2010 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Wine Reviews

Franciscan Estate Cabernet

Looking for wine reviews for red wines?  I am often asked to do a wine reviews and I was excited to try  the Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  I decided to pair it with my Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks with Brandy Sauce.  I have not had this wine before so I was excited to give it a try.  The price point for the wine is around $ 28 and as we enjoyed it with our steak dinner, I definitely thought it was worth it.

The wine had a good body to pair with the steak, but it wasn’t so big as to completely overwhelm it, or too little as to overwhelmed by the steak.  We used our wine aerator when we poured each glass and the wine really opened up nicely.  

The wine was very dark in the glass and garnet in color.  As we sipped the wine, we caught hints of cherry and violets and also some herb and cocoa tones.  

Winemakers Notes: Deep garnet in color with complex and vibrant aromas of red plum, anise, cherry, violets, and tobacco accentuated by notes of black currant, dried herbs, toasted oak, and cocoa.  Elegant and supple texture on the palate make the frame for generous flavors of sweet plum and dark cherry with notes of vanilla and mocha that linger on the finish.  

All in all, we enjoyed this wine — especially as a wine to pair with steak.  At under $30, this wine is worth a try.  We will definitely have this wine again.

Be sure to check out my other wine reviews as well.

Note:  I received a bottle of this wine as a free sample.  The opinions are honest and my own.    No other compensation was received.

Remember ” Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”


Jellybean Wine Is For Your Playful Side!

Wow!  I really have a great job…I am often asked to review and sample products for the Make Life Special website.  I love trying new products and it is especially fun when I am asked to review wine.  Today I’m sampling some fun wines by Jellybean Wine  .

Jellybean Wines


I was asked to sample and review three of the Jellybean Wines:  ( Moscato, Moscato Rose and Bubbles)  

The Jellybean Wines are made in a style that is very popular right now — fruit-forward, very smooth, styled for easy sipping and enjoyment.  

If you follow my website, you know how much I love bubbly wines!  So, the first bottle opened was, of course, the Jellybean Orchard Blossom Bubbles.  Jellybean Bubbles comes from Spain, and is made in the style of a traditional Spanish Cava.    Using Spanish varietal grapes found in traditional Spanish  Cavas, this sparkling wine was produced using the methode champenoise manner with the secondary   fermentation taking place in the bottle.  Orchard Blossom Bubbles will take you down a sunny, tree-lined path in early summer….enveloping you with sweetly scented notes of warm, fresh picked peaches, honeysuckle and jasmine wrapped in a vibrant style that’s crisp and effervescent.  In case you can’t tell….I really loved this bubbly!  It was not too sweet, had small elegant bubbles, and the honeyed flavors finished with a clean, fresh, mouthwatering sensation.    All can can say about this one is WOW!  Well, I will add one additional note….I loved this so much I ordered a case of it!  

Jellybean Orchard Blossom Bubbles

The Jellybean Orchard Blossom Bubbles can be ordered online.  I found it at NapaCabs.com at $ 8.95 a bottle plus shipping.   


Next, I sampled the Jellybean Moscato.  This wine hails from Italy and is made with Moscato Bianco grapes  that were grown in the Sicilia region of Italy.  

Jellybean Moscato

This wine is sweeter than the Orchard Blossom Bubbles – but still light-bodied.  I enjoyed the vibrant flavors of stone fruit and lime….laced with notes of honey and orange blossom.  This was a very refreshing wine – one that I will order and enjoy this summer.  It has aromatic notes of peach and apricot and is lush in the mouth.  This finishes with just a hint of sweetness and again, I did not find this Moscato too sweet.

The last Jellybean Wine I sampled was the Jellybean Moscato Rose.  This wine also comes from Italy.

Jellybean Moscato Rose

This lightly sparkling wine would be perfect to pair with appetizers, to enjoy on picnics or just for afternoon sipping occasions.  I loved the hint of effervescence in this wine and the lush notes of peach and apricot.

These Jellybean Wines are for your playful side.  They are engaging with color and flavor….a little bit glamorous…a lot indulgent and unstoppably fun!  

Again, if you can’t find these wines locally, you can order them online.  Prices range from $ 8.99 to $12.99 plus shipping.  

Note:  I received one bottle of the Jellybean Orchard Blossom Bubbles, one bottle of the Jellybean Moscato and one bottle of the Jellybean Moscato Rose to sample for this review.  No compensation was received.  These are my true and honest opinions. 






Robert Mondavi Coastal Crush Red Review

 So Easy to Love…2011 Robert Mondavi Coastal Crush Red Wine


Robert Mondavi Private Selection Coastal Crush Red wine


Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate it than with this awesome pairing of 2011 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Coastal Crush Red Wine and a box of Lula’s Sea Salted Caramels.  This pairing really is “So Easy to Love”!

This brand new wine is value priced at $ 11.00 a bottle and is a blend of  Syrah, Merlot and Malbec.  

There are two basic questions I like to answer whenever I review a wine.  

  1. What does it taste like?
  2. What food does it go with?

The Taste:

The grapes come from the central coast of California and the wine  is a juicy blend of  ripe plums, dark cherry, a hint of oak and some spice.  

Foods to Pair With This Wine:

I would like this wine paired with any grilled meat – beef, pork tenderloin, or grilled salmon.  I think it would be great served with my Bourbon Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce. 

To celebrate Valentine’s Day and the Central Coast of California, the wine was paired with Lula’s Sea Salted Caramels.

Robert Mondavi Coastal Crush Paired with Lulu's Sea Salt Caramels


Lula’s Chocolates is located in Carmel-by-the-Sea.  These  decadent caramels are made using sea salt from Monterey Bay.  They are absolutely delicious and pair perfectly with the 2011 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Coastal Crush Red Wine.  

 Note:  I received one bottle of Robert Mondavi Coastal Crush Red Wine and one box of Lula’s Sea Slated Carmels to try for this review.  No compensation was received.  These are my honest opinions.   

Chocolate Martini Recipe

Vickie with ChocolatRouge

Chocolate Martini Recipe That’s Perfect For Easy Entertaining

Just open and pour this Chocolate Martini !

Drink recipes are all the rage.  Here is the perfect “adult” chocolate martini recipe and all you have to do is open and pour!  I love the Milk Chocolate ChocolatRouge and I’ve made a ChocolatRouge -A-Tini that’s perfect for your New Years celebration!  All three of the ChocolatRouge wines are really red wine with chocolate.  I’m featuring the Milk ChocolatRouge in this recipe for a great Milk Chocolate Martini recipe.  The Milk ChocolatRouge is cream infused with Barbara wine and natural rich chocolate flavors which make this the perfect ingredient for my ChocolatRouge-A-Tini Martini recipe.

ChocolatRouge-A-Tini...... Deliciously Different Martini Recipe
  • Milk Chocolate ChocolatRouge
  • Marshmallow Creme
  • Milk Chocolate pieces
  1. Rim the martini glass in Marshmallow Creme.
  2. Blend the milk chocolate in a food processor to process into small bits.
  3. Dip the marshmallow rimmed martini glass into the chocolate bits.
  4. Pour in the well chilled Milk Chocolate ChocolatRouge wine and ENJOY!!

ChocolatRouge A-Tini Drink


ChocolatRouge -A-Tini Ingredients


 Process the milk chocolate into fine bits.

Chop chocolate


Rim the martini glass in the Marshmallow Creme and then in the chocolate bits.

Rim Martini Glass with Marshmallow Creme


Rim Martini Glass in Chocolate


Pour in the well chilled Milk Chocolate ChocolatRouge and ENJOY!

ChocolatRouge A-Tini 

The ChocolatRouge Sweet Red is a soft, velvety  combination of Pinot Noir, Malbec, Syrah and natural rich chocolate flavors blended in a sweeter style for those with a sweet tooth.  Sweet Red is best when served at room temperature.

The newest of the three is Dark Red ChocolatRouge.  This is full-bodied of Pinot Noir, Malbec and those great chocolate flavors.  Dark Red is also best served at room temperature.  

For more information on ChocolatRouge – including lots of additional cocktail ideas – visit  www.ChocolatRougeWine.com 



Barefoot Wine And Bubbly for the Holidays

Barefoot Bubbly Bottle


This sparkling white wine from California is a winner when it comes to value for your holiday entertaining.  I was asked to try the Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee Champagne for our Holiday Gift Guide.  Barefoot Wine makes several different bubblies:

  • Extra Dry Champagne –  This  sparkling wine has a peachy flavor and is well balanced.
  • Pinot Grigio Champagne – This has a fruity and vanilla flavor and would pair well with any spicy food.
  • Brut Cuvee Champagne – ( This is the one I received )  This Brut Cuvee is tart and dry.   It has lots of sparkles with crisp apple flavors.  I served this with a simple Goat Cheese, drizzled with olive oil and crackers on the side.  We loved it!
  • Pink Moscato Champagne –  This is a sweet sparkling wine with the flavors of cherry.
  • Rose Cuvee Champagne – This, again, is a sweet sparkling wine.  
  • Moscato Spumante 


Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee Champagne  is a great option for easy and affordable entertaining.  This wine is typically priced at under $ 10 a bottle.  This is one of the leading products offered by Barefoot.  This is their most traditional sparkling wine and can really be considered the flagship of the Barefoot Bubbly brand.  

Barefoot Bubbly Label

So, let the holiday festivities begin!  Pop the cork and get ready to toast the holidays and ring in the new year with Barefoot Bubbly!

Note:  I received 1 bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee Champagne as a sample to be reviewed for our Holiday Gift Guide.  No compensation was received.  The opinions are honest and my own. 


Refresh by Turning Leaf Wine

The holiday season is full of lots of rich foods and its nice to have a light refreshing wine to pair with the festivities.  I was asked to sample two wines by Refresh by Turning Leaf – the Crisp White and the Moscato.  Refresh by Turning Leaf makes a Red Moscato as well.

This entirely new style of wine features a light, fizzy body that is crafted to offer a refreshing wine experience.  These wines are designed to be enjoyed well chilled and can even be poured over ice ( yes, that’s right !!).  They are also great to use in wine cocktails – mixed with juices or ginger ale. ( A Retro-type cocktail). I’ll give you a few cocktail recipe ideas below.  Refresh wines are great summertime wines, but will also blend nicely into the holiday season.  

Mix up my Fizzy Cranberry Cocktail and enjoy it by the fireplace with your sweetie!  Very romantic!   




Other options for enjoying the Crisp White are:

  1. Straight, over ice.  We tried it this way first and all of us really liked it.  The slight “fizz” really is refreshing.  It’s not bubbly like champagne, but the fizz is noticeable. 
  2. Mixed as a “retro-style” cocktail.  Fill your glass with crushed ice.  Fill  2/3 full with the Refresh Crisp White and then 1/3 with juice.  I used Cranberry Juice Cocktail in my Fizzy Cranberry Cocktail but I think Orange juice or Mango juice would be goo too!  You are only limited by your creativity!
  3. Serve over ice with a slice of lime squeezed in.
  4. Over ice 2/3 Crisp White/ 1/3 Ginger Ale.

The Refresh Moscato is perfect for Brunch ( instead of a Mimosa).  It’s also nice with any spicy food.

Note:  I received samples of the Refresh by Turning leaf to taste for this review.  The opinions are my own and are honest.  No compensation was received.





ZinZig Wine Tasting and Trivia Game

 Play this great wine tasting game and learn more about wine!

ZinZig Wine Tasting game arrived at my door a week or so ago for our  Gift Guide and I have to admit I was very intrigued.  I have always loved board games and trivia games and to combine that with wine tasting just has to be fun.  So, we decided to grab a few bottles of wine and a couple of friends and play ZinZig.  Game  night started with my “Almost Famous Chili” with all of the fixins’ and then we moved into the living room to play a very competitive game of ZinZig.

The wine tasting game can be played with up to 6 people ( or by up to 6 teams) but there were only 4 of us for our initial run playing ZinZig.  We thought the instructions were pretty straightforward….nothing too complicated ( which is good considering you are drinking wine during the entire game!).  

The game started with us tasting all of the wines ( 3 bottles).  We each picked a winery and the figure to represent us on the board.  We each picked a winery for our figure to start on.  The board is circular and the game moves quickly as you move around the board, trying to answer trivia questions and then “swapping” , “trading” or the favorite of everyone “sip and savor” )where you get to sit back, relax, and enjoy your wine, while earning a free card)


Each trivia card has a resource printed on the back — barrel, grape, bottle or cork.  The point of the game is to collect one of each resource and then start production.  Once you do that, you move to the middle of the board and go through the stages of production ( crushing, fermenting, aging and bottling) by answering more trivia questions.  All in all, ZinZig has over 200 trivia questions about wine and 50 blind tasting cards.  

I did not win that night, but I had loads of fun.  We all thought the trivia questions were interesting and we all learned something new about wine.  The game lasted about 2 hours and got a resounding approval from all of us.  

 ZinZig is available from Amazon for anywhere between $ 38.00 to $ 49.95.  Amazon.com

Note:  True Fabrications provided us with one ZinZig game to review for our Holiday Gift Guide.  No compensation was received.  These are my true and honest opinions.





Host Adjustable Wine Aerator

The Host Adjustable Wine Aerator allows you to instantly decant any wine from a slight aeration ( equal to 1 hour of regular decanting) to extreme aeration (equal to 6 hours of regular decanting).  Just turn the metal band, pick an aeration setting and decant your wine in a matter of seconds. 

Watch how easy the Host Adjustable Wine Aerator is to use….view Vickie’s Make Life Special Video Review by clicking  here:  Host Adjustable Wine Aerator Review

I was very impressed with the variable settings, the ease of use and how easy it is to clean.  We definitely felt it improved the taste of our wine when we aerated it.  I used the “6” setting for our robust red wines but I like having the option of lower settings for more delicate wines.  

This would be a perfect gift for anyone over 21 who enjoys wine.  It would also make a terrific hostess gift for the holiday season.  

Watch the Host Video by clicking here:  Host Adjustable Wine Aerator Video

The adjustable Host Aerator sells for $ 40.00 and is available in most department stores and wine shops.  However, you can also buy it online here:  Host Shop

For all of the Amazon fans, here is the link to buy it there:  Host Wine Aerator at Amazon.com

I reviewed the handheld unit.  Host also offers a Host Wine Pourer that fits right into the top of the wine bottle and aerates the wine as you pour it into your glass.  This sells for under $20.00.

Note:  I received a sample of the Host Adjustable Wine Aerator to review for this Holiday Gift Guide .  No compensation was received.  These are my true and honest opinions.


Heritance Wine for the Holidays

This holiday season I was invited to experience the 2008  Heritance Cabernet Sauvignon and include the wine in our Holiday 2012 Gift Guide.  I really enjoy discovering new wines so it took me less than a second to reply with an enthusiastic “Yes!”.

If you have been following Make Life Special, you know that I love wine and I enjoy serving it with all of my food.  I think the only real way to learn about wine is to try it.  

Heritance Wine proudly bears a label that says ”  1 Family/ 9 Generations/ 4 Continents”.

 Winemaker Bernard Portet has been making wine for decades, continuously drawing upon his family legacy of wine-making excellence through 9 generations and acroos 4 continents.  A Napa Valley winemaking icon ( he was a co-founder of the famous Clos du Val Winery) , Bernard is continuing his family tradition with Heritance Winery.  


Bernard Portet: Co-founder of Clos du Val winery and now the founder of Heritance Winery

Bernard Portet uses “assemblage” winemaking which has long been his signature style.  This means that he blends different lots of wine to craft a finished wine that is greater than the sum of their parts.  The Heritance Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.   I find that I really enjoy wine blends and this wine was outstanding in my book!

Here is their description of this wine:

 ”  A medium-deep to dark ruby hue with some violet overtones is gorgeous in the glass.  A gentle swirl releases fragrant black fruit aromas and a beautiful touch of oak that adds pleasant spice and complexity, without hiding the elegant and pleasing structure.  This wine is full, round and well-anchored with a classic finish.  Although it can age, it is ready to be enjoyed right now.”

 I enjoyed this wine very much!  I served it with my Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks  and everyone thought this wine was outstanding!   My best description of the wine is “Elegant”.  I would definitely buy this wine again and would certainly recommend this as a gift for anyone on your list who enjoys wine.  

Heritance Cabernet Sauvignon has a SRP of $ 36.00 per bottle.  

The Heritance Website  will introduce you to other great wines produced by this winery.  You can also become a mailing list member.  Be sure to check out the Holiday Gift Sets they have available too!

Thanks to Heritance Winery for my sample to review.  My opinions are honest.  No compensation was received.  



Waterstone Study in Blue – A Great Boutique Wine for Gift Giving

Waterstone Study in Blue from Napa Valley would make a great holiday gift for any wine lover on your list!  I love boutique wineries because the wines are wonderful and it is so much fun to discover the passion of the wine and the winemakers. 


Waterstone Study in Blue  2008 is a distinct blend of 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 25% Syrah .  It has blue hues with pronounced blueberry aromas.  It is a Bordeaux type wine that is really in a realm all it’s own.    This wine is absolutely delicious!  It has hints of blackberry, chocolate….tobacco and plum.  Study in Blue is medium bodied and expressive.  I really like dry red wine and I thought Study in Blue  was well priced and delivered a smooth and silky texture.  It was…..simply delicious!

Waterstone Winery was founded in 2000 when Philip Zorn and Brent Shortridge discovered a shared interest in creating luxury wines at affordable prices.   In fact, Waterstone is quickly becoming known for producing top-quality Napa Valley wines that delight the palate.      

You can order Study in Blue  direct from Waterstone Winery ( provided you live in a state they can ship to) by visiting their website:  Waterstone Winery and downloading the order form.  You can fax the form to:  (707) 265-9605.  You can also place an order by calling the winery (707) 265-9600.

Waterstone Study in Blue retails for $ 45.00 per bottle.

Other wines by Waterstone Winery include:

2010 Pinot Gris  $ 18.00

 2011 Chardonnay  $ 18.00

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon  $ 24.00

2009 Merlot   $ 18.00

2008 Pinot Noir   $ 22.00

With the holidays just around the corner —-Waterstone Wines are a great idea for gift giving  and entertaining needs.

I received one bottle as a sample  of Study in Blue for this review.  No compensation was received.  These are my honest opinions.



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Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: http://www.makelifespecial.com