Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Wine a Little, You’ll Feel Better!

on October 19, 2009

That was what many flags around Napa said and I couldn’t agree more.  My husband and I just got back from a lovely trip to wine country.  Or ‘the Motherland’ for winos like us.  It was beautiful there.  We had never been and really didn’t know what to expect, other than we’d always wanted to go.

Some of the grapevines were changing color, some were yellow, others red, and some were still green with fruit hanging.  There was a late rain just last week which threw everyone there for a loop and they were scrambling to get the rest of the harvest picked.

We rented a convertible and in true fashion for us, the weather for a few days was crap.  The huge storm that blew in on Tuesday delayed our flight by 2 hours because of the rain and wind in San Francisco.  Wednesday started out cloudy and damp, but turned out to be beautiful, so we went topless and just drove the valley.  The sights and smells were amazing.  The lush grapevines were everywhere, rolling hills dotted with short, scrubby trees, intermingled with centuries old, 75ft tall eucalyptus trees that scented the air with either rosemary or basil.  that was an ongoing debate for us, I smelled basil, my husband smelled rosemary.  but we were both wrong, it was eucalyptus!

Grapevines were everywhere imaginable.  I never thought they’d be so close to the road, we could’ve stopped and picked some grapes if we wanted to.  Up the hillside and in people’s front yards.  Some wineries looked like beautiful, Victorian homes, like Beringer.  Others, like Opus One, were more modern and very upscale.  And then there was the Castle.  Castella di Amarosa was an incredible estate.  A true Italian castle built with only materials and techniques available during the dark ages, complete with a moat, dungeons and an iron maiden.  It was perched on a hillside with rows of grapevines going downhill and tall junipers lining the drive.  It looked like I imagine Tuscany would with the rolling hills and colors.

You know, we really learned a lot on this trip.  More than what we expected to.  We are wine lovers.  but at the same time, we are cheap winos.  For a while, we would see who could find the best, cheapest boxed wine.  some of them are decent, others put what felt like a layer of fur on my teeth after the first glass. 

We never really understood the complexities of wine and the flavors and sensations involved.  When you read a description it may say, ‘hints of raspberry, green pepper, black currant and dark chocolate.’  Ok.  whatever.  I never got all that.  Until Thursday night. We stayed at a beautiful B&B called Le Belle Epoque. A gorgeous Victorian/Queen Anne style home built in the late 1890’s.  Truly beautiful, inside and out and walking distance to downtown Napa.  If you’re looking for a B&B in Napa, I highly recommend it.  Our innkeepers, Derek and Roxann were lovely hosts and held a nightly wine reception in their wine cellar.  It was a different experience than simply having breakfast with the other guests.  We were able to meet other guests, mingle with our hosts and sample different wines.  It was a really enjoyable way to end the day. 

Thursday night, we got out a box called Le Nez de Vin,  The Nose of Wine.  It contained little vials of different essences, black currant, strawberry, green pepper, licorice.  I think there were a dozen maybe. We played a guessing game, we’d sniff the vial and try to guess what it contained.  We got several correct, but also got several wrong.  But it helped us understand the different things we were smelling and tasting in the wine and it turned our concept of wine upside down.  It was really amazing to go the next day to a winery, Grgich Hills Estate, which was great btw, do a tasting and really be able to pick out those things and know what it was we were experiencing.  It was incredible, truly.

Something else happened that we would never have expected.  We became lovers of white wine.  I guess my only experiences with white wine involved cheap wine at someone’s wedding reception because my thoughts were that it was all super dry, oaky, and just left my mouth feeling like dust.  WRONG!  Oh how wrong we were!  Our first full day there, we went into a tasting room that carried wines from several different vintners and sampled several whites.  We were pleasantly surprised. So surprised in fact, for the first time ever, we bought a $30 bottle of wine, and it was WHITE!  Let me tell you, if you think the only white wine is a Chardonnay, you are so wrong! There are so many others beyond just a chard.  I used to think that too, but boy, we found out the truth!

Before, we’d splurge on a $25 bottle of Pinot Noir.  This time we bought a Viognier.  Ever heard of that one?  It was lovely, not too sweet (we don’t really go for the sweet) not too dry.  We were told the viognier is used primarily for blending and we don’t see much of it.

The first glass of wine we had when we arrived at our B&B was a Cabernet franc.  Heard of that one?  If you have, you’re lucky.  It was a wonderful red, a bit oaky, but not too much.  It is another that is used primarily for blending.  I will look for both of them now when I’m buying wine.

We have decided that rather than buying 3 or 4 cheap bottles of wine, we will buy one good bottle of wine and really savor and enjoy it, make it more of an experience.  My husband has always been able to chug his wine.  I never could. He said that’s because it’s cheap, to him it’s not much more than kool-aid.  No more.  I never once saw him chug anything in Napa.

I encourage you, if you like wine at all, the next time some restaurant is holding a wine dinner where you can sample several different wines from a vintner, go.  Or maybe join a wine club.  In fact, there’s a wine club here, I think I may look them up.  It could be a lot of fun. Get together with people and try and discuss the various wines.  sounds good to me!

Like they say, Wine  a Little, You’ll Feel Better!

2 responses to “Wine a Little, You’ll Feel Better!

  1. valcitygal says:

    What a wonderful post. My husband and I came to the same conclusions after our recent wine tour in Niagara on the Lake. Before then, we enjoyed wine (a lot) but never really “understood” it. We just joined a “wine of the month” club and are anxiously awaiting our first delivery so we can put what we learned to the test!

    It sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Happy sniffing and swirling! 🙂

    • drmomx2 says:

      Thank you! It is amazing when you have that ‘aha!’ moment! I hope you enjoy your wine of the month club. It sounds like alot of fun. I’ll have to look into one of those.

      Happy sniffing and swirling to you as well!

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