Hark the Herald, Let’s Get Drunk.

Hello. I’ve been busy having a quarter-life crisis; a mellow drama many of my fellow millennials understand painfully well, hence my hiatus. In keeping with total transparency, my free time has gone to an activity I like to call “Netflix and Existential Dread”, in which I use Shonda Rimes to forget my own mediocrity. I went to Vegas for a conference in October which seemed to bring me out of the oh-shit-I’m-almost-30-wtf funk.  The hotel lobby alone knocked me out of reality with it’s cloying cigarette smoke and free booze. I sat there, pretending to play slots, and drinks appeared. Weak ones, but still free. The people watching was obviously the best activity. Folks from all over America and beyond shed their boring, everyday selves for shinier, bejeweled versions. Let’s be real though- those bejewels are shit plastic and made of lies .  So is “Adult Disney World”. Look too closely, and the facade fades, revealing a depressing reality. This happens after about 48 hours for normal people, but if you’re me, it happens in 5 minutes. Forget the tourists…I couldn’t handle the dealers who had no one at their tables, staring off in the distance. I needed to know their life stories and happiness levels.

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I only lost $14 gambling so I consider this trip a win. I kept to a regimen of Bombay Sapphire, club soda, and extra limes as the wine selection at casinos was dismal (Jacob’s Creek swill) and good wine fell outside the limits of my per diem. Side note: everyone needs a job that involves conferences. They give you free swag and happy hours. And nightclub parties with open bars. Speaking of open bar, be careful if you ask for Champagne…you might get Korbel. #displeased  #stilldancedonatable #worklifebalance #blessed

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Besides going to Vegas and drinking a lot of wine since November 8th (read: THE APOCALYPSE OH SHIT WE ARE GOING DOWN), I’ve been trying to Instagram my wine picks regularly so my faithful peasants have access to my genius selections. I promise only one was over $22 and that was the bombass Barolo we drank during the final presidential debate. Insert muffled sobs.

November 7th, 2016:

November 8th, 2016:

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We’re less than 2 weeks away from Christmas. How did this happen?  I still feel like it’s July…but that’s probably my crisis talking. Anyway, as we prep for visitors or travel, a substantial wine inventory is vital to survival. I’m talking minimum 12 bottles (A FULL CASE PLEIBS) during Christmas week. You don’t have to drink it all (I mean you will), but you’ll feel like a champion if you can go to your secret basement wine corner and make a choice from a well-stocked cellar. You’re a majestic sultan with complete autonomy. Escape the family election drama for 5 ,10,89 minutes, and like a phoenix, you will rise.

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Today, I’ll be sharing a few top picks you’ll be able to afford despite the financial shit-storm most of us experience after buying gifts. Pregame the Christmas Eve service? You bet. I’ll be the one with rosy cheeks, singing the alto line extra loud during “Hark the Herald” while ugly crying. It gets me every time, damnit.

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Don’t hate because these are all on Insta. I’m getting my life back.

Siegal Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: Chile always delivers. For $18, this is worth buying 2-3 bottles. It be hard to find since my local store just sold out, but really any Chilean cab from Colchagua Valley or Maipo regions will suffice nicely. With it’s black cherry, vanilla, and gentle smokiness, this 14% alcohol cab delivers a nice buzz after half a glass as long as you haven’t eaten your feelings yet. Decant for 20-30 minutes and drink with those little crockpot meatballs and gritted teeth.

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Domaine Fabrice Gasnier “Les Graves” 2014: If you’re not aboard the Cab Franc trend train, you’re missing out.  A lighter red, it’s a great alternative to Pinot Noir, especially if your husband is subhuman and hates it. (Love youuuuuuu). It’s fine, I’ll drink my Pinot alone secretly out of a coffee mug whilst everyone else slums with the inevitable Yellowtail. Merry Christmas to me from the Willamette Valley, Oregon.

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Anyway, Dom. Fabrice Gasnier’s “Les Graves” hails from Chinon (Loire Valley, France), aka the Cab Franc promised land, and is hella delicious…like raspberries rolled around in a nice herby salad, and, dare I say, eucalyptus undertones. Pull that out at the table, and the climate change debate will magically transform into a praise-fest of your impeccable wine knowledge. $16.99!

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Remhoogte Estate Pinotage 2014: I’m a Pinotage slut. It is so so so good for so so so little money. For under $20, Remhoogte Pinotage from Stellenbosch delivers the punch of a $40-50 bottle of Bordeaux or big CA red. Different grapes, but still full bodied and perfect for #WinterisComing aka anytime you might need booze in the next 10 days. In case you were wondering, Pinotage is genetically engineered child of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Let it sit in the decanter for 30-60 minutes and it goes from Julia Roberts blond wig stripper in Pretty Woman to Julia Roberts fancy escort of rich business man stripper.

Aromas of cherries, mulberries, smoke, cinnamon sticks, and cloves, this is a nice one to drink as you bake delectables with their ensuing perfumes. All this can be yours for around $17.99. PSA: Do not eat sweets and drink this. We are not heathens. Get yourself a damn dessert wine.

 

Cap Classique Colmant Brut Rose: Also from South Africa, this amazing sparkler is best paired with My 600 lb Life to make you feel less bad about eating pie for breakfast. At around $20, this tastes like Champagne with a little Southern Hemisphere “je ne sais quoi”. Strawberry and red currants dominate, yet there’s a silky texture and bready aftertaste. Made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, buy a case of this and save some for New Year’s Eve. If you party like me, you’ll start drinking at 5pm and fall asleep by 9:30pm…because 2016 sucked so bad, I don’t care about staying awake for the last damn minute of it. #bye

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Happy all other Holidays, Happy End of the Worst Year in Recent History.

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See you in 2017, peasants.*

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*Disclaimer: I know 2016 has been terrible. These posts are meant solely in jest, but if you or someone you know may have a problem with alcohol, please visit www.aa.org to find help. Enjoy the wine, but not in excess, and have Happy Holidays.

HEAT: A Five Alarm WINE EMERGENCY

It is so hot. I went for a walk yesterday morning and turned around due to the swamp-like conditions. Plus, my location provided only limited Pokémons. I don’t want another Spearow, dammit. Pidgey=#no. Weedles are the absolute worst. No one has time for you Weedle. Come back to me with the one that looks like Janis Joplin or a Charizard.

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Voyeurism

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Janis Joplin?
Regardless, I’ve caught a few because I can’t get past the novelty of seeing those little monsters in my house or on the streets through the camera. This is some Long Island Medium level shit, people always asking, “Are there Pokémon in here?”.

“Spirit I mean Blastoise is showing me candy which is my sign for appreciation…he wants you to know he felt loved when you leveled up from Wartortle…do you understand that?”

 

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Lest you succumb to Satan’s Weather Festival 2016, chilled wine may revive your broken spirit. You may forget that distant longing for Fall, heavy knits, and meaty Bordeaux, even if just for a moment, before the sweat once again starts pouring into your nether orifices. #globalwarmingAF. This is an emergency post so I’m only presenting 3 wines to get you through until it drops below 95 thousand degrees and we’re not losing our damn minds.

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Could be serious.
2015 Luis Alegre Rioja Rosado: Rosé’s been waiting all year for you to come crawling back like a syrupy humid swamp mess. I’ve been sampling some delicious Rioja rosés lately just in time for the climate change apocalypse. This Spanish blend of 60% Tempranillo and 40% Viura is particularly aromatic with notes of lemon zest, fresh red berries and white florals. It’s refreshing yet fills the mouth (that’s what she said), making it an excellent food wine with your take out chicken fried rice since it’s too hot to cook. Turn on my oven? ARE YOU F$%*KING KIDDING? I moved here for GrubHub. P.S. It’s $10.99 ish.

 

2014 Anne Amie “Cuvée A” Muller-Thürgau: It’s time to grow up and try other varietals outside your Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay comfort zone. I know, change is hard, but get over it.  Sort of a West Virginia-I-married-my-cousin-oops-Riesling-crossbred grape, Müller-Thurgau is thriving outside the German Vaterland in places like Oregon and Slovenia. Our wine is from Oregon and may be my best new discovery of the Summer as an amateur wine sleuth. Like holy hell it is so good…a little kick of key lime, lush honeysuckle, and pink grapefruit…I feel like I’m sharing  my special secret with you peasants because it’s only $15.99. You’re welcome. Make these shrimp tacos  with it and shut the hell up.

 

2015 Honig Sauvignon Blanc:  I care about sustainability since the planet is an unfixable clusterfuck, so hats off to you, Honig, for your solar powered vineyard and general bad-assery. Their Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, blended with a touch of Sémillon and Muscat, exhibits white peach and lemongrass on the nose and a squeeze of fresh lime and that classic grapefruit splash in the lingering crispy finish. Do yourself a solid and obtain some Brillat Savarin to pair. You will feel satisfied on a spiritual level. But damnit, I don’t care how hot it gets, if you add ice cubes to your wine I will Liam Neeson the shit out of you. $14.99-15.99.

Stay cool friends. Winter is coming.

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Please God. 

A Swamp Ass Survival Seminar

Welcome back from Mercury Retrograde. Hope you didn’t sign any contracts or buy large appliances. I did all those things. New homeowners. #fear. It’s ok, I have a farmhouse table and a sexy succulent. Life is good.

Let’s discuss the weather situation…there was no Spring. It’s just the hellscape of Summer now. As one who molts above 70 degrees, I am generally displeased to go right from wearing a coat to imminent swamp ass in less than 2 weeks. And just in case you’ve never heard the term “swamp ass”, allow me to summarize the Web MD for you:

Swamp Ass, abbr. Swass- A dark humid phenomenon in which Satan sets up his demonic greenhouse between your gluteal cheeks from May to September.

Insert Web MD subliminal message: IT’S PROBABLY CANCER.

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Special thanks to my brother for teaching me this term many years ago during band camp, known for it’s particularly nightmarish manifestations of “swass”.  Women have it the worst. Spanx(heat+friction) × anatomy ÷ bras=get me a glass of cold wine and an epidural.

Before you concede to spending Summer in an air-conditioned basement dungeon, losing any remaining melanin and self-respect, THERE IS HOPE! FOR THE HUMANS BUILT DECKS AND PATIOS AND IN 2016 THERE IS NO NEED FOR STRENUOUS OUTDOOR MOVEMENT! Work out inside or pay to sweat in a heated yoga studio like a normal person.  I like to observe The Nature at a safe distance, especially this year with the impending cicada apocalypse. Absolutley not, heifer arthropods. I SAID GOOD DAY.

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GENERALLY DIPLEASED

I’m currently experiencing a closer connection with the outside world as my new urban backyard soaked up the impromptu monsoon season that poured for weeks after Prince’s death. #whendovescry #toosoon. This extra irrigation created a jungle straight out of Jumanji behind my house.

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Actual photo; actual rainforest.

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Don’t despair, the wine’s been flowing. Home decor should be covered in pre-marital counseling…this shit is not a joke. Finding the right rug for the living room took 3 trips to Ikea and a long discussion about our feelings. Luckily, our 5th anniversary occurred shortly after the move so we had a decent excuse to heal our relational strife with pricey champagne. IT WAS THE CHOICEST OF CHOICE. I also had my birthday and drank some lesser, albeit very tasty, domestic sparkling still unaffordable to peasants on most weeknights.

Now that it’s hot as balls with no end in sight, I’ve compiled a #basic list for all you sweat-fearing, indoor folk wishing to venture outside for 30 minutes at dusk to enjoy some chilled wine, whilst feigning a connection with the wild. If I read Jack London with a glass of Pinot Gris, does this make a survivalist make? SIGN ME UP BEAR GRYLLS.  Maybe you’re just insane, fancying a wine to accompany your noontime picnic of certain fiery sun death, but hey, at least you’ll be slightly tipsy. It’s all about the journey.

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Kate Winslet, hero of the people.

We’ll have more deck/stoop/patio/anything outdoorsy wines as the season progresses and the swass epidemic worsens, but for now, these are my must-haves.

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2015 Qunita Aveleda Vinho Verde: For only $10, you can drink this all summer while making it rain with all the extra cash you’ll have lying around.  You’re friends still buying Yellowtail (no shade…ok maybe just a little…) will be impressed and never know you spent less than the cost of a hipster artisanal cocktail. aveleda-quinta-da-aveleda-loureiro-alvarinho-vinho-verde-portugal-10643263Zippy and slightly effervescent with a myriad of citrus aromas (LOTS O’ LIMEZZZ), white flowers, and delectable acid, Quinta Aveleda should be a staple “house white” for the Summer 2016. As it’s almost dangerously refreshing, try not to pound half a bottle while cooking dinner; it’s not Surge, you monster! Note: Make sure to get the one that says “Quinta Aveleda” rather than just plain “Aveleda”. That one is good too, but the Quinta is baller. And in case you’re a nerd bomb like me, this Vinho Verde is concocted from the Loureiro grape…another one of Portugal’s, like, million indigenous grape varieties.

2015 Rosa de Arrocal: MY BEER-ONLY PARENTS LIKED THIS…Stage One of Operation Parental Beer Eradication is complete. Beer is fine…if you’re the raucous Orc type. Even I like the odd sip every now and then, but let’s be real-beer is a snack food, not a beverage. I am ready to fight all those opposed. IMG_6661Anyway, I had to include at least one rosé for the inaugural summer post, and for $11.99 you should stock up. Hailing from the Spanish region of Ribera del Duero, this 100% Tempranillo is a beautiful, tangy explosion. Lemon peel, bright cherries, and pink rose petals round out a surprisingly rich flavor profile able to stand up to sautéed shrimp and a damn salad.  BONUS: The acid wash on the back end will quench your swassiest thirst. HELLA FRESH. Enjoy the following gif of my Orc-type parents caught dancing after drinking this delightful rosé. They’re probably asking themselves how they spawned such an insubordinate child.

Cava Avinyó Reserva Brut NV: You may have sensed a little Iberian Peninsula theme, and you’d be right. Sorry not sorry, they have some of the most affordable vinos. Don’t worry, we’re going to Peter Jackson Land in two seconds. But first, drink this deliciously crafted Cava and rejoice, for you only spent $12. Hark, I hear the harps eternal. This may be one of my favorite Cavas I’ve tried in the last year with its delightful lemon meringue pie vibes, ripe pear tones, toasty brioche aromas, and, in the words of Antonio Galloni from Vinous, “bright mineral snap”. He could have added a sweet gif to better illustrate his point, but that’s what I’m here for: Strobe Tiger, a visual interpretation of “mineral snap”.

 

2015 Cottesbrook Sauvignon Blanc: New Zealand occupies it’s own little corner of the world, providing us with several essentials of human life: hobbits, grass-fed butter, bad ass mountains, and incredible wines. Summer would be unbearable without a go-to Sauvignon Blanc, and a zesty Kiwi expression cuts through the Bayou of East Coast humidity. I’ve been pleased with the last 3 vintages of Cottesbrook; the 2015 continues a tantalizingly crisp tradition.

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#byelavaz

The first sip harkens to Frodo and Sam being rescued off the side of that lava mountain after destroying the ring: DAMN WE ARE SO EFFING HOT OMG THANKS GANDALF FOR YOUR BIRD FRIENDZ JUST WANNA BE NOT DYING FOR ONCE. 8804032741406Gooseberry, grapefruit, and herbaceous undertones compose the profile. Drink with a block of aged cheddar and LOTR marathon. Obtain from Total Wine. $15. FLY YOU FOOLS.

I’ll have some summer reds next time once the swass subsides. And after I eat more BBQ. Because brisket needs Garnacha.

 

Now go forth, get tipsy in your backyard, and enjoy this compilation of my anniversary/birthday wines and food that you didn’t get to have.

 

Update: The sexy succulent is in imminent danger.

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House Hunting and Other Drinking Games

Did March and April even happen? I swear yesterday we were digging out from Snowzilla.

I’ve been a little absent lately, and I’m going to blame it on our newest endeavor: house hunting. A snapshot of things learned:

  1. I do not live an HGTV reality. There are no Property Brothers to save me.
  2. Sellers can be asshats and drive you to drink.
  3. Redfin/Zillow/Trulia are addicting as hell. I call them “Zinder”…you know, like Tinder, but for child brides who missed out on dating apps.
  4. A renovation project seems like the cool, 2o something year old thing to do, but eff that-I don’t have Joanna Gaines infallible hair or design aptitude. Or any contracting skills whatsoever.
  5. Location is almost more important than the house itself..let’s say about 80% importance.
  6. The other 20% includes proximity to a coffee shop…even though I make my own coffee. Why I’m fixated on this, I don’t know, but all I’m saying is they better have good drip.
  7. I demand an acceptable glass of wine and cheese appetizer within a 10-12 minute walk.

After living in a garage studio for 3 years, we took our house dreams to the next level at the beginning of March i.e. literally deciding one afternoon it’s time to buy a house. We went about it all wrong. Apparently, you’re not supposed to look at houses before figuring out how much you can afford etc. Whatever…yolo. The first one we saw tried to kill me- I fell down the stairs and slammed my head against a door frame. Nick thought he’d be caring for a vegetable as my tumble looked neck-breaking. Luckily, our realtor didn’t drop us and I only suffered a few bruises and humiliation. We got serious aka did some very adult things like getting pre approved for a loan and making a budget with limited alcohol and restaurant allowances. And by we, I mean my husband did it while I focused on finding houses with  “wine caves” (say it kAHv like a tool) in the basement. I’ve watched A Year in Burgundy too many times. I’ll obviously need a place to put my collection once I come up.

When you have student loans and one spouse hasn’t figured out what they are doing with their life (yep that’s me), you may find the hip neighborhoods to be slightly outside your price range and need to look amongst the “fringe areas”- more aptly known as “up and coming”. Really, this just means you have to walk 12 minutes to get to coffee or wine or restaurants instead of 5…until a hipster comes in on a black stallion and plants an espresso bar on your block. An organic grocery store and wine bar should follow. If we’re lucky, a man bun will appear to sell me kombucha on the streets. #dreamz.

 

Hidden just northwest of Mount Vernon, lies Bolton Hill- haven for the wealthy and stomping ground of grungy art students. Gorgeous brick row homes, bistros, and tree-lined streets pepper a wonderland reminiscent of London or Boston or some city that’s not Baltimore. You guessed it: I can’t afford to live there. Hells no, those row homes are in the 400k’s. HOWEVER, right across the proverbial tracks of North Avenue, within a 12 minute walk, we find Reservoir Hill. SANCTUARY. It’s close to the park, has quiet streets, and most importantly, the peasants can afford. The best part? I think American Horror Story stole their type face from the Reservoir Hill sign. Some may say this is a bad omen. For me, a sign of destiny.

The house we thought was “IT” ended up falling through as the sellers couldn’t get their shit together and balked after verbally agreeing on a price, so that was devastating…After getting over the trauma, we decided to explore the rehab possibility, because wtf not. Unless you’re a trained contractor or serial killer on the prowl for your next primo BTK location, there’s nothing for you here. Like seriously I have SEEN some things. Satan’s basement for instance- complete with a functional prisoner closet and weird ass lawn chairs where someone was clearly having tea time with the Prince of Darkness every afternoon (OR AT 3AM THE WITCHING HOUR).

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*not actual photo…pretty damn close.

Any signs of the occult escaped the Redfin listing. My realtor anticipated a 50 grand bomb drop in this vampire’s lair alone. SWIPE LEFT.

Our desired neighborhood is both cursed and blessed by its proximity to the Maryland Institute College of Art. Crazy millennial art students run amok round Bolton Hill, yet attract those coffee shops with the good drip mentioned in my “must haves”. A select few take up residence in huge historic row homes, do drugs, and get evicted, leaving what looks like a scene from The Walking Dead, aka we are talking a serious zombie threat here. In the kitchen, breakfast seemed interrupted as eggs still remained on the counter and a frying pan on the stove.

Ingredients lay strewn about and a bowl rotting vegetables boasted a developed eco system. A lonely kombucha sat halfway drunk on top of the fridge, whose expired contents included organic almond milk and textured vegetable protein. They also paper machéd the damn walls and drank shitty sparkling wine. The free standing toilet in the basement added a nice touch, although I’m not sure if that counts as a half bath. Needless to say, this house went on the “no” list. SWIPE LEFT AGAIN LIKE A SINGLE LADY DRINKING WINE IN HER BED.

In the end, we found a beautifully renovated house on the same street as the one we originally wanted. This one has better wine cellar potential anyway. PSA: Soon I might be house poor and unable to afford wine… #thrilledtoannounce I’m now accepting your tax deductible donations.

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MY WINE CAVE THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Here’s a step by step guide to drinking your way from surfing Redfin to escrow. Don’t house hunt without proper access to wine. Spoiler alert: Many sparklings.

FOR DECIDING HELLZ YEAH WE CAN ACTUALLY BUY A HOUSE: But let’s not get too crazy yet, we still need a down payment. Enter NV Le Grand Courtage Rosé Brut.Rose-Label-Web-e1341348920801 For $16-18, these bubbles will fuel your home buying delusions of grandeur as you sit on the couch with your partner, each swiping through Redfin, silently texting listings to each other. Marital bliss. Put the phone down and at least eat some cheese with your wine. Fresh red berries, citrus peels, and a dash of yeast round out the profile on this sparkly wine produced in Burgundy with grapes sourced from many of the finest regions in France. Dare I say, it tastes a little “champy” without the Champagne price tag.

FOR GETTING PRE APPROVED AND OTHER ADULTING: 2014 Domaine de la Denante Saint-Véran is real fancy and adultish. You can say to your friends still living the college lifestyle, “Mmmmm, sorry…can’t meet you at 11pm for shitty drinks at the loud bar because I just got pre approved for a loan and need to drink White Burgundy.” Made from 100% Chardonnay, you’ll get a flinty and white floral nose with a touch of butter on the palate. The peachy fruit cuts the slight oaky richness with a fantastic acid wash and mineral finish. LOVE ITTTTTTT. It’s a little on the pricey side, aka $20-$25, but hey you’re buying a house (or at least someone is telling you they’ll lend you money to do so). #huzzah

 

FOR HAVING YOUR SOUL CRUSHED BY BITCH-ASS SELLERS:  All you can do when you lose is commence binge watching American Crime with copious bottles of Rhone varietal blends. The 2013 Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige Rouge gives lyfe after house death. A beautiful blend of Grenache and Syrah from the Languedoc, I can’t tell you how good this is for only around $17. Lavender, gravel, and black raspberries round out a deeply juicy, thirst quenching wine that will keep you coming back for more. Perfect for a charcuterie board and broken dreams.

FOR WANDERING ONTO THE SET OF HOSTEL AND OTHER REHABS:  In the blind tasting group I attend with other wine nerds, we thought the 2010 Torre de Oña Rioja Reserva was California Cabernet Sauvignon or some other New World red…FAIL AND SHAME. When you know it’s Rioja, it tastes like Rioja, and could never be anything else. It’s like thinking a house can be renovated easily and then going into the insane basement and realizing NOPE ABORT ABORT ABORT DOES NOT COMPUTE. Unlike a scary house, this wine is delicious and incredibly balanced with no structural issues or need for exorcism. Accompanied by notes of dill, blackberries, mocha, and bakery kitchen, you can rely on this spicy Spanish jewel to revive your spirit animals.

FOR PLAYING THE “OFFER” GAME: CAVAAAAAAAA!!!! So, nothing specific for this category…just Cava. We sat on my parents’ deck sipping (read: guzzling) the stuff while scheming over an offer with our realtor. Some delectable Cava Rosado from La Cuchara, our favorite restaurant in Hampden, filled the void while waiting for the sellers to respond. It’s refreshing and fun yet structured and slightly erudite aka you’re adult enough to counter offer with confidence.  You know the deal: Champagne method, has a little brioche and green apple, and tastes like winning. No Freixenet, you serfs.

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Mmmmm you will accept my offer, plebeians. 

FOR FINDING YOUR CHATEAU WITH PROPER WINE CELLAR AND KITCHEN OF THE GODS: Under contract? We must celebrate with 2012 Argyle Vintage Brut. Oregon is generally amazeballs and 2012 lauds as a fantastic year in the Willamette Valley. Again, we’re not breaking the bank here with a price point of $19-ish. A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, the baked apple aromas, ginger spices, and mouth-watering acidity make it worth buying two bottles.  Now, put your phone down and delete Redfin.

 

We’ll save the real Champagne until the first night in the new house.

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OUR STREET 

 

 

ROBBED in NYC: This Post Will Still Include Wine

Warning: This post goes a bit deeper into the operatically inclined side of my life. There will be wine at the end, I promise.

I started writing a post musing over my less-excessive drinking habits during Lent.

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Then I went to New York for “just another” opera competition. And had all my cash stolen.*

*Let me say now, in advance, that I no longer hold any bitterness towards this person. Hopefully he/she needed the money in a bad way. I don’t really subscribe to karma, and wish him/her no ill will. It’s just money. I have an apartment and a car and stupid cats and a sweet Darth Vader mug so I am #blessed. This doesn’t mean, however, that I won’t tell the tale as sarcastically as possible in order to get a laugh and make myself feel better. Just know the anger is gone along with my weekly wine grocery budget. 

At fair Nola Studios we lay our scene. Those of you who aren’t in the performing arts may ask, “What is this fairytale place?” Friends…it is the taint of the theater world. The scathing underbelly of our artistic fantasies where dreams go to die, aka studio space for rent. The place runs like it’s 1967; no online booking or credit cards. Phone reservations and cash only. It’s tiny and you sweat constantly. The bathrooms are a joke, requiring you to straddle the commode in order to change clothes. I dropped my sock in the toilet-the start of a glorious day.

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Musical theatre productions, opera companies, and casting agencies join at this crossroads of rehearsal space for a cutthroat spectacle. Auditions are not where you meet your best friend or have #realtalk. I try to avoid most conversation as most audition speak with classical singers includes “So, what aria are you starting with?” or “Where’d you go to grad school?” or “Oh, yeah, this is my 19th audition this season.” I hate it almost as much as Facebook posts tagged with “#thrilledtoannounce” followed by some announcement about a competition or contract. I’m like, oh, hey, that’s great, excuse me while I rip out the skeleton of my three ring binder and use the cheap metal to gouge out my eyes and slit my wrists in a pool of my own anxious tears and student debt. I’m a very supportive colleague, but we all know you’re being extra. But I digress.

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I’ve never had a problem at any audition over the last ten years. Usually, even in a big city, an unspoken respect exists amongst artists in which no one messes with your stuff. The majority of us are poor, living paycheck to paycheck, trying to preserve our passions in an unsupportive economy. Not to mention dealing with an Everest of student loans. Bottomline: We’re all struggling to shell out audition fees and pay for voice lessons.

As it was a Saturday, Nola Studios’ facilities brimmed with at least 4 different companies holding auditions. All of us peasants shared the same hallway, waiting for the firing squad. As my time approached, I stood by the door to await my fate inside. I could see my belongings, covered by my coat. I suddenly had the thought (now I’m calling it a premonition; hindsight is 20/20 or I’m a prophet) that I should move my purse closer to the audition room. I decided against it. I thought I might offend the others waiting with me, somehow accusing them of mischievous thoughts of thievery. My mind quickly wandered to how the geriatric audition panel probably wouldn’t like my second piece since they tend to hate Wagner. I went in and endured one of the worst auditions I’ve had in awhile; I had a bad feeling the whole time. They didn’t like me, questioning my resume and aria choices…and yep, they didn’t like the Wagner. I couldn’t summon my usual visceral connection to the music and text, and I walked out generally displeased.

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I discovered my purse rifled through and $80 gone. You know, just a slow week night’s worth of wages at the wine bar.  I asked around, no one saw anything of course, so I decided to blame a creepy dude wearing a tiny hat there for some musical audition in the next studio who was gone by the time I emerged from my crucible. I hate tiny hats..like that hat isn’t doing anything to shield you from the elements haven’t you ever seen Bear Grylls????? 

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Obvs bringing this next time.

I took to the streets in search of wine. Roaming around midtown yielded no return. I fantasized about running into the supposed robber and asking if I could just have half the money back so I could buy a couple bottles without breaking out my credit card.

Side note: I enjoy calling him a “robber” just to give the story a little biblical weight. My husband says “robberies” technically require the brandishing of a deadly weapon, but I would argue this tiny hatted thespian’s disdain for morality counts as such.

I finally ended up in Brooklyn, and found a lovely store called Tipsy. The girl working turned out to be a former opera singer, so I ranted my whole story while she let me sample some rosé. Plus, they stocked my favorite domestic sparkler, Gruet. 1140696xThe Blanc de Blancs this time, one I haven’t actually mentioned here before. *I KNOW YOU ARE SHOCKED* 100% Chardonnay and made in the Méthode Champenoise (or Champagne tradition), this wine truly refreshes with sweet aromas of biscuits, baked pear, pineapple, and tropical fruit. The finish is beautifully acidic and mouthwatering; the sandy terroir of New Mexico shining through with brilliant minerality. Poetry to my tired, disenfranchised soul. $17=I could still afford that despite my new financial status. I nearly tore into it on the elevator up to my friend’s apartment…because rage.

 

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ACTUAL PHOTO IN ELEVATOR #ready

I also bought a delicious Fingerlakes Riesling from Sheldrake Point Vineyards, the 2013 vintage. My OCD started letting go of the day’s events, focusing now on wine goalzzzz.large-Sheldrake Point Dry Rieslin 13

If you haven’t tried it, I suggest picking some up next time you’re eating curry. There’s a candied lemon peel, dried apricot, and floral nose with fantastic tang on the palate.

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I know you miss it.

I love Riesling with a bit higher alcohol content, above 10%, as it makes for a drier, more acidic experience. Plus I gave up “sweet things” for Lent…like anything that tastes sweet, including fruit and dessert wine. Yes, it is hard. Yes, I cheated just a tiny bit after the Gruet when my friend offered me a gluten free cookie. I’M SORRY. I prayed about it.

 

A spicy margarita also happened. It was divine. I promise I’ll get back into movie lists soon. I’ve been trying to be, like, more relatable by opening a window into my wine soaked life.

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SIDE PIECE: Tasting Notes or An Inevitable Spew of Bullshit

Tasting wine is hard.

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Those of us with high anxiety need not apply. Why I choose career paths that involve such microscopic observation of my person i.e. opera, wine, and/or my attempts to write, I’ll never figure out. You sit there, nose in glass, taking in all available aromatic oxygen, grasping for both bench mark notes and something to make you sound innovative and fancy.

For example: “I’m getting hints of blackberry jam smeared on a piece of 79 year old cedar cut by a handheld artisanal saw, sprinkled with wild mushrooms and the tears of a broke millennial. Hints of toasty vanilla provoke childhood memories of Swedish fish, digging mud pits, my EasyBake Oven, and Pogs.”  89 Points. 2011 Some Hot-Ass Climate Cabernet Sauvignon, New World, Earth.

The scenario going through my mind every time I’m tasting is the sorting scene from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. All you nerds know what I’m talking about. For your pleasure, I have adapted this scene for the Wizarding World of Wine.

McGonagall: Wine plebian, taste and describe these wines. Places Tasting Hat on wine plebian’s head.

Tasting Hat: Mmmm difficult very difficult…plenty of courage…I see… not a bad mind mind either. Talent and a thirst to prove yourself. But where to put you?

Wine Plebian: Not Pinot Noir…not graphite shavings…Not black fruit…NOT MEDIUM MINUS…

Tasting Hat: Not Pinot eh? You could be great you know. It’s all here in your head and the tasting grid will help you on the way to greatness, there’s no doubt about that! No? Well if you’re sure, better be…GRYFFINDOR…I mean CHATEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE!!

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“Not bacon fat, not crushed violets, not lavender…”

I will start yelling HP house names instead of wine calls just to shake things up. But seriously, when you are tasting in front of someone who knows (or at least pretends to know) what the hell they’re talking about, making an intelligent observation with which they agree feels like Harry being sorted into Gryffindor. HOT DAMN I GOT IT!

I guess in this scenario all wine experts are the tasting hats? I don’t know. I’ve had too much coffee today.

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In all seriousness, the Court of Master Sommeliers’ tasting grid actually guides you in the right direction, but nonetheless, it cannot guarantee protection against douchebags gone rogue. When it’s all said and done, though, there’s no better high than getting it “right”.

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Snowzilla 2016: A Reflection

Remember when El Nino destroyed our Christmas Spirit with a Floridian December? Yeah, me neither, after this past week’s insane snowstorm, fondly nicknamed “Snowzilla”.

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Hence Snowzilla…

When the news broke that we would all be consumed by an imminent death blizzard, my first thought was obviously “Do I have enough wine?”. Common sense answer: Yes, 8 bottles int he wine fridge. My answer: NOPE. Needless to say we began our winter incarceration with at least a case of wine. Power still on? WINE. Shovel snow for hours? SPARKLING WINE AH SO REFRESHING. Binge watching HBO from your bed? BRING THAT DECANTER ON OVER. Still sore from clearing monster amounts of snow from our driveway, I’ll attempt to share a few moments from this “weather event” that involved screen time and wine drinking. #adultinginthesnow

 

 

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DAY 1:FRIDAY The lines at the liquor stores were quite impressive. I just chuckled to myself as I already completed my wine supply earlier in the week when merely the suggestion of snow lingered in the air. You may take a moment to mock me for looking around a wine store for 20 minutes without buying anything. Yes, I’m a nerd.  I wanted to walk up and down the massive line of people, quietly whispering “Mmmmm do you think you got enough Bud Light there? TRY THIS CRÉMANT D’ALSACE BITCHES” and then smack the beer out of their hands and run away. #fantasy.  After securing my remaining essentials (read: chocolate, coffee, bacon, “cheese” spread made of cashews for $5.99. I hate myself.), I headed home amidst a gentle flurry of tiny snowflakes, thinking ahh yes, how nice…and then Nature said “I hate you, Maryland.”Cavabrut72dpiweb1 My husband took it upon himself to pick up some Redbox movies just in case Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and On Demand couldn’t supply us with enough viewing material. He selected Mad Max: Fury Road  for us on Friday night, thus the saga began. Not sure what to think of this movie…like, I know it was good but literally it consisted of a road raging car chase where everyone yelled in British accents, intermittently spliced with screen time of a fat guy with nipple rings. Note: the “wives” were all frickin models. Where did they come from in the apocalypse? I enjoyed myself with a little Cava. I know I talk about Cava constantly, but it really is quite important. Almost as important as the guitar player in Mad Max. We took a drink every time he came on screen. This guy is like “I went to Berklee for guitar performance and now I’m chained to this truck.”.

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Whatever pays student loans.

I mean, he probably scored the only music gig left on Earth post nukes or whatever happened. I remember commenting to Nick, “At least someone cares about the arts in this weird-ass desert situation.”. We enjoyed some NV 1+1=3 Cava (yes, that’s the name…I know the math is wrong. It’s only $12 though!!) These sparkles were intense and lively in the glass, but presented some surprisingly deep aromas of almond, lemon peel, and grapefruit rind for an awesome price.

Friday, Round 2: Lest you think Friday ended with a car chase, fear not…it was only 6pm. THE NIGHT IS YOUNG. As big M. Night Shyamalan fans, we recently received The Visit on DVD, and were waiting for an opportunity to present itself. Being trapped in the house in a snow storm seemed perfect for a movie about two crazy old people trapping their grandchildren on a Pennsylvania farm secluded from the rest of civilization. It’s delightfully dark and twisty with a dash of comic relief.

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Who even plays Yahtzee? Murderers

Props to M. Night for finally redeeming himself for The Happening (really loved the music in that one though, tbh.). My parents were actually game to watch something scary, def not the norm for my mom. The film features a plethora of satisfyingly entertaining scenes of classic horror tropes e.g. sundowning insane old ladies wielding knives, maniacal laughter, and the newer “found footage” trend.

 

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Needless to say, more wine required. I popped a bottle of my newest obsession, Valpolicella Ripasso. What is that, you say? I’ll tell you…it’s a baby Amarone. Still lost? Ok, all you need to know is that Amarone is Italian wine royalty and costs more that you’re probably willing to spend for a normal, albeit snowy, night. Made from dried grapes in near Verona, Amarone smells like dessicated raisins caramelized with figs and dark chocolate. BUT NOT SWEET, PEOPLE. It’s hella delicious and will change your life, so when I realized it had a baby cousin I WAS WOKE. Valpolicella Ripasso can satisfy my craving as it’s made with some of the dried skins from the grapes left over from Amarone. See Wine Folly map below for an awesome breakdown. Tiers 2-4 are your best bet. Valpolicella-Amarone-wine-classification-pyramidI picked up a 2013 Remo Farina Valpolicella Ripasso in Charlotte a couple weeks ago, and it did not disappoint-especially after sitting in the decanter for 30 minutes. ade919a0-d5a0-452f-85bb-149e4234295bLeathery, with notes of slow cooked plum and cherry jam, it went fantastically with my mom’s “everything in the fridge” chili. Win win win. #deepdarkies (watch the movie and you’ll understand…then get creeped.)

 

DAY 2: SATURDAY Awoke to 2+ feet of snow, with more on the way. Shit. But also, whatever, I have my supplies. After a leisurely morning pretending to be on vacation in Aspen, reality hit when I went outside to shovel with my brother. We slaved for hours, snow beating down, struggling to stay ahead and make the eventual total-dig-out suck less on Sunday.

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“Go back to England and tell them there that Scotland’s daughters and her sons are yours no more. Tell them Scotland is free.” #wallacewerk

We kept quoting Braveheart…I don’t know, we were cold and somehow likened ourselves the William Wallace’s of the driveway. I welcomed the shoveling, as it made me feel better about sitting around drinking and watching movies the rest of the weekend. (Minus the extremely sore muscles because obviously I don’t work out enough.) I came inside needing serious refreshment. I started drinking Kombucha, but then remembered being stuck in an effing snow storm. Sparkling wine became the appropriate choice. This time, Gruet Brut Rosé-you may remember this as a pairing for Hocus Pocus back on Hallowine.  Turns out it also pairs well with Chelsea Handler’s documentary series on Netflix, which btw is hilarious and surprisingly insightful, keeping us entertained for the rest of the afternoon. Instead of watching movies Saturday night, we opted for some interpersonal interaction with my family (we live in the garage if you hadn’t figured that out yet #compoundlyfe) that included fighting about politics and Cards Against Humanity. Obvs wine too.

I opted to “bring out the big guns” aka a bottle over $30 with a 2012 Canvasback Cabernet from Washington State. canvasback-cabernet-Sauvignon-2012-label

Hailing from Red Mountain, a top wine producing region in the state, this cab is worth the price with dark roasted coffee aromas paired with red fruit and a touch of vanilla. The tannins mellowed out after a few minutes in the glass, fueling my wits during CAH. My Grandma still won, that wench. Paired with meatloaf and tomato soup, we really did something here.

 

 

DAY 3:SUNDAY Omg are we still stuck in this house…this day consisted of shoveling snow #4life and trying to justify the amount of wine consumed during the last 48 hours. I couldn’t believe it, but we cleared the ENTIRE driveway. tumblr_njxejpmnrT1s2yegdo1_r1_400It didn’t really matter because our street remained impassable…for the next two days. I took the day off drinking and only had two gin spritzers while watching Meet the Parents, possibly my dad’s favorite comedy. Paleo cookies for dinner. What is my life?

DAYS 4&5: MONDAY/TUESDAY Srsly where is the plow….haaaalp. I made Nick go for a “snow walk” to check the state of the neighborhood where we encountered some teenage girls literally attempting to shovel the snow pack that was the road. Like, what are you doing wenches- that is futile. It was a good work out though since we had to high knee it through most of the untouched streets. Follow the doom trudge, Nick introduced me to The Leftovers  on HBO. OMG we watched all 20 hours Monday and Tuesday. The premise revolves around a “Sudden Departure” of 2% of the world’s population with no particular pattern or reason, leaving a sort of “dark passenger” in the world.

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Shame on you, HBO…making Squirtle cry.

No one is left unscathed. Sounds dreary. PSA: It is. But it’s also amazingly addictive and well written. Bonus-all white wearing, cigarette smoking, cult. Everyone loves a good cult storyline. The music will get you too. Piano and cello ripping my soul apart. Like what is life. GIVE ME MORE HBO.

 

We drank several wines with this over the course of two days. I experienced my first Lagrein, also from Northern Italy but closer to the Austrian border, near the Dolomite Mountains. This wine really needed some time in the decanter, so I let it ride on my nightstand for about 20 minutes.

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Because we were watching from the bed. Snow on the ground=bed TV acceptable. After a little air, I got aromas of sweet black raspberry and cinnamon, yet some sturdily rustic tannin on the palate. I will admit, I did not have this with food. Shameful. But then we had a 2008 La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva with a marinated pork loin…fanciness restored.
Rioja reeks of dill, and this one did not disappoint. Dill and strawberry jam on the nose, ripe summer cherries and vanilla in the mouth. Everything La Rioja Alta produces is fabulous, so if you see it, BUY. MUY DELICIOSO. This one retails for less than $20. So worth it for the quality, especially when you’re being torn apart by Justin Theroux never catching a freaking break.

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OH COME ON

 

DAY 6:WEDNESDAY And then, the plow came, and there was much rejoicing. Husband still got a snow day though because we live in Maryland.

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Stay tuned for an Alan Rickman memorial special in the near future. RIP Snape.