Tuesday, November 20, 2012

14 Hands Vineyards - Cabernet Sauvignon @@@ (3 corks)

Retails:  $9.97 (Walmart)

I'm joined this evening in writing this blog by my boyfriend, the charming, witty, and handsome writer from Tap-Ins.  Patrick's task this evening was to select a bottle of wine that I had not yet blogged about for the purpose of doing a joint review, something I have yet to attempt.  And so, we can blame Patrick if the wine isn't thoroughly palatable.  He is not a wine drinker.

This bottle has a slightly pungent scent, "smells like other reds I've had," notes Patrick, "it lies to you, it does not represent the taste to come."

This evening's menu included my famous turkey meatballs, jar o' sauce and penne noodles, followed by a coconut custard pie.  Don't ask, the pie just sounded like a great idea -- and it was -- but I digress...

Throughout the duration of this bottle, the conversation flowed as effortlessly as each gulp of this solidly satisfying wine.  OK, Patrick disagrees, this wine is not satisfying, he would describe as mundane.  But he doesn't really drink wine, so, take that assessment with a grain of salt; "which is what this wine's special ingredient appears to be;" oh, such a comedian.

The conversation lazily meandered from animation to Zeppelin, Led.  We discovered that we both solidly agree that "Grateful Dead is for stoners." "The Doors were overrated." "Our high school friends were solidly divided between Pink Floyd fans and devoted Led Zeppelin fans.  Pink Floyd being far too trip-y for general enjoyment without a substantial amount of invested time or drugs."  However, we also discovered that "Led Zeppelin and The Beatles were the source of all modern music that is good."  And we are such experts in determining the good from the bad when it comes to aural experiences, without question, clearly.

But, again, I digress...

"What do you get? I get the smell and the initial taste from the smell but it quickly drowns out into what the label describes as 'espresso.'  I taste a hint of bean, but it transcends into a...rubbery after taste...as if I'm gnawing on a Michelin."

"The taste is solidly on the back of my tongue.  I can taste a little espresso as the bottle promises, however, and this could be just because I'm PMS-ing, but I taste a little chocolate. I like it.  I smell stone fruit (cherry)."

"It isn't that it's bad...I just expected more uniformity."

"But..wine isn't supposed to be uniform."

"Right, but I didn't expect it to veer off the path so...harshly."

"I'm partial to the thin viscosity of this bottle, there's no harsh enduring aftertaste, in my opinion.  I don't taste Michelin, but then again I've never gnawed on a tire before, either..."

"I'm sure you've had rubber in your mouth..."

Dirty, this one is.

"Tastes like...burning...like new car smell on crack."

Colorful descriptors.

"After it's swallowed, the 'happiness' prior to being swallowed, is there.  It's like a chocolate covered cherry. I dunno, I don't like wine blogging." (Mimes throwing computer off the dining room table.)

Well, that was a fun experiment.

Bottom line : Solid bottle, not exceptional but certainly not a total disappointment.  Patrick's ability to blog about wine is as adept as my ability to talk about sports, but I dig him anyway.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blackstone - Red Blend @@@ (3 corks)

Retails: $8.99 (Target)

My apologies, friends, it's been a substantial amount of time since my last update.  Before we get into playing catch-up, let's chat about the wine.

This is a really dry, tart, jammy wine.  There's a lot of fruit flavor but don't expect sweetness from this bottle.  What I find particularly striking about this wine is the smell: floral with a slightly acidic smell, reminiscent of magnolias.  The taste (thankfully) doesn't match the scent.  I'd run this bottle through an aerator if you have one (or uncork and allow to sit for a couple hours) before serving.  It pairs well with mac n' cheese --- hey, we're reviewing cheap hooch on here, don't act surprised that I'm eating good ol' Kraft Mac n' Cheese (or "Kraft Dinner" if you're Canadian). 

Where to begin...

Let's begin with la douleur exquise.

(the exquisite pain)

I'm being un peux dramatique.

So, my friends, up until recently, I'm not particularly fond of dating in my late-twenties. When did every man on the planet start dancing the ever seductive waltz of non-commitment? This just about sums up a couple of my more recent endeavors: "date" for three months; vacation together; meet eachothers' friends (or in one instance, family); and suddenly feel "suffocated" if I'm puzzled as to why I'm still being introduced as "your friend?" Or, even better, be told that "you're absolutely perfect in every way...BUT...this can't go anywhere because you've been married before," even though said topic was already discussed months earlier.  And my all-time favorite: "you're perfect for me...but I just kinda feel like playing the field before I settle down."  The best part is being labeled "crazy" for feeling like any of those scenarios is complete bullshit.

To whatever girl decided to play along with this game and start the notion that this is "ok," or, heaven forbid, "normal," I promise you, I will punch you in the face if I ever have the opportunity.

To all the boys out there: this is NOT ok. In fact, this is a convenient way to avoid feeling any kind of responsibility for hurting the other person, or worse yet, potentially having your precious feelings hurt.

So, I went 2.0 with my dating efforts and decided to try online dating (again).  For anyone who has considered online dating but feels ashamed to try or would prefer a more "organic" approach to meeting someone special, I would encourage you to still give it a shot.  Dating isn't what it used to be and I think a multimedia approach to dating isn't a bad idea.  If you're a busy working professional like myself with very little time to spend going on countless, pointless dates, this is an excellent, streamlined approach to finding someone you could potentially be compatible with.  Although online dating can definitely become a job in and of itself, what with the combing through profiles and responding to winks/emails from potential suitors, I find that the rewards are worth the effort.  Rather than being asked out blindly by someone you meet whom you know little about, you're able to get a read on the person (and perhaps, find some shared interests) before you meet in person.  If you're relatively adept at correspondence, there's no reason why you shouldn't give it a try.  At the very least, you'll be thoroughly entertained by some of the freak shows who prowl the dating sites. 

So, kids, I have a new boyfriend.  The first, in fact, since "The Big D."  No, smart asses, he's not a freak show-prowler.  We began correspondence over a month ago, taking almost three weeks to actually meet in person --- this boy has some persistence!  I was nervous, driving to our appointed destination for the first date, a chill bar up in Tampa that I had been to a couple of times before.  Our date began at 8pm and lasted until past 1am, the conversation never stopped.  Our subsequent dates were similarly conversation-filled. There wasn't a single thing about him I didn't like or couldn't get past, and even now almost six weeks later, the more I know about him, the more I like him.  Halloween night, I invited him out for dinner in St. Pete with the promise of plenty of people watching and an epic couples costume (plug n' socket, WIN).  Over beers in a local dive, he asked me to be his girlfriend.  I, of course, said yes.  The perfect combination of modern conventions with old school charm -- what guy in this day and age actually requests a relationship?  Although the relationship is still in its nascent stages, I'm filled with optimism.  This, as any divorcee will tell you, is quite a feat in and of itself.  To find someone who can melt your bitterness and fear away is a rarity.  I'm looking forward to what the future brings, even if at the end of the day, it's just a solid friendship.  Guys like this are few and far between.  Much like an excellent wine, he is also only growing better and better with time.


Robert Mondavi Private Selection - Merlot @@@@ (4 corks)

Retails: $7.49 (Target - on sale)

This delicious California merlot is rich and full-bodied.  The back of the bottle describes it in such tactile descriptors as "velvety" and I couldn't agree more.  It has a luxurious feel on the tongue, where many other bottles witin this price range feel "thin," this merlot feels lush, thick, expensive.  It has a distinctive merlot-y taste about it (don't you just love making up words?): spicy, some tannin dryness on the tongue in the after taste, deep plum and dark berry flavor.  It's filled with pure win, in otherwords.  If you're throwing a fancy pants shindig, I'm pretty sure most wine snobs wouldn't know the difference, so serve it up!  This one's a keeper.

Monday, September 17, 2012

In the Days of Cooties, we were Somehow Immune (For Eric) Luc Pirlet - Corbieres @ (1 cork)

We were four. 
It was around this time, 25 years ago, we met for the first time.  You were the Farmer in the Dell, I was the Cheese--therefore, I danced alone.  Spinning around the circle, I kept trying to find an excuse to stand next to you and get to hold your hand as we ring'd around the rosie.  You were the first ginger-haired kid I had ever seen, the first boy I ever felt captivated by.  Your magnetic personality drew people in, I knew we were going to be friends for a long time.

We were five.
Riding along the twisting, winding dirt roads towards your camp in the woods, I bounced in my seat due to the unpredictable terrain in pitch-black, middle-of-nowhere Maine.  It rained for days.  Gingie and Alabaster, a.k.a "Mr. Squeakers," had cabin fever (as did we).  Eventually your firecracker personality got the best of you and we braved the Maine drizzle in search of fun. Draping ourselves in Mickey Mouse ponchos, we fished for "the big one" on Sebago Lake.  We only caught a small fish but told everyone "You should have seen the one that got away!"
We road bikes through the mud -- or rather, YOU road bikes through the mud, I only made it half-way through before running aground and capsizing in slow-motion into the brown muck of "Lake D."

We were six.
You were my first sleepover, our moms bought us matching Pound Puppies and Pound Purries to commemorate the occasion.  Always the bad influence, you kept telling me ghost stories well beyond bed time and woke me up every time I nodded off.  The apple tree was blooming in the front yard, Mom got inspired and took a number of portraits of our adorable, six-year-old selves.
The first day of "real school" I remember feeling a giant sigh of relief when I walked into the room and found you there.  My best friend.  We were seated beside each other since I was DeL and you were DeS.
We played at afternoon recess together and didn't hear the teacher call us in, another friend, Joe, was sent to come after us.  The odd couple.  In the days of cooties, we were somehow immune.

We were seven.
Days of rain pooled on the flat roof of our tiny school. The ceiling collapsed and a waterfall of rain spilled over the breezeway.  They cancelled classes, called parents and sent kids home.  Well, all kids, except for us. You said, in your prematurely developed sarcasm, "I bet they're shopping." Our mothers, who had become best friends, too, were, indeed, partaking in their favorite form of cardio.  We were the only two kids who hadn't been picked up in the entire school, abandoned!  Left to our defenses! Not that we were surprised to find out that our suspicions were correct. 

We were eight.
I was the only girl at your birthday party (again).  Happy Wheels was the hot birthday ticket, and I can't remember if it was your birthday or another friend's, but we were both invited.  When the disco ball lowered and some cheesy ballad, clearly sung before our time, echoed through the darkened roller rink, we couple skated.  Terribly.  Like siblings.  You didn't have a serious bone in your body, thoroughly intent on tripping my skates for the duration of the song.  I held on to your hand to make sure you'd fall with me.

We were nine.
Snow fell on the long, frosty journey up to Sugar Loaf.  You had recently been discovered as somewhat of a snowboarding prodigy.  In this burgeoning sport, you picked it up faster than most and began hanging out with older, cooler kids.  I stayed on the bunny trails while you progressed to half pipes and black diamonds in no time.  We played Connect Four in front of the fire and even in that simple game, your spirit of competition and eagerness to succeed were very obvious.  I lost every game.

We were twelve.
You sat behind me in English and we made fun of our awful teacher.  You made me green earrings for Christmas, to "match my eyes."  We were slowly edging towards different sides of the play ground, and I felt special every time we talked.

We were fourteen.
We took horseback riding lessons together that summer.  You had transferred to a snowboarding high school, I hadn't seen you in ages.  I literally got thrown off a horse and you were the one who gave me a hug and told me to get right back on.  I did.

We were sixteen.
It was winter break, we went out for Chinese food.  You had just overcome a serious knee injury that killed your season training with the Olympic snowboarding team, the first ever. I was so nervous, I kept my jacket on to hide the sweat.  I struck up an awkward conversation about techno music, thankful that we at least had that in common, though I was clearly a fan through just listening to the music, you had apparently snuck into a show.

We were twenty-one.
I was a week shy from moving to Florida after graduating from college, unable to find solid work in Maine.  Our parents arranged for us to meet-up for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  It was freezing outside, you had become a smoker.  I stood shivering under the eave talking to you about music, snowboarding, life.  You were different, I hardly recognized who you were, except for the laugh.  Your laugh contained the perfect combination of mischief and joy.

We were twenty-nine.
Your parents came down for my wedding, but we had not talked in a long time.  I divorced a year later. That fall, while on vacation in Chicago, I heard about your death through Facebook before my mother had the opportunity to tell me over the phone. 

The Farmer in the Dell had passed on.  The world has lost one more firecracker, one more ginger-haired, magnetic boy.  I'm sorry that I never had the chance to tell you how much your friendship meant and that you helped shake-up this shy girl.  And I hope some day, we'll meet again and finally catch that big one, the one that got away.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gumdale - Shiraz @@@@ (4 corks)

Retails: $8.99 (Total Wine)

The divorce became final last Tuesday and I couldn't be more relieved. Despite some (predictable) drama from the ex in the courtroom (door slammed in face, are we surprised?) the proceeding was over within 5 minutes. I wish I could say I immediately felt as if I had returned to a normal life, but I'm still adjusting. I am fine, better than fine, I am strong, stronger than I ever thought I was. But still, there's an enormous amount of adjustment.
Curious though, you'd think in this day and age, the novelty of a women's filing for divorce from her husband wouldn't be met with such absolute shock. Even the judge assumed that he must have filed, a quizzical look traced his face when my ex piped up that "No! This was her decision!" And even after that awkwardness was settled, there was still the consoling "oh, you elected to handle finances outside of court, was the outcome agreeable for you?" Agreeable for me? As the higher earner shouldn't you be asking that of him? But sure, you're right, it's safe to assume that I would be the one navigating dire financial straights after a divorce, what with being a woman and all. Of COURSE I would be a) destitute or b) money hungry enough to demand a financial settlement from my ex. OK... I realize I am probably reading too much into things but it's hard to ignore the undertones of patriarchal surprise when one discovers that not only did I file and pay for the whole darn circus but I also had the bright idea of obtaining a prenup. Awesome high-fives aside, there's something still wrong with the fact that more women aren't taking this kind of control over their (financial) destinies.
One of the first lessons I learned in my Women of Financial Independence seminar at Smith was to a) begin contributing towards retirement as soon as you're employed and b) never let go of 100% of your finances in marriage, you have earned this money and you are entitled to keep some of it and in fact, it's advisable to do so for this and other reasons (widowhood, independence, sanity). Not just women, men, too, should take this into consideration. A marriage is pure devotion, absolutely, but was a wise friend once said --- it should be 1+1 makes 3, individually you are awesome people and you come together to create an awesome unity of people. Why shouldn't you maintain some independence? What's wrong with that? Isn't your independent self what the other person found attractive initially anyhow?
Alright, getting off my high-horse now, let's talk wine. Gumdale's selection of wines have yet to truly disappoint. They are exceptionally priced and usually deliver a predictably solid bottle of wine. This shiraz is no exception. Full-bodied, it packs a complex variety of flavors---loads of berry and cherry with hints of chocolate. Very little dryness which allows for it to be easily drinkable to a multitude of wine drinkers. I could easily see this being a good option as the red for a dinner party.
Enjoy. Contemplate. Above all, rejoice in your identity of self --- I'm now starting to rediscover my own.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Purple Cowboy - Cabernet Sauvignon @@@@ (4 corks)

Retails: $10.99 (Target)
And so, the tide recedes.
To say that I've had an eventful past seven months is an epic understatement.
In between my last entry and now there have undoubtedly been innumerable pleasurable bottles of wine, many of which were consumed during a time of enormous heartache, difficulty, disappointment, confusion, and utter life questioning, sleepless nights. If it had not been for good friends and family who build my solid foundation, and a resolve to not become another defeated person (woman), I'm sure I would not have consumed, but would have been consumed.
Before I delve too deeply into the details, first, the wine.
I came across this little beauty while in one of my absolute favorite guilty pleasures--Super Target, (the "super" being superfluous since ALL Target is super in my opinion...I digress). The descriptive label boasted of both cherry and cola flavors -- cola? So, in essence, we're comparing this Cabernet Sauvignon to cherry coke --- needless to say, sheer curiosity overtook any logic behind my buying power, and I immediately placed the bottle in my red cart.
The smell does have a certain Robitussen familiarity about it. I mean that in the absolute best way. In the same manner in which Robitussen cough syrup is cherry-esque, I would say this wine embodies the same quality. It's not sweet but there's a stone fruit palatable bitterness about it. There's almost a hint of eucalyptus vapor, probably adding to the cough syrup resemblance. It's a difficult wine to describe, my one critiques is that the dryness can be a bit overpowering. This is a completely full-bodied wine, definitely not for the faint of heart. If you're brave enough to follow-through, you'll find a beautiful blackberry flavor lingers on your tongue, inviting you back for more. Intriguing, complicated, absolute perfection for this moment.
Back in December, the final nail was hammered into the coffin of my marriage. After a long thirteen months, after enduring yet another brutal fight, I finally found the courage to admit to myself, to my ex-husband, and to the world, that I couldn't stand to live another miserable day feeling "less than."
I've spent an inordinate amount of my young adult life feeling less than. One failed relationship after another, I've frequently been made to feel less than, and when I chose to get married, I felt I had finally escaped the cycle. I worked hard, harder than I've ever worked at anything to resolve difficult situations and cultivate a sense of ease but more importantly, a sense of love in the home I had created.
But, as one of my favorite Wilco songs simplistically says in the most articulate of ways, "I thought that if I held you tightly, you would always love me like you did back then," suddenly became the absolute truth. It became clear that this person's anger and rage towards me were never going to cease. The name calling, the hurtful words were only going to get worse and more painful. I was paying the price for someone else's mistakes.
Perhaps, after many, many years, these kinds of troubles can be resolved in a marriage, but within the first year, coupled with all of the other difficulties, I felt as if I were barely surviving as it was. I couldn't sleep, my entire immune system was incapable of functioning properly. The stress was literally killing me slowly. And for what? At the end of the day, I didn't even have a partner, I had a roommate who lived down the hall who I slowly felt less and less for until I finally felt absolutely nothing at all.
It took a long time for me to finally find the courage to end it before it would end me. I was afraid of what people would say --- shocking, I know. Many of my closest friends were entering parenthood or blissfully newlywed, how could they understand? Then, of course, there's the sting of the divorce stigma -- and after only thirteen months?! The horror! Somehow, I felt guilty that I couldn't handle the "pressures of being married." I had somehow convinced myself that what I was going through was completely normal---but is walking on eggshells out of fear around the one who's supposed to love you most, normal?
Probably the most difficult thing to come to terms with in the whole situation was the fact that I truly wanted to be married. I've wanted nothing more my entire life than to have my own family and feel the security of having a home full of people who love you and whom I love -- no matter what. I felt like a complete failure for not being able to resolve all the problems and make the situation work.
I moved out just before the holidays, my stuff lay in purgatory between my old home, my parents' condo and storage. I spent Christmas and New Years Day alone--and if it weren't for a couple of amazing friends, I would have also spent the two Eves' alone, too. Thankfully, work was amazingly busy so I was able to fully dive into this distraction.
That is, until I got laid off.
Yes, just after the holidays, I got laid off--I couldn't have been more devastated. Not only had I in the New Year, moved into a new apartment specifically chosen for its proximity to work, but I also had worked the holidays rather than going home and grieving my loss. My marriage had failed and I had failed at the only real job I had ever had. The kind of hell I fell into is indescribable. "It's a fresh start," literally everyone I know, said. Yes, I would agree, but nothing could have prepared me for losing absolutely every part of my past life. My divorce might have been my decision, but it was nevertheless a complete destruction of the person I had become. My getting laid off was the last piece of my former life to part with. Perhaps it hit me worse only because it wasn't at all on my own terms.
Luckily, during this difficult time, I found solace in a new found hobby --- no, not drinking an extraordinary amount of wine or other liquor---but, I began, for the first time ever, distance running. The one stroke of good luck I had in January, brought me in as a last-minute fill-in for a runner on a relay team in the Ragnar relay series. Running 200 miles in a 36 hour period from Miami to Key West, our team of 12 conquered an incredible feat at the start of the new year. If it weren't for this experience, the friends I made doing this and the new-found hobby, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have caught the next wave--
I'm a big believer that we are all floating in a giant body of water, waves come along and pick us up, carry us for a while, the energy coming ever-closer to entropy...to slowly end at shore, or die abruptly in the waters...only to be carried into another wave that will lead us further into The Journey.
So, after my whirlwind adventure running the relay, after getting laid off -- my luck finally began to change.
Out of nowhere, my former employer called to re-hire me. Under better terms (and salary), I hopped back on-board doing what I've been doing -- and actually feeling appreciated for the kind of effort I bring to the job at hand.
Out of nowhere, a former love is slowly becoming a new love all over again. Organically. That's probably the most exciting thing, the prospect of starting all over again, all over again, with someone who during "round one" (as I affectionately call it), I was pretty damn convinced was the one I'd end up with -- if it weren't for a bunch of outside circumstances (distance, too much travel, burgeoning careers, life). And I would have been lucky to have ended up with him.
As he so eloquently put -- "right bus, right seat, wrong time" -- couldn't agree more and I absolutely cannot wait to see where this bus (wave) will take me this time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Buffalo Grove - Cabernet Sauvignon @@ (2 corks)

Retails: $8.99 ($12.99 1.5 L)

I'm in a funk.

I'm not sure if it's the workplace, a case of the dulldrums, a looming birthdate, babyfever, lack of friends, lack of funds, missing people, lack of creativity, or a simple case of the blahs...or a combination of all of the above (shit).

...and like a good blogger, I reached for a bottle that ALSO turned out to be shit. Great! To make matters worse, I started on this ranting blog and my computer completely rebooted without warning further leading me to believe that I've stumbled on some seriously bad mojo...or something.

Either way, unlike the red zinfandel from this same label, this Cab is awful. It's drinkable but that may be entirely based on my desperation.

So, what's a gal to do when in an unexplained funk? Well, for me, it involves my husband politely leaving me to my mood while I watch old episodes of Sex and the City snuggled up with my dog, Roxy, who celebrates her fifth birthday tomorrow.

Yes, friends, I'm one of those crazy dog ladies. Fully committed and unapologetic, my dog is amazing and yes, she is the namesake from which this blog derives its name. You see, Roxy Cape was the fake name I gave out at bars in college (along with a fake number that led fools to my alma matter's automated daily menu, the "to eat" line...yes, I'm that kind of clever.)

Roxy seemed like a wonderfully ironic name for my puppy who I truly believe chose me--I've never had a dog before, my family's more feline-oriented.

I was on my way to a haircut and happened upon a puppy shop (clearly puppy mill puppies but, you know, fuzzy!) I had been in the market but not super motivated to look. I came upon a pen of adorable puppies when a little black, furry puppy who studied me curiously with an air of, "have we met?"

Needless to say, after my hair appointment, I hurriedly ran back to the shop and snatched her up before the shop closed. I thank my puppy for getting me out of the worst relationship of my life and eventually guiding me to meet my husband --- no, really, we met at the dog park it doesn't get any more blatant than that.

As I turned on the television to begin my Sex and the City marathon this evening, she snuggled up on my lap giving me the look of -- "this again? What's wrong now? Pour yourself a cocktail--it's necessary sometimes, lady-- forget this wine, scratch your dog behind the ears, you'll be fine in an hour." Sometimes my dog really is my best friend (or my unorthodox therapist?)

Either way, Roxy my dear, Happy 5th birthday. You are my little furry soulmate.