February 27, 2021

Weekend Recap: Wine Tasting and Cross-Country Skiing

After the five days up in Minturn for last weekend’s ski certification, I was excited to have a weekend where I could stay home and see my mom and Sadie more… with nothing really planned. Though you know me – in spite of having no actual plans, I ended up having a pretty busy time 🙂

My weekend kicked off with a wine tasting happy hour for work. I was the event organizer, and with a limited (though generous) budget, I had the option of hiring someone to do the wine tasting for us, or doing it myself and then using that extra money as a subsidy for everyone to get their own wine. After polling a few of my analysts, I went with the latter – so everyone received $50 to go pick up wine for the tasting. This meant we weren’t limited to tasting-sized bottles, and everyone in the employee’s household was welcome to join.

While it may sound cheap that I led the tasting, I did have some formal knowledge of wine to help facilitate. Back in college, I took Cornell’s famed wine tasting class. It sounds like a joke, but rumor had it that it was actually the most failed class at the university! I still remember calculating that I needed only a 60% on the multiple-choice final exam to pass the class. However, after taking a first pass at all the questions and counting up how many I was sure I had the right answer, that was only 30% – there was a lot of ambiguity! (Questions were as easy as “which of these varietals is common in South Africa” but also as hard as “look at this wine label; what flavors would you expect to taste?”) I actually still had my binder of notes from the course, so I spent 30 minutes putting some key concepts into a quick Powerpoint, and then spent about ten minutes discussing how to read a wine label; different terms to describe the sight (appearance, color, legs), smell (aroma vs bouquet), and taste (acidity, sugar / acid balance, body / texture, astringency, and flavor) of the wine; and the stages of tasting (attack, evolution, finish, aftertaste).

I was really self-conscious about the fact that while I do enjoy wine, I’m no expert – so I leaned on some videos to help. While initially trying to figure out how I could make the tasting low budget, I discovered the V is for Vino website, which has free videos to allow you to explore various wine regions and then do tastings. When I checked out their tastings, most of the wines weren’t readily available in stores (you would have to order / have them shipped); plus, since I would have participants from all over the country, I wanted to make sure the wines we used were nationally available. However, I borrowed their Sonoma County and AVAs of California videos to play at the beginning of my class, then asked everyone to pick up Ferrari-Carano wines – a vineyard I actually visited when Adam and I vacationed in Sonoma five years ago. Ferrari-Carano distributes nationally, and after running some searches on Drizly for a few major cities, it looked like everyone would be able to find at least one or two bottles of their wines. And, Ferrari-Carano offered tasting videos on their website for all their wines – so I could just press play on those short two minute videos for the actual tasting.


Although I was nervous ahead of time, it all worked out beautifully, and the feedback from participants (via anonymous survey afterward) was really positive. I had so much fun doing it, it made me wonder if the next learning challenge I take on should be studying for a certification in wine? It would certainly be a lot of fun to study!

I hadn’t planned anything the rest of the night, but I ended up only having about half a glass of wine in total. Since I haven’t been drinking much lately, that hit me surprisingly hard, but within an hour or so, I was completely sober, and ended up going on a first date with someone to walk our dogs in the park. Both are pointers, so that was fun to introduce the two! Dating in a pandemic is so weird, and it’s especially difficult in winter, but this ended up being a great way for us to meet outdoors and with masks on, which I thought was relatively safe.

Mom and I had planned on a pizza dinner for the two of us, and she had already made it when I got home. Unfortunately, we are in desperate need of a pizza peel (I just ordered this one from Amazon and am hoping it’s good), but my mom tried to use the pizza stone anyway – and the sad result was the dough came out crispy on the outside but a bit raw in the middle. The toppings were great, though, and I enjoyed those (all right, and admittedly some of the raw dough too) while we watched Smash and then went to bed early. That is getting to be our little evening ritual, and I love it 😉

The next morning, I woke up just before 6am, which meant I had plenty of time to start my day with both a quick Peloton ride (this 20 minute Cody Rigsby 2000s pop ride) and a short five mile run with Sadie.

I love early morning runs with my little Sadie Bug!

But then, while my original weekend plan had been “no plan”, I had to hustle – as I had agreed to head up to the mountains to meet my date from the night before for a cross-country skiing adventure! I hadn’t tried cross-country skiing since making a mess of it in Chamonix in 2011, and I was looking forward to having someone teach me the right way.

My mom was sweet enough to bake scones for breakfast, and I wolfed down two of them within five minutes of getting in the car. They were so good!

The recipe is here, if you’d like to try it. We cut back on the butter a tiny bit and then add butter extract so it still tastes just as rich.

The drive had some traffic, but it was surprisingly not too bad – I had thought 9am would be prime time. I ended up making it to Leadville in 2.5 hours (so the traffic slowed me down about 30 minutes), and easily found the little rental shop my date had recommended to pick up gear.

I got my equipment (skate skis, not classic), met up with my date, and then we caravanned over to the trailhead where we planned to meet up with a few of his friends. While we waited for them to arrive, he gave me a quick five minute tutorial. I felt really awkward on the cross-country skis (probably especially because I’m so used to / good at downhill), but my date said I was actually good. Guess it’s just supposed to feel kind of weird? Haha.

When it came to the actual skiing with his friends, I found it was just okay. (The date and the friends were great; I’m referring to the skiing.) I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either – I just wished I were running instead, like some others we saw on the trail 🙂

Leadville_Mineral_Belt_Trail_XC (1)
But it was a stunning bluebird day, and not too cold, and I absolutely loved being out in the Colorado sunshine.

We did about eight miles of an out-and-back trail, then headed back to the cars and got everyone’s dogs. Well, not mine – I had regretfully left Sadie at home, figuring it would be better for me to learn on my own before bringing her. We headed to a different trailhead on the same system with the dogs, but just did a quick two miles there. The dogs had so much fun though – I definitely want to bring Sadie next time!

My little runner dog would love this.

We headed back to the town of Leadville for lunch, going to a little diner called The Silver Llama. It was really unassuming, but so delicious!! I got a brie, turkey, fig, and apple sandwich that was amazing, and I upgraded my side from chips to chili mac and cheese, which was also fantastic. And they also had a case of homemade fudge plus tons of delectable-looking pastries, a few of which I picked up to bring home as a treat for my mom. Leadville is kind of out of the way, but now I want to go back again soon just to enjoy this delicious place once more!

While I had originally thought I might head to Minturn from Leadville and then go home in the morning, I missed my mom and Sadie, and decided I’d rather brave traffic to just go home. I was rewarded for this with… not much traffic at all going back, despite the fact that it was peak time on a ski day! Amazing. When I got home, I even mustered up a little bit of energy for a 15 minute core class and 20 minute Spotify Rock This full body strength class, which helped me get some bingo boxes checked for the charity challenge I’m doing. And then – an episode of Smash with Mom and Sadie on the couch. See, I’m predictable 😉 I was so glad I had come home instead of going to Minturn!

The next morning, I woke up planning to head out for a trail run first thing… but got totally distracted when I realized I had missed a deadline the night before for some volunteer work. Oops! I settled in to knock that out, but didn’t get done till about 8:30am. I did a quick 20 minute core class and then a Jess Sims Flash 15, which is kind of a combo of cardio and strength. If you have the Peloton app but haven’t taken this type of class before (it’s listed under strength), I would highly recommend it!

My workout was rushed because I had made plans to meet my date from the night before at a nearby dog park, Westminster Hills. I have long heard friends rave about this dog park, and now I saw why! It is absolutely massive – 420 acres, with trails throughout (though of course the dogs run all over). I’ve always been kind of averse to traditional tiny fenced-in dog parks, but something like this is more like taking your dog on a hike where all the other dogs are friendly and they can do some socializing. It was super windy, but I still had a great time as we walked around what I would guess was a three to four mile loop, with the dogs romping and running like crazy. I was tickled to see that Sadie is apparently a bit of a dog racist – she was uninterested in any dogs except the other pointers, which she could spot from a mile away! There were a lot of them, and it was really fun to see them all playing together 🙂

How awesome is this dog park?! You can see Sadie is hot on the trail of an English pointer…

After the dog park, I wanted to keep hanging out with my date, but wasn’t sure what else to do that was COVID-safe – it was pretty chilly outside with the wind, and we had already done that for a while! So I finally took a risk and invited him to come hang out and have lunch at my house. We picked up sandwiches from Moxie Bread in Louisville (my favorite!), and ended up lazing the afternoon away chatting, which was really nice.

But I still hadn’t done my run! Sadie had gotten her exercise in thanks to all that sprinting at the dog park, so around 5pm, I finally headed down to my home gym to do a treadmill class – and ended up doing Adrian’s 30 minute live DJ run followed by a 10 minute yoga focus flow to try to loosen up my tight hamstrings. The DJ run wasn’t my favorite class, but I was super proud of myself for doing four miles in 30 minutes – I have definitely been neglecting speedwork lately, but this reminded me that I haven’t lost my speed entirely. I got super sweaty and felt awesome! As for the yoga class, I originally thought I’d do this as a quick cool down and then do a longer yoga class later, but that didn’t happen. Womp womp!

After my run, I had to quickly shower to get ready for my final activity of the evening – a virtual game night with my friends Cindy, Elizabeth, and Heather (and their spouses, in Cindy and Elizabeth’s case). I’ve kept in close touch with Heather, but honestly hadn’t seen or really talked to Cindy and Elizabeth much since COVID hit – so we thought starting a regular virtual game night would be a good way to remedy that and hopefully stay in closer touch. We played Codenames online, which worked out really well, and I was excited about this hopefully now-weekly new tradition 🙂

I ended my night with – what else? – another episode of Smash with Mom 🙂 It kept me up a bit later than I intended, but it was still such a nice way to close out the weekend!


1 thought on “Weekend Recap: Wine Tasting and Cross-Country Skiing”

  1. Jessica @ Margaret River Wine Tours

    Oh man this is like a dream! Wine tasting and Skiing! We don’t have the luxury in Australia as we do not get much snow and certainly not in the wines regions. I suggest a malbex to warm you up in the cold times! I could definitely not plan a 20 minute core class like you after a wine tasting holiday! I need a day or 2 to rest…

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