Friday, April 30, 2010

Metapost: Where's the fiction?

If you're looking for my #Fridayflash story or the finale of Always a Bridesmaid, check out my new blog, which will be devoted completely to writing, fiction, and reviews of self-published books. Enjoy, and, as always, comments are welcome and encouraged!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Rant on the Taste of Decatur

Saturday marked the Taste of Decatur, an opportunity for the metro area to come to this little slice of heaven and sample the yumminess that we "locals" get to taste on a regular basis. When the event was being publicized during the week, nearly every restaurant in town was listed on the "Venues" page. For the cost of admission, you could go to those restaurants and get…


Maybe it should've been my first clue that something was up with the festival when I scoured the Taste of Decatur website and couldn't find any specifics on just what I was getting for my money. None of the usual Decatur publicity suspects had heard of the event, and there were no posted or other advertising to indicate that the festival was even happening. I wasn't alone in my skepticism, but's half-off special on admission on Thursday was too much to ignore. And so I bought tickets for Cecilia and myself.

By Friday evening, things were starting to get strange. The restaurant list on the website was inexplicably cut to nearly half its original size. The remaining restaurants were offering specials like 20% off a meal or a BOGO deal on entrees or appetizers. Tasty to be sure, but not exactly "Festival" material. Still, my money was spent, so Cecilia and I ventured on.

By Saturday afternoon, it became clear that the whole event had come unraveled. While some of the restaurants were participating as advertised, others were not. One place insisted that the event was canceled. Another said they hadn’t heard anything from the organizers until the day before, and that was too late for them to offer any kind of special. (Curiously, both restaurants remained on the list throughout the day only to be removed sometime in the late afternoon.)

Finally, around 4:00 PM, the organizers broke their silence with this tweet:

Sorry 2 all those who bought tix from We r'nt given ur email addys to contact u about change to event...NOT CANCELED


Look, I might be able buy the fact that you didn't have my e-mail. But you had Facebook, Twitter, and a bunch of blogs that would’ve been happy to get out the news of the "change to event." Instead, you said nothing while allegations of a scam were thrown about. The restaurants were twisting in the wind, and the patrons were getting annoyed. Those of us who live here know better, but people from outside Decatur are liable to see this as a bad reflection on the restaurants here. It's tough enough in the restaurant business these days without this kind of bad publicity.

And the damage is not limited to this. Googling "Taste of Decatur" leads to a number of results for the Garden of Eatin', a completely unrelated event that serves as a major fundraiser for the Decatur Cooperative Ministry. If people confuse the outright failure of today with that event, there will be more than just lost revenue for restaurants at stake.

A fellow blogger stated that the organizers were faulting LivingSocial for the problems today. In my opinion, this doesn't fly. I find it hard to believe that LivingSocial took over the website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for Taste of Decatur and prevented any updates as was being suggested. Even if they did, there was nothing to stop a second account from being created to disseminate information or a post to one of the more widely ready Decatur blogs.

As for me, I made the best of the day that I could. I got to spend some much needed time with my lovely wife. We made our first foray to Sammiches and Stuff for lunch. I was able to enjoy some of the alcoholic concoctions at Leon’s (that fruity drink was metro, dammit, not girly). Hey, I even managed to get a bar seat at the Brick Store and enjoy a nice Malheur 10 before the usual Saturday hordes invaded the place.

To the venues that opted to press on with the specials in spite of the uncertainty, my appreciation. I’m going to refrain from naming names here because I wasn't able to visit all of the establishments. I'm afraid that mentioning places that didn't participate in the end will be construed as criticism of those restaurants, and this is not my intent.

To the organizers of the Taste of Decatur, I offer you a venue to rebut anything I've said here or offer any information. We aren’t the biggest fish in the pond here at Random Oenophile Enterprises, but we’re more than happy to offer an open mind to anything you say.

Rant over.

Dave Kell at the inDecatur blog had a similar experience. For his thoughts, click here For the Decatur News Online article by Cecilia, go here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Winery Reviews: Wolf Mountain and Montaluce

My parents' cabin just south of Blairsville is giving us great opportunities to check out the wineries around Dahlonega, which are on the way. We just have to be careful because stopping on the way up means we have to go over Blood Mountain, and on the way back we have to be mindful of Georgia 400 and Atlanta traffic. In other words, we have to sip judiciously, which is hard because we visited a couple of good ones this last trip.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards is just off the road between Dahlonega and Blairsville. I had high expectations because I had visited their Roswell tasting room many years ago and loved the reds, and I wasn't disappointed. I don't think that the Roswell tasting room is still open.

They offer two tasting flights, the "Estate Tasting Flight," or tastes of eight of the estate wines for $10, or the "Reserve Tasting Flight," eight reserve wines for $20. Some of the wines overlap lists, but we saw Claret on the Reserve tasting list, so that pretty much made our decision. Here's what we tasted:

2008 Blanc de Blancs Brut
Yes, a North Georgia sparkling wine! Oaky chardonnay nose, which is not surprising since that's the grape used. Citrus on the palate with very mild yeast and some creaminess.
Rating: Good

2008 Vintners Reserve Brut Rosé
Has some Reserve Claret in it for the color. Nice balance of yeast and red berry flavors. A pink wine that Hubby liked!
Rating: Very Good

2009 Plenitude
75% Chardonnay and 25% Viognier
Stone fruit Viognier nose, but with the acidity of Chardonnay. The best comparison we could come up with was that it's like a Sauv Blanc with the smoothness of an unoaked chard and the silkiness of Viognier.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2008 Chanteloup
70% French-Oak aged Chard and 30% Steel-Fermented Viognier
A little oak on this one, but mostly citrus and melon with some minerality, and again the silky texture of a Viognier.
Rating: Good

2007 Instinct
"Field Blend" of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Touriga Nacional
Musky, smoky nose. A medium-bodied red with currant-cherry flavors. It would probably be better with food. Like meat. Red meat. Yes, it's aptly named.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2007 Claret
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Mourvedre
Well-balanced with nice, dark fruit on the nose and all the way through. Oh, yes, we liked it.
Rating: Very Good

2007 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Nice dark fruit nose with blackberry and cassis on the palate. Yum.
Rating: Very Good

Like Port, but not syrupy.
Rating: Very Good

We ended up joining the wine club and bringing home bottles of the Brut Rosé, Claret, and Reserve Cabernet. Yes, we liked them that much. We'll do the regular tasting next time. Oh, and we also ended up having a glass of the Reserve Cabernet with a cheese plate while enjoying the view:

On the way back to Atlanta, we stopped by Montaluce Winery & Estates. Well, not the estates, just the winery. If you recall, we were there back in January for the "Wine Conclave." I am pleased to report that they thawed out nicely, and the view from the porch is even prettier in the spring:

The winery offers different flights of three wines for $10 each. We tasted the rose, two whites and two reds, all made at Montaluce.* It was interesting to taste the wines outside the context of a meal. Click here for my first review of the wines as well as what they were served with.

The Risata, or rosé, seemed to have simultaneously smoothed out and become a little more tart than previously. The Chardonnay still had its vanilla and lime flavors but had also developed some melon notes. The Viognier is honeysuckle and honey, a good sipping wine for a hot afternoon. The Merlot, again medium-bodied with blackberry and raspberry, had some tobacco overtones. Finally, the Cabernet Sauvignon was still very good. We got glasses of the Cabernet and Viognier to sip on the porch and wait for snack time:

Both Wolf Mountain and Montaluce have restaurants as part of the wineries. I'm looking forward to trying Wolf Mountain's Vineyard Cafe sometime. At Montaluce, we shared an arugula salad with blue cheese, pork belly croutons, and cashews tossed in sherry vinaigrette. We also split a ramp flatbread, which had ramps (a garlicky spring onion-type vegetable), Manchego, and chilis. They paired a wine with it, and unfortunately I didn't get the name, but it was one of their wide selection of Italian whites. Apparently our efforts to eat light posed a challenge to the sommelier, but he rose to the occasion and picked the perfect wine.

One thing to remember is that several of the North Georgia wineries host weddings, so if you're looking for a less expensive "destination," it's something to consider. For the rest of us who are already married, it's a good idea to call ahead and make sure they'll be open regular tasting hours on weekends.

We came back from Montaluce with bottles of the Risata, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It looks like my parents' investment in a mountain home is going to benefit us in many ways. I'm happy to be able to support our state's "agritourism" efforts. If you've turned your nose up at Georgia wine in the past, consider visiting one of these wineries. You may change your mind.

*Yes, FCC, they comped the tasting and all but two glasses afterward because they know us.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: Always a Bridesmaid, Part XI

This is the next-to-the-last part of Always a Bridesmaid. The finale will be released next Tuesday just after my Twitter chat with the Penny Dreadful serial fiction site, where all the parts have links. To see the chat, search #thepennydreadful at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, April 27. For more flash fiction, search the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter. And don't worry, wine people, I have some things coming up for you as well.

XI. Revelations

"You were a what?" Amber asked.

"An exotic dancer." The air in the room felt thick, the same feeling from when she woke that morning after her teacher had left her with nothing but a warning and a wiped memory.

"You were in the dream last night." Toby brought her back to the present. He held the brownie. "Bert, is this safe to eat?"

"No! You need to put it all in here."

He pinched off a corner and dropped it into the container. "No one likes mint-flavored fish."

"You remember the dream?" Tiffany asked. "And how did you end up with a talking catfish?"

"Is she safe to talk to?" he asked the fish.

"The answer will cost you another piece of brownie." Bert picked the crumb off the surface of the water. "She's a good witch. You saved her life, so as far as I'm concerned, the rest of the brownies are mine, I mean ours."

Toby told them about the mysterious strangers and the truck stop that had vanished in the night, leaving him with nothing but a crick in his neck and a smart-mouthed fish.

"I've heard of this," Tiffany said. She bent down to look at the fish. "He's a guardian spirit."

"Just my luck," Toby said and rolled his eyes.

"So now what?" Amber asked. "We still have a big problem – the wedding!"

"Why?" Toby asked.

"Don't you know? It's her seventh one!"

"Her what?" Toby leaned back against the counter – hard.

Shock's a bitch, Tiffany thought.

"I thought it was her first!"

"Where have you been?" asked Amber.

"In the missionary field. With my parents. We've just been in the States since my dad got sick."

"You're a missionary?" Tiffany took a deep breath so she wouldn't scream in frustration. First, he blew her cover, and now he'd have her burned at the stake!

"My parents were. I went along for the adventures." He shrugged and half-smiled. "If you call parasites adventuresome. They're both elderly, so maybe my Aunt Theresa – Lydia's mom – didn't want to upset them. Her seventh?"

Amber filled him in, and Tiffany watched the girl. It was a story she'd told many times, but there was something about how she said it… Tiffany remembered Amber's tears when the ghost appeared in the kitchen earlier that day.

"Amber, who was Danny? Besides Lydia's first husband?"

Amber picked up one of the pieces of rose quartz that she had been polishing, a heart, and ran her fingers over the smooth curves. "A guy she met in college."

"And what was he to you?"

The black-haired girl's hands shook, and she dropped the heart. It fell to the tile floor and cracked exactly in half. Tiffany picked up the pink teardrops and, for a moment, saw Danny as he had been: tall, green-eyed, and dark-haired. A male version of Amber.

"He was your brother."

Amber ran from the room, and Tiffany started after her. But she paused when she remembered her other guests, and she heard the front door slam.

"Took you long enough to figure that out," Tizz the Brownie muttered from the other room. Tiffany hoped that Toby hadn't heard her. But Bert had.

"Good gravy, witch, how many supernatural critters do you have in this dump? A ghost and now a Brownie?"

"I should go," Toby said. "Or I guess we should. It was nice meeting you, I guess."

"Likewise." She smiled. "Sorry I bespelled you. It was an accident." She led him to the front door, but he didn't leave.

"What are you going to do to help my cousin?" he asked.

Tiffany looked at the pieces of rose quartz heart in her hand. "Eye of newt, wing of bat, something witchy like that."

"Let me know if I can help. We used to play together when we were little."

"I will, although I'm probably going to stay up all night doing useless research and then show up and wing it."

He laughed, and the sound un-knotted the tension in Tiffany's chest. She looked at him again and noticed the little lines at the corners of his eyes. He laughed a lot, or had, she deduced. But something had kept him from it lately.

"Can I ask you something? Since I'm today's queen of awkward revelations, after all."


"What are you running from?"

The expression on his face changed from amused to angry to sad in rapid succession.

"My problems. What else?"

She nodded. "Well, maybe after the wedding, you and I can talk about them."

"I'll think about it."

"And that means no." She watched him drive away.

Toby's problems were still on Tiffany's mind the next day. She was so lost in thought that she almost bumped into a guy wearing black shirt and pants as well as a Roman collar.

"Oh! Excuse me, Reverend."

"I'm not a real preacher, I just play one on t.v." The balding man winked at Tiffany. She backed away.

"I think I'm at the wrong wedding."

The town council had decided to encourage people to come out and celebrate the start of spring with a "Love Is in the Air" festival. Tiffany knew about it and had a booth at the main event on Saturday, but she'd missed the part about the mass wedding. She wandered from group to group looking for her bride. She spotted Trent first.

She set the platter of cupcakes and mint brownies on the card table that had a sign on it: "Lydia and Trent's goodies." She couldn't help but look for hottie cousin Toby. Those yummy-looking powdered-sugar covered cookies must have come with him.

"Places, everyone!" A harried young man with a megaphone jogged around the square. The brides and grooms moved toward the middle. The minister who had winked at Tiffany moved to the front of the crowd, shadowed by a cameraman and sound guy with a microphone.

"Not quite what I had imagined."

Tiffany looked up and saw that Toby stood beside her.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tasting Notes: California Wines at JavaMonkey

Last Thursday's tasting at JavaMonkey was supposedly going to cover familiar territory: California. The good news is that there are a heck of a lot of wineries in that state. The bad news is that only two were featured at the tasting, Joel Gott, whose website address,, made me snicker, and Chateau St. Jean. No, it's not related to or a warring faction with Chateau St. Michelle (we asked).

When we were halfway through the tasting, Dan Browning noted that some of the wines had a typical taste for the varietal. For those of you who read my recent Decatur News Online article on Bellydance and Wine for Beginners and are interested in learning more, getting some of these would not be a bad idea for learning some of those flavors and how they manifest in wine.

The wines:

2009 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc (Lots of Random Places, California):
Floral nose, but mineral, a little grassy, and citrus palate. I said Meyer lemon, but overall, the grassy characteristics seemed to be the most popular ones noted.
Rating: Very Good

2008 Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay (Sonoma and Some Random Places, California):
If you're wondering what vanilla notes in a wine taste like, here's your chance. This vanilla bomb wanted chocolate ice cream and a cherry on top.
Rating: Okay

2007 Chateau St. Jean Merlot (North and Central Coast, California): also contains some Malbec and Petite Syrah
A medium-bodied, basic Merlot, this one seemed a little green at first but finished with good, dark fruit.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2008 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon (Central and North Coast, California):
This one is a blend of 91% Cab Sauv, 6% Petit Syrah, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Syrah; if that's not confusing enough, it was aged in 58% American oak barrels, 48% French oak, and 1% Hungarian oak
Nice fruit with a little cedar and oak. Yes, my description is shorter than the tech stuff.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2007 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon (California):
Buttery and fruity with a "chewy" texture.
Rating: Very Good

2007 Joel Gott Zinfandel (California):
A bit young and temperamental, but opened nicely. Fruity with blueberry predominating.
Rating: Very Good

To recap, if you're looking for a grassy Sauvignon Blanc but don't want to go all the way to a New Zealand one or a vanilla-ish, oaky Chardonnay, these would be a good place to start. Yes, tasting wine is definitely easier than bellydancing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: Always a Bridesmaid, Part X

Business is good, so blogging time is scarce. Apologies to the wine people for neglecting you, but there will be some notes up soon, I promise! To read the first parts of Always a Bridesmaid, check out the More Fiction section at my web site. For more flash fiction, search the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter.

Always a Bridesmaid, Part 10: Brownies Take Him Higher

It was late afternoon when Toby pulled into Thicket, the small Georgia town where his cousin Lydia lived. The trip had taken him a couple of extra hours because he'd driven the speed limit. It wouldn't be good to get pulled over with a mouthy bottom-feeder in the passenger seat, and his out-of-state license plate made him juicy game for troopers. His cell phone had rung at one point, but he didn't answer it.

"Who's calling?" Bert asked.

"Probably my mom."

"The caller I.D. screen says Marie."

Toby turned the phone over.

"Fine, I get it that you don't want to talk! Is that why you're driving the linens and cookies across the flipping country instead of using Uncle Sam's Pony Express?"

"The Pony Express stopped running a long time ago."

"You know what I mean." The fish sloshed in his container. "And I'm hungry!"

"Fine." Stopping by a Chick-Fil-A to get chicken biscuits had managed to shut Bert up for a few hours.

"Are we there yet?" The fish swam the tight radius of his plastic to-go container when the truck slowed to town speed.

"Yes," Toby said. "This is Thicket."

"What the hell kind of name is Thicket? Why didn't they just call it Redneck?"

"You watch it," Toby said. "Or these rednecks will have you filleted, breaded, and fried before you can say fish hook."

"Go hook yourself."

"Oh, look, there's a diner! Maybe they need a special."

A heavenly chocolate-mint smell caught Toby's attention and caused him to miss the fish's response. He slowly drove around the square, trying to figure out where it was coming from. It seemed strongest on the west side, so he turned down a side street and found himself outside a two-story brick house with a row of parking spaces in front and a sign that said, "Bride's Best Friend" on the door.


"Those smell wonderful!" Amber said.

"It's the mint. I grow it myself. It attracts positive energy and people, or at least it's supposed to." Tiffany pulled the brownies out of the oven and put the pan on a wire rack to cool. "Baking helps me think."

"So, what did you do in Seattle?" Amber leaned back in the chair and crossed her ankles. "I moved from there when I was a kid."

Before Tiffany could make up something "acceptable" like accountant or tax attorney, she heard a knock at the door. "I'll be right back."

"Who could that be?" she wondered. Maybe the postman had a box for her. The little town was safe, but she had requested that all deliveries be made to her personally, especially if they were magickal supplies.

Opening the door gave her little time to think, even less to stifle her reaction, so she stood and stared, open-mouthed like the fish in the plastic takeout container he held under his arm. The "he" in question was the guy from Lydia's dream, the one who had knocked the demon down before it could kill her.

They may have stood looking at each other forever had the fish not sung, "Bow chicka bow bow!"

"Hush, Bert," the guy said.

Tiffany shook her head to clear it, not sure which was more improbable, that this particular guy was standing on her stoop, that the fish had just talked, or that he had responded to it.

"Would you like to come in?" she finally asked.

She held the door open and stood back. He entered with a little smile on his face.

"What smells so good?" he asked. "It's like chocolate mint ice cream." He walked toward the kitchen.

"Brownies, dimwit," said the fish. "You have to pardon him," it said to Tiffany, turning to face her. "He's had a really long day and not much sleep."

"That's okay," she told it. "I haven't, either." First a ghost in her kitchen, and now a talking fish?

"Is everything all right?" Amber came through the bead curtain and almost bumped into Toby. "Oh! Hi!"

"Hi," he said and turned back to Tiffany. "Right. Brownies. I can have one?"

"They're cooling in the kitchen," Tiffany said and motioned for Amber to get out of the way.

"Yeah, witch-lady, you better give him one. He's not gonna come out of the spell otherwise."

Amber's eyes widened when she realized who was speaking.

"Hey, hey, hey!" The fish swam in circles. "A blonde and a brunette! Where's the redhead, ladies? This could be a good time for all."

"Patience," Tiffany muttered. She followed the guy into the kitchen, cut a square from the pan, and put it on a small plate. "It's still hot, so be careful."

He put the fish down on the counter and took the plate as well as the fork she offered him. He shook his head after the first bite.

"A little hot, like you said, and –" He would've dropped the plate if Tiffany hadn't taken it. The fork clattered to the floor. "Where am I?"

Tiffany put the brownie on the counter and scooted to the other side of the island in case he got aggressive. The spell had never worked this well before!

"This is my place of business," she said. "The Bride's Best Friend, a bachelorette party venue."

"How did I get here?" He looked around. "The last thing I remember is driving into town and arguing with…" He glanced at the fish, who was sloshing the water in his container with his efforts to scoot it closer to the brownie.

"They're Magic Mint Brownies!" Amber said. "They attract positive energy and people." She looked the young man over. "I think they worked."

"What's your name?" asked Tiffany. He looked at her for the first time as though seeing her clearly.

"I'm Toby. Hey, I know you!"

She realized too late that this was the cousin from Seattle.

"You're Lacey Chenille, the exotic dancer! I went to a bachelor party, and you were the main attraction!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: The Lab Assignment

I need to figure out the rest of Always a Bridesmaid, so here's a microfiction for your entertainment this week.

The Lab Assignment

"I don't get humans," Debtra said. She lowered herself into the chair in Thurston's office and crossed one ankle over her other knee. "The torture they subject themselves to!"

Thurston checked the file on Debtra's Vessel. She should've had one of the easier ones, being physically young and middle-class. He felt sorry for the students who had the elders, the ones who arrived on the dream campus early because their Vessels went to bed so early in the evening. They manifested with all their aches, pains, and complaints. Or the teenagers. They were always late to class. Debtra, his star student, had deserved a break, so he had assigned her to young woman in her twenties, just out of college and starting her career.

"Did you do a tough workout?" he asked.

She shook her head with tears in her eyes.

"Were you attacked? Your manifestation looks okay."

"No, we're fine. It's even worse – she met a guy and decided to re-enter the dating world this weekend."

"That's great!" Thurston slapped his palms on the desk. "That's the kind of sociological experience you're supposed to be getting in this class! Think of the observations you'll make."

Debtra glared at him. "No, it's not!" She leaned forward and winced. "Let me ask you, Professor: have you ever heard of a Brazilian bikini wax?"

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tasting Notes: Friuli

Cecilia was in Birmingham this week helping her mom recover from surgery. Good news for her mom (plenty of help). Bad news for you folks, because she left me the keys to the Blogger account. In honor of baseball season starting, just think of me as that lightly-used right-hander in the bullpen.

This past JavaMonkey wine tasting, conveniently enough, occurred on April Fool's Day. This is always a great day for fooling people with pranks. For those of you who are too busy for pranks because you're, say, passing health care legislation or sitting on Congressional committees, you can settle for just making yourself sound like a fool like our wonderful Congressman.

Now I can't speak for Guam, but I certainly wouldn't want Decatur to tip over and capsize. The only prudent action I could think of was to ensure that there wasn't too much wine on Church Street to cause such a thing. Armed with this sense of duty, I arrived at JavaMonkey to find out that five of the six wines were whites. From Italy. And this was no joke.

Uh oh.

For those that don't know my tastes in wine, I typically find Italian whites too light-bodied even with food -- especially Pinot Grigio. It's just a personal thing. Inevitably, though, an Italian wine tasting is going to have one or two, so I feared the worst when I heard that this tasting was tilted towards the whites.

The region of Friuli is located in the northwestern corner of Italy along the Slovenian border. (Token "Italy is a boot" reference: Friuli would be in the middle of your calf muscle. Or right behind your knee if you're into those sort of boots.) The climate of the Friulian plain is good for growing white wine grapes, so that explained the 5-1 split towards the whites. The phylloxera infestation was particularly bad in this region, and winemaking was more or less dormant until the 1970s. When Pinot Grigio's popularity increased in the 80s and 90s, the region's winemaking became very sucessful. (See here and here for some great, in-depth information about the region.)

2007 Villa del Borgo Pinot Grigio, Grave
All of the descriptions of this wine seem to focus on what it's not. It's not aged in oak, it's not aged on the lees, it doesn't use any malolactic fermentation, and despite the name, it's not made in a Village run by the Borg. (Thank you, try the veal, and please tip your waiter.)

For the three of you that didn't run screaming, I can also tell you that it's not a very good wine to pair with a Cuban sandwich. That was my insanely bad choice of dinner before this tasting, and it completely killed this wine. Others noted a strong flavor of lemon pepper. I definitely got the lemon part of that.

I did go back later and try this again, and it struck me as typical for an Italian Pinot Grigio.

Rating: Probably good if you like this type of wine and don't moronically order a spicy sandwich before drinking it.

2008 Marco Felluga Pinot Grigio Mongris, Collio
I had hopes that "Mongris" was going to be some mythical creature of the region, or some beefy type of Pinot Grigio that flourished there. Sadly, it's just a bastardizaion of the word for "single varietal" and the Friulian word for Pinot Grigio. These are also all stainless, but they age on the lees unlike the first one.

This finish on this one caught me off guard. It was very "warm" for a Pinot Grigio, and I think that distracted from some of the fruit. The glossy marketing material describes it as "complex," and I definitely didn't have enough brain power left for complexity on Thursday. This one would probably stand up better to its more fruity cousins from Oregon, and I could easily see it being a good one for the back porch after a hot day.

Rating: Not bad, though the finish was odd.

2008 Russiz Superiore Sauvignon, Collio
This wine is from the same maker as the previous one, but this particular label is aged 85% in stainless and 15% in oak. I took my first whiff, and scribbled down my thoughts. I didn't want to say anything, though, because my comments on the noses of wines have been known to garner me very strong "WTF?!" looks in the past. But then one of the other people at my table said she got the same nose that I had written.

Cat pee.

Yikes. The nose mellowed, but it destroyed anything else in its way. Chalk one up to the power of a wine's nose.

Rating: Ummm... No.

2007 Marco Felluga Friulano and 2006 Marco Felluga Tocai Friulano, Collio
I'm going to cheat and group these two together because they're the same wine from two vintages. The removal of the Tocai has nothing to do with the grapes and everything to do with Hungary getting the EU to prevent any non-Hungarian wine from using Tocai on the label.

These two were about as full bodied as you can get in a white. They weren't as buttery as a Chardonnay and didn't have the grass of a Sauvignon Blanc. They were just pleasantly fruity, though I had a hard time pinpointing a specific fruit (stupid pollen was messing with my nose). The 2007 was a bit more green and acidic that its 2006 counterpart. The 2006 was more intense, but some others found it to be a little musty. Like most Italian wines, food would help both. (I would say seafood, but Cecilia would quickly point out that I always say seafood.)

Rating: Good, very good with a nice Italian fish dish

2005 Tenuta Luisa Cabernet Franc, Isonzo del Friuli
Ahhh... A red at last! And a Cab Franc, no less. A bit unusual in comparison with other Cab Francs I've tasted, there's no oak used in the aging. Perhaps this is what the glossy marketing material meant when it described a "rare personality."

I don't know that I would've had a chance to pick this in a blind tasting. It was far smoother than most Italian reds I've had, and far lighter than most Cab Francs. It reminded me a bit more of a French red like Côtes-du-Rhone -- light bodied, but waiting for the right food to make it shine. The winery's suggestion is a spiced dish or venison. The table suggested that it needed carbs. I'm more inclined to the carb idea (but Cecilia would quickly point out that I'm as inclined to carbs as I am to seafood). Perhaps a nice plate of bruschetta and a seat on the patio of an Italian restaurant in North Beach...

Rating: Very good

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: Always a Bridesmaid, Part IX

Almost there! I think this one is going to be 12 parts, at the most. For more flash fiction, most of it self-contained, search the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter.

Always a Bridesmaid, Part 9: Collision Course

The bruises from the demon's death-grip had faded by Monday morning, but Tiffany still felt them every time she moved her head or left arm.

She had let Amber stay the night, deeming it safer to keep the girl near her since the demon was angry at the bride's best friend for seeking professional magickal help. Like Tiffany, the black-haired girl had been scared by the events of the night before, but unlike the witch, she was okay with admitting it. Over and over. In a breathless "Omigod, I can't believe it's this bad!" way, which only made Tiffany feel more out of control of the situation. Finally, she turned from the sink to where Amber polished rose quartz crystals at the table.

"What do you think this is?" Tiffany asked. "Some sort of game?"

"No," Amber said. "It just doesn't seem real. Everything's been happening in everyone else's dreams, remember?" She placed the pink sphere she'd been polishing on its clear plastic base and stood. "But if you don't think I'm taking it seriously enough, I can leave."

The girl's reply brought a memory back to Tiffany, of her own teacher, who had told her, "One of the hardest things to do as a teacher is find the student's balance between overconfidence and utter lack of it. The most difficult for the teacher is to be patient."

"No, don’t leave," said Tiffany. "I just remembered something important. And you saved my life last night, even if you didn't realize it at the time." Had she been overconfident? she wondered. Or not confident enough? She tried to remember more of that conversation, but as usual, when she struggled against the spell that had hidden her memories, a little dervish of pain swirled through her head.

"Are you okay?" asked Amber.

"I'm fine, just tired from trying to figure this out. Why did the demon set Lydia up with Trent? It makes no sense! Do you remember how they met?"

"Online, I think. She's a web designer for small businesses, and he wanted her to do his site."

"What kind of work does he do?"

Amber thought for a moment and bit her lip.

"Well?" Tiffany twisted the dish towel into a knot so she wouldn't throw it at the girl. "C'mon, Amber, it could be important. Why are you laughing?"

"Because he's an exterminator!"

Tiffany closed her eyes and slumped against the counter. Why did she bother? But the irony wiggled into her brain, and she couldn't help but smile, then chuckle. She wondered if he went after demons with the insecticide.

"That makes sense. I bet he's a good one."

"Oh, yes, no insect survives the assault of Master Trent, Demon-Slayer and bug killer!" Amber mimed a thrust with an invisible sword. "And he'd be a fine husband for someone else, but Lydia doesn't love him."

"I could tell." Tiffany returned to drying the breakfast dishes and then paused. "He's particularly juicy prey for the demon with all the energy from the animals he's killed. I bet he hasn't shed it, which explains the ego."

"What do you mean?" asked Amber. "What energy?"

"Well, you know how some cultures revere the animals they hunt and have elaborate rituals around it? They're the smart ones. Any time you kill something, you release its energy, and if you're not careful, it can mark you and change you."

"So Trent's covered in bug energy? That's disgusting!"

"And spider and mouse and whatever else he's killed." Tiffany thought. "But why not go after him directly? Why go through Lydia?"

She smelled it again, the rotten egg, whipped cream-spoiling odor of the unhappy ghost. A column of noxious brown smoke materialized in the middle of the kitchen between Tiffany and Amber. The smoke swirled and tightened until it took on the shape of a man, about six feet tall with medium build.

"Back, spirit!" Tiffany yelled and held a wooden spoon like a wand. Not as good as her crystal-tipped one, but it would have to do.

"I mean no harm, Witch," it said in a nasal voice. "I come to warn you!"

Tiffany crossed her arms, but before she could say anything, Amber spoke.

"Danny?" she asked. Tears came to her eyes. "Danny, is that you?"

The apparition nodded.

"You know this guy?" asked Tiffany.

"Yes." Amber tried to take a deep breath, but the spirit's smell made her cough. She finally choked out, "He was Lydia's first husband. A chef."

"So why did you ruin her dessert?" asked Tiffany. So much for professional courtesy!

"An accident."

"You said you had a warning," Amber said, and Tiffany mentally applauded her focus.

"The demon is greedy," the ghost told them. "He wants more than the spirit of another man. He will enslave all the souls he can reach. Only one can stop him, and time grows short."

"Who?" asked Tiffany.

"Not you. Listen to your Brownie, Witch! Stay away from the courthouse square tomorrow!" With that, he vanished, and a cold breeze swept his smell out of the kitchen.

"Well, at least he cleaned up after himself this time," Tiffany said. She tapped the flat of the spoon against her palm and pondered the ghost's warning.

"What are you going to do?" Amber asked.

"What else? I'm going to bake brownies for the wedding tomorrow. Whoever is coming is going to need my help."

"Idiot!" Tizz hissed from the outer room. "Can't you leave well enough alone?"

Amber jumped. "What was that?"

"That was Tizz, the Brownie the ghost was talking about. She's a sort of fairy."

"Shouldn't you listen to her?"

Tiffany sighed. "Probably, but I've had enough of being warned away from things I need to finish. I'm going to see this one through."

"Then let me help!"

"Great! I'll show you where the Magic Mint is so you can wash it and start chopping it. We're baking it into the brownies."

"Are we going to get high?"

Tiffany sighed. Patience…