Success.

This month’s wine writing challenge, Success, was selected by my BFF (that would be blogger friend forever), Loie of CheapWineCurious, as a result of winning last month’s challenge. I would like to interject that the BFF title was self-appointed by me.  I’m sure Loie is currently reaching for her phone to send my information to all law enforcement west of the Mississippi…

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Success is a drinkable bottle of wine.

I am a wine drinker.  And by that, I mean, I am not a wine collector.  Sure, I have a few very special bottles that I have saved over the years–but most of them are deemed special because the winemaker has signed the bottle for me.

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But I do not buy wine to lay it down for years and years, delicately babying it until the moment it is perfect to open and decant and blah, blah, blah.  Not that I think collecting wine is a bad thing, I just have no self control.  It’s like an open bag of M&Ms: it’s just not going to last, despite my best efforts.

Lack of self-control aside, the other reason I don’t save wine is because I don’t have a great place to store it.  I currently live in an old drafty house that’s a bit too chilly in the winter and way too warm in the summer.  I don’t mind, but it certainly isn’t conducive to keeping bottles for years.  And I think we can all agree there’s nothing more tragic than pouring a bottle of wine down the drain because it was bad.

When I choose to open the aforementioned bottles, I mentally prepare myself that it will probably be bad–that way IF it is, I’m not too devastated.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still very sad but I’m not openly sobbing and throwing myself to the floor bemoaning my tragic loss.  If it’s still good, it’s like a celebration and I feel like I should open another bottle!

There are three notable exceptions.  Granted, I did not buy any of these wines with the intentions of holding them for so long, rather I just knew I wanted to save them for a fabulous occasion.

Remember these posts about my very special Burgundy that I have been holding on to for years?

Wine Pairing     Savoring Life

What better occasion than drinking it with the one person on the planet would I knew would enjoy it as much as I would and in honor of a BIG birthday ( I hope you appreciate how I tied in this month’s writing challenge with my current topic of my Fabulous Not Forty birthday trips!).

I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous–first in getting the bottle safely to Florida and then in hoping that it would not be corked.  I couldn’t even bring myself to try the whole “think of it being bad, so I wouldn’t be devastated” ploy.  In fact, I was in full panic mode while opening it.  I knew that if it was corked Christi & TK were going to have to pick up a blubbering idiot off the kitchen floor.  Actually, they’d probably just leave me there for the night (hopefully throwing a blanket over me before they went to bed).  I nearly cried tears of joy when I realized the bottle was in fact, not corked. SUCCESS!  I may have teared up a little bit.  I certainly needed a moment while drinking it.

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The other two were both wines I loved drinking but as the vintage came to an end, I became a bit of a hoarder.  I moved up to New York with three bottles of each left.

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So far on the Becker Vineyards 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, I am 1 for 2.  The first bottle I opened last year–and honestly 8 years ago, I would have laughed in your face if you would have told me I’d be keeping this wine around for so long.  It was amazing.  Delicious and spicy: a big, bold-in-your-face cabernet sauvignon.  It was everything I remembered, but the spicy notes were more pronounced and the wine was overall very smooth.  I was so excited that it was drinking so well that I opened another bottle a few nights later, and alas–down the drain it went along with big, fat teardrops.  I have one more left and remain hopeful…

Happily, I am 2 for 2 on the Chisholm Train Winery 2001 Barrel Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  Also a big and bold cabernet sauvignon, however, with a lot less spice and much drier than the Becker.  Both bottles were really smooth and opened up very nicely (thanks Paula!).  I will say that this wine has mellowed considerably.  Rather than being biiiiig with a very dry, clean finish, it is big and dry, but now with a lingering currant and blackberry finish.  I’m probably jinxing myself, but I’m actually excited about my last bottle.

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I am envious of those who collect wine, but personally it’s too stressful for me.  I want every time I open a bottle of wine to be a success.  And while I know that any bottle can be bad–for a plethora of reasons–in my brain, the longer it stays in my wine rack, the greater the chance that will happen.  Thus far my track record has been pretty good, so some might think my reasoning flawed.  However, I prefer not to take that chance.  You know, just like letting M&Ms go stale…

Savoring Life

Remember my post about Wine Pairing where I mentioned a special Burgundy I had collecting dust at the bottom of my wine rack? Well, I recently went to Florida to celebrate the Big Birthday (a little early) with the BFF & BFFH. I thought it would be the perfect time to take The Burgundy along to open in celebration of the Big Birthday (and conveniently fulfill my promise to share it with the BFF)!

My first sigh of relief was arriving in Florida with the wine safely in one piece and not soaking all the rest of my stuff.

I was a bit trepidatious when it came time to actually open it, as when I cut the foil, I noticed the cork was looking a bit soaked. Crossing my fingers, I inserted the corkscrew and, while holding my breath and perhaps closing my eyes, I pulled gently and out it came–in one piece and smelling amazing.

I poured a sample. Swirl, swirl, swirl. Big breath….mmmm…dirt, as the BFF would say (or, as the rest of the world would say, earthy). Second sigh of relief. The taste was, well, magic.

We gave it a few moments to breathe the fresh air it had been denied for 12 years (helped along with an aerator) and it opened up so beautifully. We had no choice but to just sit there and absorb the moment.

And then…then the BFF announced she needed chocolate. Yes, chocolate–Peruvian dark chocolate fudge, to be exact. The pairing transcended amazing and entered into heavenly.

It was a quiet celebration: no pomp, no circumstance (okay, a bit of tweeting–but that’s it!). Sitting there with these two wonderful friends and sharing this amazing wine reminded me that through all the ups and downs of the last few years, it was moments like these that should be savored–just like a 12 year Burgundy.

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Wine Pairing

For the record, when I saw the subject of this month’s wine writing challenge, FRIENDS, I thought “this is going to be sooo easy!”  Turns out, it was a lot harder than I thought.  Mainly due to it not turning into a Ph.D. dissertation. I did a lot of drinking and even more culling & without further adieu:

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I love to visit wine stores.  When I am alone and not in a hurry, I love to visit wine stores.  Why? I am the person who likes to pour [pun intended!] over all the bottles in store, like they are my friends.  Each bottle or varietal or region reminds me of a time and place and I start to ponder when, how, and with whom I would open each bottle.

Because, of course, wine is something to be shared with friends.  I mean, sure you could drink a bottle by yourself, but nine times out of ten it’s better when there is someone there to enjoy it with you.  I will happily grant you that one time you just need to drink a bottle of wine by yourself. It’s okay, this is a safe place, where it is acceptable to drink an entire bottle by yourself at home in your pjs silently judging the world, even though technically you have no right to do so because it’s 3pm and you’re still in your pjs. No judging here!

I digress.

Back to sharing wine.  It is a bit of a tricky thing, in that you have to get the pairing right.  No, I’m not talking about pairing it with food or the occasion, but pairing it to your friend(s) with whom you want to share it.  Of course, when you are trying to plan a special event and wanting everything to be “just right” this sounds like a very unhelpful suggestion.  But trust me: if you pair your wine with your friends rather than your food, at the end of a special night all you will remember is that the food was great, the wine was wonderful, and the event all the more better for it.

Don’t get me wrong, there is something magical about food and wine pairing–but honestly, I find myself to be in the minority in that regard.  Most of my friends love wine, but only several will acknowledge that a good food & wine pairing can make a difference, and even fewer actually appreciate it to the degree that I do.  Mostly everyone just wants to enjoy their wine, eat a bit of food, and spend time laughing and sharing time with their friends.  I must admit, it is very hard to argue with this logic.

That is why rather than plan wine around my meal, I plan my meal around my wine.  And by that, I mean around who will be joining me, usually my friends and family members who I like enough to consider friends (you know who you are!).  I know that this seems backwards, but if I’m popping a cork on a bottle of wine, then it’s a celebration. If it’s a celebration, I want to make sure that everyone is having a good time, regardless of their wine preference.  If your friends like the wine, they will like how it pairs with food.  And I don’t know about you, but my friends’ wine preferences range anywhere from “only champagne” to “only red” to “only white” to “wine” to “whiskey” (c’mon, we all have that one friend), so why plan a meal that warrants a big, juicy cabernet sauvignon when you’re cooking for a friend who only likes big, buttery chardonnays or who will only drink muscato?

My next determinant for selecting a specific wine is how a friend will enjoy it.  Some friends will like and drink anything.  Others are exceptionally picky and will only drink [insert wine here].  Fortunately most of my friends like to be adventurous and will happily try anything once.  In my humble opinion this is the most important aspect about sharing wine with someone, as one of the most tragic things in wine drinking is sharing a very special wine with someone who does not appreciate what it means to you.  That is not to say that they don’t appreciate you sharing the wine with them (because they do!), but that they don’t fully appreciate the love that you have for this wine–because to them it’s about the sharing and friendship.

As such, the only time I am picky about my wine is when I am deciding with whom to share my special bottles.  Special bottles need to be shared and loved and praised!  But the key is finding the right person who will appreciate them the way I do.  My special bottles are my babies.  So I when I share them, I need to know that they will be loved as much as I love them.

For example, I have a bottle of burgundy.  It is quite easily the best wine I have ever tasted, not to mention the most expensive bottle that I have ever purchased.  It sits in the bottom of my wine rack collecting dust.  I should drink it, I think every time I see it, but I can’t because it’s special.  I can’t just open it and enjoy by myself.  It wasn’t meant to be opened and enjoyed by just one person.  It was meant to be celebrated.  It was meant to be shared–with friends.  Not just any friends, mind you, but friends who could appreciate it’s specialness.

“It’s nice” most might say.  Nice?  Nice?  You want to scream at them–it’s not nice!  It’s amazing and wonderful and bold and earthy and full of fruitiness and as a general rule I don’t really like Burgundy, but this one is special because it’s quite simply the best thing I’ve ever tasted and you said it was just nice?!?!?  At that point you want to take their glass away from them and send them to wine time-out to think about what they have done while you chug what is left in the bottle.  But you refrain–and in so doing, you enjoy your special bottle just a little bit less.

So, no, I cannot share my bottle of Burgundy with just anyone on the planet.  I can only share it with someone who knows it’s true value to me and who will cherish it as much as I do.  And that, my friends, can only be my BFF, who is the one person on this planet I know will truly appreciate the work of art that is inside this bottle as much as I do.  Do I regret waiting until I can share it with her?  Of course not.  After all, there’s no better pairing for an expensive Burgundy collecting dust at the bottom of your wine rack like your best friend.

 

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