Red, White, and Brew!!

It has been far too long since the Thirsty 13 has gotten together, 5 months to be exact!  Every time we get together, we vow to pick a date before leaving.  Well on St. Patrick’s Day that did not work out, hence the 5 month break.  We did manage to meet for dinner at Umami Burger in Costa Mesa.  Had a great meal and some really nice wines and beers.  We decided that if we can’t get together for a tasting dinner, that we would try to get together for these impromptu dinners out.  That way if not everyone can come it’s not a big deal.


Well our latest meeting was in honor of probably the funnest American holiday, the 4th of July.  The theme was Red, White, and Brew!  Kathryn hosted at her lovely condo on a fabulous summer evening.  We brought our favorite 4th dishes and red and white wines and any type of brew.  And as always we had a wonderful dinner and really great wines and beers.


Wines and Beers!!  Nice combo!

Wines and Beers!! Nice combo!

We started with the white wines, it was warm and we were thirsty for something cool!  Plus we only had 2, and so we decided to get those out of the way first.  We are mostly red drinkers but on a balmy summer night, a chilled white is so nice!

Rilento, Grillo Sicilia, 2009 Sicily, Italy

Rilento Grillo Sicilia IGT, Sicily, Italy label

Grillo is a Sicilian grape variety that was once widely grown and used for Marsala wine.  Demand for marsala has diminished in the last 20 years, so it is mainly used in blends now.  This grape can reach high alcohol levels when left on the vine.  This wine has a 13% volume of alcohol and is organic.  After doing a little homework, it seems as though most wines made from this grape are organic.  Not sure what that means but historically our group has been unimpressed with organic and bio-dynamic wines.  As a whole, the 13 thought it was ok.  Not terrible but definitely not memorable.  It was cool and I wasn’t complaining.  Charlie, our go-to opinion guy, said it seemed watered down, almost like there had been ice cubes in it.  NEXT!

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2011, New Zealand

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand label

This is a wine that almost all of us have had, except me.  I know that Kim Crawford makes good wines but had never had this particular one.  I was very interested in trying it as the price was right ($8) at Costco.  I am also going through a sauvignon blanc phase(don’t ask)!  Jen said it “smelled like fresh cut grass” and many agreed.  It had mango, fruity notes but it wasn’t sweet.  This is a favorite of Sam’s but it was too sharp for Charlie.  About this time we devised a new rating system, thumbs up, thumbs down, and middle thumb(think that one is pretty self explanatory)  This one got 4 thumbs ups and no thumbs down, which means I am really going to have to learn how to count!  Generally it was well received.   and now we move on to the reds.


Grifone Primitivo, 2011 Italy

Grifone Primitivo Puglia IGT, Italy label

Now this is a very interesting wine.  It is a very light red, John said “it drinks like a Pinot” and we definitely all agreed.  Charlie felt it was like Halloween candy, not sure if that was literal or symbolic. Don’t care because the imagery is fabulous.  We also felt it was a simple wine.  Turns out it is the Italian version of Zinfandel.  A nice everyday wine but the best part is it is $3.99 at Trader Joe’s!!  I have had a lot of this wine and really enjoy it, especially at the cash register.  I really like it after it has a little bit of time to breathe. I think overall it was a thumbs up!


Antigal Malbec,  Argentina 2010

Antigal 1 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina label

Malbec is a black skin grape that is native to southern France but is now the icon wine grape of Argentina.  These Malbecs vary depending on elevation.  The vines in the lower elevations tend to be thinner skinned, the soft, supple fruit ideal for rose`s and mass produced reds.  The higher up the Andes mountains the grapes become more intense, thicker skinned and vibrant colored.  At 100 to1200 feet, these wines are among the most respected in south America.  Argentinian Malbecs are considered “rich, ripe, jammy and juicy” while French Malbecs are considered to be ” rustic, meaty and tannic”.  Both are oak aged to enhance the aging process of the wine. Our group didn’t have a whole lot to say about this wine.  Was kind of a mid-thumber. Not bad but not memorable.  The nose was hard to describe but after opening up words like blackberry and vanilla were mentioned.  It has a 13.6% alcohol content and was $14.99 at Trader Joe’s.


Unruly Red Blend 2011, California

Unruly Red, California, USA

This is a California red blend with a 13.5% alcohol content.  Our group did not think it was all that great but again not terrible.  About half mid thumbs and half thumbs down.  Charlie said it was like coffee and brown sugar.  For me the top notes reminded me of asparagus and broccoli, once it opened up that went away thank goodness.  Welch’s grape juice was thrown out too!  Jen said it was a good “second bottle”.  Now I feel I must explain this phrase because it is a really good one.  You know when you get home from work after a long week and you just want to relax with a really amazing glass of wine, well that is your ‘first bottle”.  ‘Second bottle” is when you finish the first but you are already sated and so as long as it’s decent, let’s open another!  Well this “second bottle” is a good buy at $9.95.


Forces of Nature  Cabernet, Paso Robles, California 2011

This 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rob Murray Cellars in Paso Robles was a big hit among most of us. Jen, Sam and I thought it was a perfect first bottle.  It had a big feel, without the big bite.  Charlie felt it had “a popcorn nose with chocolate on the end”  and it “needs a See’s candy Butterscotch Twill”.   Rebel on the other hand said it had “swimming pool chlorine on the exhale”. Catherine was about blackberries.  On the Rob Murray website they describe their wine as having pronounced notes of ripe black cherry and currant with some tar, mint, licorice and roasted coffee beans. Full-bodied with firm grainy tannins and crisp acid.  They also mention that the wine should be consumed between now and 2020.  I love this because I always wonder what can be cellared and what should be enjoyed now.  The alcohol content is 14.2%.  This wine retails on their website for $22.50 for a 2010.  Overall thumbs up for this one!


Heavyweight Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Heavyweight cabernet sauvignon

This cab from the Scotto Family vineyard in Napa Valley was fairly well received by the group.  Most of us felt is was one note but had a nice taste.  Overall it is a mid-thumber or 2nd bottle and at $10 a bottle I can handle that.  I’d also like to note that for me a 2nd bottle of wine is a great “during the week” wine.  You know, when you want a glass but you don’t want to open the “good stuff”.  It has hints of blackberry with a smooth finish. It has 13% alcohol and a great price point at $10.


Segheshio Zinfandel 2011, Segheshio Family Vineyards, Sonoma County, California

This Sonoma County Zinfandel is comes from the Segheshio Family Vineyards.  It has a long history in Sonoma County, started when Eduardo Segheshio emigrated to Sonoma from Piedmonte, Italy in 1886.  This wine was a mid-thumber as well.  Some of us, specifically Charlie, couldn’t believe it was a Sonoma County Zinfandel.  He felt it had an ascorbic acid taste and was not his palate.  Kathryn thought it had a peppery taste and John thought it had a Tabasco taste. I happen to like this wine and have had it several times.  Oh well, that is the beauty of wine, there is something for everybody!  This wine is 14.8% alcohol and is around $20.


The Calling Cabernet Sauvignon, Rio Lago Vineyard, Alexander Valley, California

The Calling Rio Lago Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, USA label

Well we saved the best for last!  We ALL loved this wine! Charlie was heard to say this wine was “marvelous”!  A Thirsty 13 first!  “Yogurt, blueberries and raspberries with chocolate on the end.  A resounding First bottle for all of us!  As I looked up this wine, I was pleasantly surprised that it has an interesting history.  It is a collaboration between the sportscaster, Jim Nantz and wine industry entrepreneur Peter Deutsch.  They came together to realize their passion for wine and pay tribute to their fathers.  Always love a vineyard with a story.  This wine has a 14.25 alcohol content and was purchased at Total Wine for $33.  Definite 13 thumbs up for this one!


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What did we eat, you say?  As always The Thirsty 13 is all about wine but we are becoming about the food too!  For us, the wine is the star but the food is a very close second!  Our whole purpose for the blog was to commemorate the food, oh and the wine!  We have really enjoyed some incredible things and we are always saying “I have to get that recipe”.  Well this is a start, don’t have all the recipes but here goes.

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Jen’s Beer Mac-n-cheese  This was so good but that shouldn’t be a surprise!

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Sam’s Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken  Seriously good and easy! perfection!

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Laura’s Baked Beans, Texas Ranger Style

Baked Beans, Texas Ranger
Rated: rating
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Ready In: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Submitted By: Daphne Esparza Cook Time: 1 Hour Servings: 6
“Want to wow everyone at the bar-b-que? Then this is the recipe. This is one of my most requested recipes!”
1 (28 ounce) can baked beans with pork
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
4 links spicy pork sausage, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt to taste
1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a Dutch oven,  combine the baked beans, onion, bell pepper, and sausage. Season with  chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup,  garlic powder and salt. Add a dash of cayenne if desired.
3. Cover and bake for one hour in the preheated oven.

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Ginny’s Coconut Cream Cake

1  white cake mix

2/3 whole buttermilk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup water

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 (15 oz.) can cream of coconut

1 (14 oz.0 can sweetened condensed milk

1 (8 oz.) container frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (but you can use the real stuff, I do)

2 cups of sweetened flaked coconut (use food coloring to color the coconut, if making decorative)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix, buttermilk, oil, water, and eggs.  Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in vanilla and coconut extract.  Bake 27 to 30 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Using the end of a wooden spoon, make 1/2-inch-deep holes in top of cake at 1-inch intervals.

Ina small bowl, combine cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk.  Pour over top of cake.  Let cool completely.

Spread thawed frozen topping over coconut mixture, sprinkle with flaked coconut. cut into squares to serve.  Store in refrigerator.


Our guest 13'er Frank, hanging out with John and Steve

Our guest 13′er Frank, hanging out with John and Steve

Sam and Matt enjoying the summer evening!

Sam and Matt enjoying the summer evening!

Frank, Charlie and Rebel relaxing on the patio!

Frank, Charlie and Rebel relaxing on the patio!

The 13 minus 2

The 13 minus 2

Steve and Kathryn, the hostess

Steve and Kathryn, the hostess


“the best wine is the one you like” -Charlie







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