Tag Archives: Bordeaux

Measuring Our Success

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston S. Churchill

How do you measure success?  I was asked this last week as I sat in church and listened to the sermon.  Our pastor probed the congregation to think about our lives and how we feel it measures against success when we meet our Creator.  I have to admit, it made me think a bit about success, all it encompasses, and what I feel is a good measure.  Look around you and you will find all kinds of “measurements” in our daily life.  We measure ourselves by numbers.  The size of clothes, numbers on a scale, level of IQ; we all get caught up in the enormity of a number.  But does this really measure our worth and value in the world?

For example, take the common household scale.  I hate scales, by the way, for many reasons, and I hardly ever step on one unless my doctor makes me do it.  First off, people tend to focus too hard on a scale and live and breathe by the very number they see each morning when they weigh.  I did this once upon a time in my life and swore I would never do it again after it nearly destroyed me.  Now, I do know scales have a time and place in everyone’s world, but why do we feel the need to put so much emphasis on them? Why do we see the number that pops up on a tiny dial merits our success for that particular day?  For the severely overweight or the person struggling to overcome starving their bodies, a scale can be seen as the devil himself.  Each time they step upon the two footpads, panic can rise in the throat, or dread and shame will pull its dark curtain down.  Scales, another way to measure how well we are doing or how much we are failing for the day.

The same goes with clothing sizes.  I am sure I am not the first person, man or woman, who has cringed when trying on clothes in a store, hoping the size we hold is actually the size that fits. That magic number we strive for, whatever it may be for the day, sits in our hands like Cinderella’s glass slipper.  And when it doesn’t fit, we knock ourselves down as we humbly ask the store’s employee for a different, perhaps larger size.  Or we completely skip that part and just forget the entire article of clothing and walk sullenly away from the dressing room empty-handed.  Why can’t companies figure out a way to label clothing, not by a number, but by phrases like “fabulous” or “savvy?”  How amazing would it be to yell out to the woman tending the dressing rooms that you needed to exchange your size “bombshell” for a size “stunning?”  Am I crazy for wanting to do this?

As I get older and begin to become more comfortable with who I am as a person, I find my measurement of success changes too.  I also feel having kids has helped me take a long, hard look at measuring success.  How do I measure up as a mom?  How am I measuring up spiritually?  Am I hitting the mark as a wife and friend?  Gone are the days when I constantly see success as the size of my jeans or the score on an exam.  It is now measured upon how I interact with the world, and what kind of physical and spiritual mark I am leaving on this side of Heaven.

My goal is to measure success by what I see looking back in the mirror and the values that one face holds for the day.  I strive to remember that our success in life is not based on a slew of various numbers, but instead focuses on the kind of footprint I have the opportunity to leave behind.  My success will be raising two children who are healthy, happy, and spiritually sound in their lives.  My success will hopefully be to show love, to show compassion, and to show respect towards the world and towards the ones I love.  I know failure is inevitable, and human fallacy will take hold more often than I care to admit.  But if I can keep my eye on the “prize” and have the courage to know my mistakes are not final, then surely I have the upper hand in this battle to shatter the things in this world that attempt to pull me down.  In the meantime, I challenge anyone who reads this to rethink the way you measure success and pay it forward to the next person.  All it takes is just a spark of change to turn the world on its head.

Until next time,

Cheers

Addendum:

When I wrote this post, I was heavily thinking about people and success.  But re-reading some things this morning, I find a connection with measurement and wine.  So here is your fun word for the day, “oenology,” or the science of viticulture.  For people who know their wine professionally, they like to measure wine based on how it performs.  Did the cork hold up?  How are the legs of the wine-and this is when you swirl the wine in your glass and how slow it drips down the side determines the “quality.”  Although, I have had wine with “great legs” but really didn’t care for the taste, so sometimes this scale could be wrong.

Oenologist also measure wine based on the smell, color, and most importantly of all, taste.  Wine buyers like to measure a wine based on where it is made, so location becomes a sign of perfection.  In France, wines of Bordeaux have a classification system that was started back in 1855 and has held ever since.  You will hear or see words like “first growths,” “premier grand cru,” or you could just stand alone and be a Pomerol, which doesn’t need a classification because they produce some of the most expensive blends in the world.  And they are fabulous.

I have had the fortunate experience of having some of all these classifications, thanks to my sweet Dad.  And I still have many of these to enjoy because of him.  I love those wines because they do show up to the table when it comes time to open them and share.  But I find myself not really clinging on to the idea of wine classification when it comes to determining what I like.  Sometimes the thrill of wine is finding a bottle that drinks really well without spending an entire paycheck on it.  So when I find those diamonds in the rough, I like to spread the word.  I find myself wanting to give the label a chance to shine on its own.  Much like we do as people in this world.  We are all floating around with our own sense of classification on how we measure up, and sometimes it’s great to just rise above it.  So maybe what we need to be doing in the world is acting more like a Pomerol.  Break away from a measure of our self-worth and stand on our own merit.

Why don’t you go out there, find a wine that fits your needs, and truly enjoy it.  Make your own measure of success with it.  I am not saying the other big names don’t hold up or shouldn’t be enjoyed.  Because they should, and they work hard to maintain their standards of quality.  Sometimes its just nice to relax a bit and step out of the “zone” to see what else this world has to offer.

Until next time,

Cheers

 

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Americans Yawning at Wine?

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This evening I was sitting (which doesn’t happen often in this house) reading my latest Wine Spectator magazine (I still have three previous issues I need to read), and of course, sipping a glass of wine. Now, don’t think I am going all “pompous” on you here. I wasn’t wearing a smoker’s jacket or silk pajamas. Classical music was not playing in the background. Actually, I had my ratty pajamas on, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse blasting on the television and a 3-year-old singing “Thomas the Train’s” theme song. Not really the atmosphere adhering to an issue of Wine Spectator. But this is my life, and at least I get to have a little indulgence every once-and-again.

If you have never had the chance to read a Wine Spectator, I urge you to pick up a copy the next time you find yourself roaming the magazine aisles at Barnes and Noble. Even if you despise wine and only drink whiskey or tequila (which they advertise profusely in their magazines), you should flip through it for the simple fact this company has one of the best-produced pieces of “quick read” literatures on the market. Not only is the magazine larger than any other on the stands, but also the pages feel so much different than your typical monthly read. They are thick and rich in color. It is almost like you can feel the font on each page you hold. Okay, sorry for digressing. I get lost in thought on these things. I love the written word, especially when I get to hold it in my hands. So it hits a pretty soft spot for me. If you really don’t care about all that, pick it up for the good wine tips and buyers guide at least. You never know whom you will impress.

My point in this post is not to talk about how fantastic the pages of Wine Spectator are, but rather, to bring up an interesting point I read in the latest issue. In the “Grapevine” section for this month it talked about how Bordeaux wines have started dropping prices. It then makes a correlating statement about younger generation Americans not willing or truly understanding why it is important to pay higher prices for wines coming from First Growth vineyards in France. I have to say, as a Generation X wine-drinker, I agree with what the article seemed to lament. I see this so often among my peers. They want a wine, something to drink tonight with a steak or great piece of fish. They are usually not looking for wine to cellar for years to come, anticipating in the way it will taste at a child’s graduation dinner or wedding reception. And honestly, that is okay. Passion for wine has to start somewhere along the road of life, and sometimes it never really gets above the “let’s have a few bottles on hand when we feel the mood strike” level.

I may be reaching out on a limb with this one, but there might be some truth to the article’s statement about how “Bordeaux has also failed to ignite interest in the next generation of wine drinkers.” Ralph Sands, senior wine specialist at California-based K & L Wine Merchants goes on to suggest, “Bordeaux needs to upgrade the little marketing that they do here in America to attract new young buyers before it’s too late.” Is he right? Who knows, but it is an interesting piece of information to ponder for wine aficionados out there. Fact is, I can see the generational gap in wine buying when it comes to high-priced French, and even American wines, fade a little. Especially if it is a bottle never before tasted.  Many of the First Growth and Second Growth Bordeaux wines need to cellar for several years after they are released on the shelf to really become ready to drink.  They are usually very tannic wines, and can turn off a newly groomed wine palate.  I remember how my dad used to cringe when he opened a nice Bordeaux and I could barely stomach the stuff!  These wines can be an acquired taste, and for a “green” wine drinker, not always the best “bang for your buck.”  But it doesn’t make them bad wines or wines unworthy to buy.  There just needs to be a little education and marketing behind them for newcomers roaming wine aisles across the country.

When there are so many great wines you can open for much cheaper prices, why buy an expensive bottle, or a case for that matter. Why spend money on something unknown if you don’t plan to cellar it and wait for the “great moment” when it should be opened. This is even truer for shoppers who go in to a store to buy a bottle and look at the labels, lost in a reverie of hard-to-pronounce vineyards from far-off countries. Unless you ask the store’s proprietor, or do your own research, it can be a total crapshoot.

But do I buy the nicer bottles, yes, and that is because a great man who loved his “high-priced Bordeaux wines” raised me. And they are delicious wines I enjoy opening for friends and family members who have never, or may never, experience this style of wine. I toast him and think of him with each pop of the cork. It is his legacy to me, and a legacy to his grandchildren.  I then tell a story about the wine and why it was one of his favorites to my drinking audience.  At the same time, I love finding a great deal on a bottle of wine, and then shock the hell out of my wine friends who assume it is a costly bottle simply because of the flavor and body it holds.

Raymond

As our society ebbs and flows, so will the world of wine. Anyone owning a vineyard in France (specifically Bordeaux) probably has an idea that marketing needs to change with the times, that name recognition will not always win consumers. Promoting your wine and telling new wine drinkers why it is so fabulous and unique are great necessities for survival. And that is okay, it is business and how the “cookie crumbles” in a buyer’s market.

A friend of mine, who is a great French Burgundy aficionado, once told me that wine is great not because of the year, but because of who drinks it with you. I think my generation, and generations below me, adhere to this because they love the idea of opening a good wine with great friends as opposed to opening great wines by themselves.

So my wine advice for today is not to be afraid to take a leap on a bottle of wine. If you have had wine before, you probably know a little about your personal variety preference (cabernet, pinot noir, etc.). Perhaps you want to venture out and experience great Bordeaux. Unsure what to buy? Take my earlier reading advice and look at the Wine Spectator’s buyer’s guide. But if you are not ready, it is okay.  Don’t think because a wine is costly, or comes from a particular region, it is worth breaking your budget. There are lots a great wines out there, expensive and inexpensive, French and American. And many times big-name French labels will have less-expensive wines to offer with the same great quality and flavor as their more “collectible pieces.” Once you find the wine, get a group of great friends, open it up and make some memories. I guarantee it will make the vino taste that much better.

Until next time, cheers!

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Women: What is Our Self Worth?

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I have to vent a little on this post.  I said in an earlier blog this particular subject would come up again with me.  And now it has…such a dichotomy of thoughts on what I want to express here.  The subject is a woman, and the issue is our self-worth.

So where does one start with this?  History has shown, and still shows to this day, women are often valued based on “self-worth.”  Until the early 21st century, a woman didn’t have a true place outside the home and was considered “worthy” based on the amount of dowry she could bring to a marriage.  Thankfully most of that has changed in modern times.  We have seen the rise of women’s liberation, breaking the glass ceiling and even women holding high-ranking leadership positions throughout the world.  This being said, why do we, as women, still fall into the trap of defining ourselves by our worth?  Why do we focus so hard on the numbers on a scale?  Why do we care whether or not we look a certain way or play a certain role in our life?

It surrounds use everywhere, images of beautiful women on billboards, buses, in magazines and newspapers.  We see them on television, perfect visions of the ideal female body.  Perfect hair, teeth, clothes, you name it and these women have it.  But do they?  It is basic marketing and advertising to promote a product.  Sex sells, right?  Hasn’t that been the slogan of American advertising companies (including Hollywood pictures) to get consumers to buy products or go see a movie?  Catchy phrases and slogans are used to lure women and men into the marketplace to purchase the “next best thing.”  It’s a consumer’s world, and I truly love it all.  But you have to look at these things with jaded goggles.  You have to know which is fact and which is fiction.

I majored in communication studies at Vanderbilt, so I did a lot of reading and writing.  I loved this major mainly because it brought me out of my small town shell and into the real world of thinking and feeling.  My professors pushed me to really dive head first into the words I read in speeches (ranging anywhere from Washington’s Inaugural Address to Martin Luther King’s speeches-there are more than just THE ONE).  I loved hearing these individuals and all their ideals.  The moments that changed their lives and made them better people, better thinkers and better ideologists.  I loved these words because it helped me think more about who I was and who I WANTED to be in this world.

It brings me back to dealing with the mindset I find in my own sex.  The belief that, despite how strong we may appear on the outside, we still fall prey deep down in our psyche to numbers and self-worth ideals.  And I am just as guilty as the woman next to me in line at Target.

Let’s face it; I am a total consumer in today’s modern age.  I love gadgets, read tabloids and watch Entertainment Television.  I do admit reality TV is something I truly despise.  I can’t stomach watching people make complete fools of themselves and believe they are not acting out a pre-scripted role.  Reality?  Not hardly, especially when there is a camera following you around the room.  Think about it-when you get that sudden interview for a local news channel and the camera is shoved in your face, how do you act?  No way close to natural, right?  But I digress…

I have amazing friends in my life, and they all help me in one way or the other.  We support one another, hear the laughter and share the tears.  Yet each time we get together I can’t help but notice how the conversation always turns to the latest diet, what our weight is, or how we wish we looked this way or that way.  Lusting over body types and how much we want to fit “back into our old size.”  Talking about the latest failure in the kitchen (I ate a pan of brownies or devoured a sleeve of Thin Mints), it seems these women (myself included) boil the conversations down to how little we feel our self worth is in life.  And every time I leave a dinner or social gathering with my friends I find myself shaking my head and having to tell myself there is more to life than what came up in our conversations.  We are all strong, independent women with families and responsibilities.  Some of us work outside the home, which adds to the pressures faced each day.  Yet we all still boil down to numbers on a scale or feeling we should fit a certain “mold.”  It makes my heart ache a little to think it, even type it.

So that is what I am here to say in this piece-to remind each and every one of us (myself included) that our self worth is more than just a number on the scale, a size plastered on a pair of designer jeans or an image of what we “wish” we could be in life.  There are so many examples, so many instances where I want to shake the individual in front of me and scream to the person “You are more than this!”  But I don’t, and instead try and offer the most supportive advice and motivation I can.  I have dealt with that battle, the feeling of needing to measure up to the person beside me, to fit an ideal.  And I am over it.  Can I scream that now?  I AM OVER IT!  I know who I am inside and out.  I know my weaknesses and my strengths.  It has taken a lot of time and hard confrontations to realize this, but I am thankful for each and every one of them.  I have handled weight issues, eating “issues” and trying to fit into a certain mold.  But you know what, it really isn’t what matters at the end of the day.  What matters is the knowledge that my children are safe and healthy, my family is happy and that I am doing whatever is in my power to make sure I remain on this earth to take care of them all.  Not because it is what society expects me to do, but because I want to be there.  I want to share in the memories and pass on to my children whatever knowledge I have to offer.  This is what life is really about, making a difference outside of our “self” and fighting tooth and nail against what is typically expected of our sex.

I am not a radical person, just a realistic individual who is tired of the fight waged against my sex.  I am over the feeling that I am not “enough” simply because I don’t work outside the home or volunteer enough at my kids school.  I do the best that I can each and every day, and some days I make huge mistakes while other days I conquer the world.  It would be this way whether I had a 9-5 job or continue the “domestic diva” role I currently hold.  I guess what I am saying is I own up to what I do, find the things in life that make me happy, give fuel to my ambition and try to keep myself balanced.

I am over the feeling that I need to look a certain way.  I like my own style, bright colors and things that make me feel comfortable.  I don’t wear things to impress those around me; I wear things that make me feel GOOD!  If it is considered revealing or out of the ordinary, I don’t care.  It is my style, what I move freely in and what I like.  I know my body and I know my limits.  So I go with it and choose not to sweat the small stuff.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter because I get up the next day to see the sweet smiles of my babies saying “good morning mommy.”  I get a kiss or hug from my husband, and yes I bring him coffee every morning along with my own cup.  These are the things that really matter.

Sure I will have moments when I think a dress may fit a little too tight, or I should lay off the dessert for a few days and let my body recoup.  But I am finished with counting calories, analyzing every single thing that goes in my mouth because it truly makes life miserable.  As I have found, life it way too short to sweat the small stuff.  So here is what I want you to do, if you feel inclined.  Throw away the damn scale (go by how your clothes FEEL).  When you eat food, really taste its flavors and enjoy what it has to offer your palate.  How does the food make your body feel?  Listen to what it tells you and you will discover the things that make your own being function on a healthy day-to-day basis.  Forget trying to fit into a certain mold; instead find what makes you feel good about yourself; what makes your body run the way it should.

Some people may see me as a health freak, or weight-conscious individual who worries about appearances.  But really, I am not.  I do love going to the gym because of the mental release I experience, plus the challenge I can place on myself when I am there.  I need that challenge to exist on a daily basis.  I also love food and cooking.  I enjoy the stuff that isn’t so good for me because I know I also give my body enough of the things that make it feel good.  Balance-that is what I have FINALLY learned.  It has been a long, hard road, but I am getting it a little more each day.

So you see, I am not perfect, nor do I want to be perfect.  I am the person I want to be, I am getting comfortable in my own skin.  And it has been a long and arduous road to get to this point.  But I am so thankful to be here and hopefully can exude some of it on my fellow mates.

Those who know me know I love wine.  Wine is something I can never give up; it’s just a part of my individuality.  And I love learning about it each and every day.  In fact, my wine tip of the day comes from a great magazine article in the latest Wine Spectator.  The article is about Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the French matriarch of one of the leading vineyards in the world.  Her family has produced award-wining wines from their vineyards in Bordeaux since 1853.  If you haven’t had the chance to taste a Mouton-Rothschild or Lafite-Rothschild, I hope you get it.  The wines are outstanding and always hold up to the Rothschild standard of winemaking.

Interestingly enough, Philippine’s father, Baron Philippe Rothschild, did not believe women had a place in the world.  Yet, here is his daughter holding court over a multi-million dollar business for over 20 years.  She has helped the Rothschild name grow into the 21st century, expanding the family’s business interests across International Waters.  If you get a chance, you should read the article or do some research on this incredible woman.  Pick up the latest copy of Wine Spectator or search the Baroness and her wines online.  There are many subsidiary wineries and joint ventures that won’t drain your wallet but still offer the Rothschild quality.

And for further enlightenment on your journey, here are a few books that I have read along the way; hopefully they will make the same impact on you as they did on me.  Forgive me if I get the bibliography wrong.  I am a bit rusty and blowing the dust off my Bedford Handbook from college.

Bordo, Susan.  Unbearable Weight:  Feminism, Western Culture and the Body.

California:  University of California Press, 1993.

Bordo, Susan.  Twilight Zones:  The Hidden Life of Cultural Images from Plato to O.J.

California:  University of California Press, 1997.

Sadeghi, Dr. Habib.  WITHIN:  A Spiritual Awakening of Love & Weight Loss.

Los Angeles:  Premier Digital Publishing, 2013.

Bradley Bayou.  The Science of Sexy.  New York:  Gotham Books, 2007.