Wine to Try - Cupcake Vineyards' Red Velvet

Let's talk about another luscious red wine: Cupcake Vineyards' Red
VelvetI picked this one up at World Market, but it happens to be on sale right now at my local Safeway supermarket. It's hard to resist a wine named "cupcake", which is strange since (I was recently told) I am immune to sweets. But nobody makes a Frito wine, so cupcake will have to do.
We enjoyed this bottle with friends. We nibbled on cheese and crackers, Christmas toffee, elk salami and an assortment of nuts and nosh. We also laughed a lot, and I bet the wine contributed some to that. It is a sweeter red, very rich with layers of flavor. This would be a wonderful wine to enjoy with chocolate and fruit. I think I'll pick up another bottle to share with Risa: it's exactly her kind of wine. Red Velvet is a perfect Christmas wine, but don't put it in such a small category. This would be wonderful for any special occasion (Valentine's Day!!) or for ordinary wino days. I rate it a complete GUZZLE.
My disclaimer:
Bear in mind that no one connected with any of the wineries I might mention here knows who I am. Of course, if they appreciate what I have to say and want to forward along cases of wine, I won't mind. I won't hold my breath, waiting for that day, either. :-)

My rating system:
Sip: a nice wine, goes deliciously with (or IN) food. I enjoyed it.
Guzzle: my idea of a nice sociable wine. The kind of thing I am happy to drink out of cheap plastic cups, sitting around the campfire, or out of a cool stemless glass while enjoying the company of someone I care about.
White Elephant: it isn't like drinking kerosene, exactly, but does not suit my taste. I'll pass it along to someone who might like it. This rating will mean more to you if you agree with my Sip and Guzzle ratings!
Drain-O: this stuff could hurt someone, so I'll send it to the wastewater treatment plant, via the kitchen drain. Maybe it will disinfect the p-trap, while it's in there
.

Wine to Try - Cupcake Angel Food

I bought this one in honor of my granddog, Cupcake.

Or I bought it because it was on sale?

Or because it sounded like the Kool-Aid, sweet, soda pop kind of wine that Sweet Hubs likes?

Maybe it was all of the above.

It is Cupcake Vineyards' Angel Food. I liked it very much, but it isn't what I expected at all. The name "Angel Food" conjured up an image of a light, fruity and maybe hint-of-vanilla wine? That isn't what I tasted at all. This was a lot more of a complex, sunset on the beach kind of wine. It is a sweet wine, but it isn't soda sweet like I expected.

If you're feeling a little winter-affected, wishing for warm sunshine and tan lines, I would suggest you pop "Under the Tuscan Sun" in the old dvd player and have a glass of Angel Food. Very nice, would pair beautifully with getting a foot massage while eating a box of chocolate-covered strawberries. Would also go wonderfully well with a winter cheese tasting kind of affair.

Cupcake Vineyards' Angel Food. A lovely sip. Cheers!

My disclaimer:
Bear in mind that no one connected with any of the wineries I might mention here knows who I am. Of course, if they appreciate what I have to say and want to forward along cases of wine, I won't mind. I won't hold my breath, waiting for that day, either. :-)

My rating system:
Sip: a nice wine, goes deliciously with (or IN) food. I enjoyed it.
Guzzle: my idea of a nice sociable wine. The kind of thing I am happy to drink out of cheap plastic cups, sitting around the campfire, or out of a cool stemless glass while enjoying the company of someone I care about.
White Elephant: it isn't like drinking kerosene, exactly, but does not suit my taste. I'll pass it along to someone who might like it. This rating will mean more to you if you agree with my Sip and Guzzle ratings!
Drain-O: this stuff could hurt someone, so I'll send it to the wastewater treatment plant, via the kitchen drain. Maybe it will disinfect the p-trap, while it's in there.

John Wayne Wouldn't Recognize It

Oh, how I love me a good old fashioned John Wayne western. It's more than just The Duke and his signature swagger, too. I love the sweeping vistas and azure skies of those classic westerns like True Grit and Rooster Cogburn. The old black and white films are beloved, too, but I fell in love with The West in technicolor.

Those gorgeous views, open valleys, towering mountains and the sheer remoteness of those movie sets have appealed to me for as long as I can remember. I dreamed of growing up and living on land like that: no neighbors, only majestic beauty. In some ways, I got my dream. I've lived in The West since 1969 and I can tell you that even technicolor can not do it justice.

So what happened to that kind of filmmaker's vision? It seems like The West in films today is always a gritty, sooty, muddy place where the sun never comes out. The hero's clothes are always filthy and he never looks like he would know what a bathtub looks like. The rawness and struggle of western life is illustrated now by making the country inhospitable, ugly and punishing. The towns are all squalid and the townspeople are all as pathetic as the towns themselves.

I prefer John Wayne's West. No one would want to travel so far and work so hard to scratch out a living in a place as forbidding as The West you see in the remake of True Grit. People don't uproot and travel for thousands of miles to live in the armpit of hell. They came west because of the beauty. They came west because the land is so gorgeous and pristine. They were willing to work their fingers down to the white meat because the land was worth it. Worth it.

Hollywood: bring back John Wayne's West. Show us the struggle was for a prize, not for a slap. The West was a place of hopes and dreams, grandeur and majesty. Show us that again. Give the kids today something to capture their imagination; give them a dream of possibility and beauty.

Resiliency

Even when you try to live your life from a position of gratitude, joy and balance, bad days happen.

Things can line up in such a way that your find yourself tempted to Google "How to cuss in 12 languages", because the profanity you know isn't quite enough to adequately capture your frustration.

This was one of those days. Work continued to pile up in my in-box, where it languished with plenty of time to hang out in there and make babies, while I struggled to get IT problems solved so that I could actually tackle that work. Systems dropped off, one by one and cuss words popped up at a matching rate.

So, how to impart upon others your own sense of urgency? How to convince someone 1100 miles away that distance does not lessen the priority of the problem? How to make a customer understand that, without the computer, we are not able to answer that question?

The thing that really causes the frustration, though? It was all preventable. Some proactive attention in the first place would have prevented that first domino from being knocked over, hence knocking down all the others.

But I have a great team who kept their good cheer throughout the crisis. I have a boss that let me vent.

Most important of all, maybe? I have a husband who is always my soft place to land. I have a 12 pack of Heineken and a hot tub and the good sense to use them.

Tomorrow, it's going to be a better day!

Wine to Try - Giani Chillable Cabernet


  

Here is another red for you to consider!

I picked this one up at our local wine and liquor store. It is the priciest of the wines we've talked about so far: I think I paid about $15 for this one.

Some of you serious wine aficionados might find the very idea offensive: it's a chillable Cabernet.

It, in this case, is Giani Chillable Cabernet.

I might as well admit it right now. I only like wine cold, even the ones that are supposed to be served more at room temperature. I chill all wine, and I don't care who knows it. So I don't really care that this is a "chillable cab" I would have chilled it anyway.That said, this was a very pleasant wine. It has that rich, full flavor that makes reds so seductive, but is also quite gentle on the frail palate of a lightweight.

I think this would be the perfect wine for flannel pajamas and a good classic movie like "An Affair to Remember". Not suitable for guzzling, in my opinion, but a fabulous, full-on SIP.


My disclaimer:
Bear in mind that no one connected with any of the wineries I might mention here knows who I am. Of course, if they appreciate what I have to say and want to forward along cases of wine, I won't mind. I won't hold my breath, waiting for that day, either. :-)

My rating system:
Sip: a nice wine, goes deliciously with (or IN) food. I enjoyed it.
Guzzle: my idea of a nice sociable wine. The kind of thing I am happy to drink out of cheap plastic cups, sitting around the campfire, or out of a cool stemless glass while enjoying the company of someone I care about.
White Elephant: it isn't like drinking kerosene, exactly, but does not suit my taste. I'll pass it along to someone who might like it. This rating will mean more to you if you agree with my Sip and Guzzle ratings!
Drain-O: this stuff could hurt someone, so I'll send it to the wastewater treatment plant, via the kitchen drain. Maybe it will disinfect the p-trap, while it's in there.

The Almost-Right Word

The Word for the Day is...

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. Mark Twain

It’s all about the words, isn't it? We writers and bloggers, and anyone having a conversation about anything, via any medium: we string words together to share an idea or an experience. We might relay facts, seek information, or maybe we just make someone else giggle.

I think the truest window into our soul is not the eyes, but our words. What we say and how we say it is the most pure expression of who we are and what is important to us. The Oxford Dictionary people tell us that we have over a quarter of a million words in the English language. Add to that impressive number the fact that most Americans also know at least of a smattering of words in other languages.


Today is Sinterklaas Day in the Netherlands. I know that because most of my family comes from Holland. That means that my words include rich, powerful, emotional words from that heritage. It means that I can sing “Sinterklaas Kapuntje” (if you can call what I do singing!) and I make some mean kaasbolletjes. Yeah, I could tell you that I make mean cheese balls, but those are not the right words to convey the idea. It requires the Dutch words to tell you about buttery, savory, tender little pastries, rich with the flavor of perfectly aged Gouda. See what I mean? Cheese Balls? Bah. Doesn't even begin to cover it.



There are family words: those words that are part of our family’s private language. There are families that enjoy ba-skeddi and meatballs every week. Long after the children can pronounce “spaghetti”, the family word is still used. I think all families must do this.

There are words that hold nuance and shades upon shades of meaning, to capture the human experience. I read somewhere that the indigenous people of the Arctic have dozens of names for the types of snow. If you lived above the Arctic Circle, I would think “snow” wouldn't begin to describe your life’s experience.

You could tell me that you don’t like your teenager son’s choice of music. OK. I get that. If you tell me that the artist he listens to sounds like the voice of the devil himself, which he plays so loud that it makes you want to slam your head in the oven door, I get a much better picture of what you don’t like. Tell me that the lady across the street is religious and I get one idea. Tell me she is churchy and I get a completely different impression, even though the word seems, on the surface, to convey something so similar.The first time you hold your newborn baby in your arms, does the word “happy” do that experience any justice? Ecstatic? Yes! Overjoyed? Yes! Enamored, enraptured, captured, overwhelmed and blissful, yes! Happy? Just doesn't cut it.

Then you have the naughty words. Profanity. Oh, how I love well-placed profanity. I do! The key is to use it correctly. Misusing it will make you appear coarse, or careless or even stupid. Ah, but the right cuss word at just the right moment will underscore your point like no other word possibly could. You can not adequately express extreme provocation with a heartfelt, “Oh, Fudge.” You've let all the steam out of it. There is a reason why all languages have some profane words. We need them. They serve a valuable purpose in our expression of the human experience. And in the same way that using too much spice in your cooking will ruin the dish, using too much profanity will ruin what you are trying to say. A little goes a long way.

We have these many words because we need them. They are the layers of description that let us tell our human stories. This isn't to say that we should use the longest word we can think of (or google) for everything we want to say. It isn't about using the biggest word, or the most obscure, it’s about finding the right words. It’s about finding the words that place in your reader’s mind a clear picture of what you are telling them. It’s about making them feel the emotion, or see the setting, or even about making them smell the skunk. That is what takes it from an ordinary anecdote and turns it into a story. Without the nuance, it’s really just more of the same old shit.

Wine to Try - Alice White Lexia



Let's talk about another white. This one has been difficult for me to find in my area, so I often hunt it up special when we go to The Big City. I found it the first time at my local grocery store and never saw it there again. This, I must tell you, is totally unfair. I intend to write a strongly worded letter to the wine department manager. When I get around to it.

Alice White Lexia is an Australian wine, and it is deeeeeeeeelicious. They have at least two other varieties that I've seen, Red Lexia and Lexia Moscato, and those are yummy too but the straight Lexia is my favorite of the three.

If you can find it in your usual wine haunt, it is totally worth the modest price. Lexia is a sweet wine and would be wonderful with something like a spinach salad with pears and feta? It would also be a terrific wine for a girl's night in, while you paint your nails and watch "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" again. Also suitable for "You've Got Mail". I think I would also like this to sip while I wear my new dress for the party:

SANGRIA NEW Orange Satin Sleeveless Party Cocktail Dress 14 BHFO Alice White Lexia is both a Sip and a Guzzle. Total fave.

And won't this dress look fabulous with a glass of Lexia in my silver-bedecked hand?





My disclaimer:
Bear in mind that no one connected with any of the wineries I might mention here knows who I am. Of course, if they appreciate what I have to say and want to forward along cases of wine, I won't mind. I won't hold my breath, waiting for that day, either. :-)

My rating system:
Sip: a nice wine, goes deliciously with (or IN) food. I enjoyed it.
Guzzle: my idea of a nice sociable wine. The kind of thing I am happy to drink out of cheap plastic cups, sitting around the campfire, or out of a cool stemless glass while enjoying the company of someone I care about.
White Elephant: it isn't like drinking kerosene, exactly, but does not suit my taste. I'll pass it along to someone who might like it. This rating will mean more to you if you agree with my Sip and Guzzle ratings!
Drain-O: this stuff could hurt someone, so I'll send it to the wastewater treatment plant, via the kitchen drain. Maybe it will disinfect the p-trap, while it's in there.

Wine to Try - Bolla Sangiovese



Yesterday, we talked about a yummy white wine that I rated as a Guzzle. Today, let's talk about a luscious red. It's practically winter, and having a good elk stew, homemade bread and nice red wine makes me feel warmer. Or something.

I've tried a few different vintners' version of this, but the one I'm talking about today is a nice, affordable wine that I think is just delicious.

This is Bolla Sangiovese de Romagna. I can buy it at the local grocer at a price that doesn't make me have to choose between dinner and wine. That's a good price point.

Sangiovese is, IMHO, a nice, soft kind of red. I really enjoy it with hearty food, pasta in marinara sauce or with a rich beef barley soup. I think it would pair nicely with music from Etta James and Muddy Waters and necking in front of a roaring fire. I'll have to try that. I HAVE tried it with sitting in the hot tub and listening to Frank Sinatra sing "Fly Me To The Moon" and I must say, that was a very nice pairing.

I'm rating Bolla Sangiovese a full-on SIP. Very nice, sexy wine that will make you feel malto bella, or bello, as the case may be. Throw on a fabulous Audrey Hepburn style dress and some killer stilettos, and sip away.












My disclaimer:
Bear in mind that no one connected with any of the wineries I might mention here knows who I am. Of course, if they appreciate what I have to say and want to forward along cases of wine, I won't mind. I won't hold my breath, waiting for that day, either. :-)

My rating system:
Sip: a nice wine, goes deliciously with (or IN) food. I enjoyed it.
Guzzle: my idea of a nice sociable wine. The kind of thing I am happy to drink out of cheap plastic cups, sitting around the campfire, or out of a cool stemless glass while enjoying the company of someone I care about.
White Elephant: it isn't like drinking kerosene, exactly, but does not suit my taste. I'll pass it along to someone who might like it. This rating will mean more to you if you agree with my Sip and Guzzle ratings!
Drain-O: this stuff could hurt someone, so I'll send it to the wastewater treatment plant, via the kitchen drain. Maybe it will disinfect the p-trap, while it's in there.

Wine to Try - Ironstone Obsession

I thought I might have a little fun and start posting some suggestions for wines to try. I am not, repeat NOT!, a wine connoisseur by any measure. I couldn't describe bouquet or the "hint of apricot, underscored with the bark of a baobab tree" kind of stuff at all. I prefer sweeter wines most of the time, but I enjoy a nice dry wine at times, too.

Bear in mind that no one connected with any of the wineries I might mention here knows who I am. Of course, if they appreciate what I have to say and want to forward along cases of wine, I won't mind. I won't hold my breath, waiting for that day, either. :-)

I can only tell you what I think by my own measure: is it for sipping with dinner, plain guzzling, or the kind of wine you leave in the refrigerator until someone comes along who might like it better than you do? So for ease of rating, in case this turns out to be a regular thing, my rating system will be Sip, Guzzle, White Elephant. Drain-O.

Sip: a nice wine, goes deliciously with (or IN) food. I enjoyed it.
Guzzle: my idea of a nice sociable wine. The kind of thing I am happy to drink out of cheap plastic cups, sitting around the campfire, or out of a cool stemless glass while enjoying the company of someone I care about.
White Elephant: it isn't like drinking kerosene, exactly, but does not suit my taste. I'll pass it along to someone who might like it. This rating will mean more to you if you agree with my Sip and Guzzle ratings!
Drain-O: this stuff could hurt someone, so I'll send it to the wastewater treatment plant, via the kitchen drain. Maybe it will disinfect the p-trap, while it's in there.

So let's talk about this one:
Ironstone Vineyards Obsession. It's a Symphony wine. Our precious Montana friends introduced us to this one and I've loved it ever since. "Obsession" is a good name, IMHO, because I think this wine is a little perfumey and sexy. Pair it with silk lingerie, good music and someone you lust love. Well, lust is good, too. All in all, I'd call this a Guzzle.



I Wouldn't Dare

Food (or drink?) for thought:

The headline in the LA Times says that human ancestors developed a taste for alcohol 10 million years ago. 

It seems to me that it would be hubris to betray a tradition like that.