The Best Seat In…

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This is one of those weeks where I wasn’t thrilled or convinced with my wine options, to write about.  Some of it was timing, my intuition, and certain wines and stories being out-of-place (for now).

I thought the universe handed delivered me a sign yesterday, but then that quickly fizzled out.  Little did I know was that sign led me to something else.  It led me somewhere else.  It led me to my favorite wine shoppe of them all, the Wine Source in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore.

As organic and authentic a wine, beer, cheese, and specialty foods experience as you’re going to get, the Wine Source has always had this amazing aura and great energy about it.  It could be the neighborhood, it could be the selection, or it could be something bigger that is in no need of explanation.

But the choices of wines has always surpassed most other wine shoppes.  This is where you go to fine wine that other stores aren’t going to carry.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a bottle here that I wasn’t even looking for but worked perfectly for the event or occasion I was going to attend.   Here’s my original story from the Wine Source to illustrate that fact.

A meet up with a dear friend who I hadn’t seen in some time obviously led to some catching up.  It was also a reintroduction into a neighborhood I’ve grown partial too, but also seen some changes that are disconcerting.   The local element is still the majority but a chain here and there is a part of the sadness,.

But all roads lead to the Wine Source.  Somehow we ended up in the area and as always I can’t not walk in.  It’s one of those places that if I’m nearby, I’m walking in.  It’s as simple as that.

And each time tells a different story.

I had no idea there was small bar set-up in one of the back corners of this massive space. But here you can sample wine, beer, spirits, and even have a full glass while you shop. Yes I said while you shop.

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I saw selected wines were only $4 a glass, which is a steal anywhere in the world.  And the fun part is, if I want to drink a wine I purchase, and want to drink it there, they’ll open it for you there.

With all these enlightening and transforming information, I had to get a glass.  And I want to thank Brook who was working the table for letting me sample the 2015 Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Charles Smith Wines.

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Now if that label looks familiar than is more than likely is.

For the most part, Riesling has never been one of those wines I sought out.  It was always too sweet and sometimes too much to stomach.   Knowing what I know now, I understand that not every Riesling is sweet.  And considering this is from the great state of Washington, I learned that these are of the dry side.  And it’s outstanding.

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This is one of the smoothest, crispest, and easily drinkable wines (let alone a Riesling) I’ve ever had.  I mean that sincerely.   It could have been the environment we were in, which was literally my friend and I sitting at the counter enjoying a sip (a few beers were sampled too, which is rare for me) and just enjoying life.   It was at this pint I only learned we could walk around with our wines.

And you still get just enough sweet to make this a delightful Riesling.  The taste of apples and lime, among various citrus flavors our perfect for Summer.  I love that so much.

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I felt like I was in another dimension, outside of the city.  And maybe I was.  I’d like to believe that at least.   Time felt like it stood still even though it’s always moving the same. And knowing I was at my favorite wine shoppe ever only accelerated something already so special, in that moment.  It was one of those things that’s almost too good and too surreal to share, but why the heck not right?

The Kung Fu Grirl a great wine by the way.  And in the price range of $9-13, you can’t go wrong.  It’s an everyday wine that go with lots of fun foods.  That’s my kind of varietal.

Chances are you’ve seen Charles Smith Wines at your local distributor.  And more than likely this bottle for sure.  I’ll get to that one soon enough.

I want to thank Brook (who is the beer guy ironically) at Wine Source for giving my glass of Kung Fu Girl Riesling on the house.  I hope I don’t get him in trouble by saying that  I’m grateful nevertheless.

If you’re in or close to the area I highly recommend a visit.

For more on Charles Smith Wines and where to find these most accessible of wines in your area, click here.

Here’s their story and more about the wines themselves.

I’m only just getting started with my admiration of The Wine Source.

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This was so fun, and it was all unplanned, unrehearsed, without any predetermination.

Predestined?  Maybe.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

My Love of Ducks

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Any reason for me to use my love for wine and my love for animals in the same breath I’m going to do.  As a matter of fact any excuse for me to profess my love for our divine and endearing creatures, I’m going to come up with one.  For me its actually second nature and I’ll never shy away from that.

In past posts I’ve sung the praises of dogs, cats, horses, and quite a few other spiritually magnificent beings.   This week I’m professing my love for ducks.   And I love them so much.  They may be small in stature but their spirits are so big.

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With all this said this week I went with a familiar face.  I’ve had Decoy Wines in the past and loved every sip of every bottle I ever tried.   If I’m sounding biased because of you know what on the label then you’re exactly right.

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But what does stand out about these wines, aside from the gorgeous artwork, is the simplicity of the vintages and the tasting notes that accompany them.  For anyone new to wine or, even someone who is a seasoned veteran, it’s always comforting to know that many of us just want to enjoy wine without any of the analysis and then over-analysis that some wineries get into.  I’m all for expounding as long as it’s done in an inviting in approachable manner.

After the letdown from last week (which also featured an animal friend by the way), I promised to move on from the oak barrel Chardonnay’s to the stainless steel that I and many of my constituents prefer.

I had a few bottles in mind but at my local wine shoppe yesterday I scoured the aisles for any and all grapes, all varieties, and all charming labels.   It didn’t have to be Chardonnay but that was at the top of the list.

Without any panic or fear of finding nothing I spent a good amount of time canvasing and perusing the store until finally I found a familiar face, an old friend, and a trusty confidante.    This was the 2014 Sonoma County Chardonnay with that stunning artwork (more on the artist Michael Allard can be found here) of the most charming of waterfowl friends.

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At $20 this was on the higher end of what I would usually buy but trust me it’s worth every penny and even a little more.  And with those simplistic notes you can’t go wrong. For myself and many others you’ll taste a simple yet balanced and delightful (look at me using wino terms) vino that can be paired with all kinds of food or with nothing at all. The specs mention layers of apple, pear, and lemon which all work well for summer but for most of the year if you think about it.   Since those are mainly year round fruits you can equate this to being a year round wine.  Simple and effective.

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And even though the website lists this vintage as sold out, I’m convinced that their more recent varietals are just as relatable and heartwarming as this one.  And there’s a good chance you may find it at your local wine distributor.  Just a hunch.  This is a label I’ve seen all over the place.

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I enjoyed my wine with some pita chips and lemon flavored hummus, that I purchased without any idea that this wine would carry hints of lemon.  There’s one sign.  More on signs in a little bit…

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But I can’t get enough of the ducks.  If this wine had a standard label and was maybe in the $10 and under range I may be singing a different tune.  But I would still say this is a tremendous wine at this price.  It’s the power of suggestion, the power of art, and the pulling of mine (and many others) heartstrings.  Oh I love this creature.

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I love dogs and cats because they’re so affectionate.  I love ducks because they are those darlings, and they also seem so loyal to one another, like many animals are.   Usually I receive signs to try a wine or try anything.  Because the universe works like that.  I would’ve said earlier in the week I saw ducks in a pond or logos for ducks, or something to tell me in my subconscious get a wine that would match what is being presented to me.

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This time things were rearranged and reversed.  Just hours ago as I’m headed home, I take a more scenic route home and as I’m approaching this lovely farm that I was knew up the road, I see a family of ducks slowly walking across the street.  They took their time too and I wanted them to go on forever.  They’re pedestrians too, and deserve the courtesy of making it across the street as safely as possible.  I mean that sincerely.  I stopped to talk a picture and watched in awe and then said ‘aww’ as they walked by.

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I’d like to think it was their way of saying thank you.  Well I thank them and I love them so much.  I’m grateful to have made some new friends and hope to see them again soon.

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And this will not be the last time I explore Decoy Wines.  I had too much fun with this. This all came together in less than 24 hours, and those tend to be the best of experiences.

Here is their list of wines for sale online,  their history, and best of all, where you can find their wines near you.

I love Decoy Wines and I love ducks so much.  If and when I make it to Sonoma County I’m visiting this winery.  I’m visualizing how awesome it will be.  But for now I’m admiring the ducks.

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Did I mention I love them.

I love them.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Goodness, Gracious, Great Bears Of…

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…or something like that.

I’m a sucker, I’m a nerd, and then I’m a sucker again.  Whenever I see an animal on a wine label, I’m automatically drawn to it.  And if the price is reasonable enough, say in the under $20 range (and hopefully under $10-$15), I’m likely going to purchase it.

This one I bought for $13, but you can easily find it (along with their other wines) for $10 or less.  And that is how much you should pay for it.

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Yes, regardless of the grape, the varietal, and without any research whatsoever, I’m going to buy it.  Because if someone had the wherewithal and the foresight to post a positive depiction of our animal friends, you have to believe there’s a heart and a soul behind the operation. Whether or not the wine is good is another story.

That’s a segue if there ever was one.

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The 2015 Chardonnay from Toasted Head is the perfect example of why purchasing just based on the label.  And you know, I didn’t even notice my new friend breathing fire until after uncorking.  I thought it was bear standing peacefully in solitude.  How nerdy o of me.

Until last year, I had an aversion to white wines that were fermented in oak barrels.  To me it just didn’t taste right and undermined all the flavors and aromas that the wine would have to offer.

That changed recently.

I’ve been to many tastings this year where the oaky whites were a pleasant and welcoming surprise.  But maybe that was based on how I was feeling, how many wines I’ve already sampled, and the company that was with me.   I mean I was in good company upon uncorking this wine, but based on my reaction, I don’t think anyone else wanted to share in my dismay.

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The butterscotch or buttery aroma is what stands out the most.  And it didn’t work for me.  And upon reading the notes, I see the flavors of creamy toast peachy caramelized custard.  I’ll take that at face value and yet proceed with caution.  That awkward taste for me might have been that custard they referenced.  It also could be a lot of things.  But I think that oak wasn’t the main culprit.

I like Chardonnay.  It was never a wine I sought out, but lately it’s been a refreshing white wine as we’re celebrating these gorgeous and glorious sunny days of Summer.  I just wish this bottle would join the list of the many wines I’ve tried because of this blog of mine.   They’re not all going to be winners.  I was just taken aback by how rough it was and how difficult it was to finish.

I left the bottle for my friends hoping for some feedback.  So far (as of this writing) I’ve heard nothing.   Take that for what it’s worth.   Yet I think some people are going to love it.   That’s what makes this so fun.  We all aren’t going to like the same things, the same wines, the same grapes, and the same anything.  It would be boring if we did.

However, there’s always positives.  Even with a wine you don’t enjoy, there’s always silver linings and the glass being half full.

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I’m grateful just to have the opportunity to be invited to a friends house and be in a position to bring this bottle of wine to share.  I’m grateful for the fantastic pizza that paired with this wine, and I’m grateful to share my story with you.  There’s a lot to be grateful and thankful for, even if not everything was like I hoped.

There will always be another wine to try, another meal to pair it with, and hopefully some great company to share the experience with,

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I’m grateful to share this experience with you.

For more on Toasted Head, click here for their story, their wines (in which I would love to try another grape), and finally where to find their wines.

If the opportunity presents itself, I would love to try another.

I’ll be looking to write about a Chardonnay made in stainless steel, and expecting harmonious results. Maybe as soon as next week.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

The Journey Is The…

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I called another audible this week.   Plans are meant to change, otherwise this life can be stagnant and even though things are going according to plan, it might feel like we’re going through the motions.

Happy 4th of July by the way.  I did have something wine and food related in find the festivities, but it once again didn’t feel right and didn’t fit with how I’m feeling and thinking at the time.    It doesn’t fit with how I’m feeling currently either.

Gratitude is something I feel I don’t express enough.  And the people we love the most we may not see enough.  It’s life.  We get busy, we busier, and then the unfortunate truth is if the friendship isn’t fully nourished, it can lead to out of sight and out of mind.  We’ve been on both sides of the equation, whether or not we realize or notice it.  I’m observant and I see it, but probably don’t see it all.

Thankfully these friends I’ve kept in touch with and see frequently, so when we get to wining and dining, it feels like old times and it feels like we’ve been doing this for years. We have been doing this for years.

My goodness where is the time going.  This blog is past two-and-a-half years.  Sometimes it feels, no.. It feels just right.

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So when my dear friends are making a spectacular dinner,  I’m going to ask what wine to bring.  And I don’t ask what they’re making.  It keeps it fresh, exciting, and suspenseful. So when the suggestion is Sauvignon Blanc, I’m intrigued.   And my friend could have said just about any grape and I might have said the same thing.  So two sentences ago was more for dramatic affect.

First. the meal.

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The meal included a delicious salad with some savory lettuce and the freshest carrots I’ve had in some time.  It tasted fresh out of the farm.  As a matter of fact I believe it was.

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The main course was this whole grain pasta with vegetables and this most succulent of shrimp.  I’m writing this so late into the night and I’m craving some right now, or maybe I’m just delirious with happiness.

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So I’ve talked about everything but the wine.   And that’s not on purpose.  It’s how this story worked out.  I think the Sauvignon Blanc from Ponga Planet is refreshing, light, charming, and endearing.  And it fit the realm of this entire meal.

The notes mention flavor of nectarine, lime, and grapefruit.  And whether or not you or I taste or even catch a glimpse of any of those flavors doesn’t truly matter.   Floral finishes and aftertastes are cool to discuss, but this wine was simple easy to drink.  And at the same time, roughly around $10 retail value.  And I feel like that’s a slight bargain.

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I feel like the dinner went by rather quickly.  And that may be representative of how things are going in our lives.  We’re occupied with so much and taking time to make a meal (which I don’t do often enough), sit down, have meaningful (or light-hearted) conversations, and actually listen to each other is a sadly missing art.  And it shouldn’t be.  It’s one of the most beautiful things.

But you know what else is beautiful?  Us.  That we have the opportunity to have a meal, a glass, a chat with the people we care about.  It’s these endearing and heartening experiences that I think about periodically and when I do they make me smile.  I think that’s what many of us want out of life, to keep it simple.

And Ponga keeps it simple.  The Sauvignon Blanc is their one wine.  How much more accessible can you get?

Their story is beautiful.   In the middle is this inspirational story about the Ponga Fern, which is the inspiration for this wine.  I love this so much.

To find the Ponga Planet Sauvignon Blanc near you, this link is accessible just like everything else surrounding this wine.   And finally here is their contact information.

I love this wine that much more, as I reminisce and get all nostalgic.  That’s when you know something is special.  If it hits a nerve and resonates with you in a way that happens organically you know you were a part of something special.  The great food, and more importantly the even greater company helps.

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Here’s to many more lifetime memories and experiences that bring us all joy.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate We Will…

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There’s certain weeks and certain posts when writing  about wine is easy.  It’s so easy the words flow and minutes later I’m done.  And in other instances I hope I don’t start sounding like a reviewer giving critiques where and opinions that may not always come from the heart.  I’m willing to bet many of us have moments like this.  And I just don’t meant blog posts, articles, writings and reports we did in school and at work, but more so just everyday life.

I had something prepared for this week that after reading it, re-reading it, and editing it still didn’t sound like it came from a place of sincerity or something genuine.  It will have to wait.  If I sound like I’m taking myself and this too seriously, maybe.  But wine is something I care about, but in a spiritual sense, in a harmonious sense, and one where I want to find joy in sharing experiences with others, and sometimes myself.

What I’m going to write about this week is not meant to be a substitute or a filler.  This wine and this experience was going to be written about eventually.

I was going to wait until the Summer, but wait, and voila here we are.

To say I’m grateful to have good people in my life is an understatement.   But I’m still surprised when people get in touch with me to want to hang out.  If it sounds like I’m being hard on myself and self deprecating that’s not my intent.  It still just surprises me. Maybe I’m doing something right.

But people wanted to hang out, it was a gorgeous day, outside restaurants are doing outside seating and dining type of things, and people want to hang out.  Hanging out is fun!

Almost a month later this was one of the charming and cozy celebrations for my birthday.  And on a weekday, and on an impromptu set of circumstances I’m grateful my friends wanted to hang out.  Any good reason is a reason to celebrate.  And in many instances you need no reason at all.

So there were multiple wines had.  This group loves their wine.  I love my wine.  And I may get into a couple of others that were shared in future posts.  But for now,  I will hone in on one.

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The 2015 Pinot Grigio delle venezie from Lagaria was and is one of those perfect wines to celebrate the summer, life, and all that is good in the world.

And I recall this was on a Wednesday and our bottle was half-priced.  And for a bottle that retails around $10, and with the restaurant markup and then made half-priced, it was almost identical to the aforementioned $10.   That’s going to make any wine taste better.

But this wine didn’t need any bonuses, promos, or discounts to taste good.  It tastes good. It sips well. And it got better with time.

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The notes (which can also be found here) mention the straw yellow color and the floral aromas with apple, apricot, and fruit.  I would be lying if I said I could identify all that and it’s not always our jobs to do so, but it’s fun to speculate and guess on what we might be sipping.  It tastes like summer, and it was easier to go sip than the medium bodied wine that its described to be.  When it’s warmer medium to fuller bodied whites may feel lighter than usual.

The notes also mention this pairs well with fish and seafood.  I wholeheartedly agree. That just adds to the good vibrations of summer.  I believe we had some tasty eats with our vinos, but I was too busy enjoying myself that not a lot of pictures were taken. Sometimes less is more, and some memories are meant to be just memories.  But there will be a next time.

Temperatures, the atmosphere, and so many other factors affect how grapes are grown and cultivated, wine is produced, and all those other intangibles that we could talk about until the end of time.  The same applies to how we react to certain wines and the settings, temperatures, the food we eat, the mood we’re in, and the company we’re keeping at the time.   It’s all so simple and yet so exciting at once.

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However, with all the questions and guesses we may have, we just want to drink a good wine that’s affordable, approachable, and inviting.  This would be it.

And I’ve seen this gorgeous label in many a wine shoppe, so it can’t be too hard to find.

If this wine is not available LagariaPinotGrigio2at a store near you, maybe this link can help.

Here is more information on the distributor, Empson & Co.

Thanks to Lee’s Pints & Shell for all their hospitality for the evening.

 

Lastly, we all have great friends, great stories, and the great wines that pair well with those friends and stories.  I’m maybe a bit too sentimental for my own good, but it’s good to be acknowledged and appreciated.  It’s still always a pleasant surprise when it happens.   I’m grateful and I’m grateful that this wine will forever remind me of a great night.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

Enjoy, and Repeat

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The beautiful city of St. Petersburg, FL has my heart.  And I knew it before I even arrived. I had no plans or any intentions of doing anything touristy, or anything specific. That’s not my style.

Celebrating Summer is my style.  Happy First Day of Summer to YOU!

I just go in with the idea that I’m going to enjoy myself the best that I can, and let everything else fall into place and come to me, and to find me.   In many ways I succeeded, and in a few others maybe the experiences didn’t feel organic.  If you’re self aware, you know the difference.

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This is where I’m torn about Try Wine, which is a concept I’ve been a part of in two other cities, and presented in two other posts.  One with great success, and one that has since moved on.

The microchip and sample combination is something that can work in the right setting, the right location, and most importantly with the right people.

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On this night, it was quiet, and that is exactly what I was looking for.  But something in the atmosphere felt rushed.  My friends and I got there with under an hour to spare, so there was plenty of time to sample a plentiful amount of wines.  But somewhere along the way I just wanted a glass or two.

I want to thank Kristen who was my guide to where the various varietals and explained the process and price breakdowns, because if you don’t pay attention you will get a small pour that may cost more than a glass in most places.   I’ve made that mistake before.

There’s no need to get into every wine I tried, as that would be boring.  But I will mention one that stuck out and its counterpart.

The Red Blend (tasting notes can be found here) from Conundrum Wines has an aura about it.  The flavors linger long after each sip.  There’s your dark fruits and berries, but the true stand out is the cocoa and the chocolate.  And it doesn’t appear right away.  It shows up right near the end to enhance a wine that maybe didn’t need any more enhancing, but that’s what makes this what it is.

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There’s wines we drink that are good, maybe even great, and then we forget about them. I’m not sure overall how I’m feeling about this wine.  It’s great and it’s still on my mind that I’m writing about it.  But there was something else about this I can’t put my finger on.  I just wish I had more time to appreciate it.  Maybe that’s what’s bothering me.  The experience felt rush and partly my own doing.

The White Blend (notes can be found here) on the other hand needed a few minutes. And it’s funny for me to say that I wine coming from a tap needed a few minutes to breathe. But it needed a few minutes to breathe.  This is a summer wine in all areas.   I tasted summer fruits but not sure what exactly.  The notes describe honeysuckle and coconut on the nose.  I wish I could say I got a helping of both.  Maybe a little more of the former but that’s about it.    This is more of a white to enjoy and not over analyze too much.  And the same goes for most, if not all, wines.  I would go out of my way to find the rest.  The white is something many would love, but it would take more time to grow on me.

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Both are with a retail price of $20 and up, so they carry some weight but might be outside of what I would pay for either.

I do wish in hindsight that I had some food to pair with either of these pours.   I might have a different appreciation for the wines and for the experience in general.

There will a future engagement with hopefully more time to appreciate what’s going on. Along with that, they are moving to bigger location.   They’ve outgrown where they are now and are moving up the street.   I look forward to visiting them in their new home when I’m back.  And I will be back.  And soon.

For more on their current list of wines click here, their food menu, and their list of events.

Here’s more on Conundrum Wines, where to purchase online, and where you can find their wines near you.

This is going to be a great Summer and I look forward to more exciting wines, and a return visit to Try Wine’s new location soon.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

Rosé Come Out Tonight

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National Rosé Day is traditionally celebrated on  the second Saturday of June each year.  I would be lying if I said I had known this fact for a long time.   But thanks in part to many of my friends who love Rosé not just in this gorgeous warm weather months, but whenever they get the chance.  And I do mean whenever.

Many of my friends exclusively drink Rosé and nothing else.  I feel as if I’ve said this about particular wines and grapes before.

It’s a well known fact that Rosé may be the oldest wine there ever is and ever was.  And it can be used from many different grapes.  It makes the possibilities and the creativity endless.  But at the end of the day most of us just want a wine that tastes good, is affordable, and enjoyable either with friends of in the comfort of solitude.

For such a special day I didn’t want to fall into the added pressure of having to find this most amazing Rosé that has to stand above all the rest.  You know sometimes without thinking too hard, that will happen.   In this instance I went with one with a charming and enchanted label, along with the fact that it was a mere $10.00

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The 2016 Reserve De La Dame A L’Oiseau, Rosé has one of the more majestic and captivating label you’ll find on a wine bottle.  Yes I did judge a bottle by its over, but in the right way.  And that’s half the battle.

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And I’m thinking, oh this is the Côtes du Rhône region. This has to be good.  I love Côtes du Rhône!

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I believe in previous years I’ve had this selection from Vineyard Property Association (more can be learned here), and the fact that I only believe and don’t fully remember tells me that the wine didn’t resonate with me, good or bad.

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What has happened since is more or less the same.

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The lighter pink color would make you think it would taste a bit lighter.  I would say this is more on the medium side.  But it just didn’t wow me.   And this is not based on the fact that I’m not a regular Rosé drinker (yet I’ve been starting to drink semi-regularly now as the weather gets glorious), but something just didn’t make this stand out.

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And for many of us it doesn’t matter.  I imagine in certain circumstances this wine would be perfect.  And many people are going to love this.  This is just my opinion, but even after a few minutes of breathing time, it didn’t get any better for me.  There’s aromas and tastes of fruit.  You could say strawberry, raspberries, and many other berries for that matter. But it doesn’t matter.  This is an ok wine and a reasonable price.

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If I had this with friends and the setting was perfect, I might be singing a different tune. No I’m not backing away from my opinion.  I’m making the point that I think has happened to many of us.  The same wines we had in one setting, may not work in another.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a wine tasting and had multiple wines that tasted like the greatest thing on Earth.  Yet only to go home and have that same wine a day or week later and wondering what went wrong.  Maybe it was the excitement of the moment.  This is what this wine reminds me of.  I think somewhere else I might like this.

RoseWithFood8

I did have this one alone but only could finish a glass.   I did my best to enjoy my glass with a little snack of meat, cheese, and crackers.  That’s another great thing about Rosé. It can pair with a multitude of foods and in a multitude of settings.

I’ve seen this label in many a wine shoppe, so it shouldn’t be hard to find.  If you want more information (and maybe where you can find the bottle in your area) from the importer, LVDH, their information can be found here.

Technically we have yet to reach Summer.  And I want to savor every minute and second of that fact.  I also hope to savor more charming Rosé wines as the weather continues to be breathtaking.  And I hope future Rosé selections will do the same, be breathtaking…

RoseWithFood6

Thanks so much.

Ideen