Oh What A Thing To Do

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As promised, this is the continuation from last week.   It’s part two of my vacation.  Which was more of a home away from home.

And I love home.  It’s safe, peaceful, and a shelter from the sometimes chaotic and frenetic pace of the rest of the world.

And I love company.  I love the company of kind people, good people, the best people possible…  Then again you’re your own best company.   If you can’t enjoy your own then what is the point.  I remind myself of this fact constantly.   Yet when there’s a few awesome dogs running around, that point can be argued.   I love them so much.

You may spot on a dog in the background of one of the photos.  I love them so much.  Yes, I know I just said that.

So this is two wines in a row where something just didn’t click or compute.  And I wanted this to be wonderful.  But the 2014 Y Series, Shiraz Viognier, from Yalumba just didn’t bring any inspiration or feeling that I hope it would.

At around $10-$13 it’s not going to hurt you in that regard, but it’s not worth that much in my opinion.

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But that horse, that lovely horse, that symbolizes all the good that’s in the world, should’ve lead to so much more.   As someone who likes wine, actually I love it, I know the label is not the be all and end all of anything.  Never judge a book, a bottle, or anything by its cover, its label, and anything superficial.

There’s always layers under all that beauty.  Sometimes there’s more beauty.  Sometimes there leaves a to be desired, and someone you have to work a little harder.  I’m not sure what my point here was, but I couldn’t tell you anything redeeming about this wine.  That sound harsh but it’s true.

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There’s no flavors that really stood out.  It tasted bland, then it tasted off.   This one synopsis may shed some light on why this wine tasted peculiar.

Not every wine has to taste award winning or move you in a way that you’ll remember for years, or a lifetime.  But it helps when it tastes good, and you share an appreciation with friends.   Even though I had this alone, I don’t think sharing this with people may have changed my tune.   I let this breathe for a while and still nothing.   I wanted something.   That’s not asking for much.

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My plate of vegetables didn’t pair well with this, but I’m not sure what would have.  On their own my food was joyous.

Even though the wine didn’t work out for me, this was a great day nonetheless.  I had the company of some wonderful dogs, a beautiful day, a gorgeous setting, and I got to enjoy my own company (like I stated before), which I don’t get to do enough.  Being busy makes you forget about those little things sometimes.  But those small things are so important.  They’re SO important.

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The signs of Spring were all around me.  I saw and heard birds chirping, more green starting to show themselves, and the signs of the days getting longer makes me feel so good.   That means more time to enjoy life, your friends, family, your animal friends, and yourself.

I enjoyed myself today.   And like I always say, after a few pictures, I turned my phone off and just decided to be.  And I got to be for a while.  I felt more like myself then I had in a while.   And no bottle of wine, no piece of food, and no anything can substitute for that kind of harmony.  All those details will help, but putting ourselves on a pedestal leads all the good things to come.

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There’s more good to come.   I will treasure this time, and the time spent with my four legged friends, who have been friends for a long time.  And I hope for many years to come.  That’s the good stuff…

For more on Yalumba, here is their wine list, a link to purchase their wines online, and their contact information.

When the opportunity presents itself, I would love to try another one of their wines.  But for now…

Happy Spring and Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Then, Now, Forever…

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Yeah that title is a bit over-the-top but it fits me, it fits you, and it just might fit someone you know.  So in so many words, it’s one way of describing our current life, a past life, and maybe a lifetime down the line.

What’s most essential to the perfect experience, involving wine or whatever makes you feel good, is to not look for things to be perfect, to not force the issue, but to let things come to come.

Of course you want to surround yourself with the best people you can.  But, you also need to be in a place of peace and confidence, where people will be attracted into your life, that want to spend time with you.

What that entails is maybe you yourself doing more of the reaching out then the prospective party.  At other times you might think of someone, and then they might call you, send you a text, or send you a message.

How this one worked out I don’t quite recall, but I’m so fortunate to say that I got to hang out with two good friends this past weekend, who I don’t see enough.

And how many times do you say that to yourself?  How many times do you say it to a friend, a family member, or a loved one?  The people we wish we saw the most, we hardly ever see.  The people that care about us and only wish us the best, we don’t see enough.

I’m projecting quite a bit, but it’s how I feel about things.  There’s so many amazing people in my life I wish I could see all the time.  Life happens, we get caught up in things that occupy so much of our time and involve circumstances that drain us, that we’re often left with little to no energy to enjoy the company of people I might have just alluded to.

So I’m grateful for this past weekend.   One of my favorite things is dinner parties.  I’ve always loved smaller gatherings going back as far as I can remember.  Real conversations, about real things, with real people is what makes me happy.

Maybe I ask too much but I don’t think so.  I ask the universe for the simple things in life, and when I don’t force it or look desperate, it obliges.  Their wish is my command.  Your wish is their command.

Your wish is my command.

So this past weekend I was welcomed with open arms, and we spent the next couple of hours discussing a lot of fun things, sometimes serious, sometimes lighthearted, and sometimes the extreme.

I had some idea what would come up, and then pleasantly surprise about where things went.  Yes I’m being vague, but some things are left better to the people involved.   I’m sure you would want the same for you.

As obscure as I’m being, the wine is even more…

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The 2016 Obscura Petit Verdot is a brand I thought I saw once but now I’m not so sure.  To sound even more obscure, I brought a bottle of my own that wasn’t intended for this party, but just as a way of saying thank you for having me.

Before I keep digressing, this wine is a good one.  It’s not going to greatest wine of all time but it does the job and does it well.

It’s affordable ($10-$15 range), fruit forward, easy to drink, and best to drink by itself.

My friends ordered an amazing spread of food for dinner, which was perfect enough without any vino.   The Obscura did not pair well with the food exactly but it paired perfectly with the entire evening and the great company I was honored to spend time with.  That’s more important than anything else.

Petit Verdot tends to be a recurring wine, for me, when it comes to parties or more simplistic and joyous affairs.   I wouldn’t classify that as an accident.  There’s no such things as coincidences.

This wine is hard to find, but the party hosts presented me this link, Bright Cellars, as a place of wonder and discovery.

This was fun.  And these are the times I cherish because they felt so real, in the moment, and long after.   So that’s what I mean when I say then, now, forever…

Until the next one, which will be much sooner than…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

The Source of All Things…

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I’m feeling abundant, and you want to know why?  Because what make me happy, what makes me feel good, and what currently brings me the most joy is the most simplest of things.

Some time ago I’ve come to terms and at peace with many things.  While many things remain unresolved, what I’ve become most comfortable and at peace with are the most simple and peaceful of gatherings.   I still can find enjoyment in big parties with lots of commotion, lots of people, and lots of stimulation.

But a simple meal, a simple glass (or bottle) of vino, and a little conversation, where we can hear one another talk and listen intently, is what I’m all for.  It’s what I yearn for and prefer.  And when not looking for it, the opportunities tend to be presented to me with regularity.

I was grateful to be awarded another opportunity last week with a friend I don’t see enough.  It tends to go that way.  There’s those friends you talk to constantly yet don’t see as much as you would like.  My friend would fit that category.

What also makes me happy is getting together with friends for no reason whatsoever.  You know, someone is always having a birthday, a sports gathering, a milestone in life, and who knows what else.  But sometimes the rest reasons to hang out are no reasons at all.  If you love your friends and family, you never need a specific reason.

Well it helps when my friends have pets.  That’s a bonus.   I could relax with a cat, dog, or other animal friend all day, but I digress once again.

This planned yet impromptu gathering got all that more unpredictable, when my friend, who was all set to good, realized there were enough leftovers to be shared.   The cooking can be left for another day.  I’ve been spoiled and feeling grateful that I have such quality friends who like to cook, and invite their friends over to share in their love of food and wine.  I’m eternally grateful to be surrounded with great people.

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The food was wonderful, and the wine (which I’ll talk about shortly) paired serendipitously with some delicious chicken parmesan and pasta.  Oh my goodness this was great.

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The wine is the 2015 Mas Donis Old Vines, which is a red blend of Grenache, Merlot, and Syrah.  And with such a medium to full bodied wine to go with such a hearty and hefty meal, it’s a match that was meant to be and the universe came together on this night to make all the elements of food, wine, and simplicity work out magically.   That makes me feel good.

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I’ll freely admit that the label had much to do with the purchase. But something about this wine grabbed me.  At one of my local wine shoppes I was drawn to it immediately.  I grabbed it, held onto it, and with no resistance whatsoever, I knew this was the wine I was meant to buy, and share with you my thoughts today.  It was the first and only bottle I saw. Sounds about right.

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There’s so much to this wine. It’s got your standard berries and cherries.  But what might taste earthy to you at me, might be herbs and spices to someone else.  What stands out is how this wine ends.  You may have heard the term lingering finish before.  This wine epitomizes that.  What lingers is the flavors and the tannins after each sip.   Yet there’s so much structure and life to this wine, that you don’t need to put into words.  A little oak always helps too, but I think you know what I’m saying.  This is a wine that warms my heart, and may do the same for you.

And at a price tag of $10-$15, it’ll warm your pocketbook too.   Do people still have pocketbooks?  For more on this wine, and the distributor click here.

I think the elements of the the evening also made this wine that much better.  I think my friend enjoyed it a little more than me.  I think I had a glass and a half at most, which is fine by me.  That means more to share with good people.

I’ll also add that not every conversation is meant to be deep and meaningful.  It might drive you crazy.  It gets me cuckoo at times.

A good friendship also means a little surface level, a little nothing, and sometimes a little silence goes a long way.

Let’s do this again sometime.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

So Secret, I Can’t Say Anything…

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That line is infamous or not, depending on where your allegiances are.  I won’t put up too many links nor should I actually be divulging my thoughts on this certain secret society, that has become more of a running joke than anything else. It’s become one of those things where if you speak of it, you’re automatically labeled this.

Leave it to me to use my wine blog as a vehicle to discuss this wine, which has nothing to do with this group whatsoever.   I’m cracking myself up as I write this all out.  Yes my friends who know me, like to call me conspiracy theorist, because that’s the easy thing to do.  Or is it?  Hmm…

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The 2015 Illuminati Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riparosso is a family wine that I had no expectations of.  If I wasn’t so enlightened (ha) I would just expect this to be  decent Montepulciano at worst that would serve its purpose, and pair well with a meal, most likely an Italian dish.

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At least the stuffed shells were good.  Ah that’s a bit mean.   But yes my meal was fantastic.  I gave this bottle a lot of time to breathe and I still didn’t get much.  I spent about $15 and at worst I expected a wine that would taste somewhere on that level.  That level is open to your interpretation and tastes.  I wanted something of value, instead this wine fell a bit flat.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible.  There’s just not much to this.  I appreciate the notes on the back saying ‘Gifted of Generous Character and Rich Flavour’, because when I read that, are they talking about the wine or something else? Hmm, I detect something secretive going on here.. Ooooh Ahhhh.

The notes from where I purchased this (Canton Crossing Wine & Spirits in Baltimore is the only place I’ve seen this bottle) mention aromas of cherry, plums, and spices; along with some of those same flavors I just mentioned, and flowers.   Which flowers, I don’t know, but that’s where I get the earthy forest-like taste on my palate,  and it doesn’t really work out here.

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It’s light, easy enough to drink but I wanted more. It’s a good bottle, but not at $15, more say a $9 bottle.

But if you’re looking for something same, inoffensive, and approachable, this will do just fine.  I just wish it had more of the taste I was hoping for.  I’ve had plenty a Montepulciano and Italian wine in my lifetime, and they’re usually good to fantastic.  They all can’t be winners, but at the end of the day we all have our tastes, and some people are going to love this.

Which is what the theme of this blog has always been.  You’re on with your vino.  I love how we all can have different tastes because we come from different walks of life, yet share the same love for wine with dear friends, family, and other faithful companions.  It’s what makes this journey one that is never-ending, nor should it ever end.

I’m truly grateful I have the capacity to write this blog out on at least a weekly basis.  And share with you my thoughts on the wines, but even more so on how it connects to the time of year, my life, and in a relatable sense, maybe your life as well.   The pairings of food, the location, the good friends, and all those other details are more important than any notes, flavors, aromas, or any of that jazz.  And that latter stuff is important, but I think you know what I’m saying.

Even though this wine didn’t win me over, it might end up being one of your favorites.  And that’s fantastic.   This is an odd time of year where the holidays are over and the weather is still cold enough, that I can create a different story just based on the wine itself and how I’m feeling.

This wine, like many others, just seem to find me.  As I continue to find myself, I look forward to seeing what finds me this time next week.   Not yet enlightened (Yes I had to go there one more time haha) but doing my best here…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

The Journey Is The…

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I called another audible this week.   Plans are meant to change, otherwise this life can be stagnant and even though things are going according to plan, it might feel like we’re going through the motions.

Happy 4th of July by the way.  I did have something wine and food related in find the festivities, but it once again didn’t feel right and didn’t fit with how I’m feeling and thinking at the time.    It doesn’t fit with how I’m feeling currently either.

Gratitude is something I feel I don’t express enough.  And the people we love the most we may not see enough.  It’s life.  We get busy, we busier, and then the unfortunate truth is if the friendship isn’t fully nourished, it can lead to out of sight and out of mind.  We’ve been on both sides of the equation, whether or not we realize or notice it.  I’m observant and I see it, but probably don’t see it all.

Thankfully these friends I’ve kept in touch with and see frequently, so when we get to wining and dining, it feels like old times and it feels like we’ve been doing this for years. We have been doing this for years.

My goodness where is the time going.  This blog is past two-and-a-half years.  Sometimes it feels, no.. It feels just right.

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So when my dear friends are making a spectacular dinner,  I’m going to ask what wine to bring.  And I don’t ask what they’re making.  It keeps it fresh, exciting, and suspenseful. So when the suggestion is Sauvignon Blanc, I’m intrigued.   And my friend could have said just about any grape and I might have said the same thing.  So two sentences ago was more for dramatic affect.

First. the meal.

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The meal included a delicious salad with some savory lettuce and the freshest carrots I’ve had in some time.  It tasted fresh out of the farm.  As a matter of fact I believe it was.

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The main course was this whole grain pasta with vegetables and this most succulent of shrimp.  I’m writing this so late into the night and I’m craving some right now, or maybe I’m just delirious with happiness.

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So I’ve talked about everything but the wine.   And that’s not on purpose.  It’s how this story worked out.  I think the Sauvignon Blanc from Ponga Planet is refreshing, light, charming, and endearing.  And it fit the realm of this entire meal.

The notes mention flavor of nectarine, lime, and grapefruit.  And whether or not you or I taste or even catch a glimpse of any of those flavors doesn’t truly matter.   Floral finishes and aftertastes are cool to discuss, but this wine was simple easy to drink.  And at the same time, roughly around $10 retail value.  And I feel like that’s a slight bargain.

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I feel like the dinner went by rather quickly.  And that may be representative of how things are going in our lives.  We’re occupied with so much and taking time to make a meal (which I don’t do often enough), sit down, have meaningful (or light-hearted) conversations, and actually listen to each other is a sadly missing art.  And it shouldn’t be.  It’s one of the most beautiful things.

But you know what else is beautiful?  Us.  That we have the opportunity to have a meal, a glass, a chat with the people we care about.  It’s these endearing and heartening experiences that I think about periodically and when I do they make me smile.  I think that’s what many of us want out of life, to keep it simple.

And Ponga keeps it simple.  The Sauvignon Blanc is their one wine.  How much more accessible can you get?

Their story is beautiful.   In the middle is this inspirational story about the Ponga Fern, which is the inspiration for this wine.  I love this so much.

To find the Ponga Planet Sauvignon Blanc near you, this link is accessible just like everything else surrounding this wine.   And finally here is their contact information.

I love this wine that much more, as I reminisce and get all nostalgic.  That’s when you know something is special.  If it hits a nerve and resonates with you in a way that happens organically you know you were a part of something special.  The great food, and more importantly the even greater company helps.

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Here’s to many more lifetime memories and experiences that bring us all joy.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Hour 2.0

 

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Helping this universe in any way, shape, or form shouldn’t be a one or two time thing. This is a two-post thing but I wish it could be longer.  But it wasn’t supposed to be.  Earth Hour is a beautiful event.

After last weeks intro, it’s only fitting that I finish with a wine that is not necessarily the most sentimental to me, but one is definitely one that has always tasted the same, tasted great and tasted like any good wine should.

The 2015 Charles Thomas Cotes du Rhone Rouge is a wine I’ve had for several vintages and seen it at many a wine shop, seen in on many a wine list at the bar, and found it to be all around accessible and approachable.  That’s what you want from a wine like this, especially the latter.   Oh and of course the price. $10, give or take is the norm but I would pay a little bit more for this.  The 2015 especially.

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This is even better than I remember ever it ever tasting.   This not meant to be an insult, but only a compliment, but for some reason it actually sipped better than it had any reason to.   I hope that makes sense.  It’s not supposed to be this good.   $10 wines are good but not always this good.   I also hope you sense the facetiousness.

It’s heavy on the fruits.  Yes it’s that fruit forward term you may have heard about.  The berry fruits take over and for the occasion this was perfect.  And with the hearty meal of meats, veggies, and pastas, this was even more the perfect wine to pair with this meal.

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It’s a lot lighter than many Rhone Rouge’s I’ve had, and even with this breakdown (50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre), it’s a wine even exclusively sweet wine drinkers can appreciate.

Yet this is a wine you can have with anything.  I also thing that after the first bottle, this was even better and more refreshing than I remember.

What also helps is I wasn’t alone in my sentiments.   This wine never had a chance.  I think I was lucky to half one full glass.   It was being drawn to like a magnet.  Or maybe it was the ratatouille you see pictured.   A perfect French dish served with an equally awesome French wine makes me happy.  Whenever you can pair a wine with a meal this in syncopation it feels validating, it feels good, and it feels victorious.

The other victory was getting a few last second photos before it was Earth Hour.

I’ll admit and admit it some more, I’m so terrible with my cell phone obsession.  It would be safe to say I’m not alone in this feeling.  For a fleeting moment I started to feel weird that I would have my cell phone turned off for an hour and be without any communication.  But that feeling was gone immediately.   The hosts went above-and-beyond in putting together a stellar feast that my words will never be able to give its proper due.

And being able to remember fondly before and during Earth Hour is better than any staring aimlessly at my mobile phone every few seconds for no good reason.   I shouldn’t have even get to this point.  I and we should embrace life without having to take a break to habitually push a few buttons and tap on the screen, and then go back to embracing life.  That’s not a healthy way to be.

I wished I hung around longer.  About 90 minutes in I didn’t see anyone need or want to use any technology.

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There was enough food, drink, excellent company, and natural light that nothing else was necessary.  This should be the rule and not the exception.  It’s unfortunate that I’ve got to this point.  It’s not even something I should claim ownership on, but it’s something that can be remedied immediately.  Wow.  This is a wine blog I know, not cell phone addicts anonymous.  I rather be addicted to one over than the other.

The moral to all of this is life is good.  Wine is good.  Food is good.  People are good.  And life is good.   Hey, I just said that but it is.

For more on this wine and the distributor, click here.   But like I said, it’s easy to find. I’ve seen it at many nearby wine shops and I’m willing to bet you will find this at a wine shop near you.

And even more importantly, here is more on Earth Hour.

Stay healthy,

Ideen

Wine & Pizza Party!

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When it comes to figuring out what wines go with what kind of pizzas, or any wine and food pairing for that matter, when doing research it can start to drive you crazy.  You hear a bunch of differing opinions and whatever you thought of initially, is not in agreement with what any ‘experts’ and sommeliers suggest.

It’s important to go with your intuition but it’s also comforting when other opinions match your own.  But your opinion is the one that counts the most.

Wine and pizza is one of those combinations that’s supposed to be enjoyable.

I think I got half of it right this time.

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Everything I just mentioned earlier was a bit of projection.   I ordered two pizzas from the awesome folks at Ceriello, and you can read about those pies here,  but the wines I purchased at their shoppe met with mix results.

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There was some angst and agonizing over which two wines to get with each respective pizza.  I was set on one red and one white.

I’ll start with the red.   This is where my instinct and experience came through.  I was leaning towards an Italian red that was affordable, approachable, and hopefully palate pleasing.   I was thinking a Chianti.  I don’t recall the last time I wrote about one, oh wait there it is.

Ceriello’s wine list is a good of mix of everything, but also small enough, that you won’t get too lost in searching for the perfect wine.

The irony is that this was all for just for me, and I guess the audience reading this.  So maybe there was a little pressure that shouldn’t have been there.

After scouring the rows I noticed the last bottle of the 2015 Piccini Chianti sitting all by its lonesome and I literally mean all by its lonesome.  It was the last bottle on the shelf.  I figured it was waiting for me and only me.  I like to believe things like that.  And at $10, that’s my kind of wine and that kind of price.

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A pizza with meatballs (or meats in general) and tomato sauce pairs so well with an Italian red.   It’s one of those things where the acidity of the wine works well with that sauce.  This is not meant to be an expert analysis.  It’s a light red that works and is adequate but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

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Something just felt off.  No, not about the pizza, but the wine.   I’ve had this wine in previous years with previous vintages and found it to be just fine.  I suppose some things never change.  There were some hints of fruits and spices but it didn’t click.

I had one glass and kind of just forgot about it.  It’s a good everyday wine and a good value that I would gladly try again under different circumstances, but it didn’t work, especially with this amazing pizza.

The Piccini Chianti is one of those standard label wines you can most likely find at your neighborhood wine store.  I’ve seen it multiple times in multiple places.

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The white I went with was an ambitious choice.  This is where I struggled and maybe tried too hard to find the perfect white to go with my second pie with fresh vegetables and prosciutto.

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The 2015 L’Isola de Profumi  from Alcesti with two grapes I had never heard of until last week, Catarrato and Grecanico.  I hope I spelled those correctly.   This wine didn’t work here or by itself.

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It’s a Sicilian White that is an acquired taste.  I’m just not sure when and if I would ever acquire it.   I read that there’s hints of Mediterranean fruits. What those fruits are I honestly couldn’t tell you.

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I will concede that this wine doesn’t seem to be meant to be paired with pizza.

This is where I will sound like a novice and in another attempt to sound inspiring, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong pairing.

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However, there are exceptions.  Some foods and some wines will clash and all those amazing flavors that may or many not exist may disappear.  At other times the cheapness of some foods and wines will be exposed.

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This wine at $8 was worth a shot and even though it didn’t work out, I look forward to trying some more of Ceriello’s wines from Italy and other parts of the world, in the future.

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The pizza was phenomenal, I just wish I found the perfect wines to pair it with.  Actually this is maybe what I did wrong. I was overthinking a bit and looking for signs outside of myself that didn’t exist this time around.

Ceriello does a Friday pizza and wine night, and has a set of wines on display that they suggest work well with the certain pizzas.   This wasn’t about me going rogue or being different, well maybe the different part.   But one of these Friday feasts will be something I will take part in and learn from this most recent experience.

And maybe I will learn a little more about myself and meet some great people in the process.

Sometimes wine is meant to be enjoyed alone, sometimes in groups, and just sometimes there’s going to be rough patches that are educational experiences.

They’re all educational, they’re all experiences, and I look forward to many more enjoyable experiences soon.

To read more about these fantastic pizzas go here.

Here’s more on Piccini and here’re more on Alcesti.

Thanks so much.

Ideen