The Girlz in da Hood

Last weekend my best girl pals (or Biotches, yo!) and I decided we’d do something we rarely get the chance to do:  leave all the boyfriends, husbands, kids, work, school, housework, etc and take off for the day to go wine tasting.  Recruiting was easy… my girls  know how to roll.   We were on the road by 10am headed East for a day of drinking, eating, shopping and some much needed girl time.

Our original plan was to go to Maryhill Vineyards in Washington and spend the day there.  After a pit stop at Multnomah Falls we decided to stop in Hood River because Jessica wanted to go to the Naked Winery.  The Naked don’t start pouring until 12, so we killed some time at Mt. Hood Winery as they opened for wine tasting at 11am, and we were ready to drink!

The Mt. Hood Winery is off Hwy 35 in Hood River.  The drive there was amazing.  It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and Mt. Hood was leading the way.  The Mt Hood Winery greets its guests with a drive past its beautiful vineyard, and the driveway leads you to its new tasting room.

We were greeted by Chris, a divorcee who was very passionate about her job and their wine.  For a $5.00 tasting fee we tried 5 different wines:  Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Saignee, Riesling,  and Syrah.  We all seemed to have a favorite:  Jessica enjoyed the Riesling, Tricia the Chardonnay, Jeanelle the Syrah, and I liked the Pinot Saignee.

The Pinot Saignee is a blush, and is served chilled. It would be a great summer drink.  It was a beautiful rose color, and not a thick wine.  It was very flavorful and had a fruity aftertaste, that I really like.  However, I was the only fan of the Saignee from our gang.  Jessica likes the fuller reds, and Tricia and Jeanelle like the lighter whites.

Tricia really enjoyed their Chardonnay, and was the first to buy a bottle on our trip.   I felt the Chardonnay tasted like flat Champagne. It wasn’t my thing, but that’s the great thing about wine…..there are so many varieties to appeal to masses.

The other great thing about wine, is being able to share it with your friends.  People have been doing that for thousands of years….opening a bottle of wine, enjoying a beautiful day, sharing some laughs.   This was just the first stop on our wine tasting adventure…. we never made it to Maryhill, but its all good… cause the Girlz in the Hood are always hard,come talkin that trash and we’ll pull your card…. A’ight!

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Drink to your Health??

For those of you who know me, you know I have a vacation coming up in about a month…. 35 days to be exact, but who’s counting?  So, my husband and I are diligently trying to get into vacation mode and have started eating better to those a few pounds.  Vanity is a big motivator….but so is our health.

Part of my motivation to drink wine nightly (although I’ve been a big slacker) is for my health.  I’ve heard many times a glass of wine a night (red) is good for your heart.  Heart disease and high cholesterol runs in my family and it a glass of red wine for a woman (2 for a man) can be heart healthy.

However, in doing my research to write this blog I’ve read that a glass of wine can also be detrimental to your health.  It adds un-necessary sugars and calories into your diet, and that there may be an association between cancer and alcohol.  So, in other words….you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Tonight I’m damning (or saving) myself with a glass of Three Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) Merlot from Trader Joe’s.  This is the third Merlot I’ve tried.  If you’ve read “Hello Merlot” you’d know that I really liked the Merlot I had last time.  I have a couple different reds at home, but I chose the Three Buck  Chuck tonight because it has the easy pull tab and the cork comes out pretty easy.  I still have a really bad corkscrew.

The Three Buck Chuck Merlot is not as good as The Smoking Loon Merlot or the Sutterhome Merlot. It doesn’t have that really pretty red as Smoking Loon and its watery, bitter, with no sweet/spicy after taste.  The thing I liked the most about the Smoking Loon is that the aftertaste tasted like grape juice.  Three Buck Chuck has no after taste… its bitter and the bitterness turns into nothing.  There is no taste of cherries, spice, grapes, apples, berries, or whatever else is in a Merlot.  It actually reminds me a lot of some really bad table wine I had while I was in Montmarte in Paris, which really turned me off to wine until recently….

That being said, I’ll drink my glass and relax.  It still has alcohol…and after a day like today, I’ll take it! I won’t buy Three Buck Chuck Merlot again, but for tonight, I’m going to enjoy my $3.00 bottle of wine and not think about the extra calories I’m consuming…  Here’s to a healthy heart!! Salut!!

Leftovers

I feel like I’ve neglected my blog and my readers lately…. as you’ve noticed I am only writing every few days are so.  Originally my plan was to try a new wine every night and write about it, and I started out strong!  However, after working full time, and coming home to a full time job of taking care of my kids and my house it actually takes effort to pour a glass of wine and think about what I’m drinking….and actually have an opinion about it.

Thanks to the support of my awesome family I am stocked up on wine and have 5 bottles open so I’ve decided that over the next few days I am going to finish off the wine I have open….and see if my opinion of them changes.

Tonight I am drinking the 2004 Pinot Riche again.   When I mention the Pinot Riche to a few of my friends and co-workers I got a blank stare….. is this a wine that people don’t drink often??  Please readers…tell me….because I think its FANTASTIC! Its definitely tart, fruity and dry.  Its not as good as my blessed Pinot Blanc but its up there and I urge all those who gave me the blank stare when I mentioned it to try it! You will not be disappointed….unless you like bitter wines.

With the wines that I have open I am going to try to pair them with my dinners.  I have a couple reds and a couple whites.    I need to do some research because I know nothing of pairing foods with wine. I hear the formula is red meat, red wine, white meat, white wine.  I’m gonna try it out and I’ll let you all know.  And please remember….I am open to suggestions!!!! It still takes me a few minutes just to get the wine bottle open… so go easy on me.   When I first started drinking wine I had a friend tell me I needed a wine tutor.. I laughed it off…..I mean, its all subjective right…you either like it or you don’t…. Wrong.   I need a tutor…there is so much to wine it is overwhelming…and besides….who wants to drink alone all the time?? 🙂  Any takers?

It’s always Sunny at the Bottom of a wine can…

I recently watched an episode of “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” where the gang gives Frank an intervention. To me,  Watching “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” for the first time is like drinking wine for the first time.  Very rarely does a person actually love it and it takes a few attempts to find the right flavor/episode for you, but once you do you’re hooked.

In the “intervention” episode Frank, played by Danny DeVito, has taken to drinking boxed wine out of diet cola cans.  Eventually The Gang’s intervention fails, as they all find benefits to drinking wine out of a can….and well, they’re incapable of doing good, as everything they do is motivated by their own selfish needs and the episode ends with everyone drinking boxed wine from a can…

Tonight I am drinking a a 2004  Pinot Riche by the Maragas Winery in Bend, Oregon, out of a glass, thank you very much.   It is a light champagne color, and upon opening it (I really like the cork, it has a cute dog on it) I am overwhelmed with the smell of apples and alcohol.  I let it breathe for about 10 minutes (well, I’d planned on drinking it right away, but I had to get my kids to bed) before I took a drink.  It is very sweet, dry and has a very strong apple taste.   I really like it. Its the closest thing I’ve had  to my blessed Pinot Blanc of last week.  Of course, Jordan hates it. Its too sweet for him.  But again, his judgement is flawed…..remember, he ate duck tongues, likes extra hoppy IPA and malt vinegar on his fries. S o far, the Pinot Riche is one of my favorites and may be a wine I keep around for entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining…..if you are interested in a show that will make you laugh, genuine belly laughs, and also disturb you (and you may question how F’d up you are by laughing at some of the jokes) I urge to open your favorite bottle of wine and watch “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.   And please, gang, if you ever catch me drinking boxed wine out of a diet cola can, its time for an intervention.

Weekend Wine-O in search of perfect Pinot Noir Blanc….

After a couple weeks of doing my “research” and wine blogging I’ve learned a couple things:   The trick to opening a bottle of wine (even with a cheap ass cork screw) is to screw it into the MIDDLE of the cork.   Even if its a little off center it makes it a bitch to open.  Second, I am finding myself really enjoying reds, much more than whites, and for most of those I drank red tends to be their favorite.

I am trying to be fair to the whites and tonight I am drinking  Riesling, which by the way, is much better chilled.    Over the weekend I drank a variety of wines, and I think I have found a new favorite: Pinot Noir Blanc and the Winemakers Red from Maryhill Vineyards.

Friday night I had dinner with my best friend and paired my meal with wine for the first time.  I didn’t ask the waitress what she recommended as she didn’t look a day over 19, so I went off what I’ve tasted the past couple weeks and what little bit I’ve read about pairings.  I had pasta and paired it with Maryhill Vineyard’s Winemakers Red.  And, thanks to my blog, Jessica decided to break from her normal red and try a Riesling (which she liked!).  I decided on the Winemakers Red because it sounded good.  It was described as a Cab, Merlot and Shiraz mix.  It is made with cherries, and is tart, yet sweet, and has a smooth chocolaty aftertaste.  It was fantastic.  My pairing, however, sucked.  Winemakers Red does not go with a garlic mushroom penne, but it was fabulous with our tiramisu.

After I came home I had a night planned with my friend Tosca, however my daughter got sick so we decided to hang out here at my house.  We cracked open a bottle of Syrah that I bought at Trader Joe’s.  It is the one with the smiley face on it in my picture below.  It is a 2006 Project Happine$S Syrah.  It was the employee recommendation.  It was a full bodied red, a little thick and was pretty bitter to start, but then got a little spicy.  It was ok.  I probably won’t buy it again but I enjoyed sharing it with Tosca and isn’t that the point?

Sunday night I had dinner at McMenamins and shared the wine sampler with Jordan, Ruben, and Tosca. It was our last little Hoo-Rah before Tosca leaves for bootcamp.  On the table was a Merlot, Chardonnay (which Tosca and I both concluded smelled like weed), Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Blanc, Riesling, and a featured wine. I’m not sure what the featured was, but it was a red and it was not good.

I tried to stay away from the Pinot Noir, the few times I’ve had it now I haven’t liked it.  Tosca tried the Pinot Noir Blanc and she loved it and handed me the glass. I was not optimistic.  It looked a little watery and had a slight pink color to it, like watered down White Zinfandel.  I took a sip, swished it around and LOVED It.  So far it is my FAVORITE wine I’ve had and I only had a few sips ( it was the sampler and I had to share!).  I  don’t know who made the Pinot Noir Blanc. I don’t know what year it was.  All I know is, is that it was sooo good. It was fruity, floral, light, sweet, tart, a little bitter… it was heavenly.

So, my readers, if you know of a good Pinot Noir Blanc PLEASE send me your recommendations as I’m excited to try some others to see if I have the same experience.  In the meantime I have plenty of wines at home to work my way through.  Thanks to my Mother in law, I am stocked up and will be relaxed and/or intoxicated for the next two weeks!  I wonder if she conspired with Jordan…… hmmm…….

W(White)=Wild

After taking a couple nights off from drinking I thought tonight would be a good night to try a new wine.  Jordan is out of town, I’m down to just two kids (can you believe I actually think having 2 kids is a vacation?!) and I have nothing better to do than sit home, drink some wine and watch tv.

I feel I have been unfair to the white wines after my experience with the Sutterhome.  The Chardonnay gave me a horrible headache and the Zinfandel was good, but just not my thing. It was way too sweet.  I forgot all about the pinot grigio and Riesling.

I was shamelessly plugging my blog today with a friend of mine named Craig, and we starting chatting about wine.  He advised me that he has a little formula he uses on deciding what wine to drink.  W(white) =wild is for the wild nights out with friends or when he just wants to drink at home with company (I imagine a bunch of empty wine bottles, knocked over glasses and a bunch of guys rocking Guitar Hero but chatting in snobby British accents) and R(red)=relax….  He said he likes the reds for relaxing evenings at home or having with a good meal.

On a night home alone you’d think that I’d R(red)=relax.   Nah!! I went for the W(white)=wild, Riesling.  I’ve never had the Riesling, and I figured the white wine would be tastier paired with my meal of Special K Cinnamon Pecan cereal and toast than a heavy red wine.

I am drinking Yellow Tail Riesling.  Although, honestly it almost didn’t happen as I had a hard time getting the cork out.  I really need a better corkscrew (yeah, that’s it).  Riesling ingredients include  roses, violets, apples, apricots, peaches and pears.   It smells fruity, and I was surprised by how tangy and light it is.  I’m not sure if this is meant to be served cold, but I think that if it were slightly chilled it would enhance the taste.  The aftertaste is citrus-y to me, though I don’t remember citrus fruits being in the ingredients I read online.   This is a wine I can easily drink, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Tonight is gonna be a W(white)=wild night for me as I am faced with a dilemma….drink an entire bottle of wine or waste half a bottle of wine. It seems removing the cork isn’t my only problem……I can’t get the damn thing back in!!! ….note to self….go take some Tylenol…I have a feeling I’ll have a headache tomorrow. ….

Christina is a genius

Coming up with the idea to drink different wines every day has to be, in my opinion, the best idea I think I have ever had.  Not only do I get to have a drink every night (well, almost) without shame, but I also get to write about it!

The thing I’ve enjoyed the most during this last week is hearing how excited my friends and colleagues are when I ask them about their favorite wine and get their recommendations.  Wine seems to be a passion, or at least an interest for all.  My limited experience with wine in the past has been some house wine in Paris and Italy and then champagne toasts at various weddings and social gatherings.   Oh, and I watched Sideways…  that counts for something, I think.

One of the rules (yes, I have rules) I have is to try every wine recommended by my friends.  Tonight I am trying Charles Shaw, otherwise known as Three Buck Chuck sold at Trader Joes.  I had never heard of Three Buck Chuck until my co-worker Rollin told me about it….. then again I haven’t heard of most wines.   I figure, since I’m a wine-o now, I should get some table wine and according to Rollin, Three Buck Chuck is a good, cheap table wine.

Tonight I am drinking a Shiraz.  After the fiasco of trying to open my last bottle of wine,  I was not going to let the cork beat me again.  The seal on this wine had a little pull tab, so I knew immediately that this bottle was going to be easier than the last to open.  I stuck the cork screw in, pulled on the cork the way Jordan showed me, and it popped out (and I did not get a cork in the eye).  Like wine, I’m getting better as time goes on…. (Although Jordan told me wine eventually turns to vinegar if it sets too long! Is that true?? I need to google that).

Its my first time drinking Shiraz and as I poured it I knew I wouldn’t like it.  It was thick and sticking to the side of the glass.  I took one drink, and offered my glass to Jordan. I don’t like it.  Its bitter and has too too much of an alcohol taste.  Jordan declined as he’s finished his glass and is off to bed. He liked it, but that doesn’t mean much to me…he’s eaten duck tongues and likes malt vinegar on his fries.  I’ve made the decision to just drink it…who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind.

Shiraz or Syrah is supposed to be a spicy red wine made with black cherry, blackberry, pepper, dark chocolate, clove, and licorice.  Drinking the Three Buck Chuck Shiraz I definitely taste the berries and pepper.  It does have a nice spice that burns my nose some when I swish it around, and the more I drink it, the more I like it.

Now, Rollin, I’m sure you are gonna get after me at work tomorrow (assuming you read this)…wanting to know why I dropped your name on a wine I didn’t like?!  Well, fear not my thespian friend, I do enjoy the Shiraz. Its growing on me the more I drink it…. and fellow readers…..in Rollin’s defense he did recommend the Three Buck Chuck Merlot, not the Shiraz…. I’m just sayin…

I took Rollin’s recommendation before all the others I’ve had for two reasons…  A. He is kind enough to ask me about my blog on an almost daily basis even if he doesn’t read it.  And B.  Its $3.00!!  I will try try all the wines recommended by my readers and my friends, however if the wine is over $25 I have a rule  that the person recommending it, has to supply it.   Better yet, bring over your favorite bottle of wine, I’ll cook dinner and we can share it together over dinner.  That’s the great thing about wine, it has been shared among families, lovers and friends for thousands of years.

I have two more bottles of Three Buck Chuck to review. A Cabernet and a Merlot.  I know that it will not be my favorite wine, but I think it may be a good wine to have around the house, and at only $3.00 a bottle its a good deal.  I just finished my glass. My arms are warm, my cheeks are flushed and my eyes are getting heavy.  I’m relaxed and ready to go to bed.  This was a great way to end a Monday.

Amateur

Its Friday Night, and I’m watching the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Olympics (USA!! USA!! USA!!)  and I decide that tonight is the night I’m going to do two things.  1. I am going to finally get around to watching “500 Days of Summer”.  2. I am going to open the bottle of Merlot Jordan bought earlier this week and pour myself a glass.  Now, if you’ve read my past posts you’d know that the wine I had previously was small plastic bottles of screwtop Sutterhome.  This was an actual bottle of wine, cork and all and I was excited about opening my first bottle of wine.  Yes, yes, that’s right, I’ve never opened a bottle of wine before…..and it was quite the experience.

For those of you who read this and are “seasoned” wine drinkers…you know who are you….the ones who describe wine with words like “speck of vanilla”, “oakey” and “sweet and peppery”…. you’d have the bottle of wine open in 1 minute flat.  I’m ashamed to say it took me the better part of 5 minutes to open my bottle….and I had to recruit the help of Jordan. (So what if I have an irrational fear of a flying cork in they eye…don’t judge me!).

First, I attack the wrapper around the top.  I try my fingernails but the plastic/paper/metal cover is too tough.  So then I resort to a knife (thank you Cutco).  Sliced through it like butter.  Then I grab the corkscrew and screw it into the cork. I was pretty proud of myself with how easy it screwed in there, so popping that sucker out should be fairly easy.  HA!!!!!!!!!!! I pulled, I yanked, a jimmied, I wiggled it, I asked nicely, and I swore at it.  In all that effort, it was only half way out.  About this time Jordan came up the stairs with a big grin on his face and asks if I need help.  I decline, and tell him I got it….

After a couple minutes of watching me with a look of humor that I wanted to smack off his face, Jordan takes the cork screw and shows me how to open the bottle.  He holds bottle, I yank on the cork.  Finally I realize the cork has gotten the better of me….and I let Jordan finish her off….its good for his ego anyway.   Besides,  I need a better corkscrew…clearly this cheap metal one is at fault.

Tonight I am drinking a 2007 Smoking Loon Merlot.  Its a beautiful color red (my favorite color) and doesn’t look as thick as the Sutterhome Merlot.  I take a sip… its sweet when it first goes in the mouth. I swish it around the way Jordan showed me, and swallow.   Its bitter going down, and has a little spicy taste to it.  The bitter stays in the mouth for a minute, then it fades and gets sweet again.  The aftertaste tastes just like grape juice.   The bitterness makes you appreciate the sweet taste at the end.  It’s bittersweet, just like the movie “500 Days of Summer”.

I learned a couple things trying to open the bottle of wine.  First, that there is a spot on the corkscrew used to cut around the seal on the wine.  Second, evidently the cork only flies out of bottles of champagne (makes sense).  Third, sipping wine after a long week of work while watching a good movie is soooooo relaxing….. The more time goes by, the more wine I drink …. I can’t wait to try the wines recommended by friends, and enjoy them with those I love with food I love.   Its a work in progress.  First, I need to learn to open a bottle on my own.

The Pink Lady…

Tonight I am drinking my last bottle of wine, the 2008 Sutterhome White Zinfandel.  At first glance, I’m wondering why its called white when clearly it is pink.  I just took my first sip and now I know why (and I’m stealing this from “How I Met Your Mother”) the “WOOO Girls” drink this wine.  It is very sweet, and there is virtually no aftertaste.  It reminds me of drinking wine coolers in those years between being 18 and 21.   Unlike the Merlot and the Cabernet which start bitter and then get sweet and then bitter again, this is just plain sweet and does not have much taste at all, other than the sweetness.

This is not my first time having White Zinfandel. When I was 14 or 15 my best friends Mom let us have some White Zinfandel mixed with Sprite.  It was my first Spritzer!  This was a HUGE deal to me.  My parents were religious, and never had alcohol in the house.  I’d hear stories of their youth, and my dad’s affection for Screwdrivers (maybe that’s where I get my love of vodka), but I never saw them drink.  In fact, I was well in to my twenties before I saw my mom have a drink, and I’ve only seen my Dad in the bar a handful of times.  Usually for a family get together, and one time to come pick me up because I was too drunk to drive, on Christmas Eve nonetheless.  Thanks Dad!

My best friends mom, Sue Ann, was very different than my Mom. She worked as a waitress and bartender and kept late hours. She pretty much let us come and go as we wanted.  I was always staying at their house, because there we were allowed to stay up as late as we wanted playing Mario Brothers, and watch whatever we wanted on TV.  I remember one night in particular staying up late snuggled up with Jess watching “Amityville Horror”. I don’t think either of us slept that night!  And lets not forget, she let us have wine spritzers and coffee in the morning!

I loved Sue Ann, and not because she let us drink and gave us our space, but because she was a free spirit.  She was the first mom I ever saw in a bikini.  She always had her hair done, and make up on. Her nails were always painted and she had a tiny dog, back before Paris Hilton made them main stream.  She also made Jess and I M&M costumes for Halloween before M&M’s were cool. So, what I’m really saying is Jess, Sue Ann and myself were way cool before our time 🙂

As Jess and I grew up we both married, had children and got busy in our lives.  In the last couple years we’ve rekindled our friendship. I invited Jess to my baby shower when I was pregnant with my son. She showed up and advised me she couldn’t stay.  I was disappointed as I hadn’t seen her in what felt like forever.  She said she had some things to take care of, and didn’t want to burden me.  She told me her Mom, SueAnn, had passed away 3 weeks prior.

I haven’t lost a parent, so I don’t know the pain personally. But I saw the pain in Jess’s eyes that day.  I hugged her, and she fought back tears, then she left.  I went back to my baby shower to celebrate the life I was bringing into the world, while she left to mourn the life lost in her world.

So, tonight I drink my cheap White Zinfandel, in honor of SueAnn. Cheers!!

Hello Merlot!

Tonight I am trying Merlot for (I think) the first time.  I’m excited, as it is the wine that most people I’ve asked say is their favorite, granted nobody said I need to try the 2008 Sutterhome Merlot.  I’m sure somewhere out there there is a wine connoisseur who will cry himself to sleep tonight knowing my first taste of Merlot was Sutterhome.  Fear not, Mr. Connoisseur, I will not judge the Merlot by the 2008 Sutterhome.

So, I’m three sips in and so far I’m really liking it, although truth be told I can’t tell the difference between it and the Cabernet from night two.  I think the Merlot is maybe a little lighter and a little sweeter.  It is hitting me the same way the Cabernet did. I’m three sips in and arms are getting warm, my cheeks are flush and I have that warm feeling in my chest.  I’m such a lightweight!

In discussing my blog with my friends I’ve realized I have a lot to learn, and I’m a little overwhelmed by it all.  I’ve even had the offer of a wine tutor!!  A tutor!  I’ve always been a good student, but how does one teach a palate the way of the wine?  I am curious to know. I also need to get new wine glasses, as  I have one, and according to what I’ve read (and my husband, Jordan), each kind of wine has its own glass.  I think I also need a corkscrew, some fancy cheese, and wine rack.  So, if any of you out there are wanting to donate goods or bottles of wine…email me and I’ll send you my address 🙂

Ok, I just finished my first glass of Merlot. I think it tastes the most like grape juice out of the wines I’ve tried.  Oh, I almost forgot, I tried the Chardonnay last night….not impressed. It was too sweet and gave me a head ache.  So, back to the Merlot…. I like it. I like it a lot. I like it so much I just poured my second glass and finished off my tiny airplane size bottle.  Christina is getting drunk tonight my friends. Alone.  For the first time in my life.  Wow. I have never been drunk alone. …but then again, I guess I’m not alone…. I have you….out there…somewhere……. Cheers!

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