I am a winer and occasionally a whiner. In this blog I will write about all my wining experiences (and occasionally whine about the wine horror stories, yes they do exist!). I will review and describe in detail all the good, the bad, and the ugly wines, and provide my own rating system, which is much simpler than the Wine Spectator, et al (and what does 92 points really mean anyway??).

As I am also a writer, be prepared for the long-winded sentences of wine description, and the use of many a metaphor in my wining adventures.

Swirl, sniff, sip, and enjoy!



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Heartfelt Apology To The Wines From the Rhone Region

Dear Rhone Wine, 

I am sorry.  I'm sorry I didn't like you, dissed you, and called you names.  I am sorry that whatever I had tried before was your bad brothers that don't do you justice, because right now, I'm sitting alone after the wine class at Premier, alone, my husband is gone off to Pittsburgh to chase the rainbows, and I'm having an orgasmic experience with the cheap Rhone wine and chicken, and I don't need anyone else to participate in it, except you!  And who pairs the red wine and chicken?! But so what, it's the HALAL chicken, the one that still has some dignity and taste ans still remembers that it's a chicken.  And I baked it with thyme. And some crimini mushrooms, with the deep earthy taste, and onions with sumac and sweet green peppers too.  And it tastes like HEAVEN, I swear.

That CHEAP 2009 Chateau Cabrieres Cotes Du Rhone for $16.99, the entry level Rhone wine, DOES. TASTE. LIKE. HEAVEN.  And it's AFTER I have already tasted the expensive one from Chateauneuf Du Pape, the Telegramme, for $39.99.  Which tasted like I have died and have gone to Heaven, and have gotten the 72 male virgins from there too. (No offense to my Muslim brothers and sisters).

So this cheapo Rhone wine tastes like funk and raspberry and wet dirt and spice at the same time and it's inspiring me to start writing again! With the still greasy from my chicken and mushrooms fingers, typing on my netbook computer, next to the plate with unfinished food.  I have to stop eating and surrender myself totally to the inspirational writing experience, and it's not easy, because my fingers keep hitting the wrong keys from me being drunk on this liquid juice of heaven.

I salute you, the wine from Rhone.  You are my savior, my sip of water in the dry desert of writer's block, because right now right here, the words are pouring out like a song and I can't keep up with them to get them all out on the page. 

And the other more heavenly and expensive wines are:

2007 Les Coudoulieres Gigondas $24.99, the sip of which sends you swimming straight in the pool of funk and fruit and sweaty sneakers, but in a good way.

And the 2007 Telegramme Chateauneuf Du Pape $ 39.99, which I can't even describe, it's so good.  The sophistication of the taste and smell, and the notes of lavender and violet, and a little dirt and funk and village, but also, the smell of money and fruit.  Oh, the expensive French wine, you are the epitome of Paradise.

P.S. What the heck just happened?  I don't know who or what hijacked my mind and my fingers and have stopped dinner to type up this gibberish.  But I know that I have to blame it on the alcohol, and specifically on YOU, the blessed Wine from the Rhone region, my dear new best friend, and lover.  I give my heart and soul and liver to you.  So help me God.

Yours forever,
The Wino Girl

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Wines I Hate

Taking my sister's advice and using negative energy for writing, I dedicate this blog posting to the wines that cause me to shudder and pour them out like a spoiled vinegar. (Can vinegar actually be spolied?)  Anyway, after being disappointed at another wine tasting class, I think it't time to let it be known - I just don't like some wines.  Now, maybe I'm a wine freak instead of being a wine geek, but some of the wines I will mention here will surprise you.

1.  Rhone Valley.  I haven't tasted many of them, but those that I did were enough to turn me off the whole region.  I can't even describe their taste, but I always know that particular tar? dirt? skunk? that distinguishes Rhone wines for me.  I have yet to taste the raspberry and pepper in the syrah.  The earthy finish is more like a wet Russian village dirt that lingers forever and leaves me with the bitter medicinal aftertaste.  White, red, rose - it doesn't matter - they all have the taste of a tree bark, reminiscent of a horrible herbal cough medicine I had to take as a child when I had bronchitis. 

2.  Oregon.  What's up with that?  I think Oregon pinot noirs are totally overrated.  And other Oregon varietals are overpriced and mediocre.  A gentleman wisely described one of the cabs at a wine tasting class as "monochromatic", and I totally agree.  All of the Oregon wines that I tried were just that.  No wonder I was underwhelmed by an Oregon pinot at a classy wine bar "The Wine Thief", where I was hoping to score a good glass for the money they charge.  Although fruity (if overly so), the wines from this region lack finesse and pizzazz.

3.  Californian Chardonnays.  Fruity, like drinking an apple cinnamon pie with butter on top.  Too much into your face, Californain wines are probably designed for Americans only, who don't know what a nice sophisticated chardonnay is supposed to be.  I will choose Burgundy any time over any Californian chard, and indeed have already, provided it costs around $40.  I only hope that the famous Montelena, chardonnay which was the first to win over the French ones, tasted upscale and classy.

4.  Australian Shiraz.  Yes, I know I'm weird, but I hate Australian shiraz! And I tasted shiraz from many regions, every time preferring the ones that are not from Australia.  The strong acidity and heavy smoke is what turns me off in Australian shiraz.  I much prefer a good old French, or South American syrah, lighter and fruitier, but still with a little spicy punch.  No heavy headachey feeling, which the Australian ones evoke in my imagination.

5.  Beaujolais/ Beaujolais Nouveau.  Although it has a beautiful ring to it, the beaujolais has nothing else beautiful, except its name.  Three words: cheap, watery, vinegar.  Time and time again, I have come to the conclusion, that if one drinks French, one has to shell out some cash.  Cheap French wine is the worst thing in the world, responsible for depressive thoughts about the uselessness of life, which only a bad wine can bring.  No matter how hard I tried to be open-minded about the beaujolais, I could not befriend it.  We just didn't hit it off.

All in all, this list has only started, since I'm new to the world of wine.  I'm sure I'll infuriate more people with my bizarre choices as I taste more and more regions and grapes of the world.  For now, this is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

TRUE Rapture: Awesome Wines To Meet The End Of The World With

If you are waiting fr The End Of The World, and you truly believe that it's coming (although I'm still waiting, they said it was going to happen at 6), the least you can do to prepare yourself for it, is to stock up on some very expensive and delicious wines.  Who cares that Chateau Margaux is $1,799.00 ($1,599.00 on sale at Premier on Delaware)?  It's totally worth it, because you are going to die anyway.  So blow off your last savings and enjoy your last breaths and gulps of wine.

Now, unfortunately, I did not purchase the aforementioned Chateau Margaux, because I only realized that it's The End Of The World too late, but I do have some awesome expensive wines to drink and share with my readers on this last day of our existence.

1.  Montaudon Brut Champagne, $34.99.
What's the best way to go out, if not with a bubbly? This REAL champagne from the REGION OF CHAMPAGNE, which is IN FRANCE, not California, or the former Soviet Union, is sophisticated, with lots of butter, yeast, bread, and dry grass on the nose.  The first sip does not overwhelm you with bubbles, but provides a lot of fruitiness, crispiness, and medium body. Best if drunk alone, not with food, for all the multifaceted notes to come out.

2.  2009 Xavier Monnot Monthelie Les Duresses, $39.99.
Let's stay for a moment in France, and move on to the Chardonnay. Mentioned before on my blog as the Wine That Is Better Than Sex, it's also great for The End Of The World.  Hey, if you can't have sex before God claims your soul tonight, at least you can get as close to the sensual experience as you can with this wine. From the region of Burgundy, which makes the best Chardonnays in my humble opinion (Californian fruit forward assault just doesn't cut it), this wine tastes expensive.  Minerally on the nose, well-balanced, grassy, with the tones of pear and green apple. If you by any chance survive today, you can always drink it on May 26, which is the the second annual Chardonnay Day.

3. 2005 Domaine Bernard Moreau Et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet Veilles Vignes, $37.99.
Unfortunately, I do not own this wine, but I had an honor to taste at the free wine tasting class at Premier.  This was a second expensive wine that I tasted and absolutely adored, which firmly instilled in me the belief that expensive French wines are worth it (although for France, it's actually a bargain). The helpful Premier staff describes it as having "Ripe cherry... herbs, and a touch of forest floor." In my notes, I have such descriptors as,  "cherry on the nose, warm finish, smooth, sophisticated, oh yeah...". If you are a lover of Burgundy reds, you will definitely enjoy your last moments of life with this Pinot Noir.

4.  2002 Chateau Musar, $47.99.
Let's move out of France now and on to Lebanon.  This highly respected winery offers Bordeaux style wines and also has a lot of old wines.  And age makes all the difference for these Bordeaux blends.  Again, I do not own this particular wine, but I do have a cheaper, less sophisticated, but still lively 2003 Chateau Musar Hochar And Fils, for only $24.99.  But the expensive one from this particular year is still my favorite, and when it comes to Chateau Musar, a year makes all the difference! This wine is crimson blood in color, with green funk on the nose.  Earthy and fruity, with the figs, dates, and plums on the palate. "That's what's up" in the world of wines. As it's recommended by the owners to be decanted from 30 minutes to 2 hours before drinking,  you should have opened it a long time ago, but, oh well, you'll have to enjoy it straight from the bottle now as the first tremors of the great earthquake start.

5. 2006 Capaia, $ 44.99. From South African Capaia winery, this another Bordeaux style red is full of funk. With horse farm and hay on the nose, and a finish of dark chocolate and mocha, it takes you straight to the country side.  As you drink it, you are magically transformed into the world of cowboy pastures and rodeo. And what can be a better way to die than on top of the thrashing young bull on this eve of the humankind.  I scored one for half price at Premiere, making it officially the most expensive wine that I have ever owned. 

So, put on some Marvin Gaye and experience funk with all your senses on this fine last day of life.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the blog is not responsible for the actual success or failure of the coming of The End Of The World.  If the current End Of The World has failed to appear, please wait until the next available date on December 21, 2012.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Midlife Crisis 101: Opening a Winery

I had this nightmarish vision of myself working as a part-time ESL teacher grading papers until the day I die, and it caused me to almost have a nervous breakdown.  I like my job, I like meeting with the students from other countries and knowing so many beautiful souls, but the prospect of staying at this job forever without any possibilities to grow financially or psychologically scares the living daylight out of me.

Hence my obsession with wines and wineries, and I believe other people's obsession with wine and wineries too. Yesterday some of my female friends and I had a wonderful girl trip to Schultze Winery, Black Willow Winery and Murphy Orchards, all of which are located practically in our backyard - Niagara County.  Whereas Shultze have earned its reputation in the NY State wine world and received some awards, Black Willow Winery is a new kid in town, having opened only several months ago. http://www.blackwillowwinery.com/

The story of its creation is heartwarming as well as heart-wrenching at the same time.  We had a heart-to-heart with one of its owners - Cynthia West-Chamberlain, a  gentle and quietly inspirational woman.  The winery owns its conception to her cat, who died from heart problems, and turned Cynthia's world upside down.  Having realized that life is too short, she quit her 9 to 5 job, got a wine-making degree and opened a winery.  Kudos to her and her spunk.

Her mead wines (wines produced from honey), priced in mid-twenties, are a pleasant surprise.  My own favorite was Freya's Passion, infused with strawberry and vanilla, but not too sweet or honey-ish.  According to the winery owners, it pairs well with mild goat and nutty cheeses; I would definitely pair it with turkey or chicken and, obviously, dessert.

Of the more traditional grape wines, my favorites were Black Willow Trilogy Red, a medium bodied medley of Cab Franc, Cab Sav, and Chancellor (a hybrid) and Risling-Gewurtz-Niagara (?)  blend Black Willow Trilogy White. The very pleasant friendly red would pair well with mild red meat dishes, or pasta, whereas the semi-dry white would go with any traditional white meat or fish dishes, as well as dessert, or by itself chilled on a hot summer afternoon on your patio or deck.

This inspirational story got me thinking, and thinking too much.  For years I've been struggling with trying to figure out what my purpose in life is.  The search led me to writing, belly dancing and excessive wine tasting, but all of these are not what I want to do as a career for the rest of my life.  I admire and envy Cynthia, who knew her dream, and turned her life around to achieve it, because even though she wasted some of it doing what most of us do - lie low and avoid taking risks, she had enough guts to pursue her passion.  I seem to have all the guts, and the guts are churning and yelling and rebelling, but I have yet to figure out what my passion is.

Maybe more winery trips and more wine tasting will clear it out.  For as some ancient Roman dude and I earlier in my blog already said, "In Vino Veritas" - "In wine, there is the truth."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 Wines That Are Better Than Sex (In no particular order)

Glen Carlou Chardonnay 2008, South Africa

Butterscotch, citrus, mineral, and smoothness all rolled into one.

Very forgiving chardonnay.  No Californian fruity punch in the face.
Awesome find for $10-$15!

Fleur Du Cap Pinotage 2008, South Africa 
Weird as the pinotage goes. 

Berry with the spicy edge. 

Step out of your comfort zone wine under $15.

Tabor Adama Volcanic Soil Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Galilee, Israel 

Baruch Hashem!  The best excuse to become Jewish and celebrate Passover.

Chocolaty figs, spicy finish.  Sophisticated and full-bodied.

Fairly priced in lower $20s.

Capaia Red Blend 2006, South Africa

Let's get funky!  Yeasty fruit galore.

Rich, heavy, and expensive.

Prepare to pay $45.

Terra Andina Reserva Carmenere 2008, Chile

Tobacco and sweetness with the coffee aftertaste.

Smoother but as substantial as Cabernet Sauvignon.

Can't go wrong for the price under $15.

Xavier Monnot Monthelie Les Duresses 2008, Borgogne, France 

Can I just say that price does matter when it comes to France.

This wine is worth all the $40.

Grassy, polished, sophisticated, yet simple like the field flowers.

Leonard Oakes Frontenac 2009, Niagara Escarpment, New York State 

Another weird gift of a hybrid grape.

Interesting, sharp, and fruity.

Go loco with the local!

Fairly priced at under $15.

Freedom Run Estate Cabernet Franc 2008, Niagara Escarpment, New York State 

Roasted bell pepper paradise.  

You want to swim in this wine. You want to sink into this wine and never lift your head up.  What a great way to go would that be.

You won't even care about the price, and shell out $20 without hesitating.

Chateau Roc De Candale St. Emilion Gran Cru 2005, Bordeaux, France

The French definitely know their stuff.  Once again the price is definitely worth it.

Imagine walking in a mossy woods with the little Red Riding Hood to her little French Gran Mere.

Only for $40 you can have this wonderful fantasy.

Fantinel Celebrate Life Merlot 2007, Friuli, Italy

Celebrate Life!  Enough said.

Smooth fig fruit and Italian La Dolce Vita.

And the best is the price - only $11!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recently Invented Kosher Wines For Jews

Pinot Bris - circumsized Pinot Gris vines

Manigewurtz - the first white semi-sweet Manischewitz

Chagall Champaigne - so bubbly, you start flying and singing Hava Nagila

Torahntes - a Torrontes varietal specifically designed for Ladino Jews celebrating Simchat Torah

Rosénfeld - a special rosé wine for pairing with gefilte fish and horseradish

Tzinfandel - a table wine perfect for pairing with tzimmes and tzatziki (and don't forget to wear tzitzit!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oy Vey, Mevushal!

I love my people.  I truly have nothing against my people, except they complicate everything.  Thank God we are allowed, even prescribed, to drink wine for religious practices.  But there's a catch, or three.  The wine has to be kosher.

So, how kosher is really kosher?  Well, it depends.  If you are like me, a practically non-practicing Jew, you'll drink anything from any winery in the world, for any occasion, provided it tastes better than Manischewitz. 

But for some more traditional Jews, I'd  be a shiksa, so use caution if you are sharing your wine with me.  If you are a more practicing, good Jewish girl, you must be careful to check your wine label for the Kosher hechsher ("seal of approval").   What makes the wine kosher?  Apparently, the wine making process must be handled only by observant Jews to be considered kosher.  (It's fine for illegal non-Jewish immigrants to collect the grapes for minimum wage at your vineyard, however).   

You still have to be careful during the time of Passover, which is coming soon, so read and memorize this before you go to Premiere or any other wine store and buy your Kosher for Passover wine, which should not have any contact with bread, dough, or grain.  It's ok if it comes in contact with matzos, though, especially immediately following them and gefilte fish with horseradish into your stomach.

And finally, if you are a very observant Jew and you never drive or light electricity on Sabbath (you can always ask your gentile husband to do that), be extremely careful about who pours the wine for you.  It's always better to pour the wine yourself and freely control the amount in your wine glass.  Don't forget to top that glass off!  However, if you must have somebody else pour the wine for you because of a hand
injury or plain old laziness, here comes a concept of mevushal.

While it sounds like some exotic disease, it just means "cooked" or "boiled" in Hebrew, which is not really appetizing when you think about your wine going through this process.  Basically, the wine has to be pasteurized so that it could be poured by non-observant Jews (like myself) into your pure Jewish princess wine glass.  Otherwise, if the wine is not mevushal, just be careful not to drink it with your goyim friends. 

Sounds a little meshugga, no?  But remember, the laws of kashrut date back thousands of years, so a lot of things that made sense then, do not now.  There are even some radical Jews who suggest that most American wine process is so automated that it's kosher by default.  God forbid that you listen to them, though, because you are a good mensch and you must make your Yiddishe mama proud.

DISCLAIMER:  By no means, am I an expert on the subject, so please check some reputable sources on the laws of kashrut and production of kosher wine.  All of the above information is summarized from the Internet sources and Premier wine tasting class on the wines of Israel.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Vino Veritas

As Ancient Romans said, in wine there is the truth.  But the truth is, that there are just not that many good proverbs or quotations about wine.  Hence, I decided to create my own.  Enjoy the following puns, and feel free to add some of your wisecracks.

Make wine, not war!


You had me at frontenac.


Tell me what's in your wine glass, and I'll tell you who you are.


Rosés are red,
Viogniers are white,
After this bottle
It's love at first sight.


Ask not what your wine country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your wine country!


Ein, zwine, dry, gewurtz...


A wine review is worth a thousand words.


And finally for the true wine connoisseur:      Vine, vidi, vitis vinifera.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How It All Started (borrowed from my other Writer's Blog)

Cooker's Block

Note: "cooker" is an incorrect but endearing term used by ESL learners that means "cook" or "chef".

So here I am at my Physical Therapy, doing the treadmill.  I love the treadmill, for it lets me concentrate on some creative writing book full of inspiring ideas, and at the same time do some deep torturous self-examination.  As Socrates proclaimed at his trial, which would eventually sentence him to death, "The unexamined life is not worth living", so I am the Great Master of this sport, setting my own trial and being my own plaintiff, defendant, advocate, prosecutor and judge, .

As I try to concentrate on the "Writing as a Sacred Path:" by Jill Jepson, who traveled the world analyzing the spiritual practices of all religions and marrying it with the writing practices, and as I am being enlightened by another pearl of wisdom about nurturing the stories like you would plant a seed, the self-deprecating plaintiff kicks in.  "You are no good.  You ain't no writer.  You can't create nothing.  You are a boring person, a whiner, and a bad wife.  You always make problems for yourself.  Why you can't just let it go and be happy for once!  What was the last time you cooked dinner?  No wonder your husband don't like you."

Who can fight with that?  I, the defendant, just let it go on, ramble itself out, trying to focus on another pearl of wisdom from this wonderful book.  A thought pops into my mind, that time from a wise mature compassionate advocate, the one that keeps observing all from the back of my consciousness.  "You don't just have a writer's block, you have a cooking block.  That's why you can't cook and come up with any idea of what to cook.  You are too tired and winded to create anything."  Yes, thank you for your understanding.  Finally someone not trying to judge me.

As I keep walking on the treadmill and thinking what would I like to do for myself today, what would my heart desire, I see an image of a dusty honorable bottle of shiraz, so dark that it's concealing the treasure inside it.  Yeah, shiraz sounds good.  I tried it for the first time in Tandoori's, Indian restaurant, and it was sublime like a vampire's feast: spicy, deep, earthy, black currant, thick, violet blood.  Since then I've wanted to buy a bottle at Premiere but never found time.  Now is the time. 

Reliving the tangy aroma of the wine, my mind comes up with the perfectly paired dish to accompany it: medium done, with a pink kissable softness inside and smoky seared crust on the outside, grilled sirloin steak, light on the spices to enhance the real taste of meat;  woodsy crimini mushrooms and caramelized onions sauteed in olive oil with savory and caraway seeds; plain salad with iceberg lettuce, slices of radish and cucumber, garnished with parsley, drizzled with lime juice and olive oil, seasoned with a dash of freshly ground black pepper and salt.  Simplicity and sincerity, without embellishments.

So, my plan for the night was determined.  The sage old bearded  judge has spoken.  With the new-found goal and creativity, I create a meal that is perfection in itself, like a brilliantly written poem. Writing and cooking are intermingled, both being the capricious children of inspiration.  You have to dig deep inside the well of yourself to find the perfect recipe from your soul. 

 Needless to say, my husband was pleased. ;)

And for the true wine connoisseur,

here's the wine I drank with that unforgettable meal:

Why Wine?

Why is wine good?  Why is wine worthy of writing a blog about?

Well, here's a case in point: I'm highly allergic to work.  Today is the first day of work after spring break, and all of a sudden, my neck and shoulder started hurting at work after sitting at the computer.  When I came home, the pain somewhat subsided (aided by a couple of ibuprophen).  After the wine learning and tasting class at The Wine Room, a charming friendly store in Williamsville, and having tasted the whole of 9! wines, my neck and shoulder pain is only a memory.  Which proves the point that wine is GOOD.

Here are some great quotes by some wise thinkers about wine:

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” by none other but our founding father Benjamin Franklin


“It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one's present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine, or any other reason.” Latin Proverb


“Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion.”  Ovid (an Ancient Roman guy)


“No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. It is, in truth, the only antidote to the bane of whiskey.” by another great founding father Tomas Jefferson


"Wine is sunlight, held together by water!" by Galileo Galilei (the guy who found that sadly the Earth was not the center of the universe)


"Wine is at the head of all medicines; where wine is lacking, drugs are necessary."
The Talmud (the Jewish religious book)


And finally: 
"Where there is no wine there is no love." by Euripides (another ancient dude, but from Greece)

 So it's truly proven that wine is essential for human happiness and life satisfaction.  Wine is passion and love and sunshine in a bottle (if you're drinking the white one).  Wine is a whole world captured in one sip.  I've tasted wine that I wanted to swim in.  I've lost myself in a sunny meadow of a French Chardonnay.  I buried myself deeply in the earthy moss of a Bordeaux.  I've met a perfect bottle of Italian Merlot I fell in love with and wanted to marry.

In short, I have succumbed to the world of wine geeks and junkies and this is my new (and hopefully lasting) obsession.