Quaran-wine Pastimes

For fun times at home, if you live with someone, I’ll always endorse the Exploding Kittens game, especially the not-safe-for-work edition which hey! You are at home, even when at work. Don’t get out of the pajamas or muumuu or whatever you feel good in and go crazy. But not everyone is sustained on kittens, so here is my list of things—activities, movies, books and podcasts I recommend for the next few…weeks? Months? Of staying in. I tried to curate this to personal favorites and not give you the run-of-the-mill options since we all now have infinite internet time to Google all these things. There are possibly a few/all things you expected. Hopefully there are at least a few new recommendations for you. And truly, whatever you need from this list just…please stay in. The sooner we all do, the sooner we see each other again. And Ellen (oh hey that is me! Socially distancing is leading to odd grammatical choices) needs hugs. So stay in and here’s a big ol’ list of things to keep you going. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MISCELLANEOUS WINE FUN Wine Brackets Chart: Make a brackets chart for wine and every night pit wines against each other until you have a champion. In all honesty, I got this idea because Serious Eats is having a pasta brackets contest. Open That Bottle Night: Make every night Open That Bottle Night. It is an event created by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, the couple that wrote about wine for the Wall Street Journal in their famous “Tastings” column. It is made for not putting off the good stuff. It is supposed to be the last Saturday of February. I was introduced to it when they had it a week early when I attended the Professional Wine Writers Symposium last year, and oh my was it a treat. Even if you are (like me) alone in your quarantine, dress up. Put it in the good glasses. Or! Alternatively order French Fries and chug a Grand Cru straight from the bottle (if you don’t have a housemate that is drinking from the same vessel). You do you, but this is not the time for anything but the best. Facetime Wine Dates: I’ve been doing them almost nightly. They will save you. Organize Your Corks: I have a massive bag of corks I’m sorting through. I’m going to make some sort of literal corkboard with the special ones—which, if you are making every night Open That Wine Night, you’ll too have a lot of soon. I’m sure my finished board will help me remember this quarantine fondly-ish. WINE/FOOD MOVIES Don’t watch “Sideways”. Please don’t watch “Sideways”. It is a terrible movie about awful men being bad and everything working out for them anyway. If you need to see that story, watch real life. “A Walk in the Clouds” is only a kinda sorta recommendation because I love Keanu, but it feels a little like an oh-let’s-watch-the-white-dude-save-everyone thing, and we all know that’s not how things work. After all, we are in quarantine. But this is a fun film and good for Keanu lovers. Also I recommend all Keanu movies because Keanu. “Julie and Julia” was a film—and book! —I adored; although, a lot of people hated it, but Julia was famously floored by the fact that you can drink wine at lunch in France and this has some good Julia action via Meryl Streep. Oh! Also watch “Heartburn” for more Meryl. And actually all Meryl movies because Meryl. “Somm” 1,2, or 3. They are all interesting but the second is probably my favorite! Actually in all honesty, just subscribe to SommTV. They have the Somm movies, “Bottle Shock”, and a few other sundry wine films as well as some food ones. And! SO much wine “content”—watch professionals practicing blind tasting, take winery tours, learn all the facts about Sangiovese—the list goes on. It’s dreamy. Oh! And I have yet to dive in, but CBS All Access is offering a free month, and you could watch “Picard”! That is how I’m gonna wind down tonight. This is a wine-adjacent thing—Jean-Luc’s family makes Burgundy. Granted, in the trailer they show the family wines in Bordeaux bottles, but who knows what wine law will be in the future. Cannot yet personally endorse, but as a Star Trek Next Gen fan, I am excited. BOOKS: EDUCATIONAL “Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine” by Mark Oldman is still useful to me! It was the book that explained what “super seconds” were in a way I understood and was able to retain. And it taught me how to pronounce a lot of wine names I had been butchering. Very informative in a welcoming and entertaining way. “The Wine Bible” by Karen MacNeil—I’m sure you know of it but I’ll go out of my way to suggest it for the excellent wine writing by cheeky redheads, not that I am biased but…I’d recommend it as both a starting place AND a further education read. And it is just plain fun. And yes, of course anything by Jancis Robinson, but you know that. Get into Jancis. BOOKS: MEMOIR-ISH “Love By the Glass” by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher is a dream of a book by a hell of a power couple. They are the aforementioned ones that created Open That Bottle Night, and they discuss the wines their relationship was built on. It made even a claustrophobe like me dream of taking train trips…if I had a crate of Champagne. “How to Love Wine” by Eric Asimov is a book I had my book club read in hopes of them understanding me better. We still drink a lot of wine together, so I guess it worked. It’s hearsay, as I have yet to get to this one, but several trusted sources have texted me out-of-the-blue that “Vignettes” by Jane Lopes is excellent narrative non-fiction work. Books that inspire out-of-the-blue endorsing are worth checking out. “A Moveable Feast” is good when you want to feel okay about being a writer drinking while you write, but I hear tell that Ernest Hemingway has quite the following outside the writer community…so I dunno. Check it out. You tell me. BOOKS: FOR FUN “Yes Way Rosé” by Erica Blumenthal and Nikki Huganir is full of fun ways to rosé-ify your life including how to make every piece of your vocabularé rosé adjacent. And if you are feeling a little stir-crazé, the chapter called “Are You Readé to Parté” is full of recipés and nibblés for an at home party either for yourself or the people you’re stuck with. Parté on. “The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert” by Richard Betts is a fun way to build up the basics. Even better? His “The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All” was really helpful to me when I knew nothing beyond “I like Maker’s Mark”. Hard times call for hard alcohol. “The Lager Queen of Minnesota” by J. Ryan Stradal made even me want to explore beer more. And I generally don’t like most beers on account of them tasting…beer-y. This is a fictional tale of several generations of women, and it is exceptional. I also love Stradal’s “Kitchens of the Great Midwest” which is also fictional, but there are recipes sprinkled throughout, many food-centric characters, and also a sommelier plays a part. And if you ever get to meet J. Ryan, you’ll find him as engaging as the words he puts to the page. BOOKS: COCKTAIL “Death & Co” by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald and Alex Day, will teach you how to make THE BEST cocktail. The attention to detail is exquisite. The book takes its name from the bar—they just opened a Death & Co in Los Angeles and until I’m out of quarantine, making the drinks in the book will have to do. And it does. My lord it makes a girl rethink her ice. Any of Kara Newman’s books I CANNOT endorse enough! “Road Soda” can be fantasy reading about when we actually need cocktails to take outside the home; “Shake. Stir. Sip” covers equal parts drinks; “Nightcap” focuses on the many faces of what a nightcap can be. She has a few books more that I need to acquire—the latest being “Cocktails with a Twist”, but the three I mentioned first I can vouch for first-hand. Also follow Newman on Twitter. I gauge her reactions and takes on the industry trends/PR stunts like “healthy” cocktails or “Dry January” as guideposts as she is wise. She is also good people and her books are fabulous. “The Aviary” is a true TOME I hoped to be able to recommend soon but I have yet to acquire the equipment needed to make these fantastical treats! I’ve also yet to have the time to read the myriad pages I’d need to get to recipes but! I cannot wait to test Grant Achatz (of Alinea fame), Allen & Sarah Hemberger, Micah Melton and Nick Kokonas’s recipes for an (hopefully not disasterous) adventure. PODCASTS Again, a very curated list of the wine pods I always listen to immediately: “The Guild of Sommeliers Podcast” can be dry but is very good for learning. I also recommend subscribing to their page if you want your studies to get kicked up a notch. “Wine for Sophisticated Homies” is also excellent for learning and full of word jokes. It is funny and, goshdurnit to heck, host Jason Booth (at least the one time I met him when he was a guest on my pod) is a great guy. He’ll make you laugh then you’ll learn. Ummm can I recommend “The Wine Situation”? My humble show? I’m now doing weekly episodes all by myself, so there may be more wine info in there than before. And who knows? Check it out and message me, and maybe you’ll be my next drunk dial. ALL IN ALL Guys, these are weird times. And I want to be here for you. And I want to connect! I’m wondering—should I do some happy hours on Instagram?! Or Zoom? Let me know. I am here for you. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: It's Okay to Like Pinotage Fast Food Slow Wine: THE Taco Bell Oscars Gold Wine Winter Rosé Wonderland Winter Comes: Solstice Libations Super Natural: RAW WINE You can also listen to Ellen's podcast with Shaughn Buchholz, The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! With Punam Patel Wine Situation Final Five! With Ronnie Pessin

Domaine Henry Pellé

Morogues Menetou-Salon Pinot Noir 2017

Yay yay yes yes yes. SO much herb and green but also piercingly sweetest fruit. It’s like food that’s good for you AND tastes good, this is health coursing through my veins. — 5 months ago

Tree, Daniel P. and 19 others liked this
Severn Goodwin

Severn Goodwin Influencer Badge Premium Badge

Yes, great stuff!!
Ellen Clifford

Ellen Clifford Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Severn Goodwin yes! I was surprised how much I liked it!

Talbott

Kali Hart Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2017

Tonight’s actual quaranwine! If you aren’t wearing the same shirt you have all week/haven’t gained five stress-baking pounds you aren’t doing quarantine right. Also, ignoring this particular wine would be silly as it is reliable (needed in these times), scrumptious (needed always because yummy things make happy people) and yeah, I am a fan of Talbott’s work. You know those black and white pictures you see that if you look at one moment you see one thing and the next moment another? I feel like this wine is if paying attention to fruit—rich and heady! Then you think of acid, tannins and body and see something else. And all of that keeps you going through the glass. I’ve been lucky enough to have Talbott wines sent to me (yes this was a free sample but if you saw how many samples DIDN’T get written about...) and I feel lucky to be able to say both this and their Chardonnay have been dependably punching above their weight, price-wise. Yum. C’est tout. Ce soir. — 4 months ago

Paul, Serge and 20 others liked this
Serge S

Serge S

🥂
Ellen Clifford

Ellen Clifford Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Serge S 🥂! I’ll take all the virtual cheers-omg I can get in these times of solitude!

Ravenswood Winery

Vintners Blend North Coast Zinfandel 2017

Not seeing the bf for at least a day or so bc his roommate (who works at the airport) is ill. So...alone time.
Also so let us enjoy the hell out of affordable Zin. Ps bf you know I love you we are both doing our part to keep this nonsense from spreading.
But this zin!
Low cost. Full of raisin-y stuff.
That’s probably the second thing you’ll notice after—thinking “crushable”.
— 5 months ago

Daniel P., Eric and 18 others liked this
Trixie

Trixie

Nice review. Take care!🍷
Ellen Clifford

Ellen Clifford Influencer Badge Premium Badge

Thank you @Trixie ! I hope you are hanging in there in these crazy times!
Trixie

Trixie

@Ellen Clifford We are, thanks. Seems like a year has passed with so much happening world wide the past week. All the best to you!💜

Weingut Hexamer

Weissherbst Spätburgunder 2017

YAS yas YAS...yas super cool blanc de noir. These are delayed notes but this was last night’s quaranwine. Savory as can be and spicy yet also thick. Not actually but it’s like a suit that breathes well. Fun stuff. — 5 months ago

Daniel, Severn and 18 others liked this

Domaine Faiveley (Joseph Faiveley)

Clos des Myglands Mercurey 1er Cru Pinot Noir 2017

Quaranwine if the day. Looks like I may have been exposed so expect ever so many quaranwines. Ps I feel great but I am doing my part and chilling indoors next two weeks. If I don’t die from lack of hugs, I shall live to drink more more more Burgundy. Especially the sometimes overlooked Cote Chalonnaise. This is ever so exuberant. It just leaps out of the glass at you. Or maybe I’m projecting how I’m gonna be in a coupe weeks. Anyway. Ripe frisky fruits, spice, sass, with this one odd footnote that says raspberry vinegar and herbs. Keeping us thoroughly en France. — 5 months ago

Eric, Neil and 37 others liked this
Ellen Clifford

Ellen Clifford Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Jason Keefer oooh is there a sale there now?
Jason Keefer

Jason Keefer

@Ellen Clifford about a month and a half ago they had a burgundy sale and that was one of the ones I picked up. I just assumed that is where you got it!
Ellen Clifford

Ellen Clifford Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Jason Keefer ah, no, wish I’d caught it!