Barclay's Wine on Groupon

I woke up this morning to find a great wine deal on Groupon: spend $25 and receive $75 credit to use on Barclay's Wine Shop Online. You can buy at most three (2 as gifts), must be 21 or over and a first time Barclay's Groupon user, and you can apply it toward wine packages or membership. Unfortunately, shipping is not included, but it's still a good deal.

Now I was trying to figure out the best way to use my Groupon. Here's what I came up with:

1. Purchase 1 expensive bottle. I like this option for collectors, but only recommend the '06 Yalumba Vinnovations Shiraz ($75 + $11.95 shipping). It's the only wine that isn't overpriced- most of the wines can be had for almost 50% less. For example, their '03 Bugay Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($62.50) can be found on Gary Vaynerchuk's Wine Library for $33.33!
2. Purchase multiple bottles. In their $15-30 range, alot of the wines can be had for $5-10 less with some online shopping, but good buys for the Groupon are Bagrationi Brut (from Georgia?!), Vinum Cabernet Sauvignon & Gagliosso Barbera d'Alba. In the $15 or less, Corbieres Cuvee Vignerons and the Washington Hills wines look to be good deals.
3. Packages. All packages are priced at $129.95 (add $16 for shipping) and are a mixed bag of the good, bad & ugly of wines, but with the Groupon, not a bad deal for a case.

I recommend the deal any way you choose to go, but do your research and take my advice, and you should end up with a great wine deal!

Gary Vaynerchuk on Today Show for Super Bowl Wines

I woke up early this morning, grabbed my vitamins and water, and turned on the Today Show to find Gary Vaynerchuk giving out his Super Bowl wine picks.  This comes a day after I gave out my Chicagoland available wines and favorite carryout/delivery spots for pizza, wings and chili.  Needless to say, I'm always interested in what @garyvee has to say about pairings, plus he's pretty entertaining to watch.  So here's what dishes were picked and what to pair with them:

First, they started off with chicken wings, which Gary paired with an Albariño, which is a grape varietal used in northwest Spain to make white wines with high acidity, low alcohol (great for spicy dishes) and possessing peachy flavor.  I like this pick, but I think Alsatian varietals like Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc or Riesling would work better, a rosé wine or even a New Zealand Pinot Noir. 

They then went to pizza, and Gary pulled out a Touriga Nacional, a varietal grown in Portugal and normally used to make port, but in recent times makes colossal wines from the Douro.  These wines have a large structure and tannins so it could be a good pairing, but I like reds that match well with the tomato sauce.  Italian reds like those made from Montepulciano, Sangiovese or Piedirosso varietals work great with tomatoes because of their bright acidity and cherry flavors. 

Lastly, the focus went to sausage and peppers (and I am a HUGE fan), which Gary paired with Cava, a sparkling wine made in Spain, normally out of three indigenous varietals, Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.  I've always been a huge advocate of sparkling wines being a go-to for almost any pairing, but I will have to travel back to Italy and grab either a Super Tuscan, which normally has better tannins to go with the oily sauce and sweet peppers, or Aglianico from just outside of Napoli in the south.

Most of these wines can be found for $15 or under, which is great.  Gary has some great picks on his online store, Wine Library, or if you live in Chicagoland, just check out my Best Buys, travel to your local wine shop and grab a few bottles.  And enjoy your Super Bowl!

Gary Vaynerchuk on Today Show for Christmas

Woke up this Christmas morning to find presents under the tree, Santa had eaten all my cookies, kisses from my beautiful wife, and Gary Vaynerchuk on The Today Show.  If you don't know of Gary (known to most as Gary V), he gained fame through Wine Library TV and has become a huge presence in the internet social media space.  Gary V was offering up some affordable sparkling wine options for the holiday.  I really like how he offered them to the hosts accompanied by their flavor profile equivalents: he paired a Cava with pear slices on toast and Prosecco with apple slices and powdered sugar.

Gary also asked the hosts to "sniff" the wine.  This is one of wine's great sensory pleasures which is normally lost on audiences.  Gaining satisfaction from wine aromas can be just as pleasing as the taste!  A big thank you to Gary for trying to awaken and heighten American senses to the full extent of the pleasures of wine.

I did want to make one correction however.  When Gary was describing Prosecco, he mentioned it was "sweeter" in comparision to Cava.  This is a common misconception with wine which I addressed in my post, Sweet vs. Dry vs. Fruity.  The grape(s) used to make Prosecco (Prosecco and sometimes Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio) give off much fruitier essences than those from Cava (Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada).  Either wine can be made sweet (more residual sugar) or dry.

A special thanks to Gary V for pushing out the wine love!  And Merry Christmas to all!