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Happy Wednesday!

So, a bit by way of explanation. The prevailing internet logic regarding blogs is that one should focus subject matter, thereby establishing a stronger fan base sooner. For example one will peruse the web and find fashion blogs, book review blogs, music, sports. political, movies, you pick a topic. I get the wisdom there, I really do. It’s just not something I’ve been able to achieve, or for that matter, even aspire to. There’s too much fun stuff out there.

That’s why you’ll find this blog to be… eclectic, changeable, down right flighty at times. I am fairly consistent with the Musical Mondays and the Wine on Wednesdays, but I do author interviews, political rants, restaurant reviews, and odes to bacon or chocolate… sometimes both. The odd short story has also been published on this site.

Why do I bring all this up when, clearly, you’re waiting to hear about wine? Simple. This little column takes some of my favorite things puts them together in one fabulous evening. Sort of like one of my favorite lines from the sit-com Friends. Joey is asked, “Joey, if you had to choose between homemade jam in one hand and a naked girl in the other, what do you pick?” Joey nodded sagely. “Put your hands together, my friend,” he said. I paraphrase, of course.

So on April 2nd I went with two dear friends, Monica and Michelle, to see the band Y & T with opening act Don Dokken at San Francisco’s historic Fillmore. Back in the day when we went to concerts we’d grab a bite at some fast food place and drink a beer in the parking lot. These days our tastes have gotten a tad pricier. (I’m okay with it.)IMG_3142

On this evening we went to  Izakaya Kou at Geary and FIllmore in SF. It has the notable serendipitous combining attributes of being a half block from a well-lit parking garage, fifty yards from the Fillmore, and serves amazing Japanese small plates.  Does it get any better than that? Yes, yes, it does. They serve good wine. Many Japanese restaurants sort of skip that part of the experience in favor of beer and sake. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t light up my evening.

Seeing as we were doing Asian- a white seemed indicated. Sauvignon Blancs and Rieslings both pair well with a wide variety of flavor profiles so we ordered the 2014 Domaine de la Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc out of Loire, France. While I am a California wine girl at heart, let me just say, it’s good to visit other locales. Now this lit up our evening.

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The wine has the usual citrus acidity that one expects from a Sauvignon Blanc but also brings green apple to the table. It’s crisp, layered, with a great finish, and accessible. (Followers of this blog will understand that it is a “gateway” wine- perfect for someone just becoming acquainted with wine drinking.) And it only gets better with food.

The very interesting thing about the Sancerre is a note I don’t detect very often. (I can lay claim to loving wine, but I am far from an expert.) That lack may be more due to my palate’s limitations and not the wines I’ve tried. Remember, it’s all a matter of taste. The note in question is one of minerals.

Minerals? Really?

Really. Minerality is a funny thing to define. Let’s start with what it is NOT. It is not floral, fruity, spicy, or herbal. It CAN be detected in aroma, taste or both. It takes on different forms: chalky, sandy,  even gravely. One online description I read likened the smell to wet concrete, not exactly, but approaching that sense. It’s that earthy almost intangible taste called umami. Mushrooms have, many Asian dishes have it. It’s not sweet, bitter, sour or salty. Umami is the fifth taste.

Why are mineral notes something one even wants in a wine? They provide a complexity, a rounding of flavors that is extremely pleasing. Sort of like how a back rub is lovely, but add a little oil and you’re really happy. Or the finishing salt on an exquisitely prepared meal. Everything is heightened. Fittingly, our Sancerre with mineral notes paired perfectly with the Japanese cuisine.

Of course, wine is like heavy metal- it’s not for everyone.

You can purchase your own Sancerre online- it’s around $22-25 a bottle depending upon the site. Try Wine.com, Wine-searcher, or Garyswine.com (which currently has the wine on sale for $19.99 a bottle). ENJOY!

 

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

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It happens every year. Sometimes it sneaks up on us and the flurry, the mayhem, sweeps through and traumatizes us. We’re overwhelmed with everything to do, the lists, the rigid organization, all the people to remember and reach out to, and, of course, the booths, the blasted booths.

Naturally, I’m talking about Girl Scout Cookie Season.

Now that it is basically all but passed, I can talk about it. I can breathe again. It no longer occupies my every waking thought. There’s a whole ten months until Cookie Season returns. By then the memories will have faded… I’ll be able to do it again. (It’s important to note that I have TWO Girl Scouts in my house. That’s double trouble, folks, and a whole lot of boxes.)

Doubtless you’ve seen the latest fad- wine pairings with Girl Scout cookies. *Snorts* Please, amateurs. Johnny-come-lately’s to the party. Come on, looking at some of the parings online- I can’t control the giggles… really? A Brunello with Thin Mints? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. An Amarone with Tagalogs? Um, hell to the NOOOO.

I drink a little wine (regular audience members, you STOP that snickering!) and I’ve been known to indulge in a cookie or ten in my day. (That day being as recently as yesterday.) Based on purely personal experiences, I feel I need to weigh in on this topic. Now, I’m not hitting all the flavors, because there are twelve and my daughters’ troops don’t sell them all. Fun fact, depending on your region of the US, you can only get certain cookie types. True story.

Hang on to your petticoats, folks, wine might not always be the answer. No, you read that right. I’ll say it again. Wine might not always be the answer. You heard it here first. Alright, let’s get this rodeo started. I’m skewing toward affordable here because, let’s face it, the cookies are kind of pricey.

Trefoils

Let’s begin with an easy one. Over the years, a favorite cookie of mine is the Trefoil. It’s a shortbread cookie. Little known fact, it’s also one of the cookies that is the worst for you. Some think it’s the Thin Mint, nope. Trefoils- they’re almost all butter. Yum. I like them with my morning tea, Earl Grey- hot as Picard would have it. However, they are also fabulous with a nice high acid Sauvignon Blanc. Don’t break the bank, just grab a good Kenwood or Clos du Bois and call it a day.

samoas

Next up, the Samoa. Now, I am not a huge fan of processed coconut. I prefer the fresh stuff. That said, if you add enough carmelization and dark chocolate, I can forgive even the most egregious of sins.This is an easy one, too. I like a good fruit forward zinfindel with these bad boys. Try a Seven Deadly Zins or a nice Bianchi Zinfindel. The dark chocolate and that almost burnt nutty taste pair so perfectly with a big zin.

dosidoes

The online guides are telling people to pair the peanut butter sandwich cookies with  California zinfindels (read fruit forward zinfindels) in order to create a peanut butter and jelly experience. Now, bearing in mind that wine is completely arbitrary and totally up to individual taste, I could not disagree more. No, for me a lighter red is in order. I’m thinking Gamay Beaujolais or a Rioja.

tagalongs-lbb

This next one is a bit tricky, even controversial. I tried Tagalongs with the suggested pairing, an Amarone. The theory was go big or go home. Bleech! No likey! So, still believing in the Internet I tried them with a big Cabernet- ugh! A fruity Malbec? No. No. And definitely no. Then I saw something in one of the blogs that peaked my interest- try these milk chocolate with peanut butter cookies with beer. So I had them with a Lagunitas IPA and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. And quite nicely, too, thank you very much.

ssmiles

This next cookie pictured above is called a Savannah Smile. It’s a challenge to pair as it’s confectioner’s sugar over a dense lemon cookie. Reading the suggestions, the most common was a Sancerre. This is a white wine, but not really all that common in California, not sure about the rest of the United States. I did stumble upon a much more common, and I think very fun, solution. Pair this cookie with champagne, any not too dry sparkling wine will do. Or tea, they’re a bit like a tiny scone, so tea is good. Domaine Chandon out of Napa makes some perfectly yummy sparkling wines for under $20 a bottle- just the ticket to bubbly, sugary fun.

Rah_Rah Rasins1

Myles in the movie Sideways would kill me, but when it comes to the Rah-Rah Raisin cookie I have to say, go Merlot. Not a watered down commercial Merlot  like we were drowning in during the 1990’s. No, something with a bit more structure and character, again without breaking the bank, like a Sonoma County Blackstone.

Toffeetastic

The Toffeetastic cookies actually could go a couple of ways depending on your personal preference. (Okay, everything could go a million ways depending on personal preference, but I digress.) For me? I like them with a well balanced Pinot Noir. However, I have no trouble with the idea of them paired with a rose, something slightly dry like a White Cabernet.

thinmints

This brings us to the big enchilada, the grandmother of them, the Thin Mint. Do not pair these with a Brunello- whose idea was that??? What do these need? I suggest a white. Go with… milk!!!

Why am I bringing this up as Cookie Season draws to a close? Because I know some of you have a bunch on your shelves, in your freezer, and I know a few troops out there (naming no names) are still desperately trying to get rid of those last boxes…. so maybe this will inspire you to try some things out.

After all… it’s for a great cause.

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

I’ll say it again… there’s no shame in pink.

The 1990’s and crimes committed against white zinfindel and its fans have a great deal to answer for.  For starters, I now frequently meet people who believe that all rosé wines are white zin.  This is not true. The pink color of some wines is achieved when the juice from red grapes (which is clear) is allowed to ferment for a time against the skins of these grapes.  These wines can be sparkling or still.  There can be any number of blends and varietals: white cabernet, white grenache, white syrah and, of course, the aforementioned and much abused: white zinfindel.  In the United States we call them rosés, in Spain and Portugal they are rosados and in Italy they are rosatos.

The time the white juice is allowed contact against the red skins (typically only a few days) changes the taste and structure of the wine, adding flavor and tannins which add complexity.  The longer the juice is with the skins, the deeper the pink hue to the wine.

I can remember when I truly enjoyed a nice white zin, until some corporate dunderbluss decided to make it accessible to the masses- read “water them down to a bland, sicky sweet punch-like substance.”  As an aside, something very similar occurred with merlot in the early 2000’s– gag me with a decanter.

Where was I?

Oh yes, yummy rosé goodness!  This week on Get Your Wine on Wednesday I’d like to introduce the Wild Coyote White Syrah- perfect to chill on a summer evening.  C’est delish!

If you are ever in Paso Robles- be sure to stop by this very different and fun winery- the House of Reds as they like to refer to themselves.  (Fair warning- you need to like big, high-octane California style fruit bombs to enjoy these babies.)  Accordingly their white syrah is nicknamed, “El Gringo.”  Don’t let the name deter you- it’s zippy: flavorful, fruity and the perfect wine with spicy food.

You can purchase this and other Wild Coyote offerings (they make a mean mouvedre) on their website.

http://www.wildcoyote.biz/

If you are lucky enough to be able to make it down to Paso Robles and go to the winery: enjoy the Tipi, check out their B & B and for the love of God, ask for Sean- he rocks.  With him as your guide you’ll have a ball.

Sadly, I only bought two bottles.  My friend, Monica, and I drank the first during one of our Doctor Who DVR nights and then Eric and I served the second at a barbecue with great friends, new and old, this past weekend.  Here are Michelle and Monica, featured in their second “Wine on Wednesday” post… well, they are two of my most fabulous pals.

Enjoy your wine!

Slainte!

M & M- aren't they lovely?!?!

M & M- aren’t they lovely?!?!

Now, given the challenge I’ve faced trying to be consistent with my Musical Monday blogs, I would have to be a great fool to try to start another weekly featured post.  I am not a great fool (mostly) so I will merely commit to the occasional Wine on Wednesday post.  Sometimes it will happen and, then again, perhaps we’ll go months without one.  How’s that for commitment?

It has frequently been suggested that I write more on wine, especially in light of the fact that we drink so much of it in my house.

It is hard to argue with that kind of logic.

Let me preface by saying, I am not a sommelier.  I have no training or special expertise.  I know what I like and I pay attention when people talk to me about wine or when I read up on the subject.

In May I had the opportunity to do a little wine tasting at our local wine shop, The Wine Steward, for my good friend Michelle’s bachelorette party.  It was delightful, made all the more pleasurable because the temperature shot to 100 that day, but we were inside with air-conditioning.  The fruits, cheeses and cold cuts that paired with our flights didn’t hurt either.

Wine-tasting: so much nicer than a stripper.

Wine-tasting: so much nicer than a stripper.

While I enjoyed the whole experience from top to bottom, there was one wine that stood out like a neon sign in terms of taste and value.  It was the 2010 Chateau Sainte Marthe from Languedoc in the south of France.

Now, living in California as I do, there are so many fabulous local wine makers to support that it’s a rare day when you’ll catch me drinking something imported.  This was lovely.  It’s a medium-bodied red wine which pairs well with a variety of foods.   I call this food friendly with a nice acidic quality.  Lush and fruity , there’s a touch of black pepper to it as well. Incidentally, it’s the kind of wine that is perfect to bring to a party or dinner- it’s an accessible wine for a wide range of palates.

2010 Chateau Sainte Marthe

2010 Chateau Sainte Marthe

The Languedoc is a blend:  60% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre.  As with all wines containing Mourvedre the wine’s nose has that rich earthy note that makes one want to simply dive into one’s glass.  Delish! The Wine Steward is selling it for just $11 per bottle- totally affordable!

To purchase all this  extreme yumminess for yourself you can call The Wine Steward at 925-600-9463 or try their website- click here.

This post was written by Erika Gardner.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog.  Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.

Hi, folks….

So those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that I have flown in the face of blogging wisdom.  Conventional blogging says that one should have a theme.  Perhaps one blogs book reviews like my friend at the fabulous Bookalicious Book Reviews or writes about cooking like another blogging friend, Happiness Stan Lives.  The idea is that if you have a theme, sort of make yourself into an authority figure, then you will build followers faster.

While I do wish to build a following, I find with blogging I tend to have a hard time focusing.  There are simply so many fun things to write about.  I flit from politics to music to wine to anything that interests or moves me.

I guess there is a theme, me.

Today’s flitting is back to the subject of wine.  (Oh, how do I love thee, vino.)

It flipping drives me up a tree that if I want wine at a Sharks game or a rock concert, I have to buy borderline Night Train in a plastic cup for ten dollars a pop.  Gross… plus, it takes up part of my book and shoe allowance.  Simply not okay.

Enter Copa di Vino, today’s nominee for nifty new wine invention.  Someone thought it through and decided to package high quality wine in a plastic container with a vacuum seal.  Each serving also has a resealable lid (think Tupperware style) to prevent spills or save a portion for later.

I don’t know how they did it.  As most of my fellow wine fans can tell you, wine in a plastic cup is iffy at best.  It’s always much better served in a glass, preferably a large one. However, this wine tastes good AND at about $3 per serving is a much better cost alternative for a picnic or sporting event.  (Shhh, you didn’t hear it from me, but a couple of these little beauties fit quite nicely in a purse or in your husband’s inside jacket pockets.  So helpful with those venues who take a narrow view of outside libations at their events.)

Those of you who watch the show The Shark Tank may have seen this company’s owner on- twice.  While neither of these appearances yielded a deal with the Sharks, James Martin seems to be doing just fine on his own.  You can check out where to buy his wines, more about the varietals or simply purchase these wines online at:

https://www.copadivino.com/

They even sell a variety case which contains two of each of their six varietals: merlot, cabernet sauvignon, white zinfindel, moscato, chardonnay, and pinot grigio.  Clearly, it wouldn’t break this wine-lover’s heart if they carried a couple more reds, but I guess one step at a time.  You can also buy single cases of each wine type.  If you search for local retail outlets, don’t be put off if some odd locations pop up on your results.  For example, there are four places near me: three gas station quickie-marts and the snack area to a Marriott hotel.  One would never guess what a high quality product is being hidden at your local gas station.  Go figure.

Wine fans- rejoice!  Now we can join the beer drinking public with a high quality, cost-effective, easily transportable alternative.

Salud!

Copa Di Vino

Copa Di Vino

 

 

This post was written by Erika Gardner.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog.  Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.

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