Funny Wine Label

Perhaps it was the funny label on the bottle or the low price of $3.99, but this 2008 LaGranja 360 Tempranillo was worth taking home from Trader Joe's.  The tempranillo grape is the most widely planted red wine varietal in Spain.  

In Spanish, LaGranja 360 means "the farm 360".  The little pig is flying because it expresses a song which the Spanish children sing when somebody has asked for something which is impossible to realize, has a dream, or says something absurd.  

This is an everyday drinking wine with juicy, raspberry notes.

When buying wine, do you buy based on price, label, or grape?

Top Five Things in Portland

Two weeks ago I traveled to Portland, Oregon for an international food conference.  The conference planners picked a city bursting with hot food trends, locals supporting their local farmers, and restaurants gaining popularity.  Picking my favorite things was tough as there were so many, but I settled on five must-do/see sites.

Gruner: a five month old restaurant serving German and Austrian cuisine using ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest.  The wine list was easy to navigate with the help of a well-versed server, and I was really happy with my choice of spaetlze with braised chicken, morels, riesling, crispy shallots, and thyme.

Ace Hotel: a quirky boutique hotel that offer budget friendly rooms in order to experience the best of Portland; Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a local coffee company, cranks out excellent brews and sells pastries and Voodoo Doughnuts; patrons sip their morning cup in the lobby of the Ace while catching up on the day's news either in print or virtually (free WiFi).  Another hotel feature is Clyde Common, a restaurant and bar turning out excellent seasonal food and shaking (or stirring) appetite-inducing cocktails.  With two happy hours (one mid-day, the other after 11 p.m.), there is always a deal to be found. I still crave the fries with harissa and creme fraiche dipping sauces.
Anne Amie: spend an afternoon in the Willamette Valley at this biodynamic vineyard sampling pinot noir and pinot gris wines. Located in the Yamhill-Carlton District, the vineyard is LIVE certified which means Anne Amie uses sustainable wine growing & wine producing practices.  As part of the conference, I was very happy to taste a variety of Anne Amie wines paired with an incredible lunch from Thistle Restaurant.  

Powell's Books: an entire day's vacation could be spent in this treasure trove of a bookstore.  Multiple levels, discounted books, and a coffee shop make this store the world's largest independent seller of new & used books.  
Portland Farmer's Market: skipping out of the conference early on a Saturday morning proved to be a smart decision.  Local shoppers converged on this market buying fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers in all colors of the rainbow, cheeses, and breakfast from those magical food carts.  Seafood vendors sold oysters and salmon; bakeries displayed cookies, muffins, and macaroons.  After seeing the market (and buying some sweets for later), my only regret was not having a kitchen in which to prepare a meal.  

What are your favorite spots in Portland? Leave your picks in the comments.