Favorite Splurge & Save Wine Recommendations

I’ve enlisted my favorite fashionista and winestress (my personally coined term), Pauline Sargetakis, of Parallel Wines for her favorite recommendations of some tasty wines to pair with what’s for dinner this weekend. Here is her list of delicious Splurge or Save wines to try tonight, or for a special occasion.

REDS              Splurge- Anomaly 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley /  $85.00

Pauline says: ‘It’s a very full bodied wine with dark berry flavors, and reminds me of home. The complexity of this wine makes enjoying a glass fun because it starts of bold and strong with a velvety smooth finish’.

Try with: Braised pork chops, or hearty roasted portobello mushroom steaks.

Save- Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley / $15.00

Pauline says: ‘It’s a flavorful cab that is perfect for sipping on its own. Great light berry notes and is my favorite with a hot bath after a long day.’

Try with: Blue cheese and pear, or dark chocolate.

WHITES         Splurge- Grgich Hills 2006 Violetta Late Harvest, Napa Valley / $95.00

If you couldn’t tell, we LOVE Grgich wines. Just simply can’t get enough. So, even though I’ve made numerous recommendations (and several trips to their tasting room…), here they are again. There is a reason why Mike Grgich is in the Vintner Hall of Fame!

Pauline says: ‘I really like the Grgich late harvest (Violetta) for a splurge. A bit sweet, it’s fruity, deep flavors linger on the palette. This wine is refreshingly good with spicy foods.’

Try with: Hot Pad Thai or Spicy Cioppino Soup

SAVE- Luna Vineyards 2006 Freakout White Wine, Napa Valley /  $16.00

Pauline says: ‘Freakout is my go-to for a delicious, reliable ‘pick-me-up’ bottle. It’s a great blend (41% Chardonnay, 38% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Pinot Grigio, 8% Ribolla Gialla) that has bright flavors and crisp body.’

Try with: Chicken Kebobs or Grilled Halibut

Broccoli Cheese(s) Soup!

Man, this stuff is delcious. I was having one of those days (after eating a dinner the previous night consisting of bacon and cheesy grits and more bacon) where I decided I really needed some veggies. Unfortunately, I also wanted some warm winter comfort food, and the thought of any vegetable turned me right off and led me to dream of more bacon. Alas! An Idea! Creamy broccoli cheese soup with a healthy, yet hearty, guilt free twist.

Make this for anyone in your life who hates to eat vegetables. Tell them its all cheese and cream and they will never know the difference.


  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 6 whole shiitake mushrooms (if unavailable, Criminis will work fine), diced
  • 1/2 lbs Broccoli, large chunk chopped (including stems)
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • cups low fat or skim milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese
  • salt
  • pepper


Recommended tools:

  • large soup pot
  • wooden spoon
  • immersion hand blender


1. Heat olive oil on med-high heat in soup pot. Add onion and shallot and sweat until translucent. Add mushrooms and brown for 4 minutes with a dash of salt.

2. Add broccoli, and mix all ingredients well. Pour all 4 cups of stock into the pot, and bring to a simmer.  Cover, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Add some salt to taste about halfway through cooking (I added about 1/8 tsp.).

3. Uncover, and add both cups of milk. Return to a simmer for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low.

4. Using the hand blender, puree mixture until smooth. (If you don’t have a hand blender, you can accomplish this step in your blender or food processor. Pour entire contents of the soup pot into a large bowl, and then puree in even batches. Add the pureed mix back into the soup pot, and return to low heat).

5. Once pureed, stir in nutmeg and cheeses until smooth. Add a dash of salt and some fresh ground pepper to taste.

Home on the Range in Massachusetts

Alas, my absence can be explained by a long anticipated vacation  home for the holidays to my roots in Boston, MA. I’ve been able to spend some invaluable time with friends, family and loved ones exploring old haunts and stomping grounds around the Bay State (as well as bonus appearances in the Ocean State, AND the Granite State, but for now this post is reserved for my MA antics).  Here are some highlights, excursions, and culinary delights of the trip…

First stop… Dunkin Donuts (duh.) My current favorite order: Medium Iced Cinnamon with Skim, no sweetener.

A Day in the Life in Salem, MA to me means waking up to enjoy harbor views and the Salem Friendship, strolling along Derby and Pickering wharfs, enjoying a touristy moment at the historical House of Seven Gables, perusing the stacks at the Derby Square Book Store for forgotten and obscure literary treasures, and grabbing beer battered (!) fish and chips and local brew at Salem Beer Works (also try the Scallop Po’Boys! they are delectable).

Boston is ripe with amazing restaurants around every corner, upstairs and down, right and left, inside and out… you get the picture. Though there are too many to possibly discuss in one post, I was lucky to dine at Barbara Lynch’s Butcher Shop (more on that later…), enjoy happy hour at the Top of the Hub in the Prudential building, and grab an antipasti at a North End hotspot: Nico Ristorante before attending the first Celtics home game of the season.

What’s a trip home without our family lobster bake? New Years 2012 rung in right, compliments of Mumm and a little bit of Veuve Clicquot.

You can be sure I won’t leave the area without some chowdah from Legal Seafood. It’s a staple of New England cuisine, and is the perfect balance of fresh, hearty and smooth that all other chowders aspire to be (there’s no photo at this time because I was too excited about eating my first batch…)

Cheers to 2012 and many adventures to come!