Bottle Blurbs

Shed your Grace on me...


We clinked our tasting glasses together, looked at each other, gazed at our glasses again, and let out a big sigh.  Not one of those "I'm tired" sighs, but one of those breaths deep from within your core that, when emitted, comes with a soft groan.  

This is gonna be tough…

I invited a friend over to taste two unique bottles of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Westport Rivers Winery in Southeastern Mass.  These two 375ml bottles were each packing a 17.8% alcohol punch.  We knew we were entering the aperitif/digestif world, and we were a little uncertain as it is uncharted territory for us.  It's the land of super sweet, strong alcohol drinks that make these two mostly red drinkers grimace.  But I have faith in the gang at Westport Rivers.  They don't mess around…well, actually they do mess around and that's how they came up with great bottles of the juice.  

The Chardonnay is made in a sort of fortified style using it's own eau de vie along with freshly pressed Chardonnay juice, and the Pinot Noir could be considered more of a brandy.  Interestingly, the resulting products are similar in color.  We started with the Chardonnay, and paired it with harvarti and manchego cheese.  After our first sip, rather than grimacing, we let out a sigh of relief!  You can tell instantly that this is a well made, well thought out drink balancing the lovely taste of dried apricots with buttery oak.  The alcohol was not overwhelming on the palate, only on the nose.  We moved on the Pinot Noir, and again were impressed by the wine making.  It has nice tastes of dried fruit and caramel and not over overpoweringly sweet.  At the risk of sounding dorky, I would say it was "graceful." (I know, I know.)  We tasted the Pinot with various different kinds of delicious chocolate from the North End in Boston.  Deep dark chocolate and salted dulce de leche with olive oil were two examples.  

The wine, cheese, and chocolate made for a complete evening.  Although, I admit we took a break in between for a Narragansett, you know, to cleanse the palate and all.  :-)

Wine Bar: Edinburgh

Divino Enoteca, 5 Merchant St  Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 2QD

Oh. Oh. Don't kid yourself; everyone loves a good pun.  Especially wine puns.  Look what Divino Enoteca did, with their take on wine "flights."  So I traveled to Edinburgh to see the sights, but now I'm taking another flight while I'm still in my seat at the bar?  This is so very "meta."  Hilarious.

I came across this saucy little wine bar while minding my own business in Leith.  It's opening was just being announced in one of those Improper Bostonian / Time Out New York type periodicals for Edinburgh.  I dragged my friend, PD, along when he arrived from Paris. Thankfully, he was a willing hostage.  

The bar is located in the old part of town in an unassuming stone building (I'm already loving it just from the entrance).  It has all the qualifications that make up a proper wine bar, according to The Take on Wine (coming soon) - wine centric, flights/tastings, limited food menu, and a bartender who knows his/her stuff.  Plus there was live music!  A man, rather adorably wearing tweed, was in the corner with a guitar and a mic singing ballads.  More brilliantly - the music, the wine flights, and the nibbles - all took a back seat to my conversation with a friend.  That is the ultimate test.  When the sensory experience of a wine bar can float gracefully in the background and allow for the most important aspect of your visit - catching up with a friend-  to be elevated by those sensory elements, that is the making of a great wine bar.

Suddenly, I feel very meta again...

All in all a lovely experience that I have relayed to many a friend.  Divino Enoteca has been open for a few years now, and recently some friends visited while making their way through Scotland.  They reported back that they had "good times."  The bar has since won awards, which is really great.  I also feel somewhat that my reviewing skills are validated, which is nice.

Wine Bar: The Sky

Air France, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean


On the plane, you hear these words, “please turn off all electronic devices.”  You are one step ahead.  You already turned everything off and shoved your Blackberry so far down your carry-on, you won’t find it for days.  That copy of Eat, Pray, Love you have been picking at for 9 months is resting on your lap ready to go but you ripped off the front cover because you’re kind of embarrassed that 1) you haven’t read it already, and 2) that you’re reading it at all.  But, whatever. The flight attendant comes by and offers you Champagne.  Champagne.  You respond “Oui s’il vous plait” and “Merci!” hoping maybe the flight attendant will think you’re French, not some Boston office drone with way too few stamps on her passport.  Deep down, though, you know you’ve fooled no one.  Ah, who cares?  You sip your drink.  The Canard Duchene is non-descript due to the altitude, its bubbles hurt your mouth, but it is the best Champagne you’ve had in a while.  It is after all, Vacation Champagne.  Bon Voyage!