Are you looking for a food & wine column that’s fun to read with wine suggestions that you can easily afford? 

Then I hope to see you back here every Friday. Our “Wine Down and Chill ” column offers a unique pairing of an accessible and affordable wine, insta-dinner you can whip up at home and a suggestion to Netflix-and-chill. We’re here to help you sit back, and wine down for the weekend.

Mixing it up

This weekend has all kinds of things going on. For the Sci-fi geeks and Star Wars fans among us, tomorrow is “May the 4th be with you.” It’s also the weekend that everyone is from south of the border. Marked by celebrating with Corona, Dos Equis or Modelo and dancing a little cha-cha-cha to the sounds of a mariachi band is what we all do. Why? Because it’s Cinco de Mayo. Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t also mark the 20th anniversary of the release of The Matrix. That said, so many disparate events made this week’s wine-food-show pairing a little challenging.

Back to black

This California cabernet sauvignon is not only from my favorite grape from my absolute no-doubt-about-it favorite wine region in the world, Paso Robles, but its namesake is a pretty awesome fit for this week’s wine down and chill pairing. Double Black is fruit-forward with bold berries, some spice, a hint of oak along with a very smooth finish. At $14 a bottle, widely available and often discounted at the retail chain, Total Wine, this is one of the more affordable bottles from the region.

Paso Robles is recognized as one of the premier wine growing regions in the world. Around 60 grape varietals are grown there with their cabernet sauvignon globally acclaimed as one of it’s biggest stars, ranked right up there with their chardonnay. With more than 40,000 acres of vineyards, it’s also one of the top producing regions.

Since we’re trying to be a bit geeky here, let’s do some wine math which is decidedly more fun than any other kind of math. A low-yielding vineyard produces about 2 tons of grapes per acre. Translated into consumption terms, that’s about 1,500 bottles. Comparatively, a high-yielding vineyard produces about 7,200 bottles. If we split the difference, Paso Robles probably generates around … wait for it … this is as mind-blowing as the fight scenes in The Matrix … that’s around 180,000,000 bottles of wine! More than enough for you, me and a few friends to throw down. Shout-out to my bestie, Gita, who happens to live in SLO and has enviable, daily access to over 200 amazing wineries that are pretty much in her backyard!

 Deconstructed tacos

In keeping with the futuristic theme we have going here, and given that it’s the weekend that we celebrate Mexico, what better way to do so than a deconstructed taco? For those of you that like trivia, Cinco de Mayo is not actually Mexico’s Independence Day which many people falsely believe to be true. In fact, it celebrates the victory of the Mexican army over the French Empire back in 1862. Coincidentally also the year that the battle of South vs. the North began here in the USA with the start of the Civil War. Enough of that. Back to tacos. Mmmmm.

Five ingredients and five steps

One, whip up some rice. Choose Goya yellow rice, Spanish style: it’s delish.

Two, crack open a tub of Wholly Guacamole. It’s good, plus the branding is clever.

Three, heat up some Old El Paso spicy refried beans.

Four, chop up some tomatoes and lettuce.

Five, add some of Newman’s Own black bean and corn salsa.

If you want to get a little fancy, top with sour cream and sliced green onion. Pour yourself a big glass and settle down to wine down and chill. And keep the bottle handy, you’ve got a Matrix marathon ahead.

Watch out for the red pill

Finally, we’re just about ready for an extended wine down and chill because you can now stream The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Load up and let the Matrix marathon begin.

Keanu Reeves, mmmm, did I mention that he’s Canadian and hence he’s probably really nice? Not to mention totally hot and a model citizen with all that he does to give back. He’s truly a superhero as Neo and as himself. 😊 It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 20 years since they created that famous scene dodging bullets in slow-mo suspended animation on the rooftop. Carrie-Anne Moss, as Trinity, is a total bad-ass. Laurence Fishburn is also quite the superstar as Morpheus who happens to speak one of the top-ranked Sci-fi lines of all time:

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

Cheers!