By The Glass

OsteriaWines

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.

OsteriaWineList

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

OsteriaGavi

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

Captivating Is Right…

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That’s what Pine Ridge Vineyard describes their white blend of Chenin Blanc & Viognier.  Which happen to me to grapes I’ve grown to love (not that I ever thought otherwise) over the past few years, simply by varietals finding me.

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For me, Chenin Blanc & Viognier have always carried an aura about them that feels larger than life.  They’re just different than many of the whites that are readily available at your local wine shoppe.   These grapes primarily found in France can be made into stellar creations on its own, but to have them together is a risk.  But life is about taking risks.  And if it were too fail, then so be it?  That’s what life and experiences are all about. They’re not going to be winners and perfect all the time.

And then there’s the 2016 Blend from Pine Ridge that I wouldn’t say tastes like nothing I’ve had before, because I don’t know what that nothing or something is.  It’s just a great wine at an affordable price.  And that’s important.  What also is wonderful is a blend like this can succeed and stand out among all the wines that are available for purchase.  Yet I’ve seen this listed for anywhere from $11-$15, and that’s more than reasonable.

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The notes are listed on the page, but while I can pretend I could smell, detect, or taste peaches, pineapple, and citrus, none of that is the case.  What I did taste is a wonderful white wine that makes me feel good and appreciate that something so well could be crafted and provided to us at such an affordable price.

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No, it’s not the best wine I’ve ever had, because that’s not a fair thing to say.  What has happened it has added to my ever increasing love for white wines.   I would say appreciate but that sounds like I’m not really a fan, and a cop out.

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What I find charming is Pine Ridge has its own website devoted to this blend.  I like the touch and it shows how serious and passionate they are about this wine.

And the good news?  This is one you will likely find at a store near you.  If not, it’s also available for purchase online.

Which leads me to think, how good are there other wines, including the reds? Well if this is any indication, I have much to look forward too.  As we’re still in season and it’s warm and oh so summer out, the reds will wait.  The whites and rosé well… We shall see!

But get this wine, even if you don’t love it, at least it was something different, and it may lead to insightful and inspirational conversations, just like many wines can do.  Great wine, great food, and great conversation is what makes this life so great.

While the weather is still this kind, I hope to discuss more of the lighter and medium wines, because this life and time just keeps going.  It’s funny how cyclical things are, but that’s just what it is.  It’s great when a wine like this comes along to shake things up and breaks the cycle.  To write about something life this regularly might take away from that luster, so we’ll see where go to next…

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My hunch tells me more of the best and brightest.

Peace be with you.

Love,

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

Then, Now, Forever…

ObscuraWinePetitVerdot

Yeah that title is a bit over-the-top but it fits me, it fits you, and it just might fit someone you know.  So in so many words, it’s one way of describing our current life, a past life, and maybe a lifetime down the line.

What’s most essential to the perfect experience, involving wine or whatever makes you feel good, is to not look for things to be perfect, to not force the issue, but to let things come to come.

Of course you want to surround yourself with the best people you can.  But, you also need to be in a place of peace and confidence, where people will be attracted into your life, that want to spend time with you.

What that entails is maybe you yourself doing more of the reaching out then the prospective party.  At other times you might think of someone, and then they might call you, send you a text, or send you a message.

How this one worked out I don’t quite recall, but I’m so fortunate to say that I got to hang out with two good friends this past weekend, who I don’t see enough.

And how many times do you say that to yourself?  How many times do you say it to a friend, a family member, or a loved one?  The people we wish we saw the most, we hardly ever see.  The people that care about us and only wish us the best, we don’t see enough.

I’m projecting quite a bit, but it’s how I feel about things.  There’s so many amazing people in my life I wish I could see all the time.  Life happens, we get caught up in things that occupy so much of our time and involve circumstances that drain us, that we’re often left with little to no energy to enjoy the company of people I might have just alluded to.

So I’m grateful for this past weekend.   One of my favorite things is dinner parties.  I’ve always loved smaller gatherings going back as far as I can remember.  Real conversations, about real things, with real people is what makes me happy.

Maybe I ask too much but I don’t think so.  I ask the universe for the simple things in life, and when I don’t force it or look desperate, it obliges.  Their wish is my command.  Your wish is their command.

Your wish is my command.

So this past weekend I was welcomed with open arms, and we spent the next couple of hours discussing a lot of fun things, sometimes serious, sometimes lighthearted, and sometimes the extreme.

I had some idea what would come up, and then pleasantly surprise about where things went.  Yes I’m being vague, but some things are left better to the people involved.   I’m sure you would want the same for you.

As obscure as I’m being, the wine is even more…

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The 2016 Obscura Petit Verdot is a brand I thought I saw once but now I’m not so sure.  To sound even more obscure, I brought a bottle of my own that wasn’t intended for this party, but just as a way of saying thank you for having me.

Before I keep digressing, this wine is a good one.  It’s not going to greatest wine of all time but it does the job and does it well.

It’s affordable ($10-$15 range), fruit forward, easy to drink, and best to drink by itself.

My friends ordered an amazing spread of food for dinner, which was perfect enough without any vino.   The Obscura did not pair well with the food exactly but it paired perfectly with the entire evening and the great company I was honored to spend time with.  That’s more important than anything else.

Petit Verdot tends to be a recurring wine, for me, when it comes to parties or more simplistic and joyous affairs.   I wouldn’t classify that as an accident.  There’s no such things as coincidences.

This wine is hard to find, but the party hosts presented me this link, Bright Cellars, as a place of wonder and discovery.

This was fun.  And these are the times I cherish because they felt so real, in the moment, and long after.   So that’s what I mean when I say then, now, forever…

Until the next one, which will be much sooner than…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Take A Number

CanyonRoadPinotNoirWithFood

In the world we live in, or at least in a world you or I might live in, there’s never a lack of events to look forward to.  Some we’d be billing to bypass because they’ve ran their course, or we grow up.

Sometimes none of that matters.  We still grow up but we still enjoy our friends, good food, and a little vino never hurt anybody.

The event I’m referring to is a gathering of friends to watch a major professional wrestling event that took place this past Sunday night.  The specifics aren’t necessary, other than it was a good group of individuals, and I was honored to be invited and included.

Now I had no intention or idea that a story would come out of this. We’re at as simple as a bar as you’re going to find.   The food is bar food, the drinks are your cold beers, well drinks (I’m not even sure what that is but ‘well drinks’ just popped up in my head), and for the contrarians like me, they do have a couple of bottles of wine.

With the latter part of what I said coming to fruition, I did buy a bottle.  In hindsight I have no idea why I did.  But for a short and long-term investment it was worth it, so I didn’t have to get up to keep ordering a drink.   But in the long run, none of this really matters.  More on that in a little while.

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The wine was the 2014 Canyon Road Pinot Noir from you guessed it, Canyon Road.  And there isn’t much to it. That sounds dismissive and I don’t meant it to be, but this is about as basic as a wine as you’re going to find.  And I’ve seen it listed from $7-$10 in most places.  The cheaper you can find it, the more it’s actually worth that price.  I know that makes sense.

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The wine has little, if any, structure.  And you don’t need to be an expert to know, you want a a wine to bring something to the table.  You might taste some cherry, get a little tannin, and a get a little soul.   But all things considered, this wine will satisfy many.  And when pickings are slim, there’s little room for complaining.    I even waited a good 15-20 minutes for this wine to breathe, and not much changed.   That’s when you know this as standard label and mass produced as a wine as there’s going to be.

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The salad was as good as it’s going to be.  I honestly don’t know what that means, as I think about it. Haha.

For a  post I made on another one of their wines, nearly two years ago, click here.

For more on Canyon Road click here,  here is where you can find their wines near you, their wine list, and finally their contact information.

But going back to numbers,  I want to focus on something else.  The event we watched was all about numbers.  We picked a number to match an entrant in said event, but also a number hoping we might win some money.  That’s always fun.  Not too much was committed, so the risk vs. reward was’t too serious.  Well the reward always feels good if you win it.

Where I’m going with this, is recently I’ve had conversations with people (and myself) about how more and more they feel like just a number, like a spoke on the wheel, and an afterthought at times.  The title of this post may evoke feelings of waiting in a deli line to pick up whatever, and that might feel pedestrian and robotic as anything. While in some universes that might be valid, it’s actually the furthest thing from the truth.

We’re all brought here to add value, we all come from the same source, and are all connected.  And none of that says we’re just a number.  We’re all spiritual beings that have arrived here to do some awesome things, enjoy the finer things in life (like good wine), but also to feel good as much as possible.  Again, nothing about that entails that you and I are just a number.

Well might be a number.  That number is 1.  Because we’re capable of being the best to ourselves, to each other, and all the good energy that’s here on this planet Earth.

Sunday night I felt something and I can’t explain it, nor do I need to right away.  Something felt uneasy but then it felt right.  I hung with good friends but I also hung out with people I rarely see, or just met for the first time.  We were all there for the same reason, and one of those was just to feel good.

And you can’t put any price tag or number, on feeling good.

I feel good right now, and I wish the same for you.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

Home Away From Home

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This is more than just about a wine.  And honestly most of these stories are more than just about the wine.  It’s also about the journeys we go on, the people we share it with, and of course any life changing tidbits along the way.  Not everything is going to be memorable or resonate.

Sometimes it’s not the wine but it’s the wonderful company you shared it with, or maybe you had a moment of peace and solitude.  And you may have said to yourself that life is pretty good, and at least for even a few surrealistic seconds, it was as pretty close to complete peace that there is.

You ever get that feeling?  I bet it happens more than you and I realize.

I’ve had that happen to me multiple times recently.  Maybe the universe is telling me to appreciate life all I can, because those moment are everywhere if you let them.

Well this happened to me twice in the same weekend at nearly the same place.  Now how I ended up in Northern Virginia twice in three days is something I hadn’t planned out.  It just worked out that way.  And I’m grateful it did because it brought me back to visit an old familiar friend, Balducci’s.

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Now we’ve all been to markets with their selections of natural foods, organic foods, salad bars, hot food bars, delis, cheese markets, and everything else you can come up with. But Balducci’s has been doing this for over 100 years.

Now with locations exclusively to Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Virginia, it’s not going to be readily accessible to everyone.  And in a way these locations are mostly in pricier parts of their respective cities, which means higher end food and higher end prices.  That also means higher quality, yet you can still find deals.

I’ll make this part brief. my first and many visits after was to the Bethesda location near where i grew up.  Now that area is not quite my cup of tea but going back to my younger days when it was under a different name, I do have fond memories, maybe simply because it was a simpler time, and there were less things to worry about.

Even if the prices seemed out of reach at the time, what did stand out is how I hadn’t seen a store like this, of its kind, maybe ever.  And even with changes, the heart of the store remains the same.  And now they’ve added wine.

But two recent visits to the older part of McLean, VA brought me to another one of Balducci’s location.  And this location has more of a presence and easier to find than its Bethesda counterpart, simply because the McLean location is almost in an island unto itself, with little to no competition or hardly any neighbors to speak of.

Before I continue to digress, I’ll just say that what makes Virginia even stand out more is wine is easily accessible in grocery, convenient, and drug stores, while in Mayland you need a special permit, which the Bethesda location has.  But it makes coming to Virginia to buy one that much easier.

Yet I wasn’t looking for it.  But in McLean I felt so happy.  It was near where I was born, near things that made me happy (what those things are I’m really not quite sure, but I felt warm and fuzz), and overall had a welcoming energy I hadn’t always felt from its Bethesda counterpart.  If it sounds like I’m sort of picking on Bethesda, I don’t mean to.

There’s a lot to appreciate because in addition to everything that’s cool, their main headquarters is in Maryland.

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With all that said, I perused the wine section and noticed how so many bottles were in the $20-$30+ range.  That wasn’t a priority for me and it hardly ever is.  Thankfully, Balducci’s does have their own label of wines that were mostly under $15.00.  One in particular, the Chenin Blanc was only $10.  Without hesitation I decided this is what I was going to get, and this is what I’m going to write about.

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I was introduced to Chenin Blanc last summer, and enjoyed it for its simplicity yet somewhat sweet but still dry flavors, that make it a white that fans of mostly red wines can also enjoy.  If you were willing to give it a shot.  I did and I’ve had a few I’ve truly sipped again.

This 2016 Balducci’s Chenin Blanc tasted like a wine that is worth $10, nothing more, maybe less.  And with the understanding now it was one of the few bottles at $10 or less at Balducci’s, I get that quality is much higher here, and a lot of Chenin Blanc was produced.  More than what they know what to do with.  That’s just an observation and speculation.

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I tasted some fruits, and while it was semi sweet and dry, it was missing that wow factor. It felt like an everyday wine and I don’t think you should expect much more.  There wasn’t anything wrong with it.   It was a decent wine for the price.

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And it pairs well with spicy foods, salads (among so much more) or nothing at all.  I had mine with some Asian style chicken and vegetables.  And it was simple complement of wine and food.   That’s sometimes all you want and/or need.

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Here is a link to the importer of their wines, Kysela Pere et Fils if you’re curious to know more.

Maybe I had lofty goals because the Balducci’s of McLean had a positive energy and vibe that I can’t fully explain.  Maybe the grass is always greener, maybe it’s because I was born not too far away (that is a huge part of it),  or maybe I don’t come around enough to grasp what’s fully going on.   No need to over-analyze too much.

However, I do know this is just the beginning.  There’s more of this location and I’d like to explore and definitely a visit to the place where I was born in Alexandria, VA.

Yes so this will be done again sooner rather than later, and definitely before the year is out.   It’ll be a thoroughly enjoyable adventure.  I hope you’ll be able to join me.

For more on Balducci’s, click here.   And many of their items such as coffee, sweets and snacks,  spices, and many other giftsgifts are available for purchase online.

Here’s their list of locations again, which also includes one for my local friends in Baltimore.

And finally, here is their contact information.

Thank you so much and look forward to doing this all again soon.

Ideen

Enjoy, and Repeat

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The beautiful city of St. Petersburg, FL has my heart.  And I knew it before I even arrived. I had no plans or any intentions of doing anything touristy, or anything specific. That’s not my style.

Celebrating Summer is my style.  Happy First Day of Summer to YOU!

I just go in with the idea that I’m going to enjoy myself the best that I can, and let everything else fall into place and come to me, and to find me.   In many ways I succeeded, and in a few others maybe the experiences didn’t feel organic.  If you’re self aware, you know the difference.

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This is where I’m torn about Try Wine, which is a concept I’ve been a part of in two other cities, and presented in two other posts.  One with great success, and one that has since moved on.

The microchip and sample combination is something that can work in the right setting, the right location, and most importantly with the right people.

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On this night, it was quiet, and that is exactly what I was looking for.  But something in the atmosphere felt rushed.  My friends and I got there with under an hour to spare, so there was plenty of time to sample a plentiful amount of wines.  But somewhere along the way I just wanted a glass or two.

I want to thank Kristen who was my guide to where the various varietals and explained the process and price breakdowns, because if you don’t pay attention you will get a small pour that may cost more than a glass in most places.   I’ve made that mistake before.

There’s no need to get into every wine I tried, as that would be boring.  But I will mention one that stuck out and its counterpart.

The Red Blend (tasting notes can be found here) from Conundrum Wines has an aura about it.  The flavors linger long after each sip.  There’s your dark fruits and berries, but the true stand out is the cocoa and the chocolate.  And it doesn’t appear right away.  It shows up right near the end to enhance a wine that maybe didn’t need any more enhancing, but that’s what makes this what it is.

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There’s wines we drink that are good, maybe even great, and then we forget about them. I’m not sure overall how I’m feeling about this wine.  It’s great and it’s still on my mind that I’m writing about it.  But there was something else about this I can’t put my finger on.  I just wish I had more time to appreciate it.  Maybe that’s what’s bothering me.  The experience felt rush and partly my own doing.

The White Blend (notes can be found here) on the other hand needed a few minutes. And it’s funny for me to say that I wine coming from a tap needed a few minutes to breathe. But it needed a few minutes to breathe.  This is a summer wine in all areas.   I tasted summer fruits but not sure what exactly.  The notes describe honeysuckle and coconut on the nose.  I wish I could say I got a helping of both.  Maybe a little more of the former but that’s about it.    This is more of a white to enjoy and not over analyze too much.  And the same goes for most, if not all, wines.  I would go out of my way to find the rest.  The white is something many would love, but it would take more time to grow on me.

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Both are with a retail price of $20 and up, so they carry some weight but might be outside of what I would pay for either.

I do wish in hindsight that I had some food to pair with either of these pours.   I might have a different appreciation for the wines and for the experience in general.

There will a future engagement with hopefully more time to appreciate what’s going on. Along with that, they are moving to bigger location.   They’ve outgrown where they are now and are moving up the street.   I look forward to visiting them in their new home when I’m back.  And I will be back.  And soon.

For more on their current list of wines click here, their food menu, and their list of events.

Here’s more on Conundrum Wines, where to purchase online, and where you can find their wines near you.

This is going to be a great Summer and I look forward to more exciting wines, and a return visit to Try Wine’s new location soon.

Thanks so much.

Ideen