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Category Archives: wine

Cutting the Wine Post Short

I don’t like waiting till after 4 p.m. to write my Sunday blog post. It just encourages me to have another Wrist to Forehead Sunday.

The weekend almost started on Thursday with a wine tasting at Ilion Wine and Spirits. They normally have their tastings on a Friday, but they moved this one to Thursday because the Doo-Dah Parade was on Friday (love that name for a parade).

Steven and I showed up shortly after it began at five. A group of girls had already started sampling, but they made room for us.

I started with a KWV Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from South Africa, which I pronounced Yummy. Oh yeah, for anyone who’s never read one of my postings on wine, I’m not exactly sophisticated in this area. “Yummy” is my ultimate accolade.

Ilion Wine and Spirits always provides a sheet of tasting notes. I suppose if I wanted to sound more better I could crib from that, but that is hardly an act of integrity. The guy there said he just copied what he found on the internet.

The other white I liked was Purato Catarratto Pinot Grigio 2011 from Italy. The notes called it “slightly spitzy.” The guy said it was made from organic grapes. I pronounced it also yummy, but the first one was maybe a little more yummy.

The Rapido Red Sangiovese 2011 (Italy) was described as a “medium-bodied everyday drinking red,” and I thought that apt. You wouldn’t have to be in any particular mood for a wine like that. The other red I liked, Michael David Winery 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel 2010 (California), was one you did have to be in the mood for. Actually, I guess it’s a mood I often have, because my remark was, “Oh, yeah.” It was a heavier, more robust wine.

Well, I see I have managed to eke out over 250 words on these wines, but I must admit I am kind of having a Wrist to Forehead Sunday. I enjoyed the wine tasting, I’m just not enjoying writing about it. Rather than segue into my usual angst about not being as able to write as I like to be, I’ll sign off. I hope to see you on Monday.

Yummy and New Yorky Wines

I have a new way of attending wine tastings on a Friday. I work out at Curves with my friends Phyllis and Kelly, then we go to the wine tasting in our sweaty workout clothes. Friday we went to one at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY.

Bronson was already pouring the wines when we got there. This time he was assisted by a lovely young woman with long blonde hair. I later found out this was Alyssa, a representative of Empire Merchants North, one of the distributors Vintage Spirits deals with.

When I pulled out my little zebra striped book to take notes in, somebody said, “Ooh, she’s a professional.” I kind of tarnished that reputation when I pronounced the first wine “yummy,” and I completely obliterated it when I described another as “New Yorky.” As they say, I gotta be me.

The first yummy wine was The Skinny Vine Mini Moscato. Alyssa told us it was only 95 calories a glass. It was semi-sweet. I thought it would be a good middle-of-the-road wine for a gathering.

The New Yorky wine was Red Tail Ridge Chardonnay, from a Seneca Lake winery. Bronson described it as “lightly oaked,” kind of midway between a California chardonnay (aged in oak) and a French chardonnay (aged in stainless). I sometimes get a little oenophile-ish over chardonnays. It’s not my favorite wine, but I seem to know more about it. I taste a lot of differences between the different aging processes, so it is more interesting to me to taste than, say a pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon that I’m pretty sure I’m going to like.

Phyllis pronounced the Milbrandt Vineyards Riesling, from Washington State, refreshing. We all liked the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige.

Two pinot noirs were offered, Red Tail Ridge and Chateau St. Jean. Both were very good; the Chateau St. Jean was more smooth. That was my favorite wine of the day.

I also liked the Four Vines Petite Syrah, but decided to purchase the Chateau St. Jean. That was one of the ones distributed by Alyssa’s company. I asked her if I could mention her in my blog post. She said I could if I had nice things to say.

“In real life, I can say cutting things about some people,” I said. “But in my blog, I like to keep it positive.” I hastened to add that there was nothing negative to say about her or her company anyways. She was very friendly and helpful, even pouring samples of wines that her company did not distribute.

Another lady at the wine tasting (another regular, like me) vouched for my blog being positive.

“You read my blog?” I was quite delighted.

The wine tasting was a great deal of fun. Phyllis, Kelly and I may go on more wine tasting adventures. Stay tuned.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number 315-866-6800.

Wine at the Farmer’s Market

As we wend through October, the summer farmers’ markets are coming to an end. Since Steven was off on Wednesday, I suggested he and Tabby pick me up at work and we visit the Mohawk, NY Farmer’s Market while we still could.

That is, if the weather cooperated. The morning forecast (granted that was at four in the morning) said rain after 7 p.m. Perfect! Well, that didn’t happen. When I spoke to Steven at lunch time, he told me about all the indoor Halloween decorating he had been doing.

“Because it’s been raining ALL DAY!”

The rain had fortunately stopped by 3:30, when I get done work. It is always exciting to have a rendezvous with my favorite husband and the world’s cutest dog (oh, I know, you feel your dog is cuter, as you should).

“When I drove by the place,” Steven told me, “I saw 1000 Islands Winery and one other tent.”

That was OK with me; I particularly wanted to patronize the winery. The last time we went to the Mohawk Farmer’s Market, I tasted but did not buy. This time I intended to taste and buy.

The market is located in Weller Park, next to Weller Library on Main Street in Mohawk. There were actually three or four tents, but I made a beeline for the winery’s, because it looked like the guy was picking up.

“Oh, no, just putting away some of these extra bottles,” he said. “What would you like to sample?”

First I tried the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon, because I like dry red. I seemed to remember preferring their Cab over their Merlot (real oenophiles call it “cab”), but I had forgotten how tasty the Merlot is.

Then I tried a semi-dry Riesling. Not as dry as I like, but it tasted like a good summer wine to me. I asked if the Pinot Grigio was sweet. I learned from my friends at Vintage Spirits that Italian Pinot Grigio tends to be drier than the California version. I wondered where New York fell on the scale. The winery guy said it was drier than the Riesling, so I tried it. Yum!

I decided to purchase the Merlot and asked could he take a credit card (you never know at farmers’ markets). He had one of those little square things on his phone that I’ve seen advertised on TV. Oh, technology! It took a few tries for my card to swipe. Then I had to type my e-mail address on his touch screen to receive my receipt. Yikes! I don’t text. I don’t work with touch screens. I live in the 20th century, for heavens’ sake!

First it totally would not accept my serious e-mail address (the one I use when I apply for a job or for business purposes), I think because there are periods in it (note to self: get a new serious e-mail address). Then it just took me forever to type in my silly e-mail address (the one my friends and family use), because my fingers are fat and clumsy.

While I futzed around with that, Steven and Tabby checked out the rest of the market. Steven purchased a little pumpkin and a variety pack of Amish cookies. Tabby made a few new friends.

The Mohawk Farmers’ Market runs from May through October from 2 to 5 p.m. in Weller Park. I don’t know, though, but what this was the last week, because when I drove by Weller Library the sign about the market was gone. Oh well, something to look forward to in the spring!

For more information about 1000 Islands Winery, check out their website at

Wine for Ilion Days

I’m missing a lot of the Ilion Days events — most notably tonight’s delightfully named Doodah Parade — but Steven and I did make it to a wine tasting at Ilion Wine and Spirits Thursday night.

I started with the Tanto Trabbiano d’Abruzzo 2010 from Italy. It reached my ultimate accolade of “yummy.” The hand-out said it was “floral, fresh and very well balanced.” I’m not sure about the floral — I almost never taste the notes of whatever, either — but I found it refreshing.

I continued on whites with the Indaba Sauvignon Blanc 2010, France. It was yummy, too; I usually like Sauvignon Blanc. I liked the d’Abruzzo a little better, though.

The last white I tasted was the Sauvion Vouvray 2010, France. I got a little silly (who, me?) declaring, “Vouvray! It’s fun to say!” Nobody seemed to mind. The Vouvray was a little sweeter than I like, but other people at the tasting were highly recommending it to each other.

I skipped the last two whites they were offering, because they were definitely on the sweet side. I nibbled some of their munchies, which Steven had already raided (he only comes to these things for the food) before moving on to the reds. Crackers with two kinds of cheese spread (one with horseradish. Yum!) and that divine warm dip with cheddar, onion and mayonnaise, which they have had at the last few tastings.

I started my red sampling with Vina Borgia 2010, Spain. I asked if it was any relation to Lucretia Borgia, but of course I was still being silly. Those Borgias were Italian. The hand-out promised “light peppery notes,” which I think I tasted. I marked that one “yummy” too.

Also rated “yummy” was Snap Dragon Pinot Noir 2010, California. I almost always like Pinot Noir. The other two reds were all right, but I was not loving them.

I don’t always try the “Other Offerings” but decided to take a chance. They were Sips Sparkling Cocktails: Cucumber Mojito and Pineapple Mandarin Tropitini flavors. I know some girls who love this kind of thing. I had never had a Mojito before. Who knew they had mint? I know, probably everybody but me. The Tropitini tasted very orangey to me. Both were bubbly. I’m sure they would be good to serve at a party.

When Steven and I returned to the main part of the store so I could make my purchases, I was delighted to note that all my favorites were quite reasonably priced. We also purchased raffle tickets for an artist-painted Adirondack chair.

I enjoyed the wine tasting very much. As the weekend wears on, perhaps I can take advantage of other Ilion Days events. For a complete listing I can log onto

Just Another Little Taste…

In addition to tasting wine and cheese at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY, last Friday, I tasted some wine at Ilion Wine and Spirits. Steven accompanied me to the second place.

Ilion Wine and Spirits has a tasting room that is, dare I say, tastefully furnished. On my way back there I snagged a piece of cheese from the table of munchies. Ilion Wine and Spirits puts out an excellent snack table to go with their tastings. I left Steven sampling the goodies and made my way to the wine.

A number of people were already tasting, but not too many to get through. I’ve been to tastings there where the room was packed. However, people are usually nice about making room for each other. I picked up the print out listing the wines.

I started with a Petra Unger Gruner Veltliner 2010 from Austria. I asked should there be two dots over the u to make that “eueu” sound. There should be. I seem to remember hearing the word Veltliner before and liking the wine. I like the word, too. It’s fun to say. Try it. I liked this Veltliner, although it did not reach my ultimate accolade of “yummy.”

My other favorite of that tasting was the Medinet Blanc from France. They described it as semi-dry, well balanced. I just liked it.

By now Steven was sitting on the couch, observing the proceedings (he thought he should refrain from eating everything on the munchy table). I would get my taste, go sit down next to Steven and sip it, then ask him to hold the glass while I wrote in my little book about it. It’s a very pleasant way to do a tasting. I must get Steven to accompany me to other tastings with couches.

This was a very friendly tasting, with everybody chatting and comparing notes on what they had tried and what they had liked. I refrained from trying the Smirnoff Savannah Tea, but participated in a discussion about Long Island Iced Tea and how it can be difficult to find one made properly. We discovered that several of our fellow tasters were headed to Herkimer next for St. Anthony’s Festival. As that was Steven’s and my next destination, we promised to look for them. I also recommended the tasting at Vintage Spirits.

“Tell them Cindy sent you,” I said, although I doubt that anyone did.

I actually did not buy anything I tasted, but I found a bottle of Twin Vines Vinho Verde, which I like, and Steven pointed out some Baco Noir from Domhnall Vineyards in Herkimer, NY. I don’t like to take advantage of a free tasting and not buy anything.

Ilion Wine and Spirits is located at 10 E. Main St., Ilion, NY, telephone 315-894-8142.

Yummy Wine

So Friday I was at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY, where I tasted some yummy cheese from Three Village Cheese Company. I tasted some wine as well.

A lady I know from work recommended I try what she was trying, the Renee Junot White. However, Bronson said I must try the Youquem Torrontes 2011 first. I like being a regular at places. They know what you like and make recommendations. I wrote in my little book, “Oh yeah, yummy,” so obviously Bronson was right. The Junot, which of course I also tried, was fruitier and sweeter.

I will interject here for the benefit of readers who have not read one of my wine posts yet: it may be obvious by now I am not a wine snob. I do not hesitate to describe wines I like as “yummy.” Sometimes I get more descriptive, as you’ll see, but I have absolutely no oenophile cred (I had to look up how to spell that word).

I thought the Zios Albarino 2011 was a very summer wine. The driest white in the tasting was the Bigi Orvieto Classico 2011. Another good summer wine.

I also tried the Martini Prosecco. It was OK, but I like drier bubblies better. Bronson said Proseccos are dry compared to Astis. I remember having a great deal of fun at a wedding where Asti Spumante was being drunk. That was years ago, when my tastes ran sweeter and, quite frankly, so did my personality (but only relatively speaking).

Among the reds my favorite was Lapostelle Casa Carmenere 2010 from Chile. It was the most complex (ooh, there’s an oenophile word! and it gets better:). I tasted notes of pepper. I was so excited! I never taste notes of anything! Imagine my chagrin when I looked at the printout and read that the wine has notes of spice and tobacco. So once again, I was on the wrong note.

When I told Steven about it, he said he didn’t quite get why notes of tobacco would be a good thing in a wine. He likes to smoke his tobacco. On reflection, though, I say it’s not so far off. In Arabic the word for smoke (a cigarette) is the same word as to drink (a beverage). So in Arabic speaking countries, they drink their tobacco.

Anyways, I bought a bottle of the Lapostelle, thinking a larger glass and more leisure would better reveal whatever notes were present. Or I may just drink it and say, “Yum.”

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer. Phone number 315-866-6800.

Beginning My Wine Weekend

I’ve been promising a post about wine tasting for some days now. At last I have my wine tasting notes with me. How to begin?

I thought a Wine Tasting at Ilion Wine and Spirits on Friday night would be a fitting prelude to my Saturday tour in the Finger Lakes. It was.

I started with a a Darcy Kurt Gruner Veltliner, 2010, California. Scott thought it was an Austrian grape, although it is a California wine. This is where I become painfully aware that I am not a real wine blogger. My only notes are “oh yeah, very nice.” Nothing about fruity notes or a dry finish (I don’t remember if this one had either of those, by the way). I never even mention the bouquet. The only thing I can note is that I think the u in Gruner is supposed to have the two little dots over it (it has the “eeuu” pronunciation). (As side note: my fifth grade cello teacher, Mr. Tufts, taught me how to pronounce the u with the two dots. You make your mouth like you’re saying “eee” then your lips like you’re saying “ooo.” It’s fun, but it always takes me too long).

So I have several more wines listed with notes like “good” and “OK, but I liked the Veltliner better.” Oh, the Gerard Bertrand Viognier 2010 (France) I noted as “very dry, very plain, very light.” I wonder if real wine connoisseurs describe wines as “plain.” Not as descriptive or as complimentary as “yummy.”

I did try a wine I hadn’t intended to, Voga Moscato, Italy, and noted it as “yummy” and “a good wine to bring somewhere.” Another lady tasting said it was her favorite and urged me to try some. In fact, the cylindrical bottle looked familiar. I believe that is a wine I bought at another tasting and brought to my sister’s house one weekend some years ago. If so, my second note was quite appropriate.

My most notable take away was a recipe for some warm dip they served. You take equal parts shredded cheddar, chopped onion and mayonnaise and put in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. I believe they said the recipe is originally from the Horned Dorset Inn. I can’t wait to make some. Maybe to bring to somebody’s house along with a bottle of Voga Moscato.

I purchased a bottle of One Hope Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, California, by Rob Mondavi, Jr. I teased Scott for being on familiar terms and calling the winemaker “Rob” instead of “Robert,” but it says “Rob” on the bottle. In addition to its being a very tasty cab, 50% of profits are donated to autism research.

I left with thanks for starting my wine tasting weekend off right. In fact, I’m not sure but what that was the best of my wine tasting last weekend. It certainly involved the least amount of driving. Ilion Wine and Spirits is located at 10 E. Main St, Ilion, NY, phone number 315-894-8142.

Before the Wine

Saturday was an adventure filled day for me, but not in the Mohawk Valley. It was driving distance from the Mohawk Valley, though, so I’m sure it’s perfectly acceptable for a blog topic. I went wine tasting in the Finger Lakes.

I must point out, however, that it is not easy driving distance. I had to get up prior to five in the morning to get things done and get to Marcy to my sister’s house. From there we went to Rome and from there to Liverpool. Then and only then did we start the hour drive to the lakes. And then we drove to some wineries. Um, I didn’t drive. We had a designated driver. Then it was back to Liverpool, then back to Rome, where my husband picked me up and we drove back to Herkimer. And that last drive, let me tell you seemed to take FOREVER! At my age, I think overnight trips are the way to go. But that’s neither here nor there (oh, actually, I guess it’s there).

I spent all day telling people at the wineries I was going to put them in my blog. They responded politely. But first I thought I’d tell about one little thing that happened in Rome before the trip, just because I told my mom and sister it was going in the blog.

My dad’s hobby is restoring classic cars. He is very good at it, and has some beautiful vehicles. When Cheryl and I pulled into Mom and Dad’s driveway, we saw a yellow 1958 Chevrolet pick up truck I hadn’t seen before. Full disclosure: I did not recognize it as being 1958, but there was a license plate cover that said “’58 Truck” on it.

Dad asked our help to push it into the garage.

“I can push a truck,” I said. “I work in a factory! I used to be in the army!” Nobody was impressed, but this is family. They’re never impressed.

Dad pushed from the driver’s side door so he could steer. Mom, Cheryl and I pushed from the rear. Almost as soon as the truck started moving, Mom and Cheryl started hollering that I wasn’t really pushing; they were doing all the work. I saved my breath to keep pushing. I’ll let the reader decide who to believe.

Luckily the driveway is not very long. And I think it was a good thing we did not get the truck going very fast, because I don’t think the brakes work. If I knew how to post a photo, I could have taken a picture and posted it, maybe even doing a whole post later with before and after. Perhaps in the future.

In the meantime, that was a fun little interlude before a long time sitting in the car. And since Sunday finds me too tired to write a long post about the wine tasting, I thought this would do. Stay tuned for more about wine, unless I get caught up in Middle-aged Musings Monday (which, of course, is more whine) (you knew I was going to make that pun, didn’t you?).

Valentine Wine

I was delighted to attend the Valentine Wine Tasting at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY last Friday.

I started my sampling with a Charles de Fere Blanc de Blanc Brut. I knew that blanc de blanc was a sparkling wine — having also been made aware that the correct term is “sparkling wine,” because champagne only comes from a specific region in France. I’ve probably noted that before, but I must trot out my sophisticated wine knowledge whenever possible (and by “sophisticated” I mean I say it with a little sashay). Friday I learned that blanc de blanc is made from the Chardonnay grape. This gave me a chance to air the one other thing I know about wine.

“Is it aged in stainless steel or in oak?” I’ve discovered that I only like Chardonnay aged in stainless steel.

Bronson explained to me that the champagne method entails aging in the bottle. Boy did I feel silly with my stainless and oak sashay. I explained to a couple of other tasters about my little bit of Chardonnay knowledge and how foolishly proud I am of it.

“I was at a gathering once where they had Chardonnay in a box and I was all, ‘Is it aged in stainless or in oak?'” I gave myself a snooty tone of voice, making fun of my own pretensions. “Somebody said, ‘It’s aged in cardboard! Drink it!’ So I did.”

They were amused. It’s my favorite Chardonnay story.

A lady that started tasting after me asked how long you could keep champagne — uh, sparkling wine. Bronson said indefinitely, as long as it was not opened. I said that was good, since I’d had a bottle in the fridge for a while now. Bronson said that wasn’t so good; the vibrations could make it lose its bubbles. I asked if it would get skunked like beer if I un-chilled then re-chilled it. Bronson thought not, but I think I’ll go ahead and just drink that champagne soon. No point in taking chances.

The lady also told us about an old bottle she had acquired. She hadn’t known to store it on its side at first, so she was not sure if it had kept well. She also couldn’t quite make up her mind on an occasion to open it. I told her about Open That Bottle of Wine Day, which I heard about on NPR one time. A couple of wine aficionados had so declared a certain Saturday for just such a situation.

“What day is that?” she asked.

“I don’t remember,” I confessed. It had been a long time ago, and I had not had such a bottle at the time. However, we agreed that it would be acceptable to declare one’s own Open That Bottle Day.

I tasted a number of wines that earned my favorite accolade of “yummy.” I purchased a Chateau Blouin 2009 Bordeau. I learned that all Bordeaux are blends, and I tend to like blends (this could be dangerous: me acquiring more wine knowledge). I went home and declared it Open the Bottle I Just Bought Day.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number is 315-866-6800. You can get on a list to receive emails about upcoming tastings. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Walking with a Nefarious Purpose

I spent a good portion of my time at work on Friday pondering my movements for the evening (while still working; I have that kind of a job). I wanted to go to Hannaford, I wanted to go to the liquor store, I definitely wanted to walk my dog. Then the title “Walking with a Nefarious Purpose” came to me, and there was no looking back. Tabby and I were walking to the liquor store (see, I have a hard time with titles; when I think of one I like, I go with it).

Longtime readers may recall some months ago I wrote a post titled “Walking with a Purpose,” in which Steven and I walked our dog Tabby to Hannaford. Steven and Tabby waited outside while I went in and made our purchases. Steven was still at work, so he could not aid me in my purposes, nefarious or otherwise. However, I thought I could get away with taking my dog into the liquor store briefly.

I feel I am being a little silly even calling it a nefarious purpose. I was not purchasing alcohol for minors in order to corrupt their morals. I just wanted to enjoy a glass of white wine and maybe cook with it. I actually had it in my head to purchase a box o’ wine (the crowd I used to run with always referred to it as “box o’ wine,” studiously leaving off the “f”). For one thing, box o’ preserves the wine better if you don’t intend to drink it all in a short time. For another, I had discovered a flavor I liked.

Off we went. It was a lovely afternoon for a walk, not too cold, no precipitation. Ramar’s Liquors, where I intended to go, is a fairly short walk from my house. We were two blocks away from it when Tabby tried to make a left and head in another direction. I convinced her otherwise, but she tried again at the next corner. I hoped she would not insist. I can usually win an argument of this sort with a 17 pound dog, but I am not here to torture my poocher. I want us both to enjoy the stroll.

The box I wanted was right inside the door. Excellent! The lady at the register did not seem to mind my pooch being there. I had brought a reusable bag to carry my purchase. For one thing it had longer straps I thought I could put on one shoulder.

Tabby was happy to head in the direction of home. So was I, although it did seem to take a longer time. Maybe a small bottle would have been better. Or I could have taken Tabby for a walk and driven to the liquor store later. As the ever-heavier box bumped against my hip, I was only thankful it was not beer. I pictured opening a can of beer that had bounced on my hip for ten minutes and wondered if that would be a fun thing to do at my next party. I was just kidding, of course; I don’t have college-flavored parties any more.

The walk home was not really bad, but I thought it would make a better blog post if I suffered a little. For those of you with nefarious purposes of your own, Ramar’s is located at 104 N. Caroline St., Herkimer, NY, 315-866-9897,