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Friendship, like fine wine

May friendship, like fine wine, improve as time advances.
And may we always have old wines, old friends, and young worries.

This is the toast that I usually give at annual gatherings of friends – at our annual (or, sometimes, twice-annual) meeting of Sams authors; at our new-years/Christmas dinner of some of my dear freinds, which I suppose may not happen this year; and at a few other select events.

This year, friendship, like fine wine, has shown some unexpected qualities. Some, which have been mediocre in the past, have proven themselves to be of enormous depth and value. Others, thought to be wonderful, have shown themselves to be plonk. Still others, cellared and forgotten for 10+ years, have been discovered and found surprisingly sweet, and that much of the cloudiness that was there before has settled out, leaving a sharp clarity.

So, enough analogy.

But, as Solomon said, woe to the man who falls down and does not have a friend to pick him up.

And, so, to my dear friends, old and new, thank you, and may you always have old wine and young worries.

Mead and Dandelion Wine

Drinking Mead in the winter always reminds me of Dandelion Wine, in which Ray Bradbury talks about those sips of dandelion wine in the dead of winter, where each mouthful is sunshine, and freshly mown grass, and memories, and happiness and warmth.

I’ve held on to these bottles of Chrisman Mill mead for 2 years now. I thought that mead was not really supposed to age gracefully, but this is still blooming, and I think that I’ll try to keep the last bottle a little longer. I don’t want to overdo it.

This mead is a wonderful golden color, and still has the tastes of clover, honey, and sunshine that I enjoyed so much in it when it was new, but they have blossomed a little. It no longer tastes quite so green, while at the same time, you can taste, somehow, magically, a golden delicious apple in there somewhere. And, the last time I tasted this, it was still just on the edge of being too sweet. That is completely gone – no more syrupy sweetness – and just the lovely summer flavors are left.

This is truly a wonderful wine, and I only wish that I was not about to run out of it. And I wonder if I will ever get my copy of Dandelion Wine back that I loaned out at the end of last summer.

Wine by the case

Note: If I, or Bert, did not personally tell you to look at this page, then chances are pretty good that nothing here is relevant for you. I merely put it here because it is a convenient place to have people make comments. However, if you are in the Lexington, Kentucky area, and would like to participate, send me a note.

OK, we talked about either a mixed case or a full case as options. After thinking about this some more, I think that the mixed case idea makes more sense, for a few reasons.

For starters, it is cheaper. Anything worth saving for 5-10 years is going to cost considerably more than the average price of what we’d buy in a mixed case to enjoy within 1 – 2 years. And there’s not the pressure to save a particular bottle for 5 years, which would be the hardest part, at least for me. 😉

Also, I think that it will be, overall, more fun, allow us to taste a variety of things, and avoids the situation where we might end up with a whole case of crap – not that this would be likely to happen in the case of the wine that we discussed, but, still, just in case. And it makes it more condusive to replentishing the supply every few months.

At an estimated cost of $15 x 11 (with one bottle free), this is $165. I would need most of this up front from those that are going to participate, and, of course, the amount per person will vary depending on who is participating. Please either make comments here, or talk to me directly, so that we can get initial contributions, and get this thing going some time early next year.

Persistence of memories

I found myself concerned about the permanence of this diary, while looking at my great great grandfather’s civil war diary. You see, I still have that, and can know what he did on particular days during the 1860s. But as I write this diary, it is very uncertain whether my great great grandchildren will have access to this information. Not that it seems important now, but I suppose it seemed rather unimportant, at the time, that Isaac Nace heard guns from over in Gettysburg.

Yes, I have backups, but what good will CDs and floppies be in 2140, I wonder? I should probably start printing this stuff out, and putting it in a binder of some kind, just out of courtesy to my decendents.

Wine cellar – follow up

I just got done doing some work in my wine cellar. I’ve tagged all the bottles, finally, after wanting to do this for some time. So I can look in there and see what everything is, without disturbing anything. And now I can actually do this through the door. It is wonderful.

I also put a thermometer in there, just to see. It has held the temperature between 51.1 and 51.7 all day. The fridge I had filling this role before had fluctuations of about 10 degrees in fairly short times, and got pretty cold a lot of the time. Seems that 51 is a little chilly, but I’m not certain.

I also realized that I have almost nothing that I can actually drink. Almost everything in there is stuff that I want to keep for a substantial amount of time, and there’s very little that I would want to just open up at a moments notice. Perhaps 3 bottles in there I’d want to open on a whim. The rest require a special occasion.

Gotta fix that.

J Lohr 1999 Zinfandel, and a less-than-perfect restaraunt experience

Yummy yummy yummy.

We went to The Homestead for our company christmas party last night. Almost everything about the restaraunt experience was disappointing. Appetizers took 30 minutes. The meal took another *hour and half*!! Nobody’s steak was done correctly. Mine was way overdone. Maggie’s was way under done. At least 3 people (including me) got the wrong side items. And the replacement side item came as I was finishing up. Not one of them.

And then, to top it off, as we were doing our gift exchange – nearly 3 hours after we got there! – the owner came in and asked if we could relocate down to the lounge, where they had reserved some seats around the fireplace for us. Now, this turned out to be kinda nice, although very loud. However, we were being bumped because they had the room scheduled, and had taken more than 2 hours, total, to bring our food. The least they could have done is offer us free desserts or something.

This was a huge surprise, as I have always had good experiences there. They are sort of under new management, with one of the managers selling to his partner and moving on. I don’t say that’s the cause of it, but Mike was a fabulous manager, and knew more about wine than any restaraunteur (sp?) I have ever encountered.

But the wine was wonderful. J Lohr 1999 Zinfandel, and that’s just about all I know about it. $7 or so a glass, or $30 a bottle, so standard over-pricing. But very yummy. Earty and meaty, with a depth that could not be ruined by the steak.

I find that I’m gradually regaining my ability to talk about wine, but I seem to be remembering incompletely. The most enjoyable part of the evening was the folks that were there, and this far outweighed any unpleasantness. However, I get the impression that Chad was even more displeased than I was – as well he should be, since he paid, and I did not.

2001 Rosemount Estate Shiraz-Cabernet

Rosemount Estate
2001 Shiraz/Cabernet (55/45)
South Eastern Australia

This was enormously disappointing. I’ve long plugged Rosemount and their Grenache/Shiraz, which is always good. But this was just so very grapey. And for a Cabernet blend this young (sure, 2001 in Australia is earlier than 2001 in California, but still!) there is no tanin. It’s like this wine was made to drink immediately. Which is ok, if that’s what you’re going for, but this tastes like welches grape juice. Well, not quite, but it’s almost that grapey. It is slightly sparkling, which is also odd in a Shiraz/Cabernet, I think. I just can’t say much to commend it. It was ok with a well-seasoned spaghetti, but just in the sense that I like to have wine with spaghetti, and this is wine. It still had nothing to commend it, particularly/

I’d like to think that I just somehow got a crappy bottle, as I have never before had a disappointing wine from Rosemount, which is a consistent source of reasonably-priced solid wines. So don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself.

Wine cellar!

My business partner got me a Sunbeam 4.6 cu.ft wine cooler/cellar/refrigeration unit. I was just complaining that I was out of storage space, and when I walked into the office today, there it was sitting next to my desk. Wow. Plenty of space for what I have, and room to grow. Smoked glass front, so that I can see what’s in there – maybe even read the bottle tags. This is one of the nicest Christmas presents that I have gotten for many years.

LPLUG Christmas party

Today was the LPLUG Christmas party, which was, I think, a big success. It was well attended, and the speechifying did not drag on too long.

We also had a GPG key signing. Only 4 people participated, but others looked on curiously, which was, actually, the main purpose – to get people interested, asking questions, etc., so that next time we do this, we’ll have wider participation. Perhaps this could even be a regular part of meetings. It’s less time consuming when people know what is going on, and what they gain by having their key signed, and by signing others’ keys.