MWWC #33 Once Upon A Time

This month’s wine writing challenge (#33 if you’re keeping track or ignored the title of this post) is Once Upon A Time, which was selected by last month’s winner Wining with Mel.

wine stain

To most people, Once upon a time probably makes them think of a plethora of Grimm fairy tales or perhaps a certain tv show, but not me.  Once upon a time makes me think of college.  This is because at the time I was living with my BFF and whenever she couldn’t sleep, I would hear her yelling from down the hall: I can’t sleep, tell me a story.

All of my stories (at least that I can remember–it has been few years ago!)–started with: Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a beautiful princess named Christina.  If I were feeling loquacious, my stories would be rather long and involved, often based on my own travels.  If I didn’t, the story would be exceptionally short and sweet, like this*:

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived a beautiful princess named Christina, who drank all the wine in her castle. Unfortunately, her sommelier could not get her more wine immediately, so she had him guillotined, and then cried herself to sleep.  The End.

*This story has been changed to fit the parameters of writing about wine.  It is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event (don’t panic people: no castle has been depleted of their wine stores nor any sommelier guillotined!).

Of course, because it is a wine writing challenge, I feel if I just left you with a horror story about a castle with no wine and a guillotined sommelier, I would be banned from further participation in future MWWCs.   Plus, I’m feeling a bit loquacious…so Sissy, this one is for you!

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a beautiful princess named Christina. Princess Christina lived in a big, beautiful castle overlooking a pool small and peaceful lake and sprawling lands.  One beautiful morning, Princess Christina went downstairs to find her cook distraught.  The wine cellar was empty!  The sommelier?  Gone!  Neither of these were through any fault of Princess Christina (despite a previously mentioned horror story).  However, Princess Christina decided that moving forward she would be personally checking all references on job applications.

But hiring a new sommelier was the least of her worries–SHE HAD AN EMPTY WINE CELLAR!  What is a princess to do? Not wanting to wait through the drudgery of finding another sommelier, Princess Christina did the only thing she could think of: she loaded up her carriage and set off immediately in search of great wine.

Her first stop was to find a buttery chardonnay, so she headed west to California.  While chardonnays today aren’t quite as buttery as in the days of yore, she knew she could still find something delicious at the La Crema Winery.

la cremaShe was definitely not disappointed. The 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, while not buttery per se (for definitions, click here!), is still very creamy and complex with oak and melon flavors.  It is hearty enough to pair with a meal, like Thanksgiving dinner, but is smooth enough to enjoy with a cheese course or simply paired with a good book while sitting by the pool small and peaceful lake.

As much as Princess Christina wanted to spend the day at La Crema, her empty cellar kept her on task.  With a few cases of this classic chardonnay loaded in her carriage, Princess Christina set off for Italy (she has a special flying carriage, don’t question–this is a fairy tale!).  Home of Italians, Chianti, Prosecco, Mount Vesuvius, and a delicious little thing called Montepulciano.



The Tralcetto Montepulciano from Catina Zaccagnini is a great addition to the wine cellar as an Italian alternative to the traditional Chianti.  This Montepulciano is quite bold and fruity–although not as much as a zinfandel–but has a dry finish.  It is flavorful without being overbearing and because it is aged in steel then oak it is very balanced.  It drinks well with a wide variety of pastas (as any good Italian wine should!), especially venison ragù.  And in terms of pure novelty/coolness points, each bottle has a small twig of the vine tied around the neck of the bottle.

Princess Christina was very excited to add this to her carriage and as much as it pained her to leave, she still had to make at least one more stop before heading back to her castle.  There was some inner dialogue as to where her final stop would be, but she soon realized that there was only one real choice: Champagne.

IMG_2740Of course within Champagne, the possibilities were endless.  So–being ever the diplomat–Princess Christina decided to randomly pick and ended up at a quaint little house called Perrier-Jouët.  With a plethora of champagnes from which to choose, Princess Christina tried them all several times and perhaps she came home with at least a case of each.  It was hard not to do so, after all it is champagne and one can never have too much champagne on hand!  Like the Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut.  It has floral and citrus notes with a nutty, crisp finish that makes it very easy to drink.

Laden down with a carriage full of wine, Princess Christina decided that she had a very good start to restocking her wine cellar and the best thing for her to do is go back home where she could sit by the pool small and peaceful lake with a glass of wine.  Her only worry now was which wine to drink first.  And as she sat and enjoyed her glass of wine and the tranquility of the pool small and peaceful lake, she reminisced on the fun of her wine buying trip .  While she still wanted to hire a new sommelier, perhaps she needn’t hire one just yet.









Cooking with Wine (Thirsty Thursday #6)

I cook with wine…sometimes I even add it to the food. ~W.C. Fields

This French Chardonnay-Sauvignon blend was a delicious pairing for my Mushroom & Corn Risotto (and a bargain–Cheap Wine Curious, I know you’d be so proud!). It had a light, crisp mouthfeel with a big apple taste and a delicate grapefruit finish–perfect alongside the creamy richness of the risotto. Add roasted chicken and asparagus, and I was a happy, happy girl!

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:


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.