Monday, December 3, 2012

Party Provides Superstorm Sandy Experience Plus Tastes of Great Wine

Superstorm Sandy is no cause for celebration. Not in the least.

We did, however, want to bring a group of our friends together to celebrate Green Dragon’s return from two weeks of volunteering with the Red Cross in New Jersey. Just like Sandy, we hit them in a way they couldn’t imagine!

The Shelter Experience was Green Dragon’s idea and she tried surprising even me with what she had in mind. When our 20 or so guests arrived, the house was dark with the exception of some candles. Each couple received a flashlight and was ushered into the kitchen and family room, where a blue tarp was spread on the floor.

Before long we started with our meal, still sans lights. Just like those at the Red Cross feeding stations, it was served in a Styrofoam clamshell container. The main dish was a beef patty covered with gravy accompanied by canned green beans and pears plus a slice of white bread. The beverage was bottled water. (This is not how most parties at our house go!)

After “enjoying” the meal in the dark, Paul Dye, a Red Cross volunteer from Michigan who had worked with Green Dragon, shared photos of their work helping out victims of Superstorm Sandy. The two had worked in an ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) delivering hot meals to those in need. They started in Princeton, New Jersey, and then moved down to Tom’s River.

More than 5,700 Red Cross workers from all 50 states were on the scene helping. At one point more than 7,600 people were staying in shelters. There were more than 3.3 million meals and snacks handed out.

The power and devastation of Sandy was sobering. We’re thankful that volunteers like Paul and Green Dragon give of themselves to help. Among our guests were friends Wayne and Becky who have repeatedly visited Mississippi to help families rebuild after Katrina.

Our lights eventually came on. The mood brightened as we switched to some tastier appetizers and a nice selection of wines.

Our opening selections were Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills
2009 Merlot and Dry Creek Vineyard 2011 Sonoma County Fumé Blanc. This are a couple of people pleasing wines suitable for larger gatherings and did not disappoint.

Wine Chick and Sax man brought a bottle of the 2010 Kaiken Malbec from Mendoza. Named after a wild goose from Patagonia, this is a winning Malbec with ripe fruit flavors. It has a nice lushness and a medium body. As I sipped more, the herbal dimension of the wine emerged. For about $12, this is one of the best Malbec bargains you’ll find.

Unknown to Green Dragon, I had set up a special “hydration station” in the basement with a sign warning about standing water and live wires.
Before the presentation I went downstairs and decanted a bottle of Cougar Vineyard 2007 Sangiovese, Temecula Valley.

Cabinator and I snuck downstairs and enjoyed a glass before emerging to share the decanter with everyone. Cougar Vineyard specializes in Italian grape varieties and all of their wines are estate produced.

The Cougar “sangio” was exceptional. Sangiovese is a key component of Chianti and also Super Tuscan wines. In fact, the 2007 Cougar is a Super Tuscan blend of 67% estate Sandiovese with 33% estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an expressive wine with bright cherry notes. It was luscious with a mellow texture.

Cheers to all those who volunteered to help during Sandy and we remember all those who suffered through the storm and the aftermath.

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