Happy Birthday To Ya!

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I’ve had Gnarly Head wines a few times in my lifetime.  I’m willing to bed that if you’re reading this, many of you have as well.

And if you’ve had their wines, you realize how affordable they are.  Which mean an accessibility and affordability that is always welcome and should be never taken for granted.  And speaking of never taking things for granted…

I was honored to be invited to a fantastic gathering this past weekend for a dear friends birthday.  The crowd was intimate, the food was spectacular, the booze was plentiful, and the weather could not have been better.

As much as I love summer, I’m getting more of an appreciation for fall.  In the summer, people leave town and then they leave town.   So there’s that disconnect.  Plans can be unpredictable but then can be predictable just like that.  I don’t think there’s a right or wrong with either.  I like a good vacation myself.

But this is the time of year, and days and weekends of the year where there’s so much to look forward to.  It’s a great time for festivals, birthdays, concerts, events, and still plenty of time to be outdoors and spend time with great friends.

With great friends means great party hosts.

And in tradition, you know not to come empty handed right?

I’m surprised I haven’t written about Gnarly Head until now.  At under $10, there’s no reason not to give these wines a shot.

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When me and the most stopped to pick up some beverages and handle some other errands, the Gnarly Head display at one of the local wine shoppes was spooky but also welcoming all the same.  And at $9 here, you can’t go wrong.

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I went with the Harvest Red for no reason in particular.  Well the red label deemed approachable, and the red blends tend to make everyone happy.  A bunch of grapes in one almost makes you think you’re drinking a few wines in one.  And in many instances that is a recipe for success.

And a success is what this was.  The blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Barbera is about as smooth and likable as you’re going to find.   This was an easy wine to drink, free of complexities and complications.  The mix of berries, spice, and other fruits on the nose and after you sip gives me those warm and fuzzies, that fit perfectly with the month of October and all kinds of comforting foods.

And speaking of that.  The food spread was as incredible as you’re ever going to see.  I don’t need to reel off everything that you see here.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking throughout this post.

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I will mention that one of the huge stands outs was bacon wrapped potatoes.  Yes, you usually would think scallops.  But in this instance the bacon and baby potatoes complemented each other in a way that only you will have to taste and see to believe.  It was beautiful.

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As was this eggplant.  I mean everything was amazing.   I need to trust myself with my cooking to present something to a party like this, but there was enough outstanding food that there’s always next time.

You can imagine, that the food never had a chance.  How can you not just appreciate the work, soul, and craftsmanship put into such deliciousness.   I’ve said it before, its sometimes too beautiful to eat, but also way too pretty to go to waste.

I’m certain that none of this went to waste.

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My wine never had a chance either.  I was lucky to have a cup-and-a-half, and that’s just fine.  There was plenty of adult beverages to go around.  And that’s the point of these parties, to share, to care, to spread love, and too appreciate all the great people around you.

I appreciate the fact that I was a part of something so beautiful, something so joyful, and something so peaceful.   What’s not to love?

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It’s only October, and I can only hope that I get to be a part of more parties such as this one.  I’m eternally grateful.

To find Gnarly Head Wines near you, this link will show you the way.

Thank you so much.  Happy October, Happy Fall, Happy Everything!

And Happy Birthday to ya…

Ideen

Sip Baltimore Style

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I was grateful to be invited to a friend’s birthday party last night, at Sip Kitchen & WIne Bar.  If you drive on Key Highway, you might miss it, but you wouldn’t want to. Barely open over a month, this place makes an already stellar wine drinking experience, all that much better. It may have been overwhelming at first, but that fear wore off instantaneously.

There is so much to like about Sip, that this will not be dedicated to one post.

How it works is simple.  I ordered a prepaid micro chipped card (up to any amount I want) from the bar, just as if I were ordering a drink.  I leave the bartender a great tip, as if I ordered a drink, and the the card is handed to me.   This is where the inspiration begins…

There are over 100 bottles from which to indulge from.    I wish I had taken more photos.    The card is inserted into the side and then the choices are abundant and you’re not trapped, because you can order a 1 oz. pour, a 3 oz. half glass, or the full 6 oz. pour.  So you’re not stuck with a wine you don’t like any time for too long. Very exciting stuff!   It’s like being a kid on a shopping spree or at the candy shoppe!

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The money is automatically deducted, which towards the end of the balances, lead to some funny situations.   It was surreal trying to track down wines that matched a 1 oz. pour of under $2, or whatever was close to the balance of the card.   Needless to say, there were final balances of $.40-$.90 or similar.

The selections are all over the spectrum.  Plenty of whites.  Plenty of reds.  Lots of light, medium, and full bodied selections.   What was drank was too much to name.  And these pictures will not do this complete justice.

The food and service were tremendous as well.   The staff seemed genuine and happy to help. The charcuterie and cheese plate was magnificent, as were the fries with various sauces.

The real charm comes from talking about all the wines from the pours.    The ritual of discussing each glass, made this experience so authentic.   It brings about a unique and positive social experience.  It felt like a race at times, but there is where the fun comes from.   At the same time, it’s a marathon to try every selection available.

The vibe was fantastic.  A lot of people enjoying themselves, their company, and the libations.  I felt like I was on vacation.  I can’t wait to be back.

More to come.

Best,

Ideen.