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SAHMmelier

Stay at home mom, lover of wine

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Fulcrums and Finding Balance

We begin seeking balance in our earliest years. Slowly, we learn to uncurl our toes, distributing our weight evenly on the quest for bipedalism. Rather than grip, we believe. Grabbing assistance wherever we can find it, something stable, someone we trust.

As years pass, we move on to other challenges, removing the training wheels. We persevere despite bumps and bruises accumulating, both badges of honor and reminders of defeat.

For adults, the challenges (generally) become centered less on physical balance. We learn to balance our time, emotional responses. We learn to weigh expectations and dreams. We learn to adjust our fulcrum, to distribute weight more evenly or to exert more pressure in other areas.  And, sadly, the bumps and bruises continue, less visibly, and they often take longer to heal.

There was a riddle that floated around in elementary school. There were many, but this one in particular has taken on new meaning for me in recent days.

What weighs more: a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?

We hoped to catch those whom were not listening carefully, those who heard only the feather/lead comparison and not the detail that they had equivalent mass. But during my “unpacking” process, in my quest for balance, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the weight of matters and how a pound of one “bag” is not necessarily counteracted by a pound of its opposing force. The laws of physics aren’t so clear in matters of the heart.

I’ve learned that while I can lift dozens of pounds at the gym, a few pounds on the scale can feel like more than I can bear. I need to adjust my fulcrum.

I’ve learned there is a reason for the term “burden of sorrow.” There are days it throws everything out of balance. It can be so heavy. Sometimes we need help carrying it; sometimes we need to carry it alone.

I’ve learned that an ounce of forgiveness can relieve the weight accumulated from years of resentment. Oh, the relief of adjusting.

I’ve seen how religious expectations are too much for my shoulders, but a faith relationship can leave me feeling weightless. How a trickle of faith can move concrete barriers. How I could not budge that box with my own strength, but a well placed fulcrum does wonders.

It is a constant battle, is it not? Seeking balance? Continue reading “Fulcrums and Finding Balance”

Traffic Calming: Cheers!

On Tuesday, I reviewed some of the non-potable last-minute gifts . Today, the booze.

I refuse to get out and about today. I braved the store yesterday (braved is the correct term) but for those of you that are still wondering what to bring to your hosts or to toast with your family, look no further.

Participating in the Snooth articles this year has been a great gift for me. The special occasion wines came out just before Thanksgiving, the holiday wines under $15 edition came out earlier this week. Both are great resources. Wines from every region, a wide-variety of grapes, something for everyone. Choose your price point and voilà…suggestions galore.

Cape Classics came out with a cute promo for gifts, choosing wine by personality. They sent me samples of The Trendsetter, The Francophile, and the Fashionista. While only one of those descriptors holds true, I can say they are truly tasty wines. In typical form, I still have not opened the 2012 Domaine Vrignaud Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume Vielles Vignes (Francophile), still holding out for the perfect pairing opportunity which will be our Christmas Turkey. The others were delicious so I feel confident sharing the gift guide pre-maturely.

images[3] DeMorgenzon_Reserve_CheninBlanc_NV[1]

I did try the 2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon* ($25) and the 2014 DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc* ($35). The Cab was vibrant in the glass, cherry red and alive. What started as a nose of blue fruits upon opening developed into layers of leather and cherry, cinnamon stick and cedar, bay leaf. The Chenin was rich. Heirloom apples and stone fruit, citrus peel and honey, floral and zesty. Both firm and feminine, weighted and light. A beautiful wine.

Bottles - Gran Cuvée Reserva BottleI was looking for bubbles yesterday. For the holidays, when you could be going mimosa or straight up, I try to choose something in between. Cava is a great value and both Codorniu and Segura Viudas make delicious bubble ranging from $8-25ish. The middle of the road sparklers are the Segura Viudas Gran Cuvée Reserva* ($14) and the Anna series from Codorniu.

The Segura Viudas Gran Cuvée Reserva is the palest pear, citrus and Golden Delicious apple with a touch of honey. Versatile and priced to share, a great holiday sparkler. As an additional gift, check out this beautiful version of Auld Lang Syne as performed on flutes by Indie Artist Eleanor Friedberger.

On the other end of the flavor profile, 2011 Cepa 21 Tempranillo* ($25) by Bodegas Emilio Moro. I was very impressed by their wines earlier in the year for a virtual tasting, this was no different. The new project of Javier and José Moro combines the tradition and respect for the vine with a desire for creating approachable wines, ready to share. I was struck first wit baking spices, cinnamon stick specifically. Black plum in color and composition, structure tannins, white pepper and a long finish with hints of toasted coconut. Gift worthy, indeed.

Ahhhh….I can now cross off my final item. The reviews of these share-worthy wines have been hanging over my head. But other items took precedence. Now, presents are wrapped and whatever is missing will remain that way. The to-do lists are officially put away. Now the focus is on “to-be.”

I will be present, enjoying the moments with my family. I will be grateful for each person in my family, all together for Christmas for the first time in years. I will be graceful with my home and myself, allowed to sit and enjoy. I will be reverent, reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and hoping all will be calm (relatively) and bright. Cheers!

 

 

Traffic Calming:The Non-Potables

It is a phrase thrown round Austin frequently. The swell of construction, the influx of residents, the business of life all combine to form abysmal traffic conditions here. The irony is that the city’s reputation is that of a laid-back, fun-driven, everything is weird and wonderful place. Just don’t get on MoPac or I-35 if you want to protect the façade. We all want some traffic calming.

In the same way, this time of year is supposed to be filled with folly and family, nestling and nutcrackers, warmth and wassel. And yet, if you venture in certain corners of the commercial zone, you are more likely to get thrown and elbow than a smile. Christmas lists become sources of stress rather than wonder. Pinterest is the best thing to happen to Michaels and the worst thing to happen to room moms. The Grinch is no longer just a character from Dr. Suess. And we all understand why.

So our family works very hard to avoid much of the hub-bub. We limit the focus on gifts, protect our schedules, return to the reason we celebrate. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get caught in the mental-scuffle. The guilt, the “I shoulds”, still creep in. I had coffee with a friend whom I have not seen in too long. She has been incredibly busy trying to change education in Austin, no small task. She is a wise woman with a big heart. She asked, “Are there any ‘shoulds’  you can let go of?” Continue reading “Traffic Calming:The Non-Potables”

Last Bottle Marathon-Today at 9 pst

An epic battle is mounting in the cyber-galaxies. Not between the light and the dark side, but perhaps the white and the red side? The Last Bottle Marathon begins today at 9am PST. Still looking for a last minute gift? Wanting to fulfill last year’s resolution to begin a wine collection? Need to re-stock after relatives? Whatever your motivation for buying, the Last Bottle Marathon is preparing for battle. If you haven’t signed up, you can share the love by clicking here to indicate that I referred you. You know I’ll share. Here are the details copied from their email:

Ready are you?

Star Wars #7 is released tomorrow and that seems like a FINE reason to blow out HUNDREDS of small lots of killer wine, no? Time to warm up the refresh button or put an add-on on your browser (check out options HERE).

At Last Bottle we think that, much like wine, Star Wars is a cultural unifier. Its themes, and the pleasure we derive from it, are ageless (your kids still love the first one, released in 1977!!). Being a small company of a wide age range ourselves, some with kids, and ALL big fans – to say we are STOKED about the release tonight (got your 3D glasses?), a massive understatement it is!! So much so that we planned an entire 2-DAY MARATHON OF WINE-FILLED MADNESS AROUND IT…! Read on!

Starting tomorrow at 9AM (Napa Time) sharp we’re taking the sage advice from one of America’s foremost thinkers: “Do or do not. There is no try.” This one is the BIGGEST and most jam-packed with world-class wines EVER! We have been shopping, collecting, saving and cutting deals like a bunch of hyperactive Ewoks and have amassed a massive storehouse of killer wines at mad, mad, market-crushing prices. Plus, FREE GROUND SHIPPING on ALL ORDERS (in the contiguous 48)! Blown away you will be!

Most of you know the drill – for the newcomers (welcome, you are going to LOVE this), here is the magic, the madness about to ensue: for the next 2 days (or until we completely run out of wine) wines will appear at breakneck speed on the website, and flip VERY quickly as they sell out. These are wines we get in limited quantities at crazy-good pricing, generally not enough to send out an email on, and you won’t get any emails for the next two days. You’ll need to keep hitting the “REFRESH” button on your browser to catch them all (the more you refresh, the more you will see, some sell out in seconds…!). That’s it – madness it is, and all first come, first served!!

Finally – All orders placed during this marathon will be combined. We will require several weeks (2-4 weeks) to stage and coordinate all the shipping (thank you for your patience!). Orders placed during this marathon will BEGIN shipping on January 4th! That way we don’t miss you during all the holiday/new year traveling. The tracking link in your account will activate once shipped from our facility.

Index finger ready? See you tomorrow at 9AM (NAPA TIME)!! Woo hoo!

It’s Legal!-#CarmenereDay

Well, sort of. Although the grape has been around for much longer, it was mistaken for Merlot. Twenty-one years ago, they correctly identified the variety and have been adjusting the growing practices since. Like all grapes, there are expected characteristics and then there are nuances that come from a combination of terroir, climate, growing practices, winemaking and other variables.

I recently sampled a few bottles of Carmenere from Chile, courtesy of Nonni Marketing. And since today is #CarmenereDay on Twitter, it seemed the perfect day to share them. Each wine images[3]was made from grapes grown in the Colchagua Valley, one of the best known regions in Chile. There, Carmenere is second only to Cabernet Sauvignon in acreage.

Apaltagua, Gran Reserva 2013 – From start to finish, this was an enjoyable wine. Jeweled tones, great clarity. Juicy cherry and tobacco notes with smooth tannins. A red that can go from turkey to pasta, not overly complex, but interesting and a pleasure to drink. $13

images5QOM94JDCasa Silva, Los Lingues Vineyard 2013 – Nonni’s notes state that this label is one of the few brands with 100% of its vines certified under the Wines of Chile Sustainability Code. Always a plus. This was much more intense and rustic than the Apaltagua, more of what I think of with Carmenere. Rich, stewed fruit and cigar box, tobacco and cedar. Had I tasted it first, I would have paired it differently. Our vegan dinner was not quite enough but it was fun with the butternut squash and pomegranate.  $14-$21

Francois Lurton Hacienda Araucano, Alka 2011 – This wine became my husband’s birthday wine. A gem. The deepest hue of 11890432_is[2]black plum, so dense it was nearly opaque. Incredibly fragrant with notes of blackberry and vines, smoky cocoa. Brambly fruit, green and earthy, roots and stems, pepper. Intriguing, complex, delicious. We paired this with filet mignon with mushroom sauce; it worked very well together. $50

Regardless of menu or price point, Chilean Carmenere can work and wow. Priced to share, easy to pair or rich and reserve, there is something for all of our holiday meals. But well worth the risk. What are you opening for Carmenere Day?

{These wines were provided as media samples. I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Gobble Gobble Give- Potluck with a Purpose

We are now in our 5th year here in Austin. If you’ve participated before, thank you. If you are in any of the cities we have Gobble, Gobble, Give, consider volunteering. This year we are returning to straight potluck (we had started buying meals) which means we can’t do it without you, without each other.

Here is how it works:

1) Sign up for food item
2) Want to deliver or assemble? Sign up for that too.
3) Show up on Thanksgiving morning.
4) We will assemble meals in separate to-go containers.
5) Delivery teams do their thing, assembly line continues until we run out of food.
6) Clean up, go home, and be grateful.

If you are able to bring more, toiletries, socks, and blankets are always needed. That’s it!

I wrote this about the founder, my brother-in-law, and my experience with the charity three years ago. Our world’s needs are changing, different struggles are at the forefront of our minds.  It has grown but the heart remains the same.

At this time of year, many of us are rushing around, trying to decide on the perfect appetizer, on table settings and decor, and pairing wines that will fit the budget but still impress our guests. And some are trying to figure out where they will get their next meal. Or how to pay the electric bill. Or wishing they had an electric bill to pay. Between the destruction in the wake of the hurricane and the current unemployment across the country, the needs we see around us can be overwhelming. How can we help? How can we possibly make a difference when the need is everywhere and so much bigger than us? Continue reading “Gobble Gobble Give- Potluck with a Purpose”

Giving Back, Coming Home, Going out #SHAREANNA

When we think of wineries, we think of festive gatherings.  Wine conjures the idea of celebration, warm-hearted revelry. Behind the scenes there is more: back-breaking labor, heartbreak, and trying days.  What you may not initially think of is philanthropy. It was not until I began writing about wine and receiving press releases about the programs sponsored or lives changed that I became aware of the great work that some of these wineries are committed to doing. I don’t typically pass a long press releases, but these are worth sharing.

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Continue reading “Giving Back, Coming Home, Going out #SHAREANNA”

Re(de)fining Texas Wine- #Thesip

Refine (v)

: to remove the unwanted substances in (something)

: to improve (something) by making small changes

Define (v)

: to explain the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.)

: to show or describe (someone or something) clearly and completely

Last night was about defining, refining, and redefining Texas wine.  It was about what we’ve learned in the last ten years and where we are going in the next ten. It was about challenging the preconceptions, the misconceptions. And it was about good wines. Very good wines. Continue reading “Re(de)fining Texas Wine- #Thesip”

Hatch Hongos y Elote- Meatless Monday

So much for freedom.  It is week two and my sweet girl is home sick.  And will be for a while.  Poor thing. At least I get some time to spoil her.

It is Hatch Chile season here and I wanted to get a recipe up for Meatless Monday so if you can forgive the lack of story, here we go. Continue reading “Hatch Hongos y Elote- Meatless Monday”

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