Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wine for a Little More Crazy

This post is brought to you by The Department of You-Can't-Make-This-Shit-Up.

As I mentioned last week, Steve and I have been bombarded by the crazy noises from the upstairs and downstairs neighbors. This week, one of those neighbors has taken us on a fun-filled tour of that crazy.

Our upstairs neighbor, if you remember, is the one who, starting at 10 pm every night, decides to either jump up and down, or Riverdance her way to glory, or just pick up every piece of furniture she has and then drop it on the floor.

Steve and I were baffled by what could be causing such a ruckus. Well, last night, he found out.

Our laundry room is in the garage where there are also storage lockers for each unit. Steve was getting his laundry out of the dryer when he bumped into our upstairs neighbor, who was getting some things out of her storage locker.

This woman asked him how we were liking the building and if we were finding it noisy at all. Steve confessed that we were hearing a lot of noise from her apartment and were wondering what was going on.

She then proceeded to explain. Her boyfriend, she said, had recently bought her a tropical fish. Immediately I wondered, is it the largest clog-dancing fish in the world? No, it is not.

This fish needs to be in warm water or it will die. Apparently, neither she nor her boyfriend have ever heard of fish-tank heaters, so she warms the water in the fish tank by placing....wait for water bottles all around the tank.

Now, while this is exceptionally odd, none of this explains the loud banging, but don't worry, it ain't over yet!

This woman also collects rocks....lots of them. And to anchor the hot water bottles in place around the tank, she has built a wall around the tank with these rocks, and then she wedges the hot water bottles between these rocks and the tank.

Now, you only have to picture a pyramid of oranges at the grocery store to see what is happening. She pulls one rock away to make room for the hot water bottle, and another rock falls. She replaces that rock, and two others roll to the floor, and so on, and so forth. I am waiting for the day when one of those rocks smashes the glass of the fish tank and water comes dripping through our ceiling, or else she will drop a rock into the tank itself, killing the fish.

Let's face it, I think the latter scenario would be the best thing for everyone, especially the fish.

According to Steve, she explained all of this while making nutty wide-eyed faces and sweeping hand and body gestures, as if she were a Kabuki actor or a member of Mummenschanz.

When she had finished the tropical-fish-rock-wall-hot-water-bottle story, she then warned Steve that she would be making a lot of noise that night (it was already 11pm) because she was bringing everything from her storage locker up to her apartment, because her storage locker had been broken into.

When God calls, she said, you have to answer. And apparently you must answer after midnight.

When, you might ask, did this break-in/God-call occur? Well I'll tell you:

Seven years ago! That's right. That God-call came in seven years ago, and clearly, midnight on a Tuesday seven years later was the time to answer.

I'm pretty sure that this woman is the one who is smoking the pot I frequently smell, and I guess to a habitual pot-smoker, taking action seven years after an event is actually considered a speedy response time.

I don't hold out much hope for that fish; it will be hungry, and ten years later she will drop some food in the tank and wonder why it's upside-down floating in the tank of hot-water bottles.

My wine for a little more crazy is a 2009 Maxime Magnon Rozeta from Villeneuve des Corbieres in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France. This wine is made from around 65% Carignan with Grenache and Syrah rounding it out.

This wine is also produced using Carbonic Maceration. Often called "whole grape fermentation", instead of crushing berries so the yeast can react with them and begin fermentation, whole grape clusters are placed in a vat with a layer of carbon dioxide so that fermentation occurs from the inside of the grape.

This creates ethanol as well as wines with fewer tannins, less acidity and a lighter, fruitier flavor.

In the case of the Rozeta, that fruit flavor of cherry, redcurrant and cranberry also takes on notes of watermelon Jolly Rancher. It is a light, fruity, fun wine that is easy to drink. With or without rocks and hot-water bottles.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wine for Crazy Neighbors

Now that we're back from the holidays, and steaming ahead into the new year, Steve and I have returned to the task of trying to find a home to live in.

Being in our current building provides a constant reminder of the importance of good soundproofing, as well as the pitfalls of living in a building with multiple neighbors.

No matter how nice the neighbors may seem, in apartment buildings like this, there is always the feeling of being just a little too close for comfort, a sense of crazy lurking just behind those closed doors.

In a previous building, there was the constant smell of marijuana wafting through the halls and open windows, and I always found myself wondering who it was who was smoking pot ALL THE TIME?

And I'm sure everybody out there who has ever lived in an apartment building knows all about "The Cooking Smells", the ones that emanate from one particular apartment but somehow stink up the whole building. These cooking smells never seem to come from the apartment that is making apple pies all day. No, the cooking smells always seem to come from the apartment whose occupants eat only fried fish and cabbage with egg-fart sauce.

In this building, we are currently in the middle apartment, which means we get the noises from both upstairs and down.

The sounds from upstairs begin at dinnertime and sometimes continue until midnight, with such a cacophony of banging, dragging and rolling that it boggles the mind. Steve and I just look at each other and wonder what the hell is going on up there?

Is she rearranging the furniture every single night? Is she repeatedly jumping down from a very high ladder? Is she practicing for Riverdance? Is she bowling??!! What on earth would cause one woman to make that kind of a racket?

The downstairs neighbor is even more exciting. He plays what I assume must be movies which consist only of massive explosions which shake and rattle our whole apartment to the extent that the first time it happened I actually thought we were having an earthquake.

He also seems to be a rabid Bruce Springsteen fan, and plays The Boss for several hours a day, often the same song over and over. This guy is a lawyer who lives alone, and when the Springsteen concerts start, it is hard not to imagine him like Johnny Depp in Blow, snorting a gigantic line of cocaine off of his lawbooks and then passing out on the floor while the same Bruce song plays over and over again.

One night, the music was so loud that Steve and I could barely hear the movie we were trying to watch. I summoned my courage and went downstairs to ask him to turn the volume down. I knocked. Nothing. I knocked again. Still nothing. Several more knocks, and still he didn't come to the door.

I couldn't help myself; all I could imagine was that he couldn't hear me because he was downstairs in his secret dungeon lair where he was sewing himself a woman-skin-suit and telling his latest captive plump-girl to "put the lotion in the basket".

Either that, or he was wearing his mother's clothes and dancing with her shriveled head while the rest of her body lies decomposing in his bathtub. Come on now, tell me you wouldn't be thinking the same thing...

My wine for crazy neighbors is an Armida Winery 2007 "Il Campo" Estate Field Blend Dry Creek Valley. This Healdsburg-based winery produced this blend from estate-grown Zinfandel (75%) and Petite Sirah (25%).

I recently shared a bottle of this wine with Steve, my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and it was a big hit with everyone. It's rich and fruity with a lot of dark blackberry and currant flavors as well as raisin, spice and a perceived sweetness which adds to the plump fruitiness of the wine. We actually drank it at a Brazilian restaurant which specializes in all different skewers of grilled meats,and it went surprisingly well.

Not as well as it would go with Bruce Springsteen and a woman-skin-suit, of course, but one can't always have the perfect pairing.