Totally random thoughts on the past year (and other stuff)

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wine pairingThis was a pretty good year for me, filled with some amazing and wonderful memories. It was also a year filled with a lot of things in the world that will be memorable for not being quite so good. 2008 was year for the record books, in my opinion, filled as it was with so many historic highs and lows. I have to count my blessings since my family and I were spared much of the worst of the past year.

Here are some completely random thoughts about the last year, some wine and food related, some not related at all.

  • As I move into my second year as a blogger I look back in amazement at the doors this thing has opened for me and look forward at the fairly daunting task of finding new things to write about.
  • I like to mock point systems for wine, but Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator ratings have led me to a lot of good wine and saved me quite a bit of money this past year because I don’t have to drink a lot of plonk in search of good wine. That does not mean I plan to stop mocking the systems, but for all of their flaws, they can be very useful.
  • Speaking of saving money, if you do not already have a taste for good Grand Cru Bordeaux, do not develop one. If only someone would have warned me away from the seductive, wallet-draining properties of this stuff. Truly crack for winos.
  • I am a huge football fan and am watching a game right now, but it has been a really tough year for me on that front. I feel like I should be making the following statement in front of a room full of coffee drinking, haggard looking people who nod knowingly at every word I utter. “Hi, my name is Joe and I am a Detroit Lions fan…” 0-16 is a bitter pill to swallow after last season’s apparent progress, and a very promising pre-season. To cap things off, I am also a Toledo Rockets fan. If someone would have told me that my team would beat Michigan in the Big House yet only win 3 games all season, I would have assumed that they were smoking Bordeaux, um, I mean crack. One bright spot was winning my fantasy football league. Even that had a downside as when Amy won it last year and asked for a crown, some jerk gave her a tiara instead. Sometimes traditions really suck.
  • Speaking of watching football, is it a sign of impending old age when the cheerleaders look like little children but some of the players mothers look pretty damn hot (and young)?
  • Since I got serious about this blog it is like I have two jobs. One is something that puts food on my table, and the other, I am finding out, provides me with nourishment in many other ways. I am blessed to have a great job that allows me to take care of those that I love, and then a second one that provides me an outlet for things that I am very passionate about. Everyone should find a passion and a way to indulge it. I wish that for each of you.
  • Have I ever mentioned that I like wine?
  • One of the most disturbing recent trends in restaurants is to provide patrons with a personal escort to the restroom. Whatever genius that came up with this brainstorm should be forced to not only have to watch a yearlong Sandra Lee marathon, but have to only eat meals made entirely from her ‘cookbooks,’ complete with ‘tablescape.’ Everyone else engaging in this affront to decency should just stop. Really. Stop it. Now. Thanks.
  • Sometimes people say that my family is lucky that I can cook so well. They have it completely backwards. I am the lucky one since I have the honor and the privilege to cook for people who not only appreciate the food, but are usually open to trying any new thing I put in front of them. There is not much more that a cook could want.
  • One thing that a cook might want, however, is a great knife. I bought a Shun Classic last year and love it. Who knew cutting up vegetables could actually be fun?
  • While I enjoy a good beer or a high quality bourbon now and then, they do not hold the same fascination for me as wine. While I could probably make a list of reasons why that might be, the real reason is simple; wine is magic.
  • Zinfandel is increasingly becoming one of my favorite varietals. When it is done right it can be transcendently good.
  • In the past year I found myself moving away from ‘fancy’ cooking and have been concentrating on more basic, rustic styles of cooking. I credit wine for this change. The aforementioned magic seems to happen more often with simpler, well cooked food.
  • The optimist in me looks at the remarkable man who will soon become our President and finds inspiration, the pessimist in me believes that he is inheriting insurmountable problems. I pray that the pessimist in me is an idiot.
  • Speaking of idiots, other than possibly to make Lee Corso look smarter, why does Brett Musberger exist?
  • One of the highlights of the last year for me was the first annual Wine Blogger Conference. I hope that they have many more and that I never miss one.
  • When I look at my web stats every morning it never ceases to amaze me how many of you out there read what we write here. It is inspiring and humbling. I thank each and every one of you for giving me a reason to keep doing this. Your loyalty brings a responsibility to try and provide something of value, and I do not take the responsibility lightly even when I fall short.
  • It was not easy to give up total control of every aspect of this site by bringing Amy in as my partner, but I am really glad that I did. From the feedback we have gotten, it appears that I am not the only one happy with this decision. I am really looking forward to adding even more voices in the coming year.
  • Out of all of the wine that I was lucky enough to enjoy last year, a few really stand out in my memory. Standing on a hilltop at Kick Ranch in Sonoma tasting countless fantastic wine was an amazing experience. Out of all of those great wines, one stands out, almost to the point of haunting me. That was an Enkidu Petit Syrah. Some of the other memorable wines from last year were a 2005 Grand Cru Chateau Dauzac Margaux, the 2007 Seghesio Zinfandel, Swanson’s 2004 Oakville Merlot, and the 2005 Grand Cru Chateau Batailley Pauillac.

I hope that all of you had as interesting of a year as I had, and that we all have a 2009 filled with hope, love, prosperity, family, friends, food and plenty of wine. I will drink to that! Whose with me?

Happy New Year everyone!