Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, food, wine and spirits

Why I am going to Wine Bloggers Conference

I have debated for years attending the Wine Bloggers Conference. Numerous friends and wine writing/loving aficionados have gone and highly recommended, but I waited. There was always an excuse or reason. Well, one year there was a real reason that involved two amazing friends who got married and I needed to consume all the things at their open bar and help punch open a manatee pinata. But this year with a deadline approaching I finally said do it (after numerous texts, emails, gchats with friends telling me to as well).

On the day the scholarship application was due, I filled it out. I almost decided through imposter syndrome that I wouldn't be selected. Did I have enough followers? My dad reads my blog (hi dad) and my grandma reads it when someone prints it out for her. But, who else? Does it have real influence? Can I prove such influence? 

Days went by. I remained somewhat hopeful, but decided I probably wouldn't get it. With certain issues pending in my life, I figured I wouldn't make it without the scholarship. Another year would pass with promise of attending and me not going. My life is cliche of good intentions paving the road to Hell (along with beer, wine and cheese paving that delicious road).

I found out eventually I had won a scholarship! I shared this great news with trepidation again. After talks with many it finally hit me - I deserved this and it was a great honor. 

Having engaged in nonprofit fundraising and fundraising for causes I care about, I realize the importance of donors. Donors to the scholarship fund were able to help me and many others have the ability to travel, stay and attend the Wine Bloggers Conference. I am truly grateful for their generosity and hope to return the favor to others in coming years.

As my anxiety of flying and travel comes and goes, my excitement builds for what lies ahead. This conference is known for helping many to hone their skills and build amazing connections. I am looking forward to so many things! Besides meeting so many people I have engaged with through social media, I am really interested in many of the sessions. 

"The Ethics of Wine Writing" should hopefully be a truly honest and insightful debate over ethics. When I worked in prospect research, I attended a similar session on how to ethically research people and engage them. Ethics is something that I feel evolves over time and I always love to debate the policies people set and why.

"Lights, Camera, Action!" will be another important session with much to learn. Tanisha Townsend and Sarita Cheaves among others will be panelists. Tanisha has been a pioneer in video and wine. She has continued to perfect lighting, content and more. I know I can get a lot of useful information for my own blog from the speakers.

I hope you continue to read and follow me through my social media accounts (Twitter:  @justthebottle and IG: @justthebottle) for my Wine Bloggers Conference fun along with my upcoming European experience through Belgrade with #winelover, Budapest, and Vienna.

I will try to follow my grandfather's advice for life and for my adventures. My paternal grandfather passed this year in March after I returned from Cuba. He had a sharp tongue and wit. He once told, "try to be a good girl...but it's not an absolute necessity." I think I will lean on the latter.

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Flying Fox Vineyard

My special fella and I decided to take a short trip over Labor Day Weekend. Usually I avoid travel on holiday weekends as it's expensive and stressful. However, we were lucky with a pretty pleasant drive to and from the Staunton, Virginia area. We also lucked out as I found a Howard Johnson Express for about $60 a night. It was cheap enough and was walking distance of restaurants in the downtown area. The dream would be to stay in a quaint bed and breakfast or a 5 star hotel, but you know....that costs money. Hojo Express didn't let us down except for some really weak wifi.

One of our first stops on our winery day of fun was Flying Fox Vineyard. I briefly stopped by the winery years ago and am glad I finally made it back. They are located in Afton close to some other cool wineries such as Veritas as well as distilleries and breweries. Their grapes are grown at Flying Fox Vineyard (mostly their reds such as Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot) in Monticello AVA and Ridge Run Vineyard (mostly their whites such as Viognier and Pinot Gris) in Shenandoah AVA. 

Their tasting room is really welcoming albeit very small. We arrived early and were able to hang out some after our tasting. There was seating outside that would have been amazing if the weather was cooperating. I definitely want to return on a snowy day to sit by that fire place.

We bought several bottles of their wine and enjoyed a 2014 Merlot to start off our wine tasting filled day. It can be enjoyed now or allowed to age. It had some dark cocoa characteristics and raisin or plum. 

What was pretty exciting was their launch of the vermouth! We found out that day was the first day people could sample or buy the vermouth (well fancy wine club members had access earlier, but I'm not a VIP I just play one on tv). The vermouth is basically all Virginia made except for the wormwood. The vermouth was really intriguing with the spring being incredibly fruity with strawberry notes. We both enjoyed the summer edition and discussed cocktail pairings. I can't wait to see what they do with the winter vermouth.

Interestingly enough during our visit we heard that they may also be experimenting with orange or amber wines. Chances are it will be made with the Pinot Gris.

Flying Fox Vineyard states on their website that they are Nelson County's Best Kept Secret. I truly don't know how this can still be the case, but I imagine with their vermouth and tasty wines, they won't be for long.

Easy Wine and Dinner with Old Westminster wines

My fella and I are always trying new recipes (usually him more than me). He's taken a few cooking classes in the DC area from L'Academie one of which was for paella (that's a whole other delicious story). One of my first experiences with L'Academie was at Metro Cooking DC (which will be back in early December). Metro Cooking DC is one of my preferred food events in DC.

Recently, the fella and I wanted a simple recipe for inspiration for an easy and tasty weeknight dinner. We went to Epicurious as it's one of our go to websites. We found  simple pasta dish with spinach and shrimp. Once he got it started, I knew I had to find the right wine to enjoy his creation with. I reached into our cellar (cellar/closet - apartment living means you make it work) and grabbed a recent acquisition from Old Westminster

Old Westminster is truly a family affair. Drew (vigneron) and his sisters Ashli (estate director) and Lisa (winemaker) are executing their and their parents', Jay and Virginia's vision of making natural wine in Maryland. Every day their wine is changing people's pre-conceived notions on what Maryland wine as well as passionate young people can do. 

In addition to their knowledge and passion, I am always impressed by their transparency. They are incredibly clear with their winemaking and farming methods. They also produce different labels with different colors depending on where they are sourcing the grapes. There's no need to scour a label as it's presented to you. 

The wine we enjoyed was the  2016 Pét-Nat Barbera Rosé (currently sold out at the winery).  This particular style emerged from France's Loire Valley many years ago and fell out of practice for quite some time. Wine geeks and lovers of natural wine made it popular again and there's good reason why. The wine is still going through fermentation when it is placed under  cap. This allows fermentation to finish in the bottle. As yeast converts sugar to alcohol, there is naturally occurring carbon dioxide which adds the fizzy element to the wine. When fermentation is complete, the bottle cap is removed along with sediment and the bottle is recapped. As opposed to Champagne method, which undergoes a second fermentation, this is a one  and done situation. It's also the most natural with no additives, sugar, or anything added. The wine was slightly funky with some earthy notes, along with some ripe fruit that came through and the perfect amount of effervescence. It's definitely a must buy if I see it again. 

Natural Wine Tasting

I recently learned of a group in the DC area, Pineapple DC, designed to connect industry and lovers of food in a fun and frank environment around wine, food and spirits. After learning more about the group, I signed up for one of their upcoming events, #Pineforwine.

At this second version of #Pineforwine, the conversation was focused on natural wines. Remy Samuels who is a manager at Cordial Wine & Spirits located in Union Market led the discussion. Remy studied French and Italian in undergrad and traveled abroad. She began to wonder what career would truly make sense for her. After visiting a winery, she knew what she wanted to do. She's insanely knowledgeable about natural wine. Natural wine has been a supposed trend for wine geeks for quite, but it's not quite entirely clear what it means. There are no legal definitions of what makes a natural wine.

As Remy explained and from what I have read and heard from others, true natural wine is allowing the wine to really tell the story where it comes from. Wine should be part history and culture and exhibit a time and place. After a brief introduction, we sampled three of the several natural wines that Cordial carries.

Kloof Street Chenin Blanc (retails at Cordial $19.99) - This wine is created by a husband and wife team. The wife is originally from California and the couple met in France. Their wines are sustainable and biodynamic. The wine was really accessible and lighter in body than I anticipated. I found it a fun sipping wine with tropical fruit notes.

Red Tail Ridge Miscreant Finger Lakes 2015 (retails at Cordial $27.99) - We have another rockstar husband and wife duo running the show here. Nancy serves as winemaker and Mike as winegrower. The wine is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Gewurztraminer. The wine is considered orange or amber as it is fermented on the skins giving it a more golden hue. The wine is unfiltered meaning no animal products were used. This wine grew on me considerably as I enjoyed it. I do love my orange wines, but fragrant varietals can over power me. As I sipped the wine evolved and the rose petal and floral elements became less pronounced and I was able to detect more nutty and savory elements. I think I would have enjoyed it further with the right food pairing.

Domaine De Clovallon Pinot Noir Pays d'Oc 2015 (retails at Cordial $22.99) - This is our first mother and daughter team in the mix! They were founded in 1989 in the south of France. They are in it to win it with their natural wines and only farm biodynamically. The wine has what you would expect from a tasty natural wine. It was funky to nose with some slight effervescence. It was juicy with some dark fruit notes that came through. 

I am still learning more about natural wine and enjoying the many opportunities to taste wine and meet others. It's a journey, but it's definitely a tasty journey.

Any recommendations on natural wines or female winemakers or winery owners? List your comments below! 

Wine and Dating

Wine is a great way to make friends and to get to know someone.  You can learn a lot by people's behavior when it comes to wine. Here are some common missteps that I have encountered while dating.

Red or white?

When a man asks me simply red or white and expects an answer I know we will not last much pass 1-2 dates TOPS. Not only is that an insane question even for someone who is not partial to wine as much, but life is not binary. People who need clear answers to figure out others are a problem. Almost as much as a problem as when I get asked my ethnicity/background within 1-2 questions of speaking to someone.  The worst may be the beach or mountain question. One man told me it was a psychological question that was an indicator to a personality type.

Instead, it would be much better to simply ask an open ended question such as, "what do you like in your wine?"

Should I order for you?

How about no. Again, if I wanted help I could ask, but probably would rather ask the very knowledgeable staff. 

Instead, why not saying along the lines of "I love the pinot here. Would you like to taste it?"

I don't drink wine

I'm going to have to stop you right there, Bob. I have dated someone who not only didn't care about wine, but didn't drink. This is something important to me and afforded me really interesting travel opportunities and new friends. Chances are if someone doesn't drink, he's not going to be interested in sharing my passion and encouraging me to grow. 

What have others encountered with dating in regards to wine especially missteps? 

 

Nuit du Champagne

There are always several events of every price point in DC as I am sure there are in many other regions.  I recently found out about the upcoming and innovative Champagne tasting and educational series Nuit du Champagne...and I am thirsty.

The first event in the series will occur at the Sofitel in Washington, DC on Tuesday, June 28th.  Tickets are available and include VIP experiences and an attorneys lounge.  The show will continue onto  Houston, Philadelphia, Miami, New York and Chicago.

The line up for the tasting includes: 

  • Veuve Clicquot: Veuve Clicquot Yellow, Veuve Clicquot Rosé, Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2008, Veuve Clicquot 2008 Rosé and La Grande Dame Blanc
  • Moët & Chandon: Moët & Chandon Impérial, Moët & Chandon Rosé Imperial, Moët & Chandon Vintage Blanc, Moët & Chandon Vintage Rosé and Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial
  • Krug Grande Cuvée
  • Dom Pérignon Blanc
  • Ruinart Blanc de Blanc

For more information or to purchase tickets visit here.  I'll see you there!

 

 

#Winelover Athens Anniversary Welcome Dinner - Scala Vinoteca

I attended the #winelover anniversary trip to Athens, Greece in February 2016.  It was a great opportunity that I found from a friend I made from the International Wine Tourism Conference.  The #winelover community is based online, but is pretty simple - we love wine.  All are welcomed to join and members include industry, sommeliers, importers, winemakers, and simply wine lovers.  I had seen some of the members blog posts, tried some of their wines, and was excited to finally meet some of the members on the trip.  

The trip started off with a welcome BYOB dinner at Scala Vinoteca.  Scala Vinoteca was the perfect welcome to Athens and to the #winelover community.  Every member brought a special bottle of wine.  Before coming I heavily debated what I should bring.  I asked my friend who is also a #winelover ambassador and specialist.  I was concerned that perhaps everyone's bottles would be super rare or high end ($100 or more).  She stated it should just be something really interesting or important to me.  Therefore, I ended up going with Chester Gap Cabernet France 2012.   I have written about my love of Chester Gap and their wines before.   It ended up being a big hit!  Many people hadn't traveled to America or their travels were limited to New York or other cities.  They were incredibly excited to try a Virginia wine and also  appreciated my love of promoting local.  Others experienced that difficulty in promoting local wines and food especially when at times they may be pricer than others.

The Scala Vinoteca space was somewhat modern with an open kitchen design.  Our group took over multiple tables and moved around to socialize.  The food was a delicious evolution in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.   Being part of a large party, we had pre-set menu for the dinner as we did for other meals.  Every course was a tasty surprise ranging from vegetarian friendly to meaty delights.  

After eating our fill, we returned late to the hotel and continued the after party in the hotel lobby just as R. Kelly sung. 

Chester Gap Cellars

Chester Gap Cellars has quickly become one of my favorite Virginia wineries.  One of my good friends fell in love with Chester Gap and introduced me to their wine.  Ever since then, they have consistently proven to be one of the best wineries to visit with some of the best wine in Virginia.

Unlike some bloggers who have been quite prolific and sampled TONS of Virginia wine, I am definitely behind them.  I have visited under 20 wineries and sampled less than 50 wines from various portions of the state.  

However even with my lack of sampling prowess, Chester Gap stands above the rest.  Chester Gap is a more relaxed environment.  They cannot accommodate buses or large vehicles.   Not that there's anything wrong with party buses, but having options for more chill places is important.

The tasting room is one of the friendliest I have visited with incredibly knowledgeable people working there.  If you buy a bottle or more, your tasting fee is comped.  Which, I cannot say that for many others.  There are also no minimum requirements such as being a case club member to use the patio.

On this latest visit, the Roussanne didn't speak to me as it had in the past.  I gravitated to the 2012 Viognier and 2012 Cabernet Franc.  The 2012 Viognier is all stainless steel fermentation.  I found notes of stone fruit and floral elements on the nose.  The 2012 Cabernet Franc was a little tight and we were recommended to hold onto the wine until winter.  

 

Young Winos of DC at Dino's

The Young Winos of DC next event will be at Dino's on Thursday, February 5th at 6:00pm.  Jessica Hagadorn, founder, Young Winos of DC has organized another great event that will prove to be fun and educational.  The event will focus on orange and unusual red wines.  There will be cheese and charcuterie served.  It's the perfect event for someone who wants to learn more about this exciting trend in wine with a great group of people.  Hurry fast as tickets may sell out quickly.

Visiting Tarara Winery

I recently accompanied Alison who writes and owns her own wine consulting company, Bon Vivant, to Tarara Winery.  Along the way, we stopped in Leesburg, Virginia for a bite to eat.  Unfortunately, Wine Kitchen was closed.  We ate in the secret garden at Shoe's.  It was a family friendly environment with bocce and cold beer.

After our brief meal we headed to Tarara Winery.  The facility is astounding.  We arrived and quickly were lost.  Note, do not follow another car assuming they know where they are going.  We turned around and found parking.  As we entered the tasting room, we were immediately greeted by friendly staff.  Our group was also provided with sparkling wine to start and taken to our guided tasting area.

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The story of Tarara begins 25 years ago when Whitie and Margaret Hubert launched their dream - a winery showcasing the best of Virginia wine.  The estate consists of 475 acres.  Their main vineyards are Nevaeh, Tranquility (located in Purcellville), and Honah Lee (located in Orange).  Side note, we all know Nevaeh is heaven backwards, right?  Apparently, it's now one of the most popular baby names. 

Tarara under Jordan Harris' direction follows the belief that the land and wine should speak for itself.  They do not use fining agents and many of the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts. 

We enjoyed five flights of twenty-one wines that included wine from Boneyard and Killer Cluster.  This is a pro-tip from me to you, a guided tasting of this size requires spitting and avoiding palate fatigue.  It's not an easy job, but someone has to do it.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

The first flight focused on wine from Nevaeh that featured Chardonnay.  All of the wines used oak not to cover or mask the wine, but to add value.  Oak when used judiciously adds depth and personality to Chardonnay.  My favorite was the 1997 Chardonnay.  I love to see how a Chardonnay evolves and develops a more funky flavor.

The second flight focused on Cabernet Franc.  Cabernet Franc is very common in Virginia wineries, but finding it well is a different story.  Every vintage told a different story.  The 2012 had mint and floral notes.  The 2010 experienced a very hot and dry season.  The 2010 is HUGE, big, and wanting to be drank with a steak.  It had an amazing velvety texture.  The 2007 had more restrained wine making practices and led to a balanced wine.  The 1997 was incredibly delicate and showed some blackberry.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

The third flight contained one of my favorite wines the Nevaeh Red 2010 . It was spicy with some dark berry notes.  The Tranquility Red 2010 showed great complexity with a lengthy finish.  The CasaNoVA 2010 can easily change people's minds who still believe Merlot is bad.  This is an example, of Merlot done well with the silky palate that you want.  The Meritage 2007 had a long finish with dark fruit and smoky elements.  We finished with a Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 that again was interesting to see how the wine evolved. 

The fourth flight contained wines from Boneyard.  Boneyard offers grapes sourced from Monticello AVA.  Jordan is experimenting with orange or amber wines by using Rkatsiteli, a varietal usually found in Georgia, and leaving the wine for an extended maceration with skin contact.  I'm excited to see how he continues to play with this wine and make it uniquely Virginian.

The final flight contained wine from Killer Cluster that is sourced from Columbia Valley AVA.  Two of my favorite Rhone varietals were included - Marsanne and Roussanne.  The Marsanne was my favorite.  It is incredibly aromatic with nutty elements and a fuller body. 

After we finished the guided tasting, we proceeded to the private tasting area for dinner and more wine.  This was the time to begin to actually consume the wine. 

After we finished eating, the group went to the outdoor concert.  It was a laser light show!  The show was fantastic with an amazing turn out.  I have already made plans to go back.

Orange you glad I didn't say banana

My birthday was January 13th and I decided to celebrate all month long.  On New Year’s Eve Man Friend and I went to Professionals in the City New Year’s Party.  I didn’t want to go, but one can’t really say, “Oh, you want to see someone that you were stationed in Texas with and served in Iraq with?  No. I don’t want to even though s/he lives in a different state.” Before the party we went to Red Hen and it was spectacular.  The service was amazing and the dishes were well executed. They also featured orange wine by the glass.

I arranged for Man Friend to take me to Komi for dinner another night and then a play at Studio Theatre.  Komi paced the meal perfectly.  It didn’t feel like two hours and we made the play in plenty of time.  Every dish offered a new set of flavor and texture.  I went with the pairing, which might not have been appreciated by others. However, I do what I want.  Anyways, one pairing was this really interesting Italian beer that had a nice funk.  I mentioned my interest in orange wine and they offered it along with a red so that I could compare.

Two other birthday celebrations included renting the private room at Black Squirrel and a Sunday Funday that involved bottomless brunch at Masa 14.  There was no fee to rent the room at Black Squirrel even though it was a Saturday night in Adams Morgan.  Masa 14 was a solid brunch that should be on one’s DC bucket list.

Back to the orange wine!  I have talked to some who believe that orange wine is a trend that has come and gone.  Others think it’s a current trend.  I am not sure what the average wine drinker will think, but I have found the few I have tried thus far to be very interesting and food friendly.

Orange wine is made up of white wine varietals that have extended skin contact during fermentation.  The color can be incredibly light to a more tawny like color.

Here’s the interesting part that I wonder if it will appear to beer followers…orange wines can be VERY sour and funky.  I tried another that came off as oxidized I expected sherry like flavors that did not appear.

Orange wine more commonly appears in Italy and Eastern Europe like Georgia and Slovenia.

I look forward to experimenting with them more.  Perhaps doing a tasting with some other wine friends?

Champagne Tasting

Bell Wine & Spirits’ annual Grand Champagne tasting is Wednesday, December 11th 5:00pm - 8:00pm. They will be pouring 30+ Champagnes and sparkling wines, with highly rated Krug, Ruinart, Dom Perignon and more!

Tickets are available here for $25.  Is that too much?  Want a discount?  Well, maybe I can help you out.  Use the promo code justthebottle and get your ticket for $10.

If you end up buying any of the wines tasted - not only will they be on sale, but you’ll get your money back from your ticket.

Bottlenotes, Rum, More Rum, Fun and Rooftop!

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Bottlenotes

Last week I joined my fellow #tasteagents and other guests at the Bottlenotes Taste Around Town launch party at Veritas. It was a great time with new friends like Vine Me Up and old friends who always get me into trouble (or I get them into trouble…whatever). We sampled wines from Chateau Montelena, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and the Rhône Valley region of France. I apparently got in trouble as I thought there would be a white Rhône available as I was really feeling a Marsanne. The staff at Veritas always maintain that great balance of high quality, but friendly nature. I spoke with Jamie (GM/Sommelier) and he let me taste this amazing Washington State Marsanne. I need to go back to finish that bottle. After I drank that and was asked by the Bottlenotes staff “why are you here if you don’t like the wines” I began my tasting journey. (Side note - yes that is how she welcomed me to the event).

The wines were average. I was hoping considering the many affordable and well done Rhône Valley wines that are available there would be more options. Alas, there was only one, which I think was the best out of both Chateau Montelena and Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Chateau Montelena wines were their more mid level wines such as a classic California chardonnay with more oak integration and balance.

Rum, More Rum

Friday I decided to paint the town red with a couple friends including the Amazing @BEXwithanX. We started off at Hogo for our own tiki party. We each had an amazing rum based cocktail and then moved onto the rum punch. THERE WAS A FIRE ELEMENT. We spoke with the manager there who then offered us shots of barrel aged Atlantico rum. We sipped on it and loved the the vanilla notes and spice added by the barrel aging. The fun continued at Busboys and Poets (always go for the nachos there especially while tipsy/drunk), Irish Channel (where I may have told off guests who were rude to staff) and finally Del Campo. Del Campo has a wonderfully put together drink menu that was designed by the amazing JP Caceres. I loved both pisco drinks. I ran into Taha (all around rockstar) and Chef Isabella. In my infinite wisdom at the time Idecided to buy us all a round of Willet potstill (which really is quite tasty). Chef Isabella turned his down so I did it and then I said things in Miami Spanglish that made me realize that I should probably go home.

Rooftop Pool

Twilight Tuesday hosted by Timur and John Michael held a special Tuesday edition at Penthouse Pool Club for Pride. Normally, Penthouse Pool has a wait list and is more than I can afford unless I sold some valuable organs. But as part of Twilight Tuesday all were welcomed to come and lounge by the pool. We decided to be super fancy and rent a cabana. The only requirement to rent a cabana was spend $100 minimum on food or beverage (with approximately 6-8 people fitting in a cabana). Umm…done and DONE. We popped open a few bottles of sparkling including Gruet Rose.

At some point a few of us were in the pool and decided to play chicken.

Tonight I am super excited for my glorious return to Gin Joint!  Not only will there be amazing gin, food, service BUT Caledonia Spirits will be there offering samples and discussing their spirits.

Tasty Tastings

It’s that time of year where there are more tastings than hours in the day. Last week, I visited Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits for a media preview beer tasting.

The staff at Cordial are very knowledgeable and have put together an amazing selection of affordable (mostly under $20) wine and beer. We sampled-

21st Amendment brews:
    Brew Free or Die IPA 6 pack cans ABV 7.0%
    Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer 6 packs cans ABV 4.9%

Elysian brews:
    Avatar Jasmine IPA 22oz ABV 6.3%
    Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale 6 pack ABV 5.4%

No-Li Brewhouse brews:
    Crystal Bitter ESB 22oz ABV 5.75%
    Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout 22oz ABV 9.5%

My favorite beer was the Crystal Bitter. I am a malty mama. It was slightly toasty, biscuit notes and caramel.

I missed the Washington State tasting on Monday, but I hope to attend another one of their DC events. Washington State produces many great wines including Syrah. Syrah continues to grow in popularity from the Washington region.

On an aside, I had a multimedia training with one of our self advocates who is Co-President of Project Action! They advocate for themselves and others with disabilities to live their fullest life possible.

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That’s Thelma recording her Public Service Announcement spot.

My nonprofit also won the Non-Profit of the Year at the DC Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards & Expo! I stopped by to see an amazing mixologist his last day at BLT Steak. I informed him that the award was thirsty and wanted something fancy.

Back to our regularly scheduled tasting summary, there was an amazing gin tasting last week at Birch & Barley. We sampled and learned more about Sacred Gin. The team (which is a husband and wife dynamic duo) produces these artisanal, small batch spirits in their home. What’s that? Yes, they have pictures of it and yes it looks like Breaking Bad. He even uses liquid nitrogen in his kitchen. I mean…his wife must really love him.

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My favorite gin was the Orris Gin. It was very aromatic with lilac notes. I could drink it straight.

I decided to have way too much fun that night after the tasting and work where we started at BLT Steak, moved on to Mari Vanna and finished at GBD (I love GBD way too much). I am really digging Mari Vanna, but I think it helps I tend to hit the spot when it’s not busy. When we visited the staff was knowledgeable and polite as always. We tried the horseradish infused vodka martinis and sipped on Basil Hayden’s. There was a gentleman playing the accordion!

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I attended with some other awesome people like Organic Mixologist, Girl Meets Glass, French Twist D.C. and representatives from Adventure Wine and Washington Wine Academy the New Wines of Greece tasting at Zaytinya. Zaytinya never fails to deliver delicious food and top notch service. I have organized private events with the amazing staff and could not be more impressed with their professionalism.

I attended the lunch portion only and missed the Greek sparkling wine - I did hear it was delicious. The wine and food were paired perfectly. The first flight contained new varietals I had not seen. We also learned more about the history of Greek wine, flavor profile, winemaker techniques and more.

Unlike the Romans, the Greek wines were not spread around the world. A surprising amount of wine is produced by pre-phylloxera vines.

We tried three wines with the Assyrtiko varietal that each tasted very different. My favorite was the Pavlidis Emphasis 2011 - citrus, floral (but not smacking me in the face like way too many a Torrontes), with a lingering finish.

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Look at that nomtastic cheese - none of which was feta. Greece has way too many delicious cheese to try.

The reds included Xinomavro and Agiorgitiko were all interesting examples of their terroir.

We finished with a Muscat and Sigalas Vinsanto 2004 made from Assyrtiko and Aidani. The Sigalas Vinsanto was spectacular. The grapes are sun dried on mats. It was a somewhat rusty, golden color. It had this great acidity with these caramelized fruit notes. I really wish they would have served it with a strong cheese instead of dessert though.

Other than that, I opened the latest vintage of Domaine de La Mordoree Rose, which was a full rose with a round finish. I also drank my Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer 2011 that is incredibly dry and aromatic with lychee notes. Besides the great wine, I have had sooooo many cocktails from the amazing mixologists at Range (Go to Range. Trust me.) including cocktails made with Cynar. There’s been a good amount of beer especially from Granville Moore’s.

I would say I need to take a week or two off, but I don’t see that happening. So…maybe I just need to hydrate, drink less and work out more?

In the immortal words of Pinky and the Brain -

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