Shaniqua Says I Can’t Sell Rose

How do you handle the itching behind the eyeballs I call pressure?

Pressure leads me to my new associate- enter anxiety.  This is a new partner in my life.  I’m handling anxiety better by giving it a persona.  This was an example/lesson/practice I read in the amazing book The Untethered Soul (thanks G) – imagine the voice in your head sitting on the couch next to you.  Let this voice speak to you.  That voice, I’ve found, is complete and utter anxiety – in her best form.  I’ve named her Shaniqua.

Here is a quickie of a conversation with Shaniqua; Shaniqua told me the other day that there is no way I can succeed with the new outline of my job position come July.  Shaniqua thinks it is even stupid to begin this task.  So, I’m done before I start?  You and I know she is completely wrong, but how funny is the shut down of your soul in moments like this.  I’m not a defeated individual, but good ole’ Shaniqua brings it out in me.  She is worse than a one night stand.  She told me I was intelligent, but not smart enough to get this done.  Then she laughed when I said that I had help.  She reminded me that very few people have helped me in the past, so what makes this time different?  I told her I have an outline and a plan; Shaniqua thinks it is rubbish.  Then she reminded me I can’t even sell rose – what makes me think I can do this…

Well, she is right on that one.  Damn rose category – flooded.  And I have GOOD rose!  Not weird/you’ve never heard of the country/I can’t pronounce the wine that we all seem to be swimming in, and that every buyer loves to purchase and watch collect dust.  No, this is good stuff.  South of France stuff.  Not push you out of bed change your life stuff – but then again – rose is just that, rose.

Here you go – buy this – Maison De Grand Esprit L Etre Magique.  This is a Cotes De Provence Rose – yes, from France.  Imagine yourself lying on your chaise lounge, sun warming your face, watching the rippling waves of the crystal clear water at your feet, sipping a little Magique – there you go.  Reasonably priced too – that is the best part!!!!  I’ve found that a great rose has a core of fruit, bright yet balanced acidity, and this little minerality tinge on the end of your tasting experience.  These wines are friendly, pair wonderful with all different food situations, and can just make you smile.  Everything you are looking for in a rose you got right here – and I can’t sell a damn bottle.

Part of the reason why is that no one is selling it but me – ok Shaniqua, I’ll make that change.  I’ll do more (how, I don’t know.  I bleed this stuff) The other part is there is so much damn rose out there you could choke on the stuff.  So, dear blog and readers, I bring you yet another suggestion.  Pray tell, there are some souls who actually sell this wine:

  • Little Brothers: 67 Church Street, Flemington, NJ
  • Shoprite Liquors: 41 Old Highway 22, Clinton, NJ
  • Vine Republik: 1267 US Highway 22, Mountainside, NJ
  • Adelphi Wine Company: 51 B Arthur St, East Brunswick, NJ

I know this will grow – screw Shaniqua and her damn weave.



Recapping My Life Away

If you have any ideas on how I can successfully and professionally self promote myself in the work place, please send me a quick note.

Enter the dreaded digital recap.  You may feel like a child, a newbie, needing to establish your role, giving yourself an authentic and responsible spin on your existence, and living a painful few hours stamping your digital feet on how wonderful your performance is.  You may want to stab yourself in the eye with your keyboard, but damn, you gotta do…

I’m not shy about the great things I execute.  Don’t judge.  I put 200% of myself into my work, and part of my soul gets lost in projects.  I’m proud of the outcomes.  The problem is, when it comes to sales, it is never ending.  I can work until midnight and still not finish all the projects on my desk.  If I allow myself, I can attend an event every night of the week and still not see all the people I need to see.  It is daunting.  It is alluring.  I even played with the idea of how to attend my favorite weightlifting class, check in at a tasting, and return to the gym to do some endurance work all in one night.  Am I diving head first, with a glass of wine, into the deep end?

I’m living it, and confused on what my identity is telling people.  I need to ask you for guidance on how to let the powers of be know how great I am.  That sounds pathetic.  They get it, and they know how hard I work.  But, do they know my aspirations, how I see beyond the sale, how I try to create a buzz about my portfolio, market, creative ideas, myself…

They don’t until I tell them.  Here is my mistake; I always believed that when I do perform the best, better than others around me, everyone will sit up and take notice.  That, my friends, is a dead end way of thinking.  I KNOW how many wonderful people and ideas surround me.  I can’t be mad at the individual that uses their big mouth to get noticed while I sit in the corner like a mouse.  You are only as good as your next performance – lesson learned a long time ago.  Why didn’t I learn from that heartache I went though in my 20’s?

How can I do more, because there is obviously something more to do.  I’m missing the detail in the buy in of me – but it’s there.  New quest; I’m going to use every tool, at my fingertips, to bust my way into a new way of thinking, doing, creating, activating.  It’s there, under the surface. Why am I stopping at the surface.  More digging is necessary.

So, I turn to you, little blog, for help.  You have become my diary, companion, selling tool, sounding board – all the things.  Let’s put you to a bigger use and engage the universe.  I’m writing  down and implementing what I want and what can happen – putting it out on the line so a larger energy can assist.

I want this market to blow up with luxury.  I want a more powerful position for myself.  I want companionship with good and honest people.  I want more time with my curious and captivating nephew.  I want to be a superstar in the digital and social universe.  I want to create a platform that is unlike anything you have ever seen before.  

I know many of you like a visual “recap” of what has been going on – as we have established through this blog – WHO DOESN’T.  Check out some pictures below of the last few months.  Great things that deserve more detail.  I’ll get there, I promise.

Sincerity And My Wine Intentions

A colleague asked me the other day if I wouldn’t be happier selling more serious wines.

So many ways to answer and react to this question.  Being “serious” is a negative vibe for me.  I am passionate, curious, a little flakey, determined, cry at commercials, laugh obnoxiously…but serious?  Is it better, for the judgmental powers that be, to be put into this “non serious” category?  Does not being serious, by viewer’s definition, mean I don’t have talent?  Is there a serious scale?  Should I never drink another bottle of 19 Crimes again, and only stick to fine Burgundies, because that would be serious?  (bleh)

Every move I make I make with intention.  Intention takes the serious out of serious.  I see it before I do it; I’ve been doing this for a long time, and just realized I have been projecting.  Fabulous and fulfilling isn’t it?  Serious isn’t even a concept anymore – I’ve moved past serious.

Then I found the videos below.  Through wine shenanigans comes sales; true and true. Do I lead with luxury wines; I do.  I do because it is the outline of my job.  I do because down deep, it makes me happy.  I do because I believe the consumer gets a bad wrap.  You are not as simple as we, the fine wine minds, think you are.  You can understand geology, science, and the human experience.  But, do you want to decant a bottle of wine, or just pop a bottle at a picnic?  How funny that this week, I sold Bourbon Barrel Aged wines at around $16.99 on the shelf, and spoke at a $500 a plate dinner.  Opposite ends of the coin, but both relevant.  The squeaky answer that, for some reason, no one seems to hear, is that BOTH lead me to the end goal; winning at that wine game.

I’m going to keep going. Prepare your opinions, and get a few more insults ready, because more things are on the way.  Complicated, thrilling, and blow your mind things that will take time, patience, and a whole lot of…well…I’ve said enough.  For now, enjoy this 19 Crimes Food Truck/In Store Tasting/Virtual Reality promotion that gave so many people who came out on a snowy day a whole lot of, well, fun.  Now snow...that is serious…

Holiday Feasting – Zaferon Grill Restaurant Review

“I’m done” says my pressed waistband about to pop…

And I really don’t care; I’m here to enjoy myself, all the holidays, and the over indulging possibilities.    The WONDERFUL part about living where I do, and being in the wine industry, are the really great BYOB restaurants in my very close vicinity.  When a new one pops up, we gotta go…

Side note – I spend most of my money on food.  Sad, but true.  Eating healthy or not, where you want, how you want, and when you want comes with a price tag.  I’ll spend the dollars on an experience; I have no problem with that.  But, let’s put everything on a scale here.

Zaferon Grill hosted my girl squad and I for our holiday get together.  I went in with high hopes and an open mind; Verona New Jersey, eclectic “American Bistro”, and a enormous price tag.  Hmmmm – not adding up, but whatever.  Upon making a reservation (there are about 10 tables in the restaurant and a floating bar), my friend was told she needed to leave a deposit.  A DEPOSIT ON A TABLE FOR VERONA NEW JERSEY.  Turned off, nose in the air, I poo poo’d this place right away.  C’mon, let’s check ourselves.  However, I get it – new place, trying out new things.  This better be good.

And it was, it was, then it was again.  EVERYTHING was amazing.  I am still dreaming about the vegetable risotto that came tucked under a perfectly cooked scallop.  And a dream lamb shank…a dream people.  However, the star of the evening was the hamburger.  You heard me correctly.  My lovely Jackie is a, well, not so adventurous eater.  She can be at times, but does like a direct and consistent dining experiences.  The server raved about this burger, and of course, we laughed when she ordered it.  This was possibly the best burger I have ever had.  Charred perfectly on the outside, medium rare on the inside – joke on us when Jackie had the best meal on the table.

But you are waiting for the not so great moment.  I’m sorry, and I do hate to say this, but I just don’t think a $30 price tag should be on these entrees.  As good as they were, is the Verona New Jersey dining audience  ready for this?  I am not ready for this.  Montclair is a coin toss away where I can get the same great meal for much less.  ( I can probably name you five restaurants without thinking.  Blog post?)  With Fat Fish Taco two doors down, and Verona Inn screaming at me to join them for a cocktail (Uppercut by the glass anyone?), it just doesn’t add up.  (literally-see what I did there)  Even the appetizers – wow shrimp and chorizo loveliness – are around $15 and $16.  I want to say yes, but I can’t and I won’t.

We all want to feel good, but we all want to live in reality.  Zaferon; you got the feeling good part in spades.  Can we reorganize ourselves in understanding our sense of place?

Wine choices for the evening, and any “American” eclectic fanciness that comes your way?  Safe choice for my Jackie; Etude Pinot Noir.  Pinot noir, as I have said before, is a grape that has everything in it for everyone.  It is mellow, but firm.  It has something to say, yet teases your pallet with a mystery all it’s own.  With little intervention from the winemaker – Jon Priest believes that winemaking is done IN the vineyard – you get a true and authentic California Pinot Noir expression when drinking Etude.  Love in a bottle.  But for my lamb – give me a cab.  I chose Beringer Distinction Cabernet Sauvignon.  I needed a wine with a structure and intensity yet with characterized and varietally specific fruit, balanced with a full body and concentration.  Yes, perfect.

Where can you buy both of these wines?  Well – across the street at Caldwell Shoprite Wines and Liquors.  Do you know that if a wine shop does not have the wine you are looking for, you can ask them to order it for you?  Just saying… (Same goes for a restaurant.  Help a girl out here.)

Should I go to Zaferon Grill?  Eh, sure, why not.  Splurge and don’t look back.  Will I go again; no.  Too many restaurants out there to experience that are not bleeding my wallet.

Click here for more info on Zaferon Grill

Is Everyone Italian In New Jersey? Introduction to Castello Di Gabbiano

Practice your best MUZZ-A-REL shtick because I am about to talk Italian…

I spoke at a wine dinner the other evening with eight different, very high end, wines from all over the world.  I first showed a $50 bottle of Chardonnay from Australia, then a $80 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from California, and then….thought I would catch a break on sales… and offer a $25 bottle of Chianti Classico Riserva.  When this Italian selection came out, a lovely New Jersey gem of a female said, in a perfect clash of cultural accents, “Oh my gawd, I can’t even believe!  Finally!  Something to go with my macaroni”.  That really happened.

A testament to what consumers think of Italian wine as a whole.  It’s good, it’s really good –  no, it’s the best.  I don’t blame them.  It’s something about the Sangiovese grape – the holy grail of grapes from Italy – that settles into your being.  There is fruit, spice, earth, tannins, length, pleasure, delight, and an all over gratifying experience.  Italian wine was my first real wine job, so I fall on my knees to the stuff.  This Polish girl will speak Italian wine jargon till I am breathless.  Oh, how freaking sexy it is….

New Jersey, land of pinot grigio, also believes Italian wine cannot exist without New Jersey existing.  For importing purposes, eh, can’t hurt, but there is more than what you all think pairs well with “Cal-a-mar”. (do you know “Cal-a-mar” is actually PRONOUNCED calamari in Italy by real Italians that actually live there?  Just a side note…)

An overview of Italian wine is TOTALLY necessary.  What you need to know right this moment:

  • They don’t drink a lot of Pinot Grigio in Italy.  They just don’t – it’s an export thing.  Castello di Gabbiano actually blends their pinot grigio with chardonnay -better fruit component to the wine and mouth feel.  Sorry to burst your bubble on this.
  • Chianti is a PLACE – not a grape.  Sangiovese is the grape in the bottle – at least 75% must be in that bottle.  Chianti Classico is ALSO a place; the heart of the Chianti zone.  So, purchasing a bottle of Chianti Classico may give you a more sincere, deeper, denser style of Sangiovese.  There will also be a black rooster on the neck of the bottle showing you the wine will be sourced from the Classico region; another statement of quality.
  • Riserva means the wine spends a minimum of two years in oak, and 3 months in bottle prior to release.  If you are looking for your holiday feasting wine, you found it!  The fruit here changes to a cooked flavor, cigar box (smokey), harvest spices; highly recommend to age a bit.  Don’t cellar for ever, but a little age creates some funky goodness.
  • Super Tuscan throw down; a escape from the grape Sangiovese, and a trip into more noble varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  If you are a little nervous on an Italian wine purchase, this may be your route.  However, buyer beware; just because it is “super” doesn’t mean it is super delicious.  Find a producer you like, and stick with that winery! (or ask your buddy Susan for some recommendations)

Rather than me telling you about a favorite Italian winery, Castello di Gabbiano, that kicks some Italian Culo, check out this video below.  I had the pleasure of working with the General Manager, Ivano Realie, in November – so I grabbed a little footage of our presentation to my friends Priya and Yogesh of Wine World in Gillette.  You can find Wine World HERE: LIKE this Facebook Page

Watch, learn, and discover the wines from Castello di Gabbiano with a private tour (well, semi private; Priya, Yogesh, the internet and you) from Ivano Realie!

Rebounds and Getting Played – Real Wine Talk

I cannot disconnect myself with what is happening in my mind and what is happening personally in my life from this blog. This morning I woke up, checked out social media, witnessed a special someone creeping around town like an animal, felt like a brick hit me in the face (or the dead heart that was being slightly revived), and knew I had to write this.

Just like stupid romantic relationships that you find yourself in, wine can be a rebound and a “getting played” moment.  What do these two have in common; they make you feel special for a moment, lost, empty, and really really stupid.  I’m not any of the later, and I’m here to tell you that you are not as well.  Let’s distinguish how we got ourselves here, and what we can do to prevent this:

Getting Played:


My friend Jackie buys a wine because the label is pretty.  This makes her feel special, intelligent, full of hope, confident that she is doing the right thing.  Sound familiar?  The marketing may tell you that you NEED this wine in your life, that this wine will bring you places you never have been before, your life will change if you just involve yourself a little bit…ok, that may not be the wine talking, but you understand where I am coming from.  I insert a picture of 19 Crimes here; a wine I sell, I love, I love selling.  This wine has everything I just spoke about, and does taste good.  You get a bang for your buck, a funky label that your friends will love to talk about, and a good time.  What does that sound like?  Beware, but be a risk taker.  Enjoy the positives that getting played may give your body and  palate.  It’s all just fun, isn’t it?

The Rebound:

IMG_1935I don’t consider a rebound always a bad thing.  It has the best intentions.  If I am feeling lonely, can’t make a decision, want a consistent warm hug, Stags’ Leap Winery Petite Sirah does it for me. (the innuendos in this blog are killing me by the way).  However, rebound wines will take you over the hump, but may not take you all the way.  It’s easy to get stuck with the one thing you know will make you feel good when you don’t want to take that next step into the unknown.  Petite Sirah may be the unknown for you as a varietal – here is the seduction.  The best rebounds are in the lure of what will be, aren’t they?  This one happens to deliver, and deliver.  That’s why it may be my date for New Years Eve…

Where does that leave us?

33908720_UnknownGreat question.  Maybe it’s not drinking wine at all.  Maybe it’s about making healthier choices for my body and my mind.  I chose this picture above because it is filled with food and wine choices that make me feel positive and good.   I just realized the wine is a little blurred out; is that a sign?  It’s great to take some risks.  When that risk fails though, should I stay in bed with a pint of ice cream, or go lift weights.  You know the right thing to do, but the “right” thing just seems so hard…

The opening photo is a picture of a wine barrel being “toasted” and treated for wine aging.  I remember taking this photo and being overwhelmed; it was a burning hot, a type of anxiety, a thrilling and tactile experience.  This photo is where I want my heart, mind, and soul to stay.  If I continue to get played, or be the “rebound girl”, so be it – it still makes me feel like the fire.  If I make poor choices in love and wine, so be it.  I rarely notice social media posts about mistakes we may make.  They happen to me at every turn.  Thank goodness they do – I’m learning, maybe closing myself off a bit, but still curious.

Travel Diary – A Straight Girl’s Guide To A Gay Friendly Vacation – Part 1


The motivation for this blog is to respect the environment I am in, and to let you know that judgement lies within your own mind – so judge away, but you may find yourself traveling down a one way street.

Reactions from men I audition (this is what I call the – just texting/awkward phone conversations/dick picks that I show my friends – first few months of a new “relationship” – if you can call it that):

Me – “My two best friends are gay men”

Potential boyfriend #1 – “No problem, I have a gay brother/uncle/cousin/ex-roommate” (Bad way to connect)

Potential boyfriend #2 – “As long as they don’t hit on me, that is cool” (what?)

Potential boyfriend #3 – Dial Tone

Truth, and I’m finding this a valid truth. I can’t blame or judge a shallow soul. I know what I know, and I know what provides me love and respect. However, how can a gay couple, and a single straight girl find happiness on vacation together enjoying, well, their own kind of thing but also enjoying each other. Enter Rehoboth Beach in Delaware.

I’m not a gay bar fly. Society thinks I should be because of the company I keep, but I have little interest. What we all have in common is food, relaxing on the beach, and really good wine – among many other things. This town brings it in droves. In DROVES.

I give you a little of myself in this blog to clue you in on my choices and why I make them, I am open to many things, but mostly why actions bring me to where I am. For instance, what is effecting me right now, and how do I live in this moment. Let’s dive in to what I’m eating and drinking:

Cocktails at Papa Grande’s – a must. Mixed crowd, just OK food, but the wine list has some off the beaten track stuff, and the happy hour is tequila friendly. Cuties at the bar; gay and straight. This did help the mood.

Italian food at the beach? I’m always a skeptic of this. We were slightly hung over, beach all day, dead tired, but knew we had to eat. A mixture of appetizers and a little pasta hit the spot. Check out these pictures from a night at DiFebo’s– I was SO impressed. I don’t even LIKE tomato sauce, and I gobbled up that bolognese! We are still talking about this meal two days later.

When traveling, you always receive “suggestions”; more than you may want. When you get a suggestion to go somewhere, but then you are told to get a certain dish only – why and why. I want to enjoy the entire restaurant, not just one single expression. I’m proven wrong with the shrimp and grits at Blue Coast Seafood Grill Bethany Beach. Take the 30 minute drive and don’t complain like I did. (Well, I thought it). The tuna was beautiful as well.

I haven’t spoken about wine because I’m not really drinking it. We ‘allowed’ our friend Matt to choose a wine last night; fail. Partially not his fault. The wine list stated it was a Pinot Noir from Monterey California – good choice, specific area of viticulture, not really a fan of the grape but I knew this would be a slightly more voluptuous style. When the bottle came to the table, the label said “Central Coast”. So, no specific area of production, kind of boring, “candied” in flavor, not varietal specific on the palate. Total wine list faux pas- you tell me one thing, but actually offer something different. Not BAD, but not great.

Yes, we do more than eat and drink. You have tuned in to read about food and wine, and that is what I’m giving. Want to see some more antics? Eh, maybe another time…

A few days left. More to come!

Wine Review – WINC Wine Club

Does this turn you on – buy a wine from me, you don’t know what it tastes like, never heard of the brand before, you can’t go purchase it in a store, you can only purchase it again on line if you like it, trust me because I know (through a quick review ON LINE of your palate) what you like to drink, now give me your money and I’ll send you your first few bottles…

Well, it did to a friend of mine.  First of all, I applaud her for trying something new and exploring this crazy world of wine.  So many flavors, so many stories, and the assumption that this (wine) is something only the elite can figure out.  That is what I LIKE about an on line wine membership – it is reaching the masses.  It is fun, quirky, very easy, and extremely appealing.  I get it.

What I don’t like, well what we didn’t like, was the quality and integrity.  Not once, within the short quiz prior to the purchase, was the consumer asked about life experiences, wine experiences, what they drink NOW, dreams and desires, or anything else that could lead a consultant (a computer is not a wine consultant) to how they would like to expand their palate profile.  There is more to you than your preference in fruit flavors.  Wine is about the journey; I want more about where WINC will take me on this journey.  The website does give you a little back story.  They also chat about wine cocktails, show you a pretty wine book, and blog about rooms in your home that can be inspired by wine labels…yes, I said that. (cough, giggle, hide my head in shame)

My friends drink good, to sometimes great, wine; when your friend sells the stuff, that is what you are faced with.  They are used to hearing about the history and people who make the wine, they are seduced by flavors and aromas that pop out of the glass, they are curious and adventurous in spirit.  They are also teachers, sales people, and social workers; just like your friends, they work 8 hour days (at the minimum), have families, and expect quality when they spend their money.

We took WINC for what it is.  I had a dinner party of Chinese take out and we opened the box. Watch this quick video and check out our impressions of WINC as a wine company.


Will there be a second purchase from WINC; sadly no.  Just my impression – and not one to hold you back if this is a gig you can understand.  Check out the website and do a little research –




Drink This: Provenance Vineyards

Quite often, at a wine tasting, a consumer will ask me what my favorite wine on the table is.  I never have a good answer for this mainly because I see wine differently than you do.  The bottle has been researched, studied, atheistically torn apart, put back together with a pretty marketing bow, and sold – in my head.  When I choose to DRINK something, it is all about the moment, the company, my mood.  When I am pouring at a three hour event, I’m not in the mood.

So…how to be polite with this question.  I answer honestly; I’ll tell you what is in my fridge.  What is waiting for me when I get home is the answer.  Are you like me; at the end of the day is when you truly become yourself? There is Work Susan, Gym Susan, Sister Susan, Aunt Susan, Let’s Go On A Date Susan, and then the real Susan.  Real Susan and I need to check in when the day is done; wash your face, put on the comfy clothes, “slay the demons” (that bit totally borrowed from my coach – thanks big guy, well put),  and pour yourself a little relaxation.

My go to lately is Provenance Sauvignon Blanc.  Not because it’s summer; I would drink this in the dead of winter.  Mainly because this wine is not that grassy, acidic, enamel wrenching Sauvignon Blanc my friends seem to love.  I need a little roundness.  I need some smooth lovely soul reaching real talk.  However, don’t get to deep with me.  It’s the end of the day in this picture I am painting, and we don’t need to fix the world’s problems.  (by the way, we all know wine doesn’t do that, right?).  For a winery known for reds, it’s amazing to me a white like this can stand out like it does.  There is some barrel fermentation (slight) on this wine; that is what is changing the game for me.  And don’t sit in judgement with your stainless steel animal of a wine that you swear by.  Remember; complexity, layers of flavors, journey of a wine.  That is what holds the mystery.

I took this  wine and the Cabernet Sauvignon to Sla Thai – my favorite Thai restaurant.  With this winery located in the heart of Napa Valley California (Rutherford to be exact), I thought the two expressions of this vineyard would make sense with the rustic quality of Thai food. The Rutherford Appellation is a pretty warm place; grapes can reach their full maturity while producing deep and and richly flavored wines.  That is what stood up to the complex flavors of our meal.  There is a LONG ripening period in this specific area of California = wines with great acidity, balance, interest and all out love.

Where can I find these wines; Just about anywhere.  They MAY not be stacked on the floor of a wine shop; take a trip to the shelf. You can do this, I promise.  Don’t be scared.  It’s time to stop that “grab and go” – take a tour.

What should I have in my purse; The Sauvignon Blanc will run you about $17-$20 and the Cab around $40 – $45.

The Sleeper; The Merlot from Provenance Vineyards is stellar.  Deep red fruit, dusted cocoa, followed by warm oak at the end.  Delish.