June 15 – Carpet Licker

Regionals

The world is littered with wonderful wine regions, where fans of the grape can pilgrimage to and get blasted winery-hopping style. While wine is far from my favourite libation, I do like to get travel wasted and visiting a winery provides some of the greatest surroundings for doing so. Here are some of the best stops to hit if you’re a connoisseur of reds and whites (and pinks, I suppose!):

Barossa Valley – Australia

This was a fun little wine tour Mrs. Sip and I did while visiting Adelaide, Australia. As good as the wine and scenery was, what I will always remember most from the tour was our picnic-style lunch, where the main course was barbecued kangaroo, marinated in red wine. I never thought kangaroo meat could be so delicious. I gorged myself on the delicacy, as well as the rest of the lunch, probably facilitated by the copious wine samples we had already enjoyed up to that point.

barossa valley

Okanagan Valley – British Columbia

Mrs. Sip just got back from visiting the Okanagan wine region on a stagette and if the 13 new bottles taking up space in my liquor racks is any indication, she had a good time and found some wines she really enjoyed. Heck, rumour has it Cousin Sip brought back 30 bottles of grape goodness after this 2 day trip!

Champagne/Beaujolais – France

Champagne was another wine excursion enjoyed by Mrs. Sip, minus your faithful Sip Advisor. How do I let her get away with this desertion!? While there, she sampled the wines and champagnes the region is renowned for. We were together for a brief stop in Beaujolais, where we climbed to the “Top of the World” and had a wine and picnic lunch before staying the night at a Beaujolais winery property.

Hood River – Oregon

On a weekend away with family, we hit a number of stops criss-crossing the Washington-Oregon border. We had a convoy of vehicles stopping at each business and it was fun to roll through a tasting with such a large, increasingly boisterous group. Our favourite stop was probably the Maryhill Winery, home to a summer concert series, and where guest can even hop into a tub and stomp some grapes.

Maryhill Winery

Columbia Cascade – Washington

On yet another wine tour (damn, we go on a lot of these!), Mrs. Sip and I, along with Cousin Sip and her husband braved the oncoming winter to sample a number of wines in the Cascade area. The last stop of our tour was the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, where the main drag houses many underground wine tasting options. Getting Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip back on the bus was far from easy for us guys.

Napa Valley & Sonoma Valley – California

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many California wines, but never had the chance to visit any of the winery regions the state is home to. While Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed a wonderful and quite memorable wine tasting in San Francisco (see Bay Breeze), we have never had the time to do a tour of the Napa or Sonoma Valleys. It is on our Bucket List to do together, we just need to be in the area for longing than a cruise port stop.

Bubbles over Napa

Santorini – Greece

The last stop as part of a tour exploring the island was visiting the Wine Museum of Santorini and Koutsoyannopoulos Winery. How do I remember such a crazy long Grecian name, you ask? Well, you see, Mrs. Sip has (or at least had) this little habit of “collecting” souvenirs from her travels. On this occasion, she wanted a glass from the little winery and to make a long story short, she got it!

Monticello – Virginia

While visiting Washington, D.C., our hosts took us out of the American capital to Virginia, specifically Monticello, where we had access to numerous wines and enjoyed a nice picnic lunch on the storied grounds of the winery surrounded by 19th century plantation ruins. Later, we ventured to the home of Thomas Jefferson, where unfortunately, no wine was served, which would have been a great tribute to the former president.

Drink #166: Carpet Licker

June 15

  • 1 oz White Wine
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur (I used Watermelon Pucker)
  • 0.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • 0.5 oz Dr. Pepper
  • Top with Whipped Cream
  • Garnish with Sprinkles

I’m sure I’m missing some of the best wine regions, but I wanted to focus on areas we’ve actually visited or plan to visit in the very near future. Have any suggestions for a future getaway? Feel free to give us your best Lonely Planet review.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I thought this shot tasted fantastic, especially with my substitution of Watermelon Pucker for Melon Liqueur… I just had a feeling. The presentation is spectacular which certainly justifies the high score. The shooter ingredients and measurements are enough for two servings, so share the love!

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June 14 – Countdown Cocktail

3…2…1…

Life is full of countdowns of varying importance. Whether you’re waiting for your next vacation or the end of the world is rapidly approaching, we’re all watching time tick away to something. Here are some of the most infamous countdowns:

Y2K

Heading into the new millennium, concerns were raised over computer clocks rolling over to the new date, thus causing internal malfunctions. Some people feared that this would cause computer systems across the world to fail, with results being as catastrophic as nuclear missiles being launched and the planet destroying itself. In fact, in Onagawa, Japan, an alarm at a nuclear power plant sounded two minutes after midnight, but luckily it was a false alarm. Worst yet, 150 slot machines in Delaware stopped working, causing hardcore gamblers to declare martial law.

y2k

Year 10,000 Problem

If we even make it there, there are already fears that an issue similar to Y2K will haunt us again in the year 10,000. I’m not too concerned, as clearly they haven’t taken the time to come up with a clever name for the event like they did for Y2K, which shows they’re not all that worried about something that may occur 8,000 years from now. Besides, I don’t even know if my lineage will continue past myself, let alone eight millennia from now.

Popular Culture

Lists are used by everyone nowadays. Hell, it’s largely what I do here at The Sip Advisor, on a daily basis… but I’m one of the few who does it with class and dignity! While some lists are awesome (again, like the ones featured on this site), others are utterly useless. Don’t even get me started on music video countdowns. Those are so horrible it makes me want to throw a record player through my TV screen and eliminate all possible audible nightmares.

New Year’s Eve

Every year, people are given the chance to reboot, start fresh, and kiss some random stranger in the name of celebration! As the Times Square ball and other imitators drop on the beginning of a new year, we are all given a chance to reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’re going. For some this can be a good experience and for others it can disappoint. Remember though, New Year’s brought about The Sip Advisor, so we should all be thankful!

new-years

Olympics

It has become tradition that the next city to host the Olympics constructs a big clock in one of its popular centres and then ticks away the days, hours, minutes and seconds until its time to shine and host the world arrives. Legend has it, that if these clocks pause at any time prior to the Games, the Olympics will be cancelled by the International Olympic Committee… that’s only a Sip Legend though.

2012 Apocalypse

According to Mayan predictions, the world was supposed to end on Dec. 21, 2012. Well, it didn’t. All it provided was a chance for zealous nutcases to form cults and for comedy shows to spoof the so-called “end of days”. The best part about living on the west coast (although there are many reasons) is that in all these time-based doomsday theories, we’ll be the last to be hit and can enjoy what’s left of our time while others kick the bucket.

mayan_calendar_funny

Shuttle Launch

Space, the final frontier… The last thing astronauts hear before being launched into the wild abyss of space is the shuttle countdown that precipitates every launch. The rush that must go through these folk’s system would surely measure off the charts, as they experience something very few ever will. I hope affordable space travel eventually exists in my lifetime. I’d go searching for Alf, so we can chase cats together!

Final Countdown

The classic hit from the band Europe should definitely be mentioned in this post. Seriously, I challenge you to go have a listen and try not to get into it. This is a special favourite of all Arrested Development fans, thanks to the character J.O.B., who uses it as part of the magician routine.

Drink #165: Countdown Cocktail

Countdown Wine Cocktail

  • Muddle Mint Leaves
  • 2 oz Disaronno (or other Amaretto)
  • Splash of Red Wine
  • 2 Tsp Sugar
  • Garnish with Sugar-coated Mint Leaf

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I like recipes that involve Mint, but I wasn’t sure about how that element would work with Red Wine. Mrs. Sip, not being a fan of Amaretto and preferring wine cocktails to heavily feature the Wine itself, was not a fan of this drink, but I thought it wasn’t half bad. It’s true that the Disaronno makes its presence felt in this recipe, but I thought the Wine played a role, as well. The cocktail was more sweet than I would like, hence the point deductions.

June 12 – Sour Sex

It’s All in the Name

Some would say that today’s drink does not have a very appealing name. However, while a wine connoisseur I am not, I’ve noticed that wines and wineries in general have some very, let’s say “unique” trademarks. There can be some really clever names for wineries, and then there can be some god awful brands. Here are some of the best and worst out there:

Best:

Mischief and Mayhem (France)

This winery name perfectly describes what you’re likely to get up to after a bottle or two of its grapes. Throw in a brand like Naked Grape and hopefully that’s in your future as well! While I’m not a regular wine drinker, I have had a number of adventures start with a bottle of red or white (or even the occasional rosé when I’m feeling particularly crazy!) so thank you for that wine world!

Mischief and Mayhem

Tex Zin (Texas)

I actually found this moniker on someone’s list of bad winery names and I don’t know what they were thinking. I think it’s pretty catchy in it’s relation to the term Tex Zin. I think Zinfandels are the asiest wine to play off of for a winery name. There’s also 7 Deadly Zins, Cardinal Zin, and Original Zin.

Moral Compass (California)

Every good drinker knows that the ‘moral compass’ theory is utter nonsense. With each drink, the compass gets more and more damaged and by the end of the first bottle you’ve either lost it or its readings are coming in completely jumbled. My moral compass has been missing for years, even after I tacked pictures of it to milk cartons around the world.

Mad Housewife (California)

The wine’s label reads: “Somewhere near the cool shadows of the laundry room. Past the litter box and between the plastic yard toys. This is your time. Time to enjoy the moment to yourself. A moment without the madness. The dishes can wait. Dinner be damned.” That about sums up the family experience and why I’m not necessarily looking forward to it. I won’t be reaching for wine in a situation like the one presented above. I’ll be slamming whiskey instead.

Mad Housewife

Screw Kappa Napa (California)

This is one fraternity or sorority that I would actually golf clap for. It is true that wine can make you sleepy, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting afternoon drunk and having a brief cat nap before evening fun.

Stu Pedasso (California)

Say the name slowly and you’ll get the joke. There is some dispute over whether Stu actually exists and even if he does, whether this is his real name. If he does, I’d like to induct him into The Sip Advisor Hall of Fame. So, will the real stupid asshole please stand up? Ha, I didn’t say Sip Advisor says…

Worst:

Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush (New Zealand)

Is this supposed to describe the taste of the wine? The aroma? That’s just what we need in today’s world… a wine that smells like ammonia and tastes even worse. I’m pretty sure cats don’t even pee on gooseberry bushes anyway. Perhaps if it were called Cat’s Pee in a Litter Box, it would make more sense… and be even harder to swallow.

Cat's Pee on a Gooseberry Bush

Booger Swamp (North Carolina)

This winery name gives me the mental image of a backwoods family flicking their nose gold into a swamp and then using a giant paddle to stir the mixture up before bottling the substance. So. Not. Right.

Clos de Pise (Italy)

Roughly translated, this winery name means “field of piss”. Again, is this an idea we want to relate to something we are about to ingest? Imagine this was part of the wine making process, to flood the field of grapes, much like cranberries are with water, only this time the H2O is substituted with…well you get my point. Would wine be nearly as possible if this were the case?

Frog’s Piss (France)

Continuing what now appears to be the very original theme of comparing wine to urine, we now have this lovely French Winery. Nothing beats a nice refreshing glass of… Frog’s Piss??? Do frogs even pee? There’s so much I still need to learn. It figures a culture that indulges in frog’s legs would find uses for other parts of the amphibian, including its bodily fluids!

frog's_piss

Hair of the Dingo (Australia)

I’m sure this is meant to be similar to “hair of the dog”, both of which would be equally disgusting to drink. I will, however, take my morning after booze in the form of hard alcohol and not fermented grapes. Did we ever learn whether or not that dingo ate her baby?

White Trash White/Redneck Red (California)

I’m assuming that this wine is produced in a large oil drum – and an unwashed oil drum at that – by a group of rednecks who have grown tired of the risky moonshine business and have pledged to go legit with a winery. Sadly, their dreams will come to a crashing halt when Cousin Cletus realizes that they’ve been making moonshine all along and never came up with a new recipe.

Drink #163: Sour Sex

Sour Sex Wine Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Whiskey
  • 1 oz White Wine
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with Warheads Sour Twist

I’d be interested to know how many people will buy a wine solely based on its name. Then, I’d like to know how many of those people end up having a good experience and how many regret their purchase. These are the kinds of statistics we should be looking into, not wasting our time with childhood obesity and global warming!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
I could only assume that sour sex would be disappointing, and this drink is much the same. There’s just something a little off with concoction. Whether it’s Whiskey not mixing well with White Wine, or Lemon Juice wreaking havoc on the recipe, something is just not right. It’s a passable cocktail, but I can’t give it any more credit than that.

June 11 – Lolita

Banned Cinema

Movie history is littered with films that, for one reason or another, governments have banned its constituents from viewing or possessing. I’m a staunch supporter of anti-censorship. In my opinion, the discretion falls on the person themselves to decide what they do or don’t want to see, or, in the case of children, it is the responsibility of their parents to make these choices. That said, here are some notable movies that have been deemed forbidden:

Lolita

The name of today’s cocktail comes from the classic novel by Vladimir Nabokov (those crazy Russkies) that was later adapted into two movies. The story centers on an older man’s lust for a young girl, which brings about obvious concerns over subject matter. Lolita is one of the most controversial works of all time, but it’s also one of the most highly regarded, most likely due to the poetic language of its writing. I just hope the drink is decent!

Lolita

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Leatherface is one badass dude, hacking his way through any unfortunate victim(s) who stumble upon his messed up backwoods family. One of the creepiest parts of this film is right at the start when the viewer is informed that what you’re about to see is based on a true story. Of course, it isn’t, but that thought sticks with you throughout. I don’t understand why this film was banned while other similar entries in the genre flew under the radar. Perhaps, it was just ahead of its time.

Monty Python Films

The movies, Life of Brian and Meaning of Life, from the comedy troupe were banned in a few countries, such as Ireland, because they were considered blasphemous. Of course, the clever team used the bans to their advantage, creating ads that said “So funny it was banned in Norway!”.

Barney’s Great Adventure

Personally I wonder why the entire world couldn’t ban the giant purple dino! Good on Malaysia for realizing that a figment of children’s imagination that tells kids to love and hug each other is sending bad messages to youth. The government found that the film was unacceptable for children and never provided any further details… and why should they?

Barney

Cannibal Holocaust

Where to begin with this film? Most countries banned it due to violence committed on animals, but there were also rumours that actors had legitimately died in the filming and the movie was therefore of the “snuff” variety. While the human deaths were disproven, the animal cruelty was in fact real, which is not cool. The Colombian natives were also treated poorly by director Ruggero Deodato. Credit does have to be given to the makers of this movie for being one of the first “found footage” stories, however.

Last Tango in Paris

Seriously!? A country like Italy banned a movie for strong sexual content??? Didn’t they invent the language of love and all that other junk? Sure there’s a scene that involves the use of butter as lubrication, but come on, who hasn’t reached for the dairy in a pinch?! Italy, I am so disappointed in you.

A Clockwork Orange

Let’s see, why would this movie ever be banned? Could it be the gratuitous violence perpetrated by Alex and company? Could it be the home invasion, crippling and rape of an innocent couple? Not bad enough for you yet? What about the murder of another woman with a giant penis statue? Yeah, that one did it for me, too. Regardless, this cult favourite is actually a intriguing watch. This is yet another adapted screenplay from a novel and perhaps we should just ban all books, so movies don’t have to suffer.

A-Clockwork-Orange

2012

Well, this has got to be one of the craziest bans of a movie I’ve ever seen. Apparently, in North Korea, it was made illegal to show the fictional Apocalypse tale because 2012 marks the 100th birthday of former leader, Kim Il Sung, and North Korean’s had dubbed the year “the year for opening the grand gates to becoming a rising superpower”. Thus, according to the country, a film that says the year 2012 will bring about the “end of days” was too negative a message. Citizens caught with a pirated copy of the film or even viewing the movie are arrested and charged with “grave provocation against the development of the state”.

Saw VI

Saw VI was banned for scenes of gory violence and torture… yeah, because it differs so drastically from movies I through V! I like the Saw series of movies, particularly the first two entries. While I can see why some would hesitate to watch this franchise (and the many that have followed in a similar fashion since), that is their decision to make and not the government’s.

saw

Goldfinger

The James Bond film was banned in Israel after a short run when it was revealed that Gert Fröbe, who played villain Auric Goldfinger, was once a member of Germany’s Nazi Party. The ban was lifted a few months later when a man came forward saying that he and his mother had been hidden and saved from the Nazi Gestapo by Fröbe. This was the planned sequel to Schindler’s List.

Hostel Movies

These horror flicks were banned for depicting the people of Eastern European countries as buyers of human slaves… which is incredibly accurate, but something the Ukrainian government took great offense to. It’s like if Canada took offense to a movie about hockey goons, who love their poutine.

Drink #162: Lolita

Lolita Cocktail

Of all these banned movies, I’ve only seen a handful of them. I’m intrigued to check out the one’s I have yet to view, with Barney’s Great Adventure topping my list. Perhaps I’ll even review it for all my little sippers!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
The simple recipe largely recreates a Sangria taste and that is totally welcome in my little world! I particularly like how this drink is garnished, especially when you think of the Lolita story.

June 9 – Sangria

Wine Time

Well, Wine Cocktail Week is finally here. I’m far from a wine connoisseur, but I’m willing to try some new recipes and see what the results are, which I’m pretty sure is how wine was invented in the first place. If I mess anything up in today’s lesson, don’t go all wine snobby on me. I accept you for your many faults, and you should forgive me for the one or two mistakes I make on a yearly basis. Capiche! On with the lesson:

wine-how-classy-people-get-wasted-funny-poster

There are thousands of different types of wine, made up of hundreds of different grape combos. Some of the most popular wine varieties include: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Shiraz, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. My personal favourite wine is Francis Coppola’s Diamond Collection, Emerald Label Pinot Grigio. Damn, son, that’s a mouthful!

The Top 10 wine producing countries are: France, Italy, Spain, the United States, Argentina, China, Australia, South Africa, Germany, and Portugal. I have to say that I’m a little surprised Canada has yet to crack this list given we have a number of wonderful wine regions. Oh well, something to aim for in the future.

Despite tradition, the screw cap method of opening a bottle of vino is quickly replacing corked tops, thanks to the ease and simplicity of which a bottle can be opened. I can’t count how many times Mrs. Sip and I have been stuck on vacation without our trusty bottle opener, leaving us in a lurch when trying to crack open some wine. Perhaps Ma and Pa Sip have the right idea with boxed wine? Easy to open and a lot more alcohol to share!

funny-wine1

Wine is one of the healthier libation options, as it contains fewer calories than beer and is fat- and cholesterol-free. A glass a day (or more) will keep the doctor away… or at least we all hope!

Contrary to popular belief, many wines should be enjoyed within a year of being bottled and not left to “age”. If you are looking for a good wine to age, ask an expert. In an interesting contrast, as white wines sit, they gain colour, while their red counterparts lose colour the longer they wait to be served.

A number of celebrities have invested their money into the wine industry, including aforementioned film producer Francis Coppola; musicians Bob Dylan, Madonna, and Sting; hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky; race car driver Jeff Gordon; screen stars Raymond Burr, Dan Aykroyd, Emilio Estevez, Drew Barrymore, and Antonio Banderas; theme park heir Diane Disney; and golfers Arnold Palmer, Ernie Els, and Mike Weir.

Perhaps Zach Galifianakis will be the next celeb to invest in a winery!?

Perhaps comedian Zach Galifianakis will be the next celeb to invest in a winery!?

Now to the mathematics portion of the post… here are important grape-to-wine measurement ratios to remember: one grape cluster (75 grapes) equals one glass of wine. Four clusters equal one bottle of wine. 40 clusters of grapes equals one vine, which makes up 10 bottles. 1,200 clusters (30 vines) equals one barrel, which equals 60 gallons, which equals 25 cases of wine. 400 vines equals one acre of land, which equals five tons of grapes, resulting in 332 cases of sweet lady liquor. And you didn’t even need a calculator! If you find that math too confusing, just remember $10 equals one bottle of decent California or Okanagan wine, and what numbers do we really otherwise need?

When describing the smell of a wine, you have to be careful with which words to use, otherwise you could look like a buffoon. Bouquet refers to the total scent of the wine, while aroma is meant for the grapes. If you wish to combine both the bouquet and aroma, you would call that the nose. This is starting to make my head spin and we haven’t even begun to drink yet. Let’s get on with it then.

Drink #160: Sangria

Sangria

  • Sliced Strawberries, Orange, Lemon, Lime, and Raspberries
  • 1.5 Litres Red Wine (I used Peller Estates Merlot)
  • ½ Cup Triple Sec
  • Top each drink with Lemon-Lime or Club Soda
  • Garnish with Fruit from Pitcher and Wine Charm

Now you’re ready to open up your own winery. All you need is a cool name. I’d call my own winery Siparellio, giving it a hint of Italian heritage, while having absolutely none at all. Salute!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I really enjoy my and Mrs. Sip’s homemade Sangria (no dirty thoughts, fellas)! I’m not even a big wine fan, but with all the fruit we put in and when we top it all off with some Lemon-Lime Soda, you can’t go wrong with this very refreshing, perfect for summer treat!