Winter is a Time to Party!

Have the winter blues got you down?  Never fear!  In the next couple of weeks, things will be looking brighter with two upcoming winter celebrations.  Carnival and Valentine´s Day are just around the corner and they have much more in common than the proximity of their dates.

The Roman Catholic church created both Carnival and Valentine’s Day from a single pre-Roman winter festival.  Lupercalia was a Spring fertility ritual whose highlights included whipping women with bloody goat hides and community-wide partner swapping.    Carnival, in its celebration of unbridled passion, is much closer in spirit to the original festival of Lupercalia than Valentine´s Day. However, Valentine´s Day couches it´s passion and sex in the socially prescribed space of romantic relationships while Carnival allows participants to unapologetically go crazy. These celebrations are two sides of the same coin. However, what really brings them together is wine! Wine is a magic elixir that unleashes our pent up emotions to shake us out of our winter slump and prepare us for the joy and wildness of the coming Spring.
We will pay homage to Lupercalia with a celebration that combines the best of Carnival and Valentine’s Day.  Come join me on Saturday, 17 February at Opalo Gastropub as we chase away the winter blues with great wine, food, and fun!


Winter is a Time to Dream


To be aligned with the seasons is to do what the weather requires us to do in that moment.  Winter, in the north, is dark and cold it is a time to cuddle up by the fire and wrapped in a warm blanket dream your future or contemplate your past with a glass of wine.


Somos plenamente libres/We Are Completely Free

picasso exhinit

This latest exhibit at the Picasso museum was a wonderful revelation. Whatever the art establishment’s, not to mention Picasso’s, complicated relationship with women this exhibition was a wonderful opportunity to shine a light on the work and extraordinary lives of these female artists. “We Are Absolutely Free” is a surprisingly in-depth examination of 19 female artists who are thematically or explicitly related to surrealism. The exhibit is a revelation, showcasing the complexity, humor and knowingness with which these women saw and understood themselves and their public image as muse, lover, wife or friend.

In the same visit I saw the permanent Picasso collection, which is a tells the story of a obviously talented youngster, who over time, was able to redefine his artistic trajectory as the search for freedom and finally the discovery of his own deeply personal expression. Juxtaposed with the “We Are Completely Free” exhibit Picasso’s work takes on new meaning.  The expression of his awe and fear of the female form becomes clear. This dialogue between his work and theirs reveals the gap between the male imagination of the feminine and the female imagination and what we lack when we only see one perspective. The exhibit amplified and enriched the permanent collection precisely by creating a playful interaction between the masculine and feminine artistic vision. I left inspired by these women who so beautifully expressed the truth of their experience and the freedom they knew they already possessed.  The only trouble with the exhibit is the sheer volume of work, for a really good overview one would need at least two viewings but that aside it is an incredible opportunity to experience  I am thrilled to have had a chance to see it.  Run, don´t walk if you´re anywhere near you won´t regret it. 


Halloween Pairing: Tarot & Wine

tarot wine

I love tarot and have since I was a twenty-something in Seattle. I lived in a sweet bungalow replete with a mini garden of Eden bursting with flowers and plants, just off lake Washington. We were a gaggle of offbeat young ladies who didn’t fit in anywhere.  If memory serves, it was RB who got me into tarot, that and the I Ching, unleashing a life long passion for beautiful visual renderings of the unknown.  Divination was our thing but we stayed for the clarity and insight the cards brought.  We wanted to capture what was in the air, what we had no words for and could just barely sense.  

My first deck was a Rider-Waite deck and in those early years I read all the time for anyone and everyone.  I knew I wasn’t predicting the future just teasing out the elements and unspoken influences that surrounded the person and their experiences.  The cards are beautiful, chock full of mythology, religion, history and mystery, their realm is the hidden depths of life.  Reading tarot is like having Halloween every day.  So when Halloween comes around there is no better way to celebrate than by pulling out a deck of cards and some wine to enjoy that one moment of the year when the veil is thin and the two realms of life and death fuse into one.  


The Cask of Amontillado

Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favorite writers of all time.  His stories helped to kindle my lifelong fascination with horror, not gory stuff but macabre, disturbing tales of ghosts, madness, jealousy, revenge and murder.  Each one of his stories is indelibly marked into my consciousness like the exacting, inexplicable (it seems even to the protagonist himself) revenge of Montresor in “The Cask of Amontillado”.  It was not until many, many years later in my career as a professional Spanish wine educator that would I come to learn about amontillado.  Firstly, it is a type of sherry, an aged white wine from Andalucia.  That ageing and oxidation gives the wine its deep golden color and rich nutty flavor (almonds). It is absolutely delicious! Poor Fortunato did at least die in pursuit of something wonderful.  We tend to think of sherry as some beverage trapped in the 18th century or it reminds us of grandma’s overly sweet tipple. While it´s fame has extended far and wide over the centuries it has been largely ignored in recent years, at least some of that might have to do with the misconception that sherry is a sweet wine.  While there are many out there, the truth is, most sherry isn’t sweet but beautifully dry.  One classy way to celebrate Halloween is by paying homage to this macabre tale of revenge by enjoying a glass (or two or three) of this wonderful wine.  

Not familiar with “The Cask of Amontillado” or just itching to revisit that classic tale, then check out Vincent Price´s (the prince of darkness himself) excellent rendition or click here for a cool Spanish short film version of the story.