Sunday, September 4, 2016

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Wine Shopping

A friend and I went wine shopping yesterday evening. Long in the works, she wanted to introduce me to a wine, beer, and spirits warehouse that she loves and is conveniently located for her. Plus, we both wanted to visit an old favorite wine shop a bit further in Annapolis. Planning this excursion, I decided that I wanted a rosé and (the liqueur) limoncello to celebrate summer, the only white wine I love, and maybe a bottle of red or two. I like a particular earthy red wine for the upcoming fall. Since my trip to Paris, I've been into drinking a bottle of rosé in the summertime. I set a budget of $75 and predicted that it would be difficult to purchase those five bottles totaling that. I became more my optimistic self after I received an email from the wine shop announcing a major holiday sale, selling many bottles at $1 over cost!

First, we shopped the warehouse called Total Wine & More. This is a chain with stores throughout the country and a headquarters here in Maryland. It was fun discovering something new. They had an amazingly large selection, all at truly fantastic prices. They even had a tasting going on. Heaven!

Perusing many of the aisles, I picked up a Chianti Classico for $14.49, which I consider to be $10 cheaper than what I have ever found elsewhere in the US. I pay that price for regular Chianti. Bolla Chianti is my signature wine, so I consider Chianti Classico an upgrade. I like the romantic picture on the label of this Banfi wine. The text underneath reads, "Incontro tra Federico III ed Eleonora d'Aragona alla presenza di Papa Pio II" which translates to "Meeting between Frederick III and Eleanor of Aragon in the presence of Pope Pius II." They became Holy Roman Emperor and Empress in 1452.

The back label says it is smooth with notes of cherry and plum. I will probably start to drink this first. I plan to pair it with my pasta specialty (pasta in a light tomato sauce with sauteed red pepper, zucchini, spinach and grape tomatoes, likely topped with chicken strips) this week, possibly as early as tomorrow evening. 

Next, I spotted the earthy red wine that I mentioned I like for fall, Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Sometimes they carry this at the wine shop (where I discovered it), but at $11.29, 70 cents cheaper than what I have paid at the other place, I promptly added it to my cart. I thought it was an excellent value before. I normally drank this type of wine when I studied abroad as it was the wine my region produced.

Knowing the wine shop only sold a single bottle of limoncello, I wanted to check out the warehouse's selection. It was large and I picked the smallest bottle, one imported from Italy at that! Probably the lowest price on the shelves, it was $11.79. The label features a romantic description which ends with, "...Caravella is enjoyed served straight from the freezer after a satisfying meal with family and friends..." I will have to store it in my freezer tonight, so I can try a taste after a pasta dinner this week. "To close the stomach" as Italians would say! My mom (an antique dealer) gave me a couple of stemmed cordial glasses that I plan to serve it in. 

I spent $40.95 there. Knowing the rosé was probably going to be around $10 and the white around $30 at the wine shop, I thought I was doing fairly well, but was still thinking I would go over my $75 budget a bit.

My purchases from Total Wine & More.

Next, she drove us to my favorite wine shop, Bin 201, in Annapolis, a city I adore. I wanted a particular rosé that I saw described in one of their emails back in July. It's called Zaza Garnacha Rosé. It described this dry pink wine from Spain as "flavorful" and "cheerful." I also approved of the strawberry notes as well as the price point of $9.99. I paid that price as it wasn't one of the bottles on sale. We should still have hot summer days to enjoy this chilled as intended!

They had two Sancerres, which is the white wine I discovered at O Chateau in Paris. I didn't like one of the descriptions at all, but thought the other sounded delicious. Plus, this second option was the Sancerre on sale for $19 from the original $29.99. Made from Sauvignon Blanc, I like that this French wine is dry and crisp with hints of citrus. I'm not sure if I've had this one from Cédrick Bardin before... I look forward to trying it with my sun-dried tomato cream pasta dish, maybe later on in the week.

As a red wine drinker, it was kind of odd to be buying a rosé and a white, but I still had that budget in mind. My total at Bin 201 was $31.60. My total for all five bottles was $72.55. I was amazed to be just under budget!

My bottles from Bin 201.

I love all of my purchases. I ended up with exactly what I wanted. Inspired, I set a goal to fill up my wine cabinet and its wine rack (once) by the end of fall. I only have five empty spots to fill at the moment, but of course plan to transfer one to my kitchen counter soon! My friend kept reminding me that she could take me back to the warehouse. Plus, like I said, the location is so convenient for her, that I could give her some cash and make a request. I think I'm going to enjoy my fall already! Cheers! Cin cin!

The two of us ended our evening with dinner at Mission BBQ back in our hometown. I love their pulled pork sandwich! The establishment offers six sauces on each table and my favorite is Memphis Belle. I even treated myself to a rare side of french fries. My meal was delicious! The service at this chain is always outstanding as well. This company always seems to be expanding with new locations.

It was such a pleasure to go wine shopping and be out and about with a friend on a Saturday night.

After grocery shopping this morning, I patronized my local liquor store and bought a six pack of beer, Harp, to go with the burgers I was planning. The guy ringing me up asked, "No wine today?!" I just mumbled "No wine today" in reply and didn't mention my cheating on him! ...with no plans on ending the love affair too.


  1. I love how detailed this post is and all the recommendations. It just clicked with me that your Paris wine tasting was with O Chateau. I remember reading that post. During my trip there last year my wine tasting at O Chateau was one of the highlights of my trip. I liked it so much I signed up for their day trip to Champagne and enjoyed it immensely. I learned so much from the sommeliers and now wine shopping is such a pleasure.

    1. This excursion was delayed due to life, so I had time to think about what I wanted and was really looking forward to it. I usually don't have much of a stock beyond the bottle I'm currently drinking, so this was out of the ordinary. With the large selection and low prices at the warehouse, my friend told me that she buys something she loves, but also tries something new. This is something I'll have to keep in mind. I love learning about wine. I learn so much from each wine tasting, even if it's just what I do and do not like. I scheduled the O Chateau session on my birthday, knowing it would be wonderful. I will have to keep their day trips in mind! Thank you so much for sharing a bit about your experience!

  2. I love that you are interested in wine! Your description of your day trip with your friend was so fun to read ;-) nothing like a full wine rack! Enjoy ;-)

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed my post! I only tried one bottle of wine so far and deserves its own blog post. I am definitely enjoying my purchases.

  3. I love getting what you want at a good deal! :) Also, your dinner looked yummy!

    1. I was surprised to be under budget that day!

      I love a pulled pork sandwich... It reminds me of college in South Carolina. This particular restaurant does it well. It's a half of a mile from my parents' place and in the same shopping center as my favorite store, HomeGoods, so every once in a while, I will stop for a sandwich. I rarely get fries there and they were good! My friend's brisket is always delicious too.

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