Tuesday, September 30, 2008


My, my...it's been a long time! Too long. I have things I should be doing rather than blogging, but I'm home alone & I don't feel like doing much other than drink some beer, watch some stuff that's been squatting on our DVR, & pay some attention to my darling blog.

Let's get something straight - I don't do tags. I'm just not good at following orders when I'm not on the clock, & I like to write what I want to write when I want to write it. Or at least when I can write it...by now, we all know that there's a big difference between wanting to do something & actually being able to do it.

However, this time is different! My good pal Lucy tagged me the other day for the second time (I think), & I just can't refuse her. You see, every single weekday morning, I can count on going to her page & seeing something new...& it always makes me smile if not laugh outright. I'm usually sitting at work - desperately wishing I didn't have to be there - when I read her very clever & informative posts, & I look forward to it every time. Yes, even when it's about tomatoes.

So here goes - 7 random things about me:

1. I have a real problem sitting with my back to the door of a restaurant, bar, or even a cubicle (I'm not important enough to have an actual office, but I'm sure it'd be the same way if I had one). What can I say? I'm 1/2 Italian & my friend Thom shares my belief that it's simply in my blood. There's no other explanation for it - I really don't think that someone is going to come up & shoot me. But hey, in case someone does, it's good to be prepared - I'd like to at least give the bastard a dirty look.

2. Speaking of being Italian...for those of you that don't know, I'm adopted. Nope, I don't know who my natural parents are, nor do I really care to. Not because I have any resentment, it just doesn't interest me (other than for medical records, which I may deal with someday). I mean, really - if I were to meet them, what would I say - "Hi, how are you? So...what have you been up to for the last 39 years?" I don't think so. The only things I know are that my parents were very young, & that along with being Italian, I'm also 1/4 Syrian & 1/4 Greek. Heh...good thing I learned to control my temper. Anyway, while being adopted certainly has created a few issues, it really hasn't been that big of a deal. Doug happens to love it - he's comforted in the knowledge that I won't be like either of my parents. Yup, he'll take a total crapshoot over that mess.

3. If I'm talking to someone with poorly groomed eyebrows, I have a hard time concentrating on the conversation. Sadly, it happens a lot. I just don't get it...some are waaay too thin (I once worked with someone who had plucked her eyebrows so that they were only 2 hairs thick!), some are completely untouched & practically growing into their hairline, & then there are those that copy what their mother has always done...nothing like a 30-something woman with, uh, retro eyebrows.

4. I only daydream when I'm in motion. I can't seem to do it otherwise. Seriously, I get bored & need to do something if I'm I'm just hanging around. I know, weird.

5. Careerwise, I'm one of the least ambitious people that I know. I have a decent enough job, too bad I don't like it that much. It's a living, at least for now, & I have my reasons for staying. It's definitely not my "calling", & if I even have one of those, I really don't think that it has a thing to do with work. Aside from my job, my life rocks, so if I'm only meant to be Doug's wife, mom to our dogs, & the chick that drinks wine & blogs once in a while, then so be it!

6. Doug & I have only been "into" wine for about 4 or 5 years. Some people think we've been big fans our whole lives, but no, it's just over a short amount of time. How have we learned so much? We just go to a ton of tastings...& we PAY ATTENTION & we try everything that's offered. Well, except for White Zin - there's just no point in that! Anyway, that's how we've learned so much. In comparison to some people we know, we don't know diddley, but that's ok. There's always going to be something we can learn about wine, & the education is always fun.

7. I love socks. Yeah, flip-flops are great in the summer, & I wear them a lot, but I'm happiest in socks. Particularly this one black pair....they're made of bamboo, they haven't faded at all, & they're the softest trouser socks ever. Even as I dread having to leave home to go to work, I have a moment of comfort - almost bliss - when I put those socks on my feet.

There, 7 random things. Again, I don't do tags, so play along only if you choose to. Oh, I could go on with more randomness, but Doug just got home, so I won't. The poor guy's been at work since about 6 a.m., & he just told me that after tonight, he won't be home until sometime Friday . Yes...you read that correctly...until sometime Friday!! That blows. The only thing good about it is that it's all overtime pay, but even so, we're not sure it's worth it. He's going to be so tired, & so busy that he won't get much time, if any to rest, but at least it'll all be over soon. I feel really bad for him.

Now, if I could just convince the dogs that my way is as good as Doug's, I just might make it through this week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Highs & Lows

I'm exhausted. Well, extremely tired at the very least - aren't you supposed to check into rehab for "exhaustion"? I certainly don't want to do that... that celebrity excuse is pretty exhausting in itself. Anyway, this 3:30 a.m. crap has taken it's toll already - & we're not even doing it every day. My body & mind are both convinced that I have to get up that early, so I find myself awake - sometimes for hours - waiting for the alarm to go off. Let me tell you - that sucks. The lack of decent sleep has wreaked havoc on my ability to concentrate, my mood, my stress level & everything else.

I need a damn vacation. Fiercely.

After a hellishly busy day peppered with running into brick walls & interactions with people that seemed determined to make my life difficult, Doug & I were looking forward to enjoying some wine. You know, something new for us. But first, Doug wanted to finish digging a hole in the backyard, which meant I had to wait. I don't do that well after a day like today. Crap.

He finished in about 90 minutes & we grabbed a bottle that we'd been looking forward to trying. It was a gift from a friend, & we'd never had the varietal before, so we were intrigued. It was an Italian varietal called Arneis, which is a very old grape grown in Piemonte. It's not something that you're going to run into often because this grape is very difficult to cultivate & tends to have very low yields. Sometimes it's used in blending to lessen tannins in red wine, like Viogner is used in the Northern Rhone - I'm sure that the importer from my last post would've told me that this area, too, is in France. Eh, whatever. This particular bottle of Arneis, however, was from Sonoma (which is where, class?), & everything we'd read about the varietal sounded great. At the end of a shitty day, we had high hopes.

Those hopes were dashed into oblivion as soon as I took a sniff of the glass that Doug handed me. I looked at him with horror & he immediately stuck his nose in his glass. Uh oh, not good...but we needed to confirm our suspicions. Doug tried to challenge me to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who would actually taste the wine, but I wasn't havin' it. With as much as we were looking forward to trying this wine, we were going to be sure, damn it.

Blech...the wine was corked! What a tragedy! Thankfully, this doesn't happen to us very often, but when it does, it's so, so sad. Especially when this blog is Claire Uncorked, not Claire Corked! But hey - lucky us, we just so happened to have more wine! So we dumped the bad stuff, grabbed some fresh glasses, drank some water to get rid of the leftover taste of the tainted wine, & pulled out a wine that had proven itself time & time again.

The 2007 Enotria Rosato, from the Graziano Family of Wines in Mendocino County, CA. That's right, I'm writing about rose' again, so get over it. Drink 'em while you can, that's my motto. Or one of them, anyway. We popped it open, took a sniff & knew that the day was finally going to end right.

Like the ill-fated Arneis, this wine is also made from an Italian varietal grown in California (a Cal-Ital). This was a Dolcetto rose', & I love Dolcetto. Sadly, I've often been a wee bit disappointed by rose' made from Italian varietals...but not this one. Cranberries, raspberries, & strawberries with fabulous acidity & a watermelon color make this one happy little wine. That made me & Doug very happy, not-so-little people. Finally!

Drinking wine from Enotria brings back happy memories. We shared a bottle of the Rosato with the Luces before Krystal & Jenn showed up at our house a few weeks ago for the first convening of "Operation Blogistan" (named by Lucy). A few hours later, we plowed through both the Dolcetto & Barbera, & found them both to be absolutely delightful. In the St. Louis area, you can find all of them at Lukas Liquor or anywhere that does business with Golden Barrel Distributing. You won't be sorry, I promise.

Speaking of that wonderful day - & to gloss over the rather rough day after - let me close by sharing some photos I took of some of the non-drinking crew.


That's Annabelle, one of the Luce Whippets, with Piper, our youngest. They've become best friends - Mr. Luce says that Annabelle is the moon to Piper's planet, & it's so true. Annabelle longs to be huge like Piper, while Piper just wishes she could be fast enough to keep up with her. Piper's also thrilled that another dog actually wants her around. The poor girl just annoys the shit out of the other 3 in our house, especially Mattie, so a playdate with Annabelle means that Piper will be fully appreciated by one of her peers.


All of that drinking & laughing by the people, coupled by the constant running & playing in my backyard, just wore all of the dogs out. The Luce Whippets, Annabelle & Charlotte, are just too cute curled up in their bed together, aren't they?

So cute, in fact, that Charles decided to see if it had the same effect for him...


You be the judge.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Distraction is Necessary

It's early. 5:15 a.m. I've been up since the should-be-illegal hour of 3:30 this morning, & now I'm at work. Shocking, I know. Horrifying, even! Here's the really scary part - I did this yesterday, too, & I'll probably be doing it a few more times throughout the month of September. Now, I know you're asking yourself why I'm doing this. Don't worry, you're not alone - I'm still asking myself.

Here's why - the VP Debate on October 2nd. Weird, huh? No, not really. You see, it's coming to where Doug works, & he's an electrician. (Actually, he's the main one for this shin-dig, aside from the engineers.) He has to set up all of the power for the now-massive media center that will provide all of us with the coverage. (It didn't start out being too massive, but now with all the hoopla surrounding these VP picks, it's just crazy.) This means a lot of overtime, which means really early mornings. He even has to work late on some nights. Our other business is hopping all month, too. Hey, I need shoes. Poor Doug.

Not to discount the love of my life, but poor me, too. If Doug's up early on a work day, I'm up early, too. I'm too paranoid of oversleeping, not hearing the alarm, the alarm not going off... so I get up & go with him on the days he doesn't have to work. Crazy, huh? Well, sort of. If you look at it from a financial standpoint, it makes sense. We're not paying for 2 vehicles' gas & parking - & believe me, where I work, it costs a freakin' fortune to park in a relatively safe place. That, & I'd just really rather not drive if I don't have to. There are times that I love to drive - but never to work. Heh. I'm spoiled. And tired as hell. Bitchy is destined to follow, & probably not my trademark delightfully bitchy, either....

So, distraction is the name of the game so that I don't fall asleep with my head on my desk. That wouldn't be comfortable, nor would it go over well with the powers that be. And so, my friends, I write.

At this point, I'm going to restrain myself from spouting off my views on the election. I'm not a political dynamo, nor do I wish to be, & I absolutely hate it when people debate. I've made my decision, & I doubt that will change. I will say that one of the VP picks pushed me off the proverbial fence, & that I'm very irritated by some of the things that are happening. However, I have no control over that until the election, & even then, I only have control over my teeny-tiny vote. Gah, politics.

How about a change of subject? I'm irked enough because I'm so tired, so let's talk about last night.

Since it was Thursday night, & our favorite haunt, Veritas Gateway to Food & Wine, has its weekly wine bar, Doug & I decided to get out of the house. (I've written about this place before, & how much we love it.) They just hired a new chef, so we were excited to see what he had to offer. When we walked in, we were greeted by one of the owners & several of the staff (who know us by name, which is so nice), & then we headed to the tasting bar.

They had an importer on hand to pour & talk about the wines. We usually really like this because we get to learn a little while we taste. Most of the time, Doug & I will select our bottle from the rep's lineup to more or less be polite. But not last night.

This guy poured us a rather lovely White Burgundy, which is Chardonnay, for those of you that don't know the French wine regions. Heh. Like I'm some master...but since I taste & drink a good amount of wine, I'm figuring it out. It's actually quite simple for Burgundy - reds are Pinot Noir, unless it's a Beaujolais - then it's Gamay - & whites are Chardonnay. See? Easy! Ok, enough of my little lesson, I hope I didn't put you to sleep. Anyway, since we were the youngest people in Veritas (we usually are, unless we go with the Luces, they're younger pups), I guess the importer dude took us for total novices.

Importer Dude: This is a White Burgundy, Dom Perraud, Macon. It's from Burgundy... that's in France.

Maybe we were just too tired - usually this stuff just amuses us - but I really had to bite my tongue to keep from saying "Really? I thought it was just a color." I didn't, & just nodded my head politely. The importer dude went on pouring his other wines - all still from Burgundy, which, as we now know, is in France - & speaking to us like we were just kids that were there to get some free wine. I could feel the tensions rising from my beloved, easygoing husband...not good. Luckily, the other owner that we hadn't seen yet came to the importer's rescue & started talking to us about the wine & then the importer dude figured it out.

Yeah - we're younger than everyone else in this place. We're dressed in jeans & a t-shirt & we probably look a bit rough. And we know that Burgundy is in France... I think that most people do. Like I said, we were probably just too tired. Both of our work days were craptastic, too. We were a little irked, so we didn't buy the guy's juice. (For the record, it was good, but not fabulous.)

So, what did we end up drinking? I suppose the spirit of the election drove us to select an American wine, so we went with the 2005 Plungerhead Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel. I'm not gonna lie - we adore Zin, but we picked it largely because of the name & the label because both made us laugh.


See what I mean?! And you know what? It was really good. It had a rather subtle nose at first, but it was smooth & had wonderful raspberry, black cherry, maybe even some chocolate & blackberry flavors, along with that fabulous spice you get from Zinfandel. Very easy drinking, & at a decent price - we were quite pleased.

Every time I drink a good Zin, I kick myself for not buying more of my all-time favorite for that varietal (so far), the 2002 Dashe Cellars Todd Brothers Ranch Zinfandel. Oh. My. Goodness. That's a lovely wine. We drank it last October & haven't forgotten it. At about $30 a bottle, it makes a stupendous treat...& gives you a nice buzz. It's a big one, clocking in at 14.9% alcohol. Doug & I were actually giddy halfway through the damn bottle... (Note to self: buy the damn Dashe. You love it.)

Back to Veritas for a sec - the food was outstanding. We had a filet stuffed with Mushroom Duxelle & Bleu Cheese, with Bordelaise & Lyonnaise potatoes (sounds fancy, eh?), & Chicken Surprise a la Andy... all I know is that it had capers & was ridiculously yummy. Cheers to the new chef!

Ok, the whole blogging thing isn't enough anymore. I need to go drown myself in coffee. Heaven help me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


It only took me forever to post, but I'd like to share a couple of my latest discoveries, finds, whatever, with you. Not that it's all about material things, of course, but I have to say, I'm pretty impressed.

I love Etsy, but it's one dangerous place for a girl like me to hang out. You know, I get bored at work fairly often & find myself checking things out online. This probably happens way too much, but hey - it is what it is. I recently made a purchase from a shop called ShopLimelight, & I'm very excited to use them. (That link was your clue to at least take a look...so long as you come back here.) Check out these napkin rings:


Aren't those awesome?! Real shells, & a real starfish! I was so stoked to find these, but I held onto them in my favorites for a while...& then one day - voila! They were on SALE! I snatched those babies right up. Never mind that I have no cloth napkins at this time - they met their unfortunate demise in a rather strange accident that I'd rather not get into...

Because Etsy tends to be a friendly place, the shop owner Betsy & I had a few conversations, & I told her that I would (eventually) feature her shop on my blog. Betsy checked me out, decided she liked me, & sent me a bonus! Thanks, Betsy!


A set of 8 cotton cocktail napkins! Thanks to Betsy, I've taken another tiny step toward greener living. Al Gore would be so proud.

I used these beauties for the first time when our pals Shan & Sean came over a few weeks ago for our usual evening of slightly excessive consumption of great wine & very good times.


Don't they look lovely under our wine? I think so, & we enjoyed using them! What a lovely gift. (Someday soon, I hope to add pictures of those incredible napkin rings in use, too.)

Might I add that it was one of our favorite wines, the Bin 36 Merlot. You'll drink this fuckin' Merlot & you will love it... because I said so & because it truly rocks. I've never steered you wrong before, so go pick some up today...