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

 

 

The First of Many…

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First of what you might ask?  Well it’s holiday party season, and depending on how you view such things, it’s either your favorite sets of weekends, with parties line up not just Friday-Sunday but all the stuff during the week; or you show up and cant wait to leave, or rather avoid it altogether.

I for one would get addicted (and in a way I still am) in going to as many parties as possible. It’s not the most logical or reasonable way to be, because are you ever truly ever enjoying yourself in one place versus the other?  You’re always thinking of what if, instead of being where you are.  This is a major problem for me, and I imagine some of you.   This just doesn’t apply to the holidays but all the days.

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Which brings me to this past Saturday.  A good friend invited me to her place before we went to the opening night of Miracle on 34th Street.  Yes, kind of like that 34th street!

And one of the many great things about this party is it was the only place I wanted to be, thought about to be, or intended to be.   And this is not something to be commended for.  Being where you are, and enjoying each moment singularly for what it is, is so magical, so beautiful, and is so uplifting that words will never do it justice.  It’s just awesome.

Wait where is this going?  Where is the wine, where is the talk of food and all that jazz?

Ok here goes…

As customary before any party, I’ve got to go to the nearby wine shoppe and grab a bottle. It’s the right thing to do to bring something to the table, no matter what it is.   And for my friend to be close enough to what’s still the measuring stick (in my humble opinion) of wine suppliers, The Wine Source, it was setting the stage for a charming and endearing night to come.

Just the way they have their wines set up makes me happy. It’s a welcoming experience with their wines, their cheeses, and everything else readily made available and accessible.

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Speaking of welcoming, one of the wines on display had the most friendly of faces on the label.  If you know me by now, I love what’s in the wine, but I love all the fun parts of vino, that includes a label that stirs up emotions and feelings of happiness.

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You know what else make happy?  A bottle on sale.  And the 2015 Trifula is a Red Blend that’s just as good as any to bring to this, or any fun party, with down-to-earth and welcoming people.   The wine lists anywhere from $10-$13 and that’s reasonable for what you’re getting.

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It’s a darker color if you notice from the photos.  That’s the first thing that stands out.  Well you might see I’m drinking out of a champagne flute.  Hey, wine glasses were at a premium, and why be a beggar or a chooser?  I’m grateful to be invited, that’s all that matters.

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But this wine has a lot going for it.  There’s the dark berries, the light to medium tannings and slight tastes of oak.  But this has a lot of structure to it.  And usually when you see wines with labels like this, let alone ones with comic strips on the back (I love it), might be seen as a red flag.  The fact I’m expounding on it shows I had questions myself.  Not for long.   This was fun and so was this party.

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I didn’t even get a chance to drink much of it myself as the the bottle was decimated in minutes.  That makes me feel good, not because I made the wine,  but because I brought it.  It’s just a nice feeling that you carved your niche into the evening.  What a great night and I have yet to talk about the food or anything else.

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The host got provided such comforting foods such as a couple of soups, meats, cheese, fruit, pastries, and these olives that to call them habit-forming would be an understatement.

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Most of all was the people.  It was a great gathering of old friends, and I made some new ones as well.   That shouldn’t just be reserved for holiday parties, but with as many interactions as possible.  It was a great night all around.

I don’t need to explain the lights on 34th Street.  If you’ve been you know how charming it is.  If you haven’t, you’ve got another month of this.  It’s one of those things to cross off your list.

That’s one of many lists to talk about this holiday season.  We got our Christmas lists with gifts, cards, parties, and all the other stuff that’ll keep us busy, but hopefully include a lot of fun this holiday.

For more on this wine, Touchstone Wines is the distributor.  And for more on The Wine Source, click here.

The season is off to a great start, and I look forward to where we go from here.  But for now, it’s time to savor the moment.  One includes a beautiful new display straight out of New Orleans!

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Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Happy Beaujolais Day!

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You know the week before Thanksgiving has become a thing.   And if you want to call it another excuse to party, another excuse to eat, drink, and participate in merriment, I’m all for it.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2017 officially kicked off this past Thursday.  To me, it’s the precursor to all that’s great about the holidays.  And this is meant as the highest compliment.  It could just be another marketing gimmick, or another way to make a dollar, but who really cares?  Any reason to get together with the people you love, to drink some simple and affordable wines, eat a whole bunch of yummy food, and just hang out is better than any reason not to.

And if there’s more, and as long as it’s not overkill, I’m all for more genuine celebrations as long as it’s in a healthy, safe, and heartwarming manner.

This event truly warms my heart.

I was talking with a close friend over the week about getting some of our favorite people together for this truly special day. And with a few schedule adjustments we were able to do this to perfection.

Speaking of schedules, 2017 was a strange year in France for as it had one of the smallest amounts of harvesting and production in quite some time.   In spite of all that, the hosts f the party and myself each brought a bottle to share and try with friends.

And they provided this spread for the ages.  I mean what else needs to be said?

Well we should talk about the wine, right?

First up is the hosts’ choice, the 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau from Bouchard Aîné & Fils.

This is what makes this event so fun.  It’s exactly what you would expect from a Beaujolais Nouveau,  It’s light on the nose and when you sip.  The grapes tastes as young as you would expect. There’s no thrills, no life changing feelings (well that all depends on the person drinking), and this isn’t likely to win any awards.  But it might just win you over.

There’s some cherries, hints of other fruits (all depends on your interpretation and imagination), and a little to no tannins. It’s exactly what you would expect.  It’s exactly what I expected.  And sometimes that’s all you want.   At the average price of $10-12, there’s no complaints.  It tastes like a bottle under $10.  I would say the couple extra dollars is an upcharge to join the celebration!   And people to love the label.

Next, was the bottle I brought.  The 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau from Joseph Drouhin, almost leans towards the medium side.  This is the opposite of our first bottle, and seems a little more serious and sophisticated.  It might take itself a little too seriously.  The violet color is the antithesis of our first bottle.  The berries, cherries, and other fruits taste a little darker and a little smokier.  I believe this was the favorite of the group.   There’s a little more structure to this.  If you didn’t tell me this was a nouveau, I wouldn’t know the difference.  This tastes more like a regular Beaujolais.

At $15 this borders on closer to bottle service or vip access to the party.

After all this analysis, none of this matters.  We went back-and-forth in sipping each bottle, that any insight and commentary was rendered meaningless.

What’s most important now, this time of year, and forever, is who you choose to spend these celebratory occasions with.   The small gatherings where you can discuss the wine, the food, and anything else that might be on your mind, or makes you feel good, is more important than discussing all the complexities and intricacies of these bottles, or anything.

Having a good time is of bigger importance than taking these things too seriously.   And I take what I say oh so seriously.  Haha.

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After a while, other wine was drank, the amazing food was continually noshed on, and the conversations went from light hearted to serious, and back to light hearted.  But it was all in good fun and out of love.   This is what life is really all about.  This applies to now, the holidays, and for the duration of our existence in this amazing thing called life.

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This was incredible.  I don’t know what else to say.  I’m grateful to be welcomed into a friend’s house where things are happy, beautiful, holiday like, and represents all the other good that’s in the world.  This is what makes this life so grande.  It’s the intimate gatherings with close friends and family that help us as grow as people, and as souls.

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This warmed my soul.

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These bottles are easy to find, and I would suggest drinking them before the year is over. It’s not meant to wait.  These grapes average six to eight weeks old, so the time is now. Here’s a list of other suggested Beaujolais Nouveau bottles to try.

Here are my posts on this beautiful occasion.

My blog is now three years old, and I’m honored to have this as my third anniversary post.  I wasn’t aware of this detail until this morning.  I felt an additional post for the week was essential to commemorate.  I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe in the awesome.

I think this is going to be a great holiday season.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Bless The Blue Marlin

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I’m going to admit a little something here.   I made a booboo.  I’m not sure if I just spelled the word ‘booboo’ correctly.   But I digress.  I  completely forgot the actual wine I was supposed to write about in this weeks post.  But as I’m realizing this, at least for this week, it doesn’t matter.

I also needed help with the photography for this post.  However it was done, but it doesn’t matter.  In the end it was done and I’m grateful for my friends and I’m grateful fo my experience at the Blue Marlin in Bradenton Beach, FL.

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This almost didn’t happen, because of my trip going at a frenetic place, but I’m so thankful it did.

My visit to the Gulf Coast of Florida only lasted five days but I got so much in that it felt like a lifetime.  The memories will surely last that long.  But it wasn’t the Blue Marlin itself that made this magical.

Good friends of mine have moved from the Baltimore area to many parts of Florida.  This was a first of several visits for me.  And while I’m sad my friends have left.  They’ve all moved on to something bigger, better, and the next adventure.  I’m more happy for them that they’ve found happiness.  It’s something we all deserve in this life, as much as possible.

The Blue Marlin was pure happiness.  But it was the outside bar that told the real story. For a few moments it felt like we were the only people in (or out) the bar.  And we were. But bigger than all of this, it also felt like we were the only people on Earth.  I honestly felt that for a few moments.  I may not have shared that with anyone at the time, but I just had this feeling of tranquility, peace, and harmony that should’t just happen on vacation, but as much as humanly possible.

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The charming bar outside is all we needed.  They had a perfectly simple list of cocktails, wines, and beer available at our disposal and within footsteps.  It’s a one-stop shop for everything.  And the live music set-up is about as picturesque as you’ll find.  The band was fantastic. Maybe it’s the serendipitous and unpredictability of how this day was going, but I felt so happy.  The environment is one where I’d like to think we’ve all been in from time to time, but maybe not enough.  At least for me, at least for this afternoon, I felt at home.

But just when you think I’ve seen it all, they had a just as equally stunning street food set-up, with just a few essential items.   However, for the sake of time I will focus on the sliders.   We tend to throw around greatest this and greatest that.   We might call certain meals, certain restaurants, and certain experiences life changing.  If we get to have so many of these then I’m all for it.  I like to be careful in what I apply ‘life changing’ to because if I say it so much, it loses it’s shine.  I think you know what I’m saying.

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This slider was life changing.  I’m just going to say it.  And my opinion is all my own, but I know I’m not alone.   Perhaps the perfection of this day made it taste that much better. Perhaps.   I think this was just art.   In terms of foodie culture and all that commotion, this is up there with the best burger I’ve ever eaten.   And I’m no expert on this.  But you or I don’t have to be.  This is world class cuisine.  I’m remembering now even more vividly how incredible this tasted.  You’ve got to be kidding me.   This was so great.

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Everything about this day was great.

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Once again I apologize for not discussing the wines.  We had Pinot Noit, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio.   Well I may not have had the Cab Sav, as it may have been too heavy for the season.  But nevertheless, everything was superb.  I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.

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For more on Blue Marlin, click here. Here is their menu, events list, and contact information.

I want to make one last thing clear.  All along had planned on writing this around mid September (I was here back in mid-June), and the timing could not be more appropriate.

I’m happy this beautiful area, nearby Anna Maria Island, and many other nearby places are overall still intact and will be opening for business soon.

More importantly, I’m grateful dear friends all across the coast are safe, secure, and will be able to get back to normal.   A great set of cities, towns, and resorts have been spared.

And I can’t wait to be back again…

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Take good care,

Ideen

More Bang For Your Buck

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I went back to see the last time I did a post exclusively to Vinho Verde.   How funny that is one year ago today (or tomorrow depending on where we are) that this happened.

I’m grateful that I did or I would be kicking myself for not supporting and promoting this fantastic wine, that should never be taken for granted.  In the context of summer wines this is one that may get lost in the shuffle to some.  But I will attempt to not let that happen again.

All you need to know about Vinho Verde is in this link right here, to see how easy it is to drink, understand, and appreciate in many different settings.

Since the wines are traditionally lower in alcohol content, that means they’re much easier to drink, more accessible to people who don’t love wine but are willing to try, and can be complemented with a plethora of meals, snacks, or with nothing at all.

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This most simple and peaceful of experiences takes me back to June, and a return to V-NO Wine Bar in the historic Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore.    Surprisingly to me, I’ve made only one post in regards to this beautiful space, and that can be found here.

That day I was with friends.  I’ve been here many times with friends.  On this visit, this was for me.

After taking a peaceful stroll around the beautiful rowhomes and remembering how much I need to appreciate these cobblestone streets, I made my way to V-NO on this most gorgeous of Saturday afternoons.

I think I got there as soon as it opened, so there was some level of enthusiasm on top of the spontaneity.

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I was welcomed by Jane, who I wish I had thanked sooner.  She could not have been more accommodating.   I told he about my blog, and she was happy to help.  I took a lot of pictures but also helped her out in setting a few things up, since they just opened. Reciprocation is one of the joys of life, and makes us who we are.

Where is all this going?  Well I wanted a wine, and in fact I got to try two.  But for this weeks post I will focus on the Vinho Verde from Broadbent Selections.

Under the most peculiar of circumstances I think I would enjoy this wine.  It’s so simple, so refreshing, and in many ways irresistible.   

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I was outside, alone, yet the entire world around me was moving along at the most endearing of paces.  There were walkers, joggers, bicyclists, folks on the nearby pirate cruise, and my favorite friends on four legs (leashed of course) were in abundance.

For a while I forgot where I was. It felt like a utopia. It was a good hour or so of just being.  Yes I did take a few pictures but then I put the phone away and just chose to be. That’s not the easiest thing to do in the world we live in, but I think I pulled it off without even trying.

This is what I think… As enjoyable and simplistic as this wine was, it resonates with me much deeper than I or anyone else can explain.  Yes it was a simple glass of wine but to me something else was going on here.  And that part is just for me eyes and ears.  I know you know what I’m talking about.  We’ve all been there.

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There’s something about this wine, and not that just that beautiful label that drew me in. And I’ve had this one several times before but not like this.  In the past it just was a wine I had and then I moved on and did something else.  This could have been any wine in this session but it was this one for a reason.  It tasted better than ever.

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Now I may have this again and it just goes back to being a good wine with fruits of summer and that clear color is nice to look at, and then that’s it.  But at least for this day, this hour, this place in time it will mean more than even I’ll ever know.

And this wine can be found just about anywhere.  I’ve seen at so many stores for under $10.  Just another reason to love this.

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Thanks to Jane for being so awesome, the universe for looking out for me, and to Broadbent for presenting to me on this most picturesque of days.

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More for on V-NO click here.

For more on Broadbent, here is their story, their massive list of wines, and their contact information.

We’ve still got a lot of Summer left and I hopefully have more wines to discuss that fit the season.

And Part 2 might be next week.

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Thanks so much.

Ideen

Celebrate We Will…

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There’s certain weeks and certain posts when writing  about wine is easy.  It’s so easy the words flow and minutes later I’m done.  And in other instances I hope I don’t start sounding like a reviewer giving critiques where and opinions that may not always come from the heart.  I’m willing to bet many of us have moments like this.  And I just don’t meant blog posts, articles, writings and reports we did in school and at work, but more so just everyday life.

I had something prepared for this week that after reading it, re-reading it, and editing it still didn’t sound like it came from a place of sincerity or something genuine.  It will have to wait.  If I sound like I’m taking myself and this too seriously, maybe.  But wine is something I care about, but in a spiritual sense, in a harmonious sense, and one where I want to find joy in sharing experiences with others, and sometimes myself.

What I’m going to write about this week is not meant to be a substitute or a filler.  This wine and this experience was going to be written about eventually.

I was going to wait until the Summer, but wait, and voila here we are.

To say I’m grateful to have good people in my life is an understatement.   But I’m still surprised when people get in touch with me to want to hang out.  If it sounds like I’m being hard on myself and self deprecating that’s not my intent.  It still just surprises me. Maybe I’m doing something right.

But people wanted to hang out, it was a gorgeous day, outside restaurants are doing outside seating and dining type of things, and people want to hang out.  Hanging out is fun!

Almost a month later this was one of the charming and cozy celebrations for my birthday.  And on a weekday, and on an impromptu set of circumstances I’m grateful my friends wanted to hang out.  Any good reason is a reason to celebrate.  And in many instances you need no reason at all.

So there were multiple wines had.  This group loves their wine.  I love my wine.  And I may get into a couple of others that were shared in future posts.  But for now,  I will hone in on one.

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The 2015 Pinot Grigio delle venezie from Lagaria was and is one of those perfect wines to celebrate the summer, life, and all that is good in the world.

And I recall this was on a Wednesday and our bottle was half-priced.  And for a bottle that retails around $10, and with the restaurant markup and then made half-priced, it was almost identical to the aforementioned $10.   That’s going to make any wine taste better.

But this wine didn’t need any bonuses, promos, or discounts to taste good.  It tastes good. It sips well. And it got better with time.

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The notes (which can also be found here) mention the straw yellow color and the floral aromas with apple, apricot, and fruit.  I would be lying if I said I could identify all that and it’s not always our jobs to do so, but it’s fun to speculate and guess on what we might be sipping.  It tastes like summer, and it was easier to go sip than the medium bodied wine that its described to be.  When it’s warmer medium to fuller bodied whites may feel lighter than usual.

The notes also mention this pairs well with fish and seafood.  I wholeheartedly agree. That just adds to the good vibrations of summer.  I believe we had some tasty eats with our vinos, but I was too busy enjoying myself that not a lot of pictures were taken. Sometimes less is more, and some memories are meant to be just memories.  But there will be a next time.

Temperatures, the atmosphere, and so many other factors affect how grapes are grown and cultivated, wine is produced, and all those other intangibles that we could talk about until the end of time.  The same applies to how we react to certain wines and the settings, temperatures, the food we eat, the mood we’re in, and the company we’re keeping at the time.   It’s all so simple and yet so exciting at once.

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However, with all the questions and guesses we may have, we just want to drink a good wine that’s affordable, approachable, and inviting.  This would be it.

And I’ve seen this gorgeous label in many a wine shoppe, so it can’t be too hard to find.

If this wine is not available LagariaPinotGrigio2at a store near you, maybe this link can help.

Here is more information on the distributor, Empson & Co.

Thanks to Lee’s Pints & Shell for all their hospitality for the evening.

 

Lastly, we all have great friends, great stories, and the great wines that pair well with those friends and stories.  I’m maybe a bit too sentimental for my own good, but it’s good to be acknowledged and appreciated.  It’s still always a pleasant surprise when it happens.   I’m grateful and I’m grateful that this wine will forever remind me of a great night.

Thank you so much.

Ideen