2007 Raymond Napa Valley Reseve Cabernet Sauvignon, California; $32
I have always found that this winery produces some of the most elegant wines for the price point, and this one delivers on that promise. It starts with aromas of dried cranberries, pepper and spice that lead into a full-bodied, layered, delicious treat. Layers of blackberries, dark chocolate, vanilla bean and toasty oak fill the mouth with each sip. On the finish, the red fruit notes coat the mouth like velvet and you'll detect additional notes of spice and creamy vanilla. This is a delicious cabernet that will stand up to lamb, steak or hearty tomato dishes.
Smirnoff Pear Vodka; $15
There are a lot of flavored vodkas on the shelves of your favorite stores, but few have a natural taste and great flavor. Many of these vodkas taste artificial or overdone, but this Smirnoff Pear Vodka is on the mark. It has a delicate nose of ripe yellow pear that is so pleasant you can picture a fresh cut pear in your mind as you take in the aroma. The flavors do not disappoint -- loads of clean vanilla and pear with just the right amount of kick on the back of the mouth. It's really nice for sipping or mixing with a fruit juice for a pleasant cocktail. It's also great mixed with chocolate or espresso vodka for a fun new martini idea.
Lain Bradford is a wine writer and reviewer who has achieved his first level master sommelier certificate and is working toward his Certified Wine Educator degree. He only writes about beverages that are available in South Carolina and Georgia. Follow him on Twitter under the name "winereview."