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

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

By The Glass

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I find Osteria Da Amedeo (menu, the wine list, and more about them) in the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore refreshing.  And not just refreshing in terms of beverages.

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My visits have been somewhat frequent, but I wouldn’t call myself a regular.  I’ve been here enough yet I never seem to know anyone and vice versa.  In a small city like this, that makes me happy.  It’s easy to just run into people in Baltimore.  Of course if you go anywhere long enough, you’re bound to make a friend.   You can never have enough good friends.  You can also never have enough alone time.  If there was something to be said for the latter, then you think one would stay home.  But how’s that fun?

Friends of mine who live here or go here only rave about it.   With the exception of one time going with a pal, its always just been me.   My preference to be out by myself has always been with me.  It’s a feeling of liberation, to have some semblance of control, and if I’m ready to leave after 5 minutes, or two hours, it feels great to have that choice.

A place like Osteria Da Amedeo lend itself to spending a little extra time, in what I can only describe was one of the more cozy bars and settings in all of the city.

This won’t be a review of the bottles, because I don’t remember them.  This may come off amateurish but on a day back in the late Summer, this was not the time or place to worry about that.   It was a weird day.  Yet someone else might say that was one of their favorite days ever. That’s what makes this all so fun.  We all can be in the same and different places and time, and think completely different thoughts and feel a contrast in emotions.

There were emotions and there was some situations.  I just felt like like saying that.  Yes situations can mean anything.

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My mood wanted a little bit of red and a little of the while.  I didn’t finish either.  I just wanted something different.   I forgot if I ordered a Sangiovese or Montepulciano.  Like I said, this is not one of those serious reviews or discussion of labels.  Not like many of them are, but I hope you sense what I’m saying and where this is going.

As I was saying, whatever my red was, I loved it.  I savored it, and I savored my surroundings.  I had my own company and today was enough.  I love their wine glasses.  You don’t see these served in this form everyday or everywhere.  Wait, maybe I had one of each and I don’t remember.   Oops.  There are those times where I feel drained and trans

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For the blanca, I went with the Gavi, which to my knowledge is the one and only time I can honestly say I’ve ever seen it, ordered it, or drank it.  This detail is significant, at least to me.   I love firsts and I love to feel a little part of history, even if just my own, and to anyone who reads this.

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Like any new wine, it either hits you right away and makes you feel something, is an acquired taste, or is just not your glass of wine.  I’m settling for somewhere in the middle. As dry as the synopsis reads, it was a little sweeter and fruitier to my liking.   I could blame it on the fact I had that red (which one I’ll never know) and maybe didn’t cleanse my palate enough, or it’s just not for me right now.  All that can change later.   That’s the beauty of wine, and of life.

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What matters is this was a good day.  It was a day of reflection, healing, peace,and hopefully rejuvenation.  This was two months ago and in many ways I feel more exhausted than that day.  Maybe it’s because of writing so late, or maybe so much has caught up with me, that this day was at least a temporary relief, or will resonate with me for reasons that have still yet been shown to me.

Maybe and hopefully I can give a more in depth versus introspective recap on the food and wine…

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For some just going out means going out, then calling it a day or night.  I might take things too seriously, but I see everything has potentially significant.  I may not even catch all the signs and symbols of the universe, or maybe I look or try too hard to find them.  Nevertheless, they’re there.

I was happy to be there….

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

…Is All That I’ve Ever Known

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What am I talking about here?   Wait what…

I know what I like and while it evolves, I still know what I like.  While palates change, tastes change, and life changes, your gut is still your guide.  And your gut will never let you down.  It didn’t let me down and I still went against it.  So you can imagine the results.

The first wine was already opened by my friends at a friendly neighborhood bar/restaurant and it was stellar.

The 2016 Black’s Station Yolo County Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Matchbook Wines is one of the lighter variations of this wine I’ve had in a while.  If I did a blind test I wouldn’t know most wines from the other.  Well maybe I would.  No, not everything, but enough.  After drinking enough wine you’re going to pick up some things.  It’s what makes this so fun.  It’s not something to force upon yourself or anyone else.   Am I talking about wine, or anything in general?  That’s up to you and me to decide.  But it’s all relative.

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This wine is great and at around $12, it’s worth it’s weight in so much.  It just felt like the right wine for a transition into the season.  It hurts me to say that but that’s where we are.  It just felt right and while I tasted some spices, and the berries, and maybe some other indescribable hidden gems.

Most of all, it tasted good.  And being in a place that felt safe, felt comfortable, yet a bit of an unknown enhanced that experience.  No food, no loud noises, no shouting over anyone to be heard was necessary.  It was where I was and where I was supposed to be that matter.   I wish I could’ve ended it like that.  And I still might try too…

Things went a little south here.  I wish I could say otherwise.  The Red Blend from Rhiannon just felt like it was there. It was a label I’ve had before, and while I wasn’t sure, the fact that I vaguely remember should have immediately given me a warning sign.

Just because something isn’t so memorable doesn’t mean it’s not great, profound, or heck even memorable.   Sometimes it goes deep into our subconscious for later discussion, or never again.

Well I wouldn’t want to say never again.  I’m not sure what else there is to say.  I think I recall purchasing this bottle for under $10 so I can’t complain there.  And having these bottles at half price on a weekday night is something to be grateful for.   The glass is more than half full on this one.  There just wasn’t much that stood out about the wine.  Like I’ve said before, if a wine is terrible, or if anything is terrible, there might more to talk about.  This makes me sad to say but this is as mediocre as it gets.

I’ll keep the focus on and end with the Black’s Station Cabernet, as it was beautiful.  I’ve never seen it in stores, and now that I’ve discovered I hope to.  I hope you can find it too!  For it’s a treasure alright.  While there’s plenty of amazing wines and even the best ones are never found out, or get lost in the shuffle, this is one worth going after.

That’s all I know…. For now…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

See You Next Time…

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Have I had an Albariño (Alvarinho) I didn’t like?   I can’t say for sure, as my experience is minimal, and I’ve only written about it once before.

However, I’ve been in a mood.  I’ve been in many moods.  But all moods point to wine.  That sounded worse than I intended it to be.  I wasn’t in the mood to drink copious amounts, no no.  The weather is our friend and that means new grapes, new varietals, and new everything is our friend.  New experiences are always our friend.  I’m grateful they’re a friend to me.

Familiar places are a friend as well.  And as some are just there to exist and be out of convenience,  V-NO (past stories can be found right here hooray!) has been a staple of Fells Point, a staple to wine lovers, and a staple to people who enjoy celebrating life.  Sitting outside when the weather is cooperative doesn’t hurt either.

Me and a pal decided to stop in recently and randomly, and those always make the best stories.

And I was in the mood for Albariño…

What makes this wine great is it can be light or full bodied, and have characteristics of fruits of the season (pear, pineapple, apricot among others come to mind), high acidity content, and has an aura and energy that maybe you can’t put into words.

You can tell it comes from somewhere far away.  And I might once again mean something bigger than us, but Spain will do.  Spanish wines have always won me over, red or white, and the one I’m going to talk about is no exception.

The 2017 Bodegas Aquitania Bernon Albarino is fantastic.  And what makes it that is it feels unpretentious, welcoming, and just a great wine and a great price ($11-$13), but until today I haven’t seen it or noticed anywhere.   Maybe I wasn’t supposed to.

There isn’t much else to say, except the outside was packed, which is a great thing to see.  When we see local business  thriving and people enjoying themselves with whatever their supporting, sipping, or enjoying it’s a wonderful thing to see.

No matter what your preference, a wine like this can be enjoyed inside, outside, with all types of food, and all types of company that will make you feel good and raise your spirits.

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We got a couple of small plates that just added to the authenticity of everything.  The almond and cashews topped with all these incredible seasonings (thyme, sage, rosemary, and a dash of a maple syrup), and the Mediterranean plate of grape leaves (which was the highlight for me), hummus, pita bread,and olives made this not only satisfying but never full.  But still satisfying.

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This was not the day to get full, fat, and happy.  The goal was to eat light, sip light (one glass was all I needed), and to appreciate the day and my surroundings.  That isn’t a stated or explained goal everyday, but my intent is to have that stay with me as long as I can, for as long as I can.

Impromptu is always the best to me, and I enjoyed myself.   V-NO is a place where you will enjoy yourself too.  If you’re in the area or are visiting, I give you my highest recommendation.

Good wines, good times, and good food is what you’ll find here.  Their wine list for purchase (which you can drink right here or purchase to go) is exceptional and there’s something for everybody to enjoy.

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I hope you enjoyed…

See you next time…

Love,

Ideen

Rosé In The…

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You can fill in the blank here.  There’s all kinds of shirts, slogans, gimmicks, and what have you to sell you on something that doesn’t need much selling.   People like their Rosé, and while it’s becoming more of a thing to do and sip, it’s funny how people are jumping on this bandwagon.   Maybe I’ve missed the boat and this has been going on for longer than I remember?

For many of us, we just want to enjoy our wine, and not worry about all the analysis that sometimes comes with it.  Many of my friends who like to drink Rosé just want the wine to taste good, and have it a part of their outdoor celebrations, whether at a bar, restaurant, a party, or in solitude.

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I wish I could recommend the Les Pierres AOC Languedoc Rosé from Domaine de Nizas (Grapes : 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache noir, 20% Mourvèdre), but it just didn’t win me or my friends over.

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Here’s more about them, their contact info, and where to find their wines near YOU.

Old Bridge Cellars is the North American distributor, and can hopefully be of assistance.

However, as I referred to, it depends on t he setting.  We were at a restaurant but something just felt off from the get go.  And a lot of these vibes and energies are based on how we’re feeling and what we attract.   It’s quite possible that in different circumstances this bottle may taste a lot better.

But I have to go with my first impression.  It was rough to drink and that’s not what you want from a Rosé.  It shouldn’t be difficult, this should be fun.

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I’m not going to throw the restaurant we were at under the bus.  This isn’t the point of that.  I will say our service was lackluster, and our cheese plate was missing something.  As you will see from one picture to another, we had to ask, and wait, and ask again for a little extra, which should’ve been part of our array anyways.

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I can’t blame a wine for missing the mark on all the other factors, but sometimes when it rains…

The sun was shining and shining as bright as you’re every going to see, so I’ll really just chalk this up to an experience.   I’ve had so many a glass and bottle of Rosé (In The USA, ha…) where it went down like water, like juice, and like it was the easiest thing to drink in the world.

None of this happened here.  I shared this with fellow wine lovers who all agreed something was wrong.   Drinking this felt like work and felt like a chore.   Good wine and good times can’t be forced.

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With all that being said, I would give this wine another go and would gladly try another one of their wines if given the opportunity.

For a price range of $12-$15, it’s not going to break the bank nor break your heart.  It didn’t break ours, but it left us with more questions and head scratching than anything else.   I’m all for giving wines another go, as first impressions can change as does our palates.   And just because I didn’t love it, doesn’t mean you won’t.

We’ve got plenty of summer, plenty of the year, and plenty more of life and wine to celebrate and talk about.  But for now…

Peace Be With You…

Love,

Ideen

The Golden Elite

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This is not the kind of completion of a trilogy I envisioned.   But after the past two stories (here and then here) from the same night, why not have a third bottle.  And we had at least three.  Some may never be written about.  I don’t remember.  And not so much because of the wine consumption.  It’s because right now I don’t remember.  Maybe I do, and maybe I’ll tap into that subconscious later.

This was once again a Christmas gift that I decided to share with the folks who presented it to me in the first place!   How perfect!  And 2015 Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon from Canoe Ridge Vineyard (here is their wine list, more about their winery, and online purchasing information) is perfect in so many ways.

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I wrote about a similar experience and similar gift from this incredible winery over a year ago, and you can read that here.

This has black currant or red currant, or both, depending on who’s talking and who’s reviewing.  But currant to me is one of those additions to a wine that can make a wine, make a great wine better, or just put it over the top.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled but I can’t recall the last time I had a bad wine with currant playing a principle part.  It makes a wine smokier, gives it such structure, character, depth, and charm that I can’t fully put into words.  It just has a taste that feels and heals so familiar.

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I love tea and currant in (black) tea are sometimes synonymous with one another.  But I think the familiarity comes from someone else.  It comes from family.  It comes from growing up, it comes from childhood, and it just comes from somewhere safe.  I know where it comes from.  Exchange currant for anything else, and you may have a feeling that’s similar.

That smokiness also comes from the flavors of plum, and maybe berries in the background.  Maybe just plum though.  And the lingering finish just stays with you. This wine just stays with you.  I feel like this wine was meant to find me.  And I feel the only way I should be drinking this is via a present or gift from beyond.

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This is is a night that I’ll never forget.  It’s been over a month and I’m grateful some dear friends were there for me in the most vulnerable position one can be in.

I had the company of amazing people, amazing animal friends (3 Labrador Retrievers that I love so much), and the most incredible weather I can remember.

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The wine is a bonus, it could’ve been the worst vino on earth and I’d find a way to find something good about it.  But I don’t need to.  This is my kind of wine and one of my favorite wines.  I loved everything about it.  I loved everything about this evening.  I don’t know what else there is to say.

I look forward to the next time I get together with my friends, under more joyous and celebratory circumstances, but in a way this was a celebration.  It’s a celebration of life, of happiness, that life is short, and that life is meant to be enjoyed.

I’m grateful to have such wonderful and kind people in my life, and I feel validated that myself and my family has done something right..  I feel touched and blessed by everything.

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I’m grateful.

Love,

Ideen