Last Thursday, I spent a delightful evening with Jo-Ann Ross talking about wine, creativity and design. To me, these three topics are intertwined on many levels and in ways that I can not clearly explain. You see, there are certain wines, and I can not predict when it will happen, where the smell and/or taste of the wine transport me someplace else. (See earlier post here.) It’s hard for me to put into words – those smells and tastes – but some times, emotional impressions and images flash across my mind. Or a thought/question is triggered that takes me someplace I otherwise never would have gone and I will end up sitting in front of my computer exploring the thought/question.

On an impulse, I suggested that we do something Sally and I did with a friend about this time last year – a progressive tasting to see how a wine changes as levels of complexity are added to the food we are pairing it with. I grabbed a bottle of Roederer Brut Premier champagne that was chilling in the fridge along with smoked salmon, capers, a sweet onion and a package of stone ground wheat thins.


What we did was progressively add ingredients to the crackers between sips of champagne. The sequence goes like this. Sip of champagne, cracker, sip of champagne, cracker and salmon, sip of champagne, cracker, salon and capers, sip of champagne and finally cracker, salmon, capers and sweet onion, sip of champagne. After each sip of champagne, I described my visual impressions. What was so amazing is how dramatically those impressions changed as we went through the progression.

Here’s a sampling of what I “tasted”… Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words…

Champagne: The wine was bright, fresh and slightly acidic. It made me want something slightly salty.  There was the smell of brioche on the nose. It felt like summer. A sunny bistro with cobblestone streets, a horse and buggy ride around Central Park and oysters on the half shell came to mind…



Image Source Unknown


Cracker and champagne: The earthier aspects of the wine came to the fore, soft and subtle.  I felt I was sitting at the edge of a of salt marsh in the early morning or in a light filled  Gustavian interior.

Image Source Unknown


Image from Classical Swedish Architecture and Interiors by Johan Cederlund

Image from Classical Swedish Architecture and Interiors by Johan Cederlund


Cracker, salmon and champagne: WOW!!! Suddenly I was sitting on a porch listening to Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring – replete with sweeping vistas, the Great Plains and purple mountains majesty.

Creating a New Old House, by Russell Versaci


 Photo by Michael Forster, Her Majesty


Photo by Michael Forster, October in the Tall Grass


Image Source Unknown


Cracker, salmon, capers and champagne: With the additon of capers to the mix, I immediately thought of New York City – sleek, slick, a modern racy interior. But then again, maybe the sophistication of Soho loft?


Mindel & Associates, October 2010 AD


Mindel & Associates, October 2010 AD


Laura Zarubin – Designer,  Elle Decoration UK Edition, November 2009


Cracker, salmon, capers, onion and champagne: Who would have thought onion would be the binder that brought it all together! (Much like in design where a subtle tweek will snap a whole room into focus.) Suddenly it was as though a concerto was playing, with all sections in perfect balance, Fanny Mendolson perhaps? I was transported back to France - to a country villa, a Dutch master painting with oysters and lemons popped in to my head…

Town & Country, issue unknown


Town & Country, issue unknown


William Claesz Heda

 Such pleasure and wonderful conversation all from a few simple ingredients! Classic!

And now I have a proposition for all of you. I’d like to extend an open invitation to my fellow bloggers and readers to try this exercise and post your impressions on Thursday, December 29th. (Maybe do it with some of your Holiday guests.) It’s fun, festive and stretches your mind and senses. I’d love to see/hear what you tasted and “saw”.  Let your imagination run free! Sally and I will try something else and share our flights of fancy, too. I bet they will be totally different.

Merry, Merry!

Last Saturday, Drew and I met at Gillette Stadium to tailgate and watch our beloved New England Revolution take on the Seattle Sounders FC. We had planned a somewhat fall like menu of grilled steak tenderloin, garlic and herb roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus.

While in the basement picking the dinner wine, one in particular spoke to me – A 1998 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reserve. I’m glad I listened! I pulled a back up incase of disappointment. I should not have been concerned. Once again, I was reminded why I love aged wines – from the color to the nose to the wonderful taste. Young wines sometime feel to me as though they are working too hard – everything is shouting at once.

As the wine mature, it is as thouhg the voices grow to respect one another and begin to work collaboratively in harmony. This bottle of wine had achieved that balance – a bricky winy red, with a soft, musty, complex nose of darker fruits – prunes even – old leather, and all those wonderful secondary/tertiary notes of herbs, spice and even a hint of mushroom. Yumm!!! To taste it was to simply enjoy what your nose had already been treated to, only more so. And it lingered on and on and on.  I think we could have just sat and enjoyed the wine – calling it dinner. It tasted like this… 

Hope these images inspire you to have a great day!

I’m off to have a cup of hot chocolate.

It’s cold this morning!


Movie Star Wines


What ARE movie star wines? Last evening John had poured for our meal an extremely pleasant and drinkable red wine. He told me he had gone in search of a wine that would remind him of John Wayne. What a guy! (My John, I mean.)

Seguret Cotes Du Rhone Villages

Our Wine du Jour

 Now who would have thought of that? He wanted to see if personality can be expressed in a wine, or vice versa. We decided that this wine, which we liked very much, did not remind either of us of John Wayne, either in his youth or in later years. We couldn’t make any excuses for either an Old wine, or a Young wine. It didn’t work.

 The wine de jour was a French wine, a Seguret Cotes Du Rhone Villages, by Domaine de Mourchon, year 2007.


Domaine Mourchon

If you want this wine ....

We decided that probably the French could not make a John Wayne wine. The vineyards of California, Oregon, Michigan, or even Massachusetts stand a better chance of capturing the American spirit.

Thinking French, I decided that the wine of last evening was Maurice Chevalier. John couldn’t think of anyone it reminded him of, so I won. Since John seems to know next to nothing about Maurice Chevalier, we determined that I would write this post about wine and the famous French actor.


Maurice Chevalier

Maurice in typical cavalier style

My way of explaining Maurice Chevalier to John was, of course, to sing one of his famous songs, from one of his famous movies! “Thank Heavens, For Little Girls!” from “GiGi”.  I don’t remember numbers, or statistics, but I do remember music.


GiGi the movie

GiGi, the movie DVD cover

“What makes this wine Maurice Chevalier?” John asked. I answered, “This wine is debonair, sophisticated, and mellow.”

Maurice Chevalier

Maurice Chevalier and Boater Hat

Maurice Chevalier had a long career that started in the early 1900’s. He was famous not only for being  an actor, but also a crooner. He was a very good crooner, with an iconic style, that made the French women go crazy for him. As he made his way into movies in Hollywood, he often appeared in musicals, and by the time Gigi was produced in the mid 1950’s he was nearing the end of his career.

Oh, but he could still capture the whole screen and make you want to watch. He was still making the (older) ladies swoon for him. Gigi features him getting back together with an old love.

He also often appeared in a man’s straw hat – the boater style.

straw hat boater

Straw Boater Hat

Me, Sally Wilson, ASID

Me in my Boater


Now, if you’ve followed me and know my penchant for hats, well then, I have a natural affection for a debonair, sophisticated, hat wearing, and singing movie star! I like his wine, too.

Sally Wilson, ASID