I Like Chance Meetings…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But for now, Happy Early Thanksgiving and…

Take good care…

Love,

Ideen

One Of The Better Pairings…

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A great wine paired with a great dinner is something that never gets old.  As a matter of fact it can always feel new, can feel fresh, and can feel inspired if you well, feel it.

Easy said and easy done…

It doesn’t get more authentic than a great pasta dish paired with a great Italian wine.  An added  bonus is when the wine is affordable yet so great for the price, that you almost might feel guilty.  Don’t.  It’s good to find the best deals in anything without having to look too hard.

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The 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Masciarelli is one of those wines that you’re going to find in a lot of places, and hopefully you’ve had the good fortune of trying it.  Sadly for me, it’s one of those wines (like many others) that I always see and unintentionally would take for granted.  It’s not deliberate.  There’s just so many great wines to try that while we have all the time in the world, it’s important to make the most of it.  And that goes for everything.

You’re going to taste your berries, cherries, and various spices but for a wine like this, like many others, that’s just one part of the story.  What’s most important is this a wine you’re going to enjoy?  Both things, among others, are connected.  I can safely say the answer yes.  Yes this is a wine that’s accessible, approachable, and affordable.  Those are some great things that start with the letter ‘a’.

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It’s also your typical wine you’ll find served at Italian restaurants, which in turn means great Italian meals and dinners, and could easily be served at an all around amazing feast near you.  I can imagine that it’s being served at a dinner near you, near me, and all around the world, as I write this, and as you read this.  It’s that versatile and that awesome of a wine.  There’s another ‘a” for you!

As it gets colder, the medium and fuller bodied wines are going to take shape.  Thankfully this is right in the middle of what could also feel like a light wine, depending on the meal, your mood, and the season.   Those are the fun details that can make a good wine into a great wine, and a good meal into an exceptional one.  This is so fun.

I mentioned affordable.  I’ve seen this wine sold for anywhere from $9-$12, and that’s a steal.   This tastes like a $15+ wine to me.  It may be for the aura it carries, the aura I sense, or just my gut reaction to it.  Your gut will always be your guide and never steer you wrong.

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What a great pairing of wine and food this was.  My meal was just as beautiful as it looks.  This was comfort at it’s most comfortable and beautiful.

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As we head towards the holidays, these are the kind of meals you’re going to encounter more if you haven’t already.  These are the wines that go with them, and hopefully you surround yourself with the best company as well.

I’m grateful to have shared this with a friend, and look forward to many more exciting times to come, before, during, and after the holidays.  It’s still early November, so one glass, and one meal at a time…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Love It If We…

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

So I got around to it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love all those good things.

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

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

An Exceptional Occasion

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This past Saturday was one of those great events that makes me pinch myself, and I thank all my lucky stars, the constellations, and all the other great stuff in the universe.

Sometimes life is good to you, and you meet some exceptional people that introduce you to other folks that are amazing.  And if you’re a good person, you end up being surrounded by good people, and in turn you will attract more wonderful people into your life.

This past Saturday was a night I look forward to each day of the year, and I mark it on my calendar and make arrangements quite early for the CASAblanca Gala presented by the briliant folks of Anne Arundel County, CASA.

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It’s become more than a night.  It’s become a weekend to celebrate what’s good about this organization, what’s good about the Annapolis area, and a great weekend celebrating with family and friends.  And I’m honored to call people close to the organization, family.

My dear friend Rebecca is the Executive Director (and acted as Conductor, more on this shortly…) who works tirelessly to put together not just this event, but so many others I’ve been honored to be a part of.

Yes this is a wine blog, and I will incorporate wine into this.

Before the event begun itself, I met up earlier in the afternoon with friends who were staying at the Westin Hotel, where the event was being held, and a pre event beverage seemed appropriate, and also has become tradition.  I love a good tradition.

I bought a bottle, not necessarily with the intent that I was going to write about it,  but just one to share.  And as I noticed the label, I thought how perfect.  The wine is the 2012 Conductor from The Whitman Express.

We enjoyed our wine with some cheese, crackers, and all the essentials that my pals were so generous and thoughtful enough to bring.  So bringing a bottle is the least I could do.

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There’s a lot going on with this red blend.  And it wouldn’t be right to list them all (Merlot, Zinfandel, Barbera among others), because at the time, my friends and I were just enjoying the moment for what it us.  We were drinking a red table wine in a hotel room, sharing an experience that we only do ever so often.

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That in itself made this wine that much better.  The anticipation and the buildup of the amazing night that was to come.  Yes I’ve done it three times now, so I kind of know what to expect, but the joy in hanging out with good people for a beautiful cause, and hanging out in a divine location, will always be something to look forward to and something I’m so honored to be a part of.   I can’t ever show enough appreciation.

And speaking of thoughtful, this organization is loaded with some of the kindest and most thoughtful people imaginable.

Funny that I grab a wine called the Conductor.

The event itself was a symphony of love, happiness, hope, healing, and all the other good stuff in the world.

I prefer to let your mind visualize all the good stories, speeches, and stories of joy that were shared throughout this night.  Yes there was plenty of amazing food, drinks and enjoying time with friends, old and new.  And in this instance I consider several of the folks involved and in attendance as family.

I mean what else need to be said?  Five hours goes by in a flash.  The whole weekend goes by in flash.   Thankfully I have memories through this blog, through pictures, and through the domino effect of making some amazing connections.  Yes some of these guys you only see once a year but that’s what makes this so beautiful.  You see them, then you don’t, they come back into your life, and you pick up right where you left off.

And then there’s others you start seeing more often because you share the same interests, the same support for an amazing cause, and are connected by some of the same amazing people.

A beautiful symphony indeed.

Here is a post related to CASA I made nearly a year ago.   And my preview of this exceptional event from last week.

For more on this wine, the site is user friendly to find all the information you need.

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But most importantly, for more on Anne Arundel County CASA, here is their About Us section, information on volunteering, other ways to get involved, and their donation page.

This is the event that gets me excited for the holidays and it’s placement in the first Saturday of November makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

See you at their next event, and of course I look forward to next year.

Happy Holidays and Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

…From This Exceptional Place

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There’s a full moon coming this Saturday (November 4th), and if you’re superstitious like me, you look for signs of the crazies leading up to the full moon.  Maybe the day before or the day before that bookend the day the moon is at its fullest each month is where you might things seem out of sorts.  And before I start pointing fingers, I also look at myself.  Have I been acting goofy?  Have I not been myself?   I can attribute it to the moon, the starts, the universe, and everything that’s beyond my control.

Some things are beyond our comprehension.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on who you talk to) we also just take things at face value, and not seeing that their might be something bigger than us.  This is how I go about drinking wine and writing about it.  This is also how I go about a lot of things.

This whole week and these past couple of months have seen majors changes in me, my life, my peers, but overall the life around me is evolving.  It’s a new normal which just becomes normal after a while.  It’s fight or flight, or go into hiding.

Well I’m not ready to go into hiding.  There’s plenty of great wine to be had and it’s November, the official start of holiday month, which actually lasts two months.  It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year and a great time to be alive.  The wine is going to hopefully match the sentiments of the time of year and the gathering that are to come.

But first, I need one for me and and only me.  And this goes for all of us, the best time to appreciate wine is any time and way you want.

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I received a most intriguing Christmas gift last year, in the form of the 2012 Carneros Pinot Noir from Valley Of The Moon Winery of the Sonoma Valley.

It was sitting in the most beautiful of decorative bags all these months just waiting to be opened.  Well it was worth the wait.  It had the look and feel of a bottle over $20.  And I don’t just mean the label.  I had a sense that this isn’t an everyday wine to just crack open for no good reason.

Well today I did just crack it open, and the reasons are whatever I want them to be.

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I absolutely adore this wine.  It has a presence and energy that just begs to be awesome.  And it’s so awesome.   I love a good Pinot Noir and this to me has more of a medium bodied feel than the lighter ones we’re used to.  The oak along with hints of fall make it feel a little bolder than what a Pinot Noir may traditionally be.

And a huge thanks to my pals for this most charming of wine glasses.

When I say hints of fall, it could be the fact that the temperatures continue to drop and the days are getting shorter.

Along with the full moon, daylight savings time ends this weekend.  That could be a double dose of chaos, or it could just be nothing.   But in researching their 2014 Pinot that is available for purcahse, the notes mention toasted oak and cinnamon sticks.  Yes, this is fall ladies and gentlemen!

The 2012 Notes mention aromas of cherry, honeysuckle, and currant.   Cherry is easy to recognize, along with cranberry but the the additions of ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla confirm everything.  This is the perfect wine for this time of year.  I’m enjoying my bottle slowly as I write this to you.  Yes I took plenty of time to appreciate this without photos and without writing,  and will do so upon completion.   It’s too good not to take your sweet time with.

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I want to thank another dear friend for providing me the yummy food that is featured with my vino.  The meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and cabbage is a hearty meal that pairs perfectly.  And this is a wine that can be had with just about anything.  It’s that versatile.

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This is why sometimes it pays to go outside of the $10 range of wines and splurge a little bit.  This is a gem and I’m so grateful to receive it as a gift and the timing to share it with everyone sounds about right.

Funny thing is I’ve never seen this wine in stores.  Since I received this gift I still have yet to see it in nearly a year.  I wonder with this celebration of my first Valley Of The Moon wine, will I start seeing it in wine shoppes somewhere along the way.

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I can only hope.

For more on Valley Of The Moon, here is their story, their list of wines, and options for purchase online.

Happy Full Moon and End Of Daylight Savings Time to you this weekend.  I guess that’s something to celebrate, I think.  But there’s no question this is a wine to be celebrated and appreciated.

I appreciate and celebrate this one so much.

Ideen