I Like Chance Meetings…

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Hampden evokes feeling of community, and that grows in volume as we approach the holidays.  Oh yes, the holidays.  I felt like I was just talking about that a few days ago.  And I don’t mean another holiday.  I mean the holidays.  Here we are…

I like it quiet, cozy, and peaceful.  I like conversation.  I like meaningful conversation.  Sometimes that might be too much for you or I.  But I can’t speak for you, so I won’t nor should I.  Small talk just hasn’t worked for me in a while.  I have done it, but I can only do it for so long before I’m exposed in away.   I have yet to grasp the concept of faking it till I make it.  Not yet…

But what is very real is great wine (and crappy wine, but not today…)and a great wine bar to boot.  So this brings us back to 13.5% Wine Bar (which I wrote about a few months back) and an awesome wine that’s not even on the menu!

Their happy hour red is the 2016 La Ferla Nero d’Avola and I’m grateful they were serving after those hours because this is the perfect wine to have with anything or nothing at all.  I tend to say that a lot, and it may come off robotic, but it’s a feeling I have about some wines.

It’s light enough to drink any time of year but has depth and character that will fill your senses, warm your heart, and perfect the mood that you’re in.  Hopefully it’s a good one.

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Filled with pepper, spices, and a little bit of the unknown, this just felt right for early November.  And at $4 a glass I’m getting a bargain.   The average price for this wine is around $10, and that’s exactly what it tasted like.  That’s a compliment above all else.

You know when wines just feel right and you want them right now.  This is for right now…

My friends and I had quite a few small plates and not at any time did the cheapness of wine come out when paired with spiced nuts, brussels sprouts, and frites.  Everything complemented the other.  What can also be said was that the company was great, the ambiance is always off the charts, and the positive energy is in abundance.  That’s going to make any wine, any food, and anything just be better.

I love this place, and sometimes experiences are so good that they shouldn’t always be shared.

Sometimes I get this visceral feeling as to what I should share, should document, should photograph, and what I shouldn’t.  It’s great to keep a log, a blog, a journal, a history of experiences, and to share them.  I just know there’s an intellect with this that is bigger than the food, the wine, or anything.  That it’s ok to put into words.

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When it comes to pictures, I sense a more polarizing opinion.  I think it’s good to take a few here and there, but I’ve never been one to constantly do it.  So when looking back at my posts I get a kick out of seeing photos I know I left out, because those are for me and for me only.  Same for certain stories that I will never share, or I am not ready to.  In a lot of ways that has more of a reaction than what is put out there.

With that being said, I don’t know what the holidays will bring but then I do.  But it’ll all be from my heart and with the best intentions.  Then there will be those stories that may or may not see the light of day.   That’s one of the many joys I get from this.

But for now, Happy Early Thanksgiving and…

Take good care…

Love,

Ideen

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

Love It If We…

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

So I got around to it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love all those good things.

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

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

By The Glass

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I find Osteria Da Amedeo (menu, the wine list, and more about them) in the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore refreshing.  And not just refreshing in terms of beverages.

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My visits have been somewhat frequent, but I wouldn’t call myself a regular.  I’ve been here enough yet I never seem to know anyone and vice versa.  In a small city like this, that makes me happy.  It’s easy to just run into people in Baltimore.  Of course if you go anywhere long enough, you’re bound to make a friend.   You can never have enough good friends.  You can also never have enough alone time.  If there was something to be said for the latter, then you think one would stay home.  But how’s that fun?

Friends of mine who live here or go here only rave about it.   With the exception of one time going with a pal, its always just been me.   My preference to be out by myself has always been with me.  It’s a feeling of liberation, to have some semblance of control, and if I’m ready to leave after 5 minutes, or two hours, it feels great to have that choice.

A place like Osteria Da Amedeo lend itself to spending a little extra time, in what I can only describe was one of the more cozy bars and settings in all of the city.

This won’t be a review of the bottles, because I don’t remember them.  This may come off amateurish but on a day back in the late Summer, this was not the time or place to worry about that.   It was a weird day.  Yet someone else might say that was one of their favorite days ever. That’s what makes this all so fun.  We all can be in the same and different places and time, and think completely different thoughts and feel a contrast in emotions.

There were emotions and there was some situations.  I just felt like like saying that.  Yes situations can mean anything.

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My mood wanted a little bit of red and a little of the while.  I didn’t finish either.  I just wanted something different.   I forgot if I ordered a Sangiovese or Montepulciano.  Like I said, this is not one of those serious reviews or discussion of labels.  Not like many of them are, but I hope you sense what I’m saying and where this is going.

As I was saying, whatever my red was, I loved it.  I savored it, and I savored my surroundings.  I had my own company and today was enough.  I love their wine glasses.  You don’t see these served in this form everyday or everywhere.  Wait, maybe I had one of each and I don’t remember.   Oops.  There are those times where I feel drained and trans

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For the blanca, I went with the Gavi, which to my knowledge is the one and only time I can honestly say I’ve ever seen it, ordered it, or drank it.  This detail is significant, at least to me.   I love firsts and I love to feel a little part of history, even if just my own, and to anyone who reads this.

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Like any new wine, it either hits you right away and makes you feel something, is an acquired taste, or is just not your glass of wine.  I’m settling for somewhere in the middle. As dry as the synopsis reads, it was a little sweeter and fruitier to my liking.   I could blame it on the fact I had that red (which one I’ll never know) and maybe didn’t cleanse my palate enough, or it’s just not for me right now.  All that can change later.   That’s the beauty of wine, and of life.

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What matters is this was a good day.  It was a day of reflection, healing, peace,and hopefully rejuvenation.  This was two months ago and in many ways I feel more exhausted than that day.  Maybe it’s because of writing so late, or maybe so much has caught up with me, that this day was at least a temporary relief, or will resonate with me for reasons that have still yet been shown to me.

Maybe and hopefully I can give a more in depth versus introspective recap on the food and wine…

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For some just going out means going out, then calling it a day or night.  I might take things too seriously, but I see everything has potentially significant.  I may not even catch all the signs and symbols of the universe, or maybe I look or try too hard to find them.  Nevertheless, they’re there.

I was happy to be there….

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

I’m Ready For Summer

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I mean that.  Technically on the calendar we’re still here.  We’re all right here…

Fall is wonderful.  It means festivals, a smell and crispness in the air, and still plenty of reasons to be outside and enjoy life.  Yeah that life thing.  It’s alright.

While it’s still hot and there’s still plenty of daylight, the lighter wines, the whites, and of course the rosé.   I’ve got time to talk about more rosé.  See, as much as the seasons all have a place, I love summer.  I’m ready for summer.

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The Lavignone Rosato was amongst the many choices I was looking at.  Actually no, let me know sound so serious.   It’s the one that stood out, because of the label, and because I knew nothing about it.  I don’t know about a lot of these wines.  And I don’t have to either.

Like any other situation, the mood I’m in, the setting, the feeling, and all those other little things that either do or don’t exist play a role in how a wine is going to taste, and how it’s going to make you feel.

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I’m still processing this one.  I’m still processing a lot of things.

At the same time, it’s not that serious.  At $15 this is bit of a splurge, but nothing out of sorts.  If it wasn’t for the flowers, I don’t know what I would think.  Yes I said flowers!

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The whole process of helping plant flowers is similar in how wine become well, a pretty bottle and label such as this.

Now there’s nothing life altering about this wine.  I’ve never looked at rosé in that way.  However, like flowers, the smells of summer is the main draw.  The synopsis mentions strawberry, watermelon, cranberry, and fresh cut grass.  Those would be the aromas, not necessarily the tastes.   I think I tasted grass once when I was a kid and I don’t remember it being good.

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This wine is ok.  I wouldn’t say it’s amazing.  I go back-and-forth on it.  As I’m writing this out, my heart is telling me something it wasn’t when I actually had a glass.  You may love it and that’s awesome.  My mind and heart are in contrasting places, and that’s a good thing, as much as that sounds confusing.

If I spent $10 on this label, I might have a different opinion.   As much as the display of flowers and colors is lively, full of life, and ready for the fall season, there are plenty of other grapes of all kinds that are going to be a bit more inspirational.

I mentioned how I was processing my thoughts on this wine, and my feelings may be unraveling as I share this with you. But I really don’t know what to say. Maybe it’s the change of the seasons and the place I’m in at the moment, but something isn’t completely adding up.   Maybe I’m ready for the medium bodied reds, or more of the whites I’ve grown to like and love.

Maybe I’m just not in love with this wine and that’s ok too.  There’s so many to choose from.  And as much as I or we want to see the good in everything, it’s good to see faults too.  Because those faults are sometimes those most endearing qualities.

No need to over analyze everything.  Some things just don’t need a further explanation.

It’s going to be a great rest of the year, and a great time to try wines (which is anytime) is just around the corner.   I’m all for a roadblock or two here to put things back in perspective.

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The best is yet to come and the best is in the present…

Love,

Ideen

 

Captivating Is Right…

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That’s what Pine Ridge Vineyard describes their white blend of Chenin Blanc & Viognier.  Which happen to me to grapes I’ve grown to love (not that I ever thought otherwise) over the past few years, simply by varietals finding me.

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For me, Chenin Blanc & Viognier have always carried an aura about them that feels larger than life.  They’re just different than many of the whites that are readily available at your local wine shoppe.   These grapes primarily found in France can be made into stellar creations on its own, but to have them together is a risk.  But life is about taking risks.  And if it were too fail, then so be it?  That’s what life and experiences are all about. They’re not going to be winners and perfect all the time.

And then there’s the 2016 Blend from Pine Ridge that I wouldn’t say tastes like nothing I’ve had before, because I don’t know what that nothing or something is.  It’s just a great wine at an affordable price.  And that’s important.  What also is wonderful is a blend like this can succeed and stand out among all the wines that are available for purchase.  Yet I’ve seen this listed for anywhere from $11-$15, and that’s more than reasonable.

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The notes are listed on the page, but while I can pretend I could smell, detect, or taste peaches, pineapple, and citrus, none of that is the case.  What I did taste is a wonderful white wine that makes me feel good and appreciate that something so well could be crafted and provided to us at such an affordable price.

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No, it’s not the best wine I’ve ever had, because that’s not a fair thing to say.  What has happened it has added to my ever increasing love for white wines.   I would say appreciate but that sounds like I’m not really a fan, and a cop out.

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What I find charming is Pine Ridge has its own website devoted to this blend.  I like the touch and it shows how serious and passionate they are about this wine.

And the good news?  This is one you will likely find at a store near you.  If not, it’s also available for purchase online.

Which leads me to think, how good are there other wines, including the reds? Well if this is any indication, I have much to look forward too.  As we’re still in season and it’s warm and oh so summer out, the reds will wait.  The whites and rosé well… We shall see!

But get this wine, even if you don’t love it, at least it was something different, and it may lead to insightful and inspirational conversations, just like many wines can do.  Great wine, great food, and great conversation is what makes this life so great.

While the weather is still this kind, I hope to discuss more of the lighter and medium wines, because this life and time just keeps going.  It’s funny how cyclical things are, but that’s just what it is.  It’s great when a wine like this comes along to shake things up and breaks the cycle.  To write about something life this regularly might take away from that luster, so we’ll see where go to next…

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My hunch tells me more of the best and brightest.

Peace be with you.

Love,

Ideen

Drawing A Blank Here…

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Well, yes and no.  Yesterday was a bit goofy for me.  This past week or so has been a bit goofy for me.  I can attribute that to anything.   But in the beginning and the end, we have control over how he handle experiences and situations that are thrown at us.  Life throws us a lot of things.  We adapt, persevere, and we sometimes say everything is going to be ok.

I keep telling myself that, but I have to feel it too.  Where did the summer go?  I’m already seeing pumpkin stuff slowly showing up, and that worries me, to the point I forget about all the things I said in the first paragraph.

This is still summer, and I’m going to be talking about these kinds of spiritually healing and fulfilling wines for as long as it feels right and it feels right.  Yes, I know what I just said.

So as to not be overwhelmed, I shared this bottle with good friends and with good food.  That’s a recurring theme of this, and of life.

And to be able to sit outside while the weather is still in our favor is a testament to the good in this universe.

When I spotted this beautiful label of an owl at one of my favorite wine shoppes, The Wine Source, at the sale price of $8, it would be a catastrophe if I didn’t grab one, at least.

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The Verdejo wine from Sabeo out of Rueda, Spain looked amazing on the surface, which can lead to all kinds of mixed results. But I had a sense about this.  The golden crisp color of the wine evoked positive energy, without ever even opening the bottle.  And whatever you think of owls, you can’t help but think this is one of the more artistic and stand out labels you’re going to see.

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But as we all know, a label is not going to tell you anything about how the wine tastes.  That’s too idealistic and too much of a beginner way of thinking.  However, in many ways this journey of my love for wine will always make me feel like a beginner.

Thankfully, everything I said earlier is true.  This is a marvel, and for how little I paid for it, I felt like I was stealing.  Regular price goes for about $10, yet I would pay more for this.

This can be savored alone, with great company, and with great food.  All the generalities in life do apply, but mainly the positive ones.

If memory serves me correctly, this is the first time I’ve ever had this grape.  I’m so happy this is how it begins for me, and I feel spoiled and blessed in many ways. There’s flavors of lemon, lime, and maybe a hint of melon in this wine that could make many non-wine drinkers even a fan.  It just has that aura yet welcoming feel about it.  It’s approachable, endearing, and it’s a heck of a wine.

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Versatility is important in life, and definitely helps with pairing wine and food.  This wine has it all.  It complemented this amazing meal of chicken & vegetable kabobs cooked over the grill, along with homemade Tzatziki that it brought back memories of childhood, family, and happiness that transcend any headaches and complaints I referenced earlier.

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And a larger-than-life firepit always helps….

These are memories that will be ongoing, as new ones are created and nostalgia sets in immediately.  Living in the moment yet appreciating everything that’s going on makes anything, including a wonderful dinner, that much more of a notable place and time.

I’ve spent many dinners with my friends (and written about many, not all…) and I’m so grateful that the stories keep growing, evolving, yet the constant of joy, happiness, and harmony remain.

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Sometimes drawing then filling in the blanks is just fine..

To many more.

Salud.

Ideen