I remember that time in college when I declared, “I don’t know why you’d spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine when this Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill is so good.”
My wine preferences have evolved over the years and now I land solidly at the crossroad where taste and value intersect. I’m not a connoisseur, but I do enjoy red wine above all others.
In recognition of today being Red Wine Day, here are five ways to celebrate while supporting some of the local establishments that hook me up with some of my favorite bottles:
Host a Favorite Things Party
Red Wine Day seems like a great occasion for a Favorite Things Party, where everyone selects one of her ‘favorite things’ that costs $5 or less and brings enough for every party attendee. The brilliance behind this party concept is that everyone leaves with goodies that are the best of the best but aren’t extravagant. I departed my “Favorite Things” party with new cuticle oil, some Everything Bagel seasoning, a homemade candle, and an IKEA cutting board.
Red, red wine celebration tip: You can find wine from two vineyards I visited in Sonoma at Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits. Look for Cline’s Zinfandel or a red from their sister vineyard, Jacuzzi. You won’t be disappointed.
Pretend You’re In Cali
Cedar Ridge Vineyard is just a few minutes from Cedar Rapids, and I have it from good authority (ahem… me…) that you can get an Uber to travel safely from Marion to their doorstep for a reasonable price. I think sitting outside on their patio is the closest experience to actually being in a California vineyard that you can find in our metro area.
Red, red wine celebration tip: I’m not a fan of many Iowa wines, but their Double Oak Reserve and Reserve Red are delish.
Call in the Local Experts
First Avenue Wine House stepped up and stocked the bar at my wedding, and they are still a go-to for my favorites. I can’t tell you much about a wine’s balance or bouquets, but Traci and her staff can.
Red, red wine celebration tip: I tried the Giapoza Cabernet at one of the First Avenue Wine House’s wine tasting events and I’ve never looked back.
Something for the Non-Red Wine Drinker
As much as I love a full-bodied red, many of my friends take a hard pass when I’m pouring. For them I improvise by making my friend’s sweeter sangria cocktail: just mix some cheaper red table wine with maraschino cherry juice and a splash of Sprite.
Red, red wine celebration tip: This is where you hit Aldi’s wine section, friends! They have four-dollar bottles that will mix up well.
Keep the Party Going
Don’t limit yourself to a one-day red wine celebration! There are so many fantastic Wine of the Month Clubs out there. My parents snag obscure labels from small vineyards through their club, and my friend gets fun cards with pairing suggestions when she gets a monthly shipment.
Red, red wine celebration tip: If you don’t want to invest in a regular shipment that comes with an ‘of the month’ purchase, build your own selection based on the folks who know their beverages. Benz Beverage Depot staff mark their favorites on the shelves: take their recommendation rather than going it alone.
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