Drinking While Planning a Funeral

My Dad recently passed away and while it was sad; he lead a full life and he was 89. I think that was amazing.

This post is about my journey in dealing with his death and planning a funeral….

Dad was surrounded by family when he passed away in the hospital. In fact it turned into a mini wake when my Aunt Sue suggested we go to a bar to toast Dad  (he left this earth on St.Patrick’s Day). As luck would have it, I happened to have some wine with me and told the family I would be happy to share. So we got some styrofoam cups from the nurses’ station and opened a 2009 Tempranillo from Pedernales Cellars in the Hill Country Area of Texas. It was wonderful drinking a top-notch Texas wine (even in the wrong “glass”) while sharing memories about a man who was an incredible story-teller and considered himself a Texan before anything else.

Texas Tempranillo from Pedernales Cellars in styrofoam cups

Texas Tempranillo from Pedernales Cellars in styrofoam cups

 

That night, a neighbor surprised us with BBQ and a big tub of banana pudding. I decided I needed more wine. The idea of planning a funeral and dealing with the estate, was starting to sink in and the stress was starting to build. I chose a cheap ($10) French wine called Black Beret. It is a blend of Grenache & Syrah and was perfect with BBQ and so quaffable!

BlackBeret Grenache/Syrah Blend

BlackBeret Grenache/Syrah Blend. Cheap & Good.

We got through planning the funeral and started the daunting task of dealing with what Dad left behind. Our brains and emotions were fried. A dear family friend invited us to take a break and hang out at his home. We happily accepted the invitation. The only wine choice was a big ‘ol bottle of Beringer White Merlot. I wished I had turned the wine into a spritzer. I think it would have cut the “soda pop” sweetness…oh well…I was tired and grateful for the hospitality. I was there for the fellowship, not the wine. It was an awesome evening full of laughter and smiles.

Big 'ol Bottle of Beringer White Merlot

Big ‘ol Bottle of Beringer White Merlot

It was time for my family to disperse for a few days and get back together for the visitation and funeral. The day I was to hit the road and meet up with the family was not good. I woke up with chills, fever and throwing up. My drink this go round was Pepto Bismol. It tasted like dusty cherries soaked in chalk…yuck!

Pepto-Bismol...YUCK!, But it Worked!

Pepto-Bismol…YUCK!, But it Worked!

I missed the visitation but made it to the funeral. Dad was buried with his custom Lucchese boots on and I survived.

Through all of this, I have been blessed to have 3 incredible women on this journey with me. My two sisters and my Dad’s 2nd wife. After Mom died, Dad was lucky enough to have remarried another awesome lady.

So Cheers and Hugs to Briana, Debby & Lou Ann!

P.S.

I still don’t know what I’m going to drink after everything has settled…but I will let you know…

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A Fantastic Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner

Beckmen Grenache Rose'

Beckmen Grenache Rose’

Cosentino "The Franc" Cabernet Franc

Cosentino “The Franc” Cabernet Franc

Gruet Blanc de Noirs

Gruet Blanc de Noirs

Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc

Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc

I think this was one of my better Thanksgiving wine and food pairings.

The Wines:

Gruet Blanc De Noir – The best value sparkling wine.

Beckmen Vineyards 2013 Grenache Rose’ – One of my “go to” wines for Thanksgiving.

Tablas Creek Vineyard 2011 Patelin de Tablas Blanc – a great Rhone blend that was balanced between richness and crispness.

Cosentino Winery 2012 The Franc – Lushous herb with a bit of spice and dark fruit.

The Food:

Herb Roasted Turkey

Cornbread Dressing

Cranberry Sauce

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows, also fresh Sweet Potatoes Roasted with Rosemary

Creamed Corn

Truffle Mac & Cheese

Candied Pecan, Cranberry, Pears & Gorgonzola with Field Greens

Pumpkin Custard Pie with a Ginger Snap Crust

All I can say is that everything went well with everything!

Thank You Twisted Peeps for bringing the food and fun!

Herb Roasted Turkey

Herb Roasted Turkey

Cranberries!

Cranberries!

A Beautiful Plate of Thanksgiving Food

A Beautiful Plate of Thanksgiving Food

Happy Twisted Peeps - Cheers!

Happy Twisted Peeps – Cheers!

Chardonnay and BEEF!

Butter Chardonnay

Butter Chardonnay

Sanglier Chardonnay

Sanglier Chardonnay

Beef, Potatoes, w/Avocados & Tomatoes

Beef, Potatoes, w/Avocados & Tomatoes

I had posted a few years ago about how I was trying to find a different wine other than Cabernet to pair with a beef filet. 

I settled on a Pinot Noir that created a rant about how I wish more restaurants were BYOB….Anyhoo…I digress….

I got to thinking about this because I have a friend that loves Chardonnay and that evening I said that an oaky, full-bodied Chardonnay would be perfect.

So to prove I was right, I tried 2 Chardonnay wines with a bacon wrapped beef filet, rosemary – garlic potatoes and a salad of avocados and tomatoes drizzled in lime and olive oil.

The 2 Chardonnays were:

2010 Sanglier Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. alc. 13.9% and 2012 JAM Cellars Chardonnay Butter. alc. 14.8%

Sanglier smell was: Ripe apple, cream, a bit of white flowers and creme brulee

The taste was: Granny Smith apple, assorted melons and lemon. The acidity was long but finished slightly creamy.

It was great with the beef. It sort of cleansed the palate, but the beef did not over-whelm the wine. It was perfect with the 2 side dishes.

 Butter smell was: Apple pie – bread, butter and cinnamon

The taste was: Light Red Delicious apple, peaches, smoke, with a soft vanilla, butter finish. The finish was short but creamy.

This Chardonnay was good with the beef. It even added a sweetness to the bacon, which is always awesome!

It paired very well with both side dishes.

Both of these Chardonnays were very good with beef because of how they were processed and the high alcohol level.

Sanglier was done “Sur Lie” in oak barrels, which adds more body, aromas, and complexity to the wine.

Butter went through 2 fermentations, the last one being malolactic, which softens the tartness of the wine making it creamy with more body.

I think I will take my own advice, and just order a Chardonnay. It will simplify my choices and the side dishes won’t feel neglected.

I want to Thank Whole Foods for this Whole meal; including the wine.

I have been shopping there for years and this is the ONLY place where I get bacon wrapped filets. I’m a West Texas girl and my Daddy was a judge on the Texas A&M Beef Team…I better know beef!

Also, the wine department, at least at my Whole Foods in Plano, is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what they do…I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I go in to shop for wine.  Thank you Carol & your team!

I also want to Thank fellow Twisted Peep, Lisa S. for turning me onto Sanglier.

Cheers Y’all!

Lori – Your Twisted Sommelier

Drinking Responsibly All Day Long

A couple of weekends ago my Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law came to visit.

My Long-Suffering Hubby, Sully, and his brother Mike were going to spend some quality time at the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament following Phil Mickelson around while Laura and I spent quality time in a “sports-free” zone drinking by the pool.

After the “boys” left to go watch men hit balls with sticks, Laura and I decided that noon was a good time to start into our wine.

My Sis-in-Law is a very smart person and only brought low alcohol wine: Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling at 11% alc (http://www.ste-michelle.com/) and Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio at 12.5% alc (http://www.eccodomani.com/). I provided a Domaine De Nizas Rose’ at 13.5% alc (http://www.domaine-de-nizas.com/en/) …and I think the Rose’ was too high in alcohol. I really like to keep below 13% when I’m drinking all day (I know, I sound like a lush, but remember Twisted Peeps, I’m a “professional” LOL!!!) That .5% makes a difference. Just to let you know, wineries can have a 1.5% variance when telling you the alcohol level in their wine; provided that the wine is below 14%. When wine gets above 14% then it jumps into a whole other category and you can only have a variance of .1%.

So we iced down the wines in the fabulous rolling cooler, along with veggies, hummus, Havarti cheese, crackers and water. By the way, I’m a big believer in drinking a glass of water for every glass of wine. Being dehydrated is not good and will add to your misery if you over indulge, plus the water helps slow you down in your alcohol consumption, which is always a good thing.

As a side note: All 3 of those wine I mentioned were great with our food.

Laura and I were having a lovely time. She had her Kindle and I had my laptop and by 3 o’clock we were in the pool. We had finished the Riesling and were half way into the Pinot Grigio. I opened the Rose’ and had a glass, but Laura didn’t care for it as much as the Pinot Grigio. So I kind of had the Rose’ to myself and she finished what little was left of the Pinot Grigio.

This is where things for me got interesting….

The boys got home around 4 and found us giggling and talking very lively about our day. I think they were on to us, especially when I texted Sully earlier and said “Laura’s in the pool…by choice…I didn’t push her in, LOL!”. Bless our husband’s hearts…they sat out with us and listened to us and we actually listened about their day too!

We all started getting hungry, so Sully ordered pizza and my Bro-in-Law asked if I had any Pinot Noir? Has a cat got fur? Of course I do! I opened a Laetitia Mount Eden Clone Pinot Noir (http://www.laetitiawine.com/). I had to see what it was like with our pepperoni pizza….it was good because the alcohol level of the wine was 14.1%, which means this Pinot is very full bodied and could stand up to something rich and zesty. However, the alcohol level was not good for me. That one glass sent me buzzing and I had a hard time making complete sentences. I basically shut down and became politely silent and decided doing the dishes and drinking water was in the best interest for me and everyone.

After everything was put away,we all decided to retire by the pool and gaze at the stars. I noticed that my dear Sis-in-Law had not changed…

She could still make complete sentences, have a lively conversation, ask questions and her eyes were not droopy! Damn it! It dawned on me that she only had about a bottle and a half at a low alcohol level, where I had about 2 bottles at a higher alc level. Like I said before, Laura is smart. Thank goodness I stuck to water the rest of the evening because I woke up the next morning feeling ok…not fabulous…but ok…

So Twisted Peeps, this is a word of warning…

Keep your alcohol levels low, drink lots of water and make sure whomever you are drinking with…drinks as much as you do, so they can’t say “I told you so”.

Take Care and Seriously Drink with Care.

Cheers Y’all

The Aftermath of Sporkable Wine

Sorry Twisted Peeps that it has been awhile since my last post, but I have been mulling over my $3 wine experience.

After having so much bad wine, especially red…I would have flash backs of vinegar, wet dog, and funky forest floor as I tried to open a bottle. I had to tell myself it’s ok…the Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau Montelena is good! Remember the fun you and Catherine had drinking it and watching Bottle Shock?

You can read about it here: http://wp.me/pJNy2-aB

By the way, my Dear Cousin Catherine has not talked to me since we did the $3 Cabernets….

Also, I learned that $10 wine makes a better cooking wine than $3 wine. I took the leftover “sporkable” wine and made Beef Bourguignon. It was ok, but some of that vinegar acidity that was so prevalent in the wine got passed on to the food. I missed the black fruits that round out this hardy, beefy dish.

Something else I have learned is that I’m a bit of a snob.

When I was purchasing these wines I felt no joy and I kept thinking…I hope no one sees me doing this and I was sort of saddened by it especially when I was at the Aldi store.

For those who don’t know about Aldi…it is a very stripped down, bare bones shell of a store. All the products are stacked on pallets or shelves. No one helps you bag or carry anything and you bring your own bags or you can rent a cart. The depressing part is the clientele. Everyone looks like they are struggling financially. It is not festive like Trader Joes with their “tropical” theme or Whole Foods with their happy, knowledgeable staff or bustling like Wal-mart.

I think what got to me was a gentleman dressed in a suit buying the same wine “Winking Owl” as me. He looked like he had seen better days. His face was wrinkled and grey. He just looked worn out and his suit fit loosely on him.

I am probably reading too much into his “look”, but it was just one of those observations that made me Grateful for my family, friends and good wine.

I am also thankful for the condolences for my palate and the appreciation of my courage to do this so Y’all don’t have to.

Anything for my Twisted Peeps. I think Y’all are awesome too!

Cheers Y’all!

why can’t all restaurants be BYOB!

Time and time again I have been so disappointed in the wine at a restaurant. The selection and the friggin price really depress me. So I’m posting this to let you know that you are not alone when you go into sticker shock at a restaurant.

My Long-Suffering Hubby & I went to a steakhouse for our anniversary. I was so excited because this was a very nice one that we had been to before and I just knew I would see some wonderful Cotes du Rhone on the list! Boy was I wrong…they must have had a change in the wine managers because I saw 22 Cabernet Sauvignon and one Rhone wine! I get it…Cabernet goes good with steak. Plus the wine I really wanted was $65. So, I thought about asking for the Sommelier, but what would I tell him? “This is the wine I want, but I’m not going to pay that price, so I’ll arm-wrestle you for it?” WooHoo!… a Sommelier Throw-Down! So instead, I settled on a full-bodied Pinot Noir for $30. It was fine with the meal, and even went well with the side dishes, but it still chapped me that I could get this same wine at a liquor store for half the price.

My cousin Catherine & I get together once a month to try a new restaurant, and of course because I went to Sommelier school, I get to pick the wine. However, this is not as much fun as you think, because Dearest Catherine likes to “throw me under the bus” and pick an entre from the menu that is totally different from what I’m ordering. That creates another issue…we choose our food 1st, then we choose the wine, and it sort of takes the waiter by surprise. Because, what is the first thing they say just as you are seated??? “what do you want to drink?” Well we don’t know yet!

I bet y’all are thinking, just order a glass…well the selections for “by the glass” are usually dismal and as we all know…you can buy the bottle at the grocery store for the same price a restaurant charges for a glass.

The other alternative is ordering half bottles. These are somewhat hard to come by and most restaurants don’t list them on the menu, but I ask anyway. It really works well because we can each have our own bottle (it’s about 2 & half glasses total) or we can order that over priced glass of wine with our starters and split the half bottle with the main course.

I do know that if you have a special wine you would like to take to a restaurant, you can call and ask if you can bring it. However, it is up to the restaurant to determine if it really is “special” and they will probably charge a corkage fee. Just so you know, I’ve seen fees anywhere from $1 to $10.

To find BYOB restaurants in your area, just Google “BYOB” and then your town and you should have some choices. Sometimes they will list if they have a corkage fee or not.

One of my favorite Asian restaurants doesn’t charge a fee and we bring our cooler of Sake and Gewurztraminer and we are set!

So I hope this helps in your quest to have some wine without having to break out another credit card. Or maybe you can just arm-wrestle the Sommelier.

Cheers Y’all!

Wine Ain’t for Sissies

My long-suffering Hubby & I just got back from helping our friend Benjamin Calais (https://www.calaiswinery.com/) at a wine fest in Houston.

This was not our “first rodeo”,meaning we have done this before…and we were looking forward to meeting new people and talking about Calais Winery and especially hearing the surprise in everyone’s voice when they say, “There’s a winery in Dallas and you’re in Deep Ellum!”. I love saying “For reals! man! and we are a REAL WORKING winery! We pick,crush & ferment!”

But it is not all glamour. At this particular show, we could not drive up to our spot so we had to haul 25 cases of wine across a city park in 95+ degrees, then go back for ice, the ice chest, tables, chairs, banner, tent, duct tape, corkscrews, trash bags, water, snacks…’you get the idea’…your basically camping for the weekend. But we got everything set-up (with the help of Nick, my bottling buddy http://wp.me/pJNy2-60) and realized that we were facing west and this was going to be miserable for us and the wine.

We had 3 wines with us, Muscat, Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon. Because it was so hot we decided to ice down the red wines along with the Muscat. A few “wine snobs” made comments that they never chill red wine…Hello! when has 99 frickin’ degrees been acceptable as “room temperature”? For the most part, people were grateful that we DID chill our reds because they said all they could taste from the wineries that did not chill their reds was ‘hot alcohol’.

The 1st day of the festival was from noon to 10pm. That is a long day and we had to keep moving our table out of the sun. I could feel my feet swelling from standing too long & sweat stinging my eyes, but I’m a ‘Customer Service Professional’ and I just kept on smiling & talking :-). Unfortunately, one of the hazards of a wine festival going into the night is you get people who just want to drink and not really want to learn about wine; and the main question/statement is, “what do you have that’s sweet ?” or “I only drink red”.

By the end of the evening, I was tired & grumpy. All I wanted was a bath & lots of water to drink. But before we could leave, we had to secure everything, lower the tent, pack up anything valuable, clean up our area. Luckily we checked on the weather for the next day because we were expecting wind gusts of 25 miles per hour & 100 degrees again so we needed to tie the tent down…bungee cords & duct tape were going to be our friends!!!

Sure enough, the next day there were tents and trash everywhere. Nick got smart and tied the tent to a tree and used bungee cords on anything loose. I’m so glad that Sully was an Eagle Scout because he can tie a knot like nobody’s business & had everything else secure. All I had to do was look good & smile 😉

The last day of the festival was from 12-8, but Sully & I needed to leave by 5 so we could get back to Dallas because of our “cubicle jobs” on Monday. That left Nick to fend for himself in the heat & wind. Our tent neighbors promised to look after him….funny, I still have not heard from Nick…….

Well, anyway….we packed up what cases of wine we thought would not sell and anything Nick didn’t need and headed back to “Big D” to drop off everything at the winery. After stopping for “dinner” at Buc-ee’s Truck Stop (http://www.bucees.com/), unloading and talking with Benjamin, we were finally home by 11. I had a sore back, shoulders, feet, bruises and a cut on my finger (foil on a wine bottle can be lethal).

So that’s the glamorous life of the wine business…and I didn’t even tell you what happens in the vineyard!

I’m tired just reading this…I need a drink…

Cheers Y’all!