Bob’s Winings
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Tasting Notes from a ^ Beer Drinker


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This page contains Winings from the 2nd Quarter of the year 2005.

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June 29, 2005

I had a friend was a big baseball player
Back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy

Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks
But all he kept talking about was

Glory days well they’ll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

                                        Bruce Springsteen

 

It’s clear Mr. Springsteen skipped phys ed in his limited high school attendance, as I have never heard the term speedball used in this context.  I think he was mixing his metaphors with his other friend’s hobbies…

Last night, I waxed nostalgic, which is better than waxing my carrot, and enjoyed a steak, cigar and bottle per person with two of my oldest high school friends. We divided the responsibilities up, Wino Stan opened his humidor, Wino-in-training Rich stopped into his cousin’s butcher shop for the beef and I walked down the stairs and drew out something a bit more than usual.  The Weber performed excellently and the wine flowed, but the highlight was sitting on the porch, blazing a stogie and talking about the crap we did growing up.  This year we hit a mark where we actually know each other for two thirds of our life on this planet, and in those many years, we did a lot of growin' up.   Difficult as it seems, I met these guys during the first day of high school football practice in line waiting for the doctor’s examination.  I guess something bonds you when you're forced to stand in your underwear in the less than private session of poking the boys and cough ceremony.  Our town was large and we went to different junior high schools, but the town united in 10th grade as we dropped the rivalry between the north section and the south section and fought for the common reputation of the town. 

The biggest disappointment was reeling off the short list of other high school friends we have had encounters with in the last five years.  It makes you understand that the summer after graduation, when you still are electric with the ties that bind, is special, then those ties unravel quickly and become life as we know it.  I need to do this more than once every five years.  It wasn’t a speedball that brought the three of us together, it was a football, but I am not sure what Mr. Springsteen would define that as.  It really doesn’t matter because that experience defined us and helped us take a skill set and memories we can take with us to our graves.  But for now we can enjoy them over a lit Dominican and a big ass California Cabernet. 

1995 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $$$ (67.00)    I think this one could have been in the bottle for another two years, as the fruit was playing hide and seek with the oak trees.  More wood nuances than rich cabernet flavors, but they did show themselves enough to let you know they were there.

 

The other 2 wines were repeats from earlier postings, so no use in being redundant.

June 26, 2005

You have heard of mixed metaphors and mixed greens.  Well sometimes I mix my refreshments, and days, and events.  So it’s Sunday night and the temperature is about 99.  I am sweltering in this none air conditioned third floor.  You see, they didn’t invent insulation when this house was built and as this is a not for-profit web site, I cannot afford insulation or an air conditioner, so my boys are swimming in a pool of sweat on the chair.  The highlight of the weekend was heading to the PNC Center, or the Garden State Art center, or the amphitheater off exit 116 of the Garden State Parkway, which ever it is referred to these days.  Wino Rocker and the Mrs., got tickets to the concert some might refer to as the oldies.  It was groups I wasn’t old enough to see when they were popular so I tagged on as a third wheel.  The venue was great and that night the temperature was in the seventies with a constant breeze that made this open air theater a delight to pretend youth was still on my side.  At the stroke of six, we found our seats and began the magic mystery tour of reclaiming youth and remembering the times when life was simpler.  The audience was a collection of ex-protesters from the sixties to born-again rockers, to youth discovering that rock-and-roll never dies.  Though thin, the crowd was alive, though seeing women in their late fifties with leathery skin, and saggy tats was a bit more than my stomach wanted to handle, the bands progressively whipped the crowd into a loving, driven, exuberance that sang and danced until 11:30pm. 

The five groups that played, each grabbing 40 minutes of stage time, poured their heart and souls into making the less than capacity crowd feel they got their money's worth.  I must admit with shame, I never heard a Pat Travers song before Friday night, but he warmed us up at the start.  The Yardbirds brought a British invasion feel to the stage and the short song length and the well dressed fifty something band members delivered a time and place far from what FM radio has manipulated music to be.  Though the third group was a reunion of the original Vanilla Fudge that split up 35 years ago, I could have enjoyed Vince Matell’s antics more if he was standing behind the counter at Dickie Dee’s in Newark asking me if I wanted the works on my Italian Hot Dog.  The Fudge just don’t do it for me as they are mostly a cover band that had their fifteen minutes.  Then John Kay and Steppin' Wolf hit the stage and the mood, energy and showmanship was raised to a level one expects for the money.  He still has a great presence, voice and style.  Closing out the set with Magic Carpet Ride and into Born to Be Wild was a flash to a generation ago when free love and war protest was a true counterculture.   The night ended with the Doors, well it was Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and a look- and act-alike for Jim Morrison.  They took the crowd, both young and old, and united them in an hour of beat-driven music and heady words.   Once you got past the fact that Ray and Robbie are sixty something and the Morrison look-a-like was late thirties, they did make me think I was seven and lucky enough to sneak into the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ to see a live show.  The swearing, the drinking, the brawling and the clouds of pot were all there, and that was just in section 302 of the Art Center.  The shit on stage made it more realistic.

It was fun and I guess is fulfilling that void I have of being born too late for the craze of the 60’s.  I’m thinking I might still be lucky enough to catch Springsteen at the Pony in his wheelchair.

Lillet Rouge $ (15.99)   Stick with the white, it is far more refreshing and enjoyable on a hot night in NJ. 

JW Dundee’s Amber Lager - This native of Rochester, NY is a refreshing, well balanced amber beer, with a strong backbone, but not too over bearing on a hot, humid tailgating experience

June 22, 2005

As you know, WJ and I spend our time away from this site in the world of technology and silicon, though neither of us do breast augmentations, and its true, WJ is much more the techno-dweeb than I.  I love technology, from the flat screen TV to the handheld GPS.  If there is a new gadget, I want to know.  But, Winos and Winettes, I think I may have seen the first of technology gone awry. Actually, technology, in some folk’s hands has gone awry long ago, but today, I stopped into a hotel lobby near one of my customers for a bio-break and a hot cup of coffee. The sign on the men’s room door said it all, “The use of cellular phones is prohibited in the restroom.” No shit Batman. But as I laughed to myself, I can honestly say I have heard many a man perched behind the swinging gray metal door, chatting away on their cell phones as the sounds of mating humpback whales and barking spiders erupt in the tile-clad room.  What must the person on the other end of that beamed signal be thinking is going on in the background?  And how important is that call that one feels the need to answer the phone in a less than dignified area, or dare I think, the man was sitting there thinking he hasn’t spoken with his mom in awhile, so this might be a good time to give her a ring. Hell, I have some time to spare, “Hello, mom, I was just thinking about you…”

Technology has many great applications in our daily lives and I am continually amazed at the exciting new products that keep popping up. In the wine market alone, they have electronic gadgets that age that new wine in seconds, digital temperature and humidity regulators, wiz-bang cork screws and software to track every wine in your massive collection.  Technology has extended the average life span of humans, while technology can precisely shorten the life span of an enemy, but in our cars and homes we can reap the benefits of the IC.  However, please back off a bit on the need to fill every moment of your waking life with the cell phone. I know they banned them in many restaurants, but the Sheraton in Parsippany is the first I know of to ban the cell phone in the restroom.

2003 Jacobs Creek Shiraz $ (8.99)   A fun wine with dark fruit and plum flavors and a touch of spice on the finish. Not as lengthy as their Reserve, but a good grilling companion.

June 19, 2005

Just a quick note on a special day to wish my father a Happy Father’s Day. A twice survivor of cancer, I am glad I will be sharing a portion of today with him.

To my fellow Winos, enjoy the day of days when you can leave the toilet seat up, use the floor as a hamper, drink from the carton in the refrigerator and lie on the couch all day, being served food and drink with total command of the remote.  Enjoy it, as tomorrow and the other 364 days of the year will be a constant frenzy of do this, why didn’t you do that, get off the couch you lazy good for nothing dog… sorry.

Next year I will be petitioning Hallmark to move the man made holiday to Saturday so I can get my drunk on and have a day to recover before heading back to the salt mines…

2003 Yvecourt Bordeaux Rouge $ (8.99)   No I did not buy this one, and if I see it in a store, I will be avoiding it. Little fruit, no wood and a harsh finish, for those that enjoy that in a glass of wine, you can buy a case.

June 15, 2005

Every so often I need to file, delete, or forward the plethora of emails I get. Sometimes, one or more fall through the cracks. I recently found this picture from "Wino Paul and Wino Bob’s Excellent Adventure around the Star’s homes in Beverly Hills."  Afterwards we headed to Hollywood and did the whole tourist thing there. No trip to Hollywood is complete until you find your favorite Star on Hollywood Blvd.  Though this is not my favorite and is somewhere south of Mom’s Mabley and the kid that played Dwayne on “What’s Happening”

 

2003  HRM Rex Goliath "47 Pound Rooster" Central Coast "Free Range" Cabernet Sauvignon $ (8.99)
 
   HRM Rex Goliath is a second label owned and produced by, Hahn Estates. Interestingly, HRM stands for His Royal Majesty, and is a reference to the colorful 47 pound rooster depicted on the label. The jokes are just welling inside as I type this, but I will keep it clean.  Black cherry, currant and a hint of caramel make this a fun wine for less than ten dollars.

June 14, 2005

Come one, come all to the show that never ends ...

 

Reservations required!!!

Annual Grill and Chill party to kick-off the summer (Also BB’s b-day party!)

Sunday June 26th at 3pm

Berta’s Chateau

Cold, crisp, palate-cleansing beers

Rich, ripe, robust reds from tip top Piedmontese producers

Overflowing platters of grilled meats and sizzling sausages

Summer salads and summer sides

Sweets

$49 per person complete

Reservations required!!!

BERTA'S CHATEAU
7 GROVE ST. WANAQUE, NJ 
07465
(973) 835-0992

I think all Wino’s and Winettes should come.   Check or cash only…

June 12, 2005

Well it appears that Wino John has returned safely from his Asian "sex junket and outsourcing our kid’s future" conference in China. I see the locals offered plenty of China Red as he toured the modern electronics contracting for a dollar-a-day factory/ happy-ending brothel.  What a country. I, on the other hand (not the thirteen year old, bony finger, Asian happy-ending hand, just the expression here in the USA), had the occasion to see both sides of life this weekend.   Friday evening, we did some celebrating with the local Winos and Winettes as the neighborhood was abuzz with great moments in the lives of many.  There was a wedding and numerous graduations, and the announcement of a new addition to the ever expanding WinoStuff universe.  As things are early in the game, I will only say if the kid has the constitution of its parents, Wino Rocker and Wino Jim and Maggie will be fighting three more for the couch at 4 in the morning.  We have had several late night, "more bottles than bodies" events, and we wish them well. Let’s say the happiness that flowed in and out of the house on Friday was special, and I had to reach into the cellar for something other than an everyday bottle. Actually it turned out to be two bottles of more than an everyday drinker for me.  But the circle of life deserves something to remember.  As the months move forward and the great occasion of birth for this couple arrives, I am sure I will be announcing the fact that they will honor me by naming me the Godfather of this new Wino/Winette, especially since chances are strong this one may be born on my birthday.  No pressure guys, but Uncle Wino Bob is here to ensure your new child will grow up with all the right schooling and training to become the best Wino/Winette in town. I’m sure after a year with me, the child will be stumbling home at midnight with cab sauv in its bottle and a full diaper.

On a sad note, our community lost a parent this weekend to a sudden heart attack.  He was only 42 and has three children.  I had the honor and privilege to participate in a very special service for him. Though he was not a WinoStuff guy, I knew him through community activities.  Eight years ago he almost died in an accident at work, and he was given a second chance. What he did with those subsequent years was touch the hearts and souls of hundreds of people in the community. The show of youth at his service was something the likes of which I have never witnessed. He was a special person to the families and friends in the area and his giving ways and broad smile will be missed by all. I am a better person for knowing him and my sincerest sympathy goes to his wife and three children. Your dad was a special man.

1995 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepage Sonoma County $$ (28.00) The oak and chocolate aromas rise from the glass and greet your senses. Black fruit and defined structure of tannins give the wine a body and weight that makes this a wine for special times.

1995 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley $$ (40.00)   A nicely crafted wine with rich color, blackberry, dark cherry and brown spice that delivers a lengthy finish.

June 7, 2005

9/17/31-6/7/05

And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson, heaven holds a place for those who pray; hey, hey, hey….

My teenage fantasy was finally crushed today with the news of Ann Bancroft’s death.  The Graduate has been a hope, a dream, and anthem for my misspent youth and now, at age 73, the seductress of poor, naive Benjamin Braddock has swirled her last bourbon, puffed her last cigarette and seduced her last college-aged track star.  Just when my chances were getting good that one day, the aging Ms. Bancroft and I would finally meet for a drink in a hotel bar and replay the scene above, she is gone.  God rest her soul.

I take a moment of silence to honor her and stifle the many cruel jokes that flash inside my wicked mind.  Like, with my luck, at 73, when we were doing it, she might break her hip.  How embarrassing would that be if I had to call 911 and get her to the emergency room?

No, that movie is too special to me for anything low brow and tasteless.

Speaking of low brow and tasteless, Wino Rocker stopped over last night and I thanked him for his help with a project by opening a nice bottle of red, albeit a merlot.  It wasn’t just any merlot, it was a special bottle given to me by Big Bob.   

So here’s to you Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know… 

1999 Plaisir de Merle Merlot $$ (gift)   A rich jammy wine with blackberry and plum flavors and a sweet vanilla scent on the bouquet.  A well tailored wine from a great region in South Africa.

June 5, 2005

I almost feel like a celebrity when I head out to dinner on a Saturday night.  With no reservations, in the usual hour-wait places, it is immediate seating at a table with a view, only to turn back and see a half full restaurant.  I do not know how these places survive in the land of the shore-home elite.  Prior to eating locally, I drove past Bacchus and for the first time I can remember, there was not a valet crew manning the parking lot.  At 7 pm, their lot was less than one third full.  I guess I need to get out of town and head to the sun and sand and crowds and hour waits and traffic and….or maybe I’ll just stay in town and have a nice meal at a slow pace with no wait.

2003 Reynolds Vineyards New South Wales Chardonnay $ (9.99) I like this style of buttery, oaky chardonnay with rich tropical fruit flavors and vanilla on the finish.   A great value for this chard that drinks bigger than its price and satisfies the big white style.

June 4, 2005

Well, my ego has been soothed by a small dose of ointment.  Yes, there are still some people who value the Wino Bob email address.  Checking in from the Burgundy region of France to let me know what the spring in the Pinot properties was like.  It seems this global warming thing has Burgundy and NJ suffering from wet, cool weather with average temperatures well below normal.  Damn you, Al Gore, you took the CFCs away from us and now our grapes will be tastelessly swelled and under ripened.  It seems that the Chardonnay vines are ahead of schedule which leads me to believe less tropical fruit and more veggie flavors haunting the overly expensive white Burgundies. 

So maybe the New World, chic, boutique wine babes don’t value the mojo of Wino Bob, its OK.  I would much rather communicate with the legendary, talented and dare I say Wino Babe-esque, Veronique Drouhin.  She happened to be in Beaune this week and will be heading to Oregon shortly.  Interestingly enough, let me predict the weather in the North West, ah... cool and damp.  Now I’ll wait for her email next month and see if I was correct.

I don’t drink a great deal of Pinot Noir as you know, but this month, I did get one in the wine of the month delivery.

2003 Castle Rock Monterey County Pinot Noir $ (11.99)    A rich ruby red color and the nose of earth and spice, but the cherry flavors seem under cut by the wood and an abrupt finish.

June 3, 2005

Just when I thought the 'Wino Bob' name was carrying a volume of cache, I got slapped back to reality.  I recently was doing scientific research, late at night, on the internet, and came across a boutique wine I haven’t seen in NJ.  Doing as I often do, I clicked on the contact link and inquired if their wine is sold in NJ.  As you are well aware, I buy what I review.  This one was an under twenty dollar Cabernet that I figured would make an interesting entry.  Politely I asked where in NJ I could purchase a bottle so I can review it for our screamingly popular wine web site.  I’m Wino Bob, damn it, you want press from me….

Feeling like my junior high days all over again, I was rejected by info@, which I am assuming goes directly to either Barbara or Jeff.  The wine web site didn’t have a great deal of background information or much on the owners, except for the names Barbara and Jeff (owners).  So who is the latest to reject my advances, well it is Cleavage Creek Cellars in Sonoma California.  Now I know what you’re thinking, Wino Bob, you saw the picture of the cute blond and wanted to use your mojo to make a hot blond that owns a winery connection to serve your most basal needs.  OK, yeah, but, I was interested in her mind, and the fact that they are donating 10% from the purchase of each wine bottle to breast cancer research.  You know how I have an attraction to those products and processes that make the breasts of the world healthier, and happier.  The site states that Barbara’s mother is a breast cancer survivor and that is why she and Jeff came out with this offering.  So successful was their 2003 release, the Napa Wine Train has added their winery to the tour. 

 

 

Not from their site, nor having anything to do with Cleavage Creek, but rather for the enjoyment of the crowd, I offer this picture

  Thank God, someone is out their caring for the breasts of America.

Now if anyone has tried the wine, or knows if it is available in NJ, I am still in search of…

Note to Cleavage Creek, rejecting me like Sarah Pennopscott did in my fourth grade class will have me egging your house on mischief night too.

June 1, 2005

Communications from the other side of the world indicate that the wireless network allows for web site updates for another day.  This will be quick and this will deal directly with wine.  Business dinner at Bacchus had Jimmy showing me something new in their offering, a Priorat.  Yes, an inky, jammy, Priorat wine.  Wow, what a nice example of the power and beauty from this region in Spain.  Now if Wino John is not tending to the thirteen year old, dollar-a-day, job-stealing masses, he can post this up before heading to the 500 BC part of the country.

2000 Finca La Planeta Pasanau $$$ (55.00 rest.)    Plenty to chew on here with  black cherry flavors, plum, raisin dark chocolate and espresso thick and rich on the palate and a long finish.  Not for the weak of palate.

May 31, 2005

How depressing, not the fact that Wino John is jetting off to funnel more manufacturing jobs from NJ to the dollar-a-week, thirteen year old girls in China or the fact that Wino Wally has been summoned to France to head off the magnum wielding wine resistance, but rather the fact that I have to learn about it from reading the web site.  So depressed was I that I grilled my lone hot dog and sat on the porch all afternoon, enjoying the beautiful NJ weather, thinking about the next great novel or movie I can pen.  Then the news of France’s veto of the EU constitution had me thinking.  Wino Wally will be moving to a different part of France to negotiate this week.  Me thinks the remaining countries that were still buying French wine may be looking elsewhere after this.  Let’s see how a big ass California cabernet goes with Welsch rabbit, or blood pudding, or kidney pie. 

So I sat enjoying the day, not having to jet anywhere, not trying to figure out the global economy thing or how to make more for less on the bony little fingers of corporately enslaved youth.  No, I just simply opened a bottle of sub-ten dollar red and thought about why I am not in international business, or top secret negotiations.  Maybe there’s a storyline that Hollywood might be interested in about a depressed, unproductive wino who sits on his porch in the summer and drinks wine all day.  No, now that I think about it, the copyright on that story belongs to Paris….

2000 Markham Vineyards Glass Mountain Quarry Syrah $ (8.99)   For wood lovers, this one is a winner.  There is a chewy, jammy fruit base to this wine with hints of chocolate and tobacco.  I like this one as a warm up, or to hang with my grill. 

May 28, 2005

Its official, today marks the beginning of the have-nots getting better parking spots. Yes, the season of second home living has created a ghost town out of…this town. After a hard day of scraping and painting, I decided to run downtown to the diner and grab a quick dinner to bring home. At 7 pm, I got a spot third from the door.  Incredible for a Saturday evening in the winter, but summer time finds this place vacant, except for the second-homeless.  Yes, deprived of a second home at the New Jersey shore, I am stuck in town. Finding the golden lining in the otherwise depressingly dark cloud, I now can make it to the diner, Costas and back within six and a half minutes.  I bet they can’t do that in Point Pleasant tonight.  No, the season of ocean birds is upon us and I find myself sitting next to the recently-developed puddle from the passing storm, eating a turkey burger with swiss and drinking a glass of red.

I guess the upside is that I won’t have a nasty sunburn on Tuesday and I won’t be fighting the Monday night mayhem trying to get back to the world of the second-homeless.

Happy Memorial Day weekend.  Thank you to the men and women who have served our country proudly, and a heartfelt thanks to the families whose fathers, or sons, or daughters, or sister or aunts, or uncles have given their lives in the call of duty.  You have served with honor and the greatest of thanks should come from each and everyone of us that walk the towns and cities of this great country.

God Bless America.

2003 Ca’ntele Primitivo $ (8.99)   Be prepared as this one starts out harsh and takes some time to loosen up. Unfortunately, once loose, there isn’t a whole lot to it.  A disappointing wine.

May 27, 2005

Touching down at Newark Liberty Airport usually has me doing 'the worm', that slithering move to beat out just one person in front of you as you’re awaiting the opening of the door.  I am often greeted by the pungent odor of the Budweiser plant across the road, brewing a new born-on date. But last night was different.  It was the first time in a great while that my move to get off the plane was not rushed.  "Why", you ask?  I thank you for asking.  Yesterday, I had several additional hours to burn as the Jersey weather delayed my departure from O’Hare, so I wondered around hunting for things to pass the time. For some reason, I did something unusual, I purchased a book, a book that I had not heard of, nor did I recognize the author.   This should not offend the author, as I am so caught up in myself that I recognize few best-selling books or authors.  With the skepticism of a Jersey longshoreman, I sat at the bar and opened my new road map to success.

Five hours later, as the wheels of our 737 touched the outside runway at NLA, I was hoping our taxi to the gate would afford me the time to finish the chapter I was reading.  Most times I grab a book and hear things I have heard before, so I skim through or speed read the first sentences in each chapter to move it along. This time, I was absorbed in the process.  I was reading something fresh and new to me.  I do have to qualify the fact that many of you may be light years ahead on the business book reading list, but this one punched me in the gut. As I read, I felt the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach that I waited way too long in my life and career to implement the concepts this author explained.  Why didn’t I have this one 20 years ago>  It could have made a big difference, so I hope.

I grew up very independent.  To this day, the images of John Wayne, the song Like a Rock by Bob Seger, and the romantic vision of Rugged Individualism define my business life.  However, the premise and anecdotes in this book have me rethinking my life and actually reacting to a new approach.

This is not Oprah’s book-of-the-month club, nor am I here to do a full review.  I just offer a suggestion to the business winos out there that find themselves on planes and in hotel rooms looking for something to occupy your time other than the lobby bar or Spankervision®.  The book was a quick read as the topic and life experiences of Keith Ferrazzi played out. The book is titled, Never Eat Alone : And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, and it hit me in the soft, doughy underbelly. I do not know Mr. Ferrazzi, nor do I have a stake in the publisher.  I just found a great deal of sound advice that made sense, contrary to my personal philosophy.  In a cheap attempt to gain a small something, you can click to Amazon from our home page to order the book, but it’s your choice.

2001 Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon (9.00 a glass)   The currant and spice sometimes deliver more than the fruit, but for a companion to a book at an airport, this one isn’t too bad.

May 23, 2005

I knew it would come to me, well, actually, I knew I would find the paper that reminded me what the third wine we drank at the restaurant Saturday night.

As an addition to yesterday’s entry and to prove to Wino Jim that I did enjoy the wine, even if it was a pinot, I offer the following.

2001 Sarah’s Vineyard Estate Reserve Pinot Noir $ (29.99)   Plenty of cherry flavors and a touch of smoke fill the glass with a hint of wood on the finish.

May 22, 2005

When did Haight Ashbury move to NJ?  Late night folk music, copious quantities of mood-altering substances (OK, its really just wine) and blatant disregard for conventional time, dude, did someone rewind my life to August 1968?  For the first time in a long time,  more empty wine bottles than bodies, late night music fest and the traditional group sing-a-long was not conducted by Wino Rocker, but rather the Clark Kent hippie, Wino Jim. Yes, lurking just beneath the Brooks Brother’s attire and ex-marine exterior is a guitar picking balladeer and full fledged Wino, and I say that in the sincerest of terms. At the end of dinner last night, we were having too much fun to just head out and there was a stash of wine awaiting, so we headed back to the homestead and broke out the instrument of choice after the clock turns to a new day.  The best thing about the evening was that, unlike Wino Rocker, Wino Jim and Winette Maggie head home. Somehow I just cannot get WR to understand me when I say, “It's three in the morning, get the f*&^ out of my house.”  He just chuckles and passes out on the couch.

For the guy who once told me he didn’t really drink wine because you have to learn too much, he gave us a lesson in value wines.  Wino Jim found a sleeper; an undervalued California Cabernet that for a 2002 vintage was a nice offering and a price that one day soon will be the change back from your twenty instead of the cost.  We enjoyed three newbies, but only two I actually remember at this point. I will review the third when I locate the paper I jotted the name on at the restaurant.  It was a pinot that presented well.  As for today’s entry, I will limit it to the two I located in my gray matter.  The Cabernet he brought will soon be creeping up the price chart as more people look for this one.  I actually heard the words of my wine guru, Kevin Zraly, come out of Wino Jim as he described why he liked this bottle, “It drinks like a more expensive bottle than what I paid.” Bingo, Winostuff magic phrase, where’s the duck, (quack, quack)?  Where’s Groucho? Is Groucho ducking me? You bet your life…

2003 El Portillo Sauvignon Blanc $ (8.99)     This is all grapefruit slices and a refreshing crisp finish, but this Argentinean is missing some of the more interesting flavors of the NZ SB.  A good summer Saturday wine.

2003 Graffiti Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon $ (5.99)   Yes, that is a great price for any wine, but a cabernet from California is not usually associated with it.  Anise on the nose greets this black fruit beverage with a smooth finish. The label is unique with its art work reminiscent of the wall art you see from the FDR Drive, though that one has the words “Crack is Wack” in orange spray paint. Great job, Wino Jim, for unearthing this diamond in the rough.

May 17, 2005

I learned early in life that people don’t really want to hear you bitch and when people ask you how you are, they don’t really want to know. So I do not want to sound like I’m bitching, but I merely want to explain.  The geek job had me racing from BWI airport to Newark Liberty heading from one commitment to another. The only reason I bring this up is that I did manage to stuff the free USA Today in my suitcase and read it on the airplane ride from NJ to Milwaukee. Yes, the less-than-exciting and overly-tired Milwaukee is the annual site for a trade show I must attend. The bright side of the less than bright side is that the business section of the free rag had an explanation of the recent 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court regarding wine shipments. Now I do not want to shake Wino Wally’s World by writing about a sacred structure, but since Clarence Thomas was a dissenter, I stand firmly behind Judge Kennedy. 

Now I’m not a lawyer, though I play one on TV, so my interpretation of the article in USA Today is strictly my interpretation.  Unlike Mitch, Tuesday’s with Morrie Albom, we here at WinoStuff like to source our made up opinions and fake, unresearched news sources.  Way to go Detroit Free Press, after all your years in business and the many prize winning journalists, you just realized if you use a source, you must give that source credit. Thank God the process was so rampant, the chief editor could not take action against just one writer as all writers for the said rag paper have been doing it for years.  Newsday can use unnamed sourced to make up fake stories, Dan Rather rests his career on phony documents, and the Detroit Free Press doesn’t know the word plagiarism. And they whine about Fox. Does a false accusation about someone the liberal press has it in for justify the lack of credible evidence they offer?   Why don’t you at least credit the story to Curve Ball.  I digress….

I know Wino Wally is placing orders with Screaming Eagle as we speak, but the way I read the decision from the court is that states now have the ability to define their position on out of state shipments in several ways. The simplest is that a state which allows in-state wineries to ship directly to a consumer cannot prohibit an out of state winery from shipping to that consumer. However, if any of the 17 states that do not allow in state shipment so chose, they can still prohibit out of state shipments. And worst of all, states may choose to reverse in state shipments and not allow out of state shipments. What it seems is this ruling wants consistency, but does not open all states to interstate shipments.

If I didn’t know any better, I would say it is very Rumsfellian in interpretation, as in his statement, “There are things we know we know and there are things we know we don’t know, but it is the things we don’t know we don’t know that are most concerning.”

As of today, we know we have a ruling, but the ruling does not mean that all states will ship intra- and inter-state.  This will now set the stage for TV lawyers like me to take up the case, state by state and resolve all 27 states that have either a "ship out only" or "no shipments whatsoever", to battle this out in court.

Bottom line, more lawyers get rich while us little guys get screwed!!!!!!

2002 House of Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc $ (10.00 per glass restaurant)   Though this hails from NZ, it lacks the qualities of citrus and gooseberry one comes to appreciate.

2001 Hill of Content Shiraz/Grenache Clare Valley $ (11.00 per glass restaurant)   A solid fruit and spice glass full of liquid fun. 

May 16, 2005

No locusts.  No. the sky is clear.  The snowball happens to still be in the arctic and not in hell.  The steeple is still at the top of St. Aloysius Church and the earth is still spinning clockwise.  So how in the name of Christ on a cracker did all the planet’s align?   In what could only be described as sheer tectonic plate collision, our schedule and their schedule and the other their schedule happened to find a day when enjoying dinner and wine would find the six of us around the same table. The Big’s hosted a glass of wine on their terrestrial expanse where our arrival found Big Bob sitting on his newest toy contemplating the photosynthetic process.  Now he can tool about in all types of weather and all types of terrain. The fun and festivities began when Wino John’s swank Euro car rolled up in the football field of a driveway of the Big’s.  From that moment forward, the wine and laughs flowed from foil to punt.

After a few quick starters at the Big’s, we drove the .4 miles to Berta’s Chateau, or should I say Big Bob’s home away from home, though it is less away from his home than my home away from home at Bacchus used to be. As the Big’s are like family, the entire staff and Peter the executive chef and owner pleasantly greeted us, and the parade of food and wine began in earnest.   At one point, I looked over and it seemed Big Bob was the Queen Bee, our table the hive and multitudes of worker bees were flying around our table delivering the nectars of nutrition and life one upon the next.  The food was delicious, the wines were engulfing and the conversation was pleasantly powdered with puns and politics.  I found out that Peter is a big Comedy Central fan and enjoys the now frightened by success, Dave Chappelle.

The highlight of the evening, in addition to Wino John actually clearing his extremely important executive agenda to accommodate a lowly dinner with the field hands, was a bottle of 1958 Barolo that Big Bob happened upon on one of his visits to a wine store in the Garden State.  What a job this guy has, having to find yourself at 10am hip deep in wine bottles, or hosting a multi-course meal with wines to highlight each dish. Poor guy, how does he survive such a grueling schedule?

At one point the main course dishes had to be cleared as wine glasses stacked up in front of each of us like planes into LaGuardia at 5pm. The 1958, a bit wounded at the beginning, showed strength and spirit as it offered up its last breath of fruit and heartbeat. Intriguing, the color well faded, the fruit clinging to the branch like a late fall soldier, the wine provided a journey back 47 years to represent the craft and energy of an Italian wine maker. It was a first for me.

Several of the glasses sitting in front of me contained the following:

2003 Kofererhof Muller thurgau Alto Adige Valle Isarco- a pleasant summer white that drinks easy and refreshing.

2002 Les Terresas- a Priorat I highly regard for its fruit offerings and humble pricing from this region.

Luigi Pira Le Ombre Nebbiolo Langhe- a powerful red that plays well with a robust Italian meal of veal with porcini mushroom reduction, or a zesty meat sauce. A special offering of Big Bob’s favorites.

Louis Dressner Vin Mousseux Rose demi sac- a fizzly refreshing rose for an after dinner aperitif sorbertesque in approach.

The evening ended too quickly, but there was some special show on WABC that Wino John had to run home and see, so he lit the afterburners on the batmobile and headed to that secluded entrance of the Wino John Estate that only he, and his side kick, the Mrs., and Alfred his thin and neat house man servant know how to find.  All nine planets will align before the next time the six of us can enjoy an evening of friendship, wine and food, but at least this one event can be moved off the list. Holy Crap Marie, was that a locust I just saw land in the yard???

May 14, 2005

Having survived Friday the thirteenth, not from the superstition angle, rather from the “ball of confusion” my head was in from the large volume of wine with BB and WJ. In between thumps in my head, I tried to remember if I indeed hit the send button Thursday night/Friday morning. Fighting to think about what I typed or worse yet, what gibberish Wino John would be contending with as I tried to write up a review on two of the four wines we enjoyed. Further to my confusion, I saw a day old newspaper with a headline reading, “Prez Bush in Georgia Congratulates citizens on their Independence”.  Christ, did the south finally secede?  I know the rebels hold a feeling in their hearts that one day the South will rise again and we will go back to the Blue/Gray war that nearly tore this fledgling nation apart. Thank God the article next to it mentioned President Bush being in the former USSR and it was that Georgia, not this Georgia, he was speaking to.  Those Texans are full of piss and vinegar and you never quite know what cards they have in the hole.

Having nothing to do with our dinner, but everything to do with the hair of the dog, I stopped in Bacchus last night. To my utter amazement and partial concern, at 9PM, there were less than 20 people in the dining room and a handful in the bar area listening to the band play the best of the 50’s.  If the groupies for said band were not there, the place might have been considered sparse. The Memorial Day weekend has not yet arrived, when the wealthy in the area normally head to their shore homes, and the place is looking like Fourth of July weekend. Not a good sign for the future of the place. If things remain like this, I would be hard pressed to understand how they will remain in business.

Getting to more important things, like the remaining two bottles from Thursday night dinner, we finished off these two.

1997 Pio Cesare Barolo $$ (40.00-ish)   A garnet colored wine with nicely balanced acidity, with red fruits and a hint of brown spice and cedar. A handsomely crafted wine.

1997 Trapiche Iscay $$ (45.00-ish)    A blend of Merlot and the now famous Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina. Mellow tannins and dark fruits play over this wine and a firm finish keeps you tasting your glass.

May 12, 2005

I think the saying is, “If you run with the Big Dogs, you have to shit in the tall grass”. I do not exactly know what that means, but I can attest to the fact that I did run with the big dogs, or at least drank with the big dogs.  If shitting in the tall grass means expelling the content of your stomach then I am in, but if it means something else, I plead ignorance.  After a month of social diarrhea,  we finally found a night when Wino John was not cutting a global deal, and Big Bob was not hosting a prestigious wine dinner and I was not... ah...  I was not... uhhh, I was not in the third floor, dank, dark room wanting to be alone.

So we ate in a local Italian, BYOB, what else.  Big Bob selected the place and it was one of the many Soprano-featured places and the food isn’t bad and, as a BYOB, we could drink till we had nothing left to consume.

I am splitting this in two entries, as I cannot think clearly enough to review all four wines tonight and Real Sex 407 is on in twelve minutes.  What else does one have to look forward to on TV if Real Sex Thursday night were to stop? I guess I wouldn’t know what real love is all about without HBO telling me.

For gratuitous reasons, I will post the two wines I brought to dinner.  The Wino John contributions will be added tomorrow, after my head stops hurting and Real Sex is over.

2002 Cesari Mara Ripasso $ (13.99)   As Ripasso goes, this one lacked the sweetness and fig, ripe plum flavors I was looking for. I will consider this a bust wine on the night and can offer many that would deliver what is expected.

2000 Gaja Promis Ca' Marcanda $$ (39.00)   This is but a glimpse of what the Gaja name can mean and it was enjoyable in its simplest form. A blend of Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese, this wine had a great fruit offering and a silky smooth finish.

May 8, 2005

The human body works in strange ways and this past week, mine was working in the head cold strange way.   I hate head colds for many reasons, the most of which is that I have not been taking the vitamins I used to.  I find if my body has the building blocks to repair the damage I inflict on it on a daily basis, I rarely get a head cold.  When I do, I am a bear, moping around with tissues jammed in each nasal cavity trying to make it through a single task without leaking on something, or someone. It made me think about how our bodies can produce so much liquid at the drop of a hat. This body of ours is amazing when you think about it. Where does a river of mucous come from, then suddenly stop and what couldn’t the body do since it was spending time as a mucous factory?  It appears that from nowhere, tissue upon tissue can be filled with a substance that yesterday was nowhere to be found.  But the worst part is that the coating masks my ability to discern flavors through my olfactory sense. Damn you, Mucous.

At this point, I am basically drinking to get drunk, which is not as fun with a sinus headache and liquid that tastes like..., nothing. Today, the Mother of Days, was the first time in almost a week, I have had the desire or need to consume. I performed my sonly duties the first six hours of the day with an hour and forty five minute visit to the new old homestead. Not much of a spring and the bay breeze is too cold to carry the sparkling salt sea air I love to ingest. They say it cures whooping cough. With the rest of the time spent on the Garden State Parkway, my tired ass just wanted to veg out in front of the tube and open a red wine to suck out all there is in the liquid grape, the fruit, the barrel, the nuanced tones, the violet color, the alcohol, yes, the heady, lighter than air component that separates this from the Larry King Welch’s Grape Juice pitch. I wanted it all, and with a half mucous-coated throat, I got half of it.  Actually, I got all the alcohol and some of the bouquet and flavors, but after a six day dry spell, I’ll take what is offered up.  Knowing there was not the ability for me to get it all, I opened a wine I thought was my credo for this day, this month, this year.  The Argentinean Malbec carries the name Tamari and in the native tongue of the village people (not the gay 80’s band but the village people of the Mendoza region that speak the indigenous language of Huarpe), the word loosely translates to mean “gusto, or doing something with a passion”.

As my mucous membranes worked this week with a passion, I decided that I would drink today, with a passion.  So fittingly, I selected a Malbec with a passion.

Speaking of passion, I have read and heard stories of women passionate about their “rabbit”.  I believe my friend and drinking buddy, Wino Lou loves his “rabbit”. But it wasn’t until today that I found out Wino Lou’s “rabbit” is a cork screw and the woman’s “rabbit” has everything to do with screw, but nothing to do with cork. So thank God, when I finally took a Christmas present from my brother’s family out of the closet, it was a “rabbit” wine bottle opening implement.  The thing worked great, but I feel embarrassed that I have to go and return the batteries I purchased. Silly “rabbit” tricks are for lonely old men that spend most of their time in a dark, dank third floor room because Hunt’s Point love is better than nothing….

2003 Tamari Reserva Malbec $ (13.99)   A solid example of why I love Mendoza.  A red-violet color brings dark fruit flavors and the French oak delivers a toffee, vanilla nose. Good structure, firm tannins and a nice pleasurable finish.    

May 2, 2005

I actually viewed myself with disapproval about an hour ago. Its not often I do something that I find myself regretting later, except for a handful of youthful indiscretions and that one fat chick in college, but I was really drunk, no, drunk much beyond the points I reach today. Upon returning from the first of several marathon days on the road for Geekdom, I rolled into the driveway 14 hours after rolling out this morning and I headed for my Fred McMurray pipe and slippers. Actually it was the semi-dirty pair of gym socks peaking out from under the bed, but they were a welcome change from the cramped business shoes.  After throwing on my favorite Levis, I reached over and gulped down the swirl in the glass on the table next to the bed.  It really wasn’t swirl; it was the unconsumed portion of wine leftover when I fell gently to sleep in front of the tube.  I had a long day behind the wheel during my trip to Maryland so I needed a decompressor. Too tired for the walk back downstairs, it just made more sense to drink what was available.  Then the fact that this wine was a gift from Big Bob, one who coddles his Burgundies like a newborn, made me think I broke some French law or at least a Big Bob rule of fine wine appreciation. 

I officially realized about an hour after I did that, that it was wrong, and as a wine web professional, I must tell you that it is wrong to drink a half consumed glass of wine left out all night on the table next to the place you passed out.  I repeat, don’t do as I do, do as I say.  There, now I feel like a responsible journalist.

Yesterday was a nice night, so I cracked open the grill, marinated a London broil and grabbed a bottle from the basement.  The bottled I grabbed was one Big Bob gave me in December.  Yes, Sideways fans, it was a Pinot.  The wine struggled a bit with my grilled meat but a glass or two or three held its own against Deadwood.  

I just thought of a wine name for Wino John’s article on old rock bands and wine labels, Cream Sherry.  No, never mind, too subtle.

2002 Joseph Drouhin Chorey-Les-Beaunne  A mildly amusing wine with touches of raspberry, nice acidity and a plain finish, not strong enough for the grilled beef but a noteworthy bedside manner.  

April 27, 2005

Red Wine

 Red wine, I think of you all the time
Imbibed, you journey through my spine
Helping me alter my state of mind
Thinking my life is just fine

 If I were Calvin Trillon, I would have just been paid $100.00 for that thing.  Flipping through the dial this afternoon, I heard Al Franken attempt to interview Mr. Trillon. Cal spends his time elevating political commentary (mostly bashing republicans) in the form of poems and he has a new book out.  The difficulty I had with the interview is that Al Franken spends more time telling you what the guest should be saying, like the kid who knows the answer and must blurt it out before the teacher can explain it, he steps all over his guest. I get the feeling Mr. Franken spent a great deal of time inside a locker, courtesy of a football player in retribution for Al reminding the English teacher she forgot to assign homework over the Christmas break.  If anyone has a school picture of the aforementioned AF, please send it to me, especially the one of him in his black socks and sneakers.  Attached is a transcript from one of his speeches to the National Press Club, I know I have difficulty expressing myself, but can someone tell me what he is trying to say.

MS. HILLGREN: Who is the funniest conservative and who is the funniest liberal?
MR. FRANKEN: Wow! The funniest conservative -- well, P.J. O'Roarke (sp) is funny, and maybe the funniest conservative.
The funniest liberal -- Michael Moore is very funny, Calvin Trillon (sp), who I consider a liberal. I think most people are liberal, by the way. (Laughter.) I think basically you're either a liberal or a Social Darwinist -- (laughter) -- so I think that most Americans -- this is a word that gets thrown around. Liberal means you believe in, oh, things like, you know, Social Security and Medicare and a safety net, and that the government can actually, you know -- and education and the environment -- (laughter) -- no, that -- you know, that the corporate interests can -- will pollute things unless the government steps in. So I think most Americans -- I think liberal is a mainstream position, so I think the funniest liberal is Garry Shandling because he's very funny, and he's just a funny American. (Laughter.)

Copyright 1996 Federal Information Systems Corporation  
Federal News Service

OCTOBER 15, 1996, TUESDAY

SECTION: MAJOR LEADER SPECIAL TRANSCRIPT

LENGTH: 8194 words

HEADLINE: NATIONAL PRESS CLUB LUNCHEON SPEAKER
COMEDIAN AND AUTHOR
AL FRANKEN
NATIONAL PRESS CLUB BALLROOM

Wow, what in the hell did he just say?  Maybe AF is a wino rambler like myself.  It seems like he cannot complete a thought before he begins another.  No wonder why he’s best remembered for being Stewart Smalley, I think Stewart, huh, you know, issues come up, like when, but its not like people don’t talk about their life through, those bastard republicans…

2003 Bodegas Nieto Senetiner Lujan de Cuyo Malbec $ (gift from bro’s trip to Argentina, but I know it was inexpensive, he didn’t make me pay for it)  Lush dark fruit with a spice finish, well rounded and soft on the bottom rich texture and deep color, a Malbec to stand up well with roast lamb or buffalo steak. 

April 24, 2005

With the water drinking out of my system, I had to do the un-water thing. When one needs a good dosing of red wine, there is no better person to call then Wino Rocker, the King of Quantity. The ever available for drinking and eating WR, jumped at the chance to consume mass quantities so we hunted down the only BYOB that takes reservations and was not booked up. Yes we have a plethora of BYOBs, but most do not take reservations and the ones that do, for some reason were full. Sofia’s in North Caldwell was uncomfortably empty for a Saturday evening, but it allowed us to secure a table for four at a moment’s notice.  The food is good and reasonably priced at this storefront eatery.  I grabbed some wine from the cellar, stuff I have reviewed in the past. Arriving several minutes behind the Wino Rockers, the first bottle was already opened and poured.  Mrs. Rocker is a big Shiraz fan and picked one from a solid producer, which I enjoyed very much. It was mass consumption of food, wine and conversation and provided a fun, entertaining night to clear out the water in my fuel lines.

2002 Grant Burgess Barossa Vines Shiraz $ (11.00)    Blackberry, dark cherry, raspberry and spice provide a nice array of fruit to enjoy in this wine. An everyday easy drinking wine from a quality winemaker.

2002 Santa Emma Cabernet Sauvignon $ (10.99)   A good cabernet from Chile which has dark fruits, a hint of chocolate and a nicely rounded finish. A good value cabernet from the Miapo Valley.

2000 Aresti Montemar Carmenere $ (7.99)   The fruit was frail and the finish harsh.  I didn’t like this wine and will not be purchasing it again.

April 23, 2005

It was a dry Friday as I spent time with the lovely and talented Winette Tia and gang through dinner and the release of a movie she had something to do with. The event was celebrated with family and friends at a BYOB in posh, trendy Montclair. Being the wine guy, I asked her what I should bring for the style of fare at a place called Indigo Smoke. Not much to go by from the name. In a candid email she shot back that here father, the Pentecostal Minister does not drink, her friends from her church are dry, her business partner is a health nut and she, yes, she has cast aside the evils of alcohol for the straight and righteous way. Holy crap Marie, dare I say, I would be dining with “tea totalers”.  

Winette Tia and her business partner are involved in a film coming out this June and they have been working with their distribution company, placing movies in the area. Last night, I was treated to the latest genre to hit Hollywood (blvd between Vine and Monroe). Yes, this soon to be movie trend (in areas of square blocks) will soon be coming to a theater near you (as long as you live within a stone’s throw to Seven Eleven).  The movie title left me as confused as the cuisine at the restaurant, The Night of Henna. This groundbreaking film examines the love story of two Pakistani teens, arranged to marry by their families. The Big Gulp version of Romeo and Juliet has these lovers rejecting their family tradition as they found separate love interests outside their culture.  Without ruining the ending for those awaiting its arrival in the local theater, I will just tell you to bring tissues, as you will laugh and cry through the journey of East meets West as two dissimilar cultures affect the lives of four young lovers. Now it’s no Kumar Goes to White Castle, but it is the first of its kind.   Upon leaving the theater, we were treated to a free CD of the movie sound track, and I must admit, my CD collection is void of sitar and finger cymbal music.

During the dinnertime conversation, one of the guests was a young woman still in the dating stages of fresh love.  She told a very funny story about the first date, a blind date, with her current boyfriend.  It turned out they shared each other’s meals, both not telling the other they hated what they joyously shared.  This turned the conversation to when is the tipping point in a relationship, the time when the things you once thought were cute become annoying. When did the goofy outfit you praised become the, “I’m not going out in public with you wearing that stupid outfit?” How long into a relationship do the love blinders last, before the cold crisp vision of reality take over? Any thoughts?

In an unrelated but funny event that I observed earlier in the day on Friday, I had to stop for directions on my way to see a customer. I was in the correct town but the street name on Mapquest didn’t match the street name the customer gave me. I ran into a hotel on the main highway and asked the guy behind the counter which street name was correct.  As I stood there and he looked up a local map, a businessman was checking out. Well dressed, leather briefcase in hand, he inquired if the hotel could take the movie rental off his bill, as he would gladly pay cash and asked for a new receipt. I guess his company does not reimburse for Spanker-Vision.  Glad I didn’t have to shake his hand, how embarrassing.

2005 Montclair Tap Water $ (0.00)  Clear, colorless, tasteless with a chilled and refreshing finish.   

April 21, 2005

I figured its time for me to get back to wine, and only wine for the moment.  So this will be a short and simple entry, no religious overtones, no fire and brimstone, no comment on world politics or the ongoing dance of NJ’s gubernatorial contest.  So here it is, I was in Fairfield yesterday, around lunch time.  As you know it has been quite some time since I have indulged at Bacchus. So I thought it might be fun for a quick, solo lunch, a sliced steak sandwich and a glass of red.  Holy Mother; and I mean that in the non-religious sense.  I saw a Chilean cabernet in the wine by the glass cooler so I ordered it with my meal. My interest in tasting it is that I was delivered this same wine in my first of many Costa’s monthly. The wine was fine, but the Bacchus glass price was absurd.  For another $0.25 I could own the bottle from retail.  Hurt me, kick me, but don’t jam me, please.  I know we are all in business to make money, but Fairfield is not the place to make your profit on the first glass.  I like you guys, the off taste in my mouth was not from the food or drink; rather it was from the slip of paper at the end of my stay.  At retail, this is not a bad bargain, but at Bacchus by the glass, it is a crime.

2002 Odfjell Vineyards Armador Cabernet Sauvignon $ (9.99 retail 9.75/glass)   The black cherry and tobacco with a cassis hint makes this a fun everyday drinking wine. Nice tannins to work with the steak and a gentle finish.

April 19, 2005

The smoke from the Cohibas barely cleared the chimney flue when speculation surrounded the election of the new Pope.  The Cardinal from Germany taking the name Pope Benedict XVI has the talking heads talking.  Was this a slap to the growing population of Catholics in South America?  Is the church so out of touch?  They elected a keeper of the tenants, one promoting the strict doctrines of the Gospel.  He won’t address women and gays in the church.  He will be too pro life, too anti birth control, to dogmatic about religion.  Then in a collective sigh of relief they gleefully announced his age of 78. Thank God, we know this is a temp, someone to stand in and die in a few years so the real, more liberal Pope can put distance between himself and Pope John Paul II.  And with a nod and wink, the coronation by the media accepted the new Pope, with a cocked smile and a glimmering eye, knowing that salvation will be just around the bend in biblical years.  Then we can look forward to a Pope promoting married priests, Papal condoms, gay marriages, acceptable abortions and Winostuff Hot Nun of the Month. I can’t wait to see what’s under Sister Agnes’ habit. Come to think of it, I did fantasize about what was under Sister Betrill’s habit, as Sally Field was quite the babe.  I would get close to the TV and look up the screen, as she would take flight on a windy day.  Come on people, this is 2005, when will the Catholic Church stop promoting those antiquated ideas of Jesus’ teaching?  We all know the Bible is parables and Jesus never really meant for us to offer our other cheek.  He really meant for us to figuratively turn the other cheek as we were planting a left hook to the body. Face it, Sunday mass is an hour to organize the rest of the day without kid interruptions.  This new Pope is going to drag religion back to the old days of making us follow the Golden Rules, or honoring our parents, or not coveting our neighbor’s wife. How can we not covet our neighbor’s wife, did you see that low cut top she was wearing?  You know she wants it, and that’s great cause I can give it to her since adultery is old school, and hell, I’ll be wearing a rubber and if need be I could always get rid of anything that comes of it.  God I can’t wait for this Pope to run out his clock so we can get that liberal Pope that smoked pot during Seminary, and protested the war and really understands how cool religion could be if it wasn’t so religious.  (Editor's note:  Just for the record, these opinions are those of WinoBob and do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of WinoStuff.com who don't want to burn in hell for all of eternity.  Amen.)

Hey, the Garden State Wine Club cluster F continues.  After canceling the gift, I come to find out they delivered wine late last week. Actually they delivered two bottles of the same wine.  I emailed them to confirm the cancellation and they emailed back that they delivered after getting my email, the email I told them to cancel the order and not deliver. When I brought this to their attention, they haven’t gotten back with an explanation. I do not know if anyone else has had such poor dealing with this place, but email me if you have. Next month, we do something different.

2001 Finca El Portillo Malbec $ (7.99)   Not fun, not funny, this wine dampened my Malbec mania.

April 17, 2005

If you own a TV, read the newspaper, listen to radio, or surf the web today, you, like me, were inundated by the Papal election process. The thing that struck me is that after 2000 years, this process has been kept in such a guarded state. In the world of mass media, alternative news sources and every Tom, Dick and Harry with a keyboard posting information, to date there is no Matt Drudge of Holy News.  We know more about President Clinton’s privates and our secret weaponry then we do about the leader of 1.2 billion people. 

The only thing we know for sure is that the College of Cardinals goes into the Sistine Chapel to debate over who should be the next Pope, and the gathered crowd stands outside awaiting a sign.  Black smoke means the two thirds majority could not be met, white smoke and the simultaneous tolling of the bell indicates a new Pope has been elected.  The Papal mystery continues in a fast-paced, news-hungry world.  Oh, did I mention that the smoke is black normally, but by adding wet straw to the ballot fire, since all ballots must remain top secret and burned, the wet straw makes the smoke white.  Other than that, we know nothing of the process.

Be that as it may, the round the clock news stations are handicapping this one like the Kentucky Derby, pontificating the election of a third world Pope.  Oh yeah, and to help bolster the process, Pope Paul VI excluded Popes over 80 years old so they wouldn’t have to meet in secrecy too often.  And to ensure this continued secrecy, he made the chamber bug proof.  This secret process remains so for all these centuries under threat of excommunication for any cardinal who spills the Holy beans. 

God, I wish I knew what was going on there.  Maybe the cardinals are all telling funny stories about the guys they want to elect, maybe the debate gets so heated they drop the F bomb at each other’s statements, I wish I knew more.  By the way, did you know that in 1996, Pope John Paul II changed the election process, so that if a two thirds majority is not met, they can go with a simple majority of half plus one vote and he moved them from the makeshift quarters in the Papal Palace, the Cardinals will stay in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, hotel-style accommodation in Vatican City.  Along with these changes, the rules on secrecy have been strengthened. Boy, do I want to know this process. This secrecy thing got me.

The Conclave

The Cardinals must take an oath when they first enter the Conclave that they will follow the rules set down by the Pope and that they will maintain absolute secrecy about the voting and deliberations. The penalty for disclosing anything about the conclave that must be kept secret is automatic excommunication.

The Cardinals all take seats around the wall of the Sistine Chapel and take a ballot paper on which is written "Eligo in summum pontificem" -- "I elect as supreme Pontiff...". They then write a name on it, fold it, and then proceed one by one to approach the altar, where a chalice stands with a paten on it. They hold up their ballot high to show that they have voted, then place it on the paten, and then slide it into the chalice. The votes are then counted by the Cardinal Camerlengo and his three assistants. Each assistant reads the name, reads the name aloud, writes it down on a tally sheet and then passes it to the next assistant. The third assistant runs a needle and thread through the centre of each ballot to join them all together. The ballots are then burned, as well as all notes made. If a new Pope has been elected, the papers are burned with chemicals (it used to be wet straw) to give white smoke. Otherwise, they give off black smoke, so that the waiting crowds, and the world, know whether their new Holy Father will soon emerge from the Sistine Chapel. On 6 April 2005, it was announced that, in addition to the white smoke, the bells of St Peter's Basilica will be rung to signal the election of the new Pope. This will avoid any doubt about whether the smoke is white or black.

Until the conclaves of 1978, each Cardinal was provided a throne, a table and a canopy (or baldachino) over their heads. Paul VI abolished the practice because, with the internationalization of the College of Cardinals, there was simply no room any more. Whereas there were only 80 electors before then, the number had risen to 120. The thrones used to be arranged in two rows, along the wall facing each other. The canopies and thrones symbolized that, during the sede vacante when there is no Pope, the Cardinals all share responsibility for the governance of the Church. To further this symbolism, once the new Pope was elected and announced the name he would use, the Cardinals would pull on a cord and the canopy would collapse.

To be elected Pope, one Cardinal must receive more than two-thirds of the votes. Except that, under the new rules established by Pope John Paul II, if 30 ballots have taken place without any Cardinal being elected Pope, then the Cardinals may then elect by simple majority. This is an important change and may well be the most important change made. In the past, it has often been the case that a particular candidate has had solid majority support but cannot garner the required two-thirds majority, eg, because he is too conservative to satisfy the more moderate Cardinals. Therefore a compromise candidate is chosen, either an old Pope who will die soon and not do much until the next conclave (which is what was intended with John XXIII!) or someone not so hard-line wins support. The difference now will be that if, in the early ballots, one candidate has strong majority support, there is less incentive for that majority to compromise with the cardinals who are against their candidate and they simply need to sit out 30 ballots to elect their man. This may well see much more "hard-line" Popes being elected, and given the conservative trend of most appointments to the College by Pope John Paul II, it is almost certainly going to be a man cut from the same cloth. There will also be far less incentive for the Cardinals to finish quickly as in the past. After such a long papacy, they may need time to arrive at a strong consensus on what type of papacy the Church now needs. They will also be staying in comfortable lodgings, rather than sleeping in foldaway cots in hallways and offices in the Sistine Chapel.

The cardinal’s vote on the afternoon of the first day, then twice each morning and once each afternoon. If they have not elected someone within the first nine votes, then they may devote up to a day to prayer and discussion before resuming. They may do the same every seven unsuccessful votes after that.

  The Cardinals are not permitted any contact with the outside world: no mobile phones, no newspapers or television, no messages or letters or signals to observers. There will be regular sweeps of all relevant areas for listening devices. The Cardinals will for the first time be visible, at least twice daily, to the observing world, when they move the 350 metres from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Sistine Chapel and back again. No doubt, Vatican "experts" will be hired to expound at length on what the countenance of certain key Cardinals indicates as they are filmed moving to and from the Chapel!

Habemus Papam!

Once a Cardinal has received the required number of votes, the Dean of the College of Cardinals asks him if he accepts election and by what name he wishes to be called as Pope. On giving assent, the Cardinal immediately becomes Pontifex Maximus, the Holy Roman Pontiff. In the unlikely event that the Cardinal chosen is not yet a bishop, the most senior Cardinal present (the Dean or Sub-Dean usually) immediately performs the ceremony to consecrate the new Pope as a bishop.

The Cardinals then pledge their obedience to His Holiness in turn. The Pope vests in his Pontifical clericals (white soutane and skull cap) -- the Italian family business in Rome that makes all the Papal vestments has several different sizes prepared in readiness for His Holiness, no matter what his shape or size!

The Proto-Deacon of the College of Cardinals (currently Cardinal Medina Estevez) then steps onto the main balcony of the Vatican and declares to the World: "Habemus Papam!" "We have a Pope!" and tells the waiting world who has been chosen as the new pope and the name he has decided to take as Pope. His Holiness then appears on the Balcony and delivers his Apostolic Blessing to the waiting World.

The Pope can ask the Cardinals to remain in Conclave one last evening. Both John Paul I and John Paul II did so, and spent their first evening as Pope with the Cardinals.

Within a short time of his election, before the Cardinals return home, a formal ceremony of inauguration takes place at which the woollen pallium is bestowed upon him. The choir chants "Tu es Petrus" (Thou art Peter), the words Christ spoke to Peter when He told him he was the Rock on which Jesus would build His Church and asked him to feed His sheep.

One of the few things Pope John Paul I managed to do in his short papacy was to abolish the traditional Papal Coronation, which Pope John Paul II did not resurrect. Traditionally, the Pope would be carried around St Peter's Square on the Sedia Gestatoria (the Papal Throne) and have the Papal Tiara placed on his head. These last two popes have done away with the monarchic symbolism of the papacy (including the use of the Royal "we") in favour of a heightened concentration of their role as "Servus Servorum Dei" -- Servant of the servants of God. www.catholic-pages.com.

So that’s about all I know on this much guarded secret.  I guess I will have to take a trip to St. Peter’s Basilica and put my ear to the wall to investigate the process in hopes of discovering more about this secret process.

April 16, 2005

Well I am officially done with The Garden State Wine Club, for the second time.  I had the interest in getting back to the two-bottle “milkman” delivery they offer as a convenient way to stay on top of trying different inexpensive wines. I also had the opportunity to offer a gift to a newbie wino and this was a good start. But one month and three days later, my order is still not delivered and records indicate they cannot locate the information I filled out on their web site order form.

The reason I gave them up the first time was due to the incorrect deliveries I was getting after awhile. Yes, I ordered two reds and soon was getting whatever was on the truck.  Time heals all wounds and I like the concept, so with three years distance, I tried it again. This has been embarrassing as it was a birthday gift and now a month later,… nothing yet. What to do?

Last night, as I enjoyed the sunny late evening of spring, my feet took me past Costa’s Marketplace. Honest, I was going to start my jogging health kick, but my body took over and I lumbered down to the wine store. It’s a start, I usually drive the two blocks.  After I picked up a bottle of Pascual Toso Malbec, I chatted with John about my dilemma. He was not familiar with GSWC, so I described the program, and he offered his services.  Day one, test case, Wino Bob.  We agreed to try it out for several months and develop the program together.  He also agreed to take care of the order for the birthday gift and get me out of the doghouse. John seems very interested in this as his past was in the gift basket business and this seems up his alley. I hope things work and we can soon promote the Costa/Wino Bob Wine of the Month Club… more to follow.

2003 Robertson Winery Prospect Hill Cabernet Sauvignon $ (14.00)    This cab from South Africa is fruitful, with flavors of blackberry, blueberry, cassis and a touch of spice, but the acidity seemed high and it stepped on the finish keeping this one from being a solid value wine.

2003 Pascual Toso Malbec $ (8.99)    Intense dark fruits, coffee and violets with a pleasant dash of vanilla on the finish. For the price of this wine, it leads the Malbec I have tried this year.  Wow what a beauty treatment this one would make.

April 13, 2005

Sorry I haven’t written, but the internet doesn’t work well in Argentina. Actually, the roads, phones, cars, TV, refrigerators, etc. don’t work well in Argentina. The $19.99 a day rental car actually turns out to be $128.00 as the rest is insurance from theft, and crazy drivers.  Thank God I didn’t have to drive too far to find the hoards of women lining up for Malbec bath treatments.  Mother McCrea, I never knew research could be so, so, ah, ..hard.

The stuff about the car insurance isn’t too far from the truth, as I heard first hand stories from my nephew who did spend 2 years there. I thought he went for spring break, I guess he found a part time job that turned 10 days into 2 years. The only trip I took was to the wine store and fantasy land.  The Malbec was a must and I just spent the night counting the pennies in my piggy bank to see how many more years I would need to save to purchase a plane ticket to Buenos Aires, or just to afford the car rental costs.  Another twelve years and I think I can go.  Woo hoo!  At this point I have little else other than pouring some wine on my nether regions and seeing if anything changes.

2003 Bodegas Nieto Senetiner Santa Isabel Malbec $ (6.99)  The wine shows marginal plum and fig flavors, the finish is smooth and for males, this wine offers little as a health and beauty aid.

April 10, 2005

Back when Costs was Kim’s and I was a greenhorn at wine buying, I relied on the suggestive nature with which Mr. Kim would present wine to me. “Dis wine, very good, very expensive, da best wine from Spanish.”  OK, give me a bottle and here’s my $105.00 bill.  And as time and money have passed, I am now digging into those recommendations to make sure they are drinkable.  Friday night was a business dinner with WJ, so I brought along the first of many obscene purchases I made from the now uber rich Mr. Kim.  It just so happened that this Rioja was special and I happened to be holding a bottle from their maiden release.  However, as has happened to me in the past, Mr. Kim sold me a funkified wine.  Yes, that off-nose and tainted flavor had me crying for 105 minutes, and I must have shed 105 tears and Mr. Kim is laughing 105 times over. Damn you, Kim…

This put doubt in the back of my mind as to what else might be sleeping funkifiedly in my rack. Last night we had a nice dinner with Wino Jim and Winette Maggie at Russillos (don’t worry I’m not schilling for the restaurant, I pay for my meals).  As they have become Wino brethren, and gracious listeners to my snobbish pontifications, I grabbed an upscale wine from the slot just below the funked out Rioja and poured it out during the main course.  The wine Gods smiled, the table applauded and my faith in my storage area was returned. With all the death in the air and mortality on my mind, I might as well enjoy the dwindling selection of favorites cause I can’t take them with me.   

1994 Artadi 'Grandes Anadas', Cosecheros Alvases  $$$$ (105.00)  This tempranillo sits in oak and is crafted with love and wood, but the cork failure made me weep, in public.

1997 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $$$ (65.00)    All hands on the oak deck this nose gives off, powerful yet the flavors of black cheery, black currant and anise finish cradled in a velvet glove.  A treat from the wine Gods.

April 9, 2005

Don’t forget to drink Malbec, not only is it the Grape of 2005, but the health benefits continue to multiply.  Here is another reason it’s good for my heart, because in Buenos Aires, it is a beauty crazy. The areas found most beneficial are to tighten the three-baby tummy flab and to firm the breast. But WB, you mentioned "heart".  The article below only mentions wine creams or wine applied directly to the skin of the said stomach and breast.  Believe me, if I start applying wine to women’s breasts and stomach, my heart will be healthier than ever.  Wino John, book me a flight to Argentina!  There are saggy breasts and flabby stomachs with my name on them.

Red wine - Good for the breasts

Red wine is the latest craze in the beauty salons of Buenos Aires where it's said to tighten the stomach and firm the breasts. 

Creams made with red wine or even a glass of pure wine is applied directly to the person's skin.

Wine therapy expert Diego Barberan told Las Ultimas Noticias, "After cleansing, the skin receives a special wine mask that is rich in vitamin E."

"It brings firmness and nutrition to the skin, making it healthy and elastic."

Beauty clinics all over Buenos Aires are reporting a huge increase in women asking for wine therapy.

Wine therapy fanatic Marcy Andres said: "It is fantastic. It does what it promises. I can say with no fear that I am addicted!"

 

April 8, 2005

Wino John and I often allude to the fact that we make no money from this site.  Yes, we have taken the high road by not cluttering the site with pop up ads and male enhancement offers.  It isn’t that we aren’t sought after once these marketeers Google us.  Rather, it is that we decided early on we would do this for the fun, not the money (how stupid was that philosophy?).

Last night, I did get an offer that made me lock horns with WJ, as I felt it was the best offer to date and fitting for the news climate.  We were offered the opportunity to join an affiliate program from a web site selling URNS, crematorium urns, designer urns, burial urns and the most awesome looking porcelain containers your dead relatives ever need.  Folks, I am talking mantelpiece-quality conversation pieces for Aunt Sally. I’m talking drill-a-hole-in-the-bottom-and-mount-a-lampshade resting place for Uncle Joe. 

Yes, death is in the news between Terri Shiavo’s case in Florida and the Papal Service today in Vatican City.  So Living Will or not, my Death Will was originally set up for my body to be torched and my ashes put in little pouches requiring all of my relatives to carry me around with them by mandate.  I would be with my loved ones in an ash purse day and night.  However, since I have been doing this web site, the Caldwell fire department placed a court order nullifying my body from being burned.  he town has a voluntary force and there are concerns that the fire from my body would exceed the water tank capacity of the fire trucks.  I am stuck, Winos and Winettes, with cremation not being a final resting choice for me.

Which brings me to my second concern, Saint Wino Bob.  That’s right, my fears of spawning a Catholic Church complexity when next generation Confirmation candidates flood the Archdiocese of Newark with the request for 'Wino Bob' as a Confirmation name. Wino Bob, you are really over the top.  What in the hell are you talking about?  OK, if you listened to any of this week's events surrounding the funeral of Pope John Paul II, you have heard that they do not embalm the Pope as his journey to Sainthood is identified by a miracle.  If his body does not decay, or more traditionally, if his body “awakens”, it is front row on the Saint train pulling out of the station for the Pope. As medical doctors will testify, my blood system has been 98% replaced with alcohol so I am immune to decay.   I will not be embalmed, and my frail withered corpse will tremor for months after my heart and brain cease to function.  I think that makes me conductor on the Saint Train.  Toot, toot, all aboard, next stop….

On a serious note, did anyone hear the blowhard Chris Matthews on the Imus show this morning?  Chris, a Catholic of convenience, spouted off about his speculation of who the next Pope will be and used terms that likened the process to a sporting event. At one point, he pontificated on the vastly growing Catholic population from third world countries and wondered if the next Pope will be from Africa or South America.  Chris posed the question, “Will the Italians be mad if they lose the cup to the third world?”  Lose the cup, Mr. Arrogant Sensationalist?  I guess Chris is trying to get back into the news by being irreverent as his ferocious support for John Kerry did not work out well and his ratings on MSNBC are lower than the All Paint-Drying Network.  Though I did hear his winter book beat the Grass Growing Channel.  Chris, stick to throwing softballs to Hillary.

April 3, 2005

March Madness is over, but March Malbec is still underway. I committed to drink a Grape of the Year per month and I stand by my commitment.  Though, this morning, I had a Malbecian murderous headache.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  I went shopping yesterday at Shop Rite Discount and purchased two Malbecs, one a limited release, one a cheap alternative.  Did I learn a lesson!  Price played little import in defining the quality and enjoyment of this grape. Saturday night, my time to get my drunk on, had me favor the limited release.  Maybe the loss of time, maybe the loss of the Pope, maybe the loss of perspective, but the dull pounding behind my left eye had me deeply disappointed in the selection.

Not wanting to strike out, I opened the second, less expensive wine and settled in on the couch for the marathon coverage from the Vatican. Between 8AM and 1PM, every station covered the ceremonial tributes to Pope John Paul II, our beloved Polish Pope whose life was dedicated to making this world a better place by meetings with Polish and Russian Communist Leaders, Presidents Bush and Clinton and Fidel Castro, along with lesser known leaders of third world countries. The next several weeks will be of grave importance to the future of the Catholic Church.  Though this Pope did amazing work for humanity as a whole, he failed to address the one issue most troubling to Catholics in the USA, that of Priest/Alter boy relations. This will be a white elephant in the administration of John Paul II’s replacement. We hope this topic finds the light of day and is addressed in a manner to heel the wounds that are causing a decline in the US Catholic population.  God speed and we await the puff of white smoke in the next 20 days.  

I am much happier with my second Malbec and this one shows the flavors and style I find most interesting in Argentinean Malbecs.

2002 Navarro Correas Limited Release $ (11.99)   Besides the great headache, there is little else to describe.

2002 Finca Simonassi $ (6.99)    A nice bottle of wine for the price with firm black cherry flavors and a hint of chocolate on the finish.  A wine you could enjoy any day of the week.

 

April 2, 2005                     

                                            Pope John Paul II


KAROL JOSEF WOJTYŁA:  

  • Born in Wadowice, Krakow, Poland., May 18, 1920.

  • Baptized on June 20, 1920. Lived with his parents at Rynek 2, (now Via Koscielna 7, apt. 4). Later, he and his father moved to Krakow (Via Tyniecka 10).

  • He made his First Holy Communion at age 9 and was Confirmed at 18.  

  • Ordained Priest in 1946 at Krakow, age 26.

  • Ordained Bishop in the Cathedral of Wavel, 1958, at age 38.

  • Archbishop of Krakow, 1964, age 46.

  • Consecrated Cardinal by Pope Paul VI, 1967, age 47.

  • elected the 264th Pope on October 16, 1978 at 5:15p.m.  He is the 263rd successor of Peter at age 58.

Unlike Jim Morrison, I will refrain from rhyming words with Pope in this entry because this Pope did not smoke dope. We near the end of a 27 year service of the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years, the life story of Pope John Paul II will unfold in front of our eyes in the next few days as the cable shows and talk radio pay tribute to this man. Being of Polish Catholic heritage, he is an ambassador in making great strides to erase the stereotypes of the dumb Pollack made popular by Rob Reiner’s character in the sitcom All in the Family, or worse yet, the image many associate with the Hollywood producer, Roman Polanski.

Already the news is speaking in glowing terms of the work the Pope did to make the world a better place through his trips to the Communist Soviet Union, and his chat with Fidel Castro in Cuba. In memory of this great man, I offer some different sides of the Pope

He is now on his journey to a better place.  Rest in peace.


Bob's old Winings were starting to get as bloated as Bob's liver, so they were subdivided chronologically into Quarterly Reviews.  If you dare, click on one of the links below to go back in time and revisit Bob's musings.  Be warned however,  too much Bob can be hazardous to your psyche!  

Q1 2005

Q4 2004     Q3 2004      Q2 2004     Q1 2004

Q4 2003     Q3 2003     Q2 2003     Q1 2003

Q4 2002     Q3 2002     Q2 2002     Q1 2002

Q4 2001     Q3 2001     Q2 2001      Q1 2001

Q4 2000     Q3 2000     Q2 2000     Q1 2000


 

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