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

 

Behold The Rain, Which Descends From…

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The title is the beginning of a famous quote from the great Benjamin Franklin.  The entire quotation can be found here.   But it has to do with wine, and it’s a beautiful thing alright.

It’s one of those lines that makes me feel good about drinking wine, appreciating all the nuances of wine, and simply just being one with vino.

So it brings me such joy to discuss The Federalist wine collection, which I only recently discovered in the last week.

How does this label go unnoticed by me, for so long?  Has it not been not out that long?  Important questions, but what’s important is that I found it now, I got to try it now, and I can tell you with great confidence, that I adore this wine.   This is the 2015 Federalist Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon.

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There’s not much to this wine, yet there’s so much.  You’ve got your usual dark berries, and the description reads a touch of cinnamon spice.   A wine this full of body, structure, and life is perfect for this time of year, the holidays, and any time that feels cold and you want to relax in the luxury of your home or a friends home.  Isn’t it funny that I say the word ‘luxury’ when The Federalist collection prides themselves on being called Luxury Wine.  That’s word association my friends.  They got me!

At around $15-$17, and maybe listed a bit higher in some retailers, it’s worth it’s weight in dare I say, Benjamins.  I did just say that.   No but it’s worth spending more than the usual $10-$15 I prefer to find in my vintages.

And enjoy this at a friends house I did, as we watched something called the Olympics.  Maybe you’ve heard about them.

This post is also a special for the city of Philadelphia.  They’re celebrating something special and this is my tip of the cap and homage to the city of Brotherly Love and a city that is so fun to visit.  In that spiritual essence, for me to grab the Benjamin Franklin label bottle doesn’t seem like a coincidence.

I don’t believe in such things.

But I do believe in this wine and what is represents.  It’s a simple Cabernet Sauvignon, yet those are often the best kinds.  The tannins, the depth, the structure, and the finish that lasts and lasts is what makes this wine truly a winner.   I think enjoying it with good company, watching an event we only see ever so often, makes the wine and experience all that much better.

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Oh yes there was some pizza as well.  For more on this amazing slice, click here!

This wine and experience was worth it.  I always question what takes me so long to discover such charming labels and even more charming wine.  But that’s always the joy of this lifelong journey.  We’re not meant to have every wine, and every mine is not meant to find us.   It’s definitely a great ride when you’re sipping one after the other, at a tasting, or with friends.  But the best bottles are always the ones savored, appreciated, and shared with good company.

That’s what life is all about.  That and a celebration of great events that only come ever-so-often, a celebration of American heroes, and a celebration of ourselves.  We’re pretty awesome too!

I would love to try another Federalist Wine down the line, and I’m confident the experience will be just as breathtaking.   I’m in full Olympics mode so my words may mirror some of the enchanting (there we go..) performances I’ve seen thus far.

For more on The Federalist; here is their wine list (with other magnificent historical figures by the way), their story, where you can find their wines near you, and of course their contact information.

I can’t wait to see where this ongoing wine party takes me next.

Take good care and 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

 

 

Take A Number

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In the world we live in, or at least in a world you or I might live in, there’s never a lack of events to look forward to.  Some we’d be billing to bypass because they’ve ran their course, or we grow up.

Sometimes none of that matters.  We still grow up but we still enjoy our friends, good food, and a little vino never hurt anybody.

The event I’m referring to is a gathering of friends to watch a major professional wrestling event that took place this past Sunday night.  The specifics aren’t necessary, other than it was a good group of individuals, and I was honored to be invited and included.

Now I had no intention or idea that a story would come out of this. We’re at as simple as a bar as you’re going to find.   The food is bar food, the drinks are your cold beers, well drinks (I’m not even sure what that is but ‘well drinks’ just popped up in my head), and for the contrarians like me, they do have a couple of bottles of wine.

With the latter part of what I said coming to fruition, I did buy a bottle.  In hindsight I have no idea why I did.  But for a short and long-term investment it was worth it, so I didn’t have to get up to keep ordering a drink.   But in the long run, none of this really matters.  More on that in a little while.

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The wine was the 2014 Canyon Road Pinot Noir from you guessed it, Canyon Road.  And there isn’t much to it. That sounds dismissive and I don’t meant it to be, but this is about as basic as a wine as you’re going to find.  And I’ve seen it listed from $7-$10 in most places.  The cheaper you can find it, the more it’s actually worth that price.  I know that makes sense.

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The wine has little, if any, structure.  And you don’t need to be an expert to know, you want a a wine to bring something to the table.  You might taste some cherry, get a little tannin, and a get a little soul.   But all things considered, this wine will satisfy many.  And when pickings are slim, there’s little room for complaining.    I even waited a good 15-20 minutes for this wine to breathe, and not much changed.   That’s when you know this as standard label and mass produced as a wine as there’s going to be.

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The salad was as good as it’s going to be.  I honestly don’t know what that means, as I think about it. Haha.

For a  post I made on another one of their wines, nearly two years ago, click here.

For more on Canyon Road click here,  here is where you can find their wines near you, their wine list, and finally their contact information.

But going back to numbers,  I want to focus on something else.  The event we watched was all about numbers.  We picked a number to match an entrant in said event, but also a number hoping we might win some money.  That’s always fun.  Not too much was committed, so the risk vs. reward was’t too serious.  Well the reward always feels good if you win it.

Where I’m going with this, is recently I’ve had conversations with people (and myself) about how more and more they feel like just a number, like a spoke on the wheel, and an afterthought at times.  The title of this post may evoke feelings of waiting in a deli line to pick up whatever, and that might feel pedestrian and robotic as anything. While in some universes that might be valid, it’s actually the furthest thing from the truth.

We’re all brought here to add value, we all come from the same source, and are all connected.  And none of that says we’re just a number.  We’re all spiritual beings that have arrived here to do some awesome things, enjoy the finer things in life (like good wine), but also to feel good as much as possible.  Again, nothing about that entails that you and I are just a number.

Well might be a number.  That number is 1.  Because we’re capable of being the best to ourselves, to each other, and all the good energy that’s here on this planet Earth.

Sunday night I felt something and I can’t explain it, nor do I need to right away.  Something felt uneasy but then it felt right.  I hung with good friends but I also hung out with people I rarely see, or just met for the first time.  We were all there for the same reason, and one of those was just to feel good.

And you can’t put any price tag or number, on feeling good.

I feel good right now, and I wish the same for you.

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

 

 

Pairs Well With Ice Cream Cones

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The hosts get all the credit for the title.  Yes there were ice cream cones, but no pictures of those sweet treats were taken.   So I could easily be lying, but there’s no fun in that.

But before dessert, there was plenty of greasy comfort food to be shared on a freezing yet glorious and inspired Sunday evening.   All of this came together rather suddenly which is how my most favorite of things and events usually turn out.  MenageLabel1

With all this did come some wine, in the form of Ménage à Trois.  Maybe you’ve heard of them

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The bottle we shared was the 2014 California Red Wine which is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

To be honest, at the time of drinking this I didn’t think or care what was in this wine.  All I cared about was sharing a bottle in impromptu fashion, and eat some carry out food till my heart and stomach couldn’t take it anymore.  Actually that’s an exaggeration.  Remember there was also ice cream later.

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I’m just grateful to be in the company of good friends that I don’t see enough, in a different setting outside of the norm.  And when I mean outside of the norm, the house and location is spectacular.   It was so calming and peaceful at a time where many of us need that calm and peace.  There can never be enough.

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The conversation was all over the place.  There was catching up to do, serious business to attend do (maybe or not really), and those deep conversations I’ve been known to partake in from time to time.  I’m not good with this whole small talk thing.

When it comes to the wine, I may have tasted the blackberries and raspberries in the notes, but I wasn’t seeking out anything like that.  I was seeking out peace and great company of friends, and some peace within myself.   A standard label wine such as this is just what everyone can use.

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Complex, bold, and loads of structure have its place.  But when you’re pairing this wine with crab dip, chicken cheesteak, and chicken nachos with all kinds of stuff thrown on top, do you really need fancy and pricey?

You can find their wines quite likely at a store near you. It’s one of those most accessible labels there is.  I know people that don’t like wine that will purchase these bottles as gifts or to try if they’ve never had wine in general, but feel compelled to every once in a while.

What’s funny is that while I’ve had many a glass and bottle, I’ve rarely actually had Ménage à Trois.  It could be because my palate has expanded that I know what I want, yet willing to try anything unique and unfamiliar.

What it also could be is that I may take the fact that Ménage à Trois is everywhere for granted.  And I don’t meant to over-analyze but that’s something I would like to cut out of my life, the over-analyzing and the taking things for granted.  Could be easier done than said.  Yes I did just say that in reverse, deliberately.

There’s nothing truly mind blowing about this wine, nor does it need to be.  It’s a wine that’s simple, easy to drink, enjoyable, and does its job.  What more do you need?

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And on an evening like this nothing was taken for granted.  I’m grateful to be invited into a home of dear friend’s and the warm and cozy feeling remained throughout the course of the night.  It’ll be a wonderful memory I now attach to Ménage à Trois, and I couldn’t be more thrilled, and yes, grateful.

To find their wines near you, click here; for their story, click here; their food & wine pairing suggestions can be found here; some things to love, and their contact info.

I would like to revisit a wine from Ménage à Trois much sooner than later.  Timing and the universe will present a situation where this will come together effortlessly.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll share some more ice cream cones.

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Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

…And Be Your Compass

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It’s early January, and does anyone know where the time went?  I write this from a place of having many options to write about, yet many options that might not see the light of day, nor are meant to ever be.

As eclectic as these experiences have been, and I know will continue to be, sometimes the best is always going to be the ones that you didn’t even know were going to happen.  And you don’t know always know how great they’re going to be until the company you didn’t even expect to see, show up; and the place we ended up, were never on our radar to begin with.

Or maybe it was.

The day after Christmas, a good friend of mine met me at one venue, but we mutually realized this wasn’t going to work.  It was too crowded for what we wanted.   All we were looking for was a place of peace, to sip a glass of wine, and maybe partake in more indulging of foods that make the holidays so great.

I keep talking about the holidays. They’re officially over in most circles, but to me, anything and everything can turn into a holiday, a joyous experience, and a memorable one, if done properly.

This is exactly what we did.

When we stopped too hard to find a place, we let our spiritual compass find our way.  My gut told me wine, and it always tells me wine.   Footsteps from where we were standing, the Chesapeake Wine Company was just the cure that was needed for the sometimes bluesy and downward feelings the holidays can bring.

I’ve been here many times before, seen ownership change hands, purchased plenty of wine for a party, and had many a glass inside.

This was a combination of all of that.  My friend and I shared a couple of bottles and enjoyed a beautiful plate of bread and cheese.  It was a comfort that was needed.  And what was going to be a short while, turned into a long one.   How long the day went doesn’t matter.

It’s one of those situations where time stands it and flies by all at the same time.

The wine that did stand out was the 2016 Monterey County Black Pinot Noir from Mark West.

Now if you’ve had a Mark West wine, you know you’re going to get quality, you know they’re strictly all about Pinot Noir and nothing else, and you know this all comes at a reasonable price.   I’ve seen their selections in many a shoppe at right around $10, and sometimes less.  It’s a bargain for what you’re getting.

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The Monterey County Black is in more of the $12-$15 range, and for me this tastes closer to a $20 bottle.  That’s just an opinion and observation based on how the wine tasted and opened up as the afternoon went on.

It’s a smoother Pinot then many might be accustomed too.  You get those flavors of plums, dark cherries, vanilla, and mocha which is exquisite for the winter time, but is just as drinkable in the warmer months.  But thinking about this now, it was perfect for a post Christmas affair.

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Seriously, this might have been the most fitting day to have this glass, and it went perfectly with our snacks.

What’s even more fascinating is the notes tell a story that I’m going to look for in future wines, when I get the chance.

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In order to give this wine that darker color and more of a medium-to-full bodies taste is the result of a process called saignée, which is when the ligher colored wine is removed before it has time to blend in with the skins of the grapes.

I didn’t think about any of that at time because I was just so busy enjoying the wine in its purest form and more importantly the company of one another.   And that’s what a place like this will do.

The atmosphere of Chesapake Wine Company is  inviting, welcoming, yet private enough that you can have a pleasant conversation without anyone in the world to distract you.

Yet the bottles available for purchase might be a nice cause for distraction and another escape if necessary.  The staff is pretty awesome as well.

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For more on the Chesapeake Wine Company, here is more about them, their wines by the glass, their food menu, and contact information.

And for more on Mark West, here is their wine list, their story, where to find their wines, and contact info.

This is the first post of the year, and as I’ve always said, we’re just getting started.

We’re just getting started.

Happy New Year.

Ideen

A Divine Connection

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You know how you go to a certain establishment, whether it be a restaurant, a bar, a grocery store, a library, a church, a winery, or anything for that matter; sometimes you feel an energy that seems familiar.  You know it from somewhere but you can’t quite place it.   The joke might be that if you’ve been there before but just don’t remember, it might not feel so spiritually enlightening upon further investigation.

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But something about Red Red Wine Bar feels like it’s a place that I’ve been to not just last year, or a random visit when I’m in Annapolis.  But somewhere else.  Whether it’s a previous lifetime, or something bigger than any of us, I don’t know.  But there’s a vibe in there that I can’t put into words, I don’t need to put into words, but I’m going to to my best anyways.

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Red Red Wine Bar once again made the transformation into the Jingle Bell Bar for another year, and from the outside to the interior, it looks spectacular.

And just like last year (post can be found here) there was another fantastic holiday event promoted in conjunction with Anne Arundel County County Appointed Special Advocates (CASA for short).

The non-profit is something I’ve been a supporter of now for a couple of years and I’m grateful to call the Executive Director a dear friend, and even more so, family.  And thankfully, I’m grateful to have made further friends involved with this great organization along the way.   All that feeling of love and friendship is heightened during the holidays, and this event symbolized that.  But like I was saying, so does this bar.  It’s the perfect match, of now just what is great about Annapolis, or the holidays, but this journey of life in and of itself.

And just like last year we had a guest bartender who took good care of us, along with the great staff.

Something else awesome happened on this night.  Just when I thought things couldn’t get more surreal, serendipitous, and spectacular (I did that on purpose, yes..) I checked out the wines that they had on tap, and saw they were serving Annapolis’ own Great Frogs Winery, and I am huge fan (evidence of that can be found here), and it just made this night all that more special.  It’s those little things, that are the big things to me.   How apropos to be having a hometown wine in a neighboring bar.  Beautiful.

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Great Frogs’ 2015 Capital Red Blend was the wine of choice, and since it wasn’t on tap, I can’t show you a picture of the bottle nor can I find it on their site.  But that’s ok, the notes tell you all you need to know.  And when there’s Cabernet Franc, that will usually make myself and many others quite happy.   Mixing Cab Franc with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot can yield all types of results depending on the quality of the wine, your palate, and your mood.

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I was in a great mood, my palate loves all these grapes, and Great Frogs is no slouch.  They are well respected in Maryland and I’m willing to bed in many parts of the country as well.  That segues into their wines being able to be shipped in a plethora of states across the nation.

GreatFrogsNotes

This blend is perfect for the colder weather, the holidays, and maybe everything before and after that, if that makes any sense.  It’s fruit forward but not too sweet.  And when you have you tannins as smooth as this, with the Cab Franc, it’s going to be a winner.  And this is all on tap!  This was tremendous.  This is tremendous.

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For more on the pizza, click here.

The Capital Red Blend is not listed, which is a bummer, but I’m sure there’s a wine or two that might cater to ones liking.   The price points may be a tad higher for some, and I totally get that, and I would be lying if I’ve ever purchased a bottle of there’s myself.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t in time, for a special occasion or for any reason to share with friends.

And this is where we are, this was a night of friendship, love, goodwill, and helping out an incredible cause.   I was going to go into detail about the other two wines, but it doesn’t feel right.   This may have to happen another time.

Which leads me to another story.  I had intentions of visiting Great Frogs the day after Thanksgiving.   They held a festive event for the day after, which many places did, since people are off and many are out shopping that day.   Circumstances and life prevented me from attending, which tells me it wasn’t my time just yet.   And I know it will be soon.  Other than that, I know visits to Great Frogs are by reservation only.  It’s only a matter of time.

Several years ago, I actually was at a residence not realizing that the winery was footsteps away surrounded by the most incredible shrubbery.   The images you might be having in your head are as picturesque as being there in person.  Too bad I’ve only been in, around, and in the vicinity of the winery, and had the pleasure of tasting their wines at wine festivals in the area.

It’s only a matter of time…

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But what’s most important is to appreciate the present, and all the good things we’ve done this holiday season.  We’ve hopefully gone to some great parties, spent it with some fantastic people, of course eaten some delicious food, and embraced all the little quirks and joys that this holiday can bring.   And of course that music, some great, and some that can drive you crazy.  I think the staff at Red Red Wine Bar/Jingle Bell Bar can attest to that.

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But this is all the stuff (and so much more) that makes the holidays what they are.  And that’s such a beautiful thing to be a part of.

As I first said, I have a connection with this place, that’s within a town I love so much, and to spend it with people I love and adore so much, is something that will resonate with me forever.

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For more on Red Red Wine Bar, everything you need can be found here.

Information on Great Frogs, including their story, wine list, and contact information can be found here.

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For more on Anne Arundel County CASA, here is more about them, how to volunteer, ways to get involed, and donation information.

This was fun, and this year was just as delightful as last.  Every year, every event, every situation can tell a different and compelling story.  This is one that has a great beginning, middle, and end, yet it’s still to be continued…

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Peace Be With You…

Ideen

 

Pagoda Party

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There are moments in time and in life where everything just feels right.  No forced plans or arbitrary feelings of having to show up take place. You want to be with people, you want to do something fun, and you want to do something that’s real.

This is what happened with the Pagoda Lighting a couple of Sundays ago, (December 3rd to be exact) in Patterson Park, a part of Baltimore I adore.

A conversation with some friends to meet up for it happened the night before.  And you know how that goes, sometimes you get inspired when talking about future plans, and when you’re in the moment, it feels amazing, feels like a guarantee, and feels like nothing else matters in the world.  It’s a natural high that sounds preposterous as I write this out, but it just feels so real and so good in that moment.

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It’s great to have things to look forward to, and that’s amplified during the holidays.  No one wants to be alone on the holidays.  Sometimes it’s a choice, sometimes things just can’t be helped.

Thankfully the two friends I was to meet up with (based on the aforementioned conversation two paragraphs ago) came  to fruition, and life was good.  Life is good, and this event was amazing.

With a tree (or in this instance an actual pagoda) lighting, that means plenty of festivities beforehand.  There were free treats, snacks, hot cocoa, among other things that were available for enjoyment.   Of course the food trucks you’re likely now accustomed to were in attendance, but folks got to eat!

And folks go to drink wine!  But we were smart.  We brought our own wine, our own cheese, meats, crackers, and all of that good stuff.   Our cost to us was minimal but the experience was invaluable, and you can’t put a price tag on memories.

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The wine I brought to our charming picnic was the 2015 Boatman from Brack Mountain Wine Company.

Tech notes can be found here.

I’ll be honest, and one of my friends concurred, this wine was nothing special.    It was about $13 at one of my local wine shoppes, so it wasn’t a major splurge, but it wasn’t a major anything.

One thing that does stand out is how purple this wine is in comparison to other red wines you would have.  It’s a red blend (46% Alicante Bouschet  and 54% Malbec) so anything can happen.  Alicante Bouschet is a new one for me, as far as I know.  I’ll have to explore this some more.

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There’s lots of dark fruits, and cherries, but the notes mention violets and charcuterie, that’s interesting.   Rhubarb, blackberry, and crushed peppercorns on the nose?  I’m fascinated.  I got none of this, but this is not an expert analysis on wine.    It’s not the crowd pleaser I had hoped.  It wasn’t the easy to drink wine you want at an event like this, or when you want something that agrees with everyone’s palate.

Quite simply, did I enjoy this wine?  No, but it was fine enough to drink, and when it comes to most, if not all situations, that’s all that matters.  It wasn’t a chore or a struggle, and when you’re with good people it’s never a struggle.

When the energy is good, everything still tastes better.  The conversations are heightened, the air tends to feel fresher, and ones overall state of being is going to rub off on everyone else.  That’s what I got from this night out.

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I’m grateful I took a before and after picture of the Pagoda itself.  It captures how beautiful this event, this lighting, and how amazing Christmas and the  holidays can truly be.  And when you spend celebrations with kind-hearted and genuine people, that’s a recipe for a winning holiday season.  It’s a recipe for any season and anything period.

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about another one of Brack Mountain’s Wines, and it was fantastic.  You can click on this entire paragraph to read it.  And I bet the setting had much to do with that as well.

The wine may not have been the best, but it really doesn’t matter.  They’re not all going to be winners, but this night was a winner for sure.

I’ve done this all three years and it’s a tradition I hope to be a part of for many to come.

Happy Holidays and May Peace Be Always With You.

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