Cheese-y / Coping mechanisms

Love the wine you’re with

Because I’m one of the only five people listening to the radio on a Friday night, I recently won tickets to the Virginia Wine Festival from one of my favorite DC stations, Mix 107.3 (I used to commute from Western Maryland to DC for work, so the Jack Diamond Morning Show and I spent a lot of time together). I was already planning on going to the festival, so cue me screaming like a 13-year-old girl at a Taylor Swift concert when I found out I’d be drinking all day for free.

Now that Jonathan has been gone for a month, the adrenaline of getting everything ready for his deployment has dried up, and I’m starting to sink into that rut of I have to do this for at least eight more months. Which is admittedly pretty depressing. So I think Jonathan and I were both relieved to find out I’d have a weekend outside in the (hopefully) nice fall weather, drinking wine with friends. Because nothing takes your mind off A WAR ON TERROR like 60-some odd wineries pumping you full of reds and whites.

I headed out to The Plains, Virginia with my friends Martin (again), Curtis, and Brooke. It was a bit of a drive, but worth it for the view of the countryside (and because I forced everybody to listen to country music the whole way; Jonathan would be so proud). Later we met up with Martin and Curtis’s friend Steve, and his friend Brittany, and with our mutual friend Andrea who I have no pictures of (sorry, Andrea), but she was the only one brave enough to buy an entire case of wine at the end of the day.

We got there six minutes after the festival opened, and there were already lines formed at tasting tents. Virginians are serious about their wine. We set up our camp, and discovered that people were just leaving all their picnic shit and belongings hanging out everywhere while they went to taste wines, and nobody was worried about theftToto, we’re not in Los Angeles anymore.

Curtis CUTTING THE CHEESE. You’re welcome, Curtis. Followed by the girls: Brittany, me, and Brooke; and the boys: Martin, Steve, and Curtis. Martin brought his own shade with him. We picked up the beads we’re wearing from the Breaux Vineyards tasting tent, which we lovingly called “BRO! Vineyards” all day. Virginia’s finest.

Let the tastings begin.

That guy in the middle row on the right caught me dumping an entire sample of a dry merlot into the grass, and he was still nice to me afterward. Things not to do at a wine tasting. I’m young. I’ll learn.

Curtis developed a smiley face rating system to express our different emotions for each wine. Martin and I tended towards sweeter wines, while Curtis and Brooke went for dry. My favorites (which I was too frenzied to get pictures of) were the strawberry and chocolate-covered-strawberry wines from Mattaponi Winery and a wine called Rhapsody from Cooper Vineyards.

The amount of wineries represented in the Great Meadow was pretty intimidating, but luckily there were some vendor tents set up to let the alcohol metabolize between tastings.

Along with wine lassos and tiny whisky barrels (sorry, Jonathan, I didn’t get one for you), there was also a tent for “Virginia’s wine artist” Christopher Mize, whose work we were all pretty blown away by.

I was disappointed to learn that there was only one cheese vendor, so I didn’t feel bad about sampling every cheese from Country Pride Cheese House. Except for the bacon & cheddar. I’m only a few months post-vegetarianism; bacon is several years away.

I was skeptical when the employee in the tent told me their swiss and almond was their best selling spread (I’m pretty equal-opportunity about my cheeses, but swiss isn’t in my top 10), but I’ll be the first to admit it was hands-down the best one.

By the middle of the day, the grounds were packed, so we were hopping from tent to tent based solely on line length. Some people we tasted with in the afternoon had mentioned (since I’m a fan of sweet wines), that there was a tent for Peaks of Otter Winery that had a great selection of fruit wines, and also a peppery wine that paired nicely with Cheese Whiz. Okay, crazy people. Whatever you say.

Peaks of Otter wasn’t necessarily my favorite overall winery of the day, but they definitely snagged my most-entertaining superlative. Not only did they actually spray a bit of Cheese Whiz on our fingers so we could get the full tequila-shot-like experience of the Cheeze Whiz-sip of wine-Cheese Whiz pairing, they also boasted a wine made with hot peppers called “Kiss the Devil.” Which sounded intimidating, but…it’s wine. How spicy can it be?

VERY SPICY. IT CAN BE VERY, VERY SPICY. They handed out stickers to anybody brave enough to go through with kissing the devil. Martin’s an over-achiever, so he kissed the devil three times.

Other than the wine, my favorite part of the day was stopping by the ABUNDANCE of big-hat vendors at the festival. I’m not totally sure on the history that makes Virginia wines correlate with big hats, but I’m not complaining. I just wish I’d known ahead of time, because I have about twice as many big hats as there are appropriate occasions during the year to wear big hats.

At least one of those guys was extremely close to leaving with a top hat.

Because we were all pretty sure a wine festival isn’t the appropriate place to get wasted, we took several food breaks throughout the day. The festival had a decent number of food tents set up, but we’d decided to do a picnic potluck. We may or may not have shared a bottle of wine during the first food break. Most of the tents offered to open a bottle of purchased wine for you right when you bought it, so it was difficult to resist.

The chocolate cookies were courtesy of Brooke, who says they’re called “Berger” cookies, and that she’s only ever seen them in Baltimore Harris Teeters. Which is for the best, BECAUSE I COULD EAT FIVE HUNDRED OF THEM IN ONE SITTING. I brought the little peanut butter and jelly bites, some similar turkey and cucumber sandwich bites, and Curtis brought a homemade pesto-turkey-ciabatta sandwich, and fixings. Martin brought sunscreen, which I neglected to use because it’s September so fuck that. The resulting sunburn is fading.

I’ve been a Virginia resident for almost two years now, but I have to admit that this was my first real experience with Virginians in the masses. The verdict: a lot of Polo shirts and boat shoes, a few popped collars, and a whole lot of very friendly, happy, maybe drunk people.

The girls at the top were all sporting wine saddles worn as necklaces (sold at the festival). The guy with the grape balloons on his hat REALLY did not want his picture taken, but the girl with Nemo on her boob was more than obliging. The blurry couple we caught totally making out with each other and then Martin outted them by screaming about it (he spent the rest of the day learning to control the volume of his voice). I’m pretty sure that toddler was drunk. But that extremely tall Sabra guy wasn’t; he was giving out little packets of hummus and Sabra coupons to take home, which explains why my entire dinner that evening was hummus. The woman in the bottom right corner was definitely drunk, but she was THE BEST KIND OF DRUNK, and if she happens to find this blog, please give me your number so we can hang out sometime.

And, of course, no American festival would be a true American festival without some little touches of patriotism.

I believe the chair belongs to Brooke, and I have no idea whose patriotic license plate that is, but, whoever you are, I APPRECIATE YOU, and I bet you don’t get speeding tickets that often. Those spatulas also come in every sports team you could possibly root for, and the picture doesn’t show you that the end of the handle is a bottle opener. So you can open your great American beers and support our troops all at once.

By around 5:00pm I was exhausted, so basically I walked around sulking, refusing to taste anymore wines, and complaining, until Curtis recommended we head home before I start kicking people in the shins. In my defense, I was driving, so I’d stopped drinking several hours previously, and a wine festival is less fun when you can’t festival the wines anymore. Curtis, however, was in great spirits the whole day.

Actually he’s probably not even drunk.

The car ride back was fairly sleepy, until Martin suggested I pull IMMEDIATELY OFF THE HIGHWAY so we could stop in Manassas for some Sweet Frog frozen yogurt. I then pulled off a three-lane merge in less than two seconds, because nothing can make me forget the safety of my passengers faster than frozen dairy products. (In case you’re wondering, I got a mix of cappuccino and Oreo flavored yogurt, topped with dark chocolate bark, some weird fruity shit Martin recommended that popped in my mouth like a Gusher, and granola. Sounds weird, maybe, but you’re going to have to trust me on this because I’ve had a lot of experience with frozen yogurt.)

The only real disappointment was that, despite my lack of 3G coverage during the day, by the time I got home I still had no sign of life from Jonathan. Then I think it was a combination of a day of wine and a mild sunburn mingling with the disappointment of not hearing from Jonathan that allowed me to fall asleep before 10:00pm, and continue to sleep for the next 11 hours. When I woke up, I had no hangover. But I did have an email from Jonathan explaining that he’d moved again, and that he was safe. It ended with, “I love you and I miss you and I want a nap.”

Which I think pretty well sums up things for both of us most of the time.

0 thoughts on “Love the wine you’re with

  1. I hate to waver from my usually platform, but REALLY?? Bacon is YEARS away?? IS SOMETHING MISSING FROM YOUR BRAIN?? OR HEART?? YOU ARE A SCARECROWTINMAN.

  2. That sounds like so much fun! I love wine festivals. My husband and I try to get out to visit wineries as often as we can. It can be exhausting though! It only takes a few tastings to put me out for the rest of the afternoon! LOL

    • I KNOW, right? That night was the first time I’ve slept for 11 hours since I was a teenager (and back then it was usually in response to any time I’d had to study for math). Definitely worth it, though.

      P.S. I just browsed through your blog and I got really hot and bothered when I stumbled upon the cottage cheese with honey and blueberries breakfast. I’ve never considered putting honey on my cottage cheese, but I’m totally down.

      • Do it! It’s quite good if you like sweetness. Me? I find anything sweet irresistible.

        Also, I have a degree in Math so I spent a lot of time not sleeping because of it. LOL

    • Thank YOU! Even if I hadn’t gotten my ticket for free (thanks, Mix 107.3), the $30 entry fee is a great deal for the number of vendors represented. See you next year!

      • While I fully believe that Heaven is more or less constructed of Berger cookies, I feel it very important to inform you that I have run across them in my fair share of Royal Farms stores as well. I’m pretty sure I did a little dance in the middle of the aisle when I discovered they were so easy to procure.

    • The VA Wine Festival people let me know that they have an event in June called “Vintage Virginia,” so you’ll get a shot sooner than next fall! Of course, you missed the festival because you were gallivanting around Europe, so I don’t think you guys really get to complain 🙂

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