Wine

Drinking and Dating: Walking the Tightrope

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No, this is not an evangelistic tirade against all things alcoholic. And not me giving you a scolding for over doing it from time to time. I’m the last guy on Earth to do that. I love a good cocktail, from time to time. But this article is about TIMING. If you are going to have a drink or two, make sure it is working to your advantage, especially in your dating life.

I’m writing this article the day after St. Patrick’s Day. I cannot think of a better time to broach this particular topic. Many of you are reading this right now through blurry bloodshot eyes, lying half catatonic, awash in green beads, half drunken green beer mugs, and slept-in fake orange facial hair leaving you now resembling a Picasso-esque portrait of the world’s most deranged Leprechaun.

Hey, I’m not judging! On some days, I will be the first to don the ceremonial drinking hat and throw down with the best of them.

I love me a good old fashioned craic! (pronounced “crack” it’s Gaelic for “party”)

If you have followed me for some time, you know that I am quite a Foodie and I loves me some red wine. I have toured wineries around the globe and quite certain I have over imbibed more than my fair share. What can I say, I love life and I like to party! We spent a month over in Italy for our Honeymoon last year and were drinking scads of wine every single day. It is not uncommon in Europe to have a couple glasses of wine with lunch and more with dinner.

This is the point where I say, responsibly, that if you are an adult, and you decide to indulge, responsibly, in the beverages du alcohol (that might be French), that you do so responsibly.

But even when you think you drink responsibly, you might still be screwing up your chances with the women you desire.

Case in point. In full disclosure, after my divorce and losing everything, I fell into a very deep pit of loneliness, despair, and not a small bit of drinking. I have done incredibly stupid things under the influence, of which I'm definitely not proud. I screwed up several sexy encounters with amazing women that, had I been sober-er, would have been worthy of letters to Penthouse magazine. But the drink took its toll.

As I like to say, I let my full Irish out.

Hey, I’m a mutt, I have German, English, Scottish, Irish, Cherokee and Blackfoot Indian in my blood. You tell me which of those are teetotalers!

That, of course, is no excuse for overdoing it, drinking to excess, or falling in to full blown alcoholism. If you feel you are having serious problems with your drinking, you most definitely need to seek help. Your friends are the best arbiters of info. Most people let your boorish behavior slide until it gets really bad, but if you are serious about your dating success, you need to keep that in check. And your friends will tell you, but you have to be grown up enough to ask.

Having a couple of drinks on a date can be a really good thing. It lets inhibitions slide a bit, relaxes you both, and enhances the meal (when chosen correctly). A nice glass of wine after dinner, while chatting on the couch, can be the pathway to a very saucy evening indeed. But one glass too many, can kill the evening completely.

Here are a couple of tips on keeping your mojo working while enjoying a nice adult beverage or two.

1. Stick with a predetermined amount for your date.

I like to stick with one bottle of red wine for my dinners. I can easily down a full bottle in one sitting, but that can get iffy depending on the brand. I can become irritable, annoying, or worse. But a bottle is only about 2.5 glasses a person, and over the course of the night with a full meal, that is seldom an issue. Whatever your drink of choice, know your limits and stick to them. The consequences of overindulgence are never good and can kill an otherwise perfect evening.

2. If you are out and about with friends, have a drinking “safety word.”

Like I said, your friends will tell you when you have had enough. If you have been dating someone for awhile, they can be your sober buddy if need be. You just have to agree beforehand and be open and honest enough with each other to hold each other accountable. For example, if you start to get rowdy, they might say to you, “Purple Butter Fluffer Nutter.” Which is hard to stick in normal conversation. (Bonus points for anyone who knows this reference).

Safety words can be tricky if you drink too much, as you suddenly decide you are all knowing and invincible, and anyone who tells you otherwise is killing your buzz or calling you out. This is when you have turned into a drunken ass. Avoid this by being responsible and nipping it in the bud before it is a problem.

3. Avoid email, texting, and all social media at all costs! Especially if you are home alone.

I love a nice evening alone, just enjoying a fine Cabernet, a succulent steak, and a great movie – Sci Fi usually. On nights like these, I know I am not driving, so I am free to indulge a bit. As long as I don’t run pantsless down the street shrieking profanities, a la Mel Gibson, I am hurting no one, except my own liver. However, these days, being alone does not necessarily mean you are alone. And this moment is quite possibly the most dangerous time for you.

If you decide, after a few too many drinks, to reach out and share your desires, pet peeves, or adamant righteous anger at idiots who wear knitted baggy skull caps on sunny 80 degree days, you will never be able to take it back. It is now out in the ether for all to see. Forever. And if you attempt any communication with a potential love interest at this time, you may very well destroy any chance of future success. I know this from first hand experience.

If you are enjoying a night just for you, then do that. Turn off your phone, computers, and any outside communication. Just drink your wine, eat your steak, and watch your movie. ALONE! You will be very happy the next morning when you don’t have to remember what the hell you said, to your love interest or the entire universe, the night before.

Again, if you are having a real problem and need help with your drinking, go get it. If you are like me, and had a down time in your life and went a bit haywire, friends can keep you in check and bring you back to life. But you have to be open and honest with yourself. Enjoy your drinks as you like. Just be strategic and make sure that what you are drinking is an enhancement to your meals, not a detrimental crutch you need to get through the night.

Keep Spicin It Up,

A Nice Wine Country Run in Sonoma

So, my lovely lady, Kim, ran a half marathon in Healdsburg, CA. Some of you know that that is what we call Wine Country! Or as the I, the Maverick Adventurer call it, “My Playground!” I love this part of the world. I have been to wine areas all over the world – Australia, New Zealand, Paris, Canada, etc, but I have always enjoyed the Napa/Sonoma area the best. It’s just my taste. So when my gal runs a marathon there, what on Earth is a growing boy to do, but go and support his sweetie. Oh, and taste some wine……

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So a little about Healdsburg. Walking around the tiny town is a joy. Just like so many of the little towns in this region, there is a warm feeling of a common love of all things wine, food, and quality. Everything is clean and well kept, the people are friendly, and the vibe is laid back. Though there is a bit of a rivalry between Sonoma and Napa, I believe the overall sense of the region to be open and inviting. Even though Napa’s wineries charge a lot more than Somoma. Just sayin.

While in Healdsburg we dined at Willies, an unassuming local place that simply blew me away with dishes like the Caramelized Butterfish w/ Miso Vinaigrette & Exotic Mushrooms (below) and the Hamachi Ceviche with Rocoto Chili, lime juice, and Pepitas. Both dishes were exquisitely prepared and perfectly presented. The service was excellent and our server, Gabriell, was knowledgeable and friendly with great hints about other wineries to visit later in the day. I highly recommend Willie’s!

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Then we popped next door to the Toad Hollow Vineyards tasting room. Another unassuming storefront that did not belie a truly great wine tasting experience. Fun, inviting, whimsical, and friendly yet again. And, did I mention, free? Our host, Travis, was not just a tasting helper, but also a marathoner, swimmer, and fitness coach. Kim and he got along swimmingly. Nyuck nyuck nyuck. The wines were lovely. Though nothing jumped out at us, I will most definitely go back for the fun vibe. And, of course, the tasty wines!

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Then there was Santa Rosa. Nice place, but definitely a bit of a different vibe. As far as “Adventuring” goes, there definitely was some of that. One of the things I do when I travel is I tend to stay at budget motels and such. Big fan of Motel 6, and I will have a great one to tell you about later. I figure, you are not there for the sleep, you are there for the ADVENTURE! But the Santa Rosa stay was at a bunghole of a rat trap called the Vagabond Inn. Wheeere to start?!? Crappy bed, crappy pillows, crappy water, crappy coffee, crappy area, crappy vibe, crappy lady running the place, crappy guy passed out at the bottom of the stairs, crappy crappy crappy! Let’s just say, I won’t be staying there again. Run from this place!

But there were a couple of nice eateries that I discovered in Santa Rosa. One was called Piner Cafe where I had a really great blue cheese burger (pictured below). Nice family friendly feel here. Don’t let my sad alliteration or the tatted up waitresses scare you; they were really very sweet and attentive. There was plenty of food at a good price. And that burger was damn good!

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And there was another tasty burger to be had the same day at Brody’s. (Yeah, I know, I need a frickin salad or two.) The burgers here were varied and happily grass fed, hormone free and such. And they were executed well. Another draw are $1.50 pint brews on tap. Good on ya! Oh, and quite tasty onion rings, crunchy and substantially thick cut. If ya know me, ya know I’m always looking for the best onion rings. The building used to be a fast food joint or something similar and still has that feel, but they have made it a little more interesting with a TV and some local “color” aka drunken, sport junky, revelers. But not completely trailer park, ya’ll.

The wine find in Santa Rosa was the Siduri and Novy. This is a winery located in a business block warehouse area, not what I expected. And, again, the tastings here are complimentary. The wines were very nice with grapes sourced from all over. Pinot Noir and Syrahs were the predominant varietals here. On both of which I have mixed feelings, but I find Sonoma and Napa to have the best in the world. The discovery for me here was a Blanc Pinot Noir from the Novy side. Yep, I said Blanc. I was unaware there was such a thing! I’m a red wine guy almost exclusively, but this smoky, slightly fruity toned and refreshing wine was a nice surprise and now holds a place on my shelf.

The final stop in Sonoma for us was at the Paradise Ridge Winery (prwinery.com). This place has a really interesting art sculpture garden that greets you on the drive up. This place has a $10 tasting fee  that is waived upon purchase. We received a 2 for 1 complimentary tasting, and I’m quite sure that was due to my sparkly lady. They have a gourmet chef on site and they provide food pairing suggestions with each wine that made the Foodie in me quiver and really want to cook! The wines were robust and the scenery was lovely as well. The art was modern and interesting to downright weird and macabre. But overall, an enjoyable experience that I can recommend.

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So that was the Sonoma quickie trip! I am sure I will be back to explore the area even more. So go visit the area, taste some wine, take a lovely stroll in downtown Healdsburg, and whatever you do, steer clear of the Vagabond Inn in Santa Rosa!