Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wine + activities

Wine and activities. An interesting combination. I've done some fine work will sipping on a little something: writing, kissing, internet dating. But sometimes, you gotta cut yourself off.

Paul wisely brought me nothing but a hug home that evening.

Other times, you forego a stunning, forest green leather skort because of tummy emphasis you never would have noticed if you'd had a drink or two:

Alas, the zippers.

The key is to recognize the level at which you are most productive and creative with your decision-making in regards to wine and then maintain that drunkenness as much as possible.

I hit the sweet spot tonight.

Pouring a little of my delicious wine from the night prior (that heavenly Zin) in full gym gear while slamming against a thick writers block until it yielded, I nailed it. One sip and I was in. I got more done in an hour and a half than I had all day. Not more in terms of volume. More in terms of good.

Now, I knew this level of sharpness and creativity was a special place, and not one that I could easily maintain. So, right around the time I passed the sweet spot, I opened up Paint and made this graph. It charts not how good or bad a decision is, but how interesting. That's why great writing can happen a little tipsy, but not wasted.

*The exception here is, of course, dancing, which can be done gracefully, creatively and stunningly between 0 and 6 glasses of wine, and erotically for many drinks after that depending on tolerance. Great dance decisions have been made at all wine-drunk levels.

The biggest boost happens at the first sip, with diminishing returns after that. it's the idea of wine, the relaxation it provides, that does more than the actual alcohol. By glass five, you're making dumb decisions you think are fascinating. You're wrong.

Something happens at glass six, though. A bottle of wine holds five glasses. So at 6, you're determining this is a fucking NIGHT. It's where you go from drunk to crunk. It's where you go from let's go to 7-11 to let's rob a 7-11. It's where most web series are born. Are these ideas good? No. But they are interesting. Most people's cool drunk stories take place at 6. Most stories people tell about being drunk are beyond that. But the really good ones, the ones people pass along? 6s. Just like the guys my girlfriends set me up with. Not hot enough to do again, but interesting enough to keep around.

Now, as they say on Radio Lab every fucking second, here's where it gets really interesting. The most interesting decisions are made at 6 glasses of wine, yes, but this is unsustainable. You can make one great decision but then your next decision will invariably be to drink more, and your next decisions after that will be boring or incapable of being made. The second glass may be the most freeing, the third the most arousing, and the 5th the funniest to read texts from in the morning, but it's glass 1 where you're at your most productive. Salud!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

California confusion

Lots happening this week in the world of wine. Like a houseguest!

James Isbell came to town and with him he brought tales from Google, lots of good vibes and a beautiful bottle of Cabernet:

This Cab was ripe and burst-y like Ellen Burstyn with plenty of classic Cabernet blackberry and black cherry flavors, plus pepper and leather. Its earthiness, which as you know I've been on a quest for, reminded me of a slightly disappointing wine I'd brought to a Golden Globes party the Sunday prior:

Black Mountain Pinot Noir was plenty tasty. It just wasn't what I was looking for in a Pinot Noir. Pinots are supposed to be light bodied with notes of red cherry and red meat and cola and earth. But this guy rocked raspberry and vanilla above all else. Wtf? Then I remembered another California Pinot Noir I tasted and realized I was starting to see a pattern (this is a real link. I get that I burned you with that Google one but this one is real). These were great wines, but not in the ways I was looking for in a Pinot Noir.

Another accidental gif! How am I doing this?! I think taking many pictures of the same person in the same place in a row? I'm literally magic. Also check out Kate's Olivia Pope wine glasses! I am told by people who watch television program "Scandal" that this is impressive! This is a long caption!

Ok, back to business. I didn't even realize I was buying the same brand when I picked up this Zinfandel:

I simply took Paul's suggestion that he often finds earth (and spice and smoke, his favorite aromatics in a wine) in California Zins. And now I see it. Now I see why Zinfandel is California's grape. And just like I can eat pizza here and tacos in New York but they aren't gonna be as good, I get why a great five dollar wine can only be found in the local wheelhouse.

Because this wine doesn't just suit my savory-minded style. No, this guy is layered as hell, combining Old World and New World aromatics for a full, fruity, leathery, peppery wine. Raspberry, blackberry, green and black pepper, leather, tobacco on the nose. A rich jamminess, a little caramel and smoke on the palate but not too sweet. Our other roommate David made a heavenly tomato jam this weekend and it reminds me of that, with its balance of sweetness, acid and layers on layers of spice. All this Old World prestige and New World bounty for I think it was 5 or 6 bucks? It's safe to say Black Mountain 2012 Zinfandel is one I'll be buying again.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wine crush part III: try a little tenderness

I've been known to occasionally compare wine to love, and one of my favorite topics is wine crushes, both requited and unrequited. Last week, I learned I'm predictable when it comes to my palate, favoring earthy wines above others. One of the recommended grapes on my chart was Sangiovese, so I took to my local Trader Joe's in search of a bottle. I'd tried Grifone's Primitivo to decent results, so I figured I'd give their equally cheap (4 bucks!), also charmingly labeled (sleek!) Sangiovese a try to celebrate finishing my puzzle (1000 pieces in 8 days!).

My first sip was a huge disappointment. Apparently that powerful aroma of mulch and leather and other things that should never be liquid is only found in expensive wines? But I hated to give in to that idea. So I tried a little tenderness. I sniffed with the wine still. I swirled. I dug deep into that wine, probing and nuzzling and pondering until I detected some earthy notes. Sure, it was mostly fruit. But there was more, too. Even if it wasn't really there, I found something special in that four-dollar fountain of truth.

"You could build a city in the forgotten spaces between things." This line from Jennifer Egan's "Look At Me" is one of my favorites. It's written on half an index card and hung over my desk, right beneath a framed photo of a koala and next to a bottle of scotch (my spirit animals). It helps me remember to notice the little things, and the non-things, and the feeling things we've been too successful in forgetting. It reminds me that the things we fail to notice and the things we fail to imagine are the same, which means that like the things we do notice, that which we imagine is real.

Is this wine good? Or is its sleek label on the green bottle, its being made out of a grape I was sure I'd love, its price tag so temptingly low that I found a way to like it? And if I savor it, if I build aromatics in the forgotten space between sips, does it really matter?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oh I fancy huh

It may shock some of you to learn that these posts aren't all that official. Like the Schouten Feelings Standard has yet to be adopted by sommeliers worldwide. Lame. For fun, I thought I'd share a proper tasting note I did last spring for my wine class. It also allows me to brag about the one time I drank a wine that cost more than $20 (thanks, Dad). True tasters will evaluate wines the same way every time, taking down each detail from price to palate. This allows them to compare wines efficiently, even if they haven't tasted a particular wine in a while.

Below my tasting note (after the terribly framed photo. Thanks, self) is an explanation of how to draw each of these official, non-feelings-based conclusions. Even if you don't plan to ever make a proper tasting note, these tips will help you evaluate wine wherever you are and whatever your price point. Because engaging our senses is fun! Speaking of fun, quick puzzle update, I am TEARING THROUGH this thing even without a box top so I don't know what it looks like. It's a great puzzle full of twists and turns and things are going really well between us.

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 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-spiced tacos.

Tasting note breakdown

Heading: Here you will provide all practical information about the wine. If wine tasting is like dating (which I have already told you it is), this is where you get the basic details: height, job, dopeness of hairstyle.

Appearance: Unlike in dating, here the appearance is the least important factor in determining anything about anything. A few clues, however, can give us potential insight into a wine's age, style and grape varietal, but all must be confirmed by other factors. A quick swirl can help you determine the body of the wine. Unless a wine is high in sugar and alcohol, like port, which will move more slowly, it should be in the normal range.

When I say age, I mean age for that wine. A Cabernet may be too young to drink even after a few years, while a Sauvignon Blanc should be consumed quickly and will start to look old perhaps after only 18 months. Red wines get lighter with age while white wines get darker. A young red wine will have a purpley-blue tone that reaches all the way to the edge of the liquid when the glass is tipped slightly, while over time the color will move toward a translucent rust-brown color. White wines will be clear and bright in youth, then they'll brown over time. But a good Pinot Noir is often transparent, and a beautiful Amarone will be brown-ish in color even when young. And you may prefer an older wine. I sometimes do. Young wines will yield more fruit-forward flavors. Older wines develop what is known as a "bottle bouquet" and have weirder, more complex, tertiary flavors in play.

This is also the time to notice sediment or petillance. Sediment is extremely rare and usually a good thing. Most wine now is fined and filtered, expect for old or fancy or super organic wines. So before you send a sediment-y wine back, consider how expensive it is. Seriously. The more expensive, the more likely that sediment is supposed to be there. What you believe is sediment may also be tartrates, a natural byproduct of tartaric acid, which is the acid from grapes. Not an issue. Petillance is common in delicate whites. If you see it in a red that's not supposed to sparkle, it could be a sign of bad things. Ask your server for their opinion.

Nose: Contrary to popular belief, you should not immediately swirl your wine. You'll actually pick up a different set of aromatics when a wine is still and right after it's been swirled. So give it a good sniff and make some notes before swirling. Then spin and get your nose up in there again. Cool, right? The incomparable Shelby Ledgerwood gave us a neat tip for helping to determine what we're smelling: start broad then narrow it down. So start with citrus, then consider what kind and even what form. Fresh grapefruit. Lemon curd. Dried orange peel. Start with earth, then narrow that down: dirt, leather, tobacco, horse. I don't always get all the way there (see: "earth" in every post I've ever written), but it makes trying less intimidating.

Palate: The same as nose, plus more! You may get slightly different aromatics on the palate (known as "in-mouth aromatics"). To help with that, hold the wine in your mouth and suck a little air in through your teeth. You'll get a little slurping noise. The air coming in helps you activate your nose, which is where tasting really happens. Our mouths only taste sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. Everything else is scent. Here you'll evaluate those taste elements (dry wine or sweet, how dry and how sweet?). Salty wines don't really exist, but some super fresh whites will be so dry they'll seem salty, as you'll salivate a lot after drinking them. Bitterness comes from tannin. The tannin level will inform your serving and pairing suggestions (which will come in the conclusion). Fats cut tannins, and bitter foods like greens boost the bitterness. Most wines do NOT need to be decanted or oxygenated or let to breathe. Only super tannic wines require this, so don't pour out your reds automatically. Taste first, pour second. The acidity and finish are also evaluated here. I'm terrible at evaluating acidity. I think it's like determined by the sides of your tongue? And how dry your mouth is after? Sorry, bros. The finish is how long the flavors persist on the palate. 2-4 seconds is short, 5-8 is medium, 9+ is long. A classic "one Mississippi, two Mississippi..." in your head will do.

Conclusion: Here is where you evaluate anything you want about the wine. The value for it's price, what to serve with it, when to drink it, how it compares to other wines of its varietal and/or region. It seems like a good spot for some feelings, but a true taster will be using an objective system. It's not about if you like it, it's about the structure, nose, and quality of the wine. I tend to do a little of each. I try to evaluate first objectively, then in terms of how much I like it. This allows me to determine the kinds of wines I like to drink. So at this point, even without my recent discovery that I'm embarrassingly predictable, I know I enjoy a murky, dirty, Old World-style wine. Give proper tasting a try. At the very least, you'll have taken a moment out of your drinking to engage the senses. If that's not the best form of meditation, I don't know what is.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Adventures in wine tasting and how it turns out I'm totally predictable

As I mentioned last week, I signed up for this HuffPo-certified wine club. The first thing they do in this club is send you mini bottles of wine. You taste those, and your reactions to them creates a taste profile that helps Lot18 send you wines you'll like. This weekend I got my tasting kit and learned a very important lesson:

Wine tasting is exactly like dating.

As a 27-and-a-half-year-old woman of the modern era with breasts and minimal shyness, I've had the opportunity to date a lot. I'm not one of these people who likes going on dates. I admire those people. I really do. I wish I could be like them. But for me, dates are all about anxiety. Will he like me? Will I like him? Will he like me but I don't like him and then I'll blow him off totally gracelessly and rack up even more bad romantic karma? Will I be honest, like everyone tells you to be, only to be known as a bitch forevermore (the guaranteed consequence of honesty, by the way. I've determined there are only two ways to tell someone you're not interested that will spare their feelings and yours: say you've decided to be exclusive with someone else, or just ignore them entirely and let them assume you died. Lying and disappearing may seem immature, because they are, but they're also the easiest and kindest way to go about things. No one wants to hear the truth. Anyone who says they do is lying. People want to hear they're great and that is all).

What got me thinking about all this, besides the fact that I'm a human being, was my tasting kit. Lot18 gives you six wines, two whites and four reds, along with basic tasting instructions (that are woefully incomplete), and a piece of paper to put your glasses on which makes it seem like they had some extra glossy card stock lying around because why. I was so excited to get deep into my nuanced reactions to each wine so as to create a specific profile for my taste buds and then receive wine each month catered to my very whims.

So you can imagine my disappointment when the only questions about the two white wines were: which did you like better? How much more, a lot or a little? And that was it. How are you supposed to tell anything about my tastes just from that??

Another disappointment was the wines themselves: Ten Sisters 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and Finial 2011 Chardonnay from Sonoma. I get what they did here: gave me the two main families of white wine, buttery and tart. And while each wine did a fine job representing its typicity (meaning what wines of that grape and region tend to taste like), neither was particularly exciting. The Sauvignon Blanc had a mineral quality and tartness, but without the burst of grapefruit and green apple I expect, especially from Marlborough. The Chardonnay was pure buttered popcorn and baked red apple, which might be nice for a Chardonnay but just isn't for me. I didn't really like either wine, but didn't want to get sent a bunch of Chardonnay, so I said I liked the Sauvignon Blanc much better. Sort of like when a friend sets you up with an actress and a doctor, and you don't like either, but since everyone in LA loves to hate on actresses, you say prefer the doctor for future reference. But you sleep with the actress because, I mean, of course. Like I wasn't going to not drink the Chardonnay. There was perfectly good alcohol in there. End of the whites.

I moved on to the reds expecting more bland typicity and unrevealing questions. Voila 2009 Pinot Noir from California was next, and it had the basic earth and fruit balance of a California Pinot, some berries, fruitier than its European counterparts but still a bit savory. It was fine. And just as I started to worry that maybe it was me, maybe I was too picky, maybe I'd never find a wine I could truly love because I didn't love myself, I took a whiff of the Nebbiolo. And, as it turns out...

Everyone has a type.

Ordine di San Giuseppe 2011 Nebbiolo d'Alba is a star. Licorice and dirt and blackberry and leather and pepper and WOW. And I hadn't even tasted it. On the palate this wine was super tannic but still velvety and weird and wonderful. Now, here's the thing. I've tasted Nebbiolo maybe twice in my life. So even if this is typical, it's new to me. Here's the other thing: I don't care. This is exactly the kind of wine I like. Which made me realize that this, too, could be a basic, typical wine. But when you find your type, to you, it's new and electrifying, even if it's just like all the other wines you've tried or people you've dated because there's a reason you keep going back. It's chemical.

I go back and forth with online dating. I was off for about four months but I recently reactivated my profile. When you do this, all your old messages pop back up. Some of the users have since left the site, but if they're still on it, but some are still around, looking for love. I logged in and found most of the messages were from users who were no longer active. But there was one chain with a guy I'd been messaging back and forth with quite a bit, who I seem to have been pretty into. Too bad I left the site. It seems like we could have dated. But I'm not too worried about what might have been, because, you see, we did.

About a month after I left the world of internet love, I met this guy in real life. We dated for six weeks or so, and then just stopped calling each other. While we were perfect on paper, I think we both realized the spark wasn't there. That's how I felt, anyway. I have no idea why he just disappeared, the bastard. And I know he didn't just die because I ran into him since then. He was on a date. She looked a lot like me.

In our messages, this guy talks about his new favorite place in LA. We went there on our second date. We discuss our favorite books. We did it again in real life. I had no clue when we met or throughout the relationship that we'd had this correspondence. If he did, he didn't let on. Remember, my profile disappeared when I deactivated my account, so he wouldn't have had the pictures for reference anymore. But this wasn't fate. This was too banal for fate. This was just the inevitability of two people who were each others' types. When you find someone or something whose qualities you're predetermined to like, you're gonna like them, no matter how typical.

There were a couple other wines, Letterpress Red Blend (I think, this wine needs a far less confusing label) and Fortuna 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles. They were solid but nothing compared to the novel Nebbiolo. More typicity at work. I answered the shockingly few questions dutifully and received my profile.

The whites profile was dumb. I mean, I compared two wines I didn't like without ever being allowed to point out that I liked neither. So I clicked to the reds, and was embarrassed to find...

They nailed it.

I mean they just got me. I'm just as typical and predictable as these wines! In only a few questions, I managed to be pegged for my exact tastes. I love Tempranillos. Earthy wines are my fav. I was just as fated to love the wine that was perfect on paper for me as I was inevitably going to date that guy.

I ended up canceling my membership when I saw the wines they planned to send me. Until they expand their inventory, it seems they'll be sending more of a sampler than wines tailored to the members' tastes as promised. I know what I like. But I also know that the most important thing is to be surprised. That element was lacking in my autumn courtship and exploded from my glass of Nebbiolo. Surprise doesn't mean dating or drinking against type. It just means that even if something is perfect on paper, it needs an x factor to put it over the edge. The scent of licorice. The subtle kiss of leather. Or really good sex.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wine + nothing: a true lush's guide to wine pairing

Wine is amazing and also terrifying. Wine combines a beautiful history with fascinating science with a treasure hunt of sensations (aromatics! Tannins! Mouth-feel!) with getting rosy-cheeked and uninhibited. The problem is that when you don’t know every detail about all of this stuff, you can feel like wine is like that exclusive foursquare game the cool girls in third grade started where they said they had a rule of “no lines” so only the four of them could play but then when one of them was sick and you asked if now you could join they said they didn’t feel like playing foursquare today and you wanted to die a petite and horrible third grade death. So you pretend you don’t care about foursquare or mouth-feel because you’re not in the club.

Nothing creates this feeling of inadequacy more than wine pairings. I’ve taken wine classes. I have a little confidence. But when it comes to pairing wine with food, I’m usually at a bit of a loss, because the rules are full on bullshit. Ideally, you’re supposed to open up a few bottles and taste each with the food. I’m sorry, but who has the cash for that? Who has the food all ready to go before wine pouring time? And who’s throwing a dinner party at our age where it’s not up to the guests to bring beverages? This “ideal” situation is fraught.

So here’s my solution: don’t pair wine with food. Pair wine with feelings.

Are you feeling anxious? Calm down with something rich and red to dive into, like Syrah or Cabernet or Don Draper making you jam. Sweaty? I don’t care if you’re serving beef, you need a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to cool down. Already pretty drunk? Low-alcohol, mega refreshing Lambrusco is the way to go.

Pairing wine with feelings is most important when you’re not serving it with anything at all. Here I think it’s fair to make some hard and fast rules that you should totally break depending on your mood, what you like to drink, and what you have on hand/know how to open.

Official wine pairing rule: Serve red wine with red meat.
Wine + feelings rule: Serve red wine with rain.
Rain inspires either grouchy or poetic feelings. Either way, with both hands on your glass and your nose deep in it, sink into the murkiest, earthiest red you can find (if you have only one bottle of wine in your home, this qualifies) and read “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” again because—controversial statement alert—it is the best one by far.

Official wine pairing rule: Serve white wine with fish or vegetables.
Wine + feelings rule: Serve white wine after sex.
Let me set the scene here. You were funny and cool at dinner. Your partner was right there with you. Dinner progressed to your place which progressed to yesssssss. Now you’re thinking the water/cuddle/dream sharing aspect could be extended by sharing a glass or a bottle. You gulp your wine, thirsty from your coital adventures, feasting on the other person’s descriptions of when they knew they liked you. You throw back your head and let out a throaty, ultra-charming laugh and in the light from the bedside lamp, your hair is tousled and your neck is swan-like and your ears are a delicate arabesque and your teeth… are bright f-ing red. If you’re drinking fast and not eating and up close and personal, stick to white.

Official wine pairing rule: Don’t serve wine that’s been open for more than a day.
Wine + feelings rule: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA what am I a sultan? A sultan made of wine? Yeah no I’m def drinking this.

Official wine pairing rule: Make sure the acidity of the wine is higher than the acidity of the food.
Wine + feelings rule: Don’t drink wine before dropping acid. Let the acid kick in first, then decide how you feel.

Official wine pairing rule: High tannin wine like Cabernet needs to be cut with something fatty like steak, and will taste bitter if served with salad or other greens.
Wine + feelings rule: Don’t feel guilty about enjoying a glass of wine, or ordering the cheapest bottle on the menu, or not knowing the history of barrel making. It will make your experience bitter and fruitless. Enjoy yourself. A little treat and the pleasure it gives you is lovelier than all the fad diets and wine books in the world. Also, if you drink wine and eat salad, you are a straight up French person and I would like to be your friend.

But really, the only rule that matters when tasting and pairing and drinking and learning about wine is to have fun. Actually, additional rule, have enough cheap stemware that you can be super gracious if someone breaks a glass. Because there’s nothing that doesn’t go with being a lovely hostess.

(still super into this graphic which i made with my own treasured hands)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My friends are doing some pretty exciting things

You know, friendships can be tricky. You have to pick super awesome people, then be loyal and kind to them. Oh, wait, so no, they're not that hard at all.

My friends are doing great things constantly, but I thought I'd take a moment to point out three in particular who did things that fit in ever so nicely with the themes of this blog: wine, food and comedy.

On the food front, my friend Gianna has been delivering solid recipes and adorable insights on her quest for Italian citizenship over at A Pinch of Direction for a while now. In addition to some of the tastiest recipes I've ever been blessed to try (the passionfruit jam will change your life), Gianna's candid admission of mistakes and tips for correcting them in advance are something I'd like to see in every cookbook. She changes recipes to suit her mood or diet and encourages you to do the same, all of it with heart and humor. It makes cooking fun and improvisational and collaborative instead of intimidating. Definitely check her out and get cooking.

Comedy-wise, I am beyond excited about my friend Kate's super new and already super successful new project, Ladies Against Humanity. Created in the most organic, why-not fashion when she heard Cards Against Humanity had no female writers, Kate expected it to be a silly little website to show a few coworkers. It took her about 20 minutes to make it. When I retweeted her a mere 2 hours after she created it, I didn't realize I was actually jumping on a bandwagon, as the site is already a runaway success. And of course it is, just look at it, it's hilarious. You can follow and tweet suggestions for additional cards here. Guys, this is the person with whom I will be watching The Millionaire Matchmaker tonight. I feel like I won the friendship lottery.

Oh, and isn't this blog supposed to be about wine? Totally killing at being a social human being and aspiring oenophile is my friend Liz, who has started The West Hollywood Wine society. Liz is a great hostess. I've witnessed and been guilty of spills, glass breaks, and all sorts of mischief, and she always takes it in stride. But this might be her most genius gathering yet. At the bi-weekly meetings, she has everyone bring a bottle based on a theme and say something about it, plus has two people "volunteer as tribute" (her adorable way of having a couple guests bring snacks). Liz kept the ball rolling on discussion and even let me lead douchey, official-ish tastings. The pours got bigger as the hours got smaller, and suffice it to say I had way more fun on a Wednesday night than anyone should be allowed. Kudos, Miss Elizabeth! Thank you for letting me bring my tasting glasses and act very pretentious, and for the moment you hushed the room and encouraged me to recite a poem. Your friendship choice here may have been questionable, but I am grateful you made it. And if anyone is interested in my selection for last night's theme, "Your Go-to Wine," it was this guy.

some of last night's crew

That's not rose.


lovely liz

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I just did this...

Won't you join me and we can do our tasting kitz together?

The thing I wish I'd done, though, is actually work up the nerve to dye my hair this wine-inspired color, as it appeared when I was beneath a red spotlight. Thoughts?

2014 is gonna be OUR YEAR

Here are some things I have done in 2014 that prove it will be MY YEAR SKY'S THE LIMIT AIRHORN AIRHORN BIG PARADE:

-Mixed maple sugar candy into my coffee. It was very sweet!!!!!
-Ate dinner at 4:30pm. Alright!!!!!
-Went to the doctor with my new health insurance. Got a referral to see additional doctors so I can figure out what is the deal is with the mole between my toes that looks suspicious!!!!!
-Saw "Say Yes to the Dress" for the first time. And then an additional 14 times cause there are many episodes on a website called!!!!!
-Sent some very cool text messages. Just classic fun smart texts. Also had a phone call with my best friend so long that her phone overheated and shut off and she was in a cold location!!!!!
-Bid on and won my new boyfriend for the next three to seven weeks:
You can bet your bottom dollar there will be some wine + puzzlin' happening in my bedroom and no this is not a sex euphemism but I think maybe 2014 is the year I could make it one!!!!!
-Did not sufficiently wash some kale I cooked and it was quite gritty. Ate it anyway!!!!!
-Spent a long time researching whether or not Corey Stoll is currently dating anyone and if so who. Still do not know!!!!!
-Worked vigorously to make the phrase "no iro" happen like when you want to point out that what you are saying or doing is not ironic but rather genuine. Has not yet happened!!!!!
-Watched "The Godfather Part II" for the very first time. Italians!!!!!
-Inspired you all with this classic fun smart post. Take action of your life and be better yous! Your current yous are unacceptable!!!!! Starshine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Here you go:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wine + naming + 2 blondes from Brown

Isn't it just amazing that I haven't had a single drop of wine in almost six months? Hahahahahahahahahaha
oh man

This probably appears to be a classic case of New Year's resolution blogging, but if that's what you're thinking, let me tell you right now that you could not be more wrong. What actually happened was that over Thanksgiving when I was back in Boston, I ran into a lovely friend from college. Colleen and I hadn't kept in touch but when I heard her joyous, infectious laugh a few tables away and leapt up to say hello, she told me she'd been following the blog and missed my posts. As someone whose writing is seen mostly by people who I literally force at literal knifepoint to click the link literally, this pretty much made my year. I promised her I'd get right back to it. And six weeks later I am honoring that promise due to a new year's resolution I made so yes that is exactly what happened just also there was additional procrastination. This blog is nothing if not a series of gripping true stories full of high-octane twists.

In addition to Colleen's luminous presence in my life, another dear college pal, Kelly, is on an extended visit to LA and I am loving it. In part because she recently brought over a bottle of this cheeky little number and posed coquettishly by my fireplace with it at my insistence.

A fun fact about Kelly: when I asked her if she had anything she wanted me to plug, she said maybe I could have readers donate to the equal justice initiative. You guys, Kelly thinks you're kind and rich! So funny.

Kelly brought over this straightforward, drinkable cab to pair with what I call gourmet cooking (combining two different types of prepared food and adding sauteed kale), sparkling conversation (she ate a toothpick on accident and I laughed for pretty much ever) and the movie Blue Jasmine (put it into your eyeballs immediately, it's great). Its aggressively edgy label (don't let the classic font fool you--that is a swear word in there!) made me ponder what's in a name, making the first person to ever ask this question particularly in this poetic fashion. #1.

Wine naming seems to have two schools of thought: traditionalists and trailblazers. Fancy European wines can be forgiven and even lauded for their traditionalism. Even the not-so-fancy Euro wines that boast flowery language (what I call French) and quaint or stark designs benefit from a traditional name and label; I'm often intimidated into buying them even though "chateau" on a label just means anywhere wine is made, and that can be anywhere. But New World wines have taken the world by storm for precisely their fun-loving, no fuss attitudes. A wine like Fat Bastard embraces this trend and I think other wines would be smart to as well. Since New World wines don't have tradition on their side, a dull label and/or name that doesn't stand out from the crowd, and the uneducated drinker won't have fun plucking it from the bunch. The trailblazers are honoring the tradition of New World winemaking, which is inherently non-traditional.

All this may sound like I'm judging a book by its cover, but that's only because that's exactly what I'm doing. And why not? Wine tasting is all about engaging the senses. That means letting yourself have a giggle when you eye Fat Bastard in the arms of your slender dinner guest. It means jamming a candle into your favorite finished bottle and lighting that delight on fire. It means someone should make a wine called Fuck Buddy and I will buy the shit out of it.

Because Fat Bastard didn't taste like chocolate and caramel and bacon. Fat Bastard tasted like decent red wine with some classic cab aromatics like blackberry and black cherry. But would I buy it? Totally. The bottle is dope. We hear a lot about blind tastings and we scorn marketing, but what if we celebrated the visual it as part of the winemaking process? Two-buck Chuck kicked ass at marketing and we love to love to hate it. Yup, two loves. It makes sense. It makes some sense. Maybe it's the writer in me, maybe it's because I feel like naming wine is the one part of the process I could ever hope to do, but I think naming a wine could be a kind of poetry or even mixed media art, where words and wine collide. 

Also, cursing is like my third favorite thing after wine and attention, so it'd be good to see more of it.