Wine With Lunch

It’s been a hot minute – and I mean that: it is about 100 degrees in New Jersey today.

When it is that hot, who in the hell wants to drink wine. I had a work colleague that would tell me he knew when my day was complete when there was a beer in my hand – ah, the days that I could drink one-two-three beers and look cute. As time passes, right….

I’ve been LIVING on Instagram. It’s a quickie, captures a thought, allows me to share what I want to share at the moment – and honestly, makes me happy. I didn’t want to write that and admit that a social media outlet can make me happy…but there you have it. I don’t mean complete my life happy, but more like a “you did something good today” happy. There are so many days I don’t feel anyone is interested in my wine garbage; what images come to life in my head, what I’m tasting that maybe is hidden from someone else, or just what is coming out of my kitchen that makes a wine sing. (my cooking is on point, but the way) If you are NOT FOLLOWING ME, then you are missing out, but can jump on this train here: https://www.instagram.com/winegirlgonewild/

I began this by judging those drinking wine on a day like this – sort of wrong, but sort of right. I’m not in a wine way these days, but I DO crave wine at lunch. How silly is that. I find certain food/wine things to be a luxury or an indulgence. One of those is brunch; it is a brilliant idea that you cannot deny. The other is a glass of wine paired with a light bite mid day. I’m not telling you to take a “liquid lunch” and stumble back to the office (or your couch – again, no judgement). Breaking out into a wine and food oasis for a hot minute after a few zooms, and your are good. I have the freedom in my career for this kind of afternoon departure – with complete respect and moderation may I add. But what is a good idea regarding a sipper at noon? Here are two from yesterday that come to mind…

Sauvignon Blanc;

Listen, you are in it now, maybe have been in it – it’s a thing, and you should be in this thing. It is the second largest wine category trending at the moment, and that is because of your journey; and thanks for that. I don’t like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, well, rather didn’t for a LONG time. That may be due to the fact that I was drinking crappy product, and there is A LOT of crappy product in this category. Spend, like, two more dollars, and you have a gem, Do I agree that there should be some grapefruit flavors? Sure. Don’t knock me over the head with it though. I want passionfruit, guava, acidity, and something herbaceous. Esk Valley is a stunner of sorts, and I quote from my own Instagram post: “A bottom of fruit with pretty minerality you sense when walking on a stony beach – same goosebumps from the chill of the wind off the ocean, same firm whoosh of the waves that meet your toes.” How good am I with that – just painted your picture for you, didn’t I? We can talk about the Marlborough region of New Zealand another time, but that’s the honey hole you should be looking for. Located at the North Tip of the South Island in New Zealand, this region has a reputation of high quality wine built throughout the last decade. Focused intensity is what I like to call it, with freshness that doesn’t need to be manipulated. This is salad wine – and what else would I be eating for lunch. (side eye) Find out more about Esk Valley here; https://www.eskvalleywines.com

Torrontes:

When a wine pops out of the glass with aromatics, it makes me smile. It makes me want to laugh at a casual joke that isn’t really funny, makes me want to make those around me comfortable, makes me want to set a tone. The Torrontes grape should be doing this for you, and you can thank it later. This is a grape indigenous to Argentina – so put that Malbec down please. And yes, a certified sustainable wine; just check out the love on the label. You are looking at traditional farming practices paving the way for next generations of this wine to develop and grow, as well as encouraging biodiversity within the region, and honoring tradition the way it should be. In the glass, there are luscious flavors of Myer lemon, peach, lemon peel, rose petals – who could be mad at that combo. It’s unique profile has quickly made it the country’s signature white grape, and for great reason. The fragrant qualities of Torrontes have a particular affinity for Thai or seafood dishes featuring aromatic ingredients like lemongrass, cilantro, ginger – all the palate cleansing good feelings that leave your mouth feeling immaculate. I LOVE this wine with oysters – that cold, slimy delight washed down with bright flavors and zing from this wine; perfection. Tilia, to me, is a wine of place. A wine that will TASTE like the varietal I want it to taste like. Find more about this wine here: https://tiliawines.com

Notice there is not a rose pictured – am I insane? I am not – just not feeling it right now. That may change…

Should I follow up with a Red Wine “lunching” wine version? You got it friends…..

Let’s meet for lunch; even if it is a sandwich in the park, or a full meal in my driveway cafe (which can get popping and pull you in – I will not be responsible for what happens there…). What are you drinking at lunch? Drop me a line….

Fun With Brunch At The Cottage

Have I mentioned that therapy is not my thing?

Listen, I know we all need it. We all have the demons, the uncontrollable outrageous rages, the memories that do not fade away, the haunting doubts – I can continue, but really don’t want to because it FRIGHTENS ME TO MY CORE to let that stuff out. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time digging a grave in my head for those heartaches. Shouldn’t I just leave them there?

But, have I mentioned my body dysmorphia of late? The menopause train that is still speeding its way into my world – physical and mental anguish included – is not stopping, and has a troubling plan of anguish in it’s midst. Even the MENTION of menopause makes a listener turn their head, giggle uncomfortably, and – I know – has them wishing I would shut my mouth. I say screw that – we need talk about this. How can I find a solution to not going nuts from these hormones, as well as discontinuing the horrific body destruction that is taking place. I took a look at the obvious; who can help me that is already present in my life.

Right under my nose – literally, she is adorably tiny – was Christine D’Angelo – a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Crossfit Coach, mom of three, and all around authentic human already hanging out in my life. I asked for help, which is something I know you need to do, but takes us “I can do everything on my own” personas a hot minute to recognize. She is not here to TELL me what to do, but rather guide me on my own wellness journey. What I have come to understand is that I KNOW what to do, but maybe don’t know how to put it all together, or where my hurdles begin and end. One moment I’m laughing, then I’m in tears, then my mind is rolling on my new plan; all because of her navigation. I can go on and on about her, this process, the tissue boxes I am now investing in – but I’m going to tell you the ONE thing (there are about 20 more) I am working on now. The ONE thing that none of us think of, plan, celebrate, give energy to….

I’m going to put more fun in my life.

I have never supervised my own fun. I relied on others to plan out dinners, parties, outings. The “others” I am referring to are no longer in my life; now I have the responsibility of “eventing” on my own. This takes a lot of work! What I am learning from Christine is that just looking around at what I already do or already enjoy is PART of that fun. It doesn’t need to be “tasked out”.

Quick list of two of my favorite things; wine and brunch.

I’m really into breakfast. I think of it as a luxury. Alone, or preferably in a group, so many things can happen at breakfast. Is it the fact that your mind is sharp in the morning/late afternoon, or that it can be a spontaneous thing, or that you are releasing into a moment filled with a mixture of sweet and savory goodness? It’s like you can eat ANYTHING you want, and allow ANYTHING to happen. To add to my plan of fun, I organized a brunch – for three. A sort of last minute idea, after a heavy and sweaty workout on a Sunday, casual, and full of great food and wine.

I wanted to share my top three choices of what I would offer and consumed on that Sunday afternoon alongside of omelettes and pancakes. This is basically what I pulled out of my fridge that day:

Jansz, Non Vintage, Sparkling Wine – Tasmania, Australia:

We all know you need a bubble; it just puts a smile on your face, and at the same time refreshes your palate, and pairs with EVERYTHING you may be consuming. It allows us to have a palate “do over” or reset after hollandaise, French toast, roast beef – shall I go on? This wine is NOT champagne, but made with the same method. (bubble blog on the list to explain this further if needed) My perception is that I still get the texture I love with champagne, but a core of green apple and semblance that I crave with brunch. Where there is a creamy texture, there is also a driving acidity highlighted by flavors of Anjou pear. I enjoy this wine all throughout brunch, and then afterwards….

Pewsey Vale, Riesling “Contours”- Eden Valley, Australia:

If I mention Riesling, please know I am talking about a dry style of the varietal. Sure, we could go another route; but no, let’s not. And I’m snobby about this – I just need to be. The Riesling grape can perform at such a high standard, and take certain foods to another level for you. You can have spicy (this wine and Thai food though…), or with meats and fish it will also shine. These wines can be lean, petrol driven (don’t let this turn you off – its actually pretty in a way) and delightful when aged like this. It’s like telling your kid “when you get older you will understand” – the aged Rieslings understand. With this wine, I get flavors anywhere from Butterscotch, Lemon Candy, and Citrus Preserves, to Smoke, Mushrooms, and Lime. It may sound bizarre putting all these flavors together, but that is the mystery and unveiling of a good Riesling. There is so much in this story of a grape. This wine is also certified sustainable, organic, and high scoring. Why would you not?

Yalumba, Sam’s Collection, Viogner – Australia:

I want to drink a wine that will not mask the flavors of brunch – however, these are some bold flavors! I don’t want to open a bottle of chardonnay, but just because that is not a wine I usually reach for. (even though I can name a bunch that would be wonderful). The Vee-oh-nay grape will give you the weight in the wine you are looking for, without the over oak influence, as well as highlighting supportive “brunch flavors” such as peach, mango, honeysuckle and vanilla. It can be a little “girly” – by that, I mean it can be light and pretty, floral, easy going. However, this wine from Yalumba has more of a structure and finesse – this allows the wine to pair with many and all the bold flavors going around the table. (think of that syrup dripping down your chin met with punch of acidity and creaminess – yes mama) I also love this wine with anything spicy, roasted, and caramelized.

These wines are great, but that’s not what brunch, or any meal is to me – it’s the people and situation I find myself in that brings on the enjoyment. It’s the combination of food, wine, or no wine, but PEOPLE, or just by yourself – this is what brings on my fun. Any time I can sit, release my mind, listen or involve myself in laughter, reflect, or just be – this is where my place is, and where I want to surrender to. Let my kitchen be the oasis!

Want to know more about Christine D’Angelo and her talent at making me feel like a new person? Check out her website; https://www.essentialeatables.com/about , or shoot me a note if you want to know more about the process I am in. Our mental abilities are worth it – now more than ever, and always moving forward. All mental balances can be worked on, recognized, and accepted. This body is astonishing me every day, but does not have the authority for a take over of my state of being. It’s a process – but one I am ready for thanks to help like this!

Influencer Status – Reviewing Ravines Wine Cellars

A lovely, 20 something, social media manager of a winery, reached out to me with a desire that I would review some wines for her.

I thought that was funny.

She told me it was because I was a “Wine Influencer”. Yes, she really said that.

I Google’d (ha ha) the definition of an “influencer”. The first thing that popped up was a website focused on “How to Up Your Influencer Game” – spotlighting, or really selling me, Influencer marketing software. I can’t make this up. From what this website was telling me, my opinion now needs a marketing platform, a nice wardrobe, maybe some new boobs, a guide on relationship management, and much much more. I’m semi used to this thought process; starting something from nothing, being an underdog, and speaking a coded language- that is not popular and highly judged- is an every day thing in my world. What I LOVE about social media, or just starting a conversation about wine, is watching the build. When you are the witness of someone developing skills with out TELLING them how to do it – asking open ended questions, being observant, and by holding their hand down the road of discovery – – – – that’s golden. That is causing effect, that is changing behavior, and that is where my heart flutters.

So, I told this lovely social media manager at Ravines Wine Cellars that she could count on me to give my honest opinions and perceptions of a lineup of wines from the Finger Lakes.

And then I called the POD, cooked up a charcuterie board, and made them pose for pictures (I know, I am annoying). Most importantly, I wanted their opinion too.

Here we go: https://ravineswine.com

Let’s take a moment to think – where are we in the world, why is this important, and how is this fun:

Location; In, around, through, and expanding upon Seneca Lake, NY. “Stored heat is released from the deep lakes during the winter, keeping the local climate mild relative to surrounding areas and preventing early season frost. Most vineyards are planted on steep hillsides overlooking the lakes, which help provide the vines with good drainage, better sun exposure, and a reduced risk of frost.” (thank you Wikipedia) Soils in this location – excellent slope and drainage giving wines a leaner profile with pretty floral notes and a racing mineralality – I absolutely love that in Riesling and all white wines in general.

The Ravines Family – European Winemaker with a wife that is a chef. As soon as I read this, I just KNEW I would be experiencing wines of character, and wines that speak to all the senses. Morten Hallgren (winemaker) calls his approach “transparent winemaking”; he looks for a “vine balance”, in this world we live in, through sustainable practices. He is responsible. He is thinking of not just his future but the future of the land he cultivates. Thanks Morten.

What did we taste:

2017 Dry Riesling –

  • Acidity is a bit high here, nice to see on a ’17
  • Medium length
  • Alcohol in balance – “cozy” was the term used…
  • Flavors of lemon/lime curd, hard lemon candy (from the dish in your Great Aunt’s living room), lavender honey, peach, green apple
  • Suggested drinking; “After the Beach” wine when you are showered and sitting on the veranda, in the Spring after work or in your coffee cup on the Zoom meeting! (I never do this…)

2017 Chardonnay

  • We felt the oak tannins before we tasted them
  • Lower in alcohol perception than the Riesling, but higher in acid
  • Medium Body
  • Flavors of honeysuckle, raw honey, sunflowers, slate
  • Suggested drinking; A “sipper” while you are cooking. This was the least favorite, but can still find a place in our drinking life. We did like that the oak was in line with the fruit composition.

2018 Cabernet Franc

  • I was VERY excited about this one. My Rhone Valley ears started to tingle a bit. I didn’t tell the POD any background concerning this grape, or any notions I may have about what would happen when we tasted it. This wine showed a VERY light body – which surprised me.
  • Medium to high tannins
  • The “feeling” of the alcohol was not a desirable situation, but I didn’t mind it. It was a bit obtrusive, but did blow off a bit after re tasting.
  • Strong blackberry nose, which as quite alluring. The jammy-ness got to us. Defined eucalyptus was new for the POD – great point out by someone very observant. Bravo!
  • Flavors of malted chocolate, tobacco, strong steeped tea, and defined bell pepper.
  • Suggested drinking; Pair with stinky cheese, sitting by the fire. Reminded the POD of Fall; defined harvest flavors were definitely present.

Final Thoughts; I like these wines, I like these people, I like their responsible and authentic approach. I also like the idea I could GO there at some time in my life. (not right now friends – Seneca Lake isn’t going anywhere, and can wait for me.) The wines are straight forward, and there is something for everyone. You can’t always say that with a line up. Was every wine a winner? Eh, so so – but what do you expect. I am so happy with this wine discovery, and I thank that 20 something social media manager for bringing these wines into my life. (And look at you creating a new marketing platform for your job. I’m impressed missy) As far as the influencer part, I’m not buying it yet – but, let’s see where this river flows…

Hanging Out in Cape May, New Jersey…at the wineries….

Did you know that New Jersey has wineries? That’s kind of a joke. Yeah, I knew; I just never went.

And I didn’t go because I am a snob. I felt like I was better than that. In my mind, wineries in Cape May had nothing to teach or offer me. It’s Cape May New Jersey – have I not traveled, studied, lived the suffering wine life and moved past this?

Well, listen, am I wrong? Sort of. I’m wrong for stopping my quest of discovery. I am wrong for being a self involved, righteous bitch. And I’m wrong for thinking I can learn nothing from sitting with myself and my psyche. (I traveled alone for three days – and whoa, what a great time). I practiced the art of being silent, letting my mind wander- and not feeling guilty about that- and tuning in to my internal rhythm, my palate sensory machine, and the study of how I articulate my thoughts and impulses. I’m performing all the things just mentioned on a “acceptable” level…. (work in progress)

So here you go – here is the unabashed, kind of emotional, complete truth of what I did, what I think NOW. My ego is still racing and stamping it’s feet, wanting to be heard – I can’t stop that chick. But, I’m going to lay it on the table for you, and hope you don’t get to pissed off.

I began at https://hawkhavenvineyard.com/ and OK – I’m going to give them a pass here. It was August, it was HOT, and I was a bit on edge from a phone call on the ride over. I’ve been diving deep (in my mind, journals- I really got to get this onto paper) into the ideas I talk about in this blog; where do we start, emotionally, before we even take a sip at wine. Can our palates keep up with the noise we have created in our heads; usually before we even finish breakfast? How can we accept that journey a sip of wine will take us on if we can’t even forgive ourselves for the futile human escapades of life?

I wanted a flight, but I didn’t want to drink Pinot Grigio. I don’t want to drink ANYONE’S Pinot Grigio. I asked to switch out a different wine in the flight, they told me that was not a thing they did. (what the…) I even pulled the “I’m in the Wine Business” card (because you know, why not just act like a complete idiot), and they didn’t care. I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and left.

And, I took a wine note: Varietal positioning correct, is there viscosity here? A LOT of alcohol, good acidity, flavors of lemon/lime pith, candied orange peel, leaner body than expected.

And that is all I’m going to say about that.

I started to drive home, but then remembered that I reached out to @njwinegirl on Instagram asking for suggestions. One of those suggestions was https://www.turdovineyards.com/ – thank you Ms! First off, how Jersey is it to park, randomly, on the side of the road to enter the tasting room. Kind of loved that. I was interested in tasting their Albarino; sold out. Ok, lets do something funky then and just go for broke with an Orange Wine. Yup, New Jersey is cooking up a skin contact white wine, natural, organic, distinctive, peculiar – I say bring it on! This one is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Catarratto, and Grillo – dense, off dry, light acidity, definite signs of oak fermentation, honeysuckle goodness. I WANT this with a stinky cheese and walnut raisin bread – and then, I did something I never do- I bought a bottle for a friend. Listen Turdo Vineyards; you and your Italian varietals can stop on my street any day.

I decided to end my time in South New Jersey at capemaywinery; I was thinking this would be the mother of them all. OK, Cape May Winery, you are pretty, and your food is amazing (cute little Tapas bar – what you totally want at the moment). I”ll give you that. I can see myself having a dinner party surrounded by your technicolor umbrellas, sprawling trellised vineyards, and sexy mood music – you got that right girl. Your wine…. um, I’m not impressed but I’m not hating it either. What I DID like was your staff; knowledgeable, accommodating (they let me change out a wine in my flight – and thank you) – and they all look like they are happy to be there. I’m sure dealing with the New Jersey public in a pandemic is not an easy or joyful task at times – couldn’t tell. I had a white wine flight that was totally passable – your Albarino needs a bit more acidity, but had a palate of fresh melon, and I could see it being very food friendly. Your rose was incredibly floral, started out to be pretty, but died a bit at the end. I was delighted by the Isaac Smith White blend – unfortunately not available to buy – but this blend of sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio (I allowed this to happen) and colombard was pleasing. Your General Manager treated me to a Cabernet Sauvignon – I LOVED the slight chill on it, smart choice, great acidity, black berry fruit, alcohol in balance.

Will I go back, yes. I am DYING to see the brewery; next trip for sure. I say go, grab some friends to go with, and drink responsibly. Be prepared to spend some dollars; I’m not used to paying for my wine adventures. (again, snobbing it up, but that is the truth)

Some changes are brewing – honestly, July and August were a shit show for a bunch of reasons. But, I survived; a little bruised and confused, but still ready for whatever life will throw at me. New wines to look at with you – I hope you listen and challenge me as well. Help me through this, send me your opinions, and let’s add to our community. We are better together – if this time has taught me anything…

How I Got Here

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Why does anyone create a blog really?  Mostly, to be a ego maniac, and scream to the world all the illustrious things that happen in life.  This blog will most likely examine the crappy end of the stick.  There will be no fan fare or pretty pictures for you to share with your children.  I’m ready to reveal some not so attractive things about my day to day operations in the wine community.  It’s not all boozing and eating lovely dinners; a job is a job remember….

This first post is to explain where I’ve been and hopefully have it help the helpless creatures out there that think their company, boss, HR, co-workers or mother will help them in their time of need.

I acted like a idiot at my last job.  I created this lovely fantasy world; I would survive a corporate take over, everyone loved me and my creative energy, my work spoke for itself, I was driven and respected…..

Do I need to tell you how this played itself out?

With the loss of my job, I gave myself about fifteen minutes of tears, and vowed to see another wine filled day.  That day did not come for quite some time.  How could this be?  Wasn’t I talented?  Didn’t I climb that “all boys club” food chain, consume every piece of knowledge I could stick in my brain, and drink the cool aide of all things good in corporate life?  I did, and I did it well.  My problem was that I was consumed with myself, and what I was doing at the moment.  Complacency is an evil bitch.  I believed what I was hearing, and didn’t listen to that voice screaming in my chest…

What to do when eight years of your time with a company slips away?  A funny and obvious thing happened; the people I helped and made money for all those years dropped off the face of the earth, and strangers that valued my skill level put their reputation on the line and recommended me for high level positions. I don’t want to be a dirty diaper, but I’m here to tell you you have no friends out there.  I’m sure you are shaking your head and whispering to your cubicle buddy “Well, this is HER story; bitter, bitter woman”.  Nope, you have no friends, and do you want to know why?  Because they are your competitor. They will beat you to a pulp for the sheer fact that you might get to the top of that hill first.  Don’t think you will bounce back if you falter and find yourself unemployed.  The people smiling through gritted teeth can’t wait to upgrade their computer with the one you will leave behind.

In the end, it was all about my relationships.  What retailers did I know?  Who could I call on to sell a ridiculous amount of boxes at the drop of a dime?  What restauranteurs would take my call?  I made a list and carried it with me at all times.  You would think that names would pop into your head, but they don’t.  You WILL forget your accomplishments, and it is a shame when you do.  Know your stuff, and show off as much as you can.  Be opinionated and somewhat angry.  I have found that male interviewers tend to respect a little anger in a woman.  Use the intimidation factor; it can be a eyebrow raiser.  Hey, a little arrogance never hurt anyone.

Consider this a shout out to what may be on the horizon.  Wake up out there.  I’m proud to say I survived, and thanks only to my own self awareness; better late than never.  I will still give 200%; that is just my way, and I don’t know how to stop that.  It’s different now though.  I’ve created different dreams and new paths on how to achieve them.  Nothing like a kick in the ass to show you who you really are, and who you were the whole time.