Locations: A Wine Life Hack

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Grenache grapes for French Rose, the one single varietal Locations Wines produces, all others are blends

"Wine is sunlight, held together by water." Galileo Galilei, astronomer and father of modern science, 1564-1642

Innovations in wine making and marketing come down the pike from time to time.

When Dave Phinney the, "Bad Boy of Blending," known for taking risks in riding and creating the blended wine wave, came up with a new wrinkle, attention was paid for good reason. Embracing taboos has been his way of blending and branding wine that turns heads. As the consumer, understanding his labeling process with Locations Wines could help one choose a great bottle of wine at a decent price point.

The generic labels on vintner Dave Phinney's Locations Wines might help a consumer confront the challenge and confusion over knowing which blend to choose.

Locations bottles' labels are an abbreviation of the respective places where the grapes originate. For me, the generic label is an attempt to capture what makes a region's wine iconic. Mr. Phinney has said something else.

Phinney explained the unique labels were inspired by a trip to France. At the Charles De Gaulle airport he saw the letter 'F' on a taxi. This sighting led to thinking about wine labeling, using abbreviations only for other countries or states.

For instance, the French Red Blend we enjoyed to the max is called simply F. It is crafted to represent the best of France with grapes sourced from Bordeaux, Rhone and Languedoc-Roussillon. Basically, Dave limits himself to one country or state in the U.S. at a time, but then his imagination takes hold, tempered by a track record of commercial and critical successes.

Blends are all the rage. Sorting through the vast number of offerings daunting.

A generic label can stand out and be of use to the novice oenophile or a more experienced wine imbiber who is pressed for time, to rely on Mr. Phinney's reputation to quickly pick a great blended wine for the value. The nomenclature is a helpful guide to what you will find inside the bottle consistent with its region.

As a point of information: a blend is defined as a wine which contains less than 75% of any one grape. It also is given a name, rather than bearing the name of a grape.

Given Mr. Phinney's early acclaim with the label Orin Swift, before the tender age of 30, it is no surprise that Locations Wine is anything but boring. Mr. Phinney's philosophy is organized around novelty.

'Come with me to play and think outside the box,' could be Mr. Phinney's motto behind an attitude that has created some lovely, soft and easy to drink, tasty wines. The first few years his style was to make bold, hit you upside the head wines. Wines historically known for being robust, Phinney seems to be following a newer trend, a more feminized approach to vinification.

I offered to play with the idea of 'places.' Like 'Dora the Explorer,' Locations would accompany me over the winter holidays 2016, until I am here to report, my supply (sadly) ran out.

Interesting Musing on Wine from actor David Hyde Pierce, known for his role as a psychiatrist on the television show, 'Frasier': "Maybe it's because I'm getting older, I'm finding enjoyment in things that stop time. Just the simple act of tasting a glass of wine is its own event. You're not downing a glass of wine in the midst of doing something else."

Guzzling alcohol, getting drunk and nursing a hang over the next day is not what drinking wine is all about. As a therapist who writes about wine occasionally, the focus is always about savoring the entire experience from choosing the wine -as every bottle tells a story - pairing wines with foods and sharing it all with friendly folks and family.

Quality and Moderation

"Wisdom comes through suffering.
Trouble, with its memories of pain,
Drips in our hearts as we try to sleep,
so men against their will
Learn to practice moderation."
―Aeschylus, Agememnon, Greek Myth, 458 B.C.E.

Writer and actor Dan Aykroyd said it well, "Wine represents to me sharing and good times and a celebration of life. It is always around happy occasions with family and friends and centered on joy. What better item to be involved in then something that represents all these wonderful things?"


Mr. Phinney takes well known combinations of traditional grapes such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. He then chimes into the mix with more exotic varietals like Viognier and Rousanne. The label is CA. The combination of wines on the face of it could seem bizarre at first glance, but it does pair quite nicely with cheese and its accompaniments.
Look no further than F for rose (not to be confused with F for the red blend) for a versatile wine with any number of cheeses. The grenache grapes for this rose were sourced from Fontaine de Vaucluse, the Provence region of France.

Mr. Phinney's philosophy is organized around novelty.

'Come with me to play and think outside the box,' could be Mr. Phinney's motto behind an attitude that has created some lovely, soft and easy to drink, tasty wines. The first few years his style was to make bold, hit you upside the head wines. Wines historically known for being robust, Phinney seems to be following a newer trend, a more feminized approach to vinification.

Locations Wines accompanied me to a few Friendsgiving celebrations, the start of a new tradition, a holiday keeper forevermore.

Menus and Wine Suggestions

Blue Apron acorn squash curry on the Sunday before The Giving, in Los Angeles. E for Espana was perfect with Anne Thompson and Nora Chute the formidable mother daughter duo;

F for France tasted sangiovese-like the Thursday before Thanksgiving Friendsgiving: one a veggie stir fry for two after a long day of work, finished up two days later with posole, a gift from a parent at dear Luisa Bottari Stern's school, before heading out of town.

Tuesday Friendsgiving the pentultimate day before Thanksgiving: A dry rubbed fully cooked brisket delivered in butcher paper ready to slice from Marfa Meat Company with OR a, "silky pinot," according to Artist Sam Schonzeit noted. For him, it was the best wine in a Texas pre-Giving dinner party line up.

Two bottles of I for Italy with Turkey in Marfa opened up very nicely for Thanksgiving and the next day leftovers with a glass for the bone broth to boot. (We also had the I for a Shared Plates event, the October prior. Locations was so kind to sponsor for those hosting dinner parties.)

TX for Texas with dry aged Kansas City strip DeBragga steaks the Saturday night after Thanksgiving in Marfa when it was time to wind down from turkey. I found out about DeBragga, an old guard of New York butcher shops, around since the 1920s, from an informative survey by Gear Patrol. It laid out several fine sources for the best steaks online. Stefanie Faison, of DeBragga, told me a high concentration of customers hail from Oklahoma and Texas, "where they know good beef."

TX was found at The Get Go, the one fancy foods market in Marfa.

The last and final bottle for Thanksgiving and beyond

AR for Argentina went to a rare fruit growers party over the weekend in Malibu, where no one was drinking anything stronger than kombucha or beer.

We may have committed a faux pas, but since our rare fruit grower hosts do not partake of wine they did not seem to mind that we held the bottle in reserve for the next holiday gathering.

We brought AR, not to be confused with Arkansas, the next day to Anne Beatts' and her daughter, Jaylene's, holiday open house. Bon vivant that she is, Ms. Beatts was one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live.

Breaking bread as a group is a deeply humanizing activity.

As I have written before about the world of wine is how well it goes with food. The combination of average portions of food and middling amounts of wine is one aggregator of culture to be practiced regularly.

Rule of thumb: One bottle contains 6 glasses for a minimum of 3 people.

To stay safe and away from a danger zone: Remember, some rules are not meant to be broken.

How does a person know where one stands on the spectrum of moderation?

Here is a self test to determine if one is in trouble with controlling alcohol consumption. Responsible drinking is within reach for many, but not everyone. Anything more than a glass, not filled to the top, maybe two modest glasses though not much more, is how much one should drink at any sitting as a rule.

Disclaimer Alert: What I have written here should NOT be construed as or substituted for therapy. If you or someone you know is suicidal, do not hesitate to reach out to a professional, trusted family member or friend to get needed help.

If you -- or someone you know -- need helps, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.