Earth Hour One


Earth Hour is a concept that was unbeknownst to me until about a year ago.  It’s still a concept, event, and now tradition that’s novel enough that I like to think I’m not too far behind the times.

For a couple of years now dear friends of mine have put together a dinner in honor of celebrating this growing occasion.

Now I’ve been to many a stellar meal at this house and have written about many of those affairs.  The food has always been incredible.  And the heart, soul, and dedication into these meals is always appreciated and never forgotten.  The least I and fellow guests can do is bring a side plate, a dessert, and a wine to share.  Can you guess which of those I’ve brought?

The wines I’ve brought have led to mixed results. And in a way I’m happy about that.  Not every wine is going to please the entire crowd.  Ones I’ve loved have been met with surprise and confusion by others.  Some I didn’t care for were met with jubilation by my peers.  Isn’t that how it works sometimes?  And then there’s the wines that are met with mutual agreement on the quality, taste, structure, and all that other stuff.

I was told to bring an Italian and French wine for the food themes.  The drier the better.  For the Italian this is where I may have goofed.  But per the menu and the price I was getting this first bottle ($10), I thought it was worth the risk.

The Italian wine didn’t do anything for me.   I was with a larger crowd than usual and there were a plethora of wines to be had, so I’m not exactly sure who got to try the 2015 Sangiovese from Tavernello.

Like the Sangiovese, many of their wines are meant to be drank everyday.  So I thought this was a safe best.  Many Sangiovese’s and Pinot Noir’s for that matter, are made safely in a way that they usually can’t disappoint.  With food or with friends they’re easy to drink and can be at for any time of year and any temperature.  At least that’s what I believe.

I’m glad I opened this one up first.  It was going to be for the first part of the meal, but after a few sips I realized this is not going to work.   I might as well let it air out and see if the flavors and scents have opened themselves up.   Other attendees were drinking it so at least I wasn’t alone in trying this one.  I couldn’t gauge other peoples reactions.

It’s one of those instances where everyone is engaged in conversation that they forget about what they’re drinking and probably don’t care.  I wish I could say the same.  And at other times I would.


For me, it was too easy to drink.  And not in a good way.  I wanted to savor it.  I got some cherries and blackberries because they’re the easier fruits to detect, but it didn’t work for me.


The soup and salad were fantastic.  They’re better served with a better wine, or another beverage.

I want to focus on the positive and the concept of Earth Hour is absolutely beautiful. In honor of that there weren’t as many pictures taken for this two-parter.  Yes part two is next week.  We had an hour to eat before the lights and cell phones were turned off so not all the food was photographed and I love that.   I adore the concept of saving energy and the idea that not everything was documented.   Those are the memories for us to share with and reminisce without being made public.  Not everything was intended for sharing.


What I will share is a teaser (pictured above) for next week.  The incredible food just kept on coming, The French wine is one that I’ve had before and it tasted as good, if not better than ever.  I look forward to round two next week, as we also approach Earth Day.

For more about Tavernello click here.  And the serendipitous part of this is their ways of helping the environment.   Here is their contact information.

I’ve had their wines before and will be having them again. It’s a label that’s easy to find.

And speaking of wine’s I’ve had before and again, I look forward to doing my best to honoring this amazing part with a second post.



Dragonfly In


I’d like to think I’m in tune with much of the universe, my surroundings, nature, animals, people, and everything in between.  Not even close. But if that were truly the case than I think the point and purpose of my life, your life, or anyone’s would be lost.

We’re not supposed to know everything.  Why would we want to either?

This is not so much a post about wine, but more about the symbolism and meaning in the things we do, how we live our lives, and how everything affects us.

I wasn’t aware of the dragonfly’s significance and meaning until events starting happening to close people in my life.   These events usually tend to lean towards sadness and hardship.  It’s our proclivity to seek meaning and information in times of difficulty, confusion, and heartache.  I do it too and know this far too well.

Something has happened again where events and energies are affecting me deeply.   But I can’t be egocentric or self-serving.  The world does not revolve around me, or you, or anyone in particular.  Actually in a positive sense it does revolve around me, you, and everyone else.  We are all one.  And events in our life, our dear friends and family’s life, and maybe with people we have yet to meet all affect us.   Whether we realize it or not.

The fact that I know this might mean I’m a bit ahead of the curve, but again what do I really know?

What does this have to do with wine?  I’ll get to that I promise.

As advanced as we are humans, we continue to feel things that on the surface may feel uncomfortable forever, but it’s all temporary.  Even if that temporary negative feeling lasts much longer than a temporary joyous one, it’s all short-term.   We want to feel good, in harmony, in touch with everyone ad everything.  We want to feel that everything will go right for us.  And it most instances it does.  But when it hurts.  It truly hurts.  And those feelings of sadness can feel like an abyss, like an eternity, with little to no end in sight. But it’s still temporary.

Animals, whether they’re dragonfly’s, dogs, cats, and all our other amazing friends have feelings to.  But they’re either mostly all loving, all knowing, and know what’s important in life to survive.  They know they don’t need much.  But a feeling of zen and/or love is the common theme.  Actually a feeling of peace, acceptance, appreciation of life, and knowing there’s something bigger than us is the main message.

The dragonfly is now something I like to research about whenever I can.   As the weather is improving they may across our paths a lot more frequently than we will acknowledge.

I noticed that when I was more aware and self-aware of my surroundings they were showing up in the most unlikely of all places (or was there something more).  They were telling me something.   They tell us all something whether we see them or not.  Whether we realize they’re there or just ignore them, they are sending us messages.

In my own way, I wish I wasn’t always aware of all this.  It can drive a person (i.e. me) crazy to know that in a way we’re being watched, warned, or being served messages on a regular basis from these highly advanced creatures.  Yes they’re smarter than us.

They might be sending us signals of love, hope, peace or maybe a warning of something that is to come.  Maybe it’s just a message to relax and appreciate what we have.  Because so many things we love will not be around forever.  And as we get older, grow up, and experience happiness and tragedies, we will ultimately know what’s important.  I would like to think I’m getting there.  I would like to think we’re all getting there.

I would like to think that many of us put things into perspective and to appreciate life when things are going great, not just when times are difficult and the patches are rough.

We’re all so vulnerable aren’t we?

Some of us might be stronger than teflon and carry ourselves like nothing can stop us. More power to you if that’s working out for you.

But for the rest of the world (at least in mine), something has been going on that I can’t describe.  It’s like a domino effect of events affecting so many people close to me, close to us, and I would like it to calm down.

Again, it’s temporary, it will resolve itself.  But I root for my friends, my family, and most of all our individual selves to become stronger because of this.  We will. It may take longer for some things to resolve over others.  But they will.  We have to believe that.

Our dragonfly friends are giving us signals of that.

After all that, again what does this have to do with wine?

I take it all the back back to last September and the Maryland Wine Festival.

There was a stranger energy in the air than previous festivals.  Again, we all see it differently, but this is how I saw it.


From one booth to another, it just felt like something was more off than usual.  Than my initial visit to the Far Eastern Shore Winery tent felt a bit eerie.  For my first of what I would assume would be repeat visits to this and other booths, this one had an aura about it.   And I’ve sampled their wines before, at many an event or tasting.

Maybe it was the plants and flowers on display, maybe it was their famous swans on the labels, or maybe it was something bigger.  But this initial visit was all about a minute.  The lines were long all over the venue.


After several hours of wandering, I didn’t realize it until after the fact, that my last visit of the day was back at their tent.  How about them dragonflies?


And I only tried one  of their wines.  I only needed to try one.  It was this one pictured above.  I know right?


It may not mean much but everything is a sign, everything is energy, everything is everything.  To say I’m freaking out in remembrance of this and writing about it now would be an understatement.  I’m slightly shaking.  That’s an energy bigger than me saying this.


To complete this I will say that this wine does not fit my palate.  But it doesn’t matter.  In this or all instances it doesn’t really matter does it?  It’s a blush wine with a white Shiraz base that many will adore.  It contains raspberries and yummy dragonfruit (yes!), that works perfectly in the warm weather months.  And actually it can work whenever you want it too.


It’s not a wine I would truly seek out but it now has huge meaning to me that I feel I need to have it stored at home in a safe (the fridge of course ha) place to remind me of things, to remind me of energies, messages, and all that is here and all that might be coming.


I’m not a clairvoyant but I sense something bigger is going on in our universes that has always existed but is finally scratching the surface, and we will be up to the challenge.  Yes this is about all of us.


But for those interested in contacting the winery (and I am one of them) to learn more, click here.   Info on their tasting room is here.

And here is where you can find their wine locally in Maryland and where you purchase it across the country.

I hope to chat with the winemakers about this remarkable experience I’ve had, because if it wasn’t for them I wasn’t sure how I would be able to share this with you.  There’s a huge meaning right there.


There’s a deeper meaning in everything.  I believe that.  Many people close to me believe that.  There’s something bigger than us but our energies are also so big, full of life, full of potential, and full of amazing life experiences to come.

Thank you dragonflies.




The Great Expedition


The Expedition Merlot from Canoe Ridge Vineyard was a given to me nearly three months to the day, as a Christmas present.


I wanted to find the perfect time to uncork it and enjoy it in all its glory, and in all its majesty.

Before even opening the wine, I was in awe of the label.  Yes I know it’s not all about the label.  But this one is such a strong selling point, I think it would be a huge injustice if I don’t profess how beautiful, yet understated this label is.  Because this was a gift, the sentiment and my love for this wine is at an even more spiritual and affectionate level.


Wait, so how was the wine?  I’ll get to that I promise.

From one holiday to another, we have St. Patrick’s Day this Friday.  And I had in the back of my mind to pair a tradition Irish dish (or as close to it as possible), with a wine.  Because we all know that wine and St. Patrick’s Day go hand in hand.


Corn beef and cabbage is a dish I enjoy but don’t have too often.  Maybe once or twice a year to be exact.  So when I thought about the proper wine to pair it with, I thought about a a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, among others,  but realized I hadn’t written about the former in quite some time.  Then the realization came to me that the Expedition was the ideal wine to complement this meal.  I was truly hoping this would work.  If not, then I would chalk it up to experience.


This wine, let me tell you, oh my goodness.  This is my kind of wine.  This is my kind of Merlot.  And I’ve never truly loved Merlot, until now.  This is is just so over-the-top awesome that I’m not sure I will be able to do this justice.


The aromas upon uncorking were heavy and they were powerful.  I assume there were cherries, maybe blackberries (which some reviews say blueberries, so maybe those as well), among who knows what else.  But it’s the tasting that matters.

I found something strangely familiar within the first few sips that I felt that a few minutes, if not more, of letting the wine air out, to let it breathe, and to let it open up was important.  Something about a wine this special needs a little more time.   Like any expedition hopefully there is plenty of time.

No timer was set or anything of the sort, but after several minutes I noticed more differences but again something was familiar.  At first I thought it was plums, or even prunes, but no. I was getting warmer.  Then it kind of it me.  If you like tea, and especially black tea, like I do then you’re familiar with blackcurrant.    I’m not going to pretend like I knew this right away.  I did some research of various descriptions of this wine which confirmed by beliefs.  I was thrilled to be onto something and happy to then see it verified elsewhere. That’s a great feeling.

What’s really a great feeling is how amazing this wine is.   And I’ve seen it mainly around the $15 range which is a deal and steal for what you’re getting.   Trust me, you’re getting a lot.


But to me, this is more than an everyday wine.  This is a bottle that can be used for special occasions as as well as with winner.  And that dinner should be hearty and full of life, just like this wine is.  My meal was pretty good but the wine put it over-the-top.  You can’t ask for much more.  But this wine was fantastic in every possible away. It’s inspiring me to go on an expedition of my own, or maybe for now, try another of their massive list of wines, whichever comes first.  If it’s the latter I hope to be giving another stellar review.

For more information on the winery itself, click here.

Some of their Expedition Wines are available to purchase online, click here for more information.

Luckily for us, I’ve now seen this label in many a wine shoppe so I think it will be easy to find.  But at this point, at least for the Merlot, I’ve seen more of the 2015 Vintages than the one I just reviewed.  But I’m confident the quality is on the level of this most incredible wine I’ve shared with you today.


For me, this will forever be the wine that put my appreciation, and now love for Merlot, over-the-top.  I’m so grateful my dear friends thought to get me such a wonderful gift.  I will always appreciate this.

I look forward to doing this again, whether it’s a expedition, vacation, or some other fascinating journey.  I hope it’s a good one.  And best wishes to you on your Expedition, whether it’s the wine or in a literal sense.

Maybe both.



Wine & Pizza Party!


When it comes to figuring out what wines go with what kind of pizzas, or any wine and food pairing for that matter, when doing research it can start to drive you crazy.  You hear a bunch of differing opinions and whatever you thought of initially, is not in agreement with what any ‘experts’ and sommeliers suggest.

It’s important to go with your intuition but it’s also comforting when other opinions match your own.  But your opinion is the one that counts the most.

Wine and pizza is one of those combinations that’s supposed to be enjoyable.

I think I got half of it right this time.


Everything I just mentioned earlier was a bit of projection.   I ordered two pizzas from the awesome folks at Ceriello, and you can read about those pies here,  but the wines I purchased at their shoppe met with mix results.


There was some angst and agonizing over which two wines to get with each respective pizza.  I was set on one red and one white.

I’ll start with the red.   This is where my instinct and experience came through.  I was leaning towards an Italian red that was affordable, approachable, and hopefully palate pleasing.   I was thinking a Chianti.  I don’t recall the last time I wrote about one, oh wait there it is.

Ceriello’s wine list is a good of mix of everything, but also small enough, that you won’t get too lost in searching for the perfect wine.

The irony is that this was all for just for me, and I guess the audience reading this.  So maybe there was a little pressure that shouldn’t have been there.

After scouring the rows I noticed the last bottle of the 2015 Piccini Chianti sitting all by its lonesome and I literally mean all by its lonesome.  It was the last bottle on the shelf.  I figured it was waiting for me and only me.  I like to believe things like that.  And at $10, that’s my kind of wine and that kind of price.


A pizza with meatballs (or meats in general) and tomato sauce pairs so well with an Italian red.   It’s one of those things where the acidity of the wine works well with that sauce.  This is not meant to be an expert analysis.  It’s a light red that works and is adequate but it wasn’t anything to write home about.


Something just felt off.  No, not about the pizza, but the wine.   I’ve had this wine in previous years with previous vintages and found it to be just fine.  I suppose some things never change.  There were some hints of fruits and spices but it didn’t click.

I had one glass and kind of just forgot about it.  It’s a good everyday wine and a good value that I would gladly try again under different circumstances, but it didn’t work, especially with this amazing pizza.

The Piccini Chianti is one of those standard label wines you can most likely find at your neighborhood wine store.  I’ve seen it multiple times in multiple places.


The white I went with was an ambitious choice.  This is where I struggled and maybe tried too hard to find the perfect white to go with my second pie with fresh vegetables and prosciutto.


The 2015 L’Isola de Profumi  from Alcesti with two grapes I had never heard of until last week, Catarrato and Grecanico.  I hope I spelled those correctly.   This wine didn’t work here or by itself.


It’s a Sicilian White that is an acquired taste.  I’m just not sure when and if I would ever acquire it.   I read that there’s hints of Mediterranean fruits. What those fruits are I honestly couldn’t tell you.


I will concede that this wine doesn’t seem to be meant to be paired with pizza.

This is where I will sound like a novice and in another attempt to sound inspiring, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong pairing.


However, there are exceptions.  Some foods and some wines will clash and all those amazing flavors that may or many not exist may disappear.  At other times the cheapness of some foods and wines will be exposed.


This wine at $8 was worth a shot and even though it didn’t work out, I look forward to trying some more of Ceriello’s wines from Italy and other parts of the world, in the future.


The pizza was phenomenal, I just wish I found the perfect wines to pair it with.  Actually this is maybe what I did wrong. I was overthinking a bit and looking for signs outside of myself that didn’t exist this time around.

Ceriello does a Friday pizza and wine night, and has a set of wines on display that they suggest work well with the certain pizzas.   This wasn’t about me going rogue or being different, well maybe the different part.   But one of these Friday feasts will be something I will take part in and learn from this most recent experience.

And maybe I will learn a little more about myself and meet some great people in the process.

Sometimes wine is meant to be enjoyed alone, sometimes in groups, and just sometimes there’s going to be rough patches that are educational experiences.

They’re all educational, they’re all experiences, and I look forward to many more enjoyable experiences soon.

To read more about these fantastic pizzas go here.

Here’s more on Piccini and here’re more on Alcesti.

Thanks so much.



Impromptu Tasting


I just love becoming a part of things that I had no idea minutes or even seconds before, that I would be participating in.   With our busy and overloaded schedules, even our social events all seem too well coordinated and planned.  And not that there’s anything right or wrong with that.  But the charm of events coming together or coming to you instantaneously is what makes this life so magical.   I or you should intend it, without having to forcefully wish for it.  Because then, all the goodness finds you.


It did for me this past Quarry Wine & Spirits right outside the city limits of Baltimore, in Pikesville, with a count ’em, 18 wine tasting.


It brings me such joy just to write that.  Yes I said 18.  Aside from even the most comprehensive of tastings at a wine festival, I don’t think I’ve ever done double digits for a wine tasting.  That might show my naivete but it sounds like a grand number to me.  And what a treat this was.

No I will not go over every wine that was listed.   I took notes and did lots of scribbling which makes no sense to me as I look over it now.  But there will be pictures of that tasting sheet.  This is one I’m going to hold on to and store in a safe place.

How I ended up here is just one of those laws of the universe.  Quarry Lake is not a shopping district I find myself in often.  But I was here on this day for a reason.  As I’ve stated in certain instances before, I almost didn’t walk in.

I had been invited to a barbecue later in the day, and I would be bringing wine, but from most likely one of my usual wine shoppes downtown, without even thinking about this serendipitous experience that was about to take place.


I will shortly go over the wines.  These are the three that I bought.  These are also the three that me and a new friend I made seemed to concur were the best.  Well at least on two of them we were in agreement on the same power and flavors these two in particular brought.


What’s also fun about this is you do make friends at these things.  Sometimes it was just for that 20-30 minutes plus over the wine, or sometimes a deeper connection begins and you not only talk about the wine, but you start  talking about other things.  It’s as if you’ve known each other for years.  And maybe in certain situations that might be the case. Maybe it’s a past life sort of thing, or maybe it’s just the moment to take in and appreciate for now.  I think it’s a bit of everything and more.

This was also not one I planned on taking pictures of and blogging about. This was even more organic than I would realize.

Our party host was quite charismatic as well. And I wish I remembered his name.  This is not the professional journalism I’ve come to expect from myself.  But his voice and his selling almost made me by more.  But I’m not one to overpay and get carried away when it comes to buying one.  There’s a discipline.  These wines have to be bought with the intent of being either drank soon, or saved for a special occasion.   Buying wines and just letting them sit there till they go bad is something I’ve done far too often.  There’s probably wines in my cellar that needs to be disposed of for this reason alone.  Gross.

The 2015 Alto Vinho Verde Rose was only $6, from the retail price of $11.    And this is the one that set the tone for the rest of the tasting.  Yes this was the first one on this incredible list as we were going to were lightest to fullest, and sweetest to the boldest, as the list implies.  That’s Tasting 101.   I imagine for the price, and because it was the first impression, that many bought this one, if they didn’t purchase any other or had to buy just one.    This is going to wonders when the weather gets nicer.   It was nicer on this day but I’m gonna save this one and maybe expound on it another time.  But the strawberry flavors are going to get a lot of people excited when Spring finally comes.  It’s officially March so I say enjoy!

The 2013 Pinot Noir from Chamisal Vineyards is the first of two that got me to overreact and genuinely think this wine is one that could be a favorite.    The label mentions how the grapes weren’t aged in Oak but in Stainless Steel to show how great the Pinot can taste on its own.  Interesting stuff. It did seem to enhance the Pinot Noit by its self as well as the fruit flavors of cranberry, black cherry, and plum.  I definitely got a mix of all three, or is it because I read the label and was told that this is what I would taste? Hmm.. But the fruitiness was easy to get, and this made for a closer to medium-bodied wine (but still light) then what I usually get from my Pinot’s.  And this was a nice treat.   This was also #9 on this list and I had a few samples leading up to it that were less than great, that may have made this wine even that much better.  That’s for me to think about later when I open this up for guests or for myself.  But my hunch is I will love it the same.

However, at $30.00 retail, that may be a bit too much for me.  I like my bottles $20 and under and perferably $10-$15 whenever possible.  At the sale price of $17, I wish I had purchased two.  This was more than worth that amount.  I’ve seen it listed in the $21-$25 range on many sites, so there’s a frame of reference for you.

Again I can’t wait to break this out when the weather gets closer to awesome.  And it’s coming.   This is what I was going to bring to the barbecue.  Maybe it was going to be…


The 2010 Finca Sobreno Toro Tempranillo was the big winner.  And as you can see, it’s the one I circled which makes me laugh in hindsight.  This is the expert analysis I’m here to bring.

It’s funny because at just about any other tasting that previous Pinot would have won in a landslide. I love how it’s 2010.  That means it’s already got more longevity than I know how to handle.  Actually yes I do.  I can drink it and share with fellow wine lovers.


This medium-bodied wine is loaded with all sort of flavors, I don’t know where to begin.  It’s as if this wine was meant for me.  It’s a mix of all the seasons.  There’s scents of vanilla, chocolate, and clove.  I only got those based on power of perception, maybe.  And plenty more berries and chocolate after tasting.   This was wine  #14 on the list, so who know if there were so many ho hum wines (and lots of sips of water and small bites of crackers to reset the palate) in between the aforementioned Pinot and this. But the regular price of $32 is not for me.  However, at $20 this is just on the cusp of my threshold.  So why not.


Tastings to tend to make many a wine larger than life than they really are.  It’s about the experience. It’s about the wines, potential pairings, and situations where these wines can truly shine.  And this discussion was done in the most genuine and without the slightest hint of pretension and arrogance.  Unless my rose (not Rose) colored glasses were a little tighter than usual, this was one of friendship, comradery, and just an awesome Saturday to celebrate the joy of wine drinking and get introduced to some new wines that will become staples of our lives.

Not to get too dopey but the weather turned to rain later on this day so the new memories will have to be put on hold.   If the universe allows I will revisit these wines when paired with food and see how my pairing pals enjoy it versus how much I did.


I hope these wines create many new memories to cherish.  But for now, I do cherish this once in a while experience.  And can only hope the next time can be just as tremendous.