One Of The Better Pairings…

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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’.

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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

On The Mend

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There’s something about the Remington neighborhood in Baltimore that is so charming to me.   And I may not even be talking about the whole neighborhood, but a tiny block or even half a block area has become another in a line of safe places to be that are away from everyone, yet in plain sight of those same everyone’s.

What strikes me is how just a couple of years ago, this was a neighborhood that had all the telltale signs of expansion but looked fine in before pictures, and looks similar in after, with a few masterful additions.

While one place has become a source of necessary health and healing, another is more of the same on a different level.  R. House (I wrote about it once before) has been a source of new food, new experiences, and just a place for rebirth, rejuvenation, and welcome solitude.

On several occasions I’ve been here with friends, but recently it’s always been me and just me.  And this is a place where it’s ok to be just you.  Actually most places can fit that fold if you see fit and makes you feel good if that resonates within your heart and soul.  But something about R. House just feels so comforting, so familiar, and so divine.   It’s as if I’ve been here before in a previous life, but can’t connect all the dots just yet.  Not that I’m supposed to nor ever will, but it’s fun to romanticize.

And this place is worthy of all the romanticizing.   There’s a dozen or so food choices that didn’t exist just a few years ago.  And it just has this welcoming aura from the outside and from the open you open those double doors.  Yes it’s those simple things that really get me, move me, and fill my spirit whole.

Then nestled right in the middle is the r.bar…

I’ve always love the r.bar from afar, yet I was right there.  In all previous visits it only consisted of getting food to go or dining in. And to me dining in some ways has been a life changing experience.  Sometimes a couple hours sitting in complete and utter nothingness have gone by, without realizing.   To call it cathartic would be a statement.  And it would be the right one…

The r. bar is just the same.  I don’t know anyone that regularly hangs out here.  There’s friends that have their places to go, just like I do. Some are not always my favorite, but they’re safe, cozy, familiar, and there’s the path of least resistance factor.

Keep in mind, it’s only a bar but it symbolizes a lot.  Sometimes going to different places means going at it alone.  I’ve been going at it alone for 39 years and change, that I’m used to it in many ways by now.

Luckily, there’s a familiar face behind the bar who’ll make you feel good and welcome.  I always feel welcome here even if I don’t know where the love is coming from, or it’s not actually ‘there’.

So coming from one place of healing to another means simply a glass of wine, nothing more nothing less.   To me I don’t sense this is a place for rowdiness, it’s a place of peace, a place for folks to work, conduct business, enjoy a few friends, and in my case, enjoy solitude.

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With that, the mutual recommendation was the 2015 Carménère from Falernia Winery  (contact information here) was poured to perfection.

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It’s getting colder out there, and while it may not be full bodied wine season, it was on this day.  And I took my time sipping this thing, because I appreciated everything around me, which was a little noise, great ambiance, my friend behind the bar, but then it was just me.  I take my few pictures and then that’s that.

This is a wine that will be a crowd pleaser at any party, whether it’s one that you’ll be attending in a couple of months or next week.  I want to be careful with my language because to me it’s way too early to think about all the festivities in the next month or so, as fall is a season for letting go, grieving, and healing  And to me, and I’m sure many others, it’s more important now than ever before.

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Yes the tannins are big and bold, as a wine like this would be.  The synopsis mentions there’s chocolate and vanilla on the nose, which I actually didn’t notice.  But in hindsight I get it.  It fits a wine like this.  But most importantly, is it a wine you want?  I loved it and I think in this instance almost anything would have worked.  But I’m glad I had it at this moment in time, and nowhere else.  Life is great like that.

I love R. House as the home away from home that it’s become for me.  It’s convenient but there’s something much bigger going on here, and words don’t always need to apply or can apply.  It’s just larger-than-life.  That’s all I got right now.

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It’s a glorious place that is meant to be shared with and embraced by everyone.

How it is in this incarnation is a masterpiece, and I can’t wait to see how it expands and evolves, even if doesn’t really need to.

Hopefully this will be revisited before the year is out.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

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

 

Christmas Is All…

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It’s whatever you want it to be and make it out to be.  But if you sense the title is from a certain holiday movie, you’re exactly right.

And that’s exactly what I did with a friend this past Friday night.  We watched this great movie, we had some pizza, and had a nice glass of wine.

While all the holiday parties were going on, all the shenanigans, and all the commotion of the weekend leading into Christmas, somewhere my mind, my heart, and my spirit became drained, exhausted, and at times dispirited.

That’s how the holidays have been for me this year.  And it’s seemed to have mirrored other years.  But as I get another year older, another year (maybe wiser), and becoming more self aware of what I can and should be doing, taking it easy seems to more of a preference of mine as opposed to a break now and again.

One of my favorite things now is to hang out at a friend’s house, have some wine, some good food, watch a movie or not, and have a spirited discussion between a few friends or one on one.  It’s how you really get to know someone, and form bonds that otherwise would not be formed if perhaps in a more noisy, crowded, and rushed environment.   Even many of the holiday parties I attended were either scaled back, more low key, and more intimate than in previous years.  And that made for more time to get to know one another, meet some new people one otherwise wouldn’t, and to hear yourself and your peer talk.

Of course the constants of the food, booze, and Christmas Spirit remain.  Those things will always remain.

And it’s nothing like a gathering of two to celebrate the holidays.  My friend got the pizza, I got the wine.  I didn’t take any quality pictures of the pizza, so you can assume it awesome.  It was awesome.  And I also blame my own fatigue of still running around during the holidays as to why the pictures are minimal this week.   And in a way, I also need to scale back to keep it as simple as possible. Not just during the holidays but all year round.

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The wine is the 2015 Dogajolo Baby Super Tuscan from Carpineto Winery.

As burnt out as a I am (and it may show in this post), I still looked for a bottle that had a label, a feel, and an energy for this season.  I succeeded.

My friend is a fan of the wine and when she saw that’s what I brought, she was grateful.  I’m feeling grateful.

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You can find the notes here, and this wine has a lot of structure and has so much to offer, just as a simple evening in with a friend has so much to offer.  This wine goes anywhere  from $9-12 and that’s a great value, just a a night in with a friend is.

With 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet and other varietals, it almost feels like a mix of a light and full bodied wine.  Now why do I say that?  You get the best of everything.  It’s a fruity wine with dark cherries, vanilla, and spices while still tasting like a medium to full bodied wine that is easy to drink.  Yet it’s full of structure and balance that it pleases all palates and many different tastes.  It’s a wine for all occasions. So this works all year round with all kinds of food.

Or with nothing at all.

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For all that I can expound upon, the only thing that matters in the end is that my friend and I enjoyed this wine.  The movie felt like it went by in a flash, just like the night did, and just like this holiday season did.  So a few hours of peace is always welcome and has been a recurring theme throughout this blog and the stories that I write.

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The best stories of wine drinking (and many spiritual entities for that matter) are the ones shared with a few dear friends, over some good food, over some good anything, or sometimes nothing at all.

The holidays are a time to reflect, to review, renew, and yet rekindle relationships with family, friends, and most importantly yourself.  A genuine time with a great friend will check off all those boxes and more.  I’m happy to have been a part of something so simple and beautiful.

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Having a dog to hang out with never hurts either.

I look forward to the next time.

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