Category Archives: Special SPGL Events

Wine Dinner Night Out


red wineMy blog just asked, “Was it something I said?” because I’ve not posted since 3/31! No, Blog, it’s me. I’ve been blogging for others. For money. But I’m back to report on a very special event I attended at the end of April – a wine dinner. That’s right. I sometimes actually leave the house and do something social. I haven’t done one of these dinners in years and now I remember why they’re so appealing. Wonderful food paired with amazing wines, presented by people who really understand the concept.

Spagio’s Wine Dinner
Spagio’s is a restaurant in Grandview, Ohio that’s been open for close to 30 years. It’s one of those places that maintains an impossibly high standard of creative food preparation due to Chef Hubert Seifert’s talent and experience.

In addition to a chance to make a trip back to Spagio’s, my friend Colin Gregory recently became the restaurant’s Wine & Spirits Director (don’t you just love that title?) and presides over the Wine Lounge. It’s in the lounge that the wine dinner took place. I went with pal Ali, who happens to be Colin’s girlfriend. So, enough intro. On to the dinner!

Triumph Cellars Hosts
Calistoga, California’s Triumph Cellars owner Roger Louer hosted the event with Colin and Chef Hubert. It’s always a treat to meet the person that oversees creation of the wines. Here’s what was on the menu:

Amuse Bouche
Crisp Feuille De Brie

Filled with olives, goat cheese and almonds. This was a phyllo dough filled with those goodies. It was passed around as we mingled with other guests and met Roger.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.

The tasty treat was as good as it sounds and the richness of it was countered by the crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc. I often find this wine to be too grassy and lightweight, but this one was bigger, fruitier and nicely balanced.

Shrimp Bisque
Garnished with creme fraiche & spicy shrimp.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Chardonnay.

I have to say I’m in the “ABC” contingent – Anything But Chardonnay, so keep that in mind. But this was wonderful. So much so that I was tempted to buy a couple bottles. Again, what stood out was the balance – not too oak-y or over-orchestrated, like someone tried too hard. Nice!

Arugula Salad
With roasted red peppers, feta cheese, tomato, red onion & sherry vinaigette.
Paired with the Sauvignon Blanc.

First of all, I’m a huge fan of arugula and this was a standout salad. Not one I’d immediately think of having with that wine. But it worked, even with the sherry dressing.  OK, on to the BIG wines…

Grilled Diver Scallops Wrapped in Thurns Double-Smoked Bacon
Served over celery root puree and finished with chipotle beurre blanc.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.

OMG, this was incredible! Diver scallops are one of my faves. What surprised me was the Cab did not overwhelm the scallops. The bacon was probably partly responsible for the nice complement. Have to say I’m also not a Cab fan. I love reds, but most Cabs are too big and alcoholic for me. This one was really wonderful and fruit forward.

Wait, there’s MORE! Ikr?

Oven Roasted Veal Loin
Served with risotto cake, caramelized carrots & a light porcini reduction.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Reserve Cabernet.

Who doesn’t love a porcini reduction with red meat? Yikes. It was fantastic. The wine was a perfect example of why a reserve gets the big bucks. There was an extra element that made this wine incredibly jammy, balanced and perfect with the veal.

Are you counting? That’s five courses so far and five wines. The finale was fun AND there was more wine…But before dessert, we were served a nice bonus – a very special red. 2007 Roberts and Rogers Howell Mountain Cab Napa Valley. Wow! This is an $80 wine and they were pouring generous glasses. I’ve had more expensive wines (and as you know if you read this blog, much less expensive wines I’ve loved), but this was sensational. Now keep in mind, this is technically wine #6, but we had the Sauvignon Blanc twice. I would love to try this red another time when I’m not in a semi-coma from food and really feeling the other wines.

Key Lime Tart
This was served with a “Surprise Wine Selection.” Colin, Roger and Chef chose a local Ohio wine – white, off-dry, not quite a dessert wine but it paired well with the tartness of the key lime.

Although this was officially the dinner’s end, we were treated to a Port after-dinner wine – NV Calistoga Port. I like Port, but I’m not going to buy and open a bottle just for me. It was a nice finish to the evening.

So – great night, fabulous food, new wines  and great company. Maybe I’ll try to get out more…


We Explore Southern Writers and Krispy Kremes: Weigh In


I thought it would be fun to veer from the usual SPGL format and interview a writer pal. Amy Mullis is a published author, humor writer and food enthusiast. Amy lives in South Carolina, “in a suburb of Sugar Tit, which is possibly the best thing that could happen to a humorist.” 

Amy and I met several years ago while writing for a digital magazine and immediately bonded over our finely-tuned sense of humor, inability to pay attention in meetings and love of Krispy Kremes.

SPGL: Welcome, Amy!

AM: “First I’d like to say that I love your blog. I regularly stop by to read it, but I don’t always comment because the lists make me hungry and I wander off for a snack. Also, I’ve noticed that your lists often contain wine. Handy tip:  I save money by substituting comparable but thriftier items, such as juice from the grapes I forgot to throw out last month.  Always remember that good things can come from refrigerator harvests.”

SPGL: Thanks for the plug, A! You’re a talented and successful writer. Here’s a question about your “process” – Do you live to write or do you live to eat? (Since this is a food-focused blog, I have to ask the hard questions.)

AM: “I believe that eating and writing can coexist peacefully. I haven’t seen an essay yet that isn’t made better by a smudge of chocolate and a sprinkling of crushed pecans. And raspberry filling. And whipped cream. And… could you excuse me a second? I have to go check on something in the snack aisle.”

SPGL: I know from previous chats that you’re quite a fan of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. As a writer, do those misspellings bother you? Is glazed your favorite?

AM: “Krispy Kreme originated in my back yard. Not my actual back yard because they’d be covered in red mud, but in the “other” Carolina just over the border.  So I thought Krispy Kreme was the correct spelling until I conducted in-depth research on Google five minutes ago. But people that spell doughnuts without the “ugh”?  I have ughly thoughts about them. (See what I did there? I call that humor. My kids call that an excuse to roll their eyes like Atlantic City dice.)  Also, I’ve had a flirtation with glazed for years, but my blood runneth raspberry cream. Or kreme. Either one makes my arteries go pitter pat.”

SPGL: You live in SC. We Northerners believe that y’all (is that correct?) live on chicken-fried steak and grits. Have you ever made a sandwich replacing bread w/ chicken-fried steak?

AM: “You can’t replace bread with chicken fried steak because done correctly there is gravy on top and that would send the whole meal into the “gooshy stuff we eat over the sink” category.  (Interesting fact: There is also chicken fried chicken which is not the same as fried chicken although it’s fried. And chicken. Go figure.) However, if you’ll check with Paula Deen (referenced below and who always, I mean ALWAYS, looks like a zombie in her photographs and who is probably planning a meal around chicken fried brainz) you can make a sandwich using a sliced doughnut for bread. Add bacon and it’s nature’s perfect food. Y’all.”

SPGL: According to Southern cook Paula Deen, TV Star and High Priestess of Fat Content, recipes should always stick to a 75% fat to 25% sugar ratio. Would you weigh in on that?

AM: “Never say “weigh” to a Southerner.”

SPGL thanks Amy for taking the time to stop by, especially since she had to put down a donut to focus. Catch more of her on her blog, Mind Over Mullis and on An Army of Ermas, where she’s a regular contributor.


Virtual Wine Tasting Event!


Hey, it’s happy hour, right? Or maybe just “less than morbidly depressed” hour. But whatever/whoever you are, welcome to our virtual cheap wine tasting event. Although this is a Single People’s Grocery Lists blog, all are welcome, especially to drink and report on cheap, good wines.

A couple disclaimers and thoughts:

  1. I’m not a pro, I just buy and drink at amateur status.
  2. Also, we don’t judge here (kind of like AA only a wee bit more fun) – if you like White Zinfandel and/or box wines, more power to you! I have wine-snobbish pals who have turned up their noses at a nice dry rose (that’s ro-say, but I don’t know where the accent thing-y is.) Hey, their loss!
  3. If you go to a wine store or wine dept. and they treat you like an idiot, leave and find a friendly wine person who is willing to educate you.
  4. Drink responsibly – no driving, texting, rotating tires or heavy-duty childcare whilst imbibing.
  5. Enjoy!

I’ll start w/ some of my faves:


I’m partial right now to Spanish and Argentine reds. What’s nice is that the prices so far are reasonable.

These are OH prices, so I have no idea if you’ll find these wines OR what the prices will be in your area.

Baguala Malbec 2008 Valles Calcharquies — $6.99 I LOVE this wine. In fact, I’ve ordered about 6 cases of it.  NOT ALL AT ONCE, OK!
Marques De Montana Garnacha – $6.99 You’ve probably had Grenache by itself or in a blend of table red.
Di Majo Norante Sangiovese – $9.99 OK, I know that’s a heady price, but this is a great wine. It’s Italian and try any Sangiovese you can get your hands on. Sometimes a blend, too.
Condesa De Sarabella – $7.49 For some reason I started calling this Spanish red “Condoleezza” and that was before what’s-his-name had the hots for her. Nicely balanced. Not amazing, but good.

These are all wines I found at Trader Joe’s. If God hasn’t blessed you w/ a Trader Joe’s, start a petition.

On to whites after I sign onto the lappie down near the wine fridge. For convenience of course…


I should have said in the disclaimer portion that I’m really not much of an American wine fan, at least not CA wines. And I am in the ABC club (Anything But Chardonnay). I like different white varietals like Gruner Veltliner. I promise you if you go to work tomorrow and say you tried one last night, they will think you went to a crazy, underground Austrian after-hours club.

Rene Barbier Mediterranean White – Catalunya – $4.99 I know! This is a go-to summer fave. White Spanish blend.

Tierra De Luna Torrontes/Chard blend -$6.99 I know what I said about Chards, but this is an Argentine blend. You may not find it, but I’ve ordered a couple cases of it. Torrontes is an Argentine grape. You’ll see more of this, I’m sure. Yum!

I’m going  to post this now and continue w/ whites in Part Deux. Ewww, did that remind you of Charlie Sheen? Ick.

Wow, the winos unite and “the marrieds” are coming!


I had such a great response to the announcement of my first Special SPGL event – Single People’s Grocery Lists Wine Tasting Event! As I noted, I don’t know if it’s because I know so many winos or that people are actually finding this blog. I’ll have to put my social media marketing team on that one, if they can stay sober.

But I’m afraid that because of unforeseen pressure from the marrieds, I’m going to allow them to attend. Typically, they assume we singles are having all the fun and don’t want to miss out. Yeah, I go clubbing every night. As long as I can have the jammies on by 8 p.m., party on.

So, I’m opening up our event to the marrieds. Maybe with their combined incomes they can afford a $10 bottle of wine?

P.S. I must thank Q for inspiring this event. She’s a married, but I don’t hold that against her.

Single People’s Wine Tasting


Since no one wanted to enter my fab wine-centric grocery recycle tote bag contest, I feel the need to do something bigger to drum up interest. So, here’s the plan:


WED., AUG. 31

6:00 P.M.

I know from my own and your shopping lists that they lean heavily towards popcorn, granola bars, cheese and WINE.

I’m picky about my wine and I do know a fair amount about wines. But I also don’t want to pay more than $10 a bottle, preferably less than $8. Remember, I still have to buy cheese and cat food.

So, let’s all meet here on Wed., Aug. 31, open our fave cheap, but really good wine and share notes, thoughts, etc. in comments (no high-tech crap like Webinars happening here, buddy). What a great way to find out about new, fun wines, right? And you don’t  have to take a shower or mingle with annoying people who use words like “floral” or “chewy” to describe wines.

Hey, you’ll come, won’t you?