Wine Wednesday #1 – on Without Sanity!

Not that it was hard to convince me to do this… But, I decided to start doing a “Wine Wednesday” blog reviewing various types of wines. Alright, I will be honest. I have roughly one mode of wine taste. I love bold, dry, dark red wines. I have roughly three white wines that I have found that I like enough to keep in the wine fridge.

First, let’s talk about that wine fridge.

My Dad likes to get me Amazon gift cards for most holidays (NOT COMPLAINING!) and ultimately, I had built up a nice little reserve of Amazon moneys. I wanted something for my house as a newly single Divorcee back in 2012/13’ish. I decided that I wanted to have a wine fridge for chilled white wines, though I don’t drink a lot of them, but it works well for reds that you have done the research on that need to stay at 57 degrees or less! (Yes, get a book that talks about the various temperatures that wine needs to be kept at.)

I decided to purchase a modest countertop fridge that vents from the back, this one!


Haier 8-Bottle Bottle Wine Cellar with Electronic Controls

It worked fabulously for my needs at the time – a few bottles of chilled whites and a couple reds that fall into a not-so-chilled-but-chilled category. I love this fridge! It is virtually designed to fit in the counter to the under-cabinet space! I have taken it now two two houses and both times it fit perfectly beneath a cabinet on the counter! The economical, small, wine fridge is not obtrusive and obnoxious and makes virtually ZERO noise. There is a neato LED light inside to light up the bottles you are looking at and it has a really nice little touch panel to easily change the temperature based on the type of wine you put in it.

Anywho, this week, I have two dry reds, different varietals, for you. (I promise I will find a way to taste test some whites for Wine Wednesdays on Without Sanity – its only fair!)

#1: Trader Joe’s Private Label “Onyx Moon”.


First and foremost, my husband took me in to Trader Joe’s to pick up some wine while we were killing time before a movie date. I usually know immediately where I am going when it is time to purchase wine. Whatever aisle says “Cabernet”, “Malbec”, “Pinot Noir”, or “Zinfandel” — I am generally immediately there. (I have come a LONG way from my boxed wine days, you could say I have “moved on up!”).

I went over to the aisle that would contain my boldest darkest reds and there was a man standing in the aisle with a clipboard and a pencil behind his ear speaking lightly to himself and, infrequently, grabbing the pencil from behind his ear and making notes on his clipboard. Drew and I were looking around trying to decipher the various sales and determine which items we wanted to try, had tried before (me… my husband doesn’t drink much) and the man interrupted our mumbling.

“Can I help you find anything, Folks? I am the wine buyer for this store.”

I looked at Drew and then back at the man.

I reply, “Yes, yes, I need you.” We both laugh. “Tell me the darkest, perhaps spiciest, bold red wines you have for a good price so that I might try several.”

He pointed me immediately to the Onyx Moon Cabernet Red Blend. Now, I am normally weary of “blends” unless the label is incredibly specific about which grapes are going into this blend. This particular red blend was on sale, drastically marked down. He stated that some of their best blends that went over very well in their tastings were often marked down to get people to buy them, try them, love them – not because they were sub par.

“Here! I have a bottle open!” he motioned to another man who was wandering about with a clipboard. “Go grab that open bottle of Onyx Moon!” — he paused and turned back to me… “It has been open for a little over 24 hours but we use a vacu-vin and, honestly, this wine tastes fabulous even days after opening.” I am thinking to myself, “Yeah, OK this guy clearly doesn’t know me, because open wine does not last long in my home.”

They bring out the bottle and provide me a few sips. It was immediately something I wanted to try a whole bottle of and pair it with some sort of food item after a little research.

I bought two bottles of this. The Onyx Moon is aged in barrels for 18 months to aid in removing the tart finish that lots of red blends have. If you find yourself puckering when a red blend is going down, it is because it was removed from the barrel sooner than another red blend of its same varietal. The Onyx Moon wine, on sale was $8.99, marked down from $16.99. We purchased two and each night when I go into the formal dining room where our wine hutch is located, I try to choose a different wine since I only have one left. I don’t want to use my last one without a backup! Deliciously smooth, a new favorite for me! Who knew!? A Red “Blend” would excite me!?

#2 Trader Joe’s Private Label “Mayhall Tibbs” Pinot Noir.


I love Pinot Noir, but its a touchy wine varietal for me.

I love MOST Cabernet Sauvignon unless its watery – vintners and winemakers, please don’t think that people do not recognize when a wine is H2O heavy… For example, nonsense that most caterers offer you as their “Base Package” wine… those. You can find some phenomenal wines for ultra cheap that are basically put into another bottle after scoring 90 points in another bottle with another label. However, there are some that you and I both know are watered down minimized versions of their bolder, more expensive, counterparts. I will likely delve into that topic next week (i.e. wines you can find at Aldi that are bold and flavorful and cheap – not watery!) Anyway, Pinot Noir is the same for me – Pinot Noir are bold and flavorful, tart, and strong. Anything less than that is not worth putting Pinot Noir on the label. I tried this based on the Wine Buyer’s suggestion (mentioned in the above review of Onyx Moon)  for something dark, spicy, and tart. He did not disappoint. Ultra smooth, and quickly became one of my favorite Pinot Noirs ever purchased – and let me tell you folks, I have tried a LOT – and not cared for a ton due to various reasons of the palette. This one, was perfect. Trader Joes just keeps winning my wine vote over and over and over again – their private label wines are perfectly curated – no nonsense – no watery filler wines. (I don’t know about the two buck chuck…but I don’t have any immediate intent to review it when there are varieties in other price points I really like more.) I have a short list of wines from TJ’s that I need to go back and purchase, or at least attend the tasting for.

Next week, perhaps, a little economy wines review of Aldi wines? Who would like that a whole lot?! Me. I would like it. If you would like it, perhaps next week’s Wine Wednesday is for you. 😉


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