Graduation

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By this time all it’s likely someone close to you has either graduated or is about to graduate.  It’s a beautiful thing in so many respects.  It’s the beginning, the end, and culmination of everything.  You worked hard for this, your family worked hard for this, friends, and everyone in between.  Now it’s time to celebrate!

This is a congratulations to my cousin on graduating.  And I don’t mean just graduating. It’s of the highest level possible.  What that entails is important but it’s one of those things that’s still so personal, so beautiful, and warms the heart that it’s just too remarkable to expound correctly.

But I’m going to do my best when it comes to the celebration and to the party.

You may find that a momentous and monumental celebration might lead you to overthink what to bring to a party, whether it’s wine, food, or a dessert.

Now I’ve been to parties that my family has either held or attended and they always do it nice.  They go above and beyond, spare no expense, and want to make everyone invited feel like family in the process.  That’s what life is all about. So that may add to the pressure.

I didn’t know it ahead of time but the masterful and incredible food spread may have had a hand in what I brought.

Luckily, there were options for wine, red and white, and other alcoholic beverages that if myself or any other guest may have made a misstep, it wouldn’t have been noticed.

Regardless of that, you still want to bring a wine that everyone will enjoy, that others will sip, so you get that sense of validation and satisfaction when your bottle is completed. It’s a glorious feeling and a little ego boost.

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How my wine turned out I truly don’t know.  And for big picture reasons, it really doesn’t matter.  But the 2015 Lion Hound Red from Ridgeback Wines, of South Africa (for more on the winery click here) is a grower.  For more on these wines you can also find more information from the importer Cape Starz Wine.

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The unique flavors are hard to describe.  And once again, none of that is truly important when you’re in a celebration to remember.

I brought it as a gift, with no intention (well, maybe) in the back of my mind that this was going to make this blog.  And I mean that with all the respect in the world.  I was just as well let this marinate with all the other wines and have the hosts open it in their own time.

Well it felt like time.

I’m a huge animal lover and the Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a dog I see everyday.  But it’s one I’ve had a few encounters with and thought they were the most beautiful of creatures.  That has no bearing on why I bought this bottle.  Cute or artistic depictions of animals on a label would never draw anyone in.  Not your truly either.  No, never.   ‘Hehe’.

The $9 price tag didn’t hurt either.

But this truly hard to describe.  It’s a mix of so many grapes and 10 months of aging in French Oak which leads to a blend that I can only explain and sweet, spicy, dry, and impression lasting.  I kind of invented that last term.

The synopsis of the 2013 vintage mentions dark cherries, plum, licorice, with hints of cigar box and wood spice.   Yes you read that correctly.  Your palates and guesses are as good as mine.

This is a full bodied wine that may taste like a medium wine to some but this one has got some potency to it.   There’s lots of grapes to love (Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Viognier) which make this so intense and full of life.  Literally full of life.

I left before the wine was kicked.  So I can’t tell you other people’s impressions or thoughts, but there was a lot of wine, a lot of food, and a lot of excitement that I’m more than grateful just to have been a part of this awesome coronation and event based on love and of celebrating the end of a journey, but the creation and continuation of others.

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Beautiful.

More importantly, so was this party.  There was and is so much to be grateful for.  Not only is a celebration of family success, but it’s also a celebration of family.  Any chance to hang out with family, needs to excuse or explanation.  Sometimes the best reason is no reason, but sometimes the best reason is also of celebration.

I love my family and I’m so grateful to have been a part of this.  And I’m so grateful that I’ve already spent time with family since this celebration last weekend.

It’s a beautiful near conclusion to Spring and a hopeful and inspirational sign of things to come for the summer and beyond.

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I’ll leave with just an image or two of the amazing food spread but not much.  Some memories are meant to be kept internal.

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This is one to be cherished forever.

Love,

Ideen

Preakness Special

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All of a sudden we arrive at Preakness Week.   It’s been two years since a Triple Crown winner was crowned and I still think about those amazing races.  I’ll watch clips of them, not just during this time of year, but at opportune times where I feel I need some inspiration and something to lift me up and make my day a little better.

I’ve sporadically written about wines related to horse racing season but not specifically for a wine created for this upcoming weekend’s race at Pimlico.

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The Racetrack Red from Fiore Winery & Distillery is just the right wine to celebrate the occasion, and before and after isn’t so bad either.

For my taste, it’s not the kind of wine I tend to go after regularly, but the semi sweetness works for the usually warm weather, the celebration, and I think many a wine drinker and even non-wine drinker will be able to appreciate what it has to offer.

The touch of Muscato doesn’t necessarily wow me but I think folks are going to love it. I’m also not a fan of Muscato to begin with, so that’s a personal thing.

And it’s easy to drink.  Chambourcin is a grape synonymous with Maryland.  It can be used to make medium to fuller reds to the sweeter variety that we have today. Regardless, the cherry flavor is hard to ignore as well as the high level of tannins, acidity, and thick skin.  It’s a wine that’s not to be sipped quickly.  Certain ones actually may take thicker skin to finish.  That’s not a joke or a pun.

At only $12.99 this is a wine that is also inviting on the price.   But how about that label and the notes?  If this isn’t a Maryland, and more specifically, Baltimore type of wine, then I give up.  This is one where you buy, not only for the label as a keepsake and souvenir, but to celebrate what a beautiful week this is for the the city and the state.

If you’re having a Preakness Party or pre-party what better way to celebrate than with this approachable and accommodating varietal.  And it goes with simple foods like you may be eating at a party such as pizza.  And pizza is fun.

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No black-eyed Susans but I hope these flowers will do.

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Moving along I want to mention that Fiore has some of my favorite local wines period. I’ve been to their winery and I’m grateful that’s in a short drive from me.  Also by realizing I just said that, I don’t go there enough.  I’ve been to tastings and events at the venue and find it cozy like any good winery should.  The vibe and the energy feels like home.  Well it’s near home, but you know what I’m saying.

This is the first time I’ve written about Fiore and it won’t even be close to the last.  As I alluded to earlier, their Chambourcin and Cabernet Sauvignon are two favorites of mine that I like to use for special times of celebration with friends, family, and other awesome people in my life.  And at around $20, the price is well worth splurging here and there when it feels right.

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To purchase the Racetrack Red or any of their wines click here.  The link to find a store carrying it near you is there as well.

Yet I have something even more exciting to talk about.  If that wasn’t enough, I have posted this link that I found per a conversation I had yesterday.   This is the wine and this is the grape that also is synonymous with the northeast, the southeast, Maryland, and home.   It may not be next week but I look forward to talking about this special wine soon.  I’ve yet to try it myself but if the verdict is unanimous than there’s got to be something special about it right?   I believe we’re all in for a treat.

Enjoy Preakness, Enoy this wine, and enjoy each other.

This is really an awesome week to be in Maryland and in Baltimore, so enjoy…

Ideen

Celebrating Mom

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When it comes to suggesting a wine for Mother’s Day there can be no debate.  It’s Rosé and only Rosé.  Actually it can be anything you want, but when it comes to traditions and suggestions, this is is one I’m a ardent supporter of.

For as long as this blog continues, this will be a tradition. This is why I’m a bit sad that I skipped last year for no good reason at all.  Maybe I was busy.  But you or I should never be too busy to celebrate a member of your family, whether it’s a parent, sibling, child, grandparent, aunt, cousin, and of course pet.

Here is my Mother’s Day post from two years ago.  Where did the time go?  Oh wait it’s over here!

I love this time of year.  The days are getting longer.  The days are going to continue to get longer.  And those smells.  I love the smell of freshly cut grass, flowers, roses, and Rosé.  Yes, Rosé has a distinct smell that is unforgettable.  I can’t explain it.

Actually yes I can, but it would take too long and take the fun out of the celebration.

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The 2016 Vine Select Rosé from Noble Vines is one of those vintages that reminds me of why I love wine drinking in the first place.

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I’ve had the privilege over the past few years to sample their creative and endearing wines without looking into the what the numeric significance these wine entailed.  After reading the back of the label I’m even more grateful to have chosen this wine as a celebration of Mother’s and motherly figures in general.

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At only $12, the price is another reason to celebrate.  It’s a wine the has that distinct Rosé aroma with that iconic salmon color.

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But going back to the label… If more wineries explained themselves in an even more accessible fashion I would be supporting them without hesitation.  The notes mention that they call this their 515 Blend because that’s the time they open their wine at home. What’s even more endearing is they say they enjoy their flavors with any type of food.

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Now I’m all for suggestions and the power of suggestion but I love when nothing else needs to be said.  Most wines can be paired with a wide variety of foods.  Just because a few obscure and sometimes over-the-top meals are suggested with wines doesn’t make that final.

There are some exceptions.  Some foods bring out the cheapness of a wine and I’ve had wines that had no business being paired with certain meals.  But a lot of this is common sense, and trial and error.  Many Rosé wines are created to be celebrated with all kinds of fun meals.

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They’re more importantly created to be celebrated with all kinds of wonderful people.

This is one of those wines that when shared with people, great conversation, and great energy that’s going to get better with time and with each sip.  It has that likability and sustainability.  Even though I had it on my own, I could see this becoming better when around great source energy.  The same can be said for many wines, but this certainly applies here.

To find Noble Wines in your area, this link should be of great assistance.

Adding to the theme of being approachable and accessible, their website is simple, to the point, and information is easily attainable.

I want to toast all the amazing mother’s, including mine.  And then I want to thank the motherly figures who are currently in my life and those who had a profound effect on me just once or twice.

You’re thought about and thanked about more than you know.   Whether you’re a mother to some kids, to some pets, or to something else glorious in this universe, it all matters. It’s all relevant and it’s all to be celebrated and appreciated.  Thank you so much.

And what Mother’s Day would be complete without some sort of floral arrangement. Luckily, the displays found me, and I didn’t have to go far to find some beautiful ones.

You’re all beautiful ones.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Wild, Wild Horses

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It only took me two years, but I’m back giving all the support to 14 Hands Winery.  Why I forgot to write about them last year as we approach the heart of horse racing season is something I can’t explain.  Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.  But why that is I don’t know.  But here is my post from approximately this time two years ago, raving about two of my favorite wines, that I still drink when I feel like looking at artistic renditions of beautiful horses, and in the mood to sip affordable and pleasing to the palate wine.

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That Kentucky Derby Wine is just as awesome as ever, however, this time I wanted to turn my attention to a wine that I got at a bargain price of around $9 at one of those dollar over cost events a couple of months back.  Yes I said $9.  The 2014 Stampede Red Blend is one of those wines you’re going to want to drink, not just during race season, but it’s the perfect everyday wine to share with friends over some healthy (or unhealthy) appetizers, snacks, finger foods and anything else you want to call it.

I was fortunate enough to share this with friends on a gorgeous spring afternoon, with said yummy appetizers.  First and most important of all is what’s so amazing about this wine?  Well like many, I’m a lover of labels.  Even more paramount is a love for animals. Horses are one of those creatures that evokes feelings of love, caring, bonding, and friendship.  The way I wrote that would usually be reserved for the family dog or cat, but the love stays the same.  Any chance for me to promote how awesome animals are, in this, or any universe, is a welcome opportunity.

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For me the wine on its own was awesome.  It had a slight hint of oak which on this day was needed.  As the weather gets nice too much oak in a red may not fare well for some. This was just right.  And I for sure tasted a little cocoa or something resembling coffee within certain sips.    Their tasting notes mention cherry and cola, so I was kind of on the same wavelength as the experts.  But who knows.

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This wine paired well with some succulent and inspiring bacon wrapped scallops and good conversation.  My pals and I saw outside for a long while talking about nothing and everything all at once.  Well mostly important things.  Good wine leads to better conversations, especially with ones you care about the most.  And when the sun is shining and the weekend is only just getting going, everything aligned perfectly.

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This is a wine that went down smooth and went down easy.  Maybe too easy. It was gorgeous. I’d love a bottle right now actually.

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The blend of Syrah, Merlot, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre is so incredible I almost forgot to write about what an incredible blend of grapes this is.  With a combination such as that you’d expect this to be bolder and heavier. Nothing could be more opposite this fell more on the lighter medium side.  But everyone’s palate and interpretation might be different.

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What I want to note is that every 14 Hands Wine I’ve sampled has meant more to me than just being a table or everyday wine.  They’ve all had a distinct presence and aura that justifies the beauty of the wine, their labels, and most important to many, the price.

I’ve seen their wines listed anywhere from $9-$15 in many a wine store I’ve visited.  And I’ll tell you as wonderful as that bargain is, I would be justified in spending upwards of $20+ on their wines.  I think what they’re charging is incredibly generous.  Their wines taste like a $20 and over to me, and I’m honored that these wines came into my life.  I don’t know remember the first time I had the privilege of sipping their wine but each time it’s created a new memory and a new reason to celebrate this journey of wine drinking.

Maybe two years was too long but this is how this thing works.  All these incredible wine’s from these equally incredible wineries always find their way of coming back into my life, usually when I’m not always looking.   If that’s the case I should relax and let ti come to me.  But however I really want to review a few more of their vintages much sooner than the alternative.  We shall see how it goes.

And for those of you wondering, their wines are easily available in wine shoppes all around my area and in different parts of the country.  To see if their inspiring and off-the-charts wines are in your area, this link should serve you well.  You can also make purchases online.  They make it so easy, here is their contact info.   Their website is so user-friendly.  My love for them continues to grow.

For more about the incredible winery itself, click here.  If I ever find myself in the state of Washington, this is a place that would be a can’t miss and I would want to visit right away.

This is an exciting time.  Races start this weekend and this is the perfect wine to add to this, and any celebration you choose.   Whatever you do, I hope your weekend and month of May and beyond is enjoyable.

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Happy May to you.

Ideen

 

Not One But…

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Two Oceans from South Africa is likely one of many wines I gloss over at my nearby wine shoppes and never think to purchase.   Actually I know it is because I can’t recall ever having any of their wines. This is not meant as a negative.  It’s just the reality of things.  There is so much wine in the world that there will never be enough time to consume it all.  I can come close but what would be the fun in that?  It’s something about a journey.

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Just like last week I’m following these newly created wine celebration days, and intend to honor these days just like they were the big holidays of the year.  Ok, maybe not that overly sentimental and dopey, but I think you know what I’m saying.  With that being said, National Sauvignon Blanc Day took place (as of this posting) two days ago, on the 24th.

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I have some friends, men and women, close to me who find Sauvignon Blanc to be their favorite wine and drink it exclusively.  Well I don’t know how believable that is but I’ll take them at their word.  It’s not one of my favorites but I’ve had some varietals that were pleasing to the palate, easy to drink, and went down smoothly.  I basically used the similar terms in three different fashions.  Yeah.

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So the 2015 Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc can be classified as one of those aforementioned descriptions.   It started off slow mainly because I wanted to sip immediately.  That’s me being a little too excited.  I had the company of a friend who reminded me to let it breathe.  For the initial first few sips gave me a headache.  And that’s not how you want to judge a wine, especially for such a monumental occasion.

After a few minutes things did open up nicely.   My friend agreed that the wine went down easy, and this was without having any food to pair with.   I would say this leans more towards the medium bodied Blancs that may require some finger foods or a meal.

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Well the suggestions the bottle reads were unavailable to us but thankfully we had some hummus and carrots to help ease our appetite.  It wasn’t the warmest or sunniest of days but as the weather improves the lighter and healthier choices will hopefully take precedent.  Easier said that done, maybe.   But this wine, with a little conversation and good times, got better after each sip and after each glass.

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One of the joys of sharing wine with someone is it takes on a life of its own.  After a while the setting becomes just as, if not more important than the wine itself.  And if the time is enjoyable than the wine itself becomes the same.  And sometimes a wine tastes that much better than it has any reason to be.  I’m not sure how to categorize this one other than it was a grower.   And at $10 or less in most shoppes, it’s a good value and an easy-drinking wine that can he had immediately and for any occasion.

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It’s not the best I’ve ever had but it did its job nevertheless.  And the images on the label do remind one of the warmer weather months.  And that’s always a good thing.

If it wasn’t for wine I wouldn’t know what Gooseberry is.  I may or may not have had it in other whites but the taste has been hard to detect for me.   Tropical fruits and a smooth finish make this wine what it is.  I would love to try similar wines with similar fruits and berries to see if certain ones stand out.    With the weather getting brighter this is a strong possibility.

So far I think this is a good starting point.

For more on Two Oceans Wines click here.  And here is their contact information.

When presented the opportunity I would be delighted to sample more of their wines and hope I get to do just that.

I hope you had a Happy Sauvignon Blanc Day, which like any other wine day, doesn’t need a specific day to celebrate.  But I think it does add to the fun.

More fun days to come.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

So Much To Celebrate

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I had the great honor of once again being invited to a dear friends’ house for an Easter lunch/dinner that was also home to one of a few Thanksgiving Feasts (post is here) I’m grateful to have been invited to.  It’s the holidays once again.  But not those holidays. They’ll be here before you know it.

Yet; Easter, Passover, Spring, and anything else going on in this time frame is a part of that routine of life that I enjoy.  More friends will be wanting to do fun things, inside and out.  That means more wine and delicious food to enjoy, and to appreciate.

Another day (which I wrote about last year, link is here) of celebration is Malbec Day or Malbec World Day.  These are real days ladies and gentlemen.  Since the computer says so I have to believe it. But seriously, links can be found for Malbec World Day and other wine days for more information.

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After what I wrote about last year, it was going to be hard to top.  But that doesn’t mean the wine can’t be good, great, or even exceptional.  But the 2015 Pardrillos from Ernesto Catena Vineyards was missing something.  And when I mean missing something, I mean missing a few things.  I wanted to like this wine like any wine I purchase.

And look at the horses on the label. How can you not be drawn to that?  And the brightness of those colors.  I feel it’s one of the any great interpretations and reflections of the season.  I didn’t look too hard to find a wine and I feel as if it was just waiting for me.

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It was ok on the nose.  And with any wine I want to give it a few minutes to breathe if at all possible.  Who knows what flavors will develop and enhance after uncorking.   However, this is a wine to drink now, so there’s no need to wait too long.   You might be able to tell by my writing that I’m going to struggle to find many positives about this wine.  And that would be the case.

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When I say something is just there, in any context, it’s a disheartening feeling.  It comes off as apathetic and lacking any real attachment or emotion to a wine.   There’s really nothing to this wine.

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I got some darker berries and fruits, slight tannins, and nowhere near as jammy as other reviewers have interpreted. It was enough to drink but it was one of those wines I was waiting to finish so I didn’t have to drink anymore.  Perhaps in a different context, or after a couple of glasses of another wine, I may enjoy this.

But I don’t know how better of a setting I could be in.  I was with some amazing people, including the hosts, on a beautiful Spring day, with a food spread for the ages.  And I mean ages.

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We had all the essentials; turkey, ham, greens, deviled eggs, salads, and all kinds of incredible appetizers.  The food was gold, I just wish the wine was at or at least approaching that level.  I feel disappointed in myself but thankfully other folks brought some amazing wines and beverages (along with that stellar food) that is for sharing.

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And that’s what this and any holiday is all about.  I just wish my wine could have a memorable part of the celebration.

I could see someone spending under $10 for this, but at $13, which is what I paid, I don’t see the justification. Yes it’s only a few dollars difference but it’s the principle.  This is a everyday table wine and nothing more, and nothing less.   I think other people will enjoy it, and some of my pals at the party did, but I wasn’t moved.

It’s not a label I’ve seen to frequently in stores and their site isn’t helpful in our search.

What’s most important is the environment I was in.  We were welcomed into someone’s home that went above-and-beyond to host a holiday party, and that’s the most important thing to remember.  I look forward to many more fun times with genuine and kind people to come.  Some will be written about and some will be kept internal.

All I can do is supply the best wine(s) possible and hope I’ve done my part in this.

I hope you truly enjoyed your holiday and wait in anticipation of all the fun Spring is going to bring all of us.

By the way, there’s a reason for the horses.  More to come…

Kindest,

Ideen

 

Celebrating the Cherry Blossoms

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And honestly the celebration of the the actual cherry blossoms is the main positive I’m going to take from this.  Because the wine, the 2014 Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir is not much to celebrate.

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It pains me to say this.  At only $4, ($5 in Virginia where I purchased this) this wine exclusive to Trader Joe’s didn’t start off promising and never gained any ground or momentum.

I had purchased this wine for several obvious reasons.  First, the price was so cheap and that’s what I love about Trader Joe’s.    You can try new wines with little financial risk and the rewards can sometimes be phenomenal.   I’ve had wines from their that I’d pay $20 for that cost me less than $5.  This was not one of them.

Secondly, the label is so inviting and fits the mood of the time of year.  If this were in the winter or summer I may bypass this wine for others that would hopefully have been more enjoyable.

Finally, as I just stated, it’s Cherry Blossom season in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. And it may just be beginning or ending in your neck of the woods or your side of the world.

The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC is something I always looked forward to attend with family and friends when I lived closer to the area and when I was younger. For reasons due to large crowds, other priorities, or life in general I haven’t attended in quite some time but hope to do so again, either before this festival ends (this weekend as of this posting) or hopefully next year.

This wine was hopefully going to raise my enthusiasm level but it didn’t come close. Upon opening the nose gave an ominous sign of things to come.  It smelled rancid and turned for the worst.

My friends wanted to give it a few minutes to breathe and I was all for it.  We were already outside enjoying ourselves and another few minutes would go by quickly.   There wasn’t a rush.  A few minutes might have turned into 30.  I honestly don’t recall.  And at the time and in hindsight it didn’t matter.

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Not even the aerator could save this one.

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This synopsis by Trader Joe’s themselves is incorrect in my opinion.  I tasted no berries, no mocha, no toasted oak, or anything period.  I’m not even sure oak would have been able to save this thing.   That would be best used for a wine with robust flavors that would only be enhanced by oak.    This wasn’t fruit-forward by any means.  If I were to make a generic joke, I would actually call this fruit-backward.

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Even after a glass a piece, my friends and I had half the bottle left and we couldn’t do any more.  It was requested I take this back home with me but I didn’t.  Where that bottle is now I couldn’t tell you.

I’d keep the bottle just for the label but couldn’t drink that wine any longer or ever again.

Here is my written history of Trader Joe’s exclusive wines.

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As for the website listed, it redirects to something else.  Think of that what you will.

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I do have another positive.  This is the first time the silicon wine glasses were broken out. These were a gift from me to my friends, and they were happy to use them on this day. And the day was gorgeous.  The glasses themselves made for a beautiful visual even though our wine was unsatisfactory.

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These glasses will be broken out again and as a matter of fact they were.  But I will save that post for down the line.

This was not the inspiring wine I was hoping for.  When it comes to honoring and celebrating the cherry blossoms, no motivation is really necessary, other than to get out of the house.   I was hoping this wine would add a little boost to that, but that didn’t happen.

I hope you all have been having an amazing Spring and if you’ve been to see the Cherry Blossoms I envy you, and I hope to do the same soon.  If you haven’t gotten the chance, at least in Washington, DC, this weekend might be it.

That’s the fun of the the beautiful weather months.  All kinds of awesome festivals and events will be happening and I hope to celebrate some of those with an equally awesome wine to commemorate those special days.

I look forward to it.

Ideen