Beaujolais Nouveau – or What I used to Drink as a Child…

Beaujolais Nouveau – or What I used to Drink as a Child…

My dad used to drink and my mom did not like it. But that’s not the side of the story I want to say. The story is that Dad used to let us, kids, taste from his glass. Face it: back in Europe we tasted from Dad’s glass and we ended up being way better behaved than our American peers. But I digress…

Anyway, Dad used to drink a lot of bulk wine. That’s how they make it, back in Europe. You go to a small wine store that has the wines in barrels, you taste, you like – you buy it in a plastic two-liter bottle. You don’t age it (and they probably don’t, either), you don’t store it in a cellar. It’s the wine for a day or two – just drink it. Dad used to chill his, white or red, especially in the summer. And at dinner he’d have a glass or two, and in-between he’d sneak in the kitchen and get a few sips more.

I did not drink until two years ago. I still get tipsy from a full glass of wine. And since I started wine school and wine tastings, I could never find the taste of wine my dad used to drink. Until two weeks ago.

We tasted in class a flick of wines, and among them was a Beaujolais Nouveau from Burgundy, France, made out of black Gamay grapes. The professor explained that it is a limited release and there is a whole fuss around it, all according to French legislation. The wine is fermented for a few short weeks after harvest, does not get tannin-taste, it stays very fresh and fruity. You can’t keep it more than one year, it’s not a wine that can be aged. It is released one minute after midnight, the third Thursday of November and (if you’re lucky) you can find it until the end of December, when the sale stops. Before drinking it, you have to chill it a bit, maybe 30-40 min.iPhone Pics Dec 2012 050

To me, Beaujolais Nouveau smelt like sunny late fall days, back in Europe… scarf days – not too cold, not too hot. The taste of it suddenly reminded me of Dad and all his quiet funny faces, behind Mom’s back. I went to Trader Joe’s and bought two more bottles, so I can sip and miss Dad even more.

If you want to try it, it works really well with cheese, chicken, turkey and other winter meat dishes but it’s not big enough for steak. And it’s under $10 for a bottle. Worth bringing it to family gatherings and events where you could stick your nose in the glass and answer only if asked. J


Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Shenanigans, Wine info


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A View Over the Picket Fence

You know that dream you’re chasing? Or the one that went away and you’re still thinking about it? Well, for me the 2011 Russian River Valley Picket Fence Pinot Noir was both.


Found it once, by accident, at Costco. We could not skip an interesting wine sold at 10-12 bucks. At least we could try something new and not cry for the money, if it was bad. Came home, opened the bottle, sat to have dinner in front of TV and the fist sip of the 2011 Picket Fence Pinot Noir made me stop and reevaluate the moment.

I like earthy Pinots, not too oaky, full of fruits and with a dash of spice. Picket Fence added a velvet finish to all these. Suddenly, I had cherries splashing in my mouth, over the pork chop I was munching, and all went down so smoothly, so perfectly, like the accomplished dream of sitting on your porch, at dusk, looking over the white fence you wished for so long.

And then, we returned to Costco and could not find it again. Nor in other stores we tried to find it. So, I settled on the idea that I lost the perfect Pinot Noir, the one that made me sigh at first sip.

Well, until yesterday, when we went to Bottle Barn and there it was, my porky-Pinot, my mushroomy-lover, my light-until-I-hit-you-with-the-spice Picket Fence.

Bought two. I should have gotten more. Ah, well, I’m not sharing it!


Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Shenanigans, Wine info


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The French Concoction. Again!

I’ve stayed away of French wines, for a long time. I did not like the mystical reverence expressed by American wine snobs – who can’t pronounce a French word, to save their lives. And I was afraid they may make me homesick. In Europe we do like lighter wine, with less bells and whistles than the New World adds to them. We like to enjoy wine and we knock ourselves out with heavier things.

Anyway, after being so impressed by a French Pinot, hand in hand with my Cellar Master, we hit BevMo, to discover more reds. We mixed a case, since they had again the 0.05 cents second bottle promotion. We came home with more of the Wilfred Wong’s over 90 points selection. Just so that you know: when it is about wine critics, I love more Wilfred Wong than Robert Parker. Wong is down to earth. Parker is up in the clouds. Two outstanding critics, but at the end of the day Wong is the one I would care to share a glass. We’d have things to discuss about.

So, here is the pick of the day: the 2009 Émile Chandesais Bourgogne Pinot Noir. It is made out of 100% Pinot Noir grapes. I picked it because of the 90 Wong Points and because it told me it has 12.5% alcohol. Pinot Noirs are hard to make because the grapes are very fickle – the slightest changes in weather can impact them easily. So, anything with less than the “decency limit” of 13% tells me that the wine was carefully crafted and not overwhelmed with alcohol, to hide some grapes or winemaking defects. In my humble opinion, it is an art to make a wine with lower alcohol and keep it pleasant.

The 2009 Émile Chandesais Bourgogne Pinot Noir was $19.99 at BevMo and I found it under $12 online. It is worth the 90 points. I’ll save the second bottle, for a rainy day. The 2009 Émile Chandesais Bourgogne Pinot Noir had, again a fresh and nice smell, notes of my beloved cherries and was slightly earthy. I loved the purple-red color, the overall lightness, yelling for less and easier food. It made me imagine a not-so-beautiful-but-lovely French woman, properly walking in her cute (and FIT) high-heels and dragging behind a light veil of perfume. I can talk volumes about wearing perfume and high heels in Europe – versus the American “we are a non-fragrance environment”, improper walking in high-heels and the improper fitting a pair of shoes, that makes me sick to my stomach – but I’ll stop here.


Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Shenanigans, Wine info


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Do You Parlez French? – Domaine Jessiaume Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009

It happened during last night’s class, when my lovely American wine instructor was innocently screeching French appellations into my ears. We tasted a line of Chardonnays from all over the world and I still could not find THE One. Five reds then sat for a bit on my table, so they’d breathe and give me their zest.

Half-awake and ready to zip through the line, I swirled the first glass and stuck my face into it.

Cherries suddenly slapped my nose. Big, meaty, dark, sweet cherries, like the ones that make me dig and fish them through the whole Cherry Garcia ice-cream pint. I closed my eyes. I swirled and smelled, again, and once more, hoping not to be disappointed. Sometimes there is a disconnect between the smell and the taste of a wine. I sipped, did the mouth-walk-around tasting tricks by the book, and then spit it.

Damn the spitting! The Domaine Jessiaume Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009 felt lively, velvety, slightly acid, low in alcohol. I loved-loved-loved it!

I zapped through the other four wines, thinking I may have been wrong. I begged Willamette Valley, Sonoma Coast and New Zealand for more cherries, less leather taste, less tannin, less boldness and spiciness. I wanted to make sure I was not biased toward the French wine only because it reminds me of Europe and the dry, light and lively wines we like there. As I went through other glasses, I gave fewer and fewer points for color, aroma, flavors, texture and balance. The others fell flat of impressing me.

And back I went to my new French amour, ditching the rules, swallowing sip by sip by sip – eyes closed and throat filled with love. There were more cherries, even more cherries, a bit of vanilla and all I could imagine were red hearts, red roses, delicate aged-paper labels and, eventually, a château in Europe, where people can properly pronounce: Domaine Jessiaume Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009. 

(Price: $19.49)


Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Shenanigans, Wine info


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All I Trash for Christmas…

All I Trash for Christmas….

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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Uncategorized


What’s in a Name? Your whole future!

There are a few weeks since name-giving obsesses me. First – I had to change the name of my cat. Then, I got to listen to various jokes about new babies’ names. Then, it was work-related stuff about wineries’ names. All those made me think about the unfortunate word-combinations some people make when they establish something.

Let’s take my cat, for example. She is a cranky beauty who spits on everyone, but adores me. Born in a barn, she was named Foxy by her previous male owner. Can you believe the misfortune of having a man naming her, and living her first years with a peasant name? Well, it took a whole afternoon for three of us going through the dictionary and mythology, to find a name suitable to her personality. We gave her a short goddess name, from an exotic foreign language. How many of you dare to call your cats anything less than god-like creatures? They are the very definition of elegance and aristocracy! The only peasant term allowed for ours, now, is “bitch” – when she scratches the couch. But that’s all.

I’ll skip all together the issue of naming your kid all sorts of apple sauces and things he/she will be mocked and traumatized in school. That’s your choice for his and your future mental health.

And let me go to naming a business – in this case some wineries. I was frustrated typing business name that goes like “Albatross with Three Wings Vineyard and Winery”. Then, here it comes the domain website, under this name, and the emails for employees – that may sound like Oops. I just filled more than half line on my Word page. Would you like an email that long? Me neither!

I mean, really? Do you want your customers to remember THAT name? Do you want them to get the email address right from the first three trials? How do you carve your name in their minds? And, oh, foreign words that mean something only to YOU will eventually lead to countless daily questions about the meaning and typing – and trust me, spelling my last name every single damn time is not funny, either.

Just remember, when you establish your business – keep the name short, sweet, easy. People identify with things they understand and reject the unknown. If you can, spend an extra 200 bucks for a marketing whiz who can think for you. You’ll spare everybody’s time and nerves, in the future, and make your money back in no time.

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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Shenanigans


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The Case for Spitting

Your mamma taught you the good manners about not spitting in public. And it is very likely that some other people in your life were really passionate non-spitting advocates. Yet, there is an active spitters group, and they are not displaying bad manners. They simply don’t want to get high.

We are talking now about spitting wine as a way for not getting drunk.

Yes, for the purposes of this blog, spitting is allowed.

By now, you’ve probably seen wine tasters who ask for the spitting bucket or cup. They take a sip of wine, swirl it through their mouth, gargle it and spit it out. Then they take notes on a little journal about the taste. Their tongue gets the flavors of the wine, the different components of it – but the wine does not get into their blood stream and they won’t get drunk. Think about the fact that professional tasters can evaluate up to 100 wines a day, for judging competitions. That is a lot. And for amateurs like me, the whole purpose of wine tasting is not to get drunk, but to discover new wines I would like to buy and bring home, share with friends.

Unfortunately, many tasting rooms don’t give you a spitting cup. It is no shame in asking for one. Better than swallowing (and we are specifically talking about swallowing wine). Case in point – me, two nights ago, at a tasting at Whole Foods. Don’t get me wrong, I love the place and the people working there. My problem was that I did not ask for a spitting cup and they generously pour – while wineries sparingly drip in your glass. And I liked the wine. And there were five wines. And I thought about what my mamma said “it’s not nice to spit.”

Well, it was the boyfriend’s task to drag me home and mock me all the way back. Although, I am sure he is a non-spitting advocate, as well.

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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Shenanigans, Wine info


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