Odd Pairings Can Be Simply The Best

A concert at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), pretty cool backdrop. Falcon Stadium is not huge, so I am thinking an up and comer or someone fading out but still loveable.  Nope, it was Tim McGraw. Now, that is pretty awesome and I told my husband go ahead try to get some tickets…but then, they announced who is also high on the bill…I think co-lead—Train! Yes, Train, Train…I said get those tickets now!

Now, on paper this may seem like an unlikely pairing. But, it has been proven and many times here I have written about the need to break from tradition, because it works.  Well, this worked and it worked really well. Both played to the audience that sang along note for note and word for word with both of them. It was unforgettable.

The music played was ageless as little kids were there and old fogies, even older than me. Yes, it is possible. (wink, wink). Pat Monahan , didn’t think anyone in the audience was old enough to remember Drops of Jupiter and Tim McGraw, thought he might be too old to remember Indian Outlaw.  The crowd had their backs and I lost my voice. You can hear the applause right from my kids…shuddup 😉 jk

The pure talent of Train really performed that night as they did a few tributes. Opening with Let’s Go Crazy from Prince and then later on Under Pressure, Queen and David Bowie and then Hotel California, for Glenn Frey.  Although, they didn’t do any of the songs from their cover album of Led Zeppelin, they played almost all of their big hits plus a few. It was amazing and for the first time in a long time, I and I think everyone else, really heard the lyrics.  If you think you know them, go back and give them a listen, it is amazing.

I have to say I am grateful to Tim McGraw.  I love my husband but after he was listening to women of all ages swoon, and comment about this man’s pecs, my husband decided to follow the paleo diet that Tim sort of follows and we joined a gym.  This man is no slouch and his songs all sound like he is singing to you or about you or something we all have experienced.  That takes talent and although already a fan, I am much more of one now.

Now, to the surprising part and what gets me my name, The Blonde Grape.  I was looking for something to drink at the stadium and they had beer. I can do that, but hello, this is Train, they have their own wine, I want to be on the wine Train.  Yes, I said it, not well, but you read it, so there.

Train has several respectable wines and the brand is called Save Me, San Francisco…one of my fave songs. They donate a large part to charity if not all of it and they have several varietals. Some are: California 37 a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, Drops of Jupiter, a California Red Blend, Marry Me Rose’ ( I have yet to try this one, looking forward to it) and Calling All Angels, a Chardonnay wine. I was having trouble with their website but I can tell you although it has been a while since I have had some of them, I did recently have Calling all Angels and their wine is really good. Not just a celebrity wanting to do good, but the wine is great and can and should be paired with whatever you like. A nice article on how Train is successful in wine by Richard James of BuzzFeed can be read here.  In fact, Train now has a Save Me, San Francisco chocolate through Ghirardelli, a great pairing.   I say pair it with food, but pair it with good music and turn it up. I am thinking you can pair it with any of the artists above or you can even try Sting‘s new song 50,000 which is a tribute to the above artists and I am certain Train would approve.

Here is a video or link to a video that I found with Jimmy Stafford, guitarist for Train
talking about Save Me, San Francisco wines and the development of the winery. He likes to have a glass or two of wine before a concert, that pleases me. Be daring, be bold and drink what you like. Cheers!

 

A Whale of a Good Time—in Vail

“I’ve a whale of a tale to tell you lads, a whale of a tale or two…” even better when sung by Kirk Douglas (if you are wondering about the relevance of the 20,000 League ride at Disney Parks). Click here, assuming I still can’t get the video to link directly. Remember, part of the title is Blonde…now, let it go.

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A Disney Film, with a very catchy tune. 

Vail, Colorado is a beautiful mountain town with a definite European influence. Covered bridges, nestled in the Gore Mountains and plenty of unique shopping and dining experiences.


One of the better farmer’s markets around, although a little light on the natural foods, a great selection of cook to order meals, great arts & crafts and even wine. In fact, the wine caught me by surprise and ended up buying some before the wine festival even started.  Bookcliff Vineyards, probably my favorite of Colorado wines so far…although admittedly, I have only tried a few. I am getting over the coastal issue but I was very pleased and bought a triple package. The packaging was very creative and really promoted Colorado wines.

See, packaged in the box and out, it is creative and true to the vine.  We purchased a triple and was able to choose the wines. We chose the Cabernet Franc, Ensemble and the Syrah. Granted, we leaned red and I am normally more balanced between the two, but I think the strength of this vineyard is in the reds and I really enjoyed the Cabernet Franc.  Other very notable vineyards, use Cabernet Franc in their blends along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot…if the ratio is done just right, it is divine.

Now, to enter the wine festival. The food pairings they had were not disappointing, although some of the wines were. I can tell you The Prisoner was winning hands down, although Vail would have you feeling anything but trapped. I will also tell you,again, my favorite is sparkling wine, so I was drinking Chandon, by the bottle. Okay, a split..but I drank it from the bottle and it fit in the drink holder of all the Audi cars. Yes, they were a sponsor and my husband promised me the TT. Shown below.

More pics from the Wine Festival—

Vail is one of my favorite places.  It is nice and a true escape from the daily grind.  This wine fest was very enjoyable and you can never go wrong with the excellent dining and outdoor activities that abound in the valley. Go shop, taste and experience Vail. But remember, your taste is your own-drink what you like. Cheers!

In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus: Eins, zwei, g’suffa! Or, in Beaver Creek Oktoberfest, I Drink Up (Mostly Beer)

On my father’s side my roots go back to Germany on his paternal side and Sweden on his maternal side.  We also have a deep passion for all things Italian and when my dad did a bit of research on his roots, we found out we had a Guido in our German heritage. This is a distant cousin named Guido, literally, I would not go Jersey Shore on you. I will tell you being 5’2″ I got ripped off in the stereotypical traits of this union although I do have blonde hair and blue eyes. Now, that I have squirreled many times, I will go back and tell you I spent many days going to German festivals and was fortunate to travel over to both Germany  experience the beer halls in person.  I visited Sweden too, but that is a different post.

I learned early on to sing the Oompa songs and thus when I recently attended the Oktoberfest in Beaver Creek, CO, I sang along to perhaps the most popular Oktoberfest song of all time, “the Hofbräuhaus-Song”.  Link attached to pic.  

Now, you say but I thought the Duck Dance is the most popular…and that is definitely gaining popularity but not as authentic. What is the Chicken Dance? Surely, you jest…but okay, this will be in your head for a while but you asked for it.The Chicken Dance (or the Duck Dance depending on where you are listening)

Now, if you are thinking that wine isn’t too prevalent at Oktoberfests, you are right. It is also where you will find an abundance of bratwurst, knockwurst, pretzels and even WienerSchnitzel on a stick. But, steins are a lot of fun to drink from and I couldn’t resist a picture of the schnitzel on a stick.  Can’t you just hear Jeff Dunham now…on a stick.

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Jose’ Jalapeno on a stick

This particular Oktoberfest in Beaver Creek, CO is considered one of the top German Beer Festivals in the state.  Beautiful scenery, small yet inclusive atmosphere and schnitzel on a stick. So, yes, it was great. They teased us with wine but I also enjoyed a Pimm’s Cup as the wine was not that enticing at the festival. But, they also had non-traditional cuisine such as paella.  But, later a great appetizer of raw oysters with the best cocktail dressing ever, a bowl of French Onion Soup and my Kindler, canned beer. Canned beer is supposedly the best way to do beer now according to the microbrews, but I still prefer the bottle. Say what you want, I can taste the difference. But, this locally brewed beer was very good and a great way to cap off the fest. Visit the microbrew with a very good canned beer here, at Bonfire Brewing.  The last meal was at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, check it out.

What I love best about these type of festivals is the attitude of the people.  People let people be themselves, hangout and have fun.  Dance crazy dances and sing off-key to a great copycat band.  Yes, they had the Hollywood Stones play and it was really quite an experience listening to a crowd sing Ruby Tuesday without provocation.

However, the night wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t celebrate back in the room a bit. Beaver Creek has a great and passionate wine shop.  She tries to stock to educate, entertain and seduce the customer’s palates. So, we tried a South African Sparkling Wine, called Graham Beck. It was a bit chewy, very effervescent but not disappointing for those of us who really love a Brut.  It seemed meatier but the taste was nice and after a day of schnitzel on a stick, a Mick Jagger look-a-like, and beer, it was a great end to a great day. Bottom line, as I always say, have fun and drink what you like.  Life is too short to do other wise. Chicken Dance.  Different video – you are welcome –Bitte schön.20160903_184329_resized

Steamboat Wine Festival Sipping Sotheby’s Style – Bordeaux vs Burgundy

Sotheby’s brought their world-class status to Steamboat Springs and entertained the lovers of the vine with a thing or two about Bordeaux and Burgundy. The gathering was held at Saddles where once again the food did not disappoint and the views are stunning. The hosts from Sotheby’s were Eli Rodriguez from New York and Mike Hoagland from California. Yes, it was an East Coast vs West Coast kind of deal which is kind of funny considering the East Bank vs West Bank of our wine tastings.

What do you think of when you think of Burgundy? Are you thinking it is a really pretty color? If yes, you might be on the wrong blog. burgundy colors
Rather, it is a region in France and it is known for producing really great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.  Now, California and Oregon create some very appealing Pinot Noirs, but this lighter red wine is elevated to a higher level when you drink one from this colorful region. The Pinot Noir grape is the only red varietal grown in the Burgundy region. See map below to acquaint yourself with the region.

Driving this point home was theburgundy_map spectacular sampling of Hudelot-Noellot Nuits St. Georges “Les Mergers” ler Cru 2010 (shown above left).  Using Sotheby’s description, “An outstanding vintage, this is a wonderful example of  the extraordinary quality of fruit in 2010. An enticing, mouth-watering nose gives way to mildly spicy, concentrated, earthy flavors in the mouth.  Juicy and delicious Pinot Noir.” I not only quote them because they are spot on, but because when you are sampling a bottle that is selling for a little over $100 you want to be exact. To learn more about Pinot Noir, check out the following link from Your Wine IQ, here.

Now, what do you think of when you hear Bordeaux? You would be on the right blog if you think a deeper red wine and associate the region of France with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even Malbec. Now, this is my blog and I would think of the same things but I also think of my red husky aptly named Bordeaux.

So, making sure I give the proper respect and not accidentally misrepresent the stronger wines, I will again post the descriptions of the Chateau Clinet, Pomerol 2004  and the Chateau Gruaud Larose, St. Julien 1998 that Sotheby’s provided on their card.

Via Sothebys:
Chateau Clinet, Pomerol 2004: A blend of majority Merlot, with the rest of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Clinet is always impressive Pomerol.  Powerful, densely colored and big, balanced with freshness and precision.  One of Bordeaux’s great Right Bank estates.
Chateau Gruaud Larose, St. Julien 1998: As one of Bordeaux’s famed Second Growths, Gruaud Larose is textbook St. Julien: on the nose, a touch of cedar, cherry and blackberry, blended with balanced smoke, fruit and sweet tannin on the finish.  Benchmark Bordeaux, and always built to last.

Both of these wines were excellent. Dare I say, all of the wines presented by Sotheby’s were very good and honestly, better than expected. Yes, we paid for the presentation but they really elevated the experience.  Eli and Mike, look like brothers and finished each other’s sentences and made wine accessible to the masses.  As it should be, it has been around longer than you or I and thus we should experience the stories each glass tells.

Perhaps my favorite part of the experience, is I received some unsolicited validation. Wine is to be enjoyed and I often drink red wine with fish, I pair a wine with the weather, (see Hace Caliente) my goal is to enjoy the complexities of wine and also the simplicities of wine. When I heard these experts, and they are sommeliers and do intense study, lead off with drink what you like and have red wine with fish…I beamed.  I almost did a spit take and I can’t agree more.

You may notice Bordeaux giving the proper sniff to a bottle of red…well, it is actually a Zinfandel and the only grape that is actually native to California.  It is not, but probably more similar to a Burgundy but I couldn’t resist the picture. Besides, as I have said before and will say again,

Pedal & Pour @SteamboatWineFestival 2016

 

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Good Morning Steamboat Springs

With a wake-up call like this, what better way to earn your wine than a bike ride through Steamboat Springs through rolling hills to an old school-house and then back for a wine tasting with Michael David Winery.

To say that I am excited about this event is an understatement.  I want to ride my bicycle–you can sing along with me – I want to ride my bike.   I mean I posed my bike like children in anticipation and right before the event because I proved wine gives you strength. At least that is the phrase I told myself going up the “low” rolling hills.

We gather in front of Cafe Diva near Gondola Square between Torian Plum and The Sheraton.   I will admit it, I am a bit nervous.  I have had two surgeries and only have done one ride outside since recovery.  I bought brand new shoes because I am a girl and that is what I do (don’t judge).  Will they clip into the bike? How many hills are there? [knowing full well this is Colorado and they lie when they say a flat course. I mean hello, Rocky Mountains…I am blonde but I can pull out knowledge when needed]. Before we start to roll, I over hear a conversation (okay eavesdrop, tell me the difference) and realize we have one of the owners of Michael David Winery trying to pedal chains with us on the adventure. As a lover of wine, a new blogger I am like a teenager at a Shawn Mendes concert.  So far, three people have thought he was his brother, well I won’t, his name is David. That is my brother’s name, I’m golden…or…

We turn the cranks under the balloon and past funky mailboxes.  The ride is going better than expected, I am refusing to admit that I am scared.  I mean, I have legitimate excuses, never mind that I have been medically cleared and teach spinning.(I said before, don’t judge) Spinning is an excellent workout, it is indoor cycling. Which means I will make you sweat going nowhere fast.  Now, we have just started and I am still trying to figure out how to shift my Bianchi (own one, and you’ll refer to it by its name…that is all), please remember I indoor cycle more due to injury.  I suddenly hear a welcome voice asking me all sorts of questions. How are you? What do you think? Now, I am blonde and now I am thinking and pedaling, this is dangerous territory.  So, I flip the tables between deep breaths…and find out that I am riding with a truly Epic cyclist that has now elevated my skills, status and anything else I can possibly tie to this event. I was riding alongside Sonya Looney.  She wins 24 hour races in places like Nepal and they are world races and she is awesome. Click on her name, Sonya Looney and you will see for yourself and do what she says, which is Do Epic Shit. Just go ahead and do it, reasons why will be another post.  She is awesome and as she distracted me, she reminded me how to shift and all of a sudden, I wasn’t a beginner driving a clutch, I was a pro and driving Fast and Furious.

So, if you haven’t figured this from my previous blogs, you should know that I love music. So, when I am pedaling up the last big hill and someone starts talking with an accent from the area that was my alma mater, I had to stay engaged.  My college degree is Recording Industry Management with a Business and Mass Communications Minor from MTSU. A slight digression but now that I am in civilian life, I rarely meet someone who understand the passion behind music. One you don’t have to like all kinds, but there is a respect and memories are made no matter your style, and this man owned several record stores.  In fact, I contributed to his 2nd home here in Steamboat because of how much I purchased. But, I am including him because he recognized my degree and he too can take any phrase, any quote and refer to the appropriate song.  It is a curse, but enjoy it.

The finish is at Saddles, in the Sheraton Hotel which is slopeside.  The inside is nice but in the middle of the lobby, but it opens up to the slopes and you can watch cyclists or skiers depending on season and it is almost perfection for location.  Go here when you visit, the food will not disappoint you and will keep you in vacation mode whether for a day or a week.

Now, we get to the reward of pedaling in the heat.  We rode up hill both ways – actually we did, they are rolling hills and that is how it works.  David Phillips, founder introduced us to the Michael David Winery Chardonnay.  It is the tamest of names for this vineyard but an enticing welcome as they raise your wine senses to a new level.  I was impressed, that the owner new(ish) to Colorado rode the race that he sponsored the tasting.  However, I was thrilled to find out that he sponsored many athletes, cyclists and Sonya Looney is one. So, no longer surprised, but you should witness, he still quality tests the wine before serving to our wine riding peloton. (See above).

David Phillips demonstrates that you should do what you love.  He loves the outdoors, he loves wines and he loves really good food.  The vineyard I am told, serves great food and I can tell you the winery will make you proud every pour.  Do you like zinfandel? I do, his winery produces the #1 selli20160812_130143_resizedng Zinfandel in the world and that is 7 Deadly Zins...but we were blessed to be able to try others. Now, David is quite the story-teller as he speaks about each wine being served. He told us about the vineyard but then he revealed to us the personality behind the fermented grapes he was pouring.
[I am often asked how do I choose wine..not scientifically as you might expect.  If I am going for a blind tasting, I factor in weather, occasion but I look for personality on the label.]  David, takes his grapes and process seriously but he and the vineyard have a great sense of humor. He was raised in Catholic schools and he loves wine.  Knowing the two mix but maybe not completely, they have chosen to name their wines reminding he and his brother Michael of their youth.  That or a Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman movie, called Se7en about the Seven Deadly Sins.  Rest assured the wine is infinitely more delicious,fun and memorable than the movie and adds a laugh or two on the label. But, the movie was pretty good too but I choose the wines.  To name a few: Freakshow, 7 Deadly Zins, Earthquake, Rapture and Lust.

This is the second tasting and is the petite sirah. For a hot day, this is perfect and although they paired it with food, I pair it with sunshine, activity and such.  This is Sonya’s favorite wine and it was a very nice change of pace. Which, when you shift your gears properly , is a very nice change of pace as well.  Love Earthquake.

Next in line is Rapture. Now, David talked about how this was kind of rebellion against his youth and targeted at the evangelicals but it is a great wine and it is selling very well.  Embrace the humor in the label and know that this is a great Cabernet Sauvignon. It may not lift you like Revelations, but to think that you are drinking it and still going skyward, that is a good thing.  He may have made Biblical ties, but I linked it to Blondie and their song Rapture. More specifically, I linked it to the mashup of Blondie and The Doors and Rapture Rider. [I am betting you haven’t heard the mashup, so please give it a listen. It will surprise you]. For the record, I told him I made that leap…he liked it. I also discovered he likes Depeche Mode..if you listen and then read the labels, this does not come as a surprise. Try Just Can’t Get Enough. 

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I can’t begin to express how excited I am to be here. I have been a wine aficionado for half of my life but only began to blog about it recently.  I am not seeking accolades, so I am majorly geeking out that a sport that I love and wine can be blended together for an event and I get to meet people at the top of their fields, doing what they love.  It is beyond measurable. I apologize, because I can’t remember David’s wife’s name, (I am blonde, older and it wasn’t repeated as often) but I do know her contribution to the event and to be in a picture with her, David and Sonya is worth every sip of their wine.

Last but not least, I think you can tell that I try to stay positive in my posts but I would not say such stellar things if I didn’t believe them to be true.  You will find that often, the experience may overpower the wine and that sometimes happens.  In this case, Michael David Winery holds it own and this Pedal and Pour event, would not have been nearly as successful if it weren’t for a winery that had personality, character and understood the passion for pedaling. I think you will like this vineyard, and these wines make constant advice easy to follow – Drink What You Like.  Cheers!

And….Kickoff

The sun is setting and a slight mist in the air, the anticipation of the first cork being pulled is palpable.  Cue tape rewind … Introducing, the 2016 Steamboat Wine Festival .
20160811_192601_resizedSteamboat Springs, CO  could be the quintessential town displaying the culmination of the Old West and Contemporary Resort Life.  A great ski town, known for Billy the Kid (Skier) images and lots of snow.  But, in the summer it is also known for some great events, the wine festival but there are several cycling events, running races, rodeos and more.  There are several local lakes around for camping as well as hiking and it is a great place to unwind, especially considering the winding roads to get there.

Kickoff for the Wine Festival was held in Gondola Square.  It was open to the public and my only disappointment is that it only featured one vineyard: Woodbridge Vineyards.  Now, Robert Mondavi has a great history. The experience behind their wines and the family dramas tell for some great stories. But, and there is always a but, as an introduction to a wine fest where you are expected to be blown away by the offerings to only be offered one and it to be an easily accessible one or rather a very familiar one, was disappointing.

Enter the 6 Million Dollar Band. You are saying this is the second post referring to the Bionic series in the 70s. Well, first it was the Bionic Woman, this is not my reference but one the band chose and refers to Steve Austin ( played by Lee Majors.) But, I am betting you are still looking forward to the link of the theme song. Here it is: Six Million Dollar Man Theme Song.

There are times when we will question the 80s music, but when you are gathered around a lot of people who are similar in age and younger ones that believe classic rock is cool. Yes, they are calling the 80s classic rock…something is seriously wrong there but that is for another blog.

So under the 80s link, this is a long listen, but the sampling 80s band more diverse than posted above, is a good way to boost your playlist.  Need a boost to playlist or a happy reminder of your history –  Click here.

Now, it is a wine fest so we ventured inside to Saddles, a location in the Sheraton that hosted many of the events.  This place is awesome, if you are in the area, check it out.  I didn’t know there was a patio until the next day, but great food and beautiful views. So, here I drank a glass from a vineyard I used to drink quite often but for one reason or another, haven’t had in years.  A glass of the Austrailian Penfolds 389 which was a perfect accompaniment to the Elk Quesadillas.  Now, according to the site, this is considered a poor man’s vinicultural drink.  But, I find that very hard to believe. One, is it was very nice and well-rounded.  It was strong yet soft at the same time and for the record, it was a surprising $20/glass.  I didn’t see that at the beginning and probably would have not chosen it when the other glasses were $8-$12, but I thought it quite good and a more appropriate kick off to the event.

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A wine festival is to celebrate the history, the experience, the excitement, the lessons taught and the lessons to be learned from wine.  It is an event to celebrate love, friendships, new business, new families and a beverage that has been around for millenniums that unifies us all.  There will be lots to choose from, so as always try something new but in the end, drink what you like.  Cheers!

 

What’s in Your Backyard?

When a picture says it all. The two pics are of South Catamount Reservoir as you drive up Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak is one of the pinnacles of our region and is in my backyard.

Now, it is not that long ago, that the world was shocked and awed by the fact that the USA was producing wines and damn good ones.  The west coast tended to lead the way and although a few other areas tried, they were not taken too seriously.  Now, that is changing. I can say first hand that I have had wines made in Texas, New York, South Dakota and Colorado.  I think there is still a lot of room for growth but we are well on our way to expanding our horizons in the  vinicultural world and a new way to play tourist as we travel across the states.  I may even try some Florida wine soon.

On the way home after a great day of kayaking on the reservoir.

I was reminded of just how lucky I am to be living in a place where I can hike, bike, kayak, or just be lazy outside with mountains surrounding the waters.  Before, we made it all the way down the Peak, we decided we would cap it off and grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant, The Wines of Colorado.  This place is great! It is small, very casual so whether you are a tired tourist looking for a great souvenir for you and yours or you are a local trying to do the same, you blend in.  But, the food is really good and if you thought Colorado only had a couple of wines, you would be hugely mistaken.  Yes, we are better known for our microbreweries (Pikes Peak BrewingBristol Brewing  to name but a few) and growing distilleries (3 Hundred Days of Shine)  but we have some really good wineries and the Wines of Colorado is the place to sample them.

They have two decks that are creek side and although directly off of Hwy 24, you do not hear the road.  Rather, you hear a babbling brook and it is really a great little escape, especially for us locals.

One of the things that make this place great is that you get to sample the wines, not just before purchase of a bottle, but before purchase of a glass.  That is very cool but, be careful, your taste buds may get greedy (easy to do) and the tasting could take you a while.  I suggest you sample before you sit down, remember which ones you like and then go to your table. I tried several and the ones I liked the most were Pikes Peak Chardonnay, it was a little smokey and yet smooth. I also tried Garrett Estate Cellars  a very well-balanced, smooth 2011 Chardonnay that is unoaked.    We ended up buying a bottle of the latter and we also bought a red blend Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from The Winery at Pikes Peak , called Parliament Blend. 
20160710_161800_resized_1Upon arriving you walk through an indoor patio and then the wine shop with a great bunch of “stuff” for the wine enthusiast. Everything from shirts, hats but also wine holders, aprons etc. I couldn’t resist taking a few pics as they show that we oenophiles have a good sense of humor. Make sure you click on that last link if you have any doubt of what the word means. Once you do, you may use it all the time just to see the reaction on people’s faces when you do.

More samples of stuff:
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Your challenge, should you choose to accept it is to see if there is a local winery near you (or even in your state).  Get out and explore your backyard and safely imbibe on the flavors that contribute to the fermented grape and enjoy.  You may be surprised at what and how much you find when you sample what is growing in your backyard.

Cheers!