1. Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon: ($20) Y'all have definitely heard me talk about this wine. My parents introduced me to this wine as one of their favorite affordable wines. The cabernet I love for bringing to girls nights or when there is a steak involved! Pairs great with sharp cheeses and meats! Also, once you have gone through a bottle (or 3) they have a great app that is SUPER fun to play with when you are a little wine happy. The app has fun filters that lets you release your freak - fitting for when you are drinking their wine! You can buy the wine here (or really at most grocery stores and wine shops). Also if you are interested in that app, you can download it here!


2. Troll Bridge Napa Valley Red Blend ($30): I was very surprised with I found this on sale for $30! It originally retails for $75, so I was like is there something wrong with it? Nope, its a great wine for $30!


So if you are looking for a great red wine to bring over to a dinner party this is a great option that won't break the bank and is a great crowd pleaser! I found this one on klwines.com









And because I am on a Sparkling wine/Champagne kick right now, three recommendations for you from three different regions!


3. Mas Codina Cava Brut Reserva Pendes: ($13) A great sparkling wine when that is clean and dry with great fruit notes. Perfect for mimosas or by itself! You all know how much I love my champagne, but I am also a fan of Cava as a more affordable option, especially when I want to have my friends over for a bottomless mimosa brunch!


4. Gilbert Jacquesson "Cuvée Tradition" Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne ($25): It is hard to find affordable Champagnes, but it is not impossible. The region produces a wide variety of champagnes at all different price points. This one is 100% Meunier (which is not super easy to find), but makes this a super fun one to try up against a traditional Champagne blend. This is one that you can impress your guests with, without reaching deep into your wallet.


5. Deligeroy "La Petite Marquise" Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé ($13): This is a Sparkling Rosé from Loire Valley (read up on my time in Loire here). I am totally on the Loire band wagon and this is one of the reasons. The region produces some great wines at affordable prices, but don't get it twisted. These are not "cheap" wines, they are an amazing value for the price!


My challenge to you: go to a local wine shop and ask them for a wine under $30 that is a great value and see what regions they recommend!

Highlights: Affordable Cabernet, delicious salad, juicy steak, quick cook/prep time, and great to please and impress your dinner guests!


Okay y'all asked me to start sharing some of my wine and food pairings as well as my rules for how I pair wines. If I am being COMPLETELY honest here, I don't have many rules. But I do follow some of the standard ones. So I will share the ones that (I think) I scored on and how you can incorporate them for a meal for yourself or with a group of people!


First Up: THE WINE

My parents actually told me about Freakshow Cabernet. They buy it at their local grocery store. The Freakshow wines are made by Michael David Winery in Lodi California. If you haven't had wines from Lodi, you should definitely try them. While they are different from Napa (what you are probably used to) they have some great wines that tend to be affordable! I'll put the wine tasting notes below for your reference.


My rule with Cabernet and food pairings is generally a big meat and/or fatty companions. Now, with that said I do not think you NEED food to enjoy a cabernet. The younger cabernets I do recommend pairing with foods. There are a lot of cabs that I can sit on the couch and enjoy without food. Also, you do not NEED to only drink cabernet with dinner. It is great with sharp cheeses (working on a cheese and wine post for y'all as well to come). With that said, you can still make a great healthy dinner that is packed with boldness for a cabernet to stand up to. (AKA: the salad I made on this post).


There are a ton of simple salads you can make to pair with a cabernet. This one I used flank steak, butternut squash, arugula, tomatoes and avocado. I decided to cook the butternut squash with sage and rosemary to give the butternut squash a more bold flavor (as I personally think that butternut squash can lack flavor if not cooked the correct way). And the steak I did on the stove top with olive oil, rosemary, and thyme (drooling just thinking about it again).


PREP time: 10 Min Cook time: 20 Min


Ingredients:

-Arugula

-Flank Steak (portion to your liking, this was about 3oz on my salad)

-Butternut Squash (I buy the precut at the grocery store--reduces prep time)

-Komato tomatoes (or grape tomatoes)

-Avocado (1/4-1/2 avocado per salad)

-Balsamic Vinegar

-Rosemary/Garlic (or just Garlic) infused olive oil

-Olive Oil

-Fresh Rosemary

-Fresh Thyme

-Fresh Sage


Directions: (Bare with me, I am not a food blogger so I'm sort of winging it on a recipe as I don't really follow many recipes myself -- although now I'm thinking I should so I can just copy and paste)


STEP 1: PREP

-Preheat the oven (I use my little convection oven for this --if cooking for 1-2 people) to 375

-Finely chop some sage and rosemary together

-Put butternut squash (small cubes) into a bowl and add a little bit of olive oil [they just need to be lightly coated). Then add a few pinches of sage/rosemary blend. Again you don't want to add too much as the sage can be a bit overpowering if you add too much. And then add some salt and pepper.


Step 2:

-Pop the butternut squash into the oven for 20 min.

-While these are cooking chop the following: tomatoes, avocado, and the fresh tyme and rosemary blend.

-In a bowl add a handful or two of asparagus (for each person) and toss in the garlic infused olive oil.

-I like to start plating at this point. Put the garlic olive oil tossed arugula on each plate and then add the tomatoes and avocado on the side.

-I then lightly drizzle balsamic vinegar over the salad/plate.

-Put the steak into a bowl with olive oil, rosemary &tyme blend --mix around

-Heat up the stove top (you can also cook on the grill). I put it on medium since I have an electric (I know --terrible) stovetop. Then I cook the flank steak for about 2 min each side (or to your liking as I like mine a little rare).


STEP 3:

-Cut the flank Steak and add to the top of the salad

-Add the butternut squash on the side


POUR YOURSELF (another) GLASS AND ENJOY!


Let me know what y'all think! Cheers!

Updated: Jun 5, 2018


ABOUT ME:


Hi y'all. Allison here, although to some of you that means nothing. Which is why I decided my first blog post would be a little about myself and how I became so passionate in wine. Who is here to drink more wine? Probably 98% of you, and I love you all for that. My favorite things about wine: community it brings together, memories, the consistent learning it requires (or doesn't require), wine for every person (and tastebuds), well obviously the alcohol content is also a plus, and I could go on forever!


Disclaimer: English and spelling were two things I was TERRIBLE at (math was always more my speed)...so if you are here for the writing, please excuse me I'm working on it. Will be a rough start. :)



First Up: My Motto

Not all girls are made of sugar, spice and everything nice. Some girls are made with sarcasm, wine and everything fine.

I found this quote a while back and I must say it fits me to perfection. Although, to be very honest I am definitely made up of sugar too because my sweet tooth manages to always win. Anyone else have a big sweet tooth? ....more of a rhetorical question.


Where am I from? Where am I now?

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas and I am now living in San Francisco, California. Where I spend most of my weekends in Napa Valley. The two questions I get the most frequently when I tell people I am from Houston 1) "How did you manage to get out to San Francisco ...from TEXAS?!" and 2) "Where is your southern accent?" So I will tell you the answers to both. And if you want in on the second question, give me enough #wine and that southern accent tends to always come out! .


Y'all, Imma Texas Girl by Heart

Some say size doesn't matter... in Texas and in a wine glass that could never be more false.

I absolutely loved growing up in the south. Texas was an amazing place to be raised and I loved every minute of it (well minus the humidity). I grew up with horses (so stereotypical I know) and did Rodeo. I went to college at Texas Tech University where I received a degree in Supply Chain management. That took me to my first job in Oklahoma and then that job took me to Northern California. I was in California for a year and a half and my company wanted to move me back to Texas, but I was just not ready to leave California and the wine country.


California- West Coast Vibes

When I moved to the San Francisco bay area back in 2014, one of the first things I knew I had to do was visit Napa. Instantly, I was in love! (I mean how could you not be) . Since my first time in Napa I have grown a love and passion for not only wine but the wine industry. I love not only visiting new wineries but enjoying a different experience every place you walk in to. There are wineries that are great to go with a group of friends to super intimate wineries for you and your special someone. I am here to share those experiences with you and so much more.


Why now?

Why now? Well, to be completely honest, I wanted to find a way to take my hobby of wine to the next level. Something to hold me accountable for continuing on this journey that I love so much. So many of my friends want reviews from me on wineries, wine valleys to visit outside of Northern California, and all of the other fun activities that come along with enjoying a glass of wine. Follow me on my wine journey and please reach out with any ideas you would love to see me post! CHEERS my winos!

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