Chattanooga Tasting Club Builds Community Around Wine & Friends

For the longest time, wine was never my first choice in a drink. I was told it was an acquired taste, that I’d come around to it. I started with sweeter moscato wines and worked my way up to chardonnay, and now I’m trying to branch into red wine. Apparently it’s better for you.

The Chattanooga Tasting Club, led by wine aficionado and world-class pianist Tim Hinck, is helping me refine my wine palate and find my favorite sips.

Tim started the Chattanooga Tasting Club earlier this year after wanting to share his love and knowledge of wine beyond his established wine groups. He noticed that there’s an active wine community in Chattanooga and he wanted a place for them and others to connect and enjoy some nice wines together. Whether you’re a wine newbie, an aspiring sommelier or anything in between, the Chattanooga Tasting Club has a spot for you at the bar.

chattanooga tasting club

Each week, Tim hand-picks four to six wines based on conversations with sommeliers around the country and research of his own. After working for a vineyard for a while and partaking in sommelier studies, Tim certainly knows how to craft a great wine tasting event. I’ve sipped wines I’d never heard of and wines I would never approach on my own. I’m far from a wine snob, but I can at least say my taste is expanding beyond my usual $10 Cupcake purchase at the grocery store.

In addition to weekly tastings, Tim has partnered with several others in the community for special events combining wine and the other senses. In January, the Tasting Club held a joint event with Mad Priest Coffee Roasters, a new coffee shop in town that opened right after the holidays. We sampled three coffees (from Yemen, Peru and Guatemala) and three wines (garnacha, syrah and sherry). It sounded like an odd tasting combination at first, but the wines and coffees were paired together specifically and each complemented the other’s flavors and notes.

wine coffee tasting

P.S. You can get a coffee subscription with Mad Priest.

Earlier this month, Tim partnered with Holly Mulcahy, concert master of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, for a special multi-sensory evening of wine-tasting and beautiful music. Each wine–two whites and two reds–was paired with a music selection that complemented the flavor notes. Musical selections included “Celestial Bird” and “Celestial Mountain” by Alan Hovhaness and “Prelude” from Grand Duo by Lou Harrison.

The highlight of the evening, of course, was a sneak preview of the Tributes Concerto for Violin by composer Jim Stephenson. Tim and Holly played the second “Andante” movement of the concerto for those of us at the “Tributes Tasting” as the evening’s finale. Fun fact: that movement draws from a scat in the Louis Armstrong song, “Hotter Than That.” The Chilean syrah chosen to accompany the Tributes piece paired so nicely with the smoky, jazzy mood set by the music. It’s amazing how two different senses and experiences can complement one another so well.

You can experience the world premiere of the Tributes concerto on March 2nd at the Chattanooga Symphony. Tickets are still available!

Most recently, Leah and Ryan from Wine Theory brought four amazing, small-batch California wines to the Chattanooga Tasting Club. These were wines that usually go for $80-$90 per bottle, and we had the awesome opportunity to taste them for ourselves. All four wines were impeccable, but the Judge Palmer 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and Domenica Amato 2008 Pinot Noir were far and away my favorites.

wine theory tasting

There absolutely is a community of wine lovers in Chattanooga, from all ends of the spectrum. At each event, I’ve met people who know their wines and know the proper swirling and smelling techniques, and I’ve met people more like me, who don’t know much beyond their grocery store purchases. The joy of the Chattanooga Tasting Club is the chance to meet other wine aficionados and learn more about how wine is made, where it comes from, how to taste it, and most importantly to find what you like.

And wine is best enjoyed with good company, of course.

The Chattanooga Tasting Club hosts weekly tastings on Friday and Saturday evenings. For more information, updates and special events, follow the club on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

My Vision Board for 2017

It’s never too late for a “2017” post, right? It’s still in the first quarter of the year, so I say yes.

I’ve been focusing a lot of self care and positivity lately. The world needs more positivity, encouragement and inspiration, and I just want to do my part to keep it present. My Weekly Sip series was started in part because of this (but also because I believe we all have stories to tell and getting down to the barest bones of those stories can make a difference). I personally find that visual, physical reminders of happiness and inspiration can make focusing on the best things in life that much easier.

My sweet friend Caroline–who recently started blogging over at Adventures in Nonsense–told me about a book she read called Beautiful Uncertainty by Mandy Hale. One part of the book mentioned vision boards and she told me she was thus inspired to make a vision board of her own. I’d bought a little 12″ x 12″ cork board a few weeks back (under $10 at Target, by the way), but hadn’t decided exactly what I wanted to do with it. Caroline and I chatted a little more, and a vision board sounded like a good idea to me, too.

vision board for 2017

[Read more…]

Weekly Sip: Own Your Happiness

It’s that time of the week again… another Weekly Sip post is coming at you! If you’re new to this series, you can read about my intentions for it here, and catch up on my other posts here.

This week, I’m getting real. Like, really real. It’s time to talk about being happy with your life and owning your own happiness. But first, a question.

Are you happy with your life? Is your own happiness a priority right now?

If you answered “no” to either of those questions, then this post is for you.

There’s a bakery downtown called Niedlov’s that I’ve been wanting to try for the better part of a year. I walk and drive by it often, as it’s near one of my favorite bars, and we’ve had some of their pastries at work before. But there’s something different about visiting the actual location and enjoying a cup of coffee and pastry on a Monday morning before a client meeting.

Niedlov’s bakes a lot of bread and pastries, and distributes a lot of their products to other restaurants and cafes around town. I’d had sandwiches served on Niedlov’s buns at other places and was impressed, so I was excited to try a buttery cheese croissant. I paired it with a cafe au lait, which is coffee with steamed milk — not too sweet, but not overly strong or bitter, either.

weekly sip own your happiness

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t always have to be a big meal. I always eat a small bowl of berries at home, and that with my cheese croissant and cafe au lait was all I needed to feel full. Next time, I’ll try one of their sweeter options — maybe a mocha with a chocolate croissant.

I’ve always been a believer that there is always something in life to be happy about, and that you control your own happiness. Not everything in life is in your hands, of course, but happiness is always possible and always part of the equation.

As much as I love living in Chattanooga and where my life is now, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t always like this. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was unhappy with my life, but I wasn’t as happy as I could be. I loved my job from day one, and starting over in a brand new city was nothing new to me. But I struggled in other areas and let too much negativity get to me. I eventually had my epiphany (thanks, quarter-life crisis), found who and what makes me happy and have been a completely different person ever since.

I learned that it was up to me to find my happiness. The only thing keeping me from being completely, 100% happy, was me.

Lately, I’ve had some similar conversations with a few friends. They’re unhappy with their jobs, wondering why they’re in the cities they’re in, wondering why they feel “stuck” or in a rut or how much longer those feelings will last. They’re experiencing their quarter-life crises, and even though they’re different than mine was, I understand those emotions completely.

One day, I asked one of those friends what’s holding her back — what’s holding her back from finding a job that she wakes up happy to go to each day, a job where she feels appreciated, moving to a new town or city where she can explore and find new adventures, from living a life that she would be happy to live. I understood and empathized with her answer, but I also encouraged her to consider her own happiness. Making other people happy at your own expense can only carry you so far. Eventually, you lose the will to even do that. And if you can’t find your own happiness, you can’t possibly have the energy or drive to help others feel happy, for whatever reason.

I understand that it’s hard to start over, pick up and move and start a new life. That kind of change is terrifying. As many times as I’ve moved and started over, I was still scared and nervous to make my move to Chattanooga. But ultimately what matters the most is your own happiness. As I’ve said, I eventually found what I was looking for. And I have all the faith that you can, too.

You control your own happiness. It’s largely up to you. You control your destiny (to an extent).

Take some time to reflect on your life as you live it now: are you truly happy? What would make you happier? What changes do you need to make to feel the happiness you desire? Find a way to make those changes and bring more happiness into your life. If you’re the praying type–and I am–pray about it.

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4.

If you aren’t happy with your own life, then it becomes more difficult to help make other’s lives happy. As another friend said, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Do what it takes to take care of yourself.

Find what makes you happy, do it, and own your happiness. Your life will be so much better for it.

What makes you happy? What can you do to own your happiness?

28 Things You Can Do By Yourself

When was the last time you had “me time”? Like, actually set time aside to just be you and do something for yourself? If you can’t remember, then it’s time to make it happen again.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about alone time in the first installment of the Weekly Sip. Setting aside time to be by yourself is essential to a good self-care practice, even for the most extroverted people. It gives you peace of mind to reset and get back to your goals and intentions.

28 things to do by yourself

[Read more…]

Weekly Sip: Patience and Positivity

I think I’m liking how this Weekly Sip series is going. I didn’t expect to go as deep as I have, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want to catch up, check out my past Weekly Sip posts about trying something new and spending time alone.

This week, I’m tackling two virtues that can be tough to practice, especially as a millennial: patience and positivity.

Patience and positivity are two of the most essential qualities in a person, yet seem to play more as vices than virtues.

Have you ever been in a rut? Feeling like you’re not moving forward or getting anywhere? Feeling like you’re losing your patience and positivity?

weekly sip patience and positivity

A few days ago, I visited Mean Mug Coffeehouse on the Southside, one morning before work. It wasn’t a place I really frequented before, as it’s not super close to my work and to be honest, sometimes I kind of forgot about it. But my coworkers always rave about it, and I had a lunch meeting there before the holidays, so I’ve added it to my rotation a bit more.

Mean Mug is a bit quirky; on the weekends, it’s a workspace for a lot of creatives in the city. It has an amazing menu, with coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch offerings. I can 100% vouch for the prosciutto biscuit. That morning, I opted for some peppermint black tea and a blueberry scone. If you didn’t know, peppermint tea has a ton of health benefits: decongestant, anti-inflammatory, appetite suppressant, mood booster, among many more.

So you could say that tea was a perfect way to get my brain going before heading in to work.

We live in a world of instant gratification. When we want something, we want it right now. The Internet and technology in general make it easier to make that happen. If we can’t get whatever we want as soon as we want it, then it’s a disaster. The struggles of being a millennial, right?

Life after college–especially in the first six months following graduation–is a whirlwind. Everyone takes seemingly different paths and goes in a hundred directions: grad school, new job in a new city, new job, living at home, traveling around the world, working for the Peace Corps, Teach for America… you name it, I knew someone from college doing it.

mean mug weekly sip tea

There’s a funny thing that happens after college: everyone starts comparing their lives to other people’s lives. We’re all guilty of it. How did that person get that job? Why did that work for them and not for me? Why can’t I get a job like that? Why am I still living at home like a loser? Ugh, that person is traveling Europe and teaching English and I’m stuck at this lame desk job in a cubicle.

Then there’s the weddings and engagements and relationships. When I finished college, I was in a steady relationship and we stayed together through my year in grad school. I moved to Chattanooga partially to be closer to him. On the outside, my life looked pretty good. New job, new city, good boyfriend.

No one saw the struggles I went through, except my closest friends. It wasn’t always like my perfectly curated and edited Instagram photos. But I digress. As time went on, I watched my friends and former classmates get engaged and married and wondered when my turn was coming.

Patience and positivity aren’t everyone’s virtues. For some of us, they’re more like vices.

Sometimes I think that people expect life to just fall in place and be perfect and easy at a certain point. It doesn’t always happen that way. Instant gratification isn’t always as instant as we’d like it to be. But if life were easy, we’d never grow and learn. If everything happened so quickly, we’d never take the time to enjoy life’s little moments.

To be fair, it’s hard to be patient when you really want something, when you’ve been working and waiting for that something for a long time. It’s hard to stay positive and remind yourself that you’ll get there. It’s hard to see other people moving up and onward while you’re seemingly stuck in one place.

I’m not a perfect Christian, but my faith is a huge part of my outlook on life and how I choose to live. I was raised to believe in a loving God who knows, cares for and loves each and every one of us and has a plan for everyone. It’s that belief that guides me through difficult chapters in my life, and it’s these specific verses that help me stay grounded during those times:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. (Matthew 6:34)

Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit (Galataians 22). God has a plan. What’s meant to be will find its way. Smile and have faith that everything is going to be okay and work out. Stop worrying about what’s not happening or what you’re not doing. Have faith that what’s meant to be will find its way. Life isn’t meant to be fulfilled and lived all in your 20s. Save some of the fun for your 30s, 40s, 50s.

Okay, this post got a little long and took a direction I didn’t expect to take. But that’s the beauty of this series — to just let my words come and see where they take me.

How do you practice patience and positivity when life gets tough? 

10 Things to Do for Valentine’s Day in Chattanooga + Giveaway!

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast. Seriously, where did January go and where did February come from?

Whether you’re single, taken or anything in between (hey whatever floats your boat), there’s something for everyone for Valentine’s Day in Chattanooga. Even if you’re not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, grab a group of friends, go out and have a good time. There’s more to love than loving a significant other — love your friends and yourself, too! But that’s a discussion for another time.

10 things to do for valentine's day in chattanooga

[Read more…]