Why not make your own cocktail nuts? These are super simple. Just shake all ingredients in a bag and serve! 1c pepitas, 2t paprika, 1/2t chili powder, 1T sugar, 1t coarse seal salt, 1T olive oil Forest Feast is a food photography blog full of simple, illustrated recipes by photographer Erin Gleeson. Tweet

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Why not make your own cocktail nuts? These are super simple. Just shake all ingredients in a bag and serve!

1c pepitas, 2t paprika, 1/2t chili powder, 1T sugar, 1t coarse seal salt, 1T olive oil

Forest Feast is a food photography blog full of simple, illustrated recipes by photographer Erin Gleeson.

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This is a super easy weekend appetizer to have with wine. Just top store bought puff pastry with pesto, cheese and capers and bake until golden! Forest Feast is a food photography blog full of simple, illustrated recipes by photographer Erin Gleeson. Tweet

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This is a super easy weekend appetizer to have with wine. Just top store bought puff pastry with pesto, cheese and capers and bake until golden!

Forest Feast is a food photography blog full of simple, illustrated recipes by photographer Erin Gleeson.

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Need an easy weekend dinner recipe?

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Need an easy weekend dinner recipe? Just slice up some of those beautiful acorn squashes that are in season right now, then roast them with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Brown in sage butter and serve with wine!

Photo and recipe from Erin Gleeson at Forest Feast, a blog full of simple photo illustrated recipes.

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It is not that these wines are not inherently “good”, they just fill me with doubt.

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Do you usually try a wine and then decide right away whether or not it tickles your fancy? Are your wine selections based solely on their ratings? Do you know what you want from a wine when you’re picking one out? Read this week’s post from behind the curtain to learn about how a little bit of patience can go a long way in helping you enjoy wine both in the short- and longterm.

Keeping An Open Palate

There is often a good deal of talk about a wine needing to “open up”, to flesh out and show what it has to offer, to shed the tannin and acidic structure and become this other product altogether.

It is placing the blame squarely on the wine.

Although there is some truth to the fact that the wine needs to open up and breathe, there is a complete discounting of the consumers’ role. I think that it is a meeting in the middle, where one’s palate opens up to the wine as much as the wine opens up to the palate (not unlike most meaningful relationships). In my experience there have been numerous times where I was not truly ready to taste what was given to me and made a rash judgment, only to find that as my palate became more accustomed to what the wine had to offer, well, it had more to offer.

But I have learned to be patient, to allow that it may be me that should come the wine’s way a bit as well. And it has led me to be more leery of effusive, immediately pleasing wines which seem to over-deliver at the outset.

It is not that these wines are not inherently “good”, they just fill me with doubt. Are they pandering to the easily compliant parts of my palate? Broad and easy and not too challenging, like a politician desperately trying to curry their constituents favor? Or are they just being themselves, natural and comfortable being all they can or were meant to be?

The Scores

What is very disconcerting to me is that I see this principle being used when wines are scored in the trade press as well. Wines are generally tasted in large groupings in fairly rapid succession. Notes are taken in very broad strokes and the end result is that wines that really deliver a wallop stick in the mind of the reviewer (as well the wines that truly suck) and get the rave reviews. This is an unsustainable model for a long term relationship.

Have you ever met someone at a party who was gregarious and immediately likable only to find that after an half an hour they had nothing new to say and were quickly boring you? That’s what some of these very high scoring wines are like for me - just loud brash bores.

Currently the big ones get the 94+ ratings and there is a mad stampede to acquire them. Everything else kind of gets lost in the shuffle and this is where most of the true values are found. I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up an 89, 90 or 91 was a good score in anything based on the 100 point scale. Now, that is kind of like failing.

Very few wines are reviewed on potential as opposed to immediate impact.

I need more promise of development, of growth, in wine (in my glass and in the cellar) and often the most precocious do not have the finesse to develop into anything more interesting.

Practical Application

When choosing wine at a restaurant or retailer, we should keep in mind what our end goal is and how we intend to reach it.
- Do we want to be bowled over or gently pushed down? Depends on your mood. Sometimes you just want to be entertained, other times engaged.
- Do we go solely by the reviews (and by that I mean the scores, no one actually reads the words) or find some other arbiter? Trust your palate, if you like it, you like it. To hell with the press.
- Would we like the wine to complement our food or is that irrelevant? I like having the wine go with the food, lighter with lighter and so on, but sometimes great wine and great food are just that, whether they complement each other or not.

What I am trying to say here is to be open. Not just open to trying different wines but also to the possibility that while you may not appreciate all the wine has to offer on the first taste, it may end up hitting all the right notes. There are any number of factors that affect how a wine tastes to you the first time. What you had to eat or drink before, the weather or your mood can all have significance and it takes a bit of practice to be able to read between the lines.

I’ll admit it seems a bit risky to pick wines based on potential but I think that it will be more than rewarding. In the short term you may find yourself liking wines you had previously dismissed based on a first blush experience. In the long run, if you are collecting wines, you can avoid ending up with the vinous equivalent of parachute pants in your cellar.

The wine business has trends just like fashion. And like fashion, not all of them should be followed.

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“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” - Voltaire

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Joy Phenix has a great blog at JoyPhenix.com, and we love the post she did last week so much that we wanted to share…

Being a Curiosity Rookie

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” Voltaire

I like to think that I’m a curious person.

I think the world is an interesting place, and I believe that most people have interesting stories. One of my strengths is “Input,” which means that I routinely pay attention to new things. I dig ‘em.

However, whenever I take my kids into an unfamiliar environment, I realize how far off my self-perception of being “curious” really is. Recently I showed up with my kids early to an appointment. The person’s door was locked, so I just settled back against the wall to wait for them. Time to dink around on the phone. Check email. Tweet. Stare at my shoes.

My kids immediately got on the ground and peered through the mail slot to see if there was any movement inside. Sure enough, there was someone inside; they just hadn’t heard our knock.

That’s when I realized this fact: I am a curiosity lightweight. Had I truly lived up to my self-perception as Mrs Curious, I’d have really investigated to see what’s what with the locked door. My kids were a better picture of curiosity in this instance.

I also see how I’ve lost my curiosity edge when I’m driving. My oldest child has just hit the weight/age/height limit where she can legally ride in the front seat of my car. I am still more comfortable having her sit in the back, but on the rare day where it’s just the two of us and I’m driving less than three miles, I’ll let her sit next to me. When this happens, I learn things about my car that I’ve owned for seven years. Sometimes my daughter finds a “new” feature that I had no clue existed in this car that I drive every day. She discovered the extra sunshade that flips down to fill the space just above the rear-view mirror – (so nice!). She occasionally finds an “old” object (like CDs that I have been missing for months.) Sometimes she discovers a new way to configure my radio (and I still don’t know how her radar tunes to all stations playing Taylor Swift).

Of course, my husband Billy says this is evidence of a fundamental flaw… that I should read my owner’s manual. Still, I see it as illustrating a bigger point than my willingness to plow through a series of technical explanations.

I see it as a curiosity issue.

I don’t “play” or “explore” my car enough. I’m simply not curious enough. I get caught in the trap of thinking that investigating that which I do not know (aka, my car), would be useless time just looking around and pushing a few buttons. I may never discover new things unless I actually look.

I think about this concept outside of the home environment and wonder what I’m missing at the office, with my friends, and in the world at large because of curiosity lapses. Woe be the day that I think that I’ve learned it all!

I need challenge myself more often.

  • Am I asking enough questions?
  • Do I wonder if there’s a different approach to a situation?
  • What have I rejected as unimportant because I don’t readily understand it?
  • Do I accept that someone else may look at a situation in a different way?
  • What fascinating gifts, thoughts, or ideas does another person have?
  • Is there a simpler way to do things than the way to which I’ve grown accustomed?
  • What in that person’s experience or background has shaped the way they currently act?
  • Is there a “button” that I need to find to help solve a problem?

I’m learning that for me to have a different perspective I need, at least in part, to be askingdifferent questions, and those questions will always be steeped in curiosity.

What do you think?

I’m curious.

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