By: Ashley Engeln
My mom was born and raised in Italy and came to the US when she was 12 years old so, I was raised having big family dinners and traveling back to Italy to visit my family frequently. There was ALWAYS wine on the table but I was too young to try it when I was growing up!
Fast forward 15 years and I got an opportunity to go to Europe to play professional basketball. After taking up the sport at an early age and playing through college on a scholarship. I played one season in The Netherlands, two seasons in Germany, and my last two seasons I played in Italy, that’s when I developed my of love wine!
Obviously when I was in Germany I drank more beer (even though I preferred wine). The Italians do wine right! My typical day would start at the gym in the early morning, lunch, practice or game at night and then of course WINE!
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Experiencing a new bottle of wine with my Italian teammates 3 times a week was when my appreciation started to grow. I went home to California after my first season in Italy and began to enjoy a glass of wine with my parents at dinner and introduced them to some new wines that I enjoyed there. So let’s dive into my top 10 wines! In no particular order! (P.S. you may notice that I am a big Cabernet Sauvignon fan!)
1.J.Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California.
This is actually one of my go to wines, we always have a bottle of J.Lohr cabernet in our wine pantry. Fruit forward, good body, easy and simple to drink. Lovely flavor and not too heavy or sweet. Has a nice dry finish, low tannins. I love trying new wines and buying new bottles often but there’s nothing like J.Lohr and for the price you cant beat it ($12.99). This wine is great to bring to dinner parties, or have if you are hosting.
2. Daou Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California.
You can never go wrong with Daou wine! In particular their 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon which is around $25.00. This is a great bold wine and pairs perfectly with a steak dinner or a nice charcutier board! A little more on the tannic side and has a nice dry finish. Daou Cabernet Sauvignon is a bit lightered than a typical cabernet. This is one of my dads go to wines he will buy a bottle of Daou every week for the house! If you haven’t tried Daou yet, todays the day!
3. Austin Hope Cabernet from Paso Robles, California.
WOW! The plain label struck me one day when I was shopping for wines. I had never heard of this wine before but wanted to share a nice bottle with my dad. I read some reviews and purchased my first (of many) bottles of Austin Hope ($45.00). After decanting for about 60 minutes we poured our glasses. This was one of the best glasses of wine I’ve enjoyed to this point in my early wine drinking career. On the nose it has a perfect balance of earthy and fruity. This is a nice bold wine with a very smooth and silky finish and nice tannins.
4. La Crema Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast, California.
I know I said Cabernets are my favorite, but I tried La Crema for the first time a few months ago and purchased another bottle the next day ($25.00). This wine is excellent, very light and full of flavor. This winner belongs on your list of wines to try if you haven’t already. It’s true to its label description of black cherry with a ripe plum overtone! Heavy on the tannins and low acid, hints of nutmeg/cinnamon on mid palate. YUM! A great bottle to enjoy on a nice summer day.
5. Baglio Luce Cerasuolo Di Vittoria from Sicily, Italy.
This wine I tried while I was playing basketball in Italy. It was a delicious bottle for a fantastic price $8.99. This is a blend made of Nero d’Avola and Frappato, very smooth and a little on the dry side. High tannins with a medium body. If you’re ever in Sicily or Southern Italy I would definitely recommend searching for this bottle at the store! It’s a winner in my book!
6. Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California.
This bottle is a little on the pricey side ($45.00-50.00) but in my opinion it’s worth every penny! Among the top 1% of wines in the world according to Vivino. This wine is very smooth while full-bodied with a nice mesh of black berry! Nice tannins with a nice long finish. It pairs well with just about any cuisine! Beautiful go-to cabernet for special occasions.
7. Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California.
This wine is a great wine for a great price ($22.00) but tastes like it is over $100. Dark color. Very smooth and flavorful with low tannins. Perfectly accompanies any meals or tapas or just on its own! Has a great nose and even better finish! Great gift for any wine lover!
8. Francis Coppola Diamond Collection from Geyserville, California.
This is another great cabernet sauvignoun, it doesn’t break the bank and has great flavor. It is not too dry or sweet it’s a great median, definitely recommend this. There is a little tartness too with a spicy oak on the finish. Goes great with Italian meals! My friends in Italy love this California wine! I bring it as a gift every time I go back and they can’t get enough!
9. Petite Petit by Michael David from Lodi, California.
Not only is the label really unique on this bottle but the wine itself is delightful! A blend of Petite Sirah 85% and Petit Verdot 15%! This wine is full-bodied with hints of black fruit and vanilla flavors. Balanced tannins and lots of fruits! It is very rich with a slightly dry finish. 90 point rating and great for the price around $20.00. The label alone will make you want to purchase this bottle but once you try it you’ll be going back for more!
10. Markham Cellar 1879 Red Blend From Napa Valley, California
This is a great blend made up of 51% Merlot, 16% Petite Sirah, 11% Syrah, 11% Zinfandel and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is deep in color and is medium to full-bodied. Enjoy this bottle of wine with whatever is on the menu! Keeps getting better with every sip you take! Great bottle for a great price around $20.00.
Ashley & Lauren Engel are the creators of decorative wine drip collars. They go on the neck of your wine bottle to stop the drip from running down on to your table tops and counters. These are great for every day use to save your countertops and make an excellent party favor! NO MORE WINE DRIPS! Get them at www.dripstosips.com!
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