Thursday, September 26, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Some "Spur"s for My Very Muddy Cowboy Boots

I am not a selfish person. I truly don't mind sharing things. I share the bathroom with the Winey Hubby, and really, we have no problems there. I share my wine with friends - again, no problems. I share my advice with the Winey Children - um, OK, maybe not a problem free experience, but I try. And in the past few years, I have learned that I am able to share my footwear with the Winey Daughter. Yup, she topped out at a shoe size just a little bit less than mine. Which means that it is extremely easy for her to fit into my shoes. But not so much the other way around (a shoe can be a little too big...but a little too small? Ouch).

I have actually been in favor of this most times a pair is borrowed. It has saved us some money on dress shoes. However, I must draw the line at extending my favor when it comes to my cowboy boots. I love them - I really do. They are a soft brown color with some black lacy type overlays that make them the best of all color worlds. They work perfectly with my jeans - all 1,000 pair. (I don't really have 1,000 pair of jeans, it just seems that way.) Did I mention the lovely, low heels? No, well, let me do it now. They have the perfect heel - not too high, not too flat. Apparently, the Winey Daughter agrees with me. She "borrows" them constantly.

This is not to say she doesn't have her own pair of gorgeous cowboy boots. In fact, we bought our boots together on the same trip to Nashville a year and half ago. But hers have a high-ish heel. Not very good for rocking out on the lawn of all those country music concerts she went to this past summer at Blossom Music Center's Country Megaticket series (awesome venue - pavilion and lawn seats - can handle every act from Elton John to the Cleveland Orchestra). But if you are sitting  dancing on the lawn, apparently, you must have low heels.

That is why said boots were at nearly every concert in the series. They started with Tim McGraw and moved on to Rascall Flats, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean.  All was well. UNTIL Keith Urban came to town. Sort of.

It started like any other concert evening. Winey Daughter came downstairs decked out in full country regalia, already wearing my beloved boots. (I guess she had worn them so much that she didn't need to ask anymore. ??? ) I bade her goodnight and off she went.

The weather had been very sultry and summery that day. Hot and steamy, in country music lingo. But the rain held off. At least it did here in Cleveland. At least until about 9:30 pm. That was when the skies opened up and deposited a ton of mud-making raindrops on the concert goers. That was also when my boots were pretty much slathered in gobs of slimy, grassy dirt. Heels and all.

picture of muddy cowboy boots
This is AFTER drying out and
 a first attempt at cleaning. But seriously,
aren't they cute??
Oh wait - did I mention that the rain did not hold off in New York City? Which is where Keith Urban was trying to fly out of to get to the concert here in Cleveland. Which is where he stayed, due to the storms, overnight. He never made it here that evening. Luckily, his openers, Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch did, so there WAS some music to dance to. (Keith made it here two days later and gave an unbelievable show. Unfortunately, The Winey Daughter couldn't be at the make up concert, and my boots were given a reprieve to dry and heal - get it, heal/ heel?)

But in the meantime, there romped my boots. Sopping wet, mud covered, but still perfectly low heeled.

Where does the wine come in, you ask?? Well, it so happened that the winemakers at Murrietta's Well had just sent me some of their wine to review. One of these wines was called The Spur. Can you believe it? I might not be able to put a pair of spurs on my now completely soaked boots, but I sure as heck could sip some in my wine glass!

Murietta's Well The SpurThe Spur (2011,13.5%, Livermore Valley, CA) is a red blend of Petite Sirah (31%), Petit Verdot (27%), Cabernet Sauvignon (8%) and Cabernet Franc (5%). It's an estate blend, so each of those wines was grown right on the grounds of the winery. (There really was and is an artesian well there, hence the name.) You start out by sniffing up some cherry and chocolate. When you first taste it, you get plums and cherries. And then the pepper (from the Petite Sirah, I'm told) hits you. As do some dark spices and oak. The tannins are very much present here. And while they are rather smooth (as opposed to pricking you with a spur), they do linger. The wine is more thin and sharp (like a good pair of spurs), not fruity and round.

Since this is totally not a fruit forward red blend, I'd pair it up with richer foods - like grilled steak or bison or with really rich cheeses. In an on line chat with the Murrietta's Well folks, I also learned that The Spur would make an outstanding marinade - especially if you brush it on near the end of cooking, so you get that oakey taste fresh on the meats.

Strap on this bottle of The Spur if you like your reds oakey and full of spices. (It retails for about $25 a bottle.) Just keep in mind that your cowboy boots should be clean, dry and teenage concert goer free if you intend to sip it while wearing them. And if anyone has some extra boot cleaner, feel free to send it my way. Luke Bryan is in town tomorrow night.

Off to check the weather forecast!


I was sent this wine for review purposes. The opinions are all my own. Pin It

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Winey Problem Solving: Those BIG Wine Bottles (and a discount code for us!)

I don't know about all of you, but I have a wine storage problem. And no, it's not because my state of the art wine cellar is overflowing. (Don't I wish.) It's because my winey little wine rack can only hold bottles of a certain sized bottom. I will now direct you to the actual, unretouched photo of my wine rack, below.  You can clearly see the oversized bottles standing next to it, not laying in it. It's not that we trip over them (although one of the Winey Doggies has taken to pawing at the large green bottle..not sure if she is asking for a sip or she thinks it's a doggie toy) it's just that it looks messy. And bottles should be stored on their sides. I want my wine to be well rested when I open it.
See what I mean?

This is not to disparage my wine rack. I love it. The Winey Hubby and I found it on a trip to one of our all time favorite places ever: Niagara On The Lake, Ontario, Canada. If you are ever able, get your winey self up there! Not only is it a charming little English cottage town sitting right at the end of the Niagara River and the beginning of Lake Ontario, it is smack in the middle of Niagara wine country. Wineries galore, as a matter of fact!!! And the shopping!!! Makes my winey heart go all aflutter. Everything from Christmas stores to gourmet foods to English wares to antiques. And it was in one of these little antique stores that we found our piano themed wine rack. It's not an antique, but we are a music loving family, so we couldn't resist it.

But as with many wine holders, this rack is set up to hold bottle of a certain size. So forget the big bottomed bottles that hold champagne or sparkling wine or even a litre and a half (don't smirk, you know you buy them).

champagne bottle wine rack
Front view
Granted, this is not as big a problem as say, the large colony of bees who have taken up residence in our patio light fixture. Nevertheless, I was intrigued when the folks at ThinkEco2 contacted me and asked me to take a look a their shop (on Etsy). A little background first: Jules Lavallee and Brian Behncke are the brains behind this eco-friendly company in San Diego. Brian is the construction guy, and he takes old cedar wood and turns it into wine racks, wine gift boxes, garden products, and patio furniture. (They caught my eye at "wine racks".) So I decided to take an online stroll through their shop and lo and behold, I found the answer to my big bottom bottle problem! A wine rack made especially to house those oversized bottles! It's made of 100% reclaimed cedar wood and is meant to sit on the floor. I love the rustic look. (It would fit right in the Winey Family kitchen decor, since I have decided that sleek and modern is not my style as much as French country/US teenager applying to college clutter is).

champagne bottle wine rack back view
Back view

I love the fact that this is a small business, that they are committed to recycling and that they make wine accessories. (Not just wine accessories though - I have my eye on a very cool outdoor cedar side table with a built in plant holder in the middle!)

And as an extra special treat, ThinkEco2 is going to give us all a $10 discount on our orders. It's only good for one week, so check it out today! Simply enter the code wineymom1 when you check out.

And for those of you who are Etsy fans out there - let's start a list of some of our favorite Etsy stores. Just list them in the comments and maybe, just maybe, some of us can start shopping for the holidays a bit early!!???

Cheers to that!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Bully For My Firstie & Ring Weekend at West Point

As many of you may know, I am the Winey Mom of a West Point Cadet. GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY! (Sorry, that phrase is actually required of us once a day. Especially now that college football season is upon us.) Well, lo and behold, the time has flown by and now the Winey Cadet is a Firstie (or senior) at West Point. This is a wonderful thing for the Cadets. They get to wear a cool red sash, they get passes almost every weekend, they have their own bar (The Firstie Club) and right at the beginning of the academic year, they get their class rings.

Now you might ask why I am about to write about my son taking a ring out of a box and slipping it on his finger. But wait...this is a West Point class ring and there is so much more to it than that.  Let's start with the fact that each year, West Point graduates or their families donate their old rings to the "Ring Melt". It's part of the Ring Memorial Program and what it means is that each new ring that goes on a Firstie's finger contains a bit of gold from his or her brothers and sisters of past graduating years. So my son and his classmates are able to "grips hands" with those that went before them into The Long Grey Line. This year the 36 class rings donated range in class years from 1976 all the way back to 1914. Those rings were melted down along with a sample from all the years of ring melts and mixed into the gold used to make the Class of 2014 rings.

West Point Class of  2014 Ring Ceremony
The Ring Ceremony at Trophy Point
Then there is the whole significance of Ring Weekend. That's right I said "weekend". Because although putting that ring on takes about a nanosecond in Cadet time, there is an entire weekend dedicated to celebrating the fact that they've made it to Firstie year. The first ring weekend was held in 1835, so there is a bit of history to back this up. Each Firstie designs his own ring (the stone, the embellishments) but every ring worn by a Cadet and Grad has 5 elements on it: the Class Motto (2014: Forever One Team), class year, an eagle, a cadet with officer saber and the American Flag.

The rings are handed out on what this year turned out to be a gorgeous Hudson Valley evening. I absolutely cannot describe to you what I felt as the Firsties marched in, shining in their India White uniforms, to the Ring Ceremony. (Really, I can't..rarely do words fail me, but this time, they did. Let's just say I was glad I wore waterproof mascara and leave it there.) The ceremony is held at Trophy Point, overlooking the Hudson River (and one of my all time favorite views, anywhere).  Hundreds of family and friends looked on as the rings were handed out to each Firstie. And then it was class dismissed and let the fun begin!!
West Point Cadets wearing India Whites, Ring Ceremony
Some random, yeah, "random" Firsties march in
The Cadets run up to their families to show off the bling and take pictures. Most of them then went back to their barracks to change into civilian clothes (another Firstie perk) and head out to dinner with their families. BUT first, they had to get through Ring Poop. This is when the lowly Plebes (freshmen) rush the newly ringed Firsties (and by rush I mean mob), reciting this lovely poem:

"Oh my god, sir! What a beautiful ring! What a crass mass of brass and glass!
What a bold mold of rolled gold! What a cool jewel
you got from your school! See how it sparkles and shines?
It must have cost you a fortune!
May I touch it, may I touch it please sir?

West Point Ring West Point Mother's Ring Pendant
The RING and the pendant
I wasn't able to actually see my Cadet's Ring Poop, mostly because the Plebes were crowded into the portico to his room...a massive mob of grey and white....and the Firsties were swallowed up in it as they went through. (There is a close up video of the Winey Son taken by one of my braver friends, but I will refrain from sharing it since I love my Firstie. Plus,  I have a healthy fear of his revenge.) I will share the picture of my Mother's pendant, though. Firsties can choose matching rings, pendants, cuff links and tie tacks to give as gifts. I was not subtle in my desire for one.

The weekend culminates the next evening at the Ring Banquet. Full dress, black tie. It's held in Washington Hall, aka The Cadet Mess Hall. Washington Hall is anything but a mess though. It is a stunning cathedral of wood and flags and murals (think Hogwarts dining room, but without the pointy hats and magic). It feeds the entire Corps of Cadets (about 4,000) on a daily basis all at once, so we're talking HUGE here. But this night was all the Firsties and their guests!

West Point Ring Weekend 2014 wine glasses and bottle
We got wine glasses too!

There was a similar formal dinner held back when our Cadets were Plebes. You only get one Parent Weekend at West Point, and it's held Plebe year, right before spring break. It too, is formal but there is one big difference. Now that they are Firsties (and all 21 or older)...there is WINE at the Ring Banquet!!!!

Took a while to get to the wine, didn't it? Sorry about that, but I had to give you all the lead in as to why this is such a momentous occasion on which to sip!

The wine that was chosen to serve that night was, very appropriately, a New York Finger Lakes wine.
It comes from Bully Hill Vineyards and is called Goat White (NV, 11%, New York). For those of you who are familiar with West Point, I'll pause here for you to chuckle. For those of you who aren't, allow me to explain: At West Point The Goat is the Cadet who graduates with the absolute lowest class rank. Bottom of the barrel er, wine bottle, I guess. I can hear you now: "They announce this? How mean, how horrible." Ah, but wait: every member of a graduating class gives one dollar to The Goat, making that graduate about $1,000 richer at the end of the day. (I might add that being The Goat has no bearing on your career prospects after graduation: General George A. Custer was the Class of 1861 Goat, and he turned out okay.) Hence the giggles over the choice of Goat White. Each bottle was also labelled with a commemorative Ring Weekend label featuring the class crest. You bet I've got a few of them in the house right now!

Bully Hill Vineyards Goat White wine
Goat White
OK, wine review starts here. Goat White (a blend of Seyval Blanc and Vidal Bland) is neither sweet nor dry. It sort of lands right in the middle, especially if it's served very chilled (kind of hard that night, given that the historic mess hall is not air conditioned). The nose is full of light fruity flowers- think apple blossoms - very summery. Given that, I thought it would be a sweeter wine, but there was some green apple and some tart citrus that brought it over to the semi-dry side. It had soft feel to it. Not big and plush soft, more like a soft cottony feel. Very fresh and a little crisp. It was served with chicken Marsala and was a nice light pairing with the meal.

This is a great all around wine. Perfect for your next banquet for 3,000 people because it balanced perfectly between the "we like 'em dry" and "we like 'em sweet" wine camps. Oh wait, you're not going to have a banquet for 3,000 anytime soon? Buy it anyway. It really is a lovely, flavorful wine to drink alone or with a meal. Or with your Firstie as you realize that the little boy that stole your heart the minute he was born is now a leader at the finest military academy in the world. (BEAT NAVY!)  In 9 short months he will be commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army and move on to the next phase of his life.

But that night at West Point, he was still my baby.

Cheers to the West Point Class of 2014!

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