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Looking for the perfect wine to pair with the bird?

Thankswine.jpgPicking a wine for the big dinner isn’t easy if you don’t know much about wine. Here are The Vino Duo’s recent suggestions and safe picks from previous years:

Medium bodied (and budget-friendly) easy pairing Pinots:

Foodies Pinot Noir

3 Girls Pinot Noir

If you want something a little bolder but still easy on the wallet: 

Gnarly Head Double Black Red Wine Blend

Quality Top picks from previous years: 

Thanksgiving Wine Picks from 2016

Thanksgiving Wine Picks from 2013

Thanksgiving Wine Picks from 2012



Thanksgiving Wine Picks for 2016

Thanksgiving Wine Suggestions by The Vino DuoPicking a wine for the big dinner isn’t easy if you don’t know much, or don’t care, about wine. Here are The Vino Duo’s suggestions and safe picks for serving or bringing a bottle to the big gathering.

If none of these interest you…check out our past Thanksgiving Wine Picks from 2012 and 2013.

Last Minute Grab and Go
Easy to find for that last minute pick up a bottle and go.

Medium Body Crowd Pleaser 
Still easy to find, for the busy cook, budget-friendly, and bound to please your diverse crowd. 

Harder to find, but will add a little ‘wow’ on the table 

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles

Champagne! Bubbles!

Yep…it’s that time of the year again. With a focus on romance, Valentines celebrations are often accompanied by a nice bottle of bubbly. Yes, sparkling bottles are often used for celebratory occasions within the United States and romanic evenings, but are sadly often forgot during other parts of the year.

Here are a few which will pair perfectly with your Valentine’s day plans or add sparkle to any other day in your life.

Looking to Impress?:

Veuve Clieqot Brut (around $45/bottle) – This bottle carries prestige and is bound to impress not only by it’s label but also it’s great flavor. (Aaron’s top pick)

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($15-22/bottle) – Impress with the Mumm name and this dry, versatile, and delicious bottle.

Mumm Napa Cuvee M ($15-22/bottle) – One of the most widely found Mumm bottles in most retailers. This is Mumm’s flagship and it continues to please with crisp flavors and smooth texture.

Save on money, not on quality or flavor:

Taralyn Brut (about $10/bottle)- Flavors of peach and apricot make this bottle perfect for sharing with someone just as sweet.  (Aaron’s #1 affordable pick)

Segura Viudas Cava Extra Dry (around $10/bottle) – Flavorful and full of bubbles; Easy to enjoy from start to finish.

Easy to find and will always please:

Korbel Brut (around $10/bottle) – this standard staple can be easily found and delivers flavor and quality for the price.

Kirkland Champagne Brut (around $20/bottle) – Costco does it right when it comes to store brands. Normally utilizing well known producers to make their own label, this wine delivers high quality and flavor under the Kirkland label.

Wilson Creek Almond Champagne (around $15/bottle) – If you like the sweeter side, Wilson Creek delivers this bottle (plus more) with an added flavor, yielding a semi-sweet and versatile champagne. Enjoy on it’s own or with fruit juice for a great mixed champagne cocktail.

Cupcake Prosecco (around $10/bottle) – another easy to find bottle for those who like their drink sweeter. The flavors of peaches and cream with lemon and apricot make for an easy drinking or mixing bubbling bottle.

What We’ve Learned (Our 375th Post!)

Over the years we’ve tried many bottles and are constantly looking to improve our blog and add value for our readers.  There is a plethora of wine information and most will reiterate a bottle is only as good as you think it is and everyone thinks differently. Admittedly, this sounds like a cop-out, and readers have a right to ask “what value are you providing!?”  (to which we would promptly remind you this blog is free so stop whining).  It’s a legitimate request and so this post is our multi-year summary and reality check.  At the Vino Duo, our goal is to uncover valuable wines, something you can drink and enjoy, which inspires feelings of satisfaction, not buyer’s remorse.

The wine industry has expensive wines which try to convince us you have to spend $50+ for anything decent.  Meanwhile, the market is flooded with mass-produced bulk wines which make great sangria but aren’t what most grapes dream of being when they grow up.  Then there are the thousands of bottles we see everyday trying to present themselves as high class without a high price.  What we’ve learned:

  • Wine does NOT have to be expensive to be good.  We try to highlight bottles in the $15-25 range providing good value (and they DO get extra points for this), meaning what you taste is worth what you pay.
  • There are some $80, $90, $100 + bottles which are actually worth their price, if you can afford them feel free to send us one.
  • There are some wines under $10 which are true gems, but many are like investing in junk bonds.  If you find a good one, feel free to stock up.
  • The most common wine we’ve had in tasting rooms is the one we enjoyed and wouldn’t buy a bottle of, and that’s ok, that’s why we taste.
  • Wine is not just for rich people, just like sparkling wine is not just for special occasions.

In summary, our objective is to provide the information you need to make an informed experiment.  At the end of the day, you may completely disagree with us (and we want to know when that happens!) but we understand wine can get expensive and for something which can vanish so quickly, you want to get your money’s worth.  So, whether you’re looking for a high-value gem, like to experiment, or simply want to know which of the thousands of $17 bottles are worth it, use our resources and let us know what you think.  The more we hear and the more we try the better our blog and the more value we can provide for you.

Thanks for your continued support and readership.

-Teri and Aaron

Adventures in Wine Tasting

Goldeneye Winery
Goldeneye Winery

I (Aaron) felt compelled to write this post not about a particular wine but about the best tasting experience I’ve ever had. I should acknowledge I find tastings appalling. The sales-focused experience which almost guilts you into buying something is rarely relaxing, commonly crowded and almost never worth the “tasting fee”. Therefore please consider when I recommend visiting Goldeneye Winery in Mendocino County to enjoy the most relaxed, pleasant, classy tasting experience I’ve ever heard of.

We arrived at the Duckhorn-owned property expecting the traditional setting of “belly up to the bar while someone who must be an expert on wine blabs at you ab2015-03-14 13.11.14out what you’re tasting”.  In contrast, the friendly faces who greeted us quickly poured some Chardonnay and directed us to find a seat indoors or on the patio where they would serve the remaining wines. We sat down and within a few minutes were shocked to see a large tray of 10 individual glasses brought to our table. A specific card boasting extensive information on each wine was placed in the proper tasting order and our wine steward gave a brief overview as she sat each glass on the table. A pricing sheet was of course provided and were we left in peace to relax on a beautiful vineyard-looking patio and enjoy our buffet of wines. I should note: 1. These wines are pricey ($50-100).  2. Each wine was amazing. Even if they weren’t however this tasting experience was magical. Wines were served in individual, classy Reidel stemless glasses, each paired not only with almonds and dried cherries, but extensive information which you could study at your leisure. In summary, this is what a wine tasting should be! Tasting room attendants were helpful and checked on us but weren’t pushy and did not try to sell us anything. Particularly for smaller vineyards who must deplete their inventory to run a tasting2015-03-14 12.24.03, I am fine reimbursing a winery for the expense of my tasting, but frankly these have become outrageous.  Goldeneye has a $15 fee per person which is worth every penny plus a generous tip. This is one of the first times I’ve felt I got my money’s worth for anything beyond a $5 fee. Thank you Goldeneye for reminding me wine should be enjoyed while relaxing not sipped awkwardly in front of a salesperson.

Thank you also to Janelle  our very friendly and attentive new friend at the winery who was kind, knowledgeable and enjoyed her job, making the experience that much more pleasant.

-Aaron and Teri