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Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day!

I have been studying for the Certified Specialist of Wine exam and if you’ve ever studied for this exam or any other professional credential, I am sure you can agree that this type of in-depth study can suck the fun right of your wine life. I believe this is why I am so enamored with Beaujolais Nouveau Day. It is a celebration of wine in the simplest form.

Under French law Beaujolais Nouveau Day begins at 12:01 a.m. on the 3rd Thursday in November and it is the earliest that wines made from the current year’s harvest can be released – that’s right grapes picked a mere 6-7 weeks ago! How simple is that?

Beaujolais is a wine region in France that is approximately 34 miles long and 7 to 9 miles wide. The northern end of Beaujolais actually overlaps with the southern end of Burgundy. The wine is made from 100% Gamay grapes – all of which were harvested by hand. The only other region requiring hand picking of grapes is Champagne, so you see, the wine is made quickly but with care.

 

Speaking of how it is made, the reason the wine can be produced so quickly is due to a process called carbonic maceration where the entire grape is fermented whole.  If you are curious about this process here is a great link to a very detailed, but easy to understand explanation:

The wine was historically made for local consumption while waiting for other Beaujolais wines to age. At some point getting the wine to market became a bit of race – an event that was anticipated throughout the year. It attracted so much attention that in the 1970’s it became a nationally recognized event in France. Eventually the rest of Europe became involved and by the 1990’s North America and Asia raced to get Beaujolais Nouveau to their markets as well.

The Beaujolais region has a classification hierarchy that includes 10 Grand Crus – indicating the best wine the region has to offer, a 2nd tier of classification call Beaujolais Villages and lastly, a region whose wines are simply labeled Beaujolais. The Beaujolais Nouveau grapes cannot come from the Grand Crus, only the Beaujolais Villages and Beaujolais AOCs. While the 10 Grand Crus produce some wonderful wines, the Beaujolais Nouveau wines account for nearly ½ of the regions entire production – approximately 65 million bottles.

So we have gapes that were just picked, being made as fast as they can, with grapes from 2nd and 3rd tier classifications and you may be thinking this wine is not worth your time but I urge you to reconsider.  The simplicity of this wine is charming and engaging and the wines are delightful.  Light, fun, fruity and described by many as gulpable! Now if that doesn’t do it for you, I don’t know what will.

If your goal is to only drink cellarable wines that garner nods of approval in stuffy wine circles, then by all means steer clear of Beaujolais Nouveau. However, it you want to celebrate with the French and get the first possible taste of this year’s harvest of Beaujolais, then you should definitely join in this fun tradition. For the entire weekend people all of the world will be lifting a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau with you – how fun is that?

If I still haven’t convinced you, let me quote the great Karen MacNeil as she sums up Beaujolais Nouveau wine in her book , The Wine Bible: “Drinking it gives you the smae kind of silly pleasure as eating cookie dough.”

So my wine drinking friends, don’t walk, run – the entire celebration is based on a race – to get a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau this weekend. Drink it now. In gulps. Hooray for Beaujolais! Cheers!

 

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Election Night Wines

Whether you are celebrating victory or drowning your sorrows (and really how could anyone be celebrating any result this Election Day), here are some fun wine choices to help us all get through it.

If you choose  Trump (as the lesser of two evils of course):

The obvious choice is Trump Meritage.  All things being equal, with not one redeeming quality among either candidate, at least one of them makes decent wine.

Interesting tidbit, the Trump winery is on the same property where President  Thomas Jefferson attempted and failed to grow grapes.  http://www.trumpwinery.com/

 

 

 

The Federalist. I chose the Honest Red Blend, featuring Honest Abe, who was the first Republican President – considered a radical champion of social justice at the time. My how things have changed.

 

 

If you choose Clinton:

Although the Clintons do not own a vineyard, I did find the appropriately named Clinton wine from Clinton Vineyards in New York.  They call themselves the “jewel of the Hudson Valley” and have jumped on the campaign trail with Clinton Vineyards Victory White. As far as I can tell, this only retails at local locations, but can purchased online:http://clintonvineyards.com/

Now for a little fun, here are some choices that may help get you through the night, admittedly it was hard to choose which candidate to apply some of these to, it could defintiely go either way, just like this election.

 

 

I don’t need to say anything here right?

 

 

 

 

I really hate to drag the beautiful Miranda Lambert into this, but she put her face on her wine label, so I had no choice.  There is no hot sauce in your purse Hillary. I’m calling bullshit on that one, which makes you a white liar.

 

 

 

 

Could there be a better wine for T-Rump? I think he should try and buy the licensing rights to this name for his own winery.

 

 

 

 

 

Because we all know it so much more than emails…..

 

 

 

 

 

The Donald would probably find this flattering.

 

 

 

 

The new nickname for the Clinton White House?

 

 

 

 

horses-ass

I picked this one for personal reasons. My Popo used to sing me a song about a horse keeping it’s tail up to keep the sun out of his eyes.  This was sung while drinking a shot of Kessler and drinking PBR. Anyhoo, it seems that Mr. Trump does not mind acting like a horse’s ass on any given day.

 

 

decoy

 

 

Like the Trojan Horse.

 

 

 

And, because we are all at our wit’s end with this election and will likely wake up tomorrow morning in a conundrum no matter who wins, I’ve picked a white and red for Wednesday night wine:

  

May I suggest a 4 year supply?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Side Hustle Wino

Hello! This is my first blog post as Side Hustle Wino!  I have been cultivating this little seed of an idea for some time and I’ve decided its time to start taking root.

I’ve been drinking wine for a few decades now — it all started with Canei Rose, easily attained at any convenience store and/or gas station mini mart.  Oh how I loved the stuff.  I don’t want to give off false pretenses, I also love beer. And vodka. And tequila. I am not sure when wine became my favorite, I’m guessing sometime around the time I felt I had to start looking mature and classy around bosses and co-workers and eventually, other mothers.

For many, many years all that I could tell you about my wine preference was that I preferred red. Aromas? Flavors? Ummm…it smells and tastes like wine…. I had a firm philosophy that even if your first glass of something was “bad”, the second was sure to be more enjoyable and if you indulged in a third, it becomes actually really good. I’m Irish, don’t judge.

I lived in the Bay Area for a couple of years and the thing I remember most about visiting wine country was a feeling I experienced while in Napa one day.  It is hard to put into words, but it was an other-worldly experience.  I felt a sense of peace and safety and contentment and I literally thought to myself “this is where I belong.”  I was 30, with two kids under 5 so it was a completely different journey I was on at the time, but someday I wanted to live right there. In 2007 I travelled to France as a chaperone with a group of high school students. In Nice, our hotel was right next to a grocery store. I bought a bottle of wine one night to take back to the hotel and the cashier opened it for me at the register. Napa had been replaced. I want to live in France.

You may recall a little movie called SidewaysThis movie makes a lasting impression due to one scene. Its the scene where Maya talks about wine as a living thing. I got goosebumps. I had a euphoric moment – someone had just summed up how I felt about wine. Here’s the scene:

Of course, being the clueless wine drinker that I was, I gave a hoot about whether or not Miles approved of Merlot. I loved Merlot.  Merlot would be my safe wine for years, until I eventually developed obsessive cab disorder. But Maya, oh, she was a poet.

Still, I would spend the next decade thinking that I just didn’t have a good palette.  I can’t taste  berries or tar or cigar ash. I just taste wine and most of the time, I like it. I watched Somm.  This movie confirmed  for me that I have no palette, however, it paradoxically ignited a passion for learning. I will forever be in awe of anyone who can blind taste a wine and identify the terroir. But, it wasn’t until Somm, Out of the Bottle that I again experience goose bumps.  It was the scene at Schloss Valrads with books documenting sales of wine back to 1492. I didn’t have a Bucket List until I watched this movie. I began reading industry  news. I became familiar with Decanter (my favorite publication). I attended more tastings. I listen to every podcast on the subject of wine. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Val and Steph at Wine Two Five.  My absolute favorite. Here’s a link: http://www.winetwofive.com/episodes/  — you’re welcome.

Eventually my youngest left for college (more about that little wino in another post), and I returned to work. The single most defining factor in the evolution of my desire to obtain formal wine education  was that, while I acknowledge my good fortune in finding employment, it didn’t take long to also realize that an 8 to 5 desk grind was not where I wanted to be at this point in life. Add an hour commute each way (which only 10.2 miles here in the ATL) and just YUCK!  I had been perusing classes at the International Wine Guild, the Napa Valley Wine Academy, and the Atlanta Wine School for a couple of years and I decided that even if I never become anything more than an enthusiast I would pursue some form of formal education.  I began reading How to Taste Wine by Janice Robinson and of course The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil.  Ah, Karen, she is a poet. My heart literally flutters when I read her words.

I begin fantasizing about a life immersed in wine, where possibly, at some point, I may even be able to become gainfully employed. I decide to sign up for the 12 week online prep course for the Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators. Somewhere in the daydreaming, this little seed of an idea wouldn’t stop germinating and Side Hustle Wino  was born.  I am still not 100% certain where I am going with this, but I think there is a market for wine experiences — tastings based more on education than sales.  I certainly understand and appreciate sales based tastings, but I think there is a different market out there as well.  I am hoping my tasting abilities will eventually improve, but in the mean time I can throw my passion into the history, viticulture and production of this beautiful beverage.

My intentions were to create this blog upon return from trip to wne-cheersItaly in September. Unfortunately, I injured my knee so badly after our first day in Florence that we had to end the trip and return home. Surgery for ACL reconstruction and a complex meniscus repair followed. My CSW classes began the Monday after we returned from Italy, which now included surgery and recuperation. I’m a little behind in every aspect of life at the moment. As I write this I am 2 weeks away from the end of a six week no weight bearing sentence. Thank God for wine.

Cheers to taking a chance, to making a change, to believing in yourself. I hope you will follow me on this journey.