Friday, December 17, 2010

Indiscriminate Flirter AKA Wine Whore

I told Robbie I'd write this one, and this is a much shorter story than my drunken-night-in-jail one so I figured I'd knock this out first.  The gist is fairly simple and probably could have fit into 140 characters, but I've never been one to be low on words, so here it is as a blog post:

When Wifey turned 30 this year I offered to take her back to Napa to celebrate.  She said "Let's go somewhere different" so we started doing some research and settled on Washington State.  Walla Walla is freaking cool! It's a lot like those small towns around the Napa/Sonoma area that have a lot of downtown tasting rooms, yet tasting rooms at the wineries too if you care to venture out (a lot like Healdsburg if you've ever been there).  We spent a few days in Walla Walla and then went up to the Yakima area.

I'm not going to make this a post about our trip, because I don't remember enough of it now to make it informative and it definitely wouldn't be as entertaining.  So that being said, during our last day in Walla Walla we visited Nicholas Cole's downtown tasting room and were being served by an obviously gay guy #notthattheresanythingwrongwiththat (as you'll see later...).  So he was a whole lot of fun and we were talking and really enjoying ourselves.  We all started talking about their "reserve" blend that they "DO NOT SERVE TASTINGS OF."  Well I thought that this was unacceptable and started working my infamous mojo.  I was complimenting, smiling, and practically touching his arm.  Hell I almost sent Wifey to the car just so I could "get rid of his competition."  Well it turns out I'm not the mojo worker I once was and I seem to have lost a LOT of game over the past 10 years because this dude didn't open up shit.  Bitch.  It's either that or I make a shitty gay man.. But because I am a man and have an ego I don't like to think that he rejected me as a man, I prefer to think that I just didn't work it hard enough that day.

So yes, apparently I'll do just about anything for wine, especially good wine, including flirting with gay pourers. At one point he even said (after my mojo working) "It's hard to be this beautiful" to which I responded "I know, isn't it!" *bat eyelashes*.  I must have left my game in Arizona.  Maybe the fact that my wife was with me hinted that I really wasn't that into him... Oh well, we did end up buying some bottles from Nicholas Cole (because they have great wine at very good prices) but I never did taste that reserve.

Well that's my short story y'all.  Hope you laughed at me! (I sure did!)


Fun with hangovers!

After a brief discussion about the magic of tequila, I was asked to repost this old blog post from my Myspace days.  The date on the blog was Nov '06.

Coincidentally, two posts ago I said that I don't like when other people air my bad laundry, not because I'm too embarrassed to own up to it, but because I'd do it better.  I believe my words were "...even when I'm hungover, I can be a witty motherfucker!"


This sucks.
Don't drink alcohol.  Don't do drugs.  Drugs are bad, mkay.  I don't do drugs, but I did drink copious amounts of alcohol (tequila, specifically) last night.  I woke up this morning not feeling so good.  My wife told me that I had a mess to clean up in the bathroom downstairs.  Apparently I threw up.  A lot.  I don't remember this.  I had to be reminded that I lost a drinking game.  So I finally rolled out of bed at the crack of 9:30ish (if you have kids you know that that's a feat to sleep that long).  My wonderful, beautiful, gracious wife was actually sympathetic toward me (although Lord knows I didn't deserve it) and didn't make me go with her to run errands.  She's been so sweet to me today.  The only thing she asked is that I clean the bathroom.

Uh oh.

So I completely avoid the bathroom for the entire morning and I finally open the door to see what I did...

Amazingly enough it didn't look that bad.  Well on first look, at least.  It seems that I likely wiped up after myself last night.  The first thing I noticed was the smell.  Well... maybe "stench" is a more appropriate term.  It was horrible.  I shut the door and walked out.

So when I decided to tackle the job I had to prep.  First I put on long pants.  If there was puke anywhere on the floor I didn't want to get it all over me.  I couldn't find a handkerchief so I tied a necktie around my face over my nose.  I grabbed the Pine Sol and rubber gloves.  I put a beanie on.  I'm not sure why.  And then I walked in...

There was reminants of puke everywhere.  Incredibly enough the inside of the toilet was the cleanest part of the room.  A mosquito flew in and fell right out of the air.  Then he puked.  I filled the sink with water and mixed in some Pine Sol.  I grabbed a towel and went to work.   It actually didn't take that long, but good gravy, I had to scrub everything...

Well it seems to have worked out okay.  X was able to poop in there so either his stink was so bad that it masked whatever stink was still in there or I did a good enough job that the smell went away.  The lesson here, though, is that alcohol is bad.  Never ever ever ever drink it.

But I gotta go now.  The coffee is done and I gotta grab some Kaluha to mix with it.

Phoenix Wine Mafia Part II - Cabernet Sauvignon Flight

Its a good thing I always carry my wine journal with me... now if I could only learn how to actually "speak wine" we'd be okay.  Oh well!  Anyways I'm going to try to quickly knock out this post so I can get on to reposting an old hangover post from my myspace days...

Since this is a continuation of the last one, I'll not get into lengthy introductions, although I may have a small summation at the end. They were all Napa Cabs from $13-$35. On with the tasting notes:

Cab #1: 2008 Alterra - $13
Just a hint of spice, more so than the Angeline Cab, but not a lot. Very fruit forward, almost Merlot-like.  Not as good as the Angeline Cab.  No one's favorite.  For the price, there are much better wines.  One person's tasting notes said simply: "No".  Not a lot of info on line + no one liked it = not a lot of notes here.  NEXT!

Cab #2: 2006 Edgewood Estate - $14
Most easily put, someone said it was more "Cab-y" than the last wine.  I'd have to agree.  Medium body, good fruit, not too much like the Alterra.  Online tasting notes mention berries (I'd agree) and vanilla (I didn't get that).  Also recommended decanting for an hour (we opened all of the wines a couple of hours before the tastings,  but didn't "decant".  They were all left in the bottle, so the surface area exposed to air was relatively small) Good wine, but for a couple of bucks less, I'd still go with the Angelina.

Cab #3:  2007 Rudy - $25
Now we're talking!  I got flavors of tobacco and black pepper - two of my favorites in Cabs.  Was ridiculously smooth.  Well worth the $25.  If you're willing to spend it, I'd highly suggest picking up a bottle or two. Online notes: cassis, red berries, cherry, good tannins, well-ballanced. (I agree with all of it). Online quote: "There's certainly a whole lot of wine that I like less for a whole lot more money" Side note: It seems to be made by Von Strasser, but does not appear on  May be a second label? Surprising little info on this online.

Cab #4:  2005 Napa Wine Co - $35
I think I was approaching intoxication at this point (don't worry, I blew right by intoxication later in the night and ended up somewhere around nicely effing drunk).  I had gone golfing earlier in the day, hadn't eaten much and didn't have near enough water.  That being said, this wine was goooooooooood. Unfortunately I didn't think to write down actual tastes in my tasting notes.  What I do have: So smooth, so good.  This was the hit of the night (up to this point at least).  It was good and heavy, possibly too much for some of the newer wine lovers of the group.  I did note that it was worth much more than the $35 we paid for it and that it made the Rudy look like a $10 wine (Rudy was still good, don't get me wrong). Tasting notes from their website: The Napa Wine Company 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon epitomizes the classic style of Napa Valley wines. This is a lush Cabernet with intense aromas of black raspberry, hazelnut and cinnamon bark. In the mouth, the flavors are rich and fruit focused. Ripe currant and blackberry integrate nicely with the toasted oak flavors. The wine has a silky texture that finishes with a long persistent aftertaste. (more info here).  I'm not sure I got hazelnut or cinnamon bark on the nose, but other than that I'd agree with the notes 100%. Their website says they're sold out of this one.  I may be running back to Total Wine to stock up.

Surprise Cab #1, or Cab #5 on the list (James had the same numbering problem...): 2003 Goosecross Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon - $60-$80 ('05 Vintage selling for $75, '03 may have originally sold for around $60-$65):
I was good and drunk by this point.  This is one of my favorite wines, and for me to pull out one of my oldest vintages and share it with everyone either means I was very drunk or feeling very very generous (it wasn't even Christmas!) Heck, my tasting notes even included a call out on my cousin because he said that the Baylor women's basketball team would beat UConn in the NCAA Women's tournament this year.  I mean #1 Its women's basketball - who cares! and #2 UConn? Really? They have like a 78 game winning streak going and are defending back to back national champions!!! Oh yeah the wine... Great tasting notes here.  My notes from that night: "Struggling for words, it's just that good. Makes all of the other wines seem cheap and little." This wine is definitely one of the "huge" Napa Cabs everyone knows and loves.  Not everyone at the table loved it, it could definitely be overpowering for newbies. Someone described it as "not as 'bright' as the others".  A very expensive wine, but IMO worth every penny.

Some final notes:
It was a blast.  I can't wait to do it again.  Yes, I ended up getting sick and passing out in the bathroom, but holy crap it was fun.  I really didn't drink all that much in relation to a normal Saturday night, but I definitely didn't prepare well.

I was hoping to do a sparkling wine/champagne tasting on NYE but I couldn't get enough interest.  It looks like we'll be meeting again early-mid Jan for a "Cabs Around the World" tasting.  I'm going to ask everyone to bring a $15-$25 bottle and I'll assign regions.  Should be a lot of fun.

The winners of the night were the Angeline Cab ($12), the Rudy Cab ($25), and the Napa Wine Co. Cab ($35).  All tasted well above their price range and not only would I recommend each of them, I'll probably buy each of them again.

Until next time!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Phoenix Wine Mafia (Finally!) Part 1

Something tells me that this isn't going to be as good as it should be.  That something is the fact that I'm starting it at HOLY SHIT ALMOST 1AM.  Hmm maybe that means it'll be better than it would've been because I'll be keeping it short... anyways, I digress...

The Phoenix Wine Mafia met for the first time on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we had an absolute blast. [Editor's note, I started writing this Fri night/Sat Morn and stopped at this point.  Finishing up the post today, Sunday 12/5/10 @ 11:30pm] I do want to get one thing out of the way.  There were a couple of "mafiosi" that forgot what "omerta" means and I take great offense to anything anyone is saying about me.  For the record: any tweet-rumors you hear about my behavior, nausea, and hungoverness are 100% correct!!! Okay, the truth is any offense I take to anything anyone said about me is because I wish they would have let me say it first here.  I would have been happy to give the entire story and it definitely would have been much funnier coming from my fingers.  I don't take myself that seriously, and I'm all for full disclosure.  As my buddy Dave always said, "If you don't want someone knowing about something you did, don't do it in the first place."  Easy advice to live by, no?  So regarding the stuff I did, I think its hilarious and I'd be a hypocrite if I tried to hide it from my tweeps.  I just wish I was the one to break the news, because even when I'm hungover, I can be a witty motherfucker ;)

So anyways on to the tasting... We had 9 people here overall.  Three couples (@fullblownwifey & me, my friends Mike (@scochscochscoch) & his wife Steph, and my parents); our across-the-street neighbor, Amy and her guest Christina (I think that was her name) (Amy's husband, Eric, was unavailable); and my cousin Mike who is a beer drinker that was visiting from Vegas.  For clarity I'll refer to cousin Mike as "Mike" and friend Mike as @scochscochscoch.  So peer pressure convinced Mike to taste with us.  For him, it started out as expected, but I was pleasantly surprised by his remarks at the end of the night.

As I see it, my readers would like one (or more) of three things out of this post.  1.  A how-to as to how we put together our night.  2.  Notes and opinions on the wines.  3.  A good and entertaining story.  Too many of some of these may be mutually exclusive with others, so I'm going to try to write with a balance of all three.

First, the wines.  We had two flights.  As I call them, Wine 101 and Cab 101.  Wine 101 was 4 differnt affordable varietals all from the same producer.  Cab 101 was really Napa Cab 101 with 5 different Napa Cabs ranging from $14 - $65 (earlier claims of up to $80 were based on unverified information).

Quick notes on the set up:  We had everyone bring an hors d'oeuvres/appetizer to share and their own glass just in case there were so many people that we didn't have enough.  I bought all the wines for this one and we split the cost evenly - I wanted the control for this first meeting. In the name of safety (and common sense) we also provided bottled water, a spit/pour bucket, and the option to stay the night at our place.  We all tasted each wine together and shared our thoughts.  I poured lightly (about 2oz per) giving those that wanted another taste the ability to have one. We took about 5 or 10 minutes between the two flights.  I read any internet/back of bottle tasting notes I could find, but didn't overly orate (well not too much).  This definitely wasn't a wine geek group.  I did encourage everyone to express their thoughts, although I didn't record them as well as I would have liked (note to self for next time...).  It took a while to get everyone under control and I of course lost it again periodically throughout the night, but all in all everyone was quite respectful.  It is a lot less stressful to be on the other side of the tasting table, but I did enjoy my role as host.

Okay, back to the wines...

The first flight: 

Angeline was the producer, recommended by my buddy, What's-Her-Name, at the local Total Wine and More.  When I described my objective to her, she insisted that the Angeline was a great representation of each grape.  So I said, "Sure, why not".  We had a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, all around $12-$14 at Total Wine.  We each had a taste in this order.  Seconds were available for anyone who wanted another taste.

2009 Angeline Sauvignon Blanc:
As most Sauv Blancs are supposed to taste, the tasting notes advertised a floral nose with tropical, green fruit/melon flavors.  I thought it was much too "chalky" and reminded me of a medicine I used to have as a kid (although I can't remember which one - Amoxicillin maybe?).  Quick side note, my wine tasting vocabulary is severely lacking, so what you get is what's going on in my mind.  Not only do I not guarantee that you'll agree, I don't even guarantee you'll understand.  Moving on... not to sound snobby, but most of the wine "newbies" and at least one of the "kind-of-sewers", er I mean "connoisseurs" thought it wasn't half bad.  I thought the wine was misrepresented and wanted to go back and punch ol' Whats-Her-Name in the nose.  Alas, it wasn't #whoopasswednesday, so I refrained and kept a cautious optimism about the rest of their wines.

2009 Angeline Chardonnay Russian River Valley:
I had two Angeline Chard choices, RRV and I think the other was just a "California" Chard.  Whats-Her-Name (we're gonna call her WHN from now on) said that the "California" Chard was lighter and more crisp while the RRV was oak-y and buttery.  I don't remember if she specifically said that the "California" was 100% steel fermentation or not, but that was the general idea - one with an unoaked flavor, the other a bit more towards the "Cougar Juice" end of the spectrum.
Well never let it be said that I don't like me some Cougar Juice and I figured since we were getting a crisp white with the Sauv Blanc, we'd go for a contrasting flavor with a rich buttery Chard.  After tasting it I thought that it was actually quite well balanced between the fruit/acidity and the oaky/buttery flavor.  For the price I think it's a great everyday Chardonnay.  Don't get me wrong, it's not incredibly complex or layered, but I'd pay $18 for it; which at about $12 makes it a nice little bargain.  Most of the crowd agreed. Between sips on his beer Cousin Mike said it tasted just like the last one. Classy!

2009 Angeline Merlot, Sonoma
I thought this was a great representation of a decent California Merlot.  Very light and a lot of fruit on the palate.  I thought it had nice balance, but some in the crowd thought it was a bit sweet.  As long as I've been drinking wine and for as many bottles as I've had, I still can enjoy a bit of sweetness in my wines, but it seems the trend (at least amongst my wino circle) is to shun anything that isn't completely dry or is too fruit forward.  So while I did like it, there were a few that poured out their tasting after just a couple of sips.  Black cherry, red fruit & berries were all mentioned regarding everyone's impression of the wine.  I thought it was a nice everyday wine until I tasted...

2008 Angelina Cabernet Sauvignon
WHN absolutely nailed it.  Just as the Chard was a great representation of an oaky RRV Chard and the Merlot of it's grape, this was Cab through and through.  The tannins were surprisingly tame for a such a young wine and (of course) there was much less fruit than the Merlot.  I thought the most meaningful reaction of the night came from Mike though, "Those [Cabernet Sauvignon] are usually hard to drink.  That one is not hard to drink."  So "easy drinking" is a great descriptor - this is definitely one I could buy a case of to have for random Wednesday nights.  The fact that this one made Mike not crack open another beer actually notice the quality showed me (1.) that it was a pretty good bottle and (2.) that we were actually accomplishing something with these tastings.

I'm tired and this is long, so I'll stop it here and write Part II over the next day or two.

Thank you for reading this!


Thursday, December 2, 2010


Over a month since my last post.  Sorry.  A great many things I should have been posting about since then.  I'll cover a few of them quickly and then get on with my current reason for writing in a second post (these posts just don't look as appealing when they're too long - two short ones will look easier to read).

So as my last post stated I went to the first two World Series with my dad and brother (@gohandrake).  It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  Beyond amazing.  Day two started out with us catching up with work emails and phone calls and then going up to meet "real life" twitter friends Lynn (@lynnsherwood), Beau (@UCBeau, @Beausbarrelroom), and Monica (@FabOCGirl, @OC_Monica), and "stick" twitter friends Kate (@kateolynch) and Beth (@bethlynch) (who also may be my honorary cousins in the future - shoutouts in my blog: #hlmca), for lunch (that sentence makes a lot more sense when you read it without all the stuff in parenthesis).  Lunch was a blast.  We talked wine, drank tea & soda (it was the middle of the day!) and all around got to know each other more than we would have been able to do over twitter alone.  We weren't smart enough to take a picture of everyone together, but we did get a chance to snap one of the Texas cheering section

Which I thought was beautifully followed up by this one that Lynn took later (or maybe it was before):

Stick #lynchmob then went with Beau and Monica and I think ended up going home with Beau.

Then came the game.  Everything I said in the previous post all over again.  I really felt like I was part of the city.  Matt Cain and my Giants came through HUGE and, as those of you that have followed baseball or my tweets at all this year know, they ended up pulling off the series in 5 games (more on this in a bit).

Here are a few pics from that night. The first is (L to R) my dad, brother, and me. The second is a pic of the bay from our seats that I thought was cool looking, and the third is a pic of Steve with an old college friend who happens to be from the bay area and who happens to work for the Diamondbacks now (from whom we got our tickets through my cousin).

A few days later (on Halloween) I turned 32.  The next day the Giants won the World Series. I need to say that again.  The Giants won the World Series.  The San Francisco Giants won the World Series.  Best birthday present ever.  I'm not going to over exaggerate and say that this was the best day of my life.  I'm a proud dad of 3 beautiful children.  If one were to use crying as a measure of emotion, I cried much more when my kiddos were born than I did when the Giants won.  That being said I cried more for the Giants than I did when I heard that Steve and his wife gave birth to my niece (sorry guys).  Or more than I did on my wedding day (I love you honey!).  It was fantastic. Unreal.  It truly felt like something I had been waiting 32 years for.

A quick note on the Diamondbacks. I'm a born and raised Arizonan.  We didn't have an MLB team until 1998.  I'd been a Giants fan for 20 years by then.  Many people, my father and best friend Dave included, bailed on the Giants and became "hometown" Diamondback fans the minute the D-Backs arrived.  On a scale from 1-100 I consider the Giants 100, the D-Backs a 50 and everyone else 1-5 (except for the Dodgers who are a -100).  I always said that I'd give the Giants my loyalty until they won a World Series, then I'd hang up my Giants "fandom" call it a great relationship and move on to the D-Backs.  In 2003 when the Giants *almost* won it all I knew that that would never happen.  These guess have my heart.  It's not a rational, logical thing.  It's 100% emotional and beyond any control, like falling in love.  My buddy Dave and I were both at game 7 (not together) when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees back in 2001.  He came down and found me in my family's season ticket seats after the game.  I'll never forget him saying that he made himself cry because his favorite team winning the World Series deserved his tears.  I didn't have tears in 2001.  It wasn't my favorite team.  I cried like a school girl this year.  And I didn't have to "make myself" do it.  I'd been waiting 32 years for this.  I couldn't have stopped myself from crying if I tried.  Sorry D-Backs, but you can never do that for me.  Giants, you have a fan for life.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

World Series Trip Day 1

This was an amazing day.  The second best baseball game I've ever attended in my life (I was at Game 7 of the World Series when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in '01.  If I was able to attend the Giants' clinching game this year, that game would easily vault to #1).  Here are some pics of me and my brother (@gohandrake) at the game (my dad didn't want to spend $500 on a SRO ticket, although he will tomorrow):

Buster kicked it in the room and watched the game while we were gone (I'm not shitting you, I left the game on and turned the TV to face him and placed him on a table watching the TV).  But there is some sad news regarding buster.  He kinda lost his head over this whole World Series trip.  Literally.  I've had him for about 15-20 years now.  About 15 or so years ago, he fell off of the top shelf of my bookshelf in my room.  His head fell off and his face fell to pieces.  Back then I glued everything back together and painted it up the best I could.  So I got to the hotel earlier today and I opened up my suitcase after the flight and found his head detached at the neck.  This is the first time since then that his head broke off at the neck.  I placed it back on and let him watch the game.  (Remind me to get some glue on this trip)

The game itself was awesome.  Steve got A LOT of shit from all of the Giants' fans (me included).  He got threatened a handful of times (again, some times from me) but thank goodness we avoided violence.  (I'm so disappointed he never got his ass kicked).  We walked all around the park and saw Willie McCovey and McCovey Cove.  We had a drink, almost got in MORE fights (WHY DID YOU HAVE TO WEAR THAT JERSEY?!?!?!)

Rangers took an early 2-0 lead, but the Giants came back and tied it and then blew up the 5th inning with 6 runs.  It was indescribable (but I'll do my best).  I was born and raised in Phoenix.  I haven't been in San Francisco since I was too young to remember.  Today I was a San Franciscan.  I wore black and orange and was asked if I had season tickets, asked how many post season games I had been to.  I was high five-ing and hugging people who literally embraced me as one of them, or at least as one of theirs.  WE - yes WE rocked that place.  I almost cried.  A few times.  Okay, a bunch of times.  This is MY team that I've loved since the day I was born.  I grew up revering Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal and adoring Will Clark, Matt Williams, Kevin Mitchell, Robby Thompson, and Barry Bonds (pre-roids).  And everyone else there today had as well.

I don't have to go over the play-by-play.  ESPN will do that every hour until about 8am tomorrow morning.  As an experience, it was one like I'd never experienced before.

And I'm going back again tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

World Series Trip Day 0

I'm getting ready to leave tomorrow for San Francisco.  Thanks to my most favoritist cousin in the world I have 2 tickets to the first two games of the World Series.  Dad and bro (@gohandrake) will be joining me (don't know how we're getting the 3rd ticket to each game, so if you have any let me know.)

I'm packing right now.  I'm used to 80 degree days with little wind here in the Valley of the Sun.  Rumor has it it gets a bit breezy by the bay and slightly shivery in the City, especially at night.  I'm not sure how to pack, but I'm planning on looking like those guys from Cool Runnings when they leave the airport.

Speaking of things I'm packing...
So I've decided that my newly rediscovered bobblehead needs a name.

I've thought a lot about it and discovered that that whole thinking thing is wholly overrated and unnecessary.  I'm going with my first instincts.  Meet Buster the Bobblehead.  I really settled on the name for three main reasons.

1.  Simple alliteration. Love it.

2. Tell me you don't see the resemblance:

A. They're both wearing black and orange
B. They both look like they're about 16
C. They're both white.
Yeah that's all I've got, but that second one is really the kicker.  I seriously think my Buster looks like he could be a rookie of the year (although he is a little stiff on defense *rim shot*)
"I'll show you my little stiff" - Buster the Bobblehead

3. Seeing as Buster is my favorite non-living Mythbuster,

I similarly favor my Buster the Bobblehead as my favorite non-living San Francisco Giant (sorry Kung Fu Panda)

So there you have it.  Buster the Bobblehead.

You bet your ass he'll be travelling with me to San Francisco and he will have a spot in the hotel room to watch every game (and yes, I'll turn the TV on for him).  Superstitious you say?  Maybe.  But I'll leave you with this.  Over the last few innings, I sometimes forgot to hold Buster as we watched the Giants bullpen take the hill, but never when I held him (and he got to see the game) did the Phillies get a basehit.



Friday, October 22, 2010

Crisis Averted

Again, pretty simple, but much longer than 140 characters!

If you didn't read my last post, do it now otherwise this one will make no sense.  Back? Good.  We shall proceed.

Well apparently it helps when you work for God, because He takes care of His peeps.  My brother, the minister, and his wife are going to have their baby today.  Their doctor, it seems, has planned a vacation for their due date (same date as Game 1 of the World Series) so he made the executive decision to induce today.  They break her water in 11 minutes (timestamp: 12:19PM PDT).  And my brother must have married the second best woman in the world (after Wifey of course) because she's letting him meet me in San Francisco on Wednesday! (TANGENT: I think I'll start capitalizing Wifey.  After all, for blogging and tweeting purposes, that is, has been and will continue to be her name.  Much shorter than mrsfullblownwino or fullblownwifey (although i do like that last one...) ENDTANGENT)

My cousin works for the Arizona Diamondbacks and was able to get us 2 tickets to Game 1 and may be able to get us 2 more to Game 2. There's 3 of us (my dad decided to go) but we'll figure it out!  We have our flights, our tickets and our hotel rooms.  Now we just need the Giants and the Rangers TO CLOSE OUT THESE FUCKING SERIES!!!!!!! Seriously. Enough already.

His new crisis?  His wife may still be in labor during the Rangers game.

Easy jokes to follow:

Doc: Breathe! Breathe!
@gohandrake (his name is Steven. When he was a kid he did that Ke$ha thing with his "s". It kinda stuck, so from here on out I'll be shortening "@gohandrake" to "$"): I'm trying but they have a guy in scoring position with no outs!

[in the waiting room]: Listen to that screaming! Is she already in labor?
No, the Yankees just scored.

$'s wifey: OHMYGODITHURTS!!!!
$: *sniff* I know, I know honey, but we've got Lee throwing tomorrow, so we should be okay.

Doc: Oh my goodness Mr. Valdez, it's twins!
$: No no no, the Yankees eliminated them.  It's the Rangers. I know. They're my favorite team.

*gasps* a nurse: the baby is black!
$: Turn off the TV. Honey, start explaining.

I could go all day with these, but I want to hear yours! @ him & me with your best or leave them in the comments!


PS- Early congrats, kid.  I can't express in words what a joy you'll be feeling today and how happy the whole family is for you. (I'm talking about the baby) (okay and the game too)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Brother's Household Crisis

Fairly simple actually, but definitely longer than 140 characters.

@gohandrake, AKA my younger brother, is a Texas Rangers fan.  I'm a San Francisco Giants fan.  The Rangers are one game away from their first World Series ever.  The Giants are two wins away from going.  Oh yeah, he lives in Oregon and I live in Arizona.

These all come together in one great opportunity:  San Francisco is about as close to half way between him and me as you're going to get and that's where games 1 & 2 would be if the Giants get to the World Series.  Game 1 on Oct 27, Game 2 on the 28th.  So where's the crisis?

His first baby (Little Audrey Rae, AKA my Li'l Raesin) is due (wait for it...) Oct 27.  So we joke that we're going anyways. Then the Rangers win tonight and the reality of the opportunity becomes much more apparent.  He actually asks his 8 1/2 month preggers wifey if she think it'd be okay if he's out of state the day their baby is due. Guess what she said...

So after getting his balls out of his throat (where she had shoved them after tearing them from his scrotum) and finally convincing her not to move out and in with her parents (otherwise known as "upstairs") he texts me that he "just got shot down big time."  Heh heh - duh!! So we talk and we figure his only chance of going to the World Series is if she goes into labor now-ish.

So I'm asking all of my tweeps to @ him with your best labor inducing ideas.  Please, I implore you.  The life and dreams of a passionate young baseball fan hangs in your hands.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I've got two lemons into lemonade stories that will possibly intersect tonight:

Here's a rare "atta boy" blog post as opposed to a griping one, especially regarding customer service.  Wifey and I made the (possibly questionable) choice to accept an invitation to Peju's super secret, super exclusive (or so they tell the invitees), super pricey (as wine clubs go) Library Wine Club.  They're supposed to send freaking awesome, ready to drink library wines.

We recently received our first shipment:

1. '06 Zin
2. '04 Estate Bottled Merlot (they have one of the better Merlots in Napa)
3. '06 Estate HB Cab Sauv (91% Cab, 8% Merlot, 1% Petite Verdot) - Wine Club Price: $175/bottle.

They shipped the wine late last week and it arrived Monday morning.  That likely means it sat in a UPS warehouse over the weekend.  It was over 100ºF in Phoenix this weekend.

After removing the foil of the HB Cab, you could see, feel and smell wine.

One call, that was all.  They promised a new shipment of all three wines as soon as the weather allowed.  No need to send this wine back - keep it and hope for the best.  They said that a heat wave came through unexpectedly after the shipping plans/arrangements had already been made.

Story #2:
Tweeted about this on Friday.  Driving home from El Paso.  It's about 4pm on a Friday afternoon.  Windows are down, music is blaring, life is good.  Phone rings - it's dad/boss telling me that a client of ours has asked us to give a 2hr presentation the next morning (Saturday!) at 7am.  Apparently the original presenter had to back out last minute.  I don't have a 2 hr presentation, nor do I have two 1hr presentations that can seamlessly be put together.  My night looks like this:

6:30PM Get Home
7:00PM Two of our friends & their kids come over to hang out
7:30PM Toast for a Cure with friends (the other wifey lost her mom to breast cancer, my dad lost his sister) & eat dinner.
8:00PMish-9:30PMish Stare at computer screen with a bottle of '05 Armida Cab Reserve constantly refilling my glass (sooo good!) while friends and my wifey sit in living room and socialize.
9:30PMish Friends go home.  My fam falls asleep.  I keep staring at computer and tweeting from time to time.
10:30PMish Realize that I have to be up in 6 1/2 hrs (not bad) and presenting in 8 1/2 hrs. Go to bed.

So I get up and get to parent's house to go w/ dad/boss to this presentation.  Fifty+ contractors are there.  I still don't have a presentation.  We're told I'll have the floor for 90-120 mins, but I wouldn't have to be on until about 8a.m.  I have about 45 mins to throw something together from 4 different 1hr presentations I have.  I do.  It goes well.  (if you're interested, the presentation turned out being "Energy Efficiency through the Building Envelope." Thrilling, I know). We have people thanking us left and right.  It was a HUGE political win for us.  This company is big and we just helped cement our ongoing partnership with them.

So how do these two stories intersect tonight?

Tonight, we'll be drinking $175 bottle of wine knowing that we have another coming once the weather cools.  It may be bad, but hey, it may not.  And if it's not... :D! I can't wait to try it.  We'll be splitting it with my parents, who are our favorite wine drinking buddies.  They get wine at least as much as we do, if not more.  And after we sample a glass or two of this wonderful juice, my parents will be taking us out for sushi as a thank you for me putting together that presentation last minute and really helping out the companies.

It's going to be a good night


Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Below is my basic chili recipe.  I took Bobby Flay's and the Neely's recipes at and combined them.  Then I tweaked that a bit.  See the basic below in Times font and my comments and variations below that:

1 Med White or Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
1 Red Onion (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
1 Yellow Bell Pepper (chopped)
1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp Cumin
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano
2 lbs Ground Beef
1 Bottle of Guinness beer
1oz Semi-Sweet baking chocolate
2 cans kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
2 – 16oz can diced tomatoes
2 – 16oz can crushed tomatoes
1 lb Bacon

Chop all of the vegetables and measure out the seasonings before you start cooking! Or at least while you cook the bacon. If you cook the bacon on about the 7 setting, you should have about enough time to chop the other ingredients and measure out the seasonings while the bacon cooks. (that is if you have a food processor style automatic chopper or you can chop real fast - I prefer my small food processor/auto chopper thing)

Chop up the bacon into 1” pieces and fry over medium high heat in a frying pan.  Remove the bacon when it first begins to crisp (don't burn it) with tongs or a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl for later.  Try not to eat all of the bacon while you’re cooking the rest of the chili.  You may want to hide it or fry up an extra package of bacon if you think this will be a problem.

Add the chopped garlic, onions, and bell peppers and the chili powder, cumin, oregano and smoked paprika to the frying pan with the bacon grease.  Cook until vegetables are tender.  With a pair of tongs or slotted spoon, move vegetables into a Dutch oven or large pasta-style pot. 

Add the ground beef to the frying pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Season with salt and pepper.  When the meat is browned, deglaze the pan with the beer and bring to a boil.  Stir in the chocolate and cook until beer is almost completely reduced.  Add beef/beer/chocolate mixture to the vegetables.  Heat entire mixture over medium.  Stir in the kidney beans.  Stir in the crushed and diced tomatoes.  Heat to boiling then turn down to low (at about setting “2”).    Simmer 1 hr 15min.  Mix in the bacon and continue to simmer for 10-15 mins.  Serve with shredded cheddar, chopped chives and/or sour cream.

Okay I've never made it the same way twice, so here are some of the variations, including what I did tonight.  I originally started throwing the bacon in the pot with the veggies but I found that you really lost the flavor of the bacon, so now I throw it in as close to the end as possible.  If its crispier than you'd like, leave it in for longer. Tonight I put a real nice crisp on the bacon when I first fried it up and put it in the chili after about an hour of simmering. I left it in there for about 15mins.  It turned out perfect.  Great flavor in the chili and it softened up nicely.

As far as the beer is concerned I've never used anything but Guinness, but I have tried two bottles instead of one.  Don't do it.  Way to beer-y and not in a good way.  But if you want to try to experiment with other beers, feel free.  Hey I don't have to eat it, you do.  You may want to get more than a sixer for the night, especially if anyone else is drinking.  Personally I don't usually drink Guinness (I'm more of a Fat Tire guy, myself, well actually I'm more of a wine guy, but when I'm drinking beer, I prefer Fat Tire) so when I buy it, it's usually for this recipe and I could easily go through a six pack on my own (it's not a quick meal by any means).  Here's the recipe for going through a six pack of Guinness while cooking chili:

  • Bring home beer.  Open one, put one in freezer (top shelf of door is usually warmest and least likely to freeze beer), put 4 in fridge (back of bottom shelf is usually coolest). 
  • Drink open beer (#1).  
  • Once open beer is empty, you should probably be just about cooking the ground beef (depending on how quickly you drink, of course).  Take the beer out of the freezer (#2) and start a-drinking.
  • The next beer (#3) will be used to deglaze the pan.
  • This stuff has to cook for another hour, so unless you have a nagging spouse that thinks drinking a six pack in one night is altogether irresponsible and unhealthy, you're probably ready for #4.  As for me, I'd never call my wifey nagging to her face (just kidding! as all of my tweeps know, I have the best wifey ever!) but I personally usually choose to have a glass of water about now.  But don't worry, I don't judge, so feel free to pop the top off of #4!
  • Now tonight, I chose to have a Fat Tire with my meal, but by no means should you let me influence you (other than doing everything else this blog says to do) and when you cook with a beer, it's never a bad idea to drink what you cooked with when it's time to eat. (#5)
  • And this recipe is so damn good you have to have seconds and when you do...well go ahead and grab #6, after all, what good is one beer in the fridge.  That's like leaving just the ends of a loaf of bread and putting back in the pantry.
Now for some comments on the veggies.  I've lately really liked chunkier bell peppers, because you can taste them better.  I rarely use only six cloves of garlic.  It depends on the size of the cloves and how many I have left on an ear.  As for the onions, I'll chop the yellow/white one up finer than the red and have them mix in with the "broth" and chop the red into larger pieces because they have (in my opinion) a nicer flavor and again, the larger the pieces, the more you'll be able to taste each ingredient. 

A note on the spices - there are many different types of chili powder.  When I'm lazy or just trying to use what's in my pantry, I'll use regular chili powder.  Today I had ancho chili powder I had bought for a different recipe and used 1/2 ancho 1/2 regular.  Didn't really taste the difference.  I did use smoked paprika today, but I'm not sure I can totally taste the difference between that and the regular paprika once it's in the chili.  The ratios are just about right, but if you want to tweak it a bit, again, feel free - it's not like I'm going to eat it!

I love kidney beans.  I might add another can if it wasn't for the fact that my son doesn't like them.  Well usually he doesn't.  Today he did.  I have no effing clue about him.  He eats real raw fish sushi, loves mushrooms and kalamata olives on his pizza and orders fresh grilled salmon off of every restaurant menu but bitches about too many kidney beans in his chili.  Sometimes.  And I have 2 more behind him to deal with as they grow up... oy vey.  But I digress... point being kidney beans are good.  Try an extra can if you like them as much as I do.

I was told that today's was the best batch I've made.  I'd have to agree.  I added shredded cheddar, wifey also put sour cream on hers.  No chives today.  In the end though, the bacon was the key.  Everything else was good too, but the bacon was the most noticeable difference.  I love beer with this, but if anyone has any good wine pairing suggestions, please comment!  My thought would be an inexpensive kinda sweet Zin or a Syrah.  There are definitely a lot of flavors going on here and you'd need something big to be able to hang with the food.

Oh, one last note - this is not a spicy dish as written.  "Chili without spiciness?!?!?!" you may exclaim inquisitively (or question emphatically, take your choice). If this is offensive to you (I'm looking at you Lynch sisters-you are from Texas, right?) feel free to throw some crushed red peppers in there or maybe some fresh jalapeño peppers with the veggie/spice step.  At our house, I'm the only one that loves spicy foods, so I sprinkle crushed red peppers on my chili after we're all dished up.  Know that too much spice may change my wine pairing recommendations.  I'll have to get back to you on that specific topic, and of course, please feel free to offer your own thoughts.

Okay I promise these posts won't always be this long!  Hope it was informative and I hope you try the recipe and love it!


Friday, October 1, 2010

#Grenache Day and the ensuing weekend

So this is my first post.  I've attempted no less than three "first posts" before this one.  Let's hope this one actually gets posted.

I'm not sure if this is how this entire blog is going to go, but I do know that it's how I'd like it to go.  I love wine.  I'm passionate about it.  I'm not, though the most educated person on the subject, so when I talk about it on this blog, it'll be from some personal experience and from a lot of research.  I'm not sure I'll always (or ever) be able to properly cite my references, but I'll do my level best to at least point you in the right direction, or at a bare minimum let you know from whom I'm getting my information.

Friday was "International #Grenache Day" (make sure you include the #hashtag!).  Based on the little information I could find on the grape, I decided that I was going to buy three different bottles of wine, all with the Grenache grape, and host a small tasting (small = me, wifey, mom & dad).  I was able to get some information from Kevin Zraly's "Windows on the World Complete Wine Course" (although my edition is rather old) and I'm sure I read some tweets by @RickBakas and @TishWine that lead me in the right direction.  I may have even read some Wikipedia (

The thought process was I'd get a Grenache from Spain (or Garnacha as it's called there) and then two Grenache-based wines from the southern Rhone Valley (wines from the northern Rhone Valley are often 100% Syrah, very different from the wines made in the South - more info:  Even the Grenache-based wines from the southern region can be very different from each other, so I decided on a Côtes du Rhône and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.   It turns out I didn't have $45 to spend on the only Chateauneuf-du-Pape Total Wine had, so I ended up getting whatever the very helpful guy that worked there told me to get.  

Okay so I've done some more extensive research on exactly which bottles I bought and I've come up short (note to self, take pictures and notes on the day of the tasting, you dipshit).  The good news is that I remember the grape blends and where they're from, so hopefully that'll help a bit, also they're all about $10 (I'm sorry...) Sooo here's how we'll describe them for the sake of this blog:

Wine 1:
Southern Rhone blend: 60% Grenache; 40% Syrah - Bought at Total Wine

Wine 2:
Southern Rhone blend: 50/30/20ish Syrah/Mourvèdre/Grenache (GSM's are common blends for S. Rhone, although technically this one would be a SMG) - Bought at Total Wine

Wine 3:
Spanish 100% Garnacha (Tapeña - Bought at BevMo

Notes and impressions:

Wine 1:
I loved it. Wifey loved it.  Mom really liked it.  Dad thought it was okay (Dad is a fan of "suck-your-lips-from-your-mouth dry" wines.  It was VERY light. Dude at Total Wine called it "medium bodied".  I must drink Fat Albert bodied wines then because this was way light as far as I'm concerned, but not in a bad way.  It had a very unique flavor about it.  I described it as red cherry (as opposed to black cherry) (NOTE: I don't know shit about verbalizing that which I taste, so take my descriptions with a grain of salt).  I would call this a good summer red, although it does not need excessive chilling.  I see this paired well with a capellini pomodoro (more on this later).

Wine 2:
Dad and I agreed that this had almost no nose and almost less taste.  The little we could get out of it was earthiness, although not quite Pinot Noir style earthiness.  It sucked.  Next. (I promise I'll let you know if I can remember which wines these were.  I'll do better next time, Mommy, really!!!)

Wine 3:
Although 100% Garnacha/Grenache (supposedly a "lighter" grape) this was the closest to a traditional California red.  This is why I wanted to do this type of tasting.  This tasted NOTHING like the first two and furthest from the first one (the Grenache-heavier one of the French wines).  This was Dad's fave.  The most tannins of the three although not "heavy" on the tannins.  Definite dark fruit. Earthy, but not overly so.  For $10, pretty damn good. My 2nd fave tonite.

Soooo we do a quick tasting then I have to run off to play cards with my buds. Wish I could have stayed longer and talked more about the wines (more on this later, too).

We played cards, had fun, wifey went out with the WAGS of the other players. Good night all the way around.

Next day:
Had a Gruner Veltliner for the first time EVER.  It was a "Grooner" brand from BevMo.  Hmm... I've had this before.  It's called Sauvignon Blanc. Don't know if its the winery or the grape, but very chalky.  Wifey very accurately called out notes of dry sparkling apple cider. Wasn't bad, but with all of the attention that Gruners have gotten lately, it was very underwhelming. Hopefully my next Gruner will be more enjoyable (not that this one was bad, but it just wasn't the "nectar of the gods" I was expecting).

So I get to cooking that night. Have this rich, yet kinda light pasta dish in my brain.  Thinking fresh tomatoes, thin spaghetti, bacon, garlic, onions (I think), wifey suggests shrimp, and my fave ingredient, fresh basil (I grow loads of it... my only damn "crop" that grows well).

My thought is to dice 2 of my 4 tomatoes and crush the other two, creating a saucy sauce with chunks in it.  I start by frying the bacon and after it starts to brown adding in the onion (I'm pretty sure there was onion in there) and the garlic.  Next comes the tomatoes.  Not as much sauce as I'd've liked, so I add a can of diced tomatoes.  I throw the al dente spaghetti in the sauce to absorb the juices, but I realize I still don't have enough sauce.  I toss in the chopped fresh basil.  The dish was a little softer than I would have liked.  Just not quite what I was hoping for.  Dinner was a solid 6/10.  Very "okay".

Next day:
I sauté the pasta dish in some olive oil for lunch the next day.  This is what I was looking for.  The tomatoes dry out a bit and take on the strong "sun dried tomato" flavor.  The bacon crisps up.  The pasta gets a nice crisp to the outside.  I add a little salt that should have been there the night before and pair it with more of Wine #1 from Friday.  A solid success.  The flavors come out so much more after the additional cooking and everything gets just enough crisp on it to kill the mushiness from the night before.  Lesson to be learned: next time, more sauce and more time in the pan.

So in addition to all of this, I first decided I wanted to moonlight as a VinoVirtuoso "Wine Educator".  One of my friends asked me to conduct a tasting at a little girlie party she was putting on.  Well then I realized that it would be almost $200 to join VinoVirtuoso and I really started thinking about why I wanted to do it.  It wasn't for the money! It was for the wine and friends and I don't need VinoVirtuoso or any other similar company for that.  So I took it upon myself to come up with about 15 different tasting topics and I emailed some people to gauge interest.  Great response! So it looks like me, wifey and some of my friends are going to start semi-regular tastings about once a month.  The first one will be an "everyday" type of winery that makes everything from Sauv Blanc to Cab Sauv with the idea being to get the "tasters" familiar with the varietals and how they differ from one another (using the same winery, vintage and price point will help level the playing field and really help highlight the differences in the varietals.) I'm hoping to really turn this into a regular event.  It'll also be great blog fodder.

Okay this first post is waaay too long and has taken waaay too long to actually get out there. So I'm gonna cut it off here.  Will try to post again soon, especially if I have something interesting to say.  Thank you for reading this, especially if you've actually gotten this far!