Hi, My Name is the Drunken Cyclist and I’m a Secret Alcoholic

I am not a big fan of Christmas. I am not entirely sure why, but I get a bit turned off by the whole thing. It got marginally better once we had kids since they really get into it, but I still am rather nonplussed when it comes to yuletide cheer. Perhaps it is the commercialization, or maybe that the original meaning has long since eroded. Maybe I am afraid of rather plump men dressed in red suits.

Who knows?

This year, I decided I needed to jump start my Christmas spirit, and given the swell wine blogging community, I thought I would tap into all those good people to try and turn around my proclivity toward Scrooginess (no, that is not a word, but thanks for asking). The idea was to take the idea of the Secret Santa a step further. For those of you that don’t know,  “Secret Santa” is usually run by the most annoying person at your place of work. He/she assigns everyone another person in the office and you secretly give them gifts on the lead up to the much needed few days off. On the last day, everybody reveals who they had as their recipient and you try to pretend you’re happy with a pair of really ugly wine themed socks.

“Secret Alcoholic” is roughly the same concept, but you send a bottle of wine to someone else in the country and you end up with a bottle of wine instead of a coffee cup filled with Hershey’s Kisses (even though you don’t drink coffee nor like chocolate). Although I would love to take the credit, I am not the one who had the idea to do a Secret Santa with wine (they have been doing this on the Cellar Tracker forum for at least a few years). I will take credit for calling it “Secret Alcoholic” however (which is really nothing to be proud of, but I am obviously grasping at straws).

The concept was fairly simple: all who joined were to send a bottle or two to a randomly assigned recipient, who was sending a couple bottles to someone else. The suggested total expenditure was $25 (plus shipping).

Photo Credit: homewetbar.com

Photo Credit: homewetbar.com

My thought behind the whole endeavor was to both expose others to more blogs and spread a little holiday cheer. (OK, I tried to keep a straight face there, but it is just not happening–it is going to take visits by several spirits [pun intended] to get me to ever spread “holiday cheer”.)

In the end there were thirteen people who signed up (there were actually fourteen, but one ended up in my Spam filter and missed out and she has yet to forgive me–hey, it’s not my fault your email smells like Spam!). My wife joyfully (?) agreed to randomly assign everybody a Secret Alcoholic and send everyone an email indicating their intended victim.

A total of 37 seconds passed after the emails were sent when the person to whom I was assigned (i.e., who was supposed to send me wine) contacted me and immediately identified herself as my S.A. (Clearly she did not read the comprehend the “Secret” in “Secret Alcoholic”.) It was Chef Mimi (of the aptly named chefmimiblog.com) and she intimated that she was intimidated when she received my name out of the draw (had she waited even 12 hours before contacting me, she could have read this article I published the following day). After trying to assuage her fears, I turned my attention to my intended recipient, Jeff of FoodWineClick.com who lives in Minnesota.

I figured before I sent off the wine to him in the great white north, I would check the weather. It looked something like this:

Medina Weather
And this was not the worst of it—one day the high was −14°F! That’s 14 below zero and that was the high! Needless to say, I held off shipping. Hopefully, Jeff will get his wine before July 4th.

Back to my wine—I got the wine (2007 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 55% Slope Impassable Mountain Reserve–perhaps the longest name of a wine ever) a few days before Christmas, followed by several emails from Mimi wondering when I was going to get around to drinking it. Succumbing to her relentless pressure, I popped the cork last week.

Speaking of the cork. This wine retails for $80 and being a Cabernet, I would think that many people would like to hold onto this wine for a few years (that would include me normally, but I was afraid that Mimi would run from Oklahoma to Philly and kick my butt if I waited even a day more). The stopper, however, was an agglomerated cork (cork pieces glued together), one that is intended for wines for immediate consumption. For me, putting an agglomerated cork in a high quality wine that could be aged for many years makes absolutely no sense. IMG_2237But that’s just me, I guess.

The wine?

Fantastic. One of the better cabs I have had in a while.

IMG_22392007 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 55% Slope Impassable Mountain Reserve: Retail $80. 14.9% ABV. Agglomerate cork? Really? Quick decant and then into the glass. Rather dark and ruby at the edges. Nose a bit closed despite the decant with hints of cassis, blackberry, and vanilla. A little heat comes in at the end. Lush fruit on the palate right away, but by no means a fruit bomb. Quite balanced throughout with an impressive tart mid palate with a bit of earth. The finish is really impressive, lasting well past a minute. This wine certainly is fabulous now, and normally I would not be in a hurry to drink it, but with that cork? Um…. Outstanding to Fantastic. 93-95 Points.

There has been talk of having another “Secret Alcoholic” this Spring–please let me know if you might be interested!


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Hi, My Name is the Drunken Cyclist and I’m a Secret Alcoholic

  1. talkavino says:

    I’m glad to see your ratings evolving now to “Fantastic”. Can you remind me if “Fantastic” before or after the “Amazing”?
    As far as Spring revision of SA I’m game! This is fun, and wine is meant for sharing : )


    • I put that in there just for you, I knew you would take the bait! Spring Secret Alcoholic seems like a great idea (I think it was yours)!


      • talkavino says:

        No problems : ) We had the discussion with Kirsten that it would be fun to do it more often : ) I think May sounds like a perfect month, when the temperatures should be still good for the shipping. Let’s do it!


  2. Marlene Paulson says:

    Well, creator of Secret Alcoholic, I start my Certified Specialist of Wine Classes tomorrow! Funny how a certification gives you creditability for things you know but certainly need to know more about. So looking forward to these classes. I have always loved my work, whatever it has been, but becoming a private wine guide in the Napa Valley has certainly been the most fun. Who would have ever thought I would be educating folks about wine…..more than educating, making them comfortable with wine! And taking them to the other 400 and some odd wineries that exist beyond the big ad 20! Most fun…..folks that state they do not like, wine drinkers don’t use the word hate, chardonnay, pinot grigio…..and they go home with cases of both…hehe……they just have not had the one created to please the soul!

    Love your writing! and stories!
    Love Thanksgiving, Christmas to New Years, not so much……except football!


  3. Sounds like a great idea – I would rather be a “Secret Wino” – but that’s just me…cheers!


  4. Laura says:

    This is an awesome idea – I love it! Count me in for next time.


  5. vicbriggs says:

    Children have a way of getting undulates into the holiday spirit 🙂


  6. Lauzan says:

    It’s a great idea! Wish I was closer to participate! ….


  7. you don’t drink coffee and you don’t like chocolate? i find this troubling. however, “secret wino” is a hit.


  8. reijosfood says:

    Wine bottles in Santa Claus shorts? Hopefully the Finnish icon did not freeze without them when delivering presents.


  9. joyofwine says:

    Bummer I can’t do this…shipping to Canada might be a problem! 🙂


  10. Stefano says:

    So, this is going to become a quarterly thing? Bear me in mind for the Spring Edition: the Winter one was fun!


  11. Antisocial Patty says:

    It was a great idea. I look forward to reading everyone’s stories and reviews. I like Secret Wino better, too.


  12. Your inspiration led to a Vino Secret Santa at my workplace… 12 participants, just waiting for all of the write-ups before posting the results. It was so successful that I’ll be starting a wine club next month… Thank you!!


  13. chef mimi says:

    You’re right. I was about to come “visit” you! Glad you enjoyed the wine – the winemakers will be pleased. I think the wine spectator rated it a 92 or 93…
    I don’t know anything about corks. Will have to look into this…
    I’d love to go this again in the spring!


  14. What if . . . we shifted the semi-annual Secret Wino fun to spring and fall? That way we would avoid any issues with extreme temperatures on either end of the thermometer. I’m game either way, just thought I’d toss out the idea. Salud!!


  15. We get several departments together at work for a Yankee Swap Gift Exchange. Almost all of the gifts are wine, beer or hard alcohol, and as there are about 30 of us, there are always lots of lively steals. So much fun! And then you get to try a wine you haven’t had. Cheers!


  16. So many wines and so little time! 🙂 Merci, too, for visiting my blog.


  17. Pingback: Usual Grapes, Unusual Places – The Oenophile Games | Talk-A-Vino

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