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I'm not a horrible wordwright. I don't live for it the way others do so I haven't spent hours perfecting the raw talent I have. But I'm a decent slinger of verbiage. Still, I cannot really write about food and drink in ways that convey that experience to the reader. Everything seems to be about comparison and simile. I feel rudderless. What if I don't choose the right touchstone to show someone the sense picture I'm trying to paint?

My friend Sean is a writer. What's more, he adores writing about food and drink. So it was from his blog that I heard that Mankas Hills Vineyards was giving away a free bottle of their award-winning 2004 Amelie Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot to bloggers. Having just injured my back and finding alcohol to be a wonderful muscle relaxant, I appreciated the timeliness of this offer.

I have to say I know damnably little about oenology. I'm very much an "I don't know art but I know what I like" kinda person. I drink the kinds of alcohol most people make fun of. I am a proud girl drink drinker. I first had a sip of wine when I was 12 or 13, I think. I worked under the table at a liquor store when I was 13. Not because I was passionate about booze but because I needed a summer job and was too naive to realize they might have problems hiring someone underage. (Hey, *I* knew I wasn't going to be sneaking slugs of booze. That should be good enough.) While working there, I picked up a pamphlet I have kept in my collection to this very day - a Guide to German Wine. Now *there* was a system I could understand! I usually find the Germans too anal about things but I needed that kind of structure with regards to wine. I find wines from other countries too confusing. Am I getting a sweet wine? A bone dry wine? How would I know? It's possible to make both kinds from the same varietal. Suffice it to say, my wine consumption has comfortably slotted into German wines (those I can still afford...oh for the days when German wines were as common in Trader Joe's as Chilean wines are now...) and Bonny Doon and Chaucer dessert wines. When it comes to non-dessert wines, I favor white strongly over red.

The Amelie arrived today. I thought I would hold onto it until my birthday and share it with those less philistine than myself. But the folks at Mankas Hills were extremely nice through this whole transaction (UPS' automated system was turning its nose up at my campus address) and I don't want to keep them hanging. Not that they demanded that I blog about this. They didn't. But I'm not the type to take someone for a ride. So ye shall all tremble before my mots bruts!

I just took a swig (Mankas Hills folks, I live alone and usually drink straight from the bottle, but I made like a lady and used a glass this time) and was pleasantly surprised. When I read descriptions of wine, I usually find that the folks who wrote the marketing copy must not know what fruit tastes like. They lob around "cherry", "berry", "honeydew", "pineapple" and other fruits. When I taste the wines, I taste something much more woody in character. Dry. Though this wine is certainly not a dessert wine (nor did I expect it to be), it actually does have a slightly fruity quality to it. Which is a plus in my book. But it's a complex taste. I won't go through the usual oenologist's bandolier of adjectives; Sean hits it pretty well and you can also read reviews on Mankas Hills' site. But it is not a One Note Johnny of a wine. And it's certainly good enough that I'd buy it as a gift for my friends (who generally DON'T like dessert wines).

What I only just now noticed is that the vineyard is based in Fairfield. This is a growing bedroom community in the Bay Area. Not the first place you'd think of for a winery. But, hell, Livermore's trying to pump up its wine industry, so why not? Real estate in Napa and Sonoma is so sky high that it makes sense for folks to start their wineries elsewhere. And as Rosalind Creasy points out in Edible Landscaping, many Californian cities and suburbs are sitting on some of the best agricultural land in the world. So we might as well reclaim it for that purpose, starting with our backyards. (Although this wine was produced and blended in Napa so I'm just getting off on a little reverie here...)

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September 2014

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