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Wine Down Box Review

Wine Down Box Review*This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you. All opinions in this post are my own.*

I’ve tried more than a few wine box subscriptions. The quality and presentation of said boxes can vary widely, so I’m always really excited when I come across a subscription box that I’m happy to recommend to others. Recently, through the ShareASale program, I was offered the opportunity to try out the Wine Down Box, and I was gifted a one-month subscription. 

Wine Down Box Packaging and Presentation

Wine Down Box Review

The Wine Down Box arrived still cold.

The box didn’t ship until October, because the creators of Wine Down Box wanted to ensure safe shipping of their products. The box arrived in a temperature controlled bag, inside the box. When I opened the box, everything was still cold. I was really impressed with that. When I removed the actual box from the packaging materials, I was really impressed with the presentation. This makes a nice gift. The items are in a black, sturdy box that one could use for storing mementos in later (or is it just me who upcycles everything?). There is packaging material that protects the wine bottle during shipping to ensure that nothing breaks in that process. 

What the Wine Down Box Included

The box had a bottle of wine – in this case, Cardella Winery’s 2011 Merlot. It also included Barolo Salami from Alle-Pia Fine Cured Meats, Peppercorn Garlic Cheddar from Plymouth Artisan Cheese, and some snacking crisps made of GMO-free wheat. There was also a sheet with tasting notes and information about why the proprietors paired the wine with the cheese and meat they chose. 

Tasting Notes

Wine Down Box ReviewOverall, this was a spectacular pairing. I really, really enjoyed trying it out with Wining Husband. Here are the notes from our taste test.

2011 Merlot from Cardella Winery Mendota, California (Approx. $18)

 This wine is six years old, but it has aged really, really well. It has a slightly green feel to it. On the nose, it was wet burning wood, sea air, and sour cherries. After a swirl, and a sip, you could taste pepper and fire as well as a note of hatch chilies. The wine was very smooth with a light body. It was a very nice Merlot. The grapes were hand harvested, and only 4650 bottles were produced. 

The winery is owned by the Cardella family, whose own history with winemaking dates back to 1902 when Carlo Cardella emigrated from Marlia, Italy to Firebough, California. You can taste the long history of family wine-crafting in each sip of this finely-crafted wine. 

Bolero Salami from Alle-Pia Fine Cured Meats (Approx. $12)

This salami was handcrafted using Barolo Wine and fresh spices. The tasting notes tell the story that this traditional artisan salami was first made in Piemonte in Northern Italy. It wasn’t greasy or salty. You could taste the quality of the ingredients that went into making it.  It brought out the pepper and hatch chili notes in the Merlot, and overall, it was a nice pairing with the wine

Peppercorn Garlic Cheddar from Plymouth Artisan Cheese (Approx. $10)

My goodness was this good. It was spicy and just delicious. It paired wonderfully with everything. Of course, I love cheese, but this is a very special cheese. It brought out the smokey flavors in the wine. 

Nita Chips – GMO Free Flattened Wheat  Bread Crackers ($8)

The Nita Chips were light, crisp, and not intrusive on the other flavors. They brought out notes of clove and spice as well as red current from the 2011 Cardella Winery Merlot. They were a fine accompaniment to the rest of the items in the Wine Down Box.

Wine Down Box Verdict

For a month-by-month subscription, the Wine Down Box costs $70. The total approximate cost of the items in the box (without shipping included from the separate vendors) was $48, meaning $22 applies toward shipping, the beautiful packaging, and the convenience of their well-thought-out curation. 3-month subscriptions cost $204 (making each month cost $68), 6-month subscriptions cost $390 (for a $65 a month cost), and the year-long subscription is the best value at $756 (just $63 per monthly box). For the quality of wine and pairings, as well as the beautiful box presentation and the quality shipping packaging, this is a very nice value and would be a nice way to treat yourself or provide for a very nice gift. 

Subscribe to the Wine Down Box Today. Use code NEW5WDB to save $5 off any order for new subscribers through October 31 or SHOP35WDB to save $35 on orders of $450+ through November 4th. 



GUEST POST: 2017 Wines on a Budget

Budget Wines 2017

This guest post comes from Annabelle, who writes for Wunderlabel. She’s sharing her tips on finding the best bang for your buck when it comes to 2017 wines. (This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on a link and making a purchase helps to support what I do here at Wining Wife®.

Do you tend to drink a little more wine through the winter? I know I do. I have to keep an eye on my budget with all the meals to prepare. This includes my wine budget. I enjoy really nice wines, especially the ones that are gifted to me. But, I do need to plan for when my wallet feels slimmer. 

I look for good deals on wines that oenophiles and merchants report will be trending in 2017. I try to get my hands on a few bottles while the prices are still decent. Let’s take a look at some of the predictably good wine values you can stock up on for next year.

Hearty Red Wines

Cool winter nights are a perfect time to sink into the couch by the fire with a glass of rich, deep flavored wine. I am thinking chocolate and berries. Zinfandel is a wine that pairs well with comforting meals and desserts.

Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel is a bold, berry forward wine that has been aged in oak for one year. It is produced in Sonoma County, California. The 2008 and 2014 varieties are both available now. The 2008 can be found for around $10.00, while the 2014 is a couple of dollars more.

Dry, Fruity White Wine

In spring the air is damp and the grass is starting to grow. Everything smells a little fresher this time of year. I get that antsy feeling of wanting to be outside without a coat on. But, we aren’t quite there. This is the time of year you want to start bringing out the white wines that pair well with lighter meals that have plenty of spring vegetables. Chardonnay is what comes to mind.

Alamos Chardonnay, from Argentina, has crisp citrus notes and a buttery vanilla finish. The 2015 is available for $9.00 to $10.00 per bottle. It goes well with fish, chicken, and most vegetables. 

Dry Rosé Wine

I am a fan of dry pink wines in the summer that are blends of white and red grapes. They have enough body to hold up to barbecue fare, and are also fine for an afternoon backyard get-together with friends accompanied by a large bowl of fresh fruit. My favorites are from the south of France.

Bieler Pere et Fils Rosé is a complex wine from the Provence region of France. It has the flavors of summer berries and melons, and the lavender that is grown all over the region. It is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsaut and Cabernet grapes. The 2015 sells for between $11.00 and $12.00.

Medium Bodied Red Wine

As autumn approaches we see varieties of winter squashes, heirloom tomatoes, and plenty of apples at the farmers markets. This is a great time for platters of cheese, fruit, aged meats, and vegetables. It is also when you might be inclined to fill the house with the smell of spiced baked goods. This calls for a lighter red wine to share with friends. Pinot Noirs are perfect for this time of year.

HobNob Pinot Noir is a French variety that has softer tannins than some of the others. It smells faintly of violets and tastes of cherries laced with spices. It plays well with fennel, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The 2013 can be found for between $9.00 and $11.00.

December is a good time of year to look for holiday wine specials. Many merchants are willing to offer case discounts, even if the case includes a mix of wine varieties. You just need to ask. Stock up and enjoy.


Author Bio: Annabelle is a wine collector and appreciates handmade crafts. Apart from that she loves to write. In fact, she writes for Wunderlabel’s Italian site and their US website.

#DrinkPink with OneHope Wines

#DrinkPink OneHope Wines

It’s October. That means it’s time to start thinking about breast cancer awareness, but it’s also time to start thinking about the holidays. What if I told you that you can stock up on great wine while also helping breast cancer research? You can, by purchasing OneHope Wines #DrinkPink campaign wines and products. In addition to supporting various causes, when you make a purchase from OneHope, you’re also supporting an entrepreneur looking to build her business. 

Be sure to read through to the end, where you’ll find a giveaway for a Drink Pink water bottle (worth $33, and big enough to hold an entire bottle of wine – not that I advocate that kind of thing – wink). 

What Are OneHope Wines?

shareable_miniglitterbrutcasesThe OneHope vineyard is in the Rutherford AVA in Napa Valley. There are plans for developing an on-site winery with a tasting room. The company was founded by eight individuals who wanted to allow people to enjoy wine while also helping their communities. They consult w,ith Rob Mondavi, son of wine mogul Michael Mondavi, to make their quality wines. 

With each sale of OneHope Wines, donations are made to various causes. According the about page on their website:

“To date we have made more than $2 million* in donations, providing over 2,600* clinical trials for cancer patients, 13,000* forever homes for shelter animals, 1.1* million meals for children, 33,000 life-saving vaccines and much more.”

That’s a lot of really good things being helped along through the sales of wines. When I spoke with representative Christine Kinney, and I learned about both the variety of wines available and OneHope’s mission, I knew I had to share information about this company with my readers. You can learn more about the wines by watching this video.

ONEHOPE Wine Brand Video from Billy Kostka on Vimeo.

What Types of Products Are Available?

giftingshare2OneHope offers a variety of wines from a 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir to a 2015 Lodi Symphony wine (I have notes on another Symphony wine that I need to share with you soon). Sales of two bottles of the 2013 Pink Glitter Edition California Chardonnay go to fund a clinical trial for one woman who has breast cancer. This wine has aromas of apple and pear pie, butterscotch, vanilla, and toffee, making it a wonderful white wine for fall. The glitter bottle makes it a festive addition to a girls’ night. 

enter-to-winIn addition to wines, OneHope offers coffee and gift products.  OneHope coffee proceeds go to help small businesses in developing countries (in fact, the sale of one of the gift boxes available, the Good Karma Gift Box), funds a microloan. Other products include aprons and oven mitts, bestie wine glasses, and dog bowls. All product sales support various causes. It’s a pretty neat company. I’m looking for Baby 4’s arrival in May for many reasons, but I’ll  be able to taste some of their wines then. 

Enter to win a #DrinkPink Water Bottle

Enter to win a water bottle that can hold an entire bottle of wine – er – water! Meanwhile, if you’re able to, support this great effort to combine two things I love – wine and philanthropy. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway



This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Guest Post: Autumn Brunch Pairings

Fall Brunch Wine Pairings

Today, we have a guest post provided by Jeriann Watkins, blogger at She’s talking about how to offer fall brunch wine pairings that will please all of your guests.

Summer gets a good reputation for social eating: picnics, baseball games, family reunions – these are all food-centric events that happen mostly in the summer. But fall is a wonderful time to enjoy delicious food and drinks with those you love. And what better way to do so than with brunch?

I’ve been hosting monthly brunches with several of my friends. We all take turns hosting and everyone brings tasty goodies to share. Below are some ideas for fall-themed brunches, complete with wine pairing recommendations!

Setting a Fall Tone

Fall is probably the easiest seasonal theme. The colors of the outdoors are the colors you can bring to your table, and conveniently, the seasonal produce matches the oranges and reds of the leaves on the trees. You can even dry leaves to use as decor. Mod-Podge leaves to the bottom of glass plates for some seasonal dishware that’s sure to impress. Be sure to use a thick lacquer and not to wash these dishes in the dishwasher though! My friend Rachel went above and beyond and got a wine barrel tasting table, which not only brings to mind bobbing for apples, but also provides a nice prep area for drinks!

Hearty Vegetables Make for Great Fall Brunch Wine Pairings

Autumn is not only when hearty squash and root vegetables are in season, but it’s when they taste the best. Personally, I think it’s because the best cooking methods for these vegetables involve prolonged amounts of heat, and they absorb that heat so well. Cutting into s steaming-hot sweet potato just isn’t as satisfying on a 90 degree day. Here are some of my favorite veggie-centric brunch dishes:

Autumn Hash with Sweet Potatoes and Peppers – This tasty dish goes great with a crisp white wine. That will enhance the heat from the peppers as well as contrast the sweetness of the sweet potatoes.
Brussels Sprout and Purple Potato Hash – I love Brussels Sprouts! I can’t think of a wine that wouldn’t go great with this, but I lean away from the sweeter ones here. A drier wine will highlight the saltiness and starchiness of the veggies. Gardener’s bonus: Here’s how to plant Brussels Sprouts and other veggies that pair with them for optimal autumn harvest!
Breakfast Burrito Bowl with Spiced Butternut Squash – This dish was made for sparkling wine, which in turn, was made for brunch. Whether you’re drinking it on it’s own or mixed with fruit juice, the carbonation of the sparkling wine will enhance the spices on your butternut squash. Yum!

Warm Wine?

It’s the time of year when a slight chill feels brisker than the full-on cold will in 3 months. Putting cold beverages in your body just may not seem appealing. There are great warm breakfast drinks like coffee and hot chocolate, which can be spiked with a liquor of your choice, and of course there are hot toddies, which are wonderful in the chilly weather. But what about warm wine cocktails? While it may sound strange, drinking mulled wine, which is really just spiced wine, warm is pretty traditional. Go ahead and give it a shot! Best thing is, if you don’t like it warm, this same recipe can be consumed chilled as well.

These are just a few ideas for autumn-themed brunches. Have some fall favorites of your own? Share in the comments!

2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro

My_Wine_Awesomeness_box_is_hereI decided I would be adventurous; I decided I would try a subscription* to Wine Awesomeness, which I wrote about not too long ago.  The first shipment arrived, really quickly, and I was impressed. The wine was packaged very well, and it came in an attractive blue box. Upon opening the box, I found a selection of three wines (including the 2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro I talk about here), chocolate, and a recipe book for making pizzas that pair with the wines. 

Wine Awesomeness's packaging and the 2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro

I was super excited to try out the wines, but I decided that to do so properly for the purpose of reviewing them, I would make the suggested pizza recipes to accompany them. So, I whipped up some pizza dough almost as instructed to by the recipe book, and I put together the first sauce and topping for the pizza. The sauce recipe for the first pizza I made, “Paulie Gee’s ‘Feels Like Bacon Love'” makes 3-4 12-inch pizzas, depending upon how much sauce you like. This is perfect since the dough recipe makes four pizza crusts. A word to the wise, the recipe is missing the addition of water. I have included my modifications in the recipe, which I will share in a minute.

Wine_and_pizza_nightAbout the 2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro

First, let’s talk about the wine. The first wine we tried was the 2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro.  The book of recipes also includes information about each of the wines. This wine is from Toro, Spain, and is 85% Tinta de Toro and 15% Garnacha. I learned from reading the description that Tinta de Toro grapes are more commonly known as Tempranillo. 

The Dominos de Castilla region

The Castilla region of Spain is also known as “the Land of Castles.” The wine is described as a big wine with a lot of elegant dark fruit flavors and as a great peairing with smoked meats and cheeses. The winery’s profile on Winesellers, Ltd says of the region:

“D.O. Rueda stands 2,200 to 2,600 feet above sea-level and is located in the central area of the basin formed by the river Duero. The different grape varieties frown are irregularly scattered over the several municipal districts comprising Rueda Appelation but is known primarily for its fine white wines based on the Verdejo grape. There is only one D.O. in the region of Rueda which is “Rueda D.O.”.

“D.O. Toro is situated west of the Spanish Duero river valley near the Portuguese border. Toro appelation covers approximately 5,600 ha of vineyards at an altitude of 600 meters above sea level. At the end of the 19th century great quantities of wines were exposed to France during the phylloxera crisis, which did not affect the local vines as they were protected by the sandy soil. For this reason, the vines of other regions of Spain were replaced by vines from Toro. Today, Toro still has a number of very old vineyards with pre-phyloxera Tinta de Toro.”


Tasting the wine

The first thing I noticed about the 2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro was that it had a really nice nose. I got anise, vanilla, and plum. When I then tasted the wine, I found it tart, acidic with some good degree of tanins, and that it was very young in flavor. Despite being young, it was well-balanced. It also had notes of dark and bittersweet chocolate. 

I found the 2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro and pizza pairing spot-on. The pizza really brought out the wine’s pepper and green – maybe even ancho – pepper finish and it really highlighted the tannins in a good way. On the whole, I was really impressed with this wine and its quality.

Subscribe to Wine Awesomeness, and get your first month free

Trying the 2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro made me excited to try the next wine in the box. I will share my notes on that one soon. For now, I can recommend this wine as well as the box. At $45 a month, it is a really great value. These are not your typical $15 wines. They have quality, and I’m sure if you wanted to cellar them, they would stand up well and develop complexity over time. With that in mind, you can do what I did and Become a member today and get your first month FREE at Wine Awesomeness! (Affiliate Link)

Meanwhile, enjoy this modified version of the pizza recipe that accompanies the 2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro. 

*I took advantage of the free month offer in order to provide my readers with a review of this monthly subscription box service. 

Smoky Bacon and Black Pepper Pizza
Yields 4
This delicious pizza is the perfect accompaniment for the 2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro. It has a great smoky flavor.
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For the Dough
  1. 5 cups organic unbleached bread flour
  2. 1 tbsp sugar
  3. 2 tsps table salt
  4. 1 package yeast
  5. 2 tbsp olive oil
  6. 1 cup water
For the toppings
  1. 8 oz fresh mozzarella
  2. olive oil
  3. 1 can (28 oz) Italian peeled tomatoes
  4. 1 large Vidalia onion
  5. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  6. 1 lb Applewood smoked bacon
  7. 2 sticks salted (yes, I know, but trust me, it's good)
  8. 1 tsp oregano
  9. 1 tsp basil
  10. 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  11. Ground pepper to taste
For the dough
  1. 1. Sprinkle yeast over 1 cup of lukewarm water and the sugar. Let sit for about 10 minutes. It will be ready when the yeast is all bubbly and the area smells kind of like a brewery.
  2. 2. Add flour, salt, and olive oil to the bowl. Mix with your hands until smooth. You may need to add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to get the right consistency for your dough. If your dough is too sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time.
  3. 3. Turn dough out and divide into 4 equal pieces. Put dough into zipper lock bags and let sit out for fifteen minutes. Next, you'll want to refrigerate them overnight. You can also freeze dough pieces you won't be using.
  4. 4. Take the dough out of the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to roll it out.
For the Sauce and Toppings
  1. 1. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. 2. On your stove, in one pan, melt the butter. To the butter, add 3 tablespoons of flour. Once it starts to brown, add the chopped onion. In the other pan, fry up the bacon (you can also bake it). Drain the fat from the bacon.
  3. 3. When the onion is translucent, add the garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant.
  4. 4. Add the tomatoes to the saucepan. Bring to a slight simmer. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until mostly smooth. Bring to boil and add crumbled bacon.
  5. 5. Shred the mozzarella. I used my food processor, so it was super-easy.
  6. 6. Put flour down on your counter or a large cutting board. Roll out pizza crust to desired thickness (12"-14").
  7. 7. Brush crust with olive oil - I used oil that was marinating the mozzarella for this.
  8. 8. Scoop sauce onto crust and spread around.
  9. 9. Add cheese.
  10. 10. Bake 10-13 minutes or until cheese starts to brown slightly. Grind black pepper on top, slice, and serve.
  1. To avoid killing the yeast, make sure that the water you use feels the same temperature as your pinky finger.
Adapted from Paulie Gee's "Feel Like Bacon Love"
Wining Wife®


Pinko de Mayo: La Vieille Ferme 2015 Cotes du Ventoux Rose

The La Vieille Ferme 2015 Cotes du Ventoux Rose has a lovely blush colorOkay. So, the roasted chicken I made to pair with this wine is seriously both the easiest roast chicken recipe and the best-tasting roast chicken recipe ever. Right now, just thinking of it, is making my mouth water. I’ll get to the recipe for it in a minute.  The best part of the chicken recipe is you can totally whip it up if you just happen to have a whole roaster chicken hanging out.  The second of the Pinko de Mayo wines we purchased from our local wine and spirits store was the La Vieille Ferme 2015 Cotes du Ventoux Rose. 

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Pinko de Mayo: La Valentina 2014 Rosé Paired with Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake

2014 La Valentina RoséIn honor of May being the month of Rosé wines, I figured I’d pick up three wines available for under $15 to pair with food and write about. These are wines you don’t need to cellar, but you can if you’d like. It’s nice, though to have wine on hand you can open up and drink at dinner on a Friday evening. And open up and enjoy is what we did. The first of the wines I paired up was the 2014 La Valentina Rosé, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, and I paired it with a chicken pesto pasta macaroni and cheese dish. Believe me when I say it, this is not your average mac and cheese. You can find the recipe at the end of this post. 

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I Didn’t Taste 24 Rosé Wines… Yeah, I Tasted 24 Rosé Wines

Pinko de Mayo Rosé Wines Tasting Notes By WiningWife.comIf my title didn’t make you flinch and feel taken aback, well, you must think that I’m pulling your leg. I’m not! We’re lucky to have a great wine and spirits store here that does free tastings, and in honor of Cinco de Mayo, they put on an event called “Pinko de Mayo 2016.” They offered 24 different rosé wines that fit into one of four categories: Bubbles and Sweet, Domestic, France, and Italy, Spain, Austria, Argentina. 

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2007 Sebastiani Barbera and Orzo with Red Pepper Meatballs

2007 Sebastiani Barbera and PastaToday, my teenager played baseball, and we went to see him. It was the second game he was in, and he made it on base. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to make it all the way home before the last out of the game was called. (In his first game, he got on base, stole second, and ran in to score a run for his team.) We enjoy spending time watching him participate in his various sports (he also runs cross-country and was on his bowling team this year), but sometimes that means we get home a little later than dinner time. What happens when you want to have a home cooked meal, but it’s a little later and you don’t want to make everything from scratch? You cheat a little bit. 

I have a recipe for  you and notes on this great wine, but first, some pictures from the game!

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Pairing Suggestions: Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyard’s 2010 Sangiovese Rosé and Bratwurst

13103327_10103362033759499_7311497793501602554_nI’ve been struggling lately, as you can tell from my lack of posts.  It’s not that I’ve not had things to write about – I do have sewing projects to share with you. It’s more that after this latest move, it’s taken a minute to get my bearings about me and really process everything that’s happened in the past year. I’m fine, but I’ve been grappling with moving across the country, losing my older brother, and adjusting to moving from a momma of 2 to a momma of 3 after a rough pregnancy. All of that said, there are so many awesome things – I mean, I get to parent these awesome people, I’m married to my best friend, and we’ve got an amazing house to keep us busy for a while. 

Because things have been a bit rough, and because we’ve been working hard to set up house (the cookbooks are finally being unpacked and finding homes on shelves, we’re looking forward to getting some cubbies for fabric storage, and it will be great to finally decorate the kids’ rooms), dinners need to be easy.  You can’t get much easier than bratwurst. You simply pop it in the broiler for 4 minutes, turn, and cook for another four minutes. Throw it on a hot dog bun and add side dishes, and bam, dinner! For last night’s dinner, we added some whole wheat pita chips and some cucumber salad.  

What happens when you want something quick, but you still want wine (and a wine that will pair well with said quick meal)? You look through your wine cellar, of course. We still have a few bottles of Bertagna’s Sangiovese Rosé  left. This dry rosé  wine goes quite well with many different things, and due to its aging, now has a smokey bacon smooth finish. I am actually kind of sad that we have only two bottles left. But, it went perfectly with last night’s meal featuring bratwurst and sauerkraut. In fact, I strongly recommend this combination if you have or can come across a bottle of this Northern California producer’s wine. 

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