Friday, August 12, 2011

Things are grape!

Still life with bottle, carafe, bread and wine by Claude Monet
I have to admit I am very fond of wine.  I'm not picky either.  I think I have a good nose and enjoy complex flavours, but there are very few wines that I would turn up my nose at. 

My husband makes wine, from a kit and we have found some of his concoctions to be better than the bought variety. We only buy the best quality kits now and we have had quite a few guests who think they are connoisseurs but  thought our wine was purchased from the liquor store.

Last summer I was very lucky to visit Paris for a couple of days. My husband and I had a very memorable and romantic time sightseeing and enjoying fine food and wine in the little caf├ęs that line the streets.  On our anniversary we wanted to go to a particular little bistro around the corner from our hotel.  Sangria was the special aperitif for the evening so I enjoyed it's fruity flavour before our excellent meal arrived.  With the meal we shared a bottle of the House red which was paired perfectly for our food.  (Sorry I don't remember what it was called).  When we were done we strolled down the avenue hand in hand looking for another place to have a night cap.  Since it was rather chilly out (unusual for July!) I wanted to sit inside the restaurant this time.  Our waiter showed us a table and a menu.  I noticed something unusual on the drink menu which interested me: "vin chaud". The english translation is: warm wine, otherwise known as Mulled Wine.  Since I had been drinking red wine all evening, and I was quite chilled, this sounded very good to me.  But when I ordered it, the waiter was incredulous. "Vin chaud!" he exclaimed. "Vin chaud?"
"Oui." I insisted, "Vin Chaud." and pointed to it on the menu.  He asked me again to be sure. I said, "Il fait froid ce soir." (It is cold this evening.)  With a look of disdain, he turned from me and proceeded to have a longwinded conversation with someone in the kitchen. The french words were flying so fast I could hardly understand more than Vin Chaud back and forth in various intonations.  From what I could gather the person in the kitchen was verifying the fact that he could fill the order but the waiter still persisted in making a big deal about it. My husband and I exchanged looks of dismay. Was it really such a "faux pas" to order a drink 'out of season'?  I guess in Paris, the customer is not "always right", at least with this waiter!  Finally I got my vin chaud and it was just perfect!  A perfect end to a perfect meal on a perfect day (with only one imperfection -- that supercilious waiter)!  As a parting shot he asked me if we were from Allemagne. He thought we were German!  Was it my french accent?  I laughed and said, "Non, nous sommes du Canada."  Maybe it was my imagination but I thought he looked a bit chagrinned.  After all, for Canadians to complain about the cold it must be pretty darn chilly!  We are known world wide for cavorting in shorts while others are still swathed in their woollens!  And I am particularly hot blooded -- not to mention the odd hot flash! :D

I would dearly love to go on a wine tasting tour of Europe, or California -- or even British Columbia or the Niagara region of Ontario!  But we are too far away and our holiday times do not coincide with the wine harvest.
So if you wish, come on a bit of a wine tour with me!  Pour yourself a nice glass of your favourite vintage, sit back, and hopefully you will enjoy a taste of music and movies with a grapey theme --with of course, the help of Mr. Armitage. ;)

Wine is bottled poetry. 
-- Robert Louis Stevenson
Ah yes! We know what you're thinking!
(As Paul in Between the Sheets)

W.B. Yeats
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

I am a huge fan of Elton John and I have always loved this song 

Elderberry Wine / Elton John

I didn't actually know that John Denver performed this next song.  It was written by Randy Sparks of the New Christy Minstrels in 1964 and was a huge hit.  I remember it being sung quite often on many variety shows throughout my childhood.  My favourite memory of it being performed was by a duet of teenagers for our local Festival of the Arts.

Today / John Denver

Phylly's Top 5 Reasons to drink wine (No pressure)

  1. Because it tastes good.
  2. Because it makes your food taste even better.
  3. Because it is fun to make toasts!  Cheers!
  4. Because it might be good for you. (Red wine -- but not too much).
  5. Because I said so.*
The only reason to drink wine is the first reason, if you are drinking it only for the 4th reason you are a very silly person.  :) Find something else to drink that's better for you -- like WATER!
* #5 doesn't apply in this case.  (I reserve this reason for other instances -- like when I have grandchildren someday. I always thought it was a lame reason until I had children. Then suddenly one day it made perfect sense to me.  It is a very useful tool in childrearing to be used wisely!) ;)

There's nothing quite like Dean Martin 
singing a drinking song!

Little Ol' Wine Drinker Me / Dean Martin

I am extremely happy that I remembered this tune.  It has stayed in my memory since I first heard it as a young girl.  It made me a fan of Canadian singer /songwriter Gene MacLellan even more so than his more famous song Snowbird.  If you'd like to hear his version (which is quite nice)  click here.   Otherwise here is the singer he wrote it for to perform it.

Biding my Time / Gene MacLellan (sung by Anne Murray)

Although I am very fond of UB40's upbeat reggae version of this song I feel the need to give the nod to the composer of this song and his properly heartbreaking performance.

Red Red Wine / Neil Diamond

Here's a more modern song with a wine theme.
This Swedish band has become a new fave for me.  I can't believe I hadn't heard of them before!

I Need Some Fine Wine / The Cardigans

This individual is even more complex than the wine!
As the not to be trusted John Mulligan in Moving On

My blogger friend Maria Grazia likes to watch movies while she catches up on her ironing.  
She wrote a great review for this movie not long ago on her blog Fly High! (click here)

 A Walk in the Clouds (1995)

 I enjoyed the movie as much as she did!  It's definitely worth a watch, especially for the beautiful scenery.

I only just heard about this movie while finding clips for this post.  Then what do I find in a sale rack at a local variety store, but this DVD!  What a find!  This is a very enjoyable movie based on a true story about how the world discovered Californian wine.  It is always fun to cheer for the underdog and this feel-good movie really evokes the look and spirit of the 1970s.   Of course I remember back when North American wine was pretty sad stuff (particularly Canadian wines), but look how far we have come!  Apparently all thanks to one special event back in 1976. Who knew?

Bottle Shock (2008)

He looks like he's enjoying this particular vintage.  Could it be Merlot?
as Harry Kennedy in The Vicar of Dilbley's last Christmas special

Here is a very funny and as well as poignant movie about wine tasting, relationships and learning to believe in yourself.  Paul Giamatti's character does a lot of raving about the Pinot Noir grape which apparently made this type of wine much more popular than it was before.  He also rants against Merlot, but that won't stop me from enjoying a good Merlot now and then!

Sideways (2004)

Why not try some white wine for a change?

Lucas North in series 7.5 Spooks / MI-5

Now I'll admit I am cheating here, as I haven't actually seen this movie...yet!  But from what I have seen of the reviews and the clips I am sure it will be one of my faves soon.  I just couldn't resist showing you this clip.

French Kiss (2003)

Now here is a very enjoyable movie I haven't seen for many years!  CBC used to play excellent latenight movies especially during the summer months, so that must be why I have seen this one more than once. It stars Anthony Quinn as Bombolini, the village drunkard in WWII Italy.  Just before the Nazis are set to ransack the town's wine cellars, Bombolini becomes a hero for initiating a plan to hide their precious bottles from discovery.  The following clip is a bit long but well worth a watch if you haven't seen this great movie which won 2 Oscars.

The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)

Thank goodness I was reminded of this great video by Avalon Medieval!  It combines the narration from the Robin Hood audiobook The Seige with clips from series 3 Robin Hood.  Here we have Robin and Gisborne having a conversation while imbibing quite a bit of vino!

Is your goblet more than half-empty yet?  Maybe it's still half-full?  Depends on how you look at it, eh?
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs,
From the brim to the dregs, it poured sweet and clear,
It was a very good year.
If that song or sentiment made you sad click here for some wine jokes!


Musa said...

Ah, some wine with Harry or Lucas or Guy...(recovering from SB2).


DEZMOND said...

I must I don't drink wine (don't get the taste of it) but I do love to eat grapes, especially the extremely sweet sorts :) In the end of summer and early Autumn when it's season of grapes here in my part of the world, I often eat a huge bowl of grapes for dinner :)

Anonymous said...

Oh twist my rubber arm Phylly! I'll have a glass of wine or two with you :D! I love wine! And can totally relate to your Paris story. More than once some Parisian snickered at me, even though I'm francophone. I just don't have the same accent. And they would find my expressions funny or something. How I hate to be called 'la petite cousine'. So patronizing. Now, of course, not all Parisians are like that but it is something that usually happens to me at least once on each trip... (I used to have to go there often for work.) I got used to it after while.

As for the movies - I love Sideways (I too would love to do a road trip through wine country) and French Kiss. I think you'll enjoy it. Sure it's fluff but it's still cute and the scenery is amazing. Nothing wrong with fluff once in a while... Get yourself to the video store or netflix pronto :D

CDoart said...

Oh, Phylly, I join you for a glass of red wine whenever you like. Full bouquet and dark, hmmm....
Sometimes I think, red wine might especially appeal to women. I know more women liking it than men. But with John Mulligan, red wine becomes a very ero#tic tool ;o)

Traxy said...

It's funny, I had no idea "Red Red Wine" was done by Neil Diamond until I heard it on the radio recently. It's always been a UB40 song! Felt like such a dunce, LOL!

I don't mind wine, but I'm not that fussed. Bought a couple of Two Paddocks bottles once when we went to London, because it's Sam Neill's vinyard ... and I think a £14 bottle of wine was completely wasted on us, because neither I nor the Squeeze know the first thing about wine. It probably wouldn't have made much difference to us to drink a £14 bottle of Pinot Noir which is supposed to be excellent (so professional wine reviewers say) or a £4 bottle of Tesco's own brand. Sad but true.

Wonderful pictures of RA enjoying some wine. The bit from The Siege is hilarious! :D

Anonymous said...

Of course, the customer is never right in Paris! Part of the charm of Parisian restaurants. Just stare 'em down with a lifted eyebrow.

Mulled wine sounds delightfully mediaeval. Haven't tried ice wine, which seems popular. Prefer wine to warm the blood, not chill it...


phylly3 said...

@Musa-- Yes. That Strike Back 2 show was so horrible -- it could drive anyone to drink! We can drown our sorrows together.
@Dezmond -- Grapes for dinner! Well, why not?! :) It must be lovely to have them so fresh.
@Calexora -- Yeah, being patronized by a waiter is not a nice experience! Sheesh! As for movie fluff, bring it on! Everybody needs some fluff in their life! :) Are you sure it's one Netflix?

phylly3 said...

@CDoart -- I love a full bodied red but I also love fruity whites so I am always easy to please.
I have found here that it is usually the men who prefer red and women white. One of my sisters and I were enjoying a bottle of red on one of her visits and we were wondering why it is that so many women order white wine spritzers in bars when they are on a date. Then we laughed at something and both pointed to the other's teeth (which were stained purple)! So then we knew why! :D

phylly3 said...

@Traxy -- The more wine you drink, the more you can appreciate it. Like I said, our homemade wine is very good. I can appreciate an excellent bottle of wine because I have tasted an awful lot of inferior ones over the years. But the type of wine I like varies greatly with what I am eating (or not eating) with it. Just enjoy whatever you have, because if you don't enjoy it, then it is not worth drinking!

phylly3 said...

@Fitzg -- LOL! I will have to practice the eyebrow lift! That sounds like an exercise I could handle. ;)
Mulled wine is very nice. I haven't had it often, but it certainly does warm you from the inside out! As for Ice Wine - I am not fond of it. It is a dessert wine -- very sweet. I suppose if I had it with a certain dessert it would be perfect, but I haven't had it often enought to appreciate it. I still have the bottle I won last year in my liquor cabinet.