Fancy Schmancy Initials Club

There is a small group of oenophiles that exchange emails discussing wines we really enjoy and we got to naming each other for our particular expertise and decided we would give each other special initials much like Wine Spectator (WS), Wine Advocate (WA), Robert Parker (RP), Wine & Spirits (W&S), Stephen Tanzer (ST), et. al., to name a few famous wine experts so we too can be identified as elite wine tasters (although this is all done to poke fun at each other). Though we may not be wine experts we do know what we like and what we don’t like so we share this through emails and one thing led to another and I’ll introduce them in this special Fancy Schmancy Initials Club edition of the “The Wit Is Out”.

Now mind you, some of what is in this post is fact, while some is fiction, some of it is witty, some of it funny, some of it is amusing. We’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which. You see my stories each week so no need to bore you this week with another story from the Witless Whiner (WW), but I do want you to meet our fancy schmancy initials club members. Here are their stories as told by them, or by someone else, or do their stories really exist…

Susie Q’s Silver Saloon (SQS2)

I moved to Vancouver, BC in the fall of 2006 to go to grad school at the University of British Columbia. I decided to go for a nice run in the nearby Pacific Spirit Regional Park.  I double checked at the kiosk to make sure I knew what trail I wanted and noticed a posting about owls. Apparently, it was their perching season which meant they were “in the mood” and aggressive towards anything that looked like they were going to get in the way of their love making. I didn’t really pay attention to it and decided to start my run. Not even 10 minutes into the run do I start hearing the “coos” of the owls and decided it was actually quite beautiful to listen to as I ran along the wood-chipped trail.

Then, out of nowhere, I feel a spike piercing my skin on my head and I quickly hit whatever it was that was poking me. I looked around and saw nothing so I started my run again. With that, the creature came back immediately and was holding on hard, pecking at my head.  I finally fell down to the ground with whatever it was that was biting me and I grabbed hold of it and ripped it from my head.  Sure enough, it was an owl… cute little devil. He flew off as I laid there on the dirt ground laughing my ass off about the randomness that just happened.

Apparently, I was making a lot of noise and a nearby cyclist came over to see if I was OK. I guess I was laughing so hard that he thought I was crying but I reassured him that I was not and described to him what had just happened. He laughed as well and then went on his merry way. I still sat in the dirt, trying to figure out why the owl had picked me since I saw a lot of people on the trail that day and realized it had to have been my ponytail. It was bouncing around so much that it looked threatening to a young adult owl in his perching phase. Therefore, he had to kill it… and so he did. I chopped my hair off the next week.

And SQS2’s favorite wine:

My favorite wine is Blasted Church Sauvignon Blanc (doesn’t matter what year).  It reminds me of freshly cut grass (I know that sounds gross but it’s totally awesome) and I also just LOVE the labels! You can view the wines of Blasted Church at http://www.blastedchurch.com/

Gumshoe Guido’s Grapevine Garage (4G’s)

My maternal Grandfather was a “Market Gardener”, essentially a door to door veggie vendor, complete with horse, wagon, a loud bell to ring to announce his arrival, and neighborhood kids utilized to carry goods to customers, and payments back to him.

From his farm in Suffield, Connecticut, he would sell his vegetables across the Connecticut River in the Thompsonville section of Enfield, Connecticut, which at that time was a bustling hub of industry as the home of the “Bigelow Sanford” Carpet mill complex. The farm in Suffield was comprised of two houses, two barns, garages, and other outbuildings. The two homes were set up as duplexes. One house my grandfather had built, and another which came with the property. My grandparents lived in the first floor of the newly constructed home, rented the upstairs apartment, and had renters in both floors of the original dwelling.

As his family grew and matured the renters were moved out so daughters and son could move in. So, by the time I arrived it was truly a “family compound”. With a shared driveway between two houses, my grandparents living below me, an aunt and uncle with families living across the driveway, well you get the picture.

One of my memories as a youngster was watching the wine making process first hand.  In early fall my grandfather and uncle would make their own wine.  I remember the process would start many days earlier, readying wooden barrels to contain the “fruit of the vine”. Each barrel was filled with water so its fitness was tested. The water swelled the staves and my uncle would adjust the hoops until the barrels no longer leaked. Next was the arrival of the grapes, box after box of “Zinfandel” with a picture of a smiling young girl on each. These were transported to the cellar, where the wine press was located.

Next, powered by an electric motor, was what appeared to me like a noisy clothes wringer which would crush the grapes into the wine press. No foot stomping for them. I don’t recall what method was used to separate the stems and skins from the liquid, but there was a spigot at the bottom of the press from which the liquid flowed into the barrels. As I recall the barrels sat for awhile, and then my uncle (grandfather was well on in years at this point so most of the work fell to my uncle) would bottle the product in gallon jugs and they would be stored in the wine cellar. From there the next step was the dining table as my grandparents had wine on the table at every meal, with the exception of breakfast.

My Italian heritage presented wine, not as a forbidden fruit, but as required adjunct to family meals. My grandmother did have a habit of lacing her coffee with a half and half mix of whiskey and Anisette, (Sambuca). A tradition we still affectionately refer to as a “buca blast”.  Picture it, a young boy comes upstairs to his mother, who inquires: “you seem to be in a very happy mood”. Answer:  “Oh, I just had some coffee with Grandma”.. Yee ha!

And 4G’s favorite wine: 4g doesn’t really have a favorite wine but does prefer wines with   either the Bardolino grapes for red wine and the Verdichio grapes for white wines.

Mike’s Cellar Emporium (MCE)

OK, We were late arriving to the world of wine, which is really a bummer as all those years were wasted drinking beer(sic)! Our friends introduced us to wine when we were in our late thirties, we are now a lot grayer.  First glass was Louis Jadot Macon Villages and the rest is history.

We like motorcycles, wine, good food, wine, camping, wine……anyway you get the picture. We love getting together with friends to eat and share our love of wine, whether a gourmet meal or just hors d’oeuvres.

Red is our first choice but we also have a great supply of whites and ports. We have a wine closet as we do not have a cellar which will hold up to approx. 400 bottles. We keep the house between 64 and 68 year round and the closet is about 1 or 2 degrees less. This has worked out OK so far for storage.

As for our favorite wine that is a tough one. We had a favorite for over 10 years but can no longer get it. We have not found another yet but we keep looking. My favorite wines are Spanish made in the old style, especially Riojas and older reds.
Remember a wine not tasted is a treasure possibly wasted!

And MCE’s favorite wine:

McGuigan Bros. Black Label Shiraz visit their website at http://www.mcguiganwines.com.au/

Cousin Carl’s Schnozzola Sanctararium (CCSS)

The Cousin Carl ( CC ) initials ( and the less recognized longer version referring to my schnozz, that is the Schnozzola Sanctararium) was earned the old fashion way— by birth. Well, yes, I was born with a prominent nose but I was referring to the fact that I am lucky enough to be the cousin of the co-owner of Taylor Brooke Winery (my cousin Linda runs the day to day business while husband Dick is the wine maker). This helps support my habit (as well as Sparing Sharon) of enjoying good/great wines. While I certainly think Taylor Brooke is tops I have learned to appreciate other fine (and hopefully bargain priced) wines, most importantly ones with a bacon nose….

And CCSS’s favorite wine is: Anything under $10 and it’s good.

Sparing Sharon (SS)

I was dubbed Sparing Sharon (S.S.) by my husband, Cousin Carl (another story).  Once a week, on Wednesdays, I travel to Hannaford to do my weekly grocery shopping.  Browsing through numerous bottles of red wine, my goal is to find outstanding red wines for under $10. My favorite find from the supermarket is the wine, “Twisted – Old Vine” which sells  2 for $12! I have been buying several bottles of this wine for the past 3 weeks since the wine is affordable but mostly due to the outstanding taste and aroma.  (I also fear the price might go up, so gotta stock up!) I realized later this wine was reviewed by the Witless Whiner back on December 11th. I totally agree with the review.

Sparing the dollars on everything else has given us the opportunity to fully enjoy our trips to other wineries and purchasing wines from them as well.  Sparing the dollars on restaurants by staying home and preparing healthy meals has paid off as well.

Cousin Carl actually prefers his meals at home vs. the restaurants but he feels his wife can be too sparing at times, when it comes to giving him cash when he needs it. (Sparing Sharon is the boss with the finances).

It’s all about the wine, good food & friends…

And SS’s favorite wine: Anything that is a better bargain than what CCSS finds!

Jacuzzi Jack’s Persnickety Palate (Double J Double P)

One night after work a few (actually more than a few and more like a dozen) of us gathered at a friends house for an evening of wine, food, and conversation. Well, the conversation was complete with varied topics ranging from vacation places to wineries visited and everything in between. Which actually entailed a myriad of topics. Another conversation piece included favorite restaurants, favorite this and favorite that, etc.

Anyway, while we were talking just about any subject that crossed our minds we opened a bottle of Jacuzzi Pinot Gris and as we were all enjoying the crispness of the wine and we all came up with a plethora of aromas and flavors. Although we agreed that we all obtained a great and delectable amount of apple there was something missing.

So, we all stopped and smelled the wine, tasted it, then smelled it again, tasted it again, etc., etc., etc. we couldn’t get our schnozzes in the right frame of mind. All the while I had a precocious smile as I knew what everyone was missing as only my palate picked up the elusive flavor. Alas, I couldn’t hold in the surprise any longer and calmly said “green apple” and everyone began to smell and taste the wine and all agreed I had nailed the wine to “T”, hence I was dubbed Double J Double P.

And JJPP’s favorite wine: Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. Visit them at http//www.santamargherita.com

So you see, we all have our fancy schmancy initials making us bonafide wine critics 🙂

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends….