Saturday, June 21, 2008

Taste of Downtown

A lot like quite a few "Taste of...." that take place in semi-small towns, Taste of Downtown is Ukiah's version of the Meet, Eat, and Drink theme.  Over 20 different wine makers and brewers take up temporary residence in some of the local downtown shops while people walk the streets (closed off to traffic) with a $25 wine glass that is used to grab the sips.  It was the first time that my wife and I had attended the event, and we were joined by our teaching friends and other good people. 

You can probably anticipate the potential problem that could come from a teacher walking around town with a glass of wine in his hand, and I was right there with you.  I had to limit the sipping and be very wary about speaking to students when I was feeling nice near the end of the tasting.  I saw a few students, and quite a few ex-students.  I enjoyed speaking with those I hadn't seen in awhile and we caught up on how their lives are progressing along.  Some are done with college and already heading off towards their careers.  Makes me smile.  I also saw other Ukiah Unified people, parents of students and players, and other people I've gotten to know in the 7 years I've lived here.

For those that are interested in the wine/beer tasting, here's a little report:

Best Red Wine:  None.  They were all pretty icky.

Best White Wine:  image   My wife and I really enjoy the Sauvignon Blanc with sushi, but last night we went for the Chardonnay.  It was just as nice and I highly recommend that you give it a whirl.  It is a little pricey, but worth it if you want to shell out.  I'll give an honorable mention to Bonterra's Sauvignon Blanc, which was nice and crisp, with a grapefruit finish. 

Best Sparkling:  image  They were tasting the standard stuff and it was, as usual, very yummy.  We will often take a pre-New Year's Day trip to the Anderson Valley for some Scharffenberger and Roederer Estate, that should tell you that Scharffenberger is held in pretty high regard. 

Best Beer:  image  Mendocino Brewing Company's Red Tail Ale was the best beer there, although that wasn't saying much.  It probably helped that they gave out keg cups of brew, not the splash in the wine glass.  One interesting thing that I found was that all the breweries were serving a Belgian style beer, ala Fat Tire.  None of them was worth a repeat. 

Best Other alcohol:  image  One of benefits of living in Mendocino County is that we are under an hour from some of the best wines in the world.  What many don't know is that Ukiah is also the location of Germain-Robin brandy, some of the best brandy on the planet.  You know those $100+ bottles of cognac that people rave about?  They are nothing compared to the basic $40 bottle of Germain-Robin brandy.  Drop the pretentious pricing on sub-par brandies and take in some Germain-Robin.

Probably the biggest surprise was the little rain shower that hit us at around 7 in the evening.  It was unusual weather for June.  Unfortunately, that shower had some 800 lightning strikes associated with it for Mendocino County.  That has created a serious fire problem for the area.  As of this moment, dozens of fires are going in the county, with 5 serious blazes within 20-30 miles of Ukiah.  The air quality is really bad in the valley with the constant smell of smoke inundating our nostrils.

Let's hope the morning brings a different fire situation. 

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