Gravy be damned!

My mum likes cooking, but not enough to do it sober. That’s why, when Auntie H called to ask what she should bring for dinner, Mum said wine. Auntie H was hesitant; she said she didn’t know anything about wine, so I got on the phone and coached her through it. Well, actually I sat beside the phone gesturing madly while my mum claimed to be just joking about requesting wine. Dammit, we needed that wine, no matter what crazy bottle Auntie H and Uncle B might choose.

real de aragonWe especially needed wine because Mum had committed her annual profligate crime—she’d poured a bottle of LANGA REAL DE ARAGON over the turkey, torturing any liquids-only folk and animals (okay, just me) to suffer the sizzle of quickly evaporating alcohol off the browning poultry as whatever angels inhabit the LBHQ oven greedily guzzled their supposed share. It was horrible, people, but of course you know I’m getting used to it. Apparently it makes good gravy, but that doesn’t make it forgivable.

We did snatch one glass of LANGA REAL DE ARAGON, noting the 90-point Robert Parker accolade it wore around its neck before the cork got popped. Not bad for $13.99—could it be true, or was Parker just hammered when he made the call?

Don't let my mother do this to you, my fellow inebriates!

Don’t let my mother do this to you, my fellow inebriates!

It was true. OMG, my fellow inebriates, it was true. LANGA REAL DE ARAGON is crisp and subtle, wafting bright orchard goodness and biscuit notes. Fresh and lively on the palate, this Spanish bubbly deserved to be drunk, not sacrificed to the turkey. Gravy be damned!

Once the sparkling wine was gone I felt very morose. But luckily Auntie H and Uncle B arrived with their two monkeys and not one but TWO, count ‘em, two bottles of wine. Check it out:

Gnarly Head Zin 2011

Now, if I can only get the bottles open…

HONEY BROWN ALE & PINOT GRIS—How I cope with death threats

My mum took the kids to Fort Langley and e-mailed me THIS photo.


I need a drink. HIGH TRAIL HONEY BROWN ALE it is. And it’s helping.

But there’s something familiar about this Vancouver Island Brewery offering.

Aha. It used to be SPYHOPPER HONEY BROWN ALE. Same brewery, same beer, different packaging. Who knows why they changed it? Has spying acquired a negative connotation somehow?

Oh well, who cares? It’s good. You should buy it.


I thought HIGH TRAIL would help regarding that bearskin thing, and it did, somewhat. (BTW, my fellow inebriates, bearskin is rough. It is not soft. You would not like it. And you should not buy it.)  

Except then my Nana sent this video:

OMG. I thought Nana was better than this. I didn’t think she was a sadist! She even called this video “something for LB”!!

Calona Vineyards pinot grisOkay, so my Nana has turned really scary, which means I need a drink. Something stronger, this time—maybe CALONA VINEYARDS ARTIST SERIES PINOT GRIS (2011), and maybe an entire bottle. At $12.99 you can afford to pound a whole bottle, but unless you’ve been traumatized by a video your Nana sent you, you might want to savor it more slowly. An InterVin Best Value selection, this Pinot Gris is gently off-dry with apple and pear aromas. It has moderate acidity and a surprisingly substantial mouthfeel, plus 13 percent alcohol, which will appeal to those drinkers who love white wine but are often frustrated by its typically lower alcohol content and the resultantly longer time commitment to getting plastered. This Okanagan wine is an excellent find, and even though my Nana freaked the shit out of me with that video, I will share a bottle with her the next time she visits.

As for my mother and her bearskin rug e-mail, I’m referring her to the compost bin outside, in which all sorts of fruit and vegetable peelings are rapidly turning to alcohol. That’s where a wild bear would get alcohol, right? Let’s hope she doesn’t run into one.

PORCUPINE RIDGE SYRAH (2012)—Fueling my worst fears while getting me hammered

My Fellow Inebriates,

Even though we’ve talked about this plenty of times, my parents broke one of our rules and bought a bottle of wine with an animal on the label. The bottle was in the Staff Picks section, so they thought, what the hell.

What the hell indeed. If you decided to bring home a bottle of PORCUPINE RIDGE SYRAH (2012), it might be because you employed a similar calculus. It’s not like the bottle notes reveal much. Apparently my parents were content to read about porcupines (nocturnal, potato-eating, snuffling, etc.) rather than select a wine for its winey characteristics. I did eventually find some tasting notes written vertically on the back label (“spicy, aromatic rich-textured, French-oaked and lingering”) beside an essay about porcupines, but not before we’d downed the stuff.

Porcupine ridge syrah

Porcupines are a nuisance in South Africa, where they eat pumpkins and potatoes in a noisy, grunting manner and seemingly impart a barnyard note to grapes cultivated in certain Boekenboutskloof vineyards. If you wanted to learn more about porcupines (estrus, copulatory plugs, freaky quills) you could consult Wikipedia, but you wouldn’t be looking for wine then, would you?

We made our rule about animals on the label for good reason, MFI. Particularly antipodal animals—and not exclusively marsupials. Nevertheless, my parents were persuaded by the Staff Picks sign, and so they picked up this Syrah, paid $16.99 for it, and brought it home.

porcupine ecardOne mark in PORCUPINE RIDGE SYRAH’s favor is its 14.5 percent alcohol, a kick-ass level that had me running for the decanter. First impressions: ripe, dark fruit with smoky, spicy chocolate on the nose. Snuffling around behind these promising chords is a hint of barnyard. On the palate, PORCUPINE RIDGE is mouth-filling and lively, with pepper and oak at the forefront. Gamey and earthy, it has palate-parching tannins and a tarry, anise finish, with wild-game notes never distant. For complexity, it’s well worth the experiment, but…well. It has too many notes.

You all know I’m an idiot bear, and who’s to say these notes I would have happily subtracted from PORCUPINE RIDGE weren’t the very notes well-trained wine enthusiasts covet? But somehow…I found myself wondering what porcupines smell like, and if we need them in our house.

“They probably smell better than you, LB,” said my parents, and again began discussing a future appointment they say I have with the washing machine. So I pounded as much PORCUPINE RIDGE as I could, because I was afraid, people.