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.