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

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

 

 

One Big Holiday

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This is the conclusion from this post back in August.

No, I don’t have anything dramatic or final to say about this.  This isn’t the cinemas.  Well maybe as I get my stride a few hundred or so words in, this will feel natural.  I also made a post back around Christmas 2015.

But back in the late spring/early Summer, I treated myself to a couple of glasses of wine from the fine people at V-No Wine Bar in Fells Point, and after explaining myself, and what it is that I do (What do we do exactly? Hmmm.. that ongoing tennis match in your head…), Jane gave me a couple of glasses to sample, and the rest is up to my interpretation.

I waited this long to write about part two now, because again, the timing of these stories have to feel natural, and have to feel right.  What feels right to you, to me, and everyone else is all relative.  But when you try so many wines, and are limited with a self-imposed once a week schedule (I do deviate of course), it can lead to certain stories never seeing the light of day, expiring through no fault of their own, or (in this case) an inspired thought has led me to today.

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The Laguna Chardonnay (roughly around $15-20 at most retailers, including Total Wine) is not one of those wines that you should let fall by the wayside.  What I sensed happened is, it was a beautiful day yesterday, the sun came out, no jackets were required, and I felt revived.

And this wine I had meant to put off, came back to the forefront of my mind.  The setting was similar.  The sun was out, the air was crisp (just like this wine), and everything felt right with the world again.   It felt like an extended holiday, which this blog essentially is.  I’m having fun doing this.

But back to this Chardonnay, there’s so much to like and to love.  It tastes like summer.  Those are expert notes and analysis I’m presenting to you by the way, and free of charge, ha…

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It’s full in body and full in spirit.  There’s plenty of fruits and plenty of scents of flowers, even more fruits, and a bunch of good vibrations.   That’s the best I can give you right now.

My palate was cleansed, and at the time, so was my spirit, so it’s going to taste that much better versus being in a place of conflict and confusion, where biases and tastes may be altered unfairly.

I felt right with everything, I felt one with the universe and felt abundant.  This was a wine that I otherwise would not have tried anywhere else.  Well that’s no fair to say exactly.  The wine found me as I found the wine, and I was supposed to enjoy this here for the first time, in this picturesque setting.

However, as I write this, this wine has a familiar look and distinction about it.  I can’t put my finger on it, and if I did, I would be forcing the issue and there would be push back from the universe.

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So instead I appreciate the moment, which turned into an hour, for what it was.  I felt good, and after taking just a few pictures, I sat there and admired everything that was around me.  The Fells Point neighborhood is great, and with the weather being what it was (and will soon be again), with folks going by on foot, on bike, and on boat, there was plenty of room for people watching, admiration, and a sense of joy that we all yearn for on a daily basis.

Let’s do it again sometime.

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For more on V-No, click here.

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

Christmas Is All…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or with nothing at all.

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

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

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

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Having a dog to hang out with never hurts either.

I look forward to the next time.

Ideen

 

 

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.

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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