D.C International Wine and Food Festival

Thanks to Craig Camp of The Wine Camp Blog for his assistance in getting me a press pass for this event!

I will be attending both days of the festival, and look forward to visiting many of the over 200 wineries and vineyards that will be pouring their wines. I’m also hoping that John of Anything Wine will be able to attend as well, he was also granted press credentials, and it would be exciting to meet more Virginia Wine Bloggers! By the way, if you haven’t been checking out John’s blog, it’s definitely one to add to your list.

The D.C. International Wine and Food Festival is scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday at the Reagan Building in D.C. The festival features around 240 exhibitors, both of wine, spirits, food, and other related items. I found this short list of featured Wineries/Vineyards/Distributors but cannot find a full list. Anyone have any suggestions of places not to miss based off the short list?

Also, anyone have any thoughts on strategies for tackling such a large festival? I have not attended anything of this magnitude in the past! I’m thinking backpack instead of purse so I can have a hand free for my notebook and another for my wine glass, probably sneakers since I’ll be on my feet most of the day, dark clothes because I’m bound to spill on myself or be spilled on, I’m considering attaching my Nalgene to my backpack via my Carabiner Hook so I don’t have to be concerned about having a 3rd hand to carry a water bottle….Anything else anyone thinks I must do (besides the obvious of eating a solid breakfast/lunch and making sure to spit/dump and continue to eat while there!)?


Take Your Rubber Chicken to Work Finalist!

Dear Readers,

My photo for Twisted Oak’s Take Your Rubber Chicken to Work Week has been chosen as a finalist!

He’s up against some pretty good competitors to win, so if you would, please cast your vote for Bob the chicken. Voting is at El Bloggo Torcido through March 4, and you can only vote once, so please consider Bob’s photo, #3! Additionally, if you leave your email address with your vote, you will be entered to win a $20 coupon to Twisted Oak Winery.

Thank you for your support, and go Bob!

Is it summer yet?

Although I grew up in New England and didn’t leave until about 5 years ago, I’m tired of winter this year. It hasn’t even been a particularly bad winter here, and certainly not by the standards I was used to, but nonetheless, I want summer. So with that in mind I am pretending and drinking more Sauvignon Blanc.

The bottle for the evening was a 2004 Mazzocco Sauvignon Blanc. It has a real cork, weighed in at 15% alcohol (holy smokes!), and cost us $14 at the winery.

On the nose I found melon, grass, vanilla, oak, and lemon. I was surprised. I don’t really remember tasting this wine at the winery, but I must have, and I usually don’t care for oaked Sauvignon Blanc. In the mouth, the flavors were melon, lemon, grass, and lime. The wine was citrusy overall, but the oak gave it a really full body.

Perhaps Better Late Than Never: WBC #1

Our assignment for the first edition of the Wine Book Club (WBC) came from David of McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail. He tasked us with a book longer than any I have read in the last 5 years, unless you count Harry Potter and law school case books. Yes, this makes me less than intellectual, but honestly, I don’t have much of an inclination to read any more. I got tired of it to be truthful, and I still read so much for work, that the thought of picking up a long book when I get home just doesn’t appeal to me. I clearly read a bit, I’ve reviewed a few wine books here for you before, and will continue to do so as I get more from PR people and publishers (in fact, I’ve got one for you soon, I read half on the plane to Atlanta and intend to finish is Friday on the way home!). So I must say, I was actually quite glad when Dr. Debs proposed the idea of a wine book club. Like other wine geeks, wine books pile up on my shelves, and I really should get around to them!

With that in mind, I picked up this month’s book, Vino Italiano, by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch, and got to reading. It’s 531 pages including all indexes and appendices. It took me the whole assignment time, but I did it.

First thoughts: The organization, especially with the appendices and indexes, makes this the ideal reference book on Italian Wine. You can find anything about Italian wine that you never thought you wanted to know instantaneously. Each chapter has a handy guide at the end giving the quick and dirty on the region, the principle grapes, key vintages, etc. I found the guides to be one of the most useful parts of the book, if you aren’t inclined to read it in its entirety, and trust me, I’d be the last to blame you for that one, you can easily flip to the guides and get a fast overview of the region, which can assist you in deciding if the chapter is one that will intrigue you or not. I see myself turning to this book both as a reference in the future, and for more knowledge on particular grapes and regions.

Second thoughts: The stories at the beginning of each chapter kept me going to the next chapter, even when I felt a little bogged down in the weeds. They were fun and charming tales of a slice of life in each region, and I salivated over some of the food described, while feeling a bit repulsed by other “delicacies.”

Third thoughts: The book contains so much information, that it’s hard to digest all at once, and I think perhaps the pick and choose as you are interested in a region approach might be the best in tackling this book.

Fourth thoughts: Italian wines and varietals were on my list this year of things to learn about. So really this was a perfect book for me to read. I dove in, and was again astounded by the sheer volume of types of Italian wine. But alas, I came away a touch disappointed as I learned that many of the very small production local grapes are just not available here in the US. I guess that cements my desire to make our next BIG vacation to Italy…it’ll satisfy the classical historian in Matt and my desire to drink lots of Italian wines and gorge myself on priscutto drizzled with fresh pressed olive oil….::drifts into a daydream of cheese, cured meats, and wine::

And ultimately, that’s where Vino Italiano left me: hungry (thirsty?) to try more Italian wines (and cured meats), and to continue referencing the book to learn more as I am drinking. Which, I think might be my next adventure. Pick a chapter, find a wine from that region, and drink the wine while learning about the region.

Thanks to David for hosting this month and to Dr.Debs for the WBC idea!

Technical Difficulties

I am currently experiencing technical difficulties of an earlier than anticipated/scheduled meeting this morning (come on folks, it’s before 6am my time, this is way before I am usually up and ready to go for the day) variety and of an internet connectivity variety.

Please stay tuned, I do have a review of Vino Italiano for you for the first meeting of the Wine Book Club, and I hope to be able to get to a WiFi spot after my conference this evening and post it for you.

Drink Up!

The wine of the evening was a 2005 Michel Schlumberger Syrah from Dry Creek Valley. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.9% alcohol by volume, and cost us $25 in a club shipment. It doesn’t appear to be available on their website yet, so I have no idea what it would cost on its own.

On the nose I found berries, cherries, jam, vanilla, spices, earth, and pepper!! The nose was very very fruity. In the mouth, the flavors were of berries, cherries, black currants, and pepper. The wine was smooth and incredibly fruity, much more so than I expect from a Syrah.

Overall, the wine was slightly tannic on the back of the palate when we first started drinking but by the second glass, that was gone. The flavors really came out in the second glass, and the wine seems smooth and ready to drink. I wouldn’t hang onto this one much longer if you have it in stock.

Open That Bottle Night!

I took quite a while in narrowing down the bottle I was going to open for Open That Bottle Night, after Farley alerted me to the event. I initially put out a few thoughts on which one I wanted to open in her post on OTBN, but hadn’t quite decided exactly which one would fall victim to my palate this evening. We have several bottles that we are “saving,” in that they are slightly more expensive than bottles we normally drink, and they came to us through different channels. I am always hesitant to open them, thinking I should wait.

But I suppose that is the main goal of OTBN. Get down in your cellar and pull out a bottle you’ve been hoarding, and make an occasion of a random Saturday night in February. After some thought and deliberation, I settled on the 2000 Cyrus from Alexander Valley Vineyards.

Matt and I picked this bottle up on our honeymoon, and it is quite a bit more pricey than our usual bottle, so we’d been letting it sit in the basement, thinking we’d find some special occasion on which to open it. Well, just over a year and a half has passed, and we’ve celebrated an anniversary and purchasing our first house, plus several promotions and two new jobs, yet the bottle still had not been opened. So tonight was the night!

The 2000 Cyrus is a Bordeaux style blend made of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot. It weighed in at 14% alcohol by volume, cost us $55, and had a real cork closure. I served it with pasta and homemade sauce, but it needed a bit of time to open, so we really enjoyed it after dinner.

On the nose of the Cyrus I found spice, tar, pine trees, blackberries, leather, like a worn jacket, and white pepper. The wine was very aromatic, as I sat here, I could smell black cherry wafting out of the glass as the wine aired. In the mouth, the flavors were black cherries, blackberries, plums, and vanilla. The fruit was fresh and tart.

Overall, the wine was smooth, and drinking beautifully now. The mouthfeel was a bit lighter than I expected from the nose, but the fruit did not disappoint, and the finish was long and lingering.

So now, I’m sitting here with a full stomach, just enjoying the aroma of the wine, the company of Matt, and a movie. An otherwise terribly ordinary evening in the Wannabe Wino house, but what a better occasion than to open a special bottle of wine and make a night of it? Thanks to Farley for telling me about OTBN!

Virginia Chardonnay

The wine for the evening was a Linden Vineyards 2005 Avenius Chardonnay. It clocked in at 12.8% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. This was a gift from a guest at our PS tasting back in December.

On the nose of the wine I found pear, oak, butter, and toast. Or perhaps buttered toast. In the mouth the flavors were entirely of pear and apple. The wine had a slightly oily mouthfeel, and the flavors were smooth.

Overall I thought this was a well done VA white. It was not overpowered by the oak and butter that I found on the nose, but seemed to have just enough oak to give it a full body.

I served the wine with spaghetti carbonara, a recipe I was trying for the first time. I’m not sure if it was the recipe, or if I did something wrong, but it was quite dry. I don’t expect my carbonara to be creamy per se, but this was just dry. I got the recipe from my Silver Spoon cookbook. I don’t think I’ll try that one again, but I will keep looking for a good recipe, carbonara is one of Matt’s favorite dishes.

WBW #43-Comfort Wines

Our host for this month is Joel, formerly of Vivi’s Wine Journal fame, but currently of Wine Life Today and OpenWine Consortium fame. Not to mention he’s got a new baby on the way within a few weeks! Talk about a busy guy.

Anyway, he’s come up with a new twist for this month: Comfort Wines. Your task? Simply pick any wine you love to unwind to and tell us about why it’s a comfort wine for you on March 5! This one will be a bit difficult for me…I don’t really return to the same bottle over and over again. So I’ll think on this one for the next few days to figure out what to drink!

All the details are over here on the Wine Life Today blog.

Also, don’t forget that the new WBW logo contest is still ongoing. Details here.

Open That Bottle Night is tomorrow! So dust off that bottle you’ve been hanging onto and drink it tomorrow night (or day or morning, whatever your inclination)! You can find more details here.

And, one more reminder, the Wine Book Club’s first “meeting” on Vino Italiano is next week, Feb. 26….so get reading. Details here. I’m getting there. I’m over 300 pages in, and the real meat of the book is 385…the rest is sort of an appendix, so if I can mange 85 more pages in the next few days, I’m golden!

Is that a Rubber Chicken?

My rubber chicken came to work with us today, and hopefully had a good time. He got a little bored on our 40+ minute commute into the city and tried to drive, but Matt was having none of that.

Now, I’m not sure how many of you have ever walked the streets of a major city carrying a rubber, chicken, but for some reason, people seem to stare at you while you do. And all my poor chicken Bob wanted to do was see the sights! It also makes people talk to you, something that doesn’t happen a lot here.

First he (my chicken is a boy, he’s a little confused as to why he’s a chicken) got a gander at the Washington Monument on his walk to work. He wasn’t that impressed with the size, but I explained to him that it’s much bigger than it appears.

He didn’t realize that the walk to work is 14 blocks, and he got tired, so he took a break on this lion while trying to see if any muckety mucks were at the Capital Grille this early.

My chicken was utterly unimpressed with my cube, which may be the crappiest one in the office since I was last hired in my group, so he took off and wandered the building. Bob found himself at a podium and tried to give a speech, but unfortunately government minions don’t seem to understand “chicken.”

Bob got a real scare later. He was suddenly surrounded by terrifying Government agencies, and he didn’t know where to turn.

Ack! The FBI!! Bob has some %$#* in his past, let’s get out of here!

Freaking A! The Department of Justice. I acted nonchalantly for Bob’s sake, and told the Justice Agents who guard the building that Bob and I were on a scavenger hunt. They nodded and understood when I told them the prize was wine, or maybe they just like my new hairdo….

And the worst of all, the IRS!

Bob was ready to run now, so we skeedadled out of there as fast as we could, but Bob got distracted by this engraving on the front of the National Archives. Hey, who can blame him? He’s a chicken, and it did have the word seed in it. And harvest, bonus! But we were far enough away (in Bob’s mind anyway) from the really scary government agencies, so he mellowed out .

Finally, it was time to go home, and Bob took in one last sight, the Capitol, as we waited for Matt to come out so we could go home.

All in all, it was a long tiring day for Bob, and he was happy to get home and go back to roosting in my kitchen chandelier, where he’s been chilling since his long journey from Twisted Oak to my house.

Thanks to El Jefe and the Twisted Crew for “Take your Chicken to Work Day.” I had a lot of fun with Bob, and my coworkers got a good chuckle over my chicken companion.