A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Month: January 2016

A Powerful Zing about Names

Names have meanings beyond just a definition. They can carry weight and power. Ask any soon-to-be parent a name they would or wouldn’t choose for their newborn and the reason why. The answer usually coincides with a good or bad experience with a person by that particular name.  I betcha a specific name just popped into your head! 



Recently my phone chimed with a notification for the latest LastBottleWines.com offer. For those not familiar with them, they’re an online retailer who offer deeply discounted quality wines. They sell out quickly but you can get some really nice deals. Conditioned like Pavlov’s dog, I immediately tapped the message and 60 seconds later completed ordering a couple bottles of wine from a small Napa Valley winery with a beautifully scripted name: Elyse. Elyse had been on our shortlist of wineries to visit while in Napa last year but we never made it. You know how that goes! 

The bottle was Elyse 2011 Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel with an SRP $37 which I scored for $16. I love a good deal! Especially, since I hadn’t ever tasted it. I took a chance based on others praise of Elyse Wines. (Words have power too! My husband thinks I’m just easily persuadable.)


IMG_7431 Dark ruby color with velvety rich texture and powerfully spicy berries, dark cherries, lovely integrated tannins and hints of violets. Nice long finish.

We enjoyed it so much, my husband actually put one of the bottles on the “cellar shelf” with our other prized keepers. Being easily persuadable paid off! Now I’ll always associate Elyse with beautifully crafted Zinfandel.


Here’s where she was born: 

Morisoli Vineyard

The vineyard is located between Niebaum and Manley Lanes, at the base of Mt. Saint John and in the heart of the Rutherford Bench.   The light, dusty, gravely soil here produces grapes with vibrant flavor and impeccable balance.  The resulting wines express equal parts power and finesse.  An Elyse wine from this vineyard will have great longevity but is also very drinkable when released.  Each year, since 1986, we produce a Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel from this very special place in Napa Valley – ElyseWinery.com

Her parents are Ray and Nancy Coursen who founded Elyse winery in 1987 with 286 cases of Zinfandel. Their daughter is named Elyse, too! 😉 Lucky girl. 

God, Guns and Sweet Wine

Plains of Oklahoma

Plains of Oklahoma


As far as landscape goes, there is little to commend our state except gloriously painted sunrises and sunsets. I’m not purposefully trying to malign the place I live; I’m just stating a fact. No sandy shorelines form the boundaries, or rugged mountain ranges or seventh wonders of the world. Just miles and miles of rolling grassy plains, scrubby treed hills, and ruddy colored lakes make up our buckle of the Bible belt.

However, there are a few endearing characteristics that set us apart from other parts of the world. One is a strong faith that no amount of tornadoes, terrorists, and economic tumbles appears to shake.

Another is despite our lack of jaw-dropping topography, Oklahomans are genuinely an outdoor loving group who hunt (hence the guns), fish, boat (strangely enough, we can boast of more shoreline than New Jersey) and golf. The semi-treeless landscape is perfect for raising golf champs and we have several.

However, there is one unique characteristic that recently had me cringing for a moment. Oklahomans love sweet wine. Love it. A majority of Oklahoma produced wine is sweet and everyone from wine tasting hosts to clerks at Farmers Markets to liquor stores have mentioned the affinity. Maybe it’s a quasi-Southern thing like drinking sweet tea. Or it’s probably just the fact wine making in Oklahoma is tough with the long hot summers and brick clay soil. Sweet wine sells well and even better if it’s peach flavored and named ‘Delightfully Delicious’ and all of the local wineries pour their own fuzzy versions. Personally, I’m not fond of the stuff and  often skip any free samples.

Last year, we took a vineyard tour with a winemaker in southern Oklahoma who let slip that when he had a batch of wine refusing to become a characteristic merlot, it was no big deal, he just added sugar and made sweet wine. Guaranteed seller. He currently makes Chocolate Drop, Strawberry Road and you guessed it, a good ol’ peach, Noble Blush as his sweet wine contributions. In his defense, his Cabernet isn’t too flabby either.

Over the weekend, my husband and I visited one of our local wineries and experienced once again the sweet wine dominance of the Oklahoma wine scene. The winery was Put A Cork In It  which is located in Bricktown on the river canal. For those not familiar with downtown Oklahoma City, a river walk runs from the ballpark to the home of Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Restaurants, theatres, shopping, art and canal rides take up the space in-between. Interestingly enough, Put A Cork In It sources all their grapes from California, Washington, and Chile so I thought there would be more of a balance in the wine offerings. We ordered the Souvenir Glass/Wine tasting which included all their wines and started with Ikana Riesling, (Ikana is Choctaw for friend.) We quickly moved onto Dustbowl Chardonnay, Skirt Alert Sauvignon BlancIndian Paintbrush Merlot and Thunderhead Cabernet Sauvignon.  Can you guess the theme?

Then we got to down to business with the 6 sweet wine offerings. As the hostess poured, she said unprompted, ‘Oklahomans love sweet wine’. The mantra was repeated like an apology and I started feeling bad about our apparent simple tastes. As we sampled Scissortail Moscato  to  Skinny Dip and then Delightfully Delicious Peach Chardonnay, my spirits sunk lower.  A second hostess reminded us ‘Oklahomans love sweet wine’ as she poured Rose Rock, a white Merlot and then Red Dirt Road, a wild berry Shiraz. Maybe she thought we were tourists? The last one was Sweet Crude, a blackberry Cabernet that was reminiscent of Marilla Cuthbert’s Blackberry Cordial. You know, the infamous cordial that nearly ended Anne of Green Gables ‘bosom friendship’ with Diana Barry after Diana went home drunk from the tea party. Just good clean fun. My Grandma Sue used to drive from their dry county over the state line for raspberry cordial. Apparently fruit cordials are popular among Southern ladies. It’s more refined for ladies in the south to get tipsy on cordials than moonshine or bourbon, I suppose. Honestly, I thought the Sweet Crude was good and I’m tempted to try it again.

Well, I left the winery feeling somewhat low about my State’s wine tastes. The longer I mulled over my low opinion, the more ashamed I felt for judging them so harshly. See, I realized the affinity for sweet wine is actually just a reflection of the nature of Oklahomans. That nature is  one of several reasons I love living here. Oklahomans tend to be genuine, kind, and easy-going. They’re quick to forgive and swift to lend a hand. They like life with a touch of sweet.

The winemaker expressed Oklahoma’s attitude the best. “It’s no big deal. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll just add sugar and make sweet wine. Life’s still good.”

Cheers to the good life!


Just Call Me Wine Snob



Accused! While enjoying a particularly fine winter afternoon, an accusation was leveled at me.  According to my husband, I’ve apparently turned into a wine snob. Wine snob! Hrumgh! The moniker makes me think of a pretentious, pontificating individual. The comical picture of someone with their sniffer stuck in the air, judging the world beneath them. Here’s Merriam-Webster’s unflattering opinion:


noun \ˈsnäb\

one who blatantly imitates, fawningly admires, or vulgarly seeks association with those regarded as social superiors

one who tends to rebuff, avoid, or ignore those regarded as inferior

one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste

Is this observation of my character justified? Do I think my tastes are superior? Does my Sicilian-Irish sniffer rise up in a huff at the thought of drinking perceived “inferior” bottle?  Have I cultivated an attitude of snobbery when imbibing in God’s gift of the vine? I had to take a hard look at my wine attitude.

The soul searching was the result of me not finishing a glass of wine and eventually pouring the bottle down the drain. My husband took mock offense at my refusal to drink it.  I argued it was simply a personal preference and I preferred drinking something else. The inexpensive wine seemed to have a funky unbalanced way about it with a lingering too sour aftertaste. I’m not prejudice of inexpensive wine. There are several delicious bottles available. I can even do funk and weird but unbalanced just needs to be medicated and left alone. In the heat of our discussion, the term ‘Wine Snob’ was lobbed at me.

When it comes down to it, wine is always a personal preference just like fashion, art and music. However, I would argue that tastes change and mature over time. For example, when we first started enjoying wine, our palates were inexperienced. We tended to drink Merlot and Chardonnay because they are often less complex. New wine drinkers many times choose sweeter wines and gradually move to bolder, complex ones. Food’s the same way. As children, Kraft Mac and Cheese is preferred over Southern Living’s Decadent Skillet Mac n Cheese with bacon, caramelized onions, mushrooms, broccoli and Gouda. As we grow, our palates are exposed to broader options. Some remain content with simpler fair, while others grow to enjoy exotic or richer offerings. But does this make them a food snob?

I decided to look at it from a positive angle. Instead of a judgmental person seeking to display superiority, maybe it was a person who’d matured in their tastes and had grown to appreciate the skill, talents and time put into making wine. Someone with more experienced tastes and who drinks accordingly.

Well, it’s just something to ponder on this cold morning.

Besides, it’s not like I’m a true wine snob anyway. I lack the guts and knowledge required to give lengthy educated opinions. *wink* My tastes have simply changed due to exposure. Give me a delicious wine $10 and under any day! However, you’re welcome to call me wine snob when I turn my nose up at Lindemans. I’ll simply pass you the bottle and get myself a soda.

Polls Are Open: Vote – TODAY #MWWC22




It’s an Election Year and the Polls have opened. The candidates have presented their platforms. The time has come to do your Civic #wine duty and VOTE for the best #MWWC22 ENTRY! (hopefully, okiewinegirl)

Below is the link:

Give Okie Wine Girl a Second Chance and VOTE for her TODAY!
This is a shameless plug. I make no campaign promises. Only this: think of the children . . . kidding!

Let the power to vote course through your veins! Push the link, read the entries and choose the next #MWWC Winner!

Best wishes and God Bless!






The Vineyard of a Second Chance #MWWC22


This is my entry for the latest Monthly Wine Writing Challenge hosted by Jeff of thedrunkencyclist The theme for #MWWC22 comes from the current winner, Jill Barth of L‘occasion and I think its perfect for beginning #MWWC of  2016: 

                 Second Chance

For almost the entire winter break, I pondered what direction to go with this writing challenge. The most obvious was to revisit past wines, wineries or tasting events that had left an indelible impression. However, the one characteristic that continued to tickle my brain was the element of restoration and redemption. Was there a winemaker who had risen from the ashes to greatness? Or someone who’d found a new life in the wine industry? Had wine inadvertently given a second chance? So after doing a bit of research, I discovered a second chance wine story. Many may already be aware of it since several brief articles were written around the time of the release of their wine. However, it had me cheering for second chances.



Predawn. The low rumble of a tractor can be heard as it rolls down the dirt path, the driver deftly maneuvering it between the vines. A vineyard worker quietly empties his umpteenth bucket of Vermentino into the trailer as it rambles by. He turns back to the vines. His beehives would have to wait until the afternoon for today all attention was to the vineyard. Even the cheesemaker was here swiftly filling containers. Harvest was fully underway and every hand was needed.

On another row, two workers silently pass a thermos of coffee between them grateful for the warmth. As the tractor driver parks the trailer next to the warehouse, workers scramble to unload the next bin of grapes. The driver’s thoughts wonder to the upcoming wine tasting. It would be his vintage. The bottle that gave him life, hope, and liberty. In a couple of months, wine writers and journalists would descend on his island home to taste the fruit of a unique bottle. A bottle he had a hand in making.

Buona per andare!” You’re good to go! The driver shifts the tractor back into gear and heads once more into the rows.

Today the vermentino and in a week or so they would start on the ansonica. Hefting a bin of grapes into the crusher, a worker pauses and smiles thinking the identical thoughts of the driver. He was going to taste the fruit of his labor. The fruit of his new life. He would spend the rest of his golden years on Gorgona but it no longer mattered. The isle of the snake haired sisters had been good to him.  Several more workers slip quietly and quickly down the rows, snipping clusters and filling containers. The sun begins to rise over the hillside signaling yet another day that will farther remove them from the men they used to be.


Isaland of Gorgana wikipedia.com

Island of Gorgona ~ wikipedia.com

At the end of the northern most string of the Tuscan Archipelago is the tiny Isle of Gorgona. Since 1869, its been home to what is now the last Italian penal colony. Fifty plus prisoners live and work a one hectare sized vineyard sheltered in an amphitheater shaped area over looking the sea. This hectare of 25 year old vines produces wine served in some of the top Michelin starred restaurants of Florence. While other bottles of their small lot vintages are poured at dinner tables all the way in America.

What began as an idea to reduce the number of repeat offenders in an already overcrowded prison system grew into a partnership with one of the oldest wine dynasties of Italy, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi.  Frescobaldi with its 700 hundred years of wine making experience, train prisoners in important and marketable vineyard skills to help them reintegrate into society upon release. The prisoners learn to implement organic vineyard practices in addition to beekeeping and cheese-making.

Prisoners of the Vineyard

New life in the Vineyard

So far, there have been three bottled harvests since the collaboration began. All white wine: 2012 Gorgona, 2013 Gorgona, and 2014 Gorgona. Each is a blend of Vermentino and Ansonica grapes, aged for 7 months in steel with no maceration and an alcohol content of 12-13%. Aromas and flavors range from rich floral chamomile flowers and dandelion to exotic fruits, citrus, and herbs with crisp acidity and earthy minerals that reflect the island terroir. Each lot is miniscule with the 2013 Gorgona vintage having only 2,500 bottles with an SRP of $90 in the U.S. The wines have garnered ratings of 92 and above.

Gorgona via nytimes.com

Gorgona via nytimes.com

In July 2014, Lamberto Frescobaldi, vice president and head of wine making, held an unprecedented wine tasting event on Gorgona where wine writers and prisoners mingled and tasted the straw yellow, green highlighted 2013 Gorgona. It was a celebration of sorts and the vintage was praised for its balanced full-bodied character. But more than anything it’s a bottle of wine that represents a second chance. A chance to go beyond the ruin of life to something better.

Cheers to Second Chances!

For more reading on this wonderful story click on the links below:




Art and Wine

New year’s resolutions are easily dismissed but goals, obtainable goals, tend to get me further in life. So Today, in accordance with a goal, I’m blogging because my goal is to post twice a week. The trouble with this is 1) I like to have readable content and 2) ideas, what to blog about?

Anyway, I recently started clearing out the pictures on my IPhone. Horror, I know. The funny thing is there are pictures on there that have no value except to get me a discount at Hobby Lobby. Why don’t I ever just delete these immediately after use?

However, there are some pictures that have great value. At least to me. And maybe a few million others, too.

Paul Cezanne, "Still Life with Apples" 1895

Paul Cezanne, “Still Life with Apples” 1895

Cezanne gets me every time. This isn’t even one of he’s most famous or beloved works but I stood a foot from it completely captivated. It hangs at the MOMA  where  my family and a couple hundred other tourists paused to visually drink in the color. Even now, while writing this post, it quietly grabs my attention and makes me stop to gaze on it’s vibrant simplicity.  A calm comes over my soul and I’m thankful God gifts men with the ability to create. It got me to thinking that wine is a lot like art. It can be bold, brash, loud and bright with energy like modern art or sometimes peaceful, lush, full bodied, fragrant, subtle and golden.

Wine is art. Just in liquid form.

And I leave you with this most famous of all. When I stepped into the gallery, it appeared almost alive in it’s bright starry splendor.

Vincent Van Gogh, "Starry Night"

Vincent van Gogh, “Starry Night” 1889

Edging as close as the guard would allow, I snapped this picture. A cool night breeze brushed my cheek before I moved away or  maybe it was just the air-conditioning vent . . .

Hungry for Wine – Book Review

Hungry For Wine by Cathy Huyghe

Hungry For Wine by Cathy Huyghe

Since I have a healthy appetite for wine, I put this book on my wish list: Hungry for Wine by Cathy Huyghe. I’d had the chance to “meet” Cathy during the online twitter #Winestudio chat in December and had really liked her approach to wine. Plus, it’s just a terrific title!  Well, my doting husband, who tries to grant my every wish within reason, mind you, (it has to be reasonable or we’d be in the poor house) gave it to me for Christmas. And then subsequently lost me for the rest of Christmas afternoon while I read it and helped him drink a bottle of Bell Wine Cellars’ Big Guy Red Wine 2013.

I mention the wine because it’s really solid and we actually managed to save it from the quarterly Wine Shop sale that had occurred almost two months before Christmas. If you spend any time with us, you’ll quickly learn we don’t own an extensive wine cellar. In fact, five bottles total at the moment and only cellared because they’re from last year’s anniversary trip. Generally, wine has no shelf life in our house. So for us to hold it says a lot.

Big Guy - man's best friend

Big Guy – man’s best friend

Hungry for Wine is a light (120 pages total), twelve chapter read that focuses on “seeing the world through the lens of a wine glass.” The book grew out of Cathy’s previous blog and subsequent travels as a wine writer. It’s written more like 12 blog posts about twelve bottles of wine from across the globe and their story.  The chapter titles hooked me:

  • How to Market Wine when it’s Forbidden to Market Wine
  • How to Wander through a Cemetery of Wine
  • How to Make Wine When Your Country is at War
  • How to Catch a Rabbit, and What that Says About Who Harvests Your Grapes

I won’t tell you anymore cause the book is really short and I might spoil it like those movie trailers for summer blockbusters that show you all the funny parts in one clip. There’d be no more reason to buy a ticket. Anyway, Cathy is friendly and inviting as she touches on the universal appeal of wine beyond being delicious. I loved her philosophy of how wine helps you get to know people and that some might not truly care about aroma or tasting notes but everyone does loves a good story. There is always an interesting story behind a bottle of wine.

With each chapter, you get a  mini snapshot of the hard work and passion leading up to the wine we drink with dinner. I just wish some of the snapshots had included a few more details. They were like small tasting pours from bottles already sold out and unattainable. However, the small taste I did get of Hungry for Wine was still a pleasant and thoughtful afternoon read.

~ Allison




Oh What a Beautiful Morning!


I just spent the most glorious and productive start to the week I’ve had in a year.  For some unexplained reason, the first Monday after holiday break seems to hold magical powers that propel me out of bed and into a hopeful attitude of activity. Maybe its the fact all the Christmas decorations are boxed and back in the attic and the house is now open and clutter free. Once again, a clear path has opened up around the living room couch and the kitchen counters are pristine and naked of cookie tins, chocolate boxes, stacks of extra holiday dishes and empty wine bottles from Christmas Eve. It gives me a freeing feeling like when you pay off your car or clean out the linen closet.  Why is that? Is it because the kids are back in school? Or life is returning to a more normal routine? What propels me to suddenly yank all the contents of my kitchen cabinets out and start tossing, giving away or packing up  for my soon to be college kids all the forgotten or duplicate housewares?  Or make a copious list of wines to try in 2016? Or weed through the book shelves and alphabetizes my books?

Even my children seem to be touched by this energizing force. They were all up early this morning which is a miracle in itself considering all four stayed up late every night of the “break” watching vines and movies and playing on Animal Crossing: Happy Home Makeover. Backpacks were loaded, band instruments sat by the door, lunches made. For the first and probably last time of the new semester, they had breakfast together at the table instead of the usual revolving bar stool action I know we’ll go back to when the “New Year” magic wears off. In the meantime, it’s a pleasant memory.

via daydreamerchic.com

via daydreamerchic.com

In the midst of all this  activity, I decided to cook up this weeks meals in advance. I love to cook. However, I’m the type that likes to plan the menu, shop for it but still keep it loose encase the food mood strikes in different direction for dinner. Mid-morning, some  crazy renewed energy came over me.  I put Etta James and Willie Nelson on the player with my favorite George Strait song, “All My EXs Live in Texas” to tie it together and  began pulling out all the ingredients for Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie and the filling for Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas.

I spotted my breadmaker in the pantry and  debated with myself the merits of fresh baked bread while chopping garlic and onions. The smell of sauteing garlic and onions in olive oil and butter is like a rallying cry to plan 6 more dishes so I wound up pulling ground beef and sausage from the freezer for Italian Meatloaf and found a jar of roasted red peppers to make sauce for lasagna rolls. In the middle of all the culinary outburst, I found a blackberry cobbler I’d buried in the back of the freezer before Thanksgiving that would go wonderfully with dinner.


There is a time limit to this turbo burst of extraordinary, hyper-productive energy.  By next Monday, I’ll have forgotten the feeling of flying effortlessly through recipes and the desire to  cleanse the closets buoyed by the soul songs of Etta James. These moments are sorta like Cinderella before it all turns back into a pumpkin. In the meantime, I’m going to start on some fresh pasta cause I haven’t used my pasta maker in 6 months and if I don’t it’ll sit there another six and possibly get rusty.

I love the New Year! Happy Monday!

p.s. Feel free to add any wine suggestions for my 2016 list cause that’s one area I never run out of energy. Cheers!




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