Folded Mountains Majesty (er, an A-rated wine from Aldi)

Dave returns (!) with a review (!!) of a beer from…well, duh, Aldi. Is it worth the money? Does it get a good grade?

Folded Mountains

Folded Mountains Pale Ale

Hello, sports fans. I’m back. (I won’t bore you with the gory details of my absence; suffice it to say I can now tolerate some libations. And I’m also visiting Aldi again.)

I thought I’d return to what made me happy about beer – the pale ale – and used the most recent trip to Aldi as an excuse. So let’s give this one a try: Folded Mountains Pale Ale. From Aldi. Did I mention I got it at Aldi?

Taste

In a word: Hoppy. That, to me, is a good thing. I want a pale ale that pushes the boundaries between hoppy goodness and IPA bitterness. (I have discovered, through years of research, that my own preference would be an IBU figure of about 45.) This one has to be right in that zone, I would bet.

Allow me to apologize for being wrong all these years. The correct term is “International Bittering Units.” I thought it was “Bitterness.” Oops. Metasip regrets the error.

My all-time favorite beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and this reminded me a ton of that. (Foreshadowing the eventual grade for this one.)

Profile

5.3% ABV. One is plenty for the aging beer-drinker with cluster headaches. (Brewed in Rochester, NY.)

Value

If memory serves, I spent $6.99 on the six-pack.

Let’s talk about pricing for a second, not on this stuff, but on all ales. WHAT GIVES? I’m telling you, it’s like I took a break from drinking, came back, and everyone raised the price on everything. Why? Because they can? Because they should? Supply and Demand? The FDA?

Srsly, $10 is becoming about the norm for a six-pack of anything “craft brewed” – and I get it, you need to charge a premium, but I’m all like “whoa!”

Metasip Grade: A

Yeah, I’m going there. This is an A-rated beer, and I don’t care that we give out so few As and it’s been at least a year since I rated beer here. From the first sip to the last, this beer reminded me of Sierra Nevada, and that’s a really good thing.

Please go get some. Thank me later.

 

After Three Sips of This Beer, I Read the Label…and What I Found Shocked Me!

Another beverage knock-off from our friends at Aldi. But this one…

Boot Tread Amber AleWe’re back with another review of another beer – but we’re also having a little fun with this fact: Writing ridiculous headlines that ask people to click on a post can only work if you (1) have something interesting to say and (b) use too much hyperbole. So, while the real headline here should be something like “An Aldi Beer that’s 11 (or so) Ounces” or, more accurately, “Boot Tread Amber Ale Review,” we went with what’s called a “BuzzFeed-style Clickbait Headline.” Reality: After Three Sips of This Beer, I Read the Label…And What I Found Shocked Me!

Consider yourself an SEO test case. We’re gonna see how well this works.

Boot Tread Beer Review

Honestly, I picked this up because I was at Aldi and it was a “Belgium Amber Ale.” And it had a very “where have I seen that label before?” look to the bottle. (Hint: Fat Tire.) And the price was good – or so I thought! – leading me to say “what the heck?”

Taste

Closer to Blue Moon in taste – an assistant Metasip taster said “that is like Blue Moon, but hoppier” – I found it to be rather average, actually. Not even close to Fat Tire: too much of a wheat beer feel for me.

Profile

Again, wheat. If I had to guess, I’d put the IBUs at about 10 or 15.

Value

Here’s where the “scandal” comes in:

11 point 2

IT’S NOT A 12-OUNCE BOTTLE!

Math: $6.49 for a 6-pack, 11.2 ounces per bottle, equals roughly 9.657 cents per ounce. OR, if this were a 12-ounce bottle, we’d actually be looking at $6.95 for a 6-pack.

Since Fat Tire is normally about $8.99 a six-pack, this is a value in comparison. (If you’re comparing to Blue Moon – price of that vs. Fat Tire is pretty much a wash.)

Why 11.2 ounces? No idea.

Metasip Grade: B

I wasn’t wowed by this beer, and found it too close to Blue Moon and not close enough to Fat Tire to fit into a nice, clean category. Were it a direct knock-off, like the last Aldi beer we reviewed, it would get a higher grade. But no.

After Three Sips I Read the Label…

Okay, what I found didn’t actually shock me, but it did have me question why there’s .8 ounces less per bottle than the norm.

Quick Take: DrinkersBox

As we mention our latest Quick Take, we’ve learned that the fastest way to critical mass in selling alcohol-related products…is not to sell alcohol.

Metasip Quick Takes

Think about that for a half-second – while we tell you that this is an AFFILIATE LINK to today’s “Quick Take” – here in the USA, 50 different states have 50 different sets of rules about selling and shipping alcohol. And there’s that whole thing with “reciprocal states;” it might be worth your while to establish residence in some states to be able to drink their stuff. Bringing us to a unique service called “DrinkersBox” and their monthly mystery box: everything but the alcohol. It’s INSANELY clever. From the site:

“Brought to you by the guys who’ve brought you the awesome reviews on TheDrunkPirate.com for the past 7 years, DrinkersBox is a monthly box full of awesome drinking-related gadgets, apparel, hangover cures and anything else the postal service will let us ship – All automagically delivered to your door each month.”

Here’s a screengrab of what their actual box looks like – it varies from month to month, but might be worth trying out!

DrinkersBox

 

10 Underrated Cheap Red Wines

Realizing we have a decent history of drinking (er, “tasting”) here at Metasip World HQ, we thought we’d look back into the vault and figure out the 10 Best in the Red Category.

Cheap Red WinesLet’s be honest here: the world of the internet adores lists. We’re not alone, as we have to admit to having tried the “Listicle” thing recently (see: Metakitchen) and not-so-recently (see: 10 White Wines). In fact, it was that very post on White Wines that reminded us…we promised everyone a list of 10 Red Wines. Darnit! We’re slow to the draw, or we got busy doing other stuff, or we decided to give up drinking alcohol for Lent. Alas, we’re back, with the “better late than never” listicle: 10 Underrated Cheap Red Wines.

Define: “Underrated…”

By “underrated,” we mean just that. It’s also a subjective term, so feel free to argue with us on whether or not the wine we’re talking about qualifies – if you’ve never seen it rated anywhere, is it REALLY underrated? And if we say it’s an “A-” or “B+,” does that mean that you’ll think we’ve rated it highly in comparison to other wines, and thus when you try it you’ll say it’s “overrated?”

Work with us here…we’re going to go with “wines that we’ve found that have scored a B+ or better rating…and fit with the definition of “cheap.”

Define: “Cheap…”

I don’t know…under $10? Under $20? This is also subjective. But, from our days slinging wine at Costco, we can tell you that we’ve had some people tell us their threshold for quality IS $10! Yes, they won’t pay LESS than $10, even if the wine is outstanding at $9.99.

Our view – as you may have guessed from our trips to places like Aldi and Trader Joe’s – is actually different. We’re willing to pay more than $10, sure, but we’ve found that both our palate and our budget can do just fine at $5 sometimes.

So here we go: it’s our list, and, well, if you disagree with the ten…let us know.

10 Underrated Cheap Wines

1. Here’s one from Aldi, and Australia

Lil Koala ShirazWe have to admit that this is one of those wine reviews we did that we didn’t realize would take off like (virtual) (non-viral) wildfire. Why? Bloomberg picked it up. (This was awhile back, and our searching skills aren’t what they used to. We found a really good article on the site from right around that time, on the differences between the Aussie dollar and the US dollar, and why that means good wine coming here: Bloomberg Article.)

Here’s that glorious article on Lil’ Koala.

You might end up sensing a theme here: we love the wine values you find at Aldi. But it’s not the only place you can get underrated cheap wine.

2. A surprise from Walmart

Oak Leaf Metasip

This one really fits the “cheap” category: Three Bucks!

Part of a video review series:

Walmart! (Note that the photo is a Cabernet; the video review is of a Merlot. We’ve generally had good luck with the Oak Leaf label.)

3. An Italian Masterpiece?

Masterpiece might be a little much. But this is a Monetpulciano D’Abruzzo, and it’s from Aldi. We reviewed this one in video format:

Aldi’s cousin, or sibling, or…well, you’ve heard various themes on the story about Trader Joe’s but they strike with item 4:

4. Charles Shaw!

Charles ShawWe’ve heard different things about good old Chuck. Some of the grapes are really solid in Charles Shaw sub-three-dollar format. Others are a little more meh. (This one, incidentally, only got an overall grade of “B” from this reviewer; as we compared it to other sub-$4 reds and found the value to not be there in comparison. But it still was a more-than-serviceable Shiraz.)

This one? Pretty good. Shiraz. We’d say “go with it.”

[BREAK TIME! Or, more accurately, ADVERTISEMENT: At the Plonk Wine Club, we do the picking and you do the drinking! We do all the work so that you don’t have to. ]

5. La Finca Tempranillo from…

La Finca TempranilloYah, you hear Tempranillo and you think “Spain.” Then you see that it’s actually from Mendoza in Argentina and you think…really?

We liked this one, as you can see at the original blog post.

6. Yet Another Red from Aldi…

Flirty Bird 2012 Syrah

We’ve had some REALLY good luck with Aldi wines, as you have likely figured from watching this site over the past couple years. This red, though…Flirty Bird. Falls into the “great price” category. And the “great everything else” category. Got an A from this reviewer.

7. Portugal in the House

Monte Velho 2011 Red Blend

Monte Velho 2011 Red Blend

All right, this one is close to the edge: $10 or so. Still, it’s the bomb. It’s Monte Velho 2011 Red Wine. We gave it a grade of A-, and that we equates to about a 90 or 91 on the 100-point scale. Well, well worth the money.

8. Aldi…AGAIN? REALLY?

Grate Red Toscana Rosso

Yeah, this one – Grate Red Toscana Rosso – scored a B+. But you need to find it – we haven’t seen it in awhile. “Perfect for anything grilled” according to the label, so MAYBE we’ll see it again soon.

9. Winking Owl Shiraz

The Winking Owl Shiraz is one of the first Aldi wines we tried for the site. And it, too, got a B+. (Sorry, photo not available. Blame the hackers.)

10. Finally, a wine that only got a “B” but…

Vina Decana 2009 Tempranillo

Vina Decana Tempranillo. When we first rated this one, we said it could very well be a house wine for years to come. And, if you haven’t experimented with Tempranillo yet, this is a good one to experiment with.

And, there you have it. Our listicle. For you.

10 Underrated Cheap Red Wines

Let us know in the comments if you agree with any of these choices, or want to suggest your own!

 

 

YAO MING MAKES WINE! OMG!

We have never, in our history here at Metasip, been driven to immediately stop what we are doing and go straight to the blog and post something with a title in all caps. Until today.

Yao Ming

Photo courtesy sporta.com.

There he is, all smiles. Yao Ming. Chinese basketball megastar. The first Chinese national to play in the NBA, Yao gained fame in the 2000s, and helped the game continue to grow globally. And, it turns out, he is using that superstardom and fame back home to make wine. People: YAO MING MAKES WINE! OMG!

I’ll admit: this sneaked up on me. I wasn’t expecting this AT ALL, but…it does make total sense.

I was going about my business actually…my business is that of site manager for two burgeoning properties here on the web: Not just Metasip (where you are right now) but also Metakitchen (where you will soon visit, and sign up to Like on Facebook, and Tweet with and…). Part of this mission includes the mantra of “subscribe to everything,” since we don’t know what we don’t know (and we also want to make sure that we have the right stuff in our own email newsletter when we launch it).

Imagine my surprise, then, when reading a great Wine Enthusiast post on “Pairing Wine with Mother Sauces,” I saw an ad on the right hand side of the page. For a wine. With the name “Yao Ming.” I did not know that Yao Ming makes wine.

YAO MING MAKES WINE! OMG!

We’ll stop yelling, now that we have your attention.

Yao at Work

Courtesy yaofamilywines.com

A couple of notes about this particular wine that caught our eye:

  1. It is NOT cheap. The folks over at WineExpress will sell you a bottle for under $90. (Link provided as a public service; we don’t make anything if you buy from that link.)
  2. It has been well-received by the wine community, it appears. The video from the tasting guy at WineExpress, Josh Farrell, tells us it’s got “a nice chocolate note, black cherry, black currants.” “Made by someone who knows what they are doing.” AND…”this will really show something in five to eight years.”
  3. Yao Ming might be the smartest guy on the planet. Look at the label:

Yao Ming Wine

Am I going to buy this wine? NO. You can buy me a bottle, and, if you work for Yao’s winery, I’m happy to taste-test a bottle and give it a review. That’s not likely though…and, that’s okay. I’m not the target audience.

This label is insanely smart because it has a photo of a vineyard, the name “Yao Ming,” the grape (Cab; the one tasted by Wine Express is from 2010, the photo is from Houston Press and shows a 2009 vintage), and the words “Napa Valley.”

At roughly $90 a bottle for a California Cabernet, Americans will likely pass and suggest a bigger name Cab. But the growing Chinese wealthy class will gobble this stuff up – not only is it from a premier region for Cabs, it’s also has Yao’s name on it.

Have You Had This Wine?

If you have sampled Yao Ming’s wine – any year is fine with us – we’d love to hear from you. Until we do, slow clap for Mr. Yao. Finding that niche – Chinese people who consume wine – and leveraging your good name to give them something of value…nice move.

 

Ready for Metakitchen?

“And now for something completely different…” Except, in this case, it’s not completely different.

Metakitchen LogoMetasip is certainly a fun site to work on, and it’s been a real blast building community around this concept – which we’ve described to stakeholders as “like Yelp, but for alcohol.” And we’re not going anywhere for awhile: we’re still building a network of bloggers and reviewers and even just people who will tag us on Instagram when they drink something. That’s fun. But it’s the starting line, and this is more like the decathlon to us. So we’re talking about a brand extension and we’re asking you, gentle reader: are you ready for Metakitchen?

What we’ve learned so far – both leading up to this week and after the site went live on Wednesday – is that there’s a need for the independent food and wine blogger to have access to brands. Not just the big brands, but the up-and-comers as well. (In fact, MORESO for the up-and-comers.)

We’ve seen it in the beer, wine, and spirits world, and, for example, this week’s meme about the Top 20 US Beers by sales volume really got us wondering. Not because we’re wondering what’s wrong with America, but because we want to help brands 21 through 21,000. (To quote one of my mantras for the year: “Chef don’t judge.” I believe that’s from Chef Boyardee.)

For now, here’s what you need to know: Metakitchen is a hub for food and beverage bloggers, you can connect with us on Facebook, and we’re happy to have dialogue with you – here at Metasip or over at Metakitchen – about how we can help you.

Ready for Metakitchen?

Thought so. Glad to have you aboard.

 

 

Quick Takes: Wine Bee

Metasip Quick Takes

Hey, we’re back with another Quick Take – in this one, we introduce you to Wine Bee, a unique site that takes you all around Italy – twenty wine regions covered by their buyers – to . As with all the Quick Takes so far, this is an Affiliate Link, which means if you take advantage of a deal by clicking on this link, we’ll be compensated. But if we get compensated, we can keep bringing these Metasip reviews to you. And other cool stuff. Time for you to meet Wine Bee!

Quick Take: Wine Bee

WineBee.com is the link, and what we noticed first about the site is the imagery. I love wine, but, to quote Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”

But back to wine for a second or two…

Cavalchina Bardolino DOC

Yum. This guy over here looks like a steal at $16.40 per bottle. I think I want two.

NOTES on this wine: “The grapes used for this Veneto region wine mature late and it is necessary for there to be a good climate at the end of the season to realize the potential of these grapes. When this happens we have one of the most distinguished wines in the Italian panorama: not too deep in color but with an intense bouquet, nuances of cherries and marasca. On the palate it has a persistent peppery, spicy character.

“To ensure these characteristics the grapes are, after destalking and pressing, fermented for 72 hours at 280C then the temperature is lowered to 220C up to the end of the fermentation, to avoid over extraction of tannins. The average maceration is 10 days followed by the malolactic fermentation. The wine is kept for 3 months in stainless steel vats.”

This is one of the…well, it looked like HUNDREDS of wines on the WineBee.com site.

Give it a try, you may like what you taste over there.

Big Asterisk Here: only a few states are on their list – “We provide shipments to the following states: California, Alaska, District of Columbia, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, West Virginia and Wyoming.”

See you next time for another Quick Take.

SIA Scotch Whisky

We write, we do videos. Choose either or both. We aim to please. As for this whisky…I guess it aims to please, too!

I remember the glee when I got the email from the SIA brand manager. “Can we send you a bottle to review?” Well, yee-ha! Of course, brand manager for SIA Scotch Whisky, you can send me a bottle to review, I’d be happy to review it! (This serves as one of many requisite disclosures that I received a bottle, at no cost to me, and that was what was reviewed.)

[BTW, if you’d rather just see the video, here it is:]

 

SIA Scotch WhiskyWhat they sent me wasn’t this flask (pictured, Left) – in fact, the thing they sent me (which you’ll see if you watch the video) is closer to something you might have used in Chemistry class. Just the right amount for me to sample.

Anyway, let’s find out if this is any good…to the review machine!

SIA Scotch Whisky Review

First thing I noticed in the marketing materials? “Winner: Double Gold, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2014.” So I’ll go out on a limb and say this stuff has to be pretty top-notch, right? And, really, why would they spend their time sending some to little ol’ me?

Let’s break it down, though, comparing their marketing notes to my own tasting:

Taste:

They said “The color of clover honey, SIA awakens the nose with citrus and spice and opens the palate with the smokey vanilla crunch of a creme brulee.” Me: I didn’t really get the citrus and spice on the nose, but the vanilla, caramel, creme brulee smell and taste were both there. I liked it – as I said in the video (and they also said in their materials) “not overpowering.”

Profile:

“An ultra-premium blend with a high malt to grain ratio (40/60%). Regional breakdown is Speyside (50%), Highlands (40%) and Islay (10%).”

ABV of 43% – it’s 86 Proof.

Value:

You can buy a 750ml bottle over at Ezra’s for $50. It’s a good value, we think – you’re not going to be knocking it back over a weekend, right?

Metasip Grade: A-

We tasted it in the video and graded it A-; we would have changed that, honestly, if the price was a lot higher. But at $50, that does sound like a value.

Not Your Fathers Root Beer

Whoa. Like, I think I found my new favorite…what IS this stuff, anyway?

Not Your Fathers Root Beer

It’s clever, this “Not Your Father’s Root Beer,” which we sampled for the first time yesterday – though, to be honest, it wasn’t the first time we had a “spiked” root beer, having sampled some last summer at a place called the Courthouse Pub in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. This stuff, BTW, is from Wisconsin, too – Small Town Brewery, LaCrosse, WI, – and it’s cool to see some things coming from the Dairy State that do not have the name New Glarus attached to them. (No offense.) Finally, we know that we have “Fathers” in the title without an apostrophe, and we did that for SEO purposes, so…well, it’s our website.

To the review!

Not Your Fathers Root Beer Review

Before we get into the whole “Taste,” “Profile,” “Value” thing, I need to address something. I gave up soda almost five years ago. You can learn more about that quest over at the 10KaYear blog. I want to tell you – er, rationalize – why this isn’t cheating, with these two reasons: (1) This particular “Root Beer” is not soda – I consider soda to be stuff like Coke and Pepsi, the traditional sugar water that is really bad for you. In fact, the bottle itself says “Ale.” Let’s go with it. (2) This was research. Just like I would have tonic water in a Vodka Tonic for tasting, or I would cave and have a splash of soda, or a Coke in Jim Beam and Coke or Rum and Coke, it’s part of the job.

Taste

Where this got me – really GOT me – was its non-traditional root-beer-y-ness. That is not a word, and I don’t care. It tasted like root beer at first, but wasn’t all foamy and frothy. Didn’t seem all that carbonated, either. The kicker was, well, the kicker – almost had a Jaegermeister feel on the finish. Not clean, bordering on medicinal. But oh, so good. Yes, I felt like I was drinking root beer – but from the stand root beer, not that crap from the can.

Profile

ABV of 5.9% – but there are limited editions with up to 19.5% alcohol. (Wait, WHAT?) Officially, according to the website, “Ale with the taste of spices.” Amazingly, oddly, puzzlingly…only available in draft in Illinois.

Value

$10.99 for a six pack has the potential to lower the overall Metasip Grade for this brew. At almost two bucks per bottle, it had better be darn close to amazing to get an “A.”

Metasip Grade: A.

I’m telling you, this is one of the most outstanding beers of any variety we have had anywhere. That good. Highly, highly recommended. Our highest rating. We can’t stop talking about how great this stuff is.

Kinroo Blue Belgian White Ale

For the first time ever, the Aldi people actually talked this one up to me. Sorta. Here’s more…

Kinroo Blue Belgian White Ale

No lion (see what I did there?), Kinroo Blue Belgian White Ale from Aldi is supposed to be just like Blue Moon. The namesake beer and the one that launched a rather successful brewery, Blue Moon is known for being the one you put an orange in when you serve it, I guess. Blue Moon is a Belgian White Ale. Belgium used to own a good chunk of Africa; Kinrooi is a place in Belgium; the imagery on the front of the box and bottle are rather Safari-esque; I have explained my joke with no less than three semi-colons.

Enough. To the review.

Kinroo Blue Belgian White Ale Review

I mentioned above that they talked this up at Aldi. Yup, I was at the checkout and, while the beer was being scanned, the Aldi person actually said “that’s our answer to Blue Moon.” So I don’t think they’re trying to hide that fact. The similarities are pretty obvious, no? Orange peel. Coriander. The word “Blue.” Belgian. (Except this one is actually imported from Belgium. Score one for Dave’s lineage!)

Taste

What’s crazy about this? Easiest thing to do is to share my notes from the Facebook page from a couple weeks ago. (Along with a friendly reminder that you should totally become a fan of Metasip on Facebook.)

Kinroo Blue FB Review

Gee, I pretty much wrote the whole review, right?

A couple footnotes to that Facebook post: I’m not kidding, any sort of white ale gives me a headache. Blue Moon is notorious for doing so.  But I enjoy it and I’ll go out on a limb and say I have an above-average “palate memory.” It’s a knock-off and that’s okay.

Profile

HOWEVER…I’m a little off when it comes to the ABV comparison – this one has a little less alcohol than Blue Moon. Kinroo Blue is 5% ABV, so you could technically drink more in a sitting than Blue Moon, whose 5.4% could be enough to knock you over the edge. (Maybe THAT’S the reason for my headaches?)

FYI, on the Untappd site, which we like, there are some reviews of Kinroo Blue, which is, indeed, brewed in Belgium by Brouwerij Martens in Bocholt, Belgium.

Value

See above – $6.99 for a six-pack. Works for me.

Metasip Grade: B+

Probably because Blue Moon is enjoyable – but not outstanding. And this beer is enjoyable and a better value than Blue Moon, and, if a shade more than a buck a beer is your speed for a Blue Moon, this is about right. Way above average, but not worthy of an “A” rating.

As always, let us know if you disagree.