Check out post-holiday wine sales before Valentine’s Day nears

January 14, 2023

Heads up! With holiday season ending and Valentine’s Day five weeks off, it is time to lay in some supplies. Check your sales ads and brochures or stop by your favorite local shop to find some good deals as unsold inventories are worked off. Based on history, those in the sparkler market may wish to keep their powder dry until after V-Day. The two months prior to Easter season have mostly beer, hard seltzer and mixed-drink holidays. Time to shop for summer sparklers. While I'm in this area, there is a new product sweeping across “the land of the utes.” These are alcohol sodas and teas. I was going to pass, but an opportunity presented itself to sample a new line from Canada named Nude. I was surprised. Their hard tea is available in lemon, peach and raspberry; it has no sugar, sweetener or carbs; 100 calories per 12-oz. serving (about 355 ml) and 5% ABV. Vodka, gin, and tequila sodas in the same format are also available. Although I’m not normally in this market, these are flavorful and refreshing. It is worth a look around $17/12-pack for hard seltzer aficionados. I also sampled the best-rated low-carb line from Flying Embers. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but it’s tough to get my taste buds around flavors like kombucha, guava/jalapeno and pineapple/cayenne. I did enjoy their marketing ploy of claiming they “are about as Keto-friendly as a hard seltzer can get.” Here are several thoughts on this. Most doctors, including Dr. Fauci, agree that the effects of alcohol are more pronounced for Keto dieters. Broad brush, wine is much lower in carbs at 2/5 oz. for dry wines, vs. 13/12 oz. draft. Sweet wine and heavier beers have more carbs. Use your chart. Pure spirits like whiskey and vodka contain zero carbs. But watch out for sweet mixed drinks, which often have a significant amount of sugar. Alcohol equals calories, which your body must burn before fat is burned for fuel. 

Following are some wine suggestions for those who haven't been frightened off by the diet comments. Au Bon Climat 2021 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay will appeal to those who prefer the flinty mineral style. It opens to citrus, nectarine and pie spice aromas, and 10-month sur lie aging provides a round brioche palate while more citrus acidity keeps it clean. Long finish with lime and vanilla, 89 McD under $19. Their Isabelle Piot Noir is also excellent. Pomegranate, roses, eucalyptus hint aromas, with raspberry and pine flavors; 93 McD around $50. Named for his daughter by legendary Jim Clendenen, deceased May ‘21. Isabelle is running things these days and hasn’t missed a beat. Au Bon Climat produces a wide selection of PN and Chard, and all are rated 89 or better and fair value.

How about some Sauvignon Blanc that won’t break the bank to accompany your oysters and other shellfish? Try Vina Robles Jardine SB 2021 from Paso Robles, 88 McD, $15. For those who prefer old-style, fresh-mown hay and tart green-apple aromas. More grass and apple peel on the bright palate. Realizing this caveat is repetitive, use less lemon and other acid flavorings in foods served with SB. Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc from Sonoma, any vintage 2019-21, is rated 88 McD under $15. These are the other side of the SB curve, with floral aromas, lemon, peach and vanilla flavors. They also produce a Russian River label which is an avoid for 2020, but 2021 was excellent. Dough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 is a story wine. A collaboration with James Beard Foundation, it supports vegetarian and goat cheese dishes. Merry Edwards is a well-known Pinot Noir house. They do a lot of “single-vineyard, vine 6, cluster 3-5" marketing, and that drives pricing. Not my cup of wine. Fair is fair, though, and their SB is worthy in most vintages. Their 2019, 93+ McD under $45, and the ‘20, 92 McD under $38, were well worth the price tag. The soon-to-be-released ‘21 has received stellar reviews also. Those who enjoy the tropical fruit style should purchase the 2019. Apricot, banana, peach, pineapple supported by a creamy full palate with plenty of vibrant acidity.


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