San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 13th, 2012
Functional Girl: Three wine tips for three budgets

Functional Girl: A column

Functional Girl CJ LEGARE

Dear Functional Girl: My boyfriend and his friends are serious winos. What I mean is, they love wine. Personally, I can’t stand the stuff, but I’d like to be able to surprise them with a nice bottle for a dinner or a party. I don’t have a huge budget to work with. What do you recommend? — Maryanne H.

Dear Maryanne: Like you, I simply don’t have the palate for wine. Luckily, though, my dear friend Tracy Stevens happens to be the wine steward at the Brookshire Brothers in Wimberley.

This is a woman who loves her wine, and enjoys helping others discover their love of wine. She has helped me select some amazing bottles for my husband’s collection, so I know she’ll steer you right. When I posed your question, she offered these suggestions:

“For $15 or less I recommend the 2007 Concha y Toro “Casillero del Diablo” Carmenere ($11), if you’re looking for a red. This wine is smooth, well balanced, and offers black cherry and plum flavors with hints of dark chocolate, coffee and oak. It pairs well with red meat, pizza and roasted vegetables. If you’d like a white, try the 2007 Dominio del Plata “Crios de Susana Balbo” ($12). This highly fragrant Torrontés from Argentina offers floral aromas, honey and spice. On the palate it is creamy, crisp and intense all at the same time. This is a great alternative to a chardonnay, and pairs well with lobster ravioli, crab and smoked meats.

“In the $15-to-$30 range I love the 2006 Earthquake Zinfandel ($25) for a red. It’s made with grapes from old Lodi vines planted around the time of San Francisco’s great earthquake in 1906. This wine is big and intense, yet smooth and lush. Open this bottle and discover the aromas and flavors of raspberry cobbler and vanilla. Try it with a sinful slab of BBQ ribs, or a burger topped with Roquefort and barbequed red onions. The 2008 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ($17) is a wonderful white in this price range. This aromatic and refreshing wine features lime and grapefruit with a mineral edge, and continues to receive exceptional ratings year after year. Pick up a bottle when you’re planning on making seafood, chicken or light pasta dishes.

“For those special occasions when you want to spend a little more, here are two of my favorite bottles. The 2006 Concha y Toro “Don MelchorCabernet Sauvignon ($69) is a gorgeous red. This flagship Chilean wine is blended with 3 percent Cabernet Franc and aged in French oak for 15 months. You’ll enjoy the flavors of roasted chestnuts and dark berries. An award-winning wine, it will make the perfect gift for any connoisseur. Pair it with fillet mignon, a hearty beef stew or lamb chops. The 2003 Tablas Creek Vineyard “Esprit de Beaucastel” Blanc ($35) is my pick for a luxurious white. The rich aromas of honeysuckle, lemon and spice combined with intense butterscotch, honey, lemon and vanilla flavors lead to a mineral finish. This bottle is the perfect companion to salmon, roasted vegetables and scallops with garlic sauce.”

Your boyfriend and his pals may never understand why you don’t share their love of wine, but with these suggestions to get you going, they’ll be amazed by your good taste and willingness to indulge their passion.

Dear Functional Girl: I’m 38 years old and have worn neutral nail polish my entire life. I’ve never strayed from my soft pinks and subtle tans. But all the nail art I’ve seen lately makes me to try something completely different, something blue or green! I don’t know where to begin. Do you have any color suggestions? — Milly T.

Dear Milly: Congratulations on your bold, new color exploration! Nail polish is a great, non-permanent way to experiment with your aesthetic. I have the perfect, budget-friendly solution. One of my favorite shades is Wild Shine 446C Caribbean Frost by Wet N Wild. It is the kind of soft metallic bluish-green that makes you feel like a peacock princess. You can find this youthful, economical brand at Wal-Mart and other affordable chains. This particular bottle of polish should cost you less than $2, which is about as much as you want to spend on a bottle of polish that you might use only once.

I suggest starting on your toes. Make a day of it. Shave your legs; get a pedicure; wear some cute open-toed shoes and a great dress. Take yourself on a date, and proclaim to the world that even if it’s just for one day, your name is Milly, you are 38 years old and you are fierce enough to rock turquoise toes! If that goes well, you’ll be sporting lavender fingernails before you know it. But if in the end being a peacock princess just isn’t in your repertoire, you’re only out a couple of bucks and you’ll always have a great story about your daring fashion choice. I encourage all ladies to have a little fashion adventure from time to time. It’s good for your soul.

Functional Girl CJ Legare lives in Kyle with her husband, Joshua, and is addicted to 2 percent organic milk. If you’ve got a question or comment for Functional Girl, email her here. She blogs at

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