Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kumala: Week #15

Tonight was the long awaited KV Santa Claus Parade – a magical night when you can stand on the sidewalk for an hour as you watch a series of advertisements roll slowly by.  I’m not sure whether my favorite float was the Port-a-John or the dump truck with a single red bow on the back.  In either case, I stilled got teary-eyed when my baby handed his letter over to the postman and Santa’s sleigh appeared.  Motherhood seriously messes with my cynicism. 
As is the tradition, after the parade, we enjoyed hot chocolate (with Bailey’s for the 19+ crowd) and a spread of holiday treats.  I had spent the morning getting a start on my Christmas baking – now here is when wine saves the day (yet again!).  One of my traditional treats is the Brown Sugar Button Cookie.  These little round cookies are deliciously packed with brown sugar and cleverly poked with a toothpick to look like buttons; Hence the name Brown Sugar Button Cookie.  However in past years I have been frustrated by poking four holes in dozens upon dozens of cookies – eventually my hand gets tired, I get lazy, and some cookies end up looking less like buttons and more like Brown Sugar Pincushions.  “Wouldn’t it be easier if I had a stamp of sorts?” I pondered as I surveyed my kitchen.  My eyes landed on a discarded wine cork, “Eureka!”
Minutes later the wine-cork button stamp was born!

Because of the Bailey’s & HC, I had planned on using a stock-piled review, but Helpful Husband was keen to get a bottle of Shiraz after our guests had left and the children were in bed (9pm), so after deciding to stick to the South-African section off he went to the liquor store with the cell in hand.  I would like you to imagine being a fellow late-night liquor store customer as Helpful Husband answered the following questions over the phone:
“What are our brand choices?”
“Are any on sale?”
“Alcohol content?”
“Are the labels pretty?”
“Describe them”
I wanted to ask him to read the labels to me, but I restrained.  I already felt that if there is such a thing as wine porn, I had just produced it.

Now, the final decision was hard because there were three wines to pick from, and one was on sale, another had a “cave-like drawing of an ostrich or a flamingo” (he really is helpful, isn’t he?), and the other had a lizard on the label and 14.5% alc./vol.  But, the bird-like design label mystery was too gripping for me to abandon and I had to see it with my own eyes.  The decision was made; husband hung up the phone.

He arrived home.  I eagerly pulled the bottle from the bag, enthusiastically awaiting the moment of bird-discovery when I could ream my husband for his stupidity over what is so clearly a penguin, but to my surprise it is a lizard that greets me from the label.  WTF?  I search my memory for the error – right, I had hung up the phone and left my ever so helpful husband without supervision on his way to the check-out counter = mistake.  Left to his own devices, he, of course, made small talk with the cashier, who, of course, is a Shiraz drinker himself (sure) and didn’t recommend the elusive ostrich-flamingo wine and confused my poor easily lead husband with shiny bottles and tales about how many feet above sea-level the grapes were harvested.

Kumala (South Africa, 2009)
14.5% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
The ancient soils and Mediterranean Cape create the ideal conditions for producing this ripe, velvety Shiraz with a touch of spice. ALWAYS ENJOY KUMALA WINE IN MODERATION.
I don’t like my wine to lecture me about moderation.

When I first sipped this wine, my first thought was: DUD.  Then I swallowed and was pleasantly surprised.  For this wine, the flavor is in the finish.  It’s a very easy finish too – not too spicy or bitter, but it still loses points for lacking richness.  I was surprised I wasn’t tipsier after one glass, but I certainly felt the effects after finishing ½ the bottle.  I wasn’t too drunk to read before bed, though I did wake up in the middle of the night feeling extreme thirst and a dull ache in my head.  Weird. 

Helpful Husband Tip: “Easy going down”
I’m going to the liquor store today to confirm the species of bird on the other label.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yellow Tail: Week #14

What a week!  I think there was only one evening this past week when we were all home and had no outside commitments, so it was busy, but unrelated to the hustle was the amount of stress I experienced.  If ever there was a week to commit to drinking, this was it.  Yet, shockingly, I questioned even purchasing a bottle of Saturday Shiraz! (Don't call the rubber truck just yet, let me explain...) 

This Saturday was the ever popular and highly awaited "Supper Club" week.  You see, we have a group of friends (hard to imagine me with one friend, let alone a group of them, eh?) that meet once a month to enjoy an evening of food and laughs over inappropriate dinner conversation.  Each couple wife has a role: the host makes the main, another brings a side, another does a salad, another makes desert, and last, but certainly not least = someone brings the alcohol.  So, you see my dilemma, as this was not my week to bring drinks, I wasn't sure if bringing something of my own would be offensive.  I did it anyway.  And, I was glad I did because there was a mix up and no one brought alcohol!!

This week's selection is Yellow Tail - I did have this one before and remembered liking it, but no other details.  A good friend also mentioned this as a tasty choice (although her bottle was 1/2 the price of mine!! Damn American prices!!!), and I've been thinking about her this week, so I picked it up. 

Honorable Mention:
I enjoyed a glass of Copper Moon at a restaurant on Friday evening.  It was as tasty as I remembered, but I wasn't happy with the $7/glass price tag when I know for a fact the whole bottle is $10.99. 

Yellow Tail (Australia, 2009)
13.5% alc./vol.

I didn't take a picture.  Here is one from the inter-web:

A word from the wine:
I remember being intrigued by the mention of vanilla on the back of the bottle.  Also there was something about a roaring fire and not taking things too seriously...
You see, this is the problem with drinking socially.  I forget to take pictures, I leave the bottle at the host's home, and I don't write down the label notes.  This blog gig is really better suited for drinking alone.

This was really enjoyable.  Yellow Tail is very approachable, smooth, but not rich or overly spicy.  It does have quite a dry aftertaste - perhaps a bit lip smacking, but nothing jarring.  For the taste and body, it surprised me for a 2009 - it is definitely a bit richer than the $10 of the same year, but it is also more expensive so keep that in mind.  The only real downside was despite the 13.5%, I was not feeling any buzz and I had at least half the bottle.   My "Sister is Shiraz" and fellow supper club member agreed that it was tasty and easy to drink, but lacked the tipsy-factor.

Me: "So, husband, what do you think?"
Helpful Husband: "About what?"
Me: exasperated sigh
Helpful Husband: "Oh, the wine?  It's good"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

GatoNegro: Week #13

This week's wine selection is GatroNegro.  It had a cat on the bottle.  It had a pinkish-red splash of color.  It looked fun.  It was cheap. I wanted a break from Australia. 

Tonight I made Christmas cards and drank wine amongst the Scrappies - or Scappers - I can't remember how they prefer to be addressed, but in either case, this subspecies of human enjoy the finicky and festive hobby of scapbooking.  These ladies do not see their lives as a sequence of events, but rather as series a of layouts.  There was much embossing, inking, stamping, mini-attaching, crop-a-dialing, and paper punching.  I believe I have learned enough lingo to survive amongst the scrappies for several days (if not a week) without being exposed, but, of course, this assumes I could keep my mouth shut and/or they would not see my misspellings of their numerous beloved tools and trade techniques - neither of which is likely - scrapies are not ones to overlook details.  I thank the Scrappies for giving me a glimpse into their colorful and mysterious world and welcoming me among their close-knit (glue-dotted?) ranks.  It was fun, and I hope to get my scrap on again someday.

GatroNegro (Chile, 2009)

A word from the wine:
Shit on a stick.  I remembered to take a picture of the bottle before bringing it to the Scappies, but I forgot to write down the label notes!  Okay, I will also admit that I may have lied about the alcohol content (listed above) - I didn't write that down either and am working from memory... which, I'm fairly certain I've already established as faulty. 
ANYWAY, I do remember that the label told me to "uncork a bottle" when clearly the bottle has. no. cork.  Don't they even know what they used to seal their own bottle of wine?

I quite enjoyed my glass of GatroNegro.  We split the bottle six ways, so the glasses were smaller than I am used to, but it still packed a good punch.  Nondescript and inoffensive were the words that came to my mind... but in a good way, if that makes any sense.  It didn't try too hard to be friends with me, nor did it play hard to get.  I appreciate that.  It was smooth and tasty - with no surprises (good or bad).

Scrappy Guest Tester #1: "It grows on you"
Scrappy Guest Tester #2: "This actually used to be one of my favorite wines, and I can see why"
Scrappy Guest Tester #3: "Very good.  I'm shocked it was only $10.99"
Scrappy Guest Tester #4: "You are so clever and funny, please hang out with us more often!"*

*comment may have been altered for blog purposes

So, as you can see the scrappies liked it!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wally's Hut: Week #12

I'm guessing that the liquor store is already preparing for the busy holiday season - they seem a bit overstaffed.  I roamed the shelves for maybe five minutes and was approached three times by eager employees willing to steer me in the right direction.  I declined all offers of help - I'm not sure why... maybe it is my independence, maybe my social-awkwardness, or maybe, just maybe, I am embarrassed to admit that I am the kind of geek who drinks and then writes about it.  Whatever.  Next time I will ask for a recommendation and try not to scare the poor stock boy while my inept social skills force me to engage him in some random and inappropriate conversation.

I am quickly running out of $10 wines - I really didn't think about how this project would impact my bank account.  Eventually I will need to cough up $20+ for these bottles of Shiraz.  For now, I will stick with the $12-$18 range. 

Anyway, on to this week's selection.  I was attracted to the quirky purple label of Wally's Hut.  I read the label and noted that it contained narrative, which I had been seeking for a few weeks.  Knowing I was being keenly watched by several unproductive employees, it was time to be decisive, fain confidence in my choice, avoid all opportunities for eye contact, and quickly head to the nearest check-out.

Wally's Hut - Australia, 2009

A word from the wine:
"Wally's Hut was built on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River in the 1860's to shelter a lone boundary rider who rode the fence line of this once vast grazing property.  Today, the lone rider is long gone and the landscape has been transformed by vines but Wally's Hut stands as his legacy."
I guess this guy's legacy is that he worked alone and drank a lot to fill the sad void left by his lack of human contact.

This wine is reminiscent of Naked Grape or Fat Bastard - with the exception that I did finish my glass and will most likely finish the bottle tomorrow at supper.  So, it wasn't all bad - it was just boring.  I was surprised to discover an Australian Shiraz that didn't meet my expectation - although maybe this particular brand really was made in a hut using a few grapes and some rotting potatoes... the label does look a bit rustic.  Maybe a bit of a refined moonshine?  Basically, drinking this wine is an experience in drinking alcohol.  It tastes like alcohol.  That is all. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "I like it" - when it comes to alcohol,  is there ANYTHING this man doesn't like?