wine corkscrews

Wandering With Purpose: Visiting Wanderlust Delicato For A Taste Of Local Culture

Props to my roommate for inviting me to places. I’d probably never leave the apartment otherwise.

My city — and Washington state in general — is well-known for its wine and coffee production. I chose a good spot in my life to bolster my business writing focus, as my location is more than ready to meet me halfway. According to the Washington State Wine Commission, there are around nine hundred wineries in the state of Washington alone: that’s the second highest in the country and an impressive number right after California’s chokehold. As such, I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone and giving some of these locations a try these past few months, all in favor of a (slightly) more adventurous 2020.

(slightly being the keyword here, I’m still a full-time introvert with a PhD in curmudgeonly isolation and now the coronavirus has given me even more ample reason not to step foot outside)

When we swung by Wanderlust Delicato back in February I was taken aback by its lovely decor, greeting me with shiny wooden floors, box crate walls and countless rows of wine varieties. A quintessential and classic choice for wine shops, sure, but with a homeliness that hearkens to the organized chaos of an attic or storage shed (if it were far cleaner). It’s a proverbial repurposed forest, inviting in a cozy atmosphere and rewarding the wandering eye.

And wander I did.

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Terroir and your…coffee? — Coffee with the Queen

Terroir, that magical, elusive word is most often associated with wine but applies just as much to coffee. So what is terroir?

Terroir and your…coffee? — Coffee with the Queen

For all that coffee and wine are incredibly different, they’re also incredibly similar.

They’re both highly sensitive crops with nearly endless potential for variety. They’re both considered ‘lifestyle’ drinks and are just as much a culture as they are a product. This brief piece takes a look at the French term ‘terroir’ and how this wine-specific term can also be used to describe the environmental details that go into coffee beans’ subtle flavor notes. Boost your vocabulary on a Saturday and use it to support your next purchasing decision!

A Coffee A Day Won’t Keep The Doctor Away: Social Distancing And Coffee Shops

I had a dream about a delicious latte earlier this week.

In the fields of my subconscious I visited a latte event beneath the overhang of a highway (dreams are funny like that) and rubbed shoulders with local roasters and farmers alike. Later I would sit down with a monster of a mug, filled with a predominantly arabica blend and topped off with a thick, creamy foam that clung to my upper lip. The dream would end up taking another odd turn as I went behind the counter and started making my own espresso shots to judge them on their crema. Seems my barista roots are as strong as ever.

I’m not going to be able to make my dream come true any time soon, as coffee stores left and right are shutting down…or considering it. Blue Bottle Coffee, for starters, has temporarily shut down its stores around the nation. The chain made an exception for South Korea and Japan, however, due to their more rigorous response to the coronavirus and much more accessible healthcare system. Starbucks, on the other hand, is currently debating whether or not to close.

They’ve gone at length to stress rigorous cleaning protocols to manage the coronavirus spread, which still might not put a dent in viral rates in the West. I may love a fresh, hot latte as much as the next person, but this stubborn response is just hazardous.

Makes me wonder just how popular home brewing will become in the coming months of social distancing and health awareness. There are a lot of benefits to be had: saving money (especially for those who have a morning commute), having more control over the coffee itself and reducing the chance of getting sick. I myself have been squirreling away spare change in order to buy a hybrid coffeemaker for my kitchen. What about you?

Do you miss cafes or do you prefer making coffee at home?

wine bottles on kitchen counter

When Price Meets Quality: Five Affordable Pacific Northwest Wines At $25 Or Less

The Pacific Northwest is the queen of wine production in the United States. Whether or not this will change remains to be seen, because today’s wine selections aren’t giving an inch.

California has held the top spot for decades, followed close behind by Washington with nearly a thousand wineries to its name. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, congratulations: drinking local is as easy as throwing a rock! I’ll be doing another post on Washington-based wines in the future, but for now we’re going to take a look at some lower price point wines made throughout the Pacific Northwest. With wine still remaining inaccessible and convoluted at the best of times, every little crack in the veneer matters.

I’ll make it plain in no uncertain terms that I live on a small budget. My palette, however, isn’t exactly acquiescing. In an attempt to save and expand my horizons, I’ve decided to compile a list of affordable red and white wine brands I’ve tried over the past few months. I’ll go into the body, the flavor notes and what I like to pair them with, as well as other details like prominent packaging. Because you don’t have to go broke to enjoy a delicious, relaxing cup of pinot noir.

These are ranged from most to least expensive, with none going beyond the $25 tag (and if you exceed the limit, there are plenty of wine stores online).

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The Flipside To The Staple: Starbucks Under Fire For Lacking Caffeine

Starbucks is a coffee behemoth, unavoidable on a global level as a staple of morning commutes and casual lunches everywhere. As a Washingtonian, Starbucks is extra unavoidable. It originated here, after all.

Hearing about their lawsuits is triply unavoidable, with yet another alleging that Starbucks is falsely advertising the amount of caffeine in their drinks. More specifically, larger drinks that apparently don’t have larger amounts of caffeine: just more milk, foam or ice. While I don’t drink caffeine — I stopped several years ago for health reasons — I can see why this would be frustrating for customers. Coffee habits aren’t exactly kind on the wallet unless you exclusively brew from home, and even then, you still have to shell out extra money for the right equipment and quality beans.

To anyone who drinks coffee on-the-go: what do you think?

Is a lawsuit on a lack of caffeine valid in an industry already buckling under dishonest marketing or should this be a lesser concern?

When Water Runs Red: A Pleasant Surprise For A Small Italian Village

The truth really is stranger than fiction.

Heard this interesting little story through the grapevine: a village in Italy got a pretty grape surprise a few days back when their pipes got filled with wine instead of water. While this sounds like a barrel of fun, the residents were all too aware of how this spill can create long-term damage. Irregardless, some weren’t wining, finding this a dream come true and even bottling up the flow in home water bottles.

…I have no shame.

wine bottles

What’s Going On In The Wine Industry? Seven Growing Developments To Keep Up With In 2020

Being a newcomer to the wine industry isn’t easy these days. Interestingly enough, the same goes for wine aficionados.

Talk about a great equalizer, right? The former is being faced with a culture shift: a gradual pull away from strong alcohol percentages in favor of lighter seltzers, spritzers and outright non-alcoholic artisan drinks. The latter has to deal with the industry being turned upside down and shaken for all its loose change. That’s not even touching on the side-effects of climate change. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, there’s always something new to learn. Keeping up with every little detail in the global wine industry is a fool’s game.

Here’s to trying!

I’ve listed seven growing developments in the wine industry to keep an eye out for, whether you’re getting into wine for the first time this year or have been loyally sipping cabernet sauvignon for the past fifteen plus.

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party clinking wine glasses

What Improves Wine Quality? It’s Not Just The Aging Process That Brings Out The Flavor

‘A little goes a long way’ is an age-old adage many of us are familiar with. It stresses the need for appreciating smaller details and how they make up a better whole. It’s why my mother’s chai tea always tastes better than anything I could get in a cafe: there’s nothing quite like a dollop of love.

This mentality stretches far and wide, up to and including the wine industry. Unsurprising, as a mere year difference in the barrel can completely transform flavor notes and aroma. Viticulture, in particular, is rising as a subtle and extremely important touch-up to the winemaking process: it involves tiny changes in how vines interact with their environment, from sunlight exposure to leaf trimming. Even fruit thinning, an idea that can seem odd at a glance in a quantity-focused world, is considered paramount in creating robust, subtle flavors.

If you’re looking for a little more insight into the ever complex winemaking process, give this Forbes piece a look. It’s a little lengthy, but all the better for it. I’m walking away this afternoon with a whole new appreciation for how the little things add up.

Better Late Than Never: Starting Off The Year With A Visit To The Townshend Winery

Ever since taking on wine alongside coffee and tea, I’m facing up again with just how little I know.

So many French and Italian names! So many decades! So much variety! This classic drink has thousands of years to its name and even the most experienced in the industry continue to learn new things about the craft. With the wine industry being faced with a more nebulous interest by several demographics, proposed tariffs and the ongoing impact of environmental changes, I expect everyone is going to see their intimate wine know-how challenged moving forward.

As for me, well…I don’t plan on sitting on my laurels.

My friend’s mother invited me to a Townshend winetasting event in January, set up to celebrate their different varieties and stir up some buzz. It was a night of firsts: I’ve never been to a winetasting event (unless you count my roommate and I popping open a bottle on a Friday night), nor had I ever tried wine straight out of the barrel. Consider me excited to continue seeing what local Washington wine culture is all about.

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Third-wave, gourmet, and artisan coffee — learn which labels are legit. — Coffee with the Queen

A quick glance through the coffee aisle of your local market shows the many ways to describe coffee, and many likely sound interesting but are they all legitimate indicators of quality? Today we are going to cover three often-used, seldom-described coffee labels: third wave, artisan, and gourmet.

Third-wave, gourmet, and artisan coffee — learn which labels are legit. — Coffee with the Queen

A fancy label does not a fancy product make. This is the vice of the average consumer, faced with a thousand different products all desperately screeching for attention. Coffee is a particularly tough nut to crack, in this regard.

This post cites several sources on its way to narrow down common terms in the coffee sphere, from the borderline meaningless ‘gourmet’ to the increasingly common ‘third-wave’. Check out their last post on the definition of specialty coffee and all the work that goes into achieving the title.