Juicy Olive

The quest for “the good life” should never be complete but it should definitely begin now.

Don’t Call Me Taj May 12, 2009

Filed under: Friends,Uncategorized — juicyolive @ 4:46 pm
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The other night, we were at a friend’s house for a wine-tasting. The cast of characters featured a world of know-it-alls…a little…actually, we don’t know that much…at all.

For example, did you know that Meritage doesn’t rhyme with “fusilage?” We learned that tonight. It rhymes with “heritage” – who knew!?

This got me thinking: how important is it to know much at all? I’m increasingly less interested in being right. But when I was in college, I tried my hardest to be the smartest commenter in the lecture. I raised my hand first. I furiously scanned my notes for the most obscure element of the text that would make me brilliant to my peers. And tonight, some of that came out around the table – when presented with the opportunity to win prizes for our wine knowledge, our hands shot up in the air and our teacher’s pets personas came to life!

For the most part, though, we were surpisingly restrained. Here are a bunch of Type-A personalities who want to be in charge of the discussion and we actually listened.

The know-it-alls learned a little something about wine

The know-it-alls learned a little something about wine

And here’s what we learned:

  • House Wine – don’t judge a book by its cover. This wine looks generic by label, but started the night off pleasantly and made us feel relaxed. Read this: relaxed, pleasant, yummy, clean, tasty. BUY ME!
  • A. Genoux – this is a classic Rhone blend – with a heck of a lot of syrah and grenache in it. Fruity with a dry finish, we all agreed that this improves as it breathes and would pair very well with food.
  • The Prisoner – this gorgeous bottle by Orin Swift Cellars surprised us all. The base of 50% zinfandel gave it strength, but the additional grapes (cab, syrah, petit syrah, charbono and grenache) provided incredible balance and flavor.
  • One Twenty Over Eighty – if there is ever a reason to join a wine club, Ehlers Estate has given it to us with this bottle. Only available to its club members, this incredible red blend knocks your socks off. A traditional Bordeaux-style red, this wine begs to be consumed with dinner – and a little leftover to complement a bite of dark chocolate at dessert!
  • C.M.S. – Featuring a blend of “Cabernet,” “Merlot” and “Syrah”, this wine by Hedges provided a memorable conclusion to the tasting. It was very balanced and reminded me of the kind of wine you’d like to sip to finish your night. Go change into your jammies, curl up on the couch with a blanket and have one last glass of CMS while squeezing in the last dose of gossip with your friends.

That night’s focus – if you haven’t already figured it out – was blends: merlot, cab, petit verdot, etc.. On their own they can be remarkable, but together they’re like magic. It’s not to say that an independent varietal isn’t a worthy bottle of wine. Please, we had heart palpitations recently when trying the 100% petit verdot from Reverie. But the group consensus was that blends don’t get enough credit and that everyone should treat a simple “vin de table” with a little more reverence next time they’re at a local wine store.

On my way home, I was reflecting on our fun and realized that much like the unassuming blended wine, a group of friends like ours is surprising, exciting, fun and rewarding. Individually, we’re rock stars. But when blended together, we’re the penultimate meritage: fruity, funky, refined and gorgeous.  

That night, our group of smart and informed wine tasters learned a lot and laughed even more. And while we may nver shed our smarty-pants demeanors, nights like those taught us to always keep learning. Around every corner is a new drop of detail that adds to the encycolpedias in our minds. 

And, hell, if nothing else, we’ll never again forget how to pronounce “meritage” – just remember “don’t call me taj…” (get it? GET IT!?)

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Heart is happy April 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — juicyolive @ 3:15 am
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During my weekend getaway to California recently, my friends and I spent several days capturing that raw and gorgeous feeling only available in wine country. I awoke every morning watching the sun rise over a glorious vineyard landscape and shortly thereafter would lace up my sneakers, tune up the iPod and head out to pound the pavement in the small trails between fields of pinot grigio, cabernet franc and chardonnay.

This scenery makes running 3 miles far more enjoyable!

This scenery makes running 3 miles far more enjoyable!

Jonathan (aka – Wine Hawk, aka – Bridget’s incredible husband, aka – my pretend husband) had scheduled an incredible lineup of tastings for us: Kuleto, Mill Creek, Dry Creek, Woodenhead…the list goes on. Sitting in a sun-drenched field each afternoon, we’d picnic and plan for more great wine discussions with such talented farmers. Our evenings opened up to excellent food, delicious conversation and the sharing of a bottle or two of the day’s purchases.

The happy couple - Bridget and Jonathan's 2nd anniversary!

I, Wine Hawk, take you, Bridget...

The trip had a specific purpose – to celebrate Bridget and Jonathan’s second wedding anniversary. In addition to our gorgeous surroundings, succulent wines and incredible food, we were commemorating two fun-filled years that they’ve had as a happy couple. We even revisited the site of their nuptials and had a fake (and silly!) ceremony to send them into similar fortune in the years to come!

I barely knew Bridget and Jonathan when they wed back in 2007 and, as such, didn’t attend their wedding. Over a drink at the Harvest Inn (the site of their reception), we reminisced about the past couple of years and agreed that it feels like we’ve all known each other for ages. It was a lovely oportunity to give thanks for their strong marriage and our evergrowing friendship.  

It was a fun and special trip. They’ve even decided to make it an annual event, and we hope that more of our friends can make it next year to celebrate and take part in all of the beautiful fun. If they know what’s wise, they’ll be  counting down the days until the Napa Valley sun hits their faces and the Sonoma wines tickle their tastebuds.

Since returning, I have thought a lot about my California weekend. During such stressful times with the economy, jobs and houses taking up valuable real estate in our thoughts, it’s important to remind ourselves of the simple things – family, friends and good old-fashioned romance – that make it all worthwhile.

Heart is Happy - enough said.

Heart is Happy - enough said.