A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Month: June 2016

Summer Reads: Wine Wars



I’ve been trying to post this for a week but between packing to head east to New York City and the Jersey Shore and all the extra shopping required because at least three of the four munchkins has outgrown their bathing suits, it didn’t happen. Even my favorite pastime – Twitter, has seen neglect! But tonight, while half the family watches the Cavs and the Warriors play, I have a moment to post. One thing, I so hoped it would have been the Thunder and Cavs but maybe next year. 


Summer is upon those of us living in the northern hemisphere.  Time to break out the summer novels, those saucy paperbacks, chilling thrillers, tales of romantic heartbreak, sweet memoirs, and mysteries. Whatever whiles away the hours by the pool or shore. Nothing too taxing on the intellect of a sun drenched and Long Island Iced tea soaked brain. At the start of our summer break, I picked up  a few wine books to fill my beach bag before we left for the Jersey shore. There is a cornucopia of wine literature out there that you can prop open with a bottle of Banana Boat SPF50 while lounging around.  Here’s one I plucked from the shelves and opened early:



Wine Wars by Mike Veseth

It’s a fairly straightforward tale of global wine marketing told by a witty professor of economics. Wine Wars zeroes in on the influences at work behind directing wine drinkers to buy certain wines and untangles the economics behind the wine route. It starts with a lesson in British wine history and the Empire’s vast influence on wine global marketing and moves to the homogenization of wine or what Veseth calls McWine. There’s an interesting antedote about Karl and Theo Albrecht, founders of the Aldi grocery stores. Aldi, the barebones discounter,  apparently sells wine for .97 cents/liter in Europe. Their upscale American shop, for those of you in the know, is none other than that West Coast hipster, Trader Joes. Since there aren’t any Trader Joes in my area I’ve never had the pleasure of sampling a TwoBuckChuck but recently there has been a push to modernize Oklahoma’s liquor laws and allow grocery stores to sell wine. This means our neighborhood Aldi might be hocking wine for a $1.00! Now the question is Will I Buy it?  Definitely! I’m up for adventure and I can spare a dollar. Well, at least until we hand over the college tuition in August.  After that the only wine I’ll be able to afford will be Aldi’s “dump bucket red”.

In war, you need opponents and with the birth of McWine, a group of vignerons called CRAV (French acronym) or the “Regional Committee for Viticultural Action” has arisen. These wine vigilantes are the modern version of the Boston tea party. They hijack wine containers filled with what they deem as inferior wine and dump them out. They have vowed to protect wine’s sense of place, it’s terrior and the “heart of European Culture”, thus creating the wine war and their nickname of the wine terroirists.

“Globalization brings the world to you, Two Buck Chuck makes it understandable and gives you the confidence to buy, but we need terroirists so that we don’t forget that wine is a beautiful product of nature, not a commoditized manufactured good.” – Mike Veseth, Wine Wars.

Overall, I liked the book.  Now I think I’ll hunt for a wine novel about vineyard adventures with complex characters, an old wine cellar and mystery or maybe just a wine comedy with quirky characters and recipes. I’ll let ya know what I find.


photo credits: flickr.com & amazon.com respectfully

Off the Vineyard Trail #1

This is the first post of a new feature called ‘Off the Vineyard Trail’. It’s a short diversion from the daily focus on wine and a sort of ramble down the faint, wild paths that wind through the main course of life.



Grief is a funny thing.

You never know quite how you’ll respond when you’re confronted with it. I’ve watched from the sidelines while others grieve. I’ve lived through the loss of classmates, neighbors and external family so I assumed I knew how I’d handle things when it was someone even closer. It would be managed with graceful dignity. Ha. Who did I think I was? Queen Elizabeth? The woman has turned emotional control into an art form. No, I’ve learned in reality grief is wildly unpredictable.

I’ve discovered grief sneaks up and catches me in the most mundane moments. Surprise, surprise! We live 99% of our lives in the mundane, ordinary moments. You know, just unimportant, everyday tasks, like doing the dishes or buying milk. Everything appears to be going fine and Wham! I find myself with tears dripping off my chin. It makes no sense to me. And it’s even more baffling when it happens at places like the car wash or the grocery store. I find myself making ridiculous excuses to alarmed strangers for why I’m tearing up by the mangos.

“Oh, would you look at the mangos! So beautiful! The red! The orange! That perfect oval shape. My Aunt Rita’s mango salsa is a shoo-in at the Fair this year with these sublime specimens. I’m all verklempt just thinking about it! I’ll finally take down that snotty Mitzy Garner and her 5 years in a row win! Blue ribbon, I tell ya! Blue Ribbon!”

The most recent occurrence was at the mailbox. I’ve kept up on the bills so it wasn’t a final notice for our Netflix account. Although, if it had been, I’d probably reclaim countless hours of my life back that are spent endlessly scrolling the “Suggestions for You” list while trying to find something to watch. No, it wasn’t a bill. The river of sympathy cards was now a trickle and have actually been replaced with happy, cheerful cards containing checks and gift-cards for my daughter’s graduation so absolutely no danger there. No, lurking among the colorful cards and invitations to graduate parties, was a plain white envelope. Harmless. But all it took was a glance at the sender and the waterworks started flowing.

The cause of this latest torrential downpour, you ask? A car title.

Yes, a car title. This should have been a joyous occasion where I hollered “Hallelujah! Thank you, God!” and cheerfully locked it in the firebox. But no, sorrowful tears. The sort that looked like we’d just received an eviction notice.

See, our daughter got a car for graduation from the grandparents. Every 17-year-old’s dream come true! Now before you get the impression my parents are as rich as the Rockefellers (does anyone remember the Rockefellers anymore? I guess I should say Zuckerbergs, instead), it had originally been a laptop. However, since my dad isn’t able to drive two cars at once until Ford develops that driverless type and my mom definitely won’t be driving, the graduate got a car. You might see her zipping around town. Dashing off to Starbucks. Racing to work. It’s red so you can’t miss it. She even picks up her siblings for me. It’s great. She loves it.

I hate it. Sort of. I should love it too, since I don’t have to spend half my life in the carpool line anymore. It should produce profound thankfulness but when I see that car it reminds me of what’s happened to us. However, with each new day, I’m slowly coming to terms with it sitting in the driveway. Ironically, I had been praying for a car. I just wish the Lord had chosen a different route in which to give it.

So I cling to the Bible verse in 1 Chronicles 16:34 that says,

 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!”


1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

And sometimes start crying while shopping in the plumbing aisle at Lowes.

But that’s grief for you.


photo credit: zastavki.com

Rias Baixas Souvenirs: A Bunch of Empty Bottles #winestudio


A picture really is worth a thousand words or in this case sparks a pile of memories. At closer inspection, what do you see? Besides a whole lot of empties! A wide range of wineries? Different colored and shaped bottles? Corks verses screw caps? Interesting labels and artful typography? 

The picture above represents 9 weeks of  DO Rías Baixas in Galicia, Spain and the refreshing, acidic, citrusy, saline and fruit laced Albariño. There should actually be three more bottles in the basket but I accidentally threw one out. Horror. And the other two are being kept until the frying pan of summer aka Texas, sends waves of heat up to Oklahoma and cooks my garden. 

Before you start wondering out loud or in your head, “Al, did you really drink all of those? And wow, woman, you must have a cast iron liver!”Or clandestinely try slipping a card for a support group into my handbag and ask if you can pray for me, the answer is yes – to the drinking, I have no clue about the liver. However, I had accomplices so you can stop fretting about my organs and remember it was over NINE weeks.

Now before I go off on a lengthy list of all that I gleaned about the wine and the wine region, I’m going to pause and ask you to help me figure out what to do with all these cool empty bottles. I haven’t the heart to throw them in the dumpster but I don’t relish looking like a lush either. Beyond that, feel free to post any of your borrowed Pinterest ideas in the comments. No use re-inventing the wheel!

For me personally, this Albariño journey pic represents 9 evenings of fun twitterchats with #winestudio pals, @Protocolwine and host RiasBaixasWines about Albariño, a whole lot of learning about Galicia wine history, (The Celtics & 2200 hours of sunshine!) the birth of a dominating wine region (tradition re-tooled with help from modern wine technology) and a particularly lovely evening sharing a few bottles with our neighbors.


Each bottle represents various winemaker’s personal expressions and style of their sub-region.



Many of these were crafted by women. Some of the wines were excellent alone while others needed a partner from the sea to coax their flavors. All of the grapes were carefully grown on trellises of stone pillars and hand-harvested.



Four deep estuaries cut like God’s finger prints into the landscape. Granite, alluvial soil and Atlantic breezes buffet the grapes. Beautiful beaches.

photo by panoramio.com

photo by panoramio.com

Medieval Roman villages. Five unique sub-regions. Rainfall is around 76 inches annually. You can sleep in century old estates turned into wineries. They speak Gallegos. They play the bagpipes!

Whew! I think I barely drew a breath between those last sentences as new facts popped like popcorn through my brain. Many thank yous to our host, Rías Baixas Wine. Albarino will definitely keep the Oklahoma heat at bay and Galicia is now on my travel wishlist! Grazas! 




All of these bottles were media samples courtesy of RiasBaixasWines and Protocol Winestudio in participation with the wine education forum #winestudio on twitter. The opinions and rambles are my own. Viva la Albariño!

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