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Working on my Oenophile Cred

Last Friday after adventuring for most of the afternoon, I stopped by Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY for their Easter wine tasting.   As regular readers know, I have no real oenophile cred (or even a clear idea of how to pronounce “oenophile”).  However, I love wine and I like giving a shout-out to a local business.

Tastings at Vintage Spirits are always educational for me, because Bronson, who owns Vintage Spirits, is very knowledgeable.   I suppose if I go to enough tastings there, I will eventually gain a few oenophile creds myself.  If I don’t drink too much wine and forget everything I hear (not at the tasting, of course, but, you know, if I buy a couple of bottles).

I started with Le Petit Rouviere Rose 2015 from Provence, France. I told Bronson how Steven and I often make the joke:   If I have a little red left in my glass but Steven is opening a bottle of white, I tell him to mix it and we’ll make Rose.  Of course that is not really how it is done.  Bronson explained how the wine skins are left in for a certain length of time to make the color.  I’m afraid I don’t remember the full explanation (yes, I purchased a couple of bottles; why do you ask?).

I though the Rose was tasty and would make a good summer wine.  Of course I am quite ready to sit out on my deck with a glass of wine, but so far the Mohawk Valley weather has not been cooperative.

Next I tried Heron Hill Dry Riesling 2013 from Keuka Lake, NY.  I like dry riesling and I am a huge fan of New York State wines (what a surprise), so I had high hopes for this one.  I was not disappointed.  It earned my ultimate accolade of “yummy.”  I made a further note that it was “New Yorky.”  I can’t describe exactly what I mean by “New Yorky.”  It’s one of those “I know it when I taste it” things.  This riesling was not entirely dry, and the description said it paired well with ham, so I felt confident in purchasing a bottle to bring to my parents’ house for Easter dinner.

I tried all the reds except the Fulkerson Red Zeppelin from Seneca Lake, NY.  I knew it was sweet, and I think I have tried it before.

In addition to the riesling, I picked up a bottle of Barefoot Pinot Noir, which is a very tasty wine, especially for the price.  Mom was cooking a rolled roast beef as well as the ham, so I thought some people might prefer a red.

Steven was working till six.  Thinking he had worked all day and would like a treat, I walked to his place of employment and brought him to the wine tasting, which ran till seven.  The nice people at Vintage Spirits did not mind that I tasted twice.  After Steven had tried everything, we purchased a bottle of the Rose.  Steven liked it, and I found I liked it even better on the second try.  Now if we could only get some good deck-sitting weather.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY.  Phone number is 315-866-6800.  You can also Like them on Facebook.



My Local Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.  Somebody on Facebook (really an invaluable source of information) said it was Galentine’s Day, when women can appreciate all their female buddies.  Imagine my disappointment to find out it had nothing to do with my favorite TV show, Galavant.  But I digress.

Digress from what, my inner critic huffs (that is, says in a huffy tone of voice; it’s not like snorting fumes or something),  you haven’t written anything yet.  Too true, too true.  Then again, this is Wrist to Forehead Sunday, is it not?  Yes, my friends, it is.

It is dreadfully cold in the Mohawk Valley today.  We were remarking on it to the fellow at T & J’s Fruits and Vegetables earlier.  It has really been not a bad winter so far.  What I really like about the frigid temperatures is how balmy 20 degrees feels afterward, because perspective is a wonderful thing.

We were at T & J’s at my suggestion to purchase eggplant for a yummy Valentine’s Day dinner, which is currently baking in the oven.  We also got a red and a yellow pepper, some sharp cheddar cheese, a bag of MacIntosh apples and a loaf of bread from  Star Bakery in Utica, NY (see, all kinds of local in today’s post).

In addition to the eggplant and peppers, the dinner features some sausage I purchased two weeks ago at Melrose Market in Frankfort, NY. They have quite a good butcher department.  And, yes, the sausage has been in my freezer since I bought it; I’m not cooking rancid sausage (Sheesh!).  Oh, I also used some garlic purchased at the Mohawk Valley Garlic and Herb Festival in Little Falls NY, last September.

With or after dinner, we will enjoy EITHER a nice champagne we got at a wine tasting at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer OR some Cayuga White from Villa Verona Vineyards, in, of course, nearby Verona, NY.  I got that at Valley Wine and Liquor in Herkimer (I like to spread my alcohol dollar around).

As a matter of fact, I just heard a cork pop.  I think it’s time to start sipping the champagne now. Once again, I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day.


Late, Lame Lush

Um, I don’t know that I am really all that much of a lush.  But I love alliteration, and since alcohol was involved in today’s post, I thought I would stretch a point.

Thank goodness it is Lame Post Friday, although this will be the third foolish post in a row.  However, I have a policy of not apologizing for these things, at least on Fridays.  Policies subject to change without notice, but that’s neither here nor there.

I am late doing my post today, because I had to meet a friend at a couple of wine tastings at local liquor stores.  Wine tastings at liquor stores are a wonderful thing, because you can try wines you would not necessarily purchase untasted and perhaps discover something you like.  Sometimes you can increase your knowledge of wine and gain oenophile cred (although it helps if you know how to pronounce “oenophile,” which I do not) (I’m not even sure that is how you spell it, although my computer seems to think it is correct).

More importantly, you can often chat up nice people, or meet up with friends and have a fun interlude.  Today I met a friend at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer and then we went to Ilion Wine and Spirits in Ilion.  Full disclosure:  if she had been unable to make it, I probably would have gone to the tastings by myself.  But it would not have been nearly as fun.

I hope to do full posts about each tasting, sharing what I tasted and what I learned.  However, today is Friday.  I got home late and have to get up early.  I have some relaxing to do.  Also, I have to finish cooking dinner (ooh, maybe I can get a cooking post out of today as well).

In short, I hope you are having a happy Friday.  I am.


Neither a Tall Table nor a Tall Tale

Is it going to be a Saturday thing now that I go out for dinner and drinks and then post?  It was pretty fun last Saturday and, well, here I am.

This Saturday we only went to dinner, not to a wine tasting first, and we did not have friends with us, definitely not my evil twin Phyllis, who always tempts me into bad behavior (as if I needed any encouragement) (and just to be clear, Phyllis and I are BOTH the evil twin).  But we did have a very good dinner at PK’s Pub in Herkimer, NY.

We went early to dinner, because I was hoping to sit at the tall table, which is my favorite.  When we got there, there was only one other patron in the restaurant.  Guess where he was sitting.  No matter, we sat down, got some Pinot Grigio and perused the menu.

I selected spaghetti with Alfredo sauce while Steven got mushroom stew over penne pasta.  They were out of spaghetti, but angel hair was fine with me.  We both both got tossed salad instead of soup, Italian dressing for me, Ranch for Steven.  The bread with herbed butter is always a favorite of ours.

We were feeling so comfortably full after dinner (taking home enough for at lease one more meal) that we were NOT going to get dessert.  Then, of course, we decided to.  Monkey Pie for Steven, Samoa Cheesecake for me.  Yum!

Now we are home, listening to music and chilling.  Full disclosure:  we stopped at Vintage Spirits to get a bottle of wine.  Lushy, perhaps, but it is Saturday night.  And I am having a glass of seltzer with lemon before wining further, so there.

We MIGHT have a Mohawk Valley adventure tomorrow.  If so, you’ll read about it here.  If I don’t indulge in a Wrist to Forehead Sunday.  I think a little uncertainty adds interest to the blog, don’t you agree? (And if you don’t, well raspberries to you!)  Happy Saturday, everybody.

PK’s Pub is located at 221 King St. in Herkimer, NY, phone number 315-866-3494.  You can visit their website at and you can Like them on Facebook.


It’s My Birthday, Dammit!

My sister Diane told me I should use that as the title. I had really thought I would make a “real” post today, but I don’t know why I thought that. I’ve been running around doing things and now I’m sitting here composing at the keyboard and wanting nothing more than to get to the sweats on, bra off, sitting on my couch crocheting portion of the day.

One does the best one can, doesn’t one? I offer a Preview of Coming Attractions, which may sound remarkably like What I Did Instead of Writing a Blog Post for Today.

I started doing things yesterday with a wine tasting at Vintage Spirits, always a fun thing to write a post about. This morning I did not run, which would have led to a dandy running commentary. However, I may run tomorrow, so we have that to look forward to (me the run and writing the post, you reading the post) (if you like that sort of thing). I did, however, finish two letters and write three post cards which I then mailed, walking to the post office with my delightful schnoodle, Tabby. Walks with Tabby are often good for a post.

My day was just getting started. I went to a craft fair at the Saquoit Middle School with my sister Cheryl and my mother. What fun that was! And it involved an enjoyable drive over scenic country roads. The journey and the destination are worth writing about. My trip home, with almost freezing rain, was equally memorable.

Back in Herkimer, I stopped at Valley Wine and Liquors where another wine tasting was going on. Oh stop shaking your heads and calling me a lush (you know who you are), I only tasted a few wines. We didn’t even open the bottle we purchased last night and what I bought today I intend to save for Thanksgiving. There is every chance we will open last night’s bottle and have a glass or two tonight, but for heavens’ sake, did you not read the title of the piece? It’s my birthday, dammit! Sheesh!

Well, this is a respectable 300 words. At least, it’s 300 words. Describe them by the adjective of your choice. I’m going back to my birthday celebrations.

Tasty and Different Wines

Regular readers know I am something of an oenophile (I pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file, to give you an idea of my level of wine knowledge and snobbishness) (just to be extra clear: not high). I am always delighted to increase my knowledge and discover new wines when Vintage Spirits holds a wine tasting. Bronson, who usually does the pouring, is very knowledgeable, and he has good taste in wine.

The first wine I tasted was a Tangley Oaks Chardonnay from 2012. This is an unoaked (my computer seems to think unoaked is not a word; must not be an oenophile) California wine, which makes it an unusual California Chardonnay. I was pleased to hear this for two reasons: that Chardonnay is aged in oak or stainless and it makes a difference in the taste is one of my few bits of wine-making knowledge. Also, I like unoaked Chardonnay. I liked this one. I noted that it was tasty, light and bright.

I moved on to Laurent Miguel Chardonnay-Viognier 2013. It is 65% Chardonnay, 35% Viognier. I pronounced it yummy (my highest praise) and different. This is where I would like to educate my palate a little more, because I would like to be able to articulate how it was different. Bronson said the viognier gives the wine an apricot taste. I have not eaten an apricot in years (and the ones I ate then were dehydrated) so I had to take his word on that. Still, I enjoyed the differentness (I guess that’s not a word, but it says what I mean better than “difference”) (or should I say more betterly?).

Next I tasted CK Mondavi Blond Five 2013, another California wine. The five are Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. It was sweeter that I usually like but tasty. I enjoyed that a lot of different flavors are present. Once again, I must educate my palate to describe it more clearly. For now I can only say, it tasted like a lot was going on.

The last white was Rosemont Estate Traminer-Riesling 2013. This Australian wine is 83% Gewurztraminer, 17% Riesling. It has a definite crispness to it. I pronounced it tasty and a little different as well. Once again a little sweet for my tastes, but I liked it.

The first red on the list was Lost Vineyard Rosso, an Italian wine. Sangiovese is the grape used. It is made in Italy and imported by a Rochester company, in case like me you’re a sucker for a New York State connection. I found it tasty but plain. Another taster pronounced it too light. Bronson agreed that it did not have a whole lot of depth. Steven liked it, as did other tasters who prefer a light wine.

I felt there was a little more to the Melini Chianti Riserva DOCG 2010. It also had the coolest shaped bottle. I pronounced this one tasty as well. Bronson warned me that the Estancia Reserve GSM 2012 was a little sweeter (he knows I like dry), but I liked it. It’s made from three grapes, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

The last wine had a cool-looking bare tree on the label. It was Old Soul Zinfandel 2012, made from old vines. Bronson told us that vines must be 25 years old to be considered old vines (that was my new bit of wine knowledge for the day). Some California vines date back to the 1860s. During the gold rush, Italian immigrants brought vines of “Primitivo,” which became Zinfandel. I thought the wine smelled sweet but did not taste overly sweet. Still, it was my least favorite wine of the day (although I did like that tree on the label). Tasters who preferred a sweet wine liked it best.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number is 315-866-6800. They are open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 12 to 6 p.m. For more information you can visit their website at or you can Like their Facebook page. You can also get on a email list to receive notifications of future tastings. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

Wine Not?

Friday I attended a wine tasting at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY.

And here is my usual disclaimer that this is not a wine blog and I am far from a knowledgeable oenophile (I pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file). But I did take notes, and I thought it might be fun to write about what I tried.

Tastings at Vintage Spirits are always fun, because Bronson IS a knowledgeable oenophile and can tell you all about what you’re tasting. I also like to interact with the other customers who are tasting, comparing opinions and making silly jokes.

I started out with the Cesari Rose Bardolino Chiaretto Classico 2013. I’m not really familiar with roses. Sometimes if I’m switching from red wine to white of an evening, I suggest not rinsing the glass and making it be rose. That is a silly joke, of course, but it relates to what I learned about rose on Friday. In Europe, to call a wine rose, it must be made in the classic method: red grapes are used with the skins on from 20 minutes to two hours, then the skins are removed. They do NOT blend red and white wine together, as is allowed in the United States (yeah, we’re rebels in this country).

The Cesari is a classic European rose. I found it had a little sweetness to it and thought it a good summer wine. Another lady there found it too dry, but I think my tastes run very dry.

Next I tried the Rock Brook Chardonnay 2011, which I declared yummy (regular readers may recall that this is my ultimate accolade). I find I have been liking more Chardonnays in recent years. In general I prefer those aged in stainless to the ones aged in oak (my one bit of real oh-nee-oh-file knowledge) (ooh, but now I know the rose thing). This one was lightly oaked, I think. It was also an excellent price, so I purchased a bottle.

Next up was the Stone Fruit Reisling 2012 from the Pfatlz region of Germany. I found it sweet for me. I thought I might like it as a spritzer, which I make with seltzer water and fresh lemon. Chat de Manissey cotes du Rhone 2012 grew on me. I wasn’t too impressed with the first sip, then it got better. I’ll have to buy a bottle some time to check the effects of a full pour (and if I don’t like it, I can always cook with it).

My other favorite of the day was the Sarmento Irreverente 2010 from the Dao Region of Portugal. This is made from four different Touriga grape varieties, which is the local grape in Portugal. As usual, I love a good blend.

I also liked the Dreaming Tree crush 2011, which is 66% Merlot and 33% Zinfandel. I thought, what’s not to like? I finished my tastings with Naked Grape Pinot Noir, an unoaked wine. I figure with a name that includes the word “naked” this will be a fun wine to serve at a party.

I do enjoy tasting wines and mean to try to expand my wine-describing vocabulary beyond “yummy.” And if I learn a little bit more each time, perhaps one day I will be a knowledgeable oenophile.

A Sip for Silly Me

I am so silly. I completely forgot to write about the wine tasting I attended at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY last Friday, March 21. Luckily I still have my notes.

The tasting began at 4 p.m. Since I usually arrive home from work about ten to four, I thought it would be an easy matter to run a couple of errands and arrive at Vintage Spirits at the crack of four. Of course I mistimed myself and got there early, but Bronson was almost ready to go, so I did not have long to wait.

The first thing I tasted was a Chardonnay by CK Mondavi, from California. I don’t always like Chardonnays; I find them too buttery. I tend to like French ones over California. I learned that is because the French Chardonnays are usually aged in stainless steel, while the California ones are aged in oak. There, I got out my one bit of wine knowledge.

Perhaps I should just mention for the benefit of new readers (if any) that I am not exactly a oenophile (in fact, I like to pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file). My highest accolade for a wine is “yummy.” And I hardly ever taste “notes” of anything, which knowledgeable descriptions of wine always include.

But getting back to the CK Mondavi Chardonnay, I liked it. It was crisp. I wrote about it, “This is my favorite so far. Oh wait, it’s the first one I tried.” (See, I even get silly in my notes to myself.)

The other white I tasted was Swedish Hill Doobie Blues White. I have been to the Swedish Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes (I LOVE the Finger Lakes) (in fact, I’ll be going there next week, as I may have mentioned in this blog), so I’ve probably tried it before but did not recall it as one of my favorites. Bronson described it “like a sweet Chardonnay.” I actually liked it. Sometimes a sweet white is nice over ice on a hot summer day.

As I was tasting and chatting with Bronson, other customers came up for a taste. They would usually taste one wine, say thank you and be on their way. I felt a little lushy, being the only one to taste more than one kind. At other tastings, there have been people who tasted all the wines. I guess they were all getting there later.

Moving on to the reds, I tried two from Tuscany: Caparzo Toscana 2011 and Barone Ricasoli “Brolio” Chianti Classico 2011. The Toscana is a blend but with 85% Sangiovese. I pronounced it very nice. The Chianti was the driest Bronson offered. I liked that one, too.

I also tried a Desert Wine Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Washington State. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favorite flavors (it’s fun to say and fun to drink), so I was pretty sure I’d like it. This one is 4% Cab Franc. It reached my ultimate accolade of yummy. I also tasted notes of pepper. Score! Without even reading it on the sheet Bronson had describing the wines! So I definitely bought a bottle of that.

I also bought a bottle of the CK Mondavi Chardonnay, after trying just another sip of it. And I helped another customer who tasted one wine. She said she almost never bought wine, because she would buy something she didn’t like and it would go to waste. Both Bronson and I encouraged her to attend wine tastings, to find wines she liked.

“And if you don’t like a wine you bought,” I said, “you can always use it to cook with.” A lady at another liquor store told me that once.

“You can do that?”

“Sure, and if you wait too long and it goes to vinegar, you can use it in salad dressing. That doesn’t usually happen to my wines.” In the interests of full disclosure.

It was a fun time. After writing about it, I am more than ever looking forward to my family’s Finger Lakes trip next weekend. Did I say something about dithering over it? Silly me!

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number 315-866-6800. They are open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.

Spree Enough for Me

Yesterday I wrote about our visit to Tractor Supply Co. It was only the first stop on our Sunday Shopping Spree in Herkimer, NY.

We also went to Rite Aid to pick up a prescription re-fill. Steven and Tabby waited in the car. A hardware store may welcome pets on a leash, but I felt sure a drug store would feel differently.

When I came back out, I handed Steven my prescription and walked over to T & J Fruits and Vegetables, which is handily located next door. I quickly found the green peppers and chose one. I glanced at the other produce but did not purchase anything else. I was tempted by some Roma tomatoes but was skeptical of my actually using them right away. I knew there was every chance I would throw them in the produce drawer saying, “I’ll make a salad this week,” and failing to follow through.

Our last stop was Vintage Spirits for a bottle of white wine for dinner. Also, I wanted to cook with wine (sometimes I even put it in the food) (I read that on a t-shirt somewhere). They don’t mind if Tabby comes into Vintage Spirits. We didn’t take too long anyways, because I knew just what I wanted.

So I guess I can’t really call it a shopping spree: dog food and trash can (see yesterday’s post), prescription, green pepper, white wine. Oh well, I don’t usually do that much shopping anyways. I’ll call this a spree. If anybody wants to argue semantics with me, feel free to make a comment. I’ll nod and smile.