Zin, cab, negroamaro and CAH—a glimpse of “normal” at LBHQ

My fellow inebriates,

On Saturday I had the rare opportunity of tasting THREE different red wines. Sitting outside on the deck with a couple of guests, sharing vaccine news and playing Cards Against Humanity, it felt kind of normal.

All so plausible…

Between 8:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. we consumed:

  1. Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel, U.S. (2017); sale price $17.99, reg. $22.99  
  2. Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon, U.S. (2018); $19.99
  3. Luccarelli Puglia Negroamaro, Italy (2018); $15.99

The first two bottles vanished quickly. The third didn’t quite get finished. (I attempted to open it at breakfast, but you know my challenges with opening bottles.)

Lingering along with my hangover is the question—did we drink these bottles in the correct order?

If it’s best to drink the best wine first, then we did things right. The Ravenswood was smooth and plummy while still being refined and balanced. In addition to layers of blackcurrant, tannins, and oak, it had a slight hint of baking spice in the finish. It was billed as “medium-bodied,” but it bordered on being full-bodied. We all loved it, and that’s why it was gone in a flash.

Choices, choices…

It sucks to take the stage after a great act, but the Tom Gore held its own. Bold and smooth, dry and balanced, it was a touch oakier than the zin but equally bursting with dark red fruit, and it had its own hint of peppery spice. Sometimes it can feel rough switching from one wine to another, but not with this wine. We all guzzled it happily. Only my dad thought the zin was better; the rest of us thought these first two were about on par with each other.

I like the pool noodle.

If being the second act sucks, you really don’t want to be last. That was the fate of Luccarelli, a less expensive wine we’ve had plenty of times before and always thought was a pretty good bargain. Sure, it was bold, and also smooth, but after the first two wines, it seemed less structured (although things were getting pretty unstructured on the deck by this point). It had a jamminess that seemed undisciplined, plus an unwelcome sweetness in the finish. As such, it sealed the deal on our collective hangover today.

I don’t blame Luccarelli for its poor comparative showing. If it hadn’t been upstaged, it would have been a decent wine. If the bottle had been able to talk to Dad before he unscrewed its cap, it might have yelled, “What the fuck are you doing? There’s no way I’m going on after those guys. Come on.” But we wouldn’t have heard—we were busy offending the neighbours with our reprehensible card choices. Into our glasses the wine sloshed, and we drank it with minimal complaint.

My dad was on a roll last night. Not only did he open three bottles of wine, which hasn’t happened in a couple of years, but he also beat the pants off us at Cards Against Humanity. Usually he refuses to play out on the deck because he thinks the neighbours are listening. But last night he was a different human. Maybe COVID-19 altered his brain chemistry? Should I feel thankful?

13 things we’ve learned about homeschooling at LBHQ

My fellow inebriates,

Our homeschooling effort is pretty rocky.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

  1. The kids think this whole deal is optional.
  2. This whole deal might as well be optional. Nobody’s going to fail the year. At least one of the two kids is depending on this.
  3. Using adult learning methods on kids doesn’t work. You need to have buy-in to teach kids online. Judging by the derogatory comments flying back and forth throughout any given session, the kids aren’t buying in.
  4. Traditional schooling capitalizes on having a captive audience. These kids aren’t captive to virtual learning, and they fully realize it.
  5. Teachers’ comfort levels with tech are highly variable. Kids know this and take full advantage. Anything they fail to hand in, they blame on the tech—and the teachers for not suddenly knowing how to teach in a fundamentally different way with fundamentally different tools.
  6. Everything the kids learn in one day at school can be distilled down to 1.5 hours. And they still don’t want to do it.
  7. Nobody wants to turn on their webcam. The kids have realized video represents invigilation and they want no part of it.
  8. This generation is going to be running the world in 20 years. They have until then to bring in the robots and push universal basic income—at least if they want to keep sleeping for 14 hours a night and 8 hours playing video games.
  9. Our natural clocks aren’t 24 hours long. If they’re not hustled out of bed, the kids will get up an hour later each consecutive day until they become fully nocturnal.
  10. They’d rather get paid to do yard work than school work (yes, we tried money as an incentive).
  11. You can cut your own hair if you need to. One of the kids did it at 3:00 am last night. Minimal lessons were learned.
  12. TEACHERS ARE DOING THEIR BEST. They are checking in via email, trying to round up missing assignments, and phoning when students are AWOL. We raise a glass to them almost every evening.
  13. Five p.m. is a MAGIC time. By then, my parents will have had it with urging, coaxing, muddling their way through the “new” math, and fielding lies. (Yes, lies about homework!) A beer will get opened.

E2013 fractions with wine glasses

Mom shaming on social media—and how to respond to it

My fellow inebriates,

My Auntie H (who doesn’t know I call her that) alerted us to some mom-shaming that’s cropped up thanks to the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s what one of her friends* posted on Facebook:

My daughter thinks she’s the only kid who has to do schoolwork today. She worked from 9:00 to 3:00 … certainly not unreasonable, right? I had her do reading, French, an online art class, some educational videos, and then music practice. Please share what you’re doing 😉

Auntie H texted this piece of virtue-signalling to my mother, who texted back:

I worked all day. The kids did f*** all. You should burn that woman’s house down.

You see, my mother has been seething since Auntie H sent this message. My parents are working from home, full-time, deluged by conference calls, struggling to stay focused, while around them the house gets steadily messier and more chaotic. The kids, you can be sure, are not watching chemistry videos or doing duolingo Spanish. Maybe they should be, but my parents have no capacity to both work full-time and kick the kids’ asses.

In fact, as we type this, the kids are sleeping, at 11:55 a.m.—assuaging my parents’ guilt over their lack of home-schooling. As soon as the kids get up they will descend upon the kitchen and scatter it with Pop-Tarts, chocolate chip waffles and other unsuitable foods that Auntie H’s “friend” would probably not permit inside her (spectacularly clean) house. Moreover, when the kids awaken they will confront—again—the reality that they cannot see friends, and my parents will not be able to console them.

So I say to Auntie H’s frenemy on our collective behalf:

Go f*** yourself. You are a hippie. 

C2031 H3 wine Columbia CrestAnd to my parents, I recommend an excellent bottle of wine for this Friday night: COLUMBIA CREST H3 HORSE HEAVEN HILLS CABERNET SAUVIGNON (2016). This wine is rich and full, bursting with ripe orchard fruit. As you sip, the flavour slowly spreads across your palate with undercurrents of chocolate and coffee that linger ever-so-long. This is the sort of wine you need to savour (last time we had it, I needed to be restrained from pounding it). In terms of value for money ($22.99), you won’t regret one penny of it.

We like H3 so much that my dad made an emergency run to our local booze store last week and purchased three bottles from behind a plexiglass barrier. Not to throw my dad under the bus or anything, but I feel this measured risk to his health was worth it.


*My Auntie H needs some new friends.