeze a little lime
Eat some Serrano ham and Manchego

Albero Tempranillo
Vintage: 2015
Utiel Requena

2013 Bodegas Naia Verdejo

2013 Bodegas Naia Verdejo

Typically, evening walks don’t amount to much more than a chat recapping the day, a sunset (hopefully) oozing with romance and sometimes, sweaty socks. But, a quick detour to a local waterfront park ended resulted with a concert in the park instead, with covers including Kiss the Girl, Ain’t No Sunshine and Radiohead’s Creep.

And, fortunately, there was a bottle of Verdejo in my bag.

In all honestly, we intended to drink the wine at some point along the walk, but the evening came together that much better when the concert revealed itself.

And a bright, white was the perfect accompaniment to upbeat tunes.

The Verdejo grape is from the Rueda DO, located in Northwest Spain and typically grown in the high altitudes of the region. The grape is noted for its bright acidity, citrus flavors and minerality. They are usually sharp and clean. And the wines are typically inexpensive.

The 2013 Bodegas Naia Verdejo is from the Rueda region, specifically the village of La Secu, which is often noted as being the Rueda’s “Grand Cru” region. At $15, it’s a great wine.

At first, I was hit by the puckering acidity of the wine, typical of the Verdejo grape. Then… So. Much. Pineapple. There was cantaloupe and citrus and tropical fruits. It was grassy and had hints of vanilla. It was a dash of pep and energy on the tongue, which is necessary on a Thursday to help jolt you through the rest of the week.

Drink Verdejo young to take advantage of their bright acidity. Stock up, but don’t hang on to them for too long, Enjoy on the remaining sunny summer days.

Bodegas Naia Verdejo
Vintage: 2013
Region: Rueda, Spain

Down The River We Go!

liberte-pinot-noir

River rafting trips mean being ultra selective about the wine brought along. Everything you bring has to be easily packed onto your raft.

And you must be prepared to lose it all. If your boat flips, if a rapid washes everything in your boat away, if you lose your footing while chugging from the bottle, you can bet that bottle is sunk. And swimming upstream and to the bottom of the river is not an option.

Are you on the edge of your seat yet?

Essentially, our weekend trip river rafting was One. Wild. Ride.

Honestly, it was more of a joy ride, except for some extreme paddling when the wind was doing everything it could to divert our path. Which I kid you not, was some of the most resistance I have ever felt in my life (other than that time I tried to get my boyfriend to duet “Time of My Life” at karaoke with me). The Deschutes River is not exactly the wildest river, although I did tell some people at work that we would see Class VI rapids. To be fair, I didn’t really have any idea what I was talking about, but I’m sure I sounded like an experienced river rafter.

We spent two three days and two nights on the river. Rafting by day, camping by night. And packing everything in and out with us.

The selection of wine was limited and because of previously stated potential wine casualties, I brought inexpensive Trader Joe’s selections that would be refreshing during or after a day in the sun.

I brought along the 2013 Liberté Pinot Noir, first, because it’s from San Luis Obispo County, and many people on the trip went to school there. I was so excited to share the fun fact that this wine was from the city of their Alma mater. They weren’t as excited.

At $10, I was pleasantly surprise. It was tart, kind of smoky and acidic. Fulfilling black cherry and smooth enough to gulp when I needed something to quench my thirst after a long day in the sun.

espiral-vino-verde

I picked up the Espiral Vinho Verde, because choosing Vinho Verde when it’s going to be hot is like choosing Cadbury Eggs when you know it’s going to be Easter. (Read: an easy choice). The slight effervescence says party, but not like the fuller bubbles of Champagne scream celebrate. It’s lively, mineral and dry.

These wines and I now have special bond. They made it through my inaugural rafting trip and helped me survive the very rustic camping conditions.

Liberté Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2013
Region: Paso Robles, California

Espiral Vinho Verde
Vintage: NV
Region: Vinho Verde, Portugal

Poolside Party Wine

cest-la-vie-chardonnay

When buying wines for a bachelorette weekend, there are usually two categories: the wines for the celebratory dinner/cocktail hour/prefunk and the wines for the dancing/games/watching “the entertainment.” There is nothing worse than confusing the two and finding out the 2010 Montrachet was chugged through a phallic straw.

To prevent this, I make it my personal duty to patrol all the party wine.

I chose 2013 Surf Swim Chardonnay for a Palm Springs Bachelorette party, because I knew when sitting poolside we would want something with a label that would ‘gram well. We got that, and more. Because this label highlighted one of the main activities of the bachelorette party… swimming.

Kudos to their marketing team, because the faded boardwalk background on the label did its job.

Label aside, I was pleasantly surprised by this wine. It was easy-drinking Chardonnay, not oaky or buttery. Exactly what I want when sitting poolside. Pineapple, banana smoothie, peaches. Crisp, bright, refreshing tropical flavors to kick in vacation vibes.  

We drank bottles of it throughout the bachelorette weekend. We skipped the phallic straws this go around. But at $10 a bottle, if it was chugged through a tacky party favor all would be well.

Surf Swim Chardonnay
Vintage: 2013
Region: California

Bubbles at the Top

Wine-Hikes

Ask most people, and their hiking drink of choice is water.

Not me.

Of course, H2O is a necessity while making your way to the top (or maybe not), but reaching the summit deserves a little reward. Some might say “the summit is the reward,” “the view at the top is the reward” or “it’s about the journey” or “(something else I don’t fully believe)”.

Because, I’m a firm believer that no celebration is complete without bubbles.

So hiking Rattlesnake Ledge this past weekend meant 375 ml Mionetto Prosecco made the journey too. And were consumed on the “ledge.”

It’s dry and fruity – pear, citrus, peach. I often worry that cheaper Prosecco will be cloyingly sweet, but this was not. It was refreshing and chuggable. It’s smaller, gentle bubbles mean it’s easier to gulp from the bottle when you’re parched from a long hike. It did not disappoint, which it easily could have since I waited an entire hike to drink it.

Take one on your next outdoor adventure and drink straight from the bottle, with glassware or a straw. Or drink it at home. Or at a friend’s house. Or any place. Any way you always deserve bubbly.

Mionetto Prosecco
Vintage: NV
Region: Prosecco D.o.c Di Treviso

Rosé Me

Rose

Sunday was the first day of Spring. And since it is pouring and cloudy in Seattle, it feels like we’re right on track. Despite the typical Seattle spring weather, my first-day-of-spring-dreams usually consist of picnicking with charcuterie, caprese and, always, rosé. If I’m feeling extra festive, maybe I’ll wear a floral sundress and strappy espadrilles, similar to what an allergy-sufferer would wear in a Claritin commercial.

I actually wouldn’t wear that. Not really my style.

But, caprese and rosé are completely my style. Any time of year.

Right now rosés are being released in abundance. And “Rosé All Day” t-shirts are being worn with wild abandon. And bros are hashtagging #brosé. Hop on the bandwagon and drink yourself some rosé.

So how do you pick a bottle?

Pick a Recent Vintage
Rosé is meant to be drank when it is young and fresh, when it is still lively and acidic. 2015 vintages are your best bet. So reverse everything you know about buying wine and drink the newest stuff you can find. Your tongue with thank you when you have a mouthful of that young’n.

Pick Your Pink
Sometimes you’ll see salmon pink, sometimes hot pink and sometimes magenta rosés, a decision made by the winemaker. The color is determined by how long the wine sits on the skins during fermentation. The longer the wine has skin contact, the darker the pink color and the more full-bodied and tannic the wine will be.  

Pro tip:  the lighter the color, the drier and less sweet it will be. The darker it is, the sweeter and more fruit-forward it will be.

Pick Your Grape
Just like a red or a white wine, rosé can be made from any red grape. You’ll find Napa rosés are typically Cabernet Sauvignon. Rosé from Provence (the home of rosé) are typically Grenache. You’ll also find Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sangiovese and Mourvedre. Just like their red wine counterparts, Cabernet Sauvignon rosé will bigger, bolder and more tannic. Grenache rosé will be dry and minerally and Sangiovese rosé will be tannic and peppery.

Want something dry? Look to Grenache, Sangiovese or Cinsault.

Want something sweet? Look to white zinfandel.

My best advice: Try a few. Pay attention to the grape, color and location you like best. Then, buy more of that… by the case.

And if you don’t want to pay any attention to this. Buy a rosé from Provence. You won’t be disappointed.

Green Fin Grenache Rosé

Green Fin 676

When the sun starts to show on a regular basis, cherry blossoms start to bloom, birds chirping wake you in the morning and every other one of those cliché springtime signs peaks out from behind the clouds, you know it is Rosé season. And that is reason to celebrate. Even if those birds give you gas and cherry blossoms make you gag, you can celebrate, because, Rosé!

And the best Rosés are inexpensive, easy-drinking and ready to start the party!

So when I was stocking up at Trader Joe’s for a weekend at the Washington coast this bottle of Green Fin Grenache Rosé seemed like a natural fit. That car on the label, the plastic bottle that wouldn’t break on the drive, the $5 price and the easy screwcap. I was sold.

The wine is organic and the labels are made from recycled paper, so you can also feel good about the environment while drinking.

Raspberry, cherry, strawberry. It’s not overly sweet and not overly acidic. For five bucks, it’s easy-drinking, simple and fun. And that hot pink color didn’t look too bad against the Puget Sound backdrop.

Green Fin Grenache Rosé
Vintage: 2014
Region: California