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29 Jan 2018 | Randy Kemner

February Wine & Cheese Party Games!

It's February!  Sure, it's winter, but we can still have fun. 


When was the last time you invited people over for a cozy cheese fondue party?  This is the season for it.  You can drink red and white wines from the Savoie, Jura, Alsace, Alto-Adige and play some February-themed games besides Valentine's Day whatever-you-play.


Like, "NAME THE PRESIDENTS" in honor of "President's Day."  Pass out sheets of paper numbered 1 to 45 and have everyone list the Presidents.  Be sure to count Grover Cleveland twice, since he got elected to two non-consecutive terms.


Speaking of President's Day, I'll bet they don't teach schoolkids these three factoids:


  • George Washington owned a very, very profitable distillery that made whiskey at Mount Vernon.
  • Abraham Lincoln once co-owned a general store with a liquor license.
  • The Trump family owns a winery outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. #Bad Ratings. Sad.


See?  American history needn't be so dry.


While we're feeling all historic, here's another idea for a wine and cheese party:  NAME THE STATES.


Pass out sheets of paper numbered 1-50 and have at it.  Bonus points for those who can name all 50 state capitals..  Points off if you didn't know we had 50.


They used to teach this stuff in school; it used to be important to learn.  How else would we know about Montpelier, Vermont and Pierre, South Dakota?


We can all  have fun while we embarrass ourselves.


Oyster Fest February 3rd!  Slurp Like A Parisian!

Admittedly, raw oysters aren't for everyone.  But the French love them; there are oyster bars and shellfish plateaux everywhere.  Perhaps the reason the briny mollusks are so popular is the amazing array of white wines France makes to wash them down with. 


Most identified with oysters are the bracing, minerally wines called Muscadet, the affordable dry white from the Loire Valley that wine writer Jacqueline Friedrich beautifully described in her book A Wine and Food Guide to the Loire:


"Pale, racy, and dry, Muscadet's appeal is its delicacy and the steely vigor it expresses within that context.  Its tart lemon tang is offset by savory almond flavors and a Badoit-like taste of minerals.  A barely perceptible sparkle lifts the wine across the palate with an exciting, hard, cold tingle, like a mountain stream flowing fast over rocks."


The good news is how affordable Muscadet is.  You can find Muscadets at The Wine Country ranging from just $11.99 to $20.99 per bottle.


There are other French dry whites that oysters love, and the one thing they all have in common is they are grown in soils that were once ancient sea beds composed of--you guessed it--decomposed oyster shells.  They are Chablis, Sancerre and Champagne.


To demonstrate the genius of oysters accompanied by wines grown in oyster soil, The Wine Country is hosting Oyster Fest on Saturday February 3rd from 1 to 4 p.m.  Once again, we are happy to welcome Saint & Second executive chef Shelly Bojorquez and her shucking crew who will bring a selection of fresh raw oysters from the East Coast and the West Coast. 

As always, Samantha Dugan presides over her selection of mouth-watering French wines.


We realize there are some who don't like oysters, and you are welcome, too.  Wine tasting is only $20 whether you slurp or not, and you'll be enjoying Muscadet, Chablis, Sancerre, Champagne and more.


Oysters cost extra:  6 for $15.  A dozen for $30.  We've had some attendees pop for multiple dozens, but they are hard-core.


Speaking of oysters, there are many quotes I love about oysters, including this jewel from Ogden Nash:


The oyster's a confusing suitor;

It's masc., and fem., And even neuter.

But whether husband, Pal, or wife,

It leads a soothing sort of life.

I'd like to be An oyster, say,

In August, June, July, or May.


Hector Bolitho wrote in The Glorious Oyster:


Oysters are the most tender and delicate of all seafoods.  They stay in bed all day and night.  They never work or take exercise, are stupendous drinkers, and wait for their meals to come to them.


Perhaps nobody expressed the joys of wine and oysters better than connoisseur Ernest Hemingway:


“The oysters, expensive flat faintly coppery marennes, not the familiar, deep, inexpensive portugaises, and a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé.”


“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”--A Moveable Feast

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