California wine country

I'm in the middle of planning a summer vacation to California. Although I'll be there for about a week, only a couple days are being spent *in* wine country.

I believe we're staying in Healdsburg, so if anyone has recommendations for where to visit nearby, please leave comments. I really would like to know which wineries are interesting to visit, and preferably not too expensive to taste, although I'm sure I can get some trade tastings set up.


Quiet days

Huh. I just noticed how long it's been since I've really posted. Between illness, the holiday, and taking on more responsibilities at work, I've had little time, though much inclination, for blogging.

At the same time, much of my life beyond necessity has fallen by the wayside in recent weeks. I've found myself with an almost lackadaisical attitude towards anything other than work and taking care of the basics. I haven't wanted to go anywhere, see anyone, or do anything. Even my video games are being ignored.

Hopefully this is just a brief respite, and I'll be back full force soon.

In the meantime, however, check the blogs on my sidebar. They're great people, and have had quite a bit to say recently. I'll also be posting my list of webcomics to pay attention to, as there have been good ones I've discovered lately.

I also need to get my camera up and working, because signs of spring have been showing up, and there are some great shots out there.

Major Distributor, Mini Rant

I'm becoming very upset with one of our major distributors. I won't use the name, but suffice it to say, they're one of the biggest national distributors, and one of the three biggies in NYC. Two weeks in a row, they messed up my order, and while it isn't the first time, it is becoming more frequent.

This week, I asked them to pick up their most recent mistake (they delivered a 2000 Rioja Riserva instead of the 2003 regular, and the cost difference is astronomical), and said it was because they delivered the wrong wine.

The return invoice says "ordered wrong," which means they made it MY FAULT THAT THEY SCREWED UP!

I'm really sick of dealing with these people, and I really wish we didn't have to order so much wine from them. Either the orderboard workers are morons, the shippers are morons, or the warehouse workers are morons, on a regular basis.

Another example: A while back, when I received the order, one of the boxes was damp. I checked the bottles briefly, but I didn't see any obvious evidence of breakage. As I was putting out the wine, however, I had the side of one finger split open by a broken bottle FROM A DIFFERENT BOX. They had deliberately hidden where the broken bottle was so they wouldn't have to pay for it. So not only are we out the money for the bottle (luckily it was one of our most inexpensive, only costs us $3.00/bottle), but I ended up with a nice gash in one finger.

They can get away with all this crap because they're so huge, and because they carry most of the wines that people demand. If one of the smaller distributors carried on the way they do, they'd be out of business before the first complaint started coming in. If I could get away with not ordering from them, I'd probably recommend that we stop carrying their wines.


Spring Holidays








Wine Blogging Wednesday

So I'd love to participate in this week's Wine Blogging Wednesday, but I don't have any Loire wines hanging about, and I just discovered I have no Loire Reds in the store.

Ouch. Rectifying that ASAP.

Anyway, I'm back, somewhat. I have a ton of energy, but I also have a ton of things that fell by the wayside over the last week, not the least of which is figuring out what gets ordered for the store next week.

I can do this. Really I can, I'll just not sleep until Easter.


Easter? I have to deal with that too?



In honour of EATAPETA

That's all I have, as I'm fairly sick at the moment, having been laid flat by a fever.



I didn't vote for him.

That's really the extent of my opinion on the issue.

Want more? Go read Elisson, who has much to say, and says it well.

I aspire to his wordplay.



Eliot Spitzer may resign.

Should I be surprised by this?

I'm resigned to believing that NYS cannot elect a decent governor to save its life.


Nanny-Statism strikes again

I found this article on Fox News, though I imagine it's discussed elsewhere, about London attempting to protect people from themselves again.

Go ahead and read the article. I'll wait.



I text more than I should, mainly because I need a new phone, as my battery is shot. But I have never walked into a lamppost because of typing out a message or dialing a phone number. I've walked into scaffolding posts because I was caught up in a conversation with a friend walking next to me, but I've never been so distracted by my phone that I would do something so patently stupid.

How about, instead of protecting people from themselves, you let them walk into the posts so they learn some common sense?

Ach. I give up. People will always be stupid, and politicians will always try to protect them from their own stupidity.

New York Wine Expo, March 7th-9th, 2008

I'll be attending the trade day at the Wine Expo, although I have my reservations after reading these comments on Vinography. Given the overall negativity regarding other events from the same people, I'm going in with my eyes open. I certainly expect it to be a fairly corporate event, but that's what exists on the east coast these days, unless you're going to shell out money for one of the food & wine festivals that can be found all summer and fall. The two I'm most interested in are the South Beach Food & Wine Festival and the EPCOT Food & Wine festival. I went to the latter last year and had a fantastic time. Hopefully, this year will be the same, though I don't think I'll be able to make it the one in South Beach.

Why is it that the events I'm intrigued by are all in places that are too warm for my comfort? I'm a cold-weather girl.

I'm trying to talk some friends of mine into going for all-you-can-eat sushi on the Upper East Side after the Expo, but one of them wants to go to Sushi Yasuda, which, while I'd love to try it, would require more money than I currently have on hand in order to eat the way we tend to. Which is to say, we gorge ourselves on sushi. Mmmm.


More alarmist news from the autism front

Autism is a terrible disorder, one that causes many families each year quite a bit of trouble (to understate the facts).

However, the following story buries the true news below the fold.

The lede brings us to the conclusion that a girl definitively developed autism from childhood vaccines.

In a move autism family advocates call unprecedented, federal health officials have concluded that childhood vaccines contributed to symptoms of the disorder in a 9-year-old Georgia girl.

Further down, buried as an off-hand reference, is this line:

The language in the document does not establish a clear-cut vaccine-autism link. But it does say the government concluded that vaccines aggravated a rare underlying metabolic condition that resulted in a brain disorder "with features of autism spectrum disorder."

So here we have a case where the girl had an underlying mitochondrial condition, unnamed, perhaps one that should have been tested for, and one that could have perhaps eventually lead to autism on its own. The issue here is that her condition may have been avoidable, and, due to what might be incompetence on the parts of her doctors, caused a secondary condition that appears to be autism.

Even further down, past where most people would read, this is said:

Hannah, who has two older brothers, continues to have mild to moderate symptoms of autism.

Her symptoms are mild to moderate, but she needs one-on-one care? That doesn't seem right. I've known a couple of autistic kids, and beyond the basic "keep an eye on them so they don't hurt themselves or others" situation, I haven't seen an excessive need to watch them. Certainly not one-on-one.

Perhaps NH State of Mind could respond with his opinions. I'm curious about how much care an autistic child needs, and getting an expert's point of view on an article like this is always helpful (yes, he's an expert. When you have a child with a disorder, you become an expert on it by virtue of dealing with it every day of your life).

Foot, meet Mouth

I have this talent for saying things that will get me yelled at or shunned. By sheer virtue of opening my mouth, I am likely to either offend or confuse someone. I'm not as self-aware of this as I was in my teen years, but I still can't seem to look as good as Simon Cowell when I shove my toes so far back into my throat I can feel my sinuses.

Anyway, now that wonderful picture is in all your minds, so I'm going to head off and try to remove my toenails from my tongue. They aren't very tasty.

Amazon to partner with Satan

Ok, not really The Adversary, at least not in a religious sense. Wine.com has, in the past year or so, the company known for it's innovation in interstate wine mailing has been running a sting operation, targeting small retailers, intending to shut down their above-and-beyond concept of customer service by asking them to mail wine to states where it's illegal to receive out-of-state wine shipments unless you are a wholesale distributor/importer, then reporting them to the state authority. Not only have they pushed the envelope when it comes to what a private company (even a massive corporation) can legally do, they are doing so, not out of respect for out-of-date laws, but to eliminate their competition. It is, in brief, an anti-trust issue.

However, this is about the story that popped up as soon as I opened Decanter's news section this morning. Amazon moves into wine with wine.com.

I like Amazon. I use them often, and not just for books. Hell, I have several different wishlists, and they grow on a monthly basis. So this story causes a problem for me. I feel the need to join with a number of other bloggers who refuse to buy from Wine.com as a result of their sketchy business practices. But, with Amazon now partnering with them, I feel like Amazon has become the enemy.

Huh, that reminds me of the South Park episode where we first see Satan and Saddam in bed together.

Anyway, I'm just not sure what to make of all this. There's far too much imbalance of power in the wine industry, most of which comes from these outdated and nanny-statish laws in effect in many states.


Another post about "how we eat" and "those damned French"

Michael Ruhlman writes about the paradox of the French diet, and how our low-fat, low-salt, high-sugar diets are killing us.

I've been attempting to increase my intake of fresh foods, eliminating the processed, boxed, and tagged crud from my shelves and my fridge. To this end, I've kept only a few items in boxes and bags in my cabinets.

1. Wheat Thins (preferably reduced fat, I actually enjoy the taste better), to be paired with Wispride Port Wine cheese spread. I've been addicted to this combination since I was a kid, and it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.

2. Thomas' Hearty Grains English Muffins. Put peanut butter, cream cheese, jam, or regular old hard, aged cheddar (Cabot) on these and I'm in heaven.

3. Kellogg's Raisin Bran. Love that stuff. I know it's loaded with sugar, but good lord I love that stuff.

4. Amy's frozen dinners. Namely, the Vegetarian Lasagna (it's just so time-consuming to make, and then most of it gets frozen and forgotten. There are only two of us in the house), and a couple of the other dishes. If it's been a long day, it's easy to just throw this in the oven and wait the hour for it to be done.

5. Ben & Jerry's. 'Nough said.

6. The odd container of a Pillsbury product, like Grands' biscuits or cinnamon buns. Again, time-consuming and more than I'm really capable of handling in my little New York kitchen.

7. Fluff. Again, 'nough said.

8. Fried tortilla chips. Tostitos, usually. Paired with Muir Glen medium Salsa, great snack.

Beyond those, and the occasional chocolate bar (I love you, Dove), I think we do alright.

1. Fish. Lots and lots of fish. Mostly salmon, since we're trying to keep my heavy metal-intake down (and no, I don't mean Pantera and Slayer), tuna on occasion, shrimp, and whatever strikes our fancy at the market this week.

2. Spinach. I loves me some of that. Baby spinach, tossed with broccoli, cherry/grape tomatoes, a bit of balsamic vinegar, and a touch of feta cheese is wonderful. Add in some bell peppers and shrimp and I have a meal.

3. Asparagus. Make it and I'll eat it.

4. Whatever fruit/melon looks good. We eat a ton of berries, apples when in season, and only when we're in NH, since I'm spoiled, and some citrus in the winter, supplemented by a lot of melon.

5. Cheese. Have I mentioned how much I love cheese? I eat more of this than anything else.

6. Chocolate. Wait...does that fall under processed?

7. Occasional meat. I'm mostly vegetarian (as I mentioned in the EATAPETA post), but I also have some iron issues, so I'm not above eating a bit of meat every now and again. Mostly lamb and beef, but occasionally some bacon will find its way into a stew. If I hadn't lost the enzymes necessary to digest meat, as can happen with long-term vegetarians, I would eat it a lot more often. There aren't many ways you can substitute vegetables in a meat stew and still have the heartiness.

8. Milk. Lots of milk. Skim.

9. Whatever Jason feeds me. The man is a genius in the kitchen. Out of the kitchen too, but especially when it comes to food. In many ways, he's the one who taught me how to cook creatively.

So there you have it. A basic look at the pros and cons in my cabinets and fridge. I left out the spices, but be assured, they're in there.

Added Tannins

Alice Feiring, a great name in wine, has an interesting story from a week ago. I excerpt the relevant portion to my comments (emphasis mine):

I proposed that she might be allergic to added tannins--those nasty ones so common in modern wines. The tannins are added because some winemakers are obsessed with pumping up their color and believe this can do this or cure sunburnt grapes and also adjust mouthfeel. The tannins available are grape, oak and chestnut. This woman had some of those clients and drank mostly Californian and Australia wines. I ordered a bottle of Genetet Pansiot Gevrey and asked her to call me in the morning if her husband complained. I was the writer and she could blame me, so we ordered the wine.

There was no problem. She was really happy about the outcome. Red wine was hers again, (as long as she didn't have to drink her client's)

I'm allergic to nuts. They exacerbate my already existing eczema to a point where I can't function. As a result, I'm finding that there are many things I can't eat or drink, because of added nut oil, or other elements that we don't think of as coming from nuts.

Chestnuts are a particular evil for me, followed by walnuts and almonds. If I'm allergic to the proteins in nuts, will I be allergic to the tannins as well? Is there now an entire region of the grape world I cannot consume?

Can I have his character sheets?

Gary Gygax died yesterday. While I'm enough of a geek to have loved the concept of D&D, I've never been able to put together a group to truly learn how to play.

Interestingly enough, I took a quiz (link on my computer at home, to be posted later) which established me as a Neutral Chaotic Human Ranger/Wizard (2nd/2nd), which probably fits me very well. Though I thought I'd be an Elf. Humans are whiny.

UPDATE: Here's my sheet

Chaotic Neutral Human Ranger/Wizard (2nd/2nd Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 13
Dexterity- 13
Constitution- 14
Intelligence- 16
Wisdom- 13
Charisma- 14

Chaotic Neutral- A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn't strive to protect others' freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it. Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society's restrictions and a do-gooder's zeal. However, chaotic neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Rangers- Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Secondary Class:
Wizards- Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)


Meryl, in her infinite wisdom, is sponsoring Eat A Tasty Animal for PETA day, yet again.

I'm mostly vegetarian (basically only when I'm around family do I consume tasty, tasty animal), but I'm willing to put aside my personal convictions to show that not all vegetarians are pro-PETA. I personally find them abhorrent and disgusting, as well as hypocritical.

On that note, anyone want to do a meat-up (pun intended)? I can think of a couple places here in Brooklyn, and I welcome any recommendations.


Who are these 'experts' anyway?

Latest news from Decanter.com: Health expert wants smaller bottles to stop binge-drinking

From the point of view of a wine professional, this is stupid. Smaller bottles age faster, and are much more likely to go bad. Even from a health point of view this is stupid. There are so many products out there these days, like Vineyard Fresh that use a combination of argon and nitrogen gases to keep wine fresh for as long as you can conceive of. If one's reason for drinking the whole bottle is that it would go to waste otherwise, one is either drinking wine outside one's budget, or one doesn't want to spend the $15 on a product that can be used for four cases of wine.

Full disclosure: I work with the local rep who sells Vineyard Fresh, although this is an unpaid endorsement. I do feel it's the best of the available products.


Twinkly bits

One of the things I miss about living in New Hampshire, where I grew up, is the sheer abundance of stars. I step outside and the entire sky is filled with them. And I can still identify most of the major constellations.

I also miss the snow, but after driving through the tunnels created by the 7+ foot snowbanks, I don't miss it quite as much. However, it's still an incredible sight, and I do wish I had been able to go skiing this trip. Next trip, maybe. I expect this snow to be around for a couple months.

On that note, I'm off to bed, have an early flight tomorrow.