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Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 48 — The Morning After . . .

This isn’t going to come as a surprise to anyone – going back to work after a vacation is NOT an easy thing to do.  Going back to work on a Thursday after a vacation makes it more palatable but it’s still NOT any easy thing to do.  When the alarm went off this morning, we were pretty sure that something was wrong with the alarm clock.  You see, after spending a week on the West Coast, our bodies had gotten used to the time difference.  So, when we hit the bed last night at 11, our bodies thought it was nine and when the alarm went off at six, our bodies thought it was four -if you’ve done any traveling between where you’re at and the coast, you know it takes a while for your body to catch up.  However, we got up – not because of the alarm but because of our four-legged family that doesn’t know about, doesn’t care about and has one thing on their minds at that hour of the morning.

Jean got the first round of going out to ‘take care of business’ but she was off and getting ready for work, so the second round of  ‘taking care of business’ fell on Brian’s shoulders.  In our dog’s minds, we could be gone for a month, two months, six months, and the minute we get back home, they fall immediately back into their routine.  They are amazingly faithful, if not true to their owners, kinds of dogs.  They typical morning, and today was no different, starts with a growl from the youngest, Jasmine.  This is usually followed by ‘bed pacing’ from the middle dog, Andie.  For those of you not familiar with ‘bed pacing’, let us explain – bed pacing occurs when one or both humans IN the bed show any signs of being awake during the pre-dawn morning hours.  This can include, but is not limited to, snorting, snoring, scratching an itch, moving your hand, slightly opening your eyes, rolling over in bed or simply breathing.  When ANY of these occur at that particular moment, an amazing genetic trait comes to the surface of the middle dog, Andie.  She begins the pace from one side of the bed to the other.  Sometimes, the pacing is accompanied by yawning and stretching with strange noises, and sometimes the pacing is accompanied by a long, cold, wet snoot either in one of our faces or under a hand that has conveniently dropped out of the covers.  Dogs are opportunists that always look for the easy attention opportunity.

This all leads us to tonight’s wine from South Africa, a 2007 Faithful Hound from the vineyards of Mulderbosch.  This is an interesting blend comprised mainly of Cabernet Sauvignon, but with added amounts of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  From it’s opening, we weren’t sure if it was wine we had opened or a bag of salad greens because the green pepper on the nose was very prominent as was the toasted almonds and a certain earthiness.  The first sip was, well, it was interesting.  Not good and not bad – just interesting.  It had almost no finish when the bottle was first opened, but at the same time it had a certain smoothness that we both really enjoyed.   A later tasting confirmed that the green pepper was there to stay but the finish opened up to a nice smoky, silky after taste.  Not a bad way to salute our first day back to work after a vacation.  A dinner of grilled salmon, roasted potatoes and sauteed asparagus, helped give the wine a much-needed boost in taste.  Clearly, this wine is going to be better with food than just sitting around having a glass.

Through all of the sniffing, tasting and dining this evening, the ‘girls’ were right there at our feet or should we say under our feet wanting to get their fair share of attention.  They really are ‘Faithful Hounds’ when you get right down to it and so as this first day AFTER vacation comes to a close, we invite you to try Faithful Hound wine from South Africa; at less than $12 for a bottle, it’s not going to break the bank but it won’t exactly make you king of your castle either.  One thing to look forward to is that tomorrow is Friday – a two-day work week is one good reason to go back to work on Thursday.

Thanks for reading and please, always remember to enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible. (Go Cards!)



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Day 47 – There’s No Place Like Home . . .

Good evening, wine lovers!  After spending the past five days in the beautiful Central Coast wine country of California, we have arrived back home.  Soledad, Paso Robles, Cambria, Big Sur and Monterrey .  .  . amazing places to visit and a great way to spend a vacation.  But, there is no place like home – we have really enjoyed writing about the experiences of the past few days but relish the opportunity to write about WINES going forward.  It was a beautiful morning in San Francisco .  .  . cool, sunny with almost no breeze.  Our day started with breakfast – thank goodness for Denny’s coffee and a trip to the airport.  You can really tell that San Francisco has planned their airport for LOTS of traffic.  We were dropped off at our airline by Ellie Mae and Jethro who had a later flight – we proceeded to the ‘dreaded security area’.  Actually, the wait was much less than anticipated and we made it through scanning without much to talk about. (We did get full body scanned – quite a treat to start the day) It was almost amusing when we got to our gate and our flight was non-stop to Austin and in the gate immediately to our left was a non-stop flight to San Antonio that got in a half hour earlier!  Mr. Drysdale and Ms. Jane joined us on the flight – so it was eventful!  After a delay on pushing away from the gate, we were in line for take off – seven, count them seven planes ahead of us!  We ended up taking off a half hour AFTER departure time, but miraculously, we arrived ON TIME in Austin at 4:15.  Man, it always feels good to take a trip but it ALWAYS feels good to get home.

After a quick stop for a sandwich, it was on to the house and a chance to visit the ‘family’!  Our four-legged children were very excited to see us after being cared for by our special pet sitter, Mitsie Benton with Happy Paws Pet Service.  As usual, she did a great job of taking care of them, so we could keep them at home as opposed to taking them to a kennel.  There is a magic with vacations that you know you’re ready to get home when you realize there is work to do and you can’t wait to get home to do it!  On top of that, the break was just long enough for us to enjoy some great wines, some delicious food and our great friends.

Coming home tonight, we decided to forgo our Paso Robles wines (no worries, you’ll be hearing ALOT about them in the days ahead!) and instead opted for a Sonoma County Zinfandel given to us by Jean’s Dad, Bill.  The wine is a 2007 Carol Shelton Rocky Reserve Zinfandel, and it is a great way to come back home!  Of course, you’ve come to expect us to talk about zinfandel, and this wine kicks some butt .  .  . thank you very much!  A great nose of pepper and spice with lots of fruit greeted us when we pulled the cork, and then the first sip – WOW, it was smooth, tasty, fruity and oh, what a nice velvety finish.  We couldn’t have picked a better way to wrap up our vacation and usher in the next several months of wine blogging.

For those of you who have recently signed on to follow us, thank you.  We have learned that not only do we appreciate good wine, but we appreciate the process of making wine, the concept of marketing wine and the fun that comes from sampling and tasting wine.  Even though we are now home, we’ve learned and continue to learn about the stories of wine makers that are inspirational, family-oriented and have a cool under current.  We visited with Don Brady at Robert Hall Vineyards who  has ties to Texas and man, he is a great guy who really knows how to make delicious wines; we visited with Greg and Tealy at Barr Estates Winery who showed us that it takes hard work to make a quality product.  We can’t wait to talk about some of the amazing  wines that we tasted during our trip.   One of the great things about visiting wine country is ordering some wines and counting the days until their arrival – kind of like Christmas!

Tonight, we relax and enjoy our final hours of vacation with a renewed sense of energy and focus – good wine is not just a hobby – it’s a passion and much like the makers and sellers of wine that we met over the past several days, we hope that you’ll continue to enjoy good wine as well, but please remember to enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 40 — The BIG 40!

Way back in the past – to celebrate our 30th birthday, we started a ‘tradition’ of yearly parties on our birthday – you see, both of us celebrate our birthday on the same day.  That’s right. Same day. Same year.  Two different parts of the country (urban legend has it that Jean is more or less an hour older than Brian – but not a proven fact – more than likely we were born at the same time).  So, the Bash was started on our 30th with a keg of beer, some bratwurst on the grill and friends bringing their favorite side dish.  For the next ten years, we celebrated with our annual Bash – now in between there were two children born, a major flooding event, the addition of  another dog to the family, a rebuilt  deck, a new house with new neighbors and another new grill.  The one constant was beer.  When you live in St. Louis beer is a way of life – and there’s no complaining here . .  . we knew that Budweiser with born on dating of last week was about as fresh as it’s going to get!

The chink in the armor happened in that magical year.  You know–the BIG ONE!  The Big 40!  Yep, this was the year someone, in the neighborhood, brought wine.  Now, we will stand here until it snows in Aransas Pass, Texas on Christmas that we didn’t let the wine touch our lips, but friends (or so we thought) actually gave us wine as birthday presents.  We know, we know, it’s almost blaspheme!  Now, all kidding aside, this was probably the turning point for us; it’s not that we don’t like or care for beer, but there was an allure that wine provided, but the catch was that we had to actually taste it.  Oh, sure, we’d previously enjoyed those luscious German white wines, and we’d even had a bottle or two of the ultimate training wine – White Zinfandel, but now we were talking red wine . . . Merlot!  Can you feel it – yeah, we can too, the ground under your feet is shaking, right?  Seriously, it was probably the turning point in our journey to wine enjoyment.  We’re pretty sure it was something like Turning Leaf Merlot . . . kind of forgettable.

So what is it about the number 40?  Why do we put such emphasis on it?  Why does it have such a mesmerizing effect on us?  Did you know that FORTY is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order?  Did you know that the chemical element, Zirconium  has an atomic number of 40?  Did you know that in 40 AD, Philo taught that all men are born free?  Let’s not forget the 40 days of Lent, 40 years of Moses wandering in the desert – and here’s a really cool fact . . . if you add the ages of daughter #1 and daughter #2 together they equal 40!!!!  Must admit that magic 8 ball trick came from a co-worker of Jean’s . . .shoutout to Ned.  Oh, and one more shoutout to Scott who hits the BIG 40 next Friday!

So guess we are a little caught up in the fact that tonight is our 40th blog and our 40th DIFFERENT bottle of wine!  Yes, we know, we’ve got a LONG way to go, but we’re pretty excited to be talking about our 40th tasting!  And we chose one of our favorites for our 40th tasting, tonight’s wine is a 2009 Joel Gott Zinfandel.  Because of our previously mentioned tastings with our friends at Grape Juice in Kerrville, we learned to love Joel Gott Zinfandel going back to the 2005 vintage.  This is some really good wine for under $15 a bottle and has become widely available at wine shops, high volume grocery stores, including  Whole Foods.  It’s appropriate that we enjoy this wine on our 40th blog because on our very first blog back on the first of September, we talked about a Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc.  Anyway . . .

In true Zinfandel fashion, it’s got lots of fruit, lots of spice and a great pepper finish – it’s not overpowering but it’s got a real nice vanilla and tobacco nose.  The finish is smooth and while not overpowering, lingers just long enough for you to appreciate the flavors.  The wine is perfect for a Friday night on the deck or when a group of co-workers comes over to the house after work!  It isn’t too pretentious, but it has solid structure and a good finish.  We enjoyed with what could best be defined as a “kitchen sink” pizza – had to clean out the fridge because we will soon be on the road (ah, do we sense a story in the making?).

So, as we recognize and ‘celebrate’ our 40th posting, we raise a glass of Joel Gott Zinfandel, and hope that you’ll enjoy a glass of your favorite wine.  We’ll be back here tomorrow with another wine as we prepare to take our blog on the road. . .more on that later.

Please remember to enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!

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Day 34: Ryan Express

34 – it’s one of Jean’s favorite numbers because her favorite baseball player, Nolan Ryan wore that number when he was with the Astros in the early 80’s and with the Rangers in the late 80’s/early 90’s.  Nolan’s pitching prowess is well documented throughout baseball lore.  We have an autographed picture of Nolan following the Robin Ventura fight, several autographed baseballs, a ticket stub that Sister Sara got signed when meeting Nollie in an elevator.   Heck, we even planned a vacation around watching Nolan inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame – one of those trips that sealed daughters #1 an #2 as baseball fans.  We could write a whole blog about that adventure, but for now will suffice in saying it was so awesome to be there on his special day.  When it came to being competitive, there are few in his class.  As the Rangers play game 163 tomorrow for the opportunity to continue in the playoffs, we can’t help but think of their owner’s fiery spirit and hope they do well – just as we hope the Cardinals do well against Atlanta.

But it’s Nolan Ryan that made us think about comparing our wine selection tonight.  Because when you think of him, you don’t think boring, dull, lifeless–instead you think intimidating, overpowering, dominating.  That’s the kind of pitcher he was.  We saw him pitch many times in the Astrodome and remember how his presence combined with a bunch of young pitchers and other players that turned around a perennial losing franchise.  A last note on the Astros – farewell to the National League – you will be missed.  Perhaps lady luck awaits you in the “junior circuit”.

So even though tonight’s wine is a 2010 Apothic Red blend, and before you turn your nose up at this discounted, delicious little wine, consider it’s characteristics.  Awesome fruit  – – – – –  lots of fruit.  Awesome vanilla – – – – – –  lots of vanilla and a finish that wines three and four times the price don’t have.  Available for less than $10 a bottle, you may not serve it to  your boss and his/her spouse, but if you’re in a pinch with folks coming over, then don’t worry about pouring this wine.  It’s available at your local H-E-B.

It’s kind of funny, we looked up the word ‘apothic’ and the meaning was – “Generally used to describe a dull, boring, or depressed person.  Some examples : Quit being so apothic, your killing everyone’s fun.”  We had a pretty good laugh about this.  So Nolan Ryan is NOT Apothic.  But, this wine is Apothic Red and it is NOT dull, boring or depressed.  It’s a good-value, everyday bottle of wine when you’re in the mood to have a bottle of wine.

Have a good night – it is always better knowing tomorrow is Friday – another week under our belts.

Thanks for reading and thanks for enjoying wine – like us, we hope you continue to enjoy good wine in a responsible manner and recycle whenever possible.