Tree Decoration – Adding the Baubles

I mentioned in my last post, we’ve taken a stepped approach to our tree decoration this year.  Not because that’s what we wanted, but because our schedules were so crazy this year we weren’t able to do otherwise.

The first two steps were 1) buying and setting the tree in it’s stand (centering, leveling, etc.); 2) applying strands of lights and the tree topper.  Having managed to put the lights on successfully (in our opinion, anyway), the third step was the placement of the individual decorations a few days later.

Here, my sweetie and I have a very different view of what success looks like.  I have a tendency to favor a purposeful placement of baubles closer to the trunk or “inside” as well as near the end of branches.  This, of course, comes to me from my parents’ training and perhaps suits my temperament as well.  My honey, on the other hand, favors the organic approach with placement of decorations in a more random, serendipitous way.  You might call that a “natural” look.  I suppose our viewpoints on tree decoration prove that we do, in fact, complement each other.  I believe that’s true!  Thus, (complementary or not) it is absolutely necessary that we both have a nice large block of time available together for the task.  That normally means our tree gets decorated on a weekend.

To accompany stage three of our tree decorating, we chose to pop the cork on a California Meritage.

Oenophilogical_RoustaboutMeritage2016Winemaker: Roustabout
Wine: Meritage
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2016
Appellation: Paso Robles, CA
Price: $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: This Meritage consisted of 66% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Malbec.  It’s color was a pretty, deep red.  It’s nose contained dark berry scents, pine and a touch of earth.  Medium-bodied with good acidity, the Roustabout had 13.9% alcohol.  Flavors included a core of plum with tea leaf, spices, and woody tannins.  I thought it was pleasant and would be a good pairing with a beef dish.  At this price, that could be anything from a burger to Beef Stroganoff.


Tree with Lights no Baubles



Goats do Roam Red 2014

The statement cannot be refuted.  Goats do, in fact, roam.  As proof, there are wild goats (not feral domestic goats) whose natural habitats are scattered all over the world – Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East and Central Asia, for example.  On the other hand, the maker of this wine – Charles Back of the Fairview Wine Farm – has some 600 goats on the property.  They are domestic goats, of course, and their milk is used to produce cheese.  I imagine, then, Mr. Black would know a thing or two about goats and their habits.

Winemaker: Goats do Roam
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: South Africa
Price: $9.99 at Whole Foods

Notes: What an interesting blend this was.  Comprised of 60% Shiraz, 14% Grenache, 11% Mourvèdre, 11% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignan, and 2% Cinsault, this South African red was dark ruby in the glass.  It had good acidity, medium body, very little tannins, and 14% alcohol.  Flavors my happy tongue enjoyed were blackberry, blueberry, leather, ash, and black pepper with some olive notes.  This seems to be made as a “drink now” wine, and why not?  I mean it.  Go ahead and buy a bottle to drink tonight!  Of course, the tongue-in-cheek name Goats do Roam (rhyming nicely with Côtes du Rhône) was just icing on the cake.



Alamos Red Blend 2013

I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago that my parents never threw anything away.  While that may be an overstatement, it isn’t too far from the truth.  Thus, they had a four bedroom house filled to the brim even in retirement.  They weren’t hoarders, but they were definitely savers.

When my sister and I were cleaning out the house a few years back, I packed up a number of boxes of “stuff” that was somehow connected to me.  There were photos, of course.  But they had also managed to hold onto, among other things, all of my school report cards.  All the way back to kindergarten!  K-12.  Ha!  Imagine how surprised I was when I found included with my fifth grade records a certificate of distinction for my efforts in Spanish.  What?!  I would love to remember now even as much (little) as I knew back in fifth grade.  Unfortunately, if the label on this Alamos red blend weren’t translated into English, I would have had to use “Google translate” to understand it.

Oenophilogical_AlamosRedBlend2013Winemaker: Alamos
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: Mendoza, Argentina
Price: $9.99

Notes: This blend of Malbec, Bonarda, and Tempranillo was dark garnet in the glass with red berries in the nose.  Alcohol was at 13.9%, tannins were medium, and the flavor profile was primarily a very pleasant cherry.

Trentatre Rosso

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am going to be taking it slow these days. In other words, I won’t be tasting as many wines as I might otherwise. Luckily, I do have some notes left from prior experiences, so I think I’ll go ahead and publish those now as well. While the particular vintage may no longer be available, the wine producers will surely have something on store shelves currently for our consumption.  Here is one of those notes.

Winemaker: Trentatre
Varietal: Rosso (Red Blend)
Appellation: Salento IGT, Italy
Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

Notes: This lovely Italian reminded me of a Bordeaux. A blend of 33.3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33.3% Merlot, and 33.4% Montepulciano, this wine had a distinct purplish hue in the glass with a very present bouquet of forest floor (sous bois). It was on the cusp of medium-bodied with good acidity and gentle tannins. Alcohol was at 14%. Flavors I detected included brambly blackberry, leather and tea leaf. I think I see another bottle of the Trentatre in my future.


Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find my photo of the bottle.  So instead the photo above is of a town (or more precisely a portion thereof) called Castro in the Apulia region – the area in southern Italy where this wine comes from.

Blood Red Wine

Oenophilogical_CuriousBeastsBloodRedWineWrapper2013As I said before, it’s never a bad idea to plan ahead for the holidays.  Many of us forget due to our excitement over the “majors”, though, that the spooky holiday comes first.  Let’s face it, I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I went to a party in costume. [OK, I won’t tell you.]  Why has it been so long?  No, it’s not because I’ve completely lost the fun in my life.  Mostly it’s due to a lack of advance prep work.

So, if you’re thinking of having a get-together (with or without costumes) on Halloween, I have another candidate for you to audition for the beverage table.  This one is also for a casual affair not for the wine aficionados.  And this wine, too, has a Halloween-appropriate label.  And name!   In fact, the wrapper that comes with each bottle is even more Halloweeny than the label.  If you serve it at Halloween, make sure your guests get to see and appreciate the wrapper art as well.

Oenophilogical_CuriousBeastsBloodRedWine2013Winemaker:  Curious Beasts (by Truett Hurst)
Wine:  Blood Red Wine
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  California
Price:  $13.00

Notes:  With a name like Blood Red Wine, this selection is appropriately dark ruby in the glass.  On the nose I caught scents of red berries, sous bois, and a hint of caramel.  At 14.7% alcohol, it had little to no tannins that I could detect.  Still, there was plenty of flavor in this light-bodied selection.  I tasted lots of cherry and blackberry with some raisin and caramel along with a touch of eucalyptus.  It was certainly pleasant enough to drink.  Since there’s not much in the way of structure, it is a drink now kind of wine.  I think it would be decent with a pasta dish or with Mexican cuisine.

Valréas Côtes du Rhone 2013

I seem to be in a bit of a French wine phase right now.  It isn’t by design, necessarily.  Perhaps it’s because I’m once again being required to utilize my rusty language skills at work.  Seems my bosses come to me when there are foreign languages to be dealt with – whether I actually studied the languages or not.  Ha!  Good thing there are plenty of helpful resources out there.

One online source I’ve been using quite a bit for pronunciation is  It’s extremely helpful with common words and phrases in many different languages.  A word of caution, though.  The pronunciations on Forvo are put there by volunteers not professional linguists.  So, if you can, it’s great to check them against a reference source.  If there is more than one recording on the Forvo site for your word or phrase, don’t just stop at the first one.  Listen to them all.  You may very well find there are regional dialects represented among the pronunciations.  Also pay attention to where the “volunteer” is from.  If I want to pronounce an Irish word correctly, I’ll trust someone from Ireland over an American who has studied Gaelic.

Winemaker: Les Vignerons de L’Enclave (des Papes)
Wine: Valréas “Cuvée Prestige”
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2013
Appellation:  Côtes du Rhone Villages, France
Price:  $6.49 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This selection was made from 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah grapes and had a fun bouquet of tangy berries, musty earth and pepper.  It was dark ruby in the glass with bright acidity and medium tannins.  A light-bodied selection, I found flavors of red berries, tea, and ash with a brambly tannic bite on the end.  I thought it was a serviceable cheap red blend, but it won’t make my faves list.

Château Poyanne Bordeaux 2014

This Bordeaux Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Couldn’t find the exact percentage, but I’m going to guess heavier on the Merlot than the Cab because of the nose and flavor profile.  It’s a very inexpensive wine, so don’t let’s expect the Halleluja Chorus to start playing in our heads (or from our taste buds) when we take a sip.

Winemaker: Château Poyanne
Wine: Grand Vin de Bordeaux Cuvée Prestige
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2014
Appellation:  Bordeaux, France
Price:  $5.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The Château Poyanne is purplish in color with a bouquet that smells of candied plum with hints of turpentine and fennel.  It was medium bodied and had bracing acidity.  Tannins were medium, and alcohol was at 13%.  For me it was a simple flavor profile of plum and pepper.  I think it would be OK with say … a turkey burger or something along those lines.