Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Food and Wine Hedonist: While The Winegetter is Beyond The Sea…

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

This is the final post in my summer guest blogging series “Somewhere, Beyond the Sea”. I am happy to present to you my friend John, The Food and Wine Hedonist , whom I was able to strongarm/pester/lure into writing something for this series. John,despite never writing about wine, is definitely a wine hedonist, at least given what I have seen of his cellar. He has been one of my earliest blogger friends and him residing in Ann Arbor has made us hang out a number of times already. He is definitely one of my coolest friends in A2. John’s blog, for those unfamiliar with his writing, is sometimes loud, mostly hilarious, often thoughtful and at times disgusting (Like when he talks about some of his man crushes or boy band choices). It’s a cornucopia of fun for sure…and he did not let me down with this post. Thanks, John! I’m already looking forward to seeing you soon….

The Winegetter asked if I’d be interested in submitting a guest post for him while he’s on vacation. In the two years that I’ve been blogging I’ve had a few people guest post for me but, oddly enough, I haven’t done any guest posts for anyone else. So when he asked me to do a post about wine based on the theme “Beyond The Sea” I jumped all over it. Well, as much as one can define responding 5 weeks later as “jumped.”

My immediate thoughts went to waxing eloquently about how I began my love affair with Rose wines at our very favorite beach destination in the world – St Barth’s. It’s a French-owned island in the Caribbean with gorgeous, undeveloped beaches. There are no cheesy tiki huts , shysters harassing you to go jetskiing, or people selling trinkets. In fact, there was only one beach on the island that had a hotel on it. The food there is absolutely divine with its strong French-influenced cuisine modified to tropical ingredients.

The island itself is accessible only by puddle jumper or ferry from St Martin.

I took this picture of Colombier beach from the puddle jumper

I took this picture of Colombier beach from the puddle jumper

Or if you’re like Jay-Z and Beyonce who, along with many of the rich-and-famous who frequent the island, you take your pimped-out yacht.

But it’s expensive. VERY expensive. Like, we’re still paying off our trip from a few years ago expensive. For example, we had lunch at Eden Rock with a few drinks and walked away with a 180 Euro tab. But that’s also the beauty of the place. You won’t find ANY rubes in cut-off jeans and wife-beaters or pasty Midwesterners with fanny packs and white sneakers. And since everyone has money and they (in our case WRONGLY) assume you do, they don’t try to flaunt it. So you can be hanging out with Italian billionaires (which we did) and they didn’t care what you did for a living.

It was there that I gained my appreciation for Rose wine. We had it with every meal and it went perfectly with the weather, all the tropical ingredients, and even grilled meats. One day, Boom Boom (my wife) and I went to the beach with a new friend and proceeded to swig down six bottles of French Rose. I’d show pictures from that day, but this is a family blog. Maybe someday I’ll go into detail in my own site.

Fast-forward to present day…

With my kids away at camp for two weeks, we were planning on making a return trip to our paradise. But we also just bought a new house, so any well of money that would go towards the trip has completely dried up. And you wouldn’t believe HOW PISSED I am that I can’t go.

So while the Winegetter and his lovely bride are on a whirlwind tour of Asia, and I’m a little bitter about not being able to take a whirlwind tour of St Barth’s again, I figured I’d take a whirlwind tour of…

The Winegetter’s place.

WG Door

The first thing you encounter when entering Casa de Winegetter is the kitchen.

Dude, you gotta wash dishes before you on vacation.

Dude, you gotta wash dishes before you on vacation.

Then I had to go to the bathroom as the previous night’s Indian food was coming back to haunt me. I’ll go ahead and spare you guys the picture of that mess. But I did get inspired by Geraldo Rivera’s recent foray into Tweeting a selfie. So here’s that picture.

WG selfie

I did find his stash of beloved Schofferhofer –

You don't mind that I vanquished the last three, do you?

You don’t mind that I vanquished the last three, do you?

All that breaking-and-entering was exhausting, so I figured it was a good time to chill out and catch some rays!
WG relax

Later that night we decided to have a few friends over to sample The Winegetter’s Reislings.

If the neighbors ask about the donkey, just play dumb...

If the neighbors ask about the donkey, just play dumb…

Anyway, thanks Winegetter for giving me this opportunity to write this . And for leaving town!

PS – Ollie, you’re out of toilet paper.

PPS – Maybe this is why I don’t get asked to do many guest posts.

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Whine and Cheers: A Cuban and a bottle of Carménère on Prince Edward Island

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

This is the second to last installment in my summer guest blogging series “Somewhere Beyond the Sea”. I am proud to present to you the writing of Ernest Gonzalez of Whine and Cheers for Wine. Ernest is living the dream: From a wine lover he took the steps to become an educated wine professional and changed his life because he wanted to. He is now “the wine guy” at a Whole Foods branch in Florida. I really like Ernest’s writing style, in which he weaves information gathered about a wine and grape with his own tasting notes and impressions. I have been lucky to have followed his path from early when I started blogging and seeing him make his way has been awesome and inspiring. Oh, and we also share a love for Riesling, which naturally helps…so, thank you Ernest, for being a part of this!

A Cuban and a bottle of Carménère on Prince Edward Island


When The Winegetter first approached me with the theme of Somewhere Beyond the Sea I have to admit I was a bit lost at sea.  What on earth could I write about? I have always appreciated wine, but most of my travels abroad were prior to my true love of wine. Ireland; beer and whiskey. England; beer and cider. Hawaii; pineapple sparkling wine but lets not go there. Amsterdam? Let’s really not go there!

Which lead me to a trip taken a few years ago as I was careening towards the proverbial fork in the road. Wine was still a hobby at this point in my life. No blog or wine job in sight. These would come later. Perfect timing for a much-needed first time visit to Nova Scotia and Canada’s Prince Edward Island. I realize some may say a sea was not technically crossed but having experienced the Gulf of St. Lawrence and ferry rides across the Northumberland Strait I would beg to differ. At least for this story.

An adventure with dear friends. Driving and hiking the Cabot Trail of Nova Scotia prior to ferrying over to Prince Edward Island and the incredible accommodations of the Johnson Shore Inn. Owned by friends of ours who many can attest are beyond wonderful hosts.  This bed and breakfast sits on a red rocky cliff overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence who’s coastline kept us in awe for the entirety of our stay.


Wonderful memories come to mind including fabulous home cooked meals, PEI mussels, roasted pig, a visit to a dance hall where yes we danced into the cold night, a fresh steamed [salt water from the beach a few steps away] lobster dinner party for 18 where guests were asked to show off a talent which included poetry, song, and even tap dancing. Not aware of this tradition of entertaining others at dinner my impromptu talent became speaking Spanish. Luckily the other guests were very welcoming and pretended to be in awe of this talent as I babbled on. A few of my new friends had recently been to Cuba [Beyond the Sea!] so this became quite the topic as I was asked about my people, politics and family lineage.  A visit to our hostesses  Prince Edward Distillery to sample their award-winning potato vodka and many a day sitting along the red cliffs pondering, taking in all the natural beauty surrounding this very special place also made for incredible memories.

The wine portion of this story came near the end of our trip. After days of being pampered we decided to cook dinner for our hostesses. We spent most of the day researching and shopping for ingredients that included a stop at the state-run liquor store where the cashier had now started to recognize us after more than a few visits.  Not accustomed to such government operated stores I was first taken aback by their small selection of U.S. wines but at the same time impressed by their also small but varied choice of South American wines. Chile and Argentina were very well represented and Chile’s Carménère became my choice for our farewell dinner. Those who frequent my web-site may know that I enjoy spreading the gospel of this signature Chilean, albeit originally Bordeaux varietal. In fact in reviewing my earlier posts I even referenced the PEI adventure in my: Our Wednesday night choice; Santa Rita Reserva 2008 Carménère review from last year.  And as fate would have it a wonderfully written recent guest post by The Armchair Sommelier: Drinking Carménère With the Devil.

Carménère, thought to be extinct for years, was discovered in Chile during the 1990′s inadvertently being grown as Merlot.  This lush somewhat exotic grape has earthy and leather aromas with a sweet dark fruit taste of plum, blackberry, and cherry.  I would describe it as deliciously rustic.


On this occasion our last meal turned out to be a delicious Rib-eye Pot Roast laden with fresh spices and root vegetables that cooked slowly for about 5+ hours. In my mind at least, it was to be perfectly paired with my chosen Carménère. If only I could remember which one in particular I painstakingly decided on that day. But as it turned out I would come to learn years later forgetfulness was to be shared that evening. As our meal progressed to the main course I poured the Carménère along with a little history of the grape and it was an instant hit. Those in our party of six that I had previously introduced this varietal to were excited to be sharing our secret. For the newbies it was love at first sip. As I recall dinner went off without a hitch. All courses were better than expected and I would to this day forever be trying to match the perfect pot roast recipe from when we were on Prince Edward Island. Yes, still trying.

Fast forward a few years to our Canadian hosts coming south to Florida for the winter. A reunion dinner planned! My assignment; wine. What better choice but to relive our last supper, so memorable to me, by bringing a bottle of Carménère. A joyous reunion. As dinner was served, I poured the wine and pointed out the varietal I had chosen. Yes the same one we had devoured and shared before on our last night on PEI! To my surprise I was met with blank stares, a lack of recollection and the comment; “Oh, we’ve never had that varietal”. What?? Could I have possibly made up the entire experience or more likely romanticized the event that defined our last night together? We laughed as I reminded them of our first time at the last supper and then we just moved on to the dinner at hand and wonderful new conversations. Our soon to be memories being created.

I find it interesting that as I bonded with the wine with friends for my memory of the event, others bonded with the dinner with friends or just the quality time of friends together. The one common denominator: friendship. This realization has made me think about how I may attach too much weight to factors that surround us all instead of what truly is important.

So yes, I’d like to take this opportunity to admit: My name is Whine and Cheers and I appreciate wine. But, I love friendships!


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Oenophilogical: Dry Creek Fumé Blanc 2011

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

For this instalment of my summer guest blogging series “Somewhere, Beyond the Sea” I am very happy to present you with the work of Joe, who runs the wine blog Oenophilogical. Joe has captured my attention with his focus on affordable wines (something I care about deeply) and his concise and well written tasting notes. Joe also shares my love for Rieslings and even has tried some other, more obscure German grapes. As we explored what he wanted to write for this series, he was the one that most surprised me with his idea. I hope you like it as much as I do. Thanks, Joe!

Dry Creek Fum Blanc 2011

Is it possible to sail a dry creek and end up somewhere over (beyond) the sea?  Yes, indeed!  The first and most important thing you have to do, of course, is find the right place to begin – the right dry creek.

That would be Dry Creek Vineyard where the flagship (their wording, not mine) white wine is a Fumé Blanc.  Gracing the label of that refreshing wine is a beautiful picture of a sailboat.  Why is there a beautiful picture of a sailboat on that bottle of wine?  Well, first it’s important to note that Dry Creek isn’t dry – not really.  It’s an active stream in California that runs through the counties of Mendocino and Sonoma – stopping off at Lake Sonoma – and then continuing on it’s way past Dry Creek Vineyard to the Russian River.

You should also know that the folks from Dry Creek Vineyard are sailing enthusiasts.  In fact, Dry Creek Vineyard is the official sponsor of several major sailing regattas around the U.S.  Because of their passion for sailing, they have been putting sailboats on their wine labels since 1984 which has earned them the moniker “the wine for sailors.”  They see similarities and a kind of symbiosis in a love for both good winemaking and sailing.  Here’s how they put it. Winemaking and sailing actually have a lot in common.  Like winemaking, sailing is fun, adventuresome and romantic.  Like sailing, the art of winemaking demands the skill, discipline and determination of a group of people committed to the same goal.  Sailing and winemaking are a study in choreography and teamwork – each person contributing something essential to the ultimate success or failure of the team. Now, I had read about the Dry Creek “wine for sailors” and decided I wanted to try one.  I have to admit that I’m not a sailor.  The only sailing I’ve done was in a Sun Fish on a lake at a camp I went to for two summers when I was a boy.  And yet I find many images of sailing to be beautifully majestic and calming while at the same time redolent of excitement, exploration, and exploits.  I have two prints of paintings by Winslow Homer that have hung alternately in my offices and my home over the years that have brought me much joy.  So I wanted to sample one of those wines. The Dry Creek wines aren’t sold at all the stores in my area.  Very few, as it turns out.  So I had to undertake a little adventure of my own in searching for this selection.  To my surprise, I found the last store I visited (Calvert Woodley) in the throes of a major sale on white wines.  They advertise these things, of course, but I just can’t keep up the way I’d like to.  Anyway, it must have been the winds of fate that blew me into the store at that very moment.  You see, they only had one bottle of the Dry Creek Vineyard 2011 Fumé Blanc left in stock when I arrived.  And I got it!  It had to be kismet. Having secured my treasure, I took it home with me to be opened and enjoyed as a reward for my dogged determination.  Here is what I recorded in my “ship’s log” about the wine. Winemaker:  Dry Creek Vineyard Varietal:  Sauvignon Blanc 11bWine:  Fumé Blanc Vintage:  2011 Appellation:  Sonoma County, CA Price:  $12.99 Notes:  This Dry Creek signature white is light yellow with a green tinge.  On the nose I found a peach-o-rama.  Seriously, there was copious peach scent in the bouquet.  It was appropriately light on the tongue with very bright acidity.  On the palate I found white peach, lime, and honey with pear and floral notes.  The finish had a grassy bracing zing.  It was a dry white, and the label confirmed that with an alcohol content of 13.5%.  I thought it was very enjoyable.  I could absolutely imagine pairing this Fumé Blanc with a nice grilled fish or shrimp dish. I have to thank The Winegetter for his challenge to write a post on – about, around, through, for, from – the theme “Somewhere Beyond The Sea.”  This post answers that call to the best of my ability.  I was very honored that he would invite me, among others, to share a guest spot on his blog this summer. Finally, drinking my “wine for sailors” and looking at the sailboat depicted on it’s label brought me daydreams of distant beaches, warm breezes, and idyllic surroundings.  And it inspired me.  Perhaps because The Winegetter was, himself, inspired to the theme for this blog series by the well-known Frank Sinatra tune “Somewhere Beyond The Sea,” I was moved to write a song.  For better or worse.  Ha!  The goal of the song is to celebrate some of the thoughts and feelings that I associate with sailing, adventuring and the allure of the sea.  My tune is called “Somewhere Over The Sea.”  I’ve included a home-brewed demo of the song below.  I’m not expecting a Grammy nomination for this, but I do hope folks enjoy listening to it.

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