It’s barbecue time! Red and black cherries, wood notes of vanilla, dark tea, dried spices, and licorice on the nose. Fresh, bright cherries, raspberries, red licorice, and dried herbs on the palate. Very bright acidity balances other notes of wood and dark cocoa powder.
Clear, bright, ruby red color. Cherry, strawberry, baking spice on the nose. Good & Plenty sitting in a bowl across the table. Some oak aromas. Dry, medium-low tannin, low acidity, light body. Red fruit with some subtle spices and savory anise on the palate. Finish is mossy, but very short. Suggest opening the bottle, pouring off a glass, and trying it in 30 minutes. Otherwise, pass.
This was supposed to be part of a longer story, but between work shenanigans and everything else these past few weeks, my muse is hiding. So here is a small pick me up for everyone, because we all need it. I’ve a few more drabbles floating around that I’ll try to post.
Caroline wasn’t exactly bored, per se, but she found herself floundering. Usually her winters were spent lounging on a beach, enjoying cocktails and the sun on her skin. Winter Wonderland was only really fun in theory, and rarely for more than a week.
In the three years since she’d caved to Bonnie’s quiet pressure to be closer and settled in New York City, she’d never stayed past the first blistering cold snap. NYC was as close as she’d allow herself to settle to Mystic Falls, her adamant refusal to involve herself in any Salvatore stupidity required space to maintain. She wasn’t quite so young anymore, had lingering emotional scars to show for it, but she wasn’t willing to risk it.
She’d fallen in love with New York City in the Fall, and it remained her favorite season. Pumpkin spice, changing leaves, and air just chilly enough to get away with cute scarves and cuter boots. Halloween was a fun rush of costumes and blood, the supernatural community enjoying the chance to let a little fang and fur out. Usually, she was packed up and gone, long before the first Christmas lights were strung.
But that year, she’d found herself waffling.
Something about the winter chill had her lingering, and it wasn’t loneliness that kept her feet rooted to US soil. Caroline had spent part of her summer with Bonnie, chatted with her on a weekly basis. But as Thanksgiving rolled around, she contemplated possible tickets and travel plans, and found herself staying put.
She baked her grandma’s pumpkin pie receipt for the first time in decades. She’d spent a amusing day cooking over Skype with Bonnie, complaining about potatoes and turkey brining. Made faces at an assortment of grand babies and her nieces and nephews.
Now, the first real snow flurries hissed softly against her windows and she felt restless. She’d attempted to book flights to Barcelona three times that afternoon, thoughts of her favorite Tempranillo dancing in her head and somehow, she hadn’t managed it. It wasn’t due to financial concerns. Those Finance classes she’d been stupidly bored in had been useful, and the occasional tip dropped by older vampires she’d met around had been more so.
So why wasn’t she currently sprawled on a beach, eyeing the nearest cabana boy as desert?
Closing her laptop in frustration, Caroline headed for her jacket. She’d never done well with indecisiveness, and her apartment was starting to feel suffocating. Dinner and wine might clear her head, maybe a walk to burn off her jitters.
A little tipsy from a few of her favorite stops, she stared up at lights on the tree at Rockefeller Square. Closing her eyes to hide the pretty Christmas tree lights, Caroline resigned herself to popping into Mystic Falls for the Christmas. Bonnie had grudgingly allowed her solitude on Thanksgiving, but there was no avoiding the Bennett Family during Christmas if she was stateside.
Which meant she’d have to see Damon.
God, she could already imagine how those comments would go. He’d never forgiven her for refusing to help find a way to bring Elena, and Caroline refused to apologize for encouraging her friend to live. The antagonization between them had shifted into a razored dislike, and Caroline was looking forward to the day she never had to see him again.
Caroline hadn’t talked to Stefan is years. Last she’d heard he was somewhere in Canada, tucked away in the wilderness. She’d wondered if he’d found what needed, surrounded by caribou and wolves. But Stefan wasn’t her emotional weight anymore, hadn’t been for decades, and Caroline had no intention of bridging the gap between them.
Some scars healed slower than others.
Buried in her thoughts, she missed the sounds of a growing commotion, right up until someone in a hurry clipped her. Stumbling, she hissed as her boot slipped on the thin layer of slush, ankle turning sharply. Off balance, she nearly ended up on her ass when the party chasing the previous jerk slammed into her as well. Instinctively, her hands reached for anything to stop her tumble and she grabbed a fistful of jacket.
Somehow, they stayed upright, even as she head threads pop.
She’d have felt bad about it, but he’d ran into her. Glaring up, angry words on the tip of her tongue, she froze in shock as she took in a very familiar face. The nearby street vendors buried his scent beneath an assortment of cooked meat, but the feel of him was unmistakable.
He wasn’t looking at her, gaze flecked with gold as he reflexively moved to shift her impatiently to the side, jaw tight and eyes hunting sharp. Caroline’s fingers went lax, and he shockingly murmured a clipped apology, clearly tracking the ass who’d rammed her. With her jacket and hat, he hadn’t recognized her, and he froze as she stammered out his name.
Baked cherries and strawberries. Clove and baking spices. Hint of potpourri, mushrooms, and musk on the nose. Less strawberry and more cherry on the palate. Fruit leather and baking spices fill out the palate. Present tannins on the finish.
Mirror Mirror is a limited-release English Barleywine aged in oak barrels. This is only brewed every four or five years. The heart of the brew consists of a double batch of Mirror Pond Pale Ale, of which 50% then goes on to be aged in retired Pinot Noir, Tempranillo and Malbec barrels for ten months. Aromas are malt-forward, suggesting caramel sweet bread and cinnamon rolls. Sweetness is like brown sugar with heavier notes of maple syrup. Booze gives obvious fusel notes.
The palate opens in a flood of sweet, caramelized barley with that classic Barleywine flavor. Hops rise with modest orange-citrus highlights. A big body of dark fruits touches on dried apricot, raisin, plum, and date. The barrel-aging has a drying effect with tart, vinous qualities reminiscent of cherries and tannins like red grape skin. A spicy quality hits, then hops re-emerge with herbal bitterness to help counterbalance the heavy sugar weight. Malts develop a mild roast with weak hints of chocolate. Final remarks give details of oak and caramel popcorn. The mouthfeel carries soft carbonation over a full, creamy body that ends a little dry and sticky. Sweetness stops just shy of cloying. Lingering bitterness does a great job at persistently masking the alcohol.
Overall, I think this a finely tuned, exceptional Barleywine. Although the barrel has a restrained impact, it adds a unique flavor that bumps the complexity a few points. As it warms, the hops and booze land a bit more front-and-center. Sweetness is right on target in terms of style, coming to a pleasant agreement with the hoppy bitterness. The hop level itself is about right for my taste, but a little age would probably do wonders. I recommend it to malt lovers with high sweet tolerance.
Summary: Will and Hannibal begin their new lives. New lives require new passports. Domestic fluff within their new relationship. Also on AO3…
There is nothing more miserable in the world than to arrive in paradise and look like your passport photo. - Erma Bombeck
“Shall I say ‘Say Cheese?’” Chiyoh asked dryly as she pointed her camera at Hannibal who sat in front of her.
“No, I think no cheese is necessary,” Hannibal replied, and cleared his throat ready for his picture to be taken.
“Very well. One, two, three.” The shutter clicked.
“How do I look?” he asked as she reviewed the image.
“Like you, but not quite,” she replied with the smallest of smiles.
Will had been adjusting his hair in the mirror, while they finished. He was still not used to seeing himself clean shaven. The newest scar added to his inventory of damaged flesh was still a bright pink. He gently ran his index finger across it.
Hannibal walked up behind him, both now appearing in the mirror. A soft smile spreading across Hannibal’s face as his eyes met Will’s in their reflection. The two, identically different.
“Are you ready for your portrait?” Hannibal asked.
Will turned to look at him, “I supposed this is my very first portrait as Martin, isn’t it?”
Hannibal squeezed Will’s shoulder lightly, while Will instinctively placed his hand on top of Hannibal’s. Chiyoh sighed exaggeratedly, waving her camera.
Will walked over and sat on the stool, while Hannibal changed the background from blue to white.
“All set,” Hannibal said as he stood next to Chiyoh to watch.
“I don’t need an audience,” Will said, beginning to turn bright red.
“Nonsense,” Hannibal responded with a smirk.
“So should I say cheese?” Will said trying to make Chiyoh crack a smile.
Pretty pleased with this excellent value red from Toro, Spain. Smoked blackberries and black cherries, dried wood, dried purple flowers, brown spices, and incense on the nose. Black and red cherries on the palate with fresh and dried flowers, fresh wood, and dried cherries on the finish.
Not sure how I feel about this Rioja with carbonic maceration. Ripe red and black cherries, small black forest berries, cinnamon, and clove on the nose. Much the same on the palate with tarter cherries and not much more depth. Simple and far from the classic Rioja style, but decent.
I’m in a can drinking wine from a can. Hehe. Black and blue fruit reduction, whiff of cigarettes, ash, and spice on the nose. Sweet, dessert fruit blueberry pie, licorice, cherry coke, and cigars on the palate. Very fruity and sweet, but barely not cloying.