Can you believe it's November already? 2019 has come and is almost wrapped up so in looking back on the year I can look at things that have happened and can make improvements. Like my jiu jitsu game of my wine knowledge. For instance in my most recent IBJJF tournament in the Twin Cities I placed 2nd place in my weight division and in the Absolute. I will get gold one day, bet your money on it. Also I started my journey as a judge in the world of cold weather varietals. The next year will find that I am going to be competing in more jiu jitsu tournaments and judging more wine tastings and whisky and cigars and a sneaky surprise in another special certification in my repetoire.
In studying certain fighting manuals I ran across this line by Miyamoto Musashi in The Book of Five Rings: "If you know the way broadly you will see it in everything." In trying to apply this to my jits game I found that when I apply something as simple as "don't fight strength with strength" to other parts of my life it often applied. When trying to figure out something in wine, rather than bang my head I would try to think about what the problem is and "like water" move where I can and go with the flow. I'm nor sure if this makes sense, maybe getting choked out has affected my thought process. But somehow it does.
Anyway, check out the rest of the site to see the wine tastings we're doing in November. They'll be sure to include wines coming into colder weather but also to pair with Thanksgiving turkey, cranberries, stuffing and the whole lot. So grab that last drumstick and that glass of wine and have a thoughtful moment of giving thanks for all the blessings you've received over the year. Peace. RJ
Happy October everybody. I can't believe how fast the year has gone by already and it's already time for Halloween! Fall is here and the colors are changing and of course I'm fighting another tournament on Oct 20. This just happens to be the day before my birthday. I'm going to turn 49. I'm almost half a century old. I can't believe I'm almost a half a century old. It's great though because I have shown myself that age is just a number and that you can still hang with the young bucks if you just set your mind to it. So if you're in the St Paul Minnesota area on that day come to Hamline U and watch me throw down in the old man (Masters 4) division.
Also this year is our/Wine Republic's 5th year anniversary! Yea!!! It's been a crazy ride learning about wines, meeting wine lovers, wine makers and permanently staining my teeth purple. It has been worth it. Wine is just one of those things that bring people together. Think on this: have you ever heard, "yeah, we drank a ton of wine and robbed a bank." No you have not. Wine, at least good wine makes you happy and sometimes can help you contemplate the good things in life. Can help you realize when you should be grateful for all the good things that come upon you and even reflect on the not so good things. So we're celebrating with our Italian tasting with crazy ass Italian wines from every region and style. Method Traditional from Franciacorta, still whites and reds from the usual suspects like Tuscany and Piedmonte but also delicacies from Sicily Abruzzo and many points in between. Hell, there's even gonna be some Orangecello and Vin Santo. And if you still can't get your fill of Italian vino I'm going to be teaching a class at the end of the month going over Method Champenoise in Italy, still whites, reds and a dessert wine. Oh yea.
I also am recovering from an injury. Nothing major, it's just that this year for some reason my right ear is jacked am getting cauliflower ear. It has been drained and is currently taped to my head. A physician friend of mine says to get a new hobby but I'm jiu jitsu addict. If I had to choose between jits and wine. I'd pick wine, but it would be tough. Take care and happy Halloween.
So we were working Kimuras (Ude Garami) in jiu jitsu today. It was all fine and dandy because I was tapping fools left and right. Then I rolled with my buddy Paulie who is really good and as I was gonna do the technique he swings around and knees me in the eye ball. I have a lovely shiner to prove it. That's the thing I love hate about jits. It's that it shows you reality every roll, every day. There's nothing fake about it. And at the end of the day it's good for you. Because that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Same goes for wine. Wine grapes, at least vitis vinifera has a myriad of polyphenols that act upon the body in a positive manner. Even Joe Rogan talked about it today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyWOdoLTqTA The stress response that grapes experience make wine with things like Resveratrol which will help you to live as long as the folks in the Blue zones. Yet another reason to love wine.
Finally, I was watching Lego Batman with my daughter when one of the bad guys (Voldemort) escapes from the Phantom zone and wreaks havoc by changing people first into fish, then turning people into frogs and then lastly turning people into fish frogs! My daughter then wondered if there was such a thing and I remembered the mudskipper. Which in my opinion is a frog head stuck on a fish with legs. Then I wondered if thing could be eaten. If it could be eaten then it could be paired with wine! See where my mind goes... Anyway, I have never eaten one, nor have I heard of anyone eating one. These guys remind me a little like catfish. They are both close to the water floor and they kinda look like one another, kinda. If we're pairing with catfish then be prepared to pair with an oilier fish (think trout, herring, sardines and tuna. You will want a high acid wine to wipe away the fats so each taste is fresh and full. So there you go you fish frog. God speed.
So I just judged my first wine competition. This was so interesting for me because it featured Cold Weather Varietal wines. It was so great for me because I wasn't familiar with these new grapes that are not completely vitis vinifera. I don't believe in participation trophies but I didn't want to be too harsh. The thing is that these wines are being sold at $18 to $40 and above. With that price tag you can get exceptional wine from just about anywhere in the world. And to say that these wines were equal to something from Mendoza or Provence or Marlborough would be a blatant lie. I do think that in a few years that this style will improve because there were a few unicorns, but IMHO not worth $40 plus.
And I lost first round at Worlds (IBJJF) by points 6 nothing with an advantage going to my opponent. Kudos to him and drats for me. But by filming and watching my performance I got to see the holes in my game. There are many. I will fix them. I'm competing again in the Twin Cities IBJJF tournament coming up next month the day before my birthday. If you're in town stop by and see me kick some glutes.
Finally I will be teaching a wine class focused on Spain. I know a ton about Spain because I was an English teacher in Madrid for about a year and a half. Did I know about wine back then. Uh, no. As I look back on my time there I kick myself mentally because of all the places I did not see because I had no clue they were there. But I do now. So if you want to taste some incredible wines join us. We're talking Cave gran reserva (Methode Traditionnelle), Albarino, Tempranillo, Garnacha and to round it off a Dom PX desert wine. Damn skippy. Gotta run, my pealla is done.
Aristotle or somebody said that a wise man calls himself a fool at least once a month. Well I'm on track to break that record. Because I'm fighting in the Master Worlds jiu jitsu tournament Aug 21 to the 24th. So if you're in Vegas on those days come to the LV convention center and cheer me on. I'll be the one with the wine stains on his martial arts outfit (gi). Anyway still getting together cool stuff for my upcoming video series and trying to learn editing. It'll be worth the wait. Oh, and i'll be celebrating my stunning win(s) and or crushing defeat with some Gruner, Grenache or some sparking. I'll choose when the time comes. Other than that, take care people!
Had a great tasting with California winemaker Shane Finley last night. I interviewed him before the tasting for my podcast (yes, I swear to God it's coming). He's the second winemaker I've had on so far and it's been very interesting. Shane who is originally from Minnesota went to Virginia Military Academy and majored in English. Worked a bit then decided to get into wine. He interned at Copain wine in Cali, then worked at wineries in Barossa Valley in Australia and Cote Rotie. Then moved back to Cali and worked again at Copain, was assistant winemaker at Kosta Browne and at Paul Hobbs.
Shane brings traditional winemaking to the new world while taking advantage of the more ample sunlight and clean growing practices in parts of California. His wines were subtle and delicious. His Sauv Blanc is unique in that he ages longer on the skin while not performing battonage (stirring the lees in wine barrels) which yielded a more viscous, deeper and more old world style than one would usually find in new world wines. His rose made of Pinot Noir hints of Provence while giving more fruit and just a touch less acid. Shane's pinot noir comes in three styles: the everyday Constant Disruptions Pinot to his two premium pinots La Reine (the queen) and Charm. The differences in flavor and feel seem so different yet so tasty that it is a wonder that more people don't know about this guy. Find him at Shanewines.com and at Wine Republic. Cheers.
With all the hoopla about Avengers Endgame this blog will talk about two of my favorite characters: Ironman and Batman. First off I know Batman is from DC but bear with me. Ironman is the hero that started the current roster of Marvel films and one of best. He's the best for me because he wasn't born on Asgard with godlike powers, wasn't injected with chemicals (super steroids), not bitten by a radioactive spider or any of the other craziness that makes all the other superheroes super.
Tony Stark (aka Ironman) comes from a brilliant family and himself went to MIT, then went on to create his armor that quite literally makes him able to save the damn universe. So what does Tony drink when he's not killing alien hordes? Iron man is one of the wealthiest people in the Marvel universe, raised by a genius that was a mix of Walt Disney and Elon Musk. With that Tony has traveled the world and was exposed to many other cultures including wine culture.
I don't believe he has studied wine extensively or he would have purchased one or seven vineyards already. We would have seen if he achieved Master of Wine or Master Sommeliers but I do believe that he could have done either or both if he had wanted. He's surely a foodie as seen in the first Avengers since the first thing he asked for after decimating Loki's forces refills his tanks with Shawarma. We've seen him sipping on white wine in Iron Man 3 (something light judging from the color and it was summer after all) and you know he's probably drunk with many wine owners and winemakers not to mention tons of chefs.
If you're going to buy Tony some wine you had better be prepared to go to high quality wines whether whites like Montrachet, Chateau Grillet or a high puttonyos Tokaji. Choose red you had better look at premier cru Bordeaux, red Burgundy from cote d'or and some vintage cult wine out of Napa just to be sure. Though if you go high end Priorat, Barolo or super old Port I think you'll crack a smile on the smartest Avenger.
Looking to DC and the Batman you'll find a similar tale in that Bruce Wayne grew up with very smart parents and a ton of money. Though Bruce's parents died when Bruce was still very young he probably got to travel the globe and see firsthand the best of gastronomy (and wine at least in Europe) the world had to offer. And whilst he was away it would have occurred to Bats that at least a cursory knowledge of wine would be beneficial.
Shopping for Bruce will kill your pocketbook just like you were buying for Tony Stark. In Batman vs Superman Bruce's butler cleans off an empty bottle of Chateau Margaux and laments on the soon to be empty wine cellar, so if you're looking for Christmas presents start in Bordeaux for Bats. Bruce is super dark, he only works in black or dark grey according to the the Lego Movie and you would be good to stick with these. Nebbiolo, Barbera, Syrah would be my best bets to impress Bruce. He's probably not into whites too much but bubbles he can understand. Methode Champanois only pleaase: Champagne, Cava, Franciacorta and the like only.
Bruce rocks not only because of his exquisite taste in vino but because he kicks ass and was not born on Krypton, not an Amazon, not Atlantean and not a recipient of interdimensional technology. Both Bruce and Tony have gone and made themselves the best they can be and so much so that they can hang with other seriously overpowered individuals. And while they both and glaring character flaws (he that is without sin my cast the first stone) they are both quite human. They have struggled and in that way normal people can strive to better ourselves. Like the way I am struggling with jiu jitsu and wine knowledge, so check out my new youtube channel and website jiu jitsu wine. I'm editing my first videos and they will be up soon. Take care.
I am back. And I decided to bring back my broken arse and beat up body. Plus I was barely able to drink any wine. But I did manage to sneak in a lovely Alsatian riesling. It was so beautiful after getting my butt handed to me. What the heck is RJ talking about?
This weekend was the 2019 Pan brazilian jiu jitsu tournament. One of the biggest on the planet and me and my oversized ego thought I would go and lay the smack down. Oh contraire mon frere. The smack was laid down on me. I didn't tap (submit) but I did get beaten on points. And this is good because my match was filmed (and was shown on flowgrappling.com-still on if you want to see the madness).
I've watched this stupid match like thirty times and each time I get more and more upset. How did I miss that! Oh my god, why didn't I do this! I need a drink, ASAP! Jiu jitsu is like learning about wine in that you never ever known everything and when you're wrong it humbles you like very little else on the planet. Jiu jitsu humbles you physically and wine humbles you mentally - both humble you spiritually.
So I originally thought I was fighting on Thursday and Friday before I was gonna take off to Paso for a little vino break but no! The schedule changed and I was to fight on Friday and was unable to change, blah, blah, blah. Live and learn and adapt on the fly. I was in Irvine so I though I would then cruise to Temecula witch is not that far but I made zero reservations with anyone and I would just be looking for people. I could kick myself in the butt.
Anyway this is where I tell you guys I'm starting a podcast with a dissection of my jiu jitsu performance and which wines to drink as I'm getting my butt kicked, er grappled. I'll post again in a couple days with all the relative links and all that good jazz. Good to be back though. And right now I'm eyeballing a Cab Franc that's calling my name. Take care.
I am sorry that I haven't posted in a bit. That has been because we have just moved locations and I am terrible at juggling more than a few things at once. So if you've never been to our brick and mortar shop now is the time to come. It's just like having your very own wine cellar/cave/tasting room if you don't have one. We have couches!
So the new year is shaping up and it has to because I ate far too much during the holidays and I am paying for it now. I am signed up to fight at the Pans jiu jitsu tournament in California coming up the in the next couple of weeks so if you are in the Los Angeles area come and watch me fight! I'll be in the old man (Masters 4) division fighting at middle weight (180 lbs with gi). I so very much wanted to fight at light weight but I am weak. So weak that I succumb to cheesecake and croissants and pancakes and chocolate. Just sugar in general. And of course I had to pair with late harvest and desert wines for just the occasion. If you are able please leave comments so I will be less likely to cheat so I can fight at light weight (167 lbs I think) the next tournament.
The rest of the upcoming year will find Patti and I roaming the land for local delicacies and their ultimate pairings in wine. Last year Patti judged a local cold weather varietal wine competition and inspired me to do the same. We will be checking out what each region can bring about in food and match them with their appropriate vinos. The restaurant NOMA in Copenhagen, Denmark put their stamp on food by focusing on their specific foods from their region (think terroir) and in doing so earned two Michelin stars and has won best restaurant in the world a couple times I think. I would love to drink with the madman owner chef anywhere, anytime. I'll bring the wine. Looking at you Rene Redzepi! I'll be fighting in tournaments all over the US. Chicago, Texas, Florida and hopefully learn some moves on the mat and then recover while eating and drinking in the area. If anybody has any recommendations let me know. If you are a confidant foodie please let me in on your secret hole in the wall places. Gotta go, I'm nursing a sore back from jiu jitsu sparring yesterday and it's too early even for me to crack open a bottle. But I am daydreaming about this lovely Rufina Sangio I sampled yesterday. Take care, OSSS!
Hey everyone. Sorry I haven't written in a few days because we're moving! Yea! Patti and I have been cleaning out the store and just announced out moving sale! In store you'll find 20% off all wines for members and 10% off all wines for non members. And while there will be some bitter tears because of all the memories made here we are excited for the new chapter for us.
In shuttling back and forth between the new space and our current location (both are still in Excelsior, MN) found me talking to a young wine acolyte wanting to know the difference between certain sommelier certifications and I tried my best to explain a partial history of Court of Master Sommeliers and International Sommeliers Guild of which I and my wife are associated.
I am more familiar with CMS so I will start there. The history of CMS starts in the twelve century with the Worshipful Company of Vintners. This very ancient group of wine experts were known as Livery Companies and were stationed in the City of London. Even in the eleven hundreds people were gathering together to talk wine.
While there are now one hundred and ten Livery Companies comprised of old and new trade guilds or associations. The term livery described the specific outfit(s) worn by retainers of noblemen and eventually to indicate the membership of certain trades. These guilds were responsible for training in their particular specialty, regulations of wages, industry standards of procedure and labor conditions.
Of the one hundred and ten current Livery companies the Worshipful Company of Vintners is one of the Great Twelve as ranked in 1515 by the Court of Alderman. During this time the number of livery companies were forty eight and the twelve companies that were highest based on economic and or political power. Of course the Vintners would make it. Even then alcohol held a great place in the imagination of people.
Fast forward to 1955 when the Institute of Masters of Wine was created, though the first exam for them was in 1953. After the second World War the Worshipful Company of Vintners and The Wine & Spirit Association felt the need to improve standards of wine education for British wine merchants and those affiliated with the wine trade. The two groups constructed a test to determine the most talented wine experts. And thus was born the Institute of Masters of Wine.
A few years later in 1969 the Wine & Spirit Association that helped form the Institute of Masters of Wine (Vintners Company) set up a committee to create a group to serve the ever growing needs in the UK regarding wine and spirits covering import, distribution and retail. This group would be known as WSET or the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. The founders were from the Vintner's Company, the Wine & Spirit Association of Great Britain, Institute of Masters of Wine and The Worshipful Company of Distillers.
Then in 1969 the first Master Sommelier exam was held and it was not until 1977 when there were enough Master Somms to comprise an examining charter for sommeliers. This group was created by the Vintners Company, the Institute of Masters of Wine, the British Hotels & Restaurants Association, the Wine & Spirit Association of Great Britain and the Wholesale Tobacco Trade Association.
A little while later in 1982 brings the North American contingent with the International Sommeliers Guild. This program in great for those who want to get to know wine fast! Upon entering you'll be thrown into a nine to twelve month crash course that includes written essays, a two hundred question test and blind tasting of 20 wines and spirits. In addition you will be tested in menu knowledge and pairing. There is also a test section in service.
The first four are related and spawned from the Worshipful (worship the wine!) Company of Vintners and focus on various aspects of wine and spirits while the Court of Master Sommeliers will add service as directed by the British Hotel & Restaurant Association, tobacco from the Wholesale Tobacco Trade Association and deep knowledge of coffee from I don't know where. And the ISG which is definitely deserves a place next to CMS in terms of quality knowledge and service.
Join one. They're fun and you'll find that more rainbows rise and unicorns appear the more you know about wine. Cheers.