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Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf?

Today terrifies about 10% of Americans. Specifically, those suffering from triskaidekaphobia, more commonly known as the fear of the number 13. To this day, architects design high-rises minus a 13th floor. Ditto for many airlines who skip a row.

In the words of Bob Seger, “Don’t go ’round tonight, It’s bound to take your life. There’s a bad moon on the rise.” Not only is today Friday the 13th, which people fear because of its religious ties to Judas, the 13th person who sat at the last supper with Jesus Christ then went on to betray him, but the lunar phase is waxing gibbous at 100% illumination. In plain English, this means that it’s teetering on full moon territory. And this, my friends, is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

Why? Because of the werewolves, of course! Many believe that the transformation from man to beast happens on the night leading up to a full moon. Werewolves have been broadly popularized from Nordic lore to Greek Mythology leading some folks to be convinced that they’re real. So, beware out there…

Sipping in the moonlight

Red blends are having a bit of a moment. We’ve previously featured them here at Grit Daily back in April and May. Nielsen has been tracking wine sales for some time. No surprise, Cabernet Sauvignon is the country’s most popular varietal. Indeed, my favorite and one that we routinely feature here.

The newsworthy bit is that red blends have now taken the number two spot and account for about 11% of all wine sales. Experts cite the “smooth, round mouth feel” as the driver for its double-digit growth. In contrast, the offshore cynics cite that Americans, generally regarded as non-oenophiles, buy red blends because they recognize at least one varietal listed on the label. Ouch!

Why stop at one moon when you could have 7?

Today’s wine down and chill features a red blend, deliciously cultivated on the dark side by 7 Moons Winery. Their Dark Blend features seven varietals, Syrah, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cabernet, Malbec, and Grenache. Their slogan compels you to try it, “Uncork a bottle, pour a glass, and find connection in the moonlight.”

This blend is more than clever marketing, it’s wonderful weekday – or any day – sipping wine with its smooth, rich finish and tasty notes of dark berry, caramel, currant, blackberry, and toasty oak. Its flavors pair well with comfort foods like burgers and BBQ chicken. Economically priced at $14 per bottle, it’s also easy to find nationwide. That said, as a marketer, I fully appreciate the brilliance of their campaign:

“Each phase of the moon invites you to slow down, relax, and reflect with a glass of 7 Moons in hand. As you savor our red blend, be sure to hold onto your cork. Collect all seven, uniquely inscribed with each phase of the moon.”

Cue music to wine down and chill

Given today’s double-themed column with a full moon looming on Friday the 13th, here amid the harvest season, I thought it made sense to select two albums. And, in all transparency, I couldn’t pick a favorite. I love them both!

Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd is spellbinding with its musings on the human condition juxtaposed against a transcendental soundscape. A curious factoid or two is that the album spent 937 weeks on the Billboard charts and was originally called Eclipse. This timeless classic was released by Harvest Records in 1973.

Cue segue. Harvest Moon, a lyrical masterpiece by a Canadian hero, Neil Young, was released in 1992. The weird co-inky-dink here is that he originally released some of the content on one of his first albums, Harvest, which dropped only a few months before Pink Floyd released their album.

‘tis the harvest season

The harvest has begun. Yummy grapes hanging on the vine are just waiting to be picked, smashed and fermented. Cheers to that! 😉

For centuries, farmers have planted their crops following the phases of the moon. The moon’s gravitational pull affects how and when the tides rise and fall but also impacts moisture retention in the soil. Hence, farmers plant in this current lunar phase so that the seeds maximally absorb water between the full moon and the new moon.

Consequently, many farmers also harvest under the moonlight. Table grapes, sweet corn, melons, and mushrooms are all typically harvested in the middle of the night under the full illumination of a waxing gibbous moon. Also, let’s not forget about the ice wine grape harvest which is conducted in the bitter cold on the darkest of winter nights in the middle of January. In Canada! Brrrrr…

In celebration of the harvest, we have an easy, comforting and inviting harvest soup.

Five ingredients and five steps

One, pick up a rotisserie chicken and shred it. For the herbivores out there, select seitan (aka “wheat meat” or tempeh (condensed tofu) and/or sliced portabella mushrooms. Fry them up in garlic, sea salt, onions, and butter.

Two, for heat and spice, finely slice a dried smoked chili pepper or poblano pepper. If neither is available to you, a jalapeño or two will do just fine. Add a heaping teaspoon of dried cumin.

Three, here comes the canned goods. Begin heating a large can (or two) of stewed whole tomatoes, one can of chic peas, with the juice. And a can of black beans, with the juice. Top up with water if you like your soup thinner.

Four, toss in a handful of fresh (or frozen) corn niblets sawed off the cob. Add a few sliced radishes.

Five, heat until warm. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro.

Pour yourself a glass. Take a look up at the bright moon. Now you can wine down and chill.

Wine down and chill in the shadow of the moon

Did anyone watch The Spy, recommended in last week’s column? I binged until the wee hours. It was fabulous. In keeping with the genre of covert operations, you should check out In The Shadow Of The Moon, an original movie now on Netflix. A Philadelphia police officer goes to the “dark side of the moon” as he obsesses over the heinous crimes of a female serial killer.

It’s been a long week. I’ve done three conferences, three cities in three days. I’m certainly ready to wine down and chill.

”Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  – Les Brown