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You Want to be Where Everybody Knows Your Name…

Our troubles are all the same, right?!  It all starts around 6:00 AM with a sore back from sleeping on a WWE action figure all night; then as you make your way to the coffee maker while stepping over a pile of the kids’ clothes (that somehow couldn’t find its way to the hamper), you find your pet hovering over the kitchen sink trying to get some leftovers from some dishes you left from the night before.  You wrap up the morning with a 20 minute Q&A session with one of your kids while in your closet, half dressed, trying to make yourself look moderately presentable.  You’d love to stick around for more of this blissful morning glory, but it’s off to the workplace for even more fun and excitement.  The fun and laughs seem to never end, as this episode replays itself for 5 (long) straight days…  On day 5 you wake up in your typical haze, but then you stop and say to yourself, holy shit…it’s FRIDAY!!!!  You get so excited by the thought of it that you break out into a happy dance, a River Dance, and even the Cabbage Patch Dance!  You stir that pot of chocolate pudding like there’s no tomorrow, because it’s FRIDAY baby!!

Now that the weekend is here, what are you gonna do for fun?  Are you going to just stay home and watch SuperNanny, Kitchen Nightmares, or My Big Redneck Wedding??  For Pete’s sake – haven’t you been on your couch enough for one week??  :) Why not do something fun with a group of pals – like a wine tasting party?!  That’ll certainly kick start your weekend!

That’s what my friend, Holly, recently did – and so can YOU with just a little help!

There are lots of great ideas and themes to choose from when putting together a fun tasting. I thought that it might be a blast to do a unique, in-store wine tasting for my friend and her wine gang.  Now when I say “in-store wine tasting,” you’re probably envisioning a mini-bar or table set up off to the side of your favorite local wine shop.  You know…the free tastings that take place on most Friday evenings and/or Saturday afternoons at many wine shops across the US; but I’m not talking about that sort of “unique” in-store tasting in the least.  What I’m talking about is a truly private tasting for just you and your gang in the store’s wine cellar! 

I’m lucky to live near several outstanding independently owned wine shops where the owners are truly passionate about their business and provide customers with superb selections and individualized customer service.  One of those great little gems is Peco’s Liquors.

I’ve recently gotten to know Edward Mulvihill of Peco’s.  Ed grew up in the family business and he’s now the store’s Director of Sales & Marketing.  When I first met Ed, I had no clue that Peco’s even had a wine cellar – even though I’d shopped at this establishment for the past 12 years.  Since seeing the old cellar for the very first time a few months ago, Ed and the Peco’s staff have done an amazing job renovating it. They’ve created an intimate atmosphere that is perfect for entertaining and sharing good cheer with 12-20 fellow wine lovers.  I was quite eager to share the cellar with some of the locals, so I asked Ed if he’d be willing to host a private soiree and he graciously agreed to my request.  So now that I scored a swanky venue for Holly’s wine tasting party, I needed some great wines to serve up.  I worked with both Edward Mulvihill and Alex Calla, who is the store’s wine specialist, to come up with a tasting flight that we hoped would receive high praise from our party host Holly and her 20 thirsty guests.

Here’s the line-up that we decided on:

When Alex, Ed and I were trying to come up with the tasting flight, we wanted the line-up to be a little bit off the beaten path, yet not totally out in left field.  We were also aiming to introduce the group to several new wines that would be perfect for everyday drinking (under $20) and that would also pair well with a variety of recipe ideas. 

So what did our thirsty guests think about these wines?

Well, based on the responses and written feedback that I received from our evening’s host and her guests – there were a few that hit the bull’s-eye and a few that missed the target.

Here were the ones that hit the mark and received the most accolades from the group:

Cantine Riondo Prosecco Spago NV (Veneto, Italy) - This crisp Italian Sparkler was such a big hit that folks were lining up for more even after the tasting had ended.

2006 Trapiche Broquel Bonarda (Mendoza, Argentina) – Guests raved about this wine’s beautiful aroma, great body and impressive, big and full flavors.

2009 Bodega Septima Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) – This was another winner from Argentina with the guests.  Lots of folks commented on the richness of this wine and many expressed that its flavors were very complex.

Unfortunately, one wine that totally struck out was the 2009 Alamos Torrontés (Salta, Argentina).  Many in the group had never tried an Argentine Torrontés before, so we had hoped that the Alamos would be a nice entry into this category to leave a positive, lasting impression on our guests.  Sadly, those lasting impressions were of “armpits,” “feet,” and “grandma’s basement.”  I’m not quite sure if the last comment was a term of endearment or not.  :)

The wine with the most mixed reviews was the 2008 Penley Estate Sparkling Pinot Noir (Coonawarra, Australia).  Many did enjoy the smell of this wine:  bursts of strawberries, raspberries, and light spice.  And there were a few people that embraced this less traditional rendition; describing it as “FUN,” “Surprising,” and “Awesome!”  However, the majority of the tasters thought the sparkling nature of this wine was a little odd and too different from what they’re accustomed to from a traditional Pinot Noir.

Finally, the 2006 Henry Estate Pinot Noir (Umpqua, Oregon) – which was the most expensive wine of the bunch – also received a few mixed reviews from the tasting group.  Some said, “it’s very earthy,” “reminds me of the woods,” “flat taste,” while others said, “amazing,” “very smooth,” and “very good.”

Oh well, you know the old saying, “You win some and you lose some…”  But at the end of the night, everyone goes home happy, feelin’ good, and ready for the rest of the weekend!  :)

Very special thanks to Peco ‘s Liquors, Ed, Alex and Josh for a great evening! (Peco’s FaceBook Page)

I’d also like to thank my good friend Holly for bringing the incredibly delicious cheese selection and a great group of wine lovers to party with!

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