Wine by the Dollar

A few weeks ago, Bill Daley profiled Carolyn Evans, author of “Good, Better, Best: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines” in the Chicago Tribune.  I ripped the piece out, set it aside, and forgot about it – until tonight.

Next week I’m having a few friends over for spring cocktails and so I began the clean up of “the good enough apartment” tonight.  I started with reorganizing the piles of papers and – voila! – treasures like this article found!

In “Good, Better, Best: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines“, Carolyn Evans helps real people like you and me figure out the best wines to purchase at different price points.  Looking for a good Chardonnay under $10? She suggests Columbia Crest Two Vines ($8).  Or how about an inexpensive Pinot Noir? Mark West Pinot Noir Sonoma County apparently fits the bill. Actually, I can vouch for that one personally – yum!

Good, Better, Best: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines” will be added to our bar shelf and I suggest you do the same.  In the meantime, check out Carolyn’s Web site here or follow her on Twitter by clicking here.

The Trib article included Carolyn’s Top 10 “Must Try” wines available under $15.  That list includes:


1. Cavit Collection Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie, Italy; $7

2. Columbia Crest Two Vines Chardonnay, Washington; $8

3. Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Riesling, California; $12


4. Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon, California; $22 (for 3-liter box)

5. Gabbiano Chianti, Tuscany, Italy; $9

6. Mark West Pinot Noir, Sonoma County; $10

7. Bogle Petite Sirah, California; $10

8. Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet, South Australia; $11


9. Korbel Brut California Champagne, California; $9


10. Sutter Home Family Vineyards Moscato, California; $6

So, do you have any to add to the list? Share with the rest of us!

Thanks for reading Bright- Yellow!


The Drink Deck – 52 Ways to Sample Chicago Drinking Establishments

Remember my love of a la Card Chicago?  Well, Jeff and I are enjoying checking out new places (yes, we just got to Smoque) and old favorites (yummy Big Jones).  We can’t figure out how two people will be able to spend $25 at Hot Doug’s but we’re up for the challenge!

I just discovered the unofficial companion deck to a la Card Chicago – the Drink Deck!  Jeff, the beer man husband, should be happy when he reads about this!  Like a la Card Chicago, the Drink Deck puts 52 establishments on a deck of cards and encourages you to “play” Chicago!  The Drink Deck divides the watering holes by a number of categories including wine bar, beer bar, music venue, dive bar, hip hangout (don’t worry those of us over 25 – these places are hip but not so hip that we have never heard of them!) and more.

The Drink Deck is only $30 and each card gives you $10 off of your tab ($30 minimum before tax and tip).  You can order a Drink Deck by clicking here.  Remember – outdoor drinking in Chicago is just around the corner…

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow!

Stock Up Chicago!

boozeWell, in case you missed it, Chicago (actually all of Illinois)  is implementing yet another tax and this one affects your drinking, sweet tooth, and, for some of you, sanitary habits.  Yep, starting Tuesday, Illinois is raising taxes on booze, candy, and dandruff shampoo.  However, not all taxes or items are created equal in Illinois!

The dandruff shampoo is the clearest – unless a doctor prescribes the shampoo, you’ll see a tax increase to 6.25%.  On the other hand, what constitutes candy is up for grabs.  Chocolate bar = candy (6.25% now).  Chocolate covered peanuts = food (so no tax increase and stays at 1%).  Makes sense, right?  Only in Illinois!

The highest tax increase, though, affects booze and is based on the product’s alcohol content and is calculated by the gallon.  Technically, the distributor is the only one facing a tax increase; however, I think we all know that the tax increase will quickly make its way to all of us.  So, just how much is this tax increase? A six pack of beer goes from 10.4 cents to 13 cents, a bottle of wine increases from 13 cents to 28 cents, and a fifth of most spirits jumps from 90 cents to $1.71 – ouch all around!

For those who wonder where this money is going, the state plans to use it for public works projects like roads and schools.  I’m sure they’re starting with the giant pothole right outside my house.

So, if you live in Illinois, spend today (Monday) stocking up on dandruff shampoo, candy (if you can figure out what is candy and what is food), and booze before the latest in a series of tax increases takes place.  Or, have a flaky scalp, cavity-free teeth, and a happy liver and use your money savings for other vices!

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow!

Some Summer Cheese for your Wine

I’m not reaching too far to come up with today’s post – it’s what we enjoyed last night. Jeff & I have friends in from out of town (with more coming) to enjoy some Cubs games. Two friends, Deb and Donna, arrived last night and since Deb lives near a fantastic farmers market in Michigan, she brought a bounty of fresh fruits and veggies (and home made bread from her friend Alice) for us to enjoy. Jeff and I stopped by Sam’s Wine to pick up some cheeses and wine to accompany the spread.

We selected our wine after attending a sauvignon blanc tasting at Sam’s a couple of weeks ago. After the tasting (and subsequent recovery), I declared Saint Clair Vicar’s Choice by favorite of the night (Jeff loved it, too). If you enjoy a fruity sauvignon blanc with a lot of juicy flavor, you’re sure to enjoy this wine, too!

As for the cheese, we simply guessed. We bought a tasty cheddar and a jack with chives from the cheese case. The only pre-packaged cheese, though, was the hit of the evening. We easily polished off the Moondarra honey pistachio cheese on the home made french bread – YUM! Jeff & I randomly chose the honey pistachio flavor but now I’m excited to try some of the other flavors, like fig and walnut (I don’t like figs but my mom makes a yummy cheese spread with figs so I guess I like them with cheese!) and mango and melon, that Sam’s carries. BTW – for the out of towners – you can order both the wine and the cheese from Sam’s Wines – just click here for the Sam’s site.

Now that we’re in full-on summer, consider the Saint Clair Vicar’s Choice and the Moondarra honey pistachio cheese for your next outdoor picnic or rooftop gathering.

Now I want to hear from you – what are your favorite summer wines and cheeses? Add them to the comments section and I’ll post them all together next week!

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow!