January: The Austerity Program

Taken at O'Hare on NYE, on our way back to California.

Taken at O'Hare on NYE, on our way back to California.

How many of you are feeling the pangs of the recent holiday season? Not just physically, which was enough, but financially? Emotionally? If you are like me and my tribe, you gave it your all. You traveled, you imbibed, you ate all the deliciousness, you spent what you didn't have, you hugged everyone, you laughed, cried, overshared, slept too much and then too little... and you had a fabulous time! And then, just like that, it was over. And now we are nearly a month into a new year, with a new presidential administration about to charge in and I'm still lookin' like, "What just happened...?" I have a few more questions, but I shall leave it at that. Shall we talk wine? Vamos!

Heads Up!

All the wines proffered in this post are intended to give you some affordable options to drink at home. They are accessible wines and ideas to diversify your repertoire for the long dark and stormy month of January.


Let's Drink Already!

2014 Pfaff Riesling Alsace Grand Cru Zinnkoepfle

ABV: 12.2%, making a gentle wine. Very approachable and easy to drink. Best part? It was less than $12- at our local Costco.

Costco? Yes, dear.

This brings me to a strategy for The Austerity Program: shop at Costco for wine. See Dad, I made you proud! Costco often has some regional selections, as well as many International options at great prices. And if you do not have a Costco membership but want in on the honey-pot, you may still be able to gain access for that and an eye exam. They allow non-members to come in for the express purpose of buying alcohol. Read here to determine your state rules. And if your state doesn't qualify, time to buddy up with a Costco member, or just join. For the wine alone: TOTALLY. WORTH. IT.

Next, I have said it before and I will say it again: Trader Joe's.

The trick with TJ's is that one must be discerning. I am a convert, truly. TJ's is stocking some really quality stuff at a decent price. I would encourage one to try the wines created exclusively for them, like this one: 

2014 The Pass Pinot Noir Martinborough NZ

Nice acidity. Bright fruit. Pairs well with food. And retails for around $10-

Lots of delicious Pinot Noir coming out of New Zealand. Much like their notorious Sauvignon Blanc, the wine has a specificity to it. Read more here.

Another wine I have come back to a few times at TJ's is an Italian Valpolicella Ripasso, or Baby Amarone as Ripasso is known. In general Ripasso is a more entry level Valpolicella made from a method that utilizes the pomace (the solid remains from a pressing of the grapes) of an Amarone. The latter of which is famous for rich wines made from drying the grapes, called apassimento. Still following? Valpolicellas can seem complicated and a bit like the more you know, the more you realize that you don't. If learning about it peaks your interest, check out an article about ripasso, here.

2014 Pasqua Valpolicella Ripasso, Veneto, Italy

This one from TJ's, retails around $8.99 and is good to have on hand for an impromptu homemade pizza night!


A little indulgence to off-set the severity of the month..YUM! Returning from Chicago, where we did not quite get the pizza fix we craved, we decided to make our own. Pretty solid but we could still use some good ole Chicago pizza!



One of our Naked Wines, a rosé by winemaker Derek Rohlffs coincidentally from Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH), in our backyard. Very delightful!

One of our Naked Wines, a rosé by winemaker Derek Rohlffs coincidentally from Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH), in our backyard. Very delightful!

You should get Naked.

Another wine opportunity that I want to espouse is that of Naked Wines.  Some of you may be "Angels" already, or have received a voucher from a friend or another business, offering you $100 off your first case. And maybe you thought it was a scam? In fact some of you whom I referred for the voucher, texted me to confirm that it is in fact "legit". And it is! We have been very happy with Naked Wines thus far. It is a direct to consumer model, in which all of the wine is ordered on-line and delivered right to your door. Naked Wines helps boutique wineries and small production winemakers, who otherwise may not be able to make and sell their wines. Some of these winemakers may be employed by a bigger winery as their "day job" but also be striking out on their own. Your money helps them realize their dream. And we have first-hand experience, as we met one such winemaker, unbeknowst to us at the time, when we toured Ironstone back in August. Steve Millier, the head winemaker there, also has his own label with Naked Wines! He exists!

Speaking of NZ Pinot Noir, here is one from Naked that we thoroughly enjoyed!

Speaking of NZ Pinot Noir, here is one from Naked that we thoroughly enjoyed!

Once you become an "Angel", it works almost like a "wine piggy bank". You kick in $40 per month, which is in your account to use how you please. I like to store mine up and then order a case. You can use an initial voucher, or get a referral in which you will get $100 off, making a case about $80. You will get to choose red, white or mixed for that first order using the voucher. Once you become an "Angel" you can select which ever wines you want. They offer wines from France, Portugal, Argentina, New Zealand and of course California. It is such a fun way to try different things and help out real winemakers. If you are interested in getting the voucher, please e-mail me: joanna@wineismyfavoritesnack.com and I will gladly refer you so you can get started. Thus far we have received 3 cases and have been pleasantly surprised with each one. Give it a whirl!

And I would be remiss if I did not refer you to your local wine shops. Having just been back in Chicago, where went to Vin to select wines for a gathering that same evening, I was just about drooling. So much selection! I made the faux-pas of stating that I live in a "wine desert". Ahem, I live in Monterey County, California, explicitly NOT a "wine desert" (who says that anyway?). I quickly corrected myself to explain that we have the most access to California wines, which is beyond amazing and I still pinch myself every day. And I sometimes couldn't find the wine of the week for class in our area, as there aren't so many wine shops, actually and they aren't stocked with an abundance of International wines. No big. That is what visits to the city are for:) 

Well friends, I hope your austerity program is going well. 

peace, love & vino,


What are you drinking this month?

What are your wine budget strategies?

Please share!


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