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

 

 

 

 

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