For Wendy's birthday, I took her to a fancy pants place in wine country about 30 miles north of where we live. We stayed at Willow's Lodge, which is one of those upscale resort inns with massage spas and wooden beams and terry cloth robes.1
It turns out that this place is just off the Burke-Gilman Trail, so I've ridden by it dozens of times over the years. It's on the same grounds as two upscale restaurants (Herb Farm and the Barking Frog) and Red Hook brewery2, which is now my favorite brewery in the whole wide world3. Within a half mile of the lodge are at least ten wineries.
Wendy and I went to two of the wineries on Saturday afternoon. One was an unpretentious yellow house off the side of the road. I would like to complain about the whole wine tasting experience for two reasons. First, this entry is called "Whine Tasting," so readers will be disappointed without at least one rant. Second, I'm not terribly fond of wine. It doesn't go well with donuts.4
Here's the thing. I have no complaints. The wine tasted good, happy people were spending time in bucolic settings, and for people who really appreciate good wine, well, I'm going to change gears here5 and say that Seattle has decent wines, but there are way too many blends. I like to try to tell the difference between a cab and a pinot and a merlot, and when these guys put a blend in front of me, I have nothing to speculate about. Sure, I can tip my glass and say, "I think this is a red wine," but that almost seems too obvious.
My theory is that Seattle has lousy grapes but a nice setting, so the wineries use chemicals and peppers and "blends" to create mongrel wines. It's base and demeaning for someone with a refined palette.
After a massage and a hotel room experience for which I should have won an award, Wendy and I met Andy and Minette at the Barking Frog for dinner. Here's the thing. I don't know why it always works out this way, but I always somehow manage to order the best food. Trust me. If you're ever in a restaurant with me, even if you're sitting at another table, just tell the server that you want whatever that guy is having, and point a finger at me.
The next day Wendy and I went on a bike ride along the river. Wendy and I have now ridden along four rivers, the Provo River, the Rhine, the Danube, and Sammamish River. That is very interesting!6
1 In the interest of full disclosure, Wendy made all the arrangements, so really I just went along for the ride. She loves to be pampered like this once a year.
2 Is beer stronger in headquarter breweries? Few people can hold liquor better than I can, yet I was beyond tipsy and downright drunk after one beer.
3 You know you're writing boring stuff when you resort to needless hyperbole. If this blog were pay-per-view, I'd make this entry free.
4 OK, that was a decent joke. If this keeps going, I'd charge imaginary money in my imaginary pay-per-view scenario.
5 That fell apart quickly. At this rate, I'll be paying people to read this entry.
6 I'm taking a page out of George Bush's book here. Whenever he travels abroad, he tells people what to think. "My message is that the United States cares about the fine Latin Mexicans who live this far south of civilization." I hope it works.