Tag Archives: wine

Upcoming Fall Fun

Looking for something to do, but tired of researching to indulge your morbid curiosity about the two tired old folks duking it out in the Alabama Governor’s race? Convinced in some sort of deeply buried sliver of your soul that there might be more to life than consumption of a weekly slate of college football games? Feeling as if there’s something missing in your life?

Get out there and experience the reality that most people in the world know and love … or at least tolerate until another morning dawns. “But what to do?” you might be shrieking at your computer screen at this very moment. Never fear, here are some good options for Midtown Montgomery residents looking for weekend fun during coming weeks:

Start a morning at the CIA yard sale. No, no, no the Central Intelligence Agency yard sale, which would be super awesome but probably also a trap. No, we’re talking about the Cloverdale-Idlewild Association yard sale, the 6th annual fundraiser for one of the best neighborhood associations in the city.

It’s October 9th from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. and like most yard sales, the early birds get the bargains. Young people and hipsters who prize the kinds of crap you can find at yard sales are also the most likely to be sleeping in because of long Friday nights. Old people will show up early and buy all the best stuff while the young resign themselves to lolling around on the couch watching ESPN’s College Football Gameday, which features Lee Corso, an old person who has probably already hit 3 yard sales before he dodders on the set each Saturday morning.

The C.I.A. yardsale is pretty great. They have everything from clothing to toys to a whole gardening section (where we sold some of the unfortunate statuary that came with our house when we bought it), all priced to move.

Go see the Springsteen movie at The Capri on September 26th. Bruce Springsteen is sort of like U2: been around forever, couldn’t possibly be more critically acclaimed and totally taken for granted. We’re not huge Springsteen fans. We know people from New Jersey who (while tossing a begrudging bone to that other Garden State musical icon, Mr. Bongiovi) pretty much treat Bruuuuce like The Pope. And he is. He’s sort of the Madonna of white dudes, the American Bono, the working class Mick Jagger, the everything good about the “guy with guitar and kickass band” model of music-making.

If you think you already know what’s up with Bruce Springsteen and don’t like him, you probably haven’t heard enough. One of the bad things about being a musical icon is that people slot you into a box. If your knowledge of Bruce begins and ends with the “Born in the USA” and “Dancin’ in the Dark” stuff from the 1980s, you need to clear your mind and experience the haunting brutality of 1982’s Nebraska or even some of the new stuff like Working on a Dream.

Young people would be making a mistake to lump Bruce in with other middle-aged white guitar rock icons like Tom Petty (who is also awesome) or John (Cougar) Mellencamp (who is less so). Maybe you’re more into John Mayer or Jack Johnson. Or maybe you just don’t think as much about music as you once did because the economy has collapsed and you’re juggling your job (or the search for one) with family obligations and other priorities.

Bruce is the soundtrack to all of this, or could be if you’d listen. Go see this movie. It’s called London Calling, was filmed live in London’s Hyde Park, and opens with the title track being performed (a cover of one of the greatest songs by The Clash). We haven’t seen it, but it is getting rave reviews. It’s a 90-minute live show by Bruce and the E Street Band and if all you’ve ever seen of Bruce live is the Super Bowl halftime show, this movie is sure to blow your doors off.

London Calling is the final of three special programs at the Capri Theatre the week of September 20-26. On Friday, September 24 they’ll be showing one of two showings of the cult classic The Big Lebowski (one of our fave movies ever). Saturday, September 25 brings Alexander City resident and star of Troll 2 George Hardy to the theater to present the documentary Best Worst Movie.

Do Oktoberfest at El Rey. We’ve already explained that we think El Rey Burrito Lounge is one of our very favorite restaurants in the city. That would be true even if they weren’t always having awesome special events like Oktoberfest (Friday, October 1st). We went last year and liked their vegan chorizo dogs so much that we wrote Oktoberfest on our calendar as soon as they announced the date. Of course, they have the meaty kind of chorizo too — and delicious soft pretzels. And beer. Did we mention that there will be lots and lots of beer? Some of it will be kinds you’ve never heard of. All of it will be delicious. And hopefully by then it will not be a million degrees outside.

Go to the Wine Festival. We like wine. It gives us that warm feeling, loquaciousness, and, if consumed in sufficient quantities, it can make us forget about the current political climate here in Alabama (Can you tell that we’re thrilled with the current crop of folks being offered up for election in November?).

On Saturday, October 9, go to the River Walk Wine Festival. It’s noon to 4 p.m. at, well, duh, at the Riverfront. It’s $25 a person with music, wine, food, all the usual festival stuff. We were at the river for the Dragon Boat races and had a blast. And as the weather cools, it’s even better to be taking advantage of one of the best parts of downtown.

While we know a little about wine, we’re far from the readers of the insufferable wine magazines. We don’t go to the wine snob Websites or offer the discriminating curl of the lip if offered something less-than-elite. We know only enough to know what we like. And that’s why it’s fun. We’re actually pretty populist about it, being able to sit on pickup tailgates drinking cheap beer with the good ol’ boys one day, while swilling a Spanish reserva rosé with friends on the patio the next.

The River Walk Wine Festival promises to be a good time. At least 11 distributors are featured on the festival’s Webpage. And we promise to have a designated driver. We are also glad that this is not on the same day as the Oktoberfest because we’re not sure we could mix that much wine and beer.

We know there’s more stuff coming up – just wanted to share these events with anyone looking for stuff to do. And please, as always, if you know of cool upcoming events, drop us a line so we can help spread the word.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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Ted, the Wine Guy

By Stephen and Kate

Alabama has a conflicted relationship with alcohol.

On one hand, the state celebrates college football tailgate boozing, is home to the nation’s oldest Mardi Gras (warning link opens jazzy informational Schoolhouse Rock-style song about Mobile), and has a long history of moonshine and White Lightnin’.

On the other hand, the state government still competes with private enterprise in the alcohol market because “The people of Alabama did not want alcoholic beverages marketed like soup and soft drinks” and it took a “Free the Hops” movement until 2009 to convince the Legislature increase the limit on alcohol by volume in beer from 6% to 13.9%. Many restrictions on beer and brewing remain. And then there was the unfortunate recent matter of the ABC Board banning a brand of California wine due to a picture of a nude nymph of the label (sidebar: Said board is run by a certain octogenarian former Mayor of Montgomery).

As such, we count ourselves lucky not only to be living in one of Alabama’s “wet” counties (with Sunday sales and draft beer and everything!), but also to be amid intelligent and well-informed folks who have tremendous expertise in beer and wine.

Enter Ted, the Wine Guy. Now, we don’t know Ted nearly well enough to call him by his first name. We met him once, when working on this blog post. And we’d never call him “the wine guy.” Vintner, maybe. But “wine guy?” Seems awfully casual. And yet, that’s the name of Ted’s charming three-year-old store (3062 Zelda Rd.), where he and co-owner (and Montgomery native) Scotty Scott sell, well, you know.

Look, we’re not wine snobs. But we do love to drink the stuff. And that makes Ted and Scotty a perfect match for us since on their website, item number one under the company’s mission is to “remove the intimidation from wine shopping by offering our customers Expertise without Arrogance.” Sounds good to us. Getting beyond the snooty intimidation factor is a big part of being comfortable trying new things and being able to be honest about what you like and don’t like.

That’s not to say that we don’t have opinions or think that all wines are created equally. We may not read Wine Spectator, but we do like having informed opinions about why things taste a certain way, even if we’re not able to talk soil quality, weather patterns, and cork construction with the people who really, truly geek out about this sort of thing.

All of which is really just prefatory to the bottom line: The service at Ted’s is great and the inventory offers the full panoply of fermentation. There are starter wines, more expensive items, cheap table wines, exotic things for sophisticated palates, international rarities, and the usual accouterments (sparkling wines, rare cheeses, etc.).

They seem very serious about helping Montgomery residents learn about wine, but not in a pedantic way. On Fridays after work you can stop by for a tasting (we were there when wholesaler Stacy Chappel from Rush Wines was pouring a selection of six tasty wines that were new to us – and of course we left with one). Or you can join their “Cellar Club” to get discounts on wine (pay $25, then two more installments of $25, and you’re a lifetime member) including special sales from a “members-only” rack, 6% off bottles, and 12% off a case. Discounts aren’t limited to club members – everyone can get 10% off when they buy a case.

Even though it’s in a strip mall (next to the UPS store in the Publix shopping center on Zelda Road), Ted’s feels warm and welcoming. Their focus on affordable and accessible wines is refreshing. It shows that there is a delicious middle ground between Sutter Home and a nice bottle of Sterling, and it makes you feel like you could actually learn something about wine without spending a fortune.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a dog, a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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