Introduce Yourself

Snooth User: riogrande

I'll take all the help I can get...

Posted by riogrande, Jul 8, 2011.

I just stumbled across snooth by accident and I'm glad I did! My husband (a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute) was extremely knowledgeable about food and wine and I was happy to let him do the cooking and choose the wine. Unfortunately, he died last year. Since then I have lived on frozen pizza and whatever wine I saw other people buying at Costco. Sad, I know. Now I'm ready to educate myself and become a little more discerning about my wine choices. I've been impressed with the level of knowledge and helpfulness I've noticed here. I'm looking forward to expanding my horizons with the help of other Snooth users.


Reply by dmcker, Jul 8, 2011.

Welcome to Snooth, riogrande, and sorry to learn of your loss.

We are generally friendly sorts here, not afraid to take a stance and grapple with subjects. Don't hesitate to ask any question, whatsoever, that pops to mind....

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 9, 2011.

Heck, we'll even tell you which wines at Costco we think are good.  They have some interesting things on occasion--Cameron Hughes, a negociant, sells through them and over the Internet.  He only recently started selling through more usual retail channels, but a lot of his wines are good, and excellent values. 

I join with d in his sympathies.  It's commendable that you are carrying on the enjoyment of wine and food that you shared with your late husband and educating yourself. 

One thing to consider is enrolling in cooking and wine-pairing classes.  Then you can share your new knowledge while gaining the knowledge others are picking up--everyone wins.  I know I have more incentive to make food I enjoy if others will eat it, too.

Welcome to Snooth. 

Reply by JonDerry, Jul 9, 2011.

Welcome riogrande, and kudo's to you for carrying on in your late husband's memory with something that you'll be able to enjoy and use for yourself and others around you.

Costco's not a bad retailer from my experience, pretty good selection and presentation. There are quite a few labels to avoid, so it'd be much better to find the nearest wine shop that just sells wine, or at least primarily.  Typically, the owner or buyer for the shop will have tasted all the wines before putting them up for sale and you'll have much better luck with your browsing and purchasing.


Reply by spikedc, Jul 9, 2011.

Hi rio, welcome,

Snooth is a great place to learn. Lots of experts (sorry!, wine lovers)

Nothing wrong with Costco they have some good wine the Lan Rioja and Montes Alpha Syrah are two i've tried recentley and found them very good for the price.

Reply by GregT, Jul 9, 2011.

rio - one more offering his best wishes.  Welcome.

And while we're on the subject -

frozen pizza?


We'll help you do better than that. In blind tastings of frozen pizza it's been shown that customers can't tell the difference between the pizza and the box.  It's really easy to make your own pizza anyhow - just get some yeast and water and flour, mix it up, knead it for a few minutes and put in the fridge or even freezer.  I put it into plastic containers - enough dough for one pizza in each. 

Then just cook it.  And you don't have to be locked into the idea that pizza has to have tomatoes and mozzarella.  That's kind of an American invention that's based on what the take-out places provided when pizza became widely popular in the 1960s. That became so ingrained that when Wolfgang Puck did something different, he created a sensation and a became a zillionaire. Actually pizza is just some dough baked with whatever was around.  Same as foccaccia really, with a different treatment of the dough.  And those simple dishes aren't unique to Italy either, so no reason to limit yourself to Italian cheeses. 

Now that we've dispensed with all that, on to wine.  When you try something you like, try to remember what it is. Some people speak many languages and have great memories. For me, it was impossible so I started to write down the name and whatever info I had - e.g. the name of the wine, producer, where it was from, how much I paid, etc. You might keep yourself a little list.  Maybe you had something from Italy, so write that down and write down where in Italy it was from and what the name was - their wine can be very different from different places.  You don't have to write notes to yourself, just some way to remember what you liked and didn't. After a while maybe you'll notice a kind of trend to the types of wine you like.  Then you're off.

And don't get hung up on the kinds of grapes either.  That's also pretty much an American obsession that's of limited use.  We sell things that we call Merlot or Chardonnay, but we allow 25% of something else to be in there.  Good luck!


Reply by lingprof, Jul 9, 2011.

@GregT: your line about the pizza and the box is fabulous!

@riogrande: do you by chance have Trader Joe's near where you live?  It's a great place to buy inexpensive but interesting wines, and actually if you wanted to stick with boxed pizza, you could get their Black Truffle Flatbread pizza which is pretty tasty.  And they also have pre-made pizza dough, which I love.  But their newsletter also has little easy to do recipes that you can make using their products. 

I'm sure the other Snoothers, like myself, feel honored to have the chance to exchange ideas with you as you try things out in this new stage of your life...


Reply by EMark, Jul 9, 2011.

Riogrande--Let me add my condolences for your loss.  Let me also welcome you to the wonderful world of wine.  All of the previous responses have offered excellent advice.  I would like to add the following:  wine is a pleasure, not a chore.  You are perfectly free to enjoy what you enjoy.  The idea of consulting with a wine store merchant is an excellent one.  They, generally, know their business, and are very passionate.  However, I might also suggest consulting with other customers.  We love to be asked our opinion.  It may or may not be as informed as a wine professional, but I guarantee that it will be honest and heartfelt--and, believe me, you will have made somebody feel good by asking for their opinion. 

Also, of course, I encourage you to ask questions on Snooth.  The responses you get will be very informed, honest and, again, passionate.  Sometimes, however, there will be conflicting responses.  Proof positive that wine is very personal.  The other fun thing about Snooth is its international flavor.  You will see responses from around the world.

I am in no way shape or form a wine professional, but as a consumer I do buy a lot of wine.  I also cannot go into a Costco without picking up a few bottles.  Their prices are terrific.  You can be assured that whatever wine you buy there is a good value.  Who's kidding who?  A $48 bottle of something is probably (not always) going to be more enjoyable than a $8 bottle of something else.  My experience, though, is that the $8 bottle that I buy at Costco is going to be perfectly satisfactory for the price, and I will not feel that I have been cheated.  Also, the $48 bottle that I bought at Costco would probably cost $60 in a lot of other stores.

I'm sure that you are aware of the Costco "Kirkland" in-house brand name.  Currently, Costco is selling a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon under the Kirkland label with grapes from the Alexander Valley in California (just north of Napa Valley).  I have seen at least one pretty positive review of this wine. (I wish I could remember where I saw this review.)  I have not tried this wine.  However, in my next Costco expedition, I will be looking for it.

One last thing.  Have you tried the Costco refrigerated (not frozen)pizza's?  My wife (retired chef) loves the Margherita.   

Reply by riogrande, Jul 9, 2011.

Thanks to everyone for the welcome! I'm excited to be here.

@Foxall: My husband was actually a rep for Cameron Hughes at one time. He brought home some really amazing wines at surprisingly affordable prices.

@JonDerry: I will remain a fan of Costco for the prices, but I am already making some forays into my local wine shop. The buyer there is very helpful and patient with a beginner like me. I agree that when you are browsing, a dedicated wine seller is the way to go.

@GregT: Your pizza suggestion sounds suspiciously like cooking. I'm not sure I'm ready for such a big step just yet.

@lingprof: I do have a Trader Joes. Black Truffle flatbread sounds fantastic! I'll definitely look for it.

@eMark: I'm an admitted Costco addict. Even as a single person I find it worthwhile to shop there. I'll look for the Cab next time I'm there.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 9, 2011.

Wine shops are different from many other retailers because they have such a vested interest in pleasing you.  Any good wineshop should view a new wine drinker as someone to be cultivated.  Snobbery is a really bad economic decision for them.  You'll spend more as you gain confidence, so the immediate upsell is also a bad idea.  Buy a couple bottles, remember what you liked and why, tell them, give them a break if one or two aren't to your liking.  If you think it's actually gone bad, corked or cooked, take it back (sometimes the receipt is enough) and they will make it right. 

Premaking your own pizza dough is really easy, I concur.  But I also think there are a few options, like the TJs flatbreads, that are a good deal.

And when you are in TJs, although it's not my favorite place to buy wine, try a couple of the Epicuro Italian wines.  The Salice Salentino is great with pizza.  (Salice Salentino at all kinds of prices is good with pizza.)

Reply by sparks1093, Jul 12, 2011.

GregT said "When you try something you like, try to remember what it is." That's what I love about Snooth, it's a place where I can keep track of everything (it is helpful that at this point in time we are only trying new wines at home, but when we do branch out to restaurants a few notes on a piece of paper will suffice until we get home).

@Rio, welcome from a fellow newbie. One of my sons wants to attend NECI. I've eaten in one of their restaurants and know they do a good job.

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