Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The best wine in the world...

Is friendship. Duh. But the second best wine in the world is R. Lopez de Heredia "Vina Gravonia" Bianco Rioja 2004 and on Sunday, I had both.

My beautiful bestie. Not the girl in the background. That's my Ultimate Nemesis.

Pictured is Ms. Julia Cox, Friend Supreme as well the writer of this smart people equivalent to fan fiction. In this photo, she's not actually drinking the second best wine in the world, because when we were served the second best wine in the world, we were a little too busy exclaiming over it to bother with a picture.

If you've yet to attend a tasting at Silverlake Wine, remedy that immediately. Not only do they use my preferred spelling of "Silverlake" (the incorrect, one word spelling), it is simply the best wine tasting experience you can have. Somehow the folks there find the exact sweet spot between knowledgable and laid back, meaning anyone, from the most distinguished oenophile to the most dedicated beer drinker can have a hell of a time. For 12 bucks on Monday and Thursday evenings, you can have a delicious flight of generous pours. Mondays feature a spread of complimentary cheeses, Thursday's, bread and the finest butter I have ever known, and both nights you're welcome to bring food in. Killer food trucks linger outside, and one time my dear friend Aubrey brought in a pizza and that was ENCOURAGED.

But Sundays. Oh, man, Sundays at Silverlake Wine. I had no idea. I had some idea. I am on their mailing list. Sunday tastings are more formal (relatively speaking). They require a reservation. There are little speeches before each wine. They have start time of 3pm, which says, "this is serious wine tasting, not after work drinks." Sunday tastings are 20 dollars, feature five wines and come with an impossibly delicious spread of food. I finally went this past Sunday and, 3 hours later, dawdled home in the best mood ever and bought a ticket to The Lego Movie and went by myself and it was dope, obviously.

Just the atmosphere and company alone would have been enough. But, as I said, there was also this wine. This wine:

This wine.

I don't believe in love at first sight. Probably because people are constantly claiming to be in it with me like 24/7/365 plus more, like many times per day. But this was love at first sniff and I know it with all my heart.

This is the strangest wine I've ever tasted. The name of the grape escapes me, but it's definitely not one I've tried. It's an aged white, which is rare. Ten years old for a white is generally seen as too much. But whatever they're doing at this winery, they're killing it. Cool thing is, they don't exactly know. Most places that age in oak barrels use small, new ones so a wine will get lots of oak flavors (for whites this generally means the buttery, biscuit-y aromatics associated with California Chardonnay). These guys use old, big barrels, which means less direct contact with oak and less oak flavor. What's more, they don't wash them. Most places wash after every season. Nope. Here they love their wine so much they're afraid of changing anything, so they keep it as is, grime and all.

And it's easy to imagine a magic bacteria is the key to the success here. The first sniff was packed full of earthy, salty, rich aromatics. Brie cheese. Mushrooms. Julia said mushrooms on toast, and that's dead on because of the butter and near salinity in there as well. But there's also honeysuckle. Dried apricot. This wine is bone dry on the palate, not sweet at all, but there are layers we'd normally associate with a dessert wine--honey, dried fruits. It's old, but has the minerality and refreshing zing of a young Sauvignon Blanc. Lemon curd. Rosemary! Name an unexpected aromatic and it was probably in there. And it kept changing. They had decanted the wine for an hour (another rarity with whites). When I got a second pour after the tasting (4 dollars extra. FOUR DOLLARS FOR A GLASS OF THIS HEAVEN), it was a whole new bouquet.

We tried the wine with the delectable fish stew from Heirloom LA, but found it went better without food. There's so much happening here, you just want to take tiny sips and big whiffs forever and keep searching. If I had to pair this wine with something, I'd pair it with a little bit of pot. The things you would find!

I bought two bottles, and I plan to serve them with a nice little cheese plate and stellar conversation. If you happen to be in the neighborhood with 29.50 to spare, I highly recommend you do the same. I also cannot recommend friendship enough. Just, so good.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Zeus is the original anti-hero

You know what TV show I would watch? The one I just invented with my mind. Ok, so it's called "Dio" and it's the EXACT SAME plot as Fox's Kevin Bacon starrer "The Following" only instead of FBI agent Ryan Hardy being forced out of retirement to track down former local college professor and current serial killer Joe Carroll, it's me playing an RA who's forced out of retirement to curb parties thrown by current local college student and always non-murderer... Dionysus. Death count is approximately the same but maybe higher. Kevin Bacon/Ali Schouten still has a comically bland and exaggerated drinking problem that is referenced constantly and yields zero consequences. 5 million dollars or best offer. I do not accept Traveler's Cheques, as they are v dumb.

I love Greek mythology. Right before my listening-to Jewel-while-in-the-bath phase, I had a long listening-to-the-audio-book-of-D'aulaires-Book-of-Greek-Myths phase. It feels like it was always very clear who and what I would become in adulthood. Another tip off:

Greek myths have much to teach us. Mostly lessons about how you shouldn't have sex with animals, but also other lessons. What I love in particular about Greek myths is how flawed everyone is, humans and Gods alike. Zeus is kind of the original anti-hero. Everyone in Greek myths just does what they feel like and if that gets in the way of someone else's happiness, they get punished. Seems like a pretty good way to handle one's shit.

Dionysus is the God of wine. But he's also ME. He was the product of a rape (just like Detective (now Sargent) Olivia Benson, who is my favorite person to have ever existed) and had a tough road to being named the last God on Mount Olympus (just like I'll have a tough road being the first non-singing winner of NBC's hit reality show "The Voice"). He's really great at partying and also rage. Me too! He's also the dude who reluctantly granted Midas' wish that whatever he touched would be turned to gold (after Midas took care of Dionysus' drunk friend for 10 days, a thing I do sometimes or need done and gold is my favorite color). He hates Agave (his aunt, but whatever, I hate agave the thing!). He made the first wine in the world out of people, and I make out with people when I drink wine. He has the Bachae? I have many dope female friends! This is like, spooky, right?

Mainly, though, we're flawed but also excellent individuals who have mortal moms and love wine. A lot of people are like that. A lot of people are like a lot of people, because we're all more the same than we are different. This discovery led to the invention of empathy, which I like better than computers even. Maybe next time I meet someone I dislike, I should try to think of all our similarities, like I did with Dionysus. Maybe... if they're a totally dope God of wine! No but seriously guys, jk, jk, I do love most people so much probably too much because of my empathetic and functioning heart. Namaste.

Same as it ever was

Monday, February 10, 2014

An old fav

Enjoy this treat my little tricks! This is one of my favorite pieces of writing ever.

Dreams last... so long

When I was a youth, I LOVED Jewel. My eighth grade yearbook page quoted from "Foolish Games" and the quote was attributed to Jewel Kilcher because I knew Jewel's last name. I'd listen to her CD while taking a bubble bath and think about my feelings and feel all my thoughts but not my body, I still wasn't ready for that so I pretended I didn't exist below the neck like any decent woman should. I. Loved. Jewel. Then, I got older.

And nothing changed. The music of Jewel is perfect. Not everything on the internet has to be argumentative or hateful and not all stories about growing up have to be about change. All of Jewel's music is literally the voice of an angel cursed to live here on earth because her voice, face, body and personality were too beautiful for even heaven, accompanied by the mischievous cherub who followed her on her banished journey to our planet on a harp that just happens to sound like a guitar or piano sometimes. But one song in particular is just a universal truth that should be preserved in the Library of Congress alongside all of Twitter but not actually alongside, on a much more prominent and carefully temperature-controlled shelf. That song is "You Were Meant for Me."

"You Were Meant for Me" is the kind of thing all of us hope we are writing when we are writing: a simple grocery list of our activities and emotions that will somehow resonate with anyone who reads it. What's so special about this song is that it doesn't have to be about a lover. It can be about a family member. Your hair after yesterday's impulse haircut (this is where I'm currently at. I had JUST figured my hair out and now it is GONE and WHY). Your God damn keys if you're feeling it enough. And this song doesn't even have to be lonesome. Belt it out with friends and you will never lose them. It's true, it's Jewel angel magic, she makes friendships permanent.

By now, my loyal readers know I think wine goes with anything. I'd like to add that Jewel is the wine of people. Remember that time she went to the karaoke bar in a fake nose and sang "better than Jewel?" Remember when Nick Lachey called her pretty and in one look she said, "Really? You think someone in this room has a successful music career because of their looks and it's ME? My use of the term successful in your case is LIBERAL" but also the look was very cute? Remember how her teeth are???

Guys this has nothing to do with wine I'm just pretty amped about Jewel. Here's the video and lyrics in case you are in a quiet place and cannot play the video at full volume. A fun thing I just invented is you read the lyrics and in your head they play very loudly and also you make up your own video. In that version, if you're like me and often spend all day in PJs, you can replace the word "PJs" with the word "nightguard." Jewel doesn't mind :)

"You Were Meant For Me"

I hear the clock, it's six a.m.
I feel so far from where I've been
I got my eggs I got my pancakes too
I got my maple syrup, everything but you.
I break the yolks, make a smiley face
I kinda like it in my brand new place
I wipe the spots off the mirror
Don't leave the keys in the door
Never put wet towels on the floor anymore' cause

Dreams last so long
even after you're gone
I know you love me
And soon you will see
You were meant for me
And I was meant for you.

I called my momma, she was out for a walk
Consoled a cup of coffee but it didn't wanna talk
So I picked up a paper, it was more bad news
More hearts being broken or people being used
Put on my coat in the pouring rain
I saw a movie it just wasn't the same
'Cause it was happy or I was sad
It made me miss you oh so bad 'cause


I go about my business, I'm doing fine
Besides what would I say if I had you on the line
Same old story, not much to say
Hearts are broken, everyday.
I brush my teeth and put the cap back on
I know you hate it when I leave the light on
I pick a book up. Turn the sheets down.
And then I take a deep breath and a good look around
Put on my pjs and hop into bed
I'm half alive but I feel mostly dead
I try and tell myself it'll be all right
I just shouldn't think anymore tonight 'cause


Yeah... You were meant for me and I was meant for you.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Wine + sadness

Wine gets a bad rap sometimes for being the drink of sadness. I mean, even Donna thinks it is:

While champagne is the drink of toasts, un-sparkling wine is often seen in the media tucked into the hands of sad people. And not just any sad people. Wine is the beverage of choice for shitty sad people whose problems are trivial. Your husband leaves you, you hit the tequila bottle. You're a single girl whose best friend is getting married, oh look, there's some wine.

I'd be a hypocrite if I said I never got sad on account of some wine. After all, isn't sadness a feeling? But I do wonder about how somewhere along the line we went from Bacchus to bereavement (ahem, Nobel lit committee, that was some fine alliteration). I imagine the way it happened was something like this:


The men are important. They have coffees and papers and things. The most important one smokes a cigar and is named JOHN.

See here, gents, we've got to figure out a way to 
show sadness in the talkies without sacrificing 
profits from our shares in Big Alcohol.

What if all the sad people in movies are immigrants!

Make the only people who get sad be nuns!

No sadness!!!

No, no, no! These are all terrible ideas. 
Can't anyone come up with something good?

A young go-getter by the name of OLIVER, all the way at the end of the table is like, ummm. Slowly, everyone turns. They're like, how did you get in here?

How did you get in here, chimney sweep?

Please sir. I have an idea.

Hubbub. How could this guy have an idea?

Alright, speak it out.

Well, we all hate Europe, right? And 
the US will never make any good wine. 
What say we make wine the drink of 

Silence. Everyone turns to John.

Great scot, he's done it!



And that man grew up to be... Barack Obama.

I've been thinking a lot about when the media tells us to be sad, especially with many of my friends getting engaged and finding their careers start to take off. Women especially are depicted in television and film as jealous wrecks when their friends or siblings hit milestones before them. So many of us (I'm so guilty) have built solid Twitter timelines off of tired jokes about how pathetic we are compared to others. I find that the more I self-deprecate on Twitter, the more stars I get. And while that seems like a small thing, since I began tweeting regularly, I have become a less confident person. The positive reinforcement to my negativity can't be helping.

But back to sadness. Back to wine! I know I'm supposed to feel behind when a friend finds success, but that doesn't really have a negative impact on me. What I mean isn't that I don't feel an occasional twinge of jealousy, but rather that I feel behind in life pretty much all the time. I don't need a reminder! A friend finding happiness doesn't change the fact that I haven't. If anything, it's probably a good thing, as happy people feel very obligated to listen to their pals whine. Plus, when two people get engaged and at least one is your friend, they're not taking anyone off the market. If you aren't a total shit head, that dude was already off the market for you. I never expected to marry any of my friends' fiancees. Nor was I gunning for a promotion at a law firm. When a fellow comedy writer gets good news, at some point or another I might feel a little antsier than usual, but I find it encouraging when talented, hardworking people succeed, so I'll come down from my jealous tizzy pretty quickly. I find it delightful when people I love find love.

So next time you give me your good news and I pour a glass of wine, don't feel bad. Know that I'm a borderline alcoholic all the time, not just when good things are happening for you.

Poor Anne Wells. Probably off to pour herself a big glass of Gewurztraminer.