Enjoy The Festivo


You would think with winter that it would be all about hibernating, keeping it low-key, trying to recoup money spent and lost during the holidays, and working on those all-too-repetitive resolutions.   I would think that all my friends would disappear and hide under their blankets, not to be heard from until sometime in March.

Well up until about a few years ago I would think that would be the case.  But now as much as we grow up, get older, get wiser (in theory), and just plain old want to rest; we still love the company of our friends.   And I have always preferred a casual dinner with friends, good wine, good conversation, and more good wine, which may lead to an even better conversation.  I’m all for it.

I’m grateful to have such quality people in my life.  It’s the kind of people that if you saw them enough, you still wish you saw them more.  Sadly, these are some the folks you don’t see enough of and wish you did.  That tends to go with the best people in your life doesn’t it?

Recently, a few of us did get together.  And the occasion was no occasion at all.  Which tends to be one of my favorite reasons.  Those are the hang out sessions where I’ve found the conversations to be the most organic, because it’s not based on one person’s birthday. holiday, or specific celebratory reason.  Not that any of those reasons aren’t great.  It’s just I’m all for getting together whenever possible, time of the year or otherwise.

The flip side is when there’s no reason at all, conversations may start of slow or awkward. I for one know I can be a bit of a slow starter and may come off well, umm, awkward (ha) initially.  Whether it’s the libations or getting in the swing of things, I do tend to find my groove sooner rather then later.  Speaking of those libations…


I didn’t realize this is how the post would turn so festive themed.  Now I realize why I purchased the 2014 Festivo Malbec.  Actually I had a bit of a premonition or a clairvoyance, that it would turn out so well and in such a way, that I can articulate this to you so organically.  So simple.  And this wine was so simple.


The synopsis is presented in to you here so I don’t need to get into specifics or pretend to know that I knew all that this wine carries.  Dark fruits on the notes and on the palate is an easily educated guess.  I didn’t get any walnuts in hindsight but would love to try this again to see if my mind either detects it or tricks itself into thinking so.


It’s a straight-up, no nonsense, medium-bodied wine that’s reasonable for the $12 I purchased it for.  I’ve seen it listed anywhere from $8-$11.  And even though the dollar amount differential is miniscule it should be noted I paid a little more than where you could find it online.  Or maybe this will help.  Ah I’m in a giving mood, here’s one more.


The moral of this story is I’m used to tasting wines $10 and under and this is what it tasted like, for me.  Nothing more than that and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s in lines with majority of wines I drink and look for in wine shoppes.

And that label sold me more than anything.

What was in that envelope?  Was it a letter of good news, an announcement that we won an award, or something from beyond?  Oooo cue mysterious music…


Well the award went to me and to my friends, as our host cooked up an amazing meal of venison steak and organically healthy vegetables.   It made the wine that much better, and that’s the point of all this.  Wine, food, friends, and all the little things in between is what makes me want to keep writing about this journey.  And it keeps drawing me to the same friends, time and time again.  And we meet some new ones along the way who keep the positive vibes going.

Let’s keep this going shall well?

For my friends in Baltimore, this bottle can be found at Canton Crossing Wine & Spirits, among other retailers.    I’ve posted throughout this article some online links to purchase and here’s one more.


There will be plenty of one mores to come!


An Organic Experience


Leave it to near where I live to have a wining and dining excursion that wasn’t just authentic but felt as spontaneous as any night out I’ve had in some time.  Based on that picture above, I would say that’s quite the understatement.


One Eleven Main Street, in well, Main Street, Bel Air, MD has been open for several months.  I’m slightly embarrassed to have not this restaurant even existed.  I live minutes away from historic Main Street and had passed through recently.  I guess I just never noticed it.  Shame on me but this is why you have good friends to steer you in the right direction.

In terms of unplanned, I had a peaceful night of doing nothing at home.  Sometimes we need that.  I had zero intention of going out.  I was at peace with watching a cinema, eating some processed food, and calling it a night.

But you know, when you’re at peace with yourself and your plans for the evening, that’s when your friends want to hang out.  And this is from one the more unlikely folks.  It made my night.

I have a few friends who live near me, and when I do get a chance to hang out with them, I take full advantage.  I initially met them at a one locale and thought this was perfect.  It was a beautiful and brief encounter of dear friends I don’t see enough.  I thought a good hour was just right.  They had started earlier and looked like they were ready go to home.

This was organic in its own right.   So many of our plans are constructed via invites and messaging feeds that this was a rarity that I missed.  I was at peace.  Fortunately, they wanted more and I was along for the ride.  One Eleven Main was an inspired choice.


I just figured a glass of wine and small plate would do the job.  So much for that.  We got a little carried away.  But it was a celebration of sorts.  My dear friends’ were celebrating a wedding anniversary all week and I’m grateful to have been able to be a part of that.


After trying one or two wines, there was some hesitation on where to go.  We all were in the mood for something medium bodied, and I noticed the Don David Reserve Malbec 2015.

Over a year ago, I reviewed the 2013 version and loved it.

After a bit of deliberation and sampling that’s what we went with.  But as you can see, that’s not all that we went with.


The cheese and charcuterie board looked like it was good for six people.  It took three of us to finish it.  But we took our time.  We savored this thing.  Aside from taking few pictures, we enjoyed this moment for what it was, an organic experience.

In this instance, like many others, it doesn’t matter what was in the mind.  You may get your darker fruits and earthy undertones, but none of this mattered.  To me it tasted like a full on Malbec, and a full on great wine.   For under $30 this was fantastic, but you can’t put a dollar amount on a great adventure.


I was blown away.  This is a restaurant I may have not encountered for a long time, if it wasn’t for my friends.  It’s good to have good friends. But it’s not about me.  It was about all of us.  It was an experience that will resonate with me for a long time.

And the staff was incredible.  The cozy atmosphere lends itself to a sense of community, a sense of love, and a sense of friendship.


We were the only three people at the front bar.  For a few moments it felt like we were the only people on Earth.  I’m not exaggerating at all, but that’s the feeling I got at times. That’s when you know everything is going right and nothing can bring down this natural high.

For more on Don David, click here.    I wish I could find a list of stores that carry the wine, but perhaps online ordering may work as well.  Here’s one link where the price is listed at $17, which is a solid value, or maybe this link at $15, even better.

If you’re in the area or planning on travelling to the Harford County and Bel Air, MD area, here is One Eleven Main Street’s location and menus.

I will be back  but this evening will be hard to top.  You know when you have a great meal and vino that you’ll be talking about for a long time?  Yeah this is that.  I’ve had a few of those and I’m thrilled to have this join the list.  I could talk about this forever but you know, some parts of an amazing memory should be kept internal.

How do I top this?   No need to top it.   More awesome experiences to come.




Wonderful, Incredible


I adore Vin 909.  I was in love with it before I even set foot into the building.  For the past couple of years I would take the drive past Downtown Annapolis into Eastport, and would always stare in awe of the building the wine cafe is housed in.  It was one of those things that I romanticized without ever getting out of the car and having a glass of wine myself.


Well one time last Summer I actually got out and was all set to walk in.  You know what happened though?  It was in between the hours of lunch and dinner.  Of course it was closed.  Of course it wasn’t supposed to happen then.   Was it ever going to happen?  You know I could just plan ahead, make reservations, and make all the proper arrangements to walk in.  But isn’t it more exciting for the spontaneous?

So I kept on making a few more drive sand remained enamored with the restaurant.  And I’ll be honest many of those times was when business was opened.  I just wanted to amuse myself, but also build anticipation for there would be day I walk in and hopefully it lived up to the immense sense of hype I’ve given this place.

Over two years later and the goofy build-up later all finally ended last Thursday.

And it was done in style.

This was a momentous occasion to be shared so thankfully I did have company.  I was forewarned that it’s best to make reservations or otherwise the wait will be 30 minutes or more.

That’s about the amount of time we waited but no big deal.  It gave time to peruse the menu. admire the bar, the two dining rooms, and the waiting area.  It’s a sight to behold for sure.  I didn’t picture the place be as big as it was either.  Absolutely beautiful.

This is a wine blog first and foremost.  There was wine had, as well as a nuts, olives, an incredible salad, and a world class pizza.  More on the pizza later.

How was the vino?    We went with a bottle based on name.  We didn’t see a label but the name Incredible Red by Peachy Canyon was enough to win us over.   This was without even reading over the grape.  It’s a Zinfandel by the way.  I haven’t written about many so this was a great opportunity to discover.

Traditionally this has not been one of my favorite grapes.  The Zin’s I’ve had have been met with mixed reviews.   Not this one…

The 2014 Incredible Red from Peachy Canyon is a break from that mold.  Oh it tastes like a Zin alright.  But the scents of blackberry and black cherry were immediate upon uncorking.  I’m not that much of an expert to detect nutmeg and vanilla.  Actually vanilla makes sense based on the theme of the day.  (For more on that click here) The synopsis mentions a smoky aroma taking over.  I did taste smoke.  It was earthy to me as well.  But that also could be the taste of pepper on the palate.  There’s so much to this wine that if I have it again it’ll taste differently.

But the olives and nuts that were paired with this wine brought about new flavors, and also showed me that this wine was anything but a disappointing Zin.  This was a grower.


The salad that paired with the wine isn’t listed on the online menu but it was incredible. Are you detecting a theme?  The title of this one says it all.  The wine, the nuts, the olives, the salad, and that pizza were all shall you say, wonderful and incredible.


I will get to more on that pizza later.

I neglected to mention there was tea and dessert.  To read more about that part of the journey, click here.

When the food is this extraordinary, when the company is great, and the whole vibe of the evening is off-the-charts, this wine goes to a whole new level of awesome.

I haven’t seen this wine on my radar anywhere.  If it’s been at sitting at a local wine shoppe it completely went overlooked.

That’s a topic for another day.  There’s a plethora of wine that many of us walk right past not knowing,  We don’t even think about it.  We have our favorites, are willing to try new ones, but so many go unnoticed,  or this is all part of the journey.  Not every wine is going to be had but many wines are meant to be tried.

And at only $15 retail, this is as a good a deal as any.  At Vin 909 it was only $28.  To be less than twice the bottle price at any restaurant is a heck of a deal.  Leave in it to Vin 909 to do it right.

For their seasonally changing food menu click here, for their beer and wine list click here, contact info, and more about them.

This is hopefully the first of many visits.  Since this is wintertime and our dinner was at night, the outdoor dining area was unavailable.  I intend for my next review and recap to take place during the warmer weather months.  The romance continues.

And any place that supports a close friends’ organization, which is Anne Arundel County CASA, is deserving of all the praise and all the business.

For more on Peachy Canyon, click here, here is their wine list with options to purchase online,   and a map and tracker on where to buy.

More to come on Friday.


Thanks so much,


Best of Both…


Happy New Year everyone.  There’s so many posts that I let linger too long that they no longer become relevant. It could be because seasons have changed, too much time has passed, or the time of year would become compromised.

If I let the wines I tried from Red Red Wine Bar of Annapolis, MD remain uncorked and without the proper review, then I would ruin Christmas and the holidays forever.  That was a joke by the way.

I was of course going to write about my experience a few weeks back, in conjunction with the fabulous pizzas we had, but all of the holiday everything took over.  That might be me making excuses but it also gave me time to reflect a little more on this experience, and see if these wines I tasted resonated with me into the new year.  And has it aged well with me.

A great wine ages well but so does an organically awesome experience.

And I always attempt to write about wine in a way that is approachable, relatable, and accessible to everyone.

Little did I know that I would get such a valuable lesson in New World Vs. Old World.

It’s one of those things we often taken for granted.  When we sip wine we usually just want it to taste a certain way, and for us to feel good about what we’re drinking.  How often do we think about where the wine is coming from?

For me I’d like to know the source.  Knowledge is power.  But knowledge when it comes to wine is even more invaluable.  It opens so many doors and steers conversations in regards to food and beverage into magical places.  I’ve found myself in riveting discussions because of what I’ve learned about wine and even more what my peers have taught me, whether directly or by happenstance.

So without getting any more long-winded I’m happy to write about a new world and an old world varietal.

The 2015 Penya Viognier is a treasure.  And as much as it paired great with the pizza we had, I can only imagine how great this would be in the summer.   With its inclusion of summer fruits like mango, pineapple, and peach this is perfect all year round.  But when it’s warmer in climate I can only imagine how joyous this is with a less hearty meal.

And the novice in me also thinks of New World (which is what this wine is) is the addition of fruits, more oak, and more creativity than it’s Old World counterparts.  I also think many New World wines want to please many people at once.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Wine is intended to make as many people happy as possible.

For more on this wine, which is distributed by Regal Wine, click here.

Now for the Old World.


The 2012 Villa Puccini Toscana is what old world is all about.   It’s a medium bodied wine that is easy to drink and easy to drink now.  I found it just as light if not lighter than the Viognier.  But that could be because of the heavy holiday eating going on at the time.  And what else screams Old World more than Italy.

90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot seems simple enough.

However, I’ve had the Villa Puccini countless times in the past.  It’s just one of those wines that I tend to see everywhere. I’ve had it at restaurants, seen it at parties, and swear I’ve seen it sold in many a wine shoppe.  And it has always been reasonably priced and easy to drink, and to pair with everything.   If that isn’t old world then I don’t know what is.

But what’s old world and new world to me may be different for you, and different or everyone else.  And that’s the joy in wine drinking.

And more for on this wine which is distributed by HeyDay Corporation, click here.

I want to once again thank Bethany at Red Red Wine Bar for a world class experience that will forever stick with me as a great memory for this past holiday season.

I’ve seen both wines priced in stores anywhere from $9-$12.  Both are bargains for what you’re getting.

This is only the beginning. Their wine list is loaded with goodness and an inspired collection of wines that I won’t be able to ever do in its entirety.  But I can try a few.  And I hope to revisit this within the next month or so.

One wine I forgot to mention was their Chardonnay on tap.  I may have actually enjoyed it more than the others.  Not for the fact that it was on tap (well maybe).  But for the simple flavor.  It’s my fault I didn’t investigate further.  But it was wonderful.  Just another in the many reasons I will be back.

To be continued.  And this is likely the last holiday post for a while.

But for old times sake, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.