I am fortunate. Supportive, loving family and friends. A glass or two of Franco Serra Barbera D’Alba to chase the chill of a wintry Monday night. What could be better? A “W” for my team — the Detroit Lions — in their contest against the Baltimore Ravens. Oh, and the lucky Mega Million ticket.
Check out this post from another who likes to drink wine, but doesn’t like to pay a lot for it.
Since, my family and friends had much to celebrate on July 4, we had quite a selection of kid- and adult-friendly beverages on hand. Two favorites emerged.
First, my girlfriend and fellow mom, Christy, treated us to Dailys Cocktails Ready-to-Drink pouches. Just like it says on the packaging, all one has to do is freeze and enjoy. I tried the Pina Colada mix. The frozen concoction was so refreshing while watching fireworks on such a hot, humid night.
Second, I diverted from my usual selection of Spanish and Italian red wines to French. My local gourmet grocer offers an ever-changing selection of under-$10 bottles from a range of countries and regions. Plus, I figured it was time to become more educated about the many great wines from France. My selection, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse 2010, Domaine du Vieux Chene from Jean-Claude et Béatrice Bouche, was superb.
I am partial to anything vinted or brewed in Michigan. The Mitten produces extraordinary wine and beer. With that said, I recommend Vinosesso De Angelis Cantina del Vino 2010. This combination red is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 30% Cabernet Franc.
DI have another recommendation for you. After putting my two angels to bed, I decided to open a bottle of Tres Picos Borsao Garnacha 2009 I purchased at the end of February. I must say the glass or two on the back patio while watching the twilight hum was the perfect night cap to a spectacular day.
A few moments ago, I came across an excerpt from a quote George Clooney gave during a speech in Houston, recently … “Never mix grain with grape.”
As I sit drinking my glass of TerreDomini’s Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2009 that quote takes me back to those first few weekends of freshman year at Western Michigan University. The irony is wine consumption was limited to whatever was the cheapest (i.e. Boones Farm, Mad Dog 20/20, Bartles&Jaymes, etc.) and tasted fruitilicious. Further, I knew very little about the unpleasant effects brought on by mixing it up with Boones Farm Strawberry Hill and Keystone.
A Riot Mixing Grain with Grapes!
Love in an elevator Livin’ it up when I’m goin’ down Love in an elevator Lovin’ it up till I hit the ground
My roommates and I were strolling Kalamazoo’s Lafayette/Knollwood Avenue neighborhoods on the search for a keg party. We decided to check out California West Apartments; and we spy an open door as well as happy people drinking. B-E-E-R!
The happy people welcomed us, took our dollars and directed us to the keg line. As I filled my cup with Bud Light, I scanned faces in the apartment. Instead of seeing eye candy, I saw familiarity. Shit! I know these people!
The editor-in-chief as well as the news, sports and A&E editors from the Western Herald were all there. I felt a sinking sensation in my heart similar to the one I experienced in Vegas upon realizing I might have unwittingly set my boss up for a dinner meeting at an exotic supper club.
But, within seconds — just like in Vegas — it became clear —despite the beer buzz — that all would be okay. I would still have a job the next morning. Six creative forces I became better acquainted with that evening included Kyle (editor-in-chief), Susan (news editor/party hostess), Jamie (A&E editor), J.C. Jensen (aka Coach/sports editor), Shirley (photo editor), John Fountain (Fountain’s Pen Comic Strip) and Carrie (assistant news editor/party hostess).
In fact, my appearance at this keg party initiated me into a group that would eventually expand to include quite a few Western Herald editors, writers, illustrators and business people. These individuals were not only newsroom mentors and peers; they were now friends who partied as hard as they worked honing their talents.
Lafayette Neighborhood Riots, October 18, 1989
Like grain and grapes there are certain ingredients that do not mix well. The combination of WMU’s Homecoming weekend and its annual football contest with Mid-American Conference (MAC) nemesis, Central Michigan University, is one well-documented example. I do not know what the MAC decision-heads were smoking when they scheduled this match-up for this particular weekend. WMU’s Homecoming is usually enough of a reason for photos — of students doing incredibly dumb things — to be plastered on front pages across local, state — and sometimes national — newspapers.
WMU’s post-game festivities — as reported in the Western Herald and around the country — included wiener squirting contests, car-b-ques, and riots. S’mores anyone?
Grain and Grapes
As a freshman, the choice between drinking Boones Farm Strawberry Hill and Bud Light often settled upon whichever was available. Sometimes both were. What to do? Instead of drawing a hard, fast line, I usually opted to start with the wine. Then, when the wine bottle(s) went dry — due to sharing with friends — of course — switching to beer was common practice. I rarely succumbed to the unpleasant results of mixing grain and grapes.
But, then, there was that one night at another party Susan hosted…
As Michelle — a long-time writer friend — and I primped at her dorm room in Bigelow Hall, we slurped Boones Farm Strawberry Hill through the straws of our squeeze-bottles. At the party we played quarters with J.C., Susan, Carrie and a few others. My poor quarter-bouncing skills emptied my squeeze-bottle quickly. To stay in the game there was only one choice: Bud Light.
As you may recall from my College Life Replay last week, I am not a quitter. My quarter-bouncing skills just required some practice. So, why not fill up a glass; or two; or three; or four? Besides, I was among friends. They had my back and, plenty of sympathy later on that night 😦
Happy hour struck about 30 minutes ago. Prompted by a long-time college friend and wine consultant, Dan Stockman, I uncorked the said bottle of Garnacha in the title to this post. It has been waiting for consumption since February.
Garnacha and other wines from Spain have been at the top of my list since a visit to Sangria’s of Royal Oak. There — in the company of two best friends and my husband — I enjoyed my first experience drinking wine from Spain. I hope I am not shaming my Italian heritage when I admit this, but the wines I have been drinking from Spain rival the best I have had from Italy.
In closing, I am not a wine expert. So, I don’t really have the knowledge to provide tasting notes or food pairing suggestions. I just know I am enjoying the contents of my wine glass; and plan to go for a refill in just a moment or two.
Also, you really should check out my friend Dan’s online wine resource. He and his wife Krista are the experts. They host tastings near Fort Wayne, Indiana. Too bad I don’t live closer. But, their web site is a great place to learn about wine.
I love wine. Call it genetics. After all, I am 50-percent Italian; and Italians make some of the best the world has to offer. But, to me, it has that something special that makes a meal, a family party, a conversation with a dear friend, or a romantic night out.
And, just like with food I do not discriminate. Sometimes I wish I did. But, like my dad, I love it all: red, white, dry, semi-dry, sweet, Italian, Spanish, Australian, Californian, and of course, Michigan.
Before I go further, I need a disclaimer: I am uneducated wino. While I have some knowledge about the regions, countries and wineries that produce it, I am really at the adolescent stage of my learning. I have tried enough to remember vintages I prefer, but not enough maturity to always have confidence when making selections at a store or restaurant. I’m okay with that. It gives me a license to experiment, make discoveries and to become friends with local sommeliers and wineries in my area.
Two experiments included a night out at Sangria’s in Royal Oak back in February; and a wine tasting at Filipo Marc Winery, a local winery in Clinton Township two Saturdays ago.
The night out at Sangria introduced me to Spanish wines; particularly Garnacha. My experience that evening left me on a quest to find a duplicate at my local gourmet grocer. Alas, I did not find that particular bottle. But, the sommelier at Vince and Joe’s tipped me off to other varieties of Garnacha, some under $10 a bottle, that are now staples in my wine rack. I am a happy wino.
Next, my attendance at that wine tasting was for a fund raiser for a non-profit I advocate for called Kids on the Go (which I’ll post about in the future). Owners, Gerard Giacona and his wife Tressa hosted our group. While I have previous acquaintance with Filipo Marc Winery and some of their selections, I had not actually been to a tasting there.
What I discovered — in addition to more bottles I like — was the tasting events Gerard and Tressa offer are really two-hour wine classes. In addition to tasting notes, they graciously explain the process of how each wine came to be, tasting advice to ensure an optimal experience with each selection, and food pairing suggestions. To learn more about Filipo Marc Winery and the 80+ wines they make, check out their web site or — if you’re a local — stop in for a visit at the winery. They’ll let you sample before you buy.