The Best of

Bob’s Winings

Tasting Notes from a Beer Drinker

 


This page contains Winings from the 1st Quarter of the year 2001.

To contact WinoBob, click here


March 31, 2001

AMENDMENT- With a bit more digging into the research shelf in my dimly-lit working office/hole-in-the-wall, I came across a book I have from Kevin Zraly’s handouts that is called, “Wines of Italy”.  What better place to look, Wino Bob.  I was able to answer my question from my earlier entry about the Italian wine I enjoyed with a business associate at Nino’s in Paterson, NJ.  Did I tell you there is a statue of Abbott and Costello in the Lou Costello Park?  If you watch The Sopranos, you have seen both the falls and the monument in the second season of the show.  Hey, just an aside about The Sopranos for any of you from NJ, last week Tony drove right past Bacchus, yes, the Bacchus I love.  Tony was heading Southbound on Passaic Ave. and Bacchus was seen out his window as he was driving with his wife.  As you know, Tony loves his wine.  I wonder if he reads Winostuff?

Salice Salentino is found in the region of Apulia (puglia) located in the heel of the Italian peninsula.  This land mass is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea to the North and the Ionian Sea to the South.  The primary grapes grown in this region are Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera.  The Ca’ntele family has been producing wine since the 70’s. 

March 31, 2001

I, too, have just returned from a real job business trip.  Though mine was confined to the Eastern Seaboard, no exotic foods, drink, scenery or entertainment like Wino John experienced.  As this was a planned out meeting, a non-drinker made the wine selection.  As red wines go, the choice at each dinner was a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet.  I am not much of a Pinot drinker, as you can see from my reviews, but this one was a wine I will not be buying for the house.  The Cabernet was better, but only available for one dinner.  I guess this resort is famous for it’s golf and tennis clinics and athletes in training drink carrot juice and grapefruit with a spritz.  However, when you gather 75 salesmen for 4 nights, they should copter in a larger choice of wine for us to enjoy.

After leaving Tampa with a not-so-great wine experience, I found myself back in New Jersey yesterday enjoying lunch with a customer in a small Italian restaurant in downtown Paterson, NJ.  Yes, Paterson, the Home of the Paterson Falls, silk fabric and Lou Costello of the famed Abbott and Costello.  The customer I was with is a wine enthusiast and a frequenter of this establishment.  For lunch, he asked the waiter to bring a glass of his usual for us.  This Italian red wine was the best glass of wine I enjoyed all week.  As Italian wines go, I haven’t found that many in the under $100.00 price range that I enjoy, but this one was great.  I managed to jot down the name on the label, but have not been able to find out much about the region it comes from, grape, or style.  So, fellow winos and winettes, if any of you are Italian red wine aficionados, please email me details.

 

1998 Wente Reliz Creek Reserve Pinot Noir  ?   The months in French oak overpowered the delicate raspberry fruit of this wine.  The tannins were strong and did not play well with the fruit in this wine.  Harsh, smoky flavors dominated this biting beverage.

 

1998 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon  ? Pleasant, and balanced, this wine had a playful level of tannin to back up the dark cherry flavors and made this wine stand up well with the red snapper and filet mignon main course.  A good wine to drink on a weekend with friends.

 

1997 Ca’ntele Salice Salentino Riserva $ (12.00 restaurant price) Owner/Chef Nino at Nino’s in Paterson found a great inexpensive wine to compliment his beautifully prepared Italian fare.  The acid-fruit balance supported the Capellini seafood in Pink Sauce.  This is a wine for the table, to drink with friends, enjoy mozzarella and roasted peppers, and play a game of cards on checked tablecloths.  Smooth, fruity, and a bargain at retail pricing fewer than ten dollars.

 

March 24, 2001

Winos and Winettes, I present to you the Wine Ambassador for Conflict-Resolution, Wino Bob. (Applause, applause) Thank you, thank you.  My fellow winos, I stand here today as a proud WAC-R, but I am faced with a troubling message.  As I am heading to the negotiation table, I previewed the bottle of wine I was to sit down with regarding this latest conflict I was called upon to resolve.  But negotiations will be more difficult because of the wine I have selected.  When the wine does not live up to expectations, it can damage this sensitive period of resolution.  I relied on the promises of the label and tasted a much different product.  So, for the safety of our nation’s position, I am withdrawing my presence at this meeting today to locate a bottle of wine that will ease the tenor of today’s discussions.  I cannot sit in a room and praise the opulence of this wine when I found it non-opulent, or therefore lacking in the opulent character that is described on the label.  The lesson learned is to drink an entire bottle of the wine before putting it on the table of negotiation.  Drink responsibly; the future of our nation depends on it.  If there are any wines that you have successfully used as a lubricant for social intercourse, please contact me at the Department of WAC-R, Wino Bob A.B.S.  

1997 Sebastiani Sonoma Cask Cabernet Sauvignon $ (20.00)   This wine is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc and aged in West Virginian oak for 17 months.  The harsh tannins mute the opulent, jammy fruit.  This has a harshness that lessens the spirit of this wine.    

March 23, 2001

Beauty and elegance can describe the wine I enjoyed tonight.  Having a business dinner with an associate whom I had some disagreement with was made easier by the selection of a great wine.  Starting off in disagreement over a current business situation in my real job, we had come to dig our heels in a bit, defending our positions.  The public setting quelled the possibility of raising our voices to shout down the other’s point of view.  Plugging my ears and singing the La-la-la song was out of the question since I wanted to enjoy dinner at this establishment in the future.  So, before things went too far, the wine steward brought the wine I selected and poured us each a glass.  As the pure beauty of this finely crafted beverage raced through my now boiling bloodstream, a soothing feeling emerged.  The tension was broken by the delight we both took in this wine.  As our glasses filled for the second time, we steered our comments to the rich, red liquid in our glasses.  Wine talk found our common ground and, as the alcohol level increased, so did our efforts in resolving the differences we started the night with.

Yes, a peace accord was struck that night and though we did not change the world, we did find a solution to the issue.  So I was thinking of contacting President Bush and ask him to appoint me Wine Ambassador for Conflict-Resolution.  Yes, I would proudly serve as the WAC-R for the Bush Administration.  As I have been told by many, I would be a fine WAC-R.  Couldn’t you see me flying to a foreign country, deplaning Air force One, and being greeted by chants from the crowd, "WAC-R, WAC-R, Here Comes Bush’s WAC-R."

If any of you out there are politically connected, please feel free to approach the Bush Administration with my name and newly sought position.

1997 Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry $$$(70.00 restaurant) Smooth, powerful, velvety, full in body and flavor.  Rich textured and complex made from 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.  This is an example of why I prefer blends to cepages.  Depth, cherry and blackberry and vanilla and currant mix and mingle to the delight of your palate.  Special occasions are befitting of this beauty.

March 19, 2001

Wine and food, that’s what life is all about. Sensing a routine that is building with salmon on Sunday, I went to Bacchus tonight and ordered wild game.  OK, deer is no longer wild game since I see it strolling across Bloomfield Ave at 6AM when I’m heading out for work.  But Fois Gau stuffed venison just sounds gamey.  The salmon I enjoyed was just in a white wine sauce so I had to drink the bottle of white wine.  Not finding the appropriate French Colombard, I dug out a bottle that has been sitting in the cellar for a while.  The name intimidated me from opening it sooner.  But being a white wine, I did not want to let it go far beyond this year.  After drinking this one, I know why I’m a red wine lover.  For fun tonight I wanted a South African wine with my big game, but they could not locate the bottle I selected.  Under pressure and wanting a big red wine, I picked a Chilean Cabernet from 1997.  This wine was a solid Cab with all the right smells of an oak aged red.

1994 Les Domaines Barons de Rothchild (Lafite) Reserve Bordeaux Blanc $ (19.00)     A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon cepages, balanced for a clean, crisp, fresh white wine.  Not much of an aroma from this glass and a pleasant, but short finish.  Serve chilled and with mild foods.

1997 Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvee Alexandre $ (16.00)   Pure Cabernet aromas rocket from the surface of this wine with depth from the 11 months in oak (92% in French oak, 8% in American oak-50% new barrels, 40% 1 year old and 10% 2 years old).  This wine has great fruit and tannins that will allow this to sit in the bottle for years to come.  Blackberry and coffee dominate this wine.  For those looking for wines under $20.00 that have guts, this is a big, bold red wine lover’s style.

March 18, 2001

Knowledge is a dangerous thing.  My good friend, Wino John, reads Wine Spectator to uncover all the facts and technical aspects of the fruit of the vine.  I choose participant observation as my method of education.  Wino John is intrigued with the fact that California’s second largest white varietal grape is Colombard (French Colombard).  First what I did was find the grape.

This grape is primarily blended with Chenin Blanc to make, dare I say, cheap California “Chablis”.  Yes, winos and winettes, we are talking jug wine, which still outsells the premiums in this country.  I was able to identify two wines that I will be on the hunt for to drink and review.

1997 Carmenet Colombard-Old Vines- Napa about 12.00 per bottle and the 1997 Livingston Cellars French Colombard of California, which pulls down a whopping 5 dollars a bottle.  All the notes I found encourage me to drink this one young, less than 4 years and chilled.  So I will set off on a journey to taste a cheap white wine so I can continue my wine education.  I understand there are a few Pennsylvania Wineries making damn good French Colombard.

March 17, 2001

Happy St. Patty’s Day.  Does anyone really know what time it is, does anyone really care?  Sometime I ask questions in my entries and to date, Wino Dan was the only one to email me the answer to the question I asked months ago.  What is the Mistral?  He knew it was the strong wind that roars down the Rhone Valley, which may affect the grape growing.  So today I will post a rhetorical question.  What is a Porron?  This word appeared in the Spanish drinking song, but can you tell me what it is?  OK, so you know, but you are too scared to email me the answer.  No, you know, but don’t care.  No, is anyone out there?

So for the benefit of Wino John and Wino Wally, I will tell you what a Porron is.  A Porron is a glass container that resembles a bong.  Well, it’s not like I really know what a bong looks like, but I never had the opportunity to use it in a sentence prior to this.  Let me show you what a Porron is.

This is a very basic looking Porron, there are much more ornate, decorative Porrons.  Maybe it’s an Erlenmeyer flask with a mouthpiece.  This device is a kind of cross between a decanter and a wine sack.  Having a deep-rooted tradition in Catalonia, examples of Porrons date back to the 1400’s.  The Spanish dictionary describes it as a wide-bottomed glass container frequently used in some Spanish provinces, mostly Catalan region, to drink wine, which spurts in a jet from the spout rising at an angle from the base.

Think about this Mr. Technogeek, a Porron full of Red Spanish wine jetting towards you.  Calculate the trajectory and speed at which the wine will splatter over your White Oxford shirt.  Starting and stopping the flow is an art.  The masters begin inches from the mouth and move to arms length.  The Porron was the sanitary method for sharing your wine with friends as you laugh and drink and sing wine songs.  The connoisseurs claim that the jetting of this wine through the air enriches the wine and increases the sensation of freshness.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

March 16, 2001

Never let it be said that Wino Bob won’t admit when he’s wrong.  (Aren’t those words every woman wants to hear?)  On this eve of St. Patrick’s Day I wish all my Irish readers a Kiss on their Blarney Stones.  Though, I’m sure the Killian’s web site is where they’re all hanging out right now.  As this fine holiday conjures up images of friends drunk and laughing and singing drinking songs (there is that beer hall drinking thing again), I dodged the green spattered sidewalk in town and made my way into the library.  Some wild guy I am.  This tie between drinking with friends and singing off-key songs at the top of our lungs with that, “I love you man,” look on our slung-jawed faces set me searching for the right wine song.

After hours of research I found an article in a publication that disproved my earlier notion that there are no good wine drinking songs.   So I state it loud and clear, I was wrong.  There is a spirited region in Spain that carries a tradition of songs connected with wine that are sung in those “I love you, man,” drunken states.  The article did not list the title of these songs, so my homework assignment must be marked incomplete at this moment.  Sorry, Mrs. Prindle. 

Most disappointing to me is that not one of our Spanish readers volunteered to correct me after I wrote about there being no good drinking songs for wine lovers.  Are there no Spaniards amongst us?  Are there no readers of this column? 

As the only phrase I could find in this article from a wine drinking song is the refrain from the Spanish wine ditty that goes: “Asuncion, Asuncion, pour half a measure of wine into the porron.”

Too bad Napster is having their fight in court these days or I would download this song and post a wave file in my column so we can all learn the words and sing it the next time we are at Bacchus.

March 11, 2001

Experimentation is what it’s all about.  I totally left my comfort zone during dinner last night at Bacchus.  As we waited for our table, I ordered a white wine.  The place was packed and the euphoria of the crowd out for a Saturday night got me in the mood to throw caution to the wind.  My lifeline for wine selection, Joe the Wine Guy, was off on a Rock Climbing Competition so I was flying solo.  Remain calm, find a producer you are acquainted with and give it a try.

Time for dinner and the Headwaiter presents the meat platter to describe the choices of meat for the evening.  Off the cliff now and soaring in a new direction, I ordered the Buffalo Rib Eye.  This 16 oz. of lean Buffalo is braised with a spicy coating cooked to medium rare perfection with a taste of the gamy open plains of the 1800’s wafting in the smokey texture. 

Wanting Red Wine and being with Italian wine lovers, I picked a grape I had no history with.  One of my guests said she liked the wine style so we were into a Barbara D’Alba from Piedmont. 

The white wine was enjoyable, the Buffalo was delicious, the red wine is where I crashed and burned.  But they all cannot be winners.  The wine was not undrinkable, but it was not a gem either.  Oh sure, I could have ordered from the Rhone section of the wine list.  Joe the Wine Guy is bolstering that section very nicely.  However, I needed to stretch beyond the limits in which I am comfortable…that’s what I love most about wine and dinner.  Enjoying conversation, trying new things and being open to what ever results come of it.

1998 Trimbach Pinot Blanc $ (9.00)   A lean, crisp, clean wine, this can be enjoyed as an aperitif.  Not much aroma.  Mild citrus fruit.  This would be an excellent wine to accompany shellfish.

1996 Vigna Majang Barbara D’Alba $$ (28.00 Restaurant)   I try to think of the aroma wheel when I try new wines, but the only thing that came to mind when I smelled this wine was the odor of a muddy field as the sun begins to heat the standing water.  That and blue cheese.  Neither appear as descriptive terms.  As the wine opened, a berry fruit flavor came through, but it was a short finish and drying tannins. 

March 10, 2001

What do the Oprah show, Imus in the Morning and Wino Bob have in common?  No, only Imus wears a cowboy hat.  No, to my knowledge, Oprah never had a drinking problem.  Think show content...  That’s right, we all recommend books to our millions of viewers.  OK, I am just starting a new series of books that I recommend for Winos to read.  OK, I don’t have millions of viewers.  And yes, I do not carry the weight of Imus or Oprah, especially Oprah.  But for those of you winos interested in adding to your vast knowledge base, there are books out there that are worth keeping on hand and referring back to from time to time.  I submit to you my first recommended book to begin your library with.

The World Encyclopedia of Wine

First off, anything entitled, “The World…” is a book I must own.  This way I never miss out on something that might be happening in a region that would not be included in a book entitled, “The Northern Hemisphere...” or “East of the Time Meridian…” or “Countries Beginning with the Letter F…”.  Now I have everything in the world known to man  at my fingertips.

Secondly, this hard cover book makes a beautiful coffee table display.   Not being one to own a coffee table or to know what to do with a coffee table if I did own one, this book is perfect for the idea Kramer put forth of having a coffee table book that is large enough to be a coffee table. 

On the serious side, this book is a great foundation for the noble grapes, the regions they are produced in and an understanding of wine.

I submit to you the first in my series of wine books to build your library with that also help you stock your wine cellar.

March 9, 2001

Broken promises.  Last summer, I met some people who were into making their own wine.  They brought a bottle they crafted to this party and it gave me something to do at this otherwise, shall I say, boorish party.  The people were kind and friendly and loved wine.  By the end of the evening, we were trading wine stories and they promised to drop by with a bottle of their wine the next time they were in the hood.  Never happened. 

During the conversation, they did tell me about a wine club called Garden State Wine Club.  That’s in NJ, for those of you in Rio Linda. So, the other day I was on the web, go figure, and I punched in Garden State Wine Club in my favorite search portal, www.dogpile.com.  Through several emails, I signed up.  I now can officially say, I am a member of a club.  Thank you Groucho.  This club offers several different programs to suit your taste.  I signed up for the Premium Reds.  This will deliver to my doorstep 2 bottles of red wine, one in the 20-25 dollar range and one in the 10-15 dollar range.  Today I received my first shipment.  As I tore open the package, I pulled out a bottle of California Cabernet, which I will tell you about in a moment.  My Premium bottle unveiled itself to be, Vinson Richards 1998 Chardonnay Reserve.  Yes, that’s right, my high-end red wine is a bottle of Chardonnay from Uruguay.  As I opened the packing slip, it clearly stated I would be receiving for my Premium Red, Greg Norman Estates Shiraz.  Well, I called up the Garden State Wine Club and told them they had sent me a Chardonnay.  They asked if I was aware that Chardonnay's not a red wine so, since I am signed up for the Premium Red Wine package, I could not have received a Chardonnay.  Then I was asked if I knew the difference between a Chardonnay and a Shiraz.  Immediately, I told them I was Wino Bob, damn it, and have corrupted my liver on Shiraz and it was no Chardonnay.

Several phone calls later, I was promised that my Greg Norman would be included in my next shipment and if I wanted to I could use the Chardonnay for cooking.  I again told the person on the other end of the line, "I’m Wino Bob, damn it.  Why would I waste any wine in the frying pan until I have at least consumed half the bottle?"  So one night, with a fish dinner, I will try this Chardonnay from Uruguay, it may be a sleeper.

Tonight, I picked this under ten-dollar California Cabernet to accompany the take-out Penne Napoli which I enjoyed in its aluminum-shipping container.  The wine description came with a recipe suggestion, Pepper Steak with Port-Wine Mushroom Sauce, but I had pasta from a tin that I carried home in a brown paper bag.

1997 Sea Ridge Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon $ (9.99)   Though not intense or bold, this wine is drinkable now with rich berry flavors and mild tannins.  Medium-bodied, there is a bouquet of vanilla from the toasted oak barrel.  There will be some bottle aging enhancements but it's not worth hiding this one away.  And remember, next time you are having Pepper Steak with Port Wine Mushroom Sauce, think Sea Ridge Coastal.  I personally think this wine will not hold up to a really peppery steak. 

March 4, 2001

I apologize, I promised to not bring up the religion theme for my entries.  As today is Sunday and the first Day of the Lenten Season, I was drawn to a wine at my friend Mr. Kim’s store.  The label was most fitting for the day so I had to buy it.  The wine is called, The Holy Trinity.  Now how could I let my cousin, The Brother, down and pass up trying a wine with this name.  After reading the label, the wine maker clearly identifies the reasons behind the name, none of which are religious.  He starts by telling us this is a union of three important grapes to the Barossa Valley.  This wine is 39% Grenache, 31% Shiraz and 30% Mourvedre.  The other reason I had to try this wine is due to the fact that these grapes live in my Rhone wines.  The other reason behind the name has to do with the land, the grapes and the family that produces this wine.  This triumvirate comes together in a harmony of great wine and successful commerce.  The reason I think they called this wine The Holy Trinity is because this wine is a truly enlightening experience. For wine lovers of Big Reds, please do not purchase all of this wine so I may find a few bottles on the shelf that I can tuck away in my cellar for the nights I want my wine drinking to be a religious experience.  Let me know if you cannot find this in your local wine shop, I know Mr. Kim is sitting on several cases.

1997 Grant Burge Barossa The Holy Trinity $$ (29.99)   Complex, bold, deep hue, rich, powerful, all describe this wine.  Peppers and cherries are the first of many aromas from this wine, followed by eucalyptus, dark cherry, like opening a drawer in your cherry furniture.  A bouquet of vanilla and wood come from the maturation in French oak Hogsheads.  A hint of acid and tannin tell me this will only benefit from a nap in the cellar.  A wine that can be impressive now or held onto for years of pleasure.

1997 Coppo Barbera D’Asti Camp du Rouss $ 14.99    This wine gives a lot of alcohol and little fruit in the nose.  High acid and a harsh after taste greet you with the first taste.  The acid mellows to reveal a mild fruit flavor.  Not very much to describe.  Buy this one for pizza with people with whom you are only casually acquainted.

 

March 3, 2001

I know that my entries move from the serious to the ridiculous and, since I have not been serious in awhile, I offer the following wine information.

How’s this for serious?  The BATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) recently fined 2 wineries for mislabeling their product.  C. Mondavi & Sons (not Robert Mondavi Wineries) was fined $300,000 for using the "Napa Valley" designate on their labels when the grapes came from a variety of other regions.  Also, Bronco Wineries was fined $750,000 for their Forest Glen, Napa Creek, and Rutherford Vintner’s Blend because their labels falsely indicated coming from Napa and Sonoma grapes. 

Do you know who William M. Gaines was?  Yes, he is no longer with us.  I will see if anyone can identify for what he is famous.  E-mail me or post your answers on the guest book.  I will tell you he was a collector of fine wines and several lots of his wine were recently auctioned off.  Several bottles included 1866 and 1889 Tokaji Essencia, the much sought after Hungarian sweet wine, and Burgundies from Romanee-Conti and Misigny.  The fruits of his labor are still enjoyed by many today.

Can you name the top 5 wine producing countries according to France’s Official International de la Vigne et du Vin?

          1.

          2.

          3.

          4.

          5.

Here are the top 5 wine consumers

1.    France - 937 million gallons

2.    Italy - 845 million gallons

3.    U.S. - 526 million gallons

4.    Germany - 501 million gallons

5.    Spain - 396 million gallons

We have a lot more drinking to do to overtake the French.  I pledge to do my part.  The interesting item is that the order of production is not the same as the order of consumption.

Any Porto lovers out there?  If there are, you will be glad to know that 1998 will be a vintage year.

Does anyone have an answer as to why California wine prices are rising even though grape production is up?  Last year a ton of Chardonnay grapes from Central California went for just under $1,000.00 per ton.  This year its about half that.  Will we see a drop in pricing? 

California’s celebrity-endorsed Fetzer Vineyards is banking on increased sales attracted by chef Emeril Lagasse.  Does his name on the label make it a better wine?

Geek wine fact of the day - A traditionally-made Champagne contains an air pressure of 90 pounds per square inch.  I guess that’s why they tell you to hold the bottle away from you when opening or you’ll shoot your eye out.

I kind of feel like Larry King with my, "for what its worth" wine facts.  So let me know what the top 5 wine producing countries are and I just might send you a prize.  

March 2, 2001

Needing my wine fix last night, I headed to Bacchus to sit at the wine bar and quietly enjoy a wine I have not tasted before.  As I walked in, I found a live band and a packed house.  Grabbing the only remaining seat at the bar (since everyone else was with at least one other person), I looked around at the twenty-something crowd enjoying the music.  Crap, I felt old.  Twenty-somethings are into imported beers and funky colored drinks in Martini glasses.  I don’t know, call me old fashioned, but a drink with Chocolate liqueur and raspberry splashes cannot really be called a Martini, can it?

I did see Joe the Wineguy and he wanted me to try a white wine before I ordered my red.  I figured, what the hell, if Joe has something he recommends, who am I to argue?  I had a first, a wine style I have never had before, nor have I read much about.  You know how much of a white wine drinker I am, but this was not no wimpy white wine.  More on that later.  I sipped and watched the crowd - short, spiky hair, fruity drinks, swaying sexily to the music, and that’s just the guys. I was the only one there without the “in” mustache/beard combo that these hip young kids are sporting. 

As the first glass of wine eased my ultra-conservative, up tight, establishment personality, and I recognized one of the songs the band was playing, Jerry the bartender poured me a Cabernet that was so tannic my tongue clicked off the roof of my mouth when I tried to make small talk with the belly-shirted, belly-button ringed, young lady sitting next to me.  Smooth, Wino Bob.  Why don’t you just crawl back under the rock you came from.  Loser.  By the way, how do you wash the “L” off your forehead before heading into work the next morning?

This wine Jerry poured was a whopper, big and bold. A 1994 that still has sleeping time in the bottle to release it’s full beauty.  So, the band played, the crowd rocked and I sat quietly in the middle of all this, enjoying my wine and learning about the upcoming generation.  Why they haven’t begun their discovery of the virtues of the grape is beyond me, but I’m sure Joe the Wineguy will be on a crusade to convert them.

 

1994 Cabernet Sauvignon Durney Vineyards $ (11.00)   Slogan of the winery is “Dances On Your Palate” and from the first sip you’ll know why.  This wine is a cabernet, merlot, malbec, cabernet franc combination that is heavily wooded.  A cedar nose prevails and the cedar brings a Southern Rhonesque flavor to the wine.  Open and let this one breath for a while.  By the second glass, the fruit arrived and delighted.

 

1997 Pierre Sparr Tokay Pinot Gris  ?$     Dark gold, full-bodied with a long finish.  Honey and spice make me want to get a cough, just to drink this wine as a soothing, flavorful, opulent beverage.  This would be great on a cold winter's night in front of a fire after a nice meal.  Sweet and fruity. 

 

February 28, 2001

I know there are more than one of you winos out there that love the Rhone wines.  I just received my invitation to the Southern Rhone tasting in NY in March.  Please read the details below.  You might even see me lurking behind the pouring stand, squeezing out the last drops of the wine I love so much.

March 26, 2001 (New York)
Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas - The Great 1998 Vintage The World's Best
Wine Values?
  1998 is the best vintage in the Southern Rhone villages of Chateauneuf du
Pape and Gigondas since 1990.  Although these wines will age for many years, they are lush and delicious upon release, which is why we believe that dollar for dollar, there is no better value on the market right now than wine from the Southern Rhone.  We will try many of the great
Chateauneuf du Pape producers including Chateau Beaucastel, Vieux Telegraphe, Vieux Donjon, Mont Olivet Cuvee Papet, Chateau La Nerthe and Clos des Papes.  Gigondas will include Vins de Vienne, Saint Cosme Valbelle, and Brusset Les Hauts de Montmirail.  We will begin the dinner with the rare White Chateauneuf du Pape from Chateau Beaucastel.  All of the wines will be paired with a five-course meal prepared by Chef Don Pintabona.

6:30 p.m. at Tribeca Grill $235 per person inclusive of tax & service.

Reservations can be made at 212.941.3900

2/24/01

I should have had a better idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I sampled colleges like I sample red wines, though I never sampled red wines in college.  I studied lite beers and imports, but there were no courses in beer at the colleges I attended.  Had I discovered wine, I would have been able to settle into a college with a major.  So, as I have been telling you, I read as much as I can about wine to be as self-educated as possible.  The participant observation homework I assign myself is keeping me happy.  

The book I am reading now is a textbook, a college level wine textbook.  Each chapter has a review quiz and a practical work assignment.  Each tasting practices references to the Wine Aroma Wheel (Noble, A.C.R.A Arnold J. Buechsenstein, E.J. Leach, J.O. Schmidt and P.M. Stern. Modification of a standardized system of wine aroma terminology. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 38(2):143-146.© 1987 American Society for Enology and Viticulture) That should satisfy Wino John’s lawyer worries.  Thank you Professor Ann Noble of the University of California, Davis. 

I have taken the time to isolate myself, which is not hard to do in my tiny third floor room.  I shut off the suicide music and lower the lights to allow total concentration.  I bring the glass to my nose and take a long deep breath to inhale the aromas and bouquet of the wine.  I swirl the glass several times and take several more deep inhales from the chimney of my glass.  At this point, I am supposed to associate the smells with events that have already been registered in my memory banks.  Like the smell of the freshly cut grass at the park where you played baseball as a kid, or the smell of roses, or the familiar smell of a well-worn saddle.  A saddle?  I have never smelled a saddle.  I once smelled a bicycle seat, but I was young and it had to do with this thing….

Anyway, if a memory doesn’t come to mind, the aroma wheel is there to assist in defining the aromas of the wine.  So this weekend, I opened 2 wines that come from 2 different countries and from 2 different noble grapes.  What better way to compare and contrast, to ebb and flow, to ying and yang?  After ritualizing over both wines and tasting them, I am no closer to finding words to fit into a standardized terminology of the wine world.

I did find that one wine was enjoyable now and one had to breath and open before any fruit flavor was apparent.  I also found out that I liked the $7.98 wine better than the $21.99 wine.  So maybe I cannot accurately describe the wine by industry standards, but on the Wino Bob scale, one was a clear winner over the other.  Finally, I learned that I enjoyed a syrah from Washington State, noted mostly for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  The lesson in all this comes down to trying new wines and trying them as often as you can, at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

1995 Cousino Macul Finis Terrae $$ (31.99)    "Tight" and "rough" and "hot" are words to start off with.  The tannin is so upfront that the alcohol is the next sensation one gets.  Only after a good long time of swirling and standing in the glass did the fruit appear.  Earthy, plum and black currant arrives after the long wait.  This full body wine has a great deal of astringency and leads me to believe that this will sit in the bottle for 10 years before the fruit is present in the first taste.  A high priced Chilean wine.

 

1998 Snoqualmie Vineyards Syrah $ (7.98)   Big fruit and drinkable now make this a fun wine for friends and guests.  Medium body with cherry and cassis.  It’s probably just me but I get the hint of cardboard or copy paper, mild tannins, and spice.  This is a wine for enjoyment that goes well with teriyaki roast pork.

 

2/23/01

The more I read, the more I find evidence that WinoStuff is influencing the wine industry.  What? Wino Bob, have you taken a blow to the head with a wine bottle?  No winos and winettes, I offer you proof positive that important people are reading us.  For those American Express card holds out there that get Departures magazine, please turn to page 93.  There you will find an article entitled, “Que Syrah, Syrah”.  Think about it winos.  I declare 2001 the year of the Syrah and an article appears in the Jan/Feb issue of Departures magazine covering the oldest charted grape of the nobles.  Yes, history tracks this grape’s roots back to 500 B.C.  Coincidence?  I think not.  The article takes an in-depth look into the grace, power, and beauty of this grape and ends with a look at the family in Northern Rhone that has brought this grape to it’s strength, the Guigals. 

T, La Landonne, La Turque, and La Mouline, and yet the author, Richard Nalley, chose to spend the end of the article describing what a technogeek Philippe Guigal is.  And I quote, "Guigal’s circuit-board-studded grape reception area is like something from a space shot.  Among other things, there is an electronic refractometer…"

If you will excuse me for a moment, “WINO JOHN, what the hell is an electronic refractometer and do we need one?”  It sounds cool.  Technogeek wine producer Guigal may have to be winery of the month and yes, I will be expecting a bottle of La Turque.

If you don’t believe me, read it for yourself.  I would like to believe that Mr. Richard Nalley is a fan of WinoStuff.com.  If we see an article pondering what wine Jesus turned the water into, that will seal it for me.

Editor's note:  A refractometer is a device which is used to determine the chemical composition of a compound.  As we all know, light is refracted at different angles when transitioned from one medium to another depending on the coefficient of refraction, or Refractive Index (RI).  That's just basic Quantum Physics.  A refractometer assists the technodweeb in determining the chemical makeup of compounds or concentrations of compounds in solution by measuring the angle of refraction of a source light of known wavelength through a subject test compound

2/22/01

After the nightmarish experience I had with that Argentinean Cabernet that did not resemble a Cabernet in taste or aroma or bouquet, I headed down to the basement for a bit of comfort.  I went, you guessed it, to my French section to grab a wine that would be like a well-worn pair of jeans.  I wanted a wine that was comfortable, a security blanket to my olfactory system.  Yes, you might have thought I would have said to my taste buds.  But as we winos know, one can only taste 4 sensations and since "salty" is not typically a wine element, there are only three elements we taste.  Olfactory input is where it’s at.  With the average sniffer being able to discern around 2000 different odors, the real pleasure of food and drink comes from our ability to associate the smells we receive with concrete images.  With wine, that might be very difficult.  

I have been reading a legitimate book written by a Ph.D. on wine tasting to see how I can become more descriptive and discriminating of the aromas and bouquets of the wines I pour into my expensive Riedel glass.  The first thing I learned is that for me to become proficient at wine tasting, I would have to taste about 200 wines a week.  Two hundred wines per week, for a year.   Real wine masters don’t actually drink the wine, they spit it out.  What a waste, but I guess if I did start drinking 200 wines in a week, I wouldn’t live long enough to write about them.

Here is the aroma wheel info; at the bottom of the page is a web site where you can get the wheel.   After reading the information below, we will all have a common language and understanding in describing out wine experience.  Read and enjoy.

 


   

Initially, the purpose of the wine aroma wheel was to facilitate communication about wine flavor by providing a standard terminology. The requirements of words included in the wheel were very simply that the terms had to be specific and analytical and not be hedonic or the result of an integrated or judgmental response. Floral is a general but analytical descriptive term, whereas "fragrant", "elegant" or "harmonious" are either imprecise and vague (fragrant) or hedonic, and judgmental.

The wheel has very general terms located in the center, going to the most specific terms in the outer tier. These terms are NOT the only terms that can be used to describe wines, but represent ones that are often encountered. Novice tasters often complain that they "cannot smell anything" or can't think of a way to describe the aroma of wine. Fortunately, it is very easy to train our noses and brains to connect and quickly link terms with odors. The fastest way is to make physical standards to illustrate important and major notes in wine aroma. To do this, with few exceptions, materials available from the grocery store are all you need. (One of the few standards that cannot be provided is the linalool aroma of Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Muscat wines; for this, get Handy Wipes.  The distinct floral, citrus aroma is Linalool.  Put an opened Handy Wipe into an empty covered glass.  Alternatively, put some dry FRUIT LOOPS into an empty wine glass. Sounds silly, but it makes a good linalool standard)

WHITE WINES

If you are just beginning, it is easier to evaluate white wines, so start by selecting some wines with large differences in flavor. For example, include an oaky, buttery Chardonnay (most Australian, or California ones will do).  For a "vegetative" Sauvignon Blanc, wines from Sancerre or a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or cool parts of California will suffice. A floral Riesling or Gewurztraminer from cooler parts of California (North or Central Coast), Oregon, Germany, Alsace, France will provide a further contrast. If you wish to use a fourth wine, you could try an unoaked Chardonnay (IF you can find one), non-vegetative Sauvignon Blanc or include another variety such as Viognier.  

Make some standards in a neutral white wine (usually a cheaper jug white will be adequate for this purpose). For each standard the approximate recipes are provided below, but they all need to be tweaked. Add more "stuff" if the aroma is not identifiable; dilute with the base wine if it is too strong. The standards for the white wines would then most importantly include (per single 2-oz glass of wine standard):

  • Asparagus (several drops of brine of canned asparagus)

  • Bell Pepper (tiny piece of bell pepper - don't leave in too long)

  • Vanilla (drop of vanilla extract)

  • Butter (drop of butter extract)

  • Clove (one clove, don't leave in too long)

  • Citrus (teaspoon or so of a mixture of fresh orange and grapefruit juice)

  • Peach or apricot puree or juice (teaspoons)

  • Pineapple (teaspoons)

  • (Honey: optional standard, needs quite a bit per glass)

  • BASE WINE (the unadulterated wine used for making standards)

I put the standards in labeled wine glasses, and cover them with disposable plastic petri dish lids.  Watch glasses or even Saran wrap will do. The reason for the lids is to increase the intensity of the aromas and to prevent contaminating the odor of the entire room.  

From this point on, anything goes: smell the wines first, smell the standards, start to see which terms describe which wine. Perhaps you can come up with NEW terms (lichee/lychee--so get some!).  Smelling the BASE WINE makes it really easy to identify the spiked aromas by contrast.

 

RED WINES

For beginning red wine tasting, use the same principle that you should sample very different wines.  Include a Pinot noir (Carneros or very cool central coast area of Ca, Oregon, or Burgundy), a Cabernet Sauvignon (for vegetative, get a wine from a cooler CA region or, for less vegetative, try Napa, Sonoma, Washington), a black peppery Zinfandel (Sonoma, Placer county, El Dorado county of CA). Additional wines could be Italian varieties such as Sangiovese.

The standards for the above red wines would then most importantly include (per single 2-oz glass in a neutral red wine):

  • Asparagus (several drops of brine of canned asparagus)

  • Bell Pepper (tiny piece of bell pepper - don't leave in too long)

  • Vanilla (drop of vanilla extract)

  • Butter (drop of butter extract)

  • Clove (one clove - don't leave in too long)

  • Soy sauce (few drops, great for older reds; try molasses separately)

  • Berry (mix of fresh or frozen berries and/or berry jams - experiment!)

  • Strawberry jam ((for the Pinot noir) 1-3 tablespoons OLD strawberry jam)

  • Artificial fruit (add few crystals of red Kool-Aid powder)

  • Black pepper (few grains black pepper)

  • Anise, black licorice (use few drops of extract)

  • BASE WINE (the unadulterated wine used for making standards

*Again, be sure to smell your creations to be sure that you can detect the desired aroma and that it is not too strong.

 

SPARKLING WINES

Sparkling wines need different terms than those on the wine aroma wheel. In addition to citrus and berry standards, below are listed some of the terms most relevant to sparkling wines, especially those with long aging on the yeast lees before being disgorged.  Standards for sparkling wines: (In 2 oz neutral white still wine)

  • Lime (Try few drops of Rose's lime Juice and make separate standard of squeezed lime juice)

  • Apple (Difficult to make; try apple juice and experiment)

  • Toasted hazelnuts (Try different nuts in an empty glass)

  • Sour cream/yogurt (Try tbsp in empty glass; try tbsp in base wine)

  • Malt extract (Tbsp Malt syrup)

  • Vermouth (Few drops to tsp)

  • Vegemite (Tiny amount of Vegemite in base of wine glass, add base wine)

  • Cherry/strawberry (Use a few drops to 1 oz of cherry or strawberry flavored juices or extracts)

  • Nutmeg (few grains)

  • Caramel (crush one Kraft caramel in base wine)

  • Vanilla (as above).

 

DEFECTS

For your own benefit, some of the commonly encountered wine defects can also be illustrated by making standards, although for some, such as a moldy cork, the BEST standard is the actual example of the defect.

- Volatile acidity/VA - resulting from oxidation or Acetobacter spoilage

  • Ethyl Acetate (few drops ethyl acetate or nail polish remover)

  • Acetic acid (few drops vinegar)

- Oxidation

  • Acetaldehyde (few drops of sherry)

- Sulfur

  • H2S - Hydrogen sulfide (boiled egg or black sand from Japanese store)

  • Ethyl mercaptan (smell of natural gas - tell people to experiment on their own)

  • S02 - Sulfur dioxide (dried apricots that are orange and say they have sulfites)

- Brettanomyces - a horsy, barnyard smell (drop of creosote or piece of old fashioned band aid)

- Moldy Cork

  • TCA - Trichloro anisole (a very potent compound) (just save a wine you find that has this defect)

 

How do I get one?

To purchase a full-color, laminated plastic version of the Wine Aroma Wheel or the Sparkling Wine Aroma Wheel, visit the Wine Aroma Wheel website at http://wineserver.ucdavis.edu/Acnoble/waw.html

 


Editor's note:  Wine Aroma Wheel is probably a trademark or copyright or something and is not associated with WinoStuff.com.  WinoStuff makes no representations as to the rights to the Wine Aroma Wheel name or product.  WinoBob needs to remember that liver transplants are very expensive and that legal fees could quickly deplete the limited WinoStuff treasury.


As you can see, this is meant to make things easier to describe and to understand.  The thing that I don’t understand is why the words that come to mind when I drink and smell wine are not included in this wheel.  

As I stated in the beginning of this entry, I needed a wine that I was comfortable with, one I knew well.  As I opened and decanted this wine, I kept looking at the sections on the aroma wheel to see how I could best describe this fruit of the God’s which I was about to consume.  As I sniffed and swirled and drew long deep breaths of this wine, the words that came to mind were "medicine, eucalyptus and Robitussin Cherry Cough Syrup."  I guess under the Fruit section, cherry is a descriptive term, but I don’t see medicine or cough syrup.  Non the less, this was a most enjoyable wine that had the aroma and bouquet of a well-crafted French wine.  The bottle I picked comes from a Region in France called Coteaux du Languedoc, an exciting region for wines bringing quality and reasonable prices.  It is written that wines from this region outperform wines from Provence and rival many from the Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

1995 Peyre Rose Clos Syrah Leone ($? gift)   This syrah is rich and full bodied with complex aromas of spice and dark cherry.  The bouquet yields a smoky, woody structure.  Just enough astringency to keep this in the cellar for that special dinner in 2005.  A hit for those who love the taste of cherry cough syrup .

2/20/01

Value, quality, distinction; words used commonly by best-in-class manufacturers in every market.  Should wine be different?  I think not.  In the limited time I have been learning about wine, and I am still leaning, I have found that the information on the label is a key to my buying a wine that I have not tried.  So, in my interest to find new and exciting wines for my fellow winos, that’s youz guys (Jersey speak), I look to up-and-coming areas.  

Yesterday, I purchased a bottle of a “Proprietor’s Reserve-Estate Bottled” cab.  Now, Wino Wally, correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that "Estate Bottled" means that the grapes used come from that property and a Proprietor’s Reserve is the hand picked, highest quality grapes available at the harvest.  This wine was produced in Argentina and the price was higher  than other Argentinian wines I have purchased. 

Hurrying home after work, I opened this wine to see if I would be able to find the next gem in the rough, a wine reasonably priced and wonderfully crafted.  Unfortunately, the aroma of this wine did not bring forth the characteristics of the grape, nor did the bouquet bolster the charms of a well-developed oak-barreled Cabernet.  I write this review with the saddened reality of the fact that I wasted money on a wine and I did not finish the glass.  This one escaped any resemblance to the Cabernet Sauvignons I know and love.  Furthermore, I do not want to see what the basic wine from this producer yields if this was their Proprietor’s Reserve.  There will be no ratings on this one, no icons to refer to.  No, this wine did not make my list of wines to bring to my crazy aunt’s house.  I will identify the wine, but say no more. I have said enough already.

1993 Bianchi Particular Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietor’s Reserve $ 12.99  I would not buy this ever again!!!

 

2/18/01

See, wine brings people together.  I told you there is a story in every bottle.  Last night, I wanted to try a new restaurant in town (I almost used a comma there, but I guess Wino John brought my excessive, redundant, improper use of commas, to my attention, so I will make tiny sentences with periods, from now on, or maybe not).  This storefront has been 4 different businesses in the past 6 years.  It is now a place called Bangkok Kitchen.  Having never been to Bangkok, I wasn’t quite sure of the fare, so I scheduled dinner and went on in.  As expected, there are only enough seats for 20 people and NO WINE LIST.  No liquor license is more the case.  

A block away from this place, on the same side of Bloomfield Ave., is an independent beer and wine shop.  Over the past 4 years, I have spent many a day and a great deal of money at this place.  The reason I have not been in there in the past year is a result of the discount stores in my area.  This small, independent has a great selection of premier wines.  The problem is pricing.  I can find much better deals at Shop Rite Liquors.  I can find better deals at JR.  I can buy it on a train.  I can buy it in a plane.  I can drink it in a glass.  Using no commas bugs my ass…. Sorry.  

Not wanting to get in the car and lose my primo parking spot, I hoofed it over to my old friend.  When I entered the store, the owner, looked at me, asked if everything is all right and why he hasn’t seen me in so long.  His wife chimed in that it’s been over a year.  Not wanting to get into the big price discussion, I mumbled some incoherent sentence and told him I’ve been working but I’m back.  This sentence didn’t make sense to me and that was before I had a drink of alcohol.  So we laughed about some things that have recently happened in town.  We shared some brief catching up stories, and we shook hands wishing each other a pleasant evening.  Now, does it really make that much of a difference if his wine is a dollar or three more than the discount place?  The discount guy doesn’t ask me if I’m all right.  The discount guy doesn’t shake my hand and joke with me.  Most of the time I buy a bottle here and there, so Mr. Kim, I will be seeing you soon.  A night out for Asian food leads me to rekindle an old friendship with a wine storeowner.  I could have worse friends.  Come to think of it, neither Wino John nor Wino Wally own a wine store and they are always picking on my incoherent wine-soaked ramblings.  Mr. Kim, put aside a bottle of Silver Oak for me, I’ll see you next Tuesday.  Tuesdays with Mr. Kim, maybe Mitch Albom could help me write a book.

After enjoying the bottle of Evolution, yes a white wine, I wrote to the winery and told them I enjoyed their wine.  They saw my review and wrote back that it was great with Pad Thai food.  As it turned out, Bangkok Kitchen features Pad Thai.  The only reason I know that is because all the dishes start with the word Pad.  Pad Pac, Pad Steak, I don’t know anything more than that.  Unfortunately, Mr. Kim did not have Evolution, so I grabbed an Alsatian Wine that complements spicy Asian food.

 

1998 Trimbach Gewürztraminer $ (19.00)     Pale Yellow in color with a grapefruit and peach aroma.  This wine was clean and crisp with a dry finish.  The mild spiciness of this grape went well with my Pad Pac, what ever that is.  All I know is it had tofu and a lot of veggies.  Pleasant, and not too sweet.

 

2/16/01

You wouldn’t believe the day I had today.  But this is not a whine-about-anything page.  So let’s just by pass the fact that I flew down to Miami for an important business meeting and everything that could go wrong did.  Not to mention the parking ticket, the flight delay, and the abrupt conclusion to the meeting.  So as the true wino inside of me started to break through the crap during the descent into Newark Airport, I knew I had to open a bottle that was just a bit above my usual one-glass-at-night wine.  And by the way, Newark Airport sucks with the construction at terminal C for the new parking deck and the fact that the monorail is still out of service.  Yes, 40 minutes in the cold rain waiting for the damn long-term bus to schlep me out to D3-50.  Mind you, the lot only goes to D3-53, so yes, the last one off the bus was not very happy. 

As my key opened the door, I quickly dumped my suit case and walked down to the cellar.  With each step heading closer to the door of my new rack, I felt the pressure subsiding and the anticipation of a wine to make me forget the disaster that was today.  This was not a night for some fleshy, delicate wine.  This was a Big Cab night.  So, without unpacking and without hanging up my coat, I surfaced from the basement about as quickly as that sub surfaced underneath the Japanese trawler.  For I had in my hands a wine that was in my possession for several years and I was waiting for the right time.  Well winos, the reason I am a wino is that tonight was the right time.  No friends, no family, just me and my crappy day.  I opened that wine with the Terminator, the corkscrew of all corkscrews.  Yes, I deserved this wine today; I deserved to treat myself better than anyone treated me all day.  The cute Continental stewardess didn’t treat me that well.  No, when there is treating to be done, only I can treat myself like I deserve to be treated.  So with that, I poured out a California Cab that is deep and rich in color and deep and rich in flavor.  Yes, I tasted that Big Cab and the pressure of that meeting, the annoyance of the ticket, the anxiety of getting through rush hour traffic, returning the rental car, getting to the gate with minutes to spare, only to have an hour delay, all melted away as I swirled and sniffed and swished and swallowed.  Yes, a calm came over my body and my mind began to ease.  Winos, let me tell you this, one glass of red wine a day and there will be no need for anyone to enter the field of psychology or psychiatry for the rest of eternity.  This yeast-converted grape juice should be proposed as the National Health Care Plan.  For if I were to get the number of signatures needed to run for the Highest Office in this Great United States of America, my first platform, hell my only platform, would be to make it a law to have one glass of red wine a day.  Yes, we could eliminate the medical profession altogether which would reduce the cost of health care and the cost to run hospitals and the cost of malpractice insurance.  You see, a glass of red wine a day will keep the doctor away and therefore we could tackle the deficit and fuel the economy and …

 

Ok, I went too far.  The point is that there is evidence of the positive effects of a glass of red wine.  So there might not be a story in every bottle.  Maybe sometimes, the bottle is the story.

 

1995 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $$ (38.00)   So I splurged on a Friday night, but this wine looks garnet in the glass and gives off a Big Cab aroma.  A good structure of oak is present.  The feel of this wine is velvet in your mouth with a big, full, fruity taste.  Warning, don’t drink this wine for a light fun night.  This is a serious cab and should be enjoyed as such.  Mild tannins and a long finish. 

 

2/12/01

I spent a great deal of time reading this weekend.  Yes, lonely nights huddled in a chair with a 40 watt bulb shedding a burnt yellow glare onto the pages of books and magazines.  The subject, Wine, but of course.  Yes, I need to stay in tune with the ins and outs of this beverage that has taken over a significant portion of my life.  I love to read about wine, to talk about wine, to write about wine and yes, to drink WINE.  It usually takes several days to weeks for the information to be processed and for me to formulate the Wino Bob take on the material, but there were several items that are snippets I wanted to add at this point.

Why are the French so… well, French?  As we see in life today, rules that were adopted in the 1700’s really aren’t meant to handcuff our lives today.  They were guidelines back then and now, you know, we live a faster paced life, just like Bill Clinton.  But the French are tough, just look at their Resistance. Well, try this on.  It seems that Jean-Luc Thunevin, maker of a Bordeaux cult wine, Valandraud, is getting this year's release declassified.  The reason, he covered his vines to protect them from the rain last fall which violates the “Bordeaux Code”.  But Mr. Thunevin is not taking this lying down.  No, to tweak the Board, he will price his release above any first growth for 2000. 

Rhone, the enchanted wine region in my mind, has had another stellar year.  As John Sterling, the Yankee’s sports caster on WABC radio in NY says, that’s back-to-back-to-back and belly-to-belly-to-belly for the 1998, 1999 and 2000 releases. 

Hunting for that rare bottle of wine, and do you have big bucks?  Well it seems that for the super rich, who want only the best and will pay for it, you can hire a rare wine bounty hunter to locate that 1900 Chateau Margaux, or a 1961 Petrus.  There is a small niche market that is providing major income for well-connected individuals who can hunt down much sought after collector wines.  So for anyone needing this service, please email me and I can provide some names of these companies.  By the way, if anyone is looking for One bottle of 1997 Rothschild, I will hunt my cellar for the right price.

Now to the real reason I wanted to write, to recover from that bland bottle of Chardonnay I had yesterday.  This age thing had me rummaging the white racks to see if any other wines are potentially a problem.  I found a 1996 Chardonnay, which I immediately loaded into my fridge to chill over night.  Since dinner was Salmon and asparagus, a Chardonnay would be fine. 

1996 Ferrari-Carano Alexander Valley Chardonnay $$ (21.00)   this was a yellow-gold color with a medium weight and body to it.  A smoke lemon and vanilla aroma rose in the chimney of my glass.  The fruit was plentiful with a bit of an apple flavor.  Nice fruit-acid balance.  This can hold up with food that has a bit more zest to it than my bland salmon.

2/11/01

OK, Mr. Techno Geek.  Mr. "I know how to multiply with a slide rule and make that inner thing move to a point on the outer thing so you can calculate the sum of 38 X 226 and get 8588".  Mr. "Raisin floating in a glass of Champagne due to the Peraclesian Pythagoras thing".  What is C2H5OH?  Mr. "I graduated from college with a degree that I can make a living with"?   Wino John, this is the chemical formula for alcohol.  Which, by the way is currently moving from my glass, through my blood stream (about 20% absorbed through my stomach lining and the rest absorbed through my small intestine).  This direct absorption without digestion is very unique in relation to the other things we put into our body in the same manner.  Yes, my blood is rocketing this alcohol through my cortex into my cerebrum (the top part of my brain that controls my ability to find the keys on this damn computer, as well as my thought process and my speech patterns) faster than Yahoo through me after eating 15 White Castle hamburgers (thanks George).  As I enjoy my first glass or two, this chemical will ease my tensions, relax me, and reduce my naturally stoic and pensive self to a more self-assured, dare I say cocky demeanor.  (I just wanted to throw that in since we are in Valentine’s week)  But as I finish the bottle, which I usually do, I will curse you out, fall down and pass out.  Funny thing, this alcohol.

 So before I fall over, I wanted to share with you a statement Wino Wally made last evening after he reviewed a histograph of WinoStuff's wine review distribution.  He said, “Wino Bob, drink more chardonnay, damn it”.  Well, he really didn’t say "damn it", I just threw that in for emphasis.  But I did hear his message and I went down to that 12-bottle rack on the lower right side of the picture of my cellar and I brought up a California Chardonnay.  I also did something to lessen my Premature Uncorking problem when I opened this one.  White wines are meant to be enjoyed young and I have had this one for a while.  I believe I opened this to find the wine on the downside of the slope.  Most likely, six months earlier would have given me a different result, but I do not know that for fact, since I do not know anything for fact.  I am merely a guy who likes to drink wine and has a computer that is hooked up to DSL so I can burden Wino John with my senseless drivel about wine as I become bolstered with self-assurance from the first two glasses of wine, that someone will be interested in my opinion about the wine I am drinking.  So remember the formula for alcohol and remember not to get past the first stage when the world is fun and things inside feel good and you can enjoy love this Valentine’s Day.  For me, self-love is the best love one can give, so I might send myself a bottle of yeast-converted sugar in Red this week.  

Editor's note: C2H5OH is the chemical nomenclature for ethyl alcohol, one of the naturally formed byproducts of the fermentation process.  Caution: Long term consumption of C2H5OH has been known to turn otherwise normal individuals into "stick figures".

1995 Geyser Peak Reserve Alexander Valley Chardonnay $$ (28.00)   I did not get a lot of aroma off this wine which, for me, is the second most important item of the process.  This wine poured out a rich, golden hue indicating that like us all, Father Time has worked on the youthfulness of this wine.  Somewhat flat and acidic, there was not a great deal of description I could give, though it still has a big, full body and a powerful alcohol kick.  Since I paired it with Bean Curd Home Style, it did not over power the food and I am getting quite a nice buzz.  Drink younger.  

 

2/10/01

What is the Big Deal about Valentine’s Day?   Who invented this load of crap?  Do we need another Whitman’s Sampler, or are there not enough people spending boat-loads of money on their girlfriends/wives so that they had to make a special day to buy more over-priced flowers that will be dead in a day and will shed petals to remind you of all the other days in the year that you fight with this person since life sucks and then you die.  Or do jewelry stores not have enough times when some poor sucker is dragged in to sit in front of a glittering display case, only to be faced with the flop sweats as his thoughtless significant other picks a piece of jewelry that is marked up 1500% over their cost and “discounted” to give you a special deal, down to only 1300% mark up and that person turns to you and says, “Aren’t I worth it?”  Now, a bottle of Screaming Eagle at auction is hardly worth the $1,100 price tag as the few who can get it for $150 jam it as hard as they can on those of us that are not on “The List”.

Or better yet, some dot-com site advertises those cheap saw dust stuffed bears that are made in Asia by the hands of poor 7 year old indentured servants, and buttheads are out there forking over $125.00 to send a bear in silk boxer shorts that costs all of $2.35 to produce including the boat ride from China!  Or the topper of them all, those women’s specialty night time apparel ads that entice you to purchase this lacey du-dahd which has more holes than cloth at a price of $85.00 for something that was sewn by the hands of Philippine woman who will never make $85.00 all year to feed their family of 9 and live in a tin shack in the middle of a swamp infested with bugs that will give you diseases that can make every mucous membrane in your body ooze blood within 7 hours of being bitten!

No winos, Valentines Day is a commercial holiday kept alive by the lobbyists from Hall Mark and every other greeting card manufacturer and a day that a woman must have invented to embarrass guys into acting ridiculous and handing over money like it was planted and picked during harvest in Napa. I say, if you need to celebrate this contrived event, then do it in the correct manner.  The holiday is all about love and romance and, I'm sure has lead to the coining of the phase, “Go forth and multiply, or at least try”.  Just look around your family and friends and see how many birthdays there are in October. Do the MATH.

So I say, the most appropriate gift for this V-Day is wine.  Since I love wine, you figured I was sending a box of chocolates to my wine cellar this year.  No winos, the reason is quite clear why wine is the ONLY gift on February 14th that makes any sense. You see, getting down to the root of the wine making process, yeast is having sex in the grape juice.  So, it is only fitting that we allow wine to lead us to imitate the organism that has produced this nectar.  Fermentation has been going on since the first grape fell onto the ground and was stepped on by some pre-historic animal as it was snacking on this sweet fruit.  The natural yeast that grows on the outside of the skin started metabolizing the natural sugars that are contained on the fleshy meat on the inside of the skin.  This anaerobic process which was called cold boiling and all types of other names from the Greek word zestos to the Sanskrit word yasyati, to the actual naming of this process by Louis Pasteur in 1857 in Lille, France, allows yeast cells to metabolize sugar, giving off the by-products of carbon dioxide and alcohol.  This selfish act of procreation by yeast as they “go forth and multiply” is what produces the lovely drink I enjoy so much and spend tortured nights, alone in my office pounding on the keys of this laptop, telling these useless tales about me drinking this liquid and wondering why I am not going forth to multiply.  So, since Valentines Day is upon us once more, maybe I will find a yeast factory on the east coast and send them a box of chocolates and a Teddy Bear and intimate women’s apparel.  I hope the owner of the company is a wine drinker.  Then he’ll know why I am doing this. Otherwise, I may be arrested and turned into wearing that intimate women’s apparel for my cellmate, Cleo, as I give him a Valentine’s gift as he counts off the days until release.

Well, I still want to wish the winettes out there

Happy Valentine’s Day

I hope you get what you want from your significant other along with a bottle of wine and as you are sitting by the fireplace in your intimate women’s apparel, think of all the yeast that went forth and multiplied to make your night so special.  Enjoy, go forth, but do the necessary thing to keep our planet from being over populated.   

2/9/01

As a good pilot, you file a flight plan.  As a good sailor, you file a course plan.  So, as good dot-comers, Wino Wally (the business savvy one of the group) called a WinoStuff.com Y2K1 road-mapping session.  Wino John and I convinced him that we must hold our high-powered planning session in a very special location.  So, Wino Wally made the 3 hour drive north to present his charts and graphs and power point presentations on the Y2K1 business plan detailing the market sectors, the strategic resource developments, the competitive analysis, the G&A, the PBIT, the PAT and the….well, you caught me.  I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to business.  That is why I am only allowed to drink the wine and type the thoughts that run unbridled in the empty caverns of my mind.

The only thing I had to do was make the dinner reservation.  So, knowing only one place local, I suggested, you guessed it, Bacchus.  Being a technical strategic planning session for the future of WinoStuff.com, Joe the Wine Guy was gracious enough to set us up in the private dinning room so Wino Wally could set up his in-focus machine for the power point presentation.  The graph of Wino John’s wine expenditures eclipsed the GNP of 2 small countries in South America.  The problem is, I guess, something about expenditures needing to be less than revenues for a company to succeed, or so Wino Wally tells me.  This stuff is way over my head, so I just really went there to enjoy a great meal and to drink wine.  Because in the scheme of life, drinking wine and sharing the process is all there is for me.  Wino John can handle the technical geeky computer web junk and Wino Wally is a master at the business thing.  For me, life begins when the cork is placed in front of me and a small amount of wine is poured into the glass.  The world around me shuts down and I can inhale the liquid that will put me in Wino Heaven, since in heaven there is no beer, only wine. 

Tonight, being a very special occasion, I obtained what I thought would be the topper of wines for us to enjoy.  But as some writer once typed out on an old Underwood typewriter, “The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men...”   (I only read the cliff notes so I’m not sure if that was a book about wine or mice.)  Fellow Winos and Winettes, in choosing this wine, I actually experienced a condition, I am quite embarrassed to admit to, but since I have not hidden anything thus far from these pages, I will tell you about my condition.  This is a condition that only effects about 1.35% of the wine drinking community and I have been in touch with celebrities to see if they would speak out on my behalf.  I figured since Bob Dole can talk to the nation about ED, I can talk you, my closest friends, about..., well..., how do I put this so as not to offend anyone..., about... “Premature Uncorking”.  There, I said it.  I’m not proud of it, but at least I have taken the steps to admit it.  I am a premature uncorker.

You see, big bold red wines from top name producers are meant to be enjoyed after the sleeping giant has had time to allow the fruit to present itself.  Me, being a premature uncorker, selected a wine that has miles to go before it sleeps in the serenity of balance when the peak of drinkability provides consumers with all the glory it was designed to show.  I hope by writing about my problem, I can allow the other 1.35% of winos to stop living in shame and to stand up and admit that they are Premature Uncorkers, too. 

So, I did the unthinkable, I opened a bottle of 1993, Big Bold California Red Wine and enjoyed it, but not as much as I would have if we waited until 2013.

1993 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyards $ Don’t Ask!!! Deep Rurple.  Yes, that is a mix between dark red and deep purple.  This wine should be decanted 2 hours before consuming to allow air to open this wine.  The alcohol and cassis in this wine reminded me of inhaling Sambuca, with shades of tobacco and an undertone of dark cherry.  The tannins were soft and the finish on this mouth-filling wine was long and smooth.  I now understand why people sell their children to get their hands on this wine.  A Classic!

2/7/01

A Wine License, what do you think?  After my experience last night, I am thinking of requiring people who insist on ordering wine in a restaurant to show some credentials.  I know, it’s not like me to complain, but last night I was out for a fun night at a local comedy club in Northern NJ.  Now think about it, a comedy club, it wasn’t a supper club, and it wasn’t a wine club, it was a COMEDY CLUB.  As such, you can imagine the wine list.  I didn’t get to see it, but it was on the back of the special dessert menu.  

Now I’m with some guys that are all ordering beer, no excuse me, they were quaffing Bass Ale.  Being a Bud man in a former life, I thought beer was beer, but not to Bass Ale drinkers.  Anyway, the pickiest of the beer aficionados selected the wine.  He did not have the right to select the wine, but he did and we drank it.  Now as I stated earlier, it wasn’t a supper club either, so to be as crowd-pleasing as he could, he ordered a white wine.  And yes, we were lucky enough to get the freshest bottle they had, the born on date was 11/99.  The good thing about the night, for those of you who have a sense of humor left of twisted, was the comedic styling of Otto and George.  George is this foul-mouthed puppet and Otto is the dual personality psychotic who lets his inner demons out through this hunk of wood.  The crazy thing is that he sucks as a ventriloquist, but you get so caught up in the speed and sick wit of the puppet, George, that by the end of the night, you think Otto is just a knee for George to sit on.  If they are in your area, pay the $15.00 and go; but make sure you have cleared it with the people you go with that this is not humor for the faint hearted.  I wish the wine had as much balls as the puppet.

 

1999 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio $ (14.99)   Sweet, fizzy and fruity, like an old college teacher I had.  Save this one for the woman in the crowd.  Not my style, sorry.

 

2/4/01

See, when you give gifts, you get action.  I just received a quick note from Wino Dan and he was the first to email in the correct answer to one of my questions.  Unlike Wino John, who sent me an email identifying Mistral as something that I can not print, Wino Dan nailed it:

Bob,

First of all, I can't believe I'm actually a published author.  My mother will be so proud.  Thank you so much and I look forward to the book with  great anticipation.

Mistral - This is the term used for the very strong winds that blow in through the Southern Rhone and Provence from the north.  We all think of southern France as warm and sunny ( I was there last summer  and it definitely was) but in the Winter, it's pretty darn cold!

Your site is great!!!!

W.D.

  Now, once again, Thank You Wino Dan, keep those cards and letters coming.

 

2/4/01

Can we agree on one thing before we go any further?  For the advancement of this entry, can we agree on the axiom that grapes and wine styles have sex?  No, what I me is not that they actually have sex, which is merely a by-product of a good evening.  What I mean is that they can be classified with a gender.  In my mind, there are wines that lend themselves to the feminine pronouns; especially wines described by people as "fleshy" and "delicate".  Wines like Red Burgundy, as the Pinot Noir grape’s skin is thin and delicate and these wines are strongly affected by minor changes at harvest.  Wines like White Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot.  Yes, I said it, Merlot - a white, soft sensual grape in a Red Dress.

Now for me there are wines that are big and full and manly, like the Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah or any wine using these as the main grape.  Also, White Burgundy - yes, alright, I admit it, the Grande Cru White Burgundies, in my opinion are manly, oak heavy, hearty and chewy.

So for today, I want to be able to refer to the wine I enjoyed last night as masculine.  Does anyone have a problem with that?  What I will do one day is list out the wines for you that I think are masculine and which are feminine.  We can then debate this and come up with the WinoStuff 2001 classification of wine gender.  The French are not the only ones who can classify. We have the power, and we have the technology.  This will be the reference that will be quoted in the same breath as the 1855 Classification. 

Now the reason I went into all that stuff above is to explain that last night I enjoyed a bottle of wine that comes from Italy and is a Super Tuscan.  This wine is the little brother of the family of wines made by the partnership between Robert Mondavi and Marchesi de Frescobaldi.  If I did lay the groundwork for gender, I would not have been able to call it the little brother since this is a manly wine in my opinion.

 

1997 Lucente $$ (42.00) Restaurant price     This wine is a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot which makes it a dominantly masculine wine, but may have feminine underpinnings.  Anyway, this wine gives a great dark cherry aroma with soft spices, dried plum and a smooth finish.  Strong, but not bold, this is a great wine to accompany a pasta and sun dried tomato dish

 

(Update to 1/30/01)

While at Bacchus last night, I found out the name of the White Wine I enjoyed with the Wasabe Grouper.  This wine is a blend from our friends in Oregon and might be the first from that state for me to comment on in the white wine category.  This wine is perfect for handling the spice of the wasabe sauce, yes WUZ-UP-BE? (Our old friends at Budweiser took that one). This wine is:

 

1999 Sokol-Blosser Evolution $ (15.00)     Sokol-Blosser Winery of Dundee, Oregon, produces what might become a wine I cellar for summers on the porch.  The versatility of this wine, handling hot spicey foods, makes it a dream for those of us that like Mexican, Thai, Indian and a host of other items that kill most wines.  Originally called Evolution Number 9, this wine is a blend of 9 grape varietals.  I picked up the heavy pear aroma associated with Gewürztraminer but all I have been able to find in descriptions call out Pinot Gris, Muscat, and the up and coming German grape Muller-Thurgau.  Find this wine and enjoy it's many pleasures.

 

2/3/01

DISGORGEMENT.   I know what you are thinking, the act of removing the swelling from Wino John’s liver.  No, actually, I was reading a wine article and that word hit me right between the eyes.  You know, like when you are in the library and someone cuts the cheese, excuse my French.  Laughter wells up inside and you start spasming as you try to stop yourself from bursting out loud and disrupting the entire room.  Well, every time I read an article with the word "disgorgement", it just cracks me up.  For those serious ones amongst us, you already know I was reading about Champagne.

Disgorgement - the delicate stage in the methode champenoise to remove residual “sludge” during the second fermentation. "Devatting" is a humorous word. But disgorgement just cracks me up.  Can anyone name the 2 main grapes used to make Champagne?  Email me.

I mainly was reading about my favorite subject, Southern Rhone wines.  Can any one tell me what a Mistral is?  Email me.

How many grape comprise a Chateauneuf-du-Pape?  Email me.

Can I tell you something that sums up my feeling about Chateauneuf-du-Pape: “Dominated by the castle which used to be the summer residence of the Popes of Avignon, these “vineyards of the XXXXX varieties” produce red wines of intense hue, with superb purple and garnet colors and unequalled power.  They exhale a bouquet suggesting truffles and spice.  At the table, these wines are a marvelous complement to the richest venison, lamb, and the strongest of cheeses.  A distinguished feature of this exceptional appellation is the presence of the large pudding-stones which cover the ground, at night giving back to the grapes the heat they store up during the daytime.  This is where the notion of the A.O.C. first took shape, with the 1923 establishment of a protection organization.  The appellation- the second largest after Saint-Emilion- covers the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and parts of Orange, Bedarrides, Courthezon and Sorgues.” 

Shakespeare could not have written it more eloquently.  Email me.

Hey, nice rack.  Now that’s a phase that could get you brought up on sexual harassment charges at work, but my friends at UPS delivered me a box that contained a new rack for the cellar.  Now what do you think of these beauties?

So what do you think?  Email me…  

Editor's note:  The actual picture of WinoBob's new racking system was in a format that I couldn't import into this document.  Therefore, to adequately convey the excitement WinoBob is currently experiencing, I had my 8 year old daughter depict what must be a world class rack.  Once we overcome the technical difficulties, you'll see the actual picture.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.  We further stress that WinoBob is NOT actually a stick figure.

2/10/01 Update:  I finally got Bob's picture to load.  Here it is...  (Which picture do you think is better?)

 

2/2/01

Well, I’m back.  Yes, the NY Giant’s Super Bowl Funk is finally leaving me and my mind has been cleared to deal with the most important issue of the day.  Today, I sent out the autographed copy of Kevin Zraly’s book to the WINNER of the Wino Bob Tell Me About Your Favorite Wine Time story.  Today, Fed Ex is carrying the most important cargo in the history of Winostuff.com.  I only say that because UPS brought MY special present that arrived today.  That, I will tell you about later.  So, to all those gracious enough to submit an entry, I thank you.  Some of you didn’t quite get the whole concept, and although amusing, they did not meet the criteria for the prize as defined by the rules committee.  So with permission granted by the WINNER, yes, he is a WINNER, please enjoy the story submitted by Wino Dan:

 

Here I am in my office on the Friday before New Years Weekend and I just don't feel like working so why not enter WinoBob's contest?   I gotta like my chances since the last time you asked for feedback, you only heard from me.   Anyway, my story isn't great.  It doesn't even reflect very well on me but here it goes.

My girlfriend had a party in early December.  It was an apartment warming event and the theme was "Holiday Wine and Cheese".  Nearly all that were to attend like a good glass of wine but you wouldn't say that any of them were connoisseurs.  So, Philip (my trusty wine hunting buddy) and I headed down to the local Costco to buy a bunch of $7 whites and $9-$10 reds.  You know, Rosemount Shiraz, Clos Du Bois Zin, etc... While rummaging through their selection we came across a good deal on Franciscan Cab.  The 97 vintage!  Now I've been seeing this in the stores for about $27 so when I saw the price tag reading $17.99, I thought that I should probably grab some for my personal collection.  My previous  experience with Franciscan was back a few years with the '94 and I liked it very much so I grabbed a couple bottles, added them to the plethora of everyday wines in my carriage and we left.

Party time.  Its 8:00PM and the room has filled up nicely.   The Rosemount is  flowing and the brie is nice and soft.  By 9:30 we're all starting to feel the alcohol and bottles are opening fast and furious.  At 10, its loud and we're all drunk.  Now, this is the part that I'm not so proud of.  As I open a new bottle of something extraordinarily average, I see the Franciscan Cab sitting on the floor in the back.  I hand off the average wine, pick up the Franciscan and sneak off to the kitchen to open it.  I pour some and its damn good!  Now, I start thinking to myself... "Hey, nobody here would appreciate this so why bring it back out to share?".

Anyway, I did tell my wine hunting buddy and my girlfriend where I had hid the open bottle and in about half an hour, we had finished it.  I know, I know.   I'm a selfish son of a XXXXX but I gotta say, from what I remember, it was not only the best wine we had all night, it's was better than most of what I've been drinking for the last few months!

So what I want to know is...should I be feeling guilty about my sneakiness and unwillingness to share?  Was it really that bad?  Was this the type of behavior exhibited by only the worst wine snob or can I write it off to drunken foolishness?   I was wondering if perhaps your loyal readers care to chime in with their opinion (although since you need to offer a prize to get your apathetic public to hammer away on their keyboards, I would be satisfied with a simple response from you Bob).

That's all for now,

WinoDan

 

Yes, the makings of a Wino.  First off, I’d like to compliment Wino Dan on his bargain hunting, We at Winostuff.com are not yet members of Costco, but if there is a bargain to be had, my suggestion to Wino John and Wino Wally is for us to fill out the application.  As a side note, Rosemount makes a good wine for us low end wine lovers.  And as we learned last week, Robert Mondavi thinks so highly of them that he entered into a JV.

Now the thing I respect most about Wino Dan is his keen insight into his friends’ palette.  WD judged the wine worthiness of his crowd and did what every respectful Wino on the planet would do, screw your friend, and don’t waste the good stuff on someone too drunk or too stupid to appreciate it.  As I have owned up to on several occasions, I have a crazy Aunt that floods a glass of red wine with ice.  Do I serve her the good stuff?  Hell, no.  WD, you are alright in my book.  Now, with Kevin Zraly’s book, you not only can keep the good wine from your friend, you can also dust them with your knowledge.

 

1/30/01

Winos, I have some good news and some bad news.  The bad news first.  I was at Bacchus tonight for dinner and had an excellent Grouper special.  I asked Joe the Wine Guy to pair something with this for me and he brought me a glass of WHITE WINE… That’s not the bad part, the bad part is that I loved the wine but did not get the label to pass on this vital information to you.  I will do my best to post this wine.  All I know is that I got an immediate whiff of Gewürztraminer, and Joe the Wine guy told me it was a blending of Gewurtz and Riesling and several other white grapes.  The Grouper had a wasabe crust and this was a perfect wine to pair with this meal.

Now the GOOD NEWS!  You winos can enroll in Joe the Wine Guy’s WINE COURSE.  Yes winos and winettes, starting Monday Feb 19th, Joe the Wine Guy will be running two wine classes.  There is a White Wine course that will run Mondays from 7:15-8:45 PM from 2/19 through 3/26 and a Red WINE COURSE that will run Saturdays from 3:00-4:30PM starting 2/24 through 3/31.  If you have the opportunity to take these classes, please contact Joe the Wine Guy for details, or email me and I will send you all the information.  This, winos, will be fun and you will receive your Bacchus/Joe the Wine Guy Wine Odyssey Diploma at the completion of the course.  Don’t be surprised if you see me at the Red Wine Classes, especially 3/24 when the topic is Syrah & Shiraz “Anyway you say it, it’s a great wine” class.

Individual course costs are $310.00, but if you sign up for both the red and white classes, it will be $558.00

Do it.  This is the best way to learn the grapes and sample what you want; the course will feature 9 wines in each session.  How else can you determine what you like and what you don’t like?  See you there, Winos…

 

1/28/01 - C

Big night, yes, I know you are all with me on this one. Today is Sunday, January 28th and tonight is a sacred night for me.  You see, months ago, my hopes and dreams were set on this day as the call went out to see who would be the best.  Yes, on this night, only one will emerge victorious.  All the preparation, all that could be written about, all that could be said and re-said is behind us.  The countdown is on.  Yes, in just 4 more hours, I close the contest for the Kevin Zraly autographed Bible.  Yes, I will tally the votes and give a trophy to the Victor. This fellow winos is BIGGER than the Super Bowl, well, almost.

Yes, the Game is on and I will be treating myself to the comfort zone of the Rhone Valley.  As my new toy will allow me to chronicle the event, I am posting a picture of the tools that made this wine experience the pinnacle of enjoyment.  As with the Giants and Ravens, one must be prepared. That is why I have obtained the proper equipment, since Wino Wally gave me all those great suggestions, to enhance the complete experience of the wine.

The Pre-Game: Riedel Rhone Glass, Chateauneuf du Pape Decanter, Chateauneuf Funnel, and hiding in the background, the Corkscrew.

Sub note- I was too upset to conclude after my Giants went down in flames.  I finished the bottle but could not think clearly enough to finish this entry.   So it is now Monday.  I am still hurting from the lopsided loss, still hurting from the hangover and hurting most from the low volume of responses to my book offer.  But we have a winner, winos.  And I will post that after I inform the winner that he was the winner. Sorry, Wino Wally, it wasn’t you.  Now that I am a bit clearer, I wanted to let you know the things I remember about the wine.

1995 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape $$ (27.99)   Deep ruby in color and moderately full bodied; I had several strong earthen and fertilizer aromas in this one.  Good ripe fruits that were firm and peppery with tannin finish.  This one could stand to rest awhile in the decanter before placing in the glass.  Air is this wine's friend and as it opened, the tannins fell off and a richer spicy red fruit flavor appeared.

1/28/01-B

Winos and Winettes, the true love of wine as I have been telling you all along, is that it creates very special times in our lives.  As I waded through the great many emails I received this weekend, I think it was 5 (not counting the 3 from Wino John and the 1 from Wino Wally), one email stood out.  One of our fellow winos is planning a very special occasion in which wine will be a major part in the night.  As we are all one happy family, I wanted to share this email with you, names withheld of course, so we can enjoy the warm start to the planned marriage these two people will share.  Yes, wine will be a very special part of this and I look forward to the follow up so we all can wish this couple a long life together.  Enjoy the posting and I will keep you informed as we learn the details of this special night:

Wino Bob, I need your help.  I'm not much of a wino but I would like to learn.  The reason that I'm writing is that I have a very big dinner coming up and I want everything to be perfect. I'm taking my boy friend out to dinner in NY and right after dinner I'm going to ask him to marry me. (I'm so excited and nervous.)  

My concern is that I'm a meat and potatoes type of guy -- with a six pack, and Bill is very refined and really, really into wine. I want this dinner to be sooooo perfect.  Can you recommend a wine for me? Something to go with a nice big 24 ounce hunk of steak?  Price is no object because Bill is really loaded.

Thank you so much Wino Bob.  

We're going out next Saturday, so if you can respond before then, that would be perfect. Of course, I'll write and let you know how the dinner and proposal went.

XXXXOOOOOO

For an evening this special and with money not as important, I suggested a 1990 Opus One or a 1995 Screaming Eagle.  The dinner and wine and proposal will be remembered forever.  

 

1/28/01

Attempting to keep up with the wine scene, I have been talking to "insiders" in the industry.  Now, some of you may be much more connected then I am so this may not be the breaking news that I think it is.  My sources are just developing so if any of you have more details, please email or post a message.

Item number one: Move over Budweiser.  There is a wine-oriented theme park coming.  Now this came from dear friends, Goofy and Pluto, but word on the streets of Disney is that Robert Mondavi Winery is working on a wine attraction for a new Disney Theme Park in Anaheim, Ca.  Secretly, Goofy told me that the Mickster has been hitting the syrah pretty heavy these past few months with the problems he and Minnie are rumored to be having.  I heard the court battle has been ugly, so while Mick has been drowning his sorrows in RED WINE, he contacted the Robert Mondavi Winery to head up the project.  As I told you before, it is the YEAR of SYRAH. 

Item two just adds credibility to the Declaration of the YEAR of the SYRAH by Wino Bob right here on these pages.  While drinking with Goofy and Pluto, the dog let it slip that Robert Mondavi Winery has entered into a 50-50 joint venture with Rosemount Estates.  Think about it, winos, Mondavi has produced leading wines with JV's including one with the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild to provide us with Opus One in the tradition of Bordeaux, with the Marchese de Frescobaldi in Tuscany for Luce, Lucente and Danzante and in Chile with Vina Errazuriz.  Now he has gone to the Land Down Under for, what else, winos,…SYRAH.  Goofy didn’t know much else except that this will be a new label and a premium wine carrying a high price tag.

Item three deals with money.  Now I put this right out front.  I DO NOT have money and I am NOT qualified to give financial advice. Is that clear?  So with that said, I have found this fund that is headed up out of the Cayman Islands.  Yes, that’s right, a place that people with tons of money go to keep it out of the Tax Collectors hands.  No US jurisdiction, so be aware.  Anyway, for a buy in of a minimum $20,000, you can have ownership in a Fine Wine Mutual Fund, AWM Fine Wine Fund Ltd.  A Swiss based company called Ascot Capital Management SA manages it.  Check them out at ascotwine.com.  Anyway, with your 20,000-dollar investment and a three-year vesting period, you then become part owner of actual Premier Wine.  Cases and cases of wines like Sassicaia, Dominus, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Haut-Brion, d’Yquem, Palmer and Latour along with 1000s of bottles of Classic Burgundies.  The cool part is that you can cash out in money or wine.  Now think about it, folks, where else can you enjoy profits like this.  Let me think.  Can I retire on 120 cases of Sassicaia?   I’m not telling you about this for any other reason than it’s important wine news.  Remember:  Past performance is not indicative of future earning. That should appease the lawyers…

1/25/01

Why do they do it?  Do they really think I am that stupid? No, not WinoJohn.  He knows I'm stupid.  Restaurants, Winos and winettes, that’s what I’m talking about.  Today, I had a great lunch with business associates in an area around Lansdale, Pa.  When you want to impress someone, take them to The William Penn Inn on Route 202 South in Upper Gwenned, or Gwynned or something like that.  Anyway, this is a 1700’s Inn that has a great look and feel to it.  Their food is written about in every magazine and they are known world wide for their Snapper Soup with Sherry.  

As I told you months ago, when people know you can pronounce Gewürztraminer, by default you find the wine list at your place setting.  Then, as they enjoy their roll and butter, they eyeball you as you read through the list.  Inevitably, one-person comments to those you don’t know that well, that you, (me) is, am, are.. a wine expert.  NEVER, I am NOT, nor will I ever be an expert.  I am just a regular guy that has learned to pronounce Mourvedre.  Now the food here is first class and everyone was in agreement to drink Red wine.

So, as the wine guy at the table, I canvas the wine list and find three wines I know the price of to get a feel for the place.  Now this is where I get really pissed off.  I flip through this modest book to my home turf.  Yes the Rhone Valley is my oasis of comfort for sizing up the place.  Just pick the section you are most familiar with and find several bottles you have previously purchased or, better yet dare I say, which you have read about on these very pages.  Then quickly do the math to see how bad they are ripping you off for a bottle of wine.  Then I gauge the crowd to see how much I will actually have to spend to get a wine that will suite the table.  So winos and winettes, The William Penn in has a wine I know, I wine I buy, a wine I enjoy, at the top of the Rhone selections.  It is none other than “Jaboulet Parallel 45 Cote du Rhone”.  Now this is a staple, a great wine for the retail price of, of, anyone...?  Yes, the retail price of $6.99.  As my eyes move across the page to the price column, the William Penn Inn is charging, charging, any guesses?  No, higher, no a bit higher…Yes folks, the William Penn Inn is charging, are you ready for this, $ 30.00.  Now I’m no mathematician, but that’s like a 2 zillion per cent mark up.  Anyway, I was impressed the other night with the Charles Krug Vintage Selection so I selected their standard Cabernet to suite the crowd I was with as I was not as boggled by the mark up on this bottle.  Still, I must caution you to bring heavy cash when dining at The William Penn Inn.  

1998 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (38.00)   Dark brick red and a full body meet your eye as you swirl this wine.  Succulent juicy berries greet your nose and mouthfuls of fruit with overtones of oak grace your palette.  A slight after taste kept me from rating this higher, but it’s young, folks.  Give it a try.

1/23/01

When I first started learning to develop my palette, Wino John sacrificed many hours with me at a placed called JR Tobacco.  With all the hours we put in, month after month, drinking wine, talking about wine, dreaming of having a web site about wine, we got to know the fine folks at JR’s.  One of the nicest people we met was a server named Debbie, who happened to grow up in the town I grew up in and, although we went to different schools, we found out that we had common friends.  

On one of our marathon cramming sessions, I believe Wino John and I managed to taste three, yes THREE bottles of fine wine between the two, yes TWO of us.  As the night lengthened and the crowd thinned, it came down to Wino John, myself, Debbie, and Rich, the manager.  At the time, JR was really doing great things to enhance the wine experience, like giving you a free fruit-and-cheese platter when you purchased and consumed a bottle of fine wine in the lounge.  This particular night, they were featuring Opus One.  If you bought and consumed a bottle of Opus, they had special Opus stemware that is right up there with Riedel in the quality, with the Opus trademark. 

Well, I could not afford the Opus wine, but Wino John and I managed to acquire the Opus glass in which to enjoy our mature Meritage/Cabernet/Bordeaux wine at home.  Well, I still cannot afford Opus One, but tonight I went near the bottom of the California Wine rack (that’s the tall one on the left in the picture) and I brought up a bottle that I felt was glass-worthy.  This wine was a great match for the glass, so much so that I brought it to my small dingy work area in the attic that I use as my office to tap out these stories.  With my new digi-cam, I wanted you to enjoy the entire scene.  So here is the wine I opened, in the Opus One glass from JR.  I turned the Opus logo on the side, since I wasn’t sure if I was going to cop to it.  But eagle eye, WinoWally, Mr. Tools of the Trade, would have called me out on it.  So here it is in living color, the wine, the glass, and the best damn corkscrew I own.  Yes, this gizmo has a foil cutter, a gripper, and with two simple strokes, which I am quite use to if you know what I mean, I can pop my cork…  Enough said.

As you can see, I am not a great photographer since the flash washed out the label.  But this is the wine, and now that the picture is in the Word document, you can see the Opus logo on the stemware.  See the small outer handles on the corkscrew, just pull them down and then pull down the large inner handles and “ zee bottle iz open”.

 

1995 Bernardus Marinus $$ (32.00) Warning, Dr. Smith, Big Red Wine approaching, get young Will into the spaceship, WARNING.  Winos, make sure the temperature in the room is above 60 degrees before pouring this wine.  This big wine is so viscous, I don’t think it will flow into the glass below 60 degrees.  Deep, dark color, this wine sloshes when you swirl because of the full-body it shows.  Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the aroma though this is a blend of Cab, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.  Maybe if the Angels were drinking this at the Pop festival, no one would have gotten hurt.  Monterey now has two things in my book for which I will remember them.  Big, weighty, mouth-filling, cut-it-with-a-knife and chew this wine.  I could go on and on but I would be repeating myself.  This is a BIG-ass Cabernet, not for the faint of heart.  Warning young Will Robinson… approach this with both hands.

1/21/01

A bit of wine info to make this entry less personal...  I saw Gina’s guest book signing and I realized that I am hanging too much of WinoBob out on this page.  So today, I stick to WinoStuff.  That doesn’t mean that after a night of a bottle of wine I won’t revert to the inside of my head where things rattle late at night.  But to regain what professionalism I can cop to, if I dare assume that I am a professional (not in the pure wine sense, just in the behavioral sense), I have to swing the pendulum back to the wine business side so this page does not become "Dear Abby".

A bit of exciting news for winos to be on the look out for:  For all you Helen Turley fans (of famed Marcassin and Bryant Family), she has a new cult wine on the way.  The Napa Cabernet is sure to be one powerful wine and the 1999 release is due out in 2002 at a price, I am sure, I will not be able to afford.  So keep your blood-shot wino eyes open for Blankiet Cabernet or visit www.blankiet.com

Are there any Sauvignon Blanc fans amongst us?  OK, so for you two, I wanted to include this bit of news.  Be on the look out for New Zealand’s Kiwi Winery Seresin Estates Sauvignon Blanc.  This is getting such hot press that several well respected Sancerre moguls are buying land in New Zealand.  So now, New Zealand is not just world famous for their sheep.  You guys in the Mid West know what I’m talking about.

Did any of you winos see the article in Feb. issue of Food & Wine?  They have an article about pairing wine with American fast food.  Now, I will admit that once, before I had good racks in my cellar, I had a rash of bottles go bad on me.  So like any good wino, I drank my supply to see what was spoiled or not.  One night, I had a bottle of Cask 23 with pizza.  (It was the only Red I had left.)  The wine was great, but a bit over-powering for the pizza.  Is that too personal?  Sorry, I promised to keep this one on the professional side.

Just a quick run down on the article.  Now the following is directly from Joshua Wesson who happens to be one of the authors of the wine calendar I got for Christmas (oops, there I go again with the personal stuff).  Anyway, the article is entitled, “McWine Pairing Tips”

Pizza - look for crisp, fruity wine such as NV Zardetto Prosecco or Vega Sindoa Rosado

Tacos - fruitiness to extinguish the fire i.e. Rosemount Grenache-Shiraz or Chateau Routas Rouviere Rose

Burgers - salty and acidic look for Rieslings and…I can’t say it, but I’m quoting Joshua…White Zinfandel

KFC - salty Sparr Cremant d’Alsace or Famega Vinho Verde

Chinese - sweetness, pair with Foxen Chenin Blanc or Columbia Crest Gewurztraminer

I am now returning to the regularly scheduled program, thank you, Joshua, co-founder of Best Cellars Wine Shop.

Hey, maybe one day someone from Food & Wine Magazine will be so inclined to ask me to pen an article of the not so technical side of wine…We all have dreams.  I did have a great dinner last night with a wine that I am still thinking about.  I had a double cut rack of lamb at Bacchus that was out of this world.  The wine I had is reviewed below, but winos and winettes, this truly is a wine to hunt down and grab a case of.  Good luck finding it because I am on the hunt myself.

1995 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Selection Napa Valley $$ (48.00)    Find this cabernet and enjoy it today.  If you could wrap a dark cherry in a velvet glove, you would have this wine.  A medium-bodied fruit packed with a slight nose of oak and a long finish.  This is ready to drink, showing the slightest hint of tannin.  This is a wine that should be allowed to open and, once it does, the Red wine drinkers in your crowd will beg for more.  A winner!!!

1/20/01

        The Entrance to The Cellar

Winos and Winettes, this techno-geek has just become a little more techno and, well, just as geekie.  But what I was able to do this week was obtain a digital camera.  This is not a commercial for, nor are any of the products discussed given in compensation for said comments.  This way you legal winos will not be emailing me.  No, the camera I obtained was the one that was easiest to order on line and sent to me the fastest, i.e.: in stock.  I now am in the possession of the Canon Power Shot S100 Digital ELPH.  So now see how obnoxious I will be with pictures in my wine stories.  Yes, Wino John, you thought the icon stuff drove you crazy!  Web Master, be prepared.  And I now bring to you, in living color, my winostuff that I enjoy so much.  As you can see, when I spoke of my cellar, it is not the upscale, designer wine cellar like Wino Wally's.  No folks, I have a house built in 1891 and this is a cellar in which I store my wine.  The house had been remodeled tens of times before I bought it and in one of the changes, they owners added a wheelchair accessible ramp and deck.  This covered the old stairway to the out side, so I converted this stairway into MY wine cellar.  Yes folks, the easy line is: Now this is my stairway to heaven, since in heaven there is no beer, just fine wine”.

My Wine

The beauty of color is that one can clearly see the ratio of Red to White wine.  The large rack on the left holds all my California Red wine, the largest white wine rack on the lower right contains California whites.  Above that, on the right, is French Whites.  Immediately to the left is the eclectic rack.  This contains wine from Chile, Argentina, South Africa and anything else I am trying.  The top left rack holds my French Reds and the top right rack is home to my Italian Reds.  The upper boxes are champagne for those few occasions I drink this stuff.

During good times, the cellar is about 3/4 full.  During bad times, times when I am not doing homework for the web page, I will have this fully stocked with about 140 bottles of wine.  Out of the 140, there are only 4 wines of which I have more than one bottle each.  So, there you have it.  This is my study hall, my reference library.  Yes, this is the place I go when life has beaten me up.  I enter my cellar, and talk to my wine bottles.  I pick up a Chateauneuf du Pape and cradle it in my arms and pace back and forth and tell it about the rough day at work I had.  I sit there, in the corner, and watch that the wine doesn’t breathe.  I smell the dampness and the wood of the racking.  I sing to my wine and laugh with it and tell the special wines that I await the day that something is worthy enough to bring them into the light of day and to make the ultimate sacrifice of being opened and consumed.  I tell them that this is what you were put on Earth for, to be loved in a way most will never understand….

So my fellow winos, we enter the new millennium with a new look to Bob’s page, yes I will be adding pictures from time to time of those bottles I open and enjoy.

My only hope in life is that I fill this cellar to the roof with wine and someone from the outside bricks me in there like in Edar Allen Poe's story, “A Cask of Amontillado”, and I live the waning years of my life consuming that nectar, banging on the walls, and scaring the crap out of the people that bricked me in there.  Yes, Wino John, put down that trawl, I’m not ready yet.

Editor's note:  WinoBob, I think you're very ready...

1/19/01  

The geeky side of me had me travel to San Diego, California, for a pocket protector-wearing, horn-rimmed taped eyeglass-wearing, electronics seminar and trade show.  Looking forward to the left coast for wine selections at great restaurants, I was somewhat surprised by the limited wine selection at several of the eateries.  One night, the crowd voted "sushi", so I didn’t expect much in the way of wine, and I wasn’t disappointed; four whites and four reds.  

The highlight of the trip was a dinner at Rainwater on Kettner Blvd in downtown S.D.  This is a chophouse with a wine list 3 inches thick.  The steaks were great and the dark mahogany bar and walls were a stark contrast to the crisp linen tablecloths.  As a guest that evening, I did not have the opportunity to select or review the wine list, but the host ordered a Stag’s Leap Cab that was delicious.  As we mixed wine with business, the Cab opened beautifully. 

One of my friends gave me a gift from a local T-Shirt shop, it sums up the way Wino John and I feel about wine and the message we try to convey on this page.  The shirt says:

            Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink White Zinfandel.

What better way to separate the Winos from the koolaid drinkers. 

Having the pleasure of hunting for cheap airfare, I flew back to NJ via Houston, TX.  As all geography majors will tell you, that is not the most direct route, as the crow flies.  Anyway, bracing for the long event, I grabbed a paperback from the airport bookstore.  The book is called, “The Millionaire Next-door”. I purchased this as a gift to my neighbor. For those who have not read it, these two authors draw distinctions between those who have a wealth index above one million dollars and the rest of us.  One section really bugged me.  These authors invited decamillionaires to a survey so they could speak with them to develop a profile of these well-off, successful individuals.  They set up the meeting by hiring a catering service, which developed a menu of caviar and 4 types of pate.  As a beverage, they supplied a case of rare 1973 Bordeaux.  As the guests arrived and mingled, they served the food and asked if anyone would like wine.  To which one decamillionaire replied, “ I only drink two kinds of Beer, free and Budweiser.”  Stop right there, maybe my father IS a millionaire; he’s just waiting to let us know. 

I cannot believe that not one of the decamillionaires were wine drinkers.  Is that to imply that because I drink wine I will never be a millionaire, perhaps due to the fact that my debt ratio is too high from buying all that expensive wine?  Only wealthy people drink beer?  Now judging by the way wine pricing is escalating, we should brace ourselves for a wave of poor winos that have expensive wine tastes.  I cannot believe that not one of the select group these authors interviewed were wine drinkers.  Please, someone, tell me that you can enjoy expensive Bordeaux and still amass a fortune. The other interesting statistics that are in this book tell us that millionaires don’t spend more then $100.00 for shoes, live in ok neighborhoods, shop at JC Penneys, and wear watches worth 250.00.

I guess everyone driving a Mercedes is cash poor and just doing it for show. 

Since I will never be a millionaire, I will promise to drink Chateau Petrus with dinner, that’s a great poor man’s wine.

1998 Beringer Founder’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $ (17.00)    This young, snappy wine needs time to mellow.  Harshness and tannins overshadowed any fruit that could have made this enjoyable.  Disappointing in what it never delivered.

1997 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz $$ (38.00)   This blend balanced the Cabernet Sauvignon well with the Shiraz grape.  A big, full-bodied red wine that delivered plenty of fruit with mild tannins and a long finish.  A solid wine from a well know producer, I will buy this again for a grilled meat dinner.

1996 Rodney Strong Symmetry $$$$ (85.00)    A Bordeaux blend of 60% Cabernet, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, this wine showed some tight tannins to start off with and loosened up towards the end of the bottle.  The finish was clipped and the cabernet was not as fruity as one would have expected from this wine.  I did not get much depth from this blend.  A good wine, but not enough character to set it apart from the pack.

1997 Stag’s Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa  $??    As a guest at a great restaurant in Ca., I did not pick this wine so I do not know the price.  This wine was delicious.  A full Cabernet showing dark cherry fruit and a smooth, long finish.  A small tannin hint to know this wine will cellar for years to come.  This is a sensory pleaser with great bouquet.  Search this one out.  

 

1/13/01

After my night of jazz, wine, and Temptation Restaurant, and now finally enjoying the positive side of Napster, I started thinking.  Is wine too sophisticated to have a drinking song?

I think back on all the family parties we had, where the Budweiser was flowing like the Nile and, as everyone became more influenced by the beer, my father would put Polish records on the Hi-Fi.  Now, if you know anything about Polish music, there is one basic melody to all the drinking songs.  As a kid, we had to take accordion lessons, except for my sister who played the clarinet.  Both of these are vital instruments in Polish drinking songs.  My aunts and uncles would sing off key at the top of their lungs.  Yes, we were known to shatter a few windows in the neighborhood.  As the songs changed, the music sounded the same to me, except that the words would change to make it interesting.  All the songs started with a bandleader counting, "and a one and a two...", in broken English, and the clarinet would start the melody. 

The family would forget all their differences by the end of the album and would be linked arm in arm for the grand finale.  At times, my Uncle’s face was so red that I thought we would need the ambulance as he danced in the living room to the last song.  And what was this great ballad that lit their faces with happiness and warmed their hearts?  Folks, it was  The Beer Barrel Polka

Yes, those great lyrics still rattle in my head:

“In heaven there is no beer.
That’s why we drink it here.
And when we’re gone from here,
All our friends will be drinking all the beer…. Everybody sing along”

Maybe wine is for heaven and beer is here to be enjoyed on Earth.

When I started traveling for business, I spent time in Germany and one night we went to the local Beer Garden for dinner.  After tossing down several of those glasses you could actually bathe a small child in, the band would kick up and play beer drinking songs.  These songs got the crowd going and strangely resembled the Polish beer drinking songs from my past.  By the end of the night, I found myself linked arm in arm with the people around us, singing at the top of my lungs the only words I could make fit the music. Yes, the Beer Barrel Polka.  The people next to me laughed and spoke German about me making up words to their fine German beer drinking songs.  It didn’t matter because we were all having a great time.

So I ask the question again. Is wine only for soft music, romantic candlelight, and the string instruments?  I did go to France once as a teenager but I was too young to get into a Cabaret.  Is wine served in Cabarets and, at the end of the night, do people raise their stemware, link arms, and sing loudly off key to songs in French that sound remotely like The Beer Barrel Polka?

1/11/01

Winos and Winettes, if you are anywhere in northern NJ on a Thursday evening, make all efforts to stop in at Bacchus.  Last night, I went out for an airing, since the stuffiness of my cramped, dusty office had me delusional.  As I pulled into the parking lot of Bacchus, the place was packed.  The crowd inside was in a great mood because Thursday night is now Jazz Night.  A terrific 3 piece jazz band played in the corner giving everyone music to enjoy with their dinner and wine.  Joe the Wineguy paired some special wine selections with a variety of cheeses to get your appetite going. 

I bellied up to the bar and looked over the wine list.  Being in an up mood since fresh air now resided in my lungs, I zeroed in on a syrah I wanted to try.  Joe the Wineguy presented the bottle and placed a “Special” Rhone style glass in front of me.  As I swirled and sniffed and tasted, Joe the Wineguy put out a mix of cheeses to complement the wine.  The Gold Label Gouda was the perfect match.  

The best thing about the evening was watching all the people in the bar area, having fun, laughing and listening to the jazz.  The entertainment was fueled by wine, a divorce in progress, Tom the bartender, and the new show Temptation Island.  Sitting to my left were two ladies out for a big night, enjoying their dinner at the bar.  The wine had been flowing their way for awhile and they were well on their way to a morning hangover.  As Tom the Bartender, a young aspiring actor, chatted with them, I could see one of the women checking him out like pork chops at the deli counter.  I started kidding Tom the Bartender, why he wasn’t tapped to be on Temptation Island and these two ladies jumped into the conversation full force.  As I sat and listened, I now know that too much wine leads to people disclosing way too much about their personal lives; but the voyeur inside me enjoyed every detail this woman spilled over the bar to Tom the Bartender about her life and marriage and current status.  Was it the wine that made her tell Tom the bartender she was looking for more out of her marriage and had made the decision to move on?  Was it the wine that made her call him "Hon", every time she wanted something else?  Was it the wine that caused her to decide there was more to life than her current situation?  What every it was, it was better than any television show I have seen considering the dialogue wasn’t pre-written and the scene was not rehearsed and what was unfolding in front of me was life at it’s best.  Yes, people were enjoying themselves, enjoying good food, enjoying the soft background music, making new friends, searching for the answers to the questions of life, all fueled by the beauty of a bottle of Red wine.  That, my friends, is why each bottle of wine has a story inside waiting to be uncorked. 

 

1998 Qupe Syrah Bien Nacido Reserve $$ (42.00)    Being familiar with Qupe’s lesser wine, I looked forward to trying this one.  Coming from their Hillside Estates, I had great expectations for this bottle.  The nose was fruity, but an overtone of toasted marshmallows turned the deep rich aroma of this wine into something less powerful than I was looking for.  Toasted wood flavors and that hint of sweetness sent this one lower on my scale than their lesser wine.  I have a bottle of 1997 in my cellar I will try to drink as a comparison and see if it is the style or this year.

 

1/7/01

On the Internet and wanting to have music in the background, I popped onto Napster to check into some upbeat stuff since my last posting was kind of a downer.  I pulled down some Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet and found my head bopping from side to side to the rim shots in the melody.  Since I was in the music mood, I typed in "wine" and searched all the songs on Napster that have "wine" in the title.  Below is a listing of those songs. Keep in mind that several artists may have covered a song and I might not be mentioning the recording you like best.   I am not claiming this is a complete list, this is just what I found on Napster.  If you know of other songs, post them to me and I’ll add to the list.  Wino John, we should have a page highlighting this information to our fellow winos for quick reference if they are playing trivia pursuit and need to know songs with "wine" in the title.

  • Alkaline Trio- Cooking Wine

  • Jerry Jeff Walker- Sangria Wine

  • Dave Matthews & Phish- White Water Wine

  • UB40- Red, Red Wine

  • Eric Burden & War- Spill the Wine

  • Tom T. Hall- Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine

  • Cruise Ship Song- Dollar Wine Dance

  • Hot Rod Trio- Drinkin Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee

  • Mulehead- Cheap Red Wine

  • Cassandra Wilson- Days of Wine and Roses

  • Denna Carter- Strawberry Wine

  • Traffik- Wine Down

  • Threshold of a Dream- Send Me No Wine

  • Scrunter-Homemade Wine

  • Bee Gees- Wine & Woman

  • Third Eye Blind- God of Wine

  • Reverend Horton Heat- Liquor, Beer and Wine

  • Jimmy Rodgers- Kisses Sweeter than Wine

  • Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood- Summer Wine

  • Jonny Lang- Cheery Red Wine

  • Marsha Thornton- A Bottle of Wine and Patsy Cline

  • Anzenchitai- Wine Red No Kokoro

I don’t have a clue about that last one and is Watermelon really a wine?

There also was someone named April Wine who had a bunch of songs not with wine in the title.  So let me know if there are any other unique songs with wine in the title.  Don’t tell me that I didn’t list a certain artist who recorded Red, Red Wine like Bob Marley, just new titles, people.

1998 Ochoa Bodegas Ochoa $ (12.00)    This was good enough for the ladybug that was on my lampshade to hop right in.  This blending of Tempranillo and Garnacha make this Spanish wine of Navarra more complex then some I’ve had.  The Garnacha adds a hint of cider and spice to the nose and the taste of this wine.  The Tempranillo gives you forward fruit and the spicy finish.  This is an interesting wine, one I will put on the list for the summer porch.  This will be great on a hot Saturday night with some sliced fruit.

1/6/01

Well it’s 2AM and the house is quiet except for the hissing of the steam radiator behind me and the whirling of the CD-ROM drive.  The moon is beaming off the snow on the roof next-door, painting a blue streak on the wall in front of me.  At this hour, except for Joe the Wineguy who is reading my last posting right now, I don’t have anyone to talk with about a concern that has me sleepless. Hello, Joe the Wineguy.  At 2AM, I will tell you I am on the last glass of a bottle of Red.  Wino John is cringing knowing that fact.  You see, he’s not only my friend and fellow Wino, he posts my entries.  Well, he gets my page, reads it, decodes that which I have written after a bottle of wine, and then puts it up on the page.  I’m sure he’ll have a field day with this one.  Somehow, after a bottle of wine, my hand-mind coordination is quite taxed.  Editor's note:  It's a good thing that I'm fluent in Drunken Gibberish.

About 12:30AM, I was sitting in my favorite chair in my office listening to Tom Waites’ Closing Time play over and over from my CD-ROM drive.  I had spent several hours hunting down depressing songs on NAPSTER, songs about life’s unfair hand that we get dealt.  As the liquid in the bottle lessened, the search went from depressed songs to quasi-suicidal.  Those are the songs I loved to listen to through high school and college.  So I found a bunch of Tom Waites and Joe Jackson’s Breakin Us in Two.  Then I found the same songs by different artists like Springsteen’s version of Waites’ songs, or Springsteen’s version of Dylan songs.  This Internet thing is great…

The reason I’m bummed out tonight has to do with the thought that hit me around 12:45, just after Dylan and Joan Baez sang Chimes of Freedom for the third time.

What if the HOKEY POKEY is what it’s all ABOUT? 

Yes, think about it.  Now stop laughing and think about when you were in grade school.  I remember being in first grade and I wanted to be the best Hokey Pokeyer in the class.  Yes, I sought acceptance, recognition, and reward in knowing my right hand from my left and putting it in and taking it out at the precise times Mrs. Prindle made the calls.  Most of all, I would build to the very end of the song and when Ms. Prindle called to put my whole self in, I would feel the energy from the bottom of my feet spring me up and into the center of the circle.  Then I would bound out.  In and out.  As if possessed, I would shake myself about like a jungle witch doctor.  Then, I would do the Hokey Pokey and turn myself about.  You see, THAT’s what it’s ALL ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe all this time that I have been fighting to do things my way, I should have been listening to the times in life people told me to put my arm in or take my leg out.  Maybe I was too stubborn to listen to the wisdom of those that could be equivalent to the caller in Hokey Pokey.  Maybe marching to the beat of my own drum is not the best way to make a lot in life.  Maybe the Hokey Pokey is the key to the secret of success.  Then again, maybe the Hokey Pokey is just some stupid kid’s game the teacher played when she was too tired to teach us math or reading or science.

Editor's note:  The preceding opinions are those of WinoBob and do not reflect the opinions of the rest of the staff or management of WinoStuff. 

1998 Barton & Guestier Cotes-Du-Rhone $ (10.99)    This wine lacked the nose and taste I look for in my Rhone’s.  There was little in the way of fruit or spice.  This wine was non-descript and there for will not be described.

1/5/01

Hey, just one more thing on this religious theme and I promise I will move on.  As I mentioned, I enjoy partaking in the wine at church.  Well, my cousin, the Brother, was invited to my home for a party over the holidays.  I had not seen him since July when I attended a special mass for him as he celebrated his forty-fifth year serving the Lord.  Since I was somewhat feeling good at this point, I started complaining to him that the Church he was assigned to had crappy wine.  So we entered into a wine discussion.  He told me about the things the priests in his church wanted in a wine and after tasting several I had opened, he found one that he really liked.  He wanted a wine that was not expensive, was red, but not heavy and didn’t have a bite to it.  I told him I had something in my basement which I thought he would like, and I would also bring up a bottle of wine for him to try.  Anyway, after we opened the bottle and poured ourselves a drink to celebrate the holidays, Brother James told me this was exactly what he had in mind.  He wanted to know if he could take a bottle to the Pastor for his approval.  Well, as of today, any winos that belong to a parish in Cedar Knolls, NJ will be happy to know that Brother James is now pouring Jadot Beaujolais Village instead of jug wine.  I know it’s not a great selection, but it goes well with wafer.  As I promised, unless something unique comes up, I will get off the church kick and back to the important things.  Otherwise, Wino John will be excommunicating me from this web site.  Amen…

1/4/01

I would like to thank Wino Jesus for leaving me a message on the guest book.  As I stated in my comments, it would be tough to compete with him IF he was ALIVE.  I guess, someone out there wanted me to think he really IS ALIVE.  

Anyway, the Wino Jesus thing had me think about why I am a wino.  Wino John listed various reasons on our homepage, which will help you qualify if you are a wino, but I just remembered one that Wino John left off.  I realized I was a wino when I started making mental notes as to which priests in our Parish liked what type of wine.  As I can state with certainty, Father Bob is a white wine lover, Father John is a white zinfandel guy and Father Mark is a red wine type.  For those not familiar with the Catholic religion, at the high point of the mass, we share bread and wine that is blessed by the priest.  I will not go into the theology of the process since Wino Jesus thought I was too spiritual last time.  Anyway, as the Wino that I am, I started setting my church attendance in accordance with Father Mark, since he is the red wine priest in our church.  When the time came to partake in the blessed bread and wine, I was front row for the wine.  I had to stop myself from grabbing the chalice out of the priest’s hand to swirl and sniff the wine before I drank out of it.

Mind you, as a kid growing up, my mother’s voice would ring into my ear, “WinoBob, don’t drink out of the cup.  All those people drinking out of the cup, that’s not right.”  “Cup drinkers, germ passers, that’s not right”  Yes, I grew up in Kevin Meeneh’s household too.  Anyway, the congregation, young and old, healthy and sick, shared this communal cup.  They used to wipe the rim before you drank, but a germ is a germ and the last to drink got the backwash from the entire town’s population.  I pressed on, blocking out the hacking guy three rows in front of me and the sneezing woman to my right.  I blessed myself, closed my eyes and quaffed down some of Father Mark’s delicious cabernet sauvignon at 9AM mass when he serves.  Is it wrong to judge the wine choices of the priests in my church?  For those of us who do, I guess that helps define us as winos and if I’m the only one out there doing this, I apologize for bringing this up.  Amen.

1996 Peter Lehmann Shiraz $ (17.00)   This wine starts off tight and oaky, but as this wine softens in the glass, it reveals a mouth-filling, long, silky blackberry and chocolate wine with a hint of spice.  This is a great complement to the porterhouse steak with peppercorn sauce I enjoyed at Bacchus.  The story on the bottle and the artwork on the label make for a great read. 

1/1/01

It is January 1, 2001.  I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year.  I officially declare this the WinoBob Year of the Syrah.  Yes, if the Chinese can have years named after animals, we winos can have years named after noble grapes.  This will be a full-bodied year, big and bold. Therefore, I decree the New Millennium will begin with a WinoBob Calendar; Caesar is not the only one that can define the structure we live within.  Join me in celebrating the “Year of Syrah”.  This means, when times are good in your personal and business life, we toast our success with a Rich Bold Wine to reflect the extreme success we attained.  Raise your glass, inhale the power and wish all amongst you continued accomplishments in the “Year of Syrah”.

I hope you all celebrated last night with wine and friends and family.  I hope you all had a safe night.  I had a unique wine experience.  As you can well imagine by now, I will share it with you.  

Our wine neighbors invited us to a tasting dinner and the theme was Rieslings and Syrah.  One of the guests works for a wine distributor and he was preparing food that would work well with Rieslings and Syrah.  I must confess that I was a bit intimidated with the Rieslings, as you know white wine is not my strong suit.  The night I stopped in Home Liquors to buy my La Sizeranne, I picked up 2 bottles of Riesling since I did not have any in my limited wine rack.  Being one to experiment, I found a wine from a vineyard I felt had a good reputation for wine and I went out on a limb and bought this California wine.  As a backup, I went to the German section and closed my eyes and let the wine spirits inside of me move my hand over a bottle, like a divining rod looking for water.  The label had enough German on it to impress me so I went with it.  Having a few Syrahs at home, I selected one I knew I had enjoyed before in the event my Rieslings bombed.

Well, the night was set; we sat for dinner and poured out 5 Rieslings for our tasting pleasure.  As the 10 of us sniffed and swirled and tasted and thought, the wine distributor and his wife made definitive comments, strong, bold statements about what was good and what was bad.  We made our way through a cream of fish soup and a parchment trout with white raisins and celery, both flavorful dishes that went very well.  As we talked and joked, I was pretty vocal on the wine I felt just didn’t stand up.  Two of the wines stood out head and shoulders above the rest and the wine distributor said to me he saw one of the capsules from my wine and had a feeling the two best were mine and his.  Glowing inside, I smiled and thought to myself, maybe white wine isn’t so bad after all.  

As we rested before the main course, we tallied the votes and again, my wine knowledge, what little there is, was bolstered by the fact that the wine distributor matched my rating wine for wine.  You must understand, my wine ego was very pumped at this point, if I rated them the same as him and one of my wines came in first or second, what a credit to my white wine credentials.  So as the bottles were unveiled, I sat forward in my chair awaiting the congratulations for the selections.  But as the brown bags were ripped, so was my ego as both my wines took the bottom two slots.  As you guessed it, the wine distributor had the number one Riesling and his wife and he exchanged smiles and glances that translated to high fives and they commented on how the wine they brought was such a great Riesling.

Now, dejected, I sat back quietly, politely asked questions to defer my wine knowledge to this studied man.  Fear and perspiration built up as we poured the Reds that would accompany the main course.  I was thinking to myself, as one of the couples laughed at the fact they bought a bottle of wine at Costco’s at the last minute, without even knowing what to bring.  If their Red also surpassed mine, I might have to resign from WinoStuff out of sheer embarrassment.  

The Reds were poured and sniffed and swirled.  Now, questioning my own judgment, I quietly studied the tastes, the after tastes, the smells and the feel.  One wine to me tasted strangely different and smelled unique to the rest.  Unsure, I listened into the banter between the wife and wine distributor to see how off my judgment was of the Rhone style wine, wines I drink plenty of and wines I bought a special glass for.  I had to make a stand and rated wine 9 as my top pick and wine 6 second, the other 2 were about equal. 

To shorten the agony, I will jump ahead.  As I stood alone with number 9 as the best wine, the crowd went for number 6.  The paper wrappers started coming off and if the distributor’s wine was number six, I think he and his wife were ready to dance at the table.  Low and behold, number 6 wine turned out to be a Petite Sirah, not a Syrah.  As we all know from Wino John, these grapes are NOT even relatives.  So with this not being the right grape and with Mr. Wine Distributor touting this as the best Red of the night, he mumbled quietly to his wife as number 9 was unveiled as the true winner of the Best Syrah.  Yes fellow Winos and Winettes, this turned out to be the wine I brought, a California Syrah, that trumped the French Syrah he brought and distributes and the Rhone flows through my veins and inside I laughed and danced the jig on the table with my hands in the air and my head moving from side to side.  Not only did I pick the best Syrah, I brought the best Syrah.  Petty as it seems, the 20 years of his wine industry experience did not make him the best Red wine picker or bringer for the night.  And so, I declare the Year 2001, the Year of Syrah.  Et tu Brute!


 

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