Wine Basics: The Five Ss

Wine requires two assessments:  Subjective and Objective.  Just because we like a wine, doesn’t mean it’s a great wine.  One way to illustrate this point is with art.  You may not want to hang a reproduction of a Claude Monet painting in your home, but you agree that Monet is a great artist. So, getting to the point where you have both a subjective and objective opinion is one of the most rewarding stages in developing knowledge and comfort in wine; thus, allowing you to separate your liking of something from its quality. So, the point is this:  You can love a wine but understand that it’s not a great wine.  For example, I have weekly wines and weekend wines.  Weekly wines are inexpensive wines ($15-25) we enjoy with our simple evening meals; however, weekend wines are the special ones ($50 or more) we may take to a favorite gourmet restaurant that has a corkage fee. Most of us know what we like, but having an objective opinion means increasing our knowledge base. So, let’s get started! The Five Ss: –See –Swirl –Sniff –Sip –Savor All together, they’ll enable you to maximize your enjoyment of your next glass of wine. SEE A wine’s color can tell you a lot: Taste, intensity, condition, and most likely, its aromas and flavors. The best way to examine the color is to tilt the glass over a white surface, such as a white table […]

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More Than A Memento

In life, we often go through our days interacting with others, but not really connecting.  It’s just the way it is.  Most days we are busy, stressed, and distracted—replaying yesterday and worrying about tomorrow.  It can be difficult to be in the moment, to observe and listen, to be present—to look and actually see.  Not that we mean to or want to, but sometimes we operate on a superficial level.  This is partly because we are so engaged in our own worlds, disconnected and unable to relate to something outside of ourselves. I’m reminded of an experience I had one summer while visiting my favorite place—England.  My husband and I were spending the day in a Cotswolds market town in Gloucestershire, a charming place with honey-colored, stone architecture and baskets full of colorful, cascading flowers adorning the front of every other building.  As we made our way along the busy highstreet, a courtyard with shops and galleries caught our attention.  We walked into the brightly lit space with sunlight streaming down from the skylights above, illuminating the shops before us.  I immediately noticed the simple but stunning jewelry in one of the galleries.  I walked in and began to browse.  My gaze landed on an understated, wide, silver band with an anticlastic shape. It was lovely.  I wanted to try it on, but I didn’t see anyone.  I looked across the hallway, and sitting opposite the gallery, in a studio, […]

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Tuesday Tunes: Feeling Festive

I LOVE wandering around vintage/antiques stores.  You know the kind—where there’s everything from beautiful, old quilts to those tacky Smurf drinking glasses you just had to collect when you were a child. The fun thing is you never know what you may find….treasure or trinkets.  But, it’s all good stuff! Well, recently, while enjoying a lazy afternoon in one of these delightful shops, I discovered an item that grabbed my attention…a pillow with small, red bells on the corners and the phrase, “Get Your Jingle On.”  I laughed out loud! Anyway, the more I thought about this whimsical pillow, the more I decided that I really needed it.  I thought, “What a good reminder of this season of love and goodwill.” So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, tired, or stressed-out, put on some festive music, remember your blessings, and think about all the wonderful things you can do to reflect light into our world by offering a kind word, a bright smile, or a helpful hand. Go ahead, “GET YOUR JINGLE ON.”     As you can see, Clementine, Dash, and Bizou love the pillow, especially the bells. 🙂 Wishing you a week full of joy and lots of jingles! 

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This Above All…

Farmgirl posing before school on picture day Circa 1977     “I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~Brené Brown   “Never betray your values. Never betray yourself.” ~Walter Rieley (My dad)   “This above all: to thine own self be true…” ~William Shakespeare   […]

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Rosebud’s Lesson

 Butterbean, Sweet Pea, and Truffle stoically watching their fallen friend.   This post was originally published November 1st, 2018 It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. However, the lesson is still there.   I squatted uncomfortably in the pasture. My left shin gently pressing on Rosebud’s back with the remainder of weight shifted to my right leg. My left hand disappeared into the coarse wool on her chest, above her heart. As I carefully caressed Rosebud’s face, the feathery sensation of her long eyelashes brushed against my hand as she opened and closed her eyes.  Her heartbeat was faint. Although Rosebud was still grazing and eating grain regularly, we recently noticed she had lost weight and seemed to be lying around more. She was nearly 12-years-old now–elderly for a sheep. However, even though a bit slower, she was always grazing with the flock and never missed an opportunity for a grain treat…until Wednesday morning. After feeding the sheep, I walked back to the house, feeling my chest tighten and heaviness gather in my shoulders. Once inside, I picked up the phone and dialed our local vet’s office. A young girl answered, “Bedford Animal Hospital.” I was struck by the contrast of the cheerful, sunny voice at the other end of the line to the worried, grayness of my inner landscape.  The receptionist informed me that the doctors’ schedules were full, and that no one would be available for a […]

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Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Parmesan and Pecans

I enjoy salads all year long–mainly, because they’re healthy and don’t take too long to prepare. Salads with roasted vegetables and/or fruit are a favorite.  Roasting adds so much flavor and helps create a more satisfying meal. For this pear salad recipe, carmelizing the pears on top of the stove prevents them from becoming overcooked–as they do when oven-roasted.  The balsamic vinegar is used to make a fruity vinaigrette that accentuates the pears’ flavor.  In addition, a couple of extra tablespoons of the vinegar is stirred into the hot pan while cooking the pears, creating a glazy coating.  For the greens, a mix of crunchy, mild green leaf lettuce works well.  Add salty Parmesan to offset the pears’ natural sweetness and pecans for buttery richness.  And, you have a lovely autumn salad with lots of appeal! Finding a suitable wine pairing for salad can sometimes be challenging, especially when balsamic vinegar is involved.  However, this salad pairs well with sparkling wine or Champagne. Enjoy!   Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Parmesan and Pecans: Serves 6 *Use organic ingredients when possible Ingredients: 1 1/2 pounds pears, quartered lengthwise and cored Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 1 small shallot, minced 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/2 small head green leaf lettuce (4 ounces), torn into 1-inch pieces or loose mixed greens 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese 3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted Method: –Toss pears with 1/4 teaspoon […]

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Tuesday Tunes: The Grapevine

Meadows of Dan, Virginia  Blue Ridge Parkway   Recently, Farmguy and I participated in the grape harvest at a local winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwestern Virginia.  Located in the Rocky Knob American Viticultural Area (AVA), Chateau Morrisette Winery sits at an elevation of nearly 3500 feet.  Boasting spectacular views, it’s amid one of the most rugged and mountainous parts of the state.  Although the winery is at 3500 feet, most of its vineyards are down the mountain at 1600 feet. Chateau Morrisette Winery was founded by David Morrisette in 1978, making it among the oldest wineries in Virginia.  It has 13 acres of land and produces approximately 70,000 cases of wine each year. Chardonnay, Viognier, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Vidal blanc are among the varietals used in making Chateau Morrisette’s wines.  Besides growing many of its own grapes, the winery also buys grapes from other vineyards in Virginia.  Due to the state’s climate and growing season, Viognier and Cabernet Franc are some the winery’s most successful varieties. In the photos, Farmguy and I are harvesting Niagara grapes—a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca.  Niagara grapes are one of the few grape varieties that can grow at such a high elevation. These green grapes are table grapes and are also used in making jams, juices, and wines.  They are mainly used in Chateau Morrisette’s sweet/dessert wines—Sweet Mountain Laurel and Red […]

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