MS Ellie's

​                 Wine Guide

Trees of green, red roses, friends shaking hands, “I love you”—and I think to myself, what a wonderful world. There are lots of reasons to wax poetic now that we’re steeped in the summer months like a sidewalk sun tea of friends and lazy heat-soaked afternoons. But for me, wine has to be at the top of my “Wonderful World” list. I know, I know—this makes me out to be somewhat of a lush. Well, Benjamin Franklin said, “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.” Wise man, Mr. Franklin. Argue with Ben. 

When you live in Arizona, summer is first about the heat. We don’t mind, though, because cold beverages are a necessity in the desert. Everyone has their favorite: lemonade and tea, beer, cocktails—plenty of ice. And then there’s wine. 

Why wine for Ms. Ellie?

When I started my journey of discovering wine, I was not a fan of white or rose wines.  Hell, I wasn’t really even a fan of wine.  For all you wine drinkers out there, you understand, somewhat, the interesting journey of discovering the flavors and nuances of wine.  We all started our wine journey someplace.  For all you wanna-be wine drinkers, persevere.  It’s worth it.

For me, when I had my moment of being convinced of wine, I was about 23.  I wanted to like wine, I knew I “SHOULD” like wine.  But, every time I had it, I found myself frustrated because I felt it should taste different than it did.  I can remember where I was sitting the day my epiphany with wine happened.  It was on an old second-hand couch with color patterns of brown and orange with a sort of country scene on it, god awful, but the fabric could wear through a millennium, kinda like "Barco" fabric (Barco fabric is merely a synthetic blend of fabric used for uniforms, such as waitressing 'n such...harking back to the '70's & 80's), if any of you out there remember THOSE days.  Anyway, there I was, glass of red wine in hand.  (Charles Krug, to be exact, when Charles Krug was more affordable wine.)  And all I could think was, “Geez, how’m I gonna get through this glass of wine?”  A dilemma I often had in such scenarios.  Then the thought came to me, “Uhm, thousands of years of people who’ve loved wine don’t lie.  If this was a nasty drink that people drank only to be pretentious, someone would have cried ‘the emperor has no clothes’ by now.”  Then, I realized, “Ellie, you want wine to taste different than it does.”  And then, on the heels of that thought, “Ok, so, I’m resisting the flavors and thus, rejecting the possibility of ever really enjoying it.”  As I sat there and mulled this over for a moment, I realized what I needed to do. I would suspend all previous expectation, thoughts, or preconceived notions and merely allow this red liquid to flow over my tongue, swish it around in my mouth, and open my mind so my palate could register the flavors that were there.  And this I did.  I can still remember the oak in the wine, how my palate dried out and the dry fruity flavor of the wine.  (These are classic Cabernet Sauvignon traits.)  As I opened myself to taste it all, I opened myself to accepting the flavors as they were.  I drank the whole glass in this mode.  By the time I was finished, I was forever changed.  It was in that moment I became a fan of red wine.  I finally “got it.” (Becoming a fan of white and rosé wines came later.)  I will always carry this moment with me.  From that moment, I became more and more intrigued by wine. And I never looked back. 

Wine has done nothing but enhance my life.  Yes, my pocket book doesn’t look so grand, but the trade off is worth it.  And there’s an adventure in every bottle.  Every time I try a bottle I’ve never tasted, there’s a flutter of anticipation for the story to be told.

Wine is about…. friends, good conversation, tripping the world via the wine glass, new delicious discoveries just a cork pop away, rich heritages, and interesting stories about human struggle and perseverance.  In the words of Jack Handey, “Sometimes when I reflect back on all the wine I drink, I feel shame!  Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the vineyards and all their hopes and dreams.  If I didn’t drink this wine, they would be out of work, and their dreams would be shattered.  Then I say to myself, ‘It is better that I drink this wine and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.’”  So, keep tasting, friends!  Wine is a catalyst for so many things, and not last “la belle vie.”

August 9, 2017

The past year or so, I've been drinking Rosé. I'm so glad my misconception of this varietal has been shattered.  Rosé has gotten a really bad rap because of the White Zinfandel craze that swept through America a few decades ago.  It's really too bad.  So many people won't touch this varietal because they think it's "sweet" and cloying. (To say nothing of it’s color—a blushing shade of pink I find seductive.) Well, it's not.  And when you discover that, you give yourself permission to discover a delicious, versatile wine.  Like any other kind of wine, I've had some Rosés that are amazing and some I won't be drinking again.  Generally speaking though, it’s the perfect summer wine. Cool, “light,” and delicately nuanced, it's a great way to beat sunny Arizona's heavy August heat.

As I’ve explored Rosé this year, I half expected to exhaust its depth by now.  So, it says a lot that, even at the end of the summer, I’m still returning for another chilled-till-foggy Rosé—this time a delicious 2015 B. R. Cohen. It’s Wednesday. And it’s August. Is it just me, or is August like summer on steroids?  Heat has turned muggy with the monsoons, and now there are mosquitos.  The yard is overgrown, ready for a cutback.  All the signs point to autumn.  Still, summer pulls me with its gifts.  School is about to start but, as always, summer break has been too short. Out of any year I remember, this summer just evaporated. I'm not ready for school to start let alone say goodbye to these long days and warm nights.  Don't get me wrong, I do love fall, but change isn’t my strong suit, and this summer-to-fall business recalls all sorts of melancholy. Summer belongs to children, and its outro is just another reminder about my kids growing up. If that weren’t enough, I know I’m another summer older now myself. I guess you can tell I'm bummed.  How do I deal?  Well, the company of a good friend always helps, regardless of the season.  So, here I am tonight, sitting on a friend’s deck, watching an existential sunset and asking it all the big questions. This backdrop of sun and haze—a curious blend of pinks and blues, turns out to be a perfect backdrop for the wine I’m drinking. 

A good Rosé has a nice balance between fruit and tannins, and this 2015 B. R. Cohen is no exception.  Rosés are often criticized as underwhelming, but this bouquet displays subtle minerality and is not anemic. In addition to fruit, there’s jasmine here, and if I hold my glass just right, this floral scent shifts into an almost oceanic breeze. It presents peach when I take my first sip. On the tongue, there’s not a lot tannin. Instead, there’s raspberry, with medium acidity that dries the tongue, and ends on a pleasant, slightly bitter finish.  As the wine warmed, the bitter became more pronounced, so I recommend a hard chill. 

Forgive the causal pairing, but you know wine is an every day thing too.  If you can’t drink it with grilled tuna sandwiches on fresh-baked white bread, don’t call yourself a wine drinker.

Currently, the only place I’ve found this wine is on B. R. Cohen’s website: Definite buy again for Ms. Ellie.

August 16, 2017