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Bad Economic News – There, I said it. I’d hate for you to have to read anything that isn’t one more chapter in the compendium bemoaning the current economic times. You might become confused and think this to be out-of-date. Being old enough (just barely, of course) to have been through the downturn of the 70’s and smaller bumps in the road since, many times I’ve heard those in the wine and liquor industry explains it’s resilience; “people drink when times are good, and, people drink when times are bad.”

As those on the flip-side of that coin, we consumers need to understand how we adjust to having a lighter pocketbook. Given that the clock that ticks our life away hasn’t slowed with the slower economy, we still need to enjoy life all we can, while tempering our spending. My advice is three-pronged. First, keep doing the things that you enjoy; but find innovative ways to cut some corners and explore new ways to keep things exciting that you might not have tried before (something other than just ‘bigger and better’). Second, do still “treat yourself” occasionally; and when you do, avoid diluting that rarer pleasure with guilt, and really enjoy the treat that it is. Finally, embrace traditions and classics; there’s a reason that they’ve become that.

So, to help you in these troubling times, I’ve incorporated these pearls of wisdom into our next set of events…

12/27/08 | Economy-Adjusted Year-End Fête
Sat | at  Top Notch Restaurant      7525 Burnet Road
7:00PM | $17.38 members & non-members     (all inclusive)

Adjusting to the "down" economy isn’t going to be easy.  However, look at this fabulous event that has been organized for you:

  Appetizer Trio of Onion Rings Riunite on ice; that’s nice
  1st  Course ¼ Grilled Cheese Sandwich Boone’s Farm ‘Strawberry Hill’
  2nd Course Corn Dog w/ Sysco Mustard MD 20/20 and 7up
  3rd Course Two-Piece Chicken Dinner, with Fries Two-Buck Chuck
  Dessert Hot Fried Apple Pie Champ-ipple  (Fred Sanford's favorite)

 What better way to treat yourself for a tough year!  It should be great; of course, you’ll have to tell me about it because I certainly won’t be there.  OK -  no, this isn’t what we’re doing…  how about


12/27/08 | Traditional Year-End Fête
Sat | at  Fleming’s          320 East 2nd  Street        457-1500               www.flemingssteakhouse.com
7:00PM | $75 members  &  $85 non-members     (all inclusive)

If you’re new to LADV, we have a couple of long-standing traditions; this is one.  To reward ourselves for having nearly crossed the finish line in what seems to be the horrid obstacle course called “the Holidays”, we reward ourselves for not having choked anyone.  Moreover, we celebrate for having traversed the prior year, and allow ourselves a little pleasure in return for all that we have done.  We spend an evening among our “wine family” with whom we share a common love and bond, and not just the accident of blood.  And, we eat and drink what we truly enjoy; not just what has been imposed by circumstances beyond out control.
We select the food and wines for the event based on, what else, those things that we enjoyed most during the previous year.  No one treated us better during 2008 than the consummate professionals at Fleming’s Washington State and Blending events).  They treated us like the royalty we dream to be, and this will be no different.  Take a look at the rewards in store:

  On Arrival   Borgo San Leo, Prosecco Brut, nv
  (from the  Buone Feste)
  1st  Course Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
w/ roasted red pepper and lime butter sauce
St Clement, Sauvignon Blanc, 2007
  (from the Napa Mountain AVA event)
  2nd Course Chef’s Artisan Cheese Plate
w/ fruit, candied walnuts, sourdough baguette
Special Selection of three Novy Syrahs
  (from the Siduri / Novy event)
  3rd Course Mixed Grill of Prime Meats and Seafood
w/ Fleming’s Potatoes with cream and cheese gratinée
     and Sugar Snap Peas with Soy Glaze
Robert Craig, Affinity, 2005
Barnett, Spring Mountain Cab, 2003
 (from the Napa Mountain AVA event)
  Dessert Crème Brûlée
Tahitian vanilla bean custard w/ fresh seasonal berries
Michele Chiarlo, Moscato d'Asti  Nivole
  (from the  Buone Feste)

What a wonderful way to unwind from the Christmas madness and reward yourself for a job well-done.  Remember, leave any 'guilt' regarding this treat at home.     [theme: social event and food/wine pairing]  


01/22/09 | The Spirit in the Wine
Thur | at  Twin Liquors Marketplace at Hancock Center          451-7400            www.twinliquors.com
7:00PM | $25 members  &  $35 non-members     (all inclusive)

Another tradition that has withstood the years is our once-a-year “non-wine” tasting.  The majority of these events in the past had a focus on whiskies, especially Scotch Whiskies.  This year, we’re going to explore the wonderful spirits that are produced when wine products are distilled.  Refining the essence of wine into spirits is an important element in every wine culture throughout the world.  Different techniques and ingredients produce wonderful liquors as varied as the wines.  Whether called brandy, eau-de-vie, grappa, or special regional names like Cognac and Armagnac, they can all be wonderful.  (OK, just like wine, there are good ones and bad ones produced; we’ll keep you out of the potholes and steer you into the good stuff.) 

Come learn and taste what makes each special.  You’ll leave understanding the differences imparted by region (Italian Grappa versus Spanish Brandy, for example), ingredients, technique, house style (Remy versus Martel, for example), and quality / ageing (VSOP versus XO, for example).  A selection of ten special spirits from literally all around the globe will make for a special evening. 

We’ll be taking advantage of Twin’s great new ‘Marketplace’ digs to make this event as affordable as possible (the $150 Cognacs certainly aren’t).  While there will be some modicum of food available; it will be of the ‘palate cleanser’ variety; make plans accordingly, to be able to safely and responsibly handle these high-octane gems.  Sign up early; class size will be quite limited.    [theme: intermediate education]  


02/19/09 | Different Can Be Exciting
Thur | at  Twin Liquors Marketplace at Hancock Center          451-7400            www.twinliquors.com
7:00PM | $30 members  &  $35 non-members     (all inclusive)

So, if one tactic that can be employed to keep excitement in your wine life is exploring the new and different, what is different?  For many of you, it may very well be drinking wine made from grape varieties that are not well-known.  Most anyone can find pleasure in a bottle of Napa ‘cult’ Cabernet Sauvignon, or top-notch Barolo, or first-growth cru Bordeaux; but you won’t be doing much of that with a thin wallet.  As is often true, lesser-known is lower priced.  And, even if lowering your wine bill isn’t the most important thing, it’s always exciting to find a new love, or to impress your friends with your expanded wine knowledge.

So, come and join us as we explore Aligote, Torrontes, Pinotage, Bouchet, and other ‘mysterious’ varietals.  We’ll try two or three made from each grape, so that you can really understand what kind of wines it can make based on geography and winemaking style.

Again, we’re going to take advantage of Twin’s great new facility to host this event, to offer the opportunity to enjoy and learn about these wines without the need to buy dinner.  We’ll provide bread, cheeses, and fruit to keep your palate refreshed and your stomach from rumbling; but the focus is the wines.  The event will be relatively informal, but you will leave armed with some exciting new possibilities and having enjoyed the evening.     [theme: intermediate education]   



Let me remind you that space is always very limited at these events.  I do apologize that so often I have to inform people that a particular event has filled.  However on the flip-side, one of the most-frequent compliments that I get on the events is that people feel special and their experienced enhanced because of the coziness and easy access to the presenters.  And if you've forgotten, in order to keep the event prices as low as possible we have not invested in credit card processing services; you should always plan to pay with cash or a check at the events. 

As always, call  925-3985 or e-mail: reservations@ladv.org  to make reservations and to keep them accurate.  After you make your reservations, PLEASE CALL IMMEDIATELY if your plans change.  Communicating changes no later than 48 “business hours” before an event will allow us to adjust and provide an opportunity to any who may be on a waiting list.  Further it will assure we don’t have to pay for wine and food that was reserved for you, and that we won’t have to contact you afterward to pass on those costs to you if we are past the point when we guaranteed attendance to a venue. 

I look forward to seeing all you Friends of Wine at an event soon, and don't forget to support "The Friends of LADV."