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Back to a Separate Wine Reality

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Jul 7, 2008 2:38pm ET

Returning to the gym this a.m. reminded me that taking time off from any routine requires—no, make that forces—a re-entry reality.

Vacations are supposed to be a relaxing break from the norm. Mine was. I got plenty of exercise hiking along the North Coast of Mendocino and wrestling fish off the bottom of the ocean. But I didn’t spend much time thinking about wine, which was a good thing.

Getting back to daily tastings today, with the focus for the next couple of weeks on the 2005 and 2004 Cabernet vintages, takes time and can be taxing, especially the first day back. Just like trying to lift weights after a week off. The muscles are sore.

I was happily anonymous in the villages of Albion, Mendocino and the town of Fort Bragg. I only encountered a couple of readers—one is a good fishing buddy, Bob Quinn, who lives in Mendo, and the other being U.S. congressman Mike Thompson, who volunteered to cook at the world’s largest salmon barbecue at Fort Bragg on Saturday.

There I dined on picnic tables with thousands who turned out to support the event, which raises money for salmon restoration. For those who don’t know, the West Coast salmon fishery is in dire straights; this year the entire commercial and sport salmon season was cancelled. The salmon for this fest came from Alaska, I was told.

I managed to avoid even thinking about critiquing or rating wines and on Saturday washed down the butter-drenched garlic bread and salmon with a 2007 Parducci Sauvignon Blanc that was light and refreshing. It would have been impossible to consider reviewing a wine under those circumstances. We were seated a few feet from the huge grills, where the salmon were being grilled, filling the air with even more smoke than the dozens of fires that were burning throughout the county the past week.

There’s a world of difference between analyzing wines in blind tastings and drinking them for enjoyment and I’m happy to say I haven’t forgotten where one world ends and the other begins. Now it’s back to work.

Sandy Fitzgerald
Centennial, CO —  July 7, 2008 4:35pm ET
Welcome back, we missed you! Everytime I come back from vacation the world around me seems to be going 100 mph, and I'm going 20. Hope you find some good stuff to report on in your upcoming tastings. Oh, you didn't comment how big any of those fish you wrestled with were. I was hoping for a recommended "fish tale" and wine pairing!
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  July 7, 2008 5:34pm ET
"I haven¿t forgotten where one world ends and the other begins." -

you're a better man then I. Usually after the second bottle, I have this problem of rating the wines instead of enjoying them =)
Brian Hays
Campbell, CA —  July 7, 2008 7:43pm ET
Interesting .. I happen to have been born in Ft. Bragg. I've always wondered where the "tasting guy" started and where the have fun enjoyment of wine ended with someone such as yourself. Welcome Back!!Brian
J Colburn
Muskegon MI —  July 7, 2008 10:37pm ET
I, too, have vacationed anonymously in Fort Bragg. But, then, everywhere I go I am anonymous! We had been tasting at several wineries the day before and were having dinner at the North Coast Brewing Co where I had their old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I have found the enjoyment of good food and good wine has been complicated by good food and good beer. I appreciate your insight. It saves me from buying mediocre wine. Afterall, there are so many wines and so little liver.
Paul Root
Healdsburg, California —  July 8, 2008 2:01pm ET
Jim-We were spending the night at Mendocino's Pt. Arena Lighthouse Inn (highly recommended, a magical opportunity to sit at the base of a working lighthouse at midnight watching the waves crash while toasting with a Londer Anderson Valley PN) when the storm hit. A meteorlogical Blitzkrieg of rain, hail and lightning that announced the beginning of this horrible series of fires. At that moment I definitely forgot I was in the business.
James Laube
Napa, CA —  July 9, 2008 9:44pm ET
Sandy, the best fish stories are often about the elusive ones that got away...and I lost my biggest fish to a rusty hook. All of what we caught were a mix of rock fish, which are delicious when fried with a simple roll in a flour/bread crumb/herb mix, butter and olive oil in the pan.

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