Minnesota wine (not an oxymoron)
While I was in the US, we took our European customers to a wine tasting at the local vineyard.
First of all, yes, there are vineyards in Minnesota - in fact, according to the Minnesota Tourism board, there are now 39. The University of Minnesota Research center has developed several grape vines that can resist up to -30°F temps, which I think is pretty cool. Truth be told though, the wine they produce isn't really that great, though I think it may have more to do with the people mixing it than the grapes themselves.
But back to the wine tasting. We tasted a total of 13 different wines, and they were all awful. Terrible. Now, to be honest, I'm not really a discriminating wine drinker. I can drink just about anything, but I still dumped 11 of the 13 out after just a sip. I'm pretty sure the Europeans dumped 13 of the 13 out. I even heard one of them say that he wouldn't even clean his paint brushes with that stuff. I've been to this vineyard several times before, and while the wines weren't great, they were never this bad. Which left me wondering - is it a bad year, or have my tastes changed?
The following Saturday, my family and some co-workers all headed back there again for the annual Wine Stomp. Now say what you may about their wine, but they have done a great job of promoting it with various events that occur all summer long - concerts, comedians, meals, etc - it just makes for a fun place to hang out on a warm summer evening. And all of it culminates in September with the Wine Stomp, where teams of two people try to do just that - stomp on as many grapes as possible in 3 minutes in an attempt to produce the most "wine".
This year's theme was "Prom and Bridal Wear", meaning the contestants were supposed to show up in (duh) prom or bridal wear. They also had another wine tasting, with different wines than the ones they'd given us a few nights earlier. A handful of them were at least drinkable, so I don't know why they chose to give the worst ones to people who are used to drinking higher quality wines...
Unfortunately also while I was in the US, a 30yr old Canadian woman drowned while being photographed swimming in her dress in a river with strong currents. The dress became so heavy and weighed down by the water that it dragged her under. It just seems so senseless and not worth it...