The Five Questions: Arianna Armstrong
November 24, 2010
I discovered Arianna through my favorite medium. The Social Network named Twitter… Or was it on Facebook? I cannot be sure, but one thing is for certain, she is very interesting. Arianna fits my lens perfectly as a candidate for the Five Questions. This is because of her talent. She is a writer, a teacher- a mom and world traveler.
When I met Arianna, I was working on an article for Mutineer Magazine… So we had some common ground. Although the article went where some articles go- not to the publisher, but to the cutting room floor. (I still hold out hope that this one can be published)
For someone like myself to discover Mutineer Magazine, all the way on the right coast started a conversation. Then as it turned out Arianna told me of her local connections to NJ and a friendship was born. I was just reading her LinkedIn account and found that we both went toEmerson College.
Arianna publishes a blog named GRAPESMART where wines don’t have to be expensive to be delicious. I like this site and read it often. Many of the wines that she writes about are examples of the wines that I drink or wish I will drink in the future.
Those that speak clearly of the Terroir. (Taste of the place)
Her wine tasting notes are written for real people who enjoy their wines as part of their everyday life. With food, without food, she clearly writes with a smile on her face.
She doesn’t use scores to “rank” wines. After all, when I see scores on a wine bottle, I usually turn and run. Scores mean virtually nothing to me. What I look for is passion from the wine maker in my glass, not the paid opinions of a marketeer. Arianna uses facts and easy to understand explanations to find her audience.
Here is an excerpt from her Grapesmart Blog that I really loved reading. She is unafraid of letting people know what time it is:
Here’s the other thing about Bodega: It’s dark and it’s loud. Like, live-DJs-on-weekends and this-one-goes-to-11 loud. Every time I’ve been, my fellow geezers and I get run off after 9pm because the full-tilt cranial assault makes our dentures rattle.
Dude. It’s all coming clear – the straight-forward wine menu, the casual descriptors, the dark, the loud, the easy-breezy munchy food, the great big party communal vibe: Bodega’s built for young people. It’s a night club without the dancing and full bar. It’s a place to see and be seen; it’s a place to pick up digits – but not the details about what you’re drinking. If you’re feeling young and hot and flirty, go to Bodega. Go to Bodega for great drink specials and pizza. Go to Bodega because there are three, easy-to-access locations. Just don’t go to Bodega for wine.
I love writing like this! If anyone knows me, they know that I like people who can teach me things- and she is all of that and more.
1. Where did you grow up? Who taught you about wine? Mother? Father? Cookbooks? Television? Do you cook?
I grew up in a small town in North Carolina. My dad’s a great cook and taught me how to enjoy food, but I think I built on that foundation just by paying attention and being open-minded. It also helps that I’ve had a life-long devotion to eating well – whether that’s street food in Morocco, a snazzy upscale joint in New York City, or a burger place in Compton.
Wine is an extension of my obsession with food. The flavors, the experience, the story behind how it moved from the land to the place in front of me. My wine education has been very informal. I take as many classes as I can, but I also work hard to meet people I can learn from. I work part-time in a wine shop, I volunteer at wine events, I go to tastings. And I’m not afraid of asking questions; good lord, have I asked some dumb questions…
2. I’ve followed you on Social Networks. Do you have a strategy for their use? Do you own a smartphone?
Do I own a smartphone? I think the better question is: How long can you survive without one? (The answer: Not long. I’d probably shrivel up and die within a day. Do you know a good 12-step program? What’s the Methadone of crackberries?)
My strategy for social networks – like my strategy for life – is to collect as many good people as I can.
I want to surround myself with funny, insightful, brilliant people who add value to my world. Sometimes those people are wine gurus who intimidate and inspire me.
Sometimes they’re comedians, sometimes they’re people who are doing good (like planting trees and waking people to the dangers of living complacently). I engage as much as possible, I post the articles I write.
I also tell a lot of jokes. More than anything, I tell jokes.
3. Do you have any wine that brings a tear to your eye when you drink it? Why?
You know…this answer changes as I learn, but today it’s 2005 Don Juan Nahuel Reserva, from Argentina.
Not only is it a beautiful, well-made Malbec with balance and elegance and smooth, rich tannin – and all those other fancy wine words – it was also the best wine I poured on my first “quasi-somm” job.
That wine reminds me that I’m achieving something.
And, it’s delicious.
4. Do you cook? What is your favorite thing to prepare?
Yeah, I cook… No one will ever mistake me for a professional, but I get by.
My current favorite thing to make is roast chicken and Israeli couscous.
It’s healthy comfort food, and my son loves it. There is something so satisfying about cooking good food that he actually wants to eat.
5. If you could be anywhere in the world right now where would that be? What would you eat/drink when you got there?
At a sidewalk cafe in Montmartre with a hot cafe au lait; or somewhere on the Amalfi coast, sitting in front of an ocean view and a steaming hot bowl of linguine ai fruitti di mare.
Or maybe at a movie. I haven’t been to the movies in a long time. I’m a sucker for good movie theatre popcorn.
Arianna snacks, sups, sips and swallows – and lives to write about it. Always on the hunt for unusual grape varietals and unique pairings, she stays thirsty for the occasional quality cocktail and craft beer, as well. When she isn’t buried in her laptop or lounging at the bottom of a glass, she’s taking her son on adventures across Los Angeles and opening his mind to the amazing beauty of the world, and all there is to appreciate.
www.grapesmart.net | my tasting notes, in particular: http://www.grapesmart.net/category/wine-tasting-notes/ariannas-wine-tasting-notes
www.mutineermagazine.com | my mutineer page: http://www.mutineermagazine.com/blog/author/ariannaa
All are personal photos, except for Marrakech: Laurenz Bobke (http://www.travelphoto.net/a-photo-a-day/wordpress/category/photos/morocco/marrakech)
And me, lying on my stomach with a glass of wine, was taken by Loren Philip: (www.lorenphilip.com)
Thank you Arianna for spending a bit of time with me. I was thinking about where I’ve been in a year… and want to give thanks to you, my readers for being so supportive of my craft and passion for good story-telling.
Happy Thanksgiving All!
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. In 2010, Bobrow founded “Wild Table” for Wild River Review and serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor, including the Busted Barrel rum produced by New Jersey’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition.
Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He writes the “On Whiskey” column for Okra Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly.
His first book Apothecary Cocktails, was published in September 2013; and immediately went into a second printing. In 2014, he published Whiskey Cocktails. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ, on a Biodynamic farm.
Warren Bobrow in this Edition
COCKTAIL WHISPERER, Editor
Apothecary Cocktails: Mexican Sleep Cure
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Blue Hill/Stone Barns: Time Exists in Harmony with Nature
The Cocktail Whisperer asks Anthony Bourdain Four Questions about Scotch
The Five Questions: Andrew Bell, American Sommelier
The Five Questions Catherine Reynolds
The Five Questions: Lincoln Henderson (Master Distiller)
The Five Questions: Natalie West (Foppiano Wines)
The Five Questions: Randall Grahm
The Five Questions: Sustainable Sushi
A Glass of Bourbon, Branch, and History
Midnight in the Bronx: Visit to Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange
A Modern Day Absinthe Alchemist
A Summer Cocktail Party for Artie Shaw
Tales of the Cocktail: New Orleans, Louisiana