Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Frank Family Blanc de Blanc 2008 - Natalie MacLean

Frank Family Blanc de Blanc 2008 - Natalie MacLean

A great sparkling wine the only thing that bugs me is that they use Champagne in the name of the wine but seeing as this is from Napa Valley I chose to omit that false designation reserved only for the fine French stuff.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Red Stuff

The best Red Wines can range from a light earthy Pinot Noir to a full bodied juicy Cabernet Sauvignon, and include everything in between. Whether you enjoy a bit more sweetness in your wine like that of a Zinfandel, or more tart cherry aromas like those found in Sangiovese. Whatever your preference there's a great red wine out there just waiting for you.

What differentiates a white wine from a red wine is how the wine is made. A white wine is made using just the juice from the grapes, in fact a white wine can be made from red grapes, however a white grape cannot be made into a red wine. . While a red wine is made using the skins, seeds, juice, meat, and stems of the grape. It is from the skin and meat that the colour comes from, and the seeds and stems are where the marjority of a red wines tannins come from. During fermentation red wines are left in contact with their crushed skins to extract as much colour as possible, while some are left in contact with the seeds and stem to extract as much tannins as possible. 

Blending a combination of grapes to make a wine is something done with both white and red wines, Champagne is a blend after all. But the most famous blend in the red wine world is a Bordeaux. The grapes permitted to be used in a Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Carménère. However Malbec and Carménère don't get much play in today's Bordeaux blends. The most dominant grapes used in today's Bordeaux depends on a variety of things but typically left side Bordeaux (Lafite, Haut Brion) is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant while right (Pétrus) is Merlot domainant. A red Bordeaux blend can also be known as Claret. But when those grape varieties are used to make a blend in another area of the world they are known as Meritage. Surprisingly blends are more common then you would think, especially when it comes to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Typically laws dictate that there need only be 85% of a grape variety for it to be listed on the label so more often than nought when you choose a Merlot at the store it has 15% Cabernet Sauvignon blended into it. Winemakers do this because Merlot can be sometimes too flabby and boring on it's own while Cabernet can be too tough, blend them together and you get a delicious wine.

The myth that red wine is best served at room temperature comes from a time when room temperature was a Castle in France. Nowadays room temperature is actually too warm for red wines. For lighter fruitier red wines like Pinot Noir serve between 10º and 15º Celsius (50º to 60º Fahrenheit).  For more full bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon serve between 15º and 18º (60º to 65º). When it comes to the glass you choose for your red wine, I like to think the bigger the better, but you should never fill it more than halfway. This has to do with putting oxygen into the wine and helping it give off more aromas. More of a bowl shape is good for Pinot Noir, while a deeper glass with a smaller opening is good for Cabernet. Another factor in getting the best from your red wine is to choose a wine glass with a thin rim and clear glass. The thinner the rim the less to influence the way the wine tastes.

Decanting is really only necessary with a fine bottle of red wine, meaning minimum $50. It is done for 2 reasons. The first and most overlooked is to avoid sediment that may have formed in the wine over time and if not done properly will leave your red wine cloudy and gritty. The sediment comes from age so the older the wine the more likely a decanting is necessary. When decanting for sediment you want to hold a candle or flashlight by the neck of the bottle after the bottle has stood upright for a few hours and when you begin to see the sediment in the neck stop pouring and toss the inch of wine that will be left. The second and most common reason for decanting is to add oxygen to the wine opening it up and giving the wine more flavour. Some prefer to use their glass to do this, while others enjoy tasting the wine unfold and develop in the glass as they drink it. But for those who want ta more powerful and flavourful wine right off the get go the decanting should be done slowly and steadily try to aim the wine onto the side of the decanter so it splays out thus putting more oxygen into the wine.

The aging of red wines is also something reserved for the top tier of the best wines. Most regular red wines will not benefit from any period of long term aging, and actually tend to lose their desirability within the first few years. This includes many of the mainstream brands we can easily find, therefore most everyday wines you buy should be consumed without a second thought. But for those top 5% of the best red wines from the best wineries like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Amarone, Barolo, or Tuscany, or Napa Cabernet they can be aged 8-20 years easily. Keep in mind there is a limit to any wines life so a good rule of thumb is to not let it pass it's 30th birthday unless it is a fortified wine like Port or Madeira.

The amount of time a red wine will stay good in the bottle after you have opened it depends on a few things. First it depends on the amount of sugar in the wine the higher the sugar content the longer it will last. So digestif wines like Port will last longer than a Sangiovese. It also depends on exposure to oxygen. The amount of wine in the bottle, less wine in the bottle means a larger oxygen pocket so the wine will go bad faster. If you leave the cork off more exposure to oxygen, so try to keep it on if you are trying to make a wine last. Another factor in the longevity of wine is the amount of tannins in the wine. A wine with less tannins like a Pinot Noir will go bad faster while a Shiraz will last longer. A good rule of thumb is to keep it in the fridge as a cooler temperature will slow down the wine's destruction. A generalization you can loosely use as a guideline is an average of 3 days, maybe less for light red wines like Pinot Noir and more for bigger sweeter styles like Cabernet or Carménère.

The main factor that has led many physician's to believe red wine has health benefits  is from a natural phenol known as resveratrol. It can be found in many plants like Japanese knot weed but also in grapes. The health benefits include everything from heart benefits, and lower cholesterol, to anti aging, and cancer prevention. Studies are still being completed on th e long term affects of resveratrol but the important thing to remember is that moderation is best. A glass of red wine a day may keep the doctor away but a bottle will surely not be beneficial to your health. Resveratrol is found in both red and white wines but the amount in red is much higher. The verdict is still out on which red wine has the highest resveratrol content but the Valpolicella producer Tedeschi has taken up the research and believes the grapes surrounding the Valpolicella area naturally have a higher resveratrol amount, they have been researching ways to increase the amount in their wines as well. Meanwhile some tests have shown Spanish wines to have the highest amount, while others debate Pinot Noir. The best way to ensure you get a good dose of resveratrol; keep switching it up, try as many red wines as you can (in moderation). Although the verdict is not 100% of the health benefits, you can be certain your taste buds will be 100% happy.
The important thing to remember when choosing a meal to accompany that great bottle of red you opened up is to think about weight. The weight of the wine and the weight of the dish. What does this mean? Think about how skim milk, versus 2%, versus cream feels in your mouth. That is what light, medium and full bodied wine is like. Or a meal of fish, chicken, or beef can be like. It is not about matching flavours as much as it is about matching weight. The important parts that determine the weight of a meal is the sauce, and the fat content. The higher the fat content and the richer the sauce the bigger the red wine can be. Which is why the full bodied Cabernet with beef is a classic pairing. It is also for that reason that fattier fishes like salmon can work with the typically light bodied Pinot Noir.

 Most of the wines in the world grow between the latitudes of  30° and 50° in both hemispheres. Ideal temperatures are 10º and 20 °C (50 and 68 °F). But what makes a great red wine? It is a combination of soil, climate, topography, and a great winemaker at the helm. Why are some wines so much more expensive then others and are they worth it? The easiest way to think about an expensive red wine is to think about it like a famous piece of art. You collect them for the history of it, for the blood sweat and pain that the artist (winemaker) put into it. For the sheer beauty of them. There are great red wines for incredible prices, just like there are talented unknown artists. But the Dali, the Botticelli, the Monet of the wine world are well worth investing in if that is the type of thing you value.

Doluca DLC Sultaniye-Emir 2011 - Natalie MacLean

Doluca DLC Sultaniye-Emir 2011 - Natalie MacLean

Cappadocia is not only a very magical place to visit in Turkey, they also produce some great white wines; just like this one.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Pink Stuff

Is it white wine? Or is it red wine you serve chilled? Actually its a wine type all on its own. Rosé can range in colour from light copper to a beautiful deep magenta. It seems these days now almost every label has a Rosé in their portfolio, and you can usually find at least one option of Rosé on most wine lists. The hype behind this wine type has grown momentously over the last decade, and with good reason. You get the light fresh crispness of a white wine, with the intense fruit flavours and complexities of a red wine all in one bottle. Its like getting your cake and eating it too! Rosé goes by the name Rosato in Italy, Rosado in Portugal and Spain, and in English speaking countries it is sometimes called blush wine. There is sparkling Rosé, it can be bone dry, and can even be sweet. Rest assured you will find a pretty in pink partner. 

There are many ways to make Rosé, here are a few of the more frequently seen as well as the ones to avoid. The skin contact method sometimes called the maceration method, which is the most commonly used to make Rosé, does exactly what the name suggests. The must (unfermented grape juice) is left in contact with the grape skins to extract the colour from the skins. This usually only lasts a few hours to a day, and then the skins are discarded to avoid too much colouration. Whereas in red wine the skins are left with the must for several days, sometimes even weeks. Hence the darker colour. The Saignée Method, translated means the bleeding method is the process primarily meant to enhance the tannins and colour of a red wine. It is achieved by bleeding out some of the light pink juice during the pressing of the grapes creating a more intense red wine. That pink juice can then be taken and fermented on its own creating Rosé. This is the method used to make most Rosé Champagne. Vin gris, produces a very light pink wine although it is not grey as the name Vin Gris suggests. It is achieved by simply lightly pressing red grapes, there is no skin contact the only colour is what comes from the press, which is why it is so light in colour. This method is not often used but regions of Morrocco have gotten some traction using it, as has the French region of Lorraine pressed up against the Northern German border, where the Rosé is known as Vin Gris. Blending and decolourization can both be used to achieve a pink wine but neither are respected as methods of quality production. Blending a red and white wine together will achieve a Rosé, but the French disregard this method so much it is illegal, except for in Champagne where blending is a part of the history, yet most high end producers rely on the Saignée method to achieve their bubbly Rosés. Decolourization is done by adding an absorbent charcoal to a red wine. The charcoal absorbs the colour of the wine leaving behind a rosé, but many feel it absorbs the character of the wine along with the colour which is why is it rarely used to produce rosé. 

The popularity of Rosé seems like a modern trend but in actuality Rosés have been popular since the beginning. The red wines of the ancient Greeks and Romans were actually closer to a Rosé, as the winemaking methods used to make modern red wine were felt to leave the wine too harsh. Most red wines were left in contact with the skins for a short period of time leaving the wine very light in colour. Even the early Bordeaux clarets were much lighter in colour than they are today. Often times the wine was left in contact with the grape skins for only 1 day. Then after WWII Portugal released a sweet semi sparkling Rosé called Mateus and Lancers that went on to break sales records. It is still made today but in a drier style to meet popular demand. Then in the 70's when the demand for white wine exceeded that of red, winemakers began making white wine from red grapes by using the Saignée method. One batch failed to complete fermentation leaving the wine still pink and with a higher sugar content. The winemaker Bob Trinchero put it aside, but then tasted it a few weeks later and decided to release it. Sutter Home was the first to release the most poplar rosé wine to date; the White Zinfandel. This wine is the third most popular varietal in the U.S. and outsells regular red Zinfandel. 

Most critics agree that the best Rosés like most of the great wines in the world originate from France. The Provence region in the Southern Part of France is particularly well known for a dry light style with zesty rhubarb aromas. The grapes they use to make their rosés are Grenache, Syrah, Mourvédre, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, and Tibouren, But Grenache and Mourvedre play the most dominant parts typically. The Southern Rhône Region of Tavel is also noted for great Rosé although it is has a bit more body and has a spicy berry aroma. Tavel rosé uses similar grapes to those from Provence Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah, Mourvédre, as well as Picpoul, and Bourbelanc. Although these are the two best known Rosé regions of France there are many others that produce Rosé. The Loire makes a Rosé from Cabernet Franc. Bordeaux uses their classic grape varieties to make a Rosé, and of course everyone loves a pink Champagne. But France is far from the only place in the world to make pink wine. These days is seems every wine label from every corner of the globe has a pink wine, and every red grape variety has been tried as a Rosé.  With this many options it is hard to choose, but if you like the variety as a red wine you most likely will enjoy it as a rosé. With all these options it can be difficult to choose, but follow these general guidelines to aid you on your quest for a great bottle of Rosé. The lighter in colour the more likely it is a dry zesty style. The darker the colour, the more likely it is a off-dry style with strawberry aromas. 

Rosé wine is very food friendly, and with all the different styles available you can easily find a rosé wine for each one of your favourite dishes. For lighter drier style Rosés like those from Provence match it up with salads, seafood, and pastas, they are noted for being great with garlic based dishes. Light but slightly sweet style rosé, like the Portugese Mateus is great with asian dishes like mild curry. The ever popular White Zinfandel is great with spicier dishes. While full bodied rosés like those from the Southern Rhône and Cabernet or Merlot based Rosés can be great with barbecue dishes, or any meat based dish, like lamb or duck.  The styles of Rosé are a plenty as are the pairing options, so there is nothing to stop you from enjoying a rosé with dinner every night of the week. 

Rosé should it be served at the same temperature as white wine. Lighter in colour rosé wines should be served between 4º to 10º Celsius (40º to 50º F). While fuller darker rosé wines should be served between 10º to 15ºC (50º to 60ºF). The same goes for glass selection.  Feel free to use the classic white wine glass for a rosé, however you can find specific rosé glasses they tend to have a shorter bowl than red and white wine glasses. Look for a slightly curved design that flares out a little at the lip. This allows the wine's sweetness to be enhanced as the lip directs the wine right onto the part of your palate that experiences sweet. 

Rosé wine follows the same rules as white and red wine once it has been opened. Store it in the refrigerator with a tightly sealed cap. A higher sugar content means a longer life, and higher quality rosé also means a longer life. A week is the average amount of time before a rosé will start to taste off. But as with all wine don't forget to take into consideration the air pocket in the bottle.  A wine with only a few inches left in the bottle will turn much faster than a wine with just the neck gone. Weigh out all these factors to determine how long a bottle of rosé will last once it is opened. 

Almost all Rosé is meant to be consumed within the first 2 years after production, and gains nothing from being aged. However like all wine rules there is always an exception. Some producers in Spain have taken to placing rosé wine in oak barrels, and thus extending the longevity and complexity of the pink wines. Remember though this is a very rare exception, and 99% of rosé is meant to be consumed as young as possible. Therefore drink that Rosé up, the only waiting you have to do is for the fridge to help it reach the ideal drinking temperature.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Sweet Stuff; Dessert wines

Dessert wines can be red or white. The grapes can be fortified, frozen, left to rot on the vine, even turned into raisins before they are turned into wine. Some dessert wines just come from grape varieties that naturally have a higher sugar content. They are some of the longest living wines of the world and many have been made and praised by everyone from Royalty to Presidents. The methods of producing a dessert wine may vary but the end result is the same; you leave with a sweet taste in your mouth. 

The easiest and most straight forward type of dessert wines are those made from grapes that are naturally higher in sugar content like the Muscat variety. Muscat is the parent to a huge family, some of the more famous ones being the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains used to make the lightly fizzy Asti wine from Piedmont, Italy. The wine region of Rutherglen in Australia has a 4 tiered classification system for the sweet grape. Muscat even has it's place in sweet fortified wines like certain types of Sherry and French vin doux naturelsThe aromas of Muscat range from citrus, rose and peach and for lack of a better word grape notes to fruit cake, raisins and toffee. They make great partners for citrus desserts. 

Fortified wines like Port, Sherry, Marsala, and Madeira, have dominated the after dinner drink for centuries. The fortification is usually achieved by adding a neutral grape spirit to the wine that stops fermentation retaining the sugar in the wine and raises the alcohol level in it. The neutral grape spirit is typically a form of Brandy. Originally it was done as a way to preserve the wine for longer, which is why some of these wines can age for decades even centuries before losing their flavours. The grape varieties used are unique to each type, Port for example allows over 50 different grape varieties in its production. Each type of fortified wine also has many styles ranging from dry to sweet. The many options and styles can keep you experimenting with fortified wines for years, but there are other types of dessert wines not to be ignored. 

A Late harvest wine, or Vendange Tardive in French, or Spätlese, and Auslese in German is a wine that is harvested late, very straight forward. However, once you leave a grape on the vine 2 things can happen to turn the wine into a sub-category of Late Harvest wine. They can develop a rot we elegantly label Noble rot, or they can freeze and become ice wine. The sweetness in all these wines is achieved by leaving the  grapes on the vine past harvest time, the grapes then begin to dehydrate and concentrate the amount of sugar present in the grapes, thus giving you a sweeter wine. Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris are typically the grapes you see used for late harvest wines. Each one with it's own unique characteristics, although most have a silky texture to them which makes them ideal with mousse, or puddings. 

The Noble Rot known as Botrytis cinerea is the home category of the most famous dessert wine from Bordeaux, known as Sauternes, and Château D'Yquem is said to make the best. They use Sémillion and Sauvignon Blanc grapes that have been affected by the noble rot to produce their world class dessert wine, noted for it's honey and hazelnut characteristics. But it stands to note that Hungary was the first in the world to use the sweetened grapes of Furmint, Yellow Muscat, and Hárslevelü, in their dessert wine they Tokaji. This wine was praised and loved by everyone from Beethoven to Louis XIV. Tokaji holds historical relevance as the world's first appellation controlled region. Germany and Austria are also renowned for using grapes affected by noble rot, and has 2 categories that differentiate the amount of sweetness in the wine. They are known as Beerenauslese (BA) and Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA). With TBA being the sweeter of the two. The noble rot wines are great with rich desserts like cheesecake. 

Ice wine first made in Germany where it is known as Eiswein is what brought Canada fame on the international wine stage. It is made by leaving the grapes on the vine well past typical harvest time and allowing them to freeze. The juice freezes in the grape concentrating the sugars giving you a sweet wine. By law the temperature must reach -8º C (17ºF) before the harvest of Ice wine is allowed to commence. Typically the harvest is done at night to ensure the temperature stays cool. Making Ice Wine is fraught with many potential disasters. If it does not get cold fast enough the grapes may begin to rot, fall off or be eaten by pests. If it gets too cold too fast the grapes are frozen solid and cannot be pressed. But if the conditions all align it produces a sweet wine that retains a refreshing acidity as well. Riesling is probably the most common grape used for Ice Wine, but in Canada the hybrid grape Vidal is often used as well. However, everything from Cabernet Franc to Gewüztraminer has been used to make ice wine. Germany may have been the first to make ice wine and Canada may dominate the market but Austria, U.S.A., and many other European countries are also making this frozen treat that goes great with fruit based desserts.  

Letting the grapes turn into raisins is another way to achieve a dessert wine. You remove the grapes and let them dry on racks, until they become raisins, very little water left makes for a sweet wine. Italy is the dominant user of this style to create their dessert wines. Tuscany uses it to make Vin Santo, Veneto to make Recioto Soave, and Recioto della Valpolicella.  But the French use this method to make Vin de Paille.  It is also sometimes the style of wine used as a starter that is then fortified and made into Sherry.  It is great with almond based desserts. 

You can also add sugar or honey to a wine in a process known as Chaptalization, it is extremely frowned upon and even illegal in the upper tiers of dessert wine classifications, but there are those that still use it all over the world. Germany has another method of adding sugar to a wine known as Süssreserve where just straight grape juice is added to the wine both to sweeten it and to dilute the alcohol after fermentation has completed. This method is again not popular among producers of quality dessert wine but provides a sweet product for a more affordable price. They are best enjoyed with sharp aged cheeses to help cut the sweetness. 

Dessert wines are potent and being sweet are usually enjoyed in small quantities, which means small glass ware. You can purchase specific glassware for each specific type, but a good general rule is a small glass.  The temperature to be served at is unique to each type of dessert wine, but another  rough guideline to follow the lighter in colour the cooler in temperature, the darker the closer to room temperature.

The great thing about dessert wines means that their higher sugar content allows them to preserve their flavours for longer once opened. Ice wines can last 2 to 3 weeks once opened if stored in the fridge and corked. Madeira has the longest life once opened  as it was made to last and already is fully oxidized. It can keep for years just watch out for evaporation. Vintage Port or Asti are the exceptions to this rule they are meant to be consumed within the first night or two after opening. However for the most part dessert wines have a opened life of a few weeks. Just remember to keep the bottle sealed, cool, and the more left in the bottle the longer it's life.  

Dessert wines tend to run on the expensive side due to the difficult and expensive production methods. It is said only a single drop of juice can be squeezed out of a frozen grape for ice wine, you can only imagine how many  frozen grapes it takes just to make a single bottle, even if it is a smaller sized bottle. Not to mention when you take into consideration the gamble winemakers take by leaving the grapes on the vine past the normal harvest date. The chances for losing an entire crop whether it be to weather or pests is doubled. Plus noble rot doesn't affect an entire bunch, so the pickers must make several passes through the vineyard to ensure they get only the most nobly rotted grapes. Then there is the fact that some dessert wines require years of aging before they are even released to the market, like a Sauternes with it's minimum 3 years of aging. Thus delaying the return the producer has invested in it, which also raises the price. A Dessert wine is like a Fabergé egg, difficult, rare and expensive, but they both capture incredible elegance and beauty in such small packages. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wohlmuth Hochsteinriegl Sauvignon Blanc 2012 - Natalie MacLean

Wohlmuth Hochsteinriegl Sauvignon Blanc 2012 - Natalie MacLean

A perfect wine to drink while watching #Sochi2014 Alpine skiing this vineyard is just as steep as the slopes the skiers are going down. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Red Rooster Winery Meritage 2010 - Natalie MacLean

Red Rooster Winery Meritage 2010 - Natalie MacLean

Are you watching the Women's semi final Hockey today #Sochi2014? This wine is a perfect match as it comes from female winemaker Karen Gillis, and is a team effort wine with Malbec as the Captain.

Friday, February 14, 2014

CH 4 – Narration Exercise: Mandarin picking with the In-Laws

A sharp pain is spreading through my lower back, all thanks to the centre console of the car. I am 16 again on my way home from a party with 6 in a car meant for 5. Except I can’t follow the conversation, the music is definitely not Backstreet Boys, and there is no alcohol in sight. The reality is that I am 28, ridding home with my In-Laws after a day spent picking mandarins in the Turkish town of Sürmene. I think back to the beginning of the day that started out breathtaking but has led to holding my breath. 7 hours earlier the crystal blue of the Black Sea lay at the mountain’s feet, the air crisp and fresh with undertones of earth, and smoke. The sun had just topped the mountainside that ebbs and flows like a wave. The slopes are covered in tea bushes that look like giant dark green pillows. The varying shades of green are offset with a spattering of bright orange from the ripe manadarins. The houses are a mixture of wood and stone, nothing fancy, but sturdy and sound. The largest building is a Mosque with a blue dome, and when the call to prayer starts at 11am it echoes all through the valley. Here and there on the slope you can see people working the land. Some are burning pitch, most are women, wearing colourful head scarves and skirts that should clash, but they are as much a part of the landscape as the plush tea bushes. We climb a set of old stone steps littered with fallen mandarins up to the home of Cansu. A teacher with short choppy black hair and an easy smile. She works at the same school as my Father-In-Law. Her family has lived here for centuries, but now she only spends summers and weekends up here as it is too far from her job in Trabzon. She is the only one who can speak English. My Mother-In-Law Cevar has set herself up at a table outside and is gutting the small Hamsi fish that are very popular in Turkey. I sit down and pick up a knife in an attempt to prove that I may be foreign, but I am also helpful and not at all a sissy girl. I pick up the 3″ fish cut the head off, slice the belly open and pull the guts out. I glance over at Cevar expecting a nod of respect, but all I get is Mustafa, my Father-In-Law showing me how I to do it correctly. Mustafa thinks my inability to understand Turkish is in direct correlation to my hearing so he is forever shouting instructions at me. I refuse to stop until the 2 kilos of Hamsi are headless, intent on assuring my In-Laws of my worth. After the Hamsi are rinsed and the table cleaned up we sit down and enjoy some freshly squeezed orange juice, a crunchy cinnamon cake, and my all time favourite snack Börek. Börek is almost like a stuffed croissant but not quite as flakey. Cevar knows I love this dish and always makes it for me. Bellies filled up we all put a wicker basket with straps onto our backs and head over to one of the many Manadarin trees along the slope. It seems the trees have no owners and the fruit they bear belongs to anyone willing to pick it. By mid-afternoon the sun has disappeared into some clouds and two more teachers have showed up to help with the picking. We fill up the trunk of my In-Laws Ford Focus and head inside Cansu’s home to warm our hands around the wood fire stove. Dinner is Hamsi, salad, and more orange juice, and is followed up with several glasses of tea. I can now pinpoint this as the moment everything started to go downhill. The conversation seems to revolve around their work with Mustafa being the dominant player, he is the Principal after all. In this moment he reminds me of my husband who also tends to dominate conversations. I find myself smiling despite the encroaching boredom, wishing he was here to explain what the hell everyone is talking about. Cevar is not speaking very much. She does not work at the school and therefore is on the outs almost as much as I am. She glances my way and I give her a big smile trying to trick her into believing I am the most laid back daughter-in-law ever, even if it is a front. Cansu, however, is holding her own, energetically debating what I can only guess are educational reforms, since she is no longer keeping me in the loop. Perhaps she has used up all her English words. I really want to play CandyCrush but settle for memorizing a flower crochet picture instead. Finally we pack up and head to the car, and that’s when I realize pretending to be the laid back daughter-in-law has trapped me into sharing the front seat with Cansu, and a center console.

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rosé Champagne - Natalie MacLean

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rosé Champagne - Natalie MacLean

I splurged for this special occasion, funny thing is my husband doesn't really like bubbly wine so the gift is actually kinda for myself

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nk'Mip Mer'r'iym 2009 - Natalie MacLean

Nk'Mip Mer'r'iym 2009 - Natalie MacLean

Mer'r'iym means marriage, and this is one polygamous marriage of 5 grape varieties that actually works.