On the Gift from the Vine

Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.
~Ludwig van Beethoven

Interestingly, Beethoven turned 240 last week (December 17th). Coincidently, Meesh (who – like I, appreciates wine) gave me this quote, which actually inspired this post.

I love wine and view it as a gift. Every year Wine Spectator precedes the holiday season by publishing its top 100. For your holiday pleasure, here are wines on the list, but priced at less than $20. White wine drinkers, sorry the list all red because that is what I enjoy the most and know most about; but, upon special request, I’ll see what I can discover for you.

  • Bodegas Beronia Rioja Reserve 2005 (Spain)
  • Columbia Crest Merlot Horse Heaven Hills H3 2007 (Washington)
  • Chateau de Lascaux 2008 (France, Langeudoc)
  • Bodegas Ondarre Rioja Reserve (Spain)
  • Yelands Pinto Noir 2008 (New Zealand, Marborough)
  • D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Red 2008 (Australia)
  • Bodegas LAN Rioja Crianza (Spain)
  • Peter Lehmann Clancy’s Barossa 2007 (Australia)
  • Tamarack Firehouse Red Columbia Valley 2008 (Washington)

As a bonus, here are some of my value favorites.

  • Peter Lehman Shiraz (Australia)
  • Il Conte Rosso (Italy) – the best value on the planet if you can find it
  • Marietta Old Vine Red Lot 53 (California)
  • Rosenblum Vintner’s Cuvee Zinfandel XXXII (or any other Roman numeral) (California)
  • Various malbecs from Argentina or primotivos from southern Italy (Puglia)

Need a red wine for the holiday to serve to those who don’t like heavy reds? Try a Dolcetto (Italy) or a Beujalois Village (France) by George DuBuoef or Louis Jadot.

Need an easy sparkling wine for New Years’ that is easy on the palate and budget? Consider Saint Hillaire (France), a prosecco from Italy or a cava from Spain … but so many love sweetness of Asti Spumante (Italy). Wine Spectator values include Korbel Chardonnay California Champagne NV ($12) and Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Columbia Valley NV.

Need a dessert? Try this fabulous Chocolate-Red Wine Cake … and drink it with some ruby port. The pair is simply heavenly! For ruby port values, try Fonseca Port Bin No. 27 or Warre Port Warrior.

If you are a daring wine buyer, remember the online site Wine Till Sold Out (www.wtso.com). They only post one wine at a time, so if see something you want, don’t wait.

A few more wine quotes.

  • “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” (Ben Franklin)
  • “Wine is bottled poetry.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)
  • “He who loves not wine, women and song remains a fool his whole life long.” (Martin Luther)
  • “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.” (Louis Pasteur)

For those desiring more, here is a page with 101 wine quotes. Please share any wine recommendations too!

So far, the gift bag delivered holiday humor (Monday), images (Tuesday), and wine (today). What will tomorrow bring?

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 67

On the Honor Fest
I’m kicking myself for not attending the recent Glenn Beck festival in Washington. Sorry, but I had to match my socks. By the way, that was as much of a nonpolitical event as most other stuff in Washington.

By the way, has Minority Leader Boehner (R-OH) followed his own suggestion of putting grown-ups in charge by resigning? Just another example of his inability to practice what he preaches.

Columnist Maureen Dowd suggests using Kathleen Turner’s line from Body Heat to describe Mr. Boehner: You’re not too smart, are you? I like that in a man.

On Two Brilliant Columns
I cheered when reading this great column by Kathleen Parker. I especially love this line: Little else seems to be working lately as we sliver ourselves into a thousand shards of blithering self-interest.

Earlier I mentioned the Maureen Dowd’s column – here is another good one!

On Dimly Lit Paris
Paris Hilton cannot tell the difference between chewing gum and cocaine? And why is this person in the news?

On a Tea Party Win
With Senators Lisa Markowski and Ted Stevens out of the picture, can Tea Party favorite and Sarah Palin endorsed Joe Miller lead the charge in Alaska as their new King of Pork?

On Some College Football
I never thought of Boise State being one of the most hated teams in America. Check this out.

Although I shook my head at the announcement, here are two good articles about the situation from Michigan and Wisconsin.

On Tasty Recipes
Our dinner group had Hawaiian night a few weeks ago. My wife and I were responsible for appetizers, which were a big hit. Here are the recipes for pineapple salsa and Hawaiian chicken wings.

Another party host requested my chocolate wine cake. Yes, another hit, so here’s the recipe.

On a Holiday Weekend
For an end of summer bash, Cincinnati has a huge fireworks display on the river. Here’s a very short video of my favorite part – the fireworks waterfall from a bridge. Have a safe Labor Day holiday weekend.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 44

On the Health Insurance Dilemma
There’s no doubt that I support some sort of universal health care because I believe it’s a matter of human decency. On the other hand, I simply don’t trust Pelosi-led legislation. Stop cheering Republicans, you passed on your chance to get anything done.

Although columnist Charles Krauthhammer isn’t one of my favorites, this was an interesting column.

On South Carolina Republicans
Wow. South Carolina, arguably the most conservative state, has a battle brewing between conservative (as Sen. Lindsey Graham) and ultra-conservatives (as Sen. Jim DeMint). Now there’s a battle aimed at winning over moderates. Here’s an article.

A similar thing is happening in my district as a conservative incumbent is being challenged by two to the further right: those so far right that they are actually left. I like this Kathleen Parker column about the GOP.

On the Swiss Reaction
The Swiss vote banning the building of Islamic minarets could me off guard. On the other hand, the multitude of reactions is a balance between interesting and scary. The holy wars are definitely ramping up, and I have to wonder when a similar referendum is tried in here.

On Drivers Holding Cell Phones
Some states have passed laws against drivers talking on a cell phone while driving. Also, and well documented, females do this act more than males – and my observations note that the numbers are considerably different. Meanwhile, we in Ohio don’t have any laws about as such; and to top it off, today I observe a member of our local police force holding and talking on a cell phone while driving the cruiser. Yes, it was a female.

On Baseball’s Hallowed Hall
This year’s Hall of Fame ballot was announced. Given the choices, I would vote for Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, and Fred McGriff. Then again, that doesn’t mean anything to the actual voters.
On a Cake Recipe
I like wine and I like chocolate, so how does a chocolate wine cake sound? We’ve used this recipe from Food & Wine twice and it’s been a hit both times.