Thursday, February 26, 2009

SOBE (Part II)

For most of the day, I was lounging at the Evian sponsor tent. I know, it looks like a scene out of a Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial. But working for the water of the French Alps turned out to be... le boring. Mostly because Evian had models prancing around in very little clothing spraying people with water (which occupied the only job there was to do).

The lack of activity may have had some relevance to the failing economy (and what doesn't now-a-days?). Vendors told me that festival tickets, which usually sell out six months early, were still up for grabs all day Friday. The $200 price tag definitely made my eyeballs pop.

Yes, it was a boring and tedious day. But, I did get to take a bathroom break in one of the trendy South Beach hotels. The ceiling was wicked cool (picture left).

Anddd I snagged about an hour of time at the Robert Mondavi tent. I got to pop open tasting bottles while listening to Mondavi staff rave about the new seasonal selection, Solaire (which is now on my list of wines to try).

Moral? Volunteering is never a total loss. No matter how boring and useless you may feel.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SOBE (Part I)

South Beach is renown for it's tourist-luring white, sandy beaches. If you've never been to the beach, I highly recommend you go to see it. Beautiful people, thriving nightlife, and home to the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

This festival calls famous chefs and winemakers from all corners of the world to Florida, and FIU students get the unique opportunity of volunteering because our university founded the festival, originally a fundraiser for the School of Hospitality.

My morning as a volunteer, or officially a "Student Associate," was off to a great start. I woke up on time (though painfully at 5:30am), drove to the beach without getting lost (a feat in itself for me), and hopped along my merry way to Ocean Drive and 10th Street, where the festival takes place.

Once I got there, I stared at the white tents lining the beach coast with wide, excited eyes (my pre-boredom, over-excited face exhibited, right). At the end of the day there was no doubt I was exhausted from the experience, although that was not because I was working too hard. FIU had more student associates than they knew what to do with. Essentially, I was exhausted from boredom.

The worst part of the day was standing around in the cold air (yes, 60 degrees is cold for me) wating around for something to do.
I didn't even get a glimpse of Paula Dean mooning the audience of her demonstration show.

I haven't mention all the hullabaloo created with the presence of the Spanish King and Queen. More to come on that soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What a week this has been

Midterms, papers, group projects, club meetings, chapter meetings, fundraisers...

This is the point in a college student's semester when it's too easy to become completely overwhelmed. This is when I became most thankful for my recent trip to Total Wine.

Yesterday I volunteered at the
South Beach Food & Wine Festival (post to come soon). It was the end of a long day, an even longer week, and I wanted nothing more than to bundle up in sweats and a blanket, and split some vino with a good friend.

The bottle of choice:
Brand - Hermes
Region - Nemea of
, Greece
Varietal - Agiorgitiko
Vintage - 2003

Apparently, Greece has been in the wine business for over 6,500 years (who knew?). I've never tried a Greek wine before, but I was feeling adventurous.

The verdict? Yep, they know what they're doing over there.

First swirl. Thick, dark, plum-colored wine left liquid sheets slowly sliding down my glass. Another a quick swirl before I inhaled the sweet, aged aroma of vanilla and oak. Another breath in added strong notes of black cherries.

First sip. Mmmm. A hint of spice. A subtle burn in the back of my throat. And, as I often experience with dry red wines, the second sip was better, smoother.

At $12.99 a bottle, this is one investment that paid off well. A perfect complement to Chinese brown rice and veggies. A perfect way to unwind from an exhausting week.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My trip to the supastore

I found wine Disneyland.

Have you ever seen such a place? It was overwhelming.
I've heard these types of places exist, I guess my eyes had been closed to it before. I stumbled upon it like Brigadoon. Fate.

Driving home from the FIU North Campus, ironically returning from a South Beach Wine & Food Festival Volunteer Orientation, I casually glanced out the window. "TOTAL WINE," shouts the big red sign, making my head snap to the right. Immediately I make one big U-Turn and head back to scope it out.

This place was literally a warehouse, packed wall to wall, nothing but wine (and a little corner of liquor). I spent one hour cruising every aisle, picking up whichever bottle most interested me at that moment (not quite the place for attention deficit wine-lovers). Some bottles even came personalized with a colorful "Employee Pick" sticker.

So, it kind of felt like a Wal-Mart, everything so cheap, easy and accessible. But for my first trip, I think I made out well.

My purchases (pictured right):

(1) My first Greek red wine! $13
(2) South African white, not my first, but I am no less excited. $12

Full on critiques to come soon on both bottles.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Lots of good things come from Valentine's Day. Little worded candy hearts, warm fuzzy chick-flicks, annual performances of the Vagina Monologues...

Still, I'm not crazy about the holiday. For one thing, I find it to be a sorry excuse to make people buy each other things they don't need. Plus, everyone who's not in a relationship is constantly reminded of that fact, hourly.

And if you are in a relationship, you can't even try to go out for a nice dinner because the wait for a restaurant table is rid-ic-u-louuuuuuus. Half the time the joint is so packed that service is way below par, anyway.

But, ahah, sparkling ros
é. That is a way to celebrate being loved.

And homemade fondue doesn't look that difficult, either.

My suggestion: skip the crowded restaurant trip. Don't sit alone pondering over your last break up. Grab a good friend or a significant other and a good bottle of sparkling rosé. Make something useful of your v-day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pass me a blue robe.

I think I've graduated.

In the world of wine, there are baby steps one must take before moving on to the next level.

Basic levels:

1. "OMG I'm totally drinking wine!"
2. "Heck, this is pretty cool... aaaand legal."
3. "What are we waiting for? Pop open the Bordeaux."

At level one, we drink wine coolers or white zinfandel. Neither of which can actually be classified as wine. And neither of which we come to be particularly proud of. But it's just a phase, it shall pass.

Level two, it's the easy white wines. The ones that still kinda taste like a simple, chilled fruit juice. But they have a little kick in them.

Level three, we're down to the good stuff. The deep, complex wines that stain your glass. The ones that make your food taste better. The ones that make your stomach warm. The ones with that special something you detect on the nose; and though you can't quite call it, you know it makes the wine better.

I went to hibachi this week and ordered my tofu stir-fry and California Riesling, which used to be my favorite. Not anymore. It was like drinking apple juice. I was hardly interested. (And at $6.50 a glass, I really should have been.) I wanted something more intricate. Something that I had to work at figuring out. I wanted more than alcoholic fruit juice.

I'm excited to see what my taste buds crave next.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Careful with the bubbly stuff.

I always wanted to shake up a bottle of champagne, popping the cork in that celebratory, slow-motion movie kinda way.

Of course, I've never had the extra money to blow on a bottle of champagne just to spill half of it on the floor. But I did get to open a bottle of champagne recently, and to my surprise (and slight disappointment), the cork was a twist-off.

(I should specify that technically, I was drinking "sparking wine" since to call it "champagne" it would have to originate from the Champagne region of France. Fun wine fact.)

Apparently, opening a bottle of champagne the old fashioned way can be dangerous.

A twist off champagne cork. Safe. Innovative. The people of the wine industry never stop the wheels from turning, do they? Dom Perignon would be proud.

P.S. The wine itself: André, Calif.; extra dry, extra yummy. The cost is a mystery, as it was leftover and unwanted from my family's holiday stash (one of the best ways, in my opinion, to obtain wine). But I'm confident that it runs fairly low.