French map

I am addressing the next phase of my wine education by trying to learn where the wines I enjoy come from with an eye to elevation and soil.

Michelle Gibson, the owner, manager, former wine distributor and all around sweetheart at the Cork and Cow is always very informative if I know the correct question to ask.  But, my geography class was a very long time ago.

I found this map of France and have saved it so that I can have a peek at the topography of where the French wines I like come from.

French regions

The wine shop in Hillsborough has maps on the walls that I can use when I’m there and my iPad has begun traveling with me to Burlington.


March wine

My choice at the monthly wine club was 2 bottles of Oak Farm Vineyards Zinfandel from Lodi, California. The vineyard was installed in a place that had an oak grove and the owners refused to remove the trees in order to plant the grapes, thus, the name. The wine is aged in oak casks, too. This gives the wine a delightful and unexpected spiciness.  It retails for $20.

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Friday is usually “shopping in Hillsborough night” with a stop at the Hillsborough wine store for a taste and a glass followed by dinner and grocery shopping at the Weaver Street Market coop.  There is usually a distributor doing a little wine tasting at the coop, too.  So, between Tuesday at the Cork and Cow and Friday in Hillsborough, we have a nice range of opportunities to taste a lot of fermented grape juice.

Last Friday netted us 2 whites that are intended to go with mussels the next time we find them.

The Maz Caz is a 2016 French blend from Costieres de Nimes in the southeastern region near Marsailles made of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne. We got that from the tasting table at the wine shop.  It retails for $19, but was on sale for $14 because it was part of the tasting.

Our second purchase was a surprising Muscadet that is absolutely not sweet and has a nice body. Château de l’Oiselinière is in the middle of the west coast southeast of Nantes. This one cost $11.

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February wine


This month, we got 2 bottles of the same wine. It’s a Pojega 2014 Valpolicella Ripasso.



“Things don’t have purposes, as if the universe were a machine, where every part has a useful function. What’s the function of a galaxy? I don’t know if our life has a purpose and I don’t see that it matters. What does matter is that we’re a part. Like a thread in a cloth or a grass-blade in a field. It is and we are. What we do is like wind blowing on the grass.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

(Michelle posted this and I stole it because it is correct.)


January Club Wine

In January, we get to choose from anything in the store (up to $40). These were my choices. They have both been favorites since I met them.


This is one I met in Frederick, MD and have been pleased to find at Total Wine, here.


I seem to have a theme going.



My dad told me, once, that if you believe what the Nazarene taught, you are a Xian. Church doctrine isn’t what determines that.

I found some comfort in that, at the time, because peeling that label off was hard. I grew up believing that God loved me and that Jesus did, too. It was hard coming to grips with the belief that the loving god I was taught about had to be as much a myth as Zeus and Odin. All those stories are interesting, culturally, and are useful to see how people have tried to explain a confusing world. But, none of them have any more significance than that for me.

I don’t like to use the labels “agnostic” or “atheist,” though. They come with their own baggage that I don’t care to wear, either.


Along the Carroll Park Canal

There is a Linear Park in Frederick, Maryland with a canal running through it.   There is a bridge over it that has been completely transformed by trompe l’oeil  stones, insets and a duck.

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She was looking for koi and didn’t see the duck until we pointed it out to her because it is flat.  She was as charmed to notice it as we were.


December Club Wine

We are members of a wine club.  The wine bar we frequent has weekly wine tastings that cost $5/person for 4 tastes and a bite of cheese. Club members (and their significant other) don’t pay for the tastings. And the tasting the first week of the month is “club wines;”  you choose 2 bottles to take home.  Those tend to be in the mid- to upper teen$.   It saves us money by not paying for 8 tastings a month plus 2 bottles of wine.  It costs us for the additional glass of wine and snack we usually have when we go to a tasting.  I think everybody wins.

I am bad about remembering where we have gotten various wines.  So, I’m planning to try to remember to at least post our club wine selections here. I may run out of steam.  We’ll see.

This month we brought home 2 bottles of Shebang! Red from Sonoma, California.  It is “Mostly Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics.” Thus, the Whole Shebang.  Cost at Cork and Cow is $16/ bottle, $7/glass.



Distilleries I have visited in 2017:

Fainting Goat Spirits in Greensboro, North Carolina (Lovely herbal gin and very smooth vodka)

Broad Branch Distillery in Winston Salem, North Carolina (The blueberry flavor of the Smashing Violet whiskey isn’t nearly as strong at the color suggests)

10th Ward Distilling Company in Frederick, Maryland (We brought home lovely applejack)

McClintock Distilling in Frederick , Maryland (We went to a party they hosted. The cocktails were lovely. We didn’t, however, bring any home.)

Dark Corner Distillery in Greenville, South Carolina (Tasting room, not the actual distillery. We brought home Mountain Peak Espresso flavored rum.)

Copperhead Mountain Distillery in Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina (Brought home their “Scotch” which tastes more like Irish because there is no peat.)

Dragon Moonshine in Charlotte, North Carolina (I brought Apple Pie and Amaretto rums home.)

My liver may be in danger.


Time to eat!

The other day, I got to pondering the words we use for meals.  I was on my way to my favorite wine bar where I intended to have an early supper/late lunch and the fact that American’s don’t have a word for that meal got my brain spinning around the ways we talk about dining.

Breakfast, break fast, is just the first food of the day.   A light breakfast is light in weight and doesn’t usually last very long.  Toast, maybe an egg.  Granola.  Hot cereal like oatmeal that you can eat standing up.  A big breakfast has a load of protein and is meant to stick with you.  Frequently there are vegetables, too.  Potatoes in the form of hash browns. Sliced tomatoes in the summer. Onions, peppers and mushrooms in the omelette.  Fruit on egg bread, waffles and pancakes.  A big breakfast isn’t a meal that you grab as you run out the door.

Brunch is a word that means garnish and, frequently, alcohol in your fruit juice.  Brunch is languorous.  It also means I’m not doing anything that takes effort before noon.

Lunch is the middle of the day meal.  Big lunch means you will wish for a nap, later.  Lunch happens anywhere from 11 AM to 3 PM.

Supper is the evening meal.  Dinner is the biggest meal that is not breakfast.  So, lunch or supper could be dinner.   Sunday dinner is almost always lunch.  But, a work day dinner is usually supper.

So, the question that came to my mind was “what is the afternoon equivalent of brunch?”  Turns out, it’s afternoon tea.  My Canadian friends tell me that tea is served around 3:30 or 4:00, there is tea to drink and something light to eat.    We chuckled over a young acquaintance who had fussed at her sister to “eat your tea.”  But, I think I want to adopt that usage.  It’s a handy definition. And while a cream tea is one that includes jam and clotted cream in the snacks, I think a wine tea may become my occasional earlier-than-supper afternoon meal.

And, according to my English friend, high tea is a heavy meal served as workers come in from their labors ready for serious eats.  I expect it comes from afternoon tea that waited a little too long and needed to be more filling since you were ravenous by the time you finally got have food.

Another word I am going to adopt is “fika.” It is a Swedish word and it means to have coffee and a bite and a chat with friends.  It is a thing I love and now have a word for.  It is not time specific.  It is activity specific and it an activity I enjoy immensely.


I learned another meal word from my Spanish friend.   “In Spain, there is an actual meal between lunch (which for them is always the largest meal of the day), and dinner, which is a lunch-sized portion late in the day, like 8 or 9 pm. I was always offered this meal, each day, even in the hospital! “Merienda”. It corresponds to the “tea” idea, but without mentioning tea. Coffee or tea might be offered, or beer or wine, and deli slices, bread, cookies, fruit. Oh, it happened around 5 pm. Very confusing.”