Game of Thrones still - Purple Wedding Death Scene

Why King Joffrey, whatevah is the matter? Was it something you drank, perchance?

If you are fan of the books or the show, a portion of that admiration for me, is due to the excesses of it. The pageantry, the subterfuge, the devious twists and turns of human nature, it’s  addicting.

But for me, the fact that every character seems to participate in the profuse quaffing of wine is awesome. Flagons and flagons of wine.  From hedonist but just Lord Tyrion to his evil sister Cerce, there is a lot of juice flowing.

Don’t they ever drink water?

The whole point of this is that in the final wedding scene, young, cruel King Joffrey is glugging down wine that he professes he likes very much, maybe even more then his new bride.   Suddenly he starts to hiccough and choke. Needless to say, the poison’s in the chalice and dies an agonizing, blue-faced death. Fare thee well, horrible boy-king.

Had he paid any attention to the signs of impending doom, he could have avoided his gurgling demise. See, I know the wine they served at the reception. Yup, I’ve got a bottle right here. The  label would have warned  him of the potential danger within.

Me thinks there is something suspicious about this wine, sire..

Me thinks there is something suspicious about this wine, sire..

However, this Oregon winemaker is far from the evil doer in this episode. Owen Roe is a co-owned winery between the Wolfe’s and the O’Reillys. Sinister Hand is one of their signature red rhone blends, primarily grenache ,syrah and some mouvedre.  I tasted this probably sometime in 2012, had David O’Reilly sign it and put it away and forgot about it. I know I liked it very much then, but since then I know that I need to crack this open immediately as some reviews I’ve read lead me to believe it’s probably losing it’s acidity but still a great drinker. I’m sure it’s very yummy in spite of it’s dripping label.  You should read the full story about how this wine got it’s name. It is so very Game of Thrones, but in an old Irish lore sort of way.




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Mr. X’s – Open That Bottle Night

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I consider myself an unpretentious wine appreciator, but I find that as my palate is becoming more honed, I am hampered by the budget of a single working lady. With few exceptions I buy within my own wallet limitations. Fortunately, there are many great wines $30 and under that exist for my rack space.

So you won’t be seeing the Châteauneuf-du-Papes, the Pomerols, or Saint-Juliens in my wine collection. But I am fortunate to have friends who do run with the big dogs.pups in wine boxes


Sometimes they invite this puppy to lap from their bowls. Er, enough of the dog analogies.


Recently I was invited to Mr X’s ‘Open That Bottle’ (commonly referred to as OTB) party on a lovely warm-for-Seattle April night. The loft apartment was cute, the lights low and candles lit, the inviting ambiance was perfect for an evening of wine tasting and conversation

‘Open That Bottle’ is a social event specific to like minded wine socialistos, which asks  you to bring that special bottle you’ve been saving for just the right occasion and audience. It’s that bottle that you’ve been picking up, then putting back on the rack as it may be wrong for the food or would not properly be appreciated by the beer drinking group you are taking it to.

I know, this sounds a bit snooty, but for a person like me who is still in the midst of my personal wine education, I kinda want the ‘experts’ to help me taste this wine to see if it IS all that!  OTB’s are useful for people who are cellaring a case of a particular vintage and they try to taste them every couple of years to see how that wine is evolving.

Not all wines are built for ageing. There are many ‘drink-me-now’ wines out there, that may be showing well up to 5 years from release but more likely you should enjoy sooner than that. Except for a few  bottles, that’s where I’m at.  But working on it.

That being said, my fear is that I’ve got a bunch of wines that should have been drunk last Easter, or the Easter before. But when taken to some OTB events, they were still showing very well. Their  wine-bones I guess, bore enough tannin or acidity for cellaring. They become softly mellow and drinkable in a different way. There can be nice surprises and but there can also be horrible surprises.

Dangers of losing a wine bottle in your racks or holding on too long to one can mean that that  wine is harboring an embarrassment for you at a  future OTB party. My fear is that I bring a bottle that has peaked or that it’s corked.  Puppy mistake.  I mean rookie mistake.

I have found some instructive and interesting information on this very thing and I give credit to Jim Gordon at  His article “Know When a Wine is Peaking” is  broadening my knowledge and should ultimately make me be a smarter shopper.

But back to the party.

We started with eight bottles and my offering was a South African Syrah ‘08 Boekenhoutskloof. A nice Danish name bearing the signature of the winemaker. I brought it because I at least knew no one else would bringing a like bottle, and if you can’t bring very expensive wines, then bring a good to great unusual one. I bought it maybe 3 years ago after sitting through a tasting with the winemaker.  I loved the story about the perils of wine harvesting in Africa as it is not uncommon to see cheetahs dashing through vineyards as well as  poisonous snakes amongst the vines. Thank goodness it was liked well enough, even when joined by other local notable syrahs from Washington state. Whew!

Here are the wines that we had that night and I am very fortunate to get the chance to taste them; I love the generosity of my ‘big dog’ friends.OTB Christopher 3 OTB Christopher 4OTB wines Christopher2

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Taste Washington – The largest national single-region Wine Event was awesome!

April 29th was a typical Seattle Spring Saturday that started out with windy conditions and rain. That was quickly forgotten once you entered the halls of  the Century Link Event Center.

The air is fragrant with wisps of sweet and savory offerings that linger down the aisles. There is a buzz of anticipation as countdown starts before the first patrons are to enter. Corks are being pulled, amuse bouches are prepared and ordered perfectly onto decorative trays.

My friend and I stood for a moment to survey the scene and wondered where to start first? We were slightly  giddy and just plain overwhelmed  by the choices spread out before us. But being VIP ticket holders, we had the advantage over the general public of being allowed in one slim hour ahead to get to all the good items we’d missed out on in the previous year’s event.

But we had a plan! Oysters, great wines, best wines, new wineries and lots of spitting.

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photo (4)Starting with the Taylor Shellfish Fresh bar; it’s a 40 foot long ice table with oyster shuckers shuckering those tiny, tasty cold water creatures. They featured the sweet little Kumamotos, then the Olympia and Shigokus. Served classically with lemon quarters and mignonette sauces to compliment, it was a delicate start to the day.

How fortunate for us that the organizers placed the chilled wine bar right next to the shellfish.  A wonderland of Sauvignon Blancs, Semillions, Aligotes, Chenin Blancs, Rieslings – we were very happy.

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The aisles are listed A to Z so even though we had our winery playbooks out, we still had a hard time finding wineries. You would get pulled this way and that by beckoning smiling pourers waving their bottles at us, or being waylaid by friends from wine school or other wine industry related associations.

Before we knew it, The VIP hour flew by and to our dismay, we’d only made it to the ‘B’s by the time the hordes descended.  We did our best to finish up the whites but did some zig zagging and finally gave up any ordered tasting march and just enjoyed it.

I came prepared to dump my tastes or spit into my little paper cup which I finally mastered by the end of the event.   This avoids the danger of just glugging down every taste you get, which after 4 hours could be detrimental to  your equilibrium, and is just not very professional or pretty. I am happy to report that we both came away with sound mind and with the help of the many water stations set up throughout the  venue,  the ability  to drive ourselves home.

If I had the space I could regale you with every wine we tasted. Suffice it to say, we tasted as many cab francs, syrahs, merlots that we could find. If it was from Walla Walla, yes give me some. From Red Mountain, bring it on. Tasty cab sauvs were from Betz. So many tasty offerings it was hard to choose or single them out.   You’ll just have go next year.

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The Best Sunset of My Life


Winter sunset over Elliott Bay, Seattle.

Winter sunset over Elliott Bay, Seattle.

Sipping coffee watching the Travel Channel this morning, I realized that I have not achieved something that should be on everyone’s bucket list – the best sunset of my life.

I have seen some pretty ones, even some beautiful ones, but I cannot bring to mind a sunset that I would say was heart stopping, soul satisfying, now-I-can-die sunset.

Sugar Beach, off the coast of Maui, HI is a place where I’ve viewed some very lovely golden moments. But is it the sunset or the company you see it with?

Now that I’ve seen (at least on TV ) views from San Sebastian, Spain or from it’s southern coast in Andalusia, I really need to start working more diligently on that bucket list entry.

For me, sunsets invoke leisure, calm attitude and a  glass of  wine. I would choose a glass of rose’, issued from some lovely grenache’  or  mouvedre. What could be a more beautiful pairing then to see the sunset through rose’ colored glasses?

So tell me, where was your Best Sunset of your life? And what’s in your glass?

Tell me, I need to start my list.


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Rainy day wine tasting is pretty sweet

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To say that winters in the Pacific Northwest can be long, dark, drizzle fests is to say the least about the tedious gray on gray. Gray trees, gray skies, streets that shine and erase the traffic lines, so duh-ulll!

Last Saturday my friend and I had a few hours to fill so decided to do a quick run to do some wine-tasting. This is the perfect way to chase away the doldrums.  The mecca for winos and wine lovers in the Puget Sound lies about 14 miles north and a little east of Seattle in a town called Woodinville.

Host to a staggering 130 wineries, wine bars & tasting rooms on a sunny day this place is a destination for tourists and locals alike. That makes for crowding and sometimes a bit of a wait time to get near the tasting bar.

The better time to visit is on a rainy day or a misty early afternoon, when the tasting rooms are quieter. There are open seats, less din and the staff seems less harried and eager to share.

We decided to stop at a newer tasting venue, a corner area with a brewery and four tasting rooms, with 2  more scheduled to open later in the Spring. The tasting rooms are fairly new, stylized and inviting.


19151 144th Ave NE #F
Woodinville, WA 98072

First Stop:  Gard Vintners

ImageTasting room manager, William, poured us through the line-up,of course we had to taste them all, but I was totally  charmed by their Grand Klausse  2012 Rose’ . Made from  100% Grenache, it has just the right weight, some melon on the nose and pleasant little acidity to linger over. Truly a great choice for sipping wine on a warm deck in the coming months. I can hardly wait.


Here’s a quick picture of a new tasting room for Beaumont Cellars, a winemaker located in Quincy, WA.  We ducked in for a quick tasting and have decided that this place will  definitely be a revisit when we can stay longer and linger.

The final tasting room here was the brand new Five Star Cellars. Well packed with appreciative customers, Five Star has wines that I find velvety, bold and packed full of flavors that my tongue and I  appreciate.  Since my picture of the tasting room did not do it justice, I will bow to a homage of the wine , my pick for Taste of the Day, their Stellar 2008 Red Wine. At $48 a bottle, it’s on my wish list if I ever win the lottery. If I did however, I could drink a case or two, of this.    http://www.fivestarcellars.comphoto (2)

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Premium wine flight, and it's of California wines, hard to find in this state.

Premium wine flight, and it’s of California wines, hard to find in this state.

Don’t ask me why I was in Mukilteo one fine drizzly Monday afternoon; it’s a tucked- away town sitting between the I-5 Freeway and the Puget Sound, about 15 miles north of Seattle. Boeing dominates the main drive that takes you to the ferry terminal. You pass the standard strip malls and services that must be alluring to employees of this manufacturing giant.

Not far from this we found a gem of a cozy yet contemporary wine bar – The Scotmans Bistro.

The lure was the fact that a favorite acoustic guitar duo appears there frequently.  I followed  the cabernet-colored link trail to a nice little lunch menu and an awesome wine flight list.

I am a big big fan of wine flights, and I’ve had my share. A lot of the time, I enjoy just the tastes of wine, not an entire glass and since I cannot make up my mind usually, a wine flight is great choice.

Wine flights are usually served in 3 to 4 wine glasses to a set with 1 to 2 oz. wine pours.  Grouped to allow comparisons of wines that have a similar character, or grape or, just about any parameter the you can think of. For one price, it allows you to have it all!

Flights that I’ve had in the past run in price range from $15 to $24 dollars. On one hand you get to try some pricey wines without committing to an entire glass. On the other hand you’ve paid the price of two really nice wines by the glass for the price of a whole bottle. Spendy.

Wine Flight Menu Feb 2014 Scotsman BIstro

Wine Flight Menu Feb 2014 Scotsman BIstro

The Scotsman offers wine flights that are interesting,  way affordable and arranged in an attractive “Game of Thrones” style display that is super cool.  Some might say it’s gimmicky but I’m a sucker for an over the top table display so, bring it on!

The Scotsman Bistro –


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If the Seahawks were an Old World Wine…

It’s Sunday , 4:30pm.

The Superbowl is in high gear and the cocktail lounge echoes with cheers from yet another Seahawk touchdown.

Christopher tosses himself onto the velvet covered booth, deftly placing his winter beer on the table before the whoompf of a landing. Enjoying the game and the company of his friends, this proprietor of a newly renovated wine and cocktail bar in Fremont savors the joyous ambiance of his temporary Seahawks Cave.
As the Seahawks continue to thunder down that yardage, I asked Christopher, what wine from his current  menu would pair well with the Hawks. Why not pair your team with a wine that exhibits some similar characteristic? With more than 150 wines by the glass, he’s got an array of choices.
Initially tickled by the thought of such a scandalous pairing (What? Not beer or bourbon, he quickly warmed to the task, scanned his Reds listing. First, of course, he had to describe the performance of the Seahawks today:
“These guys are like a freight train! Va Voom!” Well said, my man, well said.
The Wine: For his pairing choice Christopher offered a Bisceglia, Gudarrà 2008 Aglianico del Vulture , a powerful, tannic wine from Southern Italy. This Va Voom wine is so big it really needs to be matched with foods similar, shall we say, in Beastly attributes? He recommended pairing pizza, pasta with tomato sauces and spicy sausage or lamb dishes.
With that, he dashed off to the buffet, which included the requisite chips, salsa and oh, of course, truffle popcorn, the new Cave Man treat. It IS a wine bar, after all., Fremont WA, Center of the Universe

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