Google Tag

Search This Blog

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Trader Joe's Sparkling White Chardonnay Grape Juice

I've always been terrified of champagne bottles. It has something to do with the deafening pop and the lethal projectile that shoots out of the nozzle when you open it. 

On our honeymoon, Sonia and I had a couple of bottles thanks to some of our good friends. Each night, I'd try a new technique to open the bottle. I tried prying the cork off with a knife. I tried shaking the bottle like they do in the movies. That one's a great method if you don't mind wasting half the bottle and getting wine all over the room. So then I tried opening the bottle while holding it over the shower. 

Sonia offered to try, but like a good husband, my protective instinct (AKA foolish pride) kicked in, and I insisted on performing the risky task myself, night after night, adding one more thing to stress over on top of my already fraying nerves.

This bottle is no exception. Only this time, it's not champagne, it's chardonnay. But it's non-alcoholic chardonnay. It's apparently still "chardonnay," because it's made with actual Chardonnay grapes from Spain. Sorry, booze-hounds.You'll have to do all of the work associated with a regular champagne bottle, and alas, there's no buzz inside.

Nonetheless, this stuff makes a pretty good glass of bubbly for New Year's and such, especially if you're the designated driver, a non-drinker, or a law-abiding under-21-year-old. It's right in the middle of the dry/sweet spectrum, maybe favoring sweet just a bit, yet not feeling syrupy at all. It almost tastes a little appley to me. It tastes like a very high quality maybe a sparkling grape cider with a dash of apple juice...?

The carbonation level seemed just about perfect to me. Just the right amount of bubbles. Enough to tickle my mouth, but not so much that it burns. Sonia thinks it's very similar to dessert wines she's tried, but without the alcohol.

It was $2.99 at our local TJ's. That's a pretty good price for an item made with imported grapes. It's very high quality, and we'd definitely buy it again for another special occasion.

Sonia gives it 4 out of 5 stars. We're absolutely on the same page with this one. It's been a while since we've reviewed a beverage on here, and it's always nice to be able to say that Trader Joe's has produced another winner.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Trader Joe's Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

The packaging declares these cupcakes "Minty, delicious, and festive too!" Well, they're certainly minty and festive. On that other point, however, I might not agree so enthusiastically. It seems peppermint desserts like Pretzel Slims and Chocolate Covered Joe-Joe's can be hit or miss at TJ's. And new things like Peppermint Macarons are apparently fairly tasty. But, personally, I would call these cupcakes another miss.

Don't get me wrong, they didn't taste bad. They were moist, they had plenty of frosting, and as far as I can tell, they were made with quality ingredients. The icing tasted sweet, minty, and cream cheesy. But unlike other sweet frostings, I felt that the flavor conflicted with and overshadowed the chocolate cake part of the product. Chocolate and mint can easily complement one another. Just look at York Peppermint Patties or Andes candies. I'm not sure what exactly is working in those products that failed in this one, but I definitely tasted more peppermint cream cheese than chocolate cake.

It didn't taste like toothpaste, which is a plus. But it also didn't taste like a dessert to me. Even the cream cheese, sugar, and peppermint elements of the icing seemed to cancel each other out a bit, even before the chocolate came into play. Again, I could be wrong. There's a lot of positive buzz out there about these cupcakes. But I have to offer this dissenting opinion. There's nothing gross about them, but there's not really anything I would describe as "delicious" either. Sonia enjoyed them significantly more than I did, but she also admitted that she didn't see herself buying these again in the future. There are just too many other products at TJ's that we do find "delicious," and I don't want to waste my precious RDA for calories and fat on something I would say "meh" to.

I'll give these a very neutral 2.5 stars. Sonia gives them 3 stars.

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

You Might Like: