OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Month: January 2017

#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?

Comparing the Affordable Cabernet Sauvignon of 2014

Ok, so we drank three wines over the past month,  only to realize later they were from the same vintage and variety albeit not the same location. Two are from California and the third is from Washington State. Each wine was a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. All three are ones you’d have with pizza on a busy mid-week night because of their affordable price points: $12-15 dineros. Since all three wines are of the same year, I started wondering what else was going on three years ago in 2014.

Look back with me, to a much more pleasant year shaped by the power of nature, and not by the bitter winds or acid rain of this past election year. The year began with the University of Oklahoma beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. A spectacular beginning to any year, I’d say.

In California, the vineyards were experiencing a mild winter punctuated by a severe drought. Early spring saw rain but unfortunately also hail. Lack of water and milder temperatures accelerated bud break and vineyard growth and an exceptionally early harvest.  To add interest to the winemaker’s already busy schedule was a destructive earthquake centered in Napa Valley in August. My husband and I visited the area 8 months later and there was still a lot of rebuilding to do.

Up north in Washington State, they were experiencing the warmest season on record tempered with a beautiful, cool fall that produced the largest harvest on record. Like the vineyards in California, WA State vineyards had earlier bud break and harvests due to the mild warm winter. WA winemakers rejoiced at the near perfect conditions.

So how did these mid-week Cabernets fare?

R Collection by Raymond, Lot No.1 Cabernet Sauvignon California 2014: 13.7% alc. The label states the R Collection Cabernet Sauvignon is “referred to as Lot 1 to represent the first generation of five generations of winemaking.” This wine was darker in the glass than the other two and lush with raspberries, tart cherries and a flavor that reminded me of bell pepper and spice. I’m not particularly fond of bell pepper. The finish was long with a bite of tannin. My taster might have been off that evening or other factors could have affected the wine. It happens.

 

14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2014: 13.5% alc. From Washington State, this was our second favorite out of the three. Medium bodied for a Cab with dark cherries, currents, a hint of coffee and accented with a touch of spice. The Steelers won their playoff game the same night we drank this so it was a win/win evening.  

 

Sterling Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Vintner’s Collection California: 13.5% alc. The grapes are sourced from Central Coast vineyards around California. Full bodied with dark fruit aromas and lush blackberries, Bing cherries, vanilla and spice. This was our favorite of the three.

 

This wasn’t intentional but I’m loving it. I set up a wine learning opportunity for myself without even thinking! Imagine what I could do if I actually put some thought into it. Scary, right?! I’d definitely be a lot farther along in wine knowledge  . . . but my problem is most of the time I just want a glass of wine without all the attachments. Just a pleasant glass that fits the moment. And that moment is most often the one where I’m sitting in my yoga pants relaxing at the end of the day, unwinding with the Better half of me and watching repeats of ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’ Or the Steelers in the Superbowl. (I can hope.)

Well, take it from this wine drinker, the next time you pick up a deep dish Schooner from Hideaway Pizza, there’s an affordable Cabernet to offset the delicious but pricey pie.

Happy Friday, or whatever day it may be where you are!

Cheers,

Allison

Off The Vineyard Trail #4: Doggone it! Good Changes for the New Year

Hola, I’m Biscuit.

After firmly resisting sad eyed pleas, begging, and cajoling for over twenty years, I caved in and let them get a puppy. Not just any puppy, mind you, she’s the sweetest, brightest, cutest, brilliant-est puppy-butt ever. And she even has superpowers. For instance, she’s able to reduce mature adults into babbling baby talkers. And turn non-dog people into dog-loving people. Mainly, me. It’s baffling even to me how this transformation happened. My arguments against a dog were solid and based on verifiable facts. One, the oldest was deathly allergic to my parent’s dogs and had to be heavily medicated when we visited. The kid not the dog. But she’s appeared to have grown out of it. Another fact, I’m the one at home for the majority of the time, so I’d be the primary caretaker and four kids was enough for me.

And then, two weeks ago, I unexpectedly crumbled. There was an adorable snapshot on the Central OK Humane Society Dog Rescue webpage to cause me to do some serious life reassessment. I weighed my old arguments against life’s realities such as the kids are growing up faster than I expected. Life is more exciting with crap on the lawn. With four kids, the floors are never clean anyway. Starting the new year with a good change is a blessing compared to the changes we experienced last year. And that’s when I caved, only to then spend a sleepless night of terror thinking, “What have we done!?!” In the light of the new day, sanity returned and I realized as Biscuit eagerly tried to lick my face off this was a good thing. A very good thing and I need to embrace it or actually, Biscuit.

With a new change comes a plethora of new experiences. New phrases have come out of my mouth:

“Do your business. Come on. Do your business, Biscuit.”

“Grrr. Grrrrrr. Grrrr. Grrrrrrrr.”

“Crate.”

“No, not the new blinds!!!”

“Stop chewing that. Chew this instead.”

“When you go out, watch for landmines.”

“Do you want me to drag you?”

“Quick! Grab her before . . . just grab her!”

I’ve also turned into a parrot. “Let go! Let go! Let go! Let Go! Let go!”

And Biscuit is teaching me new things.

  1. Running socks are a delicacy, especially new ones. And shoes. All types.
  2. Barking at 4am means ‘I need to go out NOW.’
  3. Children wear out faster than puppies.
  4. Puppies eventually discover lid-less kitchen garbage cans, dummy me.
  5. Puppies shouldn’t be left alone. Unless in a crate. Seriously.

On average, our family tends to be a more reserved, introverted bunch but that all changes when you get a dog. You learn quickly to be social because puppies are people magnets. At the end of the day, I think Biscuit is going to do more good for us than us for her. We’re forced to learn how to converse with complete strangers. People smile at you more. People ask you all kinds of interesting questions. The dog food aisle smells less repulsive. Overall, I know the LORD has good for us through our sweet puppy and it makes me kinda pumped about having membership in the dog club. However, I refuse to plaster the van with ‘I love My Australian cattle dog/terrier mix’ stickers. At least for a month or so. In the meantime, we’re planning the first visit to the dog park, that mysterious playground I’ve only seen from across the fence but never had access to. Now I have a ticket to get in the gate and see what all the fuss is about! 

Grateful, 

Allison

Miraculously cured of allergies.

Puppies sleep any which way.

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