Sunday, October 31, 2010

Arithmetic Lessons for Adults

Two bags of candy
+ 1.25 Hours
+  Jonaid and I outside
+ 40-degrees-F 
+ 5 trick or treaters  
Carinne is a fat kid eating all of the leftovers; iceberg Jonaid.
Why didn't I buy snickers? Three musketeers? Twix? Sour patch kids? Any of the candy I won't eat? I'm a glutton for agony.


Similar mathematics earlier this week resulted in my favor:

Three pitchers of bud light
+ One shot
+ One PBR
+ One taco salad
+ Buzztime trivia  
$16. I'll be back.

[warning: possibly overly sappy and vomit inducing] This weekend I took a break from both wine tasting and technology.  Jonaid and I celebrated our one-year anniversary and pretty much kept the last few days just between us. It was a great break to not be accessible to the world.

The first picture I have of us together, on my birthday last year:


This year, we hit up the cheesecake factory to celebrate for dinner. A tasty treat we both enjoyed.


Sunday night with a fabulous football lineup. Saints v. Steelers, the black & the ghouled. Not even my homemade steelers witch hat (thanks Liz!) can counter the Nawleans voodoo. It's going to be so good.


Happy Halloween! Finally, November tomorrow. Sure feels like October has dragged on endlessly, but that could also be because I started celebrating before fall even started. Regardless, for one night, eat, drink, & be scary!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cream Ridge Winery

Indian Summer. Perhaps that isn't the politically correct term, but whatever you'd like to call it, this seventy degree weather is delightful. The break in the jeans led me to Cream Ridge Winery in a summery skirt this week.


Cream Ridge was my first taste of NJ wine by many years. My boyfriend in college would bring this around, mostly the Almond Berry, and we'd enjoy it during holiday parties. Despite drinking the wine on multiple occasions, it wasn't until 2009 until I actually visited the vineyard.


This winery is unique for a number of reasons, but the two most noteworthy are the fact that it is open every day of the week and that tasting is free. The winery is family owned and operated; my last tasting was by the daughter, this one by the son. He had vines tattooed on his arm and actually lives above the tasting room itself. I noticed the tasting bench had been expanded since the last time I was here.

White Wines
Chardonnay - Dry but doesn't have the flavor of chardonnay. Unique.
Gewurztraminer - Sweeter than most Gewurztraminers; tasty.
Eastern White - Light and sweet; the picnic wine.

Blush Wines
Country Blush - My host noted it tastes like the Eastern White, and I agreed although this was a slight note dryer. Bought a bottle for Alex to enjoy when she comes to visit next week.

Red Wines
Fredonia - did not try
Chambourcin - I always pronounce this wine like sham-bourcin. Here, the pourer explained it as shaum-bourcin. Which is correct? Very oaky and is unlike any other. Enjoyed.

Fruit Wines
Pineapple - Very sweet with a full pineapple flavor. When I shuddered due to the sugar, I got a nasty look.
Cherry - did not try
Strawberry - did not try
Blueberry - did not try
Apricot - pouring it I could already tell it was too sweet. It looked like brandy and tasted similar as well. The apricot flavor is noticable.
ChocolateBerry - on the sign out front, but I didn't try it.
AlmondBerry - did not try this time; it's a sweet dessert wine that only a few sips can be taken of. A best seller.


I felt kind of silly taking notes; it was obvious every word I wrote was read by my host. I got self conscious and wrote only minimally. Unfortunately reconstructing my thoughts later was a challenge.

Only the red wines are grown on site. The chardonnay is California; other whites are from various places but mostly NY.

I asked if the opening of Laurita helped or hurt the traffic at the winery; he said it seemed to help because  many people hit up both wineries and top it off with Silver Decoy. It is a nice trifecta, I must say.

Cheers!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Falloween

Fall has erupted, as is stunningly evident on my jogging trail,


and at the pumpkin patches.


Alongside of the leaves changing, the last two weeks have started the Halloween festivities so heavily that it feels like Halloween should already be over.




On top of it all, I still have to buy candy for the trick-or-treaters.






The cool nights are fantastic, but I'm also enjoying the 70-degree days we're having. Cheers with the pumpkin beers!

Friday, October 22, 2010

CAPS LOCK DAY - FINALLY

CNN INFORMED ME TODAY IS INTRNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY. IN HONOR OF CAPS LOCK DAY, HERE IS A PHOTO OF MY WORK COMPUTER'S CAPS LOCK KEY.


AND BARSON'S CAPS LOCK KEY -


AND MA'S CAPS LOCK KEY -


AND NATE'S CAPS LOCK KEY



AND ALLIE'S CAPS LOCK KEY, COMPLETE WITH GETTYSBURG PEN


AND MY HOME COMPUTER CAPS LOCK KEY



AND JONAID'S CAPS LOCK KEY



FEEL FREE TO SEND IN YOUR CAPS LOCK KEY! I WILL UPDATE LATER WITH MORE CAPS LOCK KEYS THAT I COME ACROSS!


TODAY I WILL CELEBRATE ALL THINGS THAT ARE INHERENTLY IN CAPS LOCK.
A) MY LICENSE PLATE
B) PROPER NOUNS


WHAT A GREAT LIST!


THE FOUNDERS OF THIS DAY EVEN HAVE A TWITTER PAGE, TWEETING TODAY,
"I CAN'T LOG IN TO GMAIL BECAUSE IT'S REJECTING MY PASSWORD. BECAUSE I'M NOT TURNING OFF CAPS LOCK. I STAND MY GROUND."


WHAT EXCITEMENT! OH, HAPPY DAY!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Laurita Winery

The thirteenth winery, soon before Halloween, with a full moon. Enough of an omen for you? I vant to dvink your vine. Ah, ha ha ha. (End dracula voice). Plus, let's be honest, all up on the vineyard hill Laurita can somewhat give the eerie feeling of The Outlook hotel in The Shining.



Because Laurita Winery has the best hours around (open until 9pm, how about that?) I headed down for a happy hour treat. The weather is surprisingly chilly, in the 50s with a breeze, but I wanted to capture a sunset fall scene. I've been here many times before but never for the passport. Ah, the old familiar territory.

Summer


Winter


Fall


Unfortunately, because of Jonaid's work in northern NJ, he did not come with me tonight.

The tastings here are by far the most expensive at $7 for six tastes. The wines are good, but are they worth that cost? I know many vineyards in Napa that aren't even that steep. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder on that charge.



For most of my tasting I was the sole patron at the counter. At the beginning there was another couple, commenting on the common wine pests. "Where do fruit flies come from?" The husband belted. "These are questions I need answers to."
I grinned next to him and chimed that my boyfriend always asks how they suddenly appear, almost out of thin air, even in the middle of winter. They laughed, but they were on their last tasting. They left me all alone; so for that reason this post will be mostly pictures instead of story.


[blends] - none of which I tried today, but have had all of them before and recall them being sweet but very flavorful. Plus they have fantastic labels:


Windswept White - did not try
Beachcomber Blush - did not try
Relaxing Red - did not try


[grapes, come as they are, as they were, as I want them to be... aka not blends]
Chardonnay Naked - First tasting. The grape smell hit me right off of the bat and swallowed with a lot of flavor and a hint of sweetness.
Chardonnay Reserve - Did not taste but bought a glass to try it. Very buttery and smooth; absolutely fantastic.
Pinot Gris - Much lighter both in aroma and flavor but still a good grape taste.
Merlot - My wine host explained this is smoky but I got no trails of that. A lot of acidity and some vanilla came through.
Chambourcin - Different than any other chambourcin so far but not impressive enough for me to make huge note. Some acidity.
Zwiegelt - A german grape that was an accidental pour by my host (which is why I got seven tastes instead of six). Surprisingly I could smell the acidity but could taste the cinnamon, whereas its description has that reversed.

[and pause while I move to Elton John on my iTunes as I type. I will also use this chance to mention there is jazz music heard both inside and out at Laurita.]

Cabernet Sauvignon - Very smooth but I could feel every organ warm up as it went down. A cherry/plum aroma is very evident.
Cabernet Franc - With a very perfumy scent this is the best red at Laurita (in my opinion). Everything about it just feels good- from the aroma to the taste to the after effects.


The tasting was a bit staggered at Laurita tonight as the first girl I was with poured for awhile and then got lost in the back room. About five minutes later another girl came up and helped me out; I recognized her from prior tastings but didn't catch her name. She's still one of the friendliest pourers I know.


Walking around the grounds I snagged a few more shots. It really is an artsy place and stunningly beautiful.


Some history,



Their Bistro:


And of course, the flavor of fall.


You can see the moon up there!


Cheers.



Monday, October 18, 2010

James River Cellars

On days when the thought of alcohol makes you shudder, to the point where even using listerine or rubbing alcohol is out of the question, it is difficult to write about wine. Simply typing "chardonnay" is making my stomach curdle. Regardless, my wine mission shows no mercy and cares not for my irresponsible imbibing.


New Jersey was abandoned this weekend as I headed down to Richmond, VA for Kate's 25th birthday. It was a gorgeous drive and it was interesting how many of the NJ leaves had changed to color in comparison to how green the VA leaves still were. More on the rest of the weekend later, right now let's talk wine. Saturday afternoon five of us delta rhos took a quick venture to James River Cellars.


We headed inside and for $5 you get a tasting of all wines but cannot keep the glass. All five of us tried the wines with varying tastes; Kate toward the sweeter whites; Amber and Allie somewhere in the middle; Amanda more into reds although she is somewhat of a wine connoisseur herself.



Our pourer was named Jean, but a volunteer named Sarah also attended to us. The tasting room was packed when we got in there but all five of us got spaces at the counter within minutes.


Reserve Chardonnay - An oak chardonnay that was just okay. Amber commented it has bite; Amanda said it was a standard chardonnay. Jean explained she calls this the "winter white".
Chardonnay - As it is the "summer white" it is a stainless steel chardonnay that all agreed was better than the reserve. There is a typo on the tasting sheet saying this is from the year 2098, which of course I thought was pretty epic. It is my first taste of wine of the future!
Saude Creek - 100% apple that is well done. Most apple wines I have found are sweet and dessert; this, on the other hand, as Allie said, is tart and fruity. Kate also enjoyed the taste but mentioned she couldn't enjoy a whole glass of it.
Gewurztraminer - Jean's favorite. Very mellow with a light aroma; for this type of wine it had a bizarre flavor that was almost rosy.
Vidal Blanc - Amber, Kate, and Allie ended up splitting a bottle of this on the patio at the end. All three of them explained it was the best so far. At this point Allie noted all of the whites smell floral, and I completely agreed. Finally someone pinpointed all of the aromas I cannot define!
Chardonel - A cross between Chardonnay and Seyval grapes that is described as containing "provocative spicy banana aroma". I was excited to try this, however I did not note any banana. Kate didn't like it, Amber said the flavor wasn't as strong as the aroma, but I disagreed with both of them as I thought the flavor lingered and was very tasty.
Rad Red - Named for a friend of the winemaker who has passed on. A portion of the proceeds go to a cancer center. Amber said this tastes like a merlot and I agreed; it is smooth and would make a great table wine. Amanda said it was boring.
Cabernet Franc - Amanda and I split a bottle of this at the end, partially because it was on sale for $10. The cashier, Jennifer, walked by as this was being poured and commented she likes to put this in chili. Sidenote: I had a bowl of chili in Richmond the night before and I had forgotten that when the south says spicy, they mean spicy. So goooood. Allie noted many spices in the aroma but it was too peppery for her tastes. The smell tingled in Amber's nose. I liked it.
Merlot - Cherry tones here were notable, although this wine just didn't have much flavor. Very smooth and easy going down.
Petit Verdot - the most full-bodied red sold at the vineyard. Allie said it went down very easily for her; for me it was the opposite as this had quite a bit of kick to it.
Hanover - Amber likes this and was excited for us to taste it. Amanda and Allie agreed it was sweeter; that combined with the cherry tones made me dislike it. Amber explained it's a lighter red, which is why she enjoys it.
Chambourcin - As usual I was excited to try this but was surprised at how sweet it was. By far, this is the sweetest Chambourcin I've ever had which made me miss the dark flavors of NJ. Amanda, who doesn't usually enjoy Chambourcins, loved this. After our first sip, Jean gave us all pieces of chocolate to eat with the glass. This completely reversed the flavor and I enjoyed it after the chocolate. Amber commented that every wine tastes different on the second sip, and I agreed.
Colonial Red - A wine that you can mull and "tastes like Christmas" as Kate described it. "You can't say it tastes like Christmas," I said, "I already described another wine like that." "Cinnamon!" Kate said. "Apple cider!" I took a sip, and both of those were true. Kate stuck her nose back in the glass. "I just want to smell this all day," she said.
Montpelier Blush - Amanda noted this tastes like a White Zinfandel, which pinpoints this exactly. Kate grinned when she sipped this and explained this is what she looks for in a wine. Allie noted how light it was. This blush was dryer than a lot of blushes you find, but very light and like the whites, floral.
Divino - "Now that's sugary!" Amanda exclaimed. This is the dessert wine that I couldn't finish, Amber had to take over for me. Allie said she could never drink a glass of this but could enjoy it poured over a dessert and the rest of us agreed. The grapes for this are picked, frozen, and then pressed to make this similar to an ice wine.


With our bottles we headed out to the patio to relax and catch up.  Unfortunately, the winery was preparing to host a wedding which limited what we were able to see at the vineyard. Soon we were evacuated from the patio and abolished to picnic tables near a sign that read:


We laughed it off and relaxed at the nearby picnic tables.


Amber and Kate are the ultimate cat ladies as this fine fellow waltzed right up to them. And as it was black, it was very fitting for our Halloween themed party that was to take place that evening.


Visiting James River was enhanced simply by the fantastic company I was with. Tasting with any friends is always a treat. This is my fourth Virginian winery this year and I do still love the grapes that are there. The western part of the state is littered with vineyards that someday I'd just like to drive down and hit up a whole bunch of them. Caravan, anyone? Maybe for the next passport endeavor.