One Of The Better Pairings…

PastaDinner2

A great wine paired with a great dinner is something that never gets old.  As a matter of fact it can always feel new, can feel fresh, and can feel inspired if you well, feel it.

Easy said and easy done…

It doesn’t get more authentic than a great pasta dish paired with a great Italian wine.  An added  bonus is when the wine is affordable yet so great for the price, that you almost might feel guilty.  Don’t.  It’s good to find the best deals in anything without having to look too hard.

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The 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Masciarelli is one of those wines that you’re going to find in a lot of places, and hopefully you’ve had the good fortune of trying it.  Sadly for me, it’s one of those wines (like many others) that I always see and unintentionally would take for granted.  It’s not deliberate.  There’s just so many great wines to try that while we have all the time in the world, it’s important to make the most of it.  And that goes for everything.

You’re going to taste your berries, cherries, and various spices but for a wine like this, like many others, that’s just one part of the story.  What’s most important is this a wine you’re going to enjoy?  Both things, among others, are connected.  I can safely say the answer yes.  Yes this is a wine that’s accessible, approachable, and affordable.  Those are some great things that start with the letter ‘a’.

MasciarelliWine

It’s also your typical wine you’ll find served at Italian restaurants, which in turn means great Italian meals and dinners, and could easily be served at an all around amazing feast near you.  I can imagine that it’s being served at a dinner near you, near me, and all around the world, as I write this, and as you read this.  It’s that versatile and that awesome of a wine.  There’s another ‘a” for you!

As it gets colder, the medium and fuller bodied wines are going to take shape.  Thankfully this is right in the middle of what could also feel like a light wine, depending on the meal, your mood, and the season.   Those are the fun details that can make a good wine into a great wine, and a good meal into an exceptional one.  This is so fun.

I mentioned affordable.  I’ve seen this wine sold for anywhere from $9-$12, and that’s a steal.   This tastes like a $15+ wine to me.  It may be for the aura it carries, the aura I sense, or just my gut reaction to it.  Your gut will always be your guide and never steer you wrong.

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What a great pairing of wine and food this was.  My meal was just as beautiful as it looks.  This was comfort at it’s most comfortable and beautiful.

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As we head towards the holidays, these are the kind of meals you’re going to encounter more if you haven’t already.  These are the wines that go with them, and hopefully you surround yourself with the best company as well.

I’m grateful to have shared this with a friend, and look forward to many more exciting times to come, before, during, and after the holidays.  It’s still early November, so one glass, and one meal at a time…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Love It If We…

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Zinfandel is not one I talk about a lot.  And I have no explanation for it.   I mean I could make up one, and let the words try to validate what I’m trying to justify (oh boy…), or I could say when I get around to it.

So I got around to it.

I’m so grateful to be invited into friends’ homes and know that most of all, we are friends and that we care for each other, and that the conversations never get old. And at times, we can enjoy silence without it ever being awkward.

This dinner was full of beautiful conversation, all entertainment, and there’ll never be enough time to get it all in.  Then again, there’s always room for next time, and room for everybody.

I had brought a bottle of the same grape, and it turned out to be a flop.  I won’t get into specifics.  You might be able to see the label in picture, so maybe you know to avoid it if you’re out shopping for Zin.  But don’t take my word for it.  To each their…

Thankfully and fortunately, the hosts opened up one of their favorite wines, the 2015 Zinfandel from Carnivor Wines.  A name like that carries a lot of weight, no puns my friends.

CarnivorZinfandel

The price is anything but that, ranging from $10-$12, you’re getting a bargain.

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Without reading the label and getting a couple of sips, I tasted that oak and oak is you’re friend when it comes to reds, and some whites.  That’s just my opinion, but it’s based on experience.  The info also mentions blackberry and hints of caramel.  I really dig that if that’s what I tasted.   It just felt different but most importantly of all it tasted like a wine many would enjoy.

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And when you’re with fantastic company everything is going to taste better.  Food tastes that much more palatable (more than already might be), water is even that more refreshing, the air feels dryer and cooler (well that’s literally where we’re headed), and at least for me, my breaths feel for natural.   I know right.

This bottle, like most great ones, never had a chance.  It lasted a while but then it didn’t.  A few hours of a great evening always goes by rather quickly.   You don’t always want it to end, but does it really?  It’s just on hold for the next time.

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The food choices were plentiful: chips, hummus, olives, cheese are the perfect appetizer for any dinner or party of your liking.  It’s those little things that are the biggest things.  I’ve said it before with knowing some parts of better left unsaid and to just be.

The dinner itself was one of a more heartier and comforting variety, which is fitting to pair with a wine named Carnivor (here’s where to buy near you!).  As no pictures were taken I just made my point from earlier, sometimes there’s no need for explanations and facts.   You can take out most food and wines and substitute them for something else, and the story, while different, has the same constant of joy, love, happiness, and all those other good things.

I love all those good things.

I’m so grateful to have shared another evening with great friends, and I welcome and embrace the next time.

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Keep That Momentum..

13.5Wine&Food

I can count the times on one, maybe two hands that I’ve been to 13.5% Wine Bar in the always enjoyable Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore.

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That number just went up and is going to continue to go up if each visit is like the last one.   Every time I’ve been here I’ve always felt comfortable sitting at the bar outside, whether it’s with people or by myself.  The first time I visited was over six years ago, and I came here purposely alone.  I loved everything about it, and while company is great, so can be solitude.

This time I had a friend join me, but not before our bartender Mackenzie (big thanks to her for her hospitality and kindness) had me try three wines on the spot.  An impromptu tasting will always make me happy.  Maybe I made a wish to the universe and three bottles magically showed up.

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Here are the three : The 2017 Pato Frio “Cashmere” Rosé; the 2016 Chalk Hill “Wits End” Vermentino, which is a new varietal and grape for me out of Australia, and my favorite the 2016 Three Brooms Riesling.

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They’re all good to great with the Riesling having the most character, boldness, and structure.  To me it tastes more like a Sauvignon Blanc, and the tasting notes would say the same.  I don’t usually appreciate Riesling’s, but this was so good that a few 3 oz. pours would say I truly loved this wine.

Yes, 3 oz. pours make it easier to try multiple wines at even more reasonable prices.   I stuck with my Riesling, and kept that momentum going.  Even per other recommendations, I wanted to stick with what made me happy.

I haven’t seen these wines sold anywhere near me, so this seems to be the place to have them, for now…

I appreciate the honesty and transparency of what these wines would cost at retail.  I don’t recall if I’ve seen menus like this anywhere else.  It’s welcome to see.  This is new to me, but it’s a detail that’ll keep me coming back.

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My friend and I had a good time catching up, talking about important things, talking about absurd things, and then nothing at all.  The small plates were great, and in a way symbolizes that the little things are the big things, and that’s what matters.

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Something about 13.5 has always brought joy to me.  It’s a getaway within a city.  If I want to be around people I don’t know, or don’t always see it’s perfect.  I like the anonymity and a different part of the city that while I do explore, I don’t explore enough.

The weather was perfect and ideal for sitting outside, but then the chances of a tasting and who knows what else may not have happened.  It’s all about location and timing, and I think, no I know, the decisions were made right.

You can’t force these things.  You can’t force good times and you can’t force your hand.  Being in the right place, at the right time, with a little divine faith is all you need.  And the universe will do the rest.

The universe looked out for us here.  This was tremendous in all areas.

Rosé and whites have slowly been done, with so many more to try.  There’s still the reds. There’s still plenty of time to try them all, but that journey will be done slowly, surely, and effortlessly.  Well maybe not too slow.

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This is to be continued, as we keep that momentum…

Salud.

Ideen

See You Next Time…

AlbarinoFood1

Have I had an Albariño (Alvarinho) I didn’t like?   I can’t say for sure, as my experience is minimal, and I’ve only written about it once before.

However, I’ve been in a mood.  I’ve been in many moods.  But all moods point to wine.  That sounded worse than I intended it to be.  I wasn’t in the mood to drink copious amounts, no no.  The weather is our friend and that means new grapes, new varietals, and new everything is our friend.  New experiences are always our friend.  I’m grateful they’re a friend to me.

Familiar places are a friend as well.  And as some are just there to exist and be out of convenience,  V-NO (past stories can be found right here hooray!) has been a staple of Fells Point, a staple to wine lovers, and a staple to people who enjoy celebrating life.  Sitting outside when the weather is cooperative doesn’t hurt either.

Me and a pal decided to stop in recently and randomly, and those always make the best stories.

And I was in the mood for Albariño…

What makes this wine great is it can be light or full bodied, and have characteristics of fruits of the season (pear, pineapple, apricot among others come to mind), high acidity content, and has an aura and energy that maybe you can’t put into words.

You can tell it comes from somewhere far away.  And I might once again mean something bigger than us, but Spain will do.  Spanish wines have always won me over, red or white, and the one I’m going to talk about is no exception.

The 2017 Bodegas Aquitania Bernon Albarino is fantastic.  And what makes it that is it feels unpretentious, welcoming, and just a great wine and a great price ($11-$13), but until today I haven’t seen it or noticed anywhere.   Maybe I wasn’t supposed to.

There isn’t much else to say, except the outside was packed, which is a great thing to see.  When we see local business  thriving and people enjoying themselves with whatever their supporting, sipping, or enjoying it’s a wonderful thing to see.

No matter what your preference, a wine like this can be enjoyed inside, outside, with all types of food, and all types of company that will make you feel good and raise your spirits.

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We got a couple of small plates that just added to the authenticity of everything.  The almond and cashews topped with all these incredible seasonings (thyme, sage, rosemary, and a dash of a maple syrup), and the Mediterranean plate of grape leaves (which was the highlight for me), hummus, pita bread,and olives made this not only satisfying but never full.  But still satisfying.

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This was not the day to get full, fat, and happy.  The goal was to eat light, sip light (one glass was all I needed), and to appreciate the day and my surroundings.  That isn’t a stated or explained goal everyday, but my intent is to have that stay with me as long as I can, for as long as I can.

Impromptu is always the best to me, and I enjoyed myself.   V-NO is a place where you will enjoy yourself too.  If you’re in the area or are visiting, I give you my highest recommendation.

Good wines, good times, and good food is what you’ll find here.  Their wine list for purchase (which you can drink right here or purchase to go) is exceptional and there’s something for everybody to enjoy.

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I hope you enjoyed…

See you next time…

Love,

Ideen

Rosé In The…

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You can fill in the blank here.  There’s all kinds of shirts, slogans, gimmicks, and what have you to sell you on something that doesn’t need much selling.   People like their Rosé, and while it’s becoming more of a thing to do and sip, it’s funny how people are jumping on this bandwagon.   Maybe I’ve missed the boat and this has been going on for longer than I remember?

For many of us, we just want to enjoy our wine, and not worry about all the analysis that sometimes comes with it.  Many of my friends who like to drink Rosé just want the wine to taste good, and have it a part of their outdoor celebrations, whether at a bar, restaurant, a party, or in solitude.

DomaineDeNizasRoseWine

I wish I could recommend the Les Pierres AOC Languedoc Rosé from Domaine de Nizas (Grapes : 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache noir, 20% Mourvèdre), but it just didn’t win me or my friends over.

DomaineDeNizasRoseLabel

Here’s more about them, their contact info, and where to find their wines near YOU.

Old Bridge Cellars is the North American distributor, and can hopefully be of assistance.

However, as I referred to, it depends on t he setting.  We were at a restaurant but something just felt off from the get go.  And a lot of these vibes and energies are based on how we’re feeling and what we attract.   It’s quite possible that in different circumstances this bottle may taste a lot better.

But I have to go with my first impression.  It was rough to drink and that’s not what you want from a Rosé.  It shouldn’t be difficult, this should be fun.

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I’m not going to throw the restaurant we were at under the bus.  This isn’t the point of that.  I will say our service was lackluster, and our cheese plate was missing something.  As you will see from one picture to another, we had to ask, and wait, and ask again for a little extra, which should’ve been part of our array anyways.

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I can’t blame a wine for missing the mark on all the other factors, but sometimes when it rains…

The sun was shining and shining as bright as you’re every going to see, so I’ll really just chalk this up to an experience.   I’ve had so many a glass and bottle of Rosé (In The USA, ha…) where it went down like water, like juice, and like it was the easiest thing to drink in the world.

None of this happened here.  I shared this with fellow wine lovers who all agreed something was wrong.   Drinking this felt like work and felt like a chore.   Good wine and good times can’t be forced.

DomaineDeNizasRoseWineFood

With all that being said, I would give this wine another go and would gladly try another one of their wines if given the opportunity.

For a price range of $12-$15, it’s not going to break the bank nor break your heart.  It didn’t break ours, but it left us with more questions and head scratching than anything else.   I’m all for giving wines another go, as first impressions can change as does our palates.   And just because I didn’t love it, doesn’t mean you won’t.

We’ve got plenty of summer, plenty of the year, and plenty more of life and wine to celebrate and talk about.  But for now…

Peace Be With You…

Love,

Ideen

I’m Glad I Waited…

GreatFrogsMeritage

The amount of times I had planned to write about my visit to Great Frogs back in January, is almost embarrassing to talk about.

I’ve written about them previously in different settings (you can read about that here) with the hope that one day I would get to visit their winery.    And it finally happened.

Good things come to those who wait, and before I discuss this exquisite visit, here is their FAQ, more about this wonderful winery, visitor information, info on purchasing their wines/shipping info, and where you can find their wines near you.

If you don’t live or aren’t planning to visiting the Annapolis area, your only chance is to have their wines shipped to you.   These wines are on the pricier side, and are outside of my price range.  But every once in a while, I feel it’s right to treat myself.  It’s right to treat yourself, as much as you want, for as much as you want.

It’s my life, it’s your life, and we only get one of those, as who we are in this lifetime.

A few years back when I first about this winery, I had these images of exclusivity, and this place being a secret club that only the highest of society are welcome or dare try to visit.  There’s this thing about assuming that you shouldn’t always do.

However, on a random day I had dropped someone off not realizing their house was literally on the other side of this immaculate looking green and shrubbery, which was Great Frogs.  I was in awe.  I put this place on even more of a pedestal.  Sometimes assuming or presuming adds to the excitement and adds to the mystique.

Needless to say, the winery wasn’t open that day and I thought maybe someday.

After attending wine festivals and having a glass at various restaurants around town, I was enamored.  Maybe it’s an Annapolis thing (my increasing list of my affinity for Annapolis can be found here) but I love their wine and I love everything about this place.

Tastings are by reservation only, and on a limited time frame Fridays and Saturdays only.  At $35 a person that may put some people off.  You can get three bottles in most places for that much.  But this is not that kind of place.  I love this place.

When I drove up, I noticed the amazing vines, the greens, the farmland, and then the barn which hosts the tastings,  I was looking for the adorable pups (Scout & Bruno) who protect the crops and vines from the outside world (wildlife), but not on this day.  That just means I’ll have to be back.  And that’s a given.

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I won’t talk about every wine that was tried.  I don’t want to bore you.  This is not what this blog is about.  It’s about enjoying the wines, enjoying the company your worth, and enjoying your surroundings.

This was well worth the investment.  And in hindsight $35 is not that much for an experience that’s more than just a tasting.  You get 6 wines, you get snacks (which they will replenish for you), and the most incredible ambiance I can ever recall at a winery.  Being away from Downtown Annapolis and being in your own universe a few miles away added another element of wonder and fascination to this visit.  Man I loved all of this.

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I neglected to mention this tasting also includes a glass of your choice upon completion.  Does it get any better?  This tasting room decor is incredible.   I want to thank Ben who helped with the tasting, and could not have been friendlier.

This is family affair as I also got to meet the owners, Nathathanael & Andrea, who could not have been friendlier.

GreatFrogsMeritage

The wines that stood out to me were the 2015 Estate Meritage, the 2015 Cold Blooded (their newest release at the time), and the Chardonnay.    I went with the former as my glass mainly because the spices, the cedar taste, the berries, and the chocolate made this perfect for the winter time.   Full bodied wines are what’s going to work here, and this worked alright.    This is a $50 bottle, and if you’re feeling ambitious, go for it.   This is a tremendous wine, as most of their wines are.

GreatFrogsColdBlooded

The Cold Blooded is a blend with every grape under the sun, and at $55, this was heavily pushed for a celebration they had the day after Thanksgiving, that was originally to be my first visit.  That didn’t happen for reasons I can’t remember, other than it wasn’t meant to be.

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This visit was meant to be.   This was more than a wine tasting, this was art.  It’s Great Frogs, it’s Annapolis, it’s happiness, this is living.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

It’s Such A Clear Day…

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I had something all planned (I don’t like plans, or the word ‘plans’ honestly) all laid out for this week, but something didn’t feel right.   I’m all for keeping it simple and fortunately I have so many wines and stories I can talk about, that I’m going to save some of these other adventures for later in the Spring.

Oh yes Spring is coming!  Hooray!

The pictures here tell of skies that look grey, murky, gloomy, and throw in some other big words that’ll make you and I look good.  But skies and weather like this make for the clearest and brightest pictures.

So this may end up being a two part story, or I may scatter the second post.  I’ll see how I feel.

Being on vacation, yet being close to home, has its privileges.  Actually I’m just grateful to be able to type that last sentence out to you.  And I’m grateful I have dear friends who have trust in me to watch over their house and watch over their pups.  I love dogs in case you haven’t heard me say it before, or noticed.

This means different settings for food and wine pictures, and a different energy then being in my own home, a bar, or a restaurant.  It leads to more strategy or less thinking, a relaxed atmosphere where I can take my time, and all the time to sit and think (or maybe not think so much) and just be one with me, my animal friends, and the universe.

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I treated myself.  I got a simple cheese and meat spread, and some crackers to share with the 2016 (I think, more on that in a second) Blass Reserve Release Cabernet Sauvignon from Wolf Blass Wines.

This is one of the more unique Cabernet Sauvignon’s I’ve ever had.  And I’ve had a lot, but then again I haven’t.

The synopsis on their site is different than what’s on the back of the label shown here (the notes).  And upon further investigating the labels are slightly different.  But I’ll go with what I got and what I can.

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The darker fruits may be there, depending on which wine I actually drank.  But it’s safe to assume that plums and berries are involved.  Smoky cedar or oak? Maybe both.  Maybe nothing at all.  Maybe it’s all a figment of mine and your imagination.

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What does stand out is the blackcurrant.   If you drink a lot of black tea, then you know that flavor, that aroma, and that undeniable and distinguished taste.

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Despite all of this, the wine didn’t do it for me.  And with all the appeal of the label, the components of the wine itself, and an aura about it that I may have created in my own mind, it just never got going.

I gave it time to breathe or air out if you will, and nothing.   Like I said, I sat and relaxed for a while.  After taking some pictures, the phone and camera were silenced, and I just decided to be.

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Usually that means the wine or anything is going to be that much better.  But not everyone is going to be a winner.  Maybe in a different light, I may think differently.  Maybe blackcurrant is an acquired taste that needs time.   And perhaps, this is not the wine for me.

That doesn’t necessarily mean this wine wouldn’t be for you.  And at the price range of $10-$13, it’s not going to hurt you to try.

And this won’t prevent me for giving another of one of their wines, or a wine with this fantastic taste and flavor again.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this day, and sat in a charming backyard with nothing but myself, nature, my animal friends, and all the worries and cares seemed to dissipate instantaneously.   That’s the stuff that makes me feel good and make me happy.

Part two next week.  Maybe…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen