OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Artfully Crafted Inside and Out: Meeker Vineyard Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot

“There’s nothing too serious except the wine itself.”

~ Molly Meeker, Owner, Meeker Vineyard Sonoma County

Where do I start?

After participating in a speedy hour of #Winestudio chat covering various aspects of Meeker Vineyard wines, I feel like Dorothy gazing out the window as the tornado spins objects around her. Spring time in Oklahoma and my mind goes automatically to twisters! However, instead of a Spinster flying by on a bicycle, it’s a 2nd generation dynamic wine duo and their deliciously full-bodied Merlot. Their impressive social media and wine acumen has me thinking of those purple clad super twins from the ’80s which is fitting since it was their Merlot we were chatting about! For those who grew up in the early 80s, you’ll know them. Yup, the Wonder Twins. Except, these Wonder twins activated their superpowers in  form of Merlot crafting winemaker, shape of wine savvy social media maven and are working to preserve a strong family tradition while progressing toward the future. Who are these Wonder Twins wielding their wine power in Sonoma, you ask? Brother and sister team, Lucas and Kelly Meeker, of Meeker Vineyard in Sonoma County, California.

This sibling duo are 2nd generation heirs wanting to preserve their parents legacy while crafting a progressive vision for the future of Meeker Vineyards. Definitely, No Woolworth heiresses here. Their parents, Charlie and Molly Meeker, who purchased the first vineyard in 1977, are still very much involved as President, CEO and chief bottle-washers. However, Lucas is now head winemaker and bottle decorator while sister, Kelly, manages the winery’s social media, website and marketing.

Confession:

I was only going to ‘check-in’ on the March #winestudio chats but the second week’s wine, Meeker Vineyard 2013 Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot Sonoma County, (14.4%, $43 SRP), immediately had me contacting my trusty wine shop guru about the bottle. I love artful approaches and wanted to see it in person. The winemaker’s actual hand print adorns every bottle. All 2000 to be exact. I wasn’t able to buy the 2013 that #winestudio was tasting with the discussion but the 2012 Merlot was just as marvelous.

Upon opening, we quickly discovered an artfully crafted Merlot on the inside as a heady aroma of berries, cherries and spices filled the air. My husband and wine partner remarked of it’s strong resemblance in color and aroma to a Cabernet Sauvingon. However, the body was a touch lighter with complex layers of luscious cherries, strawberry, rhubarb, spices, vanilla and oak notes and long-lasting tannin.

The Meeker Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot is their flagship wine and a Bordeaux varietal. The Handprint is almost always a blend of two core Merlot vineyards, one in Dry Creek and one in Alexander Valley with around 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Syrah blended in to achieve a more layered flavor profile. The core wine making focal points are centered on acid and tannin structure building. According to Lucas, “A lower pH and increased tannin (grape tannin more than oak!) build integrated, seamless structures with elegance because Meeker wines are made to age. It’s a core part of how we view our identity and style goals: we’re part of a tradition we value.” 

After ‘tweeting’ with the Meeker Wonder Twins and experiencing a little of the superpowers they’re using to preserve and broaden the family wine tradition, I think Meeker Vineyards might age quite nicely. If you get a chance to visit, the Meeker Vineyard tasting room is located in the 113 year-old Geyserville bank building in Geyserville, CA. The original tasting room, interestingly enough to this Okie, was a Sioux Tipi. For more info. about Meeker Vineyard click here.

If you happen try this artfully bottled Merlot, I’d love to know your thoughts on it. My empty Handprint bottle is now displayed in our kitchen. Heck, maybe I’ll make a lamp out of it! In the meantime, I’m activating my own superpowers in the form of WineDrinker and shape of patio for pairing! 

Cheers friends,

Allison

Off the Vineyard Trail #5: The First Anniversary of a Life Well-Lived

An entire year has gone by since my mom passed away or as I try to remind myself ‘moved to heaven’.  We have a reassurance in Christ of seeing her again, but as life has gone on, filled with milestones, I’ve struggled with the fact my mom has missed every single one. Two Graduations. Spring concerts. Wedding. Milestone Birthdays. First grandchild to college. Trips. Reunions.

I keep wondering how one deals with this type of anniversary? It’s not really something to celebrate. I want to be sensitive to my family, but, honestly, sitting and staring out a window is the most appealing; which for some reason, immediately makes me think of my mother rolling her eyes and saying ‘oh brother!’. And that makes me laugh. You have to have known my mother to understand. Sweet, kind, compassionate, and bossy and no nonsense. She was a doer. DAV volunteer, Veterans Advocate, Fundraiser, Church Food Pantry, Reading Specialist. She adored young people and Veterans.

Looking back, the events of That Week are a blur of pain lined with a dawning realization there was a lot more to my mom than the person I thought I knew. One thing became crystal clear; my mom’s life had a greater impact than I ever suspected. Her life was indeed ‘a life well-lived’.

Friends, neighbors and family crowded my mom’s memorial service and funeral. As they sought to speak words of comfort, each conversation began to take on a similar tone, “When I was. . . in school, put my mom in a care unit, moved to a new city, lost my job, struggled with depression, lost my spouse, was in cancer treatment . . . your mom sent me a card every week, every birthday, holiday. Your mom is why. . . . I graduated, kept going, am here today. Your mom told me I mattered. She prayed with me. She said I’d succeed when everyone around me said I’d fail. She told me mistakes don’t define you and I was loved no matter past choices. Your mom sent a gift card . . . for diapers, groceries, date night, the electric bill. By the end of the week, I had lost count of how many had shared what my mom had meant in their life. One thing was obvious; she had spent her time investing in the most valuable commodity – people.

One of the sweetest moments for me occurred during her visitation service. In the middle of greeting others, my brothers and I noticed two young women whom we needn’t know, slip quietly in to pay their respects. It was later that evening, after reading the guestbook, we realized they worked at the Sonic near my parents’ house.

Now, if you ever had the privilege of meeting my mom, you’d quickly discover her ‘addiction’ to Sonic ice tea. We loved to tease her mercilessly about her favorite accessory; a Route 44 Sonic cup. Mom went to Sonic so often, she knew the workers by name and their life stories. They would save free drink coupons for her and even take a tea out to the car before she finished parking. Mom fretted over their life situations and constantly tipped far beyond the cost of the tea. I only discovered this after she sharply reprimanded me the one time I forgot the tip! The day before mom’s service, my dad stopped by Sonic to tell them what had happened.  As they stood at the drive thru window, the crew tearfully shared how mom had encouraged and blessed their lives.

Today, when I drive by a Sonic, those two young women come instantly to mind and the impact my mom’s life had on them. I find it comforting in the midst of missing her. I’m not exactly sure how the actual day will play out but I do know, instead of dwelling on the life we now live without her, I want to choose to be thankful to God for her example and make this the first anniversary of a life very well-lived.

Love you mom.

“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:3-4

Aroma vs. Palate: Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2013

Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2013

Happy spring break!

We’re still trying to recover from the 3:30 am trip to the airport to drop off our college kid so she could visit the Grandparents back East. Thankfully, she landed before the “Blizzard of 2017” and she went prepared with a coat packed in her suitcase. Why wear it when you can have the baggage guys carry it around for you? There’s something sweet and nostalgic watching her experience the carefree days of youth. I’m definitely jealous!

Not much else is going on this week except a trip to the Science Museum and planning our youngest’s 13th birthday party. The theme: Chocolate. I’m currently on the hunt for a chocolate fountain. And chocolate crafts and chocolate flavored lip gloss for party favors. Planning’s been almost as easy as our son’s 13th and his raucous party at Laser Quest. I just had to show up. Chocolate’s easy because it’s everywhere. The hard part about chocolate and often wine, is choosing from the endless possibilities which is the segue I’ll use to this Pinot Noir we opened in January. You remember January, right? Frankly, neither do I because some how I skipped February and went directly to Spring Break.

Back in January, before we took a short wine break, we opened a bottle of Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2013 ($16). Occasionally, a wine talks to you in an entirely different voice with it’s aroma than what you actually taste. This was the case with the Louis Latour Pinot Noir. A strong personality showed up in the aroma with floral stems, tobacco leaves, funky turnip greens, asparagus, cigar smoke and leather. The aroma kept evolving. There was a lot going on. I wondered if there might be a problem. However, the palate was entirely different than what I was expecting with soft tannins, red currents, black cherries, raspberries, spices and a lovely earthy floral accent. Overall, a very enjoyable Pinot Noir. 

This Pinot will most certainly be making a reappearance! Cheers! 

Sonoma Winemaker to Watch – Eppie Ordaz & Sandoval Vineyard Malbec 2012

To wrap up the February #winestudio with Ordaz Family Wines and it’s winemaker, Eppie Ordaz, we opened his Sandoval Vineyard Sonoma Valley Malbec 2012 and chatted about growing Malbec. Malbec is rarely produced in Sonoma and that’s exactly why Eppie chose it.

This was probably one of the most enjoyable #winestudio sessions I’ve participated in. Drawing from a rich family heritage in farming and vineyard management, Eppie is humble, friendly and focused on crafting wines rare for the Sonoma AVA. Working alongside his father, Jesus ‘Chuy’ Ordaz, they operate by the philosophy “great wine is made in the vineyard.”  This philosophy encompasses their entire approach to winemaking by using small lot, single varietal vineyards to pioneering organic vineyard practices and safe farming practices for the protection of vineyard workers.

Sandoval vineyard is indicative of Eppie’s vision to make exceptional wine from single variety, small lots. Located on Sonoma Mountain, the vineyard is a whopping 2 acres of 30-year-old Malbec vines planted and managed by Chuy Ordaz. The vines thrive in the rocky, clay soil and a climate of cool, foggy nights and hot days that helps manage Malbec’s susceptibility to mildew.  Eppie crafts the Malbec closer to the Argentinian style while tinkering with it depending on the year. His tinkering tends to drive his father a little crazy since Chuy’s a farmer and likes predictability. Eppie ages the Malbec in lightly seasoned French oak for 18 months before bottling. Only a 132 cases of the 2012 Malbec were produced with 40 cases still available.

“It’s cool to work on something that has a finite amount. Two acres can only produce so much fruit” – Eppie Ordaz

The Sandoval Vineyard Sonoma Valley Malbec 2012 ($25, 13.5%) was dark plum colored, medium bodied, with nice acidity that smoothed into gentle tannins on the finish. Aromas of muted cherries, blueberries and cinnamon opened up slowly. I was surprised I picked out the cinnamon. I guess all this wine drinking is starting to pay off. I was mighty proud of myself for recognizing an aroma other than ‘berries’. The taste was a nice blend of earthy tobacco, cinnamon, cocoa, blueberries and dried plums or prunes. Plums and prunes are the same thing, right? They’ve always baffled me. When plump, they’re plums (hot young things). Dried and wrinkly, they’re prunes (Old Grannies). And that, my friends, is a tiny peek into how my mind works. Probably more than you wanted to know.

For the meal pairing portion of our #winestudio evening, I picked up a Tony’s Italian and House salad from our favorite corner hang out, Upper Crust.

 

It proved to be a classic case of food and wine doing what they are made to do: compliment each other. With the pizza, the Malbec came alive! The spicy flavors woke up the fruit while in turn the wine tamed the heat of the peppers and spicy meats. It was a happy marriage and I thought it made the Malbec even better. As the evening wrapped up, I asked Eppie what surprised him about becoming a winemaker.

“How difficult it is to be a small label amongst titans of  (the) industry.”

For now, Ordaz Family Wines are only available through their website. However, based on the wines sampled, and the Ordaz Family tradition of tenacity, hard work and excellence; I suspect this small label has a good chance of distinguishing themselves and growing to stand strong among the Titans. 

 

The wines were samples courtsey of #Winestudio and Ordaz Family Wines. All rambles are my own. Salud! 

Oklahoma Skies #2 – Sunrise

There are approximately a thousand pictures on my iPhone of the Oklahoma skies. Apparently, I’m infatuated with them. Some days, they can be fairly spectacular. We might not have much here in tornado alley, but more often than not the skies are saturated in a range of glorious colors. 

Morning has broken like the first morning . . .

August 26, 2016

 

 

Ordaz Family Wines on #Winestudio

After having to take a short break from participating in #Winestudio, because Tuesdays seem to be the most popular night to schedule school/church/sports activities, I was able to accept a kind offer to participate and sample the wine for February. If you remember, #Winestudio is an online wine education program produced by Tina Morey. The focus is on a producer or winemaker and participants get to sample their wine and live chat with the winemaker. It’s a fun evening of wine learning.

Ordaz Family Wines

This month we are meeting a winemaker whose family history is marked by “perseverance, passion and a little bit of danger.” His story and the story of his family heritage, in some respects, have roots common to us all; an ancestry born in a different place.

As usual, I was so giddy to be in the “room” with my fellow participants and talk to a winemaker about his origins and his wine that I missed a few answers to the questions, due mainly to the fact that I was, well, excited to be there. I know that sounds weird but excitement can be distracting. I’ve seen it happen with our new puppy while trying to teach her to come or sit.  I was the puppy running around crazily, trying to greet everyone instead of paying attention. But fortunately, there are several participants self-controlled enough to stay on topic so I was able to go back and re-read their discussion tweets and find out what I’d missed learning about. Also, if you haven’t had the opportunity to participate in an online live chat, it’s not easy keeping up with everyone’s tweets/replies so things do get missed.

Anyway, our guest winemaker is Eppie Ordaz of Ordaz Family Wines based in the Sonoma Valley.

Here’s what I gleaned from the evening:

  • Eppie was recently named one of several “winemakers to watch” according to Sonoma Magazine, although he only took over as winemaker in 2013.
  • His father is Chuy Ordaz. Chuy has been a vineyard manager (40+ years) of several of Sonoma’s most famous vineyards and is highly respected in the field of vineyard management. Chuy began Ordaz Family wines in 2009.
  • The family is originally from Mexico.  (It took 33 attempts for Chuy to make it into the United States. You can read more about the adventure here.) 
  • Eppie has a degree in accounting. Winemaking and accounting may seem wholly unrelated but both require attention to details and certain elements have to add-up correctly to get a successful bottom-line. 
  • Eppie’s goal is to try to be a steward of the vineyard work so the “wines represent both the variety and the vineyard.”
  • All Ordaz’s wines are produced from vineyards Chuy oversees although the family has the goal of owning their own winery and estate vineyard in the near future. Currently, the operation is out of a custom crush facility. 
  • Eppie is committed to producing single-vineyard wines.
  • The focus is Small lot, High quality wines. 
Small Lot, High Quality Wines

For Tuesday’s discussion, we opened Pinot Noir Placida Vineyard Russian River Valley 2014 ( $38, 13.7%)

“Placida Vineyard is a 9 acre lot in the heart of the Russian River Valley appellation. it’s selection of clones provides great fruit characteristics needed to create well layered and balanced Pinot Noirs.” ~ Eppie Ordaz

The Russian River valley has a “gold ridge aspect” meaning a portion of the area has a yellow clay-like soil. According to Eppie, “It’s like striking gold for the region” in terms of making RRV Pinots and Chardonnays. The wines in the words of the winemaker are  “distinctly wonderful”. 

For February, my tasting partner has been on “vacation” so I’ve had to go it alone in drinking and discovering the Pinot. I’ve missed his straight forward palate! However, we had fun deciding on the menu pairing. Pinot is delicious with chicken, mushrooms, and even Indian dishes but we went classic with a Roasted Veggie Tart and Goat Cheese Souffle. Souffles are surprisingly easier than I expected, especially if you bake them in little Ramekins instead of trying to tackle the Julia Child sized ones. 

The Pinot was bright and aromatic: earthy, baked cherries, spice and buttered toast.

Tasting it alone, there were cranberry/cherry, cloves, cola, spices, and acidity.  The veggie tart smoothed it out and brought out berries. The goat cheese souffle was the dish that made it taste like a spoonful of Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Since I was drinking for one, I emptied the bottle over a span of three days. The second and third days were still as good but with an added touch of roses.

 

 

A dahlia flower adorns the Ordaz labels. Eppie said the flower represents his dad’s love of gardening and being a native flower of Mexico, the family’s Mexican heritage. The website states: “the Dahlia symbolizes the cultural beauty that continually shapes our lives. Universally, the Dahlia expresses diversity, elegance, dignity, personal expression, and the eternal bond between two people, all things that are inherent in any great bottle of wine.”

Next Tuesday evening #Winestudio will dive into the Ordaz Sandoval Vineyard Malbec. You’re welcome to join in the discussion on Twitter at 8pm CST. Use the hashtag #winestudio. There will be more chatting with Eppie and discovering the unique relationship between wine, vineyard and family heritage. 

Cheers, Allison

 

 

The wine featured is a sample courtesy of Ordaz Family Wines. 

Oklahoma Skies #1 – Sunset

I thought I’d start a new blog feature after noticing there are approximately a thousand pictures on my iPhone of the Oklahoma skies. Apparently, I’m infatuated with them. Some days, they can be fairly spectacular. We might not have much here in tornado alley, but more often than not the skies are saturated in a range of glorious colors. 

            Hope you enjoy a little slice of heaven. 

Sunset – January 21, 2017

 

There’s a Circus in the Vineyard: Michael David Petite Petit 2014

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus will be shuttering the Big Top in May. After 150 years, no more clowns tumbling out of tiny cars, Ballerinas poised on galloping horses, Chinese acrobats, Lion tamers or tightrope walkers cartwheeling at death defying heights. The Ring Master’s stage will go silent and the elephants will go into retirement. Personally, I’ll shed no tears over the clowns. They’ve always given me the hebee-gebees. Also not too worried for the acrobats because they can get higher paying gigs in Vegas. So all is well. But the elephants, those majestic beasts of the African Savanna, how will they fare?

Well, no worries. They’ll be happily employed in the vineyard or at least poising on wine labels for Michael David Winery in Lodi, California. Yes, it’s true. They already have a lovely gig representing Michael David’s Petite Petit 2014  which my husband and I had the pleasure of drinking over the holidays. And again, after the holidays because it really is that good. The Petite Petit was recommended by our local wine source and backed up by Lori @Dracaenawines (you can read about her experience at the winery here). Plus, you know me, I’m a sucker for arty labels and this one is arty and entertaining. There’s a lot going on in the picture. The mice are busy opening other bottles from Michael David. One of the elephants has a tattoo. The entire pachyderm demeanor is a mix of tough guy and wine connoisseur. Just relaxing after over a glass of petite Sirah while the mice play cards. There’s even a cute poem on the back label.

Michael David Winery (here’s the website) could revive the Circus with this full-bodied red.  The wine is a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot. A nice balance of dark fruit, spice, cherries and a touch of mocha. Great for sipping  alone while picking out all the stuff going on on the label or with a pulled pork sandwich smothered in Head Country BBQ sauce and side of potato salad.  I’m not sponsored by Head Country BBQ but if they feel so inclined, I’m happy to oblige. If you can’t get Head Country, I feel for your deprivation. However, Michael David wines are widely distributed so you can stage your own little circus at home. These days, mine includes a dog. I’m looking for a top hat for her.

Thanks, Michael David Winery for keeping the elephants gainfully employed. And thankfully, no sign of any creepy clowns. (No offense to clown lovers. Some childhood phobias last a lifetime).

Welcome to the Big Top,

Allison

And the Winner is . . . OkieWineGirl! Yeehaw! #MWWC30

“I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.”
~William Shakespeare

 

Last week or maybe longer, the most incredible thing happened in the life of this humble and rambling wine blogger. The results for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge#30 were posted (HERE) and this Okie Wine Girl WON! My heart still gets a little racy thinking about it and I know I owe all of you: friends, family, fellow bloggers a ginormous THANK YOU for voting for my obscure post (HERE – encase you didn’t get to read it or you’ve got time to burn).

Wow. I’m humbled. Thank you. 

For those who aren’t familiar with the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, you can click HERE to get the scoop and even join in for #MWWC31.  It’s the brainchild of Jeff @thedrunkencyclist whose writing cracks me up. Especially his posts on being a Cycling tour guide (Click OMG). Oh my goodness, with his last installment I almost found out what it’s like to laugh and vomit at the same time. But I digress . . .  

The honor of picking the next challenge word was my reward. The fellow wine bloggers who enter each month are a dynamite group of writers so the gravity of the honor struck me. Did I say thank you for voting for me?  Thank you.

Do you know how many great words there are to choose from??? It can drive you mad. Here was my short list: Failure, Respect, Mistake, Tremendous, Light.

And yet, I picked FAITH.  Why? Because, regardless of your beliefs, we all have faith in someone or something. It’s a powerful intangible of life.

Because when you plow up a field, plant some obscure vine and try turning it into wine, it takes a lot of faith it’ll turn out divine. Cheesy, I know. But cheese always pairs perfectly with wine. (Alright. I’ll quit. Cheesy jokes are a family specialty so I can do this all day!) Anyway, cheese aside, once again, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. 

~ Allison

 

#MWWC30: Obscure Wine Drinkers

The following post is my entry for #MWWC30. The very last #MWWC of 2016 was won by the Texas wine blogger of NYC and favorite of mine, Shez of The Epicurious Texan. Her choice is Obscure. Congrats, Shez!

 

The title should probably read more like a tabloid headline:

Obscure Wine Drinker Becomes Twitter Seat-filler to the tune of Hundreds of Dollars Worth of Wine.

photo credit: pinterest

Do you know me? Probably not. Most would say I’m just another face in the crowd. Unremarkable. Ordinary. Possessing no charismatic traits or notable features to attract attention. Just your average wine consumer. Even my wine buying habits are average. They lie between economically affordable and always dependable. You could call me Joe Public of the wine masses.

And yet, in 2015, something strange happened. Social media and good old-fashioned marketing caught me as I went quietly from one familiar bottle to the next. A bright spotlight appeared on wines I’d steadily ignored for the ‘safer’ wine offerings of widely known grapes.  

Maybe it was the timing or the weariness of routine but I’d grown restless with the comfortably mundane. Then, one night while scrolling through Twitter, I eavesdropped on a conversation with the hashtag #winestudio. It sucked me in like a tornado with its seductive wine banter between a lively group of wine drinkers and a Chilean winemaker. Who knows what possessed me, but this average wine drinker did the unthinkable. I asked a question and a kind wine stranger answered!

The next day, I found myself at the wine shop searching the shelves for Montes Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. I’m positive I heard an audible high-five between marketers for successfully snagging this consumer. Except, I think I was ripe for the picking. The thought of buying a wine produced from a far off local seemed exciting and exotic. My heart raced as I timidly asked my wine shop clerk if they had the mysterious bottle. I began calculating what this international adventure was about to cost as he rang it up. Enthusiasm can be expensive. The total was $15. I stared dumbly at the clerk. Huh? Hold on, let me clean out the earwax. Repeata, por favor? $15. Was it discounted? A bottle you’ve been trying to get rid of for ten years? No, he assured me. The regular price is $15. Were Chilean wines usually this inexpensive? No. However, there were several delicious and quite affordable. I could be drinking wine from Chile and I didn’t even know it! What else was out there in the affordably global wine market? 

Being the astute wine marketer, he immediately recognized an open door and pounced with a second suggestion to go with my awakening wine vision,   Hopler Pannonica, a red blend  from Austria. Only $9. ‘I like to suggest it to Millennial professionals,’ he said grinning. ‘They balk at the low price but are reeled in by the taste. Plus, it’s grapes, Blaufrakisch and Zweigelt, are so unknown to most, it guarantees they’ll be the center of attention at any dinner party. And since it’s impolite to ask the price, they’re safe from being called a cheapskate.’ Might be narcissistic for wanting all the attention, but Austria came home with me.

In the meantime, I started paying more attention to #wine hashtags and tweet-ups. These #wine playdates popped up all over at various times and days. My social media activity drew the attention of a few wine marketers who were desperate for seat-fillers for tweetups. One contacted me with an offer to participate in their Bordeaux Fan tasting. Bordeaux. To me Bordeaux was like glimpsing a celebrity across the street as they entered a darkened car. A wine tasting kit and gift card arrived with instructions to try Bordeaux at three different price points and then answer a questionnaire. Reality sunk into my wine ignorant brain. I was responsible for answering intelligently about my wine choices. Me, an average wine drinker who’d only ever thought of finding a nice affordable wine for dinner.

Pride, vanity, and terror gripped me. However, the thought of free Bordeaux got me to the wine shop. As I crossed the threshold, once again panic set in. I knew zero about Bordeaux but was suppose to buy a few bottles on their dime and talk about them? Thankfully, the clerk who’d gotten me into the Austrian red blend was eager to help. I’m going to let you in on a secret: our local wine shop has a handful of certified wine specialists. The clerk gleefully went from bottle to bottle rattling off producers, regions, and winemaking facts as I tried to get it into my notebook. Terms flew swiftly by my head.

Over, the next year. The scene repeated itself. Marketers wanted to know if I would participate and tweet about the wine, etc.? Sure, but you know I’m only a wine drinker, right? No problem! Bottles of wine would arrive on my doorstep from tiny hamlets, quiet European villages or Middle Eastern countries. Several were made from lesser-known grape varietals I couldn’t begin to pronounce. For example, Boğazkere from Turkey. All I can say is it means ‘throat burner’ and it lives up to its name.

 

Two things became clear to me. One, my lack of knowledge wasn’t a strong impediment to participation as long as I was willing to learn and two, the majority of the wines I received landed in the $10-20 range. How could the world be so affordable?

Those bottles from countries I might never visit opened a Pandora’s box. It required me to do research and learn to ask questions. Why was this winemaker giving his life to wine? What was the environmental, cultural, political climate of these areas? Why does this grape only grow on jagged hillsides in granite soil? Did you know there are over 10,000 grape varietals? There are wines out there made with grapes sounding closer to classic film stars such as Spain’s Eva de Los Santos or Sicilian mob boss’ with Nerello Mascalese than reliable old office managers like Merlot.

What shocked me was how obtainable these wines are becoming. They’re even starting to make an appearance in ‘fly-over’ Oklahoma! I guess I should say I owe social media a nod of thanks for giving me a hunger for obscure wines. And for plucking this relatively obscure wine drinker out of the crowd to stand eagerly in the middle of the wine aisle and try to decide between Assyrtiko from Greece or Godello from Spain.

Excuse me, has anyone here tried Mala . . .Malago . . .Malagousa?

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