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

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday To Ya!

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I’ve had Gnarly Head wines a few times in my lifetime.  I’m willing to bed that if you’re reading this, many of you have as well.

And if you’ve had their wines, you realize how affordable they are.  Which mean an accessibility and affordability that is always welcome and should be never taken for granted.  And speaking of never taking things for granted…

I was honored to be invited to a fantastic gathering this past weekend for a dear friends birthday.  The crowd was intimate, the food was spectacular, the booze was plentiful, and the weather could not have been better.

As much as I love summer, I’m getting more of an appreciation for fall.  In the summer, people leave town and then they leave town.   So there’s that disconnect.  Plans can be unpredictable but then can be predictable just like that.  I don’t think there’s a right or wrong with either.  I like a good vacation myself.

But this is the time of year, and days and weekends of the year where there’s so much to look forward to.  It’s a great time for festivals, birthdays, concerts, events, and still plenty of time to be outdoors and spend time with great friends.

With great friends means great party hosts.

And in tradition, you know not to come empty handed right?

I’m surprised I haven’t written about Gnarly Head until now.  At under $10, there’s no reason not to give these wines a shot.

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When me and the most stopped to pick up some beverages and handle some other errands, the Gnarly Head display at one of the local wine shoppes was spooky but also welcoming all the same.  And at $9 here, you can’t go wrong.

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I went with the Harvest Red for no reason in particular.  Well the red label deemed approachable, and the red blends tend to make everyone happy.  A bunch of grapes in one almost makes you think you’re drinking a few wines in one.  And in many instances that is a recipe for success.

And a success is what this was.  The blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Barbera is about as smooth and likable as you’re going to find.   This was an easy wine to drink, free of complexities and complications.  The mix of berries, spice, and other fruits on the nose and after you sip gives me those warm and fuzzies, that fit perfectly with the month of October and all kinds of comforting foods.

And speaking of that.  The food spread was as incredible as you’re ever going to see.  I don’t need to reel off everything that you see here.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking throughout this post.

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I will mention that one of the huge stands outs was bacon wrapped potatoes.  Yes, you usually would think scallops.  But in this instance the bacon and baby potatoes complemented each other in a way that only you will have to taste and see to believe.  It was beautiful.

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As was this eggplant.  I mean everything was amazing.   I need to trust myself with my cooking to present something to a party like this, but there was enough outstanding food that there’s always next time.

You can imagine, that the food never had a chance.  How can you not just appreciate the work, soul, and craftsmanship put into such deliciousness.   I’ve said it before, its sometimes too beautiful to eat, but also way too pretty to go to waste.

I’m certain that none of this went to waste.

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My wine never had a chance either.  I was lucky to have a cup-and-a-half, and that’s just fine.  There was plenty of adult beverages to go around.  And that’s the point of these parties, to share, to care, to spread love, and too appreciate all the great people around you.

I appreciate the fact that I was a part of something so beautiful, something so joyful, and something so peaceful.   What’s not to love?

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It’s only October, and I can only hope that I get to be a part of more parties such as this one.  I’m eternally grateful.

To find Gnarly Head Wines near you, this link will show you the way.

Thank you so much.  Happy October, Happy Fall, Happy Everything!

And Happy Birthday to ya…

Ideen

My Original Rhone

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This is another one of those posts I didn’t necessarily plan or time to coincide with National Drink Wine Day, that occurred on February 18th, here in the states, because to me and many of us, that’s a daily ritual.

But nevertheless, this is the kind of wine that would only feel write to discuss.  It’s one that has thrown in sentimentality to me the past few years, for a multitude of reasons.

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I’ll first say that the Famille Perrin Reserve Côtes du Rhône Rouge from Château de Beaucastel Winery in the southern part of the Rhone Valley of France.  (Like I know where that is.)

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is likely the first Red Blend or Rhone from France that I ever had the opportunity of trying.  I say this with the understanding and possibility that I’ve had others before, but I was oblivious to the region, to the type of grapes, and to the significance of how wine is created.  So I would like to say this was my first and I truly hope it is.

It’s also the first that really made me appreciate why I love wine, and why I love sharing my wine with others.  And that feeling is reciprocal.  This was also a bottle that dear friends, and I may even consider them family, introduced to me.

The location does not matter.  It’s that old cliche of not where you are but who you’re with that truly matters.  In this instance that is exactly right.

I was introduced to this by a couple of close friends that have ties to the region, whether it’s their native land and can speak the language, have a sentiment for the wine itself, or something bigger than any of that.  There’s always layers to this thing which you may not see on the surface.

Speaking of layers, this is a wine when I first tried was a breath of fresh air.  It was just different than I was accustomed too.  It seemed ripe full of tannins, loaded with strawberries and other fine fruits, and had a rouge (as the name suggests) color that did have a different tint than what I’m accustomed too.  Now this might all be more than I’m making it out to be.  But there was just something about it.

And the place where I first shared it at was ironic.  It was more of a pub atmosphere than a wine bar.  I’ll tell you at the time and looking back on it, this couldn’t be more perfect.  In a sea of cold beer and mixed drinks, this was the savior to all that.  None of that was the intent.  But for me this has significant value I will always look back on fondly.

Yes the people I shared this bottle with also made this experience all the more grande.  Not just anyone would be a part of this.  So there were those few folks who shared the same affinity and joy for this wine, like I did, and likely much more.

What’s important to know is I still keep in touch with these pals.  Sometimes I still get to see them.  That makes this part of my past even more meaningful.  It’s more than just bar friends, these are dear friends, and you might even call them family.  If I had lost touch or think I’d never see them again, than I would still feel some sense of nostalgia, but it would be different.  Make sense?

The fun part of all this is we didn’t just share a glass. We usually got a bottle or two.  And I would say the vintages ran from 2009-2011.  Yes we did this for a while and on numerous occasions, for a stretch run of at least a year, maybe two, and maybe more?   There’s joy in that.  It wasn’t a one and done.  Nurtured and growing bonds come from this.  It could be wine, or it could be anything that does the trick.   But wine can really form deep and spiritual connections if you scratch the surface, even just a little.   Or for some it’s just give me a class and let’s move on.  I would prefer the former. 🙂

People move on, they get busy, some get busier, and some just grow a part.  Even though I had mentioned I still consider these people great friends, I don’t see them as much.  I don’t see them enough.  And whenever I come across a Perrin Wine, I still get a bit emotional and look back on this time fondly.   It was nothing out of the ordinary.  It was just good friends drinking good wine.

There’s old memories and then there’s new memories.  Not all memories are  created equal but relatively they can all be awesome.

I was at a local wine shoppe recently, on my way to a fun event that a dear friend told me about.   And for me, bringing a bottle is just a part of this thing.  It’s me on auto-pilot and knowing to never come empty-handed to an event.  Little did I know the significance of this one.

I purchased the 2014 version, simply because I saw it was one of the more affordable options on the shelf.  And when I mean affordable, I mean under $10.  And I’ve seen it was low as $7, and not just on sale days.   I didn’t realize what I had bought until I showed up at what I hope becomes a new tradition, Club 603.

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If it wasn’t for someone who I now consider family, I would have likely never been here. Maybe the universe would lead me here in a different direction.  But I don’t think so.

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This event represents what it’s like to be around good people, good friends, and what feels like a family atmosphere.

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It’s a monthly (or sometimes more or less) concert event held in someone’s living room, in a gorgeous house, in a gorgeous part of Baltimore.   And what’s all the more gorgeous is everyone is bringing something to the party.

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As you can see there’s nothing but food, food, and more food.

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There will be no pictures of music or musicians.  That’s up to your imagination, or if you’re in the area, a reason for you to visit.

Oh there’s plenty of alcohol too.  I brought my wine and only got to have a glass.  That’s the sign that what I brought to the table was liked by one person.  Even though I didn’t ake the wine, it still feels good.  The same thing happened the month prior.  I literally had half a glass. That makes me feel good.  It’s the little things that are the big things.

And I say month prior because I’m so fortunate to have been at a few of these events, and feel all the more welcome each time.   And now new memories are being created, and yes that good old Perrin is now attached to a new experience.

If there’s one negative, it’s either the vintage has changed, my palate has changed, or it’s just my tastes have evolved.  I would say it’s possibly all and much more than that.   The wine till had that Red Blend (Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah) I’ve come to love, but the sweetness was not there like before. It could be a number of reasons, time and place, temperature, the vintage has evolved, or maybe I’ve evolved.

I’ve had many blend since that have wowed and me disappointed me.  This is one that will have a historic and profound significance to me for a long to come.

If you go to your local wine shoppe there’s a chance that you will find this bottle.  It’s one of the most standard and massed produced wine you’re going to find.  And that’s meant as a positive. It’s accessible, affordable, drinkable, and an everyday wine for every occasion.

The whole point of the wine experience, is to learn something about wine, but most importantly learn more about yourself, and to feel good.  There’s a lot of generalities but the intent is positive.  Wine has created some amazing memories.  Life is about creating good memories to look back on when times are great, or sometimes not-so-stellar.

For my one previous post on the the Famille Perrin Wines, go here.

For more on Club 603, click here.

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I don’t know the next time I’ll be at this said event.  But when I do I will bring another bottle (or two), and maybe do another post to pay tribute to the wines I love and more importantly, the great people I’ll share it with.

Thankful and grateful,

Ideen