Tag Archives: red wine

Wednesday Wine Night at LegalZoom

27 Mar

Unless you are a winemaker or, say, this guy, work sucks. I don’t care how much you get paid, or how “rewarding” the job is–work is work, and work by definition sucks. Getting up in the morning, beating traffic, then getting harassed by customers for 8 or 9 hours straight is not exactly my definition of the “best day ever”, though of course there’s much worse!

I work on the sales team for the business department; there are other departments with their own sales teams. The estate planning sales team recently moved into the ground floor suite with my team. To “facilitate” this move, the LegalZoom administration funded a wine and cheese mixer in one of our conference rooms for Wednesday.

Needless to say, I was very keen on who, exactly, would be choosing the wine. I was delighted to hear that Heather from HR was the one assigned to purchase the food and wine. Heather knows her wine: in the days leading up to the event I e-mailed her repeatedly about her wine preferences and what she thought she would purchase. Tempranillo? Some sort of Rhone-style blend? As for whites, she settled on an unoaked or at least neutral-oak chardonnay.

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A Long Hiatus from Writing (but not Drinking!)

24 Mar

It has been a while since I last posted on this blog. To my loyal readers (all two of you): never fear! I intend to update this blog frequently. Being a “writer”, however, I find myself in long periods of time where writing is the LAST thing I want to do, especially after a day of work or a night of carousing. These days–and nights–I find myself in the mood not to write about wine but to drink wine.

These past two or three quiet weeks have been filled with drinking. I can’t say I’ve had anything too spectacular to drink: however, I’ve had some solid, easygoing, and inexpensive bottles. Even better–I was joined by my family, who have slowly started to look at wine not as a drug, per se, but as something that can have health benefits in moderation.

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The Dangers of Buying New Wine: or, How Picking Out Wine is a Lot Like Chinese Food

17 Feb

My family has really gotten behind my drinking–er, wine blog adventure. My brother won over my mom for me by saying I could make a lot of money in the upcoming years by selling ad space. Thus, my boozing has become synonymous with “investing for the future”, and if anyone has ever had ANY experience with Asian families, investing for the future = awesome.

Thus, it stands to reason that I must drink a lot of wine to produce the material for the blog. (Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, and every other writer known to man would probably attest to alcohol’s magical creative properties.) I’m not an economist, but I believe this is what’s known as the “trickle-down effect.” Right?

Over the past week I had three reds I’d like to write a bit about:

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The Third Bottle: Proverbial and Otherwise

11 Feb

I absolutely love to open new bottles of wine. It’s like going out with someone new… how balanced are they? How full-bodied? How… sweet?

At the same time, it’s hard for me to try new wines at home. There are only two large drinkers in my family: myself and my mom. Thus, there’s a chance that the great wine I opened the night before will just sit for two, or three, or four days and turn into a sour vinegar. Such a waste when wine should be consumed right then and there!

This is not just a problem I face at home. This was a very common phenomenon for me while I was at college (so long ago!). Sometimes I just felt like a glass of wine, but what to do with the other four (or three, depending on your point of view) glasses? It certainly didn’t help that my residents were waaaay underage.

I was lucky enough to be in the company of one Alex B., a Bavarian by extraction who revels in drinking as much as, say, the next Bavarian, which is to say, A LOT. I have had nights when I’ve foolishly chugged one or two bottles of cheap wine in the effort to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible. With Mr. B., I tend to drink large volumes of alcohol, but always good, delicious alcohol.

And it is with Alex that we go through two or three bottles of wine, quite easily. This is no dainty wine tasting with spitting into little porcelain cups–nay, it is real drinking! And by the third bottle, I can no longer taste the nuances of a wine, but it is so wonderful to rub my face.*

Thus is the raison d’etre for “The Third Bottle” red from GustavoThrace.

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Imagine a dinner party–maybe… six people… three couples, right? You gotta figure that in the average party there will be at least one person who drinks way more than average and at least one person who drinks way less than average. Say that this is a nice meal… appetizer, main course, dessert. Start off with a white… then move onto a light red, maybe a pinot…

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Mmm Mmm, Malbec!

20 Jan

I love malbec. The best are sensual, sexy, full-bodied red wines that, at a price range between $7.99 – $11.99, are a great bargain.

It’s sort of an immigrant grape. One of the up to six grapes used in Bordeaux wines, it rarely took center stage except in other more “rustic” regions like Cahors. (One example is the really excellent Clos La Coutale from Cahors, which is a bit southeast of Bordeaux. The Clos La Coutale is 70% malbec, 15% merlot, and 15% tannat. This Kermit Lynch selection has the finesse and grace of a fine merlot but the suppleness of a Argentine malbec.) It took the importation of this grape to the New World in the mid-1800s to give malbec the home it deserved.

The growing conditions in South America–especially Argentina–were ideal for malbec, which requires more sun and heat than cabernet and merlot (its more famous compatriots). This allows for New World wines that are 100% malbec.

My favorite malbec is from Maipe, which is an intense, staining shade of deep purple. It almost pulses with an animal, sensual energy. There are dusty fruit aromas that, upon drinking, fill your mouth with an utterly satisfying, powerful explosion of plum, chocolate, earth. It’s a bronze fist covered with a silk glove. It is delicious by itself, with chocolate, with anything you can throw at it–I wouldn’t, however, pair it with fish or anything too delicate. The Maipe would destroy any gentle partner.

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Farmer’s Market and Cost Plus Market

9 Jan

So after a hiatus consisting of a few days of unremarkable wine (a bottle of [yellow tail] shiraz seduced me with its fanciful clothing, slender, sleek neck, and cheap price–much to my regret) and long, dreary days at LegalZoom.com, I managed to catch up with my college friend Will Gordon. He was in town, visiting from Berkeley, and we dropped by my perennial favorite–the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax.

Dinner was at the dependable Monsieur Marcel, which has a wonderful ambiance in the evening. A beautiful, dark brunette smiled to me from the wine bar (at least, I thought it was me!), so things were already taking a turn for the better as we were seated.

I had a glass of rosé from Chateau de L’Escarelle–in Provence–made from cinsault and grenache. It was wonderful–absolutely breathtakingly fresh, full of ripe strawberry, not in the least bit cloying. It was light but had substantial heft for a rosé. And at $6.49 a glass (one of the less expensive wines on the menu) it was nice to my wallet. This wine reminded me of another wonderful rosé, the Rosé of Syrah from Ampelos Cellars of the Santa Rita Hills in California:

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Will had a glass of the 2004 tempranillo from Bodegas Ercavio. It was fruitier than other tempranillos I’ve had–less vanilla from oak. (Maybe this is because Bodegas Ercavio is not in Rioja, which has a reputation for oakiness.) It was a light, pleasing red, and well-priced at $6.99.

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Keeping the Skies Safe from Exploding… Bottles of Wine?

1 Jan

(My thanks, first, to Joe for forwarding this article to me.)

I remember the days when I was able to wait for my brother, flying in from college in New York, right at the gate. Going to the airport sucks in general, but this fact was in part ameliorated by being able to kill time at the magazine rack, McDonald’s, or Starbucks. And, of course, there’s no substitute for the gratification of seeing a loved one after months of separation.

And then September 11th. Homeland Security. The Transportation Security Administration. Suddenly, you couldn’t wait at the gate. You had to stand with the other schmucks at baggage claim.

But that wasn’t nearly as bad as when, maybe less than two years ago, the TSA instituted the 3-1-1 Rule.

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2001 L’esprit du Silene

27 Dec

This is a wine that is very near and dear to my heart.  This is one of the first bottles of wine that I drank and actually paid attention to.

Alex and I split the cost of the bottle, which in retrospect seems ridiculous as it retails for $10.99.  No matter: at that time we were of the impression that $5 was too much for a bottle, much less $11!

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This wine is from Domaine du Silène des Peyrals in the Languedoc region of France, specifically the Coteaux du Languedoc appellation.  The Languedoc might be new to people (especially relative to its more famous cousins, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne) but it accounts for more than a third of France’s total wine production. 

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A Wine Store for the People

25 Dec

I love Berkeley.

Actually, let me qualify that statement a bit: I have a love-hate relationship with Berkeley. But, as they say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” So, being at home now for nearly a year and five months, working at LegalZoom.com, I love Berkeley now more than I hate it.

One of the great things about Berkeley is the abundance of absolutely wonderful food and drink. There is a culture of organic produce, slow cooking, artisanal craftsmanship, and good living.

There are a lot of wine shops in Berkeley or in the surrounding areas. Kermit Lynch is the one everybody knows about–he imports all those small French producers and sells them retail at his store on San Pablo. Then there are Vino! locations everywhere–one on College in Oakland, another on Solano, one off of Fourth Street in Berkeley, another in San Francisco. The Andronico’s market on North Shattuck (accessible on the 7 or 9 buses, for you college kids!) is also surprisingly good.

I want to focus on “A Wine Store for the People”–Vintage Berkeley, which is appropriately on Vine Street near the original Peet’s Coffee:

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(My apologies for blatantly ripping off this picture from the Vintage Berkeley webpage!)

The store itself is housed in a former water pumping station, which makes entering the place a whimsical experience (if only there were special pipes that carried wine instead of water… try taking a bath in that, eh?).

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An Afternoon of Wine

24 Dec

I am fortunate to have had a few good drinking buddies over the years. One of them, Alex, was a fellow Resident Assistant at Clark Kerr Campus. Being German (or Bavarian, more properly) he was quite fond of drinking. Being in a fraternity (and Korean) I, too, was quite fond of drinking. Unfortunately, with the exception of Brian and Diane and a few others, there weren’t too many drinkers on our staff.

No matter. Drink alone and you’re an alcoholic. Drink with someone else, even to the point of utter disregard for personal safety, and you’re just being sociable.

Alex was home for the holidays and decided to take the Amtrak down to Burbank, where I picked him up. We headed promptly to the Los Angeles Farmers Market on Fairfax, where we lunched magnificently at Moishe’s–he had the falafel plate while I had chicken shawerma. Afterwards, we went to Monsieur Marcel for a post-meal glass of wine. As we fully intended on drinking much more during the course of the day we decided to start with whites.

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