Category Archives: Reviews

Wine Tasting Party

Vampire WineOne of our common rituals is to enjoy a nice glass of wine with friends.  Brian doesn’t actually take part, but his culinary background allows him to educate us in the fine art of wine tasting.  Recently, we decided to kick it up a notch and start recording our thoughts on these wine tastings so I started to research different wine tasting forms to see what works best. 

First, we started out with a basic form offered by Wine Country Getaways that also provides other resources to throw your own wine tasting party.  While it was a simple form to fill out, there wasn’t much structure to the form that would make it a good one to use in comparison over time to other wines.  So next, I came across this detail form featured on the Wine Lover’s page that scientifically rates the wine on a 20 point scale based on 12 questions.  The only down side is that it requires focus and a little more time to fill it out completely.  So they also offer this simple form that provides good questions to discuss during a wine tasting.  Another good wine tasting sheet that I have come across is featured on the De Long Wine Info site that provides visual pictures plus all you have to do is circle your preferences.

Last night we tried two different wines.  The first one was a 2004 Shiraz from the Sterling Vintner’s Collection, which is described on the vineyard’s website as:

[A] Shiraz [that] strikes the nose with powerful combination of intense dark fruit, liquorish, cocoa powder and nutmeg followed by round fruit-driven tannins on the palate. Raspberry and black currants linger on the tongue providing a smooth middle and long, lasting finish highlighted by gentle vanilla impressions. Rich in flavors and smooth in body, it holds up to sturdy dishes such as a grilled rib eye or rich pasta carbonara.

Based on the 20 point scale, I rated this wine a “16″ and noted that it was a dry wine with a deep bouquet.  Micheal, on the other hand, gave it a 15.75, and noted that if it was just a little less sour that it would be really good.

Our second wine of the evening was brought by our good friend, George, an intriguing labeled entitled “Vampire“.  Another red, but a 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon this time, which is noted on the vineyard’s website as:

Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from several small-berry clones of this traditional Bordeaux varietal, grown in the Paso Robles region of California’s Central Coast.  Classic, small-lot fermentations, followed by aging with both European and American oak, gives full expression to the rich varietal flavors in this wine.  Judiciously blended with small amounts of Merlot for softness, and Syrah for added structure, our Cabernet displays ripe flavor character and a lovely aroma that will continue to develop with additional time in bottle.

This time we were slightly more conservative in our ratings with my rating at 15, Michael at 14.5, and George at 13.  While an overall good wine, it lacked a distinct bouquet and the aroma was only slight.  I suppose the label “Vampire” was misleading as it inspires images of a deep, rich wine that this variety just didn’t live up to.  However, as we’re finding out, never judge a wine by it’s label.

Wine Tasting Sheet

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Ideas to transform your romantic relationships

I once made the joke to my husband that now that we’re married I’m allowed to go to the “dirty part” of the bookstore so for Valentine’s day, I got a book, Tantra between the Sheets, and it’s probably one of the best sex books I’ve never come across.

For once, the photographs are artistically done. Quite a few of them are so high quality that I could easily envision them hanging on our walls. As for the book, if you haven’t read about Tantric Sex before, it embraces sexuality on all levels because it’s not just about doing it or trying a new position every day or getting creative with sex games. Real intimate sex is so much more that to be quite honest…this is a topic that deserves a trip to the bookstore. There is so much content within the book that it’s not just something you can paraphrase in a paragraph and be done with it.

As a Western culture, I think there is this myth that once sex between an existing couple gets old and boring, it’s time to move on. And while you can experience that “excited teenager feeling” with a new partner, the mistake is realizing what’s at stake, what you’re really losing. Because a real marriage isn’t just about sex, it’s so much more.

One of the cool quotes in the book about this topic states:

According to the Taoist, it takes seven years to know your partner’s body, seven years to know your partner’s mind, and seven years to know your partner’s spirit.

And I have to agree with those sentiments. While my husband and I have been together for a total of five and 1/2 year since meeting each other, we are still learning every day. We are still developing and deepening our relationship. But I will admit it’s not easy. It takes work. It takes faith. Just not everyone in the western world is willing to do this,  Thus, this would be why 50% of all marriages end up in divorce.

So this Valentine’s Day, I urge you to take a look at your relationship (if you are in a long term one) with a fresh pair of eyes. Maybe list 100 reasons why you love your spouse/significant other and leave them in little slips of paper of ten reasons each so they can go on an “Valentine’s Day” hunt around the house for the other ten slips of paper. Or try a ritual together and make candles or plant some flowers together instead of just buying ones that will die within a week. To me, it’s not about how much money you spend, it’s about showing your appreciation, your love for that other person. So if you’re budget is tight this year, don’t feel guilty that you can’t buy that piece of jewelry you’d love to get them just go the extra mile and do little things because in the long run…it’s the little things that add up and really make a difference.

And if you’re still scratching your head for that perfect Valentine’s idea, go pick up 1001 ways to be Romantic. It’s an excellent book that you can put to good use year after year because you don’t have to be romantic just on Valentine’s day.

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