Wine WThursday!

I promised a Wine Wednesday this week and, true to form, I’m posting on Thursday! I apologize for my wine slacking.

A few weeks ago, I bought this cute cork holder at Target. We decided to start filling it with corks at the beginning of the year and see how long it takes us to get to the top (I vote July).

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The first cork came from a wine we won! Back in December, Dan and I attended a 90+ Cellars wine tasting, which was awesome. It was $10 to get in and they had at least 20 different wines to sample. If you ordered bottles to purchase, they applied your admission fee towards the cost. We dug a LOT of what we tried and had a hard time narrowing down out choices, but ultimately bought 6 bottles.

Apparently, if you bought 6 bottles or more, you were entered into a raffle to win a whole CASE of wine. A few days later, Dan received word that we WON THE CASE!  That’s 12 extra bottles. We are FIGURATIVELY swimming in wine right now.

The first bottle of Voitka Vino we popped open in 2016 was one of those winning bottles:

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Magic Door 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford in Napa. This is a region known for its Cab. I didn’t jot any notes but remember loving this one. Napa Cabs rock my world.

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The second and third additions to the cork blork come from pretty rad and unique blends. The Valeriano is Jacuzzi’s “Super Piemontese,” as they put it.  It’s almost like a Meritage or Bordeaux style blend (Cab S, Cab F, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot), but with some Barbera thrown in there.  The other wine shown is 90+ Cellars Gran Vino, a Spanish blend akin to a Super Tuscan, but featuring Tempranillo. These fun blends are really easy drinking if you like big, full bodied wines.

Finally, we bought this French blend at a tasting at Bee’s Knees:

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At the tasting I learned that the Cabardès region is a brand new French appellation that specializes in combining Atlantic climate grapes (such as Cabernet and Merlot) with Mediterranean climate grapes (like Syrah and Grenache). The results are awesome! This has great body and a balance of fruit and herb notes. It’s a great transition wine if you like Bordeaux and want to get into more of the southern Rhone or Languedoc regions, or vice versa. This 2013 Chateau Jouclary Cabardès was only $12, so it’s a budget friendly alternative to the more costly French regions.

And obviously, it’s best enjoyed while engaged in battle for village supremacy in medieval France.

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Fun fact: the Chateau Jouclary was named in 1530 for the consul of, you guessed it, Carcassonne!

I just started playing Carcassonne and LOVE IT, but Dan has beaten me 6-1 so I need to step up my game. Or drink more Cabardès.

Wine Links:

Loved Uncorked! If you liked Somm, definitely check it out.

More great tips from Wine Folly. I have such a hard time discerning specific notes in wine, so now I just focus on whether it’s fruity or herbaceous. Baby steps!

Understanding German Riesling by the label: I love dry Riesling so I usually keep an eye out for labels that say Kabinett. I’ll start looking for Trocken or Selection now, too!

Cheers!

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Wine Wednesday

I love getting Blue Apron as a once-in-awhile treat, and I was thrilled when my seeeeeester Jenni texted me to say that they were going to pair wines with their recipes. YES! While I have not opted to receive their monthly wine shipments (I have a wine buying problem as it is!), I figured I could steal their suggestions using wines I already own.

Tonight we made Blue Apron’s southern style burgers, which had a spicy kick. Blue Apron suggested pairing a Zinfandel, so I reached into my bag of tricks:

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This is Truro Vineyards’ 2013 Zinfandel made with grapes from Lodi, CA. It’s medium-bodied and spicy with a strong nose and pleasant finish. It’s spiciness and pepper made it a PERFECT pairing with the burgers. It also tasted great with the two pieces of dark chocolate I had for dessert.

A few weeks ago, Dan and I spent a long weekend on the Cape and visited Truro Vineyards. I LOVED the experience! The wine tasting is $10 for five pours and you can keep the glass!

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Plus, they sell wine by the glass which you can enjoy would taking a tour, browsing in the gift shop, or just taking in the sights.

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I LOVED the wines, especially the reds (naturally). The Cab Franc was earthy, the Merlot velvety smooth and fruity, and the Triumph (a Bordeaux style blend) was bold as hell.

In other news, my new phone is en route! Maybe more posts? We will see! 

Cheers!

2015 Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon Recap (FINALLY)

Brace yourself, it’s a long one.

This post has been hanging over my head for over a month now! I started writing it almost immediately after the race, but I don’t know if I should blame WordPress or my computer or myself but SOMETHING kept failing to save the draft.

Also, I have been a little glum since the race because of an injury I sustained (more below). In the 5 weeks since the half, I have run ONCE. It has bummed me out, which I think has subconsciously turned me away from blogging. My hope is that if I power through, I can go back to a regular schedule of posting. Because, at the very least, WINE!

Anyway, here is the summary of my time in Sonoma for my very first half marathon. It was such an amazing experience and I am so glad I did it! I’m also so happy that  Dan and Mom were with me. It made the trip so much more fun!

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The Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon I ran with Team Challenge was a rewarding experience and also a total blast. I had such a great time before, during, and after the race.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Friday, July 17: I booked a late flight on Friday so I could save vacation days for the actual vacation part! Luckily Virgin America (my FAVORITE) has a 7:00 PM flight that arrives in San Francisco at 10:30 PM, so I could take off after work.

Dan had to wait until the next morning to leave and Mom booked a cheaper, earlier flight, so it was just me! I was stuck in a middle seat but luckily the two others in my row were together, so they gave me the window! SCORE! (I paid forward this courtesy on our flight home from Vegas, letting a taller guy have my aisle seat and taking the middle seat next to Dan).

My flight arrived a little later than scheduled and I had to drive 1.5 hours to my hotel in Santa Rosa. I’m not a great night driver – I get drowsy instantly. I was also extremely paranoid that the GPS on my ancient phone would fail on me at any moment. However, the jolt of adrenaline from driving in a new place kept me alert long enough, and my GPS never failed! I even drove over the Golden Gate bridge!

I arrived at the hotel at 1:00 AM PDT and was greeted by a different Lucy!

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It was nice to have any Lucy greet me at the door, even if it wasn’t my crazy cat (the hotel was in Santa Rosa, home of the Peanuts museum). After I arrived at the hotel, I texted Dan as I was getting to bed. It was 4:00 AM at home and he was just arriving at the airport for his 5:00 AM flight. Yuck.

Saturday, July 18: I met up with Mom early in the AM and we grabbed some coffee before heading BACK to SFO to pick up Dan. We went to Flying Goat, a quintessentially Californian coffee shop. The coffee was free range and the muffins were Level 5 Vegan and there wasn’t a gluten to be seen. It was actually really tasty!

Because I am stupid and also lazy, I sat in the driver’s seat thinking “Should I go back for my phone charger? Nah.” I regretted this after 2 minutes and made my poor Mom shut off her phone so we could save battery power for GPS. Before leaving the east coast, I had printed out directions between the hotel and the airport in case my phone failed me (see? Paranoid). Poor Mom didn’t get to take a picture as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge though!

Fortunately Dan’s plane was on time (and his phone had juice)! Our next stop was the race expo. I had never been to an expo but I was looking forward to sampling some expensive electrolyte water I’d never buy.

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Dan and I BOTH picked up race bibs. Dan was able to sign up for the GunBun Fun Run 5K at the last minute! It was sold out when he first decided to sign up (like a week before the race), but a few days prior, some spots opened up! He was pumped. Also, how cute are the race numbers? The half marathon bibs had red grapes and the 5K bibs featured green grapes.

At the expo we picked up some souvenirs ($2 water bottles? Unheard of!), but we didn’t stay long because it was REALLY hot. After the expo we got some lunch and provisions at Oliver’s, a Whole Foods-y type market and deli. I needed to buy some combination of carb + banana + nut butter for my pre-race fuel. The carb of choice? Pretzel rolls!

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Pretzels are the source of my powers.

From there I had a team meeting to go over logistics – where to get the buses for the pasta party, what time to meet in the lobby, are there bathrooms on the bus? (Important IBD question). We learned that Team Challenge had over 600 participants for the half marathon! That was nearly 20% of all runners. I could not wait to run in a SEA OF ORANGE!

Between the team meeting and the pasta party we had some time to kill. My teammate Mark asked if we wanted to join him and his lady Shayna for a complimentary wine tasting at Russian River Vineyards. I hesitated – should I really indulge in (free) wine the night before the race?

That indecision lasted for about a half of a second. Onto the winery!

I exercised SOME restraint and only took one or two small sips of each wine before passing the rest to Dan and Mom. I also drank gallons of water to stay hydrated. I forgot to take pictures of the winery and failed to take notes. I remember thinking the Gewurztraminer would be something my sister and bro-in-law would enjoy and discussing the “neutral oak” barrels that aged the lovely Chardonnay.

My mom ended up liking this winery so much, she joined their wine club when she got home! I can’t wait to try some of the bottles she receives.

We had just enough time after the tasting to clean up and change for the pasta party. Each Team Challenge contingent had its own team T-shirts for the pasta party. Bowel puns everywhere!

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Our 8-year-old honoree came up with “Call of Doodie.” Can’t argue with that.

The pasta party was great. They held it outside and the food was available as soon as we sat down. We heard awe-inspiring, gut-wrenching speeches and had some laughs. Our teammate Kennedy was the MC and she was awesome! At one point during all of our honoring of amazing folks, she asked all the participants who are also patients (like me!) to stand up for a round of applause. That was the moment I felt … accomplished? Like, I’m not just running for people with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, I’m running IN SPITE OF ulcerative colitis. I’m doing the thing!

When we bused back to the hotel from the pasta party (like at 8:00 PM), it was bed time. We had a 4:15 AM wake up call and needed to hit the hay.  Of course, I was so paranoid about forgetting something that I had to lay out all my gear before “sleeping.”

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Needless to say, I did not get much sleep that night. I probably didn’t fall asleep until about midnight or so. Yikes.

At some point in the night, Team Challenge endurance manager Jenny left a motivational poster on my door!

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Sunday, July 19: RACE DAY!  Lack of sleep be damned, I was a ball of nervous energy at the crack of dawn! Dan and I changed quickly, gobbled up our pretzel bread/almond butter/banana sandwiches (I could only choke down half) and met up with the Team Challenge-rs in the hotel lobby.

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Our hotel was about 45 minutes from the start line. We saw watched the sunrise from the bus.

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While riding to the race, I started to get nervous to the point of panicky. Dan did a good job trying to calm me down, but I was a wreck.

The best part of running with the IBD crowd? While on the bus I got up to use the bathroom and was informed by the person exiting the stall that there was no more toilet paper. No less than three other people on the bus immediately offered up their own personal stash of toilet paper. Love my Crohn-ies!

We got to the starting line with plenty of time to gear check, use the porta potties, and enjoy the view!

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Poor Dan had to manage my nerves and his own concern about finding the bus to the start line of the 5K. I could tell he felt bad leaving me. At least I had Erin, Mark, and a million other orange-singleted teammates.

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We dawdled a little and ended up near the end of the line to start. There were no waved start times or corrals based on speed. It was a bit of a free-for-all, which would matter more if I expected to be fast!

See that teeny, tiny white mark way in the distance? That's the start line.
See that teeny, tiny white mark way in the distance? That’s the start line.

As soon as I started jogging, those paralyzing nerves I felt prior to the race just melted away. I was so happy to be FINALLY running this race!

The biggest hill on the entire course was in the first half-mile. Since the start of the race was so congested, I could barely run up this hill (for better or for worse). It was nice knowing that the course would be primarily downhill after it!

The first couple of miles were a blur. I spent most of the time trying to move up in the crowd without zig-zagging too much. I don’t think I turned my playlist on until about Mile 2 or so.

The course was SO beautiful. You don’t realize how rural wine country is until you’re running through it! As a result, there were not a lot of spectators on the way. The ones that were there were great. I saw a sign that made me laugh out loud so hard that the guy in front of me turned to look. “Worst Parade Ever.”

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Team Challenge set up cheering stations all along the way. I got lots of high fives and Jenny grabbed some funny candids.

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I skipped the first water station and regretted it. It had been overcast at the start of the race but the sun came out to stay after the first couple of miles. I was THIRSTY. I don’t usually drink a lot during long runs but I found myself CRAVING water. At the first couple of water stations, I only grabbed a cup. For each one thereafter, I slowed down, grabbed a cup, drank it, and grabbed a second. I needed every drop.

I remember that at Mile 4, I thought “Oh no, the race is already 1/3 of the way over!” WHO AM I? Some kind of likes-running chick? I also kept looking down at my watch and seeing GREAT paces. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug.

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Then between Mile 6 and 7, my hamstring decided to explode. As you may remember, this has been a recurring problem and caused me to dial back my training runs. I knew that it would hurt during the race. I also knew that I could finish despite it hurting.

Hurt it did. Hurt MORE THAN EVER it did. The pain radiated down behind my knee and into my calf, which was new. I slowed up a little but even when I checked my pace thinking I was going slowly, I was still running between 9 and 10 minute miles. That made me happy.

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Prior to the race, I had forced myself not to set a time goal. I didn’t want to finish my very first ever half marathon and taint such an accomplishment with a shred of disappointment that I didn’t reach some arbitrary time limit. HOWEVER, my brain would not shut up about finishing in less than 2 hours 10 minutes. For some reason I kept fixating on a 2:0x time. Even with my brain barking, I still enjoyed myself along the way, stopping for pictures and making sure I finished my water.

After the mile 8 water and fuel stop (Vanilla Bean Gu FTW), I started having the debate with myself. The same debate I had with every single person I told about the race. I knew at mile 10, there would be wine samples offered on the course.

Wine.

Drink wine while running a half marathon? Half the people thought it was crazy. Half the people thought it was awesome! Can you guess where I landed on this debate?

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Naturally.

The samples were Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer. Even though I was dehydrated and sore, I decided to take the plunge (and mid-race selfie). When will I ever have another opportunity to have wine DURING a race? I drank my little sample and immediately downed two more cups of water.

After the wine stop, I was in the home stretch! Miles 10-12 seemed to take forever. I had definitely slowed down at that point, but was still running faster than 10 minute miles.  I don’t even know how it was possible, especially with hammy trying to ruin EVERYTHING.

After mile 12, I forced myself to go a little faster. A crowd was forming of spectators, finishers, and 5Kers. I scanned the crowd looking for Dan and Mom but didn’t see any of them. I did see the big-ass finish line though!

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As I was approaching the finish, a Team Challenge coach saw me and started running along side me. He was cheering me on and yelling “GO GO GO.” Thank you, Team Challenge Coach whose name I don’t know. You helped me SPRINT across the finish line!

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I didn’t see Mom but she saw me and snapped this pic! As I crossed the line, the announcer called out my name and hometown. Dan told me later that he didn’t see me cross but heard my name.

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As soon as I crossed the finish line, I was handed my medal. It’s a bottle stopper, bottle opener, and corkscrew in one!

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And weighs about 400 lbs.

I limped along to make sure I checked in with my team. My first thought was “WATER.” My second thought was “text Dan and Mom.” As I was reaching for my phone, my Dad texted me from New Hampshire and to congratulate me and tell me the official chip time:

2:08:50

I did it! Less than 2 hours 10 minutes! It didn’t make my hamstring hurt less but it did psych me up for ALL THE WINE NOW PLEASE!

The best part of the race was the wine festival! About 30 wineries set up booths in Sonoma Plaza pouring samples.

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Dan, Mom and I all got souvenir wine glasses.

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I was enjoyed the wine while chugging water and icing my hamstring. For the most part I failed in my usual practice of taking pictures of the wines I enjoyed, but did manage to grab one such shot:

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It was perfect. I only wish the wine festival lasted a little longer so I could try a few more samples (but it’s probably better that I didn’t!).

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Dan, Mom and I hopped on the bus back to the hotel and made plans to do some tasting later that afternoon. After some showers, of course, and a little rest.

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Mom had to leave the next morning, which was sad. The rest of the trip, Dan and I hopped around to wineries, went apeshit at Russian River Brewing Co., had a DELICIOUS meal at The Girl and the Fig, sucked down the best milkshakes EVER at Fremont Diner, and enjoyed the Sonoma Farmer’s Market with Shayna and Mark. We also hopped over to Vegas for a few days! I could NOT walk for the few days after the race but I didn’t let that stop me. Photos below in no particular order. (If you’re wondering, I plan to do a separate post about all the wines we brought home from the vineyards).

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I am so glad I signed up for Team Challenge and chose to run the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon. The race was a wonderful experience and accomplishment. Not only did I finish (in 2:08:50, BOOM), but I raised over $4,000 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

Thank you everyone for your support! I may keep updating this ol’ blog from time to time. There’s still wine to drink!

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Wine Wednesday – big California reds anyone?

Happy Wednesday, Winos! I’m about to pop open something awesome because I have not one, but TWO things to celebrate tonight!  First, yesterday I REACHED MY FUNDRAISING MINIMUM!

Thank you, anonymous donor who put me over the limit!

Second, Dan got his work schedule today (FINALLY) and he can come with me to Wine Country for the whole week!  It will actually be a vacation now!

I am so relieved on both fronts. The fundraising was so stressful and the amount I had to raise was quite high. I can’t believe I made it – THANKS TO YOU! Furthermore, Dan not knowing whether he would get any time off for the race and thereafter weighed on my mind as well. It has been impossible to make plans, but now we can relax!

Let’s ride this wine country high! I’ve had a few terrific California reds recently. Last week we made a Blue Apron steak recipe and I had just the wine in mind to go with it, this 2012 Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Cabernet:

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I bought this at BLM’s suggestion of a good steak wine, and it did not disappoint. I don’t remember specifics and I didn’t take notes, but I do recall it being everything I want in a California Cabernet – bold, fruity, tannic. I bought it for about $19.

On Monday, I treated Dan to a special steak dinner for his 35th birthday!

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We hit Grill 23, a Boston steakhouse, for an AMAZING meal. I ordered the filet and Dan chose the 100 day aged ribeye, both of which were scrumtrulescent.

The wine list is completely overwhelming, so Dan narrowed down the choices to Cabernet, Syrah, or Zinfandel/Primitivo.  I chose (pretty much on a whim) the 2012 Stolpman Estate Syrah from Santa Ynez Valley:

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The waiter said I had made a great choice, but I’m sure he says that to everyone. However, this was PERFECT. It was big and SO fruit forward, but also wonderfully tannic. It was perfect with the char on the grilled steaks. According to Stolpman Vineyard’s website, the 2012 Estate Syrah was their very best Estate Syrah to date. Apparently 2012 is a great vintage for that area and 2013 had the same ideal weather – something to keep in mind next time you’re faced with an overwhelming wine list!

Wine Links

Wine Tip – Restaurant Wine – Speaking of ordering wines in restaurants, you know how when you order a bottle of wine at a restaurant and the waiter first pours a taste? You are NOT evaluating whether or not you like the wine – you are merely confirming that the wine is not flawed in some way.

Dan and I once refused a bottle that was corked. It was easy to determine because the cork broke and pieces of cork were floating in the taste. And the wine tasted like swamp piss.

6 Dry Reds Show The Savory Side of Wine – mmm, Carmenere, Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Nebbiolo – my mouth is watering thinking of these!

And finally, Life is Better With Wine (obviously):

A Drunk + Wine = A Connoisseur

Get on wit yo’ classy selves!

Wine (Tasting Recap) Wednesday!

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I am so excited for this post! I had been planning my wine tasting fundraiser to support Team Challenge since mid-April, when I approached Brookline Liquor Mart with the general idea. Not only did the folks there generously offer to host for free, they seemed to get as excited about it as I was! They gave me ideas and recommended wines and were just so supportive and wonderful.

photo credit to Alica J on Yelp

In the subsequent months, I approached numerous and various businesses to see if they would be willing to donate wine, food, and raffle prizes to help make the event a success. I was overwhelmed with how generous some of these places were! First, my former employer Coughlin Betke LLP agreed to donate THE prize I knew I needed to drum up interest in my raffle – Red Sox tickets! My boss agreed IMMEDIATELY, which was such a great boost. The same thing happened when I approached Pure Barre Brookline for a prize. I barely got my pitch out before the instructor (Amy, who teaches a GREAT class) agreed, without hesitation, to offer a 5 class pack and pair of sticky socks. I think having those two donations fall into place so well gave me the confidence to approach other companies.

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The next huge coup was 90+ Cellars’ donation! I was ECSTATIC when they agreed to donate an entire CASE of wine, and not only because it would save costs and allow more proceeds to go straight to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. I was also excited because 90+ Cellars is such a great way to expose people to great wine they may have never tried (or even considered). For instance, after the event, I visited my parents on Father’s Day and my mom had purchased three bottles of 90+ Cellars (Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon) for the occasion!

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Some places did politely decline. I made a donation request to Flour Bakery for food or a prize, and JOANNE CHANG herself emailed me to express her regret, as Flour had already reached its donation quota. Joanne Chang! She once liked one of my instagram photos (mildly NSFW) and I freaked out a little. 🙂

I guess I didn’t necessarily need the support of a celebrity chef when some of my most amazing prizes came from friends!  Justin, co-founder of Social Boston Sports (the BEST Boston sports organization and the reason I know half of the people who attended the event!), agreed immediately to donate a free league registration! My friend Holly from Community Music School of Boston donated an entire SEMESTER of early childhood music lessons. Finally, two days before the event, my girl Shannon offered up another pair of her very own, PERSONAL Red Sox tickets!

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Walking around the neighborhood paid off, too. I approached both Whole Foods Brighton and The Fireplace in Brookline in person. Whole Foods agreed to donate DELICIOUS cheese (seriously, people raved) to pair with the wine, and The Fireplace offered up a very popular prize – admission for four to a Fireside Chat.

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The theme of the wine tasting? #DrinkTheRoute! We offered wines from Napa and Sonoma, where I’ll be running my half marathon! We also served Lagunitas beer because the brewery is in nearby Pentaluma, CA (and because Lagunitas beer is DELICIOUS). I’ll definitely be visiting Lagunitas again while we’re in California!

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I was so thrilled with how many people showed up (and right on time!). I have such amazing and supportive friends and family!

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Dan took the role of bartender/sommelier very seriously.

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Guests received a raffle ticket upon admission and had the opportunity to buy more. We offered 1 ticket for $5, 3 tickets for $10, and the length of an arm for $20. And yes, if someone requested that they use my giant friend Bryce’s arm instead of their own, I allowed it!

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We drew the raffle winners at the end of the night, when everyone was feeling buzzed great!

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If you are related to me or work with me, it was your lucky night! Not only did 2 of my 3 coworkers who attended win prizes, but my parents (my most generous donors) EACH won a prize. My dad won Red Sox tickets and is at the game with my Grampa as I write this!

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Photo from Dad’s Facebook wall!

And I would be remiss without mentioning the highlight of the entire night. Since BLM is dog-friendly (they even have treats at the door!), Kate and Amy brought their adorable and amazingly well-behaved puppy, Luna!

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Hosting an event that people enjoyed is success in and of itself. But thanks to EVERYONE (and less expenses), we raised a total of … DRUMROLL …

$932!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Brookline Liquor Mart, 90+ Cellars, Whole Foods Brighton, Pure Barre Brookline, Social Boston SportsThe Fireplace, Community Music Center of Boston, Coughlin Betke LLP, and of course the lovely Shannon and Holly for all of your amazing generosity in contributing to the wine tasting. I could not have pulled of such a successful event without it!

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And just like I posted on Facebook, I am so so SO beyond grateful to everyone who attended! Thank you Aunt Diane, Marty, Du, Mark, Bryce, Dan S., Jen, Keith, Dursin, Jarod, Amac, Laura, Lara, Natasha, Adam, Katie, Katelin, Shannon, Samantha, Rebecca, Sara, Chris, and the lovely girl whose name I didn’t get but came to support her friend with Crohn’s!

Thanks for helping me spreading the word, mom, Shannon, Heather and Danielle!

Thanks to Rachel for designing the awesome advertisement!

Thanks for taking pictures Heidi!

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Thanks to Kate and Amy for bringing the hit of the night, Luna the puppy!

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And of course thanks to Dan for being the star bartender and for all his help putting this together!

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I am so close to my goal now, I know I’m going to make it! And when I run my 13.1 miles in wine country, I’ll be thinking about all of this amazing support and I WILL NOT QUIT.

Happy Wine (Tasting) Wednesday, er, Friday!

I’ll just say that I waited until today to post my Wine Wednesday because today is the day of my wine tasting fundraiser and leave it at that!

(Tonight, 6:30 PM, Brookline Liquor Mart, back room, come!)

Anyway, happy wine drinking!

Do you ever find a bottle in your wine rack and realize you know NOTHING about it? You don’t know when and where and why you bought it and/or you don’t know what grapes or region it comes from?

Or maybe you DON’T have a wine buying problem like me?

Anyway, I was deciding what bottle to pop on Sunday for the Game of Thrones finale (SPOILER ALERT: Dany drops her ring). I scoured the wine rack and found this:

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Now, at any given time, we probably have about 20-25 bottles of vino stashed around the condo. Usually if I buy wine I have SOME memory of purchasing it and maybe one or two details about it (this one was smoky! this is for steak! this was dirt cheap!), but not here! Furthermore, it’s labeled in a traditional Italian way and not in an “Americans are dumb and need everything spelled out for them” way. As a dumb American, I was at a loss. I Googled the wine. And THEN I remembered that I’m a total hoarder and keep all my wine tasting notes!
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This 2013 Terre Nere Etna Rosso is from Sicily and is comprised of 95% Nerello Mascalese and 5% Nerello Cappucio. According to BLM’s tasting notes, Nerello Mascalese is the star red grape from Mount Etna and is grown in a cool area of hot Sicily 2,000-3,000 above sea level! The vines are grown in volcanic soils. The tasting notes describe the grape as having a “surprising elegance” and “Burgundian character.”

I loved this! When we first opened it and aerated it a little, I stuck my nose in and thought it had a leathery smell. Dan found it savory.  It definitely mellowed out and became smoother and smoother to drink over time. It was light bodied and refreshing. If you like Pinot Noir, I’d recommend it! According to Vivino, it retails for about $22-23. BLM had it for $20.99 and I bought it for $16.79 with the discount. So worth it!

Wine Links

Speaking of Italian wine, Wine Folly recommends the Puglia region as Italy’s Secret to Value. Dan and I had a Salice Salento taste test one night – these wines are great and since no one knows them, you can get them on the cheap! Trader Joe’s has some great values.

Also, here is Wine Folly’s Essential List of Wine Accessories! You’ll see some of my favorites on there. I don’t need a fancy wine opener – all I need is a waiter’s friend (and sometimes Dan for a particularly stuck cork).

This has nothing to do with wine, but I think I need this bottle band.

This also has nothing to do with wine, but I wish Fabletics had these capris available in time for the Freedom Run!  I might have to sign up for a July 4 race for an excuse to buy them!

That’s it for Wine Wednesday two days late! Don’t forget to come to my tasting tonight!

Fundraising Update: Come Drink Wine with Me!

I’ve been posting regularly about my half marathon training (and wine, of course), but I haven’t spoken a lot about fundraising yet.

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As you can see, I’m just about halfway to my goal. To me, fundraising is the hardest part of this process! Yes, the runs and workouts are difficult but they’re 100% in my own control.  With fundraising, I have to ask people for help and I HATE. DOING. THAT.

That’s why I knew I would want to host a fundraising event. I’m asking people to separate with their hard-earned money for a cause that’s important to me, so I feel I should offer something in return. I’ve been working hard to try to put together a fun event so that people will get something in return for their generosity!

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On Friday, June 19, 2015 at 6:30 PM, I’m hosting a wine tasting at my beloved Brookline Liquor Mart, in their back room. There will be wine donated by 90+ Cellars (which you know I love!), cheese platters from Whole Foods Brighton and a raffle with great prizes, including:

I’m trying to get a few more prizes confirmed and perhaps some more food donations as well. I will keep you posted!

BLM is also offering a discount on what you buy! If you taste something you like, you can pick up a bottle!

I’m asking for a $20 donation at the door, which will include a raffle ticket. We’ll also be selling additional raffle tickets. I’m encouraging people to hype the event on social media with the hashtag #drinktheroute – I love taking pictures of the wine I try and want to buy, so I’ll be sure to do some tagging!

If you can’t make it but want to purchase raffle tickets, please reach out to me! And of course, if you want to donate, you can do so here: Cindy’s Team Challenge Donation Page.

Hope to see you next Friday! And THANK YOU once again for your support!