Tag Archives: wine

Wine Pairing Wednesday – Petit Toffee Buttermint Wine Specialty

Oh boy, have I got a treat for you! So, I’m walking through the front doors of the local Aldi grocery store, on a typically normal shopping day, and what catches my eye as I’m trying to quickly pass the wine shelves so I am not tempted to buy things NOT on my list (as if that was really going to work). This beautiful Toffee Buttermint wine. It has a such a delicious blend of toffee, buttermint, and chocolate. How can that ever be wrong? When I saw that bottle, I just had to stop and look at it. “What is it?” I wondered to myself usually out loud and making people think I’m crazy. “How do you drink this? Wonder what it tastes like?” All those typical questions.

Let me take the guess work out of it for you. First step, buy the wine. I have no idea what vineyard distributes this, all I know is I found it at Aldi and haven’t seen it anywhere else. Not even on Amazon! So if you’re lucky enough to have a local Aldi store, you might take a look and see if they have any. My feeling is that it’s probably seasonal. What I do know about this wine, is that it comes from Ireland and it’s about 5.99 a bottle locally. It’s cheap folks, but trust me when I say, it doesn’t taste cheap.

So, on with how to enjoy this wine. You’re going to love this. There are two ways I know to enjoy this wine. First, like the picture above, the obvious way, over some ice. Just pour it over ice, and sip away. Beautiful dessert wine. It tastes as delicious as it sounds. Enjoy it with your favorite dessert, or for dessert like I did.

Another way to enjoy this Toffee Buttermint wine, pour it over ice cream. Seriously. Just pour it over some vanilla ice cream like  you would any other ice cream syrup and enjoy! The richness of this wine pairs exceptionally well with vanilla ice cream.  You won’t regret trying that one.  I do hope you are able to find this delicious dessert wine so you can try it for yourselves, and enjoy it as much as I did, and if you do, and you try something other than on the rocks and over ice cream, please let me know! I’d love to hear  your creative ideas for this awesome Toffee Buttermint Wine!

And as always, my friends, please drink responsibly.


Wine Pairing Wednesday – Cupcake Pinot Grigio

Every time I visit the wine section in any store, I always see Cupcake. I’ve never actually tried any of their wines until recently. Cupcake is not an expensive wine, folks, but if you’ve been following me, you’ll know that I’m no wine snob, and haven’t posted an expensive wine on my blog yet. Honestly, I stood in the alcohol aisle of my local grocery store, trying to figure out what I wanted to try. I knew that I was going to have a nice sit down Sunday dinner, and I would have someone to share the bottle with, and I also knew what I was serving. With all that in mind, I decided on a Pinot Grigio. But not just any Pinot Grigio, I decided on Cupcake. Why? Well, it’s new to me, and with a name like Cupcake, it has to be good!

I was not disappointed. Cupcake’s Pinot Grigio is a beautiful crisp white wine, with flavors of pineapple, pear, and a hint of lemon. They are very subtle flavors, but for my taste buds, it makes for a unique and delicious wine, set apart from the other Pinot Grigios out there. I was quite impressed by the fact that it’s such a delicious and enjoyable wine and it cost me less than $9.00. Yep, not kidding. Less than $9.00.

So what do you pair it with, you ask? Well, do you remember not too long ago I posted a recipe for Make-Ahead Bacon-Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, and I went on about a delicious chicken marinade, as well as some slow cooker barbecued green beans? Yea, that’s what I paired it with. It was the perfect pairing for that whole dinner. Any chicken dinner would be perfect to pair this Pinot Grigio with.

What else can you pair it with? Wines like this Pinot Grigio pair very well with flaky fish, green veggies, and of course cheese. My favorite cheeses to pair with this wine is Gruyere, fresh mozzarella and Boursin.

If you decide to give this delicious, crisp wine a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and let me know what you enjoyed pairing it with.

Some of my favorite wine tools I can’t live without (contains affiliate links):


{I am in no way being compensated by Cupcake Vinyards for this post. All opinions are my own.}



Wine Pairing Wednesday – Tailslide Pinot Noir

It’s no secret that I enjoy a good Pinot Noir. You may not believe this, but I used to have a total aversion to red wine of any kind. I used to think it was so bitter, and just not pleasant. I liked the sweetness and mild flavors of a good white or a blush. Never a red! That was until I decided to try a Pinot Noir at the urging of a waiter at a very nice restaurant. I asked him what he recommended to go with my red meat entrée. When he recommended the Pinot Noir, I explained to him that I am not a fan of red wine. So he brought me a sample, and that’s the end of that story.

These days I do try new reds, and I do like a lot of them. Nothing beats a good Pinot Noir though. It’s my favorite. It has a nice balance between not too bitter, and not too sweet. Perfectly balanced. This is exactly why it’s my favorite wine hands down. There is a such thing as a bad Pinot Noir though. It all depends on what vineyard it came from.

The Pinot Noir I bring you today is not one of those bad ones. Oh heaven’s no! I wouldn’t bring you a wine I didn’t like. Tailslide has produced a beautiful Pinot Noir. Tailslide is a California wine. Folks, I can’t say this enough, but in my opinion, the best wines in the United States tend to come from the West Coast. Maybe I’m biased because I originated from Washington state, I’m not sure. It’s possible!

Once you pop the cork on a bottle of this wine, you can immediately pick up on the inviting aromas of mixed berry and cherry blossoms. Pour a glass, and you can see it has rich, beautiful ruby red color. And  yes, that’s my Owen Valley Winery glass. This however is not an Owen Valley Winery wine. I’ll be introducing them at a later time. It just happens to be one of my favorite wine glasses. 😂 This, like other Pinot Noir I’ve tried and loved, is dry yet fruity. Very silky and smooth. It has exactly the perfect balance.

According to some looking around Google, this particular wine pairs well with Meatloaf and Lasagna. Pretty laid back stuff! In fact, it even has a lovely laid back price. You can find this wine from anywhere between 6.99 – 8.99 a bottle. I got mine at Aldi for 6.99. It was their red of the month.  This of course doesn’t mean you can’t dress this up and make it special. Pinot Noir to me, is special. I don’t pair it with things like Meatloaf and Lasagna. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

So what do I pair it with? Well, this particular one, I paired it with a beautifully grilled 28juicy NY strip steak. In fact I have the recipe for you. It’s called Jack’s Ultimate Steak Marinade. Thanks again to Stephanie over at Plain Chicken for yet another incredible recipe. Now, before you go rushing over to get the recipe, I made some very minor changes.

For the red wine called for in the recipe, I did NOT use the Pinot Noir I am featuring here. I used the Cabernet Sauvignon from a box I told you all about a few Wine Wednesdays ago. Stephanie’s recipe also calls for Prime Beef Fillets, which I bet was incredibly amazing! I used Ribeye for my hubby and kids because that’s their favorite cut, and I used NY Strip for myself. That’s all I changed! This marinade is truly incredible, and pairs perfectly with Tailslide Pinot Noir.

Unfortunately I do not have any photos of my beautiful steaks, because for whatever reason they came out all blury! I was sad. But it’s ok because Steph takes better photos anyway. I hope you all enjoy Jack’s Ultimate Steak Marinade and have a chance to pair it with Tailslide Pinot Noir!

***I am in no way being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.***

Wine Pairing Wednesday – Bubblecraft (Soft White)

Happy Wednesday everyone! It’s happy hour over here at the Titus household, and you’re just time for Wine Pairing Wednesday! I know it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve had a wine to share with you. I have had some busy busy days, and relaxing with a new bottle of wine I haven’t written about isn’t always possible. Besides, It’s always a good idea to have share that bottle with a friend. Enough of the excuses, lets get down to this beautiful bottle of wine I have for you.

This beautiful sparkling soft white wine comes from Oliver Winery, one of Southern Indiana’s most treasured gems. That’s right, I’ve got a local one for you. Their wines are available in about a handful of states. If it’s not available in your hometown, perhaps you might consider a visit? Don’t underestimate the state of Indiana. There are some pretty cool things to see and do, especially this winery.

Just a little information about the winery:

They started out as a hobby back in the 1960s, and now they are Indiana’s oldest and largest based winery. Today they are an employee owned company, and welcome thousands of visitors each year to their winery to enjoy beautiful scenery and a tasting room where you can discover your personal favorite of their many outstanding wine selections. Then you can have a seat on their patio, or have a picnic on their hillside picnic area. You can even take a stroll through their beautiful gardens. It truly is a gem nestled right here in Southern Indiana.

Now for this particular wine, it’s sweet, and offers a crisp and subtle taste. It has a bit of a floral scent and a nice taste of Niagara grapes. I like this paired with fresh fruit like mango, peaches, blueberries, strawberries and apples (especially strawberries) and cheese such as, Gruyere, Brie, Gouda and Emmentaler.

It’s soft, it’s sweet, it’s bubbly, and if you haven’t noticed the cap in the photo above. That’s right, this bottle of sparkling wine does not come corked. It comes with a cap much like a beer bottle. For me, that means easy opening, and no cork flying across the room. It’s a unique idea, and I love it.

Hopefully you can find this one wherever you live, but like I said, if you can’t, Indiana is not a bad place to visit. Just make sure you put Oliver Winery on your to do list!


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Baked Spaghetti Casserole + Wine Pairing

I know, I’m a bit late for Wine Pairing Wednesday. But to make it up to you, I’ve got a two-fer! Not only are we going to talk about wine, and maybe call this Thirsty Thursday 😂, but I have a great recipe to share with you that pairs perfectly with this beautiful wine!

Meet Los Andicos. A red wine, Malbec,  from Mendoza, Argentina. I found this at Aldi to be honest with you. If you have an Aldi nearby, you should really check out their wine and beer selection. They have some interesting things there and I love trying new wines. Not to mention they’re cheap too. I paid about 6.99 for this bottle. This is the third bottle of wine I have tried from off of Aldi’s shelves, right in this price range of 6.99 – 9.99 and I have not been disappointed. So lets talk about the Malbec a little bit. I have seen it labeled as a full bodied red and also a medium bodied red. I think both might be true. I am not a full bodied red fan. When I hear full bodied red, I instantly think of Cabernet Sauvignon which is my “cooking” wine and I don’t care to drink it. I was a little hesitant about trying the Malbec since the bottle says it’s a full bodied. However, this tastes like a medium. Odd, but whatever. It’s delicious! Most full bodied reds pair well with heavier meats like the Cabernet. For the Malbec, it’s softer with less tannins than other reds. “What the frack is a tannin” you ask? Good question cause I had no idea either. I had to look that one up. According to vinepair.com, “Tannins are naturally occurring compounds that exist inside grape skins, seeds and stems. The scientific word for these compounds is polyphenols. Polyphenols release from the skins, seeds and stems when they soak in the grape juice just after the grapes have been pressed and are what give certain wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, their characteristic dryness or astringency. You experience the effect of tannins any time you drink a wine that creates a drying sensation in your mouth. Depending on how dry your mouth feels, you can determine whether a wine is high or low in tannins. We say a wine that is high in tannins is tannic.” So now we know! With that said, since the Malbec has less tannins, you’ll want to pair this with leaner meats like barbecue beef, ribs, rich red sauce pastas. I hear it also pairs very well with duck. For cheeses, you might consider mild cheeses like Gouda, Gruyere or Provolone.

I paired this with pasta. Which brings me to the recipe! Yes! Baked Spaghetti Casserole. This recipe comes out with layers of texture and flavor. The pasta is rich and creamy, and the meat sauce is saucy, and the cheese is so cheesy! I Served this up with some Garlic Texas Toast and it was out of this world! Especially when paired with this lovely Malbec.

Grab your ingredients! Lets get started!

You’re going to want to get your pot of water for your pasta on the stove first and cook your spaghetti according to the package directions. While that’s going on, you can go ahead and brown your ground beef right along with your chopped onion and minced garlic.  Once that’s all cooked through, drain any fat if necessary, then dump your spaghetti sauce into the skillet, along with about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning and combine it with the meat.

Once your spaghetti is cooked, drain it, but don’t rinse it. Put it directly back into the warm pot and add your cream cheese. Stir until it’s melted and combined, then add your sour cream and combine that.

Now just spread your noodle mixture in a greased 13×9. You can also split this up into two 8×8 casseroles and have one to freeze.

Then, spread on your meat sauce.

Top with a ton of mozzarella, and a sprinkling of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, and it’s ready for the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.

Once it’s finished, let sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving, which is the perfect amount of time to bake up some of that Garlic Texas Toast, and open that bottle of Malbec. Enjoy!

Print Recipe
Baked Spaghetti Casserole Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain, do not rinse, and return to warm pot.
  3. Add cream cheese immediately to the spaghetti, stir together until the cream cheese has melted. Add in the sour cream, and stir to combine.
  4. Put spaghetti mixture into a greased 13x9 baking dish.
  5. In a large skillet, add ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook and stir until the meat is no longer pink. Drain if necessary.
  6. Add the pasta sauce and Italian seasoning to the meat and combine.
  7. Spread meat sauce over pasta in the dish.
  8. Top sauce with Mozzarella and then the Parmesan.
  9. Bake at 350 for 30- 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese has melted.
  10. Let it stand for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.
  11. Freeze Option:
  12. You can make this, and instead of using a 13x9, divide it up between two 8x8 baking dishes. Assemble casserole as per the directions. Do not back, but instead, wrap in plastic wrap, and then a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and freeze. When ready to bake, let casserole defrost in the fridge, then bake as directed.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from food.com

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Wine Pairing Wednesday

What day is it?! WEDNESDAY!!! And what do we do on Wednesday?? WHINE!!! Oops.. I mean WINE!!! 😜 Although we might whine if we didn’t have any wine. That could… cause a… ruckus…. anyway! Lets do this!! As usual, I am not being compensated for this post. All opinions are truly mine.

So, some of you may wonder, “is she a wine expert?” The answer, no. Heck no! I just really love wine. I am however learning things about wine pairing and what not, and I figured I might as well take you all on the great wine adventure as I learn. Some of you may even wonder “Is she a wine snob?!” Oh dear, no. No no no. Hardly. Most of the wine I consume, is cheap. I don’t usually pay more than 17.00 for a bottle of wine, and that for me, is expensive. I’ll drink it out of a dixie cup too, I don’t care.  I also know that just because I’m eating white meat like chicken, doesn’t mean I have to drink a white wine to pair it “properly”. I’m here to tell you what I think pairs well together. For me, there really are no rules when it comes to wine. To prove that, I’m going to go where no wine snob would ever dare to venture. The forbidden boxed wine!!! Dun dun duuuuuuunnnnnnn……..

And there’s one of them. In all it’s boxy glory. Now, I’ve chosen Franzia brand for this post, only because it’s the cheaper of the box wines. You’re probably thinking “hahaha! Like there’s an expensive box wine.” Actually there is, and maybe I’ll get into that in another post, but for right now, we’re going with ultra cheap. It fits my purpose for this particular Wine Wednesday post. For this post, it’s not about drinking it, it’s about cooking with it. Yes, you can drink the Chardonnay if you want to, if you like it. I personally don’t care to drink these two wines I’m featuring today, but I do keep them on hand for cooking. So lets talk about that. The first and foremost reason I choose cheap box wine to cook with, is because all of the flavor for cooking is there, without the expensive cost. Also, I know I’m not going to drink it because this kind is not my thing, and sometimes I never know if I’m going to need a little wine to add to whatever I’m making. Box wine is perfect for that. It has a long shelf life after opening, unlike bottles. If you open a bottle of wine, you really should use it within a day or two, and if you don’t like it to drink it, well, that’s just wine down the drain and that makes me sad. So, box wines for the win on shelf life after opening. Makes keeping it around for “just in case” a lot easier.

So my favorite thing to use the Chardonnay for is when I make cheese fondue for my husband and I, when we get a chance to do a little at home date night. We both are cheese lovers, and our favorite restaurant in the world is The Melting Pot. After we moved to Indiana, we found that we didn’t live close to one anymore. The closest Melting Pot is about 2 hours away. So armed with one of their cookbooks, and a wonderful electric fondue pot complete with the little fondue forks, I bring The Melting Pot to our dining room. The last time I was at the restaurant, I asked the manager what kind of wine they use in their fondues. He admitted they use… wait for it… box wine! No joke.

That’s not all you can use the Chardonnay for. A lot of cream sauces are made with a dry white wine such as Chardonnay, like a sauce you’d find in a Shrimp Scampi, it’s also great for deglazing the browned bits from the bottom of a pan to make a pan sauce for fish, chicken, pork and mushrooms. Basically speaking, it’s a great sauce wine. Maybe that’s where “lay off the sauce” comes from? 😝

Now for the red. This is the red I choose to keep on hand. The Cabernet Sauvignon works well in any recipe that calls for red wine. It has a strong flavor, so when it cooks down, it leaves behind a beautiful rich flavor. I love using this in my spaghetti sauce. I’ve also used it in a few marinades for beef.

Remember, I like to bring the Melting Pot to my dining room. They have a beautiful cooking style or broth, that you cook your meats in that we adore called Coq Au Vin. I use this red wine in that when I make it at home.

Anywhere you need a rich flavor, usually used with red meats, you’ll want this on hand. The number of things you can make using red wine is amazing! Anything from braised meats to chocolate cake. Yep, that’s right, you can make dessert with red wine. So you see why I keep these two on hand?

The next time someone poo poos about box wine, you can enlighten them, and let them know that box wine does have it’s place on the shelf with the others. I know some folks who enjoy drinking these two particular wines, but for me it’s only for cooking. That’s not to say I don’t drink box wine. I do, and perhaps I’ll get into that another Wednesday.

Wine Pairing Wednesday

Before I get too far into this, let me quickly just say, that I am in no way being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. Now lets get to the wine!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you, my all time favorite wine. Straight from Willamette Valley, Oregon which is just on the other side of the Columbia River from my hometown of Vancouver, Washington, I bring you…. Kings Ridge!

This delicious Oregon Pinot Noir is a light bodied red and pairs very well with soft cheeses. Another one of my favorites to pair with this beautiful red wine, is lamb chops. Most light bodied reds go best with poultry, but for this particular one, I personally say lamb chops and any red meat. Kings Ridge Pinot Noir is fancy for any special occasion, yet still very affordable. I’ve seen it anywhere from $15.00 – 18.00 a bottle.

Kings Ridge Pinot Noir is as unique as it’s birthplace. Made with Willamette Valley Fruit, it has a red berry aroma and flavor, such as cherry, raspberry and floral flavors.  Next time you sit down to a special dinner of lamb chops, or just feel like sharing a bottle with a special friend along with some soft cheeses, like Mozzarella, Brie, Camembert, Havarti, Emmental, Gruyère, and Jarlsberg, grab a bottle of Kings Ridge Pinot Noir, and enjoy!