…Is All That I’ve Ever Known

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What am I talking about here?   Wait what…

I know what I like and while it evolves, I still know what I like.  While palates change, tastes change, and life changes, your gut is still your guide.  And your gut will never let you down.  It didn’t let me down and I still went against it.  So you can imagine the results.

The first wine was already opened by my friends at a friendly neighborhood bar/restaurant and it was stellar.

The 2016 Black’s Station Yolo County Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Matchbook Wines is one of the lighter variations of this wine I’ve had in a while.  If I did a blind test I wouldn’t know most wines from the other.  Well maybe I would.  No, not everything, but enough.  After drinking enough wine you’re going to pick up some things.  It’s what makes this so fun.  It’s not something to force upon yourself or anyone else.   Am I talking about wine, or anything in general?  That’s up to you and me to decide.  But it’s all relative.

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This wine is great and at around $12, it’s worth it’s weight in so much.  It just felt like the right wine for a transition into the season.  It hurts me to say that but that’s where we are.  It just felt right and while I tasted some spices, and the berries, and maybe some other indescribable hidden gems.

Most of all, it tasted good.  And being in a place that felt safe, felt comfortable, yet a bit of an unknown enhanced that experience.  No food, no loud noises, no shouting over anyone to be heard was necessary.  It was where I was and where I was supposed to be that matter.   I wish I could’ve ended it like that.  And I still might try too…

Things went a little south here.  I wish I could say otherwise.  The Red Blend from Rhiannon just felt like it was there. It was a label I’ve had before, and while I wasn’t sure, the fact that I vaguely remember should have immediately given me a warning sign.

Just because something isn’t so memorable doesn’t mean it’s not great, profound, or heck even memorable.   Sometimes it goes deep into our subconscious for later discussion, or never again.

Well I wouldn’t want to say never again.  I’m not sure what else there is to say.  I think I recall purchasing this bottle for under $10 so I can’t complain there.  And having these bottles at half price on a weekday night is something to be grateful for.   The glass is more than half full on this one.  There just wasn’t much that stood out about the wine.  Like I’ve said before, if a wine is terrible, or if anything is terrible, there might more to talk about.  This makes me sad to say but this is as mediocre as it gets.

I’ll keep the focus on and end with the Black’s Station Cabernet, as it was beautiful.  I’ve never seen it in stores, and now that I’ve discovered I hope to.  I hope you can find it too!  For it’s a treasure alright.  While there’s plenty of amazing wines and even the best ones are never found out, or get lost in the shuffle, this is one worth going after.

That’s all I know…. For now…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Pairs Well With Ice Cream Cones

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The hosts get all the credit for the title.  Yes there were ice cream cones, but no pictures of those sweet treats were taken.   So I could easily be lying, but there’s no fun in that.

But before dessert, there was plenty of greasy comfort food to be shared on a freezing yet glorious and inspired Sunday evening.   All of this came together rather suddenly which is how my most favorite of things and events usually turn out.  MenageLabel1

With all this did come some wine, in the form of Ménage à Trois.  Maybe you’ve heard of them

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The bottle we shared was the 2014 California Red Wine which is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

To be honest, at the time of drinking this I didn’t think or care what was in this wine.  All I cared about was sharing a bottle in impromptu fashion, and eat some carry out food till my heart and stomach couldn’t take it anymore.  Actually that’s an exaggeration.  Remember there was also ice cream later.

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I’m just grateful to be in the company of good friends that I don’t see enough, in a different setting outside of the norm.  And when I mean outside of the norm, the house and location is spectacular.   It was so calming and peaceful at a time where many of us need that calm and peace.  There can never be enough.

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The conversation was all over the place.  There was catching up to do, serious business to attend do (maybe or not really), and those deep conversations I’ve been known to partake in from time to time.  I’m not good with this whole small talk thing.

When it comes to the wine, I may have tasted the blackberries and raspberries in the notes, but I wasn’t seeking out anything like that.  I was seeking out peace and great company of friends, and some peace within myself.   A standard label wine such as this is just what everyone can use.

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Complex, bold, and loads of structure have its place.  But when you’re pairing this wine with crab dip, chicken cheesteak, and chicken nachos with all kinds of stuff thrown on top, do you really need fancy and pricey?

You can find their wines quite likely at a store near you. It’s one of those most accessible labels there is.  I know people that don’t like wine that will purchase these bottles as gifts or to try if they’ve never had wine in general, but feel compelled to every once in a while.

What’s funny is that while I’ve had many a glass and bottle, I’ve rarely actually had Ménage à Trois.  It could be because my palate has expanded that I know what I want, yet willing to try anything unique and unfamiliar.

What it also could be is that I may take the fact that Ménage à Trois is everywhere for granted.  And I don’t meant to over-analyze but that’s something I would like to cut out of my life, the over-analyzing and the taking things for granted.  Could be easier done than said.  Yes I did just say that in reverse, deliberately.

There’s nothing truly mind blowing about this wine, nor does it need to be.  It’s a wine that’s simple, easy to drink, enjoyable, and does its job.  What more do you need?

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And on an evening like this nothing was taken for granted.  I’m grateful to be invited into a home of dear friend’s and the warm and cozy feeling remained throughout the course of the night.  It’ll be a wonderful memory I now attach to Ménage à Trois, and I couldn’t be more thrilled, and yes, grateful.

To find their wines near you, click here; for their story, click here; their food & wine pairing suggestions can be found here; some things to love, and their contact info.

I would like to revisit a wine from Ménage à Trois much sooner than later.  Timing and the universe will present a situation where this will come together effortlessly.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll share some more ice cream cones.

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Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Halloween Special

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I don’t expect to find many wines made exclusively for Halloween.  It’s just not a holiday I associate with lots of wine drinking and finding a nice meal to pair it with.

But a so much has changed.  Any excuse to incorporate alcohol and food into a holiday, celebration, event, festival, you name it, will involve those aforementioned entities.  And that usually is a good thing, as long as it’s done responsibility and with civility.   Well, Halloween is not often associated with civility, but with more people enjoying wine and all its nuances, it’s to be expected that winemakers are going to jump on board anything that makes them stand out and be noticed.  Be unique or be ignored.

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Fat Bastard Wines did everything to stand out and not make people want to see what their Bloody Red Blend is all about.   And they made it look effortless.   While I did have something planned to write about for tonight, those plans changed when I walked into my local wine shoppe and saw a Halloween display in the front of the store, with several wines with Halloween themes and charming labels.

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The Bloody Red Blend is not even featured on their website, unless you go into the tech sheets (and you can find that here), because for timing reasons, it’s limited edition, and I can see this disappearing rather quickly, as in November.

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Until today (as of this writing) I had no idea this wine existed, and I’m so grateful to have found it.  One of the main reasons I love wine, is for those winemakers that don’t take themselves too seriously.  With a company named Fat Bastard, and their ever so charming labels, and affordable prices (I always see their wines at $10 or less at retailers), and accessible information, it’s what makes you want to come back more and stay away from the pretentious.  And their wines taste like they’re under $10, so they’re taking ownership in all areas.

The Bloody Red Blend is a mix Grenache, Syrah, and Merlot.  And when you think French wines, you think lots of Grenache.  And that’s what you taste here.  But if you’re looking for any serious information after that, you need to look elsewhere.  Their synopsis on the winemaking process is one of the most hilariously brilliant things I’ve read on the back of a wine label (and in these notes).  This is art and I’m in love with this wine before I even twist off the cap.

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I’ve had plenty of their wines for all different types of occasions. It’s a everyday wine for everyday things.  You want it with nothing, with food, with friends, with nobody,  then these are just the wines you want.

And the Bloody Red Blend continues that tradition.  If you’re going to be celebrating Halloween this weekend and next week, this is a welcome addition to any party.  Just for the randomness and uniqueness about it is going to draw eyes to this bottle.  It tastes like a blend, and it’s easy to sip.  And as we begin to talk about the holidays more and more, these are the wines you’re going to want.  These are not the best wines you will ever drink, nor do the claim to me, and I would sense they don’t need to be.

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This is a fun wine in the tradition of how Fat Bastard presents itself.  I get a kick out of typing that out by the way…

Some of the suggest food pairings are burgers, fried chicken, and pumpkin pie.  I wish I paired this with pumpkin pie, but something tells me we’re just being made fun of.  And I like it this way.

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I paired with what turned out to be a much spookier looking meal than I intended.  Perhaps it’s fitting, but I had some chunks of sauteed pork with every vegetable known to man.   I purposely got this meal because after Halloween I suspect the meals will start to get heartier and much more unhealthy.  As much as I love the name, I don’t want to be a fat bastard myself.

But if you’re into something humorous and doesn’t take itself too seriously, the Bloody Red Blend just might be what you’re looking for…

My wine glass adds some more charm just when you couldn’t think get any more.

Fat Bastard is one of the more standard labels which are easy to find all over the place, so it shouldn’t be hard.   Here is the link to find their wines are a store near you.

Here is their lovely list of wines and story, and their contact info.

I wish you a safe and Happy Halloween.

Ideen

 

 

Mead (And Wine) & Merriment Part 2

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After a year off, my pals and I made our triumphant return to the Maryland Renaissance Festival a couple of weeks back.   Here is my inaugural post from October of 2015.

The event has gotten so big that if you don’t get there early, or by your tickets in advance, you’re going to be shut out.    Nevertheless, social media and all kinds of media have made this event so big.  But more importantly, this event is just that great.  If you’ve been I don’t need to explain why.

And even if you’ve been a multitude of times before, it never gets old and never gets tiring.  Well a lot of walking and that merriment (booze!) can get you tired fast.  It’s a big day drinking, unhealthy food noshing, and celebration of all that is and was awesome from yesteryear, and today.

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In my previous recap of this celebration of coolness, I spoke about the actual mead was being served.  It’s not an easy one to drink, and like I stated, it’s an acquired taste, it’s a grower (or not), and it’s not for everyone.

This year, while my friends enjoyed a few lagers, brewskis, cold ones, spirits, or whatever you fancy yourself to calling the, I discovered a gem of wines.

I don’t particularly seek out beer myself, but I actually was all set to have some, until mixed in with all the beers and all the taps, was the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Ravage Wines.

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If you look at the label, it’s one that belongs at an event such as this.  That horse, that darkness, that imagery is fitting of everything that was going on around us.  And maybe I’m just reading too much into this, and perhaps the demand for wine has led them to supply more vino along with all the other libations.  No matter the reason, it’s my kind of wine.

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And I’m so grateful to my friends who have said that this is the kind of wine I like.  One of my dearest friends had a sip, and even mentioned it to me there.  She said to me, that it’s ‘your kind of wine’, that made me feel good.

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So what is exactly a ‘me’, kind of wine?  Well it’s also one you might enjoy too.  The synopsis says it all, with dark berries, dark fruits, vanilla, mocha, and toasted in French Oak.  With your fuller bodied reds, the right kind of oak can make all the difference between a great wine and one you rather forget.  But I’m going to be aware if vanilla and mocha are a common theme in some of my favorite wines going forward.  Dark cherries and berries have always been synonymous with the wines I love.  And this wine is no exception.  This is exactly what I needed and what I’ve been missing for a while.

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While the weather has been warm, a wine like this might only work with a healthy dinner indoors.    In the hotter climates it may be a chore to sip, and might take you away from all the great whites, rosés, and lighter reds that work perfectly in the Summer months.

We’re into October and it might have even been too soon to have this wine, but the heck with it.  This is a world class bottle, that tastes like a $20+ wine, that is around the $11-$13 mark.  Another reason to adore this bottle and seek it out if you get the opportunity.

The notes mention having a lot of structure and depth. That might sound like fluff to many, but think about it, (or not haha), this Cabernet Sauvignon embodies all that’s good about vino.   Wines with lots of structure, character, that challenge your palate, and are on a level like this is why I adore wine.  My goodness do I adore this wine.

What makes this all the more amazing is my first experience having this was at the Renaissance Festival.  This makes me so happy, more than I even realized at the time, and I’m not quite sure I can convey into words.  Well I’m writing about it here so I’m doing alright…

And it’s pretty much available at every bar there with a cheesy name.  Aren’t they all cheesy?  That’s what makes it so great…

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I upgraded my goblet, chalice, mug, or whatever you call it to one that fits more with the festival.  It made this experience all the more merrier.  Having good friends (and some sugary mixed nuts helps too) to share this experience makes it that much more special.

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My pals and I have been doing this for a number of years.  It’s a tradition I’m grateful to be a part of.  I’m grateful for my friends, the beautiful weather, this incredible yearly gathering, and now this wine.

Each year tells a different story.  I love that I got to share this one with you.

To find Ravage Wines near you click here,  for more about them click here,  here’s info on the Dark Red Blend (which I would love to try as well), and their contact info.

As of this post, the final weekend of the Renaissance Festival of Maryland (10/21-1022) is approaching.  And it’s always the most festive, exciting, bittersweet, and so many other emotions.

If you plan on going, advanced tickets are highly recommended, and here is all the other information you need.

I’m so happy that this happened.  I don’t know what else there it to say.  I loved everything about this day, and if you go this weekend I hope you get to say the same.

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Have a ye olde good time!

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

 

 

Winner Winner

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It’s already February.  How did this happen?   The holiday season is way in the rear view mirror.  And what we have now is the transitional period of waiting for winter to slowly end before the festivities of Spring begin.

Now that sounds negative.  A transition period seems to have a negative connotation if interpreted that way.  But thankfully for those of us in Maryland it’s been a bit milder than usual.   What this means is instead of hibernating and disappearing which tends to happen around this time, we now have more people wanting to hang out and host beautiful dinner parties with beautiful friends, who have even more beautiful souls.

I’ve been honored to attend these several of these convocations throughout my time on this earth, and lately the amount if escalating.  Maybe it’s destiny, as it gives me more ideas and inspiration to share.

This dinner was more of the low-key variety.  To be more specific, it was a quiet one for two.  I have the honor of knowing lots of great people in Baltimore, and to be invited into someone’s house is a treat I never take for granted and fully appreciate.

As always, with dinner, I never come empty handed.  And I don’t remember the last time I didn’t bring wine.

I was told ahead of time by my friend that a chicken stir fry type of dish would be on the menu.  And when it comes to that kind of specificity, I want to bring something to complement the dinner and the theme.

Leave it to one of my new go-to’s at Canton Crossing Wine & Spirits to come through once again.

I had done my research.  A lighter wine made sense with a likely spicy stir fry dish.  Pinot Noir and Beaujolais seemed like the obvious.  But it’s not always about the obvious.  We can’t always follow the suggested, how accurate they may be.   It’s good to go with an instinct or in this instance, a little help from beyond.  Let me not so be dramatic.  There’s a great staff at this shoppe.  And one in particular steered me to try the 2014 Mas Carlot Tradition Rouge.   At only $12, I felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to win, and learn from regardless.

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This wine was a grower.  I’ll explain shortly.

I got to my friends place and literally got to experience the entire crafting of the dinner until the end.  There was a slow build in the conversation which tends to be a lot of my doing, or maybe for other people too.  But I like it that way.  It’s a nourishing kind of discussion.  I may start off a bit awkward, but after a little wine and a few appetizers, and maybe just a little more libations, my senses are calmed and heightened.

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The conversation grows organically as it was always destined to be.  And just like our discussion is breathing and evolving, so was the wine.  This whole process took on a life of its own  I’m not sure how much time went by, from when this bottle was opened until completion.

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This medium bodied wine got better after a few sips and enough time to breathe.   Some folks or experts would say it had opened up nicely.  That’s exactly what happened whatever semantics you want to use.

Grenache and Syrah carry most of the weight.  And carries it well.  And a little Mourvedre goes a long way.

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There were definitely some kind of spices along with those darker fruits that tend to embody wines from the Rhone Valley.   I see there were notes of strawberries.  How perfect that strawberries were the dessert.  I know I’m skipping around the order but it needed to be mentioned.  And I’m not always about proper order.

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It worked so well with the shrimp we had beforehand.  It was going to work with everything.  Enjoying yourself, the company we keep, and everything that goes with it makes just about any wine that much better.

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The dinner was marvelous.  The simple time are always the best.  I feel like this was the best wine under this circumstance.  We were meant to have this in that moment. I don’t know if this a wine I will ever have again.  And if that’s the case I’m fine with that.

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I only say that because it’s a label I’ve never seen before and wouldn’t stick out right away in most instances. For more on this wine, here is the official site which you can translate.   A little for more can be found here.

Once again, if it’s the only time I ever have this wine, it will be fitting.  It will remind me of this enjoyable evening I had and nothing else.

And nothing else needs to be said.

Ideen

Money Ink

A dear friend of mine recently had a celebration of all sorts.  We were honoring his birthday, his pending divorce, an end of an era, and the start of a new one.

The party was one for the record books.  The food and libations were in abundance.  The site was a beautiful house in a secluded area of Baltimore County.  It was the perfect setting for a day of emotion, revelry, and merriment.   The congregation was at epic levels.

An in-ground pool, a slip n’ slide course, and a gaming lounge on the inside was provided.  The gaming lounge included table tennis, beer pong, card games, and any other drinking game an attendee was motivated to get folks involved in. There was to be an Olympic like obstacle course inspired by the program, Wipeout, but the weather postponed the event and emotional opening ceremonies for a later date.

Nevertheless, this was still a part for the ages.  Many good pals and friends came out to support our friend in his present and future endeavors.  And I was one of those people who almost no showed because of the torrential downpours.   I would have regretted that decision if I chose to stay home.  A great majority of invited guests still made their appearance and everyone seemed happy they did.

The eats were plentiful. We had burgers, hot dogs, chips of all kinds, hummus, pasta salads, and all kinds of various dips.   Those were devoured before any pictures were taken.

As for the alcohol, there was a beer keg, and plenty of various liquors for mixers.   However, I chose to mainly stick with wine, as did a few other folks.

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In honor of the ink being nearly dry on my friends divorce proceedings, I arrived with a bottle of Black Ink.   I didn’t realize at the time how apropos this choice was.

Bear in mind, I could have brought anything.  But in tradition of never coming empty-handed to a party, I grabbed a wine that looked fun and stood out from the crowd.  The guest of honor is a huge fan of Red Blends, so that factored into the decision.

The wine itself was just fine.   It’s as mysterious as the website itself, which explains nothing and has no links to click on.   Their parent company, sheds a little more light on it.  And here’s even more information.   I wouldn’t say it was my favorite, but it was a good bottle for the low price of $9.99.   There’s an image of a squid under the cap that I wish I had taken a photo of.

This is a melange of Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, and, Zinfandel. The smokiness was present, and some hints of spices and obscure flavors.   But as to what I don’t know.  It was a nice drinking wine by itself or with the food that was decimated throughout the party.   More photos would have been taken but I wanted to keep the mystery of the event just like the wine, at the right decibel.

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No fancy wine glasses for this one.  I was happy drinking from a cup.

For those that stayed longer, just when we thought the party was winding down, we kept going.   It was great to make new friends, reconnect with past ones we’ve lost touch with, and a celebration of life, enjoying the Summer, and feeling good.

Some of what transpired is too good for words and pictures.  It’s memories that we get to keep for ourselves and share with our loved ones that were there.

And just like the wine, the ink will soon be dry.

Best,

Ideen