Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Wine On A Budget: Oak Creek

March 3rd, 2010

Happy Hour

It’s Happy Hour today at MyMoneyMinute! My wife, The Lovely Miss H, really enjoys her vino, as I’m sure many of you do too. In case you hadn’t noticed though, wine can expensive! Nothing breaks a budget like a taste for the finer things in life. Well fear not, because I’m starting a new feature for our little website called “Happy Hour”. The MyMoneyMinute Happy Hour will feature fine beverages and snacks that are frugal on price, but not on taste.

Today’s Selection: Oak Creek Merlot

Oak Creek Vineyards are based out of California’s vast Central Valley, with vineyards in the cities of Livermore & Ripon. We tried Oak Creek based on a friend’s suggestion, and it didn’t let us down. I’m not a vinophile, I pretty much distinguish wine between red & white, LOL. But what I can distinguish between is good & nasty, and this wine wasn’t nasty; in fact it was pretty decent!

Quality vs. Cost

The age-old question is do you go with quality or price? Name brand or generic? Nike or New Balance? Krispy Kreme or 7-Eleven? You get the point, but here’s my take: we all value products differently, and tend to over-value products we are particularly fond of. The trick to managing your budget is to find the best quality without sacrificing your budget. Believe it or not, this compromise is almost always possible.

Cost Is Exponential; Quality Is Subtle

I love basketball. If my budget permitted, I would have season tickets to the Spurs. But I don’t have thousands to spend each year on basketball. The compromise? I buy the NBA League Pass, and can watch every game for less than what it would cost to attend one game. Oh, and I put in a 114″ projector screen in my house on the cheap. So unless I’m sitting lower bowl, I’d rather stay home and watch it anyway!

What’s my point? At some point, the cost of an item will eventually out-pace it’s matching quality. Would the quality be better to have season tickets? You bet! Is that Quality of live basketball worth paying 50 times the Cost of watching every game at home? For me, it’s a no. Compare a brand new $60,000 Lexus to a pre-owned, three-year old $15,000 Toyota. Is the Quality of the ride four times greater? No, you are paying for luxury status, and a new car smell, but ultimately it’s the same engine and body with different labels and extra added features.

Back To Happy Hour!

Currently, Oak Creek wine is on sale at CVS, $10 for 3 bottles – $3.33 each! This wine may not be as good as a $50 bottle of wine, but the Quality is enough where I don’t care to justify paying 15 times more in Cost, because I won’t get 15 times the Quality in return. In fact, this taste survey gave it decent marks. From what I’ve been told, the Cabernet is even better, so try that first. I would have, but they were sold out. Obviously, somebody found out about Oak Creek’s Quality before I did!

Next Selection

Readers, help me and the MyMoneyMinute community at-large!

Have you tried Oak Creek wine? What budget wine would you recommend?  Give me some good options and I may feature your selection in a future “Happy Hour” segment.

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#044 — The 16 DOs & DON’Ts of Weekend Travel

April 14th, 2009

This past weekend, my wife & I took a weekend trip to Austin, and had a great time.  There were a few lessons learned to pass along.

The DOs & DON’Ts of Weekend Travel

  • DO clean your home before you leave; DON’T come back to a messy house.

On any vacation, it’s nice to come home to a clean house, isn’t it?  We don’t always follow this advice, but it is a relaxing feeling to come home and know you don’t have any chores to do for a few days.

  • DO use or some discount hotel website to book a cheap hotel.

If you’re not camping, it’s the best way to get a good deal on a weekend getaway.  We pricelined a 4-star hotel in Austin for $90, and may even been able to go lower.

  • DO make it a road trip; DON’T fly.

Drive somewhere.  Spending time on a drive can be as much fun and quality time as being in the actual destination.  Also, given the current gas prices, it’s just cheaper.  You also have the freedom to take the “back way” home and explore small-town America.  We did this by driving through part of the Texas Hill Country on the way back home.

The only exception to this might be a weekend trip to Vegas, since there’s such great package deals, and plenty of direct entertainment in the casinos to keep you occupied for a weekend.

  • DO pack a bottle of wine and some snacks; DON’T spend all your money at bars & restaurants.

You may be eating out all weekend, but if you pack a few snacks and drinks, it will cut down on your weekend food tab.  This is especially true with alcohol, which can often double your restaurant bill if you’re not careful.  To help soften the blow of a high bar tab, we brought a bottle of wine with us to share at the hotel, and grabbed some cheese & bread from the local supermarket.

  • DO find a way to make it an extended weekend; DON’T only make it a one-night adventure.

Weekends go fast enough as it is.  Find a weekend where you can take a Friday or Monday off to extend your time.  It makes your schedule a little more flexible and a little less stressful.  We took off Good Friday and made it a three-day Easter weekend.

  • DO see something of historical significance.

We arrived in Austin on Friday afternoon, with just enough time to stop by the state capitol building.  It was free to park that day, and free to enter the capitol and look around.  Texas is rich in history and it was a nice semi-educational detour to stop by and look around.  Next time we’ll have to go when the legislature is in session, so we can meet our local representatives.

  • DO ask for your friends’ recommendations; DON’T travel somewhere without some knowledge.

Everyone we knew, especially the native Texans, had been to (or went to school in) Austin.  There was not a shortage of excellent information.  Friends will give you the ‘insider’ information, like the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that don’t cost much, but have excellent food and atmosphere.  We found a great restaurant & bar by calling and getting a recommendation from a friend who went to college in Austin.

  • DON’T spend money at the chain stores; DO visit the local establishments.

I can eat at Chili’s or On The Border in Dallas; there’s no difference from one suburb to another.  The real fun is tasting the local cuisine or finding the mom & pop establishments.  It is more hit & miss this way, but ultimately you’ll have more memories of visiting the local shops or restaurants.

  • DON’T buy spa packages from the hotel.

This goes along with the chain vs. local establishments I spoke of above.  The hotel spa packages are overpriced, and don’t get you out into the town.  We found a day spa down the road that was local and had better prices.  The massages were great, although the pedicures unfortunately were a disaster.  Maybe we should have used more of my advice above, and asked a friend for a recommendation!

  • DO attend an out-of-town church service

I know growing up, being gone for a weekend meant no church service.  However, if you’re a person of faith, I highly recommend attending a church service while you’re out of town.  It gives you a fresh perspective on how other churches worship & operate.  A different pastor or speaker can also give you a fresh perspective on fairly common topics.  It also helps you realize that God is a whole lot bigger and encompassing than your local church, with all its joys and flaws.

How about you — What would you add to this list?  Any that you agree or disagree with?  Let’s see some comments below!

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