Hudson Valley Rock Stars

True Confessions:  Outside of the Finger Lakes region of New York, I’ve never given much thought to New York wines.  There’s not exactly a huge New York wine presence here in Virginia.  A few years ago, a wise wine friend gave me some advice:  “The wine world’s a big place, don’t drink the same thing all the time. Go taste something new!”  And over the years, I’ve become more and more attracted to new-to-me wine regions and grapes.  So, when I got word the Hudson Valley was the theme for this month’s #winechat, I heard that voice again:

Go taste something new!

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Wish you were here!

For the uninitiated, #winestudio is a live, 4-week long, wine tasting and education series that takes place each Tuesday evening from 9-10pm EST on Twitter.  It’s hosted by  Protocol Wine Studio, and usually focuses on a singular theme, but wines and/or wineries change each week. Wine Studio participants are always well-prepared and enthusiastic.  Special thanks to Debbie Gioquindo of Hudson Valley Wine Goddess for serving as our official tour guide this month.

Here’s the Hudson Valley Highlight Reel:

Hudsonmap

Not even a little bit close to China.

History & People:  The Hudson River is named after English explorer, Henry Hudson, who “discovered” it in 1609 (Hudson discovered the Hudson River in the same way Al Gore discovered the Internet).  Hudson had been looking for a passage to China when he ran into the Hudson River. When Hudson arrived, the area was already home to Native American tribes, the Algonquins and the Mahicans.  You see why discovered is the wrong word.

Fast forward 170ish years . . . the Hudson River played a key role in determining the outcome of the Revolutionary War.  The British wanted to control the Hudson River to cut off New England from the rest of the American colonies.  But the Americans weren’t going to give up control of the Hudson without a fight.  The Battle of Saratoga, fought on the shores of the Hudson River, would be the turning point of the Revolutionary War.  Colonist victories there convinced the French to enter the war on the side of the Americans, and spurred the eventual British surrender.  That really doesn’t have anything to do with wine, I just like history. Well, wait.  General George Washington’s favorite wine was Madeira.  And I don’t think I’d be going out on much of a historical limb to say he probably indulged in a glass or six of Madeira after receiving word of the British surrender at Saratoga.  There.  Now they’re connected.

French Hugenots were the first to plant grapes in the Hudson Valley, in 1677.  But it was a Quaker named Robert Underhill who first cross-bred native and European grapes, making them hearty enough to survive the harsh Hudson River Valley climate (sometime around 1827).  [Raising a glass of thanks to Mr. Underhill!]

It’s important to note the Hudson River Valley began as an agricultural community, and remains so today.  In our first #winestudio chat, Dutchess County Tourism pointed out, “Agriculture is a driving economic force in the Hudson Valley, and a way of life.  There are farms around every corner, some owned by the same family for generations”.

Geography & Climate:  The Hudson River Valley was created over 14,000 years (at the end of the last Ice Age) when ocean levels rose and flooded the valley floor.  This created a long finger of water, running over 300 miles from north to south.  (I wish I could see that on time-lapse photography).  The southern half of the Hudson River is an estuary, mixing fresh water with ocean salt water.  The flow of the Hudson River changes direction every six hours, due to the pull of ocean tides.  That’s something the Mahicans surely noticed, since their name for the river was Muhheakantuck, which means, the river that flows both ways.  By way of comparison, Hudson means Son of Hud.

Hudson Valley winemakers have done a great job listening to their terroir, and planting grape varieties that can not only withstand, but thrive in the harsh weather conditions of the valley. Winters freeze hard in the Hudson River Valley, and summers tend to be hot and humid, which can cause problems with mold (the bad black rot and mildew kind, not the good botrytis kind). However, the Hudson River captures ocean breezes from the south, which help to moderate temperatures in both summer and winter.  Vines are planted on hillsides to maximize sun exposure, and ultimately, ripening.

Geology:  Hudson Valley soil is composed of glacial deposits of shale, slate, schist and limestone.  That soil profile gives the wines a distinct mineral taste — abundant in all the wines we tasted.

Three types of grapes are grown in the Hudson River Valley:

Vinifera:

  • Chardonnay – the most widely planted vinifera grape in the Hudson Valley.
  • Riesling
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Pinot Noir
  • Gamay Noir

Hybrids:

  • Seyval Blanc – the most widely planted white grape in the Hudson Valley.
  • Baco Noir
  • Vignoles
  • Vidal Blanc

Vinifera-Hybrid Crosses:

  • Frontenac – a cross of the hybrid Landlot 4511 and cold-hardy Vitis riparia.
  • Traminette — a cross of the French-American hybrid Joannes Seyve 23.416 and the German Vitis vinifera Gewürztraminer.

Over the course of our month-long #winestudio session, we tasted wines from three different Hudson River Valley wineries:

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White Cliff Vineyards White Rose White Wine 2013 ⭐⭐⭐/85
That’s White Rose, not Rosé — the little accent makes a big difference.  This wine is named after the White Rose rock-climbing route on the Shawangunk (say that three times fast) Ridge. It’s a field blend of 25% Gewürztraminer and 75% Traminette.  During the #winechat, I asked White Cliff if it was a true field blend, in that you get what Mother Nature gives you, or if they tried to control the output.  White Cliff told us, “there is minimal interference, but I do practice my winemaking protocols to make sure the product is consistent and clean.”  And clean it is! Wow, the nose on this wine!!  I think perfume girls are giving out samples of this at the mall. The Gewürztraminer signature very present.  Lychee building to a crescendo of lemon.  Bone dry with a mineral finish.

Brotherhood Sparkling Chardonnay NV ⭐⭐⭐/86
Brotherhood Winery has the distinction of being the nation’s oldest continuously operating winery.  You could win Final Jeopardy with that little bit of knowledge, so file it away somewhere safe.  Brotherhood has been making sparkling wines since the 1800s, releasing their first vintage in 1839.  Produced using the Charmat method, the Chardonnay is very present in this sparkler.  Loaded with flavors of green apple, lemon and yeast.  And there’s that mineral edge again.  Marzipan lingers on the finish.  Trivia:  Brotherhood’s Riesling is on the White House Wine List.

Millbrook Winery Tocai Friulano 2013 ⭐⭐⭐/87
Tocai Friulano is a grape variety native to the Friuli region of northeastern Italy, grown mostly in the southern and western foothills of the Alps.  Only small quantities have found their way to the US, and Millbrook has some!  In 1995, Tocai Friuliano lost a legal challenge in Europe over its name, and is now known simply as Friulano.  But, Millbrook is in the USA, not the EU, so they don’t have to play by Europe’s rules.  This wine is a perfect salute to the end of summer!  Refreshing, with super acidity.  Pear, grapefruit and melon flavors, and there’s those rock notes again.  Ever wonder what would happen if Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling got married and had a baby?  That’s this wine!  Will definitely seek out more.

Millbrook Winery Cabernet Franc 2012 ⭐⭐/84
Blended with 20% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  A wallop of tannins up front, but mellows with exposure to air.  Flavors are bing cherry and green pepper.  Some spice and pencil shaving notes (hello slate!) on the finish, with a little surge of acid that’s pulling my focus. It’s begging for food — wish I had some grilled meat — that might soften the edges a bit.

All of the Hudson Valley wines we tasted are solid, well-made wines — all expressions of a unique terroir.  One distinct characteristic revealed itself in all of the wines, and it’s one of my favorite things to find in a bottle of wine — rocks!  From here on out, it’ll be tough for me to think of Hudson Valley wines as anything other than Rock Stars!

Salud!

Wine, Words & Wednesday, No. 15

We’re all a little heartbroken for Napa Valley this week.  I’m nauseous looking at all the photos of the earthquake damage.  The barrel rooms look like someone lost at Jenga, and the tasting rooms are littered with piles of soul-crushing, broken wine bottles.  Earthquakes are a real bubble burster.

If you’ve ever visited Napa Valley, I’m sure you have a photo of this sign (it’s one of life’s mandatory photo-ops).  Some people complain the sign is cheesy and out-of-date, but I love its vintage quality.  The sign was built in 1949 and dedicated in 1950, with some of Napa Valley’s biggest biggies in attendance.  From left to right:  Robert Mondavi (C. Mondavi and Sons/Charles Krug), Charles Forni (Napa Cooperative Vineyard), Madame Fernande de Latour (Beaulieu Vineyard), John Daniel, Jr. (Inglenook), and Al Huntsinger (Vin-Mont).

But . . . look closely!  Robert Louis Stevenson’s very famous words on the side of the present-day Napa Valley sign weren’t always there.  The original sign contained the names of some of the founding wineries of Napa Valley.  Stevenson’s words weren’t added until sometime in the 1960’s.

silverado squatters

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Stevenson’s words are most well-known in their truncated (and out of context) form . . . Wine is Bottled Poetry.  But that’s not the whole story.  The words appear in Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 travel memoir, Silverado Squatters.  The book narrates Stevenson’s two-month honeymoon in Napa Valley.  And while a two-month honeymoon in Napa Valley may seem like a dream trip, Stevenson wasn’t staying at the Auberge du Soleil. Stevenson couldn’t afford $10/week for a hotel, so he and his bride squatted in a bunkhouse on an abandoned mining camp called Silverado. During their two months in Napa Valley, Stevenson met a lot of winemakers, impressed with their pioneer spirit and drive to produce outstanding wines.

In the paragraphs leading up to the one below, Stephenson is bemoaning the death of wine in France at the hands of an “unconquerable worm”.  Hello, phylloxera!  It was 1880 when Stevenson wrote Silverado Squatters, and by then, French vineyards had been devastated by phylloxera.  And all of Europe was still working on a solution to the unconquerable worm problem.

Stevenson then shifts gears, looking forward with new hope, to a new wine growing region — California.  Stevenson was actually talking about French wine with his famous words.  Here’s the full context:

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Or your granddaughter’s palate (ahem).  At any rate, I’m pretty sure Stevenson would agree — Napa found its Columbus.

Tonight, I’m raising a smack of Californian earth to Napa Valley’s recovery.  Here’s to Napa getting back on its feet . . . and back to bottling poetry!

Salud!

Wine Pairing Challenge: Fig, Prosciutto & Burrata Cheese Salad

Fig-Burrata-Prosciutto-Salad-RecipeI’m having a moment.  A food moment.
A few days ago, I had a craving for burrata cheese, and started clicking around on the Black Hole of the Internet, aka Pinterest, for recipe ideas.  And, in what might be a Pinterest speed record, I came across this recipe and immediately stopped clicking: Fig, Prosciutto and Burrata Cheese Salad. Something that looks that good has to taste that good, right??  My recipe search was over.

If you’ve never had the guilty pleasure of burrata cheese, you need to fix that immediately.  Burrata cheese is fresh mozzarella wrapped around a pocket of even more fresh mozzarella mixed with fresh cream.  Burrata means “buttered” in Italian.  Mmmm, buttered cheese.  The play on textures is genius.

And figs!  I love fresh figs.  You aren’t allowed to say you don’t like figs if the sum total of your fig experience is Fig Newtons.  Fig Newtons taste like sand.  Fresh figs, however, are glorious.  Combining them with burrata cheese and prosciutto is approaching otherworldly!  I wonder if a fig tree would survive in Northern-ish Virginia??

This salad is so good, my eyes are rolling into the back of my head!  But what wine to pair with it?  There’s a whole lot of different tastes and textures on my plate:

  • Peppery arugula
  • Silky, creamy burrata cheese
  • Salty prosciutto
  • Sweet fresh figs (my grocery store only had green figs, which muted the color palate a little, but definitely not the taste!)
  • Acidic balsamic vinegar
  • Very sweet fig compote (if you’re not a fan of overly sweet stuff, cut back on the compote)

I looked at this plate, and my first (and really only) pairing thought was Bubbles!  And I just happened to have an open bottle of Champagne in my fridge.  And while it wasn’t a bad pairing at all, I can’t help but wonder if Bubbles with a touch of sweetness (maybe a Moscato d’Asti or even a Prosecco) would have been a better choice.

What are your thoughts?  What wine(s) would you pair with this salad?

Salud!

Wine, Words & Wednesday, No. 14

Last week was one of those weeks.  A stop-the-ride-I-want-to-get-off kind of week.  It’s Back-to-School time at Casa de Armchair Sommelier.  And while that’s generally a good thing (I might actually have some “me time” to write), it also means waking up before dawn, homework hassles, and spending an absurd amount of time in my car driving my kids to and from their activities.  But, on the plus side, I’ll regain control of the radio in my car again.

In the midst of trying to catch my breath yesterday morning, I read the happy news that I won the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #11!  The MWWC continues to attract more and more great writers, so I’m a bit surprised, and more than a bit humbled, that I won.  The theme for this month’s challenge was friend, which sounds like a piece of cake, but turned out to be a real stumper for me.  I started writing a couple of different posts, but ended up throwing them into the metaphorical trash can because they were trite, and boring me to tears.  I’m a terrible storyteller (I’ll write research papers all day, but storytelling has always been my Achilles heel), and I was way outside of my comfort zone with my friend post.  I’m tremendously happy (and a little relieved) you liked it enough to vote for me!  So, thank you.

I’m already thinking about a theme for next month . . . I’m trying to come up with something that won’t garner a bunch of complaints about how impossible it is, but I think that might be impossible.

So, the theme for next month is . . . tomatoes!

Kidding.

I’m still thinking.  I will let The Drunken Cyclist know what I decide . . . and then he will post it to the MWWC Blog.  And you can all get writing!

In the meantime, and still in the vein of wine and friendship, I give you these words:

best wines

I think we’ve all had this experience.  We open a bottle of wine with friends, and by itself, the wine is stretching to be mediocre, but because of the company, it ends up being unforgettable.

Here’s to the wine we drink with friends!

Salud!

Wine, Words & Wednesday, No. 13

19book "The Girls of Atomic City" by Denise Kiernan.I just finished reading a book called, The Girls of Atomic City:  The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II.  It tells the story of the tens of thousands of women who were recruited to live and work in a super-secret city in the Appalachian Mountains, built during World War II, for a singular purpose — enriching uranium.  Only no one ever said the word uranium.  The town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, wasn’t on any map — it didn’t exist.  And the women who worked there worked in total secrecy, not only from family and friends on the outside, but from each other.  They were told not to ask questions (like, “Why can’t I find Oak Ridge on a map?”), their jobs so compartmentalized, no one was fully aware of exactly what they were working on.  The women were told only that what they were doing would help win the war, and bring the boys home.

Back up a few years . . .

Back in 1939, a couple of German scientists figured out how to split an atom of uranium. Über-smart science guys from all over the world got a little panicky as they collectively realized the potential danger if the Germans figured out how to harness that energy into a weapon before the Allies did.  The earliest front of World War II was active — the science front.

By 1939, scientists Albert Einstein (Germany) and Enrico Fermi (Italy) had both fled their respective countries, and were living in the United States.  Einstein was born a Jew, and Fermi’s wife was a Jew — both recognized the dangers of remaining in Germany and Italy.  Einstein and Fermi (together with a whole slew of other scientists) started sending up warning flags about the potential for a “new kind of bomb”, and the monstrous consequences if the Germans developed it first.  In this race, second place would be last place, so the US government secretly funded a project to design and build the atomic bomb — the Manhattan Project.

The first real breakthrough in the Manhattan Project came in December of 1942.  Scientists working in Chicago (Enrico Fermi chief among them), had finally created the world’s first ever self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.  As far as scientific accomplishments go, this one was a biggie.  It rolled out the welcome mat for the Atomic Age.

I never gave any thought to how those scientists must have felt at that moment.  I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about nuclear reactions in general — the best experience I ever had in a science lab was leaving it.  But those guys (and one gal, I should point out!) must have felt like they discovered fire.  And they celebrated (and I use that word loosely) their accomplishment with a bottle of Italian Chianti:

Theoretical-physicist

I was curious why Wigner chose Chianti, so I went down the Internet rabbit hole to find out.  According to Wigner’s memoir, he purchased the bottle of Chianti months earlier in Princeton, New Jersey, and saved it, optimistic there would be a reason to open it.  Chianti was a special wine to him — it was the first wine he ever tasted, as a young boy visiting Venice, and its impression stuck with him.  And, having lived through World War I in Europe, Wigner feared the war would soon make it tough for Italy to export wine.  Wigner’s memoirs recall Fermi (not Wigner) opening the bottle, but that’s probably unimportant.  What is important is the scientists simply raised their paper cups of Chianti in a silent toast.  This was one of those moments that defied words.

Sidebar:  In his memoir, Wigner refers to the Chianti as “sweet”, which came as a surprise to me.  Was Chianti sweet in the late 1930s??  Wigner’s impression was less of a surprise: “What a beautiful, subtle pleasure wine gives.”  Hear, hear.

Here’s a photo of that signed bottle of Chianti, from the Argonne National Laboratory Energy Showcase:

chianti signedPhoto Credit

After the breakthrough in Chicago, the purse strings weren’t just loosened on the Manhattan Project, they were completely untied.  The uranium enrichment project in Oak Ridge went on, full speed ahead.  The women working in that secret city never knew (and if they suspected, they didn’t dare think it) what they were working on until the bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945.  The war was over.  Many of the women stayed in Oak Ridge after the war, others moved on.  But for all of the women, “a strange mix of . . . pride and guilt and joy and shame endured.”

If you’re interested in more, The Atlantic published many of Ed Wescott’s (the only authorized photographer at Oak Ridge) photos in a completely fascinating series:  Life in the Secret City.

Salud!

MWWC #11: Walking a Mile with a Bottle of Wine *

Sometimes, the simple act of showing up is what matters most of all.

LesMis_Wine-Of-Friendship_smThe night my grandfather died, I was a young (and brand new) Marine wife, living on Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in coastal North Carolina.  My husband was deployed overseas, and I still didn’t know many people there.  If you’ve never lived on a military base, it’s a lot like living on another planet.  It’s one of the best planets the universe has to offer, but it takes some getting used to. And I was still in my fish out of water phase.

I don’t remember exactly what I was doing before the phone rang that night.  Probably having a showdown with a North Carolina palmetto bug — a giant, flying cockroach related to the pterodactyl.  Or trying to figure out a way to tell my husband during our next morale call that our German shepherd puppy ate his favorite comforter.  This was back in the year 1993 PC (pre-cell), when corded telephones roamed the earth.  And the Marine Corps gave us a free, 15-minute overseas phone call once a week.  I had to get up at 0200 and go through an operator on a party line (which was more 1943 than 1993), but it was better than nothing.

I do remember it was late at night and really cold outside (go ahead, have a field day with the foreshadowing and symbolism there).  Anyway, the phone rang.  You know what happens next.

My mom and I talked through that first rogue wave of grief, but eventually, I knew I had to hang up the phone.  And then I thought, what am I supposed to do now?  My parents were 2,000 miles away. My brother was in college in Kentucky.  And my husband was deployed half-way across the globe.  I was alone.  Alone, alone.  Well, except for that palmetto bug and my textile-eating German shepherd.

Palmetto bugs don’t make for very good grief companions, so I called one of the other battalion wives.  She was a stranger once removed, really.  But ten minutes later, she showed up at my door with a hug and a bottle of wine.  That’s the thing about the Marine Corps Mafia (all military families, really) — if you call, they come running.  She came inside, handed me the bottle of wine, and said, “Tell me about your grandpa.”

And so we sat, in the dark, in the middle of my living room floor.  We drank that bottle of wine and she listened to me cry . . . and encouraged me to remember.  Looking back, I have no idea why she and I sat in the dark in the middle of my living room floor.  My husband and I were young newlyweds, who hadn’t yet accumulated a lot of stuff, but we did have a couch.  And electricity.

I also have no idea what kind of wine she brought that night.  Other than it was red flavor, and probably cheap — new 2nd lieutenants aren’t exactly flush with cash.  It probably had a cute, dancing animal on the label.  But it didn’t matter — that wine tasted like solace, and it was one of the best wines of my life.  As we drank that bottle of wine, I cried less and smiled more.  And when the bottle was empty, she stood up and said, “Go get some rest.  You’ll feel better in the morning.  Things are always better in the morning.”  (She probably wanted to go home and sit on a couch, like a civilized person).

And you know what?  Things were better in the morning.  Not by much, but they were better.

I’m not much for poetry (most of it grates on my last good nerve).  But when I was in elementary school, a friend gave me this poem, and I’ve kept it in my cedar chest for the last 30 years . . .

People come into our lives and walk with us a mile, and then because of circumstances they only stay a while.  They serve a need within the days that move so quickly by, and then are gone beyond our reach we often wonder why.  Who knows the reason that we meet and share a smile, why people come into our lives and walk with us a mile.

I wish I could tell you that bottle of wine ignited an enduring, quarter-century friendship, but it didn’t.  We lost touch over the years.  And that’s OK.  That’s the reality of time and distance. Some people come into our lives and walk a marathon with us, others just walk a mile.

Honestly, I don’t spend a lot of time wondering why — I’m just grateful I didn’t have to walk that mile alone.

That night, a friend showed up . . . and she brought wine.

Salud!
__________________________________

*This is my entry in the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, #11.  The theme this month is:  Friend!

Wine, Words & Wednesday, No. 12

Who's up for an algae smoothie??

Who’s up for an algae smoothie??

I’ve been thinking a lot about water this week. Kind of a surprise, really, since I usually think a lot about wine.  Call it my out-of-the-box moment.

My parents live in northern Ohio, near Toledo.  Earlier this week, the Toledo area was under a water ban (don’t drink, bathe or boil) because of a Lake Erie algae bloom containing dangerous levels of microcystin, a toxin released by cyanobacteria, which is a fancy science word for blue-green algae. Microcystin isn’t very nice.  If you swim in it, you’re in for an itchy rash, hives and blisters. If you swallow the stuff, it can cause a whole range of nasty gastrointestinal issues, along with potential liver and kidney damage.  Oh, and it’s been known to kill pets and livestock.

So when the Lake Erie science guys issue a CAPSLOCK warning that says, “DON’T DRINK THE WATER!” . . . Copy that.

Algae blooms aren’t a new thing for Lake Erie — they happen almost every summer.  Some blooms are more toxic than others.  Lake Erie is more susceptible to the algae blooms because it’s a shallow lake (only around 24 feet deep near Toledo), and warms quickly.  Toxic algae loves shallow, warm lakes.  The algae blooms can be traced back to phosphorous run-off from fertilizer and animal waste.  Climate change and a couple species of invasive mussels are also getting a share of the blame.  Unfortunately, this isn’t Lake Erie’s first time at the Algae Bloom Rodeo, and it won’t be their last.

Lake Erie has never had a great reputation.  For years, people have whispered it’s a dead, dirty lake.  I’ve heard the word sewer tossed around, too.  Lake Erie rebounded a bit over the last couple of decades, but still wrestles with that reputation.  When I was a kid, I swam in Lake Erie almost every summer, an activity I now realize is about the same as taking a dip in a petri dish. Back then, there were none of these handy public advisory signs posted on the beaches. Honestly, it’s a wonder I haven’t sprouted a third ear.

buckeye lake 1

Come on in . . . the water is fine.

My mom said it was impossible to to buy bottled water in northern Ohio this past weekend – the store shelves were (and still are) bare.  (This is the part where the Doomsday Preppers start to look like geniuses).  And you can’t boil water contaminated with microcystin.  Well, you can, but boiling only concentrates the toxins and increases your chances of going twelve rounds with Lake Erie Dysentery.

So what did my folks do in the face of this public health crisis?  They drank wine!

My parents have a wine cellar capable of sustaining them through any algae bloom Lake Erie can throw at them.  Which brings me (finally) to this week’s words:

bacteria-JPG-73These words are frequently attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but as such they’re almost assuredly a misquote.  Either that, or Benjamin Franklin was an oracle.  The word Bacterium wasn’t introduced until 1828, and the word Bacteria wasn’t used as a scientific term until 1838. Benjamin Franklin died in 1790.  I’ve also seen the words attributed to David Auerbach (no idea which one)  and someone named “Old German Saying”.

I’ve even seen these words as an addendum to Pliny’s very famous quote, “In wine there is truth.”  It makes sense.  The ancient Greeks & Romans knew there were baddies in the water, so they drank a ton of wine instead.  And whatever water they did drink, they mixed with wine, thinking the wine would somehow make the water less poisonous.  But they still wouldn’t have used the word bacteria.

Regardless of the source, the next time Lake Erie blooms with toxic algae, I’m comforted in the knowledge that my parents have plenty of wisdom and strength to drink while they wait for the all clear sign.

Salud!

P.S.  On Monday, officials lifted the water ban after deciding toxin levels in Lake Erie had returned to “acceptable levels”.  This means the water probably doesn’t contain enough toxin to kill your poodle.