Monday, November 30, 2009

Might Need A New Program

So in a effort to ensure that we would have a sold out class the day after Thanksgiving Randy booked one of my Champagne events, these classes are always the first to fill up, sell out and have been the most successful in terms of sales, so I too thought it was a good idea….but we are starting to have, well and issue. So we can seat, (comfortably) around 30-35 people for one of our classes, many more than that and it can get pretty cramped not to mention it is harder to control the crowd, so I have always taken 30 for the Champagne events….a few glasses of bubbles and the crowd gets a little um, boisterous, so 30 seemed to be the magic number for me.. The class this last Friday sold out long ago, that’s all good right…yeah except for one thing.

The format of my bubble events is super relaxed, I don’t pound a bunch of, “how Champagne is made” or history of the estates down people’s throats, I let the wines do most of the talking and I interject with bits of information and walk around the tables making myself available for any and all questions. I talk briefly about the wines before each flight but for the most part the crowd kind of does their own thing. This format has been working for me for years, people like the chill feel of it and end up chatting with their neighbors, making new friends and having a great time…I love that, have always loved that but, as I checked the enrollment sheet for the class this Friday I saw what I have been noticing for the past few…large parties, really large parties and a long ass waiting list with more large parties.

Now normally this would not be a problem, full seats are full seats, but what has begun happing is the same groups are showing up, bringing their friends, (and a picnic this last time) and while one member of the group, (usually the one that makes the reservation) may buy a bottle or two, the rest of the group is not…problem. I have people on a waiting list that want to attend but my seats are full with people having a private party, I appreciate that they like my events and all but the goal is to move some wine, turn people onto things they have never tasted and like sell some too. Well these groups are starting to be a problem, even filling a cancellation is a problem, 4 people cancel and I look to the waiting list and it’s all groups of 5 or more…argh!

The class this Friday was full of the regular suspects, (two large parties in particular) and we had 2 no shows, (just so happens they are my biggest Champagne buyers as well) so the class really was not all that successful, sure we filled seats, sure my core group of ardent supporters bought some Champagne, we sold over three thousand dollars worth of wine, but wrestling with the noise from the private parties and having that loud group not buy any wine, well it told me that I might need a change in my program.

The first suggestion was not taking reservations for groups larger than 4, well that won’t work because they will all just make separate reservations…oh and what a nightmare when they all arrive and tell us that they want to sit together, nope that’s out. The second was to say the class was sold out when these parties call, well I am not about to do that, I’m not lying. So aside from pulling these people aside and telling them, “I know you like these classes, I’m flattered, I really am but if you wish for them to continue we need the seats filled with people that may actually buy wine”…thinking that might just go over like a fart in church. No what I think I am going to do for the time being is take 45 reservations for all the Champagne classes, sounds rather daunting to me personally, (all those eyes on me at one time…makes me feel kinda barfy just thinking about it) but I’m at a bit of a loss, I need more bubble lovers to support and grow my department, the little private parties just aint gonna make that happen.

All that being said, the class was still fun, (another problem with the party goers, they tend to want to stay. They just sit there while we are cleaning up around them. No offence folks but we are not at a party, we’re working and we would like our evening to end before like 11:00 PM and stuff) those ardent supporters, well they stayed to help me clean and empty the bits of leftover Champagne before convincing me to go to a bar and have a few drinks…weak, Champagne makes me weak. The best part of the night was as it should have been, the wines, the wines were fucking, (sorry Thomas) fantastic!

Featured Wines

NV Jose Dhondt, ($59.99) I was the odd man out on this wine, I loved it…always love it but thought the wine that I poured next to it was better, (Pierre Peters) but it was still lovely. Deeply roasted, tons of apple and a delicate mousse.

NV Pierre Peters, ($52.99) this wine can give me goosebumps. So savory and almost salty, sea-kissed, with little bits of citrus and toast. This wine begs for oysters and after a bottle of it with oysters…well begging is likely.

NV Bruno Gobillard, ($76.99) a wine that spun my head at a Champagne trade event and one that I was dying to wrap my palate around again. Subtle, very fine bead, delicate graham cracker, apple skin and cream…rich and supple but refined, think muscular legs beneath lace.

1999 Guy de Chassey, ($79.99) I had recently sent this bottle to someone whose palate I am dying to get to know, wanted their take on it, to see if it flipped their switch like it did mine, don’t think it did but putting the glass to my nose that night…flipped me again. I taste so much Champagne that when I taste one that is so different it just grabs me, this wine…well it shook me with both hands, and I dug it. Sexy as hell, full of fragrant white flowers, pears, green herbs and spice. The palate is long, really long and the wine just kept getting better and more expressive as it warmed I the glass. I went back at the end of the night to re-taste from the open, un-refrigerated bottle…damn, giving me little shivers just thinking about it.

NV RH Coutier Brut, ($39.99) I will confess a soft spot for this wine. The importer brought a bottle to dinner one night and asked me if he should consider bringing it in, um…flattering much?! Well I gave him a giant, “hells yeah” and now it’s here. I love the richness, texture and weight of this wine, and at this price…stoopid, it’s a stoopid value. Baked fruit, warm bread and butter with a long Pinot rich finish.

NV Camille Saves Carte Blanche, ($56.99) another Pinot rich bubbly, full of red fruit, toast and cream. Lovely weight and a long toasty finish. Powerful enough to hold up to food but pretty sublime all on its own.

NV Vve Fourny Brut Rose, ($45.99) you know, there is always one wine that gets trounced, this was it. I think after all those Pinot based, powerful wines this pretty “little” wine just got clobbered. Gentle wild strawberry on the nose with bits of pepper and a more cooked berry thing on the palate, very pretty, very clean and a perfect little starter wine.

NV H. Billiot Brut, ($56.99) um, love it. Always love it. Big cooked apple flavors, tons of toasted bread and a mouth feel that is rich and assertive. Slutty, I always call the wines from Billiot slutty and by that I mean there are no hidden corners, the wine is all out there in its curvy, sexy nakedness…rawr.

NV Rene Geoffroy Brut Rose, ($63.99) oaky, I’m fessing up here, I didn’t like this wine at all that night. I found it stinky, like someone just lit a match and the palate was completely shut down. Might just be a phase, I’ve had and adored this wine in the past but that night…

NV Camille Saves Brut Rose, ($72.99) sexy, this wine is ridiculously sexy. Palate staining texture, cooked black cherries and cream…drinks more like a Burgundy than Champagne but it has all those sassy little bubbles….damn.

We also poured the H. Billiot Cuvee Julie but seeing as I just wrote that up in my last post I will spare you the rerun….it still makes me want to do naughty things, still a remarkable wine, still delicious.

Thanks to all that attended, I think at least one of you read this silly blog. Thanks for the after tasting drinks, um…kisses and bites on my neck, you people are totally crazy and I adore you for it. Be prepared for a much different looking, (in terms of size) but still great tasting, Champagne event in the New Year.

Friday, November 27, 2009

You've Got To Be Kidding

So I woke this morning feeling a little blue about my baby having to fly back to Louisville today, (he works retail and has to be there for Black Friday) but it was still a treat to shuffle past his bedroom and see his giant, 6 foot frame snuggled under the covers of his bed, sweet bearded face and puffy as hell afro resting upon his pillow. We had Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws last night so he would in fact be able to have a home cooked holiday meal, not MY holiday meal but still one that he grew up with…we always did two, one with the hubby’s family and then one at home with the sugar dusted rolls and our buttery stuffing.

So as a result of a nasty chest cold, (horrific coughing that is of course worsened by my smoking) I have pulled some muscles in my ribcage, so yeah the cold is gone but I’m still jacked up. The rib thing just blows, every move, every cough, even a deep breath sends mind bending pain along my side and around to my back…super fun I assure you. I’m sure a couple of days keeping still would right me but um…yeah, retail wine shops are like busy and junk around the holidays. Taking time off was not an option so I have just been nursing my wounds and making other people do all the heavy lifting and wheeling about of cases.

This morning as I walked past the kid’s room I noticed that my ribs felt better than they have in 3 days, I was thrilled and found myself almost giddy while reaching for a coffee cup and feeling no pain…Yay! Yeah well, fate was tempted by my excitement, he turned around a bitch slapped me. Bzzzzzz, scrape, scrape, bzzzzzzz, freaking gardeners where out with their blower dealies this morning and then it started. The eyes began watering, the nose running like someone turned on a faucet and then….the sneezing. Now sneezing and jacked ribs, not so much friends, bit of an oil and water thing actually. Within 40 minutes I looked liked one of those first day of school kids, eyes dripping, clear snot streaming out of my now red nose and I was doing that huffing thing because of the ice pick in the ribs pain, yeah super hot. There was however some good news, I didn’t have to take the kid to the airport….because I was working, dag-nab-it.

Sailed into work 15 minutes early, traffic was insanely light and I was waiting for a very important email so I was doing a bit of the pedal to the metal thing, that and sitting in the car is not the best position on the ole ribcage. Lugged my purse and computer bag out of the car and that’s when the, “Ahhh ahhh ahhh” started, the fucking almost sneeze, all the side splitting pain of a sneeze without the gratification, sweet. I swear I looked so pathetic, bright red, drippy nose, watering eyes smearing my makeup and clutching my side like someone having a heart attack. Got the lights on, the music on, read my email and went to turn on the registers…. “Your system has encountered an error” well of course it has. Shut down and restart did nothing, our machines were out, on Thanksgiving and the one person that might be able to fix it, (my hubby) was on his way to LAX to drop off the kid, awesome.

So how does a store control inventory and ring up sales when they have no registers, they hand write everything and use a calculator…oh and they must remember that wine is taxable food is not, sigh. I was working with Merritt who is highly capable but my other helper, new guy, just started last week and knows nothing about wine, and I am talking not knowing which name on the label is the important one kind of knows nothing. Sweet kid, hard worker and willing to learn but today, kind of useless. Phones ringing, (new kid can’t really answer much more than, “what time do you close today”) people needing wine help and lines at the counter while we wrote out each and every invoice…so yeah, when you have your head down and have a runny nose…first day at school kid.

“Sam there’s a person on the phone and I don’t really know what they want”…new kid, “This is Samantha, how can I help you?” my standard intro, “Yes I was wondering if you carry the raspberry Champagne?” I’m standing there watching the lines get longer, line two starts ringing and the new kid looks like he had been thrown in the deep end without his floaties… “No, no we don’t have any raspberry Champagne” I respond, “Oh why not? BevMo carries it and I would go there but they are closed today so I called you to see if you have it. I like the peach but I thought the raspberry would go better with turkey so I figured since BevMo was closed I would try you guys, can you get it?” Runny nose, watery eyes, the “ahh ahh” not “choo-ing” causing me to suck in my breath real hard and try not to yelp, and now I have this raspberry Champagne issue. We went round and round and once the caller heard that I would not be able to pull the requested, “raspberry Champagne” like out of my ass for them today, they said they would come in later and talk Champagne with me…wicked cool.

After two hours, some serious hand cramps, a couple, “excuse me” moments where I had to rush off to wipe my nose, a few, “OUCH oh my gawd oh my gawd” mind piercing side pains…oh and may I just throw in a couple panicky trips to the ladies room, because of course today was the day my uterus decides to behave like some demonic Pez dispenser….and the hubby was able to revive our system and things were back on track. I spent the remaining two hours in utter disbelief of the day started; it was like a cartoon with me playing the role as the gimp….but things were starting to look up.

Got home, got my bird in the oven, took a brief cat nap and had one of the most deliciously sweet dreams about a man I have never met…woke up with my heart pounding, my ribs feeling better and I was aching for a glass of wine. Walked into the kitchen, gingerly this time…not ready for another slap from fate, and opened the fridge to find….a bottle of H. Billiot Cuvee Julie, payment from Randy for the hubby’s saving our collective asses, shitty day? What shitty day?

Ending this day with an icy cold glass of Billiot Cuvee Julie, (was my pick for Champagne of the year by the way) the way the fruit exploded from the glass, the way the massive weight enveloped my palate, the way it left me tasting baked apples, toasted bread, Sherry and this sexy snap of apple skin…and it kept going, the flavors danced across my palate long after the wine had been washed down my eagerly awaiting, wanting…needing palate, unreal. The sheer power of that wine was unreal. Ended the night spinning in the hubby’s office chair with my adorable neighbor in my lap….giggling, we were both giggling.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving Thanks

Growing up in the house of a hard working, doing the best she can, but getting no financial help, single mother made holidays a bit…prickly. There were birthdays that were never brought up, not because she didn’t want us to celebrate, (we were poor not Jehovah) but because there was no extra money to spend on gifts, parties or cakes. Christmas was the most uncomfortable, I was born in love with the commercial idea of Christmas, (was not raised in a religious house) the lights, the gift wrap, the music, the specials on television and the idea of a jolly white bearded man flying all over the world to deliver gifts. It was never the getting of stuff, I never even really thought about getting stuff, but I found the whole thing so enchanting…my mother, well she did not. To her it was just one more reminder of the things she could not give us, it made her feel terrible and it showed. I did my best to contain my excitement around Christmas, even as I kid I understood her plight and how it pained her….never once wanted to make her feel worse.

There was however one holiday that she loved, a holiday we could celebrate as everyone else did, go all traditional and the one time of the year my mother didn’t feel like she was failing us in some way. That holiday was Thanksgiving and when I was little the one thing I would site that I was the most thankful for was, “Mom is happy today”. The last time I saw my mother we had all, gotten together to celebrate her 55th birthday at her favorite restaurant in Long Beach. She looked so happy, grandchildren around her, her favorite cut of prime rib in front of her, her now adult children, (my baby sister had just turned 18 a few days before) taking her out to dinner, she was beaming.

Three days later after returning home from a dinner with her cousin she suffered some shortness of breath while changing into her nightgown, she called 911 and an hour later I got a phone call….she was gone. A blood clot ended her life, a blood clot to her heart, always found some irony in that, her heart was the one thing she always had, it was full of love, pride and hope for her children, the hope that their lives would turn out better than hers. She gave us her heart, it was all she had to give really, and for that I am eternally grateful….to her and to how her rich heart made me strong, made me a fighter and taught me to appreciate the thought in even the tiniest of gestures. No gift wrap, no parties and no amount of birthday cake can compare to the gifts she bestowed upon me. I never got the chance to tell her that, I ran out of time….I can only hope that I made her proud, that I continue to make her proud and the legacy of her full heart will show in the strength and happiness of her daughters.

I think of my mother often but never as much as around Thanksgiving, her happy time. I find that my own heart feels richer, fuller and more tuned in to the things that matter, around Thanksgiving. This is a reflective time for me, a time of happy childhood memories around a table packed with olives, sweet pickles, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, (she always brushed her dinner rolls with butter and dusted them with sugar before baking, hated them as a kid, make them that way now) bright green sweet peas, raisin studded, buttery stuffing and a golden brown bird…my mother laughing, I remember very little of my childhood, Thanksgiving I always remember. I never want to, “run out of time” again…I want those that I love to know that I love them, I want to be truly grateful for each thing that touches me, changes me and adds to this person that I am. It may be a silly holiday gesture but for me…it means the world to gives thanks.

I am thankful for:

My Son Jeremy, without his entrance into my life I have no idea how far down that slippery slope I would have fallen. Being his mother made me a better person, knowing him makes me a better person and raising such an astonishingly magnificent young man makes me as proud as I have ever been.

My Husband, poor bastard…being married to me is no cake walk I assure you, his patience and understanding of what I need to feel truly happy is unsurpassed. His ability to make me feel safe, really safe in my own skin is unlike anything I had known before him.

My Sister, her laugh simply kills me, don’t even need to know the source of the laughter, just hearing her giggle sends serious shots of happiness to my heart. Her perseverance and dedication to her education, her husband, her puppies…all make me swell with pride, make me think of mom and make me hope that she too knows how much I love her and how grateful I am to have her.

Randy Kemner, my boss and mentor, the man that brought wine into my life, swung the door wide open and urged me to find my palate, my passion and my words to express both. The man that soothed my insecurities, pushed me and changed the way I think about my place or worth, the first man that was ever genuinely proud of me and it shows…all the time. I have bled, cried and poured sweat for Randy and I would do it again in a heartbeat, his love means the world to me and his gift of wine and food will be with me forever.

Michael Sullivan, the man that opened the world to me, showed me France, drove me around the Eiffel Tower….at midnight no less, the wet Paris streets, the trip to France that forever changed me, that last night as I looked from the twinkly lights on the tower back to Michael Sullivan, the way his face bore the wisdom of a teacher, the way it showed me he was willing to teach me…the way he never stopped teaching me. Michael has supported my wine education and pushed me to write like no one ever has…I long to make him proud and always let him know how much his gift has meant to me.

My Girls, (Amy, Merzie and Sonya) three women that can find beauty in me even in my ugliest times, women that love me for everything I am, women that trust me with their hearts and for whom I would walk through fire. Friendship as sound and as strong as we have is a very rare gift and one I have never once taken lightly.

Benito, the first person to really pay attention to this silly blog, my first loyal reader, (that didn’t already know me) that went out of his way to help and encourage me.

Ron Washam, a man that selflessly goes out of his way to make me feel truly adored, makes me feel beautiful, (no easy feat) and encourages me through is adoration and support. He makes me laugh, he makes me blush and he makes me proud to know him, proud that he wants to know me. As smart and funny a writer as I have ever met and I am honored that he reads and loves me.

Red Burgundy, for teaching me that wine can indeed make love to you, seduce you and haunt you.

John Kelly, for making me laugh, standing up for me and letting me close to his life…I am always thinking of you.

Champagne, a wine that stole my heart, honed my palate and my passion for it got me lots of admirers and enormous respect..something I yearned for and now pushes me to learn more.
All Of My Readers, you all push me to write, something I have discovered that I love doing, you encourage me, drive me and make me want to share myself, my stories and my rants with all of you…I cherish what you have all given me.

French Fries, as perfect a food as there ever was.

Didier Dagueneau, for showing the world that Sauvignon Blanc, in the right hands, can be a very serious wine. That and for breaking my bawls which knocked some of the shy right off me. You are greatly missed.

Dale Kemner, a woman whose smile melts my heart, a woman whose strength is inspiring and a woman whose adoration means the world to me. The meals, the example you have set, these are things that drive me, make me want to make you proud, one of those smiles and I know you are.

Dave Matthews, for showing me that smart is sexy as hell.

The Wine Country, without it I would never have had much of this list….without it I would have never been me.

Mom, forever thankful.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Yup, they’re here, yes we will be pouring them in celebration of the harvest but…damn, do I hate these wines. For years I turned up my nose at Gamay, I didn’t get them, I do now but these? Not so much. They are thin, tangy and more often than not taste of banana, I hate banana. I even had one wine person say, “I cannot wait to taste the Nouveau this year. I hear that 2009 was a great vintage for France”……um, what the hell? You really think those carbonicly craptastic wines are going to tell you something about the 2009 vintage in France?! Oh that’s right, you read all the “press” so you already know everything, (grumble). The thing is, I already know this person is going to taste the wines and proclaim them the best vintage in years, why even bother tasting them? I sure as shit wouldn’t if I didn’t have to….

The best part is when people ask me what my favorite is, for years I would just flat out tell people how much I hate them but after having people look at me like I just skinned a cat, I now just kind of chuckle, gently mention that they are, “Pretty similar” and point to the one with the label I like the most. I know I am going to get my bawls broken all day about this, the staff, knowing full well how I feel about these wines, is going to relish in having me assist every customer that wants a detailed breakdown on each Nouveau we have….sigh. I get why people love the festivities, the celebration and all but to get all serious, want tasting notes and standing there with your brow furrowed, nose buried in the glass while feverishly taking notes….well that might be just a little silly. Drink them, celebrate with them, wash your feet in them, (most pleasurable of the three in my book) but remember what they are and were meant to be, “fun”.

We did however just get in a bunch of 2008 Cru Beaujolais and they are drinking wicked delicious....think I will kick in the extra 5 bucks and drink those.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanks For Playin"

So now that the newsletter needs are off my shoulders I had some time to really look at the results of the survey I posted, okay okay…I looked before now, matter of fact I was damn near compulsive the first day or two, but with deadline breathing down my neck I let myself check, less. Now that I have some real time to look it over, and read the emails from those of you that wanted to see the results, (guess I’m not the only nosey one) I figured it wouldn’t hurt to post the findings. So the one thing I noticed was that many of you opted to fill in the blanks as it were, gotta tell ya…I was pretty touched by some of the things that were said, really touched, don’t know what I did to deserve such praise, would do it again in a second because that felt really damn good. Thank you all for taking the time, it does help and I will be taking some of the suggestions into consideration, (that’s fancy talk for, “thanks for stuffing my suggestion box and I aint gonna change much”) but for the most part it seems like people seem to like this silly blog and for a girl like me, that is a truly heartwarming thing.

I cannot address all of the things posted, like I said most of you opted to fill in the blanks but there were one or two people that pointed out my…um, lack of grammatical understanding, and to that I can only say, “Who the hell are ya tellin?!” I suck dudes, I know. The one thing I will say in my defense is that I was a horrible student that is when I was a student. I was kicked out of Poly High, (source of great pride when I was younger…much less now) in the 10th grade so the last grade I completed was the 9th and even then I rarely went to school. There is a whole world of shit that I never cared to learn, (again much cooler when you are like 16 than now) so those of you that read even though you must be cringing…I adore you for that. I’m not a writer, I’m just some chick that writes her mindless crap, throws it up and for some reason people read it, again I adore you for that.

I have to address the one person that responded to tell me that they read weekly but pretty much have no use for anything I write and would like to run into me, “never” I just have to ask, “Why are you reading?” I’m not upset and appreciate you taking the time to share your displeasure with me and my rambling but, why put yourself through it? Fuck, if I didn’t have to listen to me I wouldn’t and when it comes to reading blogs…you don’t have to. Save yourself, run!

Okay so on to the results…

1) I read Samantha Sans Dosage Because:
Other was the winner here. 45.5% of you opted to add your personal reason, (melted kids, I melted)
Drunk chicks are funny got 30.3% of the votes
Wine reviews got 24.2%
Customer at The Wine Country and HoseMaster tied with 12.1%
I had 2 because she is my soul mate on this one…

2) The one thing I would like to see more of:
Rants & Vetos took first place here with 45.5%
Other got 30.3%
Wine reviews got 18.2%
Personal stories got 6.1%
Wine business news got a big fat donut
Got a few, “More banter with HoseMaster”, got quite a few, “More pictures of Sam” (not happening by the way) Got lots of, “Don’t change a thing” and one request for erotic fiction…

3) I read Samantha Sans Dosage:
Daily got 51.5%
Alerted to new posts got 18.2%
Weekly got 12.1%
Rarely got 3.0%
Other got 15.2 and can I say, I loved the person that said hourly.

4) I don’t comment because:
Other took it here at 57.6%
Don’t know what to say got 30.3%
Other posters got 3.0%
Don’t care got 3.0%
My favorites in the other department, (aside from the total pervy one..and I know who you are!) were, “I’m afraid you might take a swing at me” and “Eh, I’m just not that interesting”

5) I started reading Samantha Sans Dosage because (and yes I am tired of typing my own name now)
She made me laugh got 42.4%
Drunk chicks are funny got 39.4%
I like French wine got 33.3%
I feel like I know her got 30.3%

6) I found Samantha Sans Dosage, (Ugh) through:
Other took it with 39.4% Peter Leim took a few, Wine Country customers took some..
Fermentation took 33.3%
HoseMaster got 13.3%
The Wine Country website got 9.0%
The Pour got 3.0%

7) If I could change one thing about Samantha, (sigh) Sans Dosage:
Other took 54.5 %
More wine porn got 27.3%
Less personal crap got 12.1%
Less photos got 6.1%
Content got a goose egg
My favorite, “other” comments were, “Move her closer to me so we can have lunch”, and I swear I had like 20, “don’t change a thing”…awe, melting…that’s me melting.

8) I am:
A wine lover took it with 63.6%
In the business got 27.3%
Not sure what I’m doing here got 15.2%
Other got 12.1%
Not that into wine but still a reader got 6.1%
Favorite other there had to be the confession to blog reading OCD

9) I think, (here we go again) Samantha Sans Dosage offers:
An interesting voice took it with 57.6%
Other got 21.2%
A giggle got 15.2%
Interesting wine reviews got 6.1%
Favorite others had to be, (again aside from the pervy..and I still know who you are) “A complete view of life, love, wine and friendship” and “A cool, humorous & touching look into the life of someone that has a lot to say”

10) I would like to run into Samantha:
Bar took it at 51.5%
Other got 36.4%
The Wine Country got 21.2%
An alley got 12.1%
Never got that one vote…
Favorite others, (again aside from the not as pervy but not fit for everyone to see) “At a bistro in Beaune” “frequently” that made me laugh my ass off, and there were lots of anywhere and everywhere ones…again, melting.

So there you have it, the results are in and I would once again like to thank everyone that took the time to participate…fascinating really and it was really cool to hear what everyone thinks. It means the world to me that you all read my silly crap, it fills me, pushes me and makes me want to be better at it, for me and for all of you.

I’ve always said that I’m not about the coco, berries and cherries. North facing slopes and drainage mean dick to me…I can speak it when need be, but it’s not what moves me. It’s the human side of wine, the way it feels in your mouth, the way a smell in a wine can stimulate a long lost memory, the way the back of your neck gets warm after the 3rd glass and the way people come together, share pink faced confessions over one too many glasses, that is what gets me going, lights that fire in my belly and keeps my thumping away at my wheezing little laptop…knowing that at least a few other people can find a kinship, something funny or at the very least interesting in that…stuns me, inspires me and makes me unbelievably grateful, thank you from the bottom of my wine soaked heart.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Long Day, Lots Of Happy People, Tons Of Adoration But I Still Want...More

After a long unfulfilling evening of newsletter writing…which means I could not get a word that made any sense to flow from this vacuous dome of mine, that was punctuated by a rather dramatic, “White trash neighbors” moment, I went to bed and hoped that Saturday would be a better day. Saturday was The Wine Country’s 14th anniversary and to celebrate we were doing one of our most beloved tastings, Cheese & Wine Fest. This is an event we normally do once a year is a perennial customer favorite and one of the most labor intensive tastings of the year….well this year, we did two.

Randy had requested that rather than have me pick the cheeses then the wines, (the way this cheese buyer usually does it) that we instead feature wines that had been around since we opened our doors 14 years ago, and pair cheeses with them…a lot harder. I take this shit very seriously, when my name is on it, people show up to see what I think are harmonious pairings, well…I want to get it right. I spent some serious time thinking about texture, flavor and balance and came up with what I thought was a pretty exciting lineup of cheese and wine. Tuesday morning when all my cheeses showed up, my wines were all in stock and ready to go…well, I felt pretty confident that it was to be a very exciting event.

Woke up early Saturday morning, not enough sleep, drama from the night before still spinning through my head, lack of newsletter completion weighing heavy on my mind and feeling a very real longing for something, anything, that would make me feel better, I jumped in the shower and prepared myself to be, “On”. So those of you that have been reading for a long time know that I’m not so much good at the being the center of attention, hate it…really hate it, and this event tends to make people like goo all over me and junk…just was not in the place for it today, very secure in my pairings, thrilled with both the wines and the cheeses but, not really in that, “taking lots of compliments” kind of place.

Got into work early, wanted to get my cheeses up to temperature and get the whites in the fridge, where I felt like I was failing the store by not finishing my newsletter stuff, I wanted to make sure this event went off without a hitch. Got the wines ready and spent the next 4 hours in the kitchen with Merritt cutting and plating cheeses, and hacking crusty bread into bite sized chunks. We sawed and hacked and at 12:55 we had plated our last cheese and were ready to roll, with five minutes to spare. I stepped behind the table and popped the first bottle of Paul Bara Champagne at exactly 1:00….sweaty and out of breath, but I was there and ready to go.

The event was a gigantic success, people were pouring in and out at a rate that made my head spin, halfway through, while my head was down…hands covered in cheese, knife in my hand with the buzz of the crowd pounding in my ears I hear, “Samantha, can you sign for these?” flowers…I was sent the most beautiful bunch of all white flowers, (melting…sweaty and harried but melting) my favorite, clearly sent by someone that loves and knows me very well…timing man, timing was perfect.

I signed for my lovely flowers and jumped right back into the tasting, cutting, pouring, explaining and beaming…I might be shy and junk but I so love it when I get it right, today…felt like I got it so right. The wines were just stupid good, the cheeses were perfectly soft and oozed their luxurious, pungency…perfect, it was perfect, the 120 people in attendance seemed to think so too.

Featured Wines & Cheeses

NV Paul Bara Grand Cru Brut, ($42.99) w/ Roule, (soft cow’s milk cheese with garlic and herbs) the soft, round baked apple fruit in the Paul Bara was a perfect match to the bright, fresh tasting cheese. A very gentle but decadent was to start.

2007 Graville-Lacoste Graves Blanc, ($19.99) w/ Goat Brie, where the first pairing was soft and supple this was nervy and full of tang. The Graves was full of citrus rind, wet stones and flint and once that gooey, albeit simple, goat brie hit the zingy wine it seemed to magnify the flavors and soften the acidity. A good pairing but I would look for a better brie than the one we had.

2008 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, ($14.99) w/ Humboldt Fog, (Goat’s milk cheese) The cheese was the star here and the pairing did work but…the wine, while full of floral, stone fruit, and tropical citrus…seemed to have a bitter finish, the cheese helped but didn’t take it away completely.

2007 Domaine de la Cadette Bourgogne Vezelay Blanc, ($16.99) w/ Brie de Meaux,(Cow’s milk cheese with strong mushroom notes) one of my favorite pairings of the day. The wine is full without being rich, lots of ripe apple of the palate with a hefty amount of chalk and some bright, mouth cleaning acidity…paired with the slightly pungent Brie de Meaux, the wine got even fuller, brighter and the pairing left your mouth with a lovely sweet and savory finish.

2008 Pardo Montefalco Bianco Colle di Giove, ($14.99) w/ Burrata, (Cow’s milk cheese that we drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Fleur de Sel) another case where the cheese, (the super gooey, need spoons to get at it, texture took some folks aback a bit) outshone the wine. I loved the wine…plenty of weight and texture, steely, and full of herby flavors and paired with the Burrata it just sang, but damn that cheese is just so wicked delicious it stole the show.

2007 Champalou Cuvee des Fondraux Vouvray, ($19.99) w/ Cave Aged Gruyere, (Cow’s milk cheese) much like the first pairing I went for decadence here. The wine was heavy with soft stone fruit, round and supple on the palate but retained plenty of structure…paired with that intense, nutty, fruity, full of crunchy sweet bits, cheese..damn. Powerful and rich pairing that resonated with the crowd, sold lots of both.

2005 Domaine Goisot Bourgogne Cotes D’Auxerre Corps de Garde, ($23.99) w/ Camembert, (Cow’s milk cheese) this was the pairing that wine people love…it made the wine taste even better and helped us introduce people to a new sexy little Pinot Noir. Light, full of cherries and clay on the palate the wine was lifted by the fatty, rich, almost truffley cheese, was beautiful.

2006 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas, ($23.99) w/ Fontina, (Cow’s milk cheese) this wine drove me insane, the pairing worked in that, “don’t take away from the wine” kind of way. This vintage from Cayron is stupid good, the aromatics are wild, herby and there is this citrus, (like tangerine) rind note that baffles but pulls you into the glass. The mild Fontina did its job, using its fatty texture to cut the acidity in the wine, framed the wild wine perfectly.

2006 Domaine Tempier Bandol, ($41.99) w/ Saint-Marcellin, (Cow’s milk cheese) this was the first time many people had experienced Bandol, not always an easy wine to drink and appreciate so I was thrilled with the way the cheese made the wine a little more friendly. Earthy and full of herbs, cooked berries and meat the wine was softened by the softer-than-butter cheese, something in the mildly funky cheese seemed to tame the wild beast of a wine.

2007 Qupe Central Coast Syrah, ($15.99) w/ Petit Basque, (Sheep’s milk cheese) this is such a red wine friendly cheese, salty and soft in texture but with enough flavor to hold up to big red fruit. The Qupe seemed a bit off to me, not as crunchy or bright as I had hoped, tasty but lacking that snap that I have come to adore about this little offering, no matter…made the cheese taste really good.

Once the event was over I helped wrap the leftovers, count the empty bottles and restock the decimated shelves, ( a clear sign of a very successful event) letting myself marinate in that intoxicating feeling…that, “We did good” feeling. My back was aching with each step, my mind still heavy with, “I have to write” and even though our tasting had been wildly successful…I still felt this longing, this aching for something more. Once home, shoes off, glasses off, jewelry off and after an hour of playing with my adorable little neighbor, I was still plagued by this whole, this, something missing…longing, aching, wanting.

So what more could I want?! Tons of happy, wine soaked, cheese stuffed people telling me I did a good job, showing me as much by buying the wines and cheese I featured, stunning blast of aromatic, breathtaking flowers sent to me, Randy and Dale happy as could be…what?! What more could I possibly want? More….I wanted, still want, more….I want...

A kiss on my neck

Fingers on my back

French Fries

Fucking unbelievably aromaic Southern Rhone

The best of Provence

The pleasure of skin in my hand

Another glass of Champagne

Love, the ability to express love through the written word. To be able to "touch" people with my words with that same kind of heart pounding intensity that can be had with the brush of skin against make people feel, want, desire and ultimately, "love" the wines that I write about...

Too much to ask?!

Greedy, I am being greedy and I need to get back to work....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Help A Sista Out

Okay maybe I am being nosey, or worse a Copy Cat but I was just dying to ask a few of these questions. It will break my little heart if you don't take the time to answer my questions, (there are only 10) but if you don't have the time...or, (sniff) don't want to, or...(sniff) think I should just mind my business then skip it, (sniff) I will be fine.....

Click Here to take survey

It's About Time

This, “Promotion” has always been BS, every other retailer on the planet knows it. There is no way any retailer is going to give away wine for a nickel. We all knew it but there was little we could do or say about it, just like there is little we can say about the fact that they post “scores” from a man that is a consultant for the company….he better give it a 90, he told you to buy 80 cases of it, ugh. I mean we would all sound like a bunch of whinny bitches if we ranted and pointed our fingers each time this, very misleading promotion started running their commercials.

So when one of our reps came in and told us that our, Wine of the Month, (Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon) that we sell for $7.99 was part of the BevMo, “Nickel Sale” we just kind of shrugged, but when he told us they were selling it for $15.99, (Now he told us it was $18.99 but when I checked their website it said $15.99…dunno if something changed or he just had it wrong) well, that just pissed us off. Now I know the onus is ultimately on the consumer to find the best price on whatever it is they are looking to purchase, but I have always seen the BevMo 5 Cent Sale as a rather disgusting display of a company taking advantage of people that don’t know any better….and frankly I think that is something that they should be thumped for.

So now BevMo is being sued…I think that is a giant waste of tax payer time and money but I do think it was about time that this bullshit “deal” was brought to light and people finally see that they were basically being taken advantage of. Yet another reason to support your local retailer, the little guy that is truly committed to finding you the best wine, at the best price and needs your return business to continue to do so.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wednesday For The Public

After checking out of our fancy pants hotel and waiting for what felt like forever, for the car we were headed south to The Wine Country to prepare for our big tasting with the Beaune Imports winemakers. We got turned around once on the freeway, (freaking sleep deprivation retardation) and got stuck in some wretched traffic but we got to the store with what I thought would have been enough time to chill the wines and type up the tasting sheet…I thought.

So Michael Sullivan had sent a bunch of samples our way to support the tasting and I had planned on using those for the event…the problem was that all of the samples were brand spanking new vintages, stuff we didn’t have just yet…some were not even available yet. I spun it in my tiny brain that we would just focus on the winemakers and style of winemaking and not list the wines we were tasting. Now in theory this seemed like a good idea to me, we would pour the samples, save our stock, (of older vintage wines) and maybe make money on one of these tastings for once, but once I showed Randy what I had in mind the look on his face let me know that there was a flaw in my reasoning. Turns out in my effort to save the store money I forgot to think about the fact that people get kinda pissy when you pour them something then tell them they can’t buy it.

Randy was right of course, and we set about grabbing wines off the shelf, pulling wines out and putting wines in the fridge while Randy redid the tasting sheet. Randy saved my ass and anyone that felt a bit of a hiccup in the beginning of the tasting, my fault, my error in judgment….truly sorry about that.

Once things got rolling the tasting was a massive success. The winemakers loved the interaction with the customers and the good sized crowd that attended seemed to love the wines, the people that made them, the importer that makes the available to us and the store where they got to have such a rare experience. Every time I got near the tasting room I was descended upon, surrounded by grinning faces telling me this was the best tasting we had ever done. Humbling, truly humbling evening for me. I even had a blog reader, Jess from Colorado in attendance, just so happened she had a meeting in LA that week so she was able to go and even ended up being invited and joining another regular reader, Vicki, for dinner…how freaking cool is that?! Was very cool and I even got to introduce Jess to Michael Sullivan, told her to blame him for this mouthy-unafraid-to-speak-her-mind, mess who’s ramblings she reads. Pretty amazing to stand there, listen as these two very cool people said some down-right heart swelling things about yours truly….took all I had not to cover them both with thank you kisses.

My wines of the night were kind of all of them, I already love those wines but I think the ones that really knocked me on my ass were those from Domaine Chandon de Brialles. There was a purity to them that just grabbed me, a finesse and elegance…not unlike Claude, the winemaker…that stopped me in my tracks. Somehow she is able to coax this core of fantastically clean fruit that seems to sachet across your palate and leaves you with the flirtiest little smack on the finish….alluring, her wines were simply alluring. So if I HAD to pick, I would say I was the most intrigued by those but seriously, all the wines were pretty amazing.

NV Agrapart 7 Cru Blanc de Blancs
NV Agrapart Rose Les Demoiselles
NV Agrapart Cuvee Terroir
2008 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Blanc
2008 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rouge
2006 Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc
2007 Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge
2007 Chateau Sainte-Marie Bordeaux Superieur
2008 Chateau Sainte-Marie Entre-Deux-Mers
2006 Domaine Trevallon
2008 Domaine Mouscaillo Limoux Chardonnay
2007 Domaine Mouscaillo Pinot Noir
2007 Roland Schmitt Pinot Blanc
2008 Roland Schmitt Pinot Gris
2206 Roland Schmitt Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergbieten
2006 Chandon de Brialles Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Ile de Vergelesses Blanc
2005 Chandon de Brialles Volnay 1er Cru Les Caillerets
2006 Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens
2006 Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru Les Taillepieds
2006 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Chassagne-Montrachet
2006 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Puligny-Montrachet
2006 Deux Montille Meursault Casse Tete

Twenty dollars, this was a twenty dollar tasting and on top of it Michael and the winemakers kept breaking into the boxes of samples and pulling out more things for people to try. Without a doubt one of the best tastings of the year. Did not go off without a hitch but it went and everyone ended up having a great time.

We did all go to dinner, Benley was amazing once again and watching French people with chopsticks was something I will never forget, oh and the magnums, the magnum of Dagueneau, Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet and Agrapart….the bottles of 1998 Trevallon, Failla Syrah, (Yes I dug a domestic Syrah…it was stunningly beautiful on the nose) Alliet Chinon and older vintage Vouvray…the wines were head spinning, the food was sick….sad part of the story, I was sick too. Ended up having to cut out early, I finished dinner and all, I’m no quitter, but the effects of the night before came slamming down on me like a ton of bricks. By the time I made it home three things were clearly apparent; I was going to lose the war with the chest cold I had been fighting since London, I was wrecked by two nights of too much and I was just a part of a really amazing, life changing for some, evening.

If anyone is interested in tasting notes let me know, I would be more than happy to post them but didn't want to muck up an otherwise not wine, wine blog with like tasting notes and junk.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bigger Better Deal

“The BBD”, this is what I used to tell people when they asked why my boyfriend and I broke up, (had this one boyfriend that constantly broke my heart…probably the only one that had been able to do so before now) he was always looking for the Bigger, Better, Deal…always searching for someone prettier, smarter or in some way, better than I was. He would always come back and my young, fragile, but full of true love heart, would always take him back only to be crushed once again when someone better came along. Vicious cycle that I tired of after like 3 breakups, I mean how long can one endure that, “You are not quite good enough” bullshit? I was like 20, he was someone that I felt lucky to have, but in the end…being with him, taking him back and knowing that he was basically settling, well let’s just say it taught me what I never wanted, and what I would never again settle for.

A few years ago I met a woman that was quite pretty, very well educated, well read, into really interesting music, food, wine and had a wonderful husband that adored her, pretty much had what one would think was, “the whole package” the thing was, she spent so much of her time complaining, coveting, and basically feeling like she was getting screwed because she didn’t have a bigger house, a husband that made more money, didn’t get to travel as much as she wanted and couldn’t afford to eat out as often as she would like to. One night while hanging out with her I listened as she turned all that ugly on a dear friend of hers, talked about how if she had the money that she had, or was living in a house like she had…the whole scene turned my stomach and let me know that those, “BBD” people are not only disloyal, they’re kind of sad.

To spend so much time searching, wanting, or being in anguish over the things you can’t have, worrying about what someone else has that you don’t, well seems like some of that energy might be better spent on appreciating the things that you do….guess what happens when things go unappreciated, unfed, unloved and undervalued…well, they go, and in my opinion, they should.

I recently found myself in the middle of two, “BBD” moments, kind of pissed me off as I thought I could sniff that shit from a mile away…I was wrong. One was my fault really, the red flags were up all over the place, I ignored them, ignored my gut and found myself doubled over, the wind knocked out of me when I was kicked in said gut. When I came up for air days later I saw that this one, this one “BBD” thing was not dishonest…it was still a “BBD” but, I just chose to make it something it wasn’t, could never be, was never meant to be….so I guess it’s more like 3 “BBD” things, one of them mine.

The other was while sitting with one of my reps the other day. We had been tasting through a bunch of little French country wines, nothing profound, nothing earth shattering, so like I said, a bunch of French country wines. He then reaches into his wine bag and pulls out this thick bottle, really heavy glass and deep punt, and when he turned the label to me I was struck by how flashy it was. “Um, is that for Bennett to taste?” I asked assuming that it was a domestic wine. “No it’s French” he replied…red flag. He pulled the cork and poured me a taste, black, almost black in the glass, red flag. The aromatics left me even more confused, candied fruit, marshmallow and mint, red flag. I had the wine in my mouth for less than 2 seconds and I spat it out grabbing the bottle to see just what the hell this was….convinced, I was convinced he was screwing with me, this HAD to be like from Australia or something, Cotes du Rhone, it was a Cotes du Rhone…looking for, or to be a Bigger Better Deal…so sad.

So while trying to take notes on this abomination of a Cotes du Rhone I thought about both that woman and my ex, how in their pursuit of The Bigger Better Deal they ended up losing the things they had. The ex came to me years later and tried to convince me he had changed, saw that what we had was the Best, (um, not if you were to ask Moi) and blah, blah. The woman ended up losing the friend she shit talked about, me, lots of other friends and a lifestyle that she adored…for what? Sad.

I have to wonder what is going to happen to all these French wines masquerading as New World wines. What’s going to happen when those of us that long for wines of distinction, wines that taste like where they come from give up, tire of being undervalued and unappreciated…what’s going to happen when we, go? Being with all those Beaune Imports winemakers really made me look at what we do still have, made me appreciate and value winemakers and importers that are willing to be who and what they are and make and import wines that reflect that….I feel lucky to have them and to me, there is no Bigger Better Deal than that.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tuesday For The Trade

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling the effects of having picked up my beloved Amy from the airport the night before. We picked her up and whisked her off to Tracy’s to celebrate her visit, many wings, fries, beefy sandwiches and far too many cocktails later we headed home and shared a bottle of 2008 Salavard Unique Sauvignon Blanc, ($11.99) because you know, we needed just one more glass….ugh. Even in my, “state” I was able to appreciate what a wicked little value this wine is, bright, tangy, more lemon than grapefruit flavors with just a touch of wet stone and a mouth puckering finish, everything I love about Sauvignon Blanc and sporting a price tag that makes it an everyday drinker.

Tuesday morning I made the one-eyed-stumble to the coffee pot and nestled into my little corner of the couch, eyeballing, (or one eyeballing) the remnants of an evening of over indulgence; empty wine bottle, wine glasses still holding that “final” sip….as if we both came to the conclusion that finishing that last glass was going to make some kind of difference…and a box of Wheat Thins nestled between two cans of, “Squeeze Cheese”, Amy favorite guilty pleasure, something we now stock for Amy’s visits. I sat there trying to reconnect the dots as it were and began to giggle as I relived the, “Squeeze Cheese Tasting”.

“Samster, (what she calls me when she is all buzzy) you want one?” Amy asked while covering a Wheat Thin completely with the oddly orange goo. “Um, no thanks” I replied, “Why not?” she asked looking at me like I must be high, “Because I don’t like it”…now you would think, by looking at her face, that I had just pooed the floor. The rest went something like this….

Her- “How do you know you don’t like it?”
Me- “I’ve tasted it and don’t like it.”
Her- “When was the last time you tasted it?”
Me- (chuckling) “What you think somewhere in the evolution of my palate I have now become ready for cheesy goo?”
Her- (loading up a Wheat Thin) “Just try it”
Me- “No!”
Her- “Samster, just try one then if you don’t like it I will believe you”
Me- “I don’t like Wheat Thins either”
Her- “How can you not like Wheat Thins?! Something is wrong with you. Give me your finger”

So there I sat at whatever-too-late in the evening/morning, with my tiny muse squeezing, not one but two flavors of “Squeeze Cheese” on my fingers. The outcome, well I sat there on Tuesday morning taking a bunch of tiny sips of coffee trying to stave off the that pre-gag saliva that was building in my mouth and throat just thinking about it….least she believes me now.

I waited for my coffee to kick in, got a blog post up, hopped in the shower and prepared myself for the Beaune Imports trade tasting. Amy and I had been asked to join the visiting winemakers and Michael Sullivan for dinner so we booked a room at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, (we used points, we aint that fancy) knowing full well how these evenings tend to pan out, we knew we had better NOT attempt the long drive back from LA. We packed an overnight bag and headed to, “The Hills”.

When I walked into the SLS I became instantly afraid that I was going to make a complete ass of myself, it was a blood red lobby, dark and full of mirrors…I could just see myself stumbling in after a long night of wine and whatever comes next and face planting into one of those Fun House mirrors, sigh. We tossed our bags in our super fancy room, called a cab and made our way over to the tasting.

Now Michael never does little tastings, he always pulls out all the stops and has consistently put on some of the best tastings I have ever been to but this one, well this one was even more special as he had with him a gaggle of French winemakers, there to pour and tell people about their wines. As someone that believes in the very personal connection between meeting the people behind the bottle this kind of event is the kind of shit I live for. Hugs and kisses to the folks I had met before and we jumped in with both feet. We moved from table to table tasting the wines, making quick notes and listening as these winemakers tried to make us better understand their vision.

And just who was at this event pouring their wines? Um….

Pascal Agrapart, (looked a little like Russell Crowe but more regal) of Agrapart & Fils
Samuel Guibert, (seriously dreamy) of Mas de Dumas Gassac
Stephane Dupuch, (adorable and so much fun) of Chateau Sainte-Marie
Antoine Durrbach, (also very cute but very shy) of Domaine Trevallon
Marie-Claire & Pierre Fort, (not so much with the English) of Domaine Mouscaillo
Bruno Schmitt, (one of my personal favorites and smoking partner) of Rolland Schmitt
Claude Drouhin, (statuesque, pure, just like her wines) of Chandon de Briallies
Etienne de Montille, (friendly but formal and charming as hell) of Domaine de Montille

We made it through most of the wines, even though we were spitting there were just far too many wines to taste and we wanted to save our palates for whatever wicked cool wines Michael was bringing to dinner…well, that was the plan anyway. It was 3:00 and while shoving corks into the bottles Michael announces, “We have reservations at 8:00”….crud, what were we going to do for 5 hours?! My first suggestion was to go back to the room, maybe freshen up and just relax before dinner, I was vetoed. So just what do wine people do after a wine tasting and before dinner, yeah. Headed out to The Farmers Market on 3rd and Fairfax for tacos and beer, there’s a palate saver right? We hung out there for a couple hours and found that we still had 2 more hours to kill, next thing I know there is a caravan heading to Korea Town for drinks at a “cool dive bar”….surrender, I just had to surrender any hope that I had for a civilized evening.

Wine, beer, tacos and dive bar drinks and we are on our way to dinner in Venice. We all arrived at the same time and because I am unsure of who fouled up, (that’s a nice way to say fucked up) the event planner or the restaurant I am going to let the spot we ate dinner remain nameless. It was okay, the food was somewhat under seasoned and there was far too little of it for a group our size, (think there were about 15 of us at a table that sat 12…super fun, that) and things just didn’t quite come together, again unsure of where to point the finger I will just say, dinner was “fine”.

Now comes the point in the evening where the group splits, happens every time….one chunk of people want to go back to their room and sleep, (those are the smart or old people) and the other part wants to keep going, so guess where this, “not too smart and not too old” girl found herself? Kissing,” Goodnight” to those that were parting and walking down the street to a raging bar in Venice…dammit. Now this crew had been travelling together for over a week now, their relationships were formed, they were already buddies, it was Amy and I that were the outsiders…so funny things happen when you feed a bunch of French dudes Jack & Coke and Tequila shots…they like open up and junk. At one point, (do not ask me which) of the evening I found myself dancing in front of the live band, next to some crazy hippie chick that was dancing like she was having fits….if speaking in tongues had a dance, she was doing it…and some drunk ass Frenchmen and a “on his way there” importer, surreal is a gross understatement.

Amy and I end up back in our fancy SLS room, did I hit a mirror…no freaking clue, (I did however scan the many mirrors on the way out the following morning/hours and did not find a sweaty face print, so if I did that fancy schmancy place covered my tracks) but somehow the mini bar sounded like the greatest idea ever to me and my tiny muse. Felt less than great when the alarm went off three hours later, merde! Stumbled out of bed, called room service, Bloody Marys were so in order and crawled out to the rooftop pool to sip our drinks in the sun…in our jammies…. “The Hills” well they found their “Billies” that morning.

A quick wash of the face, reapply of makeup and hair tossed in a ponytail and my girl and I are on our way back to Long Beach to set up for……another tasting with our crazy new French friends.