Thursday, July 18, 2013

wine + meditation

I took a break from wine classes this quarter to try a meditation class. I'm constantly multi-tasking and believe this is leading to additional stress and anxiety in my life. I've also heard meditation can improve focus for people with ADD, and I'm weaning off my meds. So this seemed like a good move, even if it meant taking a break from organized drinking.

During our first class, we tried meditative eating. The instructor stretched out a single grape into a seven minute guided meditation. She had us consider the soil it came from, the work it took to grow the grape and to get it to the store, the texture of the grape, the smell and, finally, the taste. Focusing all my energy on this one grape was illuminating. Not only did it elevate the experience of eating, it also allowed me to appreciate the grape on a level I never thought possible.

Naturally, it wouldn't be long before I was doing this with wine.

I opened a nice bottle (Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut 2011 Merlot), poured myself a glass and meditated on the wine before me. I thought it would be a wonderful experience.

I was super fucking right.

Our image of the solo drinker is a sad one. Some guy in a bar whining to the barkeep, a girl with vodka in a water bottle tucked beneath her pillow to cope at night. But in these scenarios, the drinking itself is never the purpose. It's the forgetting, the catharsis, the emotional numbing.

But meditative drinking, like meditative eating, proved to be a spiritual experience because the attention was on the act itself. Focusing on the weight of the glass in my hand, the color of the wine (it helps that burgundy is my second favorite color, after gold. And gold is sort of the color of white wine. So.), everyone who put time and effort into the process of growing the grapes and making the wine, everyone who helped in the discovery and refining of these techniques. The smell, and my breath as I exhaled, the purposeful breathing that smelling is, the marvel of smelling at all. Evolutionarily, smell is basically obsolete for humans. It now has no purpose but pleasure, really. The nose can be the clitoris of the face, if you let it. Finally, the taste, and not just the taste, but the way the wine made my mouth feel. The wonder of salivating.

The last parts, the look and smell and taste, I realized, are nothing more than a tasting note. And THEN I realized, I did a tasting note of this wine for class last quarter, and had it saved but not published under the title "oh I fancy huh" because I so rarely drink wine over $8! (this was a 5 cent wine sale splurge, hence the two bottles). In addition to this wholly whimsical post, below please find a proper tasting note for your future reference/pretension.

Finally, I wondered if I might enjoy bringing a meditative experience to more activities. So before I wrote this post, I took a moment and rested my hands on my keyboard, appreciating the opportunity to write and communicate and add purpose to my consumption of beverages. It, too, was truly wonderful.

I understand that I sound like quite a dick.

I'm going to go meditate on that.

Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut 2011 Merlot
Sonoma County, CA
$20.99, 13.5% ABV

Appearance: A normal red wine in the glass. Only the tiniest bit transparent, mostly opaque. Ruby red with a little purpley-blue.

Nose: Earth aromas of forest floor and oak alongside black cherry, blackberry and a smoke. A little caramel, coconut and cedar as well.

Palate: Dry wine with sweetness at the tip of the tongue. Fruit-forward with a little raspberry in addition to the black cherry and blackberry. Lots of earth and smoke here as well. Finish is medium to long, especially since the caramel and coconut really hang on the alcohol. Both acidity and tannins and low to medium, and the quality of the tannins are smooth and round.

Conclusion: I'd call this wine layered but not complex. It is straightforward in its many aromatics, which hit fruit and earth and winemaking right on the head. To enhance the smoke, pair with grilled meats in a lighter marinade or chipotle tacos.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'm alive!

Been a delinquent poster lately, but don't worry, I'm still keeping it very fresh all the time.

Yeah those are emergency jugs of water in the background. They've come with me on my last two moves, they're sure as shit coming on this one. And yeah, this is a KICKASS LIBRARY BOOK that i read most of in a day. That day was yesterday. Pick up a copy. It's straight up thrilling.

Remember to keep even your red wine in the fridge during these muggy summer months! Leaving it on the counter can mean losing out on aromas and even causing wine to go bad. Take red wine out of the fridge an hour before serving.

I'll hopefully be back in the swing of things and blogging regularly soon. I know my tens of readers miss me desperately, and I miss you all, too! Not emotionally. Just like... we don't miss each other, do we? k bye

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I gave blood today so I'm not supposed to have any alcohol. But then six years ago someone told me you get drunk super fast after you give blood and I have to go to Rite Aid later so I just opened this stunning bottle of rose!

Also check out the amazing pillow the charming Zoe Chao got me for my birthday. It makes cravings happen and my head feel nice, just like wine does! Girl gets me.

This wine smells nice, a little floral and a little mineral-y and I feel like people often talk about tasting cranberry in roses? Honestly, I love a nice, tart rose but I have trouble getting the aromatics promised. But I'm really into how pretty they are. And this one is gorgeous! It has lovely salmon-pink color and it comes in this curvy bottle with a lavender and gold top label or whatever it's called. It's like Barbie's wine, but hip. And apparently it tastes good, cause I'm enjoying it and my cool black friend in the Trader Joe's wine department highly recommended it.

This is an aspirational wine. It's the kind of wine you buy and you're like, no way am I going the whole summer without being invited to a garden party with this baby waiting in the fridge! I will learn French in the car! I will roller skate when doing errands and become "that girl who roller skates everywhere" and notoriety will become me! I don't feel faint because of my blood donation.

I do. I feel faint. I don't know what a garden party is.


The real win here is my mom saved my soccer trophies because she loves me.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

This is off topic but amazing

Food is like wine right? And easy things are great

Have I posted this yet?

It is pretty and helpful

Fresh start

I'm moving!

Some dear, dear friends with a stunning, stunning home asked me to move in. Though I'll miss living alone, I'm thinking having two super smart, creative, productive guys around might shame me into not watching 17 illegally streamed episodes of "Friends" in a row on a Wednesday afternoon. It also means I'll get to taste more wines because I'll always have friends to help me finish the bottle! Might blog less when I have people to actually talk to though. Oh, the possibilities!

It'll be 5 years in LA this August and I'm excited for the change. I'm also excited because omg look at this place

Living Room part A (peep the fireplace, y'all! you can change who you are, y'all! I'm counting on it, you guys (I can't pull off y'all))

Living Room part B (yeah, that's a record player. I'm cool by association. Having Mom send her old records. Stressed that Chipmunks Christmas was top priority. HAPPY HOLIDAYS, LOS ANGELES)

Mega gorgeous dining room with melty candles and mural

Oh yeah. They made a Banksy.

The deck at the top of the backyard

The view from said deck

The view of the yard. Hi, Paul!

Didn't have a photo of my other roommate David SO I MADE ONE. See? Their creativity is already rubbing off!

In honor of my new home (don't worry -- the gold cat statues have been cleared to move in with me), I decided to try a new kind of wine: Gruner Veltliner. This dry, Hungarian beauty is as light and tart and sweet and sour as moving (give me some leeway on the term bittersweet here, it's not bitter but you get it).

My selection was the Floriana 2011 Gruner Veltliner from Trader Joe's. Cheap and sassy, this white peach-lemon-candied violet (I don't know, something like that, it's delicious) coquette of a wine tells you right upfront it's not going to sugar coat it. Seriously, I love when the label tells you the dryness. Why don't all wines do this? How else am I supposed to know what to pair with my Rite Aid 'Thrifty' frozen Greek-style yogurt? Man the switch to CVS is gonna be rough.

This label tells you what to pair it with, what temperature to serve it at... it's a roadmap to drinking! I wish life were like this. I wish I could know moving was the right decision. A part of me worries that the homeless guy who camps out next to my current parking space when it rains might actually be my soulmate and I'm missing out. But if that's he case, why hasn't he made a move?

But generally, it's nice to guess with wine. And life. Even if you guess wrong, you and most of your guests will still praise the pairing. You'll make it work. Because after all, nothing doesn't go with good conversation.

So yes. I toasted no longer living alone alone, with a super dry, tart, bitchy, complex Hungarian that embodies everything I long to be but am not. But who knows? Maybe I'll stop being so friendly when I bite the bullet, buy a bike, and move into the nicest place in Silverlake with the greatest guys around.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Congratulations, youth!

I was introduced to Vinho Verde in my wine class. It's light, zippy, cheap and full of petillance. Plus, unlike most of the wine I drink, it's from a far away exotic land and I'm not even talking about a different part of California. It's from Portugal! And if there's a place called Portugal, California, that is not the one I mean! For a summer afternoon full of good news that will lead into a potluck The Voice finale situation, I cracked open my bottle from real Portugal, the country, and celebrated both my youth and its. And Rhett and Scarlett's.

This dry, refreshing, delicate wine has hints of green apple and peach on the nose and so much fizz on the palate it could nearly be champagne. It's fresh and fun and zingy and topical, like Selena Gomez music in your mouth!

Check out Casal Garcia Vinho Verde, or really any Vinho Verde. Good ones run about 8 bucks, and while they tend to be simple and straightforward, they have more complexity than a garden variety Pinot Grigio of the same price. Change up your light summer wine lineup and toast with almost-sparkling... to youth!

In my youth I was kind to my brother.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

dun dun DUN!

Whatup true love!
Yup it's a dating website devoted to wine lovers aka the best way to find an alcoholic husband everrrr

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fan mail

You guys Brittany took my challenge from yesterday, applied it to my blog and wrote me a poem!!!!!! THE DAY IS GREAT

In-home dance party

I finished my puzzle!!! 4000 pieces!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

FYI, the last day I worked on it, I spent the whole time singing whatever snippets I could remember of this oldie but greatie. Omg get ready to FEEL!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wine withdrawal


I'm doing a 10-day cleanse, so no new wines this week. The lack of wine means "Mistresses" is about 80% less compelling than I once thought, but otherwise I haven't noticed much of a difference. Also "Mistresses" is still amazing. Everyone watch "Mistresses." There are ghosts.

Wine withdrawal isn't as bad as I thought it would be. That could be because I'm only two and a half days in, or because there are so many worse parts of this cleanse (no sugar including most fruits, no refined flour, no caffeine) all of which I'd rather use a cheat on (and have).

What I miss most about wine is the sensory engagement. The taking a break from my day to truly relish something, as opposed to guiltily procrastinating. The being drunk.

But all these things actually make it easier for me to go without wine (or any other booze, and I've just started getting good at cocktails) than carbs, sugar and caffeine. I don't appreciate those things. I don't take advantage. Instead, I take them for granted, which makes missing them all the harder. I wasn't prepared! I wish I'd created a blog all about plums before I was without them and it was too late. Don't it always seem to go... And I only have to give this stuff up for ten days. Being old means having to give up delicious things for like, ever.

So here's my challenge to you for today: enjoy something you take for granted. If you dig your mid-afternoon oatmeal, write it a poem. If you enjoy your nightly dose of reality TV, laugh and cry and feel just a little bit harder. If you are a boy in a relationship, tell your girlfriend she is beautiful in a cool and specific way. Seriously, I don't get why guys don't do that more? Every girl likes to hear it. No matter who she is or how long you've been together, give her compliments. This is crucial. Also, guys, flowers. Come on. So easy. Trader Joe's has them for like 4 bucks. Your girlfriend will appreciate it so hard. I'd make such a good dude.

Ooh, I am so going to buy flowers for my next bottle of wine. It's so pretty.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Love this!

A fantastic little cheat sheet!

In-home dance party

One of my jobs is in music, and I get the privilege of working with awesome new artists. Check out a great remix of Cody Longo's "She Said" here!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Celebrity wines

Ok, I get that I can't have a celebrity body, in any interpretation of that phrase. I get that I can't have a celebrity lifestyle. But when they make a wine? Well, the Coppolas have made it clear I can at least have that.

But oh no. Brad and Angie have to win this one. You can imagine my excitement when I saw this in my inbox:

Followed by my utter disappointment when I clicked the link and this popped up:

I mean fuck you! I know it sold out back in March, but I thought this was my chance! Then I found out that wine distributors like Shelby Ledgerwood were buying it all up. When asked if she'd tried it, Shelby said she didn't have to. Everyone wanted it, even without her opinion, so she just sold it off. Why waste a bottle? 

I think it's kind of unfair that celebrities get to have wine we can't have on top of everything else. Which means there's only one thing to do: saturate the market for celebrity wine. Below are some suggestions I have for some new celebrity wines:

Heidi Montag California 2009 Red Blend

This full bodied wine is a mish-mash of all your favorite reds. Heady aromas of strawberry and petrol entice you to take a sip, at which point you don't like it but you can't quite articulate why. It should be great, but it's a petty, ugly little wine.

Carrot Top 2011 Rose

Brilliant pink color with slight petillance. Bright and acidic with angular, precise aromas of tangerine and meth. A fine, drinkable rose perfect for wasting an entire afternoon.

Dame Judy Dench Grand Cuvee

This dusty but magnificent sparkling wine goes with everything. Stern and delightfully fungal with notes of gooseberry and flint. A treasure.

Carson Daly 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon

A star vintage that declined in the early 2000s and is now picking up an extraordinary bottle bouquet of perfume and peppy rose petal aromatics. The wine that just won't quit.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Champagne tutorial

Opening champagne can be hard. Or it can be adorable, as evidenced by the ultra-charming Sarah Streicher. Watch below and learn! And for more of Sarah, click this link right HERE.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The best sangria that can be

White sangria is the dreamiest of summer drinks. Try this one at a movie picnic like we did and let all your dreams come true!

Step 1 of this sangria is to get a portable jug from Target and then never trust that it is closed. Seriously, this thing will pee from all sides all over your life. But it's really useful if you stay hyper vigilant.

White sangria kills it when you use bright, tart, fruits like green apple and especially peaches, nectarines and apricots, which will impart their juices on the wine. You'll be drunkenly reaching into the top to snack on the fruit even before the wine is finished! Even before it's started!

Ok, so you take your jug and pour in your booze. First off, Triple Sec is crucial for white sangria. 1/3 cup for every bottle of wine is good. So 2/3 of a cup to go with my two bottles of bright, grapefruit-y Sauvignon Blanc...

But no Triple Sec is needed to balance the 3 glasses (1 cube) worth of this sweetie sweet, fab floral little Moscato from Target...

Then chop up your fruit in pretty little slices, drop it on in, and let it soak overnight!

To recap:
Plenty of tart fruits (green apple, nectarine, apricot was used here. Also try cherries, raspberries, peaches and even a little candied ginger)
1/3 cup of Triple Sec for every 750ml bottle of dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are best here, but a dry Riesling or fruity Gewurztraminer would be a darling experiment)
Sweet wine (such as this Moscato from Target) to taste (optional)
Soak overnight

Final step: have a beautiful friend hold up the jug for the world to see!

Thursday, May 30, 2013


(Note: this is the explosive and eagerly anticipated followup to my expose on the possibility of learning about barrel making, which can be found here)

Here's some fun pics to celebrate:









Tuesday, May 28, 2013


When I found out that if we had time at the end of class after our guest speaker and wine tasting we would be learning about barrel making I was like *AIR HORN* *AIR HORN* *A-A-A-AIR HOOOOORN*

When we didn't have time, I was like, oh no, what am I going to talk about at parties now? And then I was like, thankfully not barrel making.

Ironic interests can be dangerous. The more we seek out hobbies because of how they make us look rather than how they make us feel, the more we cheapen our actual passions. When I heard we were learning about barrel making, the excitement I felt wasn't curiosity. It was a cheap, surface-level excitement. I was composing tweets and anecdotes and two truths and a lie in my head and it was gross. And as soon as I realized this, I snapped back to attention and listened to the fascinating Chad Melville talk about wine.

It goes the other way, too, and is just as dangerous. The more we downplay and shit-talk our true interests, the less we can fully enjoy them. Our pleasure is diluted by self-consciousness. This happens a lot with me and my puzzle, because I love doing it so much and I know that is so lame. But I'd feel a lot less lame about it if I just owned my passion for my four thousand piece masterpiece, my meditation, my truth. This happens to a lot of people with wine. They're ashamed of their interest because they don't know everything about it or they can't afford expensive bottles or it's now considered pretentious to have it as an interest. But wine is for everyone. Enjoy it how you will.

So here's to genuine interests. And to barrel making, I say this with the utmost sincerity: I hope I never fully understand you.

Trashy mysteries from the library: so genuine.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I bought Kelis' pants

Sometimes wine makes you want to stay in and curl up with Netflix and try to forget about the human condition.

Other times it makes you buy Kelis' pants.

Ok, so I'm not trying to brag, but I literally did buy Kelis' pants. If you don't believe me, ask Kelis. The same way she asked me to get her another glass of wine when I bargained with her for the pants by saying I was too poor to be here, I was only there because my friend is a waitress at Bar Marmont and oh yeah, KELIS WAS HAVING A FULL-ON YARD SALE AT BAR MARMONT. And I bought her pants. These are they:

I can't decide if I might like them to be shorts instead. Thoughts are welcome.

Anyway, I was thrilled with the La Granja 360 2011 Tempranillo (the one with the pig on the label in the Spanish section at Trader Joe's). I mean THRILLED. Normally, that in and of itself would have constituted a proper night. Never mind that with its fruit and earth, juicy red rapsberry, cherry and strawberry grounded in tremendous forest floor and peet moss and greenery, this stuff was made to pair with comfort food and takeout (moo-shu pork is its soulmate; a complex mac and cheese its dirty little secret on the side. Either way, a match made in heaven).

So yes, I would have been good with just this, a cheap, wonderful wine.

But you know what else is super fucking good? BUYING KELIS' PANTS. God I wish I didn't have so much self respect and would demand celebs take pictures of me with them and their pants. I really should have documented the transaction. I hate my self (respect).

The point is, leaving the house is sometimes also good. It's important to appreciate life's simple pleasures, to embrace solitude instead of whining about loneliness. But it's also important to interact with the world. I know this is obvious to most people, but for me, it's so much easier to stay home in sweats with my great, cheap wine than it is to put on a bra and be a real person.

Being a real person is hard. You have to listen to the opinions of others and be judged unfavorably by dudes at bars and calculate tips with your phone-brain and it's just a lot of effort. Conversations about other people's lives make you think about your own. Being face to face with men (it still counts if you stare awkwardly at the guy's shoes or a spot on the wall to the left of his head because of confidence issues) reminds you that you are not getting any younger or hotter or sex. Much better to stay in, put on "Dancing on My Own" and text your bestie until you fall asleep or her boyfriend is all, "stop texting, Julia. Ali is never going to not have an over-dramatically urgent joke to tell you about her new theories on her recent weight gain (parasites). She is destroying our relationship. JK our relationship is amazing and a beacon of hope for all single people everywhere."*

Most of the time I go out, I wish I hadn't. I get my hopes up that tonight will be the night where everybody dances and the only drunk snack I have at the end of the night is a diet coconut water and also that that exists now and I'll meet a great guy and bond with a million friends with whom I've lost touch and my shoes will feel great all night. And those hopes are dashed so hard. So, so hard.

But last night, I bought Kelis' pants. And while moo-shu might be the soulmate of this wine, these pants are the soulmate of my legs.

So it's probably all worth it. It's probably worth it to keep hoping about everything, just in case.

Try La Granja Tempranillo. And occasionally, try leaving the house. It's not always the worst.

Oh, and in case you doubted it:

*Paraphrased from what I imagine to be conversations had by my favorite couple in the world.**
**Disney couples excluded because they are almost all imaginary.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Karber's Korner

Greg is back! Also, he is now famous. Like actually. This post is literally dripping with priceless, priceless fame. #fitchthehomeless


You have been invited by a friend to your third Passover. (You are a Gentile.) You are very excited.

You are also running late, and have yet to find a bottle of kosher red wine. They do not sell it at the local convenience store, which is your go-to wine provider. So you travel up Silver Lake and find a place that sells twenty dollar bottles. This is four times your typical bottle budget, but you buy two so you don’t seem cheap.

Your friend drives you to the Passover party. To protect the innocent, let us call this friend “Caitlin.” Caitlin insists on showing up on time. She gives you a hard time for making her wait a few minutes in her car because she showed up too early to pick you up. She drives you to the party, on time, and you are the first to arrive by a good half hour.

This gives you an opportunity to get a head start on drinking.

You have forgotten that the Passover ceremony itself involves drinking at least four glasses of wine. You have also forgotten that the kosher-for-Passover food isn’t exactly the stuff you stuff yourself with (except for the charoses, which are always delicious).

And you have forgotten to eat a snack before you came.

To make matters worse, Caitlin is under the impression that she should refill anyone’s glasses should they get empty. This results in a severe miscalculation of alcohol consumption which leads to be a debate over whether the Easter Bunny is a religious character (he most definitely is). (editor's note: he most definitely is not. I will fight you on this one forever)

Fortunately, Caitlin drives you home.

Your roommate isn’t home, but your downstairs neighbor is. You are lonely, so you go downstairs and hang out while he watches The Office. Despite having seen this episode before, the jokes do not make sense. You excuse yourself with a sophisticated, “I’ll be right back." You stand and stumble out the front door.

You make it to the sidewalk, where you vomit red wine. Then you puke in some bushes. Then you climb the stairs to your apartment, vomit a third time in the toilet, and fall asleep on the floor.

You were never right back.

But as a First Born, you were happy just to wake up in the morning.

Come on, Karber. Look at you. You sure you're not even Jew-ish?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In-home dance party


Primitive needs

The Grifone 2011 Primitivo met my needs.

Cheap (4 dollars!), tasty (Primitivo is the same grape as Zinfandel, only Italian) and it has enough acid to pair well with my go-to meal: pasta (cheap and tasty!).

But that wasn't all this wine did for me. Oh, no. It had a pretty cork and an elegant orange label. It had a rich color and a versatile set of aromatics (spice, earth, a pinch of vanilla from the oak, some red and black cherry--what can't you pair this with? Donuts. Never pair wine with donuts). It wasn't too heavy for a balmy summer evening. It wasn't too light for the thick feelings I was having. IT WAS FOUR FUCKING DOLLARS.

And it got me thinking about other primitive needs. No, not sex. I'm a lady. We don't know what that is. I started thinking about food and drink and the way they nourish us beyond the physical.

Because I realized this wine would pair perfectly with my favorite thing in the world:

Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizza.

I understand that this is a chain restaurant. I get that there are probably more technically perfect pizzas out there. But I can't think of it without my mouth watering and I can't eat it without complete satisfaction. You know when you crave something and then you have it and it can't live up to the craving? That has never happened to me with Bertucci's brick oven pizza. It's only on the east coast, but I've seriously considered opening an LA franchise.

Here's a photo of me when my dad surprised me with a visit, after telling me Annapolis didn't have Bertucci's:

I was that happy with every single bite of my pizza.

The need here isn't the pizza, although I want some desperately now that I'm remembering how perfect in every single way it is. The need is the certainty, the nostalgia, the consistent loveliness, the way it never lets me down. The need of comfort food is primitive. It is the solace we find in tradition and memory and the familiar taste and texture of what we can count on to love. 

Like cheap red wine that tastes fantastic.

Like a DIY manicure that looks f-ing amazing and is on my fingers currently. Ok, so that's a stretch. I just want to show off:

FYI the bits on my fingers are gone now, they washed off, it's all clean lines now so it is even better.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A great blog that isn't mine

They exist! Obviously. This is a tonally uneven marriage between a sad person's Instagram and the diary of a lesser Kardashian.

Check out The Reverse Wine Snob. Fantastic reviews for all us aspiring oenophiles who don't have the cash to support fancy drinking habits. And he takes recommendations, which I feel like is the 21st century version of having a court taster for the king. Only this guy tries cheap wine before you do and makes sure it's good enough to impress people at dinner parties. Which is basically 30% of the point of wine, as illustrated below:

Follow Jon on Twitter for the newest and tastiest reviews!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Melville Vineyards: all about honesty

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing Chad Melville of Melville Vineyards speak about his winemaking process. Only, Chad eschews the word "winemaker." He views himself instead as a "wine grower." Chad and his family do as little winemaking as possible, relying on Mother Nature for most of the flavor. Melville favors whole cluster fermentation and stem inclusion whenever possible, which adds earthy, green tannins to their reds. Their Chardonnay isn't aged in new oak or buttered up with malolactic fermentation. They only use old oak barrels, which allow the wine to breath and come into contact with the environment more than steel, but don't impart that heavy flavor of new oak. The result is a crisp, acidic, mineral-y Chardonnay that more closely resembles a Sauvignon Blanc than the grape my grandmother drinks. Chad understands that stem inclusion makes wines "less approachable." But he feels it is important to make wine entirely rooted in the land, with as little outside influence as possible. He even makes wine with wild, local yeast!

To my further surprise and delight, despite the fact that Melville doesn't use pesticides and does everything right, they don't tout their sustainable status. Chad hates the word organic! Yes! He says it no longer means anything. Ok, so we hate the word for slightly different reasons (I don't like a word that makes me feel guilty for spending less on toilet paper. Believe me. I would like to be able to spend more on toilet paper). But still, a man after my own heart.

Perhaps the most refreshing thing about the talk, other than that Chardonnay, was when Chad discussed a question he often gets: "Are you guys trying to be Burgundy?" to which he replies, "We're not a cover band." Sure, he uses old world farming and winemaking techniques. He produces elegant, earthy, cool-climate wines that feel far more French than Californian, even though he's less than two hours away from LA. But the wines he and his family make (grow) are distinct, truly their own. They farm down to the tiniest plots of land, making different wines from different slivers of sections of a row of a vineyard. Where wild yeast is used, each fermenting tank is its own wine, because the yeast is random and will impart a distinct and additional set of aromatics on each tank.

So I would agree with Mr. Melville. He's not a winemaker. He is an artist.

Pick up a bottle of Melville Vineyards at The Wine House or better yet, have a visit!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


just made one for the site! for off-the-cuff wine+feelings, check out @wineandfeelings

(for brilliant jokes and earnest observations on the greatest television program of the decade, NBC's The Voice, I'm still @SCHOUTOUT)

here is a picture of a great tattoo. notice the baby mermaid inside the mermaid.

Death is certain

I'm not sure when I started using this phrase, but it's become by go-to lately. 90% of the time it's to describe a bleak situation like a hangover or a party or an aspect of my life. The other 10% of the time, it's my glass-half-empty, slightly-more-original version of YOLO. Last weekend I pitched my best friend a tattoo on my hipbone of a unicorn encircled in a heart and the heart is made of the words "death is certain." "I should get that tattoo!" I said. She said maybe in a very supportive way. "I should get that tattoo TONIGHT," said I and she replied with a firm "NO." I told her I was testing her to make sure she was honest with me even when it wasn't what I wanted to hear. I was lying to her. In that moment I actually thought the tattoo was a great idea. You know what I should get actually? A tattoo on my forehead that says "do not give me any tattoos I might ask for." It would only appear when I had been drinking. No one steal that idea. I think it's like half of a really great screenplay.

What does this have to do with wine? Weirdly, a lot. As you know, this level of my wine course is about viticulture and viniculture. Now that we've learned all about growing grapes, we're onto making wine. The other night, the brilliant Shelby Ledgerwood brought up the irony of the most crucial step of the winemaking process: fermentation. Fermentation is when yeast is added to the grape juice. In an oxygen-free environment, the yeast consumes sugar, creating carbon dioxide and alcohol as the byproducts. The fermentation process stops when the yeast either runs out of sugar (low to normal alcohol, dry wines) or the alcohol level gets too high for the yeast to survive (normal-high alcohol, sweeter wines). What Shelby pointed out is that it is the yeast's own byproduct, its own essential contribution to the wine, that ultimately is its demise.

I loved this. It stuck with me. I kept turning it over in my brain. Literally turning it over, seeing it as a metaphor for life in both positive and negative ways. On the one hand, what we consume and what we create will destroy us. On the other hand, it's the byproduct of survival.

I love to drink. Like, I adore it. I know wine tasting is bullshit but it is the most fun bullshit there is. It's a treasure hunt of the senses. I know how dumb that sounds. I don't care. When I'm writing, I love to have a beverage--coffee, tea, diet coke, cocoa, wine, whiskey, this great liver cleanse. I love the flush in my face and the sparkle of the light in my glass and pretty much everything about ice cubes. I know it's bad for me, but it makes everything so much brighter. I've often wondered if I'm an alcoholic. But other than the extra five pounds I carry from the booze, I don't think my drinking negatively affects my health. I don't think it hurts anyone around me. I think I may just be a devoted enthusiast. Still, French paradox aside, it can't be good for me to sit around and drink all day (I'm including the coffee and cokes, because fake sugar actually will kill me, says everyone I know who owns agave).

I love to write. As a career, it's not going that well for me. The healthier choice would be to give up and find a more practical profession. I would still be creating no matter what I was doing, so why not try it on the side?

Here, yeast gives us another interesting window. When exposed to oxygen, when not in a dark, contained space under pressure, yeast thrives. It multiplies. The anaerobic process is slow. The aerobic process is fast and flourishing. Rather than ferment, yeast consumes sugar and produces water, carbon dioxide and heat. No booze. No harmful byproduct that will one day be its doom. But nothing exciting either. Only in that bleak space where death is certain does the yeast create something magical: wine. And maybe the yeast knows it's bad for it to do so, but damnit, it wants to.

I hate when people say they just have to write. So do it. And I will, as a hobby, no matter what else is going on. The thing that I'm trying to say here is that it's important not only to accept the sacrifices that come along with any kind of creative or risky pursuit, but to embrace them. Know that it might not all wind up being worth it in the end. Be ok with the process. Decide to ferment, or decide a hobby is a beautiful thing to have. Either way, though, throw yourself into that decision and thrive.

Because, you see, you only live once.

Tattoo draft 1

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wine crush part II: if you can't be with the wine you love...

Get a fuckbuddy.

Or so I used to think.

This is a story of a wine crush. But this is not a love story. It's the sad story of a wine crush worse than unrequited, for I had a taste. And a taste of honey's worse than none at all.

A few months back at a dear friend's going away party, I had a truly marvelous Tempranillo at my favorite wine bar. It was earthy like nothing I'd ever tasted, but bursting with bright strawberry and raspberry flavors as well. It was a god-damn picnic in a glass. The party happened to be at my favorite (closest)(but also genuinely favorite) wine bar, which updates their wine list constantly. Btw, Britt P, I still owe you like 20 bucks from that night. We're overdue for me to pay it back in drinks. Hit me up, girl.

Anyway, by the time I realized I'd never get this wine off my mind, I didn't know the name of it. Just the grape. I was the Prince after the ball in Cinderella, only instead of a glass slipper, I had only a vague understanding of what I'd tasted and a limited vocabulary to describe it. I basically went back a few months later and was like, "hey, who was that girl I met at that really crowded party and her shoes were like clear or maybe black or maybe I actually didn't see her shoes maybe I'm talking about her glasses? I'm not sure she wore glasses. Can you just tell me if there were any hot girls at the party?" But there were a lot of hot girls at the party. Obviously. It's a party. Who would start a wine bar if they weren't going to have a ton of hot girl wine equivalents?

The cool thing about Tempranillos is they can be light and bright or murky and sexy or anywhere in between. Tempranillo is the chief grape in the Rioja region, where this crazy complex and gold laced treat is from. And like Spanish people, and people of all races, there is a lot of variety among them. Cause of not racism.

But I was a bit wine racist. I thought I could fill the hole in my heart left by my wine crush Tempranillo with some other Tempranillo. Behold, said other Tempranillo:

Ok, so pretty, right? And I gotta say, this wine was DTF. The Cala Blanca 2010 Tempranillo, which I picked up 2 bottles of at the 5 cent wine sale, is full of smoke and black cherry. It's not complicated; it's not messing around. It's here to fill a void and we both know it. It's not about remembering it in the morning. It's about not being alone tonight. I should probably date more.

As satisfying as it was in the moment, as strong and as powerful its more immediately appealing flavor was, it wasn't my wine crush. The next day I woke up feeling more alone than before, having not slept quite as well as I would with my true wine crush, and nowhere near as well as I would have slept alone (sober).

I guess what I'm realizing is, yes, if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with. But that one shouldn't be just anyone. It should be you, by yourself, appreciating your own slumber and adoring your own dreams until true love comes along. As good as this wine was, and it was good, it wasn't worth it. I should have held out.

And maybe so should the wine. If it were not an object completely controlled by my actions. But still, maybe it should have. Because on Sunday, I brought my second bottle to my writers group. And with its charming bottle design and lush fruit flavors, I swear, a couple of my friends started crushing on it.

There's a lid for every pot. Unless you lose the lid, like the lid gets in a car accident or meets a younger, hotter pot, but then it's still ok because you have a trump card to play every time someone else is complaining. But generally speaking from the hopeful depths of my heart, there's some-wine out there for everybody. Maybe there's even someone crushing on me, not in spite of the fact that I just said "some-wine," but because of it.

Opaque as fuck, man.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


You know how it's so annoying when people who live in great climates complain about the weather? Me too but I don't care cause it's fucking HOT these days and I do not like it! Also the thing is I'm allowed to complain because I am going to tell you about a really stunning wine to cool off with, generally and specifically.

That is, unsurprisingly, Sancerre. Now, Sauvignon Blanc is, as I'm sure you all remember because you do nothing but read this blog, generally a tart and tasty wine with an acerbic personality. If you don't remember, just click here for a refresher on this refresher. I'm pretty sure everyone but Brittany Flores should have just clicked there. Brittany, your loyalty is a treasure; your encouragement my sun.

Vis-a-vis treasure, ditto Sancerre. Sancerre is Sauvignon Blanc specific to the Sancerre region of France. While New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (such as the delicious Kono, available at TJ's for like 8 bucks) are quite aromatic, Sancerres tend to be a little more reserved but with a cool, subtle flavor that will cool you down quick. I mean, it's French cheerleader wine. What is colder and bitchier than that? I paired the Sancerre I had on hand with my air conditioner:

The 2011 Laurent Reverdy is a little pricier than most of the wines I get, but the wine lady at Trader Joe's swore it was worth it. With the AC on and my best friend on her way over for dinner, it felt like the right time to find out.

This wine has everything you want from a Sauvignon Blanc, especially on a hot day, plus more. It's subtle and tart. It's bright and light and goes with all my sundresses. It's got green apple, pink grapefruit, wet stone and under-ripe pear on the nose, with a slightly savory note and gentle creaminess on the palate, almost like a hint of goat cheese. What's great also is that this is a really nicely balanced wine, so even as it warms up the alcohol doesn't assault the senses. Light petillance (Brittany knows what I'm talking about) intensifies the aroma. Pairs well, I hope, with scallops, asparagus and lemon pepper quinoa. The acid should help it stand up well to the strawberries we've got for dessert, and although the meringues I baked yesterday (off this recipe from my former food blog) are undoubtedly too sweet to pair with it, the Frenchness feels oh-so-proper. Cheers to Saturday night!

Can you tell I really wanted to get in a shot of my fingernails WHICH I DID MYSELF ok sorry goodnight.