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April 2022

The Bachelor on the Cheap guide to making wine selection and food pairing easier - Merlot

Wine FunBy Mike Thayer

This is the first of an ongoing series of wines and food pairings

Wine, it's the perfect beverage for a romantic dinner, a go-to for a casual get-together/party and a holiday meal is complimented by it.  Whether it's a meal for two, a small party for friends or a gathering of family, having the right wine elevates the occasion. 

And while most people follow the basic rule of thumb - red wine for beef and white wine for chicken - selecting the right wine can still be challenging.  What KIND of red for that roast beef?  Or, What KIND of white for that lemon chicken dish?  Does dessert call for a different wine?

The choices are many and can be intimidating, with the reds there's Merlot; Cabernet Sauvignon; Zifandel; Syrah/Shiraz; Malbec; Pinot Noir; Nebbiolo; Sangiovese; Grenache and all kinds of red blends to choose from.

With the whites there's Chardonnay; Sauvignon Blanc; Moscato; Pinot Grigio; Riesling; Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Torrontes, Albarino and yes, white wine has it's share of blends as well.

So you walk into the liquor store in need of a bottle of wine for a dinner date or special occasion... 

Sure, you can rely on the store attendant to help you with a selection but that can be hit or miss.  A good attendant will ask you if you prefer wines on the sweeter or dryer side and what you might be pairing it with.  But keep in mind the attendant's palate is different than yours, their sweet and dry preferences are different than yours and they might try to push a particular brand on you that's in the store's best interest, not yours.  So why not walk in the store knowing what you need?  That's what this guide is for, to help you with food pairings, what is sweet, what is dry and getting a good wine for under $15 a bottle.  That's the Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly thing to do, get something nice, without paying too much for it.

So let's start off with the reds, with today's feature:  Merlot

This is one of the more popular reds and if you're looking for a wine to go with a good steak, Merlot might be for you.  A Merlot is a hearty wine that pairs well with grilled steaks, roast beef, braised lamb and tomato based pastas. If eating lighter fare, a Merlot goes well with bold flavored cheeses, such as a good sharp cheddar, gouda, or a blue cheese such as Gorgonzola.  For dessert lovers, a nice Merlot pairs well with chocolate.  And for those that like a wine on the dryer side, it's a good wine to drink by itself as well. A traditional Merlot is a medium bodied, full flavored red wine the carries fruity notes such as strawberries, raspberries, plum and/or dark cherry.  Serve Merlot slightly chilled at 60 - 65 degrees (refrigerate for about 15 - 20 minutes before serving).  If you don't finish the bottle, cork it and refrigerate, it's good for up to 4 days.  Just be sure to pull the bottle and let it come up in temp (a refrigerator chills to about 41 degrees) a bit before serving to appreciate the full flavor profile.  If you haven't finished the bottle by the four day mark, cook with it.

Bachelor on the Cheap Recomendation:  Bogle Merlot - $9.99.  A California wine with notes of plum and dark cherry.

And something to consider, subscribing to a wine club.  Here's one that I've tried and I have to say every bottle I sampled was something I would order again.  WineShop at Home

Next Up in the series:  Cabernet Sauvignon

$pend Wisely My Friends...

What to do with that leftover Easter ham - make ham fried rice

Leftover ham
Chop up some leftover holiday ham to make an easy and delicious fried rice

By Mike Thayer

If' you're running out of ideas on how to use up that leftover ham, here's something super easy to try using ingredients you probably already have on hand.

Ham Fried Rice


  • 1/2 cup cubed ham
  • 1 cup leftover rice (cold rice gives you that crispy edge you're looking for in a good fried rice)
  • 1/4 cup onion - diced
  • 1/4 cup carrot - rough chopped, if you want to make it look 'purdy', cut julliane
  • 1/4 cup peas or whatever veggie you have on hand really, that's the beauty of fried rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2Tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • Pinch of red pepper flake (optional)
  • Black pepper to taste


Put a large skillet over medium high heat.  Assemble all your ingredients for easy dump in to the hot pan.  That and cold rice is the key to a good fried rice, having everything right there, ready to go.  Once the pan is hot, add the oils and once that gets hot and easily coats the bottom of the pan, dump in the veggies (mushrooms are really good in this too, but like I said, pretty much whatever leftover veggie you have on hand works).  Once the veggies start to caramelize, toss in the rice and ham.  Stir to incorporate.  Add the soy and hoisin sauces, stir to incorporate.  For the egg, you can either scramble and add it to the fried rice at this point stirring to incorporate, or you can push the fried rice to the side of the pan and fry your egg over easy so you have an egg yolk that oozes over the plated fried rice.  The latter is my preferred method, which also allows that rice to crisp up on the bottom.

Fried rice is the easiest way to kill a bunch of leftovers in the fridge - talk about being Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly!  And the best part, it's another dose of YUM!   Don't get take out or delivery - do your own fried rice!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Wine Review: Apothic Rose - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Apothic Rose
Always have a Rose or two on hand

Keeping things simple one night for dinner, a small charcuterie board, I needed something light to drink with that baguette, brie cheese and prosciutto.

Enter, Apothic Rose.

I've had the Apothic Red before and really liked it, so on this night, I decided on trying the Apothic Rose.  TIP:  Always have a Rose or two on hand in addition to your favorite whites or reds.  Not only is it flexible with food pairings, there's going to be those times when a white or red just doesn't sound right.   On this occasion, the Apothic Rose was a perfect choice with my impromptu charcuterie board.

Here's the description from the Apothic website:  A refreshing wine that is light in color, yet dark in nature. Apothic Rosé offers crisp notes of strawberry, raspberry and watermelon. A touch of sweet fruit stays through to the finish, creating a refreshing take on a Rosé that's perfect day or night.

After reading about the layers of strawberry and watermelon flavors on the label, I kind of expected a fruity frontal assault when I opened the bottle.  But the nose on this wine isn't too fruit forward, it's actually quite nice, almost too subtle.  The first sip was indeed crisp, delivering on those notes of strawberry, watermelon along with a nice hint of raspberry.  A little bit sweet, a little bit dry, this wine is light, yet rich in flavor.   Providing a refreshing mouthfeel, this is a nicely balanced Rose, a great choice for any occasion. 

Costing me about $12, I'm giving Apothic Rose 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's reasonably priced, refreshing and a repeat buy.  This is a Rose you'll be happy to have on hand.  Chill 30 minutes before pouring.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Bacon-Wrapped Corn on the Cob - Bachelor on the Cheap

Bacon-Wrapped Corn on the Cob
Easy Peasy Preparation

By Mike Thayer

Try making this great appetizer at your next party.  It combines the great summertime flavor of corn on the cob, the subtle bite of jalapeno pepper and it's all brought together in a blanket of smoky bacon.  It's another dose of YUM! 


  • One pound of regular cut bacon
  • One package of Green Giant Nibblers corn on the cob (You'll need 8 mini ears)
  • Two jalapenos, finely diced
  • Black pepper to taste


Bacon-wrapped corn on the cob
A perfect summer time appetizer for a party on the patio

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.  Take two slices of bacon and place on parchment paper with one slice just slightly overlapping the other.  Hit it with some black pepper.  Sprinkle on some diced jalapeno, then wrap the corn.  Repeat until all corn is wrapped and arrange on parchment paper seam side down.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the corn is tender. 

These can easily be done on the grill as well.  Make sure you have a hot zone and an indirect heat zone on your grill, we are doing bacon after all.  Grill the bacon wrapped corn, seam side down over direct heat moving as necessary to avoid flare ups.  Rotate every 5 minutes or so until the bacon is crispy and the corn is tender.  Serve immediately.

bacon, corn, jalapeno
Bacon, corn, jalapeno, what's not to like?

You can also do full ears of corn, but you'll need about 3 pounds of bacon for that, pretty much turning an appetizer, into a meal.

This flavor combination is tremendous, it's a perfect marriage that is a little bit sweet, a little bit spicey, a little bit smoky.  You're going to want more than one of these!

Costing me about $11 for the bag Green Giant Nibblers, a pound of Oscar Mayer bacon and a couple jalapenos, this appetizer serves 8 and took me maybe 5 minutes to prepare.  People will ask you for the recipe!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

For other great recipes, food & drink reviews and grilling ideas, go to

Bacon-wrapped corn on the cob done the Bachelor on the Cheap way
It's another dose of YUM!