Dooking It Out For Molly Dooker Wine: Where Everyone’s a Winner

Anybody out there like wine? Yeah, I thought so. Us, too. My sommelier-for-eternity XFE and I love wine and have really gotten into good wines over the last couple of years. We even invested in a wine fridge.

So when Kimpton Hotels tweeted that they would be holding a winemaker’s dinner, XFE looked into it. Turns out, the dinner was being held by an Australian winery called Molly Dooker . WHAT? We’re going to Australia! And we like Australian wines! In fact, we’re trying to plan a few days of winery tours in our Australian trip, but there are so many great wine regions, we’re still trying to decide which one makes sense for us – Barossa, Clare, Hunter, we’re just not sure.

Free pen AND free wine? (ok, not free, there was a charge.)

To top it off, Molly Dooker was holding a contest to name their next wine. AND the winner of the contest would be named at the DC wine dinner at the Hotel Palomar. The prize was awesome – a trip to Australia and a stay at the winery! Destiny had spoken.

We began brainstorming names for the new wine, which is a sparkling shiraz (We’d each have 10 opportunities to enter). We began researching Molly Dooker, which we found out was Australian slang for “left handed,” since the two owners, Sparky and Sarah, are both left handed. Pretty freaking adorable, huh? Yeah, we thought so too. All in all, it seems like a very fun winery, doing some pretty fun things, but how’s the wine?

Well, we had plenty of opportunity to find out at last week’s wine dinner. It started with a little appetizers – crab cakes and satay skewers, and their white wine, the Violinist. The Violinist is a verdelho, which I have never heard of, but it was very delicious. And well, we do love crab cakes.

We moved to the main event. When we got into the room, there was TON of wine and lots of glasses waiting for the wine. Each setting had five or so glasses. So, we took a deep breath, pulled on our big girl pants and settled in to get an education on Molly Dooker wines.

Sparky (and like his name suggests, he’s a real live wire) started off explaining how the wines are made with nitrogen to protect the wine from sulphites. But nitrogen isn’t too yummy in young wines. And if you want to drink the wine instead of having to store it forever (and believe me, you do want to drink it), you need to release the nitrogen gas by shaking up the bottle and letting it settle for a few minutes. We actually tasted two wines – one shaken, one not – and let me tell you, it’s better shaken.

I'm getting low, can someone fill me up?

We tasted several reds – including (up to that point at least) my favorite, which was—surprisingly for me—a cabernet sauvignon called Gigglepot.  We then tried the Scooter (a merlot), the Boxer (a shiraz), and the Maitre D’ (a cabernet sauvignon). Building on our new expertise, we did a fun little experiment where we mixed the three to try to come up with our own blend similar to their shiraz/cabernet/merlot blend, Two Left Feet. We mixed enough to share with the entire table in our mad scientist plastic beakers. XFE was taking this quite seriously, by the way. We voted on which of the four groups at our table had the best blend. Then we drank it.

XFE challenged folks at the table to put some money in to make it interesting. A very nice couple won the $60 pot. No, not us. We did nothing but lose.

After that, we were all feeling pretty good, listening to Sparky regale us with tales of winemaking, explaining the meaning and features behind all the wine labels (check out their website for details. It’s really well done), and proud Papa stories about his (and his children’s) illustrious go-cart careers. Apparently, that’s a thing.

Me and Sparky at the end of the night. I don't know how he does these dinners every night.

Well, the tastings weren’t over yet. We then turn over our placemats and there are spots and notes for FIVE more wine tastings! Whoa. Thankfully our food came out, a (slightly) overcooked beef dish with wine sauce and some veggies, and a yummy chocolate/caramel dense mousse thing. I’m not really sure what it was, but it hit the tipsy spot.

For our second round of tastings, we tried Molly Dooker’s Enchanted Path, a shiraz/cabernet blend, Carnival of Love, a shiraz, Blue Eyed Boy, another shiraz, and the piece-de-resistance, the Velvet Glove. It’s also a shiraz, but it was unbelievable. So, so good. I can’t describe it other than to say velvety. Interesting story – a forklift recently dropped about $1 million of Velvet Glove headed to the U.S. That was about 1/3 of the year’s production, so the 2010 quantities of this $200 a bottle wine are going to be quite limited. Which is very, very sad indeed.

Be careful with that, Sparky. We wouldn't want another incident.

Despite our extremely excellent 20 name suggestions, we did not win the Label Our Lefty contest. Someone with the wholly unoriginal name of Miss Molly won. Yes, I’m bitter grapes about that. But Molly Dooker can probably make some excellent wine even out of bitter grapes.

And now our decision on which wine region to go to when we go to Australia in March has been further complicated by the fact that Molly Dooker is in McLaren Vale, which was not an area we were even considering originally. So, we’ll see. First World Problems here, people.

Some people just can't handle their wine. Amateurs.

Luck Be a Lady Holding Two Airline Tickets

United Airlines contest
Nice United people right before I tackled them.

I am not a lucky person. Well, I mean that in the most materialistic sense of the word. I’m actually incredibly lucky in life. I have a great life – I have my health, I have a wonderful man who loves me, great friends, a decent job, a nice place to store all my wonderful shoes. All in all, I have been very lucky, especially given my white trash roots and upbringing.

But when it comes to winning, I haven’t ever hit a hot streak. I consistently lose at every raffle I’ve ever entered, despite the fact that I take a lot of time to fill those cards out with exceptionally neat handwriting.

We go to Vegas several times a year and do some mighty serious gambling, but I’ve never walked away from a table with pockets brimming in chips. Sure, I’ll make a little every now and again at craps or pai-gow poker (the best game EVER), but then I play it all away. Or I shop and spend it. So either way, I almost always leave Vegas empty-handed. (True story: a couple of months ago, XFE was playing day craps at Foxwoods Casino and some high roller came up and started giving everyone at the table $500 bucks every time the thrower hit the numbers he was playing. XFE walked away with $2,000 AND HE DIDN’T EVEN PLAY. That shit? That is lucky.)

But today? Today was the day my luck turned around. A little backstory: my permanent travel companion XFE has been nagging me for a while about following United Airlines on Twitter. They are our preferred airlines and I love them forever and ever. Especially since we are using a whole bunch of their miles to fly first-class roundtrip to Bangkok and Australia for my 40th next March. I heart United.

Anyway, United was having this Twitter promotion where they would go to eight cities for these Tweet-Ups. They announce via Twitter that day where they are going to be (like in a public place like a park or a square) and then the first 10 Twitter followers to meet up with them would get free airline tickets.

XFE follows United and so do I but somehow I never see their tweets. Probably because I follow too many damn people. But XFE had a feeling that I’d be closer to the meet up spot than he would. He warned me to be ready. And to not fail.

I was at work, still sick, basically sneezing and snotting my way through the day (Seriously, the only work getting done around here is booger production and the factory is Blowing. Up.), and trying to write a major article for the people who pay my rent. At 12:49, I see this on my screen.

United Airlines Tweetup contest

Dammit! I was closer. This was it. It was my moment to shine. The future of our domestic household bliss was in my Robitussin-stained hands. I literally kicked my heels off, jammed my feet into flats, grabbed my wallet and ran down the stairs. I didn’t even wait for an elevator. I still had my this-office-is-too-cold, blah, gray sweater on. I ran to Farragut Square (all that running in the mornings really paid off), holding up the Twitpic of the two United Airlines representatives in front of me. I couldn’t really see because of the sun, but I could just make out that they were standing in front of the statue in the park.

Moving fast like a snow leopard shoes. Not so much shoes. Yes, I have the entire animal kingdom represented in shoes. It’s like Noah’s Ark in my closet.

After running around the statue, I finally got my bearings and ran right up to them as they were trying to give the first follower his prize. I was third in line!! I won two tickets!! For any flights between the US, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and Central America. I was so excited! The first words out of my mouth were, “Man, my boyfriend is going to be so happy. He’s a total mileage whore.” Which may not have been appropriate, but I don’t care! I’m a winner! Somebody get me to Vegas!

So, what do y’all think? Where should we go? If the tickets had included Europe, the choice would have totally been so easy–we would have gone to see Erin and Greg in London.