CVIndependent

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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Wine

24 Jul 2013
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An eco-activist friend looked at me askance a couple of years ago when I bought a wine chiller. The small refrigerator keeps 44 bottles of wine at around 60ish degrees. I considered the purchase a survival strategy while living a year in a toasty, not air-conditioned apartment in Honolulu. While living in Hawaii, I rode my bike to work at the university. I generated very little trash. I didn’t have a microwave or, for months, a toaster. But, still, a wine refrigerator? Am I a bad citizen of the planet? Environmental guilt is at least as bad as religious guilt. So many rules. Thou shalt not wear gold jewelry (cuz gold mining’s satanic). Thou shalt have no other gods beside thine hybrid car. Thou shalt eat organic; buy local; shop at thrift stores; drink shade-grown, fair-trade coffee; and purchase chocolate bars that promise donations to rain-forest preservation. Thou shalt water…
10 Jul 2013
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The night we drank the 2004 Grandpere, we’d spent the day at our grandson Lathan’s birthday-party carnival. A couple dozen kids, balloon animals, face painting, carnival games. “Everyone’s a winner!” Kids raced about collecting candy and filling up bags of popcorn from a rented machine, washing it down with juice drinks in foil pouches. We’d stayed to watch Lathan—his face painted superhero green—open a giant pile of presents. The booty included many things Hulk, from undies to action figures to two sets of Marvel The Avengers Gamma Green Smash Fists. We ate cake. The party was a huge success. And exhausting. We’d planned on going out. I’d looked up some venues with live music. I’d checked the theater schedules. Then we got in the car. Tired. Hungry. “Wanna stay home and cook?” I ticked through the stuff in the refrigerator. “Do we have chicken? I can make masala and naan.”…
19 Jun 2013
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“Wine is sunlight held together by water.” —Galileo Galilei Driving across the Midwest and Southern United States, I’ve noticed an abundance of sun and moisture. These days, fields of grapish dreams are emerging everywhere from Georgia to Missouri. Wineries seem to be thriving with tasting rooms handily close to major highways. The nation is becoming one giant California. Fun to say, given that folks ’round here tend to mock my Left Coast leanings. The change cheers me. I’m on a road trip to see family and friends. I’ve made short stops in near-beer Utah and Arbor Mist-y Nebraska, before moving on through Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina—all states with dozens of wineries, associations and marketing plans. My Ohio-dwelling adult daughter planned a visit to a local winery. She even practiced wine-drinking beforehand: She bought various varietals at Ohio stores. Now a year out of college and practicing the art of…
05 Jun 2013
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It’s June, the time of year when I transport self and friends to Spain by stirring up a pot of cold, red, fruity deliciousness. Yeah, it’s sangria time. Sangria seems like a kids’ drink. By “kids,” I mean adults of legal drinking age between 21 and 103. Sangria can potentially be a sugary, soda-pop beverage with some fruit that appeals to people who don’t much like red wine, who drink Arbor Mist or Yellow Tail’s Sweet Red Roo. It has no place in my life. Or does it? A couple of years ago, Dave and I spent most of June in Spain. In Granada, I presented an academic paper that called for collective thinking by critical theorists. (Yeah, I know. Zzzzz.) More importantly, my husband and I drank some Spanish wine—dark-red Spanish wines, characterized by region or Denominación de Origen. In the United States, a couple of better-known Spanish wines…
22 May 2013
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Sacramento boasts plenty of wine bars—some with witty hipsters, and others with well-dressed lobbyists. Or hipster lobbyists. We end up in California’s capital, now and again, on business or pleasure. For something new during a recent visit, we drive south from our downtown hotel on Highway 99. Exit and turn east on Florin Road. Zoom past strip malls with the usual Starbucks, Panda Express and Sizzler chains. The journey is daunting. I’m not especially hopeful. But we have reservations at a landmark winery, Sacramento’s oldest, producing alcohol from grapes since 1897. Doubts double as we turn on Frasinetti Road, just before the railroad tracks. What in the heck are we doing out here? A Burlington Northern train chugs by. On the right, an auto repair shop, building supplies, Industrial Minerals. Just up the road, Siemens operates a light-rail manufacturing facility, and Pepsi bottles liquids of the carbonated variety. “A winery…
08 May 2013
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Midwestern girl, me. The first wine I put in my mouth flowed from a silver chalice in the hands of a Lutheran pastor. We’ll call him Greg. About my “confirmation, the Lutheran coming-of-age rite, and subsequent first communion,” I recall three things. One, I was feeling angelic in a white confirmation gown over a new dress. Two, Pastor Greg was young, blonde, godlike in build, thoughtful and humorous in perfect proportions. Six young girls in my communion class all had a crush on Pastor Greg. Three, I remember the flavor and feel of wine in my mouth. There was something sensual about the bitter fruit, the astringent pull of alcohol on my tongue. Welcome to the adult world. This is how it’s going to taste, the blood, paired with thin bland wafer, the body. A party followed my communion event. Now an adult, I was entitled to drink alcoholic beverages.…
24 Apr 2013
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I arrive at the motel early. Housekeepers are still cleaning rooms. Two patrons read newspapers by the pool. I check my email in the parking lot. A Jeep pulls up next to me. Within seconds, we’re out of our vehicles and in each other’s arms. Lovers meeting for a romantic tryst—in Lodi, California. Scoff if you must. We’re here by design. This is not an “Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again” moment, as the Creedence Clearwater Revival song laments. We like this appellation, east of San Francisco, where grapes have been growing blissfully since the 1850s. Lodi’s sandy soils and Mediterranean climate, with warm days and nights cooled by Sacramento River Delta breezes, are ideal for growing zinfandel, the punk-rocker of grape varietals. Unpretentious but hardly humble. In your face with gooey fruit and zingy spice. Unsubtly dissonant. Rough around the edges, most often without apology. Lodi is synonymous with…
10 Apr 2013
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Hot, windy, crowded. Long lines for the toilet. Overpriced food. But all the bands you love. And now, you can have wine carefully paired with the music. Yes, we’ll be listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds while drinking some red wine barrel-aged in a cavern. Maybe one of those Castello di Amorosa 2009 Zingaro “The Gypsy” reds. Yeah, the Castello in Napa is fake, with its caves excavated centuries ago (in 1995). Still, the Tuscan-style replica has a fun vibe. And Zingaro would pair nicely with the band’s “Red Right Hand.” Ah, now you’re wondering: Coachella’s doing wine-music pairings? The lyrics of aged Cave, 55, come to mind: “We call upon the author to explain!” Sure, no problem. I’m not going to Coachella the Fest. This means avoiding pricey tickets and constricting wristbands. This means not having to worry about finding parking, obtaining a shuttle, camping and enduring…