Vintage Tuesday - Wine, Food, Travel and Insanity

Angus and Trixie’s Tales from the Wine Trails - Adventures with Wine, Food, Travel and Random Acts of Insanity

Where the Hell Am I? Auntie Em, Uncle Henry!

What happened?  17 planes, 8 rental cars,  12 cities, 11 states, 13 different hotels and there are only 31 days this month!  May is one big huge blur.  Kind of like having way too much wine except there wasn’t much wine involved this month, just a whole lot of travel.  Seeing everything from the Rocky Mountains to the “low country” of South Carolina, Toronto, Canada, Nashville (where it all began) and a whole lot more.  As Johnny Cash would sing….  “I’ve been every where man, I’ve been everywhere”    A screaming kid in seat 15b, a very large person next to me in 17C, delayed flights, airplane wine that doubles as toilet bowl cleaner…

Quasi Crash Landing - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityDuring what seemed like a quasi-crash landing, the pilot thought the earth was a few hundered feet further below than it really was and we hit the runway with a horrible bang.  -  Oops - My Bad!   Having made thousands of flights I never had a landing like that and apparently neither had the flight attendant.  She had this very worried and panicked look on her face thinking perhaps the nose wheel was damaged.  When we hit the runway (slammed into the runway) all the passengers gasped and from the smell a few also loaded their underwear.  Since the flight attendant’s job is to keep us all calm during times like this, she picked up the 1950’s CB radio looking microphone and with her shaking, cracking reassuring voice says, ….  “I guess you noticed we landed”   Oh.. that’s what that was, I mentioned on my way out the door.  Doesn’t the captain know objects in the mirror (including the earth) are closer than they appear?  - next time read the little sticker on the mirror. 

During my travels this month, I also had to drive to Toronto which was an adventure.   Entering Canada was easy and they must have known I was coming because there was a welcome sign for me. A Bigger Better Angus has Arrived! How cool! 

Welcome Angus - - Wine, Food, Travel and Insanity

Returning to the United States was a different story.  “What do you mean you were slaying corks in Toronto?” Asked the customs official at the border.  That’s what I do for a living I said with a sheepish grin.  (knowing I probably gave a bad answer) He just looked down at me from his omnipotent perch in his power booth scowling at me in my little rental car while I was attempting to head home.  Who were you seeing there? he barked, trying to intimidate me.   A fellow cork slayer that flew in from Switzerland.  This time he just starred in total disbelief.  He looked at my passport, looked at me, looked at my passport, looked inside the car again and finally shrugged his shoulders, grunted and motioned me on.  And so goes another day of life on the road with Angus, cork slayer extraordinaire.   

Canadian Border - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityAfter the blur of May, I am safely back at Vintage Tuesday’s corporate headquarters’ (home) and it’s time to do a little catching up so off we go to see the Wine Wizard.  As we approach the wizard, she said in her wizard voice “Step forward Angus and Trixie, you dare to ask for a good bottle of wine do you?”   First bring me the cork screw of the wicked witch of the North.   Excuse me kind wizard, there isn’t a wicked witch of the North.  Only the border agent between Canada and the U.S. and the TSA took my cork screw. 

I told her I have been traveling every where this month and this is really a Big Ass Place.  Without skipping a beat she said “then you need a Big Ass Shiraz”.   As soon as Trixie heard this, she grabbed a glass and shoved me out of the way.  “I love Shiraz” she said with a big grin holding her glass out for the wizard.

The Big Ass Shiraz was a 2005 from Southern Australia and was just under $10.  It had a big ass flavor as well with hints of berries, I think it was blackberry and it had some spicy taste as well.  Adding this to our evening barbeque (no more travel food) and it topped off a great evening.

Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, where the hell am I?

Oh yea, there’s no place like home.


Happy Cinco de Mayo Ya’ll

Howdy Ya’ll.  Greetings from Nashville, Tennessee.  What a place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  This is more of a beer and Tequila holiday and today we are right in country music’s epicenter.  Talk about as far away from wine as you can get - we found it.  The ever adventurous Trixie wanted to explore Second Avenue and Broadway where all the pubs (honky tonks as the locals call them) are located.  We go moseying along (gotta look like we fit in by “moseying”) checking out the different venues.  Country music was echoing out of every door that we walked by.   Resisting the urge to buy a cowboy hat and big belt buckle, we found the Hard Rock Café.  Yes!  Music that I understand.  I poked my head in the door and asked if they know where any live rock music was playing.  They looked at me as if I was from Mars.  Laughing, they said “Rock music around here?  Not a chance!”  OK, Trixie talked me off the ledge and said just roll with it Angus.  Tonight we’ll fake it as country music fans and learn what it’s all about.  I had a feeling this was going to be a bad night. 

Nashville - - Wine, Food, Travel and Insanitynashville-broadway2.jpgAs we continue “moseying” along Broadway, Trixie spots a place called “Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge”.  She yells out “Wholly Shiraz - I didn’t know I had a cousin that lives in Nashville - and she owns a bar!” Of course we have to go inside.  This was one of the oldest honky tonks where many of country music’s biggest stars played before they became famous.  It is the ultimate in elegantly tacky decor with a twist of fun and insanity - right up our alley.  This place had a huge beer drinking crowd so in a very quiet voice Trixie asks what kind of wine they have.  I’m thinking don’t even bother girl, you know the answer to that question.  Yep, here comes.  The predictable answer, we have both kinds red and white.  Where have I heard that one before.  OK,  we’ll have two whites.  Of course it was served in plastic cups and was everything you would expect it to be.  

nashville-tootsies.jpgnashville-tootsie-stage.jpgPretty soon the band took the stage.  Wow, this is embarrassing I actually know most of the songs they played and they were really good.  One of the songs was a Grateful Dead tune.  This is awesome!  - or so I thought.  Then the band announced it was written by some famous country music person that I can’t remember.  They never did mentioned the Dead.   

Before long I was tapping, thumping and foot stomping like everyone else - horrified, I realized I was becoming a country music fan.   No this can’t be happening - I almost felt like ordering a beer.  Trixie saw what was happening and gave me a smack on the back of the head yelling “Snap out of it Angus”  I don’t want to own a pickup truck. Dazed, I came back to my senses and ordered another glass of “white wine”.  It must have been the plastic cup, but the second glass was much better than the first.

I have to admit, I was completely wrong thinking tonight was going to suck.  Spending an evening with Trixie at Tootsie’s (say that three times fast) listening to the band play their heart out and singing about lost loves, old dogs, rusty pick up trucks and cheatin’ hearts was a hootin good time.

Happy Cinco Ya’ll


Life is Karmical - Karma Vista Winery

Every now and then, a friend will ask “how do you do it?”  Puzzled, I ask “do what?”  They continue, “I have read your blog, I have heard the stories, I’ve even been involved with some of your craziness.  How do you and Angus come up with those ideas?”  I don’t know - it just happens.  Sorry to say, our best stuff is usually pretty random.  Kind of like a comical Karma.  Humm…. Karmical tm  Oh no there is another term to add to the Vintage Tuesday dictionary.  Karmical - a combination of comedy and karma or…  a description of Angus and Trixie’s life.

We’ll as fate may have it, or Karma as it is sometimes called, or “Karmical for us” we were on our way to St. Joseph, Michiganwhere Angus had a few more corks to slay and there it was.  Passing by Caloma, Michigan we saw Karma Vista Vineyards and Winery.  You can’t be serious.  Is this Karma?

Karma Vista Winery - Vintage Tuesday - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityOf course we can’t mess with Karma so we had to pull off and check it out!  Wine Rockers Joe and Sue met us as we walked through the door.  They are the wine gurus that created Karma Vista and they are also a couple of royally rowdy rock and rollers like Angus and Me.  Their wine carries names like Stone Temple Pinot after the great band Stone Temple Pilot, Pink Side of the Moon in honor of one of the greatest albums of all time and Cabernet Funk a salute to George Clinton and Parliment Funkadelic. (No relation to Bill, Hillary or Monica).  Alrighty, we are waiting for the wine of AC/DC lovers everywhere - Whole Lot of Rosieor perhaps Rose’ - Is this Karma or Karmical? 

Stone Temple Pinot - Vintage Tuesday - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityMany mid western and great lakes wineries import a lot of their grapes for the heavy reds.  However since Karma Vista is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and tempered by 80 miles of Lake Michigan water, they grow it all right there.  How about that, growing their own!  After talking with Joe and Sue about everything from B. R. Cohn who was the manager of the Doobie Brothers and California winery owner and excellent maker of olive oils, to our favorite concerts from the past, we were waiting to see if Pete Townshend would come walking through the door.

If you are ever in the Western part of Michigan (the big piece of the state not the upper peninsula) stop in for a blast from the past with Joe and Sue.  Some people build ships in a bottle, they create good Karma in a bottle!

May you all have Karmical lives!



It’s not Easy Being Green - Happy Earth Day! Emiliana’s Organic Wine

martian.jpgI looked in the mirror this morning and was horrified to think I was actually turning green.  Not Incredible Hulk green (I don’t even have that  kind of body style), more like Martian green.  Trixie is forcing me to become green and Earth Day is a not so subtle reminder.  Green, of course is to be environmentally conscious.  I am happy just to be conscious let alone the environmental kind.  Recycle this, conserve that, set the thermostat back in the winter so I turn blue, etc. etc.….  Come on!  I recycle corks, I can turn them into hot pads, bulletin boards and all kinds of cool things.

We now even recycle glass wine bottles which I think, due to our Vintage Tuesday “research projects” has been enough to make windows for every house in a small country - although the windows would have a green tint.   Hey wait a minute!  Many wine bottles are already green, does this mean they are eco-friendly?       …. probably not.

Gas Pump - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityTrixie has gotten so obsessed with this green thing that she is now riding a bicycle to run errands near by.  She mumbles something about the #&% oil companies and how they can stick their almost $4.00 a gallon gasoline up their….  uh…       …well I’ll just say the suggested location is not a natural gasoline storage receptacle. 

This whole green thing is to save the earth from all of us humans.  Most of us may be good natured people (especially the wine drinking crowd)  but I guess we are a bunch of pigs with our planet.  The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and was begun partly because of a photo taken by the first astronauts to orbit the moon.  As they swung around from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (technical astronomical term) they took the first ever photos of the entire earth from the moon’s perspective.  Shocked at how small the earth looked (it’s an object that is much larger in the rear view mirror) the photo quickly made us realize we better take care of it because you can’t plant grapes on the moon.  

EarthApollo 8 astronaut  Bill Anders was quoted as saying “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth”  They also finally confirmed the moon was not made of green cheese!  What kind of wine goes with green cheese anyway?

So… enough of the history lesson, I’m wasting way too much energy!  The real question - what kind of wine do we have to celebrate Earth Day?  To satisfy Trixie’s recent green streak,  we picked up a bottle of organic wine - no pesticides or chemicals - Not a bad idea.   We picked up a bottle of Natura from Emiliana of Chile.  At around $9.00 a bottle, this is a mix of 87% Carmenere 4% Syrah, 4% Petite Verdot and 1% Malbec.  Organic wine is something new for me so I was not sure what to expect - essence of pine cones?.  I wasn’t even sure if I was suppose to be wearing Birkenstocks and laying under a tree somewhere.   The wine had a flavor of heavy berries and darker fruits.  I think there was some chocolate in there too.  Remember, Mother Earth says clean up after yourself (and recycle those wine bottles!)



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Haight-Ashbury and the Wine Flight - Pick One!

Hiaght Ashbury - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityHaight Ashbury Street Performer - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityI told Trixie, we can’t be in San Francisco without visiting Haight - Ashbury.  She thought I was insane - and once again she was probably right.  We headed off to this famous intersection to take a trip back to the 1960’s and the Summer of Love.    We found it.  There are still a lot of Tie dye clothes, street performers, “smoking accessory stores” (a.k.a. head shops), tourists and of course hippies - although many with “A Touch of Grey” to quote Jerry Garcia, founder of the Grateful Dead and past resident of 710 Ashbury Street.  We wondered our way down Haight Street until it ends at Golden Gate Park which was home to thousands of hippies in the late 60’s.  Today it is filled with bicyclers, skaters, walkers and today - Trixie and me! 

Amoeba Music - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityAlong the way, I saw a huge store front called Amoeba Music.  Could this be?  A record/CD store as big as a bowling alley?  Hey wait a minute, this was a bowling alley years ago.  Inside were albums that you will rarely find anywhere else.  Anyone remember “Hocus Pocus” by the Dutch band Focus?  Their album was there.  Syd Barrett, one of the original members of Pink Floyd?  His stuff was there too.  I was like a kid in a candy store and spent over an hour roaming around in my quest to find some of the most obscure rock that I forgot existed.

On our way back to the hotel (our latest home for the week) we passed by Bia Restaurant and Wine Bar  You’re kidding?  A wine bar right in the middle of tie dye hippie land city?  OK things have changed a little since the 60’s.  Feeling a moment of obligation we have to duck inside and check it out.  Where is everyone - this place is empty?  It was not empty - we just were not in the right place. They had a secret garden outside in back with outdoor seating among the many plants, trees and bushes.  What a nature fest.   It was a total escape from the street performers and other crazies on Haight Street. 

Bia’s on Haight Street - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityWine Flight at Bia’s - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityOur server asked if we would like to sample 3 different wines in a “wine flight” Trixie and I looked at each other and thought -  Us?  Would we like 3 glasses of wine?  Do you know who we are?  Do you know our reputations?  Whoops, lets skip the part about our reputations.  YES, we will try three wines.  

We were presented with 3 Merlots,  Fusee from California, Sticks from Australia and Paul Mas from France. Humm sounds like global wine wars here.  The game was to swirl, sniff, sip, get all wine snobby, grade each wine and pick a winner.  As our readers know, we are about as far from being wine snobs as you can get.  I tried a sip from each one but I could not (would not) pick my favorite.  This little contest was not fair!  Pick my favorite of 3 wines?  That is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child.  I love them all equally - just in different ways.  One was a little more mellow - probably the first born of the wines, one had a rowdier character - obviously the second born, and the third one was just completely different - probably just to be different.  I refuse to pick just one!  I’ll leave those decisions up to the real wine snobs.  I wonder if they have a favorite son or daughter?

From the Corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets - “What a Long Strange Trip its Been!”



Cable Cars, Bay Bridge, Chinatown, Embarcadero and Gavi

Angus and I headed off to San Francisco where he had to slay a few more corks this week.  Since the cork slaying does not begin until Monday and we arrived on Friday, we had the weekend to do absolutely nothing.  So of course we had to do absolutely everything.  Starting out on foot, we wound our way through Union Square where we saw a high school choir from Bakersfield, CA playing a lot of cultural music.  It was a great way to begin the day. 

Embarcadero Market - San Francisco - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityLocal Performer - San Francisco - - Wine, Food, Travel and Insanity

We hiked our way towards the Embarcadero along the piers and found an enormous outdoor market.  This place had thousands of people checking out everything from asparagus to zucchini (I think that covers A through Z).  It is a foodie’s paradise.   Street performers filled the air with music and the samples of produce being shoved at my face were amazing.  After picking up a plate of cheese with a little wine, we took a break and sat along the bay taking in the view of the water front and the Bay Bridge.

Cable Car in San Francisco - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityThe hills in downtown San Francisco are notorious.  Sidewalks seem to run vertical rather than horizontal and can be quite a challenge for the casual tourist. (and me!)   The cable cars in San Francisco are the only way to travel up.  The cars grab a cable that is moving under the street at 9 ½ miles per hour.  The cable under the street pulls the cars up the very steep hills so you don’t have to do big city mountain climbing.  Taking the cable car straight up hill from the embarcadero, we made our way to Chinatown which has the highest concentration of Chinese in one location in the United States.  Strolling through their shops was an event all to it’s own.  Grant Street is where most of the tourists go but we went off the beaten path where all of the locals live.  I think we seemed to be the only English speaking people on these streets, we could have mistaken this for a back street in China.

Chinatown - San Francisco - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityChina town ends at North Beach where some of the best restaurants in the city are located.  After a full day of walking the streets (and cheating with the cable cars) my feet were hurting so it was time to kick back and relax.  Pulling up a couple of chairs outside on the sidewalk of a quaint Italian bistro (we walked from China all the way to Italy! - 3 blocks) we camped out with a few glasses of Gavi watching the scenery.  Actually we call this “watching the movies.”  Something Angus and I began doing several years ago. 

To “watch the movies” you need a great place to sit that has music playing in the background.  Sitting back with your favorite glass of wine, you listen to the music and watch the people on the street.  I don’t know how they do it but people’s lives seem to be choreographed to whatever music is playing in the back ground.  People get out of their cars right as the music changes, a skate boarder goes whizzing by right as the music transitions to a faster tempo.  This is almost as good as watching the Wizard of Oz synched to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Album.

Today’s  movie included listening to an Italian opera in the background, sipping Gavi wine and watching the world through wine filled glasses.  Gavi wine comes from the Piedmont Area of Italy and is a fruity yet dry white wine.  It was soooo crisp and refreshing - just perfect for the near 80 degree temperature outside.  This was absolutely one of those best days ever, and makes slaying corks all worth it!

If you go to San Francisco, spend the day hiking around on foot to get up close and personal with the city.

Peace, Love and Good Wine for All!


Bad Wine, Seriously Good Wine and the Police

Life is just weird.  The evening began with a really bad bottle of wine and ended up with “get your hands in the air” being shouted at me by one of our local policemen carrying a very deadly looking gun

It was the first day where the temperatures were finally warm in the State of DeNial.  It has been a very long winter!  After a busy day, Trixie and I decided to enjoy the evening with a nice bottle of wine while sitting on the deck overlooking the woods.  Listening to the birds during their evening feeding, a bottle of Bordeaux in hand and we were ready to just relax.  I poured the first glass and took a whiff.  Uh oh, this doesn’t smell that great.  Trixie took the first taste and I could tell by the look on her face that this was not good wine.  I tried it and thought, “this won’t even be good by the third glass” - a theory that I always count on.   

Seriously Good Wine - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityTrixie said “do you want a seriously good wine?”  I’m thinking that she meant I raid the top end of our wine collection.  She told me to go into the kitchen and there is a bottle of Seriously Good Wine under the counter.  I asked what the name was and she said “Seriously Good Wine.”  I know, you already said that but what label is it?  She again said “Seriously Good Wine”  OK  I remember this gag, who’s on first - right?

How about that, there really is a bottle named “Seriously Good Wine”  who knew?  It is a 2005 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stag’s Leap District. I popped the cork and we were on our way.  This was really a seriously good wine.  There was an awesome scent of heavy berries and since we were sitting outside, I could imagine the smell of our grapes on the vines towards the end of summer.  We were sitting in the Adirondack chairs sipping wine without a care in the world when Trixie saw me with a strange look on my face.  (stranger than my face normally looks)  “What happened?” she said.  I just bit into a bing cherry!  She was confused.  I said I picked up a taste just like those big huge dark cherries - it was awesome, now I wanted a cherry pie.  No cherry pie but we did barbeque a few shish ka bobs and finished the bottle.

One of the things I love to do on a quiet peaceful evening is lay outside on the lounge chair under the stars… and sometimes I fall asleep.  This was one of those nights.  Drifting off into another land, I began to dream I was a deer stuck in the headlights.  Out of nowhere a blinding light hit me in the eyes.  This wasn’t a dream, this was real.  What was this, the light is so bright I can’t see a thing.  Then I hear it.  Put your hands in the air!  said with a very loud and authoritative voice.  Huh?  Jake is that you?  I hear it again.  Put your hands in the air this is the police.  Not sure what to make of it, my hands go up as if I am about to become part of an episode of Cops or Reno 911.  I am thinking what the hell is this?  Trixie and I live in a pretty quiet rural area where the most dangerous thing that happens is when a squirrel gets stuck in the fireplace (another story!). 

Police - Get your hands in the air! - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityThe bright light moves around focused right at my eyes.  I yell out - “Hey I Live Here!”  The light goes off and the officer says he had a report of suspicious activity in our back yard.  Yes there is usually a lot of suspicious activity when I am home.  Over the years, our neighbors have become used to it and even look forward to it.  Spontaneous back yard barbeques, wine tastings, music filling the back yard including anything from Sinatra to the Ramones and everything in between. 

To the North of us live Mr. and Mrs. North (what a coincidence).  They know that I travel a lot for my cork slaying adventures however last night they had no idea I was actually home.  Being the great neighbors that they are they were watching out for Trixie.  Mr. North heard a noise in our barn (me looking for seat cushions) and suspecting trouble in our quiet little neighborhood he called the police.   The next thing I know I hear “Get you hands in the air” guns ready and the whole bit. That was a new experience for me that I don’t care to repeat.

After a few laughs, I thanked Mr. North and our local Policeman for watching out for Trixie and Vintage Tuesday’s corporate headquarters.  This morning my heart was still pounding and my underwear was quite a mess.

Stick em up!


Mad Dogs, Englishmen and Bad Pickup Lines

We opened a bottle of Mad Dogs and Englishmen last night and it gave me a memory jog about our trip to London.  Angus and I flew across the big pond to spend a few days seeing the sights and doing many of the touristy things like visiting Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, the Tower of London and StonehengeTower Bridge in London - - Wine, Food, Travel and Insanity 

I think one of our fondest memories was of Portobello Road.  It is a quaint little road with shops and pubs lining the way.  A beautiful warm sunny afternoon (kind of unusual for London) and we ducked into a pub to see what kind of wine they have.  Picking up a couple of glasses of Chardonnay, we sit outside along the sidewalk.  No tables or anything fancy, just chairs facing the sidewalk.  There were three guys sitting next to us and one yells across the street to a young lady passing by hoping to impress her (and get a date)  I looked over at him and said, you are not going to get anywhere with that crappy line.  Intrigued, he wondered what kind of line it would take to impress Trixie.

He was about to receive a lesson in the fine art of what ladies like to hear.  Soon I learned all three of them were there on vacation (or “Holiday” as they say in Europe) two of them were from Australia and the other was from New Zealand.  We all spent the better part of an afternoon talking about everything from wine to politics to Formula 1 racing and the Grateful Dead.  These guys were as diverse (or insane - it’s a fine line) as we are.  A perfect afternoon!

 London - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityDuring our last evening in London we found a nice little pub near our hotel at  Green Park.  A little food and wine and we were ready for a leisurely stroll back to the hotel.  As we stepped outside,  Angus was sure he heard live music off in the distance.  I said it was all in his head but then I began to hear it too.  We wound our way down the back streets following the music as if we were following the pied piper.  The music grew louder and then Angus said “hey I know this song,  the Foo Fighters are playing”   Becoming quite excited he picking up speed almost breaking into a run.  Sure enough, there was an outdoor festival not too far from Buckingham Palace.  There were probably tens of thousands of fans all along the park so we stuck around and listened for a while.  Our trip back to the hotel became a problem.  Running down this street and that street we failed to keep track of where we were.  Lost Again!

Our  2005 Mad Dogs and Englishmen is a blend of 20% Shiraz 30% Cabernet and 50% Monastrell.  Other than English in the title it had nothing to do with England - it is from Spain and like many good Spanish wines it has a great spice and deep berry flavor.  I think I even picked up a hint of vanilla.  This wine would go great with a hearty beef dish or while eating cheese listening to the Foo Fighters. Cheerio ‘ol Chap!


Trixie has a Gnarly Head

Oh no what did I do?  After finally getting over my nasty cold and flu, Trixie now has it.  Up to her elbows in tissues and surrounded by bottles of aspirin and other cold medicine, she is not very happy with me right now.  She says I got her sick on purpose.  Yep that was all part of my master plan.  Get her sick and then keep all the wine for myself.  

With her constant coughing and nose blowing, she said she has been feeling kind of gnarly in the head.  “Hey wait a minute” I said, I think we have a bottle of that!  She just glared at me with her red nose, frizzy hair and fuzzy slippers.  To confirm my theory, I head off to the Vintage Tuesday supply room (our basement) and sure enough I emerge with a bottle of Gnarly Head.  How about that, I can find a bottle of wine for any occasion!

Gnarly Head - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityWhile she is laying on the sofa looking all pitiful for my benefit, I do what I do best.  Pop the cork!  It was a Gnarly Head  2006 Old Vine Zinfandel produced by Gnarly Head Cellars in Manteca,  California.  The vines are located in Lodi and the label on the back of the bottle mentions some of their vines are 80 years old.  Wow, that would mean they were planted in the late 1920’s DURING PROHIBITION!  I can hear them explaining it now,  uh…..  Jelly, ya that’s it….  we’re going to make grape Jelly. (wink wink)

I’m glad they don’t make Jelly - it would be a waste of good grapes.  This wine has a great berry flavor with a distinctive spicy taste.  If I had a plate of spaghettii, the evening would be complete but with Trixie down for the count, it was time to pick up the phone and order a pizza. - which by the way, also goes great with this wine!

I poured a glass and sat in the family room with the ailing Trixie lying on the sofa.   Smiling at her I swiped a line from Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and said “Here’s looking at you kid”   I quickly found out Trixie’s middle finger still works.

Cheers!  I’m feeling much better now!


Being Sick Sucks - What Kind of Wine Do We Have?

Chicken Soup - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityI can’t believe this.  I have not had a nasty cold in a very long time and here I am up to my elbows in used tissues, shivering and bundled up in a sweat shirt sounding like a duck and looking like Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.  (feeling sorry for me yet?)  And it’s Tuesday again - Tuesday’s are not suppose to suck.  Trixie drug me off kicking and screaming to the doctor to get me back on my feet. 

Now the real question, what kind of wine is suitable for a bad cold.  Since I am not thinking very clearly, Trixie pointed out that the real question is:  what kind of wine goes with the chicken soup that she is giving me while I have a cold.   I am thinking that chicken often goes with a good white wine but extreme times call for extreme measures and my answer was…  Scotch!  She did not find this funny and brought in a bowel of soup and a glass of red wine.  She was doing an experiment and did not tell me what the wine was.  I was suppose to sniff and taste and tell her what wine I thought she brought me.  What a Joker, I can see this isn’t going to work.  I thought I would be able to figure it out but….   I can’t smell or taste!!  I guess my Vintage Tuesday wine skills are temporarily on hold until this thing passes.

Where is my aspirin?

Cough, Sniff, Snort and Cheers!,


Happy St. Patrick’s Day - Shamrock Wine

St. Patrick’s Day - Vintage Tuesday - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanitySt. Patrick’s Day seems to be the day lots of crazy people dressed in green pretend to be Irish for a day and drink lots of green beer.  I am not a beer drinker but I refuse to be left out of the fun and besides, a few of my ancestors and also a few of Trixie’s actually came from Ireland.

Not to be outdone by the faux Irish, I armed myself with a small bottle of green food coloring.  Now I am prepared to compete with the rest of the fools. Trixie and I went to one of our favorite local pubs for St. Pat’s and it was packed.  We walked up to the bartender and ordered two Chardonnays - two Clous du Bois to be exact - not exactly Irish sounding.  A few moments later, with the help of a few drops of green food coloring, we were part of the gang - sort of.  One by one, people began to stare at our wine glasses.  Looking at us as though we were from Mars, It seemed that no one has seen green wine before - green beer is expected, but green wine? 

Shamrock Wine - Vintage Tuesday - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityA few people began to ask “do they really make green wine?”  Sensing a serious amount of gullibility in the room, I told them it was a special wine created by leprechauns from the old country.  They are only allowed to sell it once a year on St. Patrick’s day.  I went on to tell them that based on the leprechauns ancient tradition, they make it by fermenting shamrocks in an old Irish whiskey barrel.   Many people were hanging on to my every word.  This was amazing - they all seemed to believe every thing I was saying.  (Hmmm.. time to sell that swamp land in Florida!)  One person actually asked me if the winery was located in a hollow tree.  I had to carefully explain to him that those are the cookie elves not the wine leprechauns.- I guess I can be quite convincing (don’t you believe this story?).  I must admit, I think they all had been in the pub since noon so a few of them were not “hitting on all cylinders”.  I’m still not really sure what some of them were saying that night, their language had de-evolved into a series of sounds that did not make much sense.  I doubt if they could remember it anyway.

It wasn’t long and everyone was singing about Green Alligators and the Unicorn made famous by the Irish Rovers.  One person was convinced there was a pot of gold around there somewhere and wanted to look in some odd places.  Come to think of it, I think it might have just been a good (or really bad) pick up line.

Here’s to the luck of the Irish, green beer, crazy people and the Leprechaun’s Shamrock Wine!

Where did I put my Blarney Stone? 



Wine Festival + Hilton Head + Sunshine + Stripes = Paradise

What a formula!  The East coast’s largest outdoor wine festival, a beautiful Island, sandy beaches and sunshine - this is one of those “It doesn’t get any better than this” kind of days.  Continuing our road trip from Orlando to Charleston, SC we spent the weekend at Hilton Head, SC for the Hilton Head Wine Festival, Tasting and Auction held at Shelter Cove Park.  When we got there we saw a never ending sea of white circus tents housing zillions of bottles of wine with their vintners and distributors all trying to impress us with their selection.  And impress us they did.  A great blues band was playing, wine was flowing, the sun was shining (although it was quite windy) and we got to try some really great wines.

Hilton Head Wine Festival - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityPlungerhead?  Now there is one we have to try to get things rolling.  It was a Zinfandel from Lodi, CA and was great.  With hundreds of wines and dozens of tents we felt the pressure to try and taste them all.  We roamed from tent to tent like a couple of wine seeking vagabonds tasting as we go.  During mid afternoon, we found ourselves taking a break and camping out at a large table with ten other wine lovers sipping from the vine and watching the people and crowds.

We also made a new friend that day.  Pouring wine at one of the tents we met Jen Foulke who along with her sister own Stripes Restaurant - an American Grill. Angus and I did not have any dinner plans and thought - why not?  So we wandered into her place later that evening.  Stripes has been an island tradition for 18 years and it is well known to the locals.   We walked inside and everyone one was quite cheery and friendly -  I think it was either that Southern Hospitality you hear about or perhaps it was just an island thing - it was probably both!  The first thing I noticed were the loaded wine racks right as you walk in.   That’s a good sign.  Then I saw the wine list which was quite impressive. (Of course I would notice this!)  The menu made us both very indecisive.  Everything sounded great - where do we begin.  I know!  With a glass of wine!  I finally decided on the Petite Filet with a gorgonzola creamed custard on the side.  Angus had the salmon that he said was one of the best he has had in quite a while.   Being big veggie eaters (Mom would be proud) we also ordered a side of Asparagus.   It was presented with a layer of shredded parmesan on top.  Wow, I almost cried when I took the first bite it was sooooo good.

Stripes Restaurant - Hilton Head - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityThe locals know where Stripes is located and now you do to.  Head down the main highway Rt. 278 and go to the traffic circle near the end of the island at the intersection of Rt. 278 and Pope Ave.  It is located at 32 Office Park Road on the Southeast side of the big traffic circle. 

Thanks Jen, it was quite a memorable dining experience.



Running of the Leprechauns, Hopeulikit Wine, and Hoe Cakes

What did I get us into this time?  One wrong turn and now we are about to be run down by zillions of leprechauns.   You have heard of the Running of the Bulls, this is the Irish equivalent.  On our road trip from Orlando to Charleston, SC where I had to slay some more corks on Monday, Trixie wanted to make a pit stop and see the town of Savannah, Georgia along the way.  She also really wanted to see Paula Deen’s restaurant the Lady and Sons while we were there.  Come to think of it, so did I. 

The Lady and Sons - - Wine, Food, Travel and Insanity

After cruising in the “Vintage Tuesday Mobile” (rental car) through Daytona Beach where it was bike week and then through Jacksonville, FL where we out ran 2 tornadoes, we finally made it to Savannah.  Oh yah, it is also road construction season and we navigated past some 20,000 well placed orange barrels to keep us company – I am not kidding, I was so bored I counted about how many barrels there were per mile, did the math and then began to think…. How much wine could an orange barrel hold, and if there were 20,000 barrels, how many cases would that be and….   Yes I was mega board!

Driving through the quaint streets of downtown Savannah, we were blown away at the thousands of people walking around.  I don’t mean shoppers and worker bees, I mean there was something big going on.  I turned at a traffic light only to have a police motorcade come up behind me and turn on their lights and sirens.  Huh?  The light was GREEN and I am only going 23 miles an hour.  Is this police escort for the world famous Trixie?  We were motioned off the road, so we pulled over and looked to see what was going on.  Far off in the distance we heard thundering hoof beats.  A stampede?  thunder?  a rodeo?  What is that green heard off in the distance?  Wholly Shiraz, it’s the running of the leprechauns and they are going to mow us down.  This was Savannah’s annual March of Dimes 5K Shamrock run.  People of all ages, sizes, and abilities took part. 

5K Race in Savannah - - Wine, Food, Travel and Insanity 

With people everywhere it did not look like we could escape without being run down.  Then, as if by magic, right behind us we saw a sign for Meinhardt Winery - this was their tasting room.  Your kidding, we need a place to get out of the crowd and a wine tasting room just shows up behind us?   How convenient!

We stepped inside and were quickly greeted by Joe, a true blue southern born gentlemen.  He explained how their wines are a bit different from what we’ll call typical wines.  They are quite sweet and are made from the muscadine grape which is only native to the South Eastern United States.  He told us the story that when Sir Walter Raleigh landed in North Carolina in the late 1500’s, there was a concern that there might not be any grapes in the New World.  How about that - travel all that way and ready for a glass of wine!  He was pleasantly surprised to find the New World had grapes and was ready for someone to build a winery!

Looking over their wine list, they have one called “Hopeulikit Red”  What a name.  This is actually the name of a town a few miles North.  Joe tells us it is a red wine that tastes like a white wine, and is pretty sweet.  Also, he showed us pictures of the actual winery and vineyard located in Statesboro, Georgia.  As far as the wine goes, whether you “likit or not”, a few locals told us the winery is a beautiful place for an afternoon picnic.

As the crowd finally thinned out, we made our way to Lady and Son’s.  Uh oh!  Not only do they have a restaurant, they also have a gift shop.  I see Trixie’s eyes light up.  I am so screwed.  Before I know it she is inside ogling all of the stuff leaving me outside to watch the rest of the leprechauns race towards the finish line.  Soon the door opens and here comes Trixie.  Grinning from ear to ear with a big bag of stuff.  “So what important things did we buy this time?” I asked.   With her huge smile she just said three words.  “Hoe Cake Mix”  A million things went racing through my mind, most of them not good.  Hoe Cake?  is that a type of cake, or type of person that eats the cake?  Of course Trixie set me straight as she explained Hoe cakes are like a light pancake and served with every meal at the Lady and Sons.  They let you know when you walk in the door that their Hoe’s are complimentary.  You’ve gotta love a place like that!

Next Stop - Hilton Head Island and the Wine Festival!



Our New Friend “Stella”

The alarm went off at 5:30 AM.  Ugh!  This was the day I fly to Orlando to meet up with Angus who was off slaying corks again. (see Cork Wars posting)  The shuttle bus stopped by Vintage Tuesday’s corporate headquarters and I was off to the airport.  Probed, prodded, questioned, scanned, searched and finally I was able to walk onto the airplane.  Looking for seat 29A as I go down the aisle, I pass row 10, 11, 12….  Are there even 29 rows on this plane?  Is this the seat that flushes?  Finally, the last row and my seat is jammed against the window.  Three screaming kids strategically planted around me and one very large person next to me.  I am trapped against the window.  Maybe I can just look out the window at the clouds and see what shapes I see.  But all I see is the side of the engine at the tail of the plane.  29A has no view, no room, no sanity.  AND THIS WAS TUESDAY!  Tuesday’s are suppose to be my favorite day.Travel Hell - Vintage Tuesday - Wine, Food, Travel and Insanity

Several hours later I land in Orlando.  They almost have to scrape me off the seat and carry me out in a bucket.  Dazed and confused, I head to baggage claim and the shuttle to the hotel at the Disney theme parks.  Finally about 9 hours after the alarm went off this morning I am there….   … but Angus is not.  He is still out slaying corks with a mouse and a duck  What a strange land.

When Angus finally returned, he opened the hotel door and saw my suitcases laying in front of the door where I dropped them, and me collapsed on the bed babbling something about the plane and screaming kids.  He propped me up and walked me to the balcony.  “Where do you want to go for dinner?” he asked.  All I could do is mumble and point from the balcony to the Olive Garden down below  Are you kidding me? He said.   We came all this way to go to a restaurant that we have back home in the state of Denial? 

Olive Garden Orlando - Vintage Tuesday - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanitySo we walk through the front door of the Olive Garden and the person asks how many in our party.  We just pointed straight ahead and said “Bar” and kept walking.  That’s when we met our new friend “Stella”  She had seen this travel condition before and knew exactly what to do.  “We have four dollar drink specials until 7PM” she said.  Wow, I saw the time and it was only 5:30.  I asked what kind of wine they had (already my speech was returning) hoping not to hear “we have both kinds, red and white”  I was stunned.  They had a wine list with some pretty good selections.  Suddenly my choice of places to go seemed like a good idea after all.  The bar was quite nice, it is not as I remember Olive Garden bars.  She said they had gone through a major renovation.   I saw a Super Tuscan on the list for $9.50 that looked promising.  $9.50 a glass is way out of the Vintage Tuesday budget.  Is this wine really only $4.00?  “Yes it is” she said.  Things were beginning to return to normal as we each had a glass (maybe two).  The wine was really great.  It was a 2003 Villa Antinori blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah.  I always love a good blended heavy red, and this wine did not disappoint.

It was a nice evening outside and everyone was at the theme parks so we had the bar to ourselves and got to talk quite a bit with Stella.  We learned she was smarter than both of us.  She had the wisdom to escape the great white north in New York and seek greener (and warmer) pastures living in a land that people suffer long plane rides to get to.

Olive Garden Super Tuscan - - Wine, Food, Travel and InsanityThursday night was our last night in Orlando so we walked next door to say hi to Stella - and have another glass of our $4.00 Super Tuscan. It was raining outside and the place was packed.  She looked up at us and said “two Super Tuscans?”  As much as we travel, I always remember bartenders that stand out.  We have been to a few places, that even after several days or even months, the bartender remembers you as soon as you walk in.  They call you by name and know exactly what you want.  Even though they serve hundreds of drinks a night to zillions of people they are the real stand outs.   That particular Thursday night Stella had her side kick Manny working with her as both of them tried to keep up with the growing crowd.  As we talked a little longer we realized, they both had quite a few stories of their own, but we’ll leave those stories for them to tell.

Thanks Stella for helping me recover from Tuesday’s “Travel Hell” and keep doing what you do – you are one of the standouts!