Bob’s Winings
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This page contains Winings from the 3rd Quarter of the year 2006.

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September 29, 2006

I was hoping to make Wino John’s job easier this month by suggesting a winery of the month.  After being impressed with Summer’s charbono I purchased on a lark, I picked up a bottle of their cabernet sauvignon.  I was interested in the winery since it started as a merlot producer and expanded to included cabernet, chardonnay, zinfandel, Muscat and charbono.  Unfortunately, I was less impressed with their cabernet and if you don’t make a big earth cab in Knights Valley, I cannot stake my reputation to WJ (our resident cabologist) and tell him this estate should be WOTM.  Since I drank it, I will post it, but will only be purchasing more of their charbono.

2001 Summers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $ (21.00)   It was ok but nothing to get excited about, and most of all not good enough for WotM.

September 25, 2006

One of the people I have gotten to speak with at length at the Essex County Wine Society is the principal of Wine Legends in Livingston, NJ at the Route 10 circle.  My buddy Mahesh is running a grand tasting at the Manor next month and I wanted to help get the word out.  See you there.

September 23, 2006

What a difference a week makes.  Wino John has added a blurb on his latest obsession, watching young girls shake their dutty on youtube.  Summer has turned to fall and Big Ray has made several major steps forward on his road to recovery.  We are hoping for a jail break late this coming week and a more localized rehab that will have me tapping the Ponzini wine cellar more often.  Thursday, I had a ticket to the Wine and Tapas event in NYC, but was too burned out to attend.  Yes, I, me, WB passed on the opportunity to drain every bottle of Spanish wine, one table of which was being poured by Big Bob.  Call it maturity, nah, call it burn out, but I did attempt to make my way there, got locked in traffic and did the Jersey U-Turn over the highway median and headed home.  I will be sure to make up for the dry spell tonight. 

I was reading recently that there is a movement to spray sun screen on grapes to keep the fruit from being damaged on the vine.  Think about that folks, we are now adding a UV blocker, say SPF65 to the skin of the fruit that will be crushed and made into wine.  I am sure it will make for some obnoxiously pedantic reviews for the first release; I am getting a nose of cinnimate, and oxybenzone, with salicylates on the mid palate and a long silky finish of dibenzoylmethanes. 

The California wine maker Aaron Pott of Quintessa asserts that his concoction of aloe vera and yucca is diluted and misted in a manner that the residue will be gone by harvest.  Oh really?  I thought the reason women and some effeminate men, ex-Governor McGreevey included, use aloe vera and yucca because it soaks into the skin cells and softens for a long time.  What is keeping this material from penetrating the grape skin and imparting a change to the grape?  The outward residue may be gone, but it is what’s inside that counts. 

Quintessa is a great wine, too rich for my traditional purchase, but I think there is more to this than initial results may have indicated.  I will be looking forward to the first reviews.  If Mr. Pott is interested in an honest unbiased opinion please forward six bottles of your sun screen grape wine to:

WinoStuff Tasting and Research Department
PO Box 64
Caldwell, NJ  07006
Attention: Wino Bob

Before I go, I just wanted to send out a hearty Birthday wish to Big Ray, as tomorrow he attempts to eat some chocolate cake through his feeding tube.  I wonder if I put the cake in the blender he might have a better chance….. Happy Birthday Big Ray.

September 21, 2006

I was clearing off the Tivo last night and was just about ready to cancel my season pass to the series Nip/Tuck.  I am a late comer to the show, but last season I kind of followed all the episodes.  The pre-show hype had me looking forward to its return.  Then the first two episodes spent most of the time highlighting Christian and Sean’s asses.  Come on, when I see the brief nudity symbol at the show’s beginning, I just want that flash of a female star, or female extra, or female studio cleaning person.  Fortunately, I stuck with it until the end and found my reason to keep it on the auto-record. 

The little dude that starred in the movie, Station Agent, appears to be getting a reccurring role.  I saw the movie on IFC recently and found it twisted enough to capture my attention.  I tivo’d it and watched it several times.  Now the little guy is going to be a male nurse for the newly handicapped baby, hey what color is my skirt?

Peter Dinklage who played Finbar McBride, will appear as Simon Barsinister in Underdog, currently filming.  For those into low brow humor, he also played an elf in the movie, Elf. 

I am not telling you to check out Nip/Tuck, but I am telling you to check out Station Agent and see what you think.

2003 Senorio de Ayles Garnacha, Carinena $ (9.99)   A drinkable wine that offers red fruit and a spicy cedar finish, not a big bold wine but it will do well slightly chilled in the summer time with some grilled shrimp.

September 18, 2006

If I might borrow from the great Charles Dickens, my night yesterday was A Tale of Two Cities.  Two wine events in two towns with distinctly different atmospheres.  The first, a kick off dinner for the Essex County Wine Society’s 2006-2007 tasting season held in Millburn, the other an honorary dinner for Justice George of Shinas Estates held in Montclair.  I drove to the ECWS dinner glued to the radio as Eli Manning posted the greatest comeback of his young career, defeating WJ’s Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 30-24, in Philly.  I sat in my car and gave up my first glass of Franciacorta Ca del Bosco awaiting the outcome of overtime.   This ain’t no little kid’s Bosco, but rather a sparkler to wash down the finger foods.  Still an outsider, I searched for the few familiar faces in the crowd at Bisilico’s and had a great conversation with the outgoing cheese cutter (save the sophomoric comments) but I learned there is a two year post designated for cutting the cheese, and cubing the bread.  Most times he cuts 12-14 pounds of cheese and it turned out that the old cheese cutter was passing his golden cheese cutting device to the newly appointed cheese cutter.  Damn, it will be 2008 before I could throw my hat into the Society’s cheese cutter role.

By default, they seated me with the same people from the April dinner, I guess no one at the other tables drafted me.  I cannot quite put my finger on it, but this dinner was not as impressive as the last.  Maybe I am too much a novice, but the pairings seemed a bit at tug of war, the service was slow and the pours were brief and singular.  As I am not yet a member, maybe I was given the guest service.

The first course was a delicious porcini ravioli in a truffle walnut sauce paired with a 2004 Pra Montegrande Soave Classico.  Separately, they were delightful, the ravioli was the superior, but the truffle walnut sauce and the mushroom filling stepped all over the Soave.

Second course was a branzino with black ink risotto, cherry tomato and basil sauce paired with a 1997 La Spinetta Barbaresco.  Here the wine took control and showed the fish to be too delicate.

Third plate was seared veal tenderloin with roasted vegetables and a 1999 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino.  Alas, a marriage.

A 1999 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova sat next to a Fontina della Valle d’Aosta drizzled with honey and roasted pecans.  I greatly appreciated the nuts and honey on the cheese, something I never would have expected, but it was too sweet for the biggest and boldest of the two Brunellos.

We ended with homemade biscotti and vanilla ice cream accompanied by a 1997 Fattoria Viticcio Vin Santo.  I never had a vin santo wine before and read a bit about the process.  They dry the grapes through a long and arduous process which stretches out well into January as the hand-picked grape bunches are hung  from the rafter of vinsantaie, a room with many windows for vigorous air circulation.  Once the grapes have dried sufficiently, they are pressed and the juice is poured into caratelli (small chestnut barrels) for fermentation. After the initial fermentation the wine is racked, the caratelli sealed, and placed under the roof of the winery. Here the wine is subjected to seasonal temperature changes, which impart a unique taste and texture to the wine.  

The chestnut color and drying process had me thinking this was going to be a sweet wine, yet it turned out to be this viscous, dry, intense, high alcohol wine.  Ritualistically, one dunks their biscotti into the wine to soften the cookie and flavor the drink.  Interesting and expensive, this was a treat both in the educational and culinary sense. 

With the last sip of my double espresso, I saddled up and hurried to Montclair to crash the wine dinner at Indigo Smoke.  The dinner was coordinated by the owner of the trendy Church Street Wine Store, Amanti Vino.  After begging and pleading that I truly did know Mr. Shinas, I was let in to a room full of Guilty People.

Amanti Vino
30 Church Street
Montclair, NJ 07042
Amanti Vino
(973) 509-9463    

Actually, they weren’t guilty, they all were enjoying their bbq dinner with the 2004 Guilty.  George was like the winner of American Idol as he signed wine bottles, posters and napkins for the crowd.  George introduced me to Sharon Sevrens, the creator of Amanti Vino and I ended up sitting and chatting with a cordial gentleman who turned out to be Sharon’s father.  He is a doctor at the facility that Big Ray is having hyperbaric chamber rehab for his recent surgery.  The energy in the room originated from friends/family enjoying good eats and  reasonably priced, well crafted bottles of wine.  The good Justice was heading out at 11pm to begin his journey to the Albany area for an event on Monday. 

There was a stark contrast between the atmosphere in both cities, and I am not here to say which is better.  It comes down to comfort zone and where I can get my glass filled steadily.

The first official ECWS tasting is early October, this is serious, I am looking forward to the fireworks….      

September 16, 2006

Ever since I was a young boy the smell of salt sea air brought a certain calmness to my twitchy nature.  Today is no different; I drove to the Barnegat Bay beach area with the Asbury Park Press and laptop in tow.  Fortunately for me, someone in the neighborhood has an unsecured wireless hook up that let me sit on the beach, and check emails.  The storm has the bay churned like a late November day and debris from the surge yesterday carpets the sand.  It was a long road traveled yesterday as Big Ray (Hope I am not infringing on Tim Russert’s title) concluded what we hope is the longest and last of three complex procedures to rid him of the mutant cellular structure he has been battling for the past two years.  I have placed a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue on the shelf of my wet bar in hopes of toasting with him soon after his all clear report several months down the line.  Admittedly I cannot tolerate scotch and it most likely will end up in the porcelain pot with the rest of my stomach contents, but it will be worth the bile. 

The APP had an interesting article on the guilty plea of a major Democratic power broker, John J. Lynch Jr.  The AG and Governor are playing this as the ridding of NJ of the last major corruption scandal.  My prediction, this story will soon take a backseat to the Dems pulling Senator Menendez from the ballot as he is in trouble for re-election.  Corruption in the State defines the political landscape and unprecedentedly, the Democrats will offer Frank Lautenberg, our current Senator to replace Menendez on the ballot; making NJ the first state to have one Senator occupying two Senate seats.  It seems when the Dems get in trouble, they turn to the 150 year old Lautenberg to be the calming, voter friendly influence in the state.  Look for a switch-a-rooski of donkey candidate for Senate as Tom Keane Jr. surges in the polls and sees this indigo state moving red.  I look forward to Governor Corzine’s retraction that the days of corrupt politics in NJ are over after the press conference announcing that Senator Melendez decided to spend more time with his family and has dropped out of the race. 

The issue I cannot comprehend is why would the coroneted King of the NJ Democrats throw away a powerful, stellar career for a $25,000.00 bribe?  Seems to me too little a reward for the price he will now pay.  Maybe to someone that is in such a unique position, the $25,000.00 bribe was small and insignificant and he thought it could go undetected.  Mark this day and the comments from every state Dem yesterday declaring the old way NJ ran its political affairs is officially over and today is a bright new future.  That is of course until the end of the month if Menendez cannot up his poll numbers.

Unfairly, I cannot really post a review of the red wine I consumed as a sleeping aid last night, since their neighbor bottles his 22 cases for personal consumption, but I do so enjoy his talent for red wine making.  Let’s just say there might have to be a Ponzini rating scale soon if I make any more trips down here this month.  I should talk to him about NJ distribution rights…

September 15, 2006

Last night I had but a few minutes to pop into the Liquor Outlet in Boonton for a surprise visit with the Hanging Judge.  Yes, in a tour to overcome his loss, Justice George of Shinas Estates flew to the USA to be with close friends.  Fortunately for me, one of his friends emailed me the announcement that he would be doing a tasting within 20 minutes from my house.  To his surprise, I popped in and schnored a few free glasses of wine.  After his pained look subsided and he realized I was not going away, he offered me a taste of the  2006 Innocent.  The nose on this is late summer, lush juicy pear and apricot.  It carries a mouth-watering amount of melon flavors with a clean finish.  One might expect a sweet sugary finish from the nose, but this one surprised me.  If you have a chance to see the '06 in a store near you in the upcoming weeks, grab several bottles, it would be a nice wine for the Thanksgiving table.

September 14, 2006

Official announcement: Wino Mike, friend of Big Bob and wealthiest person I know, will from this day forward be referred to as Wino Odd Job.  For those under 35, please refer to the James Bond manual for the Sean Connery period.  Last night, Wino John, Big Bob, Wino OJ and I had the pleasure of a wine and dine night.  We each bellied up a bottle and raided a local BYOB for some eats.  During the course of the evening, ex-Wino Mike, now Wino Odd Job exposed his new Am Ex Titanium card.  Yes, Wino OJ is so wealthy; his credit card is made out of the same material as the heat shield of the Apollo space capsule and a multitude of high tech military gear.  This card that carries the credit rating of 5 South American countries combined, can purchase very large expensive luxuries and with the flick of the wrist, lethally impale a would be attacker.  Mother of Sweet Jesus, Bruce Lee could not escape a swipe of this death star.  So it be said, so it be written, Wino Odd Job hence.

With the heavy tilt towards big bold wines, the evening was full of good food, great conversation and the consumption of heady drink.  All interesting in what they offered; the order unfolded as:

  • 2005 Miguel Torres Tormenta - a value priced Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon organically produced and exclusively offered at Sam’s Clubs.  Nice fruit with good balance.

  • 2004 Summers Estate Villa Adrianna Charbono - a forgotten grape that exists in Napa now from a small number of wineries. Origins in southeastern France and Northern Italy, this wine his plum, smoke leather and black pepper for the big bold red wine drinker.  Try one, it is something new and different that would be great with grilled meat.

  • 2001 Kelham Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - this is what an exclusive tour of Napa gets you when you have a Titanium Am Ex.  This wine is 15.5% alcohol, and loaded with cassis, blackberry, pepper, and an earth touch finishing with oak notes.

  • 2001 Mas Igneus FA206 Priorat- the closer, with Spanish cedar, black fruit, and spicy in the glass this inky dark liquid oozes in your mouth.  I might spread this on my toast in the morning, wow.

Great fun, great night, super wines.  Next stop Cab Fest III at WOJ’s, let get the calendars out and make commitments. 

September 13, 2006

Trying to bolster my GOTY consumption, I dug into my South American shelf and grabbed a cabernet sauvignon.  There was no reason for the region, nor occasion for the wine except to accompany my dinner.  The Mendoza region of Argentina spouts some of my favorite malbecs, so I figured I would give a cabernet a try.  Sadly, I was left wondering why I strayed.  This one, and I stress ONE, was not much of a cab.  It wasn’t bad, just weak, telling me to listen to the third voice in my head, stick to what you like from where you know.  Then the second voice tells me to branch out and try new things, otherwise you will never know what you are missing.  Then my mother’s voice tells me to make sure I have on clean underwear in case I get into an accident and have to go to the emergency room.  Then the forth voice tells me to be a big boy and keep wearing those dirty old underwear for as long as you like since I will not know the emergency room workers.  Then I think to myself that if I have a bad enough accident that I need to be in the emergency room, I probably will soil myself so the clean underwear won’t be clean any longer. 

Remind me next spring to clear some of those voices out of my head.

2004 Bodega Catena Zapata Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon $ (9.99)    I would leave this one behind and grab their malbec.  This cab comes in at 13.9% alcohol.

September 11, 2006

Take a Moment and Reflect...

September 10, 2006

Last night, the cooler, drier air rode in and the porch was too inviting not to sit out and absorb this late summer evening.  I could tell the weather was ideal as the glow of porch lights speckled the street.  I glanced over at Wino Lou’s porch and saw he and the Mrs. WL were out enjoying the evening air also.  I had to sit out for awhile and take a break from the 24 hour coverage asking if there should be 24 hour coverage of the anniversary of 9/11.  CNN had a special called, In the Footsteps of Bin Laden and it twisted my stomach so tightly that I needed some fresh air.

Unfortunately, I fouled the air by blazing up a cigar, a straight up trade I acquired when Wino Stan and I headed to the Jet-Giant game.  As I pulled off the wrapper exposing the Spanish cedar layered over the cigar, I could only think I needed a big, stiff wine to stand tall with this volume of leaf and filler and nicotine and carcinogen.  I grabbed a Mendoza Malbec and settled in for two hours of listening to the last calls of the cicadas, watching a few bats dash looking for dinner and listening to the drone of distant car tires on the Avenue.  It was a quiet, peaceful evening knowing that the morning would bring heated political talk shows and the official beginning of the NFL game day. 

My ass will be firmly planted in the recliner, wine bottle at the ready and my number 22, Rocky Thompson jersey stretched cruelly across my expanded middle twisting and turning with every Giant play during tomorrow night’s Manning Bowl.  Time to step up Eli and play big.

2003 Bodega Lurton Malbec Reserve $ (10.99)   Needs more backbone for this Mendoza specialty.  OK fruit and glimmers of hope, but lacking in the finish.

September 5, 2006

Just hanging out for most of the day trying to avoid the Jerry Lewis Telethon on TV, I kept clicking back and forth between that and the crappy Nicole Kidman movie Moulin Rouge.  Jesus, did Tony Orlando get fat.  The movie was hard to follow, I did get a kick out of the Absinthe and the midget Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.  Finally, late in the afternoon, I decided to head out to see what was open for dinner.

I was driving past my neighbor’s house and I saw a cloud of smoke billowing from the back.  In a panic, and Rescue Me flash, I pulled the car over and headed towards the source.  Oh my God, it looks like Wino Lou’s deck is a flame….oh sorry, you guys having a cookout?  I couldn’t possibly stay, I am so embarr….steak, you cooking steak, maybe I could stay for a few minutes.

Bar-b-q crasher that I am, I ran back to my car, smashed the emergency glass on the case I keep in the trunk and ran back into the party.  The rib eyes were grilled to a tasty, tender degree and I quickly pulled the cork to lessen the impact of my intrusion.  With enjoyable conversation, we sat for the evening on WL’s back deck sipping wine and recanting stories of our summer highlights. 

With the porch not available for a good part of the summer, we missed out on our weekend neighbor’s club, otherwise known as wine-on-the-porch nights.  I am hoping the weather stays mild for the remainder of September and we can enjoy a few more opportunities.

2001 E. Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape $$ (29.99)   From uncorking to exposing the punt, this wine was a bowl of lush dark fruits with a spicy aroma and a soft earthy finish.  Dark cherry, plum, tobacco and wild mushroom spiral up the bowl and invade your nostrils just before your mouth is delighted.  I could drink this one every night, if I could afford it.

September 4, 2006

We here at would like to send our deepest sympathies to our Aussie friend, Judge Shinas of Shinas Estates for his recent loss.  Many of you in the wine world may not know that Judge Shinas is a distant relative of Steve Irwin.  Shinas is known for syrah, while Irwin is known for wearing boy scout pants and sticking his head into a den of breeding rattle snakes, or diving head first into a river to stick his thumb in the bum of a male croc.  During the recent taping of an underwater episode of his world renown show; Irwin, not Shinas, was stung by the venomous tail of a sea creature.  Distraught; Shinas, not Irwin, rang me up to tell me of the tragedy.   “He came over the top of a stingray and the stingray's barb went up and went into his chest and put a hole into his heart," Judge Shinas said.  “Steve was just trying to get into position to put his thumb in the stingray’s bum when whack, the animal sensed the unpleasant act and flexed his tail muscles."

I don’t know if you recall episode 11 of the 2003 season of the show, but Steve and his wife, Terri, after a hard day of wrangling deadly spiders, settled back on their front porch with a bottle of Guilty and a platter of friend crocodile fritters.  “The big black fruit and spicy finish grip the fried gamey dinosaur meat and thrush it about like a roped pregnant female koala bear. I am looking forward to the upcoming Innocence to go with some baby kangaroo and shingleback stew”, stated Steve, though many of his exotic animal and wine pairings were edited for the USA rebroadcast of the show. 

Shinas and Irwin chat in the vineyard before the 03 harvest.

"If you ever make it down under," he said, Shinas not Irwin, "I will introduce you to Terri".  The affable Mrs. Irwin will continue her husbands work and complete the documentary, just without the thumb in the bum portion of the show. 

Irwin with the left handed reach around Thumb move.

Crikie Mate, this one’s a big ‘un…

Breaking News!!!

In what can only be described as major breaking news, our own lovable fuzz ball, Big Bob, will soon become the assistant brewmeister for the Rolling Rock brand beer.  Yes, the distinct green bottle with the mysterious number 33 that we loved..., well..., bought as kids because in 1978 it was cheap, will soon be blended by our very own French wine devotee.  So how is it that this seller of fine wines and general beer-shunner has come to land a major role in the now-hip, in-fad beverage you ask?  Well even if you didn’t ask, I will tell you.

As you may or may not be aware, mega brewery Anheuser-Busch acquired the iconic green bottle with the enigmatic 33 silk screened on the label.  In a brilliant consolidation of resources, they are moving the production of the brand from the quaint, protected, rural vista where their key ingredient comes from fresh mountain springs, to the urban century old factory across from Newark Airport on Route 9 South.  No longer will the beer be brewed from mountain snow melting and cascading, untouched streams.  No the water for the revamped Rolling Rock will come from the Wanaque Reservoir. 

As we all know, our lovable Big Bob owns acres and acres of property  along the banks of the reservoir protecting his mansion from developers and neighbors and general riff raff.  It all stands to reason that Big Bob’s love affair with the grape and his small weak bladder finds him on more occasions than not, relieving nature’s calling in said reservoir as the hike back to the guest house is far too long.  Ipso facto, the consumers of the new Rolling Rock will actually have a new ingredient, Big Bob’s processed wine, bringing a whole new meaning to the catch phrase, "it’s the water".  Or coming to you directly from the source leaves me little desire to purchase old number 33. 

Tasters of the new brand my find Pinot Noir, asparagus and buffalo wings tainting the original greatness of the new Rolling Rock.  Bottoms up…

September 2, 2006

A damp, cool weekend signifies the official end of the summer season for NJ.  Trying to hold on to the endless days of summer, I was sitting on the porch last eve as the steady beat of rain resonated in the gutters.  Since the wind wasn’t blowing, the porch can be a very pleasant place during a late afternoon shower.  As I sat thinking that we are officially in the month of football and school buses and dying leaves; my peace and tranquility was snapped like a cold dosing down the back of my neck.  A wine-caddy-toting Wino Rocker bounded up the porch, followed by the Mrs. Wino Rocker and the beautiful and cheery little Winette Rocker.  Then unexpectedly a strapping young man stood at the bottom of the steps.  I thought to myself, “Holy Crap Marie, Wino Rocker is here to get so drunk, he hired a chauffer to drive him around…in his beat up 250,000 mile Voyager Van!  What the hell?”

With beaming faces and happy hearts, the WR, et al family introduced the chauffer as the soon-to-be-heir to the WR fortune, or in common terms, little Winette Rocker’s fiancée.  Hearing the news, I ordered my servants to kill the fatted calf, and break out the hookah.  OK, so I don’t have servants, and OK, I don’t have fatted calves, and a cigar is as close to a smoking device, but we were going to party in celebration.  Oh yeah, since Forte’s burned to the ground, our fatted calf (pizza) had to come from someplace new.  We tried Russillos and I was impressed with the sausage and broccoli rabe pie.

In a brief moment of showing the soft, white, hairy underbelly of Wino Rocker, he presented me two, yes, two bottles of wine for us to consume in celebration.  They proudly told me that one was from the Lake Erie region of Ohio and the other from the Monticello (Jefferson) region of Virginia.  They told me they drove around the east coast looking for special wines.  I just think he rode his ATV from the most northwestern corner of his landholding to the southern tip.  Could you imagine the US government having to purchase the Wino Rocker land parcel in the beginnings of this great Nation?  I’m thinking it wouldn’t have gone well and the government would have sided with the Native Americans changing the entire history of this country.  It might have turned out that casinos would have been on Rocker Reservation instead of Mohegan Sun. 

So we here at offer our hearty congratulations as we dream of a future when the pony tail bearing, tattoo sporting, bass playing Wino Rocker will be referred to as Grumpy Grampy,  now that’s funny.  Hey do they make a baby seat for a Harley?

2003 Tarsitano Winery Cabernet Franc Lake Erie  I got to say, this one acted more like Gamay then Cab Franc, from its light red color, to its strawberry and raspberry flavors.  I’m thinking that Ohio has a need for grape identification classes.

2004 Barboursville Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve      From the land that Thomas Jefferson recognized as a strong wine growing region, this cabernet has promise.  Nice dark fruit and a pleasant currant and oaky finish. 

August 30, 2006

If only the prices at Luce’s were a bit more reasonable for a BYOB, I would be typing away at my laptop, having dinner there most nights and living like the café writers of the late 1800s.  I could open my window and hit the place with a rock, but unlike Ernest T Bass, I would be arrested and booked for doing so.  The place has a nice atmosphere and the food is unique enough and well proportioned, but the bill comes, and without wine or coffee/dessert, it still shocks me.  I understand rents are outrageous on Bloomfield Ave and parking is tough, but the valet is overhead that is not necessary with the lot they have and Budget allowing them to use their spaces after 6PM. 

I really like the place, yet wonder if it would pack in more people if they were 20% less on the food cost.  With appetizers priced at 12-14 dollars, that is an entree for other BYOBs in the immediate area.  Maybe I’m just a cheap bastard, or maybe I am just jealous of all the wealthy individuals from Essex Fells and North Caldwell willing to pay the price without pissing and moaning. 

Last night I had the St. Peter’s fish and a salad and it was almost $40.00.  I could see if St. Peter himself caught the fish, or more appropriately caught the fish and fed all of us whom ordered the fish that night from his one fish, then I would pay 40-50 bucks. 

I am thinking the current owners spoke with the other local restaurateurs and decided that the higher pricing was worth keeping me out.  Be that as it may, the walk home after two bottles of wine almost got me a WUI (walking under the influence) as I bobbed and weaved the block and a half under the watchful eye of the local “Andy Taylor”.  The convenience is killing me, I need to figure out how to make enough money to eat at this place more often.

2004 Wolf Blass Chardonnay $ (11.99) If oaky chards are your desire, this one hides the fruit behind a wooden box and takes its time to come out.  The golden yellow color says it all.

2001 Edmunds St. John Syrah $ (18.99)    It has all the right moves with smoke, pepper and lavender on the nose and blueberry on the tongue, it just needs a little more growing up to be the big and bold wine it might someday be.

August 28, 2006

Was anyone else at the Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes show on Point Pleasant boardwalk last night?  Me neither.  Well, I did have a beer at the bar they were playing at before Wino John and I headed off the boardwalk and into town for a night of raucous merriment.   No, it was not WJ that provided the laughs.  They came courtesy of Jackie The JokeMan Martling at Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Point Pleasant, NJ. 

A small, intimate venue best describes the setting.  This 40 seat club/restaurant brings one up close and personal with the stage acts, not for the queasy. If it’s not a joke raining down on you, it might actually be spittle spraying from an excited comedian. 

Jackie weaved stories, jokes and one-liners for an hour and a half accenting many with his trademark chuckle and broad grin.  No topic or group is spared from The JokeMan’s Gatling gun delivery with a reaper sharp tongue.  His style is best described as no one gets out alive.

The crowd was laughing and groaning as Martling dotted new and old routines across the stage.  Ending with his famous “Stump the JokeMan” as audience members try to get one passed his photographic memory for every joke he’s read and heard since 1952.  

The Tennessee Waltz is a great song 

Jackie Martling's JokeLand!

After the show we were treated to a great buffet of ziti, salad, sausage and peppers, chicken and broccoli, seafood medley, and prime beef.  The dessert tray had pastries fit for Bobby Baccala with canollis, biscotti, anisette cookies, and cream puffs that complimented the double espresso beyond compare.  Jackie darted from table to table, chatting with the audience members and signing the complimentary CD, like a FLY.  Which reminds me, “Two flies land on a piece of s*&%....”

Ferrara's Ristorante VIP Card

The topper was the BYOB status of the place which allowed me to bring in a bottle of 1995 Amarone to compliment the fare and heighten the experience.  By the way, what the hell is a "Juke" and are they only from Asbury, or could they be from anywhere?

 If you get the opportunity to catch a show with Jackie Martling, it's worth every penny.  Besides, he might be dead soon and his autograph will fetch more on eBay.

1995 Villa Girardi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico $$ (32.00)   A supple, smooth well polished wine with fig and prune flavors and an almond touch t the silky finish.

August 27, 2006

With all this beer in my recent past, I had to get back to basics, and there is nothing better than a rainy Sunday afternoon, sitting on the porch after watching the crazy talking heads tell us how bad our country is and how the only way to right the ship is to throw out every Republican and have a Democrat in every position including your local dog catcher.  By the way, what happened to the local dog catcher?  I remember that was a prized job in the town in which Spanky and Alfalfa lived.  That guy was always after Petey for not having a license.  My town does have dogs and occasionally I see one on the loose but have never seen a dog catcher.  I even took the time to Ask Jeeves how many towns still have dog catchers and he bluntly replied, “How the f*$# would I know.”  I did find out that the dog catcher job was developed to combat the rabid urban dog population in the early 1940s.  I guess this is now an animal control, politically correct job title. 

Hey, here’s a thought……… 

In November she may be the third person in line to run the country?

2004 Panarroz Jumilla $ (7.99) A 42% Mourvedre, 38% Grenache and 20% Syrah handed out mocha, black cherry, and an earthy finish in my glass and went well with my roast beef and mashed potato Sunday dinner.

August 26, 2006

I love this time of the year, the weather is cool in the morning yet warms nicely by noon.  The smell of wet grass and earth and sweat, the sound of a coach’s whistle and the sight of blocking dummies at high school practice fields lets me know football season is upon us.  Last night, Wino Stan had an extra ticket to the Jet/Giants preseason game at the Meadowlands so I packed up a cooler with hot dogs, burgers and beer (bringing along a bottle of wine just to soothe the beast).  In additional to my fallback beer, Budweiser, I brought along two offerings from Victory Brewing Company of Downingtown, Pa.  I have written about the Hopdevil in the past, so I will add to it the big and bold V-Twelve.  Holy Crap Marie, this one weighs in at a hefty 12% alcohol and offers a rich bodied Belgian style ale.


A mix of dried apricots and pears swirl throughout your glass while the mouth feel is Mohave Desert courtesy of the Styrian Goldings & Tettnanger whole flowers Hops. 

At one point in the tailgating feast, and I do not say that lightly as one of Wino Stan’s tailgating associates prepared a shrimp scampi whose aroma wafted two parking lots over and drew a crowd, I felt inadequately prepared with Thuman’s hot dogs and some burgers once I saw the sauce pans and zesting cutlery adorn the table.  As we made it to the more traditional food, Wino Stan asked me if I would mind if he “cut the V-Twelve a bit since it was heavier and higher in alcohol then he typically drank.  With a nod, I saw him pull an Amstel Light from the cooler and dilute the Victory Ale to his liking.  Silly me, I never thought of tamping down a full bodied Amorone with a Beaujolais to lessen the kick of the higher alcohol.  Just think of all the new possibilities that might be created.  Say good-bye to wine coolers, as these will not be wimpy, fruity, fizzy lighter drinks.  No, they will simply be big bold wines diluted with lesser wines.  How about a white Burgundy and a Mosel, or maybe a Zinfandel and a Rioja?  WS, if I were you, I would get a patent attorney and lock down this soon-to-be new fad. 

As far as the game, the Giants did well enough to win, but struggled on offense.  Two weeks to go and Eli Manning better get his timing down with Mr. Burress and Mr. Shockey or we are in for a long, disappointing season.

Here’s to a new drink, the beertail, a beer cocktail of beer and beer.  Remember folks, you read it here first…  

August 24, 2006

Why would someone that owns a BYOB restaurant name their place Silver Oak American Bistro?  I would have reserved that name for a Big Ass Cab place with massive slabs of beef and grilled baby chops.  But I am not the owner of the place, nor have I eaten there as of this point.  Almost like a place calling itself a Bavarian Beirgarten and it being a burger joint. 

Anyway, while I was at the Cloverleaf, I picked up some bathroom reading material, it was the August 9th issue of Ale Street News.  Is there an Ale Street somewhere in America or in Maywood, NJ where the paper is printed?  The cover tweaked me as a bit of beer trying to ride the coattails of red wine.  I call it phenol envy, others many not.  But it appears that the scientists of the University of Western Ontario concluded that the barley malt of beer contains similar polyphenols just like red wine and therefore are heart healthy.  At this point the article has beer and red wine neck and neck for thinning the blood to help ward off blood clots, stroke and thickening arteries.  Equal again are the presence of flavonoids that inhibit allergies, inflammation and cancer growths.  (Note to Ted Kennedy, before your head floats away in the next gale storm, switch to beer or red wine, its reduces inflammation.)  The researchers then go on to say that beer has vitamins B6, B12, folic acid and niacin along with A, D, and E.  Ipso facto, if you cannot remember to take your Flintstone chewable, down two beers with your breakfast.  

The latest is that IPA, those hop-head friendly crisp favorites of Beer Boy has a compound called Xanthohumol (pronounced xanthohumol).  It seems like it is a preventative for prostate cancer and bladder conditions.  Oh, one side problem, you would have to drink 17 beers to get a daily amount of XAN to be helpful.  Since encouraging that large consumption is counterproductive, they are trying to extract xanthohumol and develop a pill form.  Kind of kills the buzz but helps Mr. Prostate.

It all sounds like the beer lords got together after losing their number one position as beverage of choice for the 20-something crowd and they decided that beer can be as healthful as red wine so quit bringing pinot noir to the tailgate party and slug down some super XAN doped Budweiser.  

August 23, 2006

With an absolutely perfect spot of weather befalling NJ, Wino Lou texted me and asked if I could sneak out for a quick 9 holes of golf.  My life had little else tugging my strings, so I said yes and loaded my mismatched clubs into the truck.  We hit the register at the clubhouse at 6:15 which gave us light until 8:15 and the possibility to get in at least 7-9 holes depending how far into the woods my tee shot drifted.  Unfortunately, they were watering the front nine and at 7 pm we still had 3 foursomes in front of us.  Not being a great golfer, I told WL I was heading back to get a refund, I wasn’t paying twenty dollars to play one hole.

I then told him, beers were my treat if he wanted to so we headed to the local watering hole and tapped an icy cold brew.  The Cloverleaf is a great little place that appreciates microbrews so we tried the Hazed and Infused from The Boulder Beer Company.  For some reason Colorado was flashing in front of my eyes, actually MSNBC was on the TV and this goofy dweeby, pedophile was being flown to the US.  Way, my life is great when I hear the tale of this asshole.

The beer had an interesting, complexity with a hop forward, sweet cider middle and dry finish.  An interesting taste that was not over the top in bitterness.  I enjoyed it but sought a second that would snap my salivary production.  My second beer was Ruination IPA from Stone Brewing.


I thing the gargoyle imposes the appropriate fear your taste buds have from the hop crazy blend. This one offers 7.7% alcohol and the crispness of fall leaves underfoot.

August 18, 2006

I didn’t quite understand the statement said to me years back, that it seemed I had a lot of gall, when I asked a college professor a question that challenged her statement.  The literary interpretation she spewed as a graduate teaching assistant trying to get her masters, and using the teaching guide to corral our thoughts, made no sense to me, and I let her know it.  I hadn’t much thought about that time, until the wee hours of Friday morning.  Awaking from a sound sleep, with the sharp pain of what I could only describe as a Fight Club style cracked rib, my less sleep moment reminded me that my hermit lifestyle and pipe cleaner guns left me no opportunity to be in a barroom, let alone a barroom brawl.  It was through research on and talking to people that I self-diagnosed an inflamed gall bladder.  Yes, the gall my TA accused me of having, was now homed in a flared, aggravated distended casing capable of sending sharp pains and shortness of breath to me with the simplest of movements. 

Last night we were supposed to dine with Wino Paul and Winette Alice, but a set of circumstances arose that had me bail earlier in the week.  The foreshadowing was palpable as I was in no condition to sit and speak without discomfort, never mind drink, eat and be merry.  I can squarely rest this disaster on the crappy diet I had in London and Paris as everything I ate was either fried or slathered with frommage.  Actually, it wasn’t solely the crappy food; it was the crappy food and lack of red wine consumption with the crappy food that reduced me to a whiny pained individual.  After reading up on the gall bladder and making a few simple adjustments; I find myself feeling tops from the dark hours of Friday morning.  So it looks like a bland, veggie heavy diet for me for the next few weeks and if I am correct, crushed grapes reside in the Wino Bob veggie category. 

I did do a bit of self medicating but the wine did not cure all my ails, though it did dull the sharp pain enough to allow me to get out of the chair when my glass was empty to refill my special medicine.  Next time someone tells me I have a lot of gall, I can say with confidence, it is because of the size of my inflamed gall factory.   

2004 Finca Gamellon Jumilla $ (11.99)  For those that like a fruit forward approachable wine not needing time to deploy its essence, try this baby.  Black fruit show up at first taste and are finished in a softly rounded cocoa and spice breath.  A blend of 70% monastrell and 30% syrah. 14.5% alcohol

2004 Terrilogio Primitivo $ (6.99)   This wine is not complex but a great food friendly wine with red cherry flavors, a touch of spice and a mild amount of acidity to handle the red sauces.  13% alcohol, a bargain price for a nice little wine.

August 17, 2006

It is not often that I give investing advice since I have no financial training, nor crystal ball.  I have never bought low and sold high, nor got in on the ground floor of a runaway stock.  But I have been really thinking about this Al Gore Global Warming thing, and want to offer my loyal readers what might be a Charles Schwab type offer.  My suggestion, call your broker and put in for the 2010 Greenland Cabernet Sauvignon futures.  By then, Bordeaux will be burning up and nothing but Sauternes will be brilliant.  All reds from Napa and France will simply be Amorone as the grapes will shrivel on the vine before July 30th.  Big bold prune and raisin flavors will be the only wine available until you go North and drink the nectars of Alaska, Greenland, Siberia and the soon to be outrageously priced, North Pole special, Santa’s Sleigh Claret.  Be bold, take that little nest egg you are saving for the kid’s college fund and dump it all into the soon to be newest world wines in the great, balmy, north.

However, while we can enjoy the fine weather in present day, why not combine the best of vices, wine and golf.  If I might take a step into the Wino Wally area of expertise, I offer the following web sites where you can golf alongside the best grapes Napa has to offer.

Check these out for your next trip to Napa and bring enough cash to pony up the $60-$105 greens fees, plus cart, plus tip, plus new outfit, plus new set of Pings, and don’t forget that to play the game, you gotta have BALLS…


August 15, 2006

I actually kissed the dirt in my driveway last night when I arrived to the dank, dark, third floor abode.  The trip home was not too bad, though no carry-on stuff made the trip seem longer than the seven hours it took.  My only saving grace was my sleeplessness that had me conclude my book before getting on the plane.  I do not understand why we could not bring books through the security checkpoint, but we couldn’t.  If that is what it takes to get home from the UK safely, then so be it.  Business travel will take on a strange dimension as no cell phones or laptops were allowed in the cabin.

Anyway, it has been awhile since I posted about a book, but I did find this one interesting as author Jad Adams recants the history of the wormwood liquor in France, England and the USA from the mid 1800’s to the beginning of Prohibition.  The final two chapters examine the current state and disapprovingly concluded that the Absinthe of today is not the mind bending, creativity releasing, inspirational elixir, but a toned down copy with little hope of true wild visions.

Jad also concludes that there are many recent web sites mentioning Absinthe, but few are fueling the fad for it to become a major cocktail in clubs or trendy restaurants. 



Did van Gogh cut his ear off after a night of heavy Absinthe consumption?  Did Impressionism rise from the bohemian art community fueled by the “Green Fairy”? Will Wino Bob develop dementia after drinking his bottle of loached liquid?  Will his style and vision create a new web genre or will he be left babbling and wetting himself huddled in the corner of his room?

August 10, 2006

I had to head out of town on a business trip and found myself "across the pond" as they say; a smashing time to be here.  This was a trip I thought would be fun and worry free, only to be shocked by the news today.  The hotel I am staying in sits diagonally across from the New Scotland Yard and all day long, TV satellite link up trucks have been parked along the street covering the news of the day.  I felt very secure here as visible signs of active security post themselves about.

Having a brief opportunity, I did something I never thought I would have done as hell has yet to lessen in temperature.  Maybe it is the softening of my brain from the excess alcohol or maybe it has been the hardening of my liver, but earlier this week, I purchased a ticket on the Eurorail and sped my way under the English Channel to land squarely in the heart of Northern Paris.  Garde de Norde, a bustling train station, received me with an open arm and a population of not so “French” Frogs.  With little time and no ability to Berlitz the language, I found a plethora of taxi drivers, hotel workers and waitresses/waiters willing to climb down from their pretentious pedestals and, in broken English, with smiling faces, actually provide information and answers to tedious questions.  I was to Paris once, long ago, as a teenager with the family and I recall the painstaking time of ordering a simple meal, when the staff of the hotel we stayed at offered nothing to non-Frenchies.  This week, I doff my fedora to the treatment we received, making me feel like they finally were thanking us for the liberation. 

An interesting perspective opened my eyes and mind during the plane ride over to London, as I brought along the book Hideous Absinthe.  Though tediously historic and dry in fact, the book chronicles the role absinthe played in the 1890’s art community.  As part of my trip to France, we took the Metro to Pigalle, the red light district most famous for the cabaret Moulin Rouge. The area is just below the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur where St Pierre’s Byzantine construct was the tallest point in the area until 1889 when Gustave Eiffel’s erector set pierced the  skyline for the Centennial Exhibition.  As holy and reverent as the Catholic church is, Pigalle tilts the world in the opposite direction.  The book vividly depicts the life of the struggling artists and writers, living in café’s, drinking absinthe and producing some of the most extraordinary works of art.  Reading the passages of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Degas, Monet and Picasso regarding the effect that absinthe had on changing their artistic perspective compelled me to retrace their footsteps in Paris and Montmartre.  Though I have had no real wine to speak of and a scant pint or two, I have been changed a bit with a newfound appreciation of the influences the French had on the art world.  

As I sat in a café, my mind’s eye saw the striking image of the group of artists, smoking their French cigarettes, sipping a strong black French coffee, hugging prostitutes with their coins splashed on the table and arguing technique and the perspective of color or shape or subject.  Then as evening rides down the Seine and slowly envelops the sky, the coffee cups make room for the absinthe glass and the mind is altered in exciting new ways.  I disdain the seriousness of it but appreciate the process.  Maybe, just maybe, the friendliness of the people during this visit chipped a brick from my wall of French resistance, or maybe, just maybe, a visit from ‘l’heure verte’ of Chat Noir greeted me like never before.  Look, I’m not turning into a Francophile fag or nothing, it's just that I did find a warmer, friendlier reception as an American in Paris than I ever thought I would find.    

(Editor's note: Bob has gone Frog on us...  )

August 4, 2006

Well the porch project is finally finished, but I am still several days from being able to spend the night drinking and singing.  My neighbors have been quite happy to this point as their weekend nights have been without my cat calling.  I need to be sure the stain has penetrated the wood enough so the eventual spillage from my loss of motor skills does not blemish the mahogany flame stained look of the brilliant tongue-and-groove planking.  The floor dress well, the old porch, but more importantly, it secures the weight of the next party.  No longer must I feel lawsuits from individuals plummeting through the one hundred year old plus ailing boards.  The new porch floor should outlive me, but that shouldn’t be hard to do.  During the renovation process, I was pleased to see that the massively solid original porch columns were vibrant enough to stand guard for another fifty years, and the painters did a bang up job getting them looking like Joan Rivers after a face lift. 

I thought my celebratory placing of the furniture and christening of the porch would be a blow out, but the excessively high humidity and the new laws for NJ paint ingredients has slowed the drying process.  Seems NJ stains need to be solvent free, thus impeding the drying time and delaying my summer fun.  I blame Al Gore, as solvents and global warming and VOCs and Al Gore all go together somehow.  I guess the portly Mr. Gore has been eating foods that reduce his greenhouse gas emissions, but add weight and bulk to his person.  If not, I will be protesting the food that Al Gore eats until he reduces his methane emissions to show he talks the walk.  Do they make a secret service armored Suburban as a hybrid, or is Al driving around to his movie premiers in 8 miles to the gallon SUV?  Does his gulf stream use solar power to jet him to NY?  Just wondering...

Anyway, I opened a bottle, whose label denoted the royal address I wanted to coronet the new porch floor with, but neither the floor nor the wine were up to the task.

2001 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon $ (19.99)    Maybe I had higher hopes for this one, but it starts out really astringent and it was half a bottle before it relaxed and took off its shoes to stay awhile.  It unveiled promise with blackberry, chocolate and smoke, but not fitting of its Kingly reference.

August 2, 2006

It looks like I will be spending a great deal of time in Maplewood, NJ next month and may I say what a brilliant law enforcement agency they support.  It seems that they have developed a drunk driving educational program.  As part of a community service project, the Maplewood police allow residents to put on Fatal Vision Goggles (which simulate being drunk) and then they get in a golf cart to drive a test course.

The Fatal vision Products are available through and for $149.00, that I do not currently have, I could purchase my own goggles packet.

Large Product Image                                                  

The goggles are available in four strengths representing:

  • White- 0.06 Blood Alcohol Level (BAL)

  • Bronze- 0.07-0.1 BAL

  • Silver 0.17-0.2 BAL or what I call "The Gibsons"

  • Black- 0.25+ or "The WinoBobs"

So I’m thinking what a much better driver I can become by purchasing the Black and driving around the neighborhood.  I can wear them when I head to the grocery store, the post office or the bank.  You know what it’s like driving in the bank parking lot the day the social security checks come out.  Come on, if I can dodge the blue-haired crowd, I can do well with deer and motorcyclists after dinner with Wino John and Big Bob. This way, if I do consume several bottles of wine, I can tell the police officer that I am a trained professional and a good driver, I’m a good driver.

P.O. Box 930064, Verona, WI 53593-0064
phone: 1.800.272.5023/608.845.5558 / fax: 608.848.5558

So until I can afford my home kit and the personal breathalyzer ($29.95), I will be spending time in Maplewood, putting in my test runs to see what I need to do to driver more gooder impaired.

August 1, 2006

Hot enough for yah?  This dank third floor room has no insulation and no air conditioner making banana hammock soup in my shorts every time I need to use the computer.  You may read about someone finding a rotting corpse in the attic of a creepy house in Caldwell.  I ask that my headstone has something other than, “died from heat”.  Each year it seems we thin the heard of some geriatrics by pushing the thermometer over 100.  "Cirrhosis" will most likely be on my tombstone.

I want to get drunk this weekend so I can try a new concoction to sober me up.  I recently read that Dr. Bob Smith, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, would give the drunken patient an elixir of Karo syrup, tomato juice and sauerkraut.  Karo corn syrup is high in fructose (and currently under investigation by the government as a major contributor to the obesity problem in America) and speeds the metabolism of the alcohol in my system.  Tomato juice replenishes my fluids and electrolytes for relieving that nasty headache and the sauerkraut (if it doesn’t induce vomiting to purge) is rich in vitamin B which is highly recommended after binging.  Sounds nasty, most likely tastes awful, but it might just be one of those remedies that helps, once, then you do the whole swearing off alcohol, AA meeting, I cannot socially drink thing.

Me, I’m betting on the elixir curing my hangover so I can get back to drinking.  I guess I am destined to be an alco-maniac.   

July 31, 2006

Like the ghost from Christmas past, I got a call from Winette Tia.  In what seems like years, the once regular, then gone AWOL, Winette Tia wanted to have a drink and catch up on things.  Her career path has been soaring and has had little time for us “little people”.  It looks like Hollywood is calling and within the next few months might find our dear WT off on some set showing up on my Panasonic flat screen once a week and I can say to all my friends, I knew her before she was a star, but now doesn’t take my calls.

We grabbed dinner at Cuban Pete’s with a bottle of Spanish red and an eye on the alcohol charge.  Nothing, this time, so that Saturday night must have been a mix-up.  I did read that the owner of the place was arrest this past April for selling sangria without a liquor license.  It seems that if he boils the alcohol content low enough, below 2%, he then can infuse the wine base with his fruits and other ingredients.  Upon testing, he was not boiling the wine long enough, thus selling sangria without a license.

Every time someone ordered a pitcher at a surrounding table, I was checking to see if they showed signs of drunkenness.  Which then begs the question, is the sangria spiked, or is the placebos affect causing these people to fall off their chairs?     

Unfortunately, no one seemed drunker than me so it was not evident if there is an issue.  Maybe it’s just a fruit infused casual beverage, a libation of refreshing magnitude, or maybe people know and are laying low as not to create a problem and get the guy busted again.

2002 CASA CASTILLO Monastrell Jumilla $ (9.99)   A blend of 85% Mourvedre and 15% syrah brings black fruit and mocha flavors to the glass and mat of tannins.  Fun for the price

July 29, 2006

I guess my pathetic life has spiraled into looking through the Thursday night 11pm schedule on HBO to spice up my TV.  There you know what you get as in a bit of racy TV.  However my new favorite show has had me poking my eyes out and not in a good way.  I sat down last night to watch the TIVO recording of this week's episode of Rescue Me.  I poured myself a large glass of red and excitedly anticipated the upcoming events as the title ratings posted the elusive N for nudity.  I guzzled my first glass, delighted by the wine and soaring into a dreamy state of anticipating a racy scene with the naked body of Andrea Roth (Janet Gavin, Tommy’s ex) who has been showing up at his apartment in a trench coat with little underneath.  Or better yet, an ass shot of Marrisa Tomei in her new hot role as Tommy’s pawn.

But NOOOOO.  In a Sipowitz ass shot shower scene, I was treated, rather horrified to see the flabby fat ass of John Scruti (Kenny Shea) and then the treat of him shaving his nether region.  Hollywood, please give us a break, post next to the big N an F or M so I know when to stay and when to bail.  The worst of the worst was on the Lucky Louie episode two weeks ago when nudity was proclaimed but instead of seeing the affable Pamela Adlon (Kim), we were frightened by the dangling junk of Rick Shapiro (Jerry).  Christ on a Cracker, that is just not right.  Don’t make me fly to Hollywood to take a meeting and offer up Tipper Gore style ratings changes.  Cut us some slack guys.  Post a q when its guy nudity and the letter v when it’s a women’s.  It would save me from spitting wine on my couch.

1999 Bodegas Emilio Moro - Malleolus $$ (34.00)   Here is a wine that pushes me deeper into Ribera del Duero and away from Rioja.  Deep, robust, well oaked Tempranillo that delivers blackberries and cherries with a toffee hint on the finish.  This is a bit higher than my budget, but a marvelous treat. 

July 28, 2006

In this picture you see the obvious, Jacque Chirac lecturing PM Tony Blair on a number of issues.  Wino Bob, that is so stupid you posted that picture, Wino John has been all over the Chirac PM Blair rift for years.  Captain Obvious, it is a candid picture of the French superiority in attitude that they know best for the situation in Iraq, or Lebanon, or Israel.  Foolish Wino Bob, it is an admonishment of PM Blair for supporting the USA for a multitude of reasons.

No Winos and Winettes, it is the cranky JC telling PM Blair that it is not nice to rebuff an Olive Branch.  It seems like Mr. Chirac has been offering the peace pipe, or rather the wine wand (Jesus, that sounds stupid).  Story has it that four times this year, a gift of wine has been delivered to 10 Downing Street to lessen the tensions between the two leaders.  The first gift caused PM Blair to shell out over 100 GBPs as Parliamentary rules require disclosure of value and inability to accept a gift over 25 GBPs.  This most recent shipment remains unclaimed for reasons undisclosed to this reporter, ok, to this wine web guy that found this funny when surfing the web.  If I actually was a reporter, I would have called Mr. Blair to get the details, but it was just something I read. 

I offer the following, in a gesture of bringing peace to the Upper Western European Continent or UWEC, I will be traveling to London, visiting 10 Downing and locating the most recent shipment.  I heard, but haven’t confirmed, that PM Tony Blair is a full-bodied red lover.  The current wine contained several bottles of Burgundy that Blair referred to as, “Puffer Wine.”

Developing……a trip to London is close by and the wine rift will be settled by yours truly.   

July 27, 2006

Yesterday, the mail delivered a packet from my younger brother.  Yes, the one that brought back the bottle of Absinthe from his recent trip to Europe.  In the box were tickets for the train to “the Hamptons” where he invited us for the weekend, a book called Hideous Absinthe, and a copy of Time Out NY.  I am thinking he subtly encourages me to read so I will not embarrass him in front of his Columbia University colleagues. I am not sure if it was filler or if he meant to send it to me, but there was a copy of Time Out NY.  This magazine covers everything you need to know for the happening crowd of the City. 

I flipped through it and stopped on an article about the latest wine bars in Manhattan.  The list came down as follows

  • Tintol 155 W 46th - 75 wines by the glass focused on Portugal and Spain

  • Jadis 42 Rivington Street - 34 wines by the glass with a French focus

  • Bin No.220 220 Front Street - 30 wbtg with an Italian focus

  • Cacio e Vino 80 Second Ave - 30 wbtg focusing on Sciliy

  • Centovini 25 W Houston Street - 28 wbtg focusing on Puglia

  • Raposo 46 667 Nith Ave - 20 wbtg variety

  • Tini 414 Van Brunt Street - 20 wbtg focusing on organic, biodynamic and minority owned wineries

  • Ten Degrees 121 St. Marks Place - 18 wbtg variety.

I myself, spent the night focusing on red, a cool red that went down nicely on a hot muggy night.

2003 Domaine Bois de la Garde $ (11.99) Medium-bodied blend from Cote du Rhone with raspberry, cherry and a spice finish meant to be enjoyed as a lighter summer quaffer.

July 23, 2006

Just got back from a visit to the overcrowded, expensive hot spot of New Jersey called Atlantic City.  A friend had an extra ticket to the Gatti - Baldomir fight.  I am not a big boxing fan, but the thought of a NJ native fighting for a title intrigued me more after watching Cinderella Man on HBO last month.  I have never experienced a professional fight in person, and although it was not high on my need to do before death list, I checked off something that would have eventually made its way up the list as death from aging marches on. 

Gatti vs BaldomirThe tickets were decent, but the lack of commentary had me at a bit of a loss.  I, from time to time, like to watch a good brawl, but it is the insight from the likes of Jim Lampley that fill in for me the missing elements.  We suffered from not knowing what happened to Gatti’s right arm in the 7th that left him a one armed fighter until in the ninth he could no longer protect himself from the speed bag style or repetitive punches to the head that sent him to the canvas.  The first three rounds were synonymous to a pugilistic ballet, as I might have likened it to the Nut Cracker.  Gatti had heart and gave the hometown crowd everything he had.  It will not be written that he tried to lay low and win this one on points, rightly or wrongly, he attacked and stood toe-to-toe with the enemy, finally falling to his second visit to the canvas in the 9th.

The ride back was too long for the late hour and I crashed at the folks in Barnegat.   Charged from the espressos I had at Carmine’s after dinner, I needed a red to calm me down when I got there.  I cracked a bottle of Aussie Red that Big Ray left on the counter for me.   Not too bad a pick from the newbie.

2003 d’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz/Viognier $ (19.99)    A casual offering from the makers of Dead Arm, this McLaren red shows old-school style and is best presented with an accompaniment of food rather than a sipper.  Rounded by the viognier, but stiff at first approach, fruits of blueberry and boysenberry show towards the latter parts of the finish.

July 18, 2006

Good news for our space program, the duct tape and caulk that was tested worked flawlessly.  The $1.3 billion cost for each time we launch a shuttle mission can rest safely on the shoulders of a $2.99 roll of grey duct tape and a $1.79 tube of white silicone caulk.  Why don’t we get the astronauts to chew bubble gum during the liftoff?  It will keep their ears from clogging and can be used to secure foam panels damaged from falling ice.  This re-usable rocket thing is great, but My Favorite Martian had a better space ship in 1962.

Uncle Martin would never have used duct tape on his craft.

On another front, has the wine community run out of catchy names?  I thought Big Ass Cab was funny, but the labels below really had me laughing.  Since we have standards, I left out the Old Fart, that’s just not right.

Royal Bitch Reserve Merlot 2003 (Chile) 11.99

2004 "Bitch" Grenache, Barossa, Australia

The Fat Bastard Wine Company's 2000 Chardonnay

WA 96 Pts. - The 2003 Shiraz Old Bastard is a candidate for Shiraz of the vintage from South Australia. Exhibiting an inky/purple color along with serious velocity and intensity, it is a superb...
Kaesler 2003 Shiraz Barossa Valley Old Bastard

I figure since wine names are getting wackier and Crystal is concerned about their image, the rap community can look to a fine red offering from the soon-to-be WinoStuff private selection.  Fa-shizzle.

Winostuff Vineyards 2006 WinoBob’s Red Biach Biach Biach
A Burgundy selling for $45.00 coming to wine library in the fall.

July 17, 2006

Spending a good portion of the morning reading the Star Ledger and listening to the Sunday morning talk shows, two people seemed to be very prominent in the news.  The crisis in Israel placed Dr. Condoleezza Rice front and center, as she dealt with questions on what the administration will do to assist our fellow democratic state in the Middle East.  The big question was whether Israel’s response to being shelled was disproportionate to the 80 bombs that rained down on them over the past five days.  Locally, the salacious details of the divorce proceedings for NY Giant sack king and defensive great, Michael Strahan, has most people aghast.  The pillar of Montclair (pronounced with jutted lower jaw and stiff upper lip) has been disputing his $14 million payout for his soon-to-be ex-wife.  Several details, including alleged secret taping of his sister-in-law as she was undressing while staying with the couple, plastic surgery for the NFL star, a weird relationship with a diet doctor and several trips for business Michael took that were less business and more fun, have come from the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Strahan.

After several looks at the two dominant stories, it occurred to me that the now single Strahan would be the perfect partner for the Secretary of State.  Condi wants to be NFL commissioner after she departs Washington.  She is a powerful woman and like Strahan, is a dentist's dream.  The gapped-toothed couple would be the talk of the town, or more realistically, the nation.

If I might play matchmaker for a moment, as we are the preferred wine web review site of the NY Giants, I offer up a dinner invite to Condi and Michael at a trendy Montclair (pronounced with a jutted lower jaw and stiff upper lip) eatery.  With the book tour and speaking money Ms. Rice will be earning over the next few years, this would be a great power couple.  Mike, you can thank me with a few 50 yard line seats for the upcoming season.  Dr. Rice, a visit to the White House is fine, I just want to get a quick picture with you in a WinoStuff thong.

As my brilliant plan unfolded, I was attempting to drink a glass of cabernet sauvignon.  Unfortunately, it was a poor wine and made my head hurt.

2003 Rabbit Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Cuvee $ (9.99)   It does have 14.4% alcohol and is red, but it is not one I will ever be buying again.

July 14, 2006

Why do I have such a difficult time striking something that is 1.62 ounces and 1.68 inches in diameter?  I play golf, very poorly, because I have never taken a golf lesson, nor could I at this point, break the bad habits I developed.  Thursday night, Wino Lou was nice enough to invite me out for 9 holes after work.  The poor guy has to put up with my hacking style, my gutter mouth and my Ed Norton golf attire.  I am the kind of golfer that plays poorly, but makes an annoying sound after each shot like it was the first bad shot I made on my way to a perfect score.  "Daahhh", "jeeezeeee", "faaahhhh", "Christ on a cracker", you know, like it was the one bad stroke that ruined the birdie.  As we both had to get back to our computers for work after the sun was too dim for us to locate our my drives, I owe WL a bottle of wine.  No, no bet on the game, especially since Lou drives the ball so crushingly, I actually heard the cover scream on his one drive.  No, I owe him a bottle of wine for my play bringing his play down.  Fortunately for me, no matter whom I play with, they elevate my game.  Wino Lou, I owe you a bottle of red.

Wow, am I glad I decided not to visit my new business associate in Tel Aviv this week.   Call me a chicken, but we really do live in a unique country.  Could you imagine if Canada or Mexico routinely lobbed mortars over the borders?   I cannot, but my associate in Israel replied to my email cancelling my trip, that it is just a conflict and the beaches and night clubs in Tel Aviv are packed and he wished I could get over my skittishness.

Last night was the card game and for the first time in months, a brought a bottle of wine.  New Jersey is so hot and muggy; I just could not face a heavy beer.  I went with the light, crisp cold sauvignon blanc from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa.  It did not help my card game, but it did refresh and quench me.  I lost a boatload but found a nice wine that I can recommend to you for this hot, humid summer weather.

2005 Oracle Sauvignon Blanc $ (7.99)  Chill this baby and enjoy the tart, crisp, clean and refreshing flavors of this SB. I can smell the grasslands of Wild West African plains with grapefruit and green figs.  At 12.5% alcohol, it is not too heavy for the oppressive temperatures.

July 13, 2006

One of the negative effects of sitting on the porch with a glass of wine in the evening is NJ’s F-15-sized mosquitoes.  Though the female mosquito is far worse off by biting me than I am from the bite, from time to time I do swell excessively.  Since an early age, this allergic type reaction had me trying to figure out a process that would target the specific area on my anatomy for the female mosquito to bite and cause excessive swelling, but it seems fruitless to date.

The research that created the ingenious Mosquito Magnet determined it is warm, moist CO2 that female mosquitoes respond to, obviously that which is exhaled from a living being, signifying a bleed source necessary for their reproductive cycle.  In the school of winology that I spew, you know the crazy theories I derive while in a wine blur, I have come to the conclusion that a mosquito repellant's effectiveness depends on how well they mask our exhaled carbon dioxide.   I try the stinky cigar repellant, along with Off, Cutter, and breathing into a paper bag.  All have proven only mildly effective.  So I ask a simple wine-soaked question.  Is there something I can exhale through which would alter the CO2 enough to effectively fool the lady waiting to suck my blood?  The beauty of the Mosquito Magnet it that propane-fueled generation of warm moist carbon dioxide is so large that the mosquitoes think they found a tribe of pigmies. I could coexist with mosquitoes if they wouldn’t find me such a delicious treat.  We do have several bats in the area that I see flying around at night looking for mosquitoes as a food source. I just want to stop being the bottom of the bat/mosquito/Wino Bob food chain.

It was funny seeing that bugger that bit me fly away and crash into the porch column as my BAC was more than she could handle.  I wonder if I am causing a fetal alcohol syndrome in the mosquito community in Caldwell.  There could be a rash of deformed mosquito larvae.  I can just hear the husband of that mosquito, "So, you were out boozing it up again with Wino Bob!  You are an unfit mother and you’re getting lazy.  Put these sunglasses on, your bloodshot eyes are making the neighbors talk."

 Carbon dioxide 
carbon dioxide molecule.

So tell me chemists of the world, what can be done?  Anybody...?   Wino Paul???

1998 Ebenezer Shiraz $$ (37.99)   Solid shiraz from Barossa with a peppery flash atop blackberry, dark cherry and earthy blueberry.  A nice full bodied wine with soft tannins finishing with anise and mocha.

July 10, 2006

I was supposed to be landing at Tel Aviv airport today for a technical meeting with a new company we are working with.  The recent uncertainty in the region had me instead, opening my second bottle of Israeli wine.  My new associate keeps emailing me that what we see on CNN or hear in the news makes it far worse than it is.  He told me that their facility is near the beach area and I would be staying in a room overlooking the sea.  In a knee jerk reaction to the activity in northern Gaza, I cancelled my training meeting to the disappointment of my host. 

Sunday night, I sat on my newly decked porch for the first time this summer and cracked open the last bottle I possess from the Holy Land.  Unlike my first experience, this wine was solid and polished with a soft, silky finish.  I will make the trip when things calm down, but for now I will get a taste of the terrior of Christ’s birth through a wine glass.  This wine is much closer to the nectar of the God(s) I think Jesus would like us to associate with his great work.  It might even be from the vines the Romans produced wine from during their occupation.  It might be the same grapes used for the Passover wine that was turned into Christ’s blood, or it may be from the wine that the Roman guards got drunk from before casting lots for his garments.  As a matter of fact I think I taste sandal leather, earthen Mt. Calvary, with a finish of oak crucifixion cross.  (Editor's note: You are so going to hell...)

2002 Beth Shemesh Vineyards - Gedeon Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vin de Terre Sainte Jerusalem $ (14.99)  From the foothills of the Judean Mountains, this wine features up front blackberry, blueberry and black cherry  along with toasted vanilla and tobacco notes from the French Oak Barrels. 12.5% alcohol

July 9, 2006

May I offer up an FU in capital letters to the process of purchasing a car?  I don’t know if you do this often, but it seems that everyone I speak with after I get the proverbial prison rape on price, they then tell me they have a friend who hooked them up and how great a deal they negotiated.  Over the past week, I have been casually going to support the local businesses and test drive a few to see what makes deliver the best ride for the money.  Unlike Little Bow Wow, I am not 15 years old nor do I have the rappers cheddar to purchase a tricked out hoopdy.  There will be no spinners, no DVD player in the headrests of the Escalade, and no satellite radio.  Yes, Little Bow Wow owned seven cars before he could legally drive and a funny story happened to a basketball player recently in NJ as he was watching porn and didn’t have both hands on the wheel when his Escalade crashed into a parked car.  How embarrassing is that for a multi-million dollar pro basketballer self loving while driving.

Bloomfield Avenue boasts several dealerships within striking distance from the wine cellar.  I started at the Ford dealership looking for a used Explorer.  For sheer shits and giggles, I stopped in next door, to the HBO-made-famous dealership where Tony met Gloria Trillo, played by the too hot, Annabella Sciorra.  There was no Gloria Trillo and, to be honest, I guess they thought I was lost and just stopping in for directions.  Beside the long wait before someone actually asked if I needed help, the person assigned to me was the quintessential old school, everything you hate about car salesmen, salesman.  The funniest part was that he spent a great deal of time, clicking his calculator, plugging numbers into his computer, then sliding a piece of paper across the desk and asking me what I thought about this price.  I actually told him, he was creeping me out and making the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.  Maybe Tony Soprano has the money to buy at any rip off price, then bang a hot sales women, but for me, it was an un-lubed, unpleasant experience at Globe Motor Company and the shenanigans of Carmine, the twenty one year sales professional.  I was made to feel so lowly that I had to come home and drink a French wine to make me feel better about how I was treated.  Yes, even a condescending Frog would have scoffed at me less.

2003 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf-du-Pape $ (21.00)  A blend of 67% Grenache, 22% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre and 6% of the other 10 varietals showcasing what I like about this blend.  The wine offers classic aromas and flavors of black cherries, raspberries, plums, black currants, tobacco, and spice. It is medium body with 14.5% alcohol for a nice kick.

July 8, 2006

I might call this  “the World as we I know it”, a fun little section of commenting on the things in the recent news that bother me after a bottle of wine.  Foremost is the crappy budget deal/government shutdown charade the NJ Governor and State Assembly just pulled on us stuck here in the Garden State.  The little I know, as I am not informed beyond the select few news sources I listen to, read or make up, is that the rise of the state sales tax from six cents to seven cents is to add 1.2 billion dollars in closing the 4 billion dollar budget gap.  The State Assembly (Democrat controlled and not needing a Republican anything) was holding off on the increase to keep NJ from becoming the highest in property taxes and one of the highest state sales tax in the nation.  We heard words of "cutting programs" and "not hurting the middle class of NJ".  News broke that a deal has been reached and the compromise is that the increase to seven per cent sales tax passed.  Then they tell us that only half of the $1.2 billion is going to close the budget gap and the other half is going to help reduce property tax.  OK, color me a non-economic wino, but now we only have $600 million going to close the 4 billion budget gap and the budget passed so it had to be balanced.  Can you tell me where the other $3.4 billion is now coming from?  Brilliant, we have a Wall Street wizard taking control of our state and all he can do is cook the books and hide additional tax increases, while showing us a $1.2 billion tax increase.  New Jersey, you deserve what you got, and may I say the big FU for three more years of this to the bozo-haired, skirt-appointing, loan-granting Governor.  Just look at the mess regarding the State Attorney General Zulima V. Farber and the mess she is in for her antics and she has only been in office since January.  Great, we now have an independent Judge looking into criminal issues on our number one law maker.  Only in NJ folks, only in NJ.  And all you who bitch to Hollywood for depicting NJ as corrupt and a laughing stock, just read and see the crap that is going on.  I only needed a few glasses of wine at dinner last night with the Wino Rockers to get cranked up on that one.  We went to a nicely appointed Italian Restaurant in Little Falls called Belle Notte.  The only drawback was they have a liquor license.  Their wine list was interesting and their mark up was very reasonable.  The Chianti we had sells at retail for about $14.99 and it was on the menu for $27.00. 

Seeing how I could only afford one bottle as the dinner prices were a bit higher than the places in Caldwell (but not as high as Montclair), I was hardly slurring by the time I got home, so I ran downstairs to see if I could tweak up the energy level of my BAC.  I grabbed a cheap Chilean, but she didn’t mind, then I pulled out a bottle of wine.  Speeding to a cheap drunk, I was half listening to a news report regarding some recent comments by ex-President Bill Clinton during a fund raiser in the Hamptons.

Former US President Bill Clinton

It seems that Bill is quite dismayed with Congress and the President's handling of the missile tests of North Korean Kim Jong-Il’s attention starved flaunting of their medium-range Rodong-1 missile and the firing of their Taepo-Dong One long range missile had Clinton railing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il looks at one of three horses sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin

His biggest complaint was that this missile could reach the USA and could be armed with nuclear warheads.  This action requires a swift, strong, uniform condemnation resulting in economic sanctions.  We should consider cruise missile strikes on the next launch site and the UN resolutions should let the world know that this type of blatant aggression and show of force will not be tolerated by the world community.  

"Let’s face it", Clinton continued, "my Taepo-Dong One shot a girl in the face and I got impeached!  Kim Jong-Il’s Taepo-Dong could hurt hundreds of thousands.  What is going on?  Unlike Dick Chaney, I didn’t leave a mark on the face of the person I shot!  Come on, this impeachment thing was ridiculous!"

2003 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico DOCG $$ (27.00 rest.)   A mixture of Sangiovese 90%; Canaiolo 5%; Merlot 5% with flavors of cherry and cranberry and balanced acidity.

2004 Vina La Rosa La Palma Cabernet Sauvignon $ (6.99)   This one has a way to go before capturing the beauty and power of the cabernet grape. 13.5% alcohol

July 3, 2006

No longer "developing"…   It is official.  I was heading to check up on my dad yesterday, see how his recovery is going and the iconic Pabst 60 foot Beer Bottle is down and out.  The tower platform is surrounded by partially demolished plant buildings.  The skyline has changed for the first time since the Hoffman Plant built that bottle-shaped water tower in the mid 1930s.  Just another reminder that my youth is being erased...

Saturday dinner was Fineman-free, though Montclair (pronounced with a jutted lower jaw and stiff upper lip) does not vacate as much as I thought.  Unlike the openness of Caldwell eateries, the streets of Montclair (pronounced with a jutted lower jaw and stiff upper lip) were vibrant and the wait for a table about half an hour.  The couple we were meeting suggested a place I wanted to try, Cuban Pete’s.  Walking into the place reminded me of Havana.  No, it reminded me of what Havana might look like.  Actually I have no idea what Havana looks like as it remains off limits to US citizens for travel to their sugar-white beaches and smoking of their heavenly cigars.  At this point, do we really need to be frightened that Communist Cuba will try to conquer the USA?  Don’t you think by now that our cash flowing into Cuba would help the Cubans drive cars other than 1955 Volkswagens and give them a taste of the benefits of capitalism?  Suffice it to say that Cuban Pete’s is Cuba for me.

From Bloomfield Ave, the store-front restaurant looks small.  Once inside it expands to a much larger place and in the nice weather, the courtyard, complete with palm trees and waterfall, delivers a hot humid sweaty dining experience.  The portions were generous and the selection diverse.  I enjoyed a crisp skirt steak in lime juice with plantains, rice and beans.  The appetizers were small for one so we were a bit surprised when we ordered four and tried to share as an enhancement to our opinion on the food.  They offer different flavors of sangria, and I read they had a NJ wine license, but they only had the sangria menu on the table.  They also allow BYOB. 

Dinner was tasty and filling.  The place started clearing by 9pm which surprised me.  We were not rushed to leave, however the dessert selection is minimal. The bill was reasonable, but confusing.  I tried to make out the writing, and our waiter had departed before we cleared the check.  As best as I could make out, we brought wine, but were charged for a pitcher of sangria, I guess like a corkage fee, or a mistake, or a confusion since the couple we were with ordered a pitcher of ice and poured their wine into the pitcher.  I will be trying the place again, and thinking this is as close to Havana as I will ever get.

Around 9:50, we headed out to find a dessert place.  The natural move was to walk half a block west to Church Street, the Soho of Montclair (pronounced with jutted lower jaw and stiff upper lip).  As we talked to waiters at the dozen restaurants with filled sidewalk tables, we were informed one by one that their kitchens were closed.  Ten o’clock and they would not seat us, since I do not normally frequent this town, I do not know if this was normal or just on Church Street.  If Vino Mano or the Barista of Bloomfield Ave know, please shoot me an email.  Maybe I will just call Howard Fineman and ask him.  Just thirty more days and I can head back down there and get another crack at little Havana in the heart of Montclair (pronounced with a……)

2002 Bodegas Faustino Martinez VII  $ (8.99)   This Rioja is mostly Tempranillo.  A nice wine with Cuban fare which has bright red fruit, soft oak and mild tannins and a hint of spice on the finish.  A slight chill on this wine adds to the experience, 12.4% alcohol.

July 1, 2006

It was a day of web surfing, some simple chores about the old homestead and a simple dinner in the restaurant row section of Montclair.  I am starting to feel too trendy, as this will be the third time in three months that I have eaten in the chic Manhattanesque neighboring town of Montclair (pronounced with jutted bottom jaw and stiff upper lip).  Truth be told, I am only allowed in Montclair (pronounced with jutted bottom jaw and stiff upper lip) once per month on a legal issue stemming from an incident at a restaurant with the political columnist for Newsweek and MSNBC Chris Matthews Show contributor, Howard Fineman.  Look, we are both journalists and can have differences of opinions but when he started mocking my review of Big Red Fire Truck Cabernet Sauvignon to the table of his elite media friends, I could not sit back and take it.  Needless to say, I can only dine in Montclair (pronounced with a jutted bottom jaw and stiff upper lip) when Mr. Fineman is at the MSNBC studios doing a show, or out at the Hamptons with the beautiful people.  Lucky for me Howard has wealth and a social life so he is not confined to his first home for the long weekend.

I was cruising the world wine web and stumbled onto a page of a woman located in Hoboken, NJ that does wine events.  Seems like the business I should be in, standing in front of Fortune 500 corporate weenies talking about the horseshit aromas of the 2001 Bordeaux and how to properly sniff, swirl and spit.  None-the-less, I was gawking, staring, I mean looking at her attractive photo and two thoughts came to my mind immediately (that I can share with you).  Three thoughts beat those two but I cannot, at this time put those on paper.   The first rather simplistic thought was that it is far easier to get a gig doing events if you are an attractive woman instead of a pipe cleaner looking, bespectacled bastard.   I believe I could teach an overview on enjoying wine and taste 8-10 unique wines, explaining a bit about the grape, the region and the wine’s bouquet; yet in this day and age in America, there is a hidden racism against stick figures.  Given a stick figure and a beautiful woman, both being equally knowledgeable on wine, the job goes to the beautiful woman all the time.   I call that blatant stickism.  I know, Al Sharpton will never take up my cause, but I want you, the readers, to be aware of the fact that someday, beautiful women around the wine industry will have to pay restitution to the stick figures in the wine industry they stole jobs from because of their good looks, batting blue eyes, and large round melons. 

As I scrolled through the selection of photos on her site, it occurred to me that this woman, who is stealing all my potential wine event work, cannot really be a wine tasting, wine drinking, wino.  No folks and you know why?  Her teeth; that’s right, she had the most dazzling white teeth I have seen on someone other than Jessica Simpson.  We are talking Italian marble white, bright white, the white of Wino John’s pasty white Irish skin.  Have you ever looked in the mirror in the bathroom of a wine tasting event three hours into it?  Have you looked at pictures of wine industry folks that truly roll up their sleeves and offer up their palates?  I do not recall any of my fellow wino red wine drinkers having pearly whites that immediately grab your attention.  So, does she only drink Chardonnay and Riesling or does she have some kind of magical tooth touch up software?  I present you a simple fact, next time you are hiring a wine consultant/event personality, have them smile and flash their ivory and see who really spends time in the trenches and who just reads crap on the internet and has a pristine liver.

1998 Senorier da Nava $ (9.99)  A find for this price from my new favorite region of Spain the Ribera del Duero.  This 100% Tinto Fino is a plate full of red fruits and a well balanced wine for the price.  I shall be drinking this one again.


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