Bob’s Winings
                                                                           former
                  
Tasting Notes from a ^ Beer Drinker


This page contains Winings from the 3rd Quarter of the year 2003.

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September 28, 2003

I do believe I left out something of relevance in the George Plimpton eulogy.  As he headed out the door in the only seersucker suit I have been up close and personal with, he picked up a straw hat and placed it squarely on his head and walked out into the summer’s wind.  I managed to see a small logo on the band, the hat was made by the world famous Susquehanna Hat Company.  Slowly, I turned, step-by-step, inch by inch…  Sorry; I just can’t get that Lou Costello thing out of my head.

With thunderstorms running through NJ again, I took the time to flop in front of the TV and stumbled on the HBO showing of a movie called The Rat Pack.  It was billed as a docudrama, which I guess means a mix of fact and fiction.  Afterwards, it occurred to me that Hoboken, NJ born, Frank Sinatra, has been spoken about and written about as having friendships and working relationships with Organized Crime members.  I have even heard a rumor that Sammy’s glass eye was the result of some “friends of Frank” sending Sammy a message regarding the women Sammy had his eye on, but I can’t really go into detail, if you know what I mean.  The irony I was left with is that the people writing letters about the Sopranos and movies like the Godfather having a negative impact on the world view of Italians are the same people driving around in their Cadillac’s listening to Frank’s greatest hits, or buying DVDs of Sinatra movies.  I guess it’s just me but next time the NJ crowd gets vocal at the beginning of the Soprano’s season, we should ask those same people how many Sinatra recordings they own.

This evening, Wino Rocker stopped by with the lovely Winette Rocker.  He had been in the studio with his newly formed band putting down some cool jazz with his dark glassed, vest wearing, hipster new gang.  He’s angling for the wino music market, something more appropriate then Red, Red Wine by UB40.  Somehow, I always had a craving for a blunt after that song.  No, this was more for the casual evening with a bottle of red and friends.  I’m getting the sense that Wino Ray and Wino Rocker are heading back for a reunion, though Mississippi Queen will no longer be the first song of the second set.  No, this could be the laid back sounds of the red wine and casual gatherings CD, tour and black light poster.  The Rockers now spend time visiting small wineries in Pennsylvania and Ohio when they weekend at their hunting grounds.  Last night they brought over a bottle of Cabernet Franc from a winery in Ohio called DeBonne Vineyards.  It was our warm up wine as one bottle is never enough.  It wasn’t bad, carrying a lot of earthiness on the nose and some dark cherry flavor.

2001 Meffre La Chasse du Pape Prestige Cotes-du Rhone Rouge $ (8.99)     They had the right idea, blending Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre together and it could have been a beautiful thing.  But the balance was off, no bass line and very little depth

 

September 27, 2003

As a follow up to the origins of the Seersucker Suit, I was told that they name came from the fact that this fine garment was sold in the 1920 exclusively through the Sears and Roebuck catalog.  Mr. Sears laughed every time another Sucker bought one out these half cloth, half paper machete garments.  Unfortunately, that is not the correct explanation.  Below is information that came directly from a fashion editor at a high-class clothier.  The beauty of the explanation is that they use the words aplomb and rumpled in the same sentence, a literary feat I have yet to accomplish.

The Seersucker Suit
American seersucker is a cotton version of the silk seersucker worn in the nineteenth century by the British in India. The word itself seems to be a Hindi corruption of a Persian phrase, shir shakkar, which translates as "milk and sugar." This etymology refers to the alternating smooth and rough textures of the stripes, the distinctive feature of the cloth, which is achieved by what is called slack-tension weaving: alternating fibers are held under normal tension, while intervening ones are kept slack to create a pattern of puckered and flat stripes. Seersucker's most distinguishing characteristic is its greatest stylistic virtue as well: it flaunts its rumpled state with aplomb.

It became popular as the perfect cloth for hot, humid climes. In the South, men began to wear seersucker suits in the summer around the turn of the century as a more comfortable alternative to flannel and linen, but they were considered a rather cheap approach to dressing and had little fashion allure until university men began wearing them after the First World War. They were seen at tony country clubs in the '30s and '40s but didn't really catch on with businessmen in the North until the end of the Second World War, as witnessed in a newspaper column written by that great writer and dandy Damon Runyon in July 1945.

 

September 26, 2003-Addendum

Driving around today, I heard the sad news that author, sportsman, and genuine good guy, George Plimpton, passed away at the age of 76.  Why did George’s death and not the hip, rocker Robert Palmer’s death sadden me you ask?  First off, Robert Palmer had too many hot chicks so I never would identify with him. However, I had the occasion to meet Mr. Plimpton and speak with him.  About six or seven years ago, a friend of mine was working with a product in the tennis industry.  He had been invited to a cocktail party by the publisher of Tennis Weekly and asked if I wanted to tag along.  Now this was before my hip, black, NY attire closet, my entry into the literary world and wine drinking.  What?  No, really!  I am a member of the literary community.  Seriously! 

Well into my 5th Gin and Tonic, I headed across the room, extended my hand and said something unintelligible to George, like “Mr. Plimpton, I’m a big admirer of your works.  You know, I’m a paper lion, too.”   I’m a paper lion, too?  What the F&%# does that mean?  I remember the look he gave me, like, "I’m a paper lion.  What the F*^% does that mean… ?"

What impressed me was his cordialness prior to spinning on his heels and heading in the opposite direction from me.  He was a stately looking man, tall and thin, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  He wore a seersucker suit, crisp white button-down oxford shirt and a tennis theme tie.  A chardonnay perched in his hand, he swept his distinguished gray hair across his forehead and said in his proper boarding school voice, “Thank you for reading my books.”

Sorry, I just can’t let this one go.  What the hell is a seersucker suit and why was it invented?  Does a well-dressed man need a white and light blue striped suit where the puckers of the blue stripe look like paper mache when bad?  And where in the hell did that name come from?  I would never be able to go to a store and ask the sales person to point me in the direction of your seersucker suits.  And did the guy who made the name up do it in earnest or was it a goof?  Maybe he had a great sense of humor  and laughed as country clubs around the US had cocktail parties where captains of industry where donning seersucker suits and getting the following comments, “Biff, that seersucker suit is you.”  “Cubby, you certainly look handsome in that seersucker suit”  “Really, Ashton, I get hot for a man in a seersucker suit.”  Then they all head out of the steam room, slap each other on the ass, and meet their wives for dinner.

I’m sorry, Mr. Plimpton, that was not appropriate in my tribute to you.  I was not a wine drinker at the time we met, but he was and had I been, I’m sure I would have had a better story since my wine knowledge would have had me invited to his swank Manhattan apartment for dinner with his high society friends.  I’m sure by now I would have been the wine reviewer for his magazine and we would have shared many a wild night in our white tennis shirts, cashmere sweaters draped across our shoulders, hitting the hot spots in NYC.   (Editor's note:  Correction.  You would have been out in your seersucker suit...)  Instead, I was tapped on Gin and Tonic and said a stupid non-sequeter that he couldn’t get away from fast enough. 

September 26, 2003

You know I have been looking for more data and a professional heavyweight to bolster my comments and bring intriguing information to our site. Well, I haven’t been able to do that yet, so I spend countless hours scanning high and low for research, data and things other then the crap that flows out of my mouth.  So here is one that I could have made up, but didn’t.  Its an actual article from a medical journal in Copenhagen. 

WOMEN who drink moderate quantities of wine become pregnant more easily than their teetotal or beer-supping sisters, a Danish medical review reported.

According to Dagens Medecin, a study of 30,000 women showed that those who chose a glass of wine over beer or spirits were most likely to conceive. The least likely to become pregnant were those who drank no alcohol at all.

The research was carried out by a team headed by Mette Juhl of the state serology institute, Statens Serum Institut. They could not explain the reasons for their findings.

"We know that wine-drinkers eat more healthily and are of a higher social status than beer drinkers. But ability to become pregnant does not vary according to social class," Juhl commented.

Is it rude to say to the research community in Copenhagen, "No- Duh"?  My misspent youth was research enough to tell me that I have no shot at sex with a woman that doesn’t drink.  C'mon, look at me.  No woman wants pipe-cleaner fingers running through her hair.  No alcohol, no sex.  Welcome to my life.  Now, I do not agree with the social status comment of beer drinkers and in fact it was beer that allowed the few women in my high school awkwardness to concede, or at least reduce their defensiveness to the point that I became a hunk through their Beer Goggles.  OK, so 'hunk' is too grandiose but I guess I was the last stick figure standing and it was better than her going home alone.  Hey, wait a minute.  I was used!  How dare they…

So in the file of 'fact being better than fiction', Copenhagen wine drinking woman breed like Mexicans.  Maybe it’s that their otherwise standoffish eggshells soften when soaked in wine and are more receptive to the Olympic swimmer stick figure baby batter.  Wino John, I smell road trip!  How do you say, “Good evening, women.  I am Wino Bob, and the bullets in my pea shooter are cocked and ready to fertilize your Eskimo eggs...” in Copenhagenese?  And to you tea-totaling bitches, loosen up!  Your eggs will be spoiled before you can use them.  Face it, I’m sure you are holding out for Brad Pitt, but the wine drinking Jennifer Anniston has him locked up. 

September 26, 2003

I know that Wino Wally has the corner on fine dining experiences and I am mostly limited to two places.  Several days ago I did find myself in a steakhouse in NJ that served up one of the largest Filet Mignons I have ever seen.  Assembly Steakhouse in Englewood Cliffs brought out a filet that was the size of a ground hog and my T-Bone was cooked to perfection.  Located on 9W North, its dining room boosts large Easterly looking windows that offer up a great view of NYC (once the foliage all dies and the twisted skeletons of the oaks and maples lining the Palisades' edge surrender their lifeless bodies to winter allowing the lights of the city to sporadically shine through.)  Bring your wallet, they charge for the view, and the wines by the glass, though the waiter was unfamiliar when I asked if they had a syrah.  The wine list is appropriately overpriced for the proximity to NYC but the high priced steak is worth the trip.

 

September 21, 2003

One night last week, as I recovered from a late night bender with Wino Ray, I flopped on the bed with the TV glowing in the dead of dark.  Fading between stages of sleep, the last thing that registered in my subconscious was the first thing I thought about in the early morning shower.  There was this slogan or public service announcement whose tag line was something like, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”  Not thinking much about that throughout the day, that thought ran back into my head when I sat down checking emails.  Emails lead to net surfing, which brought me to a section on NJ wineries that connected to research being done at Rutgers University.  Rutgers page has a link to departments and staff.  Soon I was searching the facility to see if any of my old professors where still employed. 

As luck would have it, the one professor I most hoped was still there had her email address blazing off the monitor.  Now here I am twenty years removed, but I thought about that PSA.  So I sent off a quick note telling this professor how much I enjoyed the classes and projects I worked on with her and how greatly motivated I was in her classes.  This is a major professor tied into the Alcohol research group at Rutgers, of which I spent time and talent working my way to supporting my college costs.  Two days later, I received an email back and the professor asked how I was doing and what I was up to.  I proudly told her of the great web site I work on and how much fun I was having exploring the sides of wine not talked about by the pedantic, condescending snobs.  We exchanged several more emails and I proposed how great it would be to have the clout of a professor from Smithers Center for Alcohol Studies to be a guest essayist on our page.  She could jot a thought or two and seeing how she was into wine, she thought it would be fun.  Sending her our web site, I told her to read around to get a feel for our style and get back to me afterwards.  To finalize our new working relationship, I suggested we get together for lunch and we could discuss some topics that I’d love to get her perspective on….(insert sound of chirping crickets here) (Call out to an empty echoing cave) Hello-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-, anybody home-m-m-m-m-m-m-m?

So I guess her profession career is more important than a free paragraph on a web site that has yet to see emails from all our industry friends who have promised to write. Veronique, my friend who works at the tasting room for Sebastiani, Big Bob from Dreyfuss, the owners of 4 Sisters Winery…. Is it something I said?

Here’s a great purchase as my value of the month.

2001 Farnese Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOGC $ (5.99)   Yes, winos and winettes, at under six dollars, buy this and drink it any night, with pizza or spaghetti and meatballs.  It does start out hot and needs time to settle down, but the wine that evolves is a fun, easy drinker.

 

September 20, 2003

Look at that date.  It has been far too long since I have sat in front of this keyboard and pounded out a non-sequeter.  But, I have a reason, and it is found in my new religious education.  Stop, I know what you are thinking, Wino Bob, you have decided to give up your wantonous, wretched lifestyle and become a member of the cloth.  No, though tempting as a new dating service, I remain the hedonist that I am.  But borrowing from Luke 15.11-24, which I have always thought was the story of the Prodicle Son, or Periodical Son, or Protocol Son, it turns out to be the Parable of the Prodigal Son.   But I digress. Yes this week there was a bit of the Prodigal Son story that unfolded at Chateau Wino Bob.

Last Saturday, my phone rang and the voice on the other end was my long lost older brother. “Hey, I’m at Newark Airport!  Can you pick me up and can I crash at your place?”  OK, so we exchange emails every few months and an occasional phone call, but it has been four years since he and I have been in each other’s company.  Upon his college graduation, he accepted a good job out west, planted roots and with life and work, has not been back in quiet a while.  So as the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, I threw open the doors to my home, slaughtered the fatted calf and feasted for several evenings as we openly spoke about life and change and world events.  Well, I don’t actually have a fatted calf, but there is a groundhog that tunnels around the neighborhood.  I set up the safe trap but was unsuccessful in capturing the little bastard.  Thus, I resorted to hopping in the truck and slaughtering the meat counter at Kings for some porterhouses. 

While at Kings, I too had a bit of a Prodigal Son moment and picked up a bottle of wine that would match one I brought up from the basement.  Yes, one of my wino neighbors had given me a Provence wine, which I intended to serve with the meal.  As I unfoiled it, the cork was wet and a tiny rust spot lay inside the capsule.  Concerned that it was shot, I selected (purchased) my first bottle of French wine since the war.  OK, I have left myself open to criticism and I will gladly accept.  I’m not saying I’ve given up the boycott.  Let’s just say I have become French and feel that going back on my word for a moment is a life choice.

Be that as it may, I inducted my older brother into the WinoStuff society.  You must remember that beer runs deeply through our gene structure and we made the rounds.  I trotted him to all the hot spots showing the bartenders and owners of several of my hangouts that I am not a complete loner and occasionally I can find someone to sit next to me and chat. He quickly identified each place with the names I have given them in my woggings.  Though the sign on the door of Bacchus made that easy, UnBacchus does not promote itself to the public in that fashion.  It has been a long time since we hit the town together and we laughed the night recalling the drunken benders in the bars by ASU.  I think at this point, I should make a revelation, or heartfelt statement about it being great to see family and how no matter of time and distance, there is always a certain bond, you know all that kind of bullshit.  It was touching to see Wino Rocker and now, Wino Ray greet each other and embrace, not in a gay way but more in a brotherhood way.  They haven’t seen each other in over 15 years and it was a great day we all spent together.  Genetically, we just don’t do that touchy feely hello-goodbye thing, therefore I found it hard to something other then, “Hey, it was a pisser, let me know next time you’re heading back East and we’ll grab dinner” and “See you in the Funny papers.” Now where did I leave that wine glass….

1994 Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence Cuvee Rouge gift    This blend from a smaller Southern Rhone appellation carried a maturity and softness even with liquid sipping out the cork.  Fading in color but full on fruit with dark cherry and plum flavors.

2001 Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence Cuvee Rouge $ (13.99)    The younger brother to the 94, this blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan and Cinsault boasts a raspberry, cherry and tobacco nose with a bit of untamed tannin.  Sit this one down for two years and enjoy the change.

 

September 15, 2003

I’m not sure if all web site contributors get personal phone calls from unhappy friends bitching them out for comments in an entry, but never let it be said that Wino Bob turns a deaf ear to critics.  Yes, over the weekend I fielded a call from Mr. T-Rex himself.  It seems my “inhumanely cheap” comment did not sit well with him.  After all, Winette Alice does have hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing in their home and he manages to provide some very exquisite culinary fare.  As a matter of fact, he sent me this picture of the meal and wine he was planning to make for Winette Alice on Sunday.  This special dish was something he enjoyed on one of his swings through China just last month.  He told me that using the youngest, freshest ingredients is the key to this dish.

 You can see that the kitten recognizes that a meat cleaver in hand is not a good thing, I wonder if that is a bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz he will be serving.

Secondly, Wino T-Rex wanted me to post the other picture that the owners of the winery took during their visit to Clover Hill.  As you can clearly see, I kid about Wino T-Rex being cheap.  In fact his money is hanging out of his pocket, albeit it’s his commune money he got 37 years ago and has yet to part with.

 


 
It looks like he is just about to give Winette Alice a loving hug.

 

September 13, 2000

There is nothing better than opening an email with the two simple words “permission granted”.  The gracious Winette Alice (aka Mrs. T-Rex) had forwarded me the picture of her big day in the country.  She promised a new feature which I will call, Winette Alice’s Roving Report.  Below is a picture from her trip to Clover Hill Winery in Pennsylvania.

As you will notice, the bag is not filled with wine though Winette Alice will not admit it nor write about it.  She told me that Wino T-Rex sweet-talked the girl behind the counter at the winery to give him a bag and stuff it with napkins to make it look like he bought a lot of stuff.  Then he made Winette Alice pose for the picture with the beautiful vineyard in the background, after which he refolded the bag, gave it back to the winery people and sped off to Trader Joes in NJ for a case of Two Buck Chuck.  So I look forward to a review of the Two Buck Chuck.

 

Thank you for your new monthly feature and we look forward to your first review. (OK Winette Alice, the world awaits, you can’t back out now.)

 

September 12, 2003

Life is too short, so I must drink more wine.  Maybe life will be too short since I do drink all this wine.  Either way, I am committed to drinking wine from my racks so I can rotate the crops.  If I did learn one thing from Mrs. Fanaldi’s Third Grade social studies lesson, one must occasionally rotate their crops so you do not keep depleting the soil of the same nutrients.  Green beans this year, soybeans next year; Aussie Shiraz last night, Burgundy tonight.  Oh, did I say that out loud?  Well, as you know there are a few pre-war Frenchies in my rack, two of which I purchased after my love connection with Veronique Drouhin.  So I rotated my palate from the bigger reds to the more feminine and fleshy Pinot Noir produced by my favorite Winette. 

It was an evening with a simple beef stew in a red wine mushroom gravy so I decided to deduct one more French wine from the very limited holding I have in the rack.  Getting in touch with the sensitive side of my palate, I by-passed the cabs, syrah, shiraz, Malbec, fondled a few whites and then laid my sweaty little pipe cleaner fingers on a Gevrey-Chambertin.  I am not going to spend time with the jokes, nor say more than necessary, but Gevrey-Chambertin is a large wine-producing village in the northern part of Cote de Nuits residing in the Cote D’Or.  Now I don’t speak French so I’m not sure, but I think the place is pronounced Coat da Nuts.  So if you are into impressing your friends, the next time you want to sound like a real knowledgeable wine person, mention that you enjoy the Pinot Noirs from Coat da Nuts.  What would be most interesting is if the world famous French chemist, Gay Lussac, came from the Coat da Nuts section of town. 

1997 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin $$ (34.95)    Like glancing across the room and spotting a well dressed attractive woman, I hesitated to approach this wine but once you gather the courage and walk over to say hi, you find out she likes football.  There is a grace to the red and dark berry flavors and a finish that makes you turn your head as it walks out to the lounge.

 

September 11, 2003

Lost But Not Forgotten

   

 

September 10, 2003

Well it’s good to see that Wino John has fixed his keyboard and remembered that the term What’s New refers to something at least younger than the stains in my current pair of underwear.  President Bush checks into this site more frequently.  He once told me he enjoys our current support for his war efforts.  I had a nice picture sent to me by the lovely Winette Mrs. T-Rex (aka Solder Paste Boy’s wife), but need her permission before I can post it.  It seems that the inhumanely cheap, short-armed, long pocketed T-Rex was nice enough to aerate the Mrs. with a drive to the country.  OK, it was Pennsylvania but for us New Jerseyans, that is the country.

That reminds me of a story from the geek world side of my depressing existence.  Several years ago, a sales manager from one of the companies we work with, flew in to do the sales manager thing.  You know, get out from under the eyes of the boss, in the most inconvenient time to pretend he is busy while placing undue pressure and anxiety on a small, over worked under paid field sales guy.   This was a day in which he flew into Newark airport; we headed south on the NJ Turnpike to New Brunswick for a 'much ado about nothing' meeting.  Since most of the people in the room were more impressed with themselves and the sound of their own voice, what should have taken an hour bled into five.  What pissed me off the most was that we were going to enjoy a meal at a nice restaurant in White House, NJ as my treat for setting this hoedown up.  But no, I lost out again and at the conclusion on the meeting we headed back up the NJT on that late August afternoon towards the airport.  For those not familiar with that portion of the highway, there are many of the best oil refineries, urban areas, auto-theft area, power plants and waste management facilities in the world.  Say no more if you know what is good for you… Usually in the late afternoon, the flash towers sporadically flare off the belched up deadly flumes of the petroleum cracking process to convert them to unhealthy irritant hydrocarbons and greenhouse gases that haze the sky a glowing amber hue. 

As I adamantly informed my guest, that smell in our car was produced from the outside and not from my insides, he asked how I could live with this.  He, being born and bred on the wholesome lifestyle and crisp autumn air at the base of the White Mountains in NH, informed me he was glad to be heading home.  Then, to add insult to injury, he asked where we kept the brick and mortar seeds.  The what?  Yes, in his smug NH accent he amused himself with a comment that NJ has to update it's state motto, unless growing cement is now a gardening technique.  Listen, you cow-tipping, sheep humping, back woods a$$hole, NJ is the Garden State, still, really, no, I mean it.  Just look around.  OK, I got his point, so the entrepreneurs here decided to leave the farms and manure for the industrial revolution and we decided to use brick and mortar instead of oak and tarred rope.  But there are places here that most New Jerseyans themselves look at a map to see if they are still in the State.  As I have grown older and realized that Born to Run was not the answer to all my teenage turmoil, I started to appreciate this State in ways I never did before.   (Editor's note: "Governor Bob".  That has a certain ring to it...)

2001 Covey Run Syrah $ (10.99)     This Washingtonian Wine has a pleasant dark berry fruit and hint of chocolate but lacks the muscle this grape can possess.

 

September 5, 2003

Next time I am in the presence of Winette Tia, I need to figure out a way to see if she actually has a wooden leg without being slapped for inappropriate touching.  Last night, a quorum formed in the wine room at Chateau Bob and mass wine consumption broke out.  All I remember in the fog that were my fiery eyeballs this morning is that the bottle count out numbered the body count two to one.  I believe I did the French thing and raised my white flag around 2AM, but Wino Rocker and Winette Tia matched wits on TV trivia until 3:30.  If I could only figure out a way to make money while sipping wine and telling stories my life would be... well..., fun.  

As a public service announcement, the fall semester for the Windows on the World Wine School begins Sept. 29th and will be held at the NY Marriott Marquis Hotel.

As you know, I owe my passion for wine to that course and if it weren’t for that legal thing with me not being able to say I am personal friends with Kevin Zraly and that 500 feet safe zone, I would be taking a class or two as an alumni.  I always say, one cannot drink enough of the wine Kevin provides for each class and to the pourer I gave a tongue lashing to for skimping on the fill; I am sorry.  Part of my education has been understanding the difference in fill level for a tasting versus a party night drunk.

Last night, or rather the hour prior to me waking up, as I sat in bed unwinding (well that’s what I call it), I panicked myself with the brilliance that befell me.  I have been trying to find a way to add pizzazz to my entries, I say a film on women who wear thongs and drink wine.  Phashizzle my nizzle; Wino Bob’s Girl’s Gone Wild.  I know Snoop won’t be using that title for a while since he will be spending time explaining to the man what happened at Spring Break.  But then you wake up the next day, shave your tongue and realize that some of these brilliant ideas look dull and gray when your head is pounding.

1993 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa $$$ (74.00)   I understand the fanatics for this dark ruby nectar.  There is a regal dress to this wine as it lays out a headiness of cassis, blackberries, chocolate, sandalwood and herbs. Luscious and full bodied, with a long slightly tannic hem.

1995 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa $$ (40.00)   A fav of Wino John due to the big bold fruit and weightiness of this wine.  There are blackberry, blueberry, coco and plum that hit you with this wine.  An impressive liquid. 

September 1, 2003

Happy Labor Day to all who labor their lives away trying to keep up with the stress and financial obligations called life in 2003.  I apologize, it has been longer than expected since I have sat in front of the computer but the end of summer caught me by surprise and I took several days of down time.  Yes, for the past three days, I went without computer, wine, and out-going cell calls to see if there are any coils left to be rewound before the crush of work kicks back in.  In the absence of wine and computers, I did manage to have one of those weird moments in time when the past slaps you in the back of a sunburned neck and you realize how good it feels once it stops hurting.  Dinner tonight was simple but fulfilling. 

Growing up as one of four kids to a night supervisor in Stanley tool, our vacations were limited to the two-week mandatory time off when the factory closed at the end of July.  The majority of time away from the home in Bloomfield was spent at my aunt’s bungalow just off route 37 enroute to Seaside Heights.  Who knew my aunt and uncle had such foresight to buy a $4700 beach house in a small town near the jersey shore town of Seaside, which now could be resold for the low six figures.  As I have written about before, when my father was not working, the only passion he had was to take us fishing.  Most of the time we were on my cousin’s 18 foot wooden skiff in the Barnegat bay near Good Luck Point trying to catch, net or hook what ever was still alive in that brown soup we used as a food and recreational swimming resource.  In the late sixties, blow fish, snappers and Jersey Blue claw crabs were abundant.  Time, tides and environmental influences changed all that until recently.  In the past few years, the bay seems to be making a minor comeback serving up a healthier populous of snappers and blue claws.

With my parents now retired and awaiting their house in the shore area to be completed, my father has sought refuge from the tiny temporary housing by spending most of the day on the pier with a rod in his hand.  Thank God, it is a rod with line and bait; we don’t need a family scandal. 

By time I reached home last night, at the end of my head-clearing time away from the dark hole called tech sales, I had a cooler containing the unopened wine bottle I started out with on Friday morning, ticket stubs from a sail around Baltimore harbor, six Jersey Blue claw crabs and 9 frozen snappers.  So tonight I dropped the snappers in the freezer, grilled a steak and spent the afternoon with a bottle of wine and a memory.  Yes, the memory of summers of my youth when a half-day on the bay brought us a peach basket filled with crabs. 

As I cleaned the crabs, I thought back to the summer of 1967 when we caught crabs by the basketfull each day and spent the evening boiling them in a large blackened pot my uncle kept just for the outside cooking.  He and my grandfather built a brick bar-b-q pit off the sun porch where we would burn scrub pine for hours to boil the water that would cook the crabs.  Then both families would line homemade picnic tables covered in newspaper, under the shade of large conifers to begin the eating fest.  For those not familiar with crab eating, there is a lot more shell and work than meat in a crab as one breaks the apron, removes the hard shell, clears the gills and digs for the tiny lump meat in a Jersey blue claw.  But fresh caught crab is sweet and succulent and makes a great appetizer when mixed with a Chablis mustard sauce. 

To make the day special, I dug out a new wine that my co-worker and friend wino JT (his name is John but no one can take Wino John so I will call him wino JT) brought me back from a trip to Germany.  I have been saving this wine for a special time and my reunion with Jersey blue claws was it.  Now my mentor, Kevin Zraly, told us that Germany only made good white wines, but this red was a great complement to the crab Dijon and the grilled shell steak.  I must admit I was not familiar with Schwartz Riesling, but it is most likely the mutation of pinot noir in Germany, also know as Meunier.  As with most things German, they managed to toughen up the otherwise fleshy Pinot Noir to a robust flavorful wine that drank well.  Maybe Springsteen sings about the tough times growing up in NJ but there are those of us who enjoyed our summers at the shore.  Maybe we didn’t know there was a better life out there, maybe we didn’t know there were better places to vacation, maybe we were just happy to be with family and friends, eating a simple dinner as the sun set across the bay and a swarm of jersey mosquitoes chewed one alive until large red welts covered ones body like the pox.  UH, uh Growin Up…

1999 Schlor Weingut Schwartz Riesling Spatlese   gift       As red wines go, this one delivers a nice mix of tobacco, dark fruit and a soft finish.  Somewhat sweet on the nose but dry on the palate and brawny enough to handle grilled shell steak.

 

August 26, 2003

Here’s a small portion of an email from my favorite author and Paterson historian, Flavia.  She has been spending time enjoying Sauvignon Blanc for the summer and recommends Mario’s super premium.  Visit www.andrettiwinery.com to get the story behind Mario’s move off the racing circuit and into the vineyard.

By the way, I've been trying a few whites and storing up stories about
them--if I weren't so busy lately you'd have seen something lyrical
from me by now.

Just bouncing off your PS, however, let me say that my husband and I
went to a benefit wine-tasting out at Settlers Inn in Hawley, PA (one
of our favorite getaway spots) and (1) avoided the blackout entirely,
and (2) enjoyed a great Sauvignon Blanc produced by none other than
Mario Andretti, who has retired from race-car driving into the
fast-lane of California wine production. I'm not sure what it sells
for, but it's a label to look out for. Just as a side note, his
Sangiovese is spectacular.

best,
Flavia

 

August 25, 2003

This is a simple entry as Wino John and I met for a quick lunch and a bottle of California cabernet to discuss business, catch up on the waning days of summer and see where things will be heading for the WinoStuff staff into the fall.  Chateau St. Jean was a good lunch wine for a causal sandwich.

Sunday was a simple dinner with the folks from Fulton Street Films.  Grilled porterhouses with a Rhone wine that has been sitting idle in my cellar for the past two years, this simple blend from Cotes du Ventoux in the Southern Rhone Region is a good example of why Grenache and Syrah work well together.  Both of these wines are fun, easy drinkers that fit casual food and conversation with good friends.

2000 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma $ (24.00)    This wine boasts currant, cedar hints, plum and tobacco in a well-crafted wine, but lacks a powerful finish.  It is a great wine for the casual crowd.

1997 Chateau Pesquie La Quintessence du Chateau Pesquie Cotes du Ventoux  $ (15.99)    Find this one at a local shop and give it a try. This grenache and syrah blend is a full-bodied wine with beautiful Syrah aromas of dark, ripe blackberries and blueberries, as well as wonderful, complex floral and oak components.  A smooth long finish makes this a winner for value and quality.

 

August 22, 2003

Every once in a harvest moon, I need to provide readers with some factual information.  I have been reviewing the ability to acquire wine from wineries I have researched but as you know the shipping restrictions are a Rubik’s cube.  Please see the information provided by the Wine America Web site, the map below is convenient.

Where Can You Ship?

Reciprocity States 

See the roster for specific variations that apply.

California

Shipments up to two cases per month permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

Colorado

Shipments up to two cases per month permitted from reciprocal states; wineries must apply for permit; consumer must purchase in person; no advertising; intrastate ok

Hawaii

Shipments up to two cases per year. Wineries only. Must submit invoices to state.

Idaho

Shipments up to two cases per month permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

Illinois

Shipments up to two cases per year permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

Iowa

Shipments up to two cases per month permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

Minnesota

Shipments up to two cases per year permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

Missouri

Shipments up to two cases per year permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

New Mexico

Interstate shipments up to two cases per month permitted from reciprocal states

Oregon

Shipments up to two cases per month permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

Washington 

Shipments up to two cases per year permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

West Virginia

Shipments up to two cases per month permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

Wisconsin

Shipments up to one case per year permitted from reciprocal states; intrastate ok

Limited Open Shipment States

See the roster for specific limits,etc.

Alaska

Limited interstate shipments: non-licensee may import a reasonable quantity for personal use

Connecticut

Limited interstate shipments: up to 5 gallons in two month period for personal use; intrastate ok

District of Columbia

Limited shipments: One quart per month

Shipper Permit States

Winery must apply to state ABC for permit in advance.

Georgia

Winery can obtain permit if no wholesale distribution. $50/year, labels must be approved in advance. In person-purchases allowed but no more than 5 cs./per year per person.

Louisiana

Shipments permitted only by obtaining a permit from the state: 504-925-7681

Nebraska

Direct shipment from permit holders. Fee $500. Maximum one case per person per month. License year is May 1-April 30. No prorate. Excise tax due Jan. 25. 402-471-2571

Nevada

No-fee permit must be obtained from the state Dept. of Taxation. Limit of 12 cases per year per person. 775-687-6481. Must pay excise taxes.

New Hampshire

Interstate shipments permitted only by obtaining a free permit from the state; intrastate ok. Limit of 5 cases per address per year. Payment of 8% tax required monthly. Must report monthly even if no shipments. To obtain permit see Direct Shipping at http://webster.state.nh.us/liquor/laws_licensing/laws_licensing.htm or phone 603-271-2039

North Dakota

$50 permit allows. Wineries or retailers may ship up to one case per month for personal use. 701-328-3139

Wyoming

Permit http://revenue.state.wy.us/liqourframe.htm Only unlisted items. 18 l. per customer/year. If ship more than 90 l. of a product per year must make product available for listing. May also ship directly to retailers. $50/yr. July 1-June 30. (307) 777-7231

Consumer Permit States

Consumer must apply to state ABC in advance.

Alabama

Limited interstate shipments: consumer must call 205-690-6304 to obtain a permit and pick up wine at ABC store; no intrastate shipments

Montana

Connoisseur's license. Individual must obtain and allows direct import of up to 12 cases per year. $50. $25 renewal. Consumer must pay taxes. Winery must first register with Liquor License Bureau 406-444-2460 and is limited to 60 cases per year. No charge to register.

New Jersey

Limited interstate shipments; intrastate ok

Ohio

Limited interstate shipments; restricted intrastate shipments

Pennsylvania

Limited shipments: PA consumer must special order from state store which will procure from supplier winery; intrastate shipments prohibited

South Carolina

Limited shipments through three-tier system; intrastate shipments prohibited

Vermont

Limited shipments: consumer must obtain permit from state; intrastate shipments prohibited

Constrained States 

See roster for specific state laws that prohibit direct shipment.

Arizona

Special orders for wineries with permits requires shipments through wholesaler and retailer. 602-542-5141 http://www.azll.com/lic17.htm $25 for three years.

Arkansas

All shipments prohibited

Delaware

Special orders for not readily available wines from wineries with permits requires shipments through wholesaler and retailer. Each consumer limited to 5 cs./yr. Requires winery to have direct shipper license & file invoices, and be responsible for taxes, $4 fee per case or partial case to wholesaler who splits this with retailer. 302-577-3204

Kansas

All shipments prohibited

Maine

Interstate shipments prohibited; restricted intrastate shipments

Massachusetts

Interstate shipments prohibited; intrastate ok

Michigan

Interstate shipments prohibited; intrastate ok

Mississippi

All shipments prohibited

New York

Interstate shipments prohibited; intrastate ok

Oklahoma

All shipments prohibited

Rhode Island

Only in person purchases may be shipped.

South Dakota

All shipments prohibited

Texas

All shipments prohibited

Utah

All shipments prohibited

Virginia

Interstate shipments prohibited; intrastate ok

Felony States

States with laws that include felony level penalties.

Florida

Shipments prohibited; FELONY penalty; restricted intrastate shipments

Georgia

All shipments prohibited; FELONY penalty

Indiana

Shipments prohibited; FELONY penalty with exclusion for ATF Permittees as they are subject to review under ATF Circular 96-3; restricted intrastate shipments

Kentucky

All shipments prohibited; FELONY penalty

Maryland

All shipments prohibited; FELONY penalty

North Carolina

Interstate shipments prohibited; intrastate ok

Tennessee

All shipments prohibited; FELONY penalty

 Information provided by:

WineAmerica
1200 G Street, NW Suite 360
Washington, DC 20005

 

August 20, 2003

It's a good thing I have broad shoulders on this stick figure frame.  With Wino John caught up in bi-coastal work commitments, in addition to his bi-polar posting frequency, and Wino Wally caught up in such a top secret project that he is not allowed to disclose his whereabouts, the responsibilities of bringing new and exciting content rests on my shoulders like Atlas.  OK, maybe Wino Atlas and it’s not the world, it’s a magnum of red on my shoulder, but I did have to dust off my best black suit and stuff official Wino Bob business cards into my left breast pocket.  As in American psycho, they are printed on antique linen and I snap them out with my right thumb and index finger.  My good friend Big Bob of Dreyfus, Ashby & Co. extended a special invitation to the WinoStuff staff as official “press” to cover the newest releases of Nederburg Winery and celebrate the food and culture of South Africa’s best.

The event was held on The Jewel, a 100-foot yacht that is docked at Pier 81 on the Island of Manhattan.  This was the first time since sailing lessons that I was back on the Hudson and the weather could not have been better.  The river was calm and the temperature was offset by the gentle breeze that was channeled north through the palisades.  The personal boat traffic was bustling as the air and water restrictions have been eased and it was great to see kayakers, pleasure crafts and sailboats enjoying the unique view the water gives one of the city. 

We boarded the yacht, affixed our nametags and began the art of mingling, tasting and enjoying the discussion of wine as a two-piece band played traditional South African music in the cabin.  I was shocked to see how the sound of South Africa incorporated an accordion backing up the animal hide drum.  I didn’t realize my Polish drinking song background had musical roots in the bush country of Zimbabwe.  I was told later that this group was part of Paul Simon’s Graceland recordings and it was chief Paul who brought the accordion to the bushman, or something like that.  As the walk from the Imperial Port ferry to Pier 81 left me soft on deodorant and long on thirst, I reached for the chilled white wines to freshen me up.  The Sauvignon Blanc was brash, the Chardonnay was a bit mellow, but the winner for white wines was the blend called Lyric.  I do not believe this is available in NJ but for a summer white wine to be enjoyed while the grill is slow-cooking the chicken, this would be a great wine to start with.  Lyric had a nice fruit blend as its sauvignon blanc, cape riesling and chardonnay all offer a hand.  There is a slight sweetness to this wine and a bold acidity that reminded me of a Chinese buffet. 

I waited a bit too long to head to the buffet but did enjoy some of the traditional SA fare that consisted of Bebotie, Biltong, Sosaties, Ostrich, Samosas and Malva Pudding.

 

I then turned my attention to the reds and sipped the Pinotage as the boat gracefully settled near the Statue of Liberty as darkness set in.  I headed out to the upper deck to soak in the magnificent view.  NYC had recovered without a scar from the blackout and the office building’s lights in lower Manhattan sparkled on the river’s surface.  Lady Liberty’s light shined brightly through the night air boldly saying we are here, we are united and we are strong.  No one will douse her flame.  The flag on Ellis Island seemed to float on the breeze as it stood tall in front of the doors of the building through which three of my four grandparents were brought to start a new life in America.

 

As I enjoyed conversation with the owners of The Liquor Locker in Edison and Wino John’s best friend and first entry to WinoStuff news, Wino Brian of A&P Wines & Spirits in NW NJ, the gracious host, Big Bob of Ashby Dreyfus & Co, handed me a new glass, made me finish my Nederburg Shiraz and poured out an auction wine.  Nederburg is famous for their auction wines and this was something special Big Bob had for us big red lovers.  This 1997 Cab/Shiraz blend was powerful and fruity with a velvety finish that was the perfect complement to the night.   It was a great evening and I enjoyed the conversation with many wine lovers but it is hard for me to capture in words the feeling of being on a boat in the Hudson with a vibrant City on one bank and a burgeoning waterfront on the other, a big red in my glass, ethnic music flowing from the cabin windows and the smiles of winos from around this great Metro Area.  It gave me a feeling that the area is alive again. 

 

Razvan Macici

Cellar master of Nederburg Winery

and

Big Bob

Lower Manhattan at sunset

 

Empire State Building at Dusk

Our South African Entertainers with accordion

 

 

Brian Badlowski - Store Manger A&P Wines & Spirits and Lady Liberty

August 16, 2003

A special 'thanks' goes out to the staff at Wine Monthly Magazine for their blurb in the clusters section of the Aug/Sept. issue.  As you scan down the left column at the very bottom, you will see the exciting news about our Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir.   I am sure now that the legitimate press has caught magical elixir fever, we will be producing this at the rate of 4000 tons per acre. 

So don’t say I’m totally self absorbed, for those who remember, there was that one time in band camp, I mean that one time I purchased the Pinotage that donated money to save the SA cheetah.  Well in my world of generosity and altruism, I have again reached into the Wino Bob bank account and purchased a wine that gives something back.  Combing the shelves of Gary’s in Livingston, I went looking for a bottle of wine to have with my Tuna Steak tonight that would not cost more than 10 dollars.  That basically relegated me to isle 6, the mixed shelves of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Portugal and Hungary.  Recognizing a label in the same clusters section of Wine Monthly, I glanced at the price; $9.99, so I picked up the bottle and read the story.  This wine was designed by two brothers which, as far as I can tell, either live in Virginia or whose parents live in Virginia.  In memory of their mother, they wanted to pay tribute to her.  (She passed away from liver cancer.)  They are contributing 50 cents from the purchase of each bottle of wine to the Arlington Virginia Hospice, which I assume helped care for their mother through her difficult struggle with cancer.  The funds are being donated in memory of Lilliana S. Bartholomaus.

The artwork was done by one of the brothers.  To me it looks like the emblem on the New Orleans Saints helmets, but there was no explanation given.  I concluded they used the word tattoo as a symbol of the mark their mother left on their lives and how a tattoo is there throughout one's life for all to see.  That last sentence is purely speculation on my part.

2000 Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc $ (15.99)    For me, this wine lacks the snap and zest one would expect from a grape style that should make your mouth pucker.  Much softer than expected.

2001 2 Brothers Big Tattoo Red $ (9.99)    This Chilean blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah and 10% Merlot delivers a nice amount of dark fruits and tannin.  The wine does fall off quickly and seems light on the palate but I commend Erik and Alex for their intentions.

 

August 15, 2003

No road map, I’m just clearing out the gray matter of some things that have been rolling around unbolted.  As a student of ancient navy warfare, thoughts, like a loose canon on a pitching ship, collide with important items.  Before they punch a hole in the port side of my mind, I will lash them to the gunwale...   

I hope you can read this, since there still are pockets of our country that have been blacked out since 4:09PM EST yesterday as this cascading energy overload made Manhattan disappear on the horizon with the setting of the sun.  Nightly, the Eastern Skyline looked like a Christmas village with yellow, white and greenish specs outlining the cement hillside.  Last night, as in the summer of 1977, as I broke the rise on Bloomfield Ave in Upper Montclair, the city was not there.  "What", you ask, "does this have to do with a wine entry?"  First, I hope your wine storage was not affected, but more importantly, it reminds me of the power outage on the main pages of Wino John and Wino Wally.  An outage or boycott on new material seems to have befallen WinoStuff.com.

On a personal note; Happy Birthday Wishes to Winette Tia.  Her love of red wine and infectious laugh make the sharing of a bottle of wine enjoyable.  One day I have to get her to give me her review of a wine, in her style.

Last but certainly not least, the winos favorite chef (no not 'Chef' from South Park, though his salty chocolate balls are delicious), I’m talking about Wino Lou, extended the Wino Welcome for Sunday dinner last week.  The weather has been so bad that our porches have hosted few wine nights this summer.  But Wino Lou spontaneously extended an invitation to his culinary lair and I, in turn, grabbed a bottle of Silver Oak.  Good food, fun friends and a Big Ass California Cab.  Why would one need anything else in life?

1995 Silver Oak Alexander Valley $$$ (67.00)    I openly admit I have fallen for the lusty stares of this wine, though true tasters would rate this a bit thin and short on the finish.  Sorry, on this one I lean towards the blind love of the girl I could not date in high school.  The sexy fruit and firm tannin figure leaves me with a boyhood grin.  (Editor's note: Lusty stares???)

 

August 13, 2003

It has been a while since I posted because Wino Bob has been knee deep in research.  No, not another chemical wonder elixir.  (I have struggled with the reluctance of the masses to take me seriously.)  Do not stumble over the name, the product is great.  However, this research has to do with family, a potential vineyard purchase and the bottom line.  The humorous Kevin Zraly opened the first class I sat through with a very funny statement, but it wasn’t until now that I got the truth in his quip.  “How do you make a small fortune in the wine business? Start with a very large one.”    Truth be told, the struggling economy has yet to sink into those looking to sell small wineries.  

My new research involves the economics of winery operations.  One of my relatives is considering an investment in a small winery and is well-versed in number crunching and break-even points, ROI, profit projections and the like.  I, on the other hand, have been gathering some sense of tons per acre, gallons per acre, pounds per gallon, and other things that can be plugged into mathematical formulas.  But the biggest piece of reality I garnered from the research is that there is no real formula, it’s organic, man.  And organic things are subject to Mother Nature and your personal engineering that lead only to loosely fitting assumptions.  Now, math is not my strong suite, but I think I calculated it out for him. If he is to purchase this small vineyard in the west for the nearly seven figure asking price, he would have to plant and harvest 4,692 jigohectometers, or in tangible terms, roughly the land mass area of the surface of Uranus. OK, I made that up, I just like using the planetary reference for Uranus.  However, I did receive this input from a highly intellectual bookhead from Rutgers, The State University of NJ: 

Well any number is an estimate. Cabernet Sauvignon will produce 4 tons/A, concord will produce 8 tons/A. It takes about 12lbs. of fruit to make 1 gallon of wine. That is 667 gallons of Cab, 1,334 gallons of Concord per acre.

Sincerly,
Gary C. Pavlis, Ph.D.
 
Rutgers University

So in the wisdom of the tongue twister, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck,… how much quality from what type of grapes produces what type of wine for what price?  Right now my head hurts, but the numbers are in and basically, if the winery gives my relative the entire property, and equipment and pays him for one year, it turns out to be a 5-year ROI on PBIT.  But the term 'liquid assets' has a new meaning for me.

1998 Caymus Conundrum $ (21.00)    As white wines go, this is one for those wanting big but not buttery.  A harmony of fruit with an elegant finish suited well for baked salmon.

August 8, 2003

Drawing closed on a crappy week with a heightened day of crappiness; I found myself awash in red wine and needing to vent off steam.  Since I do not have the usual chain of command that ends with kicking the dog, I was in search of what I could vent off on.  Then I realized that Wino John would find it not worth his editing time if I just went off on a rant without having any ties to the loosely fitting wine review pretext I use.  I had to find some manner to tie the proverbial finger poke to the eye on something wine related since my immaturity only makes me feel better at the expense of someone or something else being hurt.  There are plenty of un-winostuff things and people I could spend the next hour thinking up stupid childish things to rip on, but that would not fit my job description here at WinoStuff.com.  No, I had to make sure there was a wine-related topic that asinine jokes and immature humor would help reduce my heart rate and still impart something about wine.  OK, that really won’t happen, but what I did manage to find is that French people or things French or Francophile items still hold the honor of being up for a jab. 

Heading to the vast Wino Bob research library, better know as the reading material in the bathroom.  I came across two things that made me smile, no made me chuckle.  Well, actually, they made me laugh so hard my stomach contraction forced air out of my body that made a sound that made me laugh harder and the cycle continued for about a minute.  Nothing better on a down day than finding something that makes you laugh hard enough that you expel gas from your bung.

Item one that I found funny is the name of a 20-acre vineyard in Pomerol district noted for their outstanding red wine.  The set up- Pomerol is the small wine district in Bordeaux, which houses the extravagantly priced Chateau Petrus claimed by some to be the crown jewel.  Hang with me-  and winemakers from this region think that Merlot is the grape of grapes and cabernet sauvignon takes a backseat.  So it is only befitting that the name of the vineyard that made me expel gas as I laughed is Chateau Le Gay.  Now that’s what I call truth in advertising, a Merlot-rich wine from a place called Le Gay.

Item two actually pushed me over the edge and lead to a scene I dare not describe at this point.  Though the information is actually a fact I will remember from this point forward since it has to do with a French chemist who is credited with the scale that measures the percent of alcohol by volume.  For example 13.5% alcohol by volume is also written as 13.5 G. L.  Secondly, this chemist formulated the equation for the fermentation of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.  Quick, pinch your ass cheeks together tightly, his name- Gay-Lussac (pronounced Gay Loose Sack).  I apologize for any laughter that resulted in underwear staining, but rest assured, the Winostuff Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir also works well as a detergent to eliminate the evidence.  Think about it, can you imagine the abuse this guy took in high school gym class?  First off, he’s a science geek so you know he was the main target in Le Dodge Ball.  But to be there the first day and the gym teacher is calling the roll, "OK who is Gay Lussac?  Boyz, boyz, zis is not foney.  Gay Lussac, well then put on your jock strap and zey won’t be loose any mire." Now in high school, when the sub passed around a sign-in sheet, the usual suspects would appear, you know them: Pete Zorria, Terry Clothe, Patty O’Furniture, Haywood Jablome, Tyrone Schoelace, Mahat Macoat, Petey Dunkin, Les Bian, Jack Mahoggoff and yes, Sister Mary Elephant.  But not in our wildest dreams would we have Aineeda Gay Lussac. 

So next time you are having a rough day and drowning your misery in a bottle of wine, look at the label where it says 14% alcohol by volume and be glad you don’t have to go through life with the name Gay Lussac as a guy.

2000 Justin Cal-Ital Blend $ (21.00)    This 74% Nebbiolo/26% Sangiovese seems thin and watery for being made of the robust grape of the Piedmont area which normally produces big bold reds.  The best I can offer is drink this one with a calzone but don’t over do the seasoning; it will knock this one for a loop.

 

August 5, 2003

Last night, after the depressing news from my accountant of the disaster of a year the technology industry meant to my techno-geek business, Wino Andy and I went to Bacchus to drown the news in red wine.  Much to my delight, for the first time in more than a year and a half, the affable female half of the ownership was there.  It was nice to see and speak with the lovely Sylvia and catch up on those grains of sand that have made their way through the restriction of the hour glass.  With finances in shambles, the visit was shortened by the $9.50 per glass price tag on the Matilda Plains Shiraz.  So it was back to the homestead and the need to continue the drowning.  I dug out something from the right side of the rack (it seems my better wines align themselves with my political tilt) and enjoyed a simple wine.  BV produces a wide range and since I was half buzzed, I didn’t want to take the chance of a short time rental on the George, so I opted for a Coastal Cabernet.  It was a real treat and at this point, I have awakened to the fact that a bottle of wine on an empty stomach is not a good thing for an alarm clock that goes off at 6AM.  Coffee only makes that feeling in your stomach worse and I should have purchased several bottles of this wine had I known I was going to like it this much.

1997 BV Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon Centennial Release $ (16.99)    A pleasant black cherry, currant, and a kiss on the cheek of oak with a silky finish that lingers longer then expected.  For cost and quality, my motion lotion is the only other bottle that gives me this much pleasure.

 

August 3, 2003

Why is it that some guests at dinner have lively, fun conversation where small culinary mishaps or a not-so-stunning glass of wine add to the laughter of the evening yet other guests seem judgmental of the why the napkin is set on the table?  Several weeks ago, I had an outstanding time with new friends that were OK with a slightly overcooked piece of meat and an OK quality bottle of South American wine.  We joked, commented on and wove it into the fabric of the evening.  My most recent of experience was not as fun.  For reasons too tedious for my tedious entry, there are people I do get together with because it is that time of the year and the lottery number drew the lot.  From the instant of invitation acceptance, the consternation of food choices and wine pairings twists in the bowels of my gut.  Is the style of food right?  Should it be served with potatoes or rice?  Can the red wine with appetizers progress correctly to the dinner wine?  Many times there are more questions than answers since on more than one occasion definitive statements were made as to what brand of this or that is the only brand they will put past their lips.  Wow, it sure takes experimentation with something new off the table.  So do you give in and tailor the meal to them, or do you make what you like and let them deal with liking it or not?

Knowing that red Italian wine is a favorite, go figure we are talking about Essex County (by the way in the 1.5 mile stretch up Bloomfield Ave in town, there are no less than 16 establishments offering some kind of Italian fare.  A bit over the top, don’t you think?)  I stopped by Mr. Kim’s for a bottle.  Not having a large budget, I opted away from the Gaja at $255.00 and into the Giancarlo Travaglini Gattinara.  Reason one was the leftward shift of the decimal point and reason two was a close friend from High School was named something like that.  In my mind, as Gigondas is to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gattinara is to the great Barolos of Piedmont.  For those deeply involved in wine, you can tell my SAT score on the English section by that analogy.  Reading that Travaglini was a quality producer in the region and not having any others to choose from in Mr. Kim’s, I tried this wine for a second or third time.  Personally, and that is what my winings are all about anyway, I don’t think that Gattinara offers the same value for me that the Gigondas' do.  I have spent less and enjoyed more when selecting a Southern Rhone.  I am in search and open to input from those who can point me in the right direction for the great priced, great quality Gattinara I can substitute boldly for the higher priced Barolos and Barbaresco.

1998 Travaglini Gattinara $$ (25.50)     This wine comes out hot and needs a great deal of coaxing and coddling to have its personality step out from behind the curtain.

 

August 2, 2003

With the hazy, hot days of NJ summer in full gear, the soupy air seems more like something one would spoon feed themselves rather than breathe.  These are the days that Wino Wally (if there really is a Wino Wally.  Perhaps his identity, family and wine drinking dossier have been moved to an undisclosed location that prohibits him from updating his page or signing in the guest book to let us know he is alive.) earmarks as chilled white winers.  I myself have been hunting reds that are not as heavy and not as bold.  Clicking the links that link to links that suggest links that are linked, I found myself on www.pinotage.org and have exchanged emails with Peter May.  It seems Peter is as dedicated to Pinotage as I am to syrah/grenache blends.  There is a wealth of information on wineries, regions and events for those interested in South Africa’s national treasure.  Forget the gold and diamond mines and give me a wine that is not overdone and over priced.  This cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut was created in 1925 at Stellenbosch University by Professor Plum in the library with the candlestick. Sorry, Professor Perold created it.  The wine has had great difficulty finding an audience due to its structure far different from the traditional wines of Europe.  At it's best, there is plenty of blackberry, mulberry, and a hint of toasted marshmallow, but that comes from care and love and low yielding old vines.

According to Peter, several California wineries are making their play with Pinotage and I offer up the wineries cut from an email Peter sent me recently.

Hi Bob,

These are the CA wineries making Pinotage that I know of:

J Winery (Healdsburg)
McNab Ridge (Mendocino)
Phoenix (Napa)
Sutter Ridge (Amador)
Steltzner (Napa)
Vino con Brio (Lodi)

See my CA report at http://www.winelabels.org/cal2002.htm for some info on Sutter, J, Stelzner & Phoenix.  McNab & Vino are new to Pinotage since I was last in CA.

KWV makes good Pinotage for the price. They had a big turnaround a while ago and took on a brilliant new young winemaker called Kosie Moller who made excellent wine. Unfortunately,  he abruptly left a just over a year ago to do his own thing. I don't know the current winemaker.

Regards,

Peter
www.pinotage.org

Unfortunately, I have not been lucky enough to locate any of these yet but I will post them as I drink them.  For now, I am still in search of a refreshing summer red.

 

July 28, 2003

Land Baron, Entrepreneur, Harley Fanatic, Gun Owner, Hard Rocker and Wine Lover, my friend Wino Rocker and Mrs. Winette Rocker brought a research project to the cookout yesterday.  With his newfound love of the fermented grape, Wino Rocker has been hitting the Pennsylvania Wine Trail on his trips from his palatial estate in NJ to his farmland in Western PA.  On the weekends, WR tours the PA countryside on his Harley visiting the more than 70 wineries of the state.  With simple grill fare, I was treated to an Eastern US grape of a lesser-known variety.  In my haze of late night post party mode, I headed to the small, hot, dark room on the third floor and cracked the books on a grape I have never tasted before.  Yes, hailing from the rolling hills of western PA came a bottle of Chancellor. 

Chancellor is a French-American hybrid that seems to do well in the colder, shorter growing season that we have on this side of the Mississippi.  The only difficulty is that the grape’s clusters are susceptible to downy mildew and the clusters must be thinned to reduce this risk.  But learning something new everyday is the motto here at WinoStuff and yesterday was a learning experience.

2001 Wilhelm Winery Chancellor (gift)      A dry red wine with a hint of dark fruit and spice but the body and finish are thin and short.  It would work well for non-red wine drinkers as a training run for those who want to make the jump.

July 20, 2003

Last evening was a brilliant example of the power of wine.  Hosting guests I had previous met only once, a high-powered couple in the film industry, their interest in wine lubricated the evening for hours of enjoyable conversation and the blossoming of a new friendship.  Seven o’clock turned to eleven thirty within a matter of minutes as we laughed our way through grilled Dijon marinated pork loin and mesquite London broil.  By the end of the night, I had drafted two new members into the Wino of the Month Club as Winette Tia and Wino Lee placed their hands on the decanter and recited the WinoStuff Pledge.  The owners of Fulton Street Films, Winette Tia and Wino Lee had fascinating details of their lives in the film industry and the current production they are working on.  It is a tough business, but the energy and passion they both express lead me to believe that one day in the not to distant future, Wino Bob might get invited to walk the red carpet as a guest at the premier of their full length feature film.  OK, I’m dreaming out loud again about being invited, but the good news is that I managed to escape the evening without being choked.  (If only the dinner with Veronique Drouhin had gone this well!)  Especially after I asked Tia if she would have her picture taken in a WinoStuff thong.

I look forward to Winette Tia checking into our site from time to time and keeping us posted on her latest projects.  I did try, at the end of the third bottle of wine, to pitch them the idea of Wino Bob and Wino John’s Big Wine Adventure.  Now that TNN is changing their name to Spike TV and going after that hormone-driven male demographic, I figured what better to follow Stan Lee’s Stripperella.  Maybe to gain press for the series, Wino Bob could befriend Pam Anderson’s character in Stripperella by doing a thong dance with Pam during her non-crime fighting hours.  Then we can spin off the series to the wacky adventures of Wino Bob and Wino John as they find themselves traveling the world recommending good value, inexpensive wines at restaurants to save the national consumers from overpaying for those cult wines and running up huge credit card debt.  What, yeah, OK even three bottles of wine doesn’t make that seem like much.  No wonder Winette Tia gave me that 'what the F are you talking about' look. 

Anyway, I wonder how Mormons have a fun dinner on a Saturday night?  To me, the juice that flows from the grape is the perfect antidote for breaking the ice, prompting conversation and developing a common bond with new friends.  I say we ship cases of wine to the Middle East and let opposing sides share from a cup of the fine liquid of social graces.

1999 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape $$ (gift)   This pre-Iraq war gift from Wino John was a pure delight.  A shinning example of the depth, structure and finish of this region I adore.  Dark cherries, herb and spice undertones with a velvety finish make this a dinnertime special event.

1995 Talus Merlot ? (gift from dinner guests)     A rich supply of red fruits, and oak aging deliver a wine that has a smooth, long finish.  Like a statue carved from a solid piece of wood, bottle aging brought out the subtleties of this wine and made it a great complement to mesquite grilled London broil.

 

July 18, 2003

I never thought I’d be writing this, but I think I need a lawyer.  Say it ain’t so, Babe.  Yes, I know I have come out over the years with a very strong anti-law suit, anti-lawyer stance.  If you haven’t gotten that sentiment, here’s a reminder- what do sperm and lawyers have in common?  Answer: Every once in a while, one out of one million becomes a human being.  So now that you understand me, you know why I have been on the lawsuit bandwagon.  But the recent turn of events has me considering hiring one of them. 

But Wino Bob, why would you think about such a thing?  Well, in this environment of special interest group rights, it is time for me to stand up for the stick figures of the world.  Muscle heads all get hot chicks and wealthy guys get young hot chicks and smart guys get the B-level hot chicks, but this isn’t about sexual issues.  This is about respect for stick figures.  Yes winos and Winettes, I just don’t sit at home and drink heavily (though Wino John tells everyone otherwise).  No I give my sobriety, liver, and large motor skills to this site.  Always wanting to bring something fresh, I have contacted several wineries to set up interviews with winemakers, to bring the Wino Bob view of the business.  (Insert sound of crickets here)  That is a stage direction for the play, “The Life and Times of Wino Bob”.  Yes, there is an industry conspiracy against Stick figures.  I know this now since I do visit the sites of other wine pages.  They get to meet high-level wine folks.  Other writers lunch or dine with high powered people, but the Wino Bob special phone line sits dormant.  No voice mails inviting me to talk to the right people.  I was born a poor stick figure and I am being held down by the man.  An open call to all stick figures for us to rise up and shout, "we are not going to be bent and molded into stick figure shapes anymore!"  We are not pipe cleaners, we are human beings.  Wino Bob is comin a knockin to a winery near you so I can bring cutting edge insider information to you readers.  Renault, Four Sisters, Alba, the Garden State Grape Growers Association, all have turned their collective backs to the Wino Bob invitation to be part of the fastest growing wine web site on the World Wide Web, in Caldwell, NJ. 

Now do you get the dark side, the suicide music, the empty room on the third floor?  I sense the need for a therapy session.  Oh shit, my therapist is out of a job since Rascals closed.  Jesus, I can’t catch a break.

I will continue the attempts to get those inside stories, but for now, I am left to blaring my way through the process.

 

July 15, 2003

Several times, my email has been filled with complaints about the length of time between entries.  I have laughed it off and made excuses, but now it is time to reveal the true reason for my writing neglect.  As one of the assignments given to me by Wino John, I had to oversee the development of our first exciting product offered exclusively for the winos amongst us.  This development came about one Saturday evening as I entertained guests in my dining room.  In the uncoordinated, drunken reach for the wine bottle to refill my empty glass, I punched the bottle and red wine flooded across the white linen table cloth and my pants.  Tired of throwing away another expensive table cloth, I called Wino John on the WinoStuff hotline and asked him if he could push the correct molecular structure together to save this fine TJ Max special. 

Months of testing, development, and re-engineering have lead to the exciting development of a proprietary compound created with help from the NASA research team from rare elementals brought back from the Mars mission.  One meeting with top level, top secret research chemists at JPL afforded the staff at WinoStuff the world wide rights to this futuristic material.  So it is with great enthusiasm that we present to you, for your personal use and to the delight of laundromat employees across the globe...

 WINOSTUFF’S MAGICAL RED WINE STAIN REMOVING ELIXIR.

The scientists at the clandestine labs in Gotham City  have developed an environmentally friendly wine stain remover, Winostuff’s Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir.  Unlike current stain removers, this stain remover uses the finest FDA approved ingredients found to be safe for use around children, pets, and the elderly.  Winostuff’s Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir does NOT contain CFC’s, alcohols, or fragrance and is hypoallergenic.  To learn more about this product visit www.winostuff.com and click on the elixir link.

 

July 14, 2003

First Renault, now the Garden State Wine Growers Association is shunning my request to interview them.  I really thought that NJ would welcome a favored son.  OK, a goofy web site stick figure that rants and babbles uncontrollable when wine flows through the blood stream.  But hey, any press is good press, isn’t it?  Look at what I am doing to help cure the large void in French-American relationships.  I’ve take to drinking a Chilean wine owned by a Frenchman.  I love my country too much to actually drink French wine, but I am softening my boycott on the Chilean workers that happen to be enslaved by the elitist French owners of this winery.  The poor dollar-a-day workforce have given of themselves so the Fat Cat French owners can eat Brie and wear their silly Marcel Marceau striped shirts and watch Jerry Lewis films all day.  I do not want to punish that underpaid, overworked Chilean.  So I drank their wine and cursed their politics and found a nice little wine.  Francais sont Francais font.

2000 Chateau Los Boldos Cabernet Sauvignon Requinoa $ (11.00)   Here is a wine you can afford to drink any time and place with friends or by yourself and you can feel like you’re giving yourself a treat.  This Chilean Cab has dark cherry, currant, a bit of spice and a smooth finish.  Well crafted for an everyday drinking wine.

 

July 13, 2003

There was a recent article in the Asbury Park Press (it came to me from my wino enthusiast mother who is now living in the shore area of this state).  The article centered around the fact that farmers in NJ are seeing better financial opportunity for growing wine grapes than for growing the usual crops of the region.  Corn and tomato pricing fell far less than the crushed juice of Chambourcin or Niagara.  NJ is noted for many things, a great deal of them more on the notorious side than noteworthy; but the Garden State Wine Growers Association has set their sights on expanding the active vineyard number from the 21 we now have to 40.  At that stage, they feel they will have greater clout.  As I mentioned on several occasions, Renault has roots back into the late 1600 for wine history and they are the only active winery to survive the Prohibition crisis. 

So to the wineries of NJ, since Wino John and I are still not buying French and you are looking to garner the mind share of the wine community, it would be worthwhile for you to befriend us.  Or in my case, note to Renault, I am serious, I want to do an interview, please do not continue to shun me.  If you just return my call, it would be great.  As I spoke of in the past, Luce is a local restaurant featuring Kings Road wines of NJ due to their wine license status.  But the local wine stores fail to carry the product.  We want to help; we appreciate the folly and foibles of this Garden State.  We can talk to David Chase and make Tony drink NJ wine, or buy a NJ winery to gain the attention it needs.  And for those of you still on the Sopranos not giving NJ a good reputation, go out and buy today’s Star Ledger and read the article that begins on the front page entitled, Opportunity knocks, and he answers.  The article deals with Mafia enforcer- turned States informant, Thomas Ricciardi of the Luchese crime family.  Folks, I don’t make this up, it is art-imitating life. 

Until NJ wine growers ask for my advice, I continue to find bargains from other parts of the world and today I am drinking a nice little Aussie blend that caught my attention.  I guess Ryan at Bacchus read my bitching and added a few new ones  to the wine by the glass section.

2001 Matilda Plains Bremerton Winery $ (11.99)   A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot brings a great fruit and a depth of flavor to this inexpensive wine.  A winner to serve for a causal gathering of friends who enjoy red, since the 14% Merlot softens the racy Shiraz enough to appeal to a large audience.

July 12, 2003

In a David Letterman moment, I think I may start doing a recurring feature called, Wino’s Mailbag, or emails from Winos, something to share, learn correct or let stand on its own.  As of today, the brilliant authors Flavia has continually turned me down for that lunch invitation.  But she did decide to check back into winostuff.com and see what is going on.  I guess the difference between Falvia and I am that she does her research and I just make shit up in my head.  But I do want to be factual in light of the Jayson Blair thing and the poor taste readers have been left.  To clear up the mis-statements I posted to correct the mis-statements I had posted that Flavia corrected me on before, her recent email to me will once and for all resolve the History of Lou Costello, Lou Duva, Loose-lips and the Park in Paterson that appeared on the Sopranos which caused me to write the initial incorrect information.

To: winobob@winostuff.com,
Subject: Re: Just wanted to say hi
Date: Wed, 09 Jul 2003 15:56:19 -0400

Well, I finally went and checked up on your correction, and you are
definitely one galantuomo to say all those nice things about me.
But, oh, Bob, Bob, Bob--is all that wine sizzling your brain cells or did
you put in another mistake just to get me stirred up? Gaetano
Federici did NOT sculpt the statue of Lou Costello in Federici Park. I know,
I know, this doesn't make sense, and to tell the truth we'd have liked
it much better your way, but there it is.

Federici did do a portrait head of Lou Costello in 1942, when Lou
himself was still with us and back visiting P-town for the opening
of "Little Giant" (I believe), probably at the Fabian Theater. Those
were the days.... The bronze version, the sculptor's personal gift to
his good friend (hand-delivered to Lou in Hollywood later that year) was
probably sold off to a high bidder when the feds had Lou up for back
taxes. But there's a great plaster model of it in the Federici
Studio Collection, now housed at the Passaic County Community College in
Paterson's Hamilton Club. This is the collection that was in the
sculptor's studio until his wife died, preserved largely intact by
one devoted collector after another until it became County property a
few years ago.

Anyway (and this is a kinda good story, worth retelling, maybe, over
a glass of your favorite Salice Salentino), when the folks downtown
(Lou Duva and sports-loving Italian American friends) wanted to
memorialize Lou, the guy who owned the collection at the time suggested they use
his Federici and recast it, but either he asked too much money or
they wanted something a bit more, well, high-impact, shall we say? (The
truth of this failed transaction, which would frankly make a great
Sopranos episode, is a tad bit shrouded. There was no love lost, as
they say.) So they put it out to bid and in the end the version of
Lou carrying his infamous baseball bat (that looked so good on the
Sopranos for a number of funky reasons) was sculpted especially for the park
by Dierdre Zahajkewicz in 1992.

I guess there's something rather nice about another sculptor getting
a shot at a piece for Federici Park. Federici (who loved his wine, by
the way, of course in moderation, and lived to be 84) really was very
generous about the work of other sculptors. He could afford to be,
since most of the sculpture in Paterson was already his!

Best wishes,
Flavia

At this point, I’m not even sure if Lou Costello ever lived in NJ, but the park is there, the statue is there and the Sopranos were there.  I don’t know if you caught the sweet talk from Flavia, but I looked up the word 'galantuomo'.  There are actually two meanings, because there is no direct translation for this Italian word in the English dictionary; 1) Asshole. 2) One blinded by alcohol poisoning that brings about a condition called the “I love you Man” syndrome.  Either way, if an important author calls me anything, I will wear it proudly.

 

July 11, 2003

In the hard-hitting world of journalism, it is important that every so often I provide information that is wine related, factual and had been given more than a drunken nod as my entry.  Trust me, the next twenty-five will contain little or no resemblance to reality.  I have spoken about the cork taint, alternative enclosure topic before, but it appears that more wineries are thinking screw cap.  So in a drunken frenzy one night, I fired off several emails to companies working on this topic.  The people at Pechinney (dare I admit, a French company) responded with information on the Stelvin enclosure, a screwcap gaining acceptance by the industry.  Attached is some information I would like to share.

REPORT ON SCREWCAP

Background

By the end of 2001 and early 2002 we started receiving serious inputs from the English market requesting products with screwcap closure system for aromatic wines.

In view of the growing interest for that system during the past year, we decided to submit it to investigation. The result has been positive, both in the comparative tastings as well as in all the quality control process.

External test

Following the Torres philosophy to be proactive and pioneers in any activity that benefits the final consumer we decided to make a test at market level with one of our most relevant wines, the organoleptic characteristics of which may adjust better to the qualities of screwcap.

Screwcap closure system:

-Brand   : PECHINNEY (France)

-Model   : STELVIN – SARANEXT

Date : November 2002

Product : Viña Esmeralda 75cl Screwcap

Clients  : Tesco, Oddbins, Waitrose, Tresher (First Quench group).

Results

The impression obtained by our distributor in England – John E Fells & Sons – has been so far quite satisfactory. The "input" received directly from the customers themselves is absolutely positive and we have not received through them any incidence that might darken the good expectations on that product.

Anyway, in order to monitor the consumer reaction directly, a neck label was placed on each bottle of Viña Esmeralda so as to inform the consumers about the reasons why Torres made this decision and also the benefits that the use of Screwcap means for that type of wines.

Moreover, and perhaps much more important, we have provided a specific e-mail ( flavour@torres.es ) by which we welcome comments from the consumers, we also create a data base and above all we wish to know first hand the reactions of the purchasers / consumers in front of that action.

The future

If the benefit of use of the screwcap is positively evaluated by the consumers, this system might be extended to other aromatic wines sold in the off trade.

Anyway, we shall keep using the usual cork stopper in the rest of our brands and we shall keep it in all of them for on trade and restaurant business. We believe that the glamour and ritual that the cork stopper means in the on trade is something of utmost importance and still brings along a great emotional benefit both for the channel as well as for the consumer. Therefore, we shall continue defending the cork system for the rest of our wines or all of those sold in the on trade.

After evaluating all the results as well as the reaction of the consumer, we shall decide whether we extend it to other TORRES brands (De Casta or San Valentin, for instance) as well as the suitability of adopting it for other markets.

 

July 7, 2003

Well, back to the work routine after a great, refreshing three days off.  I think we need to create more opportunities for three-day weekends.  I did find time to relax yesterday with a cigar and several glasses of SA Cabernet.  To settle myself down after the hard working two days of rebuilding my stairs, I purchased two Sunday papers.  I figured this would give me cause to lie on the porch, enjoy the somewhat cool breeze and catch up on the news.  Question one, why does the NY Times cost $3.50 and the Newark Star Ledger only cost $1.25?  Are newspapers and wine marketed along the same lines?  Wow, the NY Times is almost three times as expensive, it must be almost three times as good.  Are the NY Times like Harlan or Screaming Eagle and the Star Ledger like Justin or Clos du Bois? 

They tell us they craft their products using the highest quality materials and giving the most care to the Op Ed page, or the wine.  They do not rush the product out; they take time and allow it to mature, by checking sources for the news or laying it down in oak for the wine.  Hell the NY Times didn’t even have colored funnies.  Though I must admit, except for a small number of comic strips, there are a large number of unfunny comics that were never in the paper when I was a kid.  Except for the sharp witted Lockhorns, which is a constant source for marital humor, I was hard pressed to find a laugh even after several glasses of wine.  Help me understand this comic called 'Zits'. 

I found both papers interesting, though the Times does win on weight, advertisements and things that fall out while you carry it.  One would figure that a more expensive paper would use better ink.  For your $3.50, the Times does leave far more black ink on your fingers, which on a hot day will find it’s way to your brow, your neck and any other body part from which you decide to wipe the sweat.  All in all, at this point, my brain is saturated with local, state and international news and sports.  Most enjoyable was the highlight in the Star Ledger of the Carnival-like attitude of side show freaks that now prevails on the Sea Side Heights boardwalk, a place I spent my young formative years enjoying the rides at Funtown, through my teens when the cages and the Zipper replaced the helicopter and kiddie boats.  Maybe the Sea Side boardwalk has transformed into the living words of Springsteen's song, July 4th in Asbury Park, Sandy.

Sandy the fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight
Forcin' a light into all those stoney faces left stranded on this warm July
Down in town the circuit's full of switchblade lovers so fast, so shiny, so sharp
As the wizards play down on Pinball Way on the boardwalk way past dark
And the boys from the casino dance with their shirts open like Latin lovers on the shore
Chasin' all them silly New York virgins by the score

Sandy, the aurora is risin' behind us
Those pier lights our carnival life forever
Love me tonight for I may never see you again
Hey Sandy girl, my baby

Now the greasers they tramp the streets or get busted for sleeping on the beach all night
Them boys in their high heels, ah Sandy, their skins are so white
And me I just got tired of hangin' in them dusty arcades bangin' them pleasure machines
Chasin' the factory girls underneath the boardwalk where they all promise to unsnap their jeans
And you know that tilt-a-whirl down on the south beach drag
I got on it last night and my shirt got caught
And they kept me spinnin'
I didn't think I'd ever get off

Sandy, that waitress I was seeing lost her desire for me
I spoke with her last night, she said she won't set herself on fire for me anymore
She worked that joint under the boardwalk, she was always the girl you saw boppin' down on the beach with the radio
The kids say last night she was dressed like a star in one of them cheap little seaside bars,
and I saw her parked with Loverboy out on the Kokomo
Did you hear the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do
For me this boardwalk life is through
You ought to quit this scene too- THE BOSS

1999 Nederberg Cabernet Sauvignon $ (11.99)   This wine shows hopes of dark fruits and a woody finish but falls short on the finish and the structure to make this a big leaguer.  I much enjoyed their Pinotage over the Cabernet.

 

July 6, 2003

A belated Happy Independence Day to America.  I actually believe we fought the revolution over dental hygiene rather than oppressive taxes and religious freedoms.  If it was a fight over oppressive taxes, we still would be in a battle with the Democrats.  Yes, we the People of the original 50 States of America declare our Independence from the tax and spend liberals who feel it is better to foster a third generation welfare family than instill a work ethic to bring this Great Nation back to financial well being.  I’m ready to throw the tea into the Headquarters of the DNC with the recent crop of Democratic Presidential candidates.  

Sorry, the 4th of July should be a festive occasion where men stuck in adolescence get to hold a match to a firecracker and attempt to keep their drunken asses from losing a body part.  We call it, National Blow Your Finger Off Day since the news of July 5th always has some bone head investigating an M80 that fizzled out, only to find it had a longer fuse than the others and KABOOM; he now gives a high nine to his buddies.  Hey did you see me pick up that M80, it sent my digit to the next county but I have 9 good years still in me to get drunk and blow up some more garbage cans.

How about leaving the gun powder alone for the one day of the year and talking to your buddies about the young men and women who have given their lives so you are free to act immature and stupid in their remembrance.  At least we had an ultra wet spring so no one’s lawn caught fire as an 8 year old swirls a sparkler around his little sister’s head in celebration of, as a show of, to remind him of….help me here, what the F is the reason we shoot off bottle rockets and sparklers anyway?  Other than aiming a bottle rocket at your friend in a Jackassesque moment, it signifies what?

Sorry, I spent my 4th and 5th of July hauling 2 x 10’s as I rebuilt the stairs to the porch.  Other than a brief reflective moment at 12 and 3PM, I spent two days developing a sore back and a sunburned ass crack.  The sweat from this obnoxious heat and humidity had my shorts hanging low to the horror of my neighbors.  "bad enough we have to put up with his drunken ramblings as he sits on the porch and calls across the yards to casual passers by, but now we have to see two days of stick figure ass crack  Quick get the kids in the house."  I’ll tell you how hot NJ has been; last night I went to Bacchus and actually ordered a chilled glass of white wine.  After working in the heat all day, I just could not bring myself to drink the same old Zin or Cab or Malbec.  No, I wanted something refreshing and citrus to cool me down.  Unlike Wednesday night, all the cool people were out of town at their shore homes or family bar-b-q's.  At 9:30PM, I was the only one at the bar and there was only one table full of diners.  No underwear shows, no crowds of partiers, no live music, just loser me sitting there drinking a white wine and watching a boxing match on ESPN.  At one point Ryan gave me the remote and told me to switch the channel to something else.  There was that documentary about the Giant Squid on Discovery Channel, but I don’t think the table eating the Fried Calamari would have enjoyed it. 

Today it is time to fire up the grill, burn up a steak and open that bottle of Nederberg Cabernet Sauvignon Big Bob slipped us the night I got the wine for the book signing.  I’ll see if South African Cabernet is in my future.

2000 Covey Run Sauvignon Blanc $ (8.99)    Refreshing lime, a hint of gooseberry with generous herb and a clean snappy finish.  This is a wine served well chilled on a hot summer afternoon.  A nice surprise from Washington State.

 

July 3, 2003

This has nothing to do with wine and everything to do with the axiom of learning something new every day.  For those looking for a wine review at the end, there will not be one from this entry so you can click back tomorrow.  The reason there is nothing new falls squarely on the shoulders of the Bacchus wine-by-the-glass list stagnating in the categories I prefer.  Oh sure, they have a new Pinot Noir and a new Rise-Ling (as pronounced by the bartender). But their Big Reds are predictable.

 So I settled into a glass of Shiraz that I have had there the past three times I visited.  I hit the bar just as the dinner crowd was thinning and the vacant seats on either side of me soon filled with couples on dates.  How do I know they were on dates?  Well, the couple on my right was the mature, older ex-mayor of a neighboring town and the much younger blond trophy he proudly displayed like a shinny new Rolex.  Their kanoodling and playful body language screamed fresh, exciting and unburdened by the routine of marriage, kids and career.  They were fun to watch for a while, but even a traffic accident loses its intrigue. 

The couple that has me writing today was the daters on my left.  They were good friends of one of the bartenders and frequented the restaurant enough to be comfortable with the surroundings.  He, a skin billboard with ink of many different styles and colors, her a more conservative looking woman maybe a year or two older then he.  They had enjoyed their dinner and sat down at the bar for a nightcap and to make idle chat with their friend.  I saw him handle two Johnnie Walker Blues and three tequila shots within the first half hour.  I guess alcohol does strange things to people because the next thing that happened even caught me by surprise.  It was late at this point and the crowd was minimal, so I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked when the women propped herself up a bit and banged into my chair.  I glanced over just as she reached under her skirt and proceeded to pull off her panties.

Come on, Wino Bob, you must have been delirious from all the wine you consumed.  No one does that in public.  Au contraire.  After they left, I asked the bartender if what I thought happened actually happened.  And yes, yes it did, because he too observed it, and she was proud to show him what she tucked into her purse.  Now it wasn’t wine that made her do it since she was drinking 43 on the rocks, but wine brought me there and I was drinking wine and it happened at a wine bar so I feel justified in writing this as an entry. Holy crap, that was unexpected.  She didn’t make a scene, but rather looked comfortable in doing it.  I’m guessing it wasn’t her first time.

So here is my question, is this a common occurrence that is witnessed all the time by others?  Have I lived a sheltered life in Northern NJ and just now got a glimpse of what goes on every night in Big City Bars?  Are there Winettes out there that have done something like this before?  And am I wrong in thinking this was the act of a hot date as opposed to a married couple of ten years? 

(Editor's note:  Following the aforementioned incident, WinoBob's fantasy world collided with reality as Bob is arrested for trying to slip off his WinoStuff thong at Unbacchus.  Film at 11...)

July 1, 2003

As a follow up for those at the book signing who inquired about the Giesen Sauvignon Blanc, Big Bob told me the following stores have stock:

  • Rhee’s Cresskill Liquors- Cresskill, NJ

  • Brewer’s World- Dumont, NJ

  • Wine Ventures- Tenafly, NJ

  • Piermont Wine and Liquors just two blocks from the Happy Dog Gallery

  • And yes, Paterson Super Cellars for the Lou Costello fans in the crowd.

For those in an area I did not mention, email me and I will locate a store near you.

Wino Bob


 

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