Update & My Slow Return to Blogging

Hello dear readers — I know my plan was to continue blogging during Hubby’s battle with cancer, but the reality is that sitting down to write was harder than I imagined.  That said, there was a lot of wine and a bit of beer consumed during the last 7 months.  I’ve tried to take notes on everything and will work on a round-up post, but I also encourage you to check out my Twitter  and Instagram accounts, as the shorter formats were easier to keepupdated.  To those of you who have been sending emails, tweets, and Facebook messages to check in on how we’re doing…THANK YOU!  Your thoughtfulness, prayers, and good vibes have meant more than I could begin to express.

Hubby and me at the DC's Light the Night Walk in October 2017

Hubby and me at the DC’s Light the Night Walk in October 2017, just one day after we received the unexpected PET scan results

That brings me to where things are now.  Unfortunately, the PET scan Hubby did in mid-October (2 weeks after his last chemo cycle ended) didn’t show the results we were hoping for.  The doctors said Hubby had a “dramatic response” to cycles 1-3.  His tumor was a large mass that went from his left arm, across his chest to his right arm, and up the right side of his neck, and during those first three cycles, it shrunk to only 4cm.  During cycles 4-6, the tumor continued to shrink, but there was still metabolic activity on what we had hoped would be the final PET scan.  This admittedly surprised the doctors, as his type of cancer either responds to the chemo regime and is then in remission by the time treatment is complete or it doesn’t respond, in which case the doctors know immediately and change the treatment.

So, the oncologist sent Hubby for a second opinion with the National Institute of Health doctor who developed the chemo regime for his kind of cancer.  He also had a consultation with the radiologist oncologist in case radiation is the next step.  Everyone seems to agree there is a strong possibility that the October PET scan shows a false positive, so all three doctors decided to have Hubby wait until the end of December to do a repeat scan.  We won’t get those results until the New Year, which means right now is just a waiting game.

I keep trying to remind myself that these are the best doctors in the world, so they have to be able to figure out how to deal with a stubborn tumor that is the size of a fingernail.  In the meantime, we’re embracing our “new” normal life, diving head first into the holiday spirit, and enjoying each day for what it is…which obviously includes drinking a lot of good wine.

Question of the Day: Are you getting in the holiday spirit?  Is there a particular wine, beer, or cocktail that gets you into a festive mood?

The Tlo Wines GSM Is Not To Be Missed

2012 Tlo Wines Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre (GSM) – At $30, this red wine blend from California is worth a weekend splurge. The tannins cling to the mouth, and the flavors lingered in the finish. It’s a wine that will wrap you up like it was a blanket and provided pure, tasting pleasure. 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.comHubby leaves his first day of chemo with a pump that infuses his medicine 24/7, which means Days 2, 3, 4 and 5 of his chemo cycle are mostly spent at home. For three of those days, we head to the infusion center for an hour or so every afternoon so they can give Hubby fluids, nausea medicine, and refill the pump with the next round of medicine. We both took off from work that first week of treatment because we didn’t know what to expect. That meant we spent much of Day 2 reading and trying to settle into our new normal. Once we returned home from the infusion center, the evening was relatively quiet. We had chicken and rice soup for dinner, and then cuddled on the couch for the evening while binge watching House of Cards. And of course, I opened a bottle of red wine, and since I had done so well the night before with the wine from The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club, I decided to jump right into another bottle.

2012 Tlo Wines GSM back label

The 2012 Tlo Wines Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre (GSM) (winery) was from the Arroyo Grande Valley in California and was made with 37% Grenache, 34% Syrah, and 29% Mourvèdre grapes. The wine was dark purple. On the nose, there were blackberries and strawberries mixed with hints of plums, vanilla, black pepper, and the tiniest bit of smoke. In the mouth, there were blackberries, plums, with hints of vanilla, chocolate, and smoke. The wine had a medium-to-full body, tannins, and acid.

Tlo Wines owner and winemaker, Andy Zaninovich bottled his first wines 9 years ago, although the wines were for private use at the time. In 2011, Tlo Wines became a bonded winery. Today, the micro-winery produces about 700 cases annually, and the wines generally range from $30-$50 a bottle.   It’s possibly the smallest commercial winery that I’ve ever tasted wine from, and I’m so glad I did!

2012 Tlo Wines Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre (GSM) – At $30, this red wine blend from California is worth a weekend splurge. The tannins cling to the mouth, and the flavors lingered in the finish. It’s a wine that will wrap you up like it was a blanket and provided pure, tasting pleasure. 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.comIs the 2012 Tlo Wines GSM worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At the wine club price of $30, this wine is worth a weekend splurge. Admittedly, it was a bit heavy of a wine for the chicken and rice soup, but that was my fault in choosing the pairing, not the wine’s fault. After dinner, I continued to drink the wine on its own, and just loved it. The tannins from the wine clung to my mouth, as the flavors lingered in the finish. It was a wine that just wrapped me up like it was a blanket and provided pure, tasting pleasure.

Just as a note, as this blog post goes live, the winery has the GSM on sale for $17, which is a fantastic QPR, particularly if this is your first order with Tlo Wines and you’re able to take advantage of the free shipping when you order more than 4 bottles. So, if you think this is a wine you want to try, now is the time!

Question of the Day: Do you like red wines with big, grippy tannins, the type of wines that cling to your mouth?

 

Purchased at The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club
Overall: 4.5 Corks

KickAss Britchen Red is Definitely KickAss

KickAss Britchen Red – At $32, this is red wine blend from Paso Robles California is appropriately named. This wine is perfect for a cookout, sitting around a fire pit talking with friends, or curled up with a good book. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.comI received KickAss Britchen Red as part of the The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club, which is why I decided to open it after my disappointing experience with the Peraj Petita. I’ve belonged to the wine club for just under a year, and while I’ve only blogged about the Levo Mint so far, I’ve opened most of the wines I’ve received and loved them all. So, I had faith this wine was going to be the red I was looking for.

KickAss Britchen Red – At $32, this is red wine blend from Paso Robles California is appropriately named. This wine is perfect for a cookout, sitting around a fire pit talking with friends, or curled up with a good book. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

KickAss Britchen Red by AronHill Vineyards

The KickAss Britchen Red (winery) was from Paso Robles, California and was a red blend of 70% Estate Primitivo, 20% Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Zinfandel grapes. The wine had a dark purplish, ruby color. On the nose, there were strawberries mixed with red and black cherries and a hint of nutmeg and smokiness. In the mouth, there were strawberries, cherries, and nutmeg mixed with hints of cedar and smoke. The wine had medium-to-full-body, tannins, and acid.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $32 a bottle, I know this isn’t an everyday wine for most people, but it’s definitely a wine worth splurging on. Interestingly, for all the hints of darker characteristics in the wine, I found it lively and incredibly easy to drink. It’s very food-friendly. Just keep in mind that while it may not taste like it, this wine has a pretty high alcohol content. So, don’t let that catch you off guard, especially as I have no doubt that you won’t want to stop at just one glass.

KickAss Britchen Red – At $32, this is red wine blend from Paso Robles California is appropriately named. This wine is perfect for a cookout, sitting around a fire pit talking with friends, or curled up with a good book. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.comAs summer draws to a close and you start thinking about Labor Day cookouts, this is a wine that would be perfect to pair with cheeseburgers, smoked ribs, grilled sausages, and your friends. Or, it can be just as enjoyable opening it the way I did — after a disappointing bottle, while looking for a little bit of comfort, on a quiet evening, eating leftover meet lasagna, helping Hubby recover from Day 1 of chemo, and focusing on kicking cancer’s ass.

KickAss Britchen Red has a great label and name, and I have definitely been known to buy wine based on the label alone. How often do you buy wines based on the label or name without knowing anything about the winery?

And for some other blogger thoughts on the wine:

Price: $32
Purchased at The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club
Overall: 4.5 Corks

The Peraj Petita Disappoints

Hubby really only started drinking alcohol during the last year, and while I’ve turned him into a bubbly and white wine lover, he won’t drink red wine because he thinks it tastes like cough medicine. So, since he’s not drinking for 48 hours before, during, or for 48 hours after chemo, I’ve been taking advantage of that time to open up some red wines.

That first Monday of chemo was a tough one because Hubby ended up being allergic to the medicine. Reactions aren’t unexpected, but his was more severe than most, although, thankfully, it was “just” hives and not life threatening. The infusion nurses and his doctor monitored him closely, but they continued giving him the medicine, along with extra Benadryl and steroids, and a saline drip to help flush his system. What was supposed to take about four or five hours took more than eight hours. After he was done with the infusion, they hooked him up to a portable pump that dispenses another one of his chemo medications over a 24-hour period. By the time we left the infusion center, we were both emotionally and physically drained. When we got home, Hubby relaxed as I heated up the leftover lasagna and opened a bottle of wine for myself.

2014 Peraj Petita – At $18, this kosher red wine from Spain was a disappointment. While others give it glowing reviews, the candied strawberry flavors mixed with the savory characteristics just didn’t work for me. Rating: 2.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Peraj Petita

The 2014 Peraj Petita (winery, snooth) was a kosher wine from Monstant, Spain and made with 60% Grenache, 20% Tempranillo, 10% Merlot and 10% Syrah grapes. The wine was a deep, clear ruby color. On the nose, there were raspberries, candied strawberries, and smoked meat. In the mouth, there were raspberries and candied strawberries mixed with leather and hints of cinnamon, and nutmeg. The wine had a medium body, tannins, and acid, along with a little bit of spritz on the tongue.

Is this worth a glass after work? At $18, I was disappointed in this wine. All of the reviews on KosherWine.com were positive and one of my go-to kosher wine reviewers, Wine Musings Blog, loved the 2012 vintage, so I tasted the Peraj Petita expecting to love it. But, I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t just not love it, I disliked it. The candied strawberry mixed with the savory characteristics just didn’t do it for me. Oddly, everything I mentioned that Hubby says he hates about red wine is what I was tasting in this one. After drinking about a quarter of my glass, hoping the wine would grow on me, I decided it wasn’t worth it after the day we had. So, I dumped it out, and opened up a KickAss Britchen Red…which was absolutely kick ass.

Question of the Day: Do you dump wine out when you’re not enjoying it?  If so, do you feel guilty? And, do you open another bottle or just give up on wine for the night?

Price: $18
Purchased at KosherWine.com
Overall: 2.5 Corks

LangeTwins and Lasagna

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola – At $20, this sustainably-made red wine from California is good on its own, and absolutely shines as the perfect pairing for meat lasagna. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola

Four Sundays ago, Hubby and I were preparing for the first day of his first cycle of chemotherapy. He was recovering from a bone marrow biopsy and having a PICC line put in his arm in few days earlier. I did the meal planning, grocery shopping, and yard work, all chores he and I normally would have done together but are my responsibility for the time being. With both of us feeling anxious about starting chemo, as well as being physically and mentally exhausted, I decided to make homemade meat lasagna to bolster us for the following day while also giving us enough leftovers to both eat later in the week and freeze. And, nothing says comfort food perfection like pairing the lasagna with a Nero d’Avola.

The 2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola (website, snooth) is from Lodi, California and made with 100% Nero d’Avola grapes. The wine had a medium ruby color. On the nose, there were raspberries and black cherries mixed with a hint of something floral. In the mouth, there were dark plums and black cherries mixed with wet dirt. The wine was medium-to-full bodied with medium-to-full tannins and acid.

2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola – At $20, this sustainably-made red wine from California is good on its own, and absolutely shines as the perfect pairing for meat lasagna. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola with my meat lasagna

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At an SRP of $20, this wine is the epitome of a delicious food wine. While I enjoyed the wine on its own, it didn’t initially blow me away. However, when paired with the lasagna, the combination was everything I hoped it would be. The wine mellowed a little, complimenting the food without overpowering it. Hubby and I spent a lot of time talking over dinner that night, as you can probably imagine, and the combination of the lasagna and the LangeTwins Nero d’Avola was as close to a fortifying, warm hug as can be experienced from food and wine.

Question of the Day: What is your favorite wine to pair with lasagna?

And for some other blogger thoughts on the wine:

Suggested Retail Price: $20
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks