Friday, December 3, 2010

i am officially a published wine author!

I just wanted to let everybody know that one of my articles I wrote for Palate Press, Making Vegetarian Pairings the Life of the Party, has been published in their recently released 'Best of the Press, Volume I'! It's available currently as an ebook, but will be published in print next month. My story was one of the 60 chosen out of more than 800 articles that were published on Palate Press last year. What an honor! Be sure to go purchase a copy of the ebook ... it saves as an Amazon Kindle book, iPad book AND a PDF, among other formats. So you'll have plenty of ways to view it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

airlines and john does ...

"Flying so high above the world, never thought I could feel so free ..."
That's a quote from South Park, in case you didn't know. Starvin' Marvin rocks!
Anyway, right now I'm chilling at the airport, waiting to board. I've been here since 8am, since the airport security checkpoint line was so short. Seriously, it only took me about 5 minutes to get through ... why oh why did I think it would take so long today? Oh well, I suppose it's better to be safe than sorry.
On a more serious note, I've stumbled across something quite odd and unexpected. As I'm sure most of you know, I am studying Journalism at San Diego State University. I am currently working on a case study for my Media Law and Ethics class, and I decided to write about the pending lawsuit Charles Smith is filing against various "John Doe's" who have allegedly libeled him online through comments on Blake Grey's blog: The Grey Market Report. We've talked in great detail in class about anonymous commenters and what kind of protection they do or don't have against libel and slander; and since I'm in wine blogging, I figured it would be a perfect way for me to explore that.
Well, I emailed W. Blake Grey, asking him to answer a few questions about the lawsuit, and how he feels it affects the protection of anonymity when it comes to online comments. He emailed me saying that he was "going to pass" and that he hopes I do as well. I am very perplexed by this. Does he feel that I should not study this lawsuit? If so, why does he feel this way? He has gone on record on his blog about the lawsuit, saying that he will most likely refrain from commenting. But why would he want me to refrain as well? I have no official opinion about the lawsuit ... I merely wish to examine it as a future member of the press.
This is just another piece of the strange puzzle that is the modern legal system and the internet. Online communication has completely changed the playing field of what is and what isn't okay to say. Traditionally people have been protected through anonymity while commenting online - and through that anonymity I have read some awful, hurtful things.  Without anonymous protection we wouldn't have trolling sites like 4chan ... not to say that is a good or a bad thing, as stated before I am not releasing an opinion on the matter. If you know me in person you can ask me.
If Charles Smith succeeds in getting the IP addresses from Google (and it looks like he is going to) and suing the anonymous commenters, that could possibly have a huge effect on internet commenting and privacy on blogs, forums and several other forms of internet communication. Perhaps even email and private chats. This could set a precedent that would influence internet usage for many years.
But apparently I should pass on discussing this.
I will not.
W. Blake Grey, I ask you to discuss this with me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

champagne wishes and caviar dreams ... literally

So yesterday I had the pleasure of trying a few sparkling wines with the #SDWM. If you don't know what the #SDWM stands for, that's probably for the best ... because if you knew, I would have to kill you. See my face right there? I'm that serious, people.
Anyway, there were a few hits and a few misses; as well as several sparkling wines (and some tasty looking caviar) I wasn't able to try because I had to go to work at Bencotto Italian Kitchen. Not to mention the fact that I'm vegetarian, but alas. Here are my notes from those wines.
The first was Iron Horse Vineyards 2005 Ocean Reserve Estate Bottled Sparkling Wine from Sonoma County ($40). Not to sound corny, but the nose was a bit salty. It was only after having a couple classic potato chips from Trader Joe's that I was able to lessen the scent. There were also some herbal notes on the nose, mainly basil with a bit of mustard seed. The mouth started out rather dry, with strong herbal notes and minerals (limestone and river rock). It then finished with some green apple and a slightly bittersweet aftertaste that lingered for a bit. I enjoyed the wine, but it was a little dry for me. I can be pretty forgiving of a dry wine, but this one pushed the envelope a bit.
The next wine I tasted was the Valdo Prosecco Non-Vintage Brut from Italy ($10). The nose on this one was quite complex: golden delicious apples, a bit of lavender water, river rocks and a tint of sweet grass as well. The nose was incredibly fruity. The mouth was rich, acidic and crisp, full of bubbly goodness. There were grassy notes on the beginning with strong green and red apples as it continued on the palate. For some strange reason (and I was the only one who tasted this) this sparkling wine kept finishing with flavors of baked cinnamon and pie crust. I imagine this sparkling wine would have been perfect with an apple pie. It's very easy to enjoy, with a crisp acidity and that fabulously bizarre apple pie finish that just made me think.
The third, which I tasted blindly out of a paper bag, was the Mumm Napa Blanc de Blanc 2006 from Napa Valley ($20). The nose was incredibly light and subtle, with honeydew melon and not much else to detect ... other than the slightest whiff of gasoline. The sparkling tasted of honeydew, limestock and the strong night air right before a thunderstorm. Almost where you can taste the electricity and tension. Sadly, it wasn't enough to blow me away. It was good, but not very memorable on my palate. Kind of finished too quickly.
The final sparkling wine, which was also tasted blindly out of a paper bag, was the sublime Champagne Delamotte 1999 Blanc de Blancs from, well, Champagne, France ($95). The nose had mineral notes with some light melon and a strong scent of spearmint leaf. The mouth was actually very multidimensional. Albeit it was a little bitter on the beginning, it carried through into a delicious flavor of orange peel, melon, a bit of Bitters with a floral finish and a bit of vanilla carrying through. It stayed for a very long time on my palate, made quite the impression on my taste buds. I know it's an expensive wine, so it's one I would only recommend for more of those special occasions. It's a classically-styled, well-rounded Champagne that would leave anyone satisfied.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

welcome to the real world, winos

In the words of Kyle's adorable-yet-terrible-stereotype cousin Kyle .... I'm back! You just have to imagine the whiny voice, silly glasses and complete lack of hand-eye coordination; only because Blogger now practices copyright protection on all images. When did this happen? I've only been gone two months and it's like everything is new and different. I suppose that's what my Media Technology professor means when she says that technology has made the world change so quickly.
After a few months of getting settled in San Diego; including starting university, sending a boyfriend off to Paris, having to find a new apartment after one month of a rather challenging roommate and getting a new (and much more wine friendly) job, I finally feel ready to get back in the swing of things.
I will probably be posting about once or twice per week, since struggling students and wine writers can't really afford too much wine!
Unfortunately I am unable to toast my grand blog return with anything but an unsweetened green iced tea from Starbucks, so instead I'm going to take an opportunity to thank all the wine bloggers (and friends) in San Diego who I have had an amazing pleasure to get to know. They have been pushing me since day one to get back into wine blogging, and I owe a great deal to their kindness and fantastic wines. And no, you can't ask about our secret handshake. Be sure to check out their wine blogs!

Beau's Barrel Room
Brain Wines
Wine Harlots
La Jolla Mom
Cuvee Corner

Sunday, September 19, 2010

taking a break

Hi everybody! I just wanted to let all of you wonderful people know that I will be taking a break from wine blogging for an undetermined amount of time. I'm currently attending SDSU to achieve my Bachelor's degree in Journalism, and I need to give that my full attention if I'm ever to be a successful freelance wine journalist. I thank all of you for reading and for being so kind, and I look forward to picking this back up in the future.

Monday, August 30, 2010

you give your hand to me

It's a drink directly from the bottle kind of day.
For those who may not know (probably all of you, at this point), my boyfriend Julien left for Paris yesterday morning to help his brother, a film editor, work on a movie. He will be gone for a minimum of six months. I miss him already. Alas, I've got an open bottle of 2007 Heller Estate Organic Vineyards Dancers Meritage from Carmel Valley on my nightstand and I'm taking swigs while writing this depressing blog entry. Not my usual Monday evening, mind you ... but tonight I thought I'd make an exception, you know, given the circumstances.
The nose has plum, caramel, cherry and a bit of cinnamon. The mouth, well let's just say that other than the taste of red apple, cherry, cinnamon, white pepper and a soy sauce finish ... it's doing its job. If you have a chance to try the 2007 Dancers Meritage, I would definitely recommend it. It was a fantastic year for the blend. However, my only goal at this point is to get drunk on it and then fall asleep in my strangely big bed.
For those who are interested, I am not only officially back in the wine blogging biz after all the craziness that was RENT and moving to San Diego, but I have also started a blog to chronicle my experiences as one-half of a long-distance relationship. You can find it here: five-six-seven-nine | from your heart to mine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

i have been a bad puddytat

This month has been very challenging for me. I've been getting ready to move, working crazy hours at my job, performing the show RENT at the Morgan Stock Stage and trying to save money because of the aforementioned situations. As such, I have not been drinking wine. Sadly I can't afford it at this point. Once I move down to San Diego and start school I plan on making this blog my absolute priority, but at this point it sadly isn't possible. I need at least two more weeks, people, and I apologize.
In the meantime, here are a few pics from RENT. Hope you like them!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

#twn - happy cows come from wine country

According to an article by Dr. Vino, a farmer in British Columbia has been feeding her cattle, get this, red wine. For the past 90 days, Janice Ravndahl of Sezmu Meats has been supplying her cattle with delicious red wine, either mixed in their food or straight from the bottle. She says she was inspired by a television article about a farmer feeding beer to his pigs, which she said wasn't practical for cattle ... but that red wine might be a perfect solution.
According to Ravndahl, the cows have been reacting rather favorably to the recent addition to their diet: "They moo at one another a little more and seem more relaxed," she said. And local chefs have also reacted favorably, even going as far as to claim that the meat was pre-marinated before being brought to their kitchens.
Now I for one am not for eating cows or any other kind of animal (except for the occasional fresh piece of locally caught fish), but I can imagine why anybody would want to try a piece of beef that's been soaked in the wonderful taste of delicious red wine. Hopefully this becomes a trend in the states ... after all, don't cows deserve the same rights of wine, women and song as the rest of us?

Monday, July 26, 2010

pure evil

Bwa ha ha ha ha!
Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's start tasting some wine. After a sour and disappointing just-opened bottle of 2007 Blue Pirate Oregon Pinot Noir from Cost Plus (totally going to go in and get a refund, stat), I was looking for something a little more powerful. And oftentimes, when you're wanting power, you need to be a little evil.

The wine is a 2007 EVIL Cabernet Sauvignon from South Eastern Australia ($9.99, Cost Plus). According to the back label of the wine, "It's just wrong." Well, I wouldn't go that far. I honestly wouldn't say this wine is completely "right," but it certainly isn't "wrong." The color on the wine is a deep burgundy with a brick-red halo ... surprising for a Cabernet that's so young. The nose was incredibly jammy, with tons of raspberry, black cherry and licorice. There was also a bit of spice on the nose in the form of yummy cinnamon.
The mouth was smooth and strong with very subtle tannins and a crisp, clean finish. The mouth was also very jammy with black cherry and raspberry, but also had some tomato (especially on the finish) and tobacco. It's a smooth, easy to drink wine, but the only problem I have with it is that it's not very memorable. Perhaps that will have to come with age, but right now the wine just kind of dissipates on the tongue ... it doesn't really wow my senses after it's gone from my mouth.
In other news, the play rehearsals are going great. I've been having so much fun I can hardly stand it! Looking forward to opening night. Here's a pic of the entire cast in our costumes. In case you can't tell, I'm the one in the middle with the motorcycle chaps and a very, VERY wide open mouth. Gotta belt it loud and strong, right?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

life in technicolor ... and wine in my belly

Okay, so I was going to start with this elaborate paragraph and where the yikes I've been for the past month, but instead I'm just going to sum it up in a clever haiku, a la Poetry Slam Fridays:

what the hell

black hole of finance
life no more, only saving,
so lips crack and bleed

So in short, the combination of saving for my move to San Diego as well as my theater performance has made buying or drinking wine pretty difficult right now. Pretty much all my spare money recently went into my rocking hairstyle (pictured above) for my role as Maureen in the local performance of RENT ... which, by the way, has been AWESOME. I love performing and hope to do it as much as possible when I'm down in San Diego. What can I say ... I'm a sucker for attention. 
I take a sip of wine every chance I get, but I have to be honest in saying that until I move down to San Diego, the actual wine portion of this wine blog is going to be pretty slim. I instead will focus on paying close attention and linking to my fellow blogger's fascinating wine blogs ... living (and drinking) vicariously through them. I look forward to seeing what all of you are enjoying!
The other day I had the opportunity to try a rather interesting Pinot Grigio at my work. I love working at a restaurant where we're encouraged to try the product, instead of told that we're simply supposed to assume what it's like without really knowing.

Specifically, it's the 2008 Maso Canali Pinot Grigio from Trentino, Italy ($25). It clocks it at a pretty mild 13% alcohol, which is not very surprising for the region (or so I have heard). The primary flavors on this wine, be it nose or mouth, were green apples. Classic Granny-smith green apples. It was incredibly crisp and light and was obviously meant to enjoy chilled. The nose also had characteristics of honeydew melon and wheatgrass, and the mouth also contained elements of tropical pineapple and a tiny hint of an herbal spice. I could easily imagine enjoying a couple sips outside on a terrasse while enjoying some light cheeses and cuts of fruit. Definitely a few pieces of a Granny-smith apple. It wasn't the best wine I've ever tasted, but it certainly wasn't the worst. I would drink it again ... but I probably wouldn't actively seek it out.
If any of you want to see a tiny preview of the show I'm in, here's a 20 second clip of all of us singing together. I'm the one in the green tank top hugging the other chica. Yes, in the show I DO play for the other team. Hopefully you can watch it, but if not all you have to do is become a fan of the Friends of MPC Theater. Hope you like! 20 Seconds of RENT

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

les saisons de la vie

So this blog entry isn't about wine so much as it's about my life, because I wanted to share something with all of you. I found out recently that my boyfriend Julien has been offered a full internship on the set of a new movie shooting in Paris, starting in August. He'll be working with his brother, a very well known film editor in France, and learning about the entire movie making process. Since he's a film major at college, naturally he is stoked.
I'm very happy for him, but I'm not so thrilled that he'll be gone for at least 7 months an entire continent away. I'm going to visit him for a month in January, but still ... that's 6 months apart, minimum. We're determined to make it work, but I've never done something long distance before. I'm a little nervous about how it all works. Have any of you been involved in a long distance relationship, either short or long? Is there anything I should prepare for?
I'll be blogging every loving, painful and pining step of the way ... so be prepared for some lover's lament poetry on Poetry Slam Fridays. Because I'm going to miss him terribly.

Friday, June 11, 2010

poetry slam friday


your color's exposed
deeper, darker, richer, raw
skins create rubies

Thursday, June 10, 2010

featured blogger: beau's barrel room

This week's featured blogger is Beau Carufel from Beau's Barrel Room. A resident of my home-to-be, San Diego CA, Beau is a young wine blogger who, like myself, prefers to write about wine in a fun and casual manner ... as opposed to being all stiff and stodgy with an upturned nose. He'll be at this year's Wine Blogger's Conference in San Diego on scholarship, so wish him luck! I can't go unfortunately because I have play rehearsals, so that means he'll just have to have enough fun for the both of us.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

twn - the wino's carbon footprint

I recently read an interesting article on about the carbon emissions's behind a bottle of wine or a pint of beer. Someone was asking their resident carbon emissions expert which is safer for the environment.
According to Pablo, the item with the least carbon emissions would be a locally-grown estate bottle of wine, since many of the carbon emissions come from shipping the grapes and/or wines to other areas and around the world on planes. Locally-grown and produced beers are also good, but apparently it's hard to find a brewery that will produce its own grains. It's also good to find organically-grown or biodynamic wines, since they don't use any pesticides or herbicides to make their wines. Also try and buy more screw top wines where possible, and recycle your corks!
However, Pablo does make it a point to state that no matter which one we drink, we're harming the environment in one way or another. Which is a good point to consider ... albeit a depressing one. So drink responsibly and make sure to treasure every last drop - Mother Nature is taking one for the team to let us drink delicious wine, so show your respects.

Monday, June 7, 2010

atw - more like FUNdue!

The other day I had a craving for fondue. A serious, serious craving. And as any true fondue fan knows, the craving for fondue can ONLY be satisfied with a delicious fondue. No cheese and crackers will substitute! So Julien and I went with his mother and sister to a little Swiss restaurant in Carmel CA to have some cheese fondue and raclette.
Since no fondue excursion would be complete without a delicious bottle of dry white wine to enjoy it with, we decided to order a bottle directly from the fondue motherland  ... Switzerland. The wine was a 2002 Domaine E. de Montmollin white wine from Bevaix, Switzerland ($32). The grapes were grown by Domaine de Chauvigny on the French side of Switzerland.

The color on this wine was a rich yellow, almost straw-like color. There was noticeable pear and Golden Delicious apple on the nose, as well as Meyer lemon and honeydew. The wine was quite dry but had a bit of a spritz on it as well. The mouth had honeydew melon with a tiny hint of grapefruit, Golden Delicious apples and a honey finish. It tasted great with the fondue, and wasn't bad with the chocolate fondue that followed for dessert! I would definitely recommend it for the next time you're thinking of having or making some fondue.
In other news, as you can see my Web site is officially open for business! Well, the main page and blog page are, anyway. The rest should be uploaded within the week. If you have any comments or suggestions please let me know.
Also, please check out my newest article for Palate Press about being a vegetarian wine taster. It's currently the featured article on the main Palate Press site. Yippee!

Friday, May 28, 2010

poetry slam friday

Well my Web site was finished for my class assignment, but now comes the really hard part of transferring it to my current domain. Had a bit of an incident trying to get it over, and now I have to start all over making it again. Damn damn damn! In the meantime here's a couple of poems for Poetry Slam Friday ... and here's a link to how the Web site will look in case you wanna see it: WELCOME TO WINO RHINO.

new season

the grapes are growing
leaves nestle into vines, quickly
how they become one


(this was a poem I submitted recently for an essay contest about how my generation of college students are "one in a million" ... see if you can catch the connect and comment if you find out!)

the definition of one

Open up our hands, our arms
Never cease, never stop
Everything is moving forward now

I dive in, feel our strength as warmth
Never cease, never stop

A single beat above the roar

Many faces turn to us
I realize where we are going
Listen to our
Longing for more than mediocrity
I stop and look at you for hope
Opening up your hands, your arms
Never cease, never stop

Monday, May 24, 2010

welcome to the circus!

Welcome to the new wino rhino! After months of painful work and preparation, I am finally ready to reveal my creation to all of you - a complete web blog and site that showcases who I am, what I do and where I plan on going in my life with the fabulous obsession called wine writing.
So to celebrate I did what any normal wine blogger would do ... I went wine tasting! One of the girls I work with wanted to go out wine tasting, so we headed to Carmel Valley and checked out a few places. One of my favorite Carmel Valley stops is Parsonage Family Winery, a Monterey County winery that produces some fantastic red wines. Their everyday red blends are fantastic for the price, and their Syrah is to die for.
Magically, the wine tasting room host turned out to be non other than Bill Parsons, the owner of Parsonage winery! This was the first time meeting him, although I'd tried his wines on numerous occasions ... so naturally it was quite a treat for me.

Pictured: me coaxing forcing him to pose for a pic :).

We were pretty fortunate to have him pouring the wine for us, because he gave us a real inside scoop into the winery and its fabulous wines. For example, he gave us a some nice juicy details on their delicious new wine, the 2007 Snosrap Cyrano Bordelais (gossip soon to follow). This unique and impressive wine, which boasts a rather high 15% alcohol content, consists of about 53% Cabernet with 22% Petit Verdot, 21% Merlot and 4% Malbec.
The result is a young but firm wine that smells strongly of sweet tobacco, cherries, a bit of curry and some unripened raspberry. The texture on the wine is a bit tight, probably because of the age, but it's actually quite easy to drink. The color is a deep fuschia with a mouth of black cherries, sweet oak, lavender, blackberries and a finish of cedar and tobacco. And it still carried that tiny bit of red curry on it with a tiny bit of herb and grass, which added well to the overall mix. I bought a bottle of this baby and took it home with me, where I am enjoying at this moment as I submit my final homework assignment for my digital media class.
But on to the juicy stuff! Turns out that this wine is .... ILLEGAL.

What a criminal.

Ooh, let the gossip ensue! According to Bill Parsons, it's illegal for him to call the wine a Bordelais, because Bordelais is related to the region of Bordeaux in France, which is a distinct wine region whose name cannot be used. So he's allowed to sell the wine in his tasting room, but it's not being sold in stores.
Kinda feels a bit like tasting some of that bathtub gin in Prohibition America during the 1920's ... so wrong, yet so right.
So if you happen to be in the area, I would definitely recommend picking up a few bottles of this bad boy. It's delicious and should age quite nicely, though if you're like me you're going to want to open it right away!
Also, please feel free to look around the new wino rhino Web site and check out all its wonders. Salut!

Friday, May 14, 2010

what have i been up to?

In about a week you'll find out ... so stay tuned!

Friday, April 30, 2010

poetry slam friday

which piece is mine?

i look at you, two
glasses tempting, filled to the
brim with suggestion

Thursday, April 29, 2010

who are you ... what am i ... ?

I found this survey on rbandj and I couldn't help myself. I used to be the biggest survey fan when I was in high school. I'd have one on my high school blog (not wine related) at least once a week. Nostalgia!

1. The strangest thing I've ever eaten was oysters. I tried them once just to say I had them, and they were the weirdest tasting things on the planet. It felt like eating a piece of slimy rubber. The taste was okay ... I just couldn't stand the texture.

2. My best friends are my two sisters, my mom, my boyfriend Julien, his sister Sidonie and my friends Carla and Blair. 

3. If I could live in a different era it would be I wouldn't choose to live in a different era because I like this one. I prefer women's rights over pretty dresses. Although it would be nice to see what the future is like. Not to live in it, but just to see it. 

4. If you only know one thing about me it should be I aspire to achieve absolute happiness and fulfillment in my life. If I am not happy, well then, what's the point? 

5. My favorite book of all time is "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. I've been reading that book ever since I was 6 years old, and every time I pick it up I get something different out of it. It's beautiful, heartbreaking and a wonderful reminder of how precious individualism is in this world. 

6. The one beauty product I cannot live without is concealer. If I have anything on my face it's concealer underneath my eyes. Not because I have circles or anything, but just because it makes my eyes brighter. 

7. Blogging is a great way to practice writing and get to know other people who you may not have the opportunity to meet. 

8. If I could star in a movie with one actor/actress, it would be probably Leonardo DiCaprio, because then I could introduce him to my sister Christine, who would die. Plus, he's an amazing actor. 

9. One of the best feelings in the world is joy. Pure joy. 

10. My current obsession is fixing the food issue in my house, because too much goes to waste. Also cooking.

11. What's for dinner tonight? I'm thinking tofu or potatoes with green beans, mushrooms and rosemary. With some mango chutney. 

12. The last thing I bought was a half bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

13. I am currently listening to my boyfriend snoring. Geez, I should really wake him up now. 

14. If I could have a home, totally paid for, totally furnished anywhere in the world, it would be in San Diego, because that's where I'm going for school. After I graduate, can I relocate the house to Paris? Anybody? 

15. The one thing I would change about myself is making my ankles stronger. I was born with twisted ankles and have always had weaker legs. That's something I need to improve, and one of the main reasons why I'm taking yoga.

16. If you could go anywhere in the world in the next hour, where would you go? Paris!

17. The languages I would love to learn are French. I want to master French because learning anything else.

18. My favorite quote (right now) is: "As long as there are still some of us left who read all is not lost." - Anonymous

19. I am most afraid of drowning. It seems like such a horrible way to die. 

20. My favorite colour is turquoise. It's just such a beautiful color. I also love black and red. 

21. My dream job is a professional wine blogger and freelance wine journalist. Owning my own freelance writing business. My dream of dreams. 

22. The one thing that brings a smile to my face instantaneously is a passionate kiss from my boyfriend. 

23. The one word I use a lot is "absolutely." I can be a bit of a yes person. 

24. When I'm feeling blue I will sit alone and feel sorry for myself until somebody pays attention to me. Pathetic, I know. 

25. What inspires me is myself. I try to live as my own inspiration, so that I aspire to live the life I want to live without trying to live somebody else's. 

26. My favorite season is usually the one that I'm in. If it's summer I love summer, if it's fall I love fall. My mood changes with the seasons. 

27. My favorite dessert has to be probably the Half Baked fro-yo from Ben & Jerry's. Delicious and less fattening. 

28. How many tabs are open on your browser right now? Just two, my blog page and a google search for who makes Half Baked fro-yo. I don't have the best memory ;). 

29. What was the first thought that crossed your mind this morning when you looked in the mirror?  I haven't been to the mirror yet today, but I'm sure I look a fright. 

30. The best piece of advice I was ever given was "You're meant to do great things in this life, so don't be so worried about being different now ... because in the future your differences will give you a beautiful life." - my parents

31. If I had a millions dollars to give to one charity, I would give it to the Beth Elderkin is paying for her own college charity fund. Hey, you asked me to be honest ... well, I need money for school. 

32. If at first you don't succeed, you're human. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

featured blogger: custom wine labels - wine label designs

This week's featured blogger is Custom Wine Labels - Wine Label Designs. The blog, which is hosted by wine label company Maverick Label, is a constantly updated collection of unique wine labels found in the wine community. I found this site randomly when looking for a picture for yesterday's blog entry about HR 5034, and looked through multiple pages just gawking at all the beautiful wine labels. I really grew to appreciate the artistry and uniqueness of this medium. While shopping for a bottle yesterday at Save Mart I came across a couple of interesting labels myself; and, being motivated by the Custom Wine Labels blog, I took a couple of pictures and decided to share them with all of you.

the description on the back of this bottle was very cute and romantic, 
but the wine looked to be a little young.

the foil had the cutest little drawing of a cupcake,
I imagine this would be a great bridal or baby shower gift.

if you're ever on the hunt for an awesome label, check out
the zinfandel isle ... zins are cali's coolest grape!

If you think you've got the stuff to be wino rhino's next featured blogger, post a comment with a link to your blog and why it's awesome. Don't forget to throw something about wine in there!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

hot topic - hr 5034

Right now the subject on everybody's wine-stained lips is the newest bill introduced in the House of Representatives, HR 5034. If passed, it would pose severe restrictions on wineries shipping wine across state lines directly to their consumers, which would severely harm the wine industry, as well as the general economic situation for thousands of small businesses. I myself am skeptical that something like this could pass in the entire House of Representatives, especially given the current economic situation.
However, there seems to be some big money behind this bill ... most of which is provided by, you guessed it, wholesale wine distributor companies. Golly, big shocker there, right? So we should all keep our eyes and ears open in the off chance that this hack bill snakes its way through the House. If you would like some more information on the bill and how you can get involved, check out the following resources:

Dr. Vino
Facebook Fan Page - Stop HR 5034
Beau's Barrel Room
Free the Grapes

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the mighty duck(horn)

As I mentioned yesterday, I haven't been drinking much wine (or alcohol of any kind, to be honest) lately after the whole "getting sick and feeling like crap" weekend I had recently during Pebble Beach Food and Wine. My body has just been trying to re-energize itself, and wine just hasn't been on the menu towards full recovery.
However, there was a wine I tried during Pebble Beach Food and Wine which I would love to share with all of you. One of the booths I was looking forward to the most was Duckhorn Vineyards out of Napa Valley, and the reason for that was because of their 2007 Merlot. However, this wasn't the first time I'd tried Duckhorn. I recently sampled some with my sister and her fiance when I went to their house for dinner.
And let's just say: it's fabulous.

pictured: fabulousness

The 2007 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot ($50) is 89% Merlot blended with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Verdot. Now, the old Beth would've scoffed at the fact that it wasn't 100% Merlot ... however, the new Beth applauds when wines succeed in blending, so as to make a better tasting product. So, applauds commence! It does clock in at 14.5% alcohol, which isn't unusual for California reds ... but still, I'm not the biggest fan of high alcohol content myself.
The nose had notes of cherry, particularly red cherry. It was bright, fresh and refreshing on the nose ... not quite a eucalyptus or grassy smell, but rather like a wooded forest after a fresh rainfall. There were also notes of dark chocolate, which smelled delicious.
The mouth of the wine was medium-bodied, and was slightly tannic without drying out the palate considerably. It again showed the bright red cherry, and lots of it. There were also notes of nutmeg, dark chocolate and ... oddly enough ... a tinge of cilantro. I think it had to do with the spices on the wine, as well as the freshness on the nose. The wine finished with some white pepper.
Overall, this wine clocked in at nothing short of delicious. I was looking forward to tasting it again at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival and was not disappointed. I also tried one of their Pinot Noirs that was very good ... I'll try and seek it out so that I can share it with all of you in the future.
On another note, the original provider of this wine, Dave (my sister's fiance) is celebrating his birthday soon, so Happy Birthday Dave!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

just say no (when yes sounds illing)

I'm sorry I haven't written about any wines over the past week. After my experience at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Fest, my body was saying no to alcohol ... and you've gotta listen to the body, yes? Last night was the first night I had any wine since that weekend. Will write about it later today :). Now I'm off to work!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'tis the season of wine fests!

April appears to be a great month for wine. Several different wine (and food) tasting events are happening all over the country. Last weekend was Pebble Beach Food and Wine at Pebble Beach in CA, which I had the pleasure of attending. Well, some of it anyway. I didn't get to go to the Grand Lexus Tasting because I had food poisoning. Still grumbling about it. Grumble grumble grumble.
Here's a list of just a few of the wine tastings that are going on this month. If you happen to be in any of the areas, I definitely recommend checking one out. They're a great educational experience ... plus, wine!

April 16-May 31 - Disney's California Food and Wine Festival (Anaheim, CA)
April 21-25 - Dallas Wine and Food Festival (Dallas, TX)
April 22-24 - Miami Wine and Food Festival (Miami, FL)
April 22-25 - 24th Annual Sandestin Wine Festival at Baytowne Wharf (Destin, FL)
April 24 - Danville Wine Festival (Danville, PA)
April 25 - Rivers of Chocolate Wine and Food Festival (San Jose, CA)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

one wine to rule them all

"Varietalism is the scourge of the modern wine industry."

That's a direct quote from one of the master sommeliers (first name Joe, they weren't really on a last name basis) at a wine seminar I had the amazing pleasure of attending yesterday during this weekend's Pebble Beach Food and Wine event at the Inn at Spanish Bay.
The seminar, named 'The Once and Future Wine of California' was all about the origins of winemaking in California during the mid 19th century ... and how, believe it or not, blending was a key factor in early California winemaking. For the past 40-50 years Californian wines have prided themselves on single varietal creations, proudly stating that it should be the power of the grape that carries the wine. However, there are quite a few winemakers who are returning to their roots (pun intended) in order to reclaim what they believe is a vital winemaking process that creates multidimensional wines.
And let me tell you, these wines we tasted were not just multidimensional. They were phenomenal. And not one of them cost over $100 per bottle - many of them were in the $25-40 range! These wines held characteristics of classic Bordeaux blends, but with a unique California flair that presents a certain sweetness, a unique berry quality that France doesn't always have. Most of them contained Zinfandel as their premier grape - because, according to winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Vineyards, zinfandel is a highly versatile grape that is difficult to produce entirely on its own, but works fantastically as a leading grape for California blends.

Above is a snapshot of all the wines we tasted, but I'll only go over a few of my favorite choices in the interest of saving time. The first notable wine would be the 2007 Elyse Nero Misto from Napa Valley ($29).  Nero Misto, which means "mixed black" in Italian, is a blend of several different grape varietals which led to a very interesting combination. The nose had strong notes of tobacco, red curry and ... you're not going to believe this ... hemp. Yes, the wine tasted a bit of the funky bunch. My boyfriend Julien pointed this out to the winemakers, and their response was "Hooray!" which I thought was funny. The mouth on this wine was tannic, which some dark berry (particularly boysenberry) with some red curry on the finish. I loved the sweet spices on this wine and how they blended well with the deep berry flavors. It made for a very unique wine that tasted amazing.
Another notable wine was the 2006 School House Mescolanza from St. Helena ($40). This wine was unique because of its interesting sweetness. It almost tasted like a red Gerwerztraminer, with strong notes of apple juice and a sweet cream. The mouth also had red cherry in addition to that addicting cream I got on the nose. I don't believe I would ever buy a bottle of this, just because I would have no clue what to pair it with, but it was a favorite just because of its uniqueness.
And finally, my personal favorite for the day was the 2008 Bedrock Lorenzo from Sonoma ($35). What I loved about this wine were the heavy notes of limestock and earth, which the winemaker said came from the fact that the soil (which is red) has been dry farmed for 110 years, contributing to the suffering (and thus better flavor) of the grapes. The nose was completely earthy, which the mouth also had dark fruit and strong tannins. But I just loved smelling this wine. I would love to pair this with some hoison-glazed tofu and vegetables. Hmm ... idea forming!
In the end, I came out of the wine seminar a better, more educated person. I used to have some of that single varietal bias that many California tasters can develop ... but now, I'll be looking for some of those blends to try out for myself. They truly made for some high quality and multidimensional wines, and I am truly grateful that I got to try them out for myself. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

poetry slam friday

broken glass

it's amazing how something so beautiful
can turn into something ugly
all because of one touch
one movement

everything tumbles down

Saturday, April 3, 2010

2009 reds: menace or, um, something else?

This is the 2009 vintage of me. Not much has changed, right? I haven't aged significantly. I mean, other than a different hairstyle (which you'll see me do quite a bit, because I get bored easily), I'm not that much different than I was last April.
And yet, between April 2009 Beth and current Beth, several new red wines have been picked, bottled and shipped out to the worldwide public. Wines that are only as old as this picture.
One night this week while serving at my night job, I noticed that our Colores Del Sol Malbec ($12) had switched vintages. Hardly uncommon in the restaurant business. But this was a change I couldn't help but notice. We had switched from the 2008 vintage, already a rather new year, to the 2009. When I first saw the label I thought it was a joke. I was appalled, yet intrigued.
So when a customer ordered a glass, I took the opportunity to grab a sippy straw, dunk it into the wine, and use my thumb to pull out a small sample. Well, let me tell you something, it was abysmal. It was too light, too bland and too sour to be considered even a decent wine! I couldn't imagine drinking a whole glass of it, let alone a bottle.

Don't let the artsy photo fool you - this wine belongs in a sauce, at best. 

And I found myself wondering how it's possible that a wine company could even consider whipping out a vintage so quickly without giving it a chance to develop. From what I've seen there are quite a few lower end wines, particularly in South America, that do this quite often. Granted, South America has a different picking time than American and Europe do (February to April instead of September to November), but all the same, it just didn't taste developed. How long does it even sit in the barrel, or the bottle, before being shipping out to stores? It can't be longer than a couple of months - it certainly doesn't taste like it sat for a long time.
So I don't know if it was the grape quality, the aging time ... or the lack of either of those things ... that let to such a sub-par product. It was a severe blow to my tastebuds, that's about all I can.
I'm going to be doing some more research into this whole new vintage anti-vintage phenomenon, trying to find out just what makes some wine companies so desperate to make a buck that they're willing to ship something out before it's anything good. Maybe buying a few and trying them out (heaven forbid). If you have any ideas or 2009 reds I should *gulp* try, let me know.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

wino rhino - work in progress

This was the best pic for a "web fairy" that I could come up with.
I suppose I owe an explanation for why I haven't written this past week. Well, it will be shown in due time, hopefully in the next week or so. I've been hard at work on the new wino rhino Web site! Yes, pretty soon my Web site won't be run on Blogger or any other hosting program ... but entirely on my own, with a Web site I am creating from scratch. It's consumed much of my time, which is why I haven't had time to write. But soon it will be all worth it, I promise!
Here's a link to the test site I've made, as practice: Sample Site.

Friday, March 19, 2010

keeping it spicy

Last night I decided to open up a bottle of the Galante 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($25) from Carmel Valley that I had mentioned recently to pair with a few spicy dishes I was working on. The wine itself is light with notes of mango and tangerine ... plus a little bit of banana, which I didn't get upon first tasting it. It's mixed with a little bit of Viognier, which explains the lack of strong cat-pee on the nose. Charming, I know, but that is characteristic of a Sauvignon Blanc.
I decided to try it with a bit of spicy cuisine to see how the pairing would work out, and overall I was very pleased with the results. Last night I made a lime, cilantro and jalapeno pasta (bought fresh from the Farmer's Market, delicious!) with a modified marinara sauce. I took a jar from Trader Joe's and made some changes to it. Here's what I added to the sauce: fresh cilantro, creme fraiche, chopped red and yellow bell peppers and sliced asparagus I had blanched right before throwing in. The result was a delicious spicy pasta that was a little too heavy for the Sauvignon Blanc alone (I probably should've had a nice Cab with it too, side by side), but still great.
The other dish I made today for lunch because we still had half a bottle left of the Sauvignon Blanc and I wanted to make a different type of spicy dish to see how it compared. For lunch I made a Mediterranan spicy wrap with fresh homemade hummus. Here's a little recipe in case you would like to try it yourself!

Mediterranean Spicy Wrap (personal recipe)
Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cost: about $3, depending
Serves: 1

What You Need:
1 organic flour tortilla (white or wheat)
Half a Trader Joe's Soyrizo (soy chorizo)
2/3 cup red and yellow bell peppers, sliced julienne
1 tablespoon curry simmer sauce (I prefer red, but you can use green)
2 tablespoons hummus
1/3 cup fresh micro or bitter greens
1-2 tablespoons goat cheese, depending on taste

Crumble the soyrizo until it resembles hamburger meat (usually happens pretty quickly) and blend it with the bell peppers in a saucepan with a little olive or grapeseed oil. Sautee it for a few minutes until it starts to simmer and add the curry. In a separate saucepan heat up the tortilla with a little olive oil, then put it in the oven at low temperature so it stays warm.
After cooking the soyrizo and peppers, grab the tortilla and put it on a plate, spreading the hummus on the inner middle. Take the soyrizo mix and put it on top of the hummus, keeping it in the middle of the tortilla. Add the greens and goat cheese, then fold it like a burrito. Slice it in half and enjoy!
The wrap tasted fantastic with the Sauvignon Blanc, much better than the pasta because it was much lighter while still having a strong spicy flavor. I would definitely recommend it for a nice light lunch with some fresh berries or a vinaigrette salad. I would definitely recommend making the hummus yourself - I've become obsessed with making my own hummus because it's fresher, tastes better and, above all, is WAY cheaper than buying it at the store. If anyone is interested I'll add my recipe on here.

poetry slam friday


crave difference in
the unordinary, as
the moon craves the sun

Thursday, March 18, 2010

wine blogger of the week - the wine ... um, *gulp*

So this week's wine blogger is Randy Watson, a.k.a the Wine Whore. Based out of Tampa, FL, the Wine Whore (God, I'm hope my mom's not reading ... sorry Mom, that's actually his blog name!) has turned the basic idea of wine blogging into a full-time job, complete with (nearly) daily posts, merchandise and other little goodies including both a wine blog and a food blog written by a friend of his, Todd Sweeney. The layout of his blog is pretty impressive, especially because he's using the Blogger program ... although there are a few too many ads on there for my taste ;). Anyway, I enjoy reading his blog because he makes wine accessible, which not a lot of bloggers do. If you haven't checked out his wine blog yet, I would definitely recommend you do. It's a good read! 
If you want to be my featured wine blogger of the week, here's how you do it ... um, just ask! If I haven't seen your blog before I will definitely check it out, and if I like what I see (and how could I possibly not?) I will make you my featured wine blogger of the week. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

i'm just an innocent bystander, i swear!

So I've got some pretty exciting news. Through a random series of events, Julien and I were invited to bartend at this year's Pebble Beach Food and Wine for the celebrity chef golf tournament and after-hours parties! Our payment, other than an equal share of the tip jar, are 2 tickets to one daytime tasting event of our choice AND 2 tickets each for the Lexus Grand Tasting! The event is April 9-11 and Julien and I are so excited. It's going to be an amazing event with fantastic wines to taste and unbelievable food as well. There will be some late nights (the after-hours parties go until 2am), but it will definitely be worth it. Don't worry, I'll be taking more pictures and shooting more video than you can handle.

To celebrate this fantastic news, as well as the many other great things going on right now (did I mention I was accepted into San Diego State University, my first-choice school ... because I totally was!), I purchased a bottle of wine I'd really been intrigued to try. It's a 2008 Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris ($16, Whole Foods), a blend of Pinot Gris/Grigio from Yarra Valley, Australia. I'm sure you may remember my very favorable review of the 2008 Innocent Bystander Moscato, which was what primarily convinced me to try this other white. I figured I might as well follow the success of the label and see what else comes of it.

Well, for the most part I wasn't disappointed. The color on this wine was very, very light yellow with a slight greenish tint. There were visible tiny bubbles so I knew there would be a hint of acidity or spritz to it. The nose on this wine was floral with a bit of acidic tang, smelled a bit of alcohol. The fruit on the nose was white pear and light apple. It was one of those whites that smelled very, how shall we say, clear. It opened up the nasal passage quite a bit, almost like eucalyptus ... which oddly enough wasn't in the nose at all.
The taste of this wine opened with immediate green apple, and loads of it! There were also notes of white pear. Just as predicted, there was a light spritz on it - there was also an acidic tang on it, which didn't surprise me one bit, given the nose on this wine. The wine finished with a touch of banana and tropical fruit. Overall, this Pinot Gris was very refreshing but a little too acidic to enjoy more than one glass at a time.
I'd probably give this wine a few more months, up to 1 year, in order to smooth out those flavors a bit. But I would definitely recommend picking up a bottle and holding onto it until then! This wine shows a lot of potential. With luck, it might even be ready to go by the end of summer - a perfect summer backyard soiree wine!
I enjoyed this wine with some sauteed vegetables in a mango chutney sauce and boiled fingerling potatoes with a homemade sundried tomato aioli. I was feeling saucey, no pun intended ... oh who am I kidding, it was totally intended! I modified the recipe from one on the Food Network. Here's a link to the recipe  - but just remember to add about 1 large tablespoon of sundried tomatoes (either freshly made or soaked in olive oil) when you add the garlic ... and only do up to 2 garlic cloves, since you don't want the garlic to compete with the tomatoes. Oh ... and do what the recipe says and pour the olive oil in SLOWLY while blending. I went through about 3 different failed attempts at making the aioli because I didn't follow this vital part of the recipe.