My supermarket choice was limited to a Harris Teeter within walking distance from the hotel. Before one drop had been drunk, I managed to trip on a very high pavement and fall on my knees. Not the ideal preparation for a competitive dance weekend. Alcohol was required! For the remaining nights, I was excited to see mini "crates" of 4 mini bottles of wine from brands such as Barefoot and Sutter Home. These are ideal for slipping into a dance shoe bag, and also ideal for when you don't want to open a full bottle. At $6.99 they were not as overpriced as buying individual mini-bottles works out to be back in the UK so I was all for this packaging innovation... I can't drink fine wine every day, and after paying $18 for a glass of Oregon wine at the hotel bar, no matter how nice the Pinot Noir was, I was happy to request a fridge in my room and stock my own.
For the first night, I organised a drinks party for the international visitors where we sampled my local distillery's Auchentoshan Single Malt, the favoured drink of European West Coast Swing dancers: Zubrowka Bison Grass vodka (with apple juice), Bonterra Organic Californian Chardonnay (already reviewed at a similar event back in November) and Crown Royal Maple flavour American whiskey. We also learned that Scotch Whisky from Scotland is always spelled without an E whereas whiskey from anywhere else in the world has the E in it, all while socialising with Russians, Americans, French and Israelis. The United Nations of Dance is key to world peace, I believe.
When was the last time you saw an English wine by the glass in your local bar/hotel/restaurant? Here in the UK, we are hardly paragons supporting our own blossoming wine industry, so I ought not to have been so surprised to have difficulty in tracking down the local produce. And yet, on my latest trip to France, all the bars and restaurants I frequented over 3 days had a selection of wines by the bottle and by the glass and, of course, all were French and all were good. It's almost unimaginable for a French bar to have a house wine that's from anywhere but France. Why in the USA and the UK are we not celebrating our local produce more?
Perhaps I'll do a piece on English wine another time, but for now, back to the story of what we did enjoy.
Chatting to the diners at the next table, it was suggested that we experience the DC Happy Hour scene. Cocktails at cut prices, finger food, mini burgers and discounted glasses of wine are widely available from very fine restaurants, and it's a great way to spend less but see the kind of places where the senators hang out and the bartenders really know how to mix a cocktail. I enjoyed custom made rum punch, seared tuna "burgers" and enjoyed some fine conversation. Perhaps the most surprising thing I saw in my whole trip however was the "Bitch" branded wine (below) in one of the liquor stores. I'm not quite sure where the marketing strategy for that one came from.