I’d Like A Number One With A Side Of…

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That title may seem to indicate I’m making light of what is a likable wine.  That’s exactly what the Uno Malbec is from Antigal Winery & Estates.

For more on the winery itself, here is their story, and how they make their wine.

I’ve had this bottle once or twice in the past and completely forgot about it.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way.  It’s hard to keep up with everything.

You can call this your impromptu holiday special, as this was an unexpected yet once again serendipitous gathering.  The better ones happen with little to no planning.  As my list of wines I want to write about continues to grow, it’s always important to leave as many in the arsenal as possible, as long as the stories yet to be told can age well, as stand the test of time.

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I’d like to say the same for this 2013 vintage of the Uno Malbec.

Technical information for the 2014, can be found here. their wine list, and contact information.

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For the 2013 (notes here), I wasn’t looking to analyze or over analyze.  It was later in the day, and that can alter how one is feeling, what one is thinking, and who knows what has been eaten or drank already that can change ones palate many times over.

That’s what happened here.  So plenty of water needed to be had for hydration and then rehydration purposes.

The wine itself has so much depth and so much to offer.  There’s spices all over the place, and if I told you I knew them all, well you know…

But this had a darker element to it.  The wine had a more violet tint to it which I can appreciate.  It’s possible I tasted coffee, cinnamon, vanilla, and more of what would be better suited for the fall or winter, but here we are in Spring and the weather still feels like the aforementioned seasons.  Yep.

This is not quite ‘my’ kind of wine, even though it’s been aged in oak for many months.  As much I wanted to love it, that didn’t happen.

It’s a good wine, but at the listing of $14-$16, I would say it’s not quite on that level.  It tastes closer to $10-$12 for me, and while that may sound like I’m nitpicking, it’s my observation and opinion.

It’s medium bodied and not full of the tannins that maybe one would expect.  It has character but maybe it’s just missing that one thing to put it over.  Funny how I said ‘one thing’, but it’s so close to being great.

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This was paired with carry-out cheese pizza, and then some holiday themed cookies, and chocolates.   This may come off as an unconventional pairing, but that’s what makes this so great.   These make for some of the more endearing and long lasting stories.  This wine carries some weight, and while it may be necessary to pair it with a different kind of dish, it doesn’t truly matter.

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The pizza, chocolates, and cookies are comfort foods in times where comfort is welcome and comfort is good.   And while that may imply one should get out of their comfort zone, for this time it was beautiful.  It didn’t last as long as the previous gathering (which you can read about here), but there will be more.

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Each get together creates and tells a different story.   The people with whom you spend it with will hopefully enhance that story.  If not, then there’s no point to any of this.   It makes the wine, the food, and then all those details you can’t see, mean that much more.

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And no, not every wine, and not every experience is going to be life changing.  If that was the case, then those events that are truly magnificent are going to feel betrayed.  I think that makes sense.   Some of the best times are the ones where it’s not that anything deep or profound was said, or done, but it was just simply being.

And this was one of those.  I’m overly sentimental I know that.

While this one was fast, it just means more to come.  And it’s good to just be.

Have a blessed holiday weekend…

Ideen

 

I Love This Holiday Tradition So Much

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What makes this season so magical is the events you know to look forward to.  Now not every tradition will go on.  Not every tradition is going to last forever.  Things end, but things also begin.  Most importantly the new traditions that just came together effortlessly are the ones you look forward to the most.

With that being said, this is the fourth year of our dear friends’ tree decorating party.

Here’s the previous two years’ decorating parties (here and then over here).

It has gone from a spontaneous event to one that I look forward to every December.  And it’s gone from one house to a new location, yet the principle folks remained en tact.  While the group was smaller, it was still the perfect set of people to celebrate this spectacular time of year with equally spectacular company.

I brought two bottles to share, and I chose to splurge just a little more.  It’s part of what life and the holidays are all about.  And when i mean splurging, I mean around $14-$15 for these two wines.

One was for the dinner, the other was for everything else.  And actually both bottles were meant for the snacks, the meal, the decorating, and then the admiring.

With that being said, both bottles deliberately had fancy red labels to commemorate this wonderful time of year.

First was the 2015 Red Knot Shiraz from Shingleback Wine.

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The purpose of this was for the main course.  But you know how that goes.  Around this time of year, or even many other situations, wine just starts getting opened and before we even let it breathe for a few minutes, it’s almost done.

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The snack display was more than enough to help complement this bottle and please even the most discriminate of palates.  Fortunately, this group is pretty laid back that the wine snob factor is kept at bay, or in this instance, kept at umm.. Well I had something clever to say but I forgot, so I’ll just leave that one on hold.

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This wine is fairly dark and what else would you expect from a Shiraz?  It’s full bodies and loaded with dark fruits and maybe some cloves to add a little stimulation to our holiday feast.  Honestly, this wine was solid but it didn’t really wow me in any way.  Thankfully, it was shared, devoured, and decimated before I could get to having even a second glass.

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But it paired perfectly with this incredible dinner.  The plate of fish, potatoes, and other various vegetables was stellar enough that any halfway decent wine was going to work here.  Everyone was enjoying themselves.   Our hosts broke out the fancier plates so you know we were a part of something special.

Then came the tree decorating.  Actually we were intermittently decorating, snacking, eating, drinking, and singing along to our favorite Christmas Carols.  At times it seemed like we were making fun of some of these songs we’ve heard so many times.  But that’s how you know you’re having a good time.  The same joke, the same song, or the same anything can still resonate and give you a positive feeling and association after all this time.   This is where I really started to feel it.  But I felt it before I even got there.  More on that near the end.

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The 2014 Three Rivers Red from Three Rivers Winery was more along the lines of what I like to drink.  One of the descriptions I read noted Strawberry Pie.  That along with the color is what drew me to it.  I wish I tasted some of that strawberry, but I did taste a lot of berries, cherries, and what I assume may have been hints of black currant.  In some descriptions I’ve read cedar and tea.  Could it be?

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But this was the after dinner wine, which fits the any time of wine that this red blend perfectly represents.  I hope my friends finished off the rest as half the bottle was still there.

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Both wines are likely available in retailers near you.   Here’s Shingleback’s contact info and likewise here is Three Rivers’.

Three and a half hours of celebrating, decorating, and enjoying each others company felt like five minutes.  It went by so quickly, that I almost feel it wasn’t enough.  Maybe it was just right.  Our lives are getting busier, life goes on, things pile up, and our schedules continue to spread and stretch us too thin.  But I’m so grateful this party continues.

Not one year versus another is my favorite.  They’re all my favorites.  A different story is told each year and the joy of how we celebrate is the constant that keeps us coming back.

There’s a few traditions I’ve already attended that I wasn’t feeling as in previous years, and didn’t feel the inspiration to write about.  This one was a no brainer.  A small gathering of some of the best people is going to make this easier to write about, and all the other little details (which to me are the most important) are easier to remember.

I will always remember and cherish this event.    It’s so much fun when Christmas comes to town.

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Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Basement Party

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This was supposed to be the  calm before all of the holiday themed posts.  We’re way past the point of no return.  And I’m glad.  We got nearly two months of this and it’ll fly by.  So this is all about embracing community, the ones you love, whether it be your friends, family, your pets, or all of the above.  And we’re going to get all of the above and so much more.

Highlandtown is a a part of Baltimore that is near and dear to me.  In a previous life I actually did leave here.  But at the time it was just on the verge into becoming the flourishing and thriving neighborhood it has become today.  And it seems like they’ve only just scratched the surface.

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I’ve been a sucker and lover for festivals, community events, and neighborhood block parties for as long as I can remember.  So it comes to my surprise that it took me this long to fully partake in their annual Basement Bar Tour.  And what a beautiful congregation of people it has become.

In previous incarnations I only was able to make it to the tail end and only make a couple of the houses and the post party celebration at DiPasquales.  Oh how I love DiPasquales.  I wrote about them once.  You can read that here.

But before I go on any more tangents, lets focus on the topic at hand.  The basement tour was genuine and loaded with soul.

We all put down a relatively cheap $20 to participate in the tour and all the houses (not so much basements anymore) welcomed us with open arms.

Many had snacks, comfort food, beer, mixed drinks, and of course wine.   Yes I need to talk about wine. That’s important to this post and to the integrity of this blog.    Most important of all, there were friendly faces and friendly conversations with everyone.

I got to reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a while.  I got to bond with friends in a way that I ordinarily wouldn’t if we were at a crowded bar or party.  Not that either is right or wrong.  But there is something that much more authentic about a neighborhood of friends all gathering for the same reason.   What it led to me is what is symbolic of what the holidays and what the true meaning of life is all about.  I don’t know the exact words as to what life is all about.  But the terms good, community, friendship, and family come to mind.

I’ll leave most of the houses to your imagination.  Many of my experiences on this day are for my and my friends’ internal memories.   But of course one house did that stand out that’s worth sharing…

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It’s never too soon for Mulled wine.  Well it may taste funnier in the normal months but I think you catch my drift.  But if not than that’s cool too.

This was house number, (hmm.. I forgot) on the tour.   My friends and I were already in a good place based on the last few residencies.  I kept wondering what surprises each house would bring next.   At this house we got macaroni and cheese, chili, and pulled chicken.

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Just when you think you’ve seen it all we get  fresh baked cookies and that mulled wine. Oh my goodness.  The host kept having to refill because it was going so fast.

He went over the recipe as he was replenishing the wine, but it has completely escaped my memory.  That’s my fault and I take full responsibility for not being able to share that with you.   I even saw the gentleman later on and thanked him for making such an awesome concoction.  And of course I once again forgot to ask him what it contained.

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It’s safe to assume the Bota Box wine was used, since you can see it in some of these photos.  And it was neighbors to that amazing contraption making the mull.  I’m savoring some right now.

Which leads me to say I want to make some mulled wine.   And I fully believe the possibilities on how to make it are endless.  It’s to your discretion.  The wine is readily available to you.  All we have to do is throw in some fruit, spices, and anything else palpable till your hearts content.

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This made my day and we were only around the halfway point.  Four hours plus flew by. And with any fun event time doesn’t stand still.  It accelerates at a scorching pace.  And I fully intend to do my best to slow some of it down and appreciate all the moments.  Not everything will be captured in my blogs but I’ll do my best to share some of the best.  The Basement Bar Tour is some of that best.

In the spirit of community I’d like to promote some of the local businesses in the neighborhood.  Some I’m proud to say are great friends of mine.  Some I’m proud to say I support on at least a semi-regular basis.  If you’re in and around the area, definitely check them out before the holidays and the year is out.  And this will be edited to add more over time, so my humblest of apologies if I leave anyone out.  That is not my intent.

Links will be listed where available :

Peak Performance Training

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RoofTop Hot – Urban Farm & Sustainability Services

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Highlandtown Gallery/Magnolia Designs/Night Owl Gallery

Rust-N-Shine

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Y:Art

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DiPasquales

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A huge thanks to all the houses that welcomed us in and seemed genuine happy to be a part of this.  And to DiPasquale’s for an amazing celebration by the fire, at the end.  And of course the Highlandtown Community Association.

I’m ready for the holidays.  Oh wait, they’re already here!

More cheer to come,

Ideen