2007 Blackstone Reserve Merlot, California; $20
The reserve line of Blackstone's wines has been delivering layers of flavors and elegance for a terrific price. This merlot delivers on all levels. It starts with a terrific nose, packed full of leathery notes and black fruit, that flows into a mouthfeel of big, juicy fruit sensations. Flavors of black cherries, black plums and currants are balanced by notes of pepper and earthy cocoa. There is a lot of structure that allows the fruit and spice to slowly develop in the mouth, and subtle hints of oak start to surface on the finish. The balance of fruit and oak makes this a terrific food wine. This wine stands up perfectly to all cuts of beef and lamb.
Spirit of New Orleans Praline Pecan Liqueur; $18
With the weather starting to get cooler and Thanksgiving right around the corner, this liqueur easily can become the next hit of your holiday get-together. Aromas of sweet brown sugar fill the glass and delight the senses as soon as the first drop hits the glass. The flavors are rich and elegant: dark notes of caramelized brown sugar and pecans, all with a touch of butter on the finish. This praline liqueur is terrific over ice or with some cream, and it works perfectly in hot chocolate.
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."