The pop of the cork. The pour. The swirl. The sniff. The sip. Tasting wine is like participating in a romance/adventure novel. The layers of smells and tastes are a pass to a complex story that you’re not just experiencing, you’re helping to write.
Drinking wine is a very personal experience. That specific glass won’t taste exactly the same to anyone else. In fact, it won’t taste exactly the same to you if it’s poured in a different location or at a different time. That’s one of the most exciting things about wine – it’s a complete experience. Your environment, your mood, the temperature of the glass and the wine itself, even what food you just had for lunch – each and every thing that has made you you at that exact moment in time will affect your experience. How Zen is that?
Then you move back to the similarities, the commonalities of what people find in specific wines, and then not only is it exciting, you fall in love. The black pepper in specific Zinfandels can make you swoon. The limestone notes in that Cabernet Sauvignon make your heart skip a beat. That Cabernet Franc from the Nevada County foothills makes your soul sing. You’re committed to a life-long love affair with vino.
This weekend was the store's first of its new series of wine tastings, Second Saturday Sipping. This is MY event, really. I do the organization, the press releases, the postings on Facebook. Bob from the Northern Sierra Wine Country Association is helping me by booking the wineries, but so far, everything else has fallen to me.
Our first winery was Sierra Knolls. They're very nice people, and they have nice wines. We had a few people come in to sample the wine varieties, but nothing close to what I was hoping for. Then we went to a new winery, Bent Metal, that was holding a grand opening of their new tasting room. Their wines show promise, and everyone was having a great time. They had good music, yummy food, but we had already had a very long day at work, so Charles and I tasted and ran. I'm really looking forward to how their wine making matures, but let's leave it at that for now.
The next morning, we decided to go on a hunt for some more firewood. This extra long snow season has caught us with a bit of a shortage of burnable wood for the stove. The hunt was somewhat fruitless since this IS California and it IS the middle of April, but while we were out and about, we did run across a little comic relief. A certain discount grocery store, a bit of an Outlet as it were, forgot to double-check their signage before making it really big, and putting it out on the shelves. The best part is, the new wine variety that they created happened on MORE THAN ONE SIGN! I loved it! While we may have had an anticlimactic wine weekend, at least we got to have a little laugh.
For a week, we camped in Death Valley National Park. We avoided the gift shops and the tourist traps. We did a great deal of hiking and every couple days, we moved our camp. The weather was perfect. The wildflowers were spectacular. Our meals were pretty plain Jane. We special ordered everything at BriarPatch, from the gallons of water to our evening dinners -- Jaipur Vegetables for me, Bombay Potatoes for Charles. We coupled those with a Tasty Bites boil-in-a-bag jasmine rice, added a bottle of beer for each of us, and dinner was set for the week.
Besides our amazing, never-changing dinners, we also carried snacks, oatmeal for breakfast, and Equal Exchange coffee. Our snacks consisted of cashews, trail mix, Clif Bars, and Tanka Bites. We carry the Tanka Bars, but the Bites are available for special order. All you omnivores out there, these Bites were a god-send! Full of protein and low in fat, they were the perfect energy pick-me-up. I didn't even touch the Clif Bars and barely touched the trail mix, they were such a perfect midday snack. Couple the Bites with a coconut water or a Klean Kanteen full of regular water, and I was ready to take on more hilly miles.
March 23 was my birthday, so we celebrated with a little wine. While celebrating, we discovered that our next door neighbors, Cliff and Lori, were 1. from Auburn (small world) and 2. celebrating Lori's birthday. Talk about synchronicity! We shared the Curtis, an excellent bottle of wine that Charles just brought into the store. Wine drinkers, pick this up! It really is an amazing wine. The other bottle was what Cliff and Lori shared with us. It was also terrific, with a nose full of woodland violets and layer upon layer of complex and sophisticated flavors. While I'm not sure if Charles will be able to bring it into the store, he's going to look into it.
While we bought in bulk where we could, when tent camping, we've found that having things like Tasty Bites work really well. They don't smell like food before they're opened, and while bears aren't a problem in Death Valley, there are still pack rats and ravens to contend with. Plus, they're easy to prepare, don't take up a lot of space, and we only bring one cooler with us, so it keeps us from having to buy tons of ice. Of course, cooking while camping is a very personal choice. We lean more towards convenience because of the ice situation and because the less time spent on making dinner, the more time that can be dedicated to hiking.