wine en-US The 9 Hidden Costs of Drinking <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-9-hidden-costs-of-drinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="restaurant drinking" title="restaurant drinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Drinking isn't cheap. We all know that whether it's a quiet glass of wine at home in the evening or a full-fledged night out on the town, alcohol can cost you. But do you know the <em>true</em> costs? Those that go beyond just the actual price you're paying for that can of Coors or bottle of chianti? (See also: <a href="">How to Make Moonshine</a>)</p> <p>Check out some of the common pitfalls associated with your drinking expenditures, as well as frugal ways to still have your wine and drink it too.</p> <h2>1. Transportation Costs</h2> <p>Taxis, limos, and other chauffeured vehicles are necessary for a responsible night of drinking. However, they don't usually come cheap. Even new ride services like <a href="">Uber</a> can run up the tab. So, what to do when you've had a few, but want to save on your transit costs?</p> <p>If you're lucky enough to live in a city with reliable and safe late night public transportation, by all means take advantage of this cheap alternative to a cab. Another option is to pick nearby restaurants and bars where you can easily walk home. Or, take turns being a designated driver within your entourage each weekend, so that everyone can save and be safe.</p> <h2>2. Restaurant Dining</h2> <p>Having a nice drink with your meal at a restaurant makes for a great night. But, that markup on your drink is hefty. Take wine for example. Some restaurants can <a href="">mark up bottles</a> as high as 400%! And, if you and your other guests start ordering wine by the glass, your bill can skyrocket.</p> <p>First off, if you even think there's a chance that you and another guest will have more than one glass of wine each, then buy the bottle. It's almost always cheaper. Or, find restaurants where you can bring your own drinks (BYOB), and avoid the restaurant markup. Lastly, you can always stick to ordering the restaurant's cheaper drink options, such as domestic beers or house liquors and wines, instead of perusing the more expensive drink menus.</p> <h2>3. The Gracious Host</h2> <p>If you have thrown anything from a dinner party to a wedding, you know that a big chunk of the budget can go to alcohol. Events can get expensive quickly when drinks cost more than your food. Still, the best hosts usually find ways to provide the booze.</p> <p>Short of cutting out the alcohol or forcing a cash bar on guests, try cheaper options, like bulk wine (yes, you could even do wine-in-a-box for the less discerning crowd) or kegs of beer, which all give you a quantity discount. Another option is to make up large batches of your own punch, sangria, or other affordable mixed drinks. This can help save as people can't take the liberty to pour more of the expensive stuff in their concoctions. You can also try for cheaper substitutes. One of my favorites is using Cava instead of Champagne. (See also: <a href="">Discount Luxury: Save 50% or More on 5 Fabulous Substitutions</a>)</p> <h2>4. Late Night Food Run</h2> <p>A late night food run may seem like a fun way to top off your night. However, don't forget that even fast food can cost you, especially if you indulge and aren't thinking as clearly as you might otherwise after having a few drinks.</p> <p>To alleviate the extra spend on calories you probably don't need, try to wait until you get home and eat there where it's cheaper. Fast food restaurants, diners, and food trucks may seem cheap at the time, but they add up. Or, if you are lucky enough to know where to find $1 pizza slices, make sure to only hit up these types of super cheap places if you just can't resist.</p> <h2>5. Running a Tab</h2> <p>Tabs can get out of hand when you slap down a credit card and don't realize how much you are truly spending. And, they can be especially dangerous when you buy drinks for others and are feeling festive (a round of shots anyone?).</p> <p>Next time, try paying cash for your drinks, so you'll be more aware of your spend. If you need to use your credit card, set a limit and ask the bartender to automatically close out your tab once reached. Or, if you are looking to treat others, hit the bar when you can save, such as during happy hour or when regular specials and promotions take place.</p> <h2>6. Shopping and Impulse Buys</h2> <p>Any time you've had a drink during the day, whether it be a lunch date or happy hour splurge, beware of your lowered inhibitions and the expenditures that can follow. It's certainly fun to have lunch and go shopping, but you may overpay or buy stuff on impulse.</p> <p>In order to suppress your urge to splurge, try making sure you have a budget or list in mind before you hit the stores. You can also ask friends to keep you in check or use cash to make sure you don't overspend. And lastly, don't fall into the trap of buying just because whomever you're with starts doing so.</p> <h2>7. Your Crowd</h2> <p>If you run with some high rollers, you may find yourself draining your wallet at fancy clubs and restaurants. The ordinary draft beer at such places can cost you four times more than the pub down the street. And, other beverages are sure to run you a small fortune in such places.</p> <p>To avoid the spend of the rich and famous, perhaps it's time to pick your crowd wisely. You can always go out with more like-minded friends to lower-key establishments. Or, make sure you are the one to pick the venues, so you can choose places with reasonable prices or no cover charges. If you still find yourself confronted with absorbent pricing, limit your intake and stay clear of champagnes and signature mixed drinks, which always run higher than most other items.</p> <h2>8. Health Care Costs</h2> <p>We all know that there's a flip side to most guilty pleasures. Consuming alcohol can affect both your health and your wallet. Continual use or over-consumption can cause a number of <a href="">alcohol related health problems</a>, from liver disorders to heart problems to violence and depression. A <a href="">CDC study</a> has estimated that excessive drinking has cost the country at least $224 billion per year in the past, the majority of which is health care costs. As an individual, this means money lost on doctor's visits, costly procedures, missed pay, decreased quality of life, and higher health insurance premiums.</p> <p>It's obvious that the way to combat such problems is to aim to drink less or not at all. Preventive programs and seeking help for excessive alcohol consumption are measures that can be taken. Be sure to limit binge drinking and search for other ways, besides alcohol, to relax and unwind.</p> <h2>9. Long Term Consequences</h2> <p>Excessive or irresponsible drinking can certainly lead to some grave consequences, especially if you drink and drive. Besides the physical dangers, the <a href="">financial fallout from a DUI</a> is a lot more than you may realize. It has been estimated that by the time you pay bail, legal fees, and insurance, a DUI can cost you $10,000 or more. From the insurance perspective, a DUI will <a href="">increase your premium</a> by several hundred dollars, which can last for up to five years. You may also be required to carry more than the state-mandated amount of coverage, further driving up your costs.</p> <p>The obvious way to avoid such expenses is to not drink and drive. A DUI can do all kinds of harm, much of which can last well beyond the initial offense.</p> <p><em>What are some other extra costs you have come across when it comes to spending on drinks? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 9 Hidden Costs of Drinking" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Lifestyle alcohol alcohol costs booze drinking wine Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 1171611 at 10 Wines That Taste Pricier Than They Are <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-wines-that-taste-pricier-than-they-are" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="wine" title="wine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Value, when it comes to wine, is in the palate of the beholder. But it also depends on the wallet of the beholder, as well. Frankly, what is considered to be a great deal on a wine for dinner is worlds apart depending on whether you have that conversation with Bill Gates or Warren Buffett or with little ol' me. (See also: <a href="">10 Cheap and Tasty Wines</a>)</p> <p>You can start with a $5 gallon jug and work up from there until you hit the pinnacle of bad wine purchases, which was the bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite that sold for $156,000 plus or about $26,000 per glass in 1985. Given that Bordeaux lasts about 50 years, what is known as the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold was really the most expensive bottle of vinegar ever sold.</p> <p>Luckily for everyone else, there's a lot of ground in the middle. The Wine Enthusiast, for example, reviewed 16,000 bottles of wine in 2013, coming up with a list of <a href="">100 Must Have Wines</a> for the year. And &quot;must have&quot; essentially means that all 100 on the list were considered worth the price.</p> <p>Their list includes a $98 bottle of Cavallotto 2007 Vignolo Riserva Barolo, a good deal for some, if you have that kind of coin. Unfortunately, I don't.</p> <p>Here are some bottles with pedestrian price tags you might enjoy. They certainly taste better than their price tag would indicate, so you can impress your guests without spending too much.</p> <p>I've leaned on reviewers I trust and my own excursions into the field (or into a bottle) to come up with these.</p> <h2>5 Red Wines</h2> <p>Red wines are for romance, beef or lamb dinners, and windy porches. Picnics, too. And outings on the boat. And for impressing your boss. (See also: <a href="">10 Reasons to Drink Wine</a>)</p> <h3>Zestos Old Vine Garnacha 2011</h3> <p>This is a quaffable <a href="">$8 steal</a> from Spain that gets high marks from reviewers, who declare it is delightful for informal outings &mdash; a good backyard wine, rather than a dinner table wine. It will wash down a hamburger quite well, one reviewer said. With this price, I had to put it on the list.</p> <h3>Dr. Konstantin Frank Cabernet Franc 2011</h3> <p>Speaking from experience now, this is a surprising New York wine that sells for $16 and is both mature and lively. It has a gutsy punch that is sometimes defined as bright, peppery, and elegant. For a dark red, it also has a soft underbelly. You might say it has exotic overtones. What I like is the tang that accompanies New York reds, which some find a distraction, but I have grown fond of over the years. It makes the wine more versatile when choosing something for dinner, because this wine will go with anything and it will please your snooty wine friends and please your less-experienced drinkers, as well.</p> <h3>Borsao Berola 2008</h3> <p>Another bottle from Spain, this is a blend with a bright bouquet that retails for under $20 and has dark red color and a complex taste. This wine tastes older than it is; it has matured well and has a bold, fruity flavor blended into a soft presentation. It's full-bodied, in other words, but with a tickle, rather than a punch. Whereas I would have said &quot;seductive,&quot; it is also described as &quot;silky.&quot; (I figured that was a polite way of saying seductive, anyway.) The blend in this bottle is 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, which reads to me like an excellent potion. It is matured in French and American oak barrels and consistently gets rated with 90 points from reviewers &mdash; a great rating for an inexpensive wine.</p> <h3>Ex Libris Cabernet Sauvignon 2009</h3> <p>This is a fashionable wine from Washington State about which Chelsea Wine Vault owner David Hunter said &quot;over-delivers&quot; for the price. He is not alone in that assessment. The Reverse Wine Snob says this bottle &quot;<a href="">drinks like a $45 Cabernet</a>,&quot; and yet it retails for $14. I haven't tasted this one myself, but those are two reviewers I consider very reliable.</p> <h3>Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2011</h3> <p>This is a spicy, complex wine from New Zealand that averages a rating of 89.4, which brings up expectations of a $30 price tag. Not so. This wine has a hint of cranberry, black cherry, and a hint of oak, says reviewer Jon Thorsen at The Reverse Wine Snob. Further, it's a &quot;<a href="">medium bodied&hellip; [with] absolutely fabulous balance</a>&quot; wine that retails for $18.</p> <h2>5 Whites</h2> <p>White wines are good for pasta dishes, fish, the salad course, wine beginners, and family gatherings (or other gatherings where some might shun the punchier red wines).</p> <h3>Herman Wiemer's Finger Lakes Dry Riesling 2012</h3> <p>Now that we're here on the whites, let's start with my favorite. This is a warm wine with more than a hint of apricot and an aftertaste that hints of lemon-tinged butterscotch. It is often used as a dessert wine, but who likes to wait for dessert, anyway? This makes a great starter wine or something you can serve with soup, salad, and poultry, and it will have your guests talking and expecting surprises all night. Of course, that would only work if you are following up with white wines, because you don't follow this with reds. That would be like following a ballet with a boxing match. <a href=";_r=0">For $16</a>, it&rsquo;s a serious crowd pleaser.</p> <h3>Laurenz V. Singing Gruner Veltliner 2011</h3> <p>This is a feel-good wine from Austria that is fruity and crisp and sophisticated &mdash; only wine can present all those contradictions in one glass. This is a wine you want around if you have lots of guests, because it is <a href="">under $20</a>, so you can pour liberally. If anyone complains (and that is not likely) tell them the money you saved went into the meal. (See also: <a href="">Feed a Dinner Party of 6 for Under $20</a>)</p> <h3>Donnafugata Lighea Zibibbo Sicilia 2011</h3> <p>How is it that an imported Italian Moscato wine <a href="">selling for $12</a> tastes so exceptional? I almost believe that the cheaper the wine the more ethnicity it can claim. This is a dry, regional, perfumy wine that has bursts of fruity and flowery flavors. There are subtle hints of pear and peach that are quite exhilarating. Anyway, if it's good enough for the man on the street in Rome, it's good enough for me &mdash; and my budget.</p> <h3>Indaba Chenin Blanc 2011</h3> <p>My budget friendly pick from South Africa costs $7 per bottle and tastes like&hellip; well, if I had a $50 bottle to compare it to, I would. But this is certainly a surprise for most wine buyers. After all, it's not from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, California, New York, or any of the standard wine regions. Nevertheless, a $7 bottle of wine (how can they even ship it for that cost?) is not going to break many budgets out there. But this is a bright wine that has a citrus-like, tangy, but full flavored. Hard to pass that up. (See also: <a href="">Great Wines Under $10</a>)</p> <h3>Kris Pinot Grigio 2011</h3> <p>This $12 bottle of Italian wine provokes a question: Are you ever in the mood for a white wine that is totally unpretentious, but has startling fullness? Sometimes, rather than &quot;a subtle bouquet&quot; or &quot;an elegant, but shy aftertaste that is reminiscent of blackberries,&quot; you just want a wine that is belly-slapping yummy? This wine might be that. Reviewers say the Pinot Grigio grape has managed to settle comfortably in Northeast Italy, and that sounds reasonable to me. But when a white wine is robust and affordable, I'm going to be pouring some of that to go along with chicken or fish and maybe pork, as well. And this import will fit the bill nicely for that.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite great tasting, low cost bottle of wine? Pour us a taste in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Wines That Taste Pricier Than They Are" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Anthony Hall</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink affordable wine wine Fri, 18 Apr 2014 08:24:24 +0000 Anthony Hall 1135879 at 10 Great Reasons to Drink Wine <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-great-reasons-to-drink-wine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="drinking win" title="drinking wine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="168" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You may view wine as nothing more than a drink to complement your dinner. But while wine has an amazing way of bringing out the taste in certain foods, this isn&#39;t the only reason to enjoy an occasional glass. (See also: <a href="">10 Affordable Wines</a>)</p> <p>In moderation, wine has many surprising health benefits. So before you grab a beer, tea, juice, or (especially) soda to go along with your lunch or dinner, consider these 10 great reasons to drink wine.</p> <h2>1. Good for the Heart</h2> <p>If you&#39;re looking to reduce your risk of a heart attack or cardiovascular disease, a daily glass of red or white wine might be your ticket to a healthier heart. <a href="">Red wine contains the powerful antioxidant resveratrol</a>, which has been shown to reduce fat accumulation in arteries and improve heart function. And according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry, <a href="">white wines with high levels of the antioxidants tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol provide similar heart benefits</a>.</p> <h2>2. Improves Lung Function</h2> <p>Not just a beverage for healthy heart function, white wine has also been linked to healthy lung function. University of Buffalo researchers reported, &quot;<a href="">drinking wine recently and over a lifetime was associated with better lung function.</a>&quot; The study evaluated approximately 1,500 Caucasians and African-Americans with varying alcohol consumption and lifestyle habits. Participants were given a lung-function test, and based on the findings, the wine drinkers &quot;had the highest levels of protective antioxidants in their blood&quot; and better lung function.</p> <h2>3. Lowers the Risk of Cataracts</h2> <p>A family history of cataracts increases your risk for this eye disease, but there&#39;s good news if you&#39;re a red wine drinker. A <a href="">2001 study on age-related eye diseases in Iceland</a> evaluated the link between cataract development and alcohol use. According to the study&#39;s findings, red wine had a noticeable protective effect, as both non-drinkers and &quot;heavy drinkers of any sort of alcohol had a substantially increased risk for cataract development, while moderate red wine drinkers had only half the risk.&quot; The effects of white wine were not included in the study.</p> <h2>4. Reduces the Risk of Cancer</h2> <p>Whether it&#39;s colon, prostate, or ovarian, the antioxidants in a glass of red wine can fill your body with cancer-fighting properties. &quot;A glass of wine a day may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by as much as half,&quot; <a href="">according to Australian researchers</a>.</p> <p>A second study revealed that the &quot;daily amount of resveratrol in two glasses of wine can reduce the rate of bowel tumors by around 50%.&quot; And while regular alcohol consumption typically increases the risk for breast cancer, moderate consumption of red wine has the opposite effect &mdash; actually lowering the risk of breast cancer, <a href="">say scientists from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center</a>. (See also: <a href="">Natural Remedies for Stomach Pain</a>)</p> <h2>5. Better Brain Function</h2> <p>Crossword puzzles and other brain activities can help ward off dementia and Alzheimer&#39;s. But while you&#39;re giving your brain a workout, don&#39;t forget to pour yourself a glass of wine. &quot;Wine helps prevent clots and reduces blood vessel inflammation, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline,&quot; <a href=",,20410287,00.html">explains Tedd Goldfinger</a>, DO, of the University of Arizona School of Medicine. (See also: <a href="">How to Improve Your Memory and Get Smarter</a>)</p> <h2>6. Stronger Bones</h2> <p><a href="">According to a recent study</a>, milk isn&#39;t the only beverage of choice for strong, healthy bones. In postmenopausal women, one to two glasses of wine a day contributed to higher bone mass. This is because alcohol ups the body&#39;s production of estrogen, which reduces bone loss.</p> <h2>7. Reduces Risk of Diabetes</h2> <p>Moderate consumption of red wine helps control blood sugar. A 12-year study involving over 300,000 participates at Amsterdam&#39;s VU University Medical Center in 2005 revealed that &quot;<a href="">moderate drinkers have a 30 percent less chance of developing type 2 diabetes</a> compared to their non-drinking counterparts.&quot; (See also: <a href="">10 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes</a>)</p> <h2>8. Healthier Skin</h2> <p>A good facial cream and skin cleanser aren&#39;t your only options for reversing the effects of aging. The antioxidants in wine, especially red wine, are shown to <a href="">reduce wrinkles and fine lines</a>. In moderation, wine can improve your overall appearance, helping your skin look its best.</p> <h2>9. Prevents Tooth Decay</h2> <p>You may steer clear of red wine in an effort to keep your teeth white. However, <a href="">red wine is a key to healthy teeth</a>. It reduces the risk of tooth decay, stops the growth of bacteria in the mouth, hardens the enamel, and reduces gum inflammation.</p> <h2>10. Lengthens Your Life</h2> <p>With all the amazing health benefits of wine, it&#39;s no surprise that moderate consumption can increase your lifespan. In fact, &quot;<a href="">Half a glass of wine a day can add five years to your life</a>&quot; claims a Dutch study that compared alcohol intake and mortality rates among 1,373 men within a 40-year timeframe.</p> <p>And when compared to those who drink beer, an <a href="">article published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis says</a>, &quot;drinkers of wine benefit from its cardio-protective effects, more so than those who drink beer or other spirits, and may also live longer.&quot;</p> <p><em>Do you have another reason why it&#39;s great to drink wine? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Great Reasons to Drink Wine" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Health and Beauty health benefits wine Thu, 12 Dec 2013 10:31:14 +0000 Mikey Rox 1098974 at 7 No-Fuss Wine Destinations Anyone Can Visit (and Enjoy!) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-no-fuss-wine-destinations-anyone-can-visit-and-enjoy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="wine tasting" title="wine tasting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Wine-tasting can be a reasonably frugal activity, or it can be a very expensive one. If you are staying in a very popular area with a developed high-end tourist industry, like Napa, where hotels and restaurants are expensive, then your costs can rapidly skyrocket. Lodging and food in Napa will burn a hole in your pocket as quickly as tasting fees at celebrity wineries (which can be as much as $60). Luckily there are many lesser-known wine-producing areas in and near the US that still offer inexpensive tastings, unpretentious lodgings, and reasonably-priced food, not to mention delicious wines. (See also: <a href="">Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>Wine Tasting Basics</h2> <p>I prefer walk-in tasting rather than joining a wine tour, which allows you to explore little-known, smaller wineries that are off the beaten tour bus path. It also gives you the freedom to taste a few wines, take a break for a picnic or a walk, and taste a few more. (See also: <a href="">10 Affordable Wines for the Holidays</a>)</p> <p>A great way to save on food is to pack some good bread, salami, cheese, and pickles; the perfect counterpoint to a bottle of wine. Take the time to enjoy the area &mdash; I often visit just three wineries throughout the day and take time to hike and snap some photos. That way, I'm out just $15 to $30, but I've had a great day on vacation. And don't feel obliged to buy a bottle if you're trying to be frugal; just savor the experience.</p> <p>If you love wine tasting, here are a few lesser-known wine destinations that won't break the bank. (See also: <a href="">Frugal Vacations for the Whole Family</a>)</p> <h2>Willamette Valley, Oregon</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Oregon's Willamette Valley is a large wine region stretching from Portland to Eugene. Although it is Oregon's largest wine-producing region, many wineries are still family-owned and run, and the Willamette Valley lacks (for the most part) the snobbishness and commerciality many have come to associate with Napa. In fact, it has been likened to Napa Valley 25 years ago. The Willamette Valley isn't known for its big reds &mdash; this cool-weather region focuses on pinot noir, pinot gris, and chardonnays, as well as sweeter whites, such as riesling and gewurztraminer, more than bold cabernets and zinfandels.</p> <p>Larger wineries tend to charge more for tastings ($10-$15, which is often waived if you buy a bottle), but the smaller wineries further off the freeway often charge a more frugal $5 or offer free tastings. There are hundreds of wineries, so make a plan using the <a href="">Willamette Valley Wineries</a> website. You can find reasonably priced accommodation in any of the cities along the wine trail, from Portland to Eugene. (See also: <a href="">14 Affordable Weekend Getaways</a>)</p> <h2>Sierra Foothills, California</h2> <p>Just a few hours' drive inland from Napa you'll find the <a href="">Sierra Foothills wine country</a>, what some call &quot;one of California's best kept wine secrets.&quot; Less sophisticated restaurants (no <a href="">French Laundry</a> here) and more affordable lodging mean that if you're looking for a wine tasting experience in Northern California without the Napa prices, the Sierra Foothills are a good bet. Zinfandel, cabernet, and syrah are popular grapes grown here as well as many other varieties.</p> <p>The scenery is outstanding, and if you're headed for Yosemite National Park, tasting the wines in the nearby historic &quot;Gold Country&quot; (site of the Gold Rush) is a great complementary experience. Since this area is off the beaten path, you'll find a lot of cute B&amp;Bs and independent inns rather than chain hotels. (See also: <a href="">Reasons to Travel Off the Beaten Path</a>)</p> <h2>San Luis Obispo County, California</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Within the Central Coast wine-producing region of California, Santa Barbara may be the most well-known wine-tasting area (popularized in the movie Sideways), but just an hour north of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo county is a huge wine-producing area with more down-to-earth prices. A host of small, family-owned wineries line the coast from Arroyo Grande to Atascadero, and up to Paso Robles.</p> <p>San Luis Obispo county has a wide variety of climates with an accompanying wide variety of grapes. Paso Robles has the warmest temperatures on the Central Coast, which produces intense, award-winning cabernets, as well as zinfandels, syrahs, merlots, and other Rhone varieties. For example, the wildly popular and affordable $12 merlot by <a href="">J. Lohr</a> is produced in Paso Robles (and the winery offers free tastings). Meanwhile, Arroyo Grande has cooler temperatures and produces delicate pinot noir (my favorite is <a href="">Laetitia Winery</a> right off Hwy 101).</p> <p>The coastal scenery is one of this area's many draws. Pristine beaches, craggy cliffs, and sweet towns line the coast, perfectly complementing the region's delicious wines.</p> <h2>Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada</h2> <p>If you're visiting Niagara Falls, or if you live in New York or in Southern Ontario, the <a href="">Niagara-on-the-Lake</a> wine region is a worthwhile trip. The village of Niagara-on-the-Lake, located where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, is known as one of the most picturesque towns in Ontario. There are a wide variety of wineries to visit in the vicinity, from larger corporate wineries to small family-run, organic and sustainable wineries. Often tasting is free, or the $5 to $10 fee is waived if you purchase a bottle &mdash; and you might want to do so if you find something you like, as many of these wines cannot be found in big box stores. Many tastings may include a tour of the winery as well.</p> <p>The soils in this area, formed by the the recession of Lake Ontario, offer a distinctive terroir you will not find anywhere else. Pinot noir, chardonnay, and cool-weather red blends are the local specialty, as well as cool-weather whites such as riesling and gewurztraminer. This is one of the best places to get ice wine and late-harvest wines.</p> <p>Niagara-on-the-Lake is a tourist destination, so there is a good selection of hotels at reasonable rates as well as cute little B&amp;Bs. If you are staying in nearby glitzy Niagara Falls, just a half-hour drive away, you'll find a wide variety of reasonably-priced hotels. If you don't want to cross the border into Canada, there is a small wine trail on the US side of the border as well, known as the <a href="">Niagara Wine Trail USA</a>.</p> <h2>Finger Lakes, New York</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>If you're a fan of riesling, you'll probably love a visit to the <a href="">Finger Lakes wine country</a> in New York State. The cool lake country, which specializes in white wines, has been compared to the Rhine River Valley wine growing region of Germany. With over 100 wineries, it is one of the largest wine producing regions in the US outside of California. As a bonus, you can gaze out at the gorgeous Finger Lakes while you enjoy your wine.</p> <p>The Finger Lakes are a popular destination, so there is a range of accommodation ranging from frugal motels to upscale hotels. If you're looking to save on lodging while enjoying the great outdoors, there is also the option of camping in one of the area's many campgrounds.</p> <h2>The Western Slope, Colorado</h2> <p>Colorado isn't just a destination for skiing and hiking. If you're up for a change in pace, the <a href="">Western Slope</a> area of Colorado is an emerging wine region that has seen an explosion in wine production in the past few decades. This unstuffy, family-friendly wine region offers the highest altitudes of any wine region in the US. The area has stunning scenery, with views of vineyards set against majestic mountains, as well as fresh local produce and charming hotels. Find very affordable accommodation in the wine country towns of Grand Junction or Palisade. (See also: <a href="">How to Save on Travel Accommodations</a>)</p> <p>Tastings are affordable with many wineries offering tastings for $5 or less, and prices for bottles in this up-and-coming area are very reasonable, too. The high desert climate in this area is suitable for growing a variety of white grapes, but there are also large plantings of merlot, syrah, and pinot noir.</p> <h2>Hill Country, Texas</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>The <a href="">Hill Country</a> around Fredericksburg, Texas, is another emerging wine region that has been producing excellent wines in the last few years and doesn't yet have the high prices of more established wine regions like Napa. There is plenty of reasonably-priced accommodation and restaurants in the historic town of Fredericksburg and there are several wineries within a short drive of the city. On Saturdays there is also a free wine shuttle from downtown Fredericksburg that takes you to several wineries so you can imbibe without worrying about driving. Tastings cost between $5 and $15 and often include a free glass. Many wineries also have tasting rooms downtown.</p> <p>The landscape is reminiscent of Italy's vineyards and lends itself to Mediterranean varieties like syrah and tempranillo, but of course with distinctive Texas flair. If you've always wanted to enjoy BBQ with your wine tasting, this is the place.</p> <p>There are many other little-known wine regions around the country that the limited scope of this article cannot do justice to. With wine tasting becoming an increasingly popular pastime for many Americans, emerging wine regions abound and there are sure to be some near you. Going to your local wine producing area is one of the best ways to go wine tasting on a budget, with the added benefit of supporting local vintners.</p> <p><em>What is your favorite place to go wine tasting? How do you do it frugally?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 No-Fuss Wine Destinations Anyone Can Visit (and Enjoy!)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Camilla Cheung</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel frugal travel wine wine tasting Mon, 09 Dec 2013 11:36:06 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1099006 at Cheers to the Holidays: 10 Affordable Wines Perfect for the Season <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cheers-to-the-holidays-10-affordable-wines-perfect-for-the-season" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="wine" title="wine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everybody thinks that the turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie are holiday dinner essentials, but they've never dined with your family, have they? You know the real star of the show is the case of wine hiding in the corner to help you get through the holiday.</p> <p>This year, save some money on your saving grace by stocking up on budget bottles to kick off this annual season of giving (and breathing very deeply). Thus, here are 10 fresh and flavorful picks to help you conserve cash and sanity this Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa &mdash; all $15 or less.</p> <h2>2012 Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc</h2> <p>($10.99)</p> <p>We start drinking early on Thanksgiving Day in my family &mdash; if only to recharge after a night of pre-holiday festivities (&quot;Black Wednesday&quot; is the biggest night out of the year, dontcha know) &mdash; and the <a href="">2012 Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc</a> is a nice wine to dip into after breakfast as we prepare the midday snacks. It opens with crisp and refreshing aromas of grapefruit and lemon citrus with subtle grassy characters that lead into a clean finish. Perfectly fine all by its lonesome, the Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc also complements shellfish, like a cold shrimp cocktail before the afternoon's games kick off.</p> <h2>2012 A to Z Chardonnay</h2> <p>($15)</p> <p>Oregon isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of on-the-mark wine, but the <a href="">A to Z Oregon Chardonnay</a> may change that. With a pop of the cork, aromas of kiwi, tangerine, white peach, and quince waft from the glass, followed by deeper, more complex aromas like honey, melon, and beeswax. Upon first swish, notes of pear and toasted coconut reveal themselves in a concentration balanced by firm acidity that provides vitality and persistence. Pair with <a href="">salmon rillettes</a> to tide company over until supper is served.</p> <h2>Palacio de Borno Verdejo Rueda</h2> <p>($14)</p> <p>If you're forgoing a turkey this Thanksgiving in favor of a more exotic meal &mdash; say, something with a Spanish flair &mdash; then you might want to try the 2012 <a href="">Palacio de Borno Verdejo Rueda</a> from Rueda, Spain. The Rueda region of Spain excels at producing crisp, minerally white wines made from the Verdejo grape. The favorite white wine of Spanish natives, this particular Rueda is a perfect example of the fruity and incredibly pure Rueda style. Consider sharing a glass with your amigos as you munch on tapas of chorizo and cheese.</p> <h2>Rey Santo Rueda</h2> <p>($9.99)</p> <p>Another great pick from the Rueda region of Spain is the <a href="">2012 Rey Santo Rueda</a>, a smooth blend of 50% Viura and 50% Verdejo grapes that produce a fine nose of pineapple and passion fruit aromatics with mineral notes. Rich and well structured on the palate, this Rueda pairs well with roasted fish and chicken.</p> <h2>Skinnygirl Chardonnay</h2> <p>($11.99)</p> <p>Watching your weight around the holidays? That's no fun &mdash; but you'll have an easier time choosing between another drink or a second dessert if <a href="">Skinnygirl Chardonnay</a> is on the menu. A complex combination of white peach, French oak vanilla, and orange blossoms, this wine with a light finish and rich flavors lets you leave room for one more smidge of pie with zero smidges of guilt.</p> <h2>2012 Hahn Winery Pinot Noir</h2> <p>($14)</p> <p>Hailing from California, this <a href="">Hahn Winery Pinot Noir</a> harvested in fall 2012 provides aromas of dried plums, black currants, and cola, while notes of black cherry, vanilla, and spice linger on the palate. A silky mouthfeel builds on fresh acidity as you savor its depth of flavor &mdash; after an appreciative pause for its deep purple color. Perfect for serving with a nontraditional bird, such as duck, goose, squab, or pheasant, or a well-braised rabbit.</p> <h2>2011 Rocca di Castagnoli Chianti</h2> <p>($15)</p> <p>As long as you're not serving fava beans as a side dish, you can offer this <a href="">Chianti from Rocca di Castagnoli</a> without inciting fright. Ripe notes of pomegranate and mulberry lead into secondary notes of balsamic, tomato, braised fennel, and herbs, making it the perfect complement to a savory Italian-style feast. Pair with an al dente pasta with a robust red sauce.</p> <h2>Terra Fossil Cabernet Mendoza</h2> <p>($11.99)</p> <p>Born from hand-selected grapes from Mendoza, Argentina, this <a href="">100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Terra Fossil</a> features complex aromas of dark fruits, spices, and black pepper to complement a strong, elegant, full-bodied structure. Well balanced with velvety tannins, this mature red wine pairs well with spicy dishes and game, including lamb and bison.</p> <h2>Casa Larga Cab-Merlot</h2> <p>($12.99)</p> <p>If chocolate dishes are on the dessert table, you'll want to pour a glass of <a href=";productid=2847cb62-bb40-acdc-0e7d-82a70bcfc2b9&amp;ProductCategoryID=707aa007-1b78-7bfe-4cfe-9f0f174a33bb&amp;WineryID=ac96dc47-bb2a-7f76-f34a-e9fd51c1aec9&amp;WineTypeID=&amp;ProductType=&amp;wineVarietalID=&amp;wineRegionID=&amp;vintage=&amp;lowprice=&amp;highPrice=&amp;WineBrandID=&amp;WineAppellationID=&amp;lowletter=&amp;highletter=&amp;OrderBy=PXPC.DisplayOrder%20Asc,%20P.ProductName%20ASC&amp;ShippingState=NY">Casa Larga Vineyard's medium-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot</a> and enjoy an extra special treat as you wash all that deliciousness down. Dark berry and oak aromas complement a velvety palate developed as a result of grapes hand picked very late in the season to maximize ripeness and tannin development.</p> <h2>The Gambler Malbec</h2> <p>($11.70)</p> <p>After all the dishes and children are tucked away for the evening, break out the cards, dice, and dollar bills for some family-friendly competition. <a href="">&quot;The Gambler&quot; Malbec</a> from Cultivate Wines is just what the Maverick ordered for these reindeer games with its broad and brawny mouthfeel of blue and black fruits, leather, and spice. Better still, Cultivate Wines donates 10 cents of every dollar in gross sales to local charities across the United States &mdash; so you won't feel as bad about downing a few bottles in a single sitting.</p> <p><em>What're your favorite affordable wines for the holidays?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Cheers to the Holidays: 10 Affordable Wines Perfect for the Season" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Buying Guides buying guide gifts holiday gift guide wine Tue, 26 Nov 2013 11:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1098711 at Best Money Tips: Ways to Save on Wine <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-ways-to-save-on-wine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="wine" title="wine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on ways to save on wine, career strategies of high earners, and things you can do to live a happier life.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">10 Ways to Save on Wine</a> &mdash; Are you a wine drinker? Buying by the case and avoiding imported wines can help you save money! [Personal Finance Advice]</p> <p><a href="">Career strategies of high earners</a> &mdash; People who earn high salaries tend to negotiate and speak up. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <p><a href="">9 Things You Can Do to Live a Happier Life, According to Science</a> &mdash; If you want to live a happier life, own pets and be around happy people. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">What Would You Be Willing to Do to Retire Early?</a> &mdash; Would you sell your car and take public transportation to be able to retire early? [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="">How to Spend Less on Some of Your 'Needs'</a> &mdash; Instead of paying for water bottles, consider purchasing a filter to save money. [Free From Broke]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">5 Tips for Better Negotiating (and Getting What You Want)</a> &mdash; Seeking a win-win outcome will help you negotiate better and get what you want. [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <p><a href="">College debt 101</a> &mdash; Minimize the potential damage of college debt by being practical and going to community college. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="">5 Reasons to Plant a Garden this Year</a> &mdash; Planting a garden this year will help you save money on your favorite foods. [Good Financial Cents]</p> <p><a href="">3 Steps to Successful Investing</a> &mdash; If you want to invest successfully, remember to diversify. [My Dollar Plan]</p> <p><a href="">Mother's Day Shopping Tips for Dads and Children</a> &mdash; When shopping for a Mother's Day present for mom, consider her interests and hobbies. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Ways to Save on Wine" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink best money tips saving wine Fri, 10 May 2013 10:00:32 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 974005 at 12 Things That Will Be Less Expensive in 2012 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-things-that-will-be-less-expensive-in-2012" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="2012" title="2012" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Does the sagging economy, national debt, and our previous list of the <a href="" title="11 things more expensive in 2012">11 things that will be more expensive in 2012</a> have ya feeling down? Well, here's something to look forward to &mdash; to help counteract some of that 2012 gloom, we've gathered 12 items we predict will cost <em>less</em> in the coming year. From TVs to laptops, cash-strapped shoppers should keep an eye on prices for these items; even wine might see notable discounts next year! So cheer up and read on for the good consumer news. (See also: <a href="" title="Deep Discounts on Schedule: The Best Days to Shop">Deep Discounts on Schedule: The Best Days to Shop</a>)</p> <h3>1. Apple iPad 2</h3> <p>The iPad 3 will not feature a significant price drop (if any at all), but one thing is guaranteed &mdash; Cupertino's forthcoming tablet will most certainly bring down the price of <a href="" title="iPad 2 deals">refurbished iPad 2s</a>. (As the iPad 2 did for its predecessor.) The iPad 3 may even cause resellers to offer more deals on <em>new</em> iPad 2 models as they try to move yesterday's tech to make room for Apple's latest and greatest.</p> <h3>2. Wine</h3> <p>Oenophiles, perk up! Wine connoisseur extraordinaire, Robert Parker, predicts the coming year to be the &quot;<a href="" title="falling wine prices">Age of the Buyer</a>&quot; &mdash; a prolonged period of time with stable or declining wine prices. With less disposable income, folks have left wines priced at $30 and above untouched on store shelves. So to move stock, retailers are expected to offer more <a href="" title="wine deals">sales and even flash deals on wines</a>. Price is also affected by industry competition, as consumers note the quality-to-price ratio from wines originating in countries like Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and Chile. Aficionados should check out sites like <a href="" title="Lot 18">Lot 18</a> for their boozy offerings.</p> <h3>3. Desktop Replacement Laptops</h3> <p>Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs may be dominating the laptop landscape, but it's AMD's recession-friendly Fusion APUs that are driving prices down, particularly in the realm of desktop replacements. The star of the show is AMD's A Series APU, which promises better battery life, better video playback, and more affordable prices among <a href="" title="laptop deals">desktop replacements</a>. Just last week we <a href="" title="expired $350 deal">saw systems</a> plummet to $350, an unprecedented price low for any desktop replacement.</p> <h3>4. Android Tablets</h3> <p>The Kindle Fire has been Amazon's most <a href=";p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=1640193&amp;highlight=" title="Kindle purchase rate">successful product ever launched</a>. The release of this groundbreaking tablet has, a-hem, <a href="" title="Kindle Fire may force cut prices">ignited a fire</a> among tablet manufacturers as they scramble to match Amazon's $199 price tag. For consumers, the competition translates to better <a href="" title="tablet deals">tablet bargains</a> in 2012.</p> <h3>5. Solid State Drives (SSDs)</h3> <p>The floods that hit Thailand in 2011 created a shortage of hard drives and a subsequent spike in prices. <a href="" title="SSD deals">Solid state drives</a>, however, were not affected by the flooding and while their cost per gigabyte is still higher than that of a traditional hard drive, <a href="" title=" greater demand for SSD drives">their demand</a> is now greater. In addition, dealnews data shows that <a href="" title="SSD price trend">SSD prices are steadily dropping</a>; in 2011 the price of a 64GB SSD drive dropped 33% while the price of a 128GB drive dropped 21% &mdash; a trend that we expect will continue in 2012 as more SSDs permeate the market in place of 2.5&quot; hard drives.</p> <h3>6. Car Rentals</h3> <p><a href="" title="things more expensive in 2012">Gas and airfare</a> may be going up in 2012, but car rental rates are expected to remain flat, as agencies across the country reportedly have excess cars available. More stock and subsequent competition is thus expected to keep rental rates low throughout the new year, and we anticipate to see an increase in the number of discounts on <a href="" title="car rental deals">car and SUV rentals</a>.</p> <h3>7. eBook Readers</h3> <p>Each new generation of Amazon's Kindle reader has <a href="" title="discounted ebook readers">chipped away</a> at the eBook reader's price tag, sometimes by as much as 61%. Assuming there's a new Kindle in 2012 (rumor has it that an <a href="" title="e-Ink update">e-Ink update with video support</a> will debut), we expect to see continued price cuts on Amazon's popular eBook reader, sending <a href="" title="ebook reader deals&gt;previous Kindle models&lt;/a&gt; into all-time low price territory.&lt;/p&gt;<br /> &lt;h3&gt;8. Apple MacBook Air Refurbs&lt;/h3&gt;<br /> &lt;p&gt;In 2011 the price of a refurbished 4th generation 11&quot; &lt;a href=" http:="""" c514="" computers="" apple-computers="">MacBook Air</a> dropped from $849 to $699 (17%). Not bad for a notebook that's single-handedly changing the laptop industry. Apple is bound to refresh its <a href="" title="Apple store">MacBook Air</a> in 2012, and the new model (which would be the 6th generation) is guaranteed to drive refurb prices down even lower. Don't care for a refurb unit? In 2011 we also saw aggressive deals on new, current 5th generation MacBook Airs with prices dropping from $999 to $850 (14%).</p> <h3>9. Standalone GPS Units With Lifetime Maps</h3> <p>The smarter our phones get, the greater the number of gadgets they're capable of <a href="" title="gadgets that smartphones replace">replacing</a>. And no gadget is as close to extinction as the GPS unit. So it comes as no surprise to see manufacturers slash prices on <a href="" title="GPS deals">standalone GPS units</a> with lifetime / live maps. dealnews data shows that in 2011, units that were once fetching around $160 reached price-lows of just $70.</p> <h3>10. Media Streamers</h3> <p>We love <a href="" title="Roku deals">Roku</a>, but when Blu-ray players with built-in streaming start to cost less than the price of a Roku box, it's time for the latter to get aggressive. In order to remain relevant in 2012, media streamers (such as the Roku player and Boxee Box) must out-price Blu-ray players. We anticipate seeing more deals and lower prices on these electronics.</p> <h3>11. 3D HDTVs</h3> <p><a href="" title="TV deals">3D HDTVs</a> are a tough sell. Not only are they pricier than traditional CCFL-based LCDs and standalone LED-based sets, but they also require a bigger investment as you'll have to purchase 3D glasses, a 3D Blu-ray player, and 3D Blu-ray discs to get the most from your 3D TV. In 2011, we saw prices for 55&quot; 3D televisions drop 33% from $1,499 in January to $999 in December. The new year will bring an influx of new 3D TVs, which means vendors will try to combat <a href="" title="3D HDTV sales">lagging sales</a> with discounts on 2011 3D HDTV models.</p> <h3>12. Home Prices</h3> <p>Despite record-low mortgage interest rates, United States home prices are expected to limp their way into the coming year. In 2011, average <a href="" title="falling home prices">home prices across the country</a> were down 3.4% (compared to the same period of August to October, 2010). And with unemployment expected to remain high, 2012 is looking like it will remain a buyer's market.</p> <p>Excited for these less-expensive items next year? Start preparing by setting up a dealnews <a href="" title="dealnews email alert">email alert</a> now, so you'll receive a message as soon as we see a discount on the category or specific product of your choice. While we can't help you find a better price on a home, we can certainly point you toward cheaper electronics and other online goods.</p> <p><em>This is a guest post by </em><a href="" title="dealnews"><em>Dealnews</em></a><em>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> From electronics to wine to even rental cars, savings-minded shoppers should keep an eye on prices for these items in 2012. </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Dealnews</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping car rental dealnews electronics home prices wine Mon, 16 Jan 2012 10:48:17 +0000 Dealnews 863117 at Cheap Fun and Libations: Brewery and Winery Tours <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cheap-fun-and-libations-brewery-and-winery-tours" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Woman on a brewery tour" title="Woman on a brewery tour" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="153" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Brewery and winery tastings used to be more of a way to score a free drink. Today, however, they offer not only <em>gratis </em>samples of select drinks, but also an opportunity to learn the difference between a regular brew and a microbrew or how your favorite vineyard fared during Prohibition. If you don&rsquo;t consider yourself a full-fledged beer enthusiast or oenophile, fear not &mdash; that&rsquo;s why tours and tastings are offered in the first place. And, if you don&rsquo;t even know the first thing to expect when embarking on one of these experiences, read on! (See also: <a href="">10 Great Wines Under $10</a>)</p> <h2>What to Expect on a Brewery or Winery Tour</h2> <p>Most brewery tours are free, with more in-depth tours or experiences costing extra. Anheuser-Busch, for example, has a <a href="">Beermaster Tour</a> that takes guests to more behind-the-scenes locations than its free version and costs $25 for guests over 21. It also has a <a href="">Beer School</a> that teaches visitors pouring techniques, food pairings, and the different ingredients used for brewing and costs $10 for guests over 21.</p> <p>Winery tours and tastings, on the other hand, often cost a flat fee, depending on the size and prestige of the winery. I have been on tours of wineries dotting the Midwest countryside for as little as $2.50 per person, while others in more prestigious locations can run you about $40. Unlike brewery tours, which often run continuously throughout the day, winery tours and tastings are sometimes by appointment only. <a href="">Cakebread Cellars</a>, one of my personal favorites located in Napa Valley, is just such a winery.</p> <p>Generally people of all ages can participate in brewery and winery tours, although those under a certain age (normally 21) must be accompanied by an adult. The tours often end with a free tasting of select products which can, of course, only be sampled by those of us who are aged 21 or over. Although all ages can tour, however, it doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean they should &mdash; think about whether your pint-sized companions would enjoy said tour without the promise of a pint of their own at the conclusion of the visit.</p> <p>As far as the size of your tour or tasting group, it varies widely depending on the time, day, and season of your visit, as well as the size of the facility. Groups of 6-40 are standard. Like most attractions, brewery and winery tours and tastings are more crowded on the weekends, particularly during the summer when people are vacationing. If you choose to take part in one of these attractions during those times, be prepared to be jostled, and don&rsquo;t get upset if you can&rsquo;t hear the tour guide or tasting leader that well. It comes with the territory. If you really want to ensure individual attention, you can sometimes reserve private tours or tastings by calling ahead of time. Unlike the option open to the general public, though, private events often cost money.</p> <p>Your tour or tasting will be conducted by an employee of the brewery or winery who has been trained in that establishment&rsquo;s history, beer- or wine-making process, and products. The guide won&rsquo;t necessarily have any training beyond that, although many are required to become <a href="">TIPS</a> (Training for Intervention ProcedureS to help recognize potential alcohol-related problems) certified.</p> <p>On average, tastings and tours alike last about 45 minutes. As expected, though, the more the tasting or tour costs, the more in-depth the information you will receive, and the longer the experience.</p> <p>One little-known fact about both brewery and winery tours is that there are cold parts of the tour. Fermentation in both the beer- and the wine-making process occurs best at low temperatures, so you&rsquo;ll most likely be spending time in pretty chilly areas. Consider dressing in layers when going on these excursions. Also good to know &mdash; closed-toed shoes are required for the majority of brewery tours. I honestly can&rsquo;t say why (please share if you know!), but I have seen it on the vast majority of brewery websites and in the breweries I&rsquo;ve visited. Another good tip is to avoid cologne and <a href="">perfume</a>, as well as smoking, during your visit. Particularly during wine tastings, scent is an integral part of the experience. Taste is also important to both beer and wine tastings, and smoking affects taste.</p> <h2>How to Find Brewery and Winery Tours and Tastings</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;re looking for the real deal, try this list of <a href="">ABC's ten best brewery tours in America</a> or find the best wine trails (groupings of wineries by region) at <a href="">Wine Trails USA</a>. If you&rsquo;re looking for things local to your area, a quick Internet search of breweries or wineries should yield useful results, although you should pair that search with one for reviews of that establishment to avoid disappointment. You could also try your friendly local chamber of commerce or tourism bureau &mdash; both of those offices often has information on attractions in the area, including breweries and wineries.</p> <h2>When to Try a Tour</h2> <p>Although grapes are harvested from early September until early November in the U.S., winery tours and tastings are generally conducted year-round. As expected, though, more people tend to visit wineries when the weather is best, starting in May each year, through mid-October. Winery tasting and tour groups swell to their largest size during grape harvest season, which is in full swing in September and October. Like wineries, brewery tours also tend to be more crowded in the summer months. You should also expect large crowds during Oktoberfest (held from mid-September to early October).</p> <p><em>Do you have any tips for how to have an enjoyable brewery or winery tour or tasting? Share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Cheap Fun and Libations: Brewery and Winery Tours" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Janey Osterlind</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entertainment Food and Drink beer things to do tours wine Tue, 09 Aug 2011 10:24:24 +0000 Janey Osterlind 637571 at Best of Personal Finance Roundup: How to Be a Cheap Drunk with Taste <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-of-personal-finance-roundup-how-to-be-a-cheap-drunk-with-taste" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <strong><a href="">Best of Personal Finance</a></strong> roundup. Today, we spill some tips for sipping wine and other spirits for a little less than what you'd expect. Plus, we share the benefits of raised garden beds, a quick and cheap hurricane lamp tutorial, and habits for highly effective budgeting!</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><strong>How to Be a Cheap Drunk with Taste</strong> &mdash; Hey! Trader Joe&rsquo;s has a lot to offer the frugal drinker these days. (You can drink to the rest of the affordable tips here.) <a href=";entry_id=56592">SF Gate</a></p> <p><strong>28 Tips to Save Money on Car Expenses and Save Thousands of Dollars</strong> &mdash; Thousands of dollars are actually there to be saved &mdash; believe me! These tips will help you get started. <a href="">Generation X Finance</a></p> <p><strong>How to Make Money on Facebook</strong> &mdash; Whoops! Sometimes you should rethink that status update &mdash; especially when large purchases or financial matters are being discussed. <a href="">Brip Blap</a></p> <p><strong>10 Benefits of Raised Garden Beds</strong> &mdash; We are definitely starting some raised beds after reading this post. The hard work it takes to get started is well worth it! <a href="">Being Frugal</a></p> <p><strong>Quick, Easy, and Frugal Homemade Hurricane Lamps</strong> &mdash; Beautiful and affordable, these would light up any room for just a few bucks! <a href="">Frugal Upstate</a></p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><strong>The 20 Best Money Websites</strong> &mdash; This list is a great place to learn about everything going on in the world of commerce. Check out the extra commentary on iPhone apps as a bonus! <a href="">Money Mag</a> via <a href="">Budgets are Sexy</a></p> <p><strong>Walmart Wins: Top 10 Most Valuable Retail Brands </strong>&mdash; Coach, Best Buy, or Target? Which one took second place? <a href="">Brandweek</a> via <a href="">Consumerist</a></p> <p><strong>7 Habits of Highly Effective Budgeting</strong> &mdash; It&rsquo;s not all about debits and credits, as this post points out. Ask the important questions to ensure a successful budget plan! <a href="">The Centsible Life</a></p> <p><strong>Eat Your Green</strong> &mdash; Want to green up your bread crumbs, mashed potatoes, or more? These simply instructions can get you into the St. Patty&rsquo;s Day spirit with ease! <a href="">Slashfood</a></p> <p><strong>College Jobs That Pay Real Money</strong> &mdash; I loved the job I had in college, but admittedly, it didn&rsquo;t pay much. Check out this list of not-so-shabby college gigs that can help you pay those bills! <a href="">Mainstreet</a></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best of Personal Finance Roundup: How to Be a Cheap Drunk with Taste" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance best personal finance wine Fri, 12 Mar 2010 18:00:01 +0000 Linsey Knerl 5789 at A Box of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and Thou: 6 Box Wine Comparisons <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-box-of-wine-a-loaf-of-bread-and-thou-six-box-wine-comparisons" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What on earth inspired me to try boxed wine?</p> <p>The price.</p> <p>A five-liter box of wine can sell for as little as $11. As a Wise Bread reader, I am sure you understand the pull of a bargain. I confess that, for years, I snubbed it. Boxed wine is nothing new, but I wouldn&rsquo;t give it the time of day. For that matter, I was also slow to come around to synthetic corks and, (gasp!) screw-tops. However, I could no longer ignore that price sticker. Was it drinkable? I set out to investigate. A heart-warming side note to this story was the ease with which I found assistance in my research. My husband, my daughter, and my friend, Anne, kindly and enthusiastically agreed to sip wine and take notes. I appreciate their sportsmanlike attitudes. Another close friend, MZ, summed up her (and, I&rsquo;m afraid, my) prejudices:</p> <p>&ldquo;Wine in a box? I guess if you find something really good, let me know; maybe I'd get it for a camping trip or something like that. I think I'm too much of a snob to just buy it to have around the house. It just seems wrong - like something a redneck would do.&rdquo;</p> <p>So why put wine in a box? Well, for several reasons. It is economical. It is easy to store. Because it is actually in a plastic bag, which collapses inside the box as it is emptied, the wine is exposed to less oxygen, so it keeps longer. Finally, box proponents assert that it&rsquo;s eco-friendlier than bottled wine. Bottled wine is heavy, which impacts its fuel cost. Some vintners use unbleached paper and soy-based inks in their packaging.</p> <p>It takes a little getting used to. Seeing frothy (temporary) bubbles on top of my wineglass threw me a little. We theorize that the bubbles occur because of the speed at which the wine shoots out of the small spigot when the box is full. (My old science teacher would probably use terms like fluid velocity and Venturi effect, but this isn&rsquo;t a science blog.)</p> <p>We tried six red wines. Here are our results. (Please note that the prices quoted are from Hawaii. Mainland prices should be lower, depending upon your location.)</p> <p><strong>Vella Burgundy</strong>: $13.48, Safeway, five liters.</p> <p>Once dispensed (one says &ldquo;dispensed,&rdquo; when talking about boxed wines since you can&rsquo;t pour wine from boxes, and you certainly can&rsquo;t decant), we agreed it had a pleasing, deep burgundy color. We noted tones of cherry, berry, and a nice, light anise finish. There was no astringency in the aftertaste. We would buy this, again.</p> <p><strong>Franzia &ldquo;Chillable Red&rdquo;</strong>: $15.99, Sack N&rsquo;Save, five liters.</p> <p>Wow. Holy smokes, this wine is SWEET. My husband said I should have been tipped off by the &ldquo;Chillable&rdquo; description. The color was very light, almost a pink. If you like a chunky red, this is not for you. Even our daughter, a wine neophyte, said &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like juice!&rdquo; If you like a really sweet wine, feel free, but this isn&rsquo;t one to our tastes.</p> <p><strong>Black Box</strong>: $23.99, Kmart, three liters.</p> <p>It has a very beautiful, deep burgundy color. There were very nice berry overtones to this wine. What it was lacking, we felt, was complexity in the &ldquo;finish.&rdquo; One enjoyable aspect to drinking good wine is to be able to taste various flavors &ndash; like cherry, berry, maybe even chocolate, etc. But this wine just didn&rsquo;t seem to have much of that. It was &ldquo;okay,&rdquo; though, and the price was reasonable.</p> <p><strong>The &ldquo;Wine Cube&rdquo;</strong>: $9.99, Target, 1.5 liters.</p> <p>A product of Trinchero Vineyards, we suspected we had a winner. We were right. This has a woodsy nose, with flavors of plum and chocolate. Nice, long finish. Not only would I buy this again for us, but I would buy this as a gift &ndash; the packaging is pretty fun. This would make a good hostess gift.</p> <p><strong>Bota Box</strong>: $13.99, Costco, three liters.</p> <p>My friend, Anne, pegs this wine as a good value. (Our Costco does not carry this particular wine.) &ldquo;I think cheap Zinfandel tends to be better tasting than other red wines that need more aging to be enjoyable.&rdquo; </p> <p>As to Bota&rsquo;s Chardonnay, she wrote, &ldquo;The Chardonnay was very tasty. I prefer a more &lsquo;oak-like&rsquo; flavor but what do you expect from a box? I read the description from the box after I tasted it and was in full agreement with their description: &lsquo;This Chardonnay is full of tropical aromas and flavors of fresh pineapple, citrus and a touch of vanilla.&rsquo; What I like about the boxed packaging is that the flavor stays pretty good for up to 3 weeks. Most of the cheap stuff I drink in a bottle may be OK when first opened, but goes downhill really fast.&rdquo;</p> <p>Would I really buy these products, again? Yes. In fact, I have. I certainly wouldn&rsquo;t say we are total converts at this point, but we have lost some of our snobbery about boxed wine.</p> <p>Like many other innovations that have come along in this stubbornly traditional craft, boxes have been slow to catch on; but also like many other innovations, the practicalities of the box are difficult to ignore. So, while I wish there were more varieties to choose from now, there probably will be more choices as the box gains acceptance. If readers have tips on other wines available in boxes, please chime in.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="A Box of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and Thou: 6 Box Wine Comparisons" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Marla Walters</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink box wine Chardonnay wine Zinfandel Mon, 28 Dec 2009 14:00:08 +0000 Marla Walters 4291 at Cinderella Wine: Gary Vaynerchuk's Nightly Deals Mean More Wine for Less Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cinderella-wine-gary-vaynerchuks-nightly-deals-means-more-wine-for-less-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Cinderella Wine" title="Cinderella Wine Sample Deal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Let's face it...many of us enjoy wine, but don't always have the room in <a href="">our budget</a> to branch out and try new varieties.</p> <p>But there is good news. Freshly launched website, <a href="">Cinderella Wine</a>, makes saving money on wine incredibly simple. Best of all, their rock-bottom special switches every night, meaning there is plenty of opportunity to expand into new wine territory without breaking the bank.</p> <h2>Gary Vay-ner-chuk</h2> <p>Cinderella Wine is the latest extension of Gary Vaynerchuk's Wine Library brand. Gary is a <a href="">wildly popular video blogger</a>, <a href="">social media authority</a>, and <a href="">best-selling business author</a>. Gary has leveraged hard work, passion, accessibility, and business instinct to build an intense relationship with his fans.</p> <p>Part of Cinderella Wine's appeal is its close association with these other brands including, Wine Library, itself.</p> <h2>Site Features</h2> <p>If you're a wine lover the benefit is clear. The more money you save the farther your wine budget can stretch! Here's how it works:</p> <p>Each weekday night at <strong>9 PM EST</strong>, Cinderella Wine features <strong>one (and only one) bargain-basement special</strong> on a specific wine. The specific type, vintage, and cost will vary from night to night. Once the limited quality has sold out, the special is appropriately replaced with the graphic of a pumpkin (a nice touch...).</p> <p><strong><em>Is it really that good of deal?</em></strong></p> <p>Well, value is a fickle beast. And most of us will be drinking it, which means personal preference will play a big role in what is considered a &quot;deal.&quot;</p> <p>But Cinderella Wine takes transparent steps to ensure that the amount of money saved is clear. First, Cinderella Wine features a long list of ratings and professional reviews in the right hand sidebar. Another unique feature is the <strong>community focus</strong> and the comments section, which allows an instant snapshot of what others think of the wine and the price.</p> <p>Cinderella Wine features the <strong>suggested retail price</strong>, their own (Wine Library's) <strong>regular sale price</strong>, and even the <strong>&quot;best deal on the web&quot;</strong> as quoted by the independent <a href=""></a>.</p> <p>Obviously, the special one-night price is always lower than the cheapest available. <strong>And we aren't talking by 10% or something.</strong> There is usually a large, noticeable difference.</p> <p><strong>Here are a actual examples of recent deals on the site:</strong></p> <p>Finca Sondoval '05</p> <ul> <li>Suggested Retail: $49.99</li> <li>Wine Library Sale: $31.98</li> <li>Best Deal on Web: $31.98</li> <li><strong>ONE NIGHT SPECIAL: $19.54</strong></li> </ul> <p>Argiano Solengo '03</p> <ul> <li>Suggested Retail: $69.98</li> <li>Wine Library Sale: $49.98</li> <li>Best Deal on Web: $37.34</li> <li><strong>ONE NIGHT SPECIAL: $23.33</strong></li> </ul> <p>Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia Riserva '00</p> <ul> <li>Suggested Retail: $299.98</li> <li>Wine Library Sale: $178.98</li> <li>Best Deal on Web: $190.60</li> <li><strong>ONE NIGHT SPECIAL: $98.88</strong></li> </ul> <p>As you can see the the wine featured can vary greatly ensuring that overtime every budget, taste, and preference will have a chance to catch a deal.</p> <h2>Shipping Details</h2> <p>Every night there is an opportunity for free shipping. The number of bottles that you need to purchase will vary depending on the offer, but it is usually somewhere between 1-3 bottles.</p> <p>The wine industry has a few select limitations on where they can ship, but you can find any additional information on the official <a href="">Shipping Information page</a> over at Cinderella Wine.</p> <h2>Final Thoughts</h2> <p>Nobody is claiming that this concept is original. Retailers, both in the wine industry and out, have been using these sort of &quot;one-time deal&quot; incentives to help build loyalty and get buyers in the door.</p> <p>What I love about Cinderella Wine is their focus on community (active comments, ratings, and social media sharing options), their close association with trusted brands (Wine Library and Gary Vaynerchuk), and the fact that they go the extra mile to show as much pricing information as possible.</p> <p>The only downside I can see is the potential to overspend your budget trying to take advantage of multiple deals. Just like with any opportunity, be sure you have a clear budget in mind and leverage <a href="">Cinderella Wine</a> to make it stretch even further!</p> <p>If you'd like to stay up-to-date with the offers, you can sign-up for <a href="">free e-mail alerts</a> or follow <a href="">@CinderellaWine</a> on Twitter!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Cinderella Wine: Gary Vaynerchuk&#039;s Nightly Deals Mean More Wine for Less Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Adam Baker</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink wine Fri, 27 Nov 2009 14:00:03 +0000 Adam Baker 3873 at Wine Tastings: Finding Cheap Wine That You Like <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/getting-drunk-on-the-cheap-wine-tastings" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Wine Tasting" title="Have a pour" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="271" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Say you want to have yourself a drink&mdash;whether it's because <a href="">work has been rough</a> or the kids have been especially bad&mdash;without spending a ton of money. You'll find tons of advice on how to save money on booze. From BYOBs to specific recommendations for wine.</p> <p>Let's say you've moved on from the days of buying dirt-cheap 30-packs of beer and want to be a little classy. So you decide to get some wine.</p> <p>Let's be honest: most of us browse for wine at a restaurant (or at the liquor store) and don't have a clue. Then there is the waiter, who is just trying to be helpful: <em>The 2001 Bordeaux is just fabulous!</em></p> <p>It may be fabulous but you just might not like it.</p> <p>There are also tons of books out there listing cheap wine that has already been through exhaustive testing and tasting from wine experts. Books like <a href=";tag=thwrsco-20&amp;linkCode=xm2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creativeASIN=0974014354"><em>The Wine Trials</em></a>, which a friend gave me and is very helpful but still doesn't do the trick.</p> <p>The problem with wine is that it's a very fickle beast.&nbsp;You may find a bottle of wine to be really fantastic and tasty (official wine-expert terms, fyi), while critics and experts think it's trash. Does it matter?&nbsp;Nope.<strong>*</strong> If you like it, that's all that counts&mdash;it'll still get you just as buzzed as the fancy, expensive stuff.</p> <p><strong>The only real way (and the best way) to find cheap wine that you know you'll like is to taste as many as you can without spending a lot of money.</strong> That's where wine tastings come into play.</p> <p>I&nbsp;just attended my first one a couple of weeks ago and here's how they all basically work:</p> <ul> <li>You get a glass and a menu</li> <li>A person who knows all the wineries' wines runs through the selection</li> <li>You're told to taste them from sweetest to not so sweet</li> <li>You get a certain number of picks for free (we got six)</li> <li>You get a pour and you smell the wine</li> <li>You take a sip</li> <li>You figure out if you like it or not</li> <li>You repeat</li> <li>You feel very happy</li> </ul> <p>Some people spit the wine out into a spittoon (do NOT&nbsp;mistake your glass for that!) but most people just drink it. I've only been to a few, but the whole thing is a lot of fun.</p> <p>I'm no expert, but here are my tips to getting the most out of the experience:</p> <ol> <li><strong>Take notes: </strong>they'll give you a pencil and that menu of options&mdash;rank the wines and put stars next to the ones you really like. Something so you'll remember because after six types of wines they'll start to look the same on paper.</li> <li><strong>Talk about it: </strong>you'll see your language start to get very weird when you're talking about how wines taste&mdash;that's OK. Sometimes a word someone else uses (&quot;Blustery&quot;) will make sense to you and describe the wine perfectly. Write it down.</li> <li><strong>Ask questions: </strong>the people working there love to talk about this stuff, so ask away.</li> <li><strong>Go to a bunch of wineries at a time: </strong>Hit up three or four wineries in a day and you'll have tasted 18 different types of wine&mdash;plenty of choices to find something you like and want to buy without busting the bank.</li> </ol> <p>Wine isn't for everyone&mdash;but that's mostly because people are intimidated by what they don't know. Wineries are the perfect antidote: you'll have a chance to taste a bunch of different wines and figure out what you like and don't like. Forget about what the experts say&mdash;follow your instincts and your taste buds.</p> <p>They'll lead you to the wines that taste good without breaking the bank.</p> <p>P.S. If you really want to learn more about wine, check out <a href="">Wine Library TV</a>, run by the infamous Gary Vaynerchuk&mdash;he's all about bringing wine to the people.</p> <p><strong>* </strong>There's a raging debate about this in the wine community. Should you care?&nbsp;Not really.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Wine Tastings: Finding Cheap Wine That You Like" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carlos Portocarrero</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Food and Drink drinking wine wine tasting Thu, 02 Jul 2009 11:26:50 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 3342 at Argentine Wine Hack: Make Bad Wine Better <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/argentine-wine-hack-make-bad-wine-better" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="soda water" title="soda water" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While traveling in Argentina for 3 months, I visited Rosario, an off-the-tourist-path but major metropolitan city. Rosario was beautiful &mdash; on the river, large parks, pretty buildings, amazingly friendly people. In some ways it offered a better glimpse of Argentine city life than Buenos Aires. (See also: <a href="" title="Live Like a Local: How to Tap Into the Local Scene While Traveling">Live Like a Local: How to Tap Into the Local Scene While Traveling</a>)</p> <p>At lunch on my first day in Rosario I ordered from the menu of the day. For $5 U.S. I could enjoy an appetizer, entree, dessert, and <a href="" title="10 Great Wines Under 10 Dollars">wine</a> or soda.</p> <p>Given that it was lunch time and I was sill unsure of Argentine customs, I looked around the dining room to see what everyone else was drinking.&nbsp; They all had half liter carafes of house wine.&nbsp; So I&nbsp;ordered wine.</p> <p>But, I&nbsp;noticed that everyone also had something else on their table.</p> <p><strong>Soda water.</strong>&nbsp; In a fancy soda siphon.</p> <p>When my carafe of wine was served, soda water came with it.</p> <p>I carefully glanced around the room to see what others were doing with their soda water. They were putting ice in a wine glass, adding soda water, and mixing in red wine.&nbsp; Following their lead, I mixed my wine with soda water.</p> <p>On the blistering hot day, the homemade wine spritzer was extremely refreshing. But, the soda water wine mixture had plenty of other benefits. The otherwise mediocre house wine had some spunk to it. And the biggest benefit was that the wine lasted longer than it otherwise would have because of the extra liquid. Presumably this also prevents you from getting drunk at the important business lunches many Argentinians were at.</p> <p>This summer if you open a bottle of wine &mdash; red or white &mdash; that just isn't all that great, add some soda water to it. You'll be pleasantly surprised.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Argentine Wine Hack: Make Bad Wine Better" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Elizabeth Lang</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Travel drinking wine Wed, 27 May 2009 18:24:15 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 3204 at The Shanghai Supposition: Better Choices=More Choices=Better Experiences <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-shanghai-supposition-better-choices-more-choices-better-experiences" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="100" height="150" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">I’m in Shanghai, China on a business trip right now, (read working vacation) and in my time away from working at the Jin Mao tower, which is nestled in the Lujiazui section of the Pudong district, an area that makes Manhattan look like Des Moines (No disrespect to Iowa), I again discovered the wonders of a favorable exchange rate.</p> <p>When I visited a local tailor during a rare break, I bought three tailored dress shirts made of Egyptian and Sea Island cotton, designed by me, configured to my exact bodily dimensions and all for a paltry equivalent of $40 each. In Beverly Hills, or even Macy’s I’m paying maybe $500 each for such shirts if I’m lucky and catch a sale. I won’t even mention the criminal discounts I got on one-of-a-kind teas and items for the family. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">But this isn’t about extravagance at the expense of a slightly weaker currency. Nor is it about my insatiable taste for fine haberdashery. I already went there in one of my past <a href="/killin-em-out-there-the-school-clothes-conundrum">posts</a>. This is about the $16, 30-mile train rides, the 28-cent round trip subway rides and the $10 five-star, three-course meals. It’s about discovering something new and about frugality and the ridiculous American mark-ups I experience at home.</p> <p>So I got to thinking, what if I just shopped for my clothing and fine wines in China, or in Malaysia or in Hong Kong or in Prague? What if I saved my money on luxury items and entertainment expenses stateside and created a travel savings account? People have health savings accounts, money market savings accounts. Why not a life experience account? We all know that if I curbed unnecessary shopping here, made different choices about outings to the movies or fine dining or mark ups on exotic ingredients for dishes at home, that I could save a lot of money and gain a lot of goods, time, and experiences money can’t buy. </p> <p>People I know always use the excuse that they can’t travel because they can’t afford it. Well, I’m here to tell you: with anything it just takes planning. If you plan it out, stretch your expenses, book passage and accommodations on the Pricelines, the TravelZoos, the and the’s of the world, you too can buy Bordeaux Rouge for $6 or look upon the splendor of the Huangpu River and take a deep breath. </p> <p>As I espouse in these posts again and again, it’s not about what you spend or don’t spend that helps you build wealth or create a quality and standard of living that you enjoy, it’s about choices. After this eye-opening trip, I may never again visit Nordstrom or any of the overpriced boutiques or wine shops. If I told you what I spent on these items you’d have to kill me. Savings are good, eating out is good. Going to Macy&#39;s isn&#39;t bad. But no one wants to die having never left the town they were reared in and nobody wants to live their lives through other people&#39;s travel anecdotes either.</p> <p>I&#39;m not saying come over here and go nuts or get rich by saving to fly 8,000 miles to shop; nor am I saying waste your money buying cheap goods in a foreign country. What I&#39;m saying is that experience is something you can&#39;t buy!</p> <p>BTW, General Tso is known over here as a war hero and not a spicy delicious chicken dish.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Shanghai Supposition: Better Choices=More Choices=Better Experiences" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jabulani Leffall</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Travel business China clothing money Orbitz savings account Shanghai Travelzoo wine Fri, 14 Mar 2008 04:50:59 +0000 Jabulani Leffall 1918 at Does a plastic cork make for a lousy wine? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/does-a-plastic-cork-make-for-a-lousy-wine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="355" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I remember the first time my mother opened a bottle of wine that featured a plastic cork. She gasped audibly; the family gathered in the kitchen, where we took turns poking at this odd, pliable plastic cylinder on the kitchen counter. We all knew, instinctively, that this was an INFERIOR bottle of wine, because it was corked with plastic and not... you know, cork. How unromantic! How untraditional! How... eh, pour me another glass, will you? </p> <p>Since that fateful day, I&#39;ve opened my fair share (OK, more than my fair share) of wine bottles that are corked with plastic. Or, more recently, with screw tops! Alright, I admit it - I&#39;ve had wine from a box. The shame! </p> <p>The truth is, despite the fact that I have a very strong sense of smell, I haven&#39;t noticed a difference between naturally and synthetically corked wine (there are some wine experts, or <em>sommeliers</em>, who claim that they can taste the difference between a wine that is sealed with a syntehtic cork and one sealed with a natural cork). My inability to differentiate might be because I&#39;m sort of a lush, or maybe because there really ISN&#39;T a big difference, performance-wise, between traditional corks and plastic ones. Or maybe it&#39;s because the synthetic corks are <a href="">inert</a>. </p> <h4>Why the switch to plastic corks/screwtops?</h4> <p>Nobody has a single, definite answer as to why certain wineries have moved away from natural corks - that is, corks made from the bark of the cork oak tree, which grows mostly in Portugal and Spain in lovely, arid forests. Some people have claimed that there is a shortage of cork available for wine production, as new wine regions are popping up all over the world (twenty years ago, if you had mentioned that you had a great Australian/South African/Peruvian red with dinner, you would have been involuntarily committed). Cork is also increasingly being used in other applications as well, such as flooring. </p> <p>So, the demand for cork has increased. Even <a href="">desirable wines</a> are turning to &quot;unnatural&quot; corking methods. According to <a href=""></a>, there is enough cork growing in Portugal to last the wine-making world another 100 years. This fact is often quoted, probably in an attempt to sound reassuring, but to me, 100 years sounds like a very short amount of time. </p> <p>The most oft-recited reason for switching to synthetic corkage is that <strong>natural cork allows roughly 10% of corked bottles to go bad</strong> (also known as &quot;cork taint&quot;, or simply &quot;corked&quot;). A fungus that is found in cork bark may be the culprit for the loss of many hundreds of thousands of bottles annually. Synthetic corkage doesn&#39;t carry the same risk of fungal infection, so wines can not only last longer, but you don&#39;t lose a huge portion of your vintage to mold. So, from a vintner&#39;s standpoint, plastic corks are a very frugal item, indeed. </p> <p>Still undecided is if plastic corks allow for adequate aging of red wines.</p> <h4>So, plastic cork means it&#39;s a cheap wine, then?</h4> <p>Not necessarily. I&#39;ve opened a few expensive bottles of wine that have featured plastic corks. When I started doing my cork research, I was hoping that synthetic corks were the key to finding the most frugal, sensible wine available. It turns out that you can&#39;t judge a wine by its corkage. </p> <p>There are a plenty of people who likely feel that synthetic corks take the artistry out of wine-making, or that <a href="">synthetic corks are indicative of a cheap, mass-produced wine</a>, but as it turns out, you can&#39;t really tell which wines are going to feature synthetic corks until you actually open them. </p> <p>My absolute <a href="">favorite wine in the whole world</a> uses natural cork. Hell, Charles Shaw uses natural cork. So, there&#39;s a mental barrier for me to jump over when I open a bottle of wine with a synthetic cork. The difference is likely purely mental. As <a href="">Treehugger</a> points out:</p> <p><em>&quot;Natural corks have proven themselves over the years but it’s the cultural resonance that extends even to the novice drinkers. This is something that the traditional cork industry has capitalized on and has taken huge strides to fight back. U.S. cork importers have created a rigorous testing system to weed out tainted cork while the Portuguese cork industry has launched an extensive $8 million campaign to commend the natural cork.&quot;</em></p> <p>Besides, you can&#39;t tell what kind of cork is in the bottle when you buy it, since the cork is usually covered by foil or wax. And anyway, I tend to buy bottles based on the label design.<strong> Don&#39;t laugh</strong> - you do it, too. </p> <p>I&#39;m curious as to how Wise Bread readers feel about this: we&#39;re a frugal group, to be sure, but I get the idea that many of our readers value quality and craftsmanship over pure, industrial reliability. </p> <h4>Environmentally, what&#39;s the deal?</h4> <p>There are <a href="">environmentalists</a> who argue that allowing screwtop and synthetic corks to take over the world of wine-making will be detrimental to the cork forests in Portugal, which are home to may rare animals. It&#39;s odd to think of cork forests, which are more like orchards than forests, as wild habitats, but in truth, they&#39;re probably a combination of the two: a place for wild animals and a working forest. Some activitst posit that the loss of the <a href="/">natural cork industry</a> would mean the loss of many thousands of European jobs, as well. </p> <p>Besides being decidedly unsexy, plastic corks are... well, they&#39;re plastic. Plastic is so great in so many ways, and <a href="/is-plastic-killing-us-the-true-cost-of-convenience">so terrible </a> in many other ways. <a href="">Tree Hugger</a> and <a href="">Wise Geek</a> both proffer that one can recycle plastic corks, although I&#39;ve never seen any evidence of this in my area. Natural cork is easily composted (or saved for the sake of memory), but plastic corks... I can&#39;t figure out what to do with them.</p> <p>I&#39;m prone to advocating for the natural cork approach, even though the thought of wasted wine due to fungus makes me die a little inside. Cork trees do grow in Portugal and Spain, which are dry Mediterranean climates. Who&#39;s to say we can&#39;t expand cork production to other ares of the world with similar climates? Parts of the east San Francisco Bay Area and North Africa come to mind almost immediately. </p> <p>How do Wise Bread readers feel about this issue, if you&#39;ve given it any thought? Do you care, one way or another, about how your wine is corked? Are you a cork snob? A two-buck-chuck swiller? A boxed-wine kind of wino? Do you feel strongly enough about the issue to boycott a wine based on its corkage. or is it a null issue for you? </p> <h4>Interesting cork facts:</h4> <p><img src="/files/fruganomics/u14/corktree.jpg" alt="" title="Cork Tree" width="226" height="169" /></p> <ul> <li>Corks are made from bark that has been stripped from the tree trunk (see above). The tree is not damaged, and can regrow all of its bark every 9 years or so. However, the average cork tree only lives 150 years.</li> <li>Wine was originally made in casks that were &quot;sealed&quot; with a layer of olive oil to keep the wine from coming into contact with the air. </li> <li>Natural cork recycling is common in <a href="">Australia </a> and Europe.</li> <li>Wine corks are coated with a thin layer of resin or wax to prevent rotting while a wine ages.</li> <li>Many European beer bottles are sealed with cork. So are some home-brewed soft drinks.</li> <li>You can buy cork from <a href="">India</a>, apparently.</li> <li>Natural cork has a <a href="'s_ratio">Poisson&#39;s ratio</a> of nearly zero. And yes, I knew what Poisson&#39;s ratio was before I wrote this. Also, I like Firefly. Why yes, I am single. Why? </li> </ul> <h4>Fun facts<br /></h4> <p><a href="">This BBC article</a> has a wide range of information about wine corks, with only a hint (OK, a big hint) of anti-environmental bias in favor of the plastic corks. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to read about great things to do with leftover corks (the first person who can tell me where the line &quot;Why is the cork on the fork?&quot; wins my undying admiration).</p> <p><img src="/files/fruganomics/u14/winecork1.jpg" alt="" title="Wine cork" width="148" height="177" /> </p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Does a plastic cork make for a lousy wine?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Andrea Karim</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink bottle boxed wine cork oenophile plastic Portugal wine Fri, 26 Oct 2007 07:36:46 +0000 Andrea Karim 1323 at