Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sparkling Celebrations

We packed the road trip with sparkling wine worthy celebrations. I've already mentioned aperitifs with the siblings-in-law in Chicago and bad wine with good friends in Lawrence. To celebrate the Mister's Cousin's nuptials, we drank Tott's (I believe), which was well-suited to the gorgeous and tasty wedding cake. To celebrate Father's Day with the Mister's Father we drank pumpkin wine from Illinois. Really, it is much much better than it sounds.

Less than a week after the woodland party in Lawrence, we threw the almost-annual croquet tournament (16th, I believe, first one in 1988) and drank good sparkling wine with good friends: Hungarian, our "house" sparkler (Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noir[DSM]) and a fair pink cava (Cristalano). With my partner Moonbeam, I won the croquet tournament for the second time in 16 attempts, but only because Principal T and Bass Masseur, who were way ahead, threw it. Distinguished Diplomat and her Handsome Husband arrived, but didn't stay, as they were on their way to the hospital for sprog induction (I'd never seen anyone nine and a half months pregnant perform croquet yoga before; it is an unusual sight). Like the Woodland Evening in Lawrence, the croquet tourney reminded me how much I adore and miss my friends. Although, unlike the woodland evening, it was not twinged with "this will never happen again" sadness. My "gang" in Lawrence largely dispersed last summer, with another significant contingent leaving this year, and it will take significant work to meet up again. The Colorado group, however, is a tribute to the lasting power of friendship and tradition-- we have a great time regardless of how long it has been since we've seen each other.

While still in Colorado, we also drank to my mother's birthday (the Korbel Blanc de Noir from our wedding-- very good stuff), Father's Day (a good Spanish red, along with some DSM), my mother's real retirement and Elaine's Birthday (a slightly effervescent Vino Verdi).

Later in Madison, we drank a New Ulm Cherry Lambic with great friends from high school. Technically not wine (although it is sparkling), the is the best made in the US Lambic I've had, and really very good. I also bring it up as an excuse to mention the dear friends, neither of whom I have seen in years, whom I love. I reveled in the chance to introduce my Mars geologist friend to my chemical archaeologist friend because everybody needs a to know that there are people as nerdy, or perhaps nerdier, than they are in the world.

Speaking of people nerdier than we are, back in Chicago we attended a wedding that included rings in Elvish, menus with Latin names, diver's during dinner (reception at the aquarium) and the Dungeons and Dragons players guide. We celebrated by drinking DSM Blanc de Blanc (a great choice, I might add, even if I prefer the Blanc de Noir) and enjoying the company of friends now living in PA, TX, IA, KS, MO and IL.

Before we left the sibling's-in-law place the next morning, we drank a bottle of a cava with red and black raspberries from the farmer's market, specifically labeled as "for champagne." While our primary motivation was to try beautiful berries in sparkling wine, we could have been celebrating Sibling-In-Law's new professor job in St. Louis or the other Sibling's-in-Law signing off on his dissertation (rounding out the topics of obscure advanced degrees in my generation of sib, Mister and sibs-in-law to genetic algorithms, effect of internet on German news communication, the 660 discontinuity in the earth's mantle, economic history of San Fransisco (?) during a specific time period, 15th century (?) German Lit., and population ecology of prairie turnips).

We drank a nice bottle of Door County Winery Sparkling Wine (Wisconsin wine made from California grapes, $20 at a restaurant) just 'cause, which impressed our waitress. It's one of the better small state sparklers we've had, but then the juice wasn't local. To celebrate our second anniversary, we drank a bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvee over a leisurely dinner at the Old Rittenhouse Inn in Bayfield, Wisconsin. While it wasn't as good as the Charles Heidsieck we drank for our first anniversary, there is something about a nice bottle of true champagne which makes it better than other sparkling wines (including non-Champagne French wines).

At a Portuguese restaurant in Toronto (I had no idea that Toronto has a strong Portuguese community, but then I had really no idea about how large, urban and cosmopolitan Toronto is until I tried to navigate The Mister downtown into the city), we had a bottle of Portuguese sparkling that was a good accompaniment to the grilled octopus, raw oysters and fabulous seafood risotto. In absentia, we may have been celebrating my good friend and former roommate Tuscon Trekker defending her dissertation.

We sampled several Ontario Sparkling wines at the Niagara Pennisula wineries because we could. Three of them very good (two from Reisling and one from Vidal Blanc grapes, I believe), and the two very cheap peach and "sweet brunch" sparklers were, well, cheap and sweet.

Since returning home, we drank the Niagara sparklers to celebrate being home, a DSM bottle to celebrate living here one year, a Cristalano bottle to celebrate almost being unpacked, and I'm not sure what all else.

On the trip we also celebrated the Mister's Grandfather's 80th birthday and actual birth of Kaliel to Distinguished Dip. and her HH. Both were certainly sparkling wine worthy occasions, if we didn't actually drink it at the moment. Cheers!


Jennifer said...

Isn't it wonderful to have so many reason's to celebrate?

Glad to hear that you won the tourney. I really enjoyed it the one year I was able to come. I am so happy that the tradition continues.

hellx said...

I should have mentioned Barrique's in Madison. The owner is probably the source for knowledge about wine that I most respect in the world.

janet said...

great list and great amount of celebrations! cheers! and that wedding! oh my word! and the strange PHDs, very fun!

The Prairie Quilter said...

I believe I may have to buy me a bottle of sparkling wine when we next go to town!