Category Archives: Australian Wines

October’s Wine Cocktail: Caramel Apple Sangria

First real weekend in October. Leaves are starting to turn colors. There’s a chill in the air. Perhaps a sweater or two being broken out. Got a long holiday weekend ahead of you? Canadian Thanksgiving? Columbus Day? Perhaps just looking forward to hanging with friends around the fire pit? Already looking forward to Halloween? Whatever your reason to celebrate, chances are you’re looking for a new “sip”. My suggestion? Caramel apple sangria!

Wine cocktails are still a big deal and this is one you can enjoy now through Halloween as a grown up treat…and even past it to provide a fun “adult dessert drink” to finish off your Thanksgiving feasts.

Grab yourself a bottle of your favorite white…something that has some fruit to it…not anything with a heavily oaky quality. You can use anything from an unoaked or LIGHTLY oaked Chardonnay (look for something that has an apple flavor component), to a Pinot Grigio…or go the sweeter route…Rieslings, Moscato d’Asti, Vidal Blanc…even apple wines themselves!

Okay, you’ve made your wine selection. Now grab yourself a pitcher and put together the following:

2-3 apples, cored and chopped- I don’t recommend anything terribly tart. Golden Delicious is a good choice here. Place on the bottom of your pitcher.

Coat with 1/4-1/2 cup of caramel syrup, depending on how sweet you like things.

Next, pour in your selected bottle of wine, 3- 4 cups of apple cider, 1 cup of vodka (regular, caramel…heck, get creative and go with glazed doughnut flavor if you want!), and add a couple of cinnamon sticks (if you like). Stir it up, chill for 30 minutes and VOILA! Your kids may not need to worry about you raiding their candy stash after all.

Enjoy the weekend! Let me know what you think, or if you have a variation.




Sweet and Sassy in a Glass: 2011 Frisk Prickly Riesling

With the studying portion of my wine adventures finally done (for now at least), I can get back to the really IMPORTANT part of wine education…THE DRINKING! I can not begin to tell you how happy I am to be back to the glass after a very long sabbatical. I’m feeling refreshed and rowdy…which reminds me very much of my latest find from Australia in my Around the Wine World for Under $20 tour.

I stumbled across the 2011 Frisk Prickly Riesling and was immediately taken by the name. I admit, it’s not necessarily the most orthodox way to pick a wine, but let’s face it, most frisky, prickly things are anything but boring, so I figured it should also apply to wine.

This is a low alcohol Riesling, at 9.8% alcohol, so I figured it was going to be a sweet one. Being that it’s from the cooler growing region of Victoria, Australia, I was hoping it would have enough acid in it to balance it out nicely so it wouldn’t taste like a big glass of sugar water. I was not disappointed…in fact, it came with a few VERY pleasant surprises.

This little darling is intoxicating perfume on the nose. Floral notes, green apple, pear. The scent alone takes you to springtime fields. The absolutely fun surprise for me was the ‘fizz’. As the name ‘Prickly’ implies, it’s slightly frizzante, and the gentle sparkle tickles the tongue before hitting you with a sassy BANG of flavor. Bright lemon and citrus with notes of exotic lychee march out first, delivering a delicate, almost mocato-like sweetness, but then the sweetness gives way to a hint of smoke and lovely structure and balance. It finishes dry, with a crisp acidity and minerality that is wonderfully refreshing.

This little number has something for everyone and is about as versatile as they come. This would pair up perfectly with both sweet and spicy dishes, as well as being insanely good on its own. I’m seeing this one as a MUST HAVE in my ‘summer sippers.’

This is a killer bargain too! Found it for under $11. Don’t walk, run to stock up on this one. You’ll find yourself reaching for it time and time again for nearly every occasion.



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Around the Wine World For Under $20: Australia’s Sweetheart of a Tawny

I admit it, I’ve been in a rather foul mood as of late. Too much studying, packing, working, and cleaning makes your Corked Cowgirl more of a surly She-Devil. Just a few days before I take a big wine exam and I’m stressing. So what do the stressed do to soothe their frazzled nerves and placate their out of control emotions?

They turn to dessert!

And that is EXACTLY what I’ve done this evening with a sweetheart of a dessert wine from down under. I found a HECK of a deal on a rather unorthodox Tawny port-styled wine from Rutherglen in Victoria, which is one of the southernmost areas of Australia. I figured, “Under $17 for a Tawny? I spend more than that when I take the kids to Dairy Queen. Momma needs her sweetness!” So, I picked it up and decided to pour.

Tonight’s value is RL Buller’s Victoria Tawny, a blend of Carina, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Shiraz, made into a fortified wine with a whopping 18% alcohol (yes my friends, I took no chances tonight with my mood…I plan on knocking out the nasties with this one).

In the glass, it’s a bright garnet color with a few orange tints to it. It certainly LOOKS like happiness in the glass to me. But my temperament cannot be placated with mere happy appearances. Nice smell to it as well…cherry, raspberry, and hints of what smells like…Grandma’s gingersnap cookies! Also smells like toffee. Okay, this is starting to get good. I could sniff this one all day. Makes me imagine Gram and Willy Wonka concocting the stuff of my childhood dreams right there in her kitchen.

I know, I know…what does it taste like?

Sweet, delicious goodness! Not what I would expect out of a TRADITIONAL Port, but then again, this isn’t a traditional Port. This has the bright cherry flavors, along with strawberry flavors. It still pulls off some of the tastes you’d expect out of a Tawny…toffee, maybe some fig on the finish. It’s berries and bread pudding all in one. You could pair it up with dark chocolate, chocolate mousse, fresh berries, and mild cheeses…the usual fare. OR…you could be daring and pair it up with pecan pie (which would be incredible together).

Me personally? I went off the deep end and decided to try it with my Kemp’s Blackberry Chocolate Ripple ice cream.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to PURE BLISS! It matches PERFECTLY. Forget Calgon bubble bath, let the decadent flavors take you away in the most seductive dance your tongue will ever partake in.

Yes, you CAN buy happiness. It comes in a bottle of RL Buller Victoria Tawny…and you can get it for under $20.

What are you waiting for? Run to your happiness!

…I’m going to saunter off to the freezer to get seconds and pour another glass.



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Around the Wine World for $20 and Under: Welcome to Australia, Pt. 2

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to the wonderful world of Australian wine with some incredible white wines that are a STEAL when you consider the quality. St. Hallett Winery in the Barossa Valley has some of the most delicious and versatile whites I’ve tried at a value that won’t put a whooping on your wallet.

Their reds are every bit as amazing. Valentine’s Day will come every single time you pour one of these wonderful wines…I guarantee, ‘liquid love.’

The first red on the list is the ‘Gamekeeper’s Reserve’. As senior winemaker Stewart Blackwell informed me, ‘if you’re going to have a Poacher (wonderful white blend), then you NEED to have a gamekeeper.’ And trust me, you NEED this red on hand ALWAYS.

This is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, and a splash of Touriga Nacional, which is a traditional Portuguese variety. A color I like to refer to as ‘Lover Red’ splashes into the glass on the pour, with a slightly smoky, slightly cherry, and definitely rosy perfume on the nose. If you’re a fan of French wines, let me just say, this one is ‘Cote du Rhone on speed!’

Mouthwatering, juicy, strawberries and raspberries seduce the tongue with just a slight smoky taste on the finish. This one is a light one with very few tannins, so you don’t have to worry about that ‘sweater on the tongue’ feeling. Pinot Noir lovers will want to hug this sweetheart of a wine, and those that are shy about trying red wines will want to make this one their first. You could even chill this one like a rose and drink it during the summer months. Pair it up with a good bacon cheeseburger, roasted chicken, or even a steak. This is truly an every day wine! At $12.00, you’ll most DEFINITELY want to drink it every day!

Next on the list is the Gamekeeper’s Shiraz, made from 100% Shiraz grapes. This one sort of took me by surprise. Deep, inky, red color was pretty, but I took a whiff, and the only thing I could think of was that it smelled like a West Texas dust storm. There was a little hint of cocoa, but that dusty smell was a powerhouse. I was hesitant to take that sip, but when I did, GOOD GOD THAT’S GOT AWESOME FRUIT! I didn’t see it coming. It has the most amazing cherry, plum, and raspberry flavor with ribbons of smooth vanilla dancing in your mouth. This wine is like your Grandma’s homemade berry pie in liquid form. This may very well be my new favorite BBQ wine. The two together are most definitely soul mates. This wine could be paired with most anything, but I’m telling you right now, this is the wine to go to for burnt ends and short ribs. At $15.00, I’m going to be doing barbecuing a WHOLE lot more.

Finally, I jumped into the St Hallett Faith Shiraz, another wine made of 100% Shiraz grapes, but a whole different personality than the Gamekeeper’s Shiraz. Referred to by Stewart as a ‘young’ Shiraz (from 50 year old vines), it looks like a jewel in the glass with its purplish-garnet color.

I almost couldn’t take my nose out of the glass, it smelled like heaven. The most intoxicating aromas of cocoa and raspberry were almost hypnotic…yes, it’s THAT good…and the taste lives up to the reviews from your nose, with the most delicious cocoa streak running over a sea of raspberry and a cherry slide into the finish.

This wine would be perfect with pizza or pasta….in fact it would be GREAT on spaghetti night, but I say grab your favorite chocolate and indulge yourself. It’s okay, at $15.00 you can definitely pamper yourself.

Again, a big thank you to Stewart Blackwell for the delightful conversation and the most delicious introduction to the wines of St Hallett. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more…and at this value, you’ll be enjoying them for a long time to come as well.




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Around the Wine World for $20 and Less: Welcome to Australia!

As promised, I am kicking off my ‘world tour’ in finding wonderfully inexpensive deals on REALLY good wine. Our first stop is Australia, where I will drown you in a whole host of tastes from down under…all without breaking the bank.

When you think of Australia, most often you’ll think of those big, fruity Shiraz blends, as there are a ton of them being produced. The hard part is to know which ones to pick. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised to find some really good white wines and dessert wines there as well.

I managed to stumble quite luckily on to a winery that happens to make some INCREDIBLE reds AND whites…and they’re a BARGAIN!

So, let’s introduce you to Australia with a trip to Barossa in South Australia with the wines of St Hallett Winery.

I had the good fortune of meeting Stuart Blackwell, senior winemaker at St Hallett at my favorite ‘wine haunt’ in the Kansas City area: Wine Flights in Leawood, KS. Stuart was promoting the ‘old vine’ Shiraz grown in Barossa Valley that has earned the winery some serious acclaim, as well as the delicious whites from just up the road in Eden Valley.

The first wine was a ‘whimsical’ white called “Poacher’s Blend”, a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Reisling, that got it’s name because Stuart originally STOLE THE GRAPES! Stuart is a bit of a heathen…and a bit of a kindred spirit.

Back to the wine: this one is the perfect party wine! Doesn’t matter if you’ve got friends that like sweet wines and friends that like dry whites…they will ALL love this semi-dry darling. Pale straw color, tropical fruit on the nose, and luscious melon, lime, ripe mango, and pineapple on the tongue. It’s not a thick, heavy wine. It’s light, refreshing, and low in alcohol so you can drink this one all night long! If you decide not to just drink the whole thing by itself, and NEED to eat something, I’d pair it up with seafood…crab in particular…but any light fish or shrimp would be good. Actually, I’d probably pair it up with spicy Thai food. The sweet, light taste would balance out the fire of the spice. Best part of this wine? It’ll only set you back $11-12. Stock up!

The second white I tried was the 2009 Eden Valley Riesling. Let me warn you right now…this is NOT a SWEET Riesling like you’d find out of Germany. It’s drier, but wonderfully refreshing and unlike any other Riesling you will ever try. This one has a pale straw color as well, but the nose is going to knock you for a loop. Strong scent of lime and…well, rocks. Wet rocks. And it’s the same thing when you take that first sip…shocking minerality and a HUGE punch of lime. It’s like putting a rock in one cheek and half a fresh lime in the other, and mixing it up. I know that doesn’t sound terribly good, but for whatever reason, it’s FANTASTIC! Pair it up with fresh oysters or, much like the other, with shellfish or even Pad Thai. This would totally rock with Pad Thai! Also like the ‘Poacher’s Blend’, this one won’t break the bank either. Expect to pay around $15.

For more info on Poacher’s Blend, check out Stuart in this video:

Or, for a more laid-back, Corked Cowgirl type of approach, watch my interview with Stuart himself on my YouTube channel:

Next up: the Amazing Reds of St Hallett as we continue our ‘walkabout’ in Australia for $20 and under.




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