2008 Pennywise Chardonnay, California; $20
Upon pouring this chardonnay, complex aromas fill the glass and alert the taste buds to perk up for the first sip. Baked apple and butterscotch notes fill the glass and flow across the palate. Like waves on the beach, the flavors arrive with an intensity and wash over the tongue as new flavors emerge. Pineapple and peach flavors and a creaminess frame the apple notes. This is a great chardonnay without too much oak. It has the right amount of acidity to balance the fruit. It would be terrific with cream dishes or baked chicken, which will draw out the warm, softer flavors of the wine.
Sierra Nevada Stout, California; six-pack, $8
Wow, what a stout. This beer delivers on all cylinders -- and then some -- for a dark beer. The aromas of roasted coffee and dark chocolate fill the glass and flow over the taste buds with the first sip. The flavors are earthy, with notes of toasted malt, espresso and cocoa powder in each sip. It has a nice balance of hops and sweetness along with just the right note of carbonation. This beer delivers a big intense flavor with a soft, supple finish. It would work well with desserts and beef dishes.
Firefly Peach Sweet Tea Vodka, South Carolina; $20
Firefly has been the leader in sweet tea vodkas, and with the introduction of the flavored versions it is evident that there has to be a true Southerner behind recipes. This is a great product made here in South Carolina with tea also grown on the coast. When mixed with water according to the recipe on the back of the bottle, it tastes just as good as my mom's sweet tea with slices of Carolina peaches mixed in. You can barely taste the vodka, and with the peach and tea flavors you have some true Southern sweet tea with a kick. Keep in mind this vodka is easy-drinking and can sneak up on you, so drink in moderation.