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Funny Name... Serious Business

Date: Mon, Jun 21, 2010 Wine Tasting

Luckily this will be a short work week for me...

Why? I'm heading to none other than Walla Walla, Washington.

Sounds like a funny place, right? Well, there will be much serious business to attend to. That's because I'm traveling to this oddly named wine country to attend the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference.

I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous about getting on a plane, traveling across the U.S., and leaving my wife and wine at home. I don't know what to expect but I'm hoping that I get to try a lot of wine (both good and bad), meet some cool new winos, and have an overall awesome time.

I wonder what the weather is like in Walla Walla right now?

I'll make sure to share more details... but in the meantime, happy sippin'!


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Five Words to Live By...

Date: Tue, Jun 15, 2010 Wine Tasting

There are five words you should always remember. These five words will help you get through almost any challenge. Just reminding yourself of this simple phrase is calming, reassuring, and uplifting all at the same time...

"...these things come and go"

I recently learned about the importance of this simple phrase while studying some of the ways by which many pro golfers help get themselves through a bad streak of play otherwise known as the "shanks". Instead of getting down on themselves, throwing clubs, cursing, and otherwise acting like morons, this phrase gently reminds them about one important rule: people are inherently good. Just because the outcome of our actions doesn't turn out the way we hoped, doesn't mean that there weren't good intentions to produce the desired results. It just means that things didn't turn out the way we hoped. After all, that's life. Whether good or bad, intentional or indifferent, ..."These things come and go"

As I am writing this I realize I should throw in a word of caution. Don't read too far into what I am saying. I'm not sharing this with you because something has gone wrong with the news I announced in my last post. Instead, I figured I would share this concept with you since I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how this phrase applies to wine, hobbies, life.... etc.

When I first started drinking wine, like many other people living in the U.S., I fell in love with CA Cabs. Then I tried some pretty cool Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and even, dare I say it, Merlot! Yes, there are many bottles of Merlot that I really love. It's not all love when it comes to drinking wine. Sometimes I get bored with one of my old favorites. Sometimes I go back one of them and think to myself "what were you thinking, this tastes nowhere near how I remembered it". Sometimes I just shut up and drink merely to enjoy whatever my glass has to offer.

Feeling somewhat unmotivated by my wine cellar, I try something different. That's why today I opened a bottle of Zantho Gruner Veltliner. For someone new to the world of wine, "different" would be an understatement when it comes to this Austrian grape. It tastes like a lot of other things, yet completely different from them all. If you're bored and looking for something new, you owe it to yourself to try this grape. You may not like it... you may absolutely love it... but whatever you experience on your tongue or via any other senses during this journey we call life, don't forget to tell yourself...

"...these things come and go"

...so go out and enjoy them all before they are all gone!


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Drinking for two...

Date: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 Wine Tasting

It's funny how some things in life change...

Although it was only three years ago, it feels as distant as a past life. I stood over the stove anxiously preparing one of the few dishes I knew how to make. Let me just start by saying that my spaghetti and meat sauce is by far quite unimpressive. That didn't stop me. I was hoping that the love I put into it would make up for the fact that it was made from Ragu and nothing that could be considered as prepared from scratch.

Before crafting this half-assed meal, I talked a lot of trash. After all, this was my "signature dish", "known worldwide", and like nothing else anyone has ever tasted. The truth was much more modest. To make my signature dish, I would brown some ground meat, stir in some Ragu, and pour the mixture over boiled spaghetti. I've been told before that I don't know how to cook... I just know how to heat things up. Well, if there was ever a dish that fell into the "heat things up" category, this was it.

Sometimes you just know...

Ever have that feeling? You know, the one that tells you that everything is going to be okay... or the one that tells you that something just feels right? Well, the second Sheila tasted my "signature dish", looked up at me, and smiled, I knew that she was the one and only woman for me. It wasn't long before we were married. I'd like to thank my spaghetti and meat sauce for helping me realize what was in front of me. I'd like to thank this simple dish for helping me find one of the most difficult things in this world... true love.

Tonight, Sheila asked me to make this dish for her. I thought about it for a second, smiled, and gladly accepted the challenge. While a lot has changed since that first time we enjoyed the same dish, one thing remains the same: I love her as much as the day we first met.

To celebrate the moment, I opened a bottle of Bivio Tuscan Red. The wine went well with the mild yet meaty pasta. A great solution to the everyday drinker question of "what should I open tonight?" This has become a much more difficult question for me to answer. After all, Sheila may be eating for two, but I am drinking for two.


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This place is definitely "IN"...

Date: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 Wine Tasting

Anyone who knows me will agree... I am anything but a snobby "connoisseur". I've had people call me a "wine expert" but that just makes me uncomfortable and quite honestly, it's NOT true! I may know a thing or two from my experiences in the world of wine and the places I've visited, but I would NEVER profess to be an "expert" or a "connoisseur". I just know what I like. That's it. If that makes me an expert, then guess what, you can easily be one too. To that point, I would have to say that if anyone else out there professes to know everything about wine, you probably should put them to the test before you take their word. Chances are, they're full of crap!

When it comes to food, it's the same story. Heck, I probably know more about wine than food despite the fact that I've been stuffing my face before I even had the ability to do so using my own motor skills. I love food... probably as much as I love wine.... but that doesn't mean I am a connoisseur. It just means that I like to ENJOY the things in life that awaken my sense of smell, taste, and buzz.

That's why I am not scared to share a secret of the culinary world that most foodies would probably gasp at. If you live on the west coast, you probably have experienced it for yourself. Those of us on the east coast have to wait patiently for our chance to voyage westward to enjoy the fruit of this dining establishment otherwise known as "In n Out."

Yep, I said it. Anytime I hit the west coast, my first plan of attack is to find one of these greesejoints and stuff my face with a double-double animal style burger, accompanied by a basket of fries, and a rich chocolate shake. While I admit that this meal will ultimately take off valuable years from my life, I don't care. Like a lemming with a bad case of the munchies, I eagerly jump off the cliffs of snobby culinary cuisine and indulge myself in the bottomless pit of fat and cholesterol.

As with my wine... I eat what I like and like what I eat!

What else could be more important?


French wine: Buy 6 or more bottles and get 1/2 off shipping with coupon code "wine81"

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How do you take it?

Date: Mon, May 24, 2010 Wine Tasting

I always take life with a grain of salt, ...plus a slice of lemon, ...and a shot of tequila.


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Elvis vs Blueman? And the winner is...

Date: Sun, May 23, 2010 Wine Tasting

What is it about Vegas that makes it so hard to get back to reality when the fun's over?

I'm officially broke, tired, hungover, and most importantly, glad to be home!

I saw Cher, Cirque du Soleil Elvis, and the Blueman Group... lemme just say that the Blueman Group was my favorite show of the three. They freakin' ROCK!


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It's About Time...

Date: Sun, May 16, 2010 Wine Tasting

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like to stay in one place and those who like to constantly move around. I consider myself a mix of the two. I usually like to go through a period of change and then enjoy those changes for months if not years. I am not the kind of person who likes to change jobs, move from one town to the next, or even change my social circle on a frequent basis. However, every once in a while, I like to shake things up by peppering in a little change into my routine.

Change is coming. May and June are going to be some exciting months for me. I really haven't done much traveling since last February. Honestly, I am glad. Airports have become such a pain in the ass, even wine doesn't seem to help me get through it. I am hoping the thought of arriving in Las Vegas will help calm my nerves. And in June, where else could I hope to go then the wine country of Walla Walla Washington for the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference. It's going to be an interesting couple of months and I am really looking forward to it.

... after that, who knows, maybe even a bigger change is coming into my life.... but I'll save that little surprise for a future post! :)


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Golf: The Addiction Behind the Wine Drought

Date: Sun, May 9, 2010 Wine Tasting

I have a problem... sure, you may be thinking, what's new? Well, this time my addiction isn't with wine. It all started last December. It was the first time I ever held one in my hands and for some reason, ever since, I haven't been able to put it down since. Yes, you may have guessed it... the object I picked up was a golf club and now I am addicted to golf.

If only there were a way to marry my love for wine with my new addiction to golf. I've tried bring bottles of wine out to the golf course, but glassware still seems to be the problem. I may be a bit trashy, but drinking wine out of plastic cups with a bunch of dudes just feels ridiculous.

I never thought I would say this, but aside from breaking an 80, my goal right now is to conscientiously drink more wine when I am not out on the golf course. On top of that, I am going to Las Vegas in a few weeks... there is sure to be some good wine ahead of me there!

As part of this effort, the other night I opened a bottle of Purple Angel Carmenere/Petite Verdot blend from Montes. This Chilean red was gritty, full bodied, and overall very nice. While there was certainly nothing wrong with this bottle, I think when it comes to these types of traits, I prefer a Monastrell over this Carmenere blend. Why? Much more bang for the buck!

How do you balance your hobbies with your love for the grape?

Please help a wino in need! :)

Buy 6 or more bottles of wine online and get 50% off shipping with coupon code "wine92"

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The Most Important Rule of Tasting Wine...

Date: Mon, Apr 26, 2010 Wine Tasting

As a wine neophyte, my quest for knowledge began like many others before it. By typing "how to taste wine" into that blank little box we all too often toss our queries for knowledge into like a wishing well, I searched for the holy grail. I read, I discussed, and most importantly, I DRANK! Many bottles, clicks, and books later, I realized the truth behind tasting wine. Sadly, the minds behind Google failed me and the wisdom of the critics eluded me. It's not about palate, character, color, or even those sad tears of wine that collect on the side of the glass. The most important rule of tasting wine is to understand that wine is meant to be enjoyed as a condiment.

Like ketchup or even the stinky sauerkraut you put on a hot dog, wine is meant to compliment life... not consume it. Add it to a boring day, quiet conversation, or just a night of fun as casually and carefully as you would season a well cooked steak. To focus solely on a bottle would be to see everything else with blinders. Don't get me wrong, wine is awesome... but it is not alone. Once your wine compliments instead of consuming your experience, you can truly enjoy EVERYTHING it has to offer.

Try it next time you enjoy a bottle of wine....


(This message brought to you by The Wine Whore)

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The Best Wine Under $15

Date: Sun, Apr 18, 2010 Wine Tasting

Yesterday was one of those days that you just know is going to end badly. It was like going to a Chinese buffet. You start with good intentions but an and four soiled plates later, you just want to puke. That's exactly how yesterday went for me... including the part about wanting to blow chunks!

Okay, so here was the itinerary: start the day hanging with Michael J Fox, Jorge Lopez, and Ronde Barber while drinking beer at the Outback Pro Am golf tournament. Ten beers, two shots, and five hours later I move on to a wine tasting party. I was sloppy to say the least following the afternoon's festivities, but things only got worse!

I started off with good intentions. I really wanted to leave the wine party with the winning prize of an entire free case of wine. All I had to do is bring the wine that scores highest amongst the group. At the end of the night, I almost felt bad taking the free case of wine home with me. Not because I was too drunk to even carry it to the car (thankfully, my patient and loving wife drove), but because I could barely finish tasting through all of the wines that were brought. You know that feeling you get when you know that one more sip will cause you to loose it all... well I was there! Slurred words, wobbling, and even passing out on the couch... my wife must have been so proud.

Aside from apologizing to the hosts of the wine party who not only were cool enough to plan out this event, but were also understanding about my drunken zombiness, I want to share with you the wine that won it all. These kinds of wine parties really challenge your ability to choose a wine that other people of varying experience and tastes would enjoy. Oddly enough, the more expensive wines DO NOT always perform well in this type of competition. People tend to like a semi-sweet wine with just enough character to make it enjoyable without being overwhelming. I knew I had found the winner when I tried this particular wine last weekend while out at dinner. I ordered a glass of it with dessert and knew this was THE ONE!

The wine: Chateau St. Michelle Riesling

Thanks to this wine I now have a free case of wine, a mild headache, and a lot of apology phone calls to make!

... I better get dialing!


Here's a full list of what was entered and how they did:
White Wine Type Region Year Price Store Total Rating
Lakeridge Table Wine Florida 8.99 ABC 42
Domaine de la Chauriniere Muscadet France 2008 7.64 ABC 41
Trinchero Chardonnay California 2008 35
ONA Riesl/Viog/Chard Chile 2008 14.99 Total Wine 48
Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling Washington 2005 Total Wine 76
Paradise Peak Gewurztraminer Washington 2008 9.99 Winery Direct 57
Finca Copete Torrontes Argentina 2009 11.99 ABC 35
Marcus James Chardonnay Argentina 2008 63
Schmitt Sohne Riesling Germany 2008 9.99 Total Wine 57
Barefoot Riesling California 2010 8.99 Total Wine 38
Fat Bastard Chardonnay California 2008 41
Rene Barbier Med White Spain 2008 40
Domaine De Regusse Viognier France 2008 9.99 45
Yellow Tail Riesling Australia 2008 60

Red Wine Type Region Year Price Store Total Rating
Casillero del Diablo Merlot Chile 2008 7.99 ABC 45
Strade Vecchie Toscana Italy 12.99 ABC 50
SKN Cab California 2005 39
Terra-Barossa Cuvee Australia 2007 14.99 Total Wine 55
Penfolds Shiraz-Cab Australia 2007 54
Celler De Capcnes Montsant Spain 2005 52
Finca Copete Malbec Argentina 2008 11.99 ABC 42
Marcus James Merlot Argentina 2009 54
Yalumba Shiraz-Viognier Australia 2006 12.99 Sam's 54
Penfolds Shiraz Australia 2008 10.99 Total Wine 45
Little Penguin Merlot Australia 2008 49
Black Swan Shiraz Sustralia 2006 56
Robert Mondavi Meritage California 2007 58
Columbia Crest Cab Washington 2007 48

Buy 6 or more bottles at our online wine store and get 1/2 off shipping with coupon code "wine23"

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The Link Between Karma and Wine

Date: Thu, Apr 8, 2010 Wine Tasting

Something unexpected happened the other day. It all goes back to my patio. Sheila had been bugging me for weeks to replace the patio furniture. Not only was it as haggard looking as Courtney Love, but someone who will remain nameless (Sheila), decided to stand on one of the pieces while attempting to hang lights and unexpectedly fell through the tattered slats. I had no way out of this one!

Ok, so fast forward to last weekend. We pick out a set, pay for it, and try to shove it in the car. Of course it nearly fits... and by nearly, I mean not at all. So now we're standing in the parking lot surrounded by patio furniture. What happened next was almost as embarrassing as it was helpful. A man and his son coming out of the store saw us, and after laughing for a minute at the scene we created, offered to give our new furniture a lift back to our place using their truck.

After about 15 minutes of awkward conversation and worrying that I would be killed while riding with the strangers in their pickup truck, we made it home. I quickly unloaded the furniture, thanked them both, and offered to give them some cash for their trouble. They REFUSED to take it. The father explained to me that he believed in "paying it forward". Instead of taking the cash, he wanted me to do something nice for someone else to return the favor. I have to admit that this is the first time I've been a receiver of this phenomenon. It felt good. More importantly, it renewed my faith in people and made me want to do something nice for someone else.

What a great concept!

Then I started thinking about wine. This may be a stretch, but aren't winemakers also in their own way "paying it forward"? They invest so much in their vineyards, wineries, and wine with little promise of ever receiving anything in return. Sure, if their wine turns out great, they could make some money. Usually, it's a labor of love and one that takes many many years to bear fruit.

In a world where it is easy to become cynical, it's refreshing to enjoy the people and things that invest in the good that is out there. Maybe we aren't in trouble after all! :)


Buy 6 or more bottles at our online wine store and get 1/2 off shipping with coupon code "wine23"

(This message brought to you by The Wine Whore)

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Old Vine or Old Fart?!?

Date: Wed, Mar 31, 2010 Wine Tasting

What better time to write another post than while eating the leftover chicken parm from the other day. After all, I still owe you an explanation on how the Old Vine Zin went with this home cooked meal. Unfortunately my glass is empty tonight... I'm tired and I feel like I am fighting off an on coming cold. My plate however is far from solitude. This chicken parm is the gift that keeps on giving. Even my wife admits that it is better the second day... and maybe even the third.

As for the Zin, I have to say that it went well but was by no means a perfect match. I like Old Vine Zin, but I think right now I am feelin' the softer, earthier, reds more. I bet if you would have asked me this same question a year ago, I would have preferred this type of Zin hands down. Today, I'd rather go with a subtle Syrah, or maybe even a smooth Alsatian white. I no longer crave Chuck Norris punching me in the taste buds with every sip. I much rather the subtleties of a wine that whispers rather than screams.

... is that why old people always complain about younger people BLASTING their radios? Have I turned into an "old fart" when it comes to wine?

Maybe so, but that doesn't mean that I still don't like to party! :)


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What the heck goes with Chicken Parm anyways?

Date: Mon, Mar 29, 2010 Wine Tasting

Ask 100 people this question and you are SURE to get 100 different answers...

"What type of wine do you pair with....?"

Sure there are probably tons of better choices but that's why I purposely grabbed this bottle of Old Vine Zin to pair with Sheila's chicken parm. Drinking the same old pairings gets boring... why not try something new and see how it goes?

Worst case, even if it DOES suck, the high alcohol content of this Zin is sure to make me forget!


(This message brought to you by The Wine Whore)

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How to cure the red or white ONLY blues...

Date: Sun, Mar 28, 2010 Wine Tasting

As much as I hate to admit it, I DO have a preference. If you put a bottle of red and a bottle of white in front of me, I'll usually pick the red. The reason? My wife is NOT a white wine drinker. I'd love to drink more whites but she usually doesn't even want to try 'em. This all got me thinking, what type of white wine appeals to a red wine drinker who insists that they DON'T drink white?

I'm excited to tell you that I've found the answer!

Try either a "dry" Riesling, or a Chenin Blanc. Both of these from my experience have worked nicely at pacifying the otherwise predictable tastes of these closed minded drinkers. The reason? Simple... red wine drinkers tend to like less sweet wines.

Try it for yourself next time and see!


Chilean wine - get 50% off shipping of 6 or more bottles with coupon code "winethree"

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