The Two Month “Susan Life Reflection” On Where We Should Go Now (While I am Drinking Cava)

It’s not that I havn’t wanted to talk to you.

It’s me – not you. We have a good thing: I dictate my thoughts through a keyboard, I pretend you are there, you giggle at me tripping over my own ideas, whisper “Isn’t she stupid and cute at the same time” to your partner/lover/one night stand/spouse/kitten, and slice a piece of that crumb cake, sitting on the counter, and tell me not to worry – start lifting that expensive barbell you bought (in a hyper sensitive moment) and all this Covid weight will melt away.

All that is a thing, right?

My challenges, beyond being an isolated and lonely girl, may not be as bad as yours. I still have my job, roof over my head, food in the fridge, a backyard I can play in, and money to pay the bills. I am usually the person with NONE OF THESE THINGS crying on the bathroom floor. So why am I back and in a positive condition? (fleeting, trust me, but today is a good day) Completely for selfish reasons: to sell some wine (yeah, admitting is letting go), to show you another side of the wine coin, to share my screw ups and successes, and to remember that I got some good stuff in my head that you may like to hear.


Here is the : Two Month Susan Reflection On Where Life Should Go Now:

  • Read my ass off, and grasp more wine related substance. I’ve been learning from a super smart wine guy the last two months, and I am just over the moon with his education; self taught, experienced, witty, detailed to the last drop in the glass. I want my song to be loud, accurate, and thundering with thought provoking conversation between us, and I know I can up my game.
  • I tried the LIVE Instagram thing. Honestly, it’s weird, and now it’s a saturated platform. Are we really having a conversation about wine, or am I just drinking to drink? It became very empty. What about a podcast? Thoughts? That sounds like fun…
  • Take more pictures. If you spend any time with me, you are now flipping me off. I already take pictures of wine, wine people, wine stacks, wine ideas, wine dinners, more wine…. enough with the wine. I have recently been looking at pictures, and erasing ones that have no relevance to my life now. However, there are memories that come flooding back, tears and laughter that I can touch, and wonderful people and places that remain in my soul. You just need a little nudge with a visual.
  • Reflect on what has happened, absorb what is happening now, acknowledge when someone does you wrong, walk away from that wrong without feeling wrong, find the delight in not being the star (back up dancers build the brand-you remember that hot one third from the right), assemble your team with different energies, evolve, know that a moment can just be a moment, and that a bad thing is just someone else’s idea of “bad” – not yours. This last year has taught me that people that have never met you before can appreciate you and grow to respect you. At the same time, people you have known for years can make you numb OR continue to fight in your army with a crazy vengeance.
  • And watch a movie with John Cusack; I suggest Better Off Dead (a 1985 classic).

All of that is really good shit.

But what you really want to know is what have I been drinking.

The first month of isolation; a whole lot of wine. Man, I became a very round lady. What a bloated mess. That had to stop friends; and it did. But you know, your girl likes her wine. A few new things needed to enter this picture; something lower in alcohol, quaffable, easy on the liver, and satisfying after a week not having ANY alcohol to drink. I’ve always liked a bubble; Champagne, Cava, Prosecco (eh, not as much but it will do), Brachetto – anything with a little spritz and I’m ready. I PURCHASED (you heard me) a case of Cava and was instantly hooked. Here is why:

  • 11.5 percent alcohol. That made much more sense.
  • Cava is from Penedes; one of the most important viticultural areas of Catalonia in Spain. I sell wines from Spain. Support yourself woman.
  • The grapes: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarello; Macabeo being the dominant in this blend. This grape is so elegant, has complexity, shows pretty acidity, and has the bang of fruit needed without being obnoxious.
  • There is a Brut, there is a Rose, and I know you are going to want to rock this as a mimosa – how about you DON’T! This wine is perfect without all the additional crap you want to feed it. Sure it’s your brunch wine, your after work out wine (don’t judge), a “Is it time to drink in a pandemic” wine (if you have to ask…) – all are acurate.
  • Bubbles make you happy, they just do.
  • This wine’s name? Los Dos Cava – Brut or Rose – affordable goodness; can’t leave that part out, by the way. Grab a bottle, send me a picture of what you are drinking and how you are drinking it, or send me a new suggestion! Anything with a sparkle!

Eat This: Dinner at South and Pine With A Little Pinot Noir

Categorizing an area for restaurant reviews on my website, and calling that category “Eat This”, should just happen. Mood noted.

I don’t go to Morristown for two reasons; (1) I have a destructive ex, in the industry, that trolls the land, and (2) I never think of Morristown as a qualitative “foodie” place.  Great bars, young pretentious hipsters, younger girls vomiting in the corners of bars around 2 AM…

Not judging, but I totally am.  Last night, I found South and Pine in Morristown – changed my mind on what I thought was going on in this busting at the seams town.  Where there is a bar/restaurant/meeting place on every corner, I dare you to search for an eclectic and direct outline of someone else’s vision of true culinary art-forms.  Cookie cutter “lets get drunk”, “how weird can I make the wine list”, and “I’m so trendy” cocktail locations have dominated and sickened the overly ambitious crowds.  Time to take a breathe, realize we are mature human beings and not animals ready to choke on cheap booze, and relish in a true, clean expression of “farm to table’ and in the moment design of a restaurant.

And yes, it’s a BYOB.  Glory BE!  When I go out to eat I want the server to run the show, make me feel like the queen I am, and tell me I am a genius wine goddess for owning such beautiful specimens I have brought to the table.

But I screwed up.  The wine I brought sucked.  Just sucked.  Thank goodness my dining partner thought deeper into the menu and what wines made sense; he saved the day. (whew, that could have been a tragedy!)

What do I mean by this?  As noted, the menu is consistently changing to match foods that are seasonly appropriate.  Right now, you will find pumpkin soup, pork belly, lamb sirloin, and just wait… Braised Bison.  You heard it, and I cannot lie, this made me loose my mind.  One of the BEST grapes for the Fall, and for this menu, is Pinot Noir – hands down.  This grape shows an abundant cranberry fruit, fall sweet spice, and a structure to hold up to a cornucopia of autumn flavors.  Our Pinot Noir choice, and this may be a surprise to you: Celine et Vincent Dureuil, Rully 1er Cru ,”Vauvry”.  Yes, your wine girl is drinking Pinot Noir AND a Frenchy; two things I’m not a fan of.  Let’s break this down and tell you why it worked:

  • Fruit for this wine is sourced from a Premier Cru Vineyard (pretty freaking good) located at the top of a hill.  Lots of sunshine giving this wine a plumpness and bountiful fruit expression without being over the top in candied flavors.
  • Aged 18 months in French Oak, picked from 40 year old vines, and one of the best producers in this region. The oak gives this wine oomph to the structure, and the older vines add a complexity to the fruit composition.  Basically, making everything I hate about Pinot Noir sing a different song.
  • Rully is a village in the larger area of Burgundy, France called Cote Chalonnaise.  Not a lot is written about this area of Burgundy, mostly because they are not known for wines of an elegant nature. I am not elegant in nature, so we have something in common.  Instead, you will get a rustic wine approach with earthy tones, black pepper and spice; and maybe not the best focus.  However, these wines are affordable, have a sound framework, and pair generously with the season.

Recap; go pick some apples, drink a few Octoberfest beers, and finish your day at South and Pine with a bowl of steaming Mussels.  Let the staff smile and wipe your chin, watch through the open kitchen all the hustling and bustling, and bring a bottle of Pinot Noir with you.  Ignore the 20 somethings passing by the window, but do flirt with your dining companion. (and maybe the cutie floor manager!)

Side note; surprise starter was a split bottle of Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial Champagne.  Just the right amount and just the right bubble to clean your palate for the fatty flavors of Fall.  Check out this review/sales pitch from my friends  @ Drizzly if you need some more info!

The Night I Invited Champagne Out To Dinner

In my career, I’m asked to describe a wine well enough to sell it.  That entails telling a buyer about the vineyard sites, history of the winemaker, and anything else I can conjure up to make the wine sound alluring.  I’ve studied my style, changed it over the years, and ripped off other people’s pitches when I would hear something worth the take.  Through investigation, I’ve noticed we are all leaving out the obvious, and most important component of the sale; the grape.

So, I’ve decided to have dinner with said grapes.  Not on purpose mind you.  When a dinner date arises, many wine choices are put on the judgement block – basically because a lot of wines are looming around my house.  And listen, when I am out with friends, I want to drink what I like.  I happen to like champagne; a lot.  Last night, a bottle of champagne came along specifically for a celebratory toast.  Now, let’s stop here for a moment.  When you are toasting, please don’t bring something good.  There are few people in your party that are going to drink the stuff.  Bring something that is actually palatable.  A friend had a bottle of Korbel over the weekend, and I almost knocked her over the head with it.  As I always say; you are better than that.

I also need to admit, I am a creature of habit.  I am surrounded by amazing restaurants, many BYOB (thank you Montclair you beautiful town), but still end up at the same damn places.  SLA Thai is a place that screws me up; I have found myself dreaming of her Pad Thai, and wanting to transport myself immediately to her door – not thinking of my mood, what I want to drink, what is close to my home (I am really lazy).  Why does this food make me crazy – I can’t tell you.  I’ve had Thai so many times before and after experiencing this place, but I’m left enchanted.  They just get me.

Back to that bottle of Champagne.  The choice: Maison De Grand Esprit, “Marquis De La Mysteriale”.  Here is a quickie; this wine is from Champagne: the viticultural area in France.  Soooooooo, we can call it Champagne.  Get it?  All other places make a “sparkling wine”.  Now, in Champagne, they choose to use a combination of the following grapes; chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier.  After a search of the internet and my brain, I’m presuming this one is all chardonnay, or at least I want it to be.  Pretty fruit, crisp, bright; not heavy on the palate at all.  Thank goodness for that – who needs that damn Pinot Noir anyway.  Hating it.

I know, from my vast wine experience and my growing waistline, that Champagne and spicy food will prevail.  What I didn’t predict was how this specific bottle would elevate the experience.  The wine paired with every dish on the table – a difficult task. I forgot I was supposed to disregard it, and instead, kept on drinking it.  It stood up as a wine; not backing down to the heavily flavored food before me.  LOVED it with a short ribs dish.  SHORT RIBS AND CHAMPAGNE?  It worked; that’s all I know.

Seeing a Champagne bottle may make you happy, get you excited, create some drama for the evening….we’ve all been there.  What I would like you to do, next time, is stop for a second and taste the wine.  Make a judgement.  Watch how it will change with a food choice.  Drink it throughout the meal.  Pair it with a dessert.  Remember it is chardonnay (with maybe a few other friends thrown in), and experience it as a chardonnay.  Love it as a chardonnay.  Or just forget this blog, pair it with a bubble bath, a movie, a really good looking man – but still have an opinion.  About the wine that is…