Category Archives: Random

Sometimes you just want a beer

Right now my husband is away and without him here to help I can’t quite justify opening the bottle of Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc I have in the fridge. I also need a little wine break after the tasting on Saturday. Instead, in the name of open-mindedness in wine tasting, I’m going to attempt to conduct a tasting of my favorite beer in the world, La Fin Du Monde (pun intended). It is a triple golden ale with 9% alcohol. Usually you see it in a huge bottle, but they sell four-packs of regular-sized bottles too. From my brief research, it looks like tasting a beer is similar to tasting a wine, just with very different results. I’m going to stick to my look, smell, taste formula.

Fin Du Monde

Very light golden. No legs (oh right, it’s beer… kind of weird to think that wine is thicker than beer, but that’s kind of true, right?). Very carbonated. It has a thin “head” when poured.

Lemony, really not very beer-like.

Slightly bitter, strong. Oddly heavy and light at the same time. It is complex, with a slightly spicy taste. It is refreshing but a little yeasty which is interesting.

dinnerBeer and pasta with scallops! Can’t go wrong.

It’s amazing how different tasting beer is. It’s harder for me, but maybe because I am not in practice. A lot of tasting has to do with learning the vocabulary and the different tastes. If you say to someone, “tell me what you taste?” it’s a lot easier to identify if you give options.


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Vintage 1969 on Patch

My post “5 Spooky Wines for Halloween” was posted on the Westford, MA Patch. It’s a little late for Halloween, but check it out anyway!


Spooky Sam

Spooky Sam

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What to drink in a hurricane

While I don’t have much experience with hurricanes, I’ve been through my share of storms. In rural New Hampshire huge snow or ice storms and losing power for weeks on end are not uncommon occurrences. The key to getting through it is preparation and that is certainly as true for a hurricane as an ice storm. For those of you who might lose power tonight or tomorrow and have just have settled down to weather the storm, go stock up on non-perishables, candles and, of course, a bottle or two of wine. (Disclaimer: I hate to say this, but if you are in a dangerous area or an evacuation zone, perhaps you should leave the wine for another night. Safety first!) Then, dust off those board games, huddle around your 4G tablet and watch “Bottle Shock” or hark back to the days of drinking games, but this time be classy with a lovely glass of Pinot Noir.

Wine Storm

Here are my recommendations:

For the Bulk Buyer:
Good thing you stocked up on those box-o-wines (Close your ears, wine snobs, there are actually some decent boxed wines out there.) Bulk Buyer, ’cause you’re all prepared. Go find your carafe, light those candles and cook up everything in your fridge before it goes bad. Oprah recommends you try Black Box Wines  Sauvignon Blanc, but I’d go for their Cabernet Sauvignon or their Merlot because they don’t need to be cooled and they both go well with grilled meats. So salvage those quickly-thawing steaks from your freezer, light up that grill (because your electric stove isn’t working) and do this power-outage in style.

For The Wine-Hoarder:
You know that $85.00 bottle of Altamura 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that’s been gathering dust on your wine rack since 2008? You’re right in the middle of its drinking window, so you should probably grab that corkscrew and get sippin’.  There’s no time better than a storm to cuddle up to that special someone and enjoy the amazing feeling of opening up a really nice bottle of wine. Plus, you’re making room in your wine rack  for another beautiful bottle.

For the Beer Drinker:
No power means no refrigeration. Beer isn’t so nice when it’s warm, is it? Try a Vinho Verde, it has a low alcohol content and a lovely hint of sparkle, kind of like that beer you love so much. It may be better cold, but at least it’s a more economical use for the last of the ice.

For the Person with a Nearby Wine Store Open:
If a hurricane isn’t a time to indulge, I don’t know what is. How about a Cabernet Franc? Try Walla Walla Vintners 2009, Columbia Valley for $28. This might also be a good time for a little game. Grab a friend and each buy a bottle. Cover the labels and test your wine-knowledge. Can you tell a Malbec from a Merlot?

For The Budget Sipper:
I’ve seen you, leaving the store with a shopping cart of Franzia. No need to be embarrassed, we’re all friends here. Better a cheap bottle than no bottle at all, and lots of good bottles can be found under $15.00. One of my favorites? Rex Goliath Shiraz. When we were kids we’d call it “chicken wine”.

Stay safe everyone! 

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Filed under How to Choose a Bottle, Random, Varieties

Rainy Saturday Wine Movie Review

One of my favorite relatives (hi Arlyn!) emailed me the other day with a wine-related movie suggestion: Bottle Shock. We decided to take her recommendation, the perfect  pastime for a rainy-Saturday. Fortunately, Netflix on demand had the movie. We actually have a lovely movie rental place across the street, but once you’re used to Netflix prices (free when you’re still “borrowing” Netflix from your parents…) paying $7.00 for a movie is a little painful. You could buy almost 1/7th of a bottle of a Chateau Montelena 2010 Chardonnay.

Bottle ShockThe movie was, in a word, fantastic. Usually Alex and I can’t agree on movies. Heck, we can’t even agree on movie GENRES. When I told him the movie was a drama based on a real life story of the California Wine Industry he was skeptical, but played along like a trooper and loved it from the first scene of Sonoma vines.

Basically this is what happens (I won’t give away the ending, even though it’s not the biggest surprise in the world):

There’s this British wine-lover who has a wine shop in France that is filled mostly with French wines because French wines are the best. Obviously. But then he decides to do this big blind tasting between American and French wines to see which country’s wines are better (obviously the French ones will be). He travels to Sonoma to taste and choose some wines to be included in the tasting. In Sonoma the focus is on the drama surrounding the Chateau Montelena winery, their debt (will they survive another year?) and the relationships there. You see early on that the California winery owners are seen, and to an extent see themselves, as unsophisticated. But is there wine good enough to rival the French? Whose wine will be chosen to participate in the wine tasting? Watch and see!

The Tasting

The Tasting (screen shot)

In conclusion, I want to try a Chateau Montelena Chardonay and something by Gustavo Thrace. Also, watch Bottle Shock. Now.



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Your Wine Tasting Cheat Sheet

Doing some wine tasting tonight? Print this easy  cheat sheet to take along with you!

Wine Tasting Cheat Sheet

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Can you tell the difference between red and white wine?

My grandpa always tells a story about wine that blows people away. I’m going to try to retell it here. It won’t be as good as when he tells it, but you probably haven’t heard it from him so you won’t know. If you have heard it, you can stop reading here.

Elena and Grandpa

Grandpa and me in Paris

Grandpa was at a dinner party years ago with a group of friends or colleagues or something. Most of the people there considered themselves knowledgable about wine. The host decided to do a little test. He blindfolded everyone and handed them a glass of wine. Every glass was the same size and each drink was room temperature. He asked the guests to determine if the glass they were drinking was red wine or white wine. Everyone laughed. How obvious. No one could possibly get that wrong, even without the tells of glass size and wine temperature. But they were wrong, oh how wrong! I forget how many exactly, but a huge portion of the party couldn’t tell if their wine was red or white. It should be noted that this was really high-quality wine so the differences are more subtle, but still, isn’t that incredible?

Stay tuned for my own version of this experiment!

In the meantime, here’s a picture of Tala trying to determine if this Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Grigio has floral or fruity notes.

Tala and Wine

Tala says “floral” but she prefers “rodent”



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The Pragmatic Dilettante’s Guide to Wine

After the recent death of a friend and wine aficionado, I am partaking on a journey to take a deeper look into the complex world of tannins and vintages. On a budget and with the help of a few close friends, Vintage 1969 aims to be the “pragmatic dilettante’s guide to wine”. I will attempt to demystify the world of wine for all of you out there who have occasionally been embarrassed to admit that you really can’t taste that hint of blackberry.

The blog will focus on my experiences as well as the learning process, with a knowledge base built organically and through stories. A post may be about a night with friends and a few nice bottles, a trip to a vineyard, an interview with an expert, a tasting down the street or simply a story about wine.

It is my hope to not only find solace in this exercise, but to spread the joy of wine that was the passion of a truly wonderful man.

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