Reunion

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, I got together with a couple of dear friends that have added so much delight and inspiration to the this blog.  A relocation and a few life changes for all of us have separated us for the time being.   Just recently we got back together for a reunion, and I’m so grateful it was before and not after the frenetic pace of the holidays.

Well, it’s already headed in that direction anyways.  People’s schedules are already starting to fill up, calendar space is starting to come at a premium, and all the while we still need to take care of ourselves, in our daily lives, yet help whenever we can.

After a later start than usual, per elements of the universe factoring in, I brought a Malbec as requested, and I went with another audible.  I went with a wine I’ve never seen or noticed before.  It wasn’t so much the label or anything.  And the label is alright too.. Well it did have the word ‘Club’ in it, so maybe I was paying homage to our dinner club I’ so thankful to be a part of.

The 2016 Asado Club Malbec is a simple and approachable kind of wine, that is not going to take the world over, but it was an enjoyable wine that once again, didn’t have a chance.   I just love saying that.

This is exactly the medium to full bodied wine you would expect from a Malbec.   It’s got the dark berries and tasted more earthy to me than I would have expected.  But that’s it for the expert analysis.  It’s a wine that seems elusive and aloof, for the fact I’ve never seen it before.  I will give credit where it’s due in that regard.

Maybe it’s a wine that’s meant to be hidden in plain sight, and not found out right away.  For that, I had to look hard to find a link to where you might be able to find this wine near you.  At an average price of $10, it’s not going to hurt your bank account, or hurt anyone’s feelings.  It’s a good wine that does it’s job.

I think my peers liked it more than I did.  And I’m easy to please.

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But what was even more pleasing was the meal my friends prepared.   Seasoned and sauteed chicken, an incredible salad with sunflower seeds that really put it over the top, and squash slices with pomegranate seeds.   And these guys have had some lavish meals in the past, with always awesome groups of people, which means plenty of wine and other libations have been brought, shared, and I will say decimated! Woohoo!

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But this simple meal was just what everyone needed.   I could have pieces of the squash till the end of time, and that salad is on my mind as I write this during breakfast.   The chicken was great, but if even if you subtract that, it’s a vegetarian’s dream meal.  This was yummy!

And in a way the wine paired with this perfectly.

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Things are going to get crazy, whether or not we choose to allow it or see it. Some of us are better equipped (not sure about me) of handling the excitement, the stress, the errands, the impending shopping, the parties, and all of that other commotion.  Yes, lots of commotion!

But many situations and events are also about peace and calm.  Last night was exactly about that, peace and calm.  Oh and plenty of wine drinking…

This was not the only bottle we had, so you can see we were enjoying ourselves, responsibly of course, knowing that we had some beautiful moments, and while the next month is going to be crazy, we will always be thankful for the quiet times, the crazy times, and all of the times.

I wish you and yours a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.

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

 

 

 

 

Thankful Thursdays

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I love Thanksgiving.  I can easily say it’s one of my favorite holidays.   However, every year has a different feel for you, for me, and for everyone.  One persons joyful celebration may be a time for reflection and realization for some.   For me, this year, I find myself doing both.

I’m big on tradition.  And I’m grateful to have so many good people in my universe.  And sometimes I don’t realize it or fully appreciate it.  At other times, there’s a mood that hits me.  It goes all over the place.  I want to see everyone in my family that I can.  I want to pay visit and respect to all my dear friends, not just during the latter stages of the year, but the other ten months to.  I do but I know it’s never enough.  That’s the holidays.

We’re so busy and find ourselves playing catch up.  But catch up from what?  A lot of our business is our own doing.   Yet, at other times, things can’t be helped.

Do any of us have an answer on how to handle life and the holidays?  I think the secret lies within all of us, and while the answers are different, they’re also all so relative.

This year, tradition took a different turn.  I have a wonderful family in Baltimore.  I have a wonderful set of relatives back where I grew up in Montgomery County.  And I pray I see them soon.  In past years, I would see both.  This year, things have changed.  I was meant to stay in Charm City.   Despite the tennis match in my head, it was meant to be.

And what else is meant to be, is two more wines to honor Beaujolais nouveau.

Two more, because in case I run out, I always carry reserved me in my car (unopened of course).  And in case I have the honor of going to another party, I know not to come empty handed.  This applies to any party,  not just during the holidays, but throughout this ride.

The bottles were split over the appetizer and than full dinner portion of the party.  But due to the fact that Thanksgiving means stuffing ourselves till we can’t physically move, they did overlap a bit.  However, for the sanctity of the blog, I’ll make it look proper and wholesome.

The 2016 Domaine Manoir du Carra Beaujolais Nouveau is exactly along the lines of the sweet, fruity beaujolais nouveau you’ve come to expect.  All the berries and all the goodness make this a winner.  And I tasted something else on top of that.  There was an even more sweeter goodness in the underbelly of this bottle.  Maybe there were some summery fruits on top of cherries and raspberries.   Whether or not that’s the case, or I tricked my mind into thinking is for me to figure out.  You may draw your own interpretations.  But it paired well with all the amazing appetizers that were served.  My family and friends can cook.

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For the official dinner, I opened up the 2016 Domaine Descroix Beaujolais Nouveau 2016. This felt heavier than the previous bottle from tonight’s festivities.   The traditional Thanksgiving favorites were there, along with some other yummy foods.  And the wine and the meal clicked perfectly.  Having great people to share the experience with heightens all of this and then some.

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One synopsis mentions bubble gum on the nose.  What makes me laugh is I thought the aforementioned Domaine Manoir actually tasted like bubble gum.  And here we go. Certain wines have certain flavors, but our interpretations might be (and should be) all different.

And on the notion of interpretations, the holidays mean so many different things to all of us.

I don’t know where the time went.  I felt like I wrote about last years festivities a mere few months ago.  Events from last week felt like last year.  And that’s time for you.

All this is saying is we should appreciate the moments we have, with the people we care about, as much as humanly possible.  And for me (and maybe for you) there may never be enough of that.  Being kind to each other is what life is all about.  And this applies to our entire life, not just the holiday.  Before I sound too preachy, I’m saying this to myself along with saying this to you.  We all deserve to give love and get that love back.  It makes the world a difference.  Life is all about good wine, but more importantly it’s about good times too.   Not to say that wine, good times, good food, and good people are mutually exclusive, but I’m going to safely assume you know what I mean.

To my fellow wine lovers looking for these respective bottles, hopefully this link will help out.  And this one.

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For my friends in Baltimore, these wines, along with others, can be found at the Wine Source in the gorgeous Hampden neighborhood.  They have the most beautiful of displays for Beaujolais nouveau. And many of the bottles, including the two I purchased, can be found for under $10.00.  That’s a holiday celebration I can get used it.

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And I will revisit the Wine Source sooner rather than later.  They have always come through in the clutch when other wine shops fell short.  I’ve found some gems at their store.  I’ve also found it to have the most welcoming and approachable energy of just about any wine shoppe I’ve been to.  And this is not just during the holidays but throughout the year.

beaujolaisthanksgiving1So in the spirit of giving and celebrating, I hope you all had a happy and blessed Thanksgiving with good friends and good family.   We all deserve a little kindness during the holidays.   A great wine might do the trick, but a simple gesture as saying thanks does so much more.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ideen

 

 

I Love Thursdays

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As a kid, and now as an adult, I’ve always looked forward to Thanksgiving.  The fourth Thursday is one many of us mark on the calendar as a day of eating, celebrating with people you care about, drinking, eating, and more eating.

But in what has now become a preview of things to come, the third Thursday, Beaujolais Nouveau Day, has almost become the launching pad of the holiday season, at least here in the states.  And of course for others, the holidays started right after Halloween, if not before.   Nevertheless, I’m happy to have found two unique bottles versus last year, and thankfully two gatherings to bring them to.

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I love Friendsgiving, or Friends Thanksgiving.  I love how we all embrace each other a little more during this time of year.  There’s a natural energy and progression that hits us for a couple of months.  It’s the height of love.  I want to believe it permeates throughout the year.  Some would say it would talk away some of the shine and uniqueness of this time of year.   I would venture to say that being good to each other should be exclusive to the entire year.  And it can be.  With that being said…

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The 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau from Bouchard Aîné & Fils was my favorite of this season thus far. This was brought to a Friendsgiving this past Sunday. So yes, I cheated.  I broke the tradition of only having this on that faithful Third Thursday, but good wine is meant to be drank.  And it was still at the store, so it was meant to be bought, meant to be savored, and meant to be appreciated, all year round.  Ok that was a bit dramatic.

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But this wine had a sweetness about it.   I should have figured out that besides blackberry and cherry, which is synonymous with these wines, was some white peach.  This made the wine alone.  The synopsis which is listed also mentions flavors or smoke.  You would think smoke would undermine the sweet and fruity principles that these wines bring forth.  This was not the case.

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I loved it and was happy that my friends enjoyed it too.  The bottle barely made it through dinner.  You know when you bring a bottle and no one drinks it, feelings may be hurt.  It’s happened to the best of us.  So I’m happy other people enjoyed it and are now fans.  I’m a huge fan.

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I was a huge fan of the feast.  Everyone made or brought some awesome foods.  Pictures are all over this writing, and I don’t need to explain everything on my plate.  Hopefully the pictures do them justice.  But everything was wonderful.  The hosts are great people who I consider close friends, it was nice to reconnect with friends I don’t always see, and I’m happy to have met some new ones.  This is the point of the holidays, and the point of this thing of course called life.

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Can you spot the green eggs and ham?  Haha.

So that was dinner.  And after dinner comes sweet tooth time.

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Bottle #2 is the Beaujolais Noveau from Joseph Drouhin tasted a bit more standard and more of the wines that are in line with this event.  That’s not to say it was bad.  The dark fruits, blackberries, and cherries made this wine a little more fuller than I expected.  I didn’t love it at first, but it was a grower.  A few of sips were better than others. And that could entirely be based on the pastries that were paired with.  The sweetness may shown itself when it otherwise wouldn’t.

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This was a smaller gathering with good friends.  I feel like such a grown up going to another party for dessert and vino.

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These wines are meant to be paired with heavy meats and cheeses.  But there are never any rules to this thing.  Well there might be one.  These wines are meant to be drank now. I have bottles from a couple of years ago that are probably lost causes.   They were meant to be brought to various holiday parties and events.  I won’t make that same mistake by letting them collect dust.

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We got a long season and that means these youthful wines are meant to be had immediately.  And most go for under $15.  And some under $10.  Those are my kind of price points.

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The holidays are about getting carried away, indulging yourself like there’s no tomorrow (or until the next party), and spending time with the people you care about the most.

I would strongly recommend the Bouchard Aîné & Fils, and I think many others will love the Joseph Drouhin.

As an aside, I did taste the Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, and it left so much to be desired. It’s the weakest I can recall in sometime.  I would say it lacked the fire and enthusiasm of previous years.

So you might be asking where you can find these bottles?  The respective websites are not the best of help in that regard. All I know is that in Baltimore, you can find them at the fine folks of Canton Crossing Wine & Spirits.  I’ve always had a great experience there. Online sites may list this at various prices.  If I can track down where else they can be found, I will update this list.

Here is my Beaujolais Nouveau post from one year ago.

Happy Third Thursday to you and Happy Thanksgiving Eve!   And if you read this after that, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, and Happy Wine Drinking!

I Love Beaujolais Nouveau!

Best to you and yours,

Ideen

Thanksgiving Through and Through

 

It’s not too early to talk about Thanksgiving, especially when we’re a mere two weeks away from one of my favorite holidays, if not my favorite altogether.

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As I referenced weeks ago, if timing and the universe worked out, I would revisiting some of my favorite stations from the Maryland Wine Festival.  And I’m honored to present my favorite to you today, Thanksgiving Farm.

Why I had never heard of them until now is just one of those things.  But that’s the joy of this journey. The wine experience will go on till eternity.  Just when you think you’ve started to narrow down the choices in your area, let alone globally, more just tend to sneak up on you.

The micro of this came into play at the festival.  I’ve been to a decent amount of these wineries or, at the very least, sampled their vintages somewhere.  This was my inaugural tasting of their wines, and what a remarkable experience this was.

This years festival was done mostly by myself.  After doing a few loops and walking around in repetitive circular motion can get rather boring quickly, that the tasting experience can be rendered meaningless.  If you’re not in the best mood than the wines may not as taste as well versus being in a harmonious position.

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After a few seconds of telling myself this festival is about fun, this gorgeous banner showed up in my field of vision.  And the lovely folks at Thanksgiving Farms welcomed me with opens farms.

I felt like I’ve known Doug and Maureen Heimbuch for years.

While exchanging pleasantries I explained this thing of mine and promised I would write about them sometime in November leading up to this most celebratory of holidays.  What perfect name for this winery.   And I’ve yet to even talk about their wines.

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What I loved was their no nonsense approach to this festival.  They had two wines to taste, both reds, and both were Meritage.  I sampled a 2011 and 2010 respectively.

The mood I was in made these great wines taste even better.  I said wines because I did get to try both.   Even though the 2010 (Reserve) was a premium pour.  They gave it to me on the house and it was quite the treat.  That’s going above and beyond.

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The wines are priced at $19.95 for the 2011 and $24.95 for the 2010 Reserve.  I think are both worth that but it’s understandable if that’s out of your price range.  As I’ve said before, $20 is right around my cut-off.  But both of these wines are worth the prices being listed.

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I can’t say which I loved more.  But the blends of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot , and Cabernet Sauvignon in both vintages were champion caliber.  The Reserve tasted ligter than I thought it would but that’s not a complaint.  I’ll safely assume blackberry, cherry, among other fruits encompass these blends. But more importantly the soul behind these wines makes me yearn for more.  These were excellent.

Their world class hospitality is going to make me come to them.  The intent is to make a visit.  I was hoping it would be before the holiday.  That still may happen.  But if it’s later on I will still be happy to to a strong write-up about what I can only assume will be just as world class of an experience, and wine tasting.

I look forward to trying more of their wines, which can you see listed across the page.  So the two they presented to the patrons of the festival was fantastic preview of what’s to come.

For information on purchasing their wines, click here.  They do currently only ship to Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Florida.

Here’s a rundown of my past posts from this years and last years Maryland Wine Festival.

Happy Early Thanksgiving and you know many great holiday posts are coming!

Blessed,

Ideen

A Worldly Pinot

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World Market does it again. I’m such a fan.  The positive energy and good vibrations I get each time I’m at one of their stores keeps me coming back.   And you know that includes their extravagant wine selection.

For the past few months I’ve been meaning to write about one of their wines. In particular, I present the 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  The wine was grown in Sonoma County and made exclusively for World Market.  How awesome is that?  As an added bonus, the wine was created from organically grown Pinot Noir grapes.  This is a winner all around.

But why do I like it so much?

First of all, when you’re a store that has a section on inspiration, you’re going to get many brownie points from me.

Secondly, it’s a user-friendly wine that anyone can enjoy. My first reaction after sipping a glass was that this would be ideal for anyone who was looking to get into wine, yet was hesitant to try.

This was as light as a Pinot Noir that you’re ever going to taste.  It goes down smooth.  And when I mean smooth, I mean effortlessly.  We have a perfect introductory wine.

I tasted some raspberry and perhaps some other fruits.  There’s spices in there somewhere.  But what I got most from this is that if this is what organic wine tastes like, I want more of it. This was a joy.

Around $12 is what I’ve seen this bottle listed for online.  That’s around what I paid for it. Because of the simplicity of it, that’s about what the price should be. That’s not an insult but more of a statement of the wine.  It’s mean to be affordable and approachable.  Those are my kind of wines.

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I had to go back in my library to track down photos of this eye-catching bottle. How gorgeous is that label?

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This wine can go with anything and can go with any season.  That’s one of the many reasons why I’m championing this one.  I wish I had more of this exclusive collection.  And there’s more. All the means is a road trip to one of the coolest stores around.

To find the nearest World Market near you, go to this link.

Not only is their wine selection brilliant, but so is everything else.  I don’t think I need to sell this any more.

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I had a pre-holiday meal with this bottle.   By the pictures I couldn’t tell exactly what I ate but it was something Thanksgiving-like I presume.   But the wine was the stand-out.

To read more World Market gems, go here and here.

More to come…

Best,

Ideen

 

 

Hope Yours Was Great Too

We’re so fixated and caught up on Thanksgiving that I don’t think Thanksgiving ever gets the love and credit it truly deserves.

I will do a brief review of my family’s gathering and of course talk about the wine that was drank. There was a lot of that but I barely got to have any myself.

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The 2013 El Libre Malbec from Revolution Wine Company was my contribution to this 15+ gathering of family and friends.  I would say it was a hit since I had all of one glass.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Revolution itself as it’s a very good and affordable wine in its own right.  I’ve seen it was low at $7 at certain retailers (and it’s likely at one near you) and the price tag alone is worth buying it for. But it’s a really good and affordable selection to any collection.  I drink this semi-regularly myself.

The El Libre is another one you can find at many wine shoppes all over the place.  That and the Revolution are approachable standard labels that can complement many a party, gathering, feast, or enjoyed in solitude.

This Malbec tastes lighter than most and had a very strawberry-jam like taste at times.   It was noticeably different at our feast than when I’ve enjoyed under different circumstances.

The food and the heavy eating that can bring about different flavors and scents in many bottles. We enjoyed quite a few appetizers beforehand so that plays a factor.

Not as much French Oak or any oak for that matter but that’s just fine. There’s enough cherry to make this bottle endearing and simplistic for any get-together.  And isn’t that the point of all this?   You betcha.

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The wine was so good it lasted all of 5 minutes within our party. Thankfully, other bottles were there to be consumed and reveled in.  The acidity was just right that even a non-wine drinker may like this.  And that may have happened here.

And speaking of thanks, my cousins are always creative in how they want us to give appreciation and gratitude ourselves.  This year it was a tree were we could write a couple of notes ourselves. I did and will leave that up to the universe and my own internalization to see that message is delivered.

I included some photos of the food, which includes sweet potatoes, salmon with rice, and some butternut squash with pesto lasagna.  We had the standards.  The turkey, cranberry, salad, and rolls.  However, there would be no photos allowed at the actual dinner, so imagination is key here.

My favorite part was the evolution of the table-setting which I did my best to capture here.

Our gathering went over four hours and I cherish every moment of it.  I cannot stress enough how important feeling good and spending it with the ones you love is.  I’m overstating the obvious but it still needs to be said.   I  told my family I wish I saw them more than a handful of times a year.

The holidays are a reminder that we shouldn’t just do this once or twice because a calendar tells us too.  We should do this organically, naturally, and perpetually.

I look forward to spending as much time with dear family and friends, not just throughout the rest of this year, but beyond.

I hope the same for you.

Best,

Ideen