Venus Trapped in Mars

04 February 2014

The Girl's 5 Step Guide to Becoming a Wino




Here are some tips and tricks I've learned over the years from waiting tables, drinking and loving wine. 

1. Don't Sniff the Cork:
History of the cork: The cork is obviously in a wine bottle to keep it fresh. When you order a bottle of wine from a restaurant and the server places the cork in front of you DO NOT SMELL IT. That does nothing. 

The purpose of the server presenting you the cork came about in the days before wine labels existed. We didn't always have Photoshop, you know! Vineyards would print the name of the winery on the cork itself, so the wine drinker knew where the bottle came from. Today, servers still present the cork in such a manner, it is traditional.

2. Check the cork to be sure it has not rotted. 

If you are just dying to address the cork sitting in front of you, fine. You can pick it up and check it for rotting. The left cork is good, the cork on the right has rotted. Don't drink that. (obvi!)

3. Fun Fact: We are in a cork shortage
When you see a twist cap wine bottle, it is not the wine Gods telling you, "Hey you, good work today, you earned a night off from having to use your wine opener. Be lazy and enjoy this cork-less wine."

Word on the street is that we are in a cork shortage. By shortage, I mean it is expensive and companies are too cheap to pay for the cork, and opt for aluminum twist caps instead.

I'm good with that. Why?
I can drink that bottle in a hotel room
 I can drink it on the go
I am lazy
I have to wait less time to get to my wine

4. It is all about the glass
Don't make me drink from a wine glass that is too small. Keep it simple, don't make it cutesy, and most importantly, keep it LARGE.






5. Finally, here are some of my favorite inexpensive wines!

Jacobs Creek: $6/bottle average
My fav: Try their Shiraz Cabernet
(Notice the twist caps?)


Penfolds: $8/ bottle
No twist caps, sad day. 
Tip: Australian wines are delicious and CHEAP
My fav: Try their Pinot Noir


The Naked Grape: $4 / bottle (!!!!) Find it at Target
Any time I see this wine, I buy it
Their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are fantastic
Price is even better

Mirassou Pinot Noir: $10/ bottle
My favorite Pinot Noir (at that price point)
Let's be real, if money was no object I wouldn't be buying cheap wine


Smoking Loon Pinot Noir $6/bottle
Have you noticed I like Pinot Noir?


Freixenet Champage: $10/bottle
AND, they make these in mini champagne bottles too.
Don't forget to add some rock candy to your champagne flute for a little extra razzle dazzle!

***disclaimer: I'm not an expert I just drink a lot. 

What wines would you add to my list?

77 comments :

  1. Have you seen the movie Sideways? Paul Giamatti would agree with ya.
    http://www.videodetective.com/movies/sideways-scene-why-are-you-so-into-pinot-/624445

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    1. Duh. I am not drinking any effing merlot. :) :)

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  2. Ooh I'm going to have to add some of your selections to my list to try out. I've been stuck on Apothic lately, they have a red and white variety and it's a blend of grapes. I also picked up a Dark which I'm not really sure what is in it but I liked the others so why not!

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  3. I'm a pinot noir girl too! You must try Gnarly Hard's Pinot Noir. The best for 10 bucks.

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    1. I LOVE Gnarly pinor noir! Super delish and great price!!

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  4. "Keep it simple, don't make it cutesy, and most importantly, keep it LARGE." Totally agree! Mo' wine, Mo' better!

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  5. I'm a fan of the Cupcake line - any of them. I take wine any way.

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  6. Try Apothic! That's my favorite. They have Naked Grape at Walgreens too (which is next door to my office...)

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  7. LOVE this post!! I just love wine so much! The Naked Grape is really good, and a new favorite I just found is Turning Leaf - Refresh. They're almost kind of carbonated-ish. Either way, they're sooooo good!

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  8. Thanks for the info on the cork shortage! Wine openers intimidate me so I have always drifted to bottles that have twist caps. Now I feel less shame haha.

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  9. Love this! I like Cupcake too, and smoking loon, I was just introduced to Pinot by the bf, before that it was chardonnay and champagne all the way. And,, when are you taking new blog design clients?!?

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  10. It is always awesome when you realize you bought the screw off lid instead of a cork! I miss having so many local wineries near me in Oregon, wine in Iceland is so expensive, not good for this wino or my budget!

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  11. I love Barefoot's Riesling. It has a twist top too! Oh and Apothic Red (it's a slightly sweet, smooth red a la pinot noir).

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  12. Ooh love the recommendations! I'm always trying new flavors and brands

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  13. There's this brand that they sell at my grocery store I haven't seen many other places but it's $2.99 a bottle and the wine is actually really, really, good. They have a great Pinot Nior I love.
    Also, Trader Joe's is amazing for wine- such huge selection and most are pretty cheap.
    I love what you said about not smelling the cork- I work in the service industry (in Chicago's financial district) and it always made me chuckle a little when people would order a really expensive bottle and then smell the cork they clearly knew nothing wine and were just trying to be a hot shot with whatever business person they were rubbing elbows with. So many great stories.

    Danielle @ Allusional

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  14. the last line made me think "I'm not a player i just F*** a lot" but with wine. so yes. this is awesome. I would call you an expert because I knew none of this.

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  15. LOVE THIS!!! Have you tried Don Simon? It's $3.99 at whole foods (!!!!!) and so so good...and I'm even a little wine snobby. It's become my go-to. I usually get the Shiraz. It's so yum and well...it'll get ya drunk.

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  16. I am also all about the twist off cap. And also prosecco. I prefer a cheap prosecco to a cheap champagne x

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  17. I just love this post! Except it is in 8:50 in the morning and I am sitting at my desk thinking about how I won't be home till 9pm and I really want a glass of wine now!

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  18. Love this post! I love The Naked Grape wine; a friend of mine recently brought it to my birthday party and it was lovely! My favorite "not cheap" wine is a Rodney Strong Merlot, but I tend to like Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. There's actually an inexpensive wine that is made in NJ that I love, even though it's a red blend and... from New Jersey. I don't know if you can get it outside of NJ, but if you ever find Shamong Red, give it a try!

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  19. Love this, I am definitely not a huge wine drinker (gin & tonic is my juice), but it can't hurt to try "all" of your suggestions, right?

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  20. I've become a wino in recent years. I have a cuzzo who is studying to me a sommelier, and is always recommending stuff. These tips are great though. I'll have to make a list of your recommendations and try every. single. one. #wino

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  21. Cupcake - Riesling
    Fetzer - Gewurztraminer
    Menage Trois - Red
    Tobin James - anything
    Dr. Loosen - Riesling

    I'm a big wino too. We've always got a bottle of SOMETHING in my house. I'm a big fan of dry Rieslings. My parents were big winos and they taught me to love wine at a very young age (I was taking a sip of their wine [and hating it] when I was like 10). I'm trying to teach my roommates more about wine...and by "teaching them" I mean "pouring them glass after glass until they like it".

    xo Denise
    lovelybohemian.blogspot.com

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    1. Can I come be your student? I will do really good learning that way!! :) :)

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  22. Your disclaimer is hysterical! And I don't think I've ever spent over $12 on a bottle of wine...all tastes generally the same to me!

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  23. Thank you so much for these suggestions. My husband and I are always looking for new wines to try. It helps to have a suggestion so we are not drinking something nasty when we get home. Our favorite wine to date is the Acai Raspberry from a local winery here in Ohio called Buckeye Winery. It is so good!!!!

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  24. Can you teach me how to like wine? One of my blog buds, Rachael suggested a Moscato, what are your thoughts?

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  25. Mmmmm wine. Shit. It's only noon. It's 5 somewhere? No... I must wait. And I am going to have to try out some of these brands. Though I do prefer the white wines to the reds!

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  26. love that you're a fellow wino! admittedly i'm in college so i can't afford to be picky, but rex-goliath has a pretty decent and super cheap (when on sale at Kroger) merlot. i also like cupcake pinot grigio and it has a twist top which is always a win in my book. i also love visiting all the vineyards around charlottesville!

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  27. I love Pinot Noir too.. I've had Naked Grape and Mirassou. I also love Hangtime and Hahn.. those two I discovered at my local wine bar!

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  28. lambrusco is a sweet red bubble wine. It cost around 4 dollars. dezzani are also really got wine about 9 dollar a bottle.

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  29. Twist tops are great esp. for wines that you cook with (assuming there are leftovers at the end of cooking...) but you have got to get a rabbit wine opener. Changed my life (by which I mean I get wine a whole lot faster!)

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  30. In all my years of drinking wine I had no idea why the cork was placed in front of me. Thanks for the education! I am saving all corks. I'm a cork hoarder.

    I personally never met a wine I don't like. But I will be making notes based off your list. Cheers!

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  31. Love this post and totally didn't know about the cork shortage. Thank goodness there isn't a shortage of wine :)

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  32. Oh goodness, well this is perfection. AND RIGHT IN TIME FOR WINE WEDNESDAY!

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  33. I love me some Smoking Loon. Not every store around me carries it thought, which shocked me! And by shocked, I mean annoyed because I then had to buy something more expensive.Those are all good picks!

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  34. Taking a wine-tasting class next quarter for credit, I am so excited.

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  35. I love the Kendall Jackson Chardonnay. It goes on sale every now and then for $9 at Harris Teeter and I stock up!

    Actually, smelling the cork can matter. It usually doesn't but it serves as a sample of the wine in the bottle. More importantly is the color of the wine on the cork. As you said because it can tell you if the cork is rotten. But, the color can also tell you about the wine in the bottle. :)

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  36. I might have to try the Naked Grape, four bucks a bottle sounds good to me! but my favorite part is your disclaimer, "I'm not an expert, I just drink a lot" cheers to that.

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  37. I love Barefoot Moscato, but I hear that's a dessert wine, so... suggestions for another kind of wine that has a sweet taste?? :)

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  38. I'm a moscato loving gal. My favorite go to cheap wine is the Roscato Rosso Dolce for $10!

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  39. thanks for this into to wine! i know very little about wine (i always just ask for Riesling!) xo jillian - cornflake dreams

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  40. Seriously, this couldn't have come at a better time...!! I have been looking around the liquor store lately for a good bottle of white to try. Then, once I find a kind that I like, I am toying with the idea of buying a box of wine to keep in the fridge. That way, I can have a glass of wine while I cook dinner. That way, Rob won't have to share his beer with me (lol) and I can drink my glass of wine and enjoy myself. (I may even buy a box of red wine.. we'll see.)
    $4 for a bottle of wine!??!?!!! Whaaaaa??! That is ridiculous!!! We pay for our cheap wine; at least $8... but for sure like $12.. Luuuucky. I would drink a lot too if my wine was THAT cheap!

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  41. I'm no wino because I struggle with the taste of wine. If I run out of my pathetic-excuse-(BUT DELICIOUS)-for-wine moscato, then the next best thing for me is pinot grigio.. and so far I've decided that I only like Barefoot wines hahaha. Though that's basically all I've tried, too ;)

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  42. Apothic red and Menage a trois are both really really good red blends that can generally be found for between $8-12 depending on where you look. Also, Black Box Merlot for only $22 for 4 bottles worth of delicious merlot-goodness. They are by far my favorites!!

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  43. I'm a big fan of Pinot Noir as well. I started out as a riesling fan but have moved on to try other things. It doesn't hurt that for the last few years I've lived just 30 minutes from the French border (in Germany) and can go to a French grocery store twice a year during their huge wine sale and try just about every bottle before i buy. I'm starting to explore Spanish and Portuguese wines too. Mostly because of opportunity but I have to pace myself. My favorite stateside Pinot Noirs still are Mirrasou and Cupcake though.

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  44. Loved this...and the fact that there is such a thing as a shatterproof wine glass.

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  45. Kirkland wines from Costco are delicious and cheap!! The 1.5 liter chardonnay is great. For a very special occasion, the $6.99 for the normal size chardonnay (I guess it is .75 liter) that is just like La Crema is a real treat at an amazing price.

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  46. Bahahaha "don't smell the cork" I love it. Great tips, thanks!

    xo, Nina
    afterthe40barfinish

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  47. I'll have to check for that $4 bottle of wine at target!! That's right up my price range alley! Thanks for sharing these tips!

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  48. I FREAKING LOVE WINE! Especially cheap wine. I was that girl on the cruise that brought on a bottle of wine with a twist top so I wouldn't have to pay the corking fee at dinner. I love cheap wine. I'm all about moscato. I know, it tastes like juice, but I can't help that I love it so much. I'm all about that Naked Grape though. Delish. I also like a brand called Verdi. I don't know what kind of alcohol it is (wine? Champagne?), but it's freaking good.

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  49. This is great!! And awesome list - I hope I can find some of those to try this weekend! :)

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  50. Thank you for this post. There's something about wine that instantly makes me look forward to the weekend. Well done!

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  51. I just bought Mirassou Pinot Noir for the first time the other day! Now I can't wait to try it!

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  52. I love your wine recos. If you ever want to splurge a little on a red, The Velvet Devil is really tasty and the label is awesome.

    Brittany @ Everyday Thoughts

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  53. I've totally noticed more bottles have twist tops and I am A-OK with it!!

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  54. This was actually very informative, so I'd say you're a pro! I am a big fan of red wines and prefer the blends that are more dry over a sweet blend (Pinot noir - Cabernet or Cabernet - Merlot blends are my fav). Except there's something refreshing about a chilled moscato in the summer, but moscato tends to make me tired, so that's usually a good one for me on a weekday if I just want a glass to relax and go to bed.
    Eva Marie

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  55. Such interesting facts! I am now going to feel guilty whenever I buy I cork board knowing that there are wines out there who don't get a cork. I prefer twist offs over the fake spongy cork thing. I would add Barefoot pinot grigio to your list. I'm real classy

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  56. The cork shortage thing is a real thing! A winery I used to work at used synthetic corks, which while great in process sometimes didn't expand enough and there would be wine leakage. Never a good thing. Also, the shape of a glass actually effects the taste of the wine, which is why there tend to be specially shaped glasses for different wine, it's the same with beer! If you go to belgium that's why you will get your beer in it's specific specially made glass.

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  57. It is scary to think about the cork shortage and the affects it has on the environment and the wine industry! I love twists off. So much easier.

    xo. Kailagh

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  58. I'm really into cab sauvs lately. The other day I bought a brand called Ravenswood (because of the TV show, HA!), and I really liked it--I think it was about $10. There's also this wine, I think called Toscano, that makes a delightful cab sauv, and last week I got it at our grocery store for $6! WIN!

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  59. Yes to all your tips. The cork too was used to help prevent forgeries too. I love Moscato! I tend to prefer white wine over red, but if a white wine is too dry for me I splash in some sprite to sweeten it up a bit.

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  60. Interesting! I'm so not a Wino, but hey, maybe I'll have to give it a go!

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  61. Wine isn't worth drinking if it's not in a massive enjoy-me-hard-tonight glass!

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  62. Love this. Also a pinot noir drinker.

    Had no idea about the corks. That's kind of sad though, I like saving them. Ha.

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  63. Oh I love white wine! Still haven't fallen for red quite yet!

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  64. We decorate my college house with the Freixenet bottles we drank it so much. Freixenet found the post and did their own (ours looked better) and gave me zero credit. I was less than pleased. It was only $7.50 at the time though, I can't believe how much it's gone up. Fair warning, this post is in my old school blogger days: http://www.ifsandsandbutts.com/2011/04/thirsty-thursday-freixenet.html

    You need to come to Europe lady. My favorite red is what is about $3/bottle and it's organic. European wine is what keeps me sane here.

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  65. Lady, I have a question for you! Is there really a difference between stemmed and stemless glassware, or is it just preference?
    Also, I should be a reply-blogger now!
    xx
    Here&Now
    Enter my current giveaway!

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  66. I tried to drink my favorite wine the other day and my face got really red and itchy. Praying it's a sick joke of some kind but… any idea why that happened? All of a sudden!!

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  67. I love the cab from Radius. It's about $10 a bottle, but it's really good!

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  68. Great round up of wines under $10! You are a wino expert in my book :-)

    -AJ
    OccasionallyAJ.com

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  69. Duplin Wine out of North Carolina! I love all the sweet ones, but my favorite is Hattaras Red!

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  70. Using grapevines growing in number, parrots vocal and also vegetation its heyday, it really is time to think of spending relaxing, free minutes outdoor. Occasion spent outdoor is usually comforting with the heart and soul. shot glasses

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  71. I always love when they give me the cork when we're out - I stuff it in my purse and save it. If cork becomes valuable I'm set ;)

    My favorite thing is seeing someone not pay attention and they try to open a twist off wine bottle with an opener... makes me laugh my ass off.

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