It is that time of year again and as things begin to open up, families are planning summer vacations, gathering for BBQs, and simply getting back out there. I am amongst those! (Well, we have been out there since my husband has been flying this whole time. But now I am doing it mask free!)
Memorial Day has always marked the beginning of summer for me…it was always the time to bust out white pants and shoes (don’t judge, my Grandma was a stickler for that rule), start heading back to the beach (or pool in a pinch), and work on my tan. Now, I bathe in SPF 70, wear huge floppy hats, and sit under umbrellas as I try to ward off the sun while still trying to enjoy baseball, hiking, and being outdoors in general.
It wasn’t until I joined the Air Force, visited Normandy, and then a few weeks after my visit to Normandy, watched a close friend bury her oldest son, Dane, who was only 19 when he was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Iraq that my approach to Memorial Day shifted.
Not to be confused with Veteran’s Day, where we honor those who are or have served our nation, Memorial Day began shortly after the Civil War as a way to remember those who had fallen in combat and was originally called Decoration Day. People would gather, pray, leave flowers on gravestones, and remember those they had lost. These traditions continue today as there are often long lines to get into cemeteries like Fort Logan. In addition to flowers, you may also notice coins left on gravestones. If you don’t know what those mean, here is a quick explination:
- Leaving a penny means you have simply visited the gravesite.
- Leaving a a nickel means you and the deceased trained together in Basic Training.
- Leaving a dime means you have served with the deceased.
- Leaving a quarter means you were with the deceased when they died.
So, if you decide to visit your local military cemetery and don’t have flowers on hand, you can always leave a penny. It is a lovely way to let the families know that their loved one is not forgotten.
Now, I still enjoy gathering with family for cookouts or going camping or other summer activities that often take place around Memorial Day, but in the back of my mind and in my heart, lies the memory of the young man who prayed for me when I was struggling with infertility (he overheard a conversation his mom and I had where I simply broke down in tears over my inability to conceive. He asked his mom what was wrong with me and after she told him, he said he was going to pray for me.) He was such a gentle soul who aspired to be like his dad by enlisting in the Army. I had just heard from his mom that he was in Iraq when just a few hours later, she received the news that he had been killed in action. I often wonder what kind of man he would have become. I take some solace in knowing he is my guardian angel and watches over me and over the son, my son, his prayers helped to realize.
His mother has established a JROTC scholarship fund in his honor so if you would like to support her efforts to help other young men and women, please visit her site here.
I also always like to make a toast to the fallen when observing Memorial Day. So, shifting to our Thirsty Thursday segment, Mandy and I will be trying some wines and spirits made by veteran owned local businesses. But first, I will be blinding Mandy on some red wines in honor of the 45th anniversary of the Judgement of Paris (24 May). (I will post an update on the wines I will use…can’t give it away before the blind!)
I also wanted to share with you some tips on shopping for wine when your choices are limited or you find yourself grabbing something at your local grocery store, where choices are often very limited and there is usually no one to assist you.
Sometimes you can luck out and find displays that emphasize a rating from some well known names in the wine business…Robert Parker who was behind the magazine, Wine Advocate (he is now no longer associated with the magazine or the website with his name on it.) Wine Enthusiast is another magazine that ranks and scores wine and can be useful in helping you navigate you wine options. The problem with using these ratings is they are based on the pallets of the selected staff…and as I hope you know by now, everyone’s palate is different! I loathe Lodi wine and oaky chard while plenty of other folks love them both! (And that is truly okay…the world would be a very dull place if we all liked the same things.) The other challenge when using these rankings and scores is you never know who at WA or WE or WS (Wine Spectator) is ranking and scoring so if you liked one wine that WS scored a 92 on, you may strike out when selecting a wine with a WS score of 98. They are a good starting place, but I often seek out other means to select a wine.
One option is to create my own ratings and scores and I used to do that using an app called Vivino. It allowed me to photograph my label, jot down my notes, and identify where I had it, with what kind of food, etc. Now, Vivino compiles these rankings across the board from all of its users and I have seen wine shoppers use these ratings to make their decisions. I would also caution against that. Much like restaurant and business rating apps, sometimes people just want to trash something because it wasn’t what they expected. Personally, while I liked the ease of capturing a label and scoring a wine, I missed more tactile wine journaling where my wine might accidently stain a page…or four. Not that this has happened.
Which leads me to my final suggestion. If you have a wine journal, awesome! The next time you think you need to pick up some wine, thumb through it and review the wines you enjoyed. That will give you a better idea of what to look for when the pickings are slim. Perhaps you realized you enjoy a nice Rosso wine from Italy…now you know what to seek out. My wine journals also list wines I don’t like and why (Lodi, I am looking at you and your lavender terroir…it wasn’t until I noticed every wine I tried from Lodi had a note about overpowering floral, lavender notes that turned to soap in my mouth that I realized I had an issue with Lodi.)
If you just simply do not trust yourself or your pallet, there is a great website called Wine Folly I have gifted family and friends with their books which make understanding wine and learning to appreciate it very simple. Their website has a lot of great info that can help point you in the right direction or answer questions that pop up while you are standing in the grocery aisle trying to figure out a good wine to buy.
Or you could always just email me…I would be happy to help if I can!
Some of the wines we are tasting today will fall in to that small selection/grocery store option (but I am not telling you which!) but not our rosé! We will be tasting a newly released wine from a local Denver, Colorado, wine producer and veteran owned business, Blanchard Family Wines. While I believe rosé is a year round wine, for many folks, the month of May means it is time to start busting out the lighter versions of our favorite red wines so that they can be enjoyed during the hotter days and nights of summer. We will be trying BFW’s rosé of Grenache and to say I am excited is an understatement!
And then we are going to veer over into what I like to call the “hooch” portion of this particular segment. Did you know Colorado is home to some amazing moonshine? And let me tell you…it is AMAZING! While serving in Afghanistan, owner and distiller, Mike Gerard, used an IED he had disarmed to create a still. After retiring, Mike turned his passion into his profession and created 3Hundred Days Distilling, located in Monument, Colorado. His moonshine is made from beet sugar and is very smooth…not at all what I expected. Mandy and I both grew up in the south, so our experiences with moonshine were similar: we both thought it was more akin to gasoline and burned like crazy!
I also happened across another veteran owned distillery out in Fountain (the main location is down by Peterson AFB) called Cockpit Distillery. You know I couldn’t pass up giving this place a try. I am new to this place, but I loved their vodka, rum, mojito, and awesome decor. I will be back and hope to meet the owner/distiller, open the hangar doors, and talk planes.
For our nosh, I am going with a family barbeque staple: hamburgers, but with a French twist. The French Kitchen is offering a special deal for hamburger toppings, buns, and chocolate chip cookies this Friday (AND THIS FRIDAY ONLY! Order your bundle here!) in honor of National Hamburger Day. Mandy and I will sample each of these three options on some Wagyu beef sliders, which I will be putting on The French Kitchen’s dinner rolls.
Chef Hogan’s toppings include poblano relish, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and Dijon mustard.
Owner Blandine “B” has selected Morbier cheese, caramelized onions, arugula, and bacon for her burger.
And Baker and birthday boy, Seb, chose Monterey Jack, jalapeno guac, bacon, and a chimichurri sauce.
Well, that wraps up this edition of Thirsty Thursday. I wish you all a blessed holiday weekend…and I respectfully request that you take a moment to say a prayer or just remember our fallen heroes.
Until next time…
Cheers and namaste.