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


This page contains Winings from the 3rd Quarter of the year 2004.

To contact WinoBob, click here


September 28, 2004

In what can only be described as a Night Quill high, I have been without wine for almost a week.  I cannot write about wines I have enjoyed as I have not enjoyed any wine since last Tuesday.  The dreaded cold bug has flattened me to the point of having few taste buds available to discern the beautiful flavors of my favorite beverage.  So this entry is nothing more than a Larry King type dot, dot, dot column.

Borrowing from Erica Jung, which I had to read in college, I have a Fear of Flying.  Not the traditional Fear of Flying, just a fear of flying when my head is stuffed and my sinuses are dripping like a leaky sink.  Geek trip to Chi town is tainted by the lack of taste buds available and the clogged head of runaway mucous production.  Nothing worse than the pressure changes of altitude that sends blinding pains through my cranium.  Hopefully by the middle of the week, I can have wine with one of my meals.  If I go without wine this week, I will be in serious trouble.  I will be clean and sober and feeling good every morning when I wake up.  What fun is that?

I don’t know if you have a junk week in your town, but our town is limited to mass junk only once a quarter.  This week is that week and the funny thing I discovered about myself is the pride I take in throwing out good stuff.  I mean, I put out several things that still have life in them and then wait to see how long it is before a car slows down or stops to pick it up.  I was in a Night Quill sweat yesterday as a chair I was sure would go in several hours, was still curb side late yesterday.  What, you don’t want my garbage?  How dare you!  But by lights out last night, I looked street side from my bedroom window and to my delight, the chair was gone.  Gone, yes, resting comfortably in someone’s home finding another life, the chair, the junk chair from my TV room is now in someone else’s home.  I will drive around town next January and see if the people that picked up the chair, re-junk it. 

Friday night I went into the city to see a play written by my friend, Winette Tia.  Yes, clad in Manhattan black and sweating from the parking experience, I made it to the Pelican Theater to see Puddin.  The great part of the experience is knowing the play writer and hearing her voice in each character.  It was an inspiring night as the message of forgiveness, family and tradition weaved its way through this humorous presentation of Roletta’s bread pudding recipe being covered by a local newspaper.  It has as much to do with bread pudding as it has to do with the trials and tribulations of life, love and friendships.  This was the first play of Winette Tia’s I have been to and it was an enjoyable way to spend a Friday evening.  My wish for her is that the play finds itself to Broadway and runs for several years.  Good Luck WT.

As you can see, the lack of alcohol has my mind twitching, but I didn’t want to let too much time go by without a posting.  I hope Chicago has me feeling up to a good drunk and waking with that dull headache, the shakes and a queasy stomach.  At least I know by the end of the day, I can get over that, not like this stupid cold that makes me feel that way without the enjoyment of stumbling, slurring and passing out.

September 27, 2004

In what can be described as the wino Pythagorean theorem, such that; I like wine(squared) + I like NJ (squared)= I like NJ wine (squared).  So in a generous, altruistic move on my part, I have volunteered to help out at the Grand Harvest Wine Festival this Sunday.  I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.  So if you are not busy come on out to Alba Winery and enjoy the bounty of the Garden State.

Celebrating the harvest season is a centuries old tradition. But the Garden State Wine Growers Association has come up with a new way to celebrate -- a Harvest Festival of Wine. For the eighth year this celebration will be held at Alba Vineyards in Finesville, New Jersey; this year on October 2nd and 3rd from noon to 5:00 p.m. This is the last festival of the year and the last time until May 2005 festival attendees can sample and purchase wines from fifteen wineries all in one location. Don’t miss this festival or you will have to wait eight months to attend the next one.

The Grand Harvest Wine Festival is guaranteed to please all the senses! The sense of taste is guaranteed to be sated at this festival. A dozen award-winning New Jersey wineries will offer sample tastings and sales of more than 150 delicious wines, including many produced from the past few years’ outstanding harvests. The weather the past few years produced superior grapes and the vineyards in New Jersey harvested some of the best wine grapes of the century! Wines made from these outstanding grapes are ready for tasting and sales at the Harvest Festival and at New Jersey wineries across the state.

Wineries attending the festival include Alba Vineyards, Finesville; Amalthea Cellars, Atco; Amwell Valley Vineyards, Ringoes; Balic Winery, Mays Landing; Bellview Winery, Landisville; Cream Ridge Winery, Cream Ridge; DiMatteo Winery, Hammonton; Four Sisters Winery, Belvidere; Hopewell Valley Vineyards, Pennington; Sylvin Farms, Silver Decoy, Tomasello Winery, Hammonton; Unionville Vineyards, Ringoes; and Valenzano Winery, Shamong.

The sense of taste is further enhanced by the gourmet food available for purchase at the festival. This year Country Picnic, a renowned gourmet food purveyor, will be providing delicious food to compliment the wines. (You can also bring your own picnic basket!)

The Harvest Festival also delights the sense of sight. Alba Vineyard is nestled amongst the rolling hills of Warren County. The festival is held in an open field, situated high on a hill surrounded by vineyards. The panoramic views of rolling, wooded hills rich with autumn color is second to none. When festival-goers tire of the beautiful countryside, they can take a tour of the equally beautiful winery. The winery is housed in a rustic stone building with oak beams and an impressive wood tasting bar.

The festival does not neglect the sense of hearing either. Two popular New Jersey bands, the VooDudes and Cairo, will provide non-stop entertainment during the festival. The VooDudes music has many names -- from zydeco, to island music, to “a joyful roller coaster ride through N’Awlins!” Over the last 10 years, the VooDudes have played everywhere from New York (including MTV) to New Orleans to Disney World to Canada, Switzerland, even Greece!

The band Cairo is sure to get people up on their feet and dancing. Cairo has been described as “great party band, mixing elements of reggae, soul, jazz and rock into upbeat tunes.” If you like The Neville Brothers, Santana, Bob Marley and Little Feat, you will love Cairo!

The sense of smell is richly satisfied by the heady smell of crushed grapes which permeates the air. This is harvest season and the grapes that have already been harvested are now in the first stages of becoming wine. Their rich, earthly smell surrounds the winery and welcomes festival goers.

The festival, which is being held on October 2nd and 3rd from Noon to 5:00 p.m.; costs $18.00 for adults, children are free. Face painting, sand art, bounce house, games, yo-yo balloons, and much more will be available for younger festival attendees, numerous crafters will be on hand, and a shuttle bus will provide transportation from the front gate to the top of the hill. Classic British touring cars (and perhaps some Ferrari’s) will also be a part of the festival. Group and bus tours are welcome but should contact the winery in advance to secure VIP parking space and discount tickets.

September 21, 2004

Matt Drudge has his sources, CBS has theirs.  We, at WinoStuff, usually just make things up.  Yeah, it’s hard to get a scope on wine industry news when no one in the wine industry speaks to me.  But things are changing.  Yes, I think we have finally scoped the Spectator on this one.  Hot from the inside town hall information loop in Bayonne, NJ (the capital of wine volume production in the Garden State) is our own embedded reporter.  Dressed in her grape vine hat and cement-colored khakis, Winette Alice risked life and limb to uncover this beauty.  ittle known fact to the rest of the wine world, but a pet research project of the WinoStuff staff is the fact that the Royal Wine Company of Bayonne, NJ bottles the majority of wine in our state.  Though they cannot cultivate grapes in the terroir of the region, namely asphalt, cement, crude oil, sulphur fumes and iron; they cart in grapes from wine regions around the north east and produce tanker-truckloads of kosher wine. 

Now the Herzog family is bringing chocolate manufacturing to Bayonne, marrying two of Wino John’s dietary staples.  Wine and chocolate go well together and seem to induce a drowsiness in the aforementioned WJ which has him stashing bottles of WinoStuff Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir near every couch and chair in his home.  Note to WJ, we should approach Herzog with a holiday bundle featuring wine, chocolate and the WMRWSRE for those who fall asleep with a bon-bon in one hand and a glass of cabernet in the other.  Your couch fabric and carpet will love you long time for treating them so well.

Special thanks to WA for uncovering this hot item and here’s hoping Wino Paul can remove the cement and vine covering before Saturday night. (you know what I mean…)

Kosher Chocolate Manufacturer Brings Jobs to Bayonne


Mayor Joseph V. Doria, Jr. announced that Manhattan Chocolates has opened a manufacturing facility on East 22nd Street in Bayonne. "The new operation has brought 50 new jobs to Bayonne, and more jobs are expected there in the near future," Doria said. He continued, "The arrival of this high-quality food company to Bayonne is another sign of our city's economic growth."

Manhattan Chocolates is owned by the Herzog family, which is well-known for its lines of kosher wines, juices, and food products. The Herzog family's other businesses in Bayonne are Royal Wine and Kedem Food Products.

The Bayonne Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) helped support the opening of the new chocolate operation. According to BEDC Executive Director Michael O'Connor, "The BEDC supported the company's relocation to Bayonne with a business loan, technical support, and site location assistance. Manhattan Chocolates has already hired local people for its new Bayonne plant." BEDC President H. Mickey McCabe said, "The BEDC worked hard to attract Manhattan Chocolates, Kedem Food, and Royal Wine from New York to Bayonne. They have become an important part of our local economy, and continue to expand their operations here. We are proud to point to them as examples of businesses that have moved to Bayonne. Their success here will attract other businesses to the community."

The new chocolate facility is in a building occupied in the 20th Century by Wesson Oil.

Manhattan Chocolates are parve and lactose-free. Parve products are approved by Jewish dietary laws. Among the company's products are gift-boxed chocolates, "Tubs-A-Plenty" chocolate platters, Halvah loaves and slices, sugar-free chocolates, jelly rings, truffles, and baking ingredients.

   

September 19, 2004

I spent the morning reorganizing the cellar.  Yes, there were many of those off projects that I have been saving in the basement, which never got finished.  Our town has this crazy rule that you can only throw out garbage once a quarter.  Not regular trash, I mean fall cleaning garbage.  For years I have been saving odd shit, in a 'someday' pile.  You know, someday, I’ll make a coffee table out of this broken shutter and stickball bat.  You know, someday I’ll make a custom wine bottle rack out of this old wheel barrel, fence post and Tonka truck.  You know someday, I’ll fix this garden hose with some duct tape so I can water the crab grass.  You know someday, I’ll lay out all the golf clubs in a neat pile and see if any of them are actually from the same brand.  Then someday, I’ll take the clubs that match and go to the driving range and see if I can hit the ball in less then an obtuse angle from the tee.  Someday, someday, yes someday, my basement is clogged with somedays and I have one week to determine which will survive and which will make the September 27th   junk week.  I never realized that garbage men could only take away certain garbage at certain times of the year.  How do the landfills know?  

So today turned into someday, that someday when the boxes and bags of a fertile imagination during the pre-blackout drunk found their way to the door, in front of the stairs, that leads to the bilco doors, that leads to the path, that leads to the curb where all these dreams will soon be crushed by the 50 ton hydraulic press inside the WM catering service truck.  My someday has arrived and the 2 cubic yards of wine-induced inventions will head to their final resting place. 

The someday ritual did get me to rearrange my wine area and dust off some things that were hidden away in a fit of get-it-outa-sight-itis.  In turn, I rearranged the stemware in my wine glass rack and pulled up my infrequently used Sommelier Series Reidel Syrah glass.  I have not used it in a long time, so I bathed it; hand toweled it and decided it needed some wine.  Fortunately, the Giants and Panthers both put a win on the board and it strengthened my desire to fill that expensive glass with a wine befitting a celebration.  During the game, I swilled a chard just to wet my whistle, but with dinner, I splashed a hearty red in that fine crystal goblet.  So I sit here, with the last light of day tucking itself behind the aged oak tree in Wino Bruce’s yard, my glass enveloping a seductive Aussie, and my mood pleasantly altered by the outcome of a game.  It’s fall and it’s Sunday and football season makes any wine taste better. 

1998 Punters Corner Spartacus Reserve Shiraz $$$ (65.00)   Wow, the nose of spice and eucalyptus and tobacco greet you with a smile and handshake.  But be prepared, the finish has miles of tannins that should sleep for another few years.  The fruit is plentiful and ripe but the spiciness of this one makes me love it.

2003 Mirassou Chardonnay Central Coast $ (8.99)    For those Chard fans of a lightly oaked wine, this one fits the bill.  Fruits of peach and green apple with a touch of vanilla make this one drinkable right now and not overpowering for light fish fare.

September 18, 2004

No matter how many times I tell myself that living in the burbs is great, there is just something about New York City that is electrifying.  I have never lived in a big city, always had that small patch of green grass, or some semblance of grass around a stand-alone dwelling.  Yesterday, the Geek World had me calling on one of a handful of accounts that still reside in NYC.  The customer is the construction shop at CBS studios on 57th.  Yes, all the clarity of transmission on your television set is a result of the superior connections they make on all their cabling with one of the products we sell them.  Now if we can only find a way to rewire Dan Rather’s circuitry, he might not be the center of attention right now.  

It’s interesting to see news organizations hunting news from competing news organizations as camera crews took B footage of the building.  Walking east on 57th from the parking garage to the main CBS building, with the pulse of the street at a 160 over 110 blood pressure, just juices me.  It has been awhile since I last supplied them with new equipment, their budgets have been tight and their personnel has been trimmed.  Since I didn’t remember my way through the halls, I waited in the lobby for my contact to escort me to the model shop in the basement.  Sitting in the leather chairs in the lobby I marveled at watching remote crews sign out equipment on their way to a breaking story, seeing segment producers walking to the coffee kiosk in their jeans and golf shirts, and seeing what must be the behind the scenes power brokers in their Armani suites and hand tailored dress shirts.  One guy standing several feet to my left, chatting with a visitor, wore a pin striped navy blue suite, form fitted and the four buttons on his suite jacket sleeve were unbuttoned in a purposefully unkempt manner.  Now I have had the luck of acquiring several expensive suites over the good old days, and the four buttons on the suite jacket cuff have stitching to simulate active buttonholes, but this dude actually had working buttonholes on the jacket.  I believe his suite costs more than the 1997 Ford Explorer I just bought.  I looked down pathetically at my K & G special sport jacket with three plastic buttons sewn relatively close to the cuff that was put together by some 9-year-old Guatemalan girl for a glass of orange juice and a dollar.  Holy Crap Marie, this is a different world. 

I just don’t fit into the city scene, though it has a sex appeal that is enticing.   When I walk through the street, through it’s glass and cement, it reminds me of the base of Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon.  The same smallness overcomes you though the material and structure are millenniums apart.  The thing that I don’t do well in the city, is the parking garage ritual.  I usually pull in and pause at the first sign, then realize it says proceed to the stop sign and the attendant is waving me to a different stopping point and the guy behind me has a monthly pass and is looking to get to his spot.  Then I hop out of the car and unconsciously take the keys from the ignition and head towards the guy writing what I think is my license plate on the stub, only to find out it’s the guy three cars before me.  My turn comes and I stumble in my mind over how long my meeting will last, sometimes underestimating it and they get pissed cause I have my car tying up a close spot.  Sometimes I over-estimate and they have to hike up four floors and dig my car out from the back of three cars bumper-to-bumper in front of mine.   I often get this elevated heartbeat as I zero in on the garage driveway, looking around for someone that looks like a city dweller and ready to ask him or her to drive my car correctly to the attendant.  Hey lady, want to make twenty bucks?  That usually gets me a loud response and weird looks from people on the street.  They then know I’m a 973er (that’s city code for Jersey assholes- they demean you with your area code).  Don’t you know, all the hookers hang out by the Lincoln tunnel after 11PM, by the parking deck after 11AM, stupid Jersey guy. 

Frapped by the blending of parking panic and city seduction, I have only one way to unwind at the end of the trip.  My friend, my comfort zone, my plumb line, a bottle of red wine will do the trick.  So I took to the wine store and grabbed a bottle of Aussie shiraz and sat enjoying the magnificence of the Big City and the cocooned comfort of the small stand alone dwelling in the burbs some 15 miles west of the heart of America and some light years away from its soul.

2000 Fighting Flat Shiraz $ (15.00)    This one departs from the rich berry side of the Barossa shiraz and barrels head first into the peppery, spicy, eucalyptus side of the fruit.  Nice structure and a good finish makes this one a blanket on a cool autumn evening.

September 16, 2004

If any of you winos have nothing to do on October 3, come on down to the last bash for the NJ wine industry.  Your favorite wino will not be there, but I will.  Here are the details.

CELEBRATE THE HARVEST

 AT THE
GARDEN STATE WINE GROWERS’

GRAND HARVEST FESTIVAL
October 2nd & 3rd

at Alba Vineyards, Finesville, NJ

Nonn to 5:00 pm

Celebrating the harvest season is a centuries old tradition.  But the Garden State Wine Growers Association has come up with a new way to celebrate -- a Harvest Festival of Wine.  For the eighth year this celebration will be held at Alba Vineyards in Finesville, New Jersey; this year on October 2nd and 3rd from noon to 5:00 p.m.  This is the last festival of the year and the last time until May 2005 festival attendees can sample and purchase wines from fifteen wineries all in one location.  Don’t miss this festival or you will have to wait eight months to attend the next one.

The Grand Harvest Wine Festival is guaranteed to please all the senses!  The sense of taste is guaranteed to be sated at this festival.  A dozen award-winning New Jersey wineries will offer sample tastings and sales of more than 150 delicious wines, including many produced from the past few years’ outstanding harvests.  The weather the past few years produced superior grapes and the vineyards in New Jersey harvested some of the best wine grapes of the century!  Wines made from these outstanding grapes are ready for tasting and sales at the Harvest Festival and at New Jersey wineries across the state.

Wineries attending the festival include Alba Vineyards, Finesville; Amalthea Cellars, Atco; Amwell Valley Vineyards, Ringoes; Balic Winery, Mays Landing; Bellview Winery, Landisville; Cream Ridge Winery, Cream Ridge; DiMatteo Winery, Hammonton; Four Sisters Winery, Belvidere; Hopewell Valley Vineyards, Pennington; Sylvin Farms, Silver Decoy, Tomasello Winery, Hammonton; Unionville Vineyards, Ringoes; and Valenzano Winery, Shamong.

The sense of taste is further enhanced by the gourmet food available for purchase at the festival.  This year Country Picnic, a renowned gourmet food purveyor, will be providing delicious food to compliment the wines. (You can also bring your own picnic basket!)

The Harvest Festival also delights the sense of sight.  Alba Vineyard is nestled amongst the rolling hills of Warren County.  The festival is held in an open field, situated high on a hill surrounded by vineyards.  The panoramic views of rolling, wooded hills rich with autumn color is second to none.  When festival-goers tire of the beautiful countryside, they can take a tour of the equally beautiful winery.  The winery is housed in a rustic stone building with oak beams and an impressive wood tasting bar. 

The festival does not neglect the sense of hearing either.  Two popular New Jersey bands, the VooDudes and Cairo, will provide non-stop entertainment during the festival.  The VooDudes music has many names -- from zydeco, to island music, to  “a joyful roller coaster ride through N’Awlins!”  Over the last 10 years, the VooDudes have played everywhere from New York (including MTV) to New Orleans to Disney World to Canada, Switzerland, even Greece! 

The band Cairo is sure to get people up on their feet and dancing.  Cairo has been described as  “great party band, mixing elements of reggae, soul, jazz and rock into upbeat tunes.”  If you like The Neville Brothers, Santana, Bob Marley and Little Feat, you will love Cairo! 

The sense of smell is richly satisfied by the heady smell of crushed grapes which permeates the air.  This is harvest season and the grapes that have already been harvested are now in the first stages of becoming wine.  Their rich, earthly smell surrounds the winery and welcomes festival goers

The festival, which is being held on October 2nd and 3rd from Noon to 5:00 p.m.; costs $18.00 for adults, children are free.  Face painting, sand art, bounce house, games, yo-yo balloons, and much more will be available for younger festival attendees, numerous crafters will be on hand, and a shuttle bus will provide transportation from the front gate to the top of the hill.  Classic British touring cars (and perhaps some Ferrari’s) will also be a part of the festival.  Group and bus tours are welcome but should contact the winery in advance to secure VIP parking space and discount tickets.

* * * Starting Monday, September 20th, discounted tickets can be purchased in advance thru the Garden State Wine Growers Association's website. Just visit
www.newjerseywines.com  click on "Festivals" in the left hand corner, and then click on the link for advance tickets.  The tickets, which cost $18 at the door, can be purchased for $16 and can be printed out on your printer. * * * 

September 12, 2004

Well I got to the bottom of my confusion with this Roche thing.  The weight control product they manufacture, Orlistat, is what I confused with Olestra -the P&G product.  The part that still fits are the side effects they have.  Nothing better than passing undigested food through your system quickly.  Need I say more?  My apologies go out to Wino Lou for my misidentifying the chemical that will cause my bowels to erupt like Mount Vesuvius.  But I do leave the door open for Wino Lou to correct me yet again after this post.

On a lighter note, has anyone seen the show on Bravo called Miami Slice?  It’s a reality series tracing several plastic surgeons in South Beach as they go through their daily routines.  Unlike the many other plastic surgery shows, this one comes without blue dots or cubing out or black bars to hide the intimate areas.  What struck me funny is that they go to great lengths in cubing out advertisements.  There was a scene in a show the other day where one of the doctors was giving a young woman her post breast augmentation exam but seconds later he was on the tennis court and they blurred the logo on his shirt.  Nudity good, cheap advertising bad.  Think about it, Bravo has pushed the envelope by showing unblurred asses and breasts but drew the line at a Gatorade logo.  God Bless you, cable TV, isn’t this why we pay $59.99 per month?  Cable was going to be so loose and free as you had to make a choice in obtaining it, but to date, even the Howard Stern show on E! blurs and cubes and censors words.  Spike TV, the channel for men, has lost their edge to Bravo, the network that brought us Queer Eye and old 1970’s reruns.  Forget Nip/Tuck, forget Discovery Channel, forget E!  Dr. 90210, Miami Slice is the show for desperately lonely, over sexed, drunken stick figures.  I say Bravo, to Bravo…

Do you get spam faxes?  I have been bothered over the past few months with mortgage rates and stock tips everyday on my home fax machine.  So far no penis enlarging faxes, but could they be next?  Give me a break, isn’t there a national, “Do not fax me shit” list?  My ink cartridges are being consumed by some random mortgage broker and I’m getting really pissed.  But if you want to approve me without salary verification for a $400,000 note at prime less 1.5, I’m your buddy.

So what the hell is all this random crap doing clogging the page?  Good question, these things have been floating upstairs for some time and they were clogging space in the gray matter attic.  Every now and then, I need to purge.  This wine I am drinking today opened up that closet door and the shit just flowed out.  So I place blame for this randomness squarely on the shoulders of Big Bob and Baron Philippe de Rothschild.  Having been watching all the coverage yesterday on the World Trade Center Massacre, I needed to be light and drunk today just to unfunk myself.  Blindly, I headed to the rack and did the rock, paper, scissors game with myself to select a bottle.  The lucky winner was a Chilean from Maipo. 

2002 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Carmenere Reserva Maipo ? (gift from BB)   Here is a good example of an everyday drinker that is a change from the usual suspects.  A good complement of blackberry, coffee, and soy sauce.  Brace for the tannins but they do ride off into the sunset half way through the bottle.

September 11, 2004

It’s 2 AM and I couldn’t sleep so I came up to the dark room on the third floor.  There is a comforting late summer breeze that breathes through the screen window next to me as I stare out over the neighborhood.  It is calm, and dark with the occasional cricket chirping in the distance.  After work last night, the political junkie in me couldn’t take it any longer and I flipped around the tube to get away from the talking heads.  Memogate, Rathergate, Swiftboatgate, he said, she said.  I had my fill.  By chance I clicked over to HBO.  The program had started a half hour earlier, but I immediately put down the remote and sat for the remaining hour.  The show was called In Memoriam, New York City 9-11-2001.  A documentary of moving proportions, I was moved to tears.  Listening and watching the process that took place in the days that followed, hearing Rudy from the news footage, from the funerals, from the city command center.  A documentary in its truest sense.  It really overshadows this argument about issues from 35 years ago.  The city healed, but the scars still remain in the faces of lower Manhattan and on the skyline from every angle.  The image that had left me until tonight was that of families or friends who just didn’t know if their loved ones survived.  Days after, people were still showing pictures to the media asking if anyone has seen a husband or wife or father or mother or son or daughter.  The rubble was so mountainous that hope remained for three to four days afterwards that a survivor could still be pulled out alive. 

What brought me to the edge were the sights of people lining the streets around ground zero, waving American flags, yelling “Thank You” to the construction workers and firemen as they came and went.  The people standing shoulder to shoulder had no color or religion or political affiliation, they only had appreciation and unity and American flags.  Today the bitterness and partisanship has given rise to what has been the nastiest of divisions during this election season.  Part fueled by the short-term memory Americans have, part fueled by the insulating blanket of Washington DC, draped over those in and/or seeking power.   I hope the campaigning and the rhetoric can have a moment of silence today out of respect, and human decency. 

I think back to the months after 9-11-2001 and everyone in my neighborhood displayed the American flag.  The cars on the highways had signs and decals and sayings that made us remember why we grew to be a great country.  But look around today and the signs of those feelings have been pushed aside by the rigors of parent’s demands at work and kid’s schedules for soccer, or piano, or ballet.  When was the last time you heard the Lee Greenwood song, “Proud to be an American”, on the radio?  Tomorrow, after the services and memorials, I hope the tone and direction of the last remaining days before this election would change.  Let’s get out of the past, let’s get out of the politics of personal destruction and let’s focus on where we are going as a nation.  I honestly want to hear the details of how we move forward.

2002 Robertson Winery Prospect Hill Cabernet Sauvignon $ (14.99)   This is a nice value cab from South Africa that shows plenty of fruit of cherry, raspberry and black fruit with a touch of cassis and enough tannins on the finish to give this one some legs.  A nice solid wine at a good price

September 10, 2004

I enjoy hearing from Winos around the world and today was one of those exciting days.  Unfortunately, this time, the fan was contacting me to correct one of my wine-soaked misstatements.  Yes, Sven Roche, the great, great grandson of Papa Roche, emailed me to correct the fact that his company did not develop the bowel-convulsing olestra.  That was Proctor and Gamble.  He did reiterate that Valium is theirs and there are 14 million housewives across America that send him thank you cards every year.  By the way Sven, how is that ED drug coming?

Now I can start this wine-soaked, drunken entry with a clear (or less cloudy) brain.  Last night we headed to a new restaurant in the area, Colors.  The first thing we discovered is that it’s like the old restaurant called Mezzanote.  The owners and chefs are the same team that ran Mezzanote before it was sold and became Luce’s.  Wow, is this confusing.  The breakdown is as follows: the food is well priced and the portions are generous.  I had the farfalle with porcini mushrooms in a dark sauce that was delicious.  The down side is that they do have a liquor license but a very limited wine list.  This would be a better BYOB.  Primary color lamps speckle the dining room, a different color over each table.  They had a private party upstairs so we were unable to see the layout.  The valet parking is a bit over the top for a place serving fourteen dollar pasta dishes, but the number of Mercedes in the lot most likely appreciates the touch.

2002 Ferrari-Carano Siena $$ (38.00 rest)    This one stands well against the pasta sauces served up on many of the dishes.  A blend of sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon with nice dark cherry and a mouthful of tannins, fresh and vibrant.

September 6, 2004

Happy Labor Day, this day makers the official last party day of the summer.  So tomorrow, when I get drunk, it will be the first official party of the non-summer.  Yes, the commerce portion of summer officially shuts off and we enter into the, Drive Slow - School is Back in Session, the Yellow School Bus Stop at Every Corner and the Double Park Drop and Kiss Zone.  But something else struck me this morning as I sat at the kitchen table dosing my headache in coffee.  The church two blocks from here does not have an official music selection to signify this day.  On Memorial Day, on the hour, the military hymns ring loud and proud denoting the memory of those who have served this country.  On Independence Day (that’s the 4th of July for those in Rio Linda), patriotic tunes like God Bless America and the Battle Hymn of the Republic fill the air in Caldwell.  However, for those 94.6% of us laborers who are honored today for our laboring, there is no special church bell montage. 

It got me thinking back to grade school and the last day of first grade, when a girl I will call Renee (actually I call her that since her parents named her that) quoted to me the lyric from the song Will I See You in September.  Now a macking first grade twig boy was not about to find a friend with benefits just for 10 weeks, when I knew this person I will call Renee would be in my second grade class.  I was not about to blow a good deal.  The sad part about it is she only lived several blocks away, but I never rode the tricked- out Schwinn in that direction.  What the hell was I thinking?  I would ride three blocks the opposite way to the local candy store, but heading towards the Junior High School was like crossing the Austrian Alps. 

As I sit here, wine in hand, bar-b-q ablaze and the London broil charring, I started thinking about the songs I can suggest for Labor Day’s church bell medley.    This is what I have come up with so far.  Please feel free to email me more to add to the list. I will hold off until I get a wide enough selection before I ring the doorbell at the rectory.

  •             Take this Job and Shove It

  •             Everybody’s Working for the Weekend

  •             Money for Nothin’

  •             The Working Life

  •             The Theme for Monday Night Football

  •             Cats in the Cradle

  •             Fast Car

  •             Working 9 to 5

So the night is dark and tomorrow is just another day for us working stiffs.  Maybe next year I will wake to a chorus of songs from the church bells at St. Aloysius crafted from the input from my fellow winos and winettes.

2003 Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz $ (7.99)    This is a must drink for porches and late summer afternoons.  A find of dark fruit and an easy drinking style delivers an inexpensive wine to have fun with.  Spend the 100 dollars for the case and keep it around for one you want to open Thursday night in front of the TV or late Saturday before going out to dinner.

September 4, 2004

Homemade wine, I now have a growing supply.  One of the benefits of community living, people share the wealth so to speak.  OK, its not really communal living, its old people residence.  Doing something totally out of character, I headed south last night for the one and only layover at the Jersey shore.  Call it nostalgia for a Springsteenesque vision of youth with sand and summer surf, call it reliving nights on the boardwalk at the arcade, or call it the truth, family obligation.  The trek on the southbound parkway was amazingly simple at 8PM, and our wheels came to rest on the freshly paved driveway in south Jersey at 9:45.  Time travels quickly as you sing at the top of your lungs through the tollbooths on the GSP.  Exit numbers fall away like dead skin and the mile markers blur into a solid line along the guardrail.  Home base is the adult community that would have sounded sexual if not for the fact that my age-worn parents reside there.  Having a safety net of people in the same boat allows some to have a ride to the pharmacy and some to have companionship at lunch.  As alcohol runs through my family DNA, my father was lucky enough to locate a life line, a pearl in the oyster, a ruby in a mountain of rocks and yes, Meatloaf, a Coup de Ville hiding at the bottom of a cracker jack box.  Just four houses from base camp is a serious wine maker, a seven-year veteran of the Bacchus Wine School.  Now he bottles over 22 cases for his personal cellar, blending and experimenting each year.  Tonight, to knock the trail dust from my chaps, I poured a glass of the already opened, home made bottle of cabernet franc sitting on the kitchen counter top next to the stainless steel sink, just below the kitchen crank out window.  I have enjoyed a bottle of an unlabeled wine made by this fondler of fruit, this gripper of grapes, this baron of barrel aging.  The cabernet franc was slap your face fresh and astringent.  There was not an abundance of joy for me in this goblet, but tomorrow, I am looking forward to the cabernet sauvignon-cabernet franc blend.

Bacchus wine school has locations throughout the state, the original is located in Tom’s River.  Entrepreneurial foresight prevailed and the business became a franchise.  Currently there are four additional locations, Livingston, Jersey City, Galloway and Manalapan.  I looked into the program on several occasions as a great many people tell you they would love to make wine and go in on it.  Then the cold metal brace cuffs their wallet when you tell them the barrel price runs $1,500 to 2,000 dollars depending on the grapes you want.  I have had a share of bathtub wines that have given me everything from an upset stomach to a week long case of the trotts, but this gentleman has a hand for the craft.  I spoke with him one night several months back and he is a passionate wine maker.   He told me it averages out to 9.00 per bottle when all is said and done, including his own label design.  My apprehension is ending up with 22 cases of trott juice.  Then what do I do, I can give several bottles away to friends and family and claim ignorance when they tell me it created a Picasso in their porcelain.  Then I could donate a few bottles to the church bazaar, leading to a reduction in the line at the confessional.  Unfortunately, I would cry each time I walked down into the cellar, seeing racks full of undrinkable wine and envisioning each bottle as a nine dollar bill being burned in front of my eyes.  Wino John and I have toyed with the idea of developing the Uber Cab for the much sought after WinoStuff label, but we are finally making great strides in building equity in the name and do not want to jeapordize that.  Unlike Roche, we prefer not to put the warning label they had on the foods using their olestra. “Injecting this product may cause, headaches, blurry vision, dry mouth, stomach cramps, explosive diarrhea, impotence, and lumpy tumors.”  Yes, but look how thin I am getting.  Olestra in potato chips was going to be Roche’s second major impact on the world market, their first was Mother’s little helper- Valium.  Save the warning label, I would much prefer to work with a winery to produce for us rather than trying to tackle that on my own.

Tonight, after the day on the beach and the night at the boardwalk in Seaside, I opened the cab/cab franc with my father and tried winemaker Al’s blend.  Keeping the 9.00 price range in the back of my mind, this one was a more enjoyable wine.  I am not a huge fan of cabernet franc.  I did find this a nice way to end the evening, catching up with my old man and sharing a glass of red from his new best friend.  The summer will officially end this weekend.  Be safe, enjoy the last bit of sun and surf and open a bottle of wine with a family member, the number of glasses to share may be less than you think.  And to the little old wine makers of the world, I salute you.

September 3, 2004

I needed a break yesterday from the over-the-top partisanship of Chris Matthews and the ineptitude of the Giants.  Not to be demonized with the "right wing" nut moniker, I watched as much of the convention as I could on MSNBC.  But the TV ratings indicate that I am in the minority.  Fox kicked cables’ ass and outpaced the networks.   However, I am not here to discuss politics. I’m here to whine about the suckie season the Giants look destined for.  (Editor's note: Woo hoo!!)  How can I think of sitting in front of my Panasonic HDTV all season to have a line that cannot open a hole, a power runner who wants to go outside the tackles and a quarterback situation that has one too young and one too old?  I loved Coughlin as a coordinator for Parcells and as a head at BC.  I looked forward to the structure he would bring to the locker room and a respect to the team.  But pre season showed little gains and a lot of third and longs.  It looks like my wine consumption will be increasing two fold on Sunday afternoons this fall.  My only hope is that the Eagles make it to the first round of the post season, and then choke as always.  Hey T.O. sign this!

On a serious note, it looks like all those late night trips to McDonald’s, all those pizza and thong Friday evenings in the oval office and all those Mexican lunch specials have finally caught up with Bill Clinton.  Hillary is so torn up that she actually took time out of her campaigning to visit a microphone and say, “We all wish President Clinton well and hope he has a speedy recovery.”  Wow, there’s some genuine love flowing between those two!  She will be visiting him at his home in NY once she figures out where in NY it is.

2002 MOUTON CADET ROUGE Appellation Bordeaux Contrôlée ?    This merlot based Bordeaux was a tasting gift from BB.  Pleasant blackberry flavor with a minimal finish.  This would be a good crazy aunt wine.

 

Update to the white wine we started with on Saturday evening:

Sula Vineyards Chenin Blanc - India's first Chenin Blanc is perfect for a summer evening. This delightful cold fermented wine in stainless steel vats is finished in a semi-dry New World style. Its light, fresh and fruity character makes it an excellent aperitif.

Learn all about the first wines from India at www.sulawines.com

August 29, 2004

Don’t get nervous, I haven’t come down with Wino John lack-o-update-itis yet.  Actually, we had a great, secret WinoStuff staff meeting last Tuesday.  The topic and guest speaker was so top secret that I cannot reveal it as of yet.  OK, the secret guest speaker was Big Bob and at the conclusion of the dinner, we made a WinoStuff pinky swear to have a rolling wino dinner at each of our homes.  The first rule of the rolling wino dinner was “Don’t talk about the rolling Wino dinner”.  Seeing how I have a difficult time keeping club rules, it is now appearing in this entry.  The club is simple, select a date and the host for that evening is responsible for everything, meaning, you own the food and wine served for the night.  Big Bob obviously out distances WJ and I, as we do not have the pleasure of a portfolio of wines to select from.  I have several bottles purchased prior to Geekdom collapse that will be on my menu and Wino John has a cellar full of Big Ass California Cabs to sway BB with.  Taking a stab at hosting the first dinner, and basically having very little on the social calendar, I sent out a call for Saturday night.  The Bigs found a sitter, but the reclusive WJ was tied up for the weekend.

So the four of us headed to a BYOB in Madison, NJ to take advantage of a great end of summer Saturday evening and enjoy some food, wine and conversation.  I volunteered the red and Mr. Big brought the whites.  The restaurant, Il Mondo Vecchio seems more like it should be located on Mulberry Street in Manhattan instead of Main Street in Madison, brick walls and fourteen-foot tin ceilings and dark wood panels.  The place is so popular; we had to take a 5:45 reservation.  The white linen table clothes and attentive staff made this an impressive eatery.  When Big Bob and I started pulling wine bottles out of our sacks, the wait staff scurried to find white and red wine glasses.  The table was small and the 12 glasses left little room for the appetizers.  (white, red and water glasses for four people)  Opening a test wine, Big Bob poured us a glass of a recent acquisition for his portfolio, wines from India.  Yes, red dot and all, we were treated to a bottle of Chenin Blanc from the home of the Dell computer service center, India.  Since I was neglect in paper and pencil, I will rely on BB to sign the guest book with the details of the whites.  As for the wine itself, it would have made Hodji from Johnny Quest, proud (OK TV junkies, who among us didn’t watch Johnny Quest on Saturday mornings)

The main white was a Premier Cru from Drouhin, but I do not have the details of the bottle.  Be that as it may, it was a nice compliment to my radicchio salad.  Knowing that the reds were California biggies, red meat was a perfect complement.  I picked the filet mignon with gorgonzola drizzle, Big Bob grabbed my second choice, the grilled lamb chops.  We started the main course with a 1994 Cain Five and enjoyed it through dinner.  As always, the four of us had so much to talk about that the second bottle was uncorked before the dessert menus were dealt out. 

Post coffee, dessert, laughs and the second bottle of red, we were encouraged to vacate our table.  Walking to the front door, we understood why, the crowd waiting for tables at 9PM was out the door.  I did my best to make the table turn over a bit longer as I spilled a Rorschach test pattern of California Cabernet on the crisp white linen table clothe.  Mrs. Big told me I should dine with a WinoStuff Magical Red Wine Stain Remover holstered to my chest as a follow up to my large motor skills being altered.  I can be a walking infomercial.  Like the Breakfast Club, the pact has been set for three home wine dinners before the first snow fall, and like the Breakfast Club, we have the jock (BB’s college athletics experience), the intelligent (WJ engineering prowess), and the Geeky stick figure who wound up spending a night in a junior high school locker.  At least I was not depicted as Molly Ringwald.  As the Psychedelic Furs sang at the end of that movie, “Don’t you forget about me, next time we go to a BYOB…. Don’t you forget about me, I’ll bring the red and pay your corkage fee…..

1994 Cain Five $$$ (55.00)   An interesting blend but this wine, though fruit filled, lacked the finish and length for a big, bold California Meritage.  Good, but not what I would have expected from the year and winery.

1995 Joseph Phelps Insignia $$$ (75.00)   Lush dark fruit, polished tannins and a velvet finish is the best description for this wine.  When it comes to power and grace in a glass vessel, here is one for the books.

August 23, 2004

Last night was a quiet time in front of the TV, cheering on the US women volleyballers.  While watching the boob tube, I enjoyed a little Jersey tomato, no, not Governor McGreevey, a real vegetable.  Earlier in the day, we ran to Kings, the overpriced gourmet supermarket that carries all your culinary needs.  It was super saver day and the filet mignon was on special with your Kings’ card.  So I grilled up some steaks and sliced up some Jersey tomatoes from a friend’s garden.  Simple sliced tomatoes with a touch of oil, some balsamic vinegar, rosemary and fresh basil.  Wow, tomato salad and filet mignon, US women volleyballers and a California Meritage.  Actually, I would have dragged out anything red, but I used up my everyday drinkers at the last BYOB dinner.  Painfully, I grabbed and replaced and picked and put back from the bottles I purchased four to five years back, when the economy was swimming and the cash was awash.  Picking the least of the best, in my mind, it turned out to be the perfect wine for the night. 

I had a bit of a scare during the uncorking, as the tree bark flaked and crumbled with my first attempt to extract it.  Oh no, a soft cork, the wine must have turned.  So I continued the process, slow and steady to remove segments of this stopper.  Then the moment of truth, would the drain be enjoying the contents of this bottle, or would I be the one wallowing in the nectar from the sunshine state?  Alas, I poured, swirled, sniffed and stopped to enjoy the delights of this wine.  It was fine and quickly I poured myself a glass to keep me company on the deck.  The Weber sizzled as I flipped my meat one last time to a medium rare perfection and sipped a bit of the good life.  I cannot afford drinking this too often, but did enjoy the splurge.  Jersey tomatoes, medium rare filet mignon, scantily clad well tanned athletic women volleyballers and a well crafted red wine from California, a small glimpse into life after death.

1995 BV Tapestry $$ (45.00)   Throw out the high and low and the judges give this a solid three.  The bottle time on this one has been kind and has allowed the complexities of the fruit to present themselves while mellowing the tannins and softening the finish.  A treat for those lovers of big reds.

August 21, 2004

What started innocent enough as meeting friends at a new BYOB in town, quickly turned into cult abduction.  OK, I overstated it.  I am proud to announce that as of 10:30 PM yesterday, there are two new members to the worldwide WinoStuffers.  We have dined with these folks once before, and had a great time.  A spontaneous phone call set up a casual supper at a new BYOB, Italian restaurant in WC.  That officially brings the Italian restaurant-to-population ratio in West Essex, two to one.  Russillo’s is the renovated dream of the old Cohen’s Stationary Store and is pleasantly decorated.  We arrived a bit late and our friends had already uncorked their KJ Cab for us to sip while dissecting the menu and catching up on the month and a half since our last dinner.  The menu is reasonably priced and offers a nice variety of pastas, chicken, seafood and veal.  I judge Italian restaurants by their fried calamari and lobster ravioli.  The calamari was great and we drained the KJ through appetizers.  I dug into my satchel and dragged out a 2002 Goats Do Roam - the SA poke in the eye to the Rhone region of France.  We enjoyed  the generous portioned main courses and talked about everything except politics and sex.  Might sound boring, but it kept everyone at ease since the two are so intertwined these days in the state of NJ.  As far as my lobster ravioli, I rate the sauce a B+ but the actual ravioli seemed like supermarket frozen, less than my expectations. 

Then the moment that it all went wrong.  We were hip deep in a conversation and the dinner plates were being cleared, the waiter asked if we were interested in coffee and dessert.  That usually denotes the beginning of the end and we were not quite there yet, so I polled the crowd and asked, “Are you interested in one more glass of wine?”  I had a second in my satchel.  Without hesitation, a unanimous positive response came in and we opened the third, and sat for another hour talking about wine.  Things went so well that we agreed to setting up a wine sampling night.  Our two newest Winos, Wino Jim and Winette Maggie enjoy wine and usually stay with the one or two they are most familiar.  After being taught  the secret WinoStuff handshake, and they quietly sang the WinoStuff theme song, they swore to open their palates and minds to tasting different styles of chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons.  I predict that one year from now, they will be enjoying a plethora of grape varietals, I see dedicated winos in the making.  With the power vested in me by the state of intoxication, I welcome our newest Winos and look forward to many late night benders with Wino Jim and Winette Maggie.  The tipping scale will be their first invite to an evening with Wino Rocker; right now, I need to protect them from that scene.

One last comment on the restaurant, the food was good and the pricing very reasonable.  The dining room can get a bit noisy and the air conditioning seemed missing in action.  Last night was a dog day of summer, hot and humid.  We sat next to the thermostat which blinked 65, but the waiter’s face sweat nearly landed in my dinner plate as he leaned over to place it in front of me.

August 19, 2004

With all the rain we have had in NJ for the past week, and the fact that my computer is acting hinky again, I decided to clear out my, “save it for a rainy day folder.”  From time to time I see or read something I want to comment on and place it in the save it for a rainy day section of my WinoStuff documents sector on my C: drive.  Well it has been rainy all month and last night I found this article that I don’t remember writing about.  Though I am not sure what I write about when I am writing.  I wasn’t sure if we should place this in the entry section or add this to the cork debate under 'what to do with all those Damn corks' section.  I myself have made the much heralded cork board, Christmas ornaments, paved my driveway, fishing bobbers for my Dad, but the ex-speech writer for Mr. Clinton had the best idea yet.  It seems that John Pollack claims to have been collecting wine corks since childhood and at age 36 found himself with over 70,000 of the little bastards.  This is the first thing that bristled the hair on the back of my neck.  What kid collects wine corks?  And if you do start collecting them, are they so important that you take them with you to the college dorm or to your first apartment in Washington, DC?  Do you invite chicks back to your place to see your cork collection?  You know where I’m going, obviously, Mr. Pollack was responsible for Clinton speech writing and disposing of the evidence of Bill’s wild partying before Hillary returned from her pants suit shopping.  In the Clinton Whitehouse, 70,000 corks popped per year.

Nevertheless, Mr. Pollack burned out from speech writing and turned his talent to his true passion, designing a boat out of those closures.  With the help of a friend, John drew up the plans for a seaworthy vessel and in a tribute, sailed down the Douro River to the seaport city of Oporto.

This summer, John Pollack and Garth Goldstein took an old trade (shipbuilding), a basic principle (buoyancy), and created an ingenious, two-ton, 27-foot craft made of (what else) 165,321 corks. Confident that their vessel was of sound design, the two set sail from the northern Portuguese city of Barca d'Alva, near the Spanish border, where hundreds of Portuguese gathered to watch them embark upon an improbable, 17-day journey on the Douro River.

The genesis of the trip began when John Pollack, 36, a former speechwriter for former President Clinton, told longtime friend and architect Garth Goldstein about his dream of turning the roughly 70,000 corks he'd collected since childhood into a raft. Intrigued, Goldstein, 31, immediately went to work on the designs. They convinced Cork Supply USA, the leading supplier of wine corks in the United States, to donate an additional 100,000 stoppers to their cause in 1999. After two years of planning, testing, and building, the "Cork Boat," complete with a wooden deck, a Viking-style V-shaped prow, and two oars, was finished on Columbus Day, 2001. It was calculated that 6,000 corks can support the weight of a 150 pound person.    By Whitney Dunca

Coming soon: the cork hybrid car, and the cork International Space Station.

August 16, 2004

Well, I just recovered from Saturday night’s Bacchanalian orgy.  Well, it really wasn’t much of an orgy, no clothing came off, and as far as Bacchus was concerned, the wine intake was three bottles less than expected.  Yes, in what can only be described as a lucky turn of events for my cellar, Wino Rocker spent the night with martinis, Bond martinis.  If one can take at face value the words from a TV wine show, it was described in a recent episode of Andrea Dimmer’s visit to the Billet vineyards, that Bond had a special martini blend.  The recipe was described as 3 parts gin, 1 part vodka and 1 part Billet, shaken not stirred.  Though the vodka, gin and Billet bottles did not survive Wino Rocker’s assault, four of us only consumed 3 bottles.  I almost term this a disaster.  We usually run one for one.  Wino Paul spent most of the evening regaling the crowd with stories of our trips for Geekdom.  The wine flowed, though in moderation, and softened the natural uneasiness.  I must tell you, Wino Paul has an ability to embellish a story.  I think he enjoys poking a proverbial finger in my eye.  But with enough wine in me, I can take a good poking.

The highlight of the night had to be the Wino Rocker impromptu concert at 11:45PM, when flashbacks of high school jam sessions ran rampant in his James Bond soaked gray matter.  And who can’t resist singing, slurred and off key to an acoustic rendition of Free Bird.  My personal favorite, the House of the Rising Sun, ended the night, actually drove the others away as I did my best Eric Burden imitation. 

2001 Austin Vale Shiraz $ (8.99)     The wine offers up some black cherry and plum, but little at best.  Absent are the pleasant varietals characteristics associated with this grape and region.  OK, but nothing to excite the loins.

2001 Mills Reef Sauvignon Blanc Reserve $ (11.99)     A ripe, herbaceous style Sauvignon Blanc, that delivers a nose of cat pee and flavors of melon and lime.  French oak adds complexity. A mouth filling dry wine with a creamy-smooth finish.

August 14, 2004

Since this has been a week of unexpected heartfelt confessions, I want to jump on the bandwagon and admit that I am a Wino American.  There I said it, and if anyone starts to call me the same foul names like: Stew Bum, Drunk Bastard, Alkie, Purple Teeth, Swirl and Spit, Mr. Fancy Glass, Cork Head, Swollen Liver Boy, Stupid Drunk Bastard, Kid Toucher; I can not tell them they are questioning my patriotism.  Being not just a Wino but a Wino American has elevated me to a new sub category on all the forms I need to fill out.  What better a minority status to have then a minority of one?  You cannot get any more minor than that.  Now that I think about it, the Kid Toucher thing doesn’t qualify under this protection of my patriot roots, but it does get my protection under freedom of religion.  I would like to say it Proud and say it Loud, I am coming out of the cellar and wearing my “label” front and center.  I feel that the tag of 'American' places me in a special flag-waver category and if you attack my prefix (Wino), you attack my love for this country.  However, I want to be treated like everyone else, I just want advantages when I feel I am being discriminated against because I am a Wino.  Don’t paint me with the broad brush of other Winos, I’m still an individual, who has a unique position either through genetics or the fact that my grandmother owned a tavern and I grew up in an environment of alcohol.  I want the right to marry another wino and have her leave me and take half my wealth and my house.  Just because my alcoholic intake makes me 50% more likely to die from cirrhosis or 75% more likely to die in a fatal car crash, I want the same access to the medical treatments, new drugs, dry-out clinics and Medicare from the government and the hard working people of this country can pay for my hospital stays.  I am a Wino American!  Love me for who I am.

Wow, did that go wrong!  Anyway, we are enjoying the latest days of summer by having a small gathering around the bar-b-q today.  The guest list includes a hard-core biker, a wannabe biker (wino rocker) and Wino Paul, a Schwinn biker.  I don’t know if they even make Schwinn bicycles any longer, but it was the brand to own when I was a kid.  Going through the head count, I knew I didn’t have enough red wine in my cellar to handle Wino Rocker, never mind the spouses et al.  I drove down to Costa’s and loaded up.  Walking out of the store, I felt this weirdness about spending a fair amount of money without John being in the store to know I was there buying from him.  It’s a new ailment I have.  I could have gone a bit farther up the Avenue and paid a bit less for the same stuff, but I want to see this small proprietor make it.  But there was someone else, a worker bee, behind the counter today.  I wouldn’t have thought twice about walking out of Shop Rite Discount with the same purchase, being rung up by a total stranger.  But I do feel differently coming out of Costa’s.  I guess I have too much blood in my alcohol system again. 

August 13, 2004

God Damn it, Cartman!  Why are those closest to the situation always the last to know?  I need to make this clear, right up front, everyone is speaking about the situation with the Governor of New Jersey, so please do not misconstrue any comments I make as gay bashing.  Discussing the matter is a tight rope walk across a bottomless pit with subject matter this sensitive. However, of all the topics that could have toppled the McGreevey governorship, it was a sex scandal.   As much as I am not a fan or supporter of the Governor, I would have rather he be caught in the pay for play problems, or better yet, be voted out because of his inabilities to lead this state out of its ethical political problems.

Last night, to steady my shaken foundation after this bombshell announcement, I stopped into Bacchus to throw down a glass or two of the Clos du Bois Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that they are featuring by the glass.  The bar was buzzing with the same statements, “Oh yeah, everybody knew he was gay.”  Everybody?  I think not, but I was hard pressed to find one person in Essex County last night who said they were surprised.  I was really rooting for the much more clandestine Machiavellian secret tip off and plot of shadowy figures lurking in doorways and brown bags of unmarked bills being left on park benches in rural parks.  I am sure the next few days will disclose many of the seedy details of the lawsuit-in-waiting that is the reason behind the announcement yesterday.  Democrats in NJ are very tolerant and the simple fact that the Governor is gay would have driven his pole numbers (cheap shot) through the roof and insure a landslide re-erection (cheap shot).  But there must be the equivalent of the Clinton Blue Dress or worse.  It is the suggestion of WinoWally that we start a Governor McGreevey joke page and if that low brow, insensitive style of journalism is what is being demanded, who am I to rain on the parade of the citizens of NJ. 

You know we at WinoStuff.com have informants throughout the news world and we have heard from people close to the Governor.  As I am a journalist / drunken guy who rambles incoherently on the web, we keep our sources protected.  We do know the Governor was uncomfortable with our twist on the legislation he signed to name the Blueberry the official fruit of the State.  He is worried we would be so crass as to replace the blueberry picture with his picture under the caption “Official Fruit of NJ”.  But we will not stoop to that level.

 Last night, while I was enjoying the eaves-dropping on barroom ideology, I got a call from a source that was at the press conference.  This person told me he was speaking off the record with a McGreevey assistant and the name WinoJohn came up in the conversation.  It seems the Governor was so moved by WinoJohn’s review of Inniskillin, it gave the Governor the courage to come out.   (Editor's note: While Inniskillin is the Official Chick Wine of WinoStuff.com, I have no idea how this wine is perceived by the Coalition of Corrupt Gay Governors)

In an unrelated story, the Archbishop of the Newark Diocese called for tolerance in this difficult time in the Governor’s personal life.  He praised the Governor for his deep religious belief and welcomed him to an opening in the priesthood…..

August 12, 2004

Winostuff Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir

  In what can only be described as a major marketing move, WinoStuff has secured shelf space at Costa’s Wine Shop in Caldwell, NJ.  The cutting edge foresight of proprietor, John Costa, has developed a display area for the best wine stain removing product in the country.  “I have big plans for the store. I want to provide great wines and wine related products for the people of New Jersey.  We are excited about the sampling laws that will allow us to share some of the new wines as our customers shop.  Adding wine accessories was a natural,” stated John.  “Winostuff Magical Red Wine Stain Remover is now on our shelves.  It was funny how it came about.  The first day I officially owned the store, I came to work early and found this stick figure passed out in my doorway.  His boney fingers were wrapped around this spray bottle of stain remover and he was drooling.  He must have spilled the remains of the bottle of Chilean Cabernet he was drinking and there was a huge stain on my sidewalk.  I pried the spray bottle from his fingers and it cleaned the stain from my sidewalk, thank God.”

We have given it a prominent position by the register so come in, browse our wine selection and see the exciting changes we are making to the store.

Next time you are driving on Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell, visit Costa’s for all your wine needs.

August 8, 2004

Where can I collect my  $17.65?  We were invited to a friend’s house for dinner last night and as polite guests, we offered the usual rhetorical question, “Can we bring something?”  Uncharacteristically, the hostess said, “Yes, why don’t you bring a bottle of wine.”  OK, I can do that; I have some knowledge in this area.  Then came the caveat, “Dry Creek Chenin Blanc.”  What, you not only want me to bring wine, but a specific white wine that I have little interest in drinking?  “Sure, no problem”.  This would be a perfect excuse to head back over to my friends at Costa’s.  It was such a cool, enjoyable day that I decided to walk, as the shop is only a few blocks into town.  Burning 15 minutes and finally inquiring to John where he kept the Dry Creek, he informed me he did not carry it.  OK, I can walk home, hop in the truck and head to Shop Rite Discount, they have a much bigger selection.  Better yet, this may be my exercise for the month, so I’ll walk the extra seven blocks and really get my heart doing the thing it was designed to do.  Scouring the shelves, and cutting up twenty more minutes, I turned up zero for two.  Now the mile walk back to the house seemed laborious, but for the hell of it I could dash into the small wine section at Jack’s Supermarket to see if I could be so lucky.  Zero for three.

Now I am hell bent for finding this wine the hostess wants us to bring and the walking part is not going to cut it.  Saddling up the truck, I head east to the old reliable Home Liquors.  With almost an hour invested already and now the consumption of gas from the old truck, the cost per glass is escalating, but more than that my wine ego is on the line.  Cutting to the quick, I find shelf stock boy and hurriedly inquire of their Dry Creek selection.  He darts to the computer and waves me to s bin in the second isle.  Dry Creek is right here, and he lifts a bottle of zinfandel, zero for four.  Back in the truck and thinking out load, I backtrack the three miles, pass the house and head another three miles west to King’s wine department.  In a stroke of luck, perched on the third shelf down in the white wine display is the main guest for the dinner party.  I toss out the nine dollars and change and head back the three miles home.  One gallon of gas and one and a half hours later, I am sitting at my kitchen table staring at this bottle, tempted to uncork it right then and there to see what the deal is with this requested bottle.

I wait and arrive at the host’s home, bottle chilled and tongue wagging.  As we are greeted, we are handed a frozen margarita.  What the f*%*?  I drove around like Shakes the Clown needing a fix and we are having party drinks?  At this point, I needed alcohol so I licked the rim salt and chugged down the drink to the sudden flash of brain freeze.  God damn it, Cartman, you know you’re supposed to drink those things slowly.  By time we sat down for dinner, I had embellished the story about how many wine shops and how much time I invested in finding that bottle.  They were guilty enough to open it.  As the hostess poured me a glass, she informed me that she is a huge fan of the wine writer for the Star Ledger and this was a wine he touted.  Holy crap Marie, do I take that as an insult?  I am being made the pack mule for a Wednesday wine columnist in the Newark Star Ledger.  She told us how she enjoys the wines he recommends and she finds that he offers well-priced suggestions.  Now why didn’t I think of that?  Be that as it may, I did drink the wine with our bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp appetizer and the grilled salmon and veggie medley.  Next time, one and done, and I will find a suitable replacement for the much sought after recommendations from the Newark Star Ledger.

2002 Dry Creek Chenin Blanc $ (8.99)    Easy drinking white wine is the best way to describe this as nothing exciting happened on the nose or on the palate.  Peach and citrus flavors were available but seemed muted.  It was ok with the salmon, but not overly creative.

August 7, 2004

I don’t drink a lot of Porto, though I do have a bottle or two that I keep for those late night occasions when friends come back to the house or family is over for a celebratory meal.  Last night when I was offered a taste of one, I almost refused.  Yes, schnorer-boy himself almost turned down a, dare I say, a free drink.  Fortunately, I came to my alcoholic senses and had the bartender place the glass, next to my other glass, stacked up like the landing pattern at Newark Liberty Airport at rush hour.  It was Mike the bartender’s birthday last night and he found himself on the customer’s side of the psychedelic color-changing glass bar.  That left one of the other staff members at Bacchus to actually attend to the paying customers.  In a move likened to a pinch hitter that Joe Torre would call on in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded with two out, John stepped up big.  John is the newly elevated general manager now that Ryan has selected life at a private country club, location undisclosed to me as I do not have the money nor the foppishness necessary to be voted into an elite club.

John loves to keep his bartending roots fresh from time to time as he spins and slings bottles of spirits like Tom Cruise in Cocktail.  The only thing missing is the over the back toss up and the flaming toppings.  As I was only stopping in for a quick one and challenging myself to keep my evening at twenty bucks, tip included, I grabbed the Excelsior Cabernet.  Their wine by the glass menu has stagnated and I no longer have the ear of the decision makers to tell them so.  The $7.50 per glass was in my wheelhouse, and I could space out two in a time frame that would be socially comfortable.  Though if the economy were better, I would have pulled an all nighter.  The place was tilted on the single women side of a 4 to 1 ratio.  Still, somehow, I found myself half way through my first glass of wine, with seven empty seats to my left and two empty seats to my right.  It was like a Vulcan force field had repelled the human species from my zumlock. (I think that’s Vulcan for personal space, but I never was a Trekkie).

Mike, now feeling celebratory from his birthday elixirs, felt sorrow enough to call me to their end of the bar and at least give the appearance that I was not a lonely, alcoholic watching the Yankee game by myself in the midst of a pride of single horny women.  I guess my WinoStuff cologne doesn’t contain the correct amount of pheromones.  Hell, I sweated into two Gatorade bottles before mixing up my next WinoStuff magical elixir.  Be that as it may, the Tom Cruise mentor offered up a tasting of a Port and it delighted me to no end, well actually to at least the end of the glass. 

Which now brings me into the battlefield of Wino John and Big Bob.  If a wine is produced in California, from traditional Portuguese grapes, should it still be called Port?  If Pinot Noir from Burgundy is Burgundy, and from the rest of the world is Pinot Noir, as is Champagne to Sparkling Wine, Cote Rotie to syrah and terrior to dirt, then should what I had last night be called something like fortified Portuguese style wine?  By Portuguese law, port is a fortified wine made from wineries along the Duoro River and shipped out of the city of Oporto where the Atlantic and Duoro meet.  Are we back to the California Burgundy bastardization of a designate?  Should I even be concerning myself with this?  Do I even sound like I know what the hell I’m talking about?  Do I take up the cause to be a purist?  Do I drink more free Port, Oporto and anything else offered at Bacchus and keep my mouth shout?  Should I call the Oporto police?  How do you make a Cockburn? (sorry, seventh grade creeping back in)

Heitz Wine Cellars Ink Grade Vineyard Port ?     I do not have a handle on Oporto, but I do know what I like and this one is a glass of black velvet.  Made from six Portuguese grapes and blended from the 1998, 1999, 2000 and a touch of 2001 vintages, this 18% alcohol wine is a great after dinner accompaniment.  Thanks to John, I now have a new offering for guests.

August 5, 2004

I guess I lived Springsteen lyrics before I listened to them.  Hell, growing up in NJ, we all did.  The blue collar town of Bloomfield offered the same challenges for my parents that Freehold offered for Mr. Springsteen’s parents.  I hung out with friends that had no more or no less than we did.  Our town had one family that lived in “The Mansion on the Hill.”   My dad worked as a night foreman for Stanley Tool in Newark, NJ.  He drove a 1965 Chevy Impala, white with black trim and red interior.  God, if I could have that car now, but back then, it was basic transportation. 

The factory closed for the last two weeks in July and we went, lock stock and pets, to the Jersey Shore.  I remember the year of my seventh grade summer; my best friend’s grandmother had a house in Point Pleasant.  He stayed there all season, and it was not in my parent’s nature to let me go there for a week, so they did the next best thing.  They booked us into a hotel several blocks from his house so we could hang out together.  We thought we were hot shit in seventh grade, cool teenagers.  We’d spend the days on the beach, swimming, playing football and boogie boarding.  Then, after the mandatory dinner with my folks, my buddy and I would walk the ten blocks to the Point Pleasant boardwalk where we would hang out and Mac on chicks.  Picture a tall, gawky Wino Bob, still ebbing and flowing between mature, older guy voice and the squeaky, cracking of childhood hairlessness.  My older brother taught me this move, when you see a cute girl, go up to her and ask if she has a cigarette.  Its an ice breaker and usually allows the awkward approach to be somewhat less than paralyzing.


Young WinoBob Mackin' on beach chicks...

Learning a great deal from my older brother, I always had a penchant for girls that were more mature (developed).  Picture the squeaking, peach fuzzed, gawky Wino Bob approaching a seventeen year old hot chick asking if she had a cigarette.  The most common response was, “Get the F*^$ out of here little boy!”  God only knows if that ever worked and she gave me a cigarette and decided to light it for me, I’m sure I would have left a full metal jacket in my shorts.  After 11PM, we tramped the beach, heading back home, trying to search out that one connection that would be locker room legend in September.  The closest I got was a game of truth or dare with these girls we met from Bogotá, not the country, the town in Bergen County. Most kids in Jersey lived the words of many of Springsteen’s songs. 

It wasn’t until 10th grade that I started listening to and loving the songs of Bruce, but my older and musically wiser brother told me he never listened to him.  It seems those who loved Dylan, CSNY, Baez, Havens and the cast of Woodstock, viewed Springsteen as a poet but also a sellout.  He had the talent to be the voice of the generation, but opted for more commercial avenues than the true diehards.  I didn’t care, the songs from his albums rang true in my head and heart and he was New Jersey teenage life for me.  The song, “Working Life” was my father’s plight and “Sandy” was our summers dream.  Springsteen, though anti Vietnam War, wrote an album that became an anthem for those soldiers.  Interesting, he often talks in concerts about going down for his physical and failing, so he was never drafted while the guys he wrote songs for put there lives on the line.  He mentions that that was a point his father was glad about during one of their difficult late night kitchen table discussions.  So why is it that artists, musicians, actors, and actresses feel they now have a bully pulpit to preach to the masses about political ideology?

Between the interview last night with Ted Koppel and the Op Ed piece today in the NY Times entitled, “Chords of Change”, Mr. Springsteen is cashing in on his popularity as the latest Anti-Bush voice.  I never buy the NY Times, but I did today, just to read his piece.  After a glass or two of wine, I gleaned the following.  It really isn’t much of a Kerry endorsement.  In fact at the top of the second columns, he states, John Kerry and John Edwards don’t have all the answers…”  Basically translated, that means "I’m not loving Kerry; I am just one of the ABBers."  (Anybody But Bush).  Bruce then states that we need to change the direction of the country and change the current administration.  He failed to describe how the Bush and Kerry plans for Iraq differ.  Oh, that’s right, they don’t.  So again, the Boss is caught in the Anti-Bush thing not the We Love John Kerry few. 

In the box next to the article there is a note to readers that states the Op-Ed page welcomes unsolicited manuscripts but due to the volume there is no guarantee they will print anyone’s.  So how is it that Mr. Springsteen’s made it to the paper in a week?  Do you think the NY Times would print a Wino Bob Op-Ed?  I think not.  No, the NY Times employs people who fabricate facts and make up stories, but my fabricated and made up stuff isn’t good enough for the old gray lady.  I think I have a free speech lawsuit.  Where are Allen Dershowitz and Ron Kuby when you need a good liberal lawyer?  My voice is being silenced by the opposition.  I need to start a band.

I must take a stand on these writers, movie directors, musicians, actors, et al, who feel the necessity to jump into the political arena with little more than their name and a sound bite.  I rally a call for people who are not political pundits to stick to what they do best, like writing about life growing up in the Jersey shore area, or making opinion pieces under the false categorization of documentary, or wine critics who think they know anything about issues and...   uh,... never mind.

1997 Glen Carlou Grand Classique $ (15.00)     This Bordeaux blend of the traditional five grapes hails from the Paarl region of South Africa.  It's a well crafted wine with depth and structure that is surprisingly elegant for a little known area for many red wine drinkers.  I recommend you find this one and give it a try, you will be delighted.

August 3, 2004

As you would have expected, there was little to do in Carmel, IN, leaving us to head south on 31 directly downtown.  What struck me about Indianapolis is how small, clean and empty it was.  I understand Monday night isn’t party time, but the place was vacant.  We arrived downtown about 9PM and drove the main streets looking for a place to grab a drink and some food.  We parked in a municipal lot that totaled $1.00 for the three hours we were there.  With no one making a decision, I spotted a place that seemed to have people and we went in.  The Ram Restaurant and Brewery greeted us with an extremely large bar that made three 90-degree turns from one end to the other.  The rich dark wood was well oiled and painfully clean. 

We saddled up to the bar facing the wall of televisions, which in their current configuration slaved the four screens in the center (2 over 2) to make one large screen, while the other four televisions had uniquely different programs on each.  I think Wino John’s geek business has something major to do with the TV linking technology.  I imagine that on Sunday afternoons during football season, Payton Manning stands tall across all eight screens linked as one. 

"When in Rome, take a small boy to the bathhouse with you", or something like that, so for me, I ordered up the Ram Sampler, not the appetizer special, but rather the fermented yeast in a glass.  The sample pours were 5 ounces and it came six up.  There were three I enjoyed and two that were ok, but the summer blonde special was nothing more than a yellow tinted glass of water.  The Red IPA, Heferwiezen and Porter were each flavorful, rich and worthwhile.  The Ram is a chain with eleven places in all.  The most famous is their Lake Oswego, OR.  For those interested you can visit their site at www.theram.com.  The states they appear in are WA, ID, OR, IL and IN.

While we were there, we asked what the hell a Hoosier is and the young bartender informed us there are many explanations, but didn’t really know.  It seems like its some bastardized version of a local phrase, like Who’s There or when at the farmer’s market, Who’s Ear (of corn).  If you ask me, I think we were getting our collective chain yanked.  How can someone grow up in a state and not know about its nickname.  I know why they call NJ the Garden State - because so many bodies are planted in the Meadowlands, if you know what I mean.

The beer was good, no local wine, and the food was plentiful.  But let me be frank, since I’m tired of being Wino Bob, there isn’t a whole lot to do in Indiana.  And driving the highways offers little more than cornfields, trees and the horizon. 

On a different note, I was watching the Bill Mahr HBO show last Saturday night and he made me laugh, once, during his otherwise pedantic monologue.  He said that after the close of Kerry’s speech, when he said 'I’m John Kerry, reporting for duty', President Bushed quickly deployed him to Fallujah.  I actually tuned into the show as Bill’s guests were Michael Moore, a Republican out of Colorado, the ex Prime Minister of Canada and a special appearance by Ralph Nadar.  Now that’s entertainment!

August 2, 2004

Indiana?  What the hell is there to do here?  I am on business for two days in Indiana and I have time in the late afternoon for some kind of non-work related activity.  While I waited for my vendor to meet me at the airport, I inquired to the woman behind the information desk, what interesting sights are there to take in between the airport and Fort Wayne?  The snappy reply of "Nothing" made me feel like I had asked her inappropriately, maybe too much Jersey.  Looking through the local brochures offered very little else.  Having twenty minutes to kill, I sat in the Starbucks with a Guatemalan black and inquired to the businessman next to me if there were any sights of interest between the airport and Fort Wayne, at which point he said, "uh, NO.  Well, no, unless you get excited by corn and tomato farms that is."  Corn and tomato farms do excite me but that dates back to a very dark time in my life at age 14, something too dark to talk about here.

Checking into the Double Tree in Carmel, I was sure to find help with my simple question.  What is there to see between here and Fort Wayne?  I guess when they say nothing, they mean, nothing.  I did find a small stand in the lobby with flyers for things to do.  Other than the speedway museum, there was one brochure that immediately jumped out at me, Wineries of Indiana. Other than that, there really is nothing to do between the airport and Fort Wayne.  The slogan on the front of the brochure is “Taste the experience of Indiana Wines”.  Sounds incoherent enough for me to have written that.  The slogan sounds stupid, what experience do Indiana wines have?  One would think the slogan would better attract someone if it stated, Taste the Experience of Indiana Winemakers, or Indiana Grape Growers, or something that was a bit more logical.

The map inside is divided into 4 regional areas but has little else boasting of the wine and wine trails.  There are 37 wineries.  My favorite, from the name only, has to be French Lick Winery.  Yes, I grew up watching the hick from French Lick drain threes from the corner of the parquet floor at the old Boston Garden in those great Laker/Celtic finals.  I do not have web access in the room but there is a web site, www.indianawines.org that I will check out when I return to civilization.  My hopes are to find a restaurant tonight that features some local fruit of the vine for me to see how they grow and produce in the middle of, uh, nowhere.  Do Hoosiers know wine? And what the hell is a Hoosier, or is it pronounced Hoos-I-a?  If anyone has enjoyed a bottle of French Lick White Zinfandel, please let me know.  If anyone has enjoyed a French Lick, please send pictures….

August 1, 2004

It seems from the guest book and the emails that my wino ideology concerning the political future for our great country has not been lauded in the way of Michael Moore.  I’m sure the mass media would have been interviewing me by now had I taken the stance of the day, Anybody But Bush.  One can quickly search the Internet to obtain the list of media moguls whom have given handily to the DNC.  I thought a lone voice in the large sea of Bush bashing would have been fun.  But as the title of this web site reminds me, I should be speaking of wine, not religion, not sex and most of all not politics.

We are entering August and in New Jersey, we are nearing the end leg of the viticultural journey for the 21 wineries in our state.  As a hometown flag waver, I keep the wine issues of my state in my peripheral vision.  Last year at this time, I was very much into researching and tasting the NJ crop, as the crew at WinoStuff.com had their collective eye on a larger project.  Wino John and I had the pleasure of interviewing and sampling the fruit of the vine from several local producers.  Though fifth in the US, New Jersey is the Garden State and has some advantages in its, dare I say, terrior?  Yes, the southern and central portions of our land mass boast hot days and cool nights from regions located near mountainous formations or coastal winds.  We lack the mistral of Rhone, but the Atlantic and Delaware bodies of water deliver a quenching night climate to the hot summer temperatures.

This year, I think the NJ crop is in for flabby, mediocre wines as we are setting rainfall records.  Thirteen inches fell in one storm alone last week.  Dams have failed in the southwestern part of the state and more rain has pounded us through the weekend.  What does all this rain mean?  Basically, swollen berries.  And if any of you guys remember back to puberty, its no fun having swollen berries.  They make one cantankerous and cranky and a bit pimply. 

The excess water dilutes the otherwise concentrated sugar and intense fruit flavors that provide the characteristic aromas and tastes this wino lives for.  I will be working at the NJ wine festival in October, when all these questions will be answered.  But if I had to take a wine soaked guess, it ain’t 1994 Napa for the vineyards of NJ.  I curse the days when drought conditions brown my lawn in July and have my lawn mower blowing dust through the yard.  As a wine grower, I’ll take those days in late July through August to stress my berries, concentrate my fruit and yield a flavorful, robust offering to compete with our brothers in California, Washington, Oregon and New York.  I will taste the Landot Noir, the Cabernet Franc and the Cabernet Sauvignon in October from my friends at Alba, Amwell and Four Sisters wineries to see if my gut feelings are correct.  I have even approached the Garden State Wine Growers Association with a slogan I want to put on bumper stickers and t-shirts to help promote our wines. 

  • There’s more to NJ than gangsters and corrupt politicians!

  • There actually is farmland between NYC and Philly!

  • I never knew landfill could add such character to cabernet!

  • Drink NJ wine if you know what’s good for you!

  • Fagettabout California, NJ wines are part of the family!

  • Is that petroleum I smell in my Riesling?

  • Is that limestone or sakreet that gives the Chardonnay such flavor?

  • Cabernet Franc with flavors of asphalt, sulphur dioxide, cadmium and cherry.

I cannot wait to see which one appears on the t-shirts they will be selling at the wine festival.  Come and check it out.

July 31, 2004

I spend a great deal of time driving around Geekdom during the day.  As a salesman, my car is my private bubble, my world.  I have control over the climate, sounds and sights as I go from customer to customer, trying to get someone, anyone, to retool their manufacturing facility.  Oh yeah, there aren’t that many manufacturing plants left in the metro area.  I digress...

I live in the cocoon of my truck, private to a fault.  I need to do a reality check with my index finger from time to time.  Yes, things in the truck are so at ease, I do find myself unknowingly fishing.

The Kerry analysis was palpable on every radio station pre-programmed on my factory-installed crappy tuner.  If ever you are driving the highways of the Garden State, you might be driving right behind me.  I have made my truck easier to spot by placing a bumper sticker that a friend of mine dropped of for me this morning.  They had been in Boston and knew I would be a convert after the 5 star production choreographed by the DNC.

  These bumper stickers were being sold by Al Franken after his air shift to help raise money for the nearly bankrupt, Air America Radio. 

  Here, Franken is caught off guard by the Program Director’s announcement that his million dollar salary equates to 100,000 dollars per listener in his audience.  The suggestion for Air America listeners to open their windows and shout is being tried out in this book in hopes of doubling his share.   Again, I digress…

I know I was going to leave this alone, but one sound bite keeps bouncing of the headache-taxed brain cells of the morning after.  Last night John Kerry threw out this line, and I am paraphrasing as the wine might have clouded my memory. “American shouldn’t be red states, or blue states, but rather red, white and blue states.”  This is the perfect, patriotic fodder for the media, but I had to think about what this really means.  Through the dark ruby-colored glasses of an Aussie Shiraz, it seems that Mr. Kerry no longer wants a two party system, but rather one, unified nation.  OK, I myself feel there are lesser differences between the two parties over the twenty odd years I have been paying attention.  However, I think the founding fathers painstakingly fought for a foundation of a multiple party system to get out from the difficulties of a Monarch that England dictated.  Think about it, only red, white and blue states means we cannot be different, we cannot voice our differences in the healthy fashion which Jefferson, Franklin, Hancock, et al signed on the dotted line for.  Didn’t competition build this country into the greatest place in the world?  Sure, we have differences, but I don’t see any Floridians swimming to Cuba.  No, I don’t see any hot strippers heading to Mexico for breast augmentation.  I don’t see any transsexuals heading to Bangkok to have their Mr. McGriffs lopped off.. Actually, I think that one might be true.  Look, President Bush got elected and Alec Baldwin and Barbara Streisand had to eat crow and stay in America since it is the best place in the world to live.  

Mr. Kerry, I do hope you will clarify the meaning of your sound bite because it seems to this drunken idiot that you no longer want America to exist with a two party system, but rather you are looking to crown yourself king of a fiefdom.  And as one whose convention was blocks away from the site of the Boston Tea Party, and the site of Crispus Attucks' death, the outcome of that should be blazingly clear.

July 30, 2004

Holy Crap Marie, did I lose an entire month in a drunken black out?  I hammered myself into a stupor waiting for the big speech from Mr. Kerry, and I must have blacked out.  As grogginess infected my mind like the early morning fog of a hazy August summer NJ day, I watched MSNBC’s presentation of war heroes, Vietnam celebrations, military saluting and celebratory gun fire into the air.  Then, as the hot, high noon sun burned off the morning midst, I rubbed my eyes to see that it actually was the DNC.  OK, last entry like this until August, when all’s fair in love and war and I will be commenting on the RNC party in NYC.

Maybe it was the wine, or the sleepiness, but these things hit me during the Big Speech.

The story of the drowning gerbil had two major Democrats nervously sweating. Ted Kennedy was suffering flashbacks of Chappaquiddick and Richard Geer rejoiced over the saving of another gerbil’s life.

"John Kerry reporting for duty" made the anti-war crowd cringe.  Gone are the images of 1968, war protests, Abby Hoffman, Bobby Seals, chants of 'no more war', peace signs, long hair, doves. 

The over-indulging in salutes (dude, we saw the movie and honor your service but you glazed over your dissent) totally ignored your Senate years and fast forwarded to today.  What organizations did you belong to in the 70’s and what speeches did you make against the war?  There are many vets out there that you didn’t salute upon their return from Vietnam.  No, in those days, you helped a large body of people ignore and distain those who served alongside you.    For those of us undecided, please let me know what you did for the past 20 years in Washington and if you proudly saluted, carrying your military message into the legislation you authored.

Those God damn balloons - why is it that inanimate objects seem to have a mind of their own?

I am glad to see those Veterans getting recognition for their service to our country.  However, there seems to be a large number of vets who are not as enthusiastic about Lt. Kerry’s service.  As he has brought this out, he has opened himself up to the need to answer questions that will be coming in the months ahead.

I was hoping at the end of his speech, he would have praised the service organizations that protected the city of Boston and kept the convention free of threat or harm.  For weeks prior to the convention, the news showed us images of harbor patrols, street barricades, metal detectors, roof-top swat teams, and the week was incident free (except for that little burning in effigy thing yesterday).  Hey protester effigy burner, since the effigy had both President Bush and John Kerry’s face, what were you actually protesting?

The interesting thing to watch over the next few weeks is if the military conduct of the campaign fades or if the 23 year old protestant John Kerry, who threw his medals and ribbons onto the lawn of the White House, moves back into the skin of the Democratic presidential candidate.  

2001 Echelon Syrah $ (11.99)   This wine continues to be a go to wine for me, I just think it offers a solid tasty wine at a reasonable price.  Keep this on hand for its luscious black fruits and spiciness.

July 29, 2004

I realize no one wants to hear my political views, you can stop emailing me.  What can I say, when I have a few glasses of wine, I envision a life much different then what it actually turned out to be.  Vision number one, starting receiver for the NY Giants. OK, one hit from an OLB and I would shatter, so on to number two.  Singer/song writer, but I have no musical talent.  uthor.  You have read my crap, next.  Porn star…  Political talk show host, this as you see keeps creeping into my entries.  I apologize.

Be that as it may, I have been glued to the cable channels listening to the Stepford robots, mechanically sticking to a formula that has removed any interest or excitement from the Democratic National Convention.  I did enjoy the preaching of Reverend Al, the screaming, rhyming donkey rider.  I wonder if he got taken to the woodshed after coming off the stage.  He didn’t stick to the positive, robotic, drone of the Kerry camp. 

Flipping back and forth, I did manage to catch most of the speech by John Edwards.  Lucky for me, I had a friend at the Fleet Center who emailed me a picture of Edwards, just as he was telling the 'non-war, get out of Iraq, Bush is a liar' crowd how he and John Kerry are going to hunt down the Taliban and destroy them.  I don’t think I have seen this picture on any of the newspaper front pages today, so I feel like I got a scoop.

 

John Edwards speaking to the Bush haters in Boston

The fun goes on and, tonight, I will be glued again to the tube.  What I am hoping to learn is what Mr. Kerry has done since he left Vietnam.   It seems that the only section of his resume is his service to our country 35 years ago.  What was he doing in our Senate for the past twenty years?  Is there a bill, some legislation, an amendment, a motion, a single adherence to Robert’s Rules that he seconded a motion and it made it into the record? 

By the way, Mrs. Heinz-Kerry, who loves her first husband’s name, seems to be a financier of many left wing groups that spend a great deal of time and money attacking the President.  Has anyone published a listing of the organizations the Heinz foundation has funded and what their mission statements are? 

I’m glad I’m not in politics or a pundit.  I would get too wrapped up in the job.  I would take it too personally.  That’s why my love affair is with the juice of a crushed fermented fruit that transcends the politics of the day.  The wine bottle can be a peace maker, enjoyed by all factions of life and put into the bedroom and kitchen as Mr. Sharpton would enjoy.  Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, John Edwards, John and Teresa Kerry, I place my politics aside and would offer a night of wino drinking if you’d accept.  Al Gore, get over it, your political handlers tried to be cute and only recount in Democratic counties in Florida.  You lost.  Independent news organizations recounted months after the dust settled and you still lost.  Basic social studies lesson from 4th grade, it’s not the popular vote that places our President in the White House.  If it were, NY and California would control our Political landscape.  Al, stop, bitterness is unbecoming.

2000 Robert Pecota Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Kara's Vineyard  $$ (28.00)     A pleasant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc that delivers a smooth, subtle silky wine.  The black cherry and currant flavors delight from the first sip, with a velvety finish.

July 28, 2004

As you can tell by now, I’m an addict.  I find things in life that I enjoy and I become obsessive to the point of one step from over-dosing.  Fortunately, I can keep my obsession for alcoholic intake to a reasonable, functioning stick figure.  However, when it comes to talk radio and cable news channels, I cannot get enough.  I don’t remember the last time I actually had a station on in my truck that played 10 songs in a row.  As with my wine enjoyment, I experiment with my information sources.  With the miles I log, I can listen to sections of the following on the radio, Stern, Imus, Curtis and Kuby, Gambling, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Franken, Hannity, Grant, Levin, Savage, Rhodes, Ingram, Siemone and an occasional bout with Mike and the Mad Dog.  My TV remote is preprogrammed to CNBC, MSNBC, FOX News, Comedy Central, Discovery, HBO and Fine Living.  (OK, Fine Living is only for the Andrea Immer Wine Show and an occasional glimpse of what not to wear.)  

So over the past few months, all these radio guys have been trying to jockey to the front of the line in the "I'm the TARGET of the FCC", free speech (indecency) stuff.  It’s funny to hear Hannity allude to him being a target.  I don’t think I have ever heard him use even the word 'damn'.  Yesterday, there was something interesting that happened to a reporter-ette at the Democratic National Convention.  The attractively blonde, right-wing satirist, author, pundit, info stick figurette, Ann Coulter, was hired to be to correspondent for USA Today.  They took the equally polarizing Michael Moore and contracted him to the same position for the Republican National Convention.  If anyone has drooled over Ms. Coulter’s saucy pictures on her web site, one would realize the mind set and frame from which she writes.  Her best selling book, Treason, should serve notice from where she comes.  So on the eve of the convention, she submitted her first impressions of Boston and had her story spiked by USA Today.  Think about it, Freedom of the Press has now been censored.  Bostonians threw the tea in the harbor and fought for freedoms of speech, especially political speech, except if a conservative wants to humorously depict a Democrat event.  I guarantee that if this were to happen next month with an article of Mr. Moore’s, he and his lawyers will be on every TV station ranting how the Republicans are trying to silence him and how if you disagree with the President, the web of right wing news media will deny your freedom of speech.  So why is it that the media has not talked about Ms. Coulter?  Why isn’t Howard Stern rescuing this Damsel in Distress?  Oh yeah, this isn’t about him, so he really has no interest in the subject.   Give me Liberty or Give me Ann Coulter.  In the spirit of Free Press, I have taken the liberty of posting the spiked story which has not been picked up by the Liberal Press.  To read more of Ann’s writings visit her site at www.anncoulter.org.

 
WinoBob gropes Ann Coulter outside her office.

Put The Speakers In A Cage
July 26, 2004

Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazened with the "F-word" are my opponents.  Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling. 

Democrats are constantly suing and slandering police as violent, fascist racists -- with the exception of Boston's police, who'll be lauded as national heroes right up until the Democrats pack up and leave town on Friday, whereupon they'll revert to their natural state of being fascist, racist pigs.

A speaker at the Democratic National Convention this year, Al Sharpton, accused white police officers of raping and defacing Tawana Brawley in 1987, lunatic charges that eventually led to a defamation lawsuit against Sharpton and even more eventually, to Sharpton paying a jury award to the defamed plaintiff Steve Pagones. So it's a real mystery why cops wouldn't like Democrats.

As for the pretty girls, I can only guess that it's because liberal boys never try to make a move on you without the UN Security Council's approval.  Plus, it's no fun riding around in those dinky little hybrid cars. My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call "women" at the Democratic National Convention.

Apparently, the nuts at the Democratic National Convention are going to be put in cages outside the convention hall.  Sadly, they won't be fighting to the death as is done in W.W.F. caged matches. They're calling this the "protestor's area," although I suppose a better name would be the "truth-free zone".

I thought this was a great idea until I realized the nut category did not include Sharpton, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and Teddy Kennedy -- all featured speakers at the convention.  I'd say the actual policy is  only untelegenic nuts get the cages, but little Dennis Kucinich is speaking at the Convention, too.  So it must be cages for nuts who have not run for president as serious candidates for the Democratic Party.

Looking at the line-up of speakers at the Convention, I have developed the 7-11 challenge:  I will quit making fun of, for example, Dennis Kucinich, if he can prove he can run a 7-11 properly for 8 hours.  We'll even let him have an hour or so of preparation before we open up.  Within 8 hours, the money will be gone, the store will be empty, and he'll be explaining how three 11-year olds came in and asked for the money and he gave it to them. 

For 20 years, the Democrats wouldn't let Jimmy Carter within 100 miles of a Convention podium. The fact that Carter is now their most respectable speaker tells you where that party is today. Maybe they just want to remind Americans who got us into this Middle East mess in the first place. We’ve got millions of fanatical Muslims trying to slaughter Americans while shouting Allah Akbar!  Yeah, let's turn the nation over to these guys.

With any luck, Gore will uncork his speech comparing Republicans to Nazis.  Just a few weeks ago, Gore gave a speech accusing the Bush administration of deploying digital "Brown Shirts" to intimidate journalists and pressure the media into writing good things about Bush -- in case you were wondering where all those glowing articles about Bush were coming from.

The last former government official to slake his thirst so deeply with the kool-aid and become a far-left peacenik was Ramsey Clarke and it took him a few years to really blossom.  Clinton must have done some number on Gore. Then again, with his yen for earth tones in a man's wardrobe, maybe Gore's references to "Brown Shirts" was intended as a compliment.

Only one major newspaper -- the Boston Herald -- reported Gore's Brown Shirt comment, though a Bush campaign spokesman's statement quoting the "Brown Shirt" line made it into the very last sentence of a Los Angeles Times article.  The New York Times responded with an article criticizing both Republicans and Democrats for using Nazi imagery.  Democrats call Republicans Nazis, the Republicans quote the Democrats calling Republicans Nazis and both are using Nazi imagery.  (It's a cycle of violence!)

The nuts in the cages are virtual Bertrand Russells compared to the official speakers at the Democratic Convention.  On the basis of their placards, I gather the caged-nut position is that they love the troops so much, they don't want them to get hurt defending America from terrorist attack.  Support the troops, the signs say, bring them home.

That's my new position on all government workers, except the 5% who aren't useless, which is to say cops, prosecutors, firemen and U.S. servicemen.  I love bureaucrats at the National Endowment of the Arts funding crucifixes submerged in urine so much -- I think they should go home.  I love public school teachers punishing any mention of God and banning Christmas songs so much -- I think they should go home.

Walking back from the convention site I chatted with a normal Bostonian for several blocks -- who must have identified me through our covert system of signals.  He was mostly bemused by the Democrats' primetime speakers and told me he used to  be an independent, but for the last 20 years found himself voting mostly Republican.  Then he corrected himself and said he votes for the American.

I'd say I love all these Democrats in Boston so much I want them to go home, but I don't.  I want Americans to get a good long look at the French Party and keep the 7-11 challenge in mind.

 

 

July 26, 2004

Have you ever read a book and wish you had the command of the English language and the historical references of the author?  Yesterday, as I lounged around the porch, recovering from the Tilt-a-World wine night with Big Bob, et al, I decided to dig into a book my younger brother sent me after our dinner in the Big Apple.  The book is written by Tony Hendra, yes, the same Mr. Hendra who’s attached to such projects as the original staff of the National Lampoon and the movie Spinal Tap among a plethora of TV, and book projects.  Hendra fancies himself a satirist and is a heady writer rich with Cambridgian eloquence.  This book is not his typical thought provoking diatribe, but rather a serious introspective on his life.  Though Mr. Hendra spent time in the fast lane on both coasts, he doesn’t make his wild side the focus of this book/  So, for me, I have a hard time working into a wine review entry.  The internal struggle he describes about his desire to become a cloistered monk, yet making a living in the liberal no-holes-barred 1970’s Hollywood entertainment life, is as close to a heaven and hell biography on earth.  I rarely consume a day putting a book down, only to quickly resolve the task at hand to pick the book back up and continue the journey.  I did drink a glass of red wine while reading the book.  Unfortunately, it was a red wine I have already discussed.  Yes, the same red wine that BigBob sipped lightly before hurrying off to our dinner reservation.  I could not let the Concannon Cabernet go to waste, so it served as a lubricant during my waterslide ride through the tumultuous thirty year period Hendra described. 

In my minds eye, I dream of writing that well, but when I sit in front of the key board on my genitally-challenged Sony picture book,  the imagery and vocabulary revert to the poopie joke, locker room humor and four letter words that serve as noun, adjective and verb.  If you have a lazy rainy day and are looking to cloak yourself in a moving story written in proper English, do yourself a favor and pick up the book, Father Joe.  I cannot believe an author in this day and age can tell as intense a story without the typical salacious sexual diversions and only a handful of four letter words in a 278 page book.  If I might steal a favorite line from his movie...  Others might rate this book a 10, but ours go to eleven…

July 25, 2004

After rereading that last posting and the fact that I invited the Big’s to dinner, I might just have to get a t-shirt with the moniker, “Schnorer”.  Actually, Big Bob accepted my invitation to dinner, as he figured it was my time to step up to the plate.  He selected a trendy BYOB place in Montclair.  It seems that his father is a legend in the town and he and Mrs. Big enjoy several of the chic places in the mini-Manhattan region of New Jersey. 

Efficiency dictated that we car pool from my house and as this was the first time the Bigs swung by, we sat for a few minutes to enjoy a glass of wine before heading to “The Big Little City”.  Mrs. Big politely asked to see the small dimly lit room at the top of the 29 stairs where the Wino Bob world resides.  Sheepishly, she stood at the entrance to the room, peered in, and without comment, hung her head in that sympathetic way a doctor comforts a terminally ill patient.  Big Bob was bold enough to traverse the arch, 360’d the room.  In an Abu Gharb moment, he pointed at my Sony PCG-C1VN picture book, which I use for mobility and sleekness, and laughed tauntingly.   Feeling like a seventh grader in the shower after gym class, I quickly covered my Sony picture book and stated, It’s not the size of the monitor, it’s the way I use the hard drive that counts. 

The Bigs arrival dashed my three-day chip and had me back on the wagon.  My alcohol stream had been overcome with blood the past two days and the clear head feeling was more than I could handle.  Thank God, I now had an excuse to dull my senses, blur my vision and slur my speech in the comfort of a well-tailored wine buzz.  The amusement park ticket collector came, gifts in hand, presenting a 1990 Rhone and a Nederburg Auction wine for my cellar.  I poured him a sub ten dollar Cali Cab, at which point he looked at his watch and commented we should be heading to the restaurant as not to cast bad light on their friendship with the owner by being late for our reservation.  As we loaded into the car, I brought along a red and white to not schnor through dinner, but Big Bob out bottled me with his Santa Claus satchel of his latest offerings.  I had been on his web site and commented about a new wine they were handling; so last night’s dinner was a tasting of this Spanish elixir.

 The restaurant is in the heart of Montclair’s chic section and the café style sidewalk tables greet you as you head from the municipal parking deck to the entrance of Epernay.  The feel of the place is lower Westside and the high tin ceiling defines the period of the architecture.  The dinning room was filled with locals who commute to the City by bus and train to work in the skyscrapers and marble landscape visible from Bloomfield Ave.  At dusk, NYC shimmers and winks in the cool summer night air, beaconing that Monday is just around the corner .  We started with Nerolo’s main white wine, a combination of 80% Xarel-lo and 20% Garnacha Blanca if the wine swollen cells in my gray matter retained the glance I had at the label.  Xarel-lo, a grape I drank in quantity, but never identified,  is a backbone of the Cava I frequently mix with orange juice during holiday breakfasts.  When in need of a mimosa, I consume Xarel-lo in the form of Freixenet. 

The white is clean and refreshing with palate pleasing fruit and a nice partner for the dead snails in garlic butter that graced my first course.  But it was the syrah clocked red I awaited and the only menu item I saw fit was the Roquefort drizzled steak.   The red needed some coaxing to come out and play but it opened to an enjoyable dark fruit wine, not overt in spiciness but dusted with an earthiness that stood alongside the sharp green moldy drizzle that flavored my dead cow.  I did politely offer up my bottle of 1994 Cain Five I brought along, but Big Bob would have none of that.  He seems to smile encouragingly, like a father watching his son attempt to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time, as I offer up a wine during our dinners.  “That’s great, see the sidewalk doesn’t hurt too much when you fall.  Just keep your balance and soon you’ll be able to ride the entire length of the driveway.”  As the beta wine male, I tucked my Cali red back into my sack and never brought it up again.

The evening ended with a glass of Porto on the porch, as the summer night graced us with lower humidity and a cooler feel.   Since I had spent all day driving around to find a cake to serve with coffee, the Bigs graciously stayed for a quick cup and a taste of my signature dessert.  Politely, Mrs. Big sampled, then played with it like a Brussel sprout to make it look like she was enjoying the prefab version of homemade cake.  As we said our good byes and the Bigs headed out the door, I think I heard Mrs. Big say something to Big Bob like, “Now I understand why Wino John never invites him to his home…”

Visit Big Bob’s web site to learn more about the Nerolo offerings that are hitting the shelves as we speak. 

 

July 24, 2004

After surviving what could only be described as a night of mass consuming and absentee eating, I have steered clear of alcohol for, uh, two nights.  Yes, my two-night sobriety was the start of a turned leaf (not to be confused with Turning Leaf, that wine enjoyed by the tanker car load).  Wednesday after work, I headed to my local watering hole to sit quietly with a glass of wine and reflect on the problematic times still plaguing the electronics industry (Geekdom).  By the second glass of an inexpensive Cabernet from South Africa, two older gentlemen sat down at Bacchus’s lava lampesque bar.  With little to do except watch the ball game on the 50 inch plasma TV, I occasionally was interrupted by a hand smack on the bar top and a four letter expletive accenting the frustration one of the gentleman was experiencing with a new cell phone.  At the somewhat obnoxious level of alcohol bobsledding through my empty stomach, I offered my techno services to see if I could ease the angst.  It was a Sprint phone, a give away, with limited bells and whistles, which made finding my way around the menus a bit clumsy.  Through several jokes and expletives myself, I managed to demystify the number storing system and strike up a great conversation with my new drinking buddies.  The clock hands spun at double time and before I realized it, the last drops in the newly opened bottle were being poured into my glass. 

A simple Good Samaritan deed of cell phone programming and the introduction of my new drinking buddies to the staff at Bacchus advanced to a mass consumption of wine.   To this day I still haven’t clarified if I ran out on the tab and will not be welcomed back, or they ushered me to the door bill-less just to start the breakdown process at the end of the night.  But to my new drinking buddies, Wino Pete and Wino Arnold, thanks.  And on a rather sad note, another of the original staff at Bacchus has left the building.  Ryan, the blond tipped, spiky haired GM hoisted a drink that Wednesday night, or Thursday morning, (I’m not sure which it was by then,) in ado.  Being young and unattached, he is blazing the next several months through Asia and Europe before settling in on an undisclosed opportunity.  Good Luck Ryan and God Speed.  I always wanted to use that term but never could work it into a conversation.

As I have tasted the circuit at the Bacchus wine by the glass menu, there will not be a wine review for this posting.  As far as Bacchus, they are down to two from the day they first opened to the public; Big Jimmy and Tony are the last of the Mohegans. 

July 18, 2004

On Friday evening, Beer Boy and I were having a conversation regarding work.  At the end, Beer Boy inquired if I was going to be doing any wine tasting this weekend.  Beer Boy is taking seriously my request for his Beer knowledge and recommendations as a reporter for our beer page.  He and his brother-in-law will be providing in depth beer information to assist us in our branching out agenda.  I told Beer Boy that weekends are made for drinking, not tasting, as I would be consuming the product in quantity. 

Friday night was the pay off on an invitation made months ago. Getting together with folks we enjoy and politely extended an offer to with no real thought that it would actually work out.  Great people, they have intense schedules that do not really include dinner with a wino.  Figuring this would be a one shot thing and seeing how they lived close enough, we made plans for drinks at their house, dinner in town, nightcap in the wine room.  Their house was extremely well decorated and styled to the nines.  After the quick tour, we sat on a huge deck off the family room which over looked a ravine and small brook, quite secluded and relaxing.  The host brought out some wine and we sat, talked and noshed.  Hmm, it looks like red.  He said he had a cabernet open.  Yes, I think I understand now.  I had been given the jug Sutter Home Cabernet.  Wow, not to be pedantic, but the Sutter Home people and I parted company when they tried to get me hooked on their latest invention, White Zinfandel.

As any good wino, when heading to the BYOB place, you bring two bottles, one for your personal enjoyment, the second is a fall back you can live with and won’t care when they order the glass of ice to cool down the wine.  Feeling in need of soothing my Jones, I brought in the good stuff for my personal enjoyment and in hopes of introducing them to something different.  They came packing a bottle of their favorite, which I was told would remain their favorite until the price goes up, Sutter Home Cabernet.  We touched briefly on wine as I kept in check my penchant to be the “annoying wine guy”.  Dinner was great and we ditched the desert offering and coffee for a quick spin back to Wino Cellar for a gargling of something from the cellar to rinse the SH Cab from my tongue.

My Sutter Home aficionado friend was amazed at the cellar, not just the wine cellar.  He lived all his life in Florida where homes are built on a slab.  The stone and smell brought him back to his childhood vacations with his grandparents in Germany.  Hey, I don’t have an oven in my cellar….

We opened a Cali Cab and sat enjoying stories of his time in Europe as his wife explained to us his amazement of unearthing rocks in their backyard.  Florida has stones, NJ grows masses of rocks in different shapes and sizes.  He planted a rock garden in hopes of growing more rocks.  Nonetheless, it was a three-bottle night that lasted through the early morning.  Next time I go to their home, I bet they will be serving something other than Sutter Home.

1999 Castello Banfi Summus $$$ (65.00)    This one starts out hot and needs time to unveil the culture and charms of its fruits.  A black fruit, cassis serving with a touch of caramel on the finish.

 

July 15, 2004

Last night was one of the only nights that no professional games were played (All Star break).  So Wino John and I turned to our second favorite sport, drinking wine and talking NJ politics.  Actually, the politics stuff is much more my favorite sport then his, but the papers were asunder with political stories equivalent to The US hockey team beating the Russians to advance to the Gold Medal round of the 1980 Olympics, Bob Thompson’s shot heard around the world, or the 1986 Giant’s Super Bowl victory.  Yes, Winos and Winettes, as I had stated months back, once Monday night football ends, I go into political junkie mode.  For those few avid fans, the headlines below are just the latest in an ever-widening crack in the foundation of Drumthwacket (NJ Governor’s Mansion).  OK, so Gov. McGreevey took his whole family to Ireland and partied on tax payer’s money, who hasn’t?  That’s why you run for office in NJ.  So, they ran up $115,000.00 cell phone bills and the Governor used the State helicopter to get from personal appointment to personal appointment.  It’s cool being the Top Official in the state and many cool toys are at your disposal.  So the Governor broke the strongest bone in his body (femur) from falling down a sand dune with no security around while walking late at night in the dark.  And I’m not even interested in the billboard gate and securities fraud of his staffers.  Don’t bog me down with the scandal that broke last week when the Governor happened to mention the word Machiavelli for all the same reasons the word has appeared in my entries (google search my use of Machiavelli. I’m sure my purposeful use of it today is the only one you will find).

No Winos and Winettes, the game is on for me with the blaring headlines yesterday, which some less than friendly papers to the administration simply titled it, “Hooker Gate”.  I have supplied but a few of these for your enjoyment.  Today, the Commerce Commissionor resigned as the heat of impropriate swirled around him.  Two this extent, I have but two things to say.  David Chase, you lucky bastard, the Governor just gave you a great storyline for the ending season of the Sopranos.  Secondly, to those who complain that NJ gets the short end of the news cycle and is depicted negatively in Hollywood, life has delivered the art we provide.

 

Top McGreevey donor charged

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Prosecutors: Charles Kushner tried to obstruct probe

By LILO H. STAINTON and MICHAEL SYMONS
Gannett State Bureau
NEWARK

Multimillionaire developer Charles Kushner, the largest campaign donor to Gov. James E. McGreevey, was charged Tuesday with hiring a prostitute to have videotaped sex with the spouse of a close relative who was helping federal prosecutors investigate him.

U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie says Kushner paid $25,000 to a New York City call girl and two intermediaries, who were not charged or identified, to videotape the sex at a Bridgewater motel and then ordered the tape and still photos mailed to his relative before a family party.

N.J. GOV PAL IN HOOKER 'SETUP'


By RICH CALDER and GERSH KUNTZMAN


July 14, 2004 -- The top fund-raiser for New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey hired a New York City prostitute to seduce a key witness in a federal fraud case — and then sent a steamy videotape of the encounter to the witness' wife, prosecutors said yesterday.

In a scenario right out of a pulp crime novel, real-estate developer Charles Kushner — who was aware he was being pursued by the feds for tax fraud and illegal campaign contributions — personally offered the hooker up to $10,000 to do the dirty deed on tape with the witness, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said. 

Capitol hooker-gate?

NEWARK -- Gov. Jim McGreevey’s top moneyman hired a pair of New York City hookers last year in a sex for blackmail scheme allegedly aimed at blocking a federal probe into his fundraising practices for Democrats.

Real estate developer and Democrat fundraiser Charles Kushner was indicted yesterday after he allegedly hired two goons to find New York City hookers to have sex with a close relative and a former business associate of Kushner’s.

Kushner is the second McGreevey friend and fundraiser with expensive ties to the governor to be indicted in as many weeks.

Last week, David D’Amiano, a McGreevey childhood friend and fund-raiser, was named in a federal indictment alleging he brokered a deal with a "state official 1" to get a larger payoff for a Morris County farm. The indictment fingered "state official 1" for using the codeword "Machiavelli" to reassure a Morris County farmer that he was in on the scheme.

 2001 Peter Lehman Cabernet Sauvignon $ (36.00 rest.)     Hang with this one, folks, because it comes out of the bottle as a stave.  It seems there is more tannin here than a leather shop, until the air bores holes through it.  Then you can enjoy the black fruits of this Aussie cab.

2002 Matilda Plains $ (37.00 rest)    This one is drinkable from the start, and bolsters my commitment to blends, they just add depth and soften the edges of the individual components.  At $11.00 retail, buy this for a Friday night with friends.

 

July 12, 2004

It is not that I haven’t been drinking wine, it is that the wealthy, vacationing techno dweeb was in a black hole of cyberspace so there was little need to keep sending him emails with updates.  But now I see he is back and ready to post something in 2004 second quarter to his section called What’s New.  I digress…

I spent a great deal of time drinking Yellow Tail Shiraz, out of a large plastic red cup, at a friends home on Saturday.  Filled to the brim, I headed to my couch and with clicker in hand, I surfed the tube for something to help me sober up.  Nothing on pay per view excited me, so I scanned down to channel 103 where each month a band shows a free concert.  The band is either promoting a new album or new tour, and the free concert hopes to wet your appetite enough to spend your money.  This month, the concert headlines Patty Scialfa, the wife and back up singer to NJ’s own Bruce, the Boss, Springsteen.  I have enjoyed her harmonic tones on recent songs of the Boss, so I figured it was something better then reruns of Myth Busters.  It was only the second song and I realized, Patty’s lyrics offer me little to stay the remaining hour and fifteen.  But then something interesting hit me.  Nils Lofgren, the once popular replacement for Little Steven was the lead guitarist.  Nils came and went with the emotional decision of doo rag draped Silvio.  Since he was out with the Boss, was he now trying to keep a music career alive with the Boss’ wife?  So I hung with the show a little longer.  Then, to my utter surprise, appeared the Boss himself, playing and singing back up for Patty.  What the F#*%?  Did the Boss lose a bet, or is love so blind that he thinks her music is good?  Either way, it was a jump the shark moment for the troubadour from Freehold.  Maybe she threatened to hold out the golden kitty unless he showed up to pump her new album?  Maybe she has him P-whipped, otherwise why compromise his talents?  OK, he has a 100 million and I am schnoring a meal from Big Bob, possibly he knows better than I, though I think he’s blinded by love and hints of Yoko swirl through my wine soaked sponge of a brain.

Yesterday, finding myself south of nowhere and just east of a river, I happened upon a restaurant I recommend you to try.  Approximately 5 miles south of Flemington, NJ is a small, quaint town called Sergeantsville.  The place to try is the Sergeantsville Inn across from the general store at the blinking light in the middle of town (a town that wanted to originally be called Skunktown).  This two story fieldstone Inn has great character dating back to 1734, with a reasonably priced menu and an attractively priced wine selection.  Seating capacity is small, but if you get a chance to make a reservation, request a table in the original ice house, the oldest building of the restaurant.  The portions are generous for the mid priced fare as most offerings fell between $22-28.00.  The Maryland crab cake was delicious and the buffalo steak, rare, was mouth watering.  The high end wine selection was limited, but fairly priced, with Opus One being the only priced per availability.  I recommend this place for a special occasion as the atmosphere delivers a comfortable, warm feel and the staff is attentive.

2001 Kanonkop Pinotage $$ (35.00 rest.)    For those looking for muscle enough to dance with buffalo steak, but soft enough to satisfy those not wanting the big tannins, this one brings it.  The dark fruit and tobacco finish drives this to the bolder cinsault side and less of its pinot noir motherhood. 

July 7, 2004 

What the hell happened?  Staring in the mirror, I was in need of shaving my tongue and squeezing the blood out of my eyeballs.  What day is it?  And how in the hell did I get in this condition?  The jolt of coffee worked its way past the fuzzy coat on my tongue.  The last thing I remember, I was having an after dinner Inniskillin at the bar.  Hey, it was that Big Bob guy and his wife I owe this thumping headache to.  Now it’s coming back to me.  I must warn you, going to dinner with BB and Mrs. BB is like riding Space Mountain.  You anticipate it all day.  When you finally strap yourself in for the ride, it is fun, exciting, full of twists and turns, g-force drops, laughs and screams.  Then, when its over, you're left with a spinning head and queasy stomach.  OK maybe that’s my motion sickness thing, or maybe it’s my inability to consume a bottle plus on a weeknight.

It started as a simple invite to thank Sue and Big Bob for the great time I had at the Berta Chateau event.  I figured I would use a little of my celebrity and invite them to Bacchus where it would seem like I was a player, you know, having people greet you by name and treat you nicely.  For some reason I always end up with the former, never the latter.  Anyway, my arrival found Big Bob already at the bar quizzing the barmaid on how many Dreyfus Ashby wines she had on her list.  She, being fairly new, stepped on the little buzzer on the floor that rings into the manager’s office.  At which point Ryan politely came over and we struck up a conversation about, well, wine…  It turns out that Ryan and the Bigs have friends in common and I quickly got relegated to third wheel in my own house.  Mr. Big ordered a bottle of a soon-to-be-extinct offing from his portfolio.  I do apologize, the name escapes me now, but I’m sure it will appear in the guest book as soon as this gets posted.  We spent the next half hour talking shop and eavesdropping on the hot conversation from the party of seven women who were there for a night out to celebrate something worthy of snap shots. 

As we were all hungry by then, Ryan showed us to a table in the main dinning room and Jim offered us the menus and wine list.  As I was the coordinator of the dinner, I reached for the wine list to find a thirty-dollar bottle of something Big Bob hadn’t heard of so I could make like I was onto a new trend.  But as my bony little fingers pinched in on the book, whoosh, Big Bob snapped it up, inquired what Sue and I were having for appetizer and dinner and rattled off two numbers to Jimmy to fetch us toot sweet.

I had the oysters on the half shell, for which he order us a Chablis. Sue’s main course was the soft shell crab special so that was a perfect suit.  As a main course BB had the surf and turf special and I a NY Strip so he selected a “Masculine Burgundy”.  Now isn’t that an oxymoron.  As we sipped through the white and enjoyed the conversation, and appetizers, the party of seven was making their way from the bar to the dinning room.  They strutted down the two steps and surveyed the main floor.  There was a large table just to our left which I thought they were headed for.  Well they actually started for it, then said something to Ryan, pointing in my direction, at which point Ryan unlocked the glass-encased classroom and seated the party in their own fish bowl.  Honestly, it was just a little juice that was on my chin from the oyster I just put in my mouth.  Really!  Hey, Party girls, I’ve been dis’d by a lot hotter women than youz chicks… (It’s a guy thing, trying to save face.)

At this point, the only thing left was to await my steak and pour up a glass of oxymoron.  Actually, the wine was a hearty, earthen drink with a bold offering of dark fruits and went well with the medium rare NY Strip.  I guess I was the moron for doubting the choice.  Granted, it wasn’t a Big Ass Cali Cab that Wino John would have selected, but I think it was as bold as Big Bob could deliver from the Burgundy selections he had to work with.  While we ate dinner, we kept laughing about the guest at our table from Berta’s, Mr. Sprinkler.  Sue reminded me that I left out one important fact.  Not only did the guy eject food while talking, she had saved me from using the one bread spread, as our guest was a notorious Double Dipper.  Yes, Mr. Spray felt at ease in dipping and biting and redipping and rebiting as if we wanted to tongue kiss the bread spread.  You just have to wonder where he learned to eat…

We had a great time and I think the Bigs enjoyed the place.  Though, at the end of the night, I was disappointed in the fact that Mr. Big didn’t allow me to treat them.  I gotta pick up one of these tabs otherwise they're going to think I’m a schnorer.  Funny, when they left, I heard Ryan saying something about them getting together for dinner as long as the Bigs didn’t come with any "baggage".  I wonder what that means….

1999 Domaine Jean Durup Pére & Fils Chateau de Maligny Premier Cru     This Chard had a clean offering of peach, citrus and a hint of flint and went very well with the oysters on the half shell.

2001 Bouchard Père & Fils Gevrey Chambertin   OK, bigger and bolder than I expected from a Burgundy with an earthy nose and black fruit.  It hung in there with my red meat and roasted potatoes.  

July 5, 2004

I don’t get this four day thing.  Is working that grueling?  Uh, well, never mind.  Yesterday was the 4th, so it should have been the day to celebrate, but I understand there are bar-b-q’s being held today and town fireworks, and bank closings and no mail delivery.  Usually, I spend the 4th on my porch, with a bottle of wine and my laptop, but yesterday, I happened to get two invitations and decided to visit both.  The first, a neighbor around the corner, told me to stop over anytime after 2PM for a casual cookout.  Not wanting to be the first one in the chow line, I watched a show on pleasure boats from the Annapolis Boat Show and pushed out around 3PM to be fashionably late.  You know, make the grand entrance when all are there enjoying themselves and collectively they turn to see me coming down the driveway and they shout, "Wino Bob’s here!  Now the real party can begin!"  So I tucked the wine bottle I was bringing under my arm and practiced my "surprised" face.  Well, that face came in very handy as to my surprise, at 3PM, the backyard was empty .  Everyone else entered fashionably later than I.  Even the folks that invited me were not prepared until after 3PM.  God Damn it, Cartman….

OK, so a quick bite and I would be off around 4:30 to be a half hour fashionably late to the second party, a late cookout at Wino Paul and Winette Alice’s homestead.  At 4:40, with no food on the grill yet and a small handful of tortilla chips in my stomach, I bid my farewells, as my dance card was full and I needed to make my next appearance.

The "surprised" face came in handy a second time as the major highways were desolate, making my usual 45 minute trip to Bayonne take less than 30 minutes and a pre-five PM arrival.  Catching the hosts off guard, I slinked into a seat in the kitchen and watched the hurrying movements of pre-arrival preparations take place post my arrival.  God Damn it, Cartman…

Wino Paul, fresh from his boondoggle in Brazil, offered up the local Brazilian national drink, Pina, a sugar cane, lime and sugar concoction.  Wanting to offer Winette Alice some prep time, we headed to the front porch to enjoy our Brazilian fire water, the breeze off the bay and the pleasant smell of the salt air.  Two Pinas and a beer behind him, it was time for the Grill Meister General to fire up the Weber and get the party started.  At this point Winette Alice was concerned about the potential of a Wino Paul flambé.  So I headed in the yard with him, water bucket at the ready, to ensure the grill was the only thing that went up in flames.  To pass the time as the charcoal heated, we opened a bottle of wine I had brought. (Calm down, Wino Paul, I’m not saying you served what I brought so as not to deplete your own cellar).  The 2001 Cabernet was a nice surprise (insert my surprised face number three here).  As the night wore on and the beer and Pinas and wine sloshed inside my friend WP, he delicately placed the chicken on the grill and timed out for the additional food.  Sharing conversation at the table on the patio, we periodically checked the clock and precisely at 10 minutes in, WP headed to flip the chicken and add the additional items to the indirect heat of the Weber.  OH NO!  Get out of the way!!!  This is a disaster like none witnessed before!  Oh, the humanity…  Actually it was the second time in my second visit that some of the fare meant to sit lovingly on the grates of the grill, happened to find its way to the ivy bed on the ground next to the grill.  Holy Crap Marie, I just saw the majority of my dinner land squarely in the garden.  At that moment, I wondered if the grill at the first bar-b-q was roaring and if I could work my way back to finally have something to eat this July 4th.  Calmly, WP picked up our Chorizos sausage and veggies, kissed them up to God and continued without a hitch.  More wine please…

Anyway, the dinner turned out great and we spent the next several hours in great conversation, enjoying a second bottle of red wine from WP’s cellar.  At this point, I was smoking a Dominican cigar that WP gave me and my taste buds were dead.  It was a Wolf Blass Shiraz that had a nice nose, but I don’t want to unfairly describe it as the tobacco dominated my mouth.  We finished with grilled pears while catching glimpses of the Bayonne and Elizabeth fireworks.  

The ride home was congested, but the view of the NYC fireworks from the Northbound lane of the NJ Turnpike passed the time.  I will have to head back there one night to raid another bottle of the Wolf Blass so I can add it to this entry.  By the way, does anyone know where I can purchase a food net to surround Wino Paul’s grill for my next meal that he offers to cook?

2001 Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon $ (9.99)    This is ripe with black berry and dark cherry flavors that greet you from the first whiff.  The fruit is ready to treat you to an enjoyable evening.  A solid wine for under ten dollars.

 

July 4th 2004

Happy Independence Day.  This day holds a special significance if you believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.   Honing the rights bestowed upon me as an American by the founding fathers of this great nation, I went out last night in the pursuit of happiness.  Saddling up to the closest of the 50-inch plasma TV's at the bar in Bacchus, I found myself the lone loser.  Yes, the people with real lives have departed this area and headed south to the beaches and vacationlands to enjoy the sun and fun of life.  I found myself to be the only patron at the entire bar at Bacchus.  The manager, John, felt bad enough to buy me a drink and usher me out by 10PM.  Here it is, a Saturday night, and I want to get drunk to the point of not remembering and I am asked to leave the empty facility by 10 PM.  With far les than a buzz and the night open, I headed closer to home in search of civilization, life, and the breathing masses.  The best I could do was find and open parking spot at the local pub, Cloverleaf Tavern.  I figured this was an opportunity to sample a new beer, as the Cloverleaf’s offering is far more beer friendly than wine friendly. 

I browsed the menu and asked for a Belgian Ale, which the young, barmaid had trouble finding.  Finally, after about 5 minutes and me pointing to the beer on the menu, she surfaced with a bottle, opened it, let several seconds of foam spill from the bottle, then abruptly placed it in front of me.   With only the walking wounded beside me, I read the Midlantic Brew news and sipped at my Orval Trappist Ale.  Interestingly enough, the paper had an article on Clipper City.  I guess I never knew the importance of Wino Wally’s holdings until my recent interest in specialty brews.  As I found the end of the bottle and the barmaid brashly asked if I needed anything else, I quickly asked for my check.  The computer register had a harder time finding the beer I ordered than she did in finding its location in the cooler, so she made up a price and told me they didn’t even have it in the system.  I gladly paid the $3.50 with a five-dollar bill and headed to the door before she could read the computer screen.  At that price, I would drink the Orval Trappist Ale all day, but I am afraid the system will finally be updated to a price twice that.

Enjoy the bar-b-q, celebrate this nation, and remember the freedoms we enjoy because so many believed so strongly in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I don’t know if Michael Moore celebrates the Fourth of July, but I'm sure know he doesn’t understand its significance.

2002 Jewel Sauvignon Blanc ?     This California SB shows a powerful citrus base and a clean crisp finish.  Not as deep as a NZ SB but a good, structured wine.

 

July 3, 2004

God Damn it, Cartman.. I went to sleep last night clutching my mega million ticket in hopes of waking up the sole winner of the $290 million jackpot.  I guess my lot in life is to remain an untouchable, though I am not from India.  How the hell did that happen?

Last evening, I did something I haven’t done in years; I met my younger brother in Manhattan for dinner.  Though I am a trendy NY wannabe, he is the real deal and as such, we met in the new trendy meatpacking district to catch up on the paths our lives have taken and a bit of family reminiscing.    The traffic into the Lincoln tunnel was horrific even though all the radio traffic reporters were telling me there is a mass departure for the holiday weekend.  I managed to catch up on Wino Paul’s entire week in Brazil while inching ahead seven car lengths towards the E Z Pass lane.  Once I finally emerged from the birthing tube into Manhattan, I sailed down 9th street with ease.  Except for the usually obnoxious taxicabs darting manically from lane to lane, traffic was almost barren.

Unable to wash the Jersey off me, our attempt to get a table at my brother’s first choice of restaurants had to be hindered by me.  The black square rimmed glasses wearing party in front of us were told 45 minutes for a table in the dining room at Spice Market, the latest from chef/creator Jean Georges Vongrichten.  We stepped right up next, I was given the once over by the twenty something, model/actor guy who determines if you get a table and we were told there was an hour and a half wait.  What the f*%$???  The two people directly in front of us were given a 45 minute wait and it would be an hour and a half for us?  Jean George, chef extraordinaire or not, I am taking my NJ foppish self elsewhere. 

Second choice was Vento.  This spacious two story restaurant had plenty of seats, as we hit the between time for dinner in NYC.  As a Jersey guy, the traffic kept me from being there during the after work crowd, but way too early to be a local.  The dinner hour there starts around 10PM.  We sat and enjoyed the fried calamari and zucchini appetizer and I had a homemade pasta dish with peas and proscuitto that was outstanding.  I enjoyed a house Chianti.  The waitress was attentive and the room breathed the feel of the city.  I was enjoying the sights and sounds NYC has to offer up on a gold leaf dish.  Skipping desert, we walked the neighborhood in search of the bar from the book Cosmopolitan (see Jan entry for details).  The walk took us passed Hogs and Heffers, of which I found out only one of the terms describes women.  Wandering 15th street, slowing looking into the doorway of every building, it was only by shear luck that we located Passerby.  The name is so fitting as there are no signs, no neon bar lights, no nothing to indicate this was the place.  As soon as we walked in, the descriptions from the book flooded back and fit the place like an Armani.    That’s not to say the bar is pretentious, quite the opposite.  It is a locals' hangout and we, not being locals, got the collective head turn from the 6 people seated at the bar.  I ordered a Boggle Petite Sirah and my brother enjoyed a Red Stripe.  His beer indulgence launched me into a rambling about specialty brews and my newly acquired interest.  He politely listened while giving me the “Shut the f up” look.

As I had a lengthy drive during this holiday weekend and the talk radio stations blared about the DWI patrols that would be prevalent, we headed in the direction of the parking garage where my car rented a space at an ungodly rate. 

Since my car was at the corner of 16th and 9th, and opposite the garage was the trendy outside bar of the Maritime Hotel, we stopped in for a quick one just to enjoy the summer night air, the life of the city and for me to see if I would have a great story by meeting the rich and famous.  A week ago, Derrick Jeter celebrated his 30th birthday there and the last time my brother met a friend, they sat near Nicole Kidman.  The disappointing thing besides not seeing any of the social elite was that the waitress in training brought us the beer we ordered, as long as it was Peronni.  Yes, my Corona somehow was dressing in an Italian outfit, but that’s OK.  The hotel has an interesting look with its porthole shaped windows for the guest rooms and the open-air bar has the feel of a deck in Miami’s South Beach area.

As a Jersey kid, I got into my car at 10PM and started my way home.  I drove up 8th Ave. towards the Lincoln tunnel, the pulse of the city’s nightlife began to quicken as the warm summer night made you want to be out doors and the energy of the streets made you know you were alive.

July 1, 2004

I have tried to stay away from the Michael Moore issue, but it seems this week’s cable shows and talk radio have been consumed with discussion on this movie.  I have not seen it, nor do I plan to as I find it difficult for me to accept Mr. Moore’s hatred for this country.  Hearing and reading some of the arguments on both sides of the issue has my head spinning.  The issue I cannot accept is that Mr. Moore rails against our capitalistic ways, yet benefits tremendously from that same system.  Just look at the money he generated with this movie, which obviously will go to buying another million dollar mansion in Michigan or NY or California.  It seems there are conflicting stories on where Mr. Moore is actually from.  He claims Flint, Mich. as an everyday blue collar guy, however many have said he comes from a very wealth background and had private school privileges.  I would think the media could easily find someone he went to school with and they can describe the house he grew up in and the schools from which he graduated.

The fortunate thing for me is when I do become the wealthy, popular wino critic, featured in magazines and TV interviews, it will be easy for me to point to the home I grew up in.  The two family cape cod sits on a 35’ x 75’ lot where my teenage bedroom was in the finished basement my father paneled to add space for the seven of us. 

Maybe it was the fact that public school keeps one grounded in their roots and success cannot take away the humble beginnings for some.  Maybe that is why I appreciate this country so much as it truly is a place where my father’s two family home was a step up from my grandfather’s six family house in Newark, with an asphalt back court and an alley between properties that one could tap on their neighbor’s window. 

Mr. Moore’s 1.2 million dollar lakefront property in a secluded Michigan area may not have him far from the privileged life he had, but what in that private schooling turned him so bitter against the country he lives in?  The funny thing is that he was hell bent on supporting Wesley Clark as the Democratic Presidential candidate, an ex-military guy under a failed campaign during the Clinton administration.  Mr. Moore never railed against the involvement of our troops in Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia, or the multiple bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He is lucky to live in a country where he can take his home video camera to speak with the troops, during a war.  Does he think he could interview troops in the Chinese Red army?  Maybe after his documentary makes its historic showing next week in China.  Great, the potentially largest enemy in the world will now have the pleasure of swallowing his shrill, vitriolic comment on our military and administration.

Mr. Moore, the beauty of this country is that if you are so disheartened, you are free to leave.  I believe there is an apartment in Paris with your name on it.  Jerry Lewis is no longer making movies, so the frogs are looking for a new idol.

2000 Ruppert & Rothschild Classique $ (15.00)   This South African JV with Baron Rothschild and the Ruppert family from the Fredericks Vineyard is a classic Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc bringing a black cherry, coffee and earthy presentation to your palate.  Good quality for the price.


 
 

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