Weekend Winos

Enthusiasts in search of quality libations to enhance weekends.


Box Wine – Tip It Maggie Style!

Box WineYes we did!  We all walk by the box wines at the grocery store, local pharmacy and corner stores.  We talk about them, in theory, and debate if they could be as good as wine in a bottle.  Well, we bought some and put them to the test.

First, Tip It! We drank a toast to Maggie Griffin, our favorite TV mom, and actually Kathleen’s (Kathy Griffin) mom. She almost single-handedly made box wine popular. We met her on the TV show: Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List and at 90 years old she published her book Tip It! The World According to Maggie.  She says: “You know how a box of wine is never empty just because the spigot seems to have run dry (There’s always a little more if you just tip it!)”

Box Wine

Box Wine

This was a first for all of us! We focused on 3 different brands of Cabernet Sauvignon, all 2013 vintage (I think). Overall, the Tetra Pack® box seemed to be a standard.  Boxes are convenient, earth-friendly, they look  good and the functionality is as you’d expect, they all open and reseal easily and tight. And yes, they are all very affordable around $4 for the 500 ml box. In all cases we aerated them, for some we should have hyperdecanted them.

Liberty Creek: From Modesto, CA, a good table wine.

Vendange: From Acampo, CA (near Stockton), a bit lighter than the other two in color, body and taste.

Black Box: From Madera, CA, the grapes they use for the cabernet are from Valle Central Chile.  This was our favorite! An excellent price/quality ratio.  A full-bodied, yet very smooth cabernet.

I guess it is no surprise that like all wines, everyone has their personal preference and some wines just taste better than others. I know that I will try other box wines, especiallyBlack Box, to see if my first try was beginner’s luck or if they are just very good wine, especially for the price.




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Tempranillo with Paella – A Match Made in Heaven over Spain

It was a busy week for the winos, so last weekend we celebrated Tempranillo Day (a few days late, ironic since Tempranillo translates to early) with a delicious paella party and several different Tempranillo wines to taste.

Tempranillo Day celebrations originated with the Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS) in 2011 and this year was celebrated on November 14.  They have great information on their website ( http://www.tapasociety.org/) about this grape grown in Spain as well as Argentina, Chile, and many more countries. For 2014, the TAPAS Grand Wine Tasting is scheduled for Sunday, April 27, 2014 at the Presidio in San Francisco.  Save the Date!

paellaNext, the paella. There are different types – Valenciana, Seafood and Vegetarian.  To accommodate some allergies to shellfish, our hostess prepared a delicious chicken and sausage paella.  this was perfect for Tempranillo.   With seafood paella we may have been inclined to try white wines.  Just so you know, Juan Galbis from Valencia is listed in Guinness World Records for te world’s largest paella in 1992, but he claims to have made an even bigger one in October 2001 that fed about 110,000 people.

Finally the wines, everyone brought something different,  all from Spain, ranging from $40 to $7.


  • Pago de Sangara, Ribera del Duero Seleccion Especial 2006 – Fantastic, so smooth and everyones winner
  • Pago de Sangara, Ribera del Duero , Crainza 2009 – From the same winery, a bit younger, but just as smooth
  • Albardiales, La Mancha 2012 – Too light, I don’t think hyperdecanting would even help this one.  The paella overpowered it.
  • Luna Negra, La Mancha,  Reserva 2007 – Modest and easy to drink, but after the Pago de Sangara it was a tough act to follow for any of the wines
  • Gorrebusto, Rioja 2012 – we didn’t open this one, that’s the truth.

Looking forward to Tempranillo Day 2014!

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Wine Aerator on Steroids – Really? Winos to the Test

This weekend the group wanted to lay low and just relax.  Thanks to our host we gathered in a beautiful home on the hills and decided to experiment.  Yes we put wine in the blender = Hyperdecanting.

Hyperdecanting in ActionWe are novices, and many of us tech geeks, so after recently reading about this from a twitter follower the first thing we did was a google search for hyperdecanting.  The result was 25 pages displaying 243 of the most relevant results going back to 2011 with write ups in the NY Times, Businessweek, Der Spiegel to name a few  ( I have to believe there are many more, but it still was impressive).  We all bought our Venturi aerators when they first came out,  I use it for red wine.  Our host had several: red wine, white wine and even a spirits aerator – do you need all that?  (Note to self –  subject for a future adventure).

Apparently there is science behind this,  and former Microsoft CTO and master chef Nathan Myhrvold writes about it in his book Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.

So we set off to do a blind taste!

Hyperdecanting Sample

Hyperdecanting Sample

We selected a few bottles from those we intended to drink first, all red, and with great doubt and trepidation we started blending.   One by one we uncorked the bottle, tasted, took notes ( we knew we would need them at the end of the evening) and then blended, tasted, took notes.  Some cringed as the blender swirled and the wine foamed.  The habitual wine swirling snobs (a term of endearment) felt a little odd when someone pointed out that the wine had just been blended and that it probably didn’t need any more air.  It was quite the experience,  I’m not sure I’ll ever look at my blender the same way, and for sure I will leave it impeccably clean after “normal” use for the next time I open a bottle of red.

The results?  Oh yes, in all cases the aroma and taste changed and most agreed that it was better, mainly smoother.  As the scribe, I brought everyones notes home only to find many red wine spots and the sad fact that most of the handwriting was illegible, next time we’ll do a recording.

See you all next weekend!