Monday, July 30, 2012


“So how was it?”

“Oh it was so good. You know how you are always talking about clean food? Well that was exactly what it was. Just fresh, simply but wonderfully prepared food without a bunch of crap on my plate. We ordered the Bailly Sancerre and went through 3 bottles effortlessly”

Randy and I having a conversation about a dinner he had at a very dear friend’s restaurant. We had all been several times before, likely would have been more had either of us lived close enough, it’s in Silverlake and that is a bit of a jaunt from Long Beach. But it is a remarkably beautiful spot, super-hip on the inside but it is the patio that makes me swoon. Pillows, over-stuffed and in varying shades, sizes and patterns strewn upon the high backed banquettes that rest upon the slightly elevated, almost tropical bungalow feeling terraced tables, the comfy cushioned wicker chairs and white cloth covered tables that sit dwarfed by a massive planter, home to one of the coolest trees with outstretched branches I’ve ever seen growing right out of the center of the patio. Twinkle lights stretched beneath the panels of fabric woven into a partial grid above, making you feel as if you are dining in the swankiest but most comfortable tree house imaginable. It’s gorgeous and welcoming unlike any patio I know. The restaurant, Cliff’s Edge has gone through what many do, which is dealing with multiple chefs and trying to find their way, and even though I always thought the food was great to fine, it sounds as if the chef in place now is hitting new strides and according to the press they’ve been getting lately, getting a seat on that there patio, well it might be even harder than it was before. Add to that their newly installed $1.00 oyster Thursday nights, and this “clean food” stuff and well, going to be heading up to that oasis a lot more often. 

Clean food, this is something I tend to rant about, maybe a bit too much. I mean I did almost come to blows with the caterer for my wedding reception when he kept insisting on putting fucking fruit salsa on the salmon I ordered, “People will expect it” he argued, “How’s about putting it on the side and giving them the option ya asshat? No means no!” I responded through clinched teeth, my now husband wondering what the hell he had gotten himself into. Fruit on my meat is something that bothers me, immensely. Keep your cherry port wine reduction, your l’orange, raspberry chipotle coulis, apple slaw and whatever-the-fuck fruit chutneys, relishes and salsas away from my protein dag-nab-it. Oh and don’t even get me started on the vanilla and caramel bullshit some chefs are spooning over scallops and whatnot….fucking gross. I happen to like the taste of my food and don’t want it covered up by dessert or breakfast like crap, maple honey glazes, well they can just blow me. I am a food lover in the first right, have been known to spend nearly a month’s rent on a dinner from time to time, I’m not a dull eater, not in the least, (although I must confess that innards and filter meat make me heave, but mostly because of texture…and they taste like guts. Maybe they need mango chutney) but much like wine, I seek purity. Great ingredients perfectly cooked and seasoned. Toss a bunch of noise on my plate, or my glass and my undies creep right up my sizeable ass. Crunders crunched. Simple food pleases me and one of the most important reasons? Um, much more wine friendly. 

So okay, I’m a food purity crusader by night but in my day job I am often faced with some crazy combination of crap on a plate, a sweet faced customer looking to me to pair a wine with their over-studded and bedazzled creations. What’s a girl to do when given a menu of Moroccan lamb with apricots paired with blue cheese grits? Well other than concentrate on fighting back the gag reflex? Yeah, I have to politely mention that those flavors aren’t really conducive to food and wine harmony, and bite my lip about putting blue cheese grits with that lamb dish, but ultimately I will try and find them something that they will like, (always ask these folks that look at me like I’m from Mars when I mention that their dish isn’t at all wine friendly, what they like to drink…I figure at least I might make them happy that way, sure is shit isn’t going to be with a great pairing) that hopefully won’t go all swamp assy in their mouths once mixed with spiced lamb, fruit (ugh) and blue cheese…grits. Yeah, aint all that easy, and not to sound too much like a wine snoot, they probably won’t care all that much. Not everyone gets their bits all tingled by food and wine pairings and I always try and keep that in mind. I’m not the pairing gestapo for fucks sake, I’m a wine slinger and while educating people is important to me I shan’t be that wanker that treats people like they’re morons when they are in our store trying to buy a bottle of Merlot for their fried oysters. 

A couple weeks ago I had a very nice, and very tiny woman, I swear she could barely see over the front counter, come in and ask for a recommendation for a wine to go with “Grilled stone fruit in a balsamic glaze”. I tried to un-scrunch my face, leaned over the counter, my tummy resting on the hard wood surface, feet almost off the ground and after a deep breath said, “You are aware you just put two wine killers, like together, right?” to which she responded, “Yeah that was kind of what I was thinking. Sounds good but I just can’t imagine there is a wine that would taste good with that. What about something that might just be fun?” nearly picked her up and swung her around all Sound of Music like. Hooked her up with a bottle of Brachetto, a bubbly, semi-sweet red from Italy that I thought might not cause too much damage and sent her happily on her way. I love that story. I really do, kind of in that same way I love those stories about a homeless person finding a winning lotto ticket or a doggy walking 600 miles to find his family…it’s rare my friends, very rare. 

“Sam, I just got a call from a friend of Randy’s, (and they all think they are Randy’s friends, even the ones he greets with a, “Hey….you. Good to see you” because he can’t place them) and he needs you to pick wines for a wedding next weekend” my coworker as we were setting up for my Friday night class. I didn’t really have time to deal with a whole pairing thing, especially a wedding one, but even though we were a person short, and the bosses were away, when you hear the owner’s friend needs help, well you try and make the time….”Oh fuck me” alert the gestapo.

I rather hurriedly took the printed menu from my coworker’s hands, (sorry Jen, not you, just busy) and noticed first the venue, The St. Regis Monarch Beach, swank with a pimpy fat-ass E, I then saw what they wanted to maybe spend per bottle, for a 13 case order…up to $40, per bottle? For a wedding with 450 attendees? Well hell, maybe I could squeeze out a little time. My eyes then hit the first obstacle, Condiments on each table: red pepper flakes, jalapenos and salsa. My inner wine Nazi simply went, “Nein!” and I barked at my poor coworker that I couldn’t deal with that right now. Asked that she let him know that I would take a gander at the menu over the weekend and get back to him. 

The rest of the staff putting out placemats and glasses for our Pinot Noir event, a second of free time and the curiosity got the best of me, grabbed the menu again and actually found myself laughing. “You have got to be shitting me” the only thing I could think to say. What I held in my hand had to be the single worst menu, for wine, I had ever seen. As I let my eyes fall upon each line, several of which were horribly misspelled thusly causing little hiccups in my scanning, my little wine brain feverishly flipping through card after card in my mental wine rolodex…I swear, I started to smell burnt hair and thought I was going to stroke out. 

The Menu:

Tray Passed Hors d’Oeuvres
Chicken Tikka
Paneer, Bell pepper & onion skewer
Aloo ki Tikki
Lamb Samosa (more spicey)
Tandori Shrimp
Lamb Chop (more spicey)
Fried Chutney Sandwich (no crust, add chutney before frying)
Vegetarian Spring Roll (more filling and more spicey)

On to the mains:

The afore mentioned Condiments at each table
Stacked Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Cured Olives, Torn Basil Leaves, Basil Oil and Pesto Drizzle
Freshly Baked Asiago Roll, Cranberry Bread and Rosemary Roll
Jerk Chicken with mango relish, jalapenos, chili flakes, plantains and vegetable rice (more spicey)
Spicy Eggplant Parmesan with Polenta and Curry Vegetables inside Puff Pastry, baby carrots, aspargus, and brocollini

Okay, so while trying to steady myself, and shouting, “How they hell did they spell spicy right once but wrong like five other times?!” and “What the fuck is an aspargus? Is it some kind of anti-social veggie?!” the little Julia Roberts like vein popping from my forehead, thumping and threatening to burst at any second, “Is that burning hair I smell?” me handing the menu to anyone that would take a moment to look…eyes bugged out and damn near frothing at the mouth. “This, this is some kind of joke right? The bosses put their friend up to this right? I mean, they can’t possibly believe that there is any wine on the planet that will go…well with any of it let alone all of it….right?” my voice beginning to trail off in a post rant, nearly seized whimper. Unclean…

Ended up waiting until Sunday to actually talk to the gentleman, who was in fact someone Randy knew, over the phone and when I gave him my much calmer suggestion of, “You know, this is just about the most unfriendly, for wine, menu I have ever laid my eyes upon. I think the way to go is to get some super-tasty wines, stuff not too high in acidity, oak or alcohol, that may not, (read never) give you that wine and food moment, they won’t clash too much and hopefully people will just enjoy drinking them, regardless. He then went on to tell me that the couple getting married were like obscenely wealthy and just getting into wine. They were looking to impress their friends and he too was hoping that they would understand, if just for this event, that putting shit like Silver Oak Cabernet, with that menu, was going to end up shoving their guests into their glasses of water rather than enjoying wine with their dinner. Don’t think either of us was holding out much hope, especially me after recommending a Viognier and hearing, “That might be too light for them”….sigh. Just kept thinking about Randy and Dale, in that beautiful tree house patio, slurping oysters, forkfuls of clean food, polishing off bottle after bottle of wine. “How much wine do you think we’ll need for 450 people?”……

“About a case”

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Speechless Sunday

Sent to me by my friend Ben Carter of Benito's Wine Reviews. Little to add here really. Little or too much. Either way I'd like to tell The King of Douche above that I actually think this guy

Has more class than you.
That is all.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Whips Of Someday

Here again.

 The moon hanging high and proud in the sky, shimmering and beacon like, not full or massive, nothing that would cause people to stay up late to admire but I find that the parts of me that twist and fidget, churn and hope, they too are up late and in full appreciation of something so stunning and powerful to keep me company. So full of promise and a reminder that no matter what happens tomorrow, there will be another night just like this one. Maybe another seeking soul beneath it wondering and whispering wishes into a glass of wine or into puffs of one too many cigarettes. I never feel completely alone when I can step out onto my stoop, take in a deep chest full of silent, still air and see that bumpy textured mass, swollen and nearly bursting with all those secrets, wishes, hopes for more; more money, more time, more laughter, more understanding, one more chance. My chest expanding as I take it all in and feel a companionship with all those voices, secrets, dreams and hopeful souls that find solace in the parting of their lips and baring their soul to the one thing that might actually be big enough to carry them all to that one other, or fifteen other, people that are there too. Under that shared swollen moon, on a stoop, bare-footed and bared souled, glass of wine….one too many cigarettes. 

Here again…

Tired, beyond tired but unable to sleep. The voices, my own being the most head-thumping and aggressive, the customers with their, “but you used to have….back when I used to shop here years ago” and the ever present tick of coming due invoices, holes in our racks and missing “must have” items. The twisting in my tummy as I try to train my driven son in an industry that may or may not have a place for him. Discovering if he has any kind of palate, using my feeble teaching skills to mold his words and pull those, “What am I tasting?” words from his nervous and nubile, slightly overwhelmed head. Watching him work the floor, be far more charming than I ever was, or could have been at his age and trying to stuff the, “That’s My Baby!!” momma voice into that manager pocket that remains calm and cool when every fiber of my being is biting at my flesh, begging and demanding that I make some noise. Whispers into my glass of wine, hopes for his future being carried off in a smoke trail of one too many cigarettes.

Here again…

Trying to explain Greek wines, why the varieties are unlike anything most people have ever had. Describing the food, the ocean, the salty, savory nature of wines from a culture that figured this shit out, like…long ago, and trying to defend them and their salty, briny and lean bodies to a culture of people that are accustomed to richness, opulence, big thick bodies of wine that have historically had no food to attach themselves to. A culture that would buy a Hummer when they are renting an apartment, buying i-phones, you know, to have the world’s information at their hip, and believes that there is an “ap” for everything but cannot carry on a conversation without tweeting or telling all of their 600 friends on Facebook that they are like talking and stuff. A culture so “informed” that they can’t comprehend the fact that most wine shops aren’t going to have a wine from ten years ago, in the $10.00 price range, that will both go with their anniversary dinner of smoked salmon with pineapple salsa…and is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, but cannot fathom that there is a world of wine outside their Google reader. Big smoke rings of hope billowing from my lips, whispers of “until” twisted into each one.  

Here again…

Tired and hoping, jammies, big moon, all those others taking in gallons of fresh air and hope under that textured half sphere tonight…or this morning, just wanted to let you know that I’m here too. Wishing, hoping, and finding some little bit of promise in tomorrow. As I settle into my cold rock that sits beside the stream that trickles through this very full but oh so quiet shared dwelling of “But you used to have” or “#chick@wineshop=don’t get it” ….this rock my own dreaming tree, the rustle of stiff branches and herb scented moisture that drips from them reminding me how tiny my stresses are. How bad could be things be when I have my son home, customers in the shop, a trickling stream and the scratching of wind lifted leaves above me?  

Biggest and deepest breath, lips soft and blowing sweet kisses of someday out onto the wind.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Loved The Palace But, There's No Place Like Home

“Hi! Where are you?” Amy’s voice chipper and bubbling with anticipation on the other end of my cell phone, “We are still a ways out and hitting a bit of traffic, but I’ll call you when we get to our room and you can all come up for a glass of Rose” I responded, “I will come where Rose is” she chirped before we ended our call. I was on my way to my best friend’s sister’s birthday bash in Vegas, my car carrying several surprises not the least of which, a special guest. The Friday before we left I met up with the third piece to our wacky little triangle, Merritt, we were getting caught up, (we don’t see each other even close to enough now that she is no longer working at The Wine Country) and I said, with slight trepidation, “Well we are going to Vegas on Sunday for Rachel’s birthday deal”. Her adorable big brown eyes grew even wider than normal as she realized, “I’m off Sunday through Tuesday too!” not ten minutes later our plan was set. Don’t breathe a word to Amy, (or her husband, he so would have spilled) load up the car with a bunch of the wines that Amy can’t get and is painfully missing while exiled in Dallas, get the first bottle of wine on ice before alerting our friends and have Merritt there in the room to pop that first cork. Family reunion indeed. As my little red car made its way across the flaming hot desert floor I found myself quietly looking out upon the heat ravaged scenery, the deep splits of cracked earth and the rugged bits of life that somehow managed to thrive in it…felt an odd sense of kinship, my own earth cracking apart a bit but the knowing that I would soon be wrapping my arms around my Amy….thriving. 

Had a pretty massive meltdown Saturday afternoon, the excitement and need to just be away for a bit, let my hair down with some of my favorite people in the world, feel that kind of trust that can only be earned through years of openness and honesty, that big old chunk of relief slamming right up against a blow out with someone I love with everything that I am…one that I fear will be the dissolution of our relationship, top that with some crazy fuck sending me upwards of fifteen, increasingly stalkerish emails a day….meltdown. Yeah, I was so fucking ready to cross that desert, get a big dose of “Home” and a long drink of relief.  

Sent my husband for ice as I feverishly unzipped my packed wine bag, plunged my sweaty hand in and found just the two bottles I was looking for, Bandol Tempier Rose and Camille Saves Carte Blanche Brut. Seeing as Amy would, “Come to where Rose is” the Tempier was the first in the bath of ice and water, my tummy doing flips in anticipation of Amy’s reaction to finding Merritt in our room, and to get my first taste of 2011 Tempier Rose. I had a feeling there might be screaming, my tiny Amy is prone to screaming in situations like this, was not prepared however for the tears. The hugs far longer and deeper, containing more meaning as we clung to one another, each of us navigating our own rugged terrain, finding a roomful of something to hold on to. The Tempier Rose a pretty little sip but sadly crushed by the weight of the moment. The 2011 a leaner vintage was just too tight to make any kind of impact on any of us. Even the specialness of drinking one of the world’s most sought after Roses was not big enough. The Saves however, thriving. Explosive, powerful, mouth coating but so very fresh. Fuck, even now my mouth is watering thinking about it. Everyone talks about this wine with this food but I can assure you, there are this wine with this moment pairings too and that Camille Saves, perfect pairing. 

Crossed the desert to find it but, there’s no place like home.

To everyone that emailed, sent messages and called, thank you for alerting me that this here blog had been hacked/taken off grid….didn’t know it was happening until Sunday morning, (blaming creepy email fucker) and by then, well I just needed to go off grid too. Appears things are back, least for now and I so adore you all for like giving a rat’s ass and like missing me and junk.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vegas Bound

“I think we should drive this time” the words were still hanging from his lips when my eyes went all, “um dude, are you high?” but before I could utter a word, (and you know I was gonna, had several as a matter of fact) he finished with, “So you can bring a bunch of wine for you and Amy” nice save and good point.

Got the email a couple months back, “We are going to Vegas for Rachie’s birthday, why don’t you guys come out and join us?” Rachie, or Rachel is Amy’s little sister. Just the sweetest woman, kind heart and loads of fun but there were a couple things in that email that gave me pause. One is I am not a Vegas kinda gal. I’d sooner flush a wad of cash down the toilet than gamble. I’m a tad claustrophobic, nothing major, I mean I don’t freak out or anything but massive rooms filled with thousands of people, all those voices crammed in there with the added cacophony of noise from those horrid machines and yeah, I get a little Rainman…… and fear I will start banging myself. Ugh. Two, I hate the heat. I know it crunches everyone’s crunders hearing that from the mouth, (or fingertips) of a SoCal native, but I am not a summer person, in the least. Fact is when it gets even close to 80 degrees I start to get cranky as hell. So, and I could be wrong here, but I’m guessing that Vegas, at the end of July, well I have to assume it’s going to be way the fuck hotter than 80.  Grumble. Three, I am not a poolside lounger, this goes along with that heat business and has the added benefit of the shame that is me in any kind of bathing suit. No one wants or needs to see that! Shit, I don’t want to see that! So it doesn’t happen. My dear friends often spend whole days laying out by the pool in Texas, (but come on, other than drinking and the occasional sporting event what the hell are they gonna do out there) the email even included some comment about the chick that brings you frozen grapes poolside….dude, so not my thing. But Amy was wise enough to also include, “We will get you a cabana” so there will be a place for the cranky, pasty-white fat lady in jeans to sit and sip her cocktails and bitch about the heat. Fantastic. The final issue was money, things have been a little tight lately, that screams “Let’s go to Vegas!!” right? Exactly. So yeah, had to think long and hard before saying, “Hell yeah! We will meet you there!”

Haven’t traveled much this year, like at all. I had a couple days back in Louisville and the Napa Wine Writer’s Symposium trip, (which was not really a vacation), but that has pretty much been it and dammit, I need a fucking break already. Between work, (which is always a joy, but it is still work) blogging, writing for the newsletter, keeping The Wine Country’s Facebook page active and engaging, the emotional roller coaster of having my sweet son move home and begin working at the shop, combined with my sick, and now homeless, brother…well that right there seems like enough to drive one a bit loony, not even going to start on the whole maintaining of relationships, some of which I’ve been sucking at lately. Yeah, need these couple days to just be away, nuzzled into the bosom of friendship, laughter, food, cocktails and now that we are driving, a box of deliciously refreshing wine. Just typing that made my tight-as-shit shoulders soften a wee bit. Exhale. 

In a couple hours we will be loading up the car and hitting the road and while it might not be a favorite venue, going to be with some of my favorite people and that right there, so very needed.  Casino, cabana, who the hell cares?! Being with those people and drinking these

Pretty much not going to suck.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Next Best?

This is a subject that has been on my mind a lot the past couple days, “The next best thing” not even runner up really. Runner up holds some distinction, like it was close, a tight battle but one just edged out the other. With the next best thing there is a sad, almost conciliatory feeling. Like, “This was the best! Oh, but we have this too” um, yay? As someone that has more often than I’d like to admit been on the other side of that, “Oh, okay, you’ll do” face, I can tell you, sucks. Finding myself here again, at 41 when I had mistakenly stumbled into to fluffy little bubble of delusion, that thinking there might be something a wee bit special about me only to have a someone shove a massive Snow White like mirror in my face, a reminder that there is….and will likely forever be, someone more special and better than I. Something I must confess has had me retreating, lost in my own thoughts of damnation and accusation. Blaming myself for not being…I don’t know what, prettier, smarter, funnier, more passionate, engaging, compelling, sweet…all of it. Yup kids, while I was writing wine porn and answering your questions I did so with this thick boot of, “You aren’t even close to being good enough” across my throat, and I can see and feel it in my responses. Matter of fact, I think that boot has been hovering for a bit now, threatening to close in at any second, making me flinch, and choose my words way too fucking carefully. For what? Enough….

“I think I would rather drink a magnum of fartwater than a glass of that Pinotage” words that not only came out of my mouth, and more than once, but showed up in my Facebook feed today after tasting through a flight of five wines from the southern hemisphere. I had run through the wines with our newest buyer, one that was hosting his first real tasting this afternoon. He was excited and nervous, anxious but geared up to talk about these wines that he was recently put in charge of. Argentine Malbec, Pinotage from South Africa, Tannat from Uruguay, Shiraz from Australia and a Carmenere from Chile, yeah….tough to be the new guy. The selections chosen were sound, for what they are, (and if you think this somewhat reflective post is going to someway defend Pinotage, you are sadly mistaken. Stuff is utter crap. Sorry. Fartwater wins) solid representations of those varieties from those areas, but for me wines that would convert me to a beer or cocktail drinker for life. Funky, sweet, oaky, oddly herbal and as was the case with the Tannat, tannic as fuck. My face was scrunchie from wine one to the end and I even sampled a left bottle of Armagnac to rid my palate of the gunk that was left behind. Gack. I was annoyed, not at our greenhorn of a wine buyer, he had done his job and done it perfectly. No, it was the wines that had my face snarled and me scurrying to kill the leftover bits of “flavor” that clung to my palate like poo on my shoe. So here’s the thing, some people not only bought those wines, the “poo on my shoe” wines, they loved them. Even had one dude say, “After that Pinotage that was so lovely I found the Tannat harsh”…lovely? That Pinotage?! Say huh?

 That taste thing, well none of us has cornered the market on it, nor will we ever. Taste, be it in food, wine, music, writing, sex, talent…no one person is detached enough from their own, “taste” to be an all-knowing judge of what’s "the best". Oh, there are lots of asshats out there that will try and out huff the next, yelling louder and tossing about more stored factoids to prove what they know, asshats are like that but, they get it wrong just as much as they get right. Maybe not in the technical sense, facts is facts but…if I hated those wines, and those others loved them, who’s right? It is all so bloody subjective. And maybe I'm just a weirdo in that "the best" is never the first thing that pops into my mind, I want interesting, pure, honest and true. The more I thought about those wines that scrunchied my face, the more rotten I felt for being so judgmental about them. Thumbs down, glass down, 82 points, means nothing when there are people with a glass of something that speaks to them, a post that makes your heart pound, a fragile heart that gets splayed across the internet…hoping to find the right palate to fall upon. 

“The best” is measured only by what, who, the flavors that dig into you. As sad and deflated as I was earlier this week by this notion, I now find myself empowered by it. Me, my wines, even the stooped shit I do here, they will be judged by others, deemed “not good enough”…for whatever reason but, there are a few of you that get me, my wines, my waxing on wine and understand that behind this “Next Best Thing” face there is a heart, a woman, that wants nothing more than to please you….and I have to concede that others never will. I keep thinking about that gentleman that thought my much hated Pinotage was lovely, keep thinking and holding on to the fact that maybe, just maybe, someday, there will be someone that reads something here and says, “That was lovely” without the “But there might something better:”…. 

Next best or otherwise....

So to the "helpful" internet stalker/bully that keeps stuffing my email box for this blog I would like to say, Please go away. Go read all those other blogs that currently have the content you are seeking, the ones you keep sending me links and reviews of. I didn't read them before, won't be reading them now, nor will I be changing anything about what I do here to suit you or anyone else. Now kindly stay away and forcefully go fuck yourself. 
Thanks so much
Hugs and kisses

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You Asked...

Thomas: Is Ron for real?
Me: If you only knew how many times I’ve asked myself that same question. Don’t have the answer me amigo, the only thing I can say is, fuck I hope so.

Webb: How did you and your husband come to be?
Me: I met Call-o much like I met you, over the internet, but let me explain. Just about 19 years ago my sister, (then just a tot) and my brother, (still him, no job, no life and raging against…life I guess) stumbled upon a local chat board called Liberty. A small group of people, no graphics whatsoever, a blinking cursor and orange words on a black-ish brown background. You could chat live with folks, when the damn thing wasn’t down, which was like all the time. I didn’t pay it much mind but my siblings were captivated by the new medium so I was aware of it and would log on once in a while, late nights and those of us that lurk in them, we are the people the internet was created for.

I was very involved with someone at the time, someone that had me so bent around his…um, finger, that I wasn’t looking for anything or anyone, except of course in those wee morning hours when I was alone and he was, wherever he was. You get what I’m saying? That…finger, I wasn’t the only resident. So I would log onto this board and seemed to click with a group of people, way, way smarter than I and I found myself laughing more than I had in years…the exchange rapid fire and heart thumping in a way I had never experienced. Hooked. Not on anyone, but the voices that blipped on my screen and kept me company when everyone else was asleep, gone or ignoring me. Somehow I managed to rise to the top of the geek pile and found myself clicked into the um, don’t know what you would call them…kings of the compu-tards? One of those was Carl.

I hated him at first. Thought he was a total freak. Hated the way he stared at me and spent all his time, (in between being one of the quickest and funniest cats on the board) talking about his drug abuse and dropping out of college to tweak. Not my type, in the least. I was living in that nightmare through my brother, wasn’t looking to make friends with another one of them. We met, as a group several times, each time me whispering to someone, “Please, don’t make me sit next to him” before slipping into a booth at the local Denny’s at 2:00 AM or what have you and having one of them fail me and there I sat, this ex-tweaker sipping his strawberry shake, (another fail…ewe dude.) and munching onion rings while burning a hole in the side of my face with that blasted staring! Then two things happened. I knew he was wicked smart but don’t think I quite had a grasp of just how. Gathered at some sports bar, the group playing video trivia and here was Carl, getting every damn answer correct, and way before anyone else. I was intrigued, still dating another but…he was changing my mind. Then one late night at a group gathering, mass amounts of Southern Comfort, (still haven’t forgiven it) and I found myself next to Carl, tucked into a recliner, (nothing if not classy) and out of the blue, he kissed me. Done. Unwrapped myself from that, finger, and here we are.

Gabe: Tell us about one fantastic wine related moment.
Me: Oh man. Just one? And seeing as you are a new reader I feel like I should pick something a little tame but….gonna have to go with an old favorite.

In the midst of a tumultuous time in my life. Everything beyond confusing, loss and sadness weighing on me, pressing me and my dizzy frame against any glass that would have me. Prey to a pair of big brown eyes and long dark lashes…an industrious man wise enough to see the wobbling me that no one else could, coiling up and ready to strike. Not maniacal, eager and ready to swallow my sorrow, drown it in a big pool of accumulated want. My desperation and aching to forget, if only for a moment wafting off my skin, the aroma thick and oily in the air…powerful enough to rid a room full of dark wood, bunched swaths of blood red and vibrant yellow draped fabrics. There was nothing there, just he and I, playful taunts being lobbed but the reality of that one moment filling my lungs and flipping my, “Just do it” switch.

Dripping candle wax, the sting of lit matches burning my nose, my nervous but so willing hands flicking warm bath water droplets from the base of my neck as I wrapped myself in a robe and walked into that room…ready to forget and hopefully someday, be forgotten. Another kiss that would catapult me into love, again, if only for a moment, driving my fingers to pull at the thick terrycloth ties that kept him from me. Hands on my hips, a long stroke of a thumb from my stiffened jaw to my nerve induced shaking tummy. My body bare and there in the wide open, those dark eyes taking me in, drinking me in, my legs feeling as if they might just give until….I saw his gaze. So captivated, lost in his own domination but as I stood there I began to see…it was me, my bare flesh and naked soul that was driving him and making his mouth water. In one of the weakest hours of my life I found me, my power and now it was me devouring his longing. Hand plunged into an ice bucket, nails peeling foil, breathing becoming audible as I pulled at the icy cage, wrapped my fingers around the cork and freed us both with a pop. Icy cold Jean Milan Blanc de Blanc poured from a flute onto my collarbone, the sweetest river of froth running down my bare chest, an open mouth and tear filled pair of dark eyes tasting us both.
Sorry Gabe…

ADoC: Any one place, holding a glass of wine. Where and why?

Me: Dammit woman! There are like four thousand answers to that question depending on when you ask. Okay, gonna go with right this very second…and trying to ignore dark eyes, thick bunches of yellow and red fabrics, Jean Milan. I would say Beaune on Saturday, (market day) the smell of roasted chickens and greens filling my nose and making me light headed. The cobblestone streets and high-heeled, far more glamorous than I ladies that traverse them. I want a glass of mouth-filling Corton-Charlemage from Domaine de Montille to keep me company as I watch the families and shopkeepers shuffle by, gathering goods to share with their families. A long stretch of my short legs at some cafĂ©, my head grabbing at every last nuance, my heart knowing this is as good as it gets.

Sara: Favorite Housewives franchise and favorite wife?

Me: Guilty pleasure! Tie my ass up, I love this shit. Hands-down, Jersey. Without question or hesitation. Those chicks are nuts and not embarrassed to be so. Something about that is infinitely endearing to me. So my favorite wife, Caroline Manzo. Badass, sick of drama and the one soul I would crave if I were in that nightmare of a show/life. She also reminds me of my mother in-law, so I understand her. Plus those tots?! Damn…thank you mother nature. 

Anonymous: Do you ever think that some of us are sick of hearing about you and your life? That we come to a wine blog to read about wine?

Me: Think? Moi? Nope. Sorry, you’ve come to the wrong place….might I suggest checking into one of those life things that people are always talking about? If you are here, reading my silly bullshit looking for scores or tasting notes…why are you still here? I felt kinda dumb when I read your question but the more I thought about it, who is jerkwad here, you or me? Hate to break it to you kid, think it’s you. But hey, the Wine Blog Awards are coming up and I’m sure there are troves of wickedly compelling, wine based, blogs for you to drool over. Aren’t you excited?! I know I am….

Winey the Elder: Okay: you are driving across America and you can have three people join you for the journey. Strictly a platonic, engaging drive. Who's in and why?

Return trip home, you are in an RV and now you can have three people to eat/drink with and, well the rig has a bed, so you can recreate at will. Who's in and why?

Me: This one has been on my mind since you posed it and for that I send you and hug and a “damn you!”. Like ADoC’s I’m going to have run with this one in the moment. Too many options, historical figures and whatnot. Need to be real, be me and think of what I would actually want. So first leg, that platonic and engaging trip, I would say Michael Jackson (might be because I have Off the Wall blaring on my ipod right now) Dorothy Parker, (personal hero so why not?) and my mother. Some weird part of me would love to watch her be both tweaked and captivated by them. She never really liked either all that much so that trip would be like revenge and  seeing as loves me some arguments it’s a win.

Trip home. Oh dude, this was way harder. Considering the trip I had just come from, I think I would have to stretch my inner demons. Seeing as nothing inspires and drives those skin stretching monsters like him I have to have Dave Matthews. Can’t think of anyone that can make me crave absolute debauchery like those growling but articulate and stomach churning words of his…I am picturing an acoustic strumming of sort. Damn, maybe answering after a few gin and tonics was not the best idea. …
So anyway. A bed, an RV, Dave Matthews and, gotta go with my Amy. The closest friend I’ve ever had and yet she doesn’t get the whole Dave thing, this trip might cure her of that. Might also make us some half-baked, sloppy kissing, glasses licking, (Amy, you remember that?!) bunch of heathens but who cares? It’s my RV and if you don’t like it, tough shit. So here’s the rub…gonna leave one spot open…who’s in?

Wayne: What's the one job/profession that could steal you away from the wine biz forever?

Me: Simple, novelist…cuzz that’s easy right?

Anonymous: What is your inner totem animal?

Me: This here was a source of contention here at my pad. I quite simply said “Cat” which was met with all kinds of strife and arguments. Turns out, according to the gentlemen that are in my life like 24/7…I am either a panther, (husband) or and otter, (son). So your guess is as good as mine.   

Anonymous: Best wine you have ever tasted?

Me: You’re new, so I forgive you.

Carolyn: Okay, my question. Preface: Two of my four children were born after my 40th birthday, one out of wedlock. I adore them all and wouldn't change anything. My question: What about another baby? (Please don't bwahaha, I'm serious.)

Me: I would never make fun of such a serious question. My son is the single most significant thing in my life and there are times when I wonder if I would be here if it weren’t for him, his timing and the role he has played in making me a much stronger woman. I am forever awed by and grateful to him but maybe like one of yours, he was not planned or expected. Even as a little girl I wasn’t built with a mommy suit, therefore it was nothing I ever thought about or craved. Even now, I would absolutely take that ride with Jeremy all over again but other than that, not something I want. In fact, part of the reason Carl and I waited 11 years to get married was he thought he might want another child, I knew I didn’t. I refused to take that dream from him but was also unyielding in the fact that I knew I wasn’t willing to be the one to give it to him. So no dear lady, no more kids for me. I have my wees next door to fill any tiny people need, my sister and her husband are working on making me an aunt, (come on swimmers) and I can wait until instead of mommy I hear, grandma. Maybe it’s because I started so young, I mean I was more a mother to my sister at times than our mother was, so I had a baby on my hip from the time I was 11 years old….shit, maybe I’m just selfish but I am kinda feeling that me time. 

Anonymous: Do you ever regret being so open and exposing so much about your personal life? I feel like I have known you forever and we’ve never met and I can’t believe I’m alone in that. Don’t you ever wish you had a thicker barrier between you and us?

Me: Never and for the reason you just stated.  

Thank you all for not only playing but for being curious. That was so much fun for me and made my Sunshine Award all the more….rewarding. You folks, you move and inspire me.   Thank you.