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This page contains Winings from the 1st Quarter of the year 2012.

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March 30, 2012

I finally figured out how to lessen the number of bottles of wine consumed at Gourmet Cafť.  Most times we go through four to five bottles.  Not last night. Just two bottles of wine were consumed.  He solution you ask?  Simply invite only one other person.  The two of us only had two bottles. Unlike when the four of us get together, four bottles are just way too much.  We enjoyed a Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva 2007 as the warm up.  Matt had a soft shell crab special which I requested he surprise me with the style.  He did.  A light tomato base with basil and garlicÖkiller.  The second was a 2007 California Cabernet.  Since it is under consideration for the presentation I am doing next season for the ECWS, letís just say, we enjoyed it very much.  Unfortunately for WJ, he is in a hellhole of gastronomy, eating ground shark head stew or something.  I wonder what type of wine he had?  It is fish head so Iím thinking a white wine.  I donít know how much Big Ass California Cabernet makes it to a part of the world that lives on 3 dollars a month. 

March 29, 2012

Wow, last night I had the pleasure of watching the blockbuster movie, Hunger Games, from the comfort of my home.  Yes, nothing better than reclining in my comfy chair, eating a grilled chicken and bacon panini while sipping a Cabernet.  Albeit, a crappy Cabernet but for a Wednesday it was fine.  Then I got up to go to the refrigerator and suddenly realized I was not at home.  

To my surprise, the process of going to a movie has been turned up a notch by the Theater in Essex Green.  The ticket price was 12 dollars, which I can live with.  The seats are large, puff and recline.  The menu has a little bit of everything, though not the healthiest of foods but a step up from snowcaps and twizzlers.  There is a full bar service, not top shelf but drinking and watching works.  The only negative was that we were in the second row from the screen.  Without giving away the plot, I was bothered by the shaky, whipping camera technique of the movie.  I know it was done to emote this panic feeling, but from where we were it was detraction.

I will be honest, I haven't read the books.  Unlike many people leaving the theater, I couldn't say the books were so much better.  The movie was entertaining.  I have a take away, if I make a movie I will have it come out first, then write the book years later.  This way the murmur after the show will only deal with the merits of the movie. 

As for the wine, I really didn't care what Cabernet it was or that it cost 8 dollars for a short pour.  The fact that my living room now has a movie-sized screen, I might just have to move in.  Now, if the bathroom were closer to the theater room, it would be heaven.  Kudos to the concept, I hope it lasts.  I would have loved to be at that meeting.  What can we do to boost sales you ask?How's this, most people go for dinner before a movie.  Check this out, we let them eat in the theater.  Dinner and a movie at the same seat...  Brilliant!  Give that man a cheroot.  I wonder if I can be their wine consultant.

March 22, 2012*

Is it wrong to think that a threesome with Mika Brzezinski and Monica Crowley would be the craziest night of my your life?  The tension alone would be off the hook, but think about the one upmanship they would bring to the party.  The fight for which ideology is more of a, you know, friendly position, wowzers.  I actually think that Monica is one crazy conservative, and I mean that in a good way.  Mika looks a bit put off by certain things.  If I were a software genius, I would develop a program like Madden Football where you can play a theoretical game.  It would make it like a steel cage death match, winner-take-all. 

Sorry, I am off the range here because technology has me pissed.  It seems that now a day when you upgrade one simple thing there is a snowball effect on all other devices and software.  My crappy little personal (not work) cell phone had to be upgraded and I made the plunge into the android world.  Forget the learning curve, it wants to hook up with my computer except I need a newer version of a plug in and it only hooks up if you talk nice to it and bring it flowers.  I havenít figured out a way to put stuff in folders so now I have four screens of programs I need to hunt through to find what I am looking for.  This is supposed to make my life easier?  And donít get me started on email set up.  I am a pop3 mail guy, I donít have a Gmail account, and itís not all the automated nirvana they claim.  And their version of talk to the phone to get things done is giving me a speech complex. 

I was so frustrated last night I drank beer.  Yes, good old Cricket Hill IPA from Fairfield, NJ.  I was afraid to drink wine last night.  The elevated acid in my stomach would have churned out vinegar.  Once I get this set, back to the bottle and more exciting news.  For now how do I load my music from iTunes to android?  Like Mika and Monica I sense they are at different ends of the spectrum.

March 18, 2012*

A belated Happy St. Patrickís Day.  For the first time ever, I went to an Irish Pub yesterday on the drunkest of celebratory events.  I cringed on the drive over as a Saturday opens the bars to a larger group than normal.  The first surprise came as I found a parking spot in the lot right across the street from the pub.  I walked in and the second surprise of the night was a seat at the bar, no vomit on the floor and most every patron upright.  With fear of an attempt to alter any wine to the color green, I went with the crowd and ordered a Guinness or two.  The beer was smooth, the music was Irish, the step dancers were talented and the corned beef was lean.  The final surprise of the night was the subtleness of the Jameson Irish Whiskey.  I found it funny that everything was served in plastic cups.  The beer I understand, no one wants a drunken brawl to break out with thick glass mugs being tossed about.  But the small plastic shot cups were crappy to drink from.  The ride home was uneventful.  I donít know if New York City was packed but 13 miles west, the Irish pub in South Orange was less than jumping. 

I trust you had a safe and happy celebration.  By the way, what is it that St Patrick did that causes bagel shops and bars to food dye their products and uncomfortable color of green?  Thank God they donít do this for St. Maryís Day.  Erin has no bra!

March 15, 2012

Oh Boy, the Ides of March.  Iím not really sure what an "Ide" is but it was not good if I recall.  I am writing this, not quite sure if I should be laughing about it or crying about it.  Wino John and I had dinner at Gourmet Cafť last night, with a semi-reserved, casual wine associate.  For lack or originality, letís just call him Dave.  In the course of three and a half hours, we broke the poor man from his reserved demeanor to a tried-and-true, bust-out wino.  I donít know if I laughed more at the conversation or the transformation but for what itís worth, we converted one to the dark side.  It always starts out so simple and mellow, but I guess the fourth bottle of wine and the shot of black Sambuca flipped the switch.  I am talking around it right now in fear that a hungover Wino Dave may wake up today and either not remember the night or intentionally want to erase the memory of the night.  I will say the old boy came into his own and soon had us partaking in the birthday cake from the celebration of the table next to ours.  Well played, my man. 

As for the wines, we warmed up with a 2007 Franciscan Merlot just to lubricate the pipes. We eased into a 2008 Ruffino Modus touting 50% Sangiovese, 25% cabernet sauvignon and 25% merlot.  A delight with pasta and the mussels marinara.  Switching gears and with dinner plates emptying, we hit our stride with a 2007 Juslyn Cabernet Sauvignon.  For those of you that keep score, that one got a 95 from RP.  For an 07, it was approachable with lush, dark fruit and a mocha flavor on the backend.  As the frequency of exchanges between tables increased, we knew we were staying a bit longer so WJ broke out a 2008 Oreno Toscana (Sette Ponti) that hails with a 96 from WA and WS.  This was heavenly with a nice fruit acid balance, red berries and mint with a spice on the finish. 

At that point, the volume in Mattís restaurant could have gotten us a ticket for disturbing the peace, but fortunately for us, Matt decided to pull up a chair and enjoy some wine and hope that things didnít get too out of hand.

I shall never look at Wino Dave in the same way as I did on the walk into dinner last night.  Unfortunately for him, heís one of us now.

February 24, 2012*

I enjoyed an excellent dinner last night, with Wino John and the other Bob. We ate at the usual place. I went with my usual dinner. But unfortunately the wine I brought was tainted. Thank God there were 2 other wines on the table. I know wino John brought about Barolo. It was delicious. It went well with Mike Cavatelli with shrimp and scallops. I was disappointed that my Cabernet was tainted especially since I have 5 more bottles of wine. But the hit of the night had to be the 1997 Hess collection Cabernet Sauvignon that the other Bob brought. The wine was at its apex. The tannins were silky smooth, the fruit was luscious and soft, and the mocha finish satisfied my need for dessert.

As we have entered the Lenten season, it looks like my commitment will be to have dinner with the poor, the downtrodden, the weary at gourmet Cafť every Wednesday evening till Easter. Iím glad wino John selected Wednesday nights instead of Friday nights in case I choose to have chicken or veal instead of the same old pasta every Wednesday.

I learned that over dinner, that wino John is testing Dragon dictation to see how it handles my drunken ramblings.  As he places * marks by the entries that come directly from Dragon he is testing the technology of handling me after 3 bottles of wine. Dragon doesnít like that and may one day decide to write its own message to wino John. For some reason, Dragon does not like the word wino. Sometimes it types out the words why no. One time I saw the words line note. I canít tell if itís my jersey accent or my wino accent that confuses Dragon. I am sure over time Dragon will learn my pronunciations to fluently translate my entries after a night of debauchery. Once that happens Dragon may wind up writing its own messages to wino John. I paid extra for the curse like a sailor module in Dragon so F*!# You. For some reason Dragon just crashed. Maybe the curse like a sailor module is not fully functional. Enough for now, Seacrest out.

February 23, 2012

For those Bordeaux lovers out there, I wanted you to be aware of an upcoming event. I received this invitation regarding a barrel tasting trip to Bordeaux.  I have never tasted Bordeaux wines from the barrel but I understand the 2009 wines will be fantastic. The trip also offers dinner at a winery, golf, and drinking. Yes, lots of drinking!  If you know someone that would be interested please pass along the information. Iíll have to check my busy schedule to see if I will be able to join this trip and drink some of the worldís classiest, boldest,  big-ass Cabernet-based wines produced by the frogs.

February 20, 2012* 

I have to give big props to the Tobacco Road shop in Barnegat New Jersey. I was down for a visit and wanted to have a relaxing moment by the Bay. Barnegat has a small downtown area, quaint, with some antique stores, restaurants, and my new assigned a great little cigar shop. What I like most about this place is their selection of Arturo Fuente cigars. The only thing that would make this shop nicer is a wine bar. Unlike cigar shops in northern New Jersey this place leads there opus X cigars in the case allowing you to select as many as you would like. Selected a few cigars, drove to the bay and blazed up an enjoyable stogie. It is hard for me to understand how a shop like this can stay in business with the current anti-smoking climate. I will become a steady customer of the small business to help him keep his doors open while enjoying those beautiful Dominican cigars. My only disappointment is that they are an hour 45 min. from my home. Otherwise I probably would be there once a week. As for wine, I have not found a great wine store in Barnegat as of yet. If I were to find both and not get arrested enjoying them while sitting by the day life would be grand. If anyone knows of a great wine store in the Barnegat area please let me know. I am sure if I find one it might actually become my new home.

February 18, 2012*

It has taken me a while to get this new software going. But I am learning to use dictation instead of typing. My entries now will be spoken, not typed out. I hope this software can deal with my drunken slurring. Last night, we went to a friendís house for dinner. We didnít enjoy wine because the host served Mojitos. That was the 1st Mojito Iíve had. I must tell you the dark rum he used was quite tasty. But I did wake up this morning with a pretty bad headache.

I have been on the hunt for 2007 California Cabernet Sauvignons. It will take a while for me to collect what I need for the tasting I am running. I am looking forward to drinking a lot of great wine in the process. I am relying heavily on Robert Parkerís scorers to ensure I find wines that the Essex County wine society members will enjoy. Iím very happy with several Iíve tasted so far. Knowing that several members read this blog, and I will be doing the tasting blind, I will not be entering the names of the wines at this particular time. Trust me, these will be very bold, big, chewy, heavy wines.

I have to say this new software is great. It beats typing. The only thing I cannot add easily yet are pictures and icons. More tomorrow. I must read the book. I donít know why the font is changed. If I were Larry King I could use this to dictate my column.  You have to change your speech pattern for the software to recognize it. To my head this sounds like Larry Kingís column reads. When my picking on Larry King today? I am looking forward to becoming proficient at dictation it will save me a great deal of time. It did take me a while to learn the commands, and I still have not learned how to dictate e-mails. Thank God I got the jersey speak version of this software. The only problem I do see is having to pronounce the names on French wine bottles, German wine bottles, and Italian wine bottles. Other than that this should be fun.  (Editor's note:  * The asterisk indicates that this entry was not proofed or edited in any way.  In fact, I may not make any edits going forward.  I want to see what kind of random, whacky things this speech-to-text software may serve up...)

February 14, 2012

The Staff at WinoStuff.com wishes our friend, Steven Kampmann, the best of luck with the release of his latest movie, Buzzkill.


Q and A with Steven Kampmann

Q : Was directing War Horse a challenge?

SK:  I didnít direct War Horse. Thatís Steven Spielberg

Q:  I meant Contagion.

SK:  Thatís  Steven Soderbergh.  This ďStevenĒ (meaning me) directed  BuzzKill.

Q: Sorry. My brain is a bit fuzzy today. What exactly is a ďBuzzkill?Ē

SK:  Pretty much whatís happening in this interview.

Q:  What inspired you to make BuzzKill?

SK:  Iíve always wanted to co-write and direct a film that would take seven years to make Ė as a practicing Buddhist, itís all part of working on my patience.  May I scream now?

Q:  BuzzKill is being released on Valentineís Day. Is it a love story?

SKLetís just say I will love you if you watch it and leave it at that.   Go to secondcitysbuzzkill.com  - there are two links at the top of the page: one to rent the film through Netflix and one to buy it through Amazon. The film will also be available as a VOD with many local cable companies. 

Q:  Itís feels weird to admit but as I watched BuzzKill,  I actually lost some weight, looked years younger, and my sex drive went through the roof. Is that a common reaction?

SK:  Absolutely.  Watching BuzzKill is a powerful health supplement. And it  can make you smarter too. In previews, students consistently scored higher on their SATs after watching the film.

Q:  Should people who see BuzzKill  keep it a secret like they are in al-Qaeda or something?

SK:  That would be both incredibly odd and stupid. Believe it or not, films are supposed to be seen by as many people as possible.

Q:  Really? Thatís so interesting. I didnít know that. Of course I barely go to the movies anymore what with DVDs and ďstreamingĒ (whatever that is). What should people do after reading this interview?

SK:  Drink something to recover, preferably strong, and then forward this email to all their friends telling them to rent or buy BuzzKill. They can also text, Facebook, and tweet.

Q:  What is a tweet?

SK:  No one knows. But when I drink martinis,  I  tweet a lot.

Q:  Whoís your target audience?

SK:  Fans of Second City and SNL and all my former students and colleagues at Blair Academy Ė the best boarding school in America.

Q:  Okay, so what should people who know nothing about BuzzKill do? Should they quit their jobs or get divorced or give up all together? Iím lost here.

SK:  I can see that.  All they need to do is check out the trailer, read a couple of short reviews, and watch the Black Santa video (below on this page) Theyíll be hooked.

Q:  What is next for you?

SK: Make more movies or maybe just get some dinner.

Q: Thank you for your time, Steven. I just want to say I have enjoyed all your action films like Under Siege and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Itís wonderful you are ďspreading your wingsĒ into comedy with BuzzKill.  Best of luck.

SK: Thatís Steven Segal. But thank you anyway.

Happy Valentineís Day - secondcitysbuzzkill.com 

Steven Kampmann



Buzzkill trailer


Chicago Sun-Times


Digital Hippos review


Reespace blog review


Black Santa video


February 12, 2012

Before I start with my comments about wine, I wanted to take a moment with two non-sequiturs.  The first is simple and might eventually become related to this blog.  As time seems more fleeting then ever, I decided to order Dragon software so now I can simply dictate my blog to the genius software and let it type for me.  I had to pay extra for the slurred, drunken descrambling module.  The software should be here in a few days and of course there will be weeks of trial and error before I read the manual and figure out how to use it properly.  If it works, it should be three times faster than typing, so they claim.  It simply means twice as many drunken ramblings.  Drunken math has a different denominator when calculating an equation.  Call it the Wino Bob constant.

The second has nothing to do with wine, but mostly to do with my personal entertainment.  I watched the movie "The Way" last night.  If you havenít seen it, you should.  Itís touching and transformational and beautiful, just the opposite of what I write.  Without spoiling it for you, I just have one comment.  I was all in until my epiphany during the scene at St. Jamesís statue.  Then I got this creepy, goose-bumpy feeling and I heard Anthony Michael Hallís voice reading the letter at the end of the movie Breakfast Club.  If you have seen it, let me know your thoughts. 

The last thing I wanted to share was the fun that has become a small part of my dreaded life.  On occasion, I get to ďlunchĒ with an important member of the ECWS to discussÖ business.  A few days back, one such lunch took place in a quaint little eatery in Madison.  Lunching in a quaint eatery in Madison is in itself a treat.  But as a wino, getting to enjoy a bottle of 2004 Pride Mountain Sangiovese is heaven.  The only downside to the experience is that it only comes in a 500 ml bottle.  I know it was lunch and I am supposed to be classy at this eatery but the wine was too good to not want more.  As the person I dined with has over 4000 bottles in his personal cellar, I look forward to needing a ďbusinessĒ lunch real soon.

February 3, 2012

Last night was the ECWS meeting and if I dare say, had a dashingly handsome, bright, clean, articulate, well dressed, captivating young guest speaker.  No, it wasnít President Obama (although I think he is a wine guy).  Besides, we were doing South African wines and, you know, he wants to keep the American thing going until after November.  It seem the presenter took the safe, dear I say "chicken shit" route to present the SA wines by selecting the most recognized, highly rated region of Stellenbosch.  To curry favor with those who braved the non-French wine tasting and showed up, he claimed that the wines would be Bordeaux blends.  So, yadda, yadda, yadda... he showed some slides to lessen his need to speak and lazily played a movie to let someone else do most of the work.  Then it was tasting time.

 Flight 1

2008 Simonsig Pinotage

2008 Spier Private Collection Pinotage

Hey, douchie-douch, you said Bordeaux blends.  I ainít seeing any Cabernet in my pinotage.  Fool me once, shame on me.  Though I did enjoy the Spier hands down to the Simonsig.  I guess sometimes wood matters.

 Flight 2

2007 Rustenberg John X Merriman

2007 Miles Mossop Max

 They were ok, but nothing exciting here.

 Flight 3

2006 Mulderbosch Faithful Hound

2006 Ernie Els Signature

2005 Kanonkop Paul Sauer

2006 Vergelegen Mill Race Red

 A 2005 in the mix? I picked that one out just because it was slightly different than the other three but I couldnít figure out why.  I actually liked the lesser expensive Mill Race red over the Ernie Els at almost three times the cost.

Flight 4

2003 Vergelegen V Red

2003 Grangehurst Pinotage

That sneaky bastard put a pinotage in next to one of the top reds from the area.  My honest opinion, the Grangehurst wasnít bad at all.  Then I found out the Vergelegen was $150 and the Grangehurst was $28.  It made me appreciate the Grangehurst five times as much.  I do see the elegance of the Vergelegen and why it is always written up as a premier wine from this region.

To wrap this up, what did I learn last night?

  • Never trust what the presenter says about the wines.

  • Always be prepared for a twist.

  • Never judge a pinotage by its cover

But most of all, I learned that I enjoyed researching these wines for the presentation and better yet, I appreciated those who attended.  I drove home last night reflecting on the very kind words from everyone afterwards.  The best comment was, ďthat was better than I thought it was going to be.Ē  Thanks, mom.

I just have to wait a month to see if I am still a member when the invites come out for the next tasting.  If I get charged the guest price, I know where I stand.

January 13, 2012

Thank God I am not a Knight of the Templar.  Letís just say Friday the 13th wasnít very kind to them.  Fortunately, I am a member of the ECWS.  Last night, we enjoyed the presentation of Priorat wines by the lovely and talented ECWS member, Nuris.  Though she is fighting tooth and nail to not be named a Wino Babe, I trust in time we might see her featured on the front page of this stupid web site.  For now, I will honor her decline of being the upcoming WBOTM, but we can all dream.

Priorat is a region I enjoy because of the styles of wines they produce.  Their lush fruit, jammy texture and silky finish delight my palate.  Note to wine society: it was nice having a fresh face of the female persuasion presenting.  I have to say some of my tablemates paid much closer attention than normal.  It also was clear that the presenter had professional training in the craft of wine education, making her style confidently relaxed.  Unfortunately, I will be presenting next month and... well, letís just say I hope to not have my membership revoked afterwards.  I kinda like the society these days.  On to the wine, face it, thatís what you are here for.

Flight 1

2004 Cesca Vicent Lo Piot

2008 Mas Igneus Mas Barranc

2007 Closa Batllet

For me, the Closa Batllet was the biggest and boldest of the three but these were not my favorites of the night.

Flight 2

2000 Mas díen Gil Clos Fonta

2004 Merum Ardiles

2005 Vinyes Mas Romani La Bassetta

A step up from the first flight.  The 2004 Merum Ardiles was tops in the flight and turned out to be one of my top three for the night.

Flight 3

2006 Mas Doix Salanques

2007 Mas Doix Costers

2005 Marco Abella Mas Malloia

2006 Vall Llach Idus

The final flight evaluation was tainted at our table.  Many of us had a bottle of the Marco Abella that had an off nose.  It smelled like a band-aid and didnít evaluate well.  My personal first choice was the Vall Llach followed by the Mas Doix Costers.  It turns out that the room voted the number 8, 10 and 5 wines as the top three of the night.  Last night, I concurred.  Does that mean I have lost my individuality?  Nah...  Clearly the room is coming around to my way of thinking.

Pray for me next week, the rabbit is entering the lionís den.

January 1, 2012

As tradition has it, it is my duty obligation to start the year with the naming of the Grape of the Year.  We ended 2001 in style with a CdP that WJ brought to our last supper dinner.  As you know, the process starts months in advance.  Voting takes place over three balloting periods.  The accounting firm Deloitte and Touchť verifies the voting and keeps the results under seal until the stroke of midnight whereupon a long black stretch limo pulls up to our server farm and the VP of IT unsheathes the resultant ballot to officially post the winner. 

This year was quite different.  The voters during this process had to show photo ID to prove they are who they say they are.  The SEIU protested the voting change and it got really ugly.  After several fracases and an overnight in jail, the whole process had to be scrapped leaving a truncated vote and an unhappy voting block. 

At this point I had little choice but to take things into my own hands, vigorously work out the ďdetailsĒ, nap, and then figure this whole thing out myself.  With a compressed time-space continuum, I had to think quickly.  My first thought was, who do I know that would have a great wine cellar that I can extract from?  Of course, all the long-term friends at the ECWS.  One problem there, nobody has extended an invitation to drink any of their wine...  Damn it, Cartman!  Fall back plan, what does Wino John have in his cellar?  Brilliant!

Without further ado, this yearís genius selection for the 2012 Grape Blend of the Year is:

The Super Tuscan

Yes, folks, this year we celebrate the highly praised Italian wines that break all the rules, kinda like Snookie.  And the very first super Tuscan I enjoyed was a bottle of Sassicaia.  Just to be clear, I went to the source and wanted to quote this definition of a super Tuscan.

ďSuper Tuscans are an unofficial category of Tuscan wines, not recognized within the Italian wine classification system. The origin of Super Tuscans is rooted in the restrictive DOC practices of the Chianti zone prior to the 1990s. During this time, Chianti could be composed of no more than 70% Sangiovese and had to include at least 10% of one of the local white wine grapes. Producers who deviated from these regulations could not use the Chianti name on their wine labels and would be classified as vino da tavola- Italys' lowest wine designation.  The Marchese Piero Antinori was one of the first to create a "Chianti-style" wine that ignored the DOC regulations, releasing a 1971 Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend known as Tignanello in 1978.Ē   Wikipedia, for what itís worth.

So hereís to í12 and the rule-breakers from Tuscany who dared to deviate from the norm.  We will enjoy the toils of their labor and their desire to craft world class wines.  I say all Italians should have a little something else in them as evidenced by Snookieís behavior at the Jersey Shore.  I look forward to Wino John opening the doors to his wine cellar and treating us me to the finest of Italian wines God has created and man has crafted.



Bobís scale combining cost and taste: 


$- under 20 dollars
$$- 20-50 dollars
-50-75 dollars
-75 to 100 dollars
-100+ ( not in the budget)


I will use an icon, , to rate my wines.  The more icons, the better I liked it and would love to share this bottle with some good food and my rat friends.  WinoBob

Editor's Note: A while back, Bob went off on a tangent and changed his icon to .  He does this just to make me crazy!!!.  

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