Bob’s Winings
Tasting Notes from a ^ Beer Drinker

This page contains Winings from the 4th Quarter of the year 2002.

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December 31, 2002

Out with the old, in with the new; and for the tech world, good riddance.  The year 2002 holds very few positives for life in the electronics world.  As for WinoStuff, the popularity of the site and the number of people bookmarking us in their "Favorites List" continues to escalate exponentially.  Linear graphs are for those unwilling to put out their best.  So, in my name and in the name of the WinoStuff crew, I would like to send out a huge THANK YOU to all our Wino comrades who find what we do here educational and entertaining.  We look forward to many exciting new things, like any high budget show, the special effects this coming year promise to rival Star Wars the Sixth.  I hear Wino John has purchased some exciting new software that can make Wino Wilson come to life.  So look ahead to the dancing and talking Wino Wilson…

So here it is, the day I need to unveil my selection for Grape of the Year.  For those of you who have taken the time to read this stupid column I write, you know I do very little research, and mostly spew incoherent thoughts and bring up inane issues that that carry little weight in the Big Picture of the Wine Gurus like Marvin R. Shanken and Robert M. Parker Jr.  But this is the one entry I do spend some sober moments pondering.  I do take this responsibility seriously and try to define a grape that has relevance to the world.  We are not a political, touchy-feely bunch as you can see from the irreverence we bring to the serious world of wine.  However, this is the one time we do get serious and will treat this Year of the Grape naming procedure as ceremonious and important as the Unwrapping of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.  Make no mistake, if I survive nine years hence, we will be unveiling the First Official Grape of the Year Calendar with the same pomp and circumstance given to Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

For the Year 2002, our staff felt the Zinfandel Grape defined the Spirit of America in light of the events that closed out the Year 2001.  Though Wino John has never listed any of the Zinfandel wines he enjoyed throughout the year, I tried to do my part to support this patriotic grape.  As we enter 2003, we are in a climate of global unrest and we face serious threats on two fronts.  We believe the Year 2003 needs to be a coming-together, a year when we realize that we all have a great deal in common, whether you come from France, South Africa, Spain, California, Macedonia, Tunisia, Crete, Italy, Australia, Argentina or Chile. (that represents 5 Continents)  We need to find a grape that unites many countries and peoples of many differing races and religions, and this one does.  This grape also spans the economic strata by producing inexpensive wine to stylish, classy collectible wine.

The world renown, Oz Clarke described this grape to me in this manner, “(This Grape) has a wonderful raw-boned power that sweeps you along in it’s intoxicating wake. It exudes a blithe bonhomie (I’m not sure if this is a good excretion or one that looks like what came from my bung) and a taste -all ruddy cheeks and flashing eyes… that seduces you and makes you think it’s all harmless fun.  It is the wild, wild woman of wine, the sex on wheels and devil take the hindmost, the don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Yes folks, the opinion of a wine guru quoted right here at WinoStuff.  OK, so I got the quote from his book Oz Clarke’s Encyclopedia of Grapes, but that’s what he would have said if he ever returned my calls.

So Winos and Winettes, I give to you the 2003 Grape of the Year...  Granacha Tinta/ Grenache  

Granacha Tinta is the most widely planted red grape and has origins rooted in Spain well before the Romans ruled the lands.  Granacha/Grenache most often teams up with his buddy Syrah/Shiraz to provide enjoyment from wines produced in the Rhone Valley and as a major player in the seductive Chateauneuf-du-Papes.  Australia’s famous GSM, Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre, have caught the attention of the Rhone lovers around the globe.  Most important, is the wine from Spain where this grape started and the beauty that is defined in a good glass of Priorato wine.  This is our grape, for it’s multicultural presence, for it’s high alcohol content, for it’s spicy and raspberry flavors and for it’s wild, wild woman allure.  So my friends, drink up to a year when we can come together and put aside our differences over a bottle of Holy Trinity, or Les Terrences, or Beaucastle Chateauneuf du Pape.  Let us drink to the similarities we share as humans, not alien clones, and the positives that can come from a cooperation of nations.  I give to you Granacha Tinta/Grenache and toast to you, “A Safe, Healthy and Prosperous 2003.”  

Yours in Wine,
Wino Bob

December 30, 2002

Well, I just looked out the window and realized it’s another day, not sure which one yet, but the sun is shining brightly.  I hope I haven’t missed New Years.  You see, I have been enjoying the Christmas present I received.  No, not the book by Robert E. Parker; though the book is chock full of wine information.  I noticed that was left off the appendix of great wine sites.  Oh, is listed and Robin Garr is listed, but WinoStuff has been mysteriously left off the reference list.  The Parker people still fail to see the world influence WinoStuff carries as evidenced by those Foreign Consultants who keep getting in touch with Wino John.  That’s OK, next Christmas, when Winostuff-the Movie gets released, we will not be mentioning Robert E. Parker in our appendix!  Wait, does a movie have an appendix?  I have an appendix, but it has been rendered useless by evolution.  Perhaps evolution will render Robert E. Parker’s appendix useless (his book not his real appendix since it is already useless).  And WinoStuff will become the most important organ in the Wino Body.

I digress.  the Christmas present I am referring to is the Giant victory that they prophesized on their terrible towels, “Win and In.”  Unlike Wino Wally, I did not have an ample-breasted drunk woman showing me God’s greatest creation.  However, I did have Wino Lou showing me gracious hospitality by again getting me into the luxury box of the company he works for.   If Wino John wasn’t such a temperature sensitive mammal, he too could have been sipping Robert Mondavi Private Selection merlot out of plastic cups, in the swank environment of the rich and famous.  Hey wait, what’s more Girlie-manish, Wino John being scared to be out in weather below the temperature of his wine cellar, or me drinking Merlot?  Holy crap, it might be me drinking Merlot!  No way, this is my entry!  No, it definitely is Wino John worrying about freezing at 40 degrees (maybe that’s where the term fair weather fan comes from). 

Not knowing if Wino Lou and I would be at the same place in the stadium for the game, we did drive to the game together and toasted with a bottle of Ravenswood Zinfandel to a great game.  Wino Lou, like Wino John, is a Philly fan, but Wino Lou is not afraid of a little cold weather.  No wait, Wino Lou didn’t even bring gloves since he was going to be in a 70 degree luxury box the entire game.  What the hell is it with Philly fans?  Are they all cold-blooded reptiles?  So I toasted to the game and to the football gods and to artificial turf (which will be back in Giant Stadium next year) and to health and to a great parking spot and to the Maras (Ok, I really didn’t toast the Mara’s they still haven’t gotten me my tickets).  The only situation that would make this a dream season is if the Giants beat the Eagles for the NFC Championship, then go on to beat the Jets in the Superbowl.  (Editor's note: Go Eagles!!!) 

Now, back to all that studying I have been doing on the Grape of the Year.

2000 Ravenswood Zinfandel Sonoma County $ (16.99)  Hang in there to get past the wood and tannin because this one has some really nice flavors of black fruit, chocolate and blueberry.  A fun wine to enjoy with friends.

2000 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot $ (11.00)   Rough and tumble with some dark cherry and raspberry, but the finish is short and there is little charm to this one.


December 29, 2002

Holy Crap, time is running out and Wino John has called me three times today to see if I have the Grape of the Year ready yet.  I told him I was doing extensive research and have been holed up in my office for the past three days trying to make the wise choice.  I even had to get help from my best friend, Wino Wilson.  As you can see here, we are hard at work. Sorry, this was when we took a break and had a quick drink to make sure we tasted as many different grapes as we could to make a sound judgment.  No, really, we have been at it all night. 

I promise, I only have twelve more wines to drink, but we will have this thing figured out by New Years Day.

2000 Tikal Corazon $$ (24.99)   This blend of Bonarda and Malbec is a good tasting, medium-bodied wine that has a strong backbone, with a spicy dark fruit flavor.  Good at the cost, but if this ever was priced below twenty dollars, it would be a fantastic wine; hints of smoke and raisins develop late in this one.

1998 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (42.00)   This ruby colored lush wine delivered red fruits, soft tannins and brown spice with an attitude that told us it preferred to sleep in the cellar several more years before it would show all it has to offer. Drink now, but buy two to hold and enjoy in five years.

December 27, 2002

I find myself now, shopping for a wine or bottle of scotch as a present for friends and relatives as an excuse for me to look for myself.  As with most fathers, they don’t want another plaid flannel shirt for Christmas, so I usually buy my father a nice bottle of scotch.  Let me qualify that statement, I buy my father a nicer bottle of scotch then he would buy himself.  It really turns out that I look quickly for his scotch and spend the remaining time browsing the wine shelves for, uhh, myself.  

This past week, I shopped for 45 minutes at my local, Mr. Kim’s wine store.  I saw Silver Oak, Caymus, Caymus Special Selection, Gaja, Lafite, Vosne Romanee and more.  None fit into the budget, so I relegated myself to the lower end selections.  I grabbed a few bottles of things I wanted to try, and last night as the TV blared in the background and the log crackled on the fire, I opened a Priorat for my personal enjoyment.  As you know, I have taken a liking to Priorat’s bold wines for their thick, inky, flavorful style.  Unfortunately, I did not pick a winner and this wine will not be on my lists for the year 2003.

2000 Mas Igneus Barranc dels Closos $ (19.99)   There is little for me to discuss on this wine.  It is a blend of Granatxa, Carinyena and Cabernet Sauvignon but I was hard pressed to find any resemblance of fruit.


December 26, 2002

Let me first ask how many of you spent the night of Christmas shoveling out from the “White Christmas” that hit the North East?  This morning, the quick freeze has the roads icy, but drivable.  The last time I remember seeing snow on Christmas Day was in 1977, but you know the memory is the second thing to go.  

There is something else that happened for the first time in about as many years.  Our Christmas Eve celebration found the audience of WinoStuff increased by two.  Yes, my reading audience has doubled.  For the first time in many years, both of my parents enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner.  Well, for my father, alcohol consumption is not a new phenomena, but he did decide to depart from the Bud and a chaser of Cutty Sark to celebrate with a glass of wine from the bottle I brought.  More interesting is enrollment of Wino Mom to the ranks.  For the better part of my forty plus years, Mom has not shown a great deal of interest in alcohol, except for the occasional rub on the forehead during a high fever.  I guess that because of all those breaking news stories Wino John has offered about the health benefits, Wino Mom has decided to enjoy a small amount of Wine with dinner to ward off the rheumatism.  She has started slow, but haven’t we all, so I will anticipate a guest column from Wino Mom or a guest book posting questioning my review of a wine in the not too distant future.  So if we can all welcome our newest member to the Wino ranks, the women in her Mahjong Club will be happy to see your letters.

The second new experience this Christmas was drinking a wine that had been stored in the freezer to keep it fresh since it was not finished when it was first opened.  As you can see, this was a totally new experience, if you ever read any of my entries, you know I never open a bottle that I don’t finish.  Wine storage in racking before consumption, I have that under control.  Wine storage after opening and not consuming…well, uh, that’s stupid.  However, I did some research and found one reference to freezing opened wine from the Wino Eggheads at “The Oxford Wine Room”.  There are reams of articles on inert gassing, degassing, refrigeration and or dumping of the open bottle; but I have never froze and thawed a wine for later consumption.  To be forthright, I did not taste the wine prior to freezing to compare the difference; though the wine did not taste ill-effected from the experience.  So I offer this business opportunity to the world, Wine-Pops!  Yes, wine on a stick for those hot summer days.  Maybe a Cabernet twin pop to share with an over heated friend.  Maybe I should just make wine ice cubes for my crazy aunt so she can just pop one in her mouth and not need to dilute the wine in her glass.  I will be in my lab coat, boxers, and black socks for the weekend.  Sorry, I mean I will be in my Lab doing experiments with my liquid nitrogen tank, Erlenmeyer flask and Bunsen burner seeing how well this will work.  Recommendation number one: like a gold fish, you can only freeze and thaw wine once, do not refreeze.

Since it is now six months beyond the Chardonnay Challenge that Wino Wally posed, and since Wino Mom requested a nice white wine with our traditional Polish Christmas Eve Dinner, I dug into the only 5 bottles of Chardonnay in the cellar and brought one of the, dare I say, "award winning" white wines I would have placed into the contest.


1998 Mulderbosch Chardonnay $ (17.99) Maybe it’s the sun or the heat or the salt air breezes but this example from South Africa holds up well for those liking a bit of weight to their white wine.  Rich and buttery with a nice blend of acidity and fruit make this wine a great selection for those that want a bigger Chardonnay.


1983 Bolla Amarone I don’t know the cost and I don’t know what this tasted like before the freeze, but the thawed wine showed nice plum and fig flavors with a long silky finish.


December 24, 2002

Well, I will tempt the political correctness gods and wish all a Merry Christmas.   With the way the holidays fall this year, most people were finished for the year last Friday.  This means there are ten full days of wine enjoyment for this festive season.  And for the first day of the Holiday Season, the first wines I had were with my Wino neighbors, Wino Chris and Wino Karen.  These neighbors I see, well, once per year, around the Holidays, to drink a bottle of wine.  Though I was the host, I was less than impressed by the wines I opened.   On the second day of the Holiday, we celebrated at Wino Lou’s house.  Wino Lou spent the day preparing homemade pasta so it was only polite that I brought a 1997 Italian Wine.   The Season holds many more exciting days to drink wine, but if I don’t start posting them now, I might never remember what I started with so here is the beginning of the list.

2000 E. Guigal Cote Du Rhone $ (9.99)     This is at the opposite end of the number one wine from E.  Though a small amount of fruit shows up, it doesn’t last long and leaves little impression on the senses.

2000 Smoking Loom Cabernet Sauvignon $ (8.99)    Though I really enjoyed earlier releases of this label, this release smelled and the taste was boxed in by all the wood.  This wine also had a bit of a tangy aftertaste that made it of little interest for me to try again.

1997 Castello Banfi Excelsus $$$ (74.99)    Let sleeping dogs lay, this one needs time to develop and blossom into the richness of the blending between the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  As the tannins soften, they release a flavorful plum and black currant with a hint of pepper and spice.

December 19, 2002

As we head into the holiday season, here’s hoping you get the wine of your choice.  I have sent bubble wrap to the North Pole in my request for a bottle of the 1999 E. Guigal Chateauneuf Du Pape so the bottle will not clang against the walls of my chimney.  I will aptly supply the milk and cookies with a shot of Tequila, 1800 Gold.  He said the milk coats the stomach before the Blue Agave warms the skin.  Little secret, after 2 am it’s not Rudolph’s nose that is aglow.   Which reminds me that many years ago, I once played Santa for a group of kids.  All the time I was listening to their requests, I was thinking of all the funny things I could have been saying that would have traumatized these kids for life.  As a Santa, they prep you to ask them if they were good little boys and girls.  I would have loved to say, "Hey kid, that’s NOT what your mom told me.  She told me you were a whiney little bastard and I’m going to bring you a cheap knock off of the Red Power Ranger."   (Now, that was a company that made tons of cash!  Saban Entertainment pumped out tons of poorly-constructed, cheap, made-in-China plastic things that fell apart 5 days after the kids played with them.)  Once, the last kid slobbered all over my itchy white beard that was made out of some highly flammable toxic polymer.  I should have gone over to the bar and slammed down a few red wines.  Hey kids, Santa is an alcoholic who derives pleasure from living with small, hairless elves in a place that is dark for six months of the year!

OK, sorry, I really do love this time of year.  It gives me the opportunity to see just how much people think of me as I unwrap a goofy theme tie, not fit to be worn at the Geekiest of business meetings, or the umpteenth bottle of Bailey’s with the card, “I didn’t want to buy you wine and embarrass myself.”  Bailey's?  Isn’t that the beverage 21-year-old girls drink to catch a buzz after dinner?  Hey buy me a bottle of Yoohoo and I’ll spike it myself with Vodka.  And yes, I did receive a Fruit Cake one year as a serious gift from a former guest to the Wino Bob Holiday Bash…

So this week I will be holed up in my room, placing serious thought into selecting the candidates for Grape of the Year to represent 2003.  Wino John and Wino Wally aren’t as off the cuff as I am and require a plethora of backup documentation on the why's and why not's for Grape selection.  Like a girlfriend, it is out with the old and in with the new.

Here are a few from my recent evenings alone in front of the TV

1998 Marques de Murrieta Rioja Ygay Reserve $ (11.99)    The name says it all.  "Rioja", I mean, not "Ygay", though that is a strange name for a wine in my opinion.  Largely Tempranillo, this is not the best example of the fruitiness of this grape.  Ok for a pizza, but not much to impress your friends.

2000 Alice White Shiraz $ (9.99)   his wine has a good amount of red fruits and a spiciness and woodsy finish.  Bring this one out for some duck confetti or grilled lamb.

1999 Hedges Columbia Valley $ (14.99)  This Meritage from Washington left me longing for a Pinot Noir.  Unfortunately, there was not a great deal to find in this wine from the first to last sip.  Depth and complexity from the blending of 5 grapes should reveal a bounty of fruits but this wine had neither.  Save this one for the demi glaze reduction but not the dinner accompaniment.


December 14, 2002

I am usually not one to ask for more government.  However, in the recent turn of events and in light of the new Department President Bush has recently formed, I feel it is my duty and right as an American to offer up an addition to the forces we currently have.  This one, for reasons I will explain must be formed swiftly to keep me out of jail.  othing worse than a swarthy stick figure all dressed in black, sharing a cell with a suicidal maniac who hasn’t had the company of a woman in 5-10 and is looking for love in all the wrong places.  Last week, I had to make a citizen’s arrest.  Wino Bob, are you a hero?  Did you catch someone burglarizing an expensive car in Essex Fells?  Or did you wrestle a mugger to the ground and return the purse to a poor old lady?  No, Winos and Winettes, I took it upon myself to place handcuffs around the bartender at UnBacchus.  Though she enjoyed it, I had to inform her why I was placing her under arrest.  What I saw was egregious, it turned my stomach, and I had to avert my eyes from it and quickly tackle her and bind her at the wrists.  Though UnBacchus has never been a place I go for top wine ingesting, it is a place that offers a selection of low-end reds and whites, for those who might want to add some ice or a splash of club soda to add the fizz that will tickle your nose.  But the other night, as I found a seat, right in front of the place that for months held the mega bottle of Luna di Luna Red, I saw it.  Like dancing Wickens during the Summer Solstice, like a Hun in heat, this sight was vile and left me little choice but to stand up for the small, hurt member at the bar.  There, on top of the beer cooler stood a carafe of the remaining Luna di Luna, with a beer coaster across the top to keep flies out.  And then, the bartender had the nerve to serve it to a patron who wanted a glass of red wine.  It was bad enough when that bottle stood open for months, but to have the carafe there, exposed to every breeze, sneeze and bar sleaze to infect what little fruit that crappy wine had when it was just opened, is an outrage.  I am sticking up for the Luna, but really, I am sticking up for all the wine at UnBacchus which one day may realize the same fate as the Luna.  Since the bottle was not completely empty, but we needed space, let’s place the wine in an open container to use whenever the situation is called for.  God save the Grape and teach these wicked people a lesson by placing one of them in jail for wine abuse.  Even if I do not like the wine, I respect the winemaker and no one’s hard work should be disregarded in such a fashion.  So winos, join me as Official Members of The Wino Patrol, whose duty it will be to stop wine abuse such as this, and to secure the future for these wines to reach their full potential in life so that patrons can consume them and excrete them, till their heart’s content.  I ask for the Official Department to be formed by this administration and nominate former Mayor of NY, Rudy Combover, as the Head of this Task Force.  “Schop Abusching that Wine, or I have to bring the long arm of the Law down on you like I did to Schcoresch. This is a Schacraledge.”  Let the Wino Patrol make wine-drinking a safe, fun, enjoyable time for all and let’s keep the ice and soda out of the glass.  Oh crap, I have to go arrest my Crazy Aunt...   


December 13, 2002 

Has science gone too far?  First I read about Dolly, the cloned sheep that opened up the Pandora’s box of how far our moral standards would let this go.  Then, it was reported that a series of other farm animals were cloned.  Although there is great excitement in Arkansas and parts of Mississippi, the scientific community has stirred the morality of the world on where this will take us.  Most recently, a news report from Italy claims there is a cloned human in development.  This may have been the start of the down fall of humanity, human body farms and cloning of tortured, twisted individuals who spend all their free time alone in a dimly lit room on the third floor of an old house….  Never mind.

So, fellow Winos and Winettes, I ask you to join me in becoming ONE voice in the Moral Outrage department to vocalize our opinion against the latest in scientists gone mad with genetic engineering.  We tend to be technology friendly at Winostuff, but this latest issue will certainly land these misguided researchers into the front row of Hell.   I hope you are sitting down.. Yes the wacky, defenseless Frogs have decided to make a white wine that has the health benefits of red wine.. Can you F'n  believe this?  Hold on, I’m hyperventilating.   I will say it slowly so I don’t faint again.  A Dr. Pierre-Louis Teissedre (pronounced Pier Lew Teder) of The University of Montpellier genetically engineered a Chardonnay that now contains the polyphenols of a red wine.  They have named it Paradoxe Blanc after the health benefits the medical community points to as the chemicals that allow the fat, lazy French to eat all those cheesy sauces and logs of cheese with very little adverse effects on their hearts.

Do you realize what the French are doing to the only thing they gave the world which is worth crediting to them, save the Statue of Liberty?  First, the press on the mislabeled Burgundies and crappy cheap counterfeit wines, then they started blending other things in with the Pinot to make their poorly produced wine more palatable to consumers.  But the audacity of creating a white wine, usually enjoyed by the female and less masculine amongst us, to be a beefy, robust “Red” wine has me ready to fly to the University of Montpellier and punch Dr. Teder in his French proboscis.  But what else is one to expect from a country that cut off a woman’s head for eating dessert, denied us their air space, and crowned Jerry Lewis a comic genius?  And another thing, mime’s are stupid.  I know they don’t have a friggin' rope in their hand.  Next time I see one of those French, pancake make-up, red beret and striped shirt non-talking circus clowns, I’m going to duct tape him into that imaginary box.   Don’t F with my grapes….


December 8, 2002

After yesterday’s ramblings, I needed to relax and settle myself.  So, it was a quick trip down to the cellar for a bottle of red, then a quick trip back to the third floor to sit next to my old radio with tin foil wrapped coat hangers for an antenna to check in with the world through the eyes of the media.  I grabbed a Chilean Syrah since I do not have any E. Guigal Cote Rotie in my cellar at this moment, but I am glad that Wino John finally accepted my WOTM suggestion.  Though it was more like the caving in of a worn-down parent by a fixated four year old, "I want E. Guigal, I want E. Guigal, I want E. Guigal…"  “OK, if I name E. Guigal as WOTM this time, will you just shut up and go away!!!”  Thank you, Daddy.

As I sipped and watched, it occurred to me that talk radio was split on two very important subjects.  The first being the 13, 000 page disclosure, single-spaced front and back, in Arabic which Mr. Hussein submitted to the inspection staff.  The only thing I could think is that once the translation is complete, the report will read like the novel Jack Nicholson wrote in The Shining.  Hey, I know the Arabic alphabet is more complex then ours, but does it take 13,000 single spaced pages to write, “We have no weapons of mass destruction”?  OK, I’ll be nice, I’ll spot you 20 pages of International pomp-and circumstance, and I’ll spot you another 10 pages of pictures of hot chicks to distract the readers, but 13,000 pages.  Hell, Tolstoy didn’t need 13,000 pages to write War and Peace, and that was a much larger country. (OK, I never read War and Peace, but I think it was only 1300 pages).  War and Peace, is that what we want to accomplish anyway…

The second most talked about topic deals with the leader whose future is uncertain also.  Yes, not since the Fonzi jumped the Shark episode of Happy Days was there some much air time dedicated to the ending episode of this season’s Sopranos.  Everyone complained about the slow moving, go nowhere plot lines in more than half the season, but it is the most anticipated ending since M*A*S*H (I don’t know that for fact, I just wanted to use the asterisk key).  No, what might happen tonight is that Carmine might submit a thirteen-word note to Tony that reads something like this. “If you kill me or one of my guys, we will kill you.”  See?  Short, sweet, and to the point.  My take on the whole thing is that Furio has moved back to Italy to buy a small vineyard in Tuscany where he will get in touch with Carmella so she can leave Tony and become the marketing director for “You lika my wine or I kill you” Inc.  I know it will be hard to fit on the label but Meadow manages to do a clip art stick figure with a ponytail and big nose that’s next to a Horse’s Head.  Syl will finally tell Tony he wants out to follow his life long dream of becoming a rock star, while Christopher enjoys rehab so much that he moves to take over the East Coast’s rehab facilities as a cover to distribute heroin to the addicts he is trying to cure, one of which turns out to be AJ.  Finally, after Tony sees the horse picture in Pauly’s house he turns Pauly over to the Russian guy that never turned up last season and they make Pauly their own Pony Boy by using his internal organs as a suite case on trips to and from Russia.  Tony, left without a crew decides to open a small Italian deli in Belleville where Janis cuts proscuite and parmagiana all day while Tony walks around in one of those butcher outfits, sips espresso, and eats Biscotti all day.  Thereby, David Chase appeases all the groups demonstrating against the show by making Tony turn into a really nice guy and living happily ever after… or not.

2000 Montes Alpha Syrah $ (12.99)    This is Jethro Bodine in Armani, great window dressing, but short on class and finesse.  An attractive nose with an abundance of eucalyptus and chocolate, but a rather undignified harshness and little fruit.  Best served to a drunken crowd where it’s quantity not quality.


December 7, 2002

Happy Pearl Harbor Day, or something like that.  I have been doing a lot of thinking while I have been doing a lot of drinking regarding the complexities facing our younger generation.  Back when I was a boy in seminary school they taught us to petition the Lord with Prayer, petition the Lord with Prayer…  YOU can NOT petition the Lord with Prayer!!!   Before I slip into unconsciousness .that was for you Doors fans.  Back when I was Growin UP, I took month long vacations in the Stratosphere and boy, you know it’s really hard to hold your breath.  Sorry; Springsteen.  Anyway, what I am trying to say is I grew up when the magic age of 18 allowed you to do everything.  Our government recognized us as citizens who could vote, go to war, be tried as an adult in court and purchase and consume alcohol.  Today, 18 year-olds can vote, go to war, be tried as an adult in court and need to wait another 3 years to purchase and consume alcohol.  Are we better off as a society for this restriction?  Recent studies have shown that teenage sex is decreasing and virginity is on the rise.  I guess that’s a good thing, kids are making wiser choices at 2AM and not letting beer goggles make them sleep with an ugly girl.  The Gen-Xers seem to have been lost in this career abyss and live at home syndrome.  Maybe if they were able to drink a glass of wine or two and take the edge off, they wouldn’t have developed a generational irritable bowel syndrome.  HBO tells me that Ecstasy in on the rise, cocaine was a drug of choice for the wealthy youth from the lucrative 90’s, and pot smoking is up.  I don’t remember school massacres in the 60’s and 70’s.  We had protests that ended with a few night sticks to the noodle and some fire hoses and rubber bullets, but no one walked into my high school with a gun to take out students and teachers. 

We live in a great country, I dare say, The Greatest Country in the World.  Our respect for personal freedoms is second to none (except for those silly Liberals that want to take my gun away and want me to stop smoking any place inside or out, or the fact that too much McDonalds makes you fat).  And our value for human rights has given rise to an industry of lawyers who will defend a criminal and set him free, like O.J., just to ensure no innocent man is wrongly put to death.  But in the world arena, the US is last in legal drinking age.  What makes 21 the magic age for maturity only in regard to alcohol?  Don’t you  think one has to be mature in handling pressures while maintaining a 3.9 average at Harvard, or delivering a payload under the cover of night against a hostile enemy who is trying to kill you with their best weaponry?  Here is a picture of the Board that didn’t want you to drink at all.


Would you really want to be sober and have to kiss one of those beauties? 

I say when we turn 18 (collectively speaking, I have been their more than twice now), we get our voter’s registration, our draft card and a Drinking Wheel that we can use to calculate how much alcohol we have consumed, how much we weigh and if we are impaired or not.  Wino Wally, you should place this in your Christmas Gadget review for next year.




So look at the list below, and see if it make sense for the Greatest Nation on this earth to be so prohibitive to our young adults and see if we can bring the age in line with the rest of the Rights we are given on our 18th Birthdays

  Minimum Drinking Age By Country

No Minimum Drinking Age








Soviet Georgia



Viet Nam


Age 14



Age 15



Age 16













Age 18







British Virgin Islands

(age 19 in some provinces)



Czech Republic




Hong Kong








(age 17 with an adult)







Puerto Rico


St. Maarten

Slovak Republic


South Africa

South Korea



United Kingdom
(age 16 in restaurants)





Age 20



New Zealand*


Age 21


* - with exceptions. This chart was provided by years of research and investigation by too many people to acknowledge at this stage, but it legally serves as a disclaimer and removes me from the talons of a money grubbing lawyer who has nothing better to do than search out frivolous lawsuits because of frustrations brought about by the unusual love for his mother and the miniature size of his manhood.


December 1, 2002

My Father used to say, “When you want things done right, take matters into your own hands.”  As much as that got me through my teens, it certainly allowed me to recover from the God-awful wine experiences this weekend.  I decided last night that I had to open up something to get my olfactory senses back on track and tie one on with a good bottle of wine.  The plan last night was simple, slice up a plate of Stilton Cheese, turn on the USC vs Notre Dame game and drink a red wine that will place a Wine Smile back on my face.  So I invited Wino Wilson to watch the game with me and after I poured some wine into his wine hole on top of his head (which used to be the place where the cork came out of since his mouth is not really a mouth but the result of my drawing a mouth on the front of an unlabeled wine bottle), he loosened up and really enjoyed the game.  I think his Catholic upbringing had him cheering for Notre Dame although he told me he didn’t care who won since they were ranked 6 and 7 in the National Rankings and the USC offense could struggle against the highly rated ND secondary.

This brings me to the next question, why isn’t there a Wine Bowl, or commercials for Wine during football games?  We have been treated for years to that childish commercial of Budweiser bottles with little helmets on their heads playing a modified version of the electric football game we had as kids.  Our game was put together by my older brother, who at the time, placed the running back on the stand that was designed for a tackle; he cut right on every play so we had a special rule that after the first 5 yards, we got to rearrange him and point him way left so he would run almost straight through the line.  I believe my mother threw the game away when she found my sister spending a great deal of time with the field on and no players on the board…

I say we develop the next great Super Bowl commercial with cepages playing each other.  I could hear John Madden now, “Here’s a grape that has a tough skin and is really harsh and crunchy, Al.  Tonight, I look for the linebackers of the Malbec’s to crush the West Coast offense of the fanciful Pinot Noirs.”  You know what, it sounds stupid to me too, now that I read it back.  Somehow cepages and football just don’t mix and we all know that any of the French grape teams would offer no defense.  Hell, if they lost the coin toss, they’d probably surrender the game.  What do you think of Winostuff Stadium?  I must call my good friend Jerry Rice and see if he can get me a meeting with Al Davis.  I think the Oakland fans are much more Wino-oriented then the Forty-Niners, but there are many other reasons for that…

So I suggest the Liberty Bowl be renamed the Free the Grapes Bowl, the Orange Bowl be renamed the Cabernet Classic and the Fiesta Bowl be renamed the Drink More Wine Bowl, but then again, I spend a great deal of time with a wine bottle I painted a face on…

2000 Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull Zinfandel $ (14.99)   Zinfully pleasing, this wine has great fruit and a complex nose.  Right from the first sniff, I got cranberries and cinnamon, and then there was a host of raspberry, dark cherry and chocolate. The only reason I didn’t give this one a higher rating is that the after taste ran hot, too much of an alcohol back-draft and not enough of a long fruit finish.  Let this one sit open for sometime.


November 30, 2002

I must have pissed off the Wine Gods.  Thursday was uneventful as I mentioned.  Friday has carried the tradition of hooking up with friends in a “Big Chill” type get together where everyone brings some leftovers and we have a shared meal.  Since driving would be a minimal, I grabbed a bottle from the cellar that I was looking forward to drinking and I headed out the door.  These friends are the type that have no problem opening the wine I bring.  They know I’m not offended and they don’t have an ego that would have them insisting to drink what they opened.  So I went with a smile and looked forward to a bottle I had in hand.

The fire was roaring and the table was set impressively with a bottle of white and a bottle of red in a wine caddy.  When the host asked me if I wanted wine, I smiled politely and said, “RED.”  With that she took several other’s order and trotted off to the kitchen.  Moments later her husband brought out the appetizers and she carried out the wine glasses and handed each of us our respective drink.  OK, Wino Bob, breath in the nectar of the Rhone Valley, prepare your taste buds for the vibrant spicy sensation that will awaken the inner…  Hey, what the hell is this crap?  There’s no spice and black fruit and cedar and leather and horse manure.   No, this smells like a freshly cut tree and it tastes like, wow...  I don’t even know what to say.  Politely, I drank and smiled and held myself from breathing in while I joined everyone in a quick toast to health and friends and some crap like that.  Not wanting to be the wine snob, I choked down the glass and headed to the dinner table when instructed to do so.  There the bottle stood, label facing away from me, so I politely, turned it around and much to my humor and dismay, I mumbled. “Turning Leaf, what the F#@&.”  Yes, pissing off the Wine Gods is not fun and I still don’t know what I did to them, but my Friday night drunk was curtailed by the fact that my only wine choice was Turning Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon.  Sorry, no review…

November 28, 2002

Well here it is almost 8 PM on Thanksgiving night and I am still sober.  Yes, this was the first time since I owned a house that I did not have people over.  As families grow up and out, this was the first semester of two nephews being out of the house.  So my sister invited the crowd to her home to welcome the future pillars of society back from the liberal campuses across this great nation.  Again, as I always do when speaking about my eldest nephew, I will bask in reflective glory, knowing that somewhere in the gene pool from our branch of the tree, he has gotten the intellectual infusion to be on campus at Harvard.  Yes, oh yes, the nephew who (or is it whom?  I must ask Frank next time I see him.) that sat for hours taking in the wisdom of Uncle Wino Bob is a Harvard Man.  My other nephew is attending College in Florida so Thanksgiving is a time of family, a time of homecoming and a time for Uncle Wino Bob to get drunk and make my youngest nephew pull my finger after dinner. Usually, they joined us at my home where the only traveling I needed to do is to the cold bathroom floor after the house clears out, so I could pass out and be close to the porcelain bus after drinking wine all day and after dinner cordials all night. 

But with an hour drive home, I did not over indulge and only had time to drink the Beaujolais Nouveau I agreed to bring.  I did not partake in a before, during and after dinner wine this year.  No, for me, the Thanksgiving Day meal was, ahhh, a meal.  Blessed is this weekend, for tomorrow through Sunday I will have time to make up for the rather dry and uneventful dinner.

2002 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau $ (8.99)   Where’s the fruit?  This wine should be screaming with raspberry and strawberry and a brash bit of acid, but I found it to be rather unexciting.  This serves as my once-a-year dose of Gamay, but does not show the wine in the spirit it should be.  I was looking for a packet of Starburst but got gummy bears instead.


November 27, 2002

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the like.  Yes, here I sit one day before Thanksgiving and outside the window of my small dank room on the third floor of this boarding house is a pile of snow.  Couple this with the fact that the town has all their Christmas decorations lining the streets and the meters have been covered with those holiday park-for-free bags, excuse me but I haven’t killed my turkey yet.  Just because President Bush has offered up the ceremonial pardon to the Official US Turkey, I have not.  This is the first Presidential Pardon of a turkey that actually has feathers, unlike those late night pardons Bill Clinton made while the staff put the Presidential silverware in his El Camino to drive it up to Chappaqua.

Yesterday, I stopped in to Kings to pick up a few items for the weekend and I hunted high and low for my new friend and wine department manager, Mark.  One thing that caught my eye was the soon to be hottest item in NJ, TOFURKEY!  What the..., who the…??  TOFURKEY, a lump of Tofu molded and colored to look like a turkey.  Can you imagine the Native Americans heading into Plymouth with a Tofu Turkey in tow?  Black powder musket firing would now be the ceremonial action on the last Thursday in November instead of a gluttonous adventure with family, friends, and wine.  OK, so I don’t have friends and the family thing has lead to the drinking heavily thing.  My proposal is to skip the over-indulging in starches and triptophan and get right to the wine consumption and arguing.  If I were John Smith, I would have brought wine to the first Thanksgiving and we would have owned Manhattan a lot sooner and for a lot less than all those valuable beads and shells and stones and sticks that we paid for it.  Everyone knows that the Red Man can’t hold his alcohol, so we could have been building a casino by mid 1600’s in Connecticut and not paying taxes on our tobacco. 

After I shook off the shock of the plastic turkey, I was hit with the uppercut of Beaujolais pricing at $9.00 a bottle.  I’m sure in the next five years, Wino John will be posting a story of the Frog’s blending Gamay with Cabernet Sauvignon to make the Beaujolais heartier for the turkey stuffing and spicy pies.  “Zis year, ze Gamay was not so fruity zo we blended it with zome Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Now pay us $15.00 because we are French.”  Why don’t you just eat a Tofurkey and drink White Zinfandel?

So, my new friend Mark was no where to be found and I paid the clerk the full Monty to sample this year’s Beaujolais with no intention of ever drinking the Cru Beaujolais, nor the Village, nor any 100% Gamay from anywhere else in the world.  Tomorrow, I will taste it and write about it and give my uneducated opinion of the wine as tradition, like bourbon sweet potatoes, chestnut stuffing and a 20 pound fowl whose neck and organs are neatly sealed in a plastic bag and stuffed inside it’s own cavity.  I will eat that bird’s flesh for the entire weekend knowing it tastes like turkey and not like some soy-based, saw-dust-pressed, composite thermoplastic of a mind game.   And nothing better than Grandma’s recipe for turkey neck soup and giblets gravy to remind us that they ate the real thing at the first Thanksgiving.  

To my friends in PA, happy hunting!  Yes, Monday is a holiday in PA since everyone over the age of 10 will be out thinning the deer population.  Just don’t shoot your hunting buddy…

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and as far as wine selections with your real bird I offer the following:

  • Riesling

  • Pinot Blanc

  • White Burgundy

  • Pinot Noir

  • Zinfandel

  • Shiraz

  • Syrah

  • Tempranillo

  • Cote du Rhone

  • Beaujolais

  • Or the oft-mentioned Hungarian Zweigelt


November 24, 2002

It was card night this weekend and with needing to have some cash in my pocket to cover the food charge and the buy-in, it didn’t leave much in the till for purchasing wine.  If only I could get Nike or Microsoft to sponsor my wine consumption, I could have some real pocket change to drink the good stuff.  Just think, when you log onto our page, you could be greeted with a pop-up that says, "This month’s drunken, inane babbling of Wino Bob brought to you by Roche Pharmaceuticals" (hint to Wino Lou, talk to the Big Boys about sponsoring my black outs).  I don’t know anyone at Pfizer otherwise I would push for the Viagra sponsorship.  Which reminds me, has the email Spam gotten way out of hand?  It seems I get a great deal of mail with headlines wanting to sell me generic viagra, all natural man enhancers and something that will guarantee to make me 3 inches bigger.  Wino John gets all his money offers and someone wants me to buy lifts for my shoes, I guess.  Why 3 inches and will I have to let the hem down on my pants to accommodate the added height.  The funny thing is that I can guess how to make someone 3 inches bigger, but why do they say they will make me ¼ inch thicker.  My waist doesn’t need any help expanding from all the liver damage.  It’s amazing they can be so specific in what they will make me grow to.  I will have to open one of those emails up next time to see if they explain it. 

So cheap wine hunting is what I did before the card game.  I managed to find a Shiraz for $6.99 that brought me some luck after consuming half the bottle.  Though it was not stellar, this wine had some good qualities, not the least of which was my change back from the ten-dollar bill I handed the clerk. 

Regarding the web cam, Wino John hinted around spicing up the picture and I am not opposed to drinking wine nude, though one must understand that at 55 degrees the grapes have a tendency to stay close to the vine for warmth….

2000 Tyrrell’s Old Winery Shiraz South Eastern Australia $ (6.99)  Prepare yourself for the mouth drying tannins of this wine.  If you can stay with it long enough, an earthy, herbaceous fruit and coffee flavor come to light.  The tannins will soften to reveal a pleasant drinking wine.


November 23, 2002

Kudos to Wino Wally for his brilliantly stated position on de-snobbing the wine rags with down to earth, gut level, unpretentious information.  (Geez, I hope that’s what he was writing about.)  For years now, OK for months, well actually I complained to Wino John one night in a drunken stooper (me not him) about the exact same issue.  Why is it that the wine critic for Food and Wine magazine, or the Vine and Spirits editor for Departures is able to jet off and tour the top Chateaus for research and I am relegated to gawking in the South African isle of Home Liquors?  Damn it, we need first hand research!  I should be able to lunch with Joe Drouhin and ask him about this year's attributes of the Nouveau Beaujolais while munching on fois gras in a baguette or something French like that.  Instead, I am walking the floor at Shop Rite Discount liquors asking the manager if I can get a mixed case discount to sample the new release. 

I even went as far as contacting Lori DeGraw of Wine Television (airs Sunday nights at 9PM on Discovery Home and Leisure Channel in NY), to offer our services to review the upcoming release in the Rhone Valley.  After she stopped laughing, I then proposed we submit a hand-held VHS-C tape to her of me drinking Rhone wines in my basement.  At that point, she hung up and changed the phone number of her production company.  But how else are we to expose to our massive audience the various bargain wines from unknown vineyards unless we can meet the cellar masters, walk the soil, and sample the barrels of the cult wines of the future?

So this afternoon, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I called Continental Airlines to book and excursion fare, coach ticket with a Saturday stay-over, 60 days in advance, with a non-refundable status and a $100.00 change fee, to the Rhone Valley.  Considering the fact that they could only get me to Paris, then I’d have to hop a train to my starting destination, then rent a car for the ride through the picturesque Valley of the Pope’s new house, with room and board and time off from my real job, the whole thing was going to cost $4,276.84.  So I guess the trip to Mr. Kims, which I can walk to, will have to serve as my participant observation research of the Southern Rhone Region.  Boy, I can’t wait for Wino John to get his money from the Nigerian Consulate’s private attorney.  I think that should be here any day now. 

My offer still stands to put streaming video on our web page with a 24-7 web cam in my cellar to show the research that a true Blue Collar Wino does to bring our reviews to the World Wide Web.  No, there are no invitations to dine at Chateau Beaucastle, and no, there is no private tasting at Caymus or Silver Oak.  We drink the selections purchased on our own from the monies left at the end of the week after mortgages, car payments, food, gas and electric, DSL, DirecTV, Hair Jell, moustache wax, Black Sweaters, and Nestles $100,000 bars.  That is why I bring you the best of wines for less than 20 dollars.  Maybe one day we will become pretentious snobs when the gates of Harlan Estates welcomes the staff of, but for now, I must ask Wino John where I can get a web cam to wire up in the cellar for $19.99.  So there, Jay…  (Editor's note: Interesting idea, Bob, and technically not too difficult.  However, how are we going to make money from people watching you consume mass quantities of vino in your basement?  Unless, of course, you and the Mrs.  were to...   Never mind.)


November 18, 2002

What’s 5.4cm long and 2.5cm in diameter?  No!!!!  5.4cm is 2.125 inches, give me some credit.  OK, dirty minded winos, that is the typical dimensions of a cork.  But as in life, some are longer, some are shorter, some are fatter.  So, what’s the cork envy all about, Wino Bob?  Some things in life just aren’t fair…  You see, it all relates to this stupid wine corkboard thing I have been trying to complete.  The picture in the magazine shows all the corks in a nice orderly structure.  It seems that the wine I drink, as in life, have corks in varying lengths and, dare I say, girths.  Nothing screws up a nice row of freshly extracted corks until there is one that is longer and thinner or shorter and fatter then the rest.  Show offs.  For the sake of the male psyche, would the cork industry admit to a standard.  Quite frankly, the longer corks exceed the extraction stroke of my Big Bertha wall mounted cork extraction device.  If Big Bertha can’t handle it in the normal operating procedure, what will one need next?  The designers manufactured the range of Big Bertha to penetrate the cork through half of the arm movement and then extract the cork during the remaining travel.  But now, with the longer corks, you have to awkwardly hold the handle steady, and then tug downward on the bottle.  This is a sure recipe for disaster.  Wine spilling all over, a popping sound and the obligatory, “Oh Shit” as the bottle suddenly frees itself from the restraint of the lodged cork.    Every book I have read says longer is not better, it needs to be long enough to do the job.  The cork that is…

2000 Beringer Founder’s Estate Pinot Noir $ (9.99)   Not a shinning example of Pinot, not that I am any kind of Pinot expert.  Mild fruitiness just doesn’t deliver enough for me to brag about this wine.  Black cherry and a hint of oak, but nothing exciting here.


November 14, 2002


Kings Cooking Studio Presents

 Dinner with Andrea Immer at Bacchus Chop House & Wine Bar


Despite inclement weather on Tuesday evening, Wino John and I attended the dinner, book signing, and charity event hosted by Andrea Immer, second from the left.  Michael Frodello, immediate left (head chef and owner of Bacchus) and the King’s staff designed an epicurean adventure for the delight of a small, intimate group of about 34.  The evening’s activities were delayed a bit while the crowd made their way through the flooded and slippery highways and by-ways of New Jersey’s finest entanglement where routes 80, 23 and 46 merge.  Having a cot in the back of Bacchus, I had plenty of time to warm up with a few glasses of wine before the festivities began.

So, I did dampen the enjoyment of the Champagne served doing the mingling time.  We were treated to Veuve Cliquot Brut, Champagne that holds a dear place in Andrea’s heart and anyone else that dinned at Windows on the World, where Andrea was Head Sommelier. Veuve was the house Champagne and many of the guests at the dinner remembered special celebrations they enjoyed at the 107th floor of North Tower.  The diminutive, perky, and may I be politically incorrect by saying, attractive Immer spoke about her love of wine and treated us to a small discussion regarding the pairings she selected for the meal.  As her new book points out (visible on the table), keep an open mind when selecting a wine to go with dinner and you don’t need to stick to the old world "red with beef, white with fish" rule of thumb.  To prove this, Andrea selected two differing cepages, to allow us to judge with our own palates which best suited the fare.  Dinner consisted of:


                Shrimp and Lobster with Thai Curry Fregola with Roasted Acorn Squash

                Leon Beyer Riesling                                    Cambria Chardonnay


                Cocoa Dusted Filet Mignon with Brandy Demi-Glace served with French Beans and Potato Gaufrette

                Frie Brothers Pinot Noir                            Heitz Napa Cabernet Sauvignon


                Assorted cheeses                                          Assorted Petit Fours

                Ruffino Riserva Ducale Gold                       Graham Malvedos Vintage Port


Much to my enjoyment the curry shrimp and lobster was supported well by the Riesling, but stepped all over the Chardonnay.  As an experiment I dug out the meat of the squash and tasted that plain.  The sweetness of the squash was handled much better by the Chardonnay then the Riesling.  To my palate’s pleasure, I found the Riesling a versatile wine for those off times I decide to eat curried goat at the local Indian restaurant.

With the filet, my hand would not even go near the Pinot Noir.  The cocoa and brandy screamed Cabernet all the way, though I took a token sip of the Pinot just to ensure I was not heading to play for the other team.  No, Beef and Cab still make my taste buds dance.  As for the post mortem, I hung with the Ruffino and cheese, while keeping the Port and Chocolate together in what could be considered a closed minded decision on my part.  But for me, that made the best match.

The evening was capped off by a brief discussion with Andrea, and Wino John getting a personal autograph on the copy of the book Andrea’s people sent John to review for our site.  It will be really cool when we can get to the point of "having people", but when in public, I act as Wino John’s people and hold the door, open his umbrella, hand him the pen for autographs, you know, Wino Boy Friday type crap.  If ever you get a chance to attend a function where Andrea Immer is presenting, do yourself a favor and go.  It will be an enjoyable evening and help a good cause.  We, on the other hand, have no cause and are there just to drink wine.  I did have the pleasure of sitting next to my new best friend, Mark, the Fine Wine Manager at my local Kings Store.  Mark will be seeing a great deal of me once I receive the Kings’ discount membership card he promised me.  


November 10, 2002

My apologies to my dinner guests last night.  It was the first time in my life that I did not ask a guest what they would like to drink.  No, these guests just drank what I gave them.  Well, it wasn’t like they were going to get muddy water.  We had been speaking about a dinner for awhile and they walked into the house and declared, “We are here for the ride.”  Which basically boiled down to the fact that they would drink what ever I told them to with what ever we served.  Still haunted with the fact that Jay McInerney has a book called “Bacchus and Me” and our writings are floating around the publishing world looking for that book agent, I started my guests off with an aperitif like Jay suggested.   Yes, I served a well-chilled Lillet with appetizers and I wore a smoking jacket and swirled my snifter and commented on the world of politics.  OK, I don’t own a smoking jacket, but I spill enough wine on my sport coat so I have deemed it a Drinking Jacket.  Note to Wino John, let’s call one of those Gay French Clothing Designers and corner the market on the “Winostuff Drinking Jacket” to swagger around high priced cocktail parties in and talk world politics while looking soave and deboner.  Actually, as we sipped our Lillet, one of our guest who did run locally for councilman, entertained us with the behind the scenes story regarding his campaign.  Unfortunately he lost by 3 votes in a night that had him declared the loser, the winner, and then the loser.  Yes, they even went to the county courthouse to review challenged votes.  Damn, he told me if he won, he was going to appoint me to a no-show job on the town books.  Had I known it was so close, I would have voted for him a few more times.

With dinner, I opened up a well-endowed French Red. After she slapped me, I decided to uncork the wine.  Actually, I did give my guests a choice to match up with the two styles of marinated pork roasts I grilled.  Since I do not eat the Teriyaki style roast, I bought a Pinot Noir, which I did not consume myself.  I figured the ladies would eat this milder fare and drink the milder wine.  Though, I will sniff, swirl and spit this wine to review at a later date.  For me it was the Peppercorn-dusted pork roast and a hearty Hermitage.  I even went as far as serving a dessert wine.  Actually, someone had brought a dessert wine one evening that I had placed in the rack and forgot about.  Since my guests allowed me the lattitude of broadening their horizons, I decided to open it and give it a try.  The great thing about the dessert wine was the picture of the family that owns the winery, which came with the bottle.  I give you the Bertz family from Weingut Ernst Bertz


What a lovely photo of the Bertzes, I wonder which one played Ethel’s husband in I Love Lucy.

1999 Jaboulet Hermitage Rouge, La Chapelle $$$ (70.00)  Rich, deep-intense color defines this full-bodied 100% Syrah based nectar.  Black fruit, bold chewy tannins, tar, smoke and spice.  A great match to the bold peppercorn pork roast.


2000 Rheinhessen Huxelrebe Beerenauslese, Weingut Ernst Bretz $ (14.99 dessert bottle)   Mildly sweet with mineral, peach and mango flavors, Unobtrusive as a compliment to apple pie alamode.


November 9, 2002

It’s not often I share my email with you.  Most of the time its stuff like:

  • You don’t know your chardonnay from a chardonel

  • Leather and smoke, that must be what you did last night because it ain’t in that wine.

  • Stop being stupid

  • Hey did you ever graduate 6th grade

  • I got something you can taste, right here

  • Me and my people don’t appreciate your attitude towards our wine, you might want to change your review or you will be getting a visit this week, if you know what I mean, Cuz.

But every so often, I get a nice email and this is one I received this week.

Dear Wino Bob,

Recently, I was cruising the net trying to get away from the usual porn sites and am interested in classing up my drinking habits.  I came upon a search engine that highlighted your site.  After seeing how much fun wine seems to be, I put down my bottle of spirits and looked through the wine reviews.  Your site has a great many helpful hints and I decided to purchase a bottle of the 1998 Holy Trinity.  My sisters and I really enjoyed it as we swirled and spit and played drinking games on Saturday night.  We have now added winostuff to our favorites list and will be checking back often.  Keep up the fine work.

God Bless

Sister Anita Stiffone

PS  I have sent you my picture, if you are ever in Newark, look me up



November 8, 2002

Last evening I dashed into Bacchus to, uhhhh..., use the men’s room. You know when you are out on the road and need to use a restroom, you seek out a familiar location.  Maybe you don’t understand the life of a salesman.  We love to drink coffee throughout the day to keep us up and hyped even after the fourth consecutive door is slammed in our face.  But one cup of coffee in equals 1.5 cups that need to be released at some point (coffee being a diuretic).  I can tell you every exit that has a hotel along the Long Island Expressway from New Jersey to River Head, NY.  So late yesterday afternoon or early evening, I ran into Bacchus, ordered a glass of wine to be a patron, and used their facility.  I made small talk with Ryan just to make like I had an agenda other than the need for a comfort station.  We spoke mainly about the upcoming Andrea Immer dinner on Tuesday, which currently has several seats still available.  One of the possible reasons for this is that the event is tied to a charitable cause.  I say that with no bad intent; just the reality of the mind set of people in this current economy.  With my own past history in charitable endeavors, I was always faced with the statements, “Why should I support your cause when I have a cousin that has…?"  Or, "My co-worker supports X so I do not want to donate to your cause.”  Couple this with the out-pouring of gracious giving post 9-11 and people in this area seem over-tapped.  Finally, we are in a belt tightening economy so donations are the first to go. (Wow, that was a long way around the corner to my point).

Since I was in a dash-in, dash-out mode, one of the other patrons I know well bought my drink.  As etiquette has it, it is polite to thank that person with some acknowledgement.  Being awkward with the English language, I constantly fumble with what to say, trying not to be dry with just a thank you.  This brings me to the question I am posing to all my faithful wino friends, “What do you say when Toasting with someone?”  I would like to create a list that we can keep adding to of our favorite toasts.

To be a bit pedantic, I researched the origins of “The Toast” and found two differing stories.  Believe what you want, but send me your favorite lines and we will post them up for all to see.  If I don’t get any input, then Wino John will burry this entry deep in the archives never to see the light of day again.

One story has the Romans responsible for the creation of the toast dating back to the early days of their crude wine making techniques.  Usually, the wines were the safest beverage to consume (since water gave you the Pope’s revenge) but they were often harsh to the taste and unrefined.  The Romans would actually place a small piece of burnt bread into the wine jug, which allowed the charcoal to absorb these harsher elements and make the beverage more enjoyable. 

The other story I found was that poisoning ran rampant in the early days of civilization as a method of removing opposition.  As a way of showing one’s trust as a host, they would pour a bit of wine from their glass into their guests glass to prove it was safe to consume.  As trust developed, guests would bump their host’s glass to signify they accepted on faith that the wine was safe and they need not pour any into their glass.  This glass thumping became a ritual for friends.

Now growing up in a Polish-American, beer-drinking household, we did not do much toasting.  Holiday meals did not have a toasting ritual,  We had other rituals, but none included a beer toast.  During the times I remember at  my Grandmother’s tavern in Newark, patrons would use the following Polish toasts:

Sto Lat
Na Zdrowie

When we did have a shindig at the homestead, and all my aunts and uncles were there downing Brandy Alexanders, Highballs, Whiskey Sours and Beer, my Dad would use one of the following, which are the only two toasts I remember to this day:

Over the teeth and through the gums
Look out belly here she comes


Body if I knew I was going to live this long,
I would have taken better care of you

                                                Beer Drinker Ray

  The he would hoist a shot of  Cutty  Sark and chase it down with a beer.

I have also heard:

  • Na Zdrovia (Russian)

  • Salud (Spanish

  • Slante (Irish)

  • Prost (German)

  • A Votre Sant (French)

  • Cheers (English)

  So tell me your favorite toasts and let’s post a list through the year.

“I drink to your charm, beauty and your brains
Which gives you a rough idea how hard up I am for a drink”

                                                                                Groucho Marx


November 6, 2002

Being in the media, OK, sorry, being a consumer of the media, I drank my wine and watched this “old fashioned count the votes before predicting” coverage of yesterday’s election results.  I don’t know if it was the amount of wine I consumed or the lack of immediate results but I found that most pundits and T.V. anchors no longer report the who, what, where, how and why of the story.  It was apparent in the NY media that most of them are CRY BABIES.  When will the pendulum of objective reporting flush itself back into mainstream news?  I recalled the steadfast, unbiased reporting of Huntley and Brinkley or the babbling old coot, Walter Cronkite, in elections of yesteryear.  In my final statements on this debacle in New Jersey, I am glad to see that forging into the 21st Century, NJ will be represented by an oatmeal and stewed prune eating, miracle ear wearing, comb-over doo-lapping fossil of a man, who was born before the advent of television and the transistor.  Let us move forward into our future guided by a man older than my grandfather to steer the way for NJ over the next six years.  The betting people in NJ believe Mr. Lautenburg will not fulfill his term.  Time stamp this entry so we can claim, “we predicted it in a fog of red wine” when the NJ Democratic machine puts in a pinch runner because Old Frank blew out his hip one night on the way to the bathroom to relieve his swollen prostate.  I will go out further on a limb to speculate that Gov. McGreevey might appoint himself to the Senate seat when the mirror test has the Democrats debating if there is a breath mark from Frank on the glass.  

I will now be contacting the Junior Senator from NJ to see what monies he has accepted from the wine, spirits and liquor lobbyists.  I will make myself a PAC if need be to get the buttonhole of these politicians to allow wine shipments into the state.  Maybe after reading this, the editorial staff will vote to keep me from getting direct shipments from California.  But for now, Wino Wilson, Wino Melvin, and I will be filing the federal application to become the voice of NJ wine consumers and collectors.  Did we just sit still when the German’s attacked Pearl Harbor?  Hell, no!   Now who’s with me…?  (OK Bluto, great motivational speech).

2000 Roseblum Chateau La Paws Cote du Bone Roan $ (10.00) California’s funny approach to Rhone Ranger’s wine, this blend just does not deliver the polish of the Southern Rhone Region.  Black cherry and currant dance through this glass, but there is little depth and a weak finish to this beverage.


November 4, 2002

It’s Election Eve and I am going to say nothing more than wake up tomorrow and do your civic duty; “Get Out And Vote.”

Brought to you by the Drunken Haze of:

Chateau Cabrieres Chateauneuf-du-Pape Prestige 1995 $ (12.99)    Thou shall not covet they neighbors goods, but this wine is a steal.  Robust, flavorful, fruity, spice, tobacco, black pepper, cassis, (shall I go on?), black cherry, and a punch of tannin to make this a keeper.  This is one of the reasons the Pope wanted to leave Rome.


November 2, 2002

Baseball, Hot Dogs and Apple Pie, that’s what America is made of.  Except that this year’s World Series was out-viewed by  an audience, myself included, who wanted to see which of the 25 women who prostituted themselves on T.V. to date a guy they only met at the first episode.  But in 13 weeks, they will decide to marry him, or get a book deal, or try to co-host a show on MTV.  Are we that intrigued with reality T.V. that watching a guy date multiple women captures our imagination more than Barry Bonds hitting a ball into the upper deck?  OK, so it’s Bachelor, Hot Dogs, and Apple Pie.  That’s what America’s made of.  That’s not right!  Take out reality T.V. and insert Wine. Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and California Zinfandel (I said Zinfandel, not white zinfandel you chucklehead).  So, it’s not going to be the new bumper sticker on every Chevy in town, but it does describe last night. 

In an attempt to make up for the Faux- Italian Hot Dog disaster last summer, we hosted our friends, the Wino Lou Clan, at Chateau Winostuff for a experiment on which wine suits a deep fried Hot Dog with Fried Peppers and Onions and Fried Potatoes topped with mustard and ketchup.  Wino Lou, being the scientist and gourmet chef, assisted in researching the roots of the Hot Dog and suggested we at least try a wine suited for the genus “Sausagious Venanious”.  A simple review indicated that most pairings recommend Alsatian white wines for this type of fare.  Now I don’t know a great deal about science, but I think Wino Lou does secret experimentation in his basement.  Fact: in all the times I have been to the Wino Lou homestead, he has never shown me the basement.  Fact: Wino Bob lives in his basement.  I have overheard Lou speaking of “Stem Cell Research and his personal interest in it.”  To me, Reidel has the lock on stem cell research,  They have scientifically designed a wine glass for every type o f grape.  With their name recognition, why would anyone that smart be spending inordinate amounts of time in their basement trying to develop cures for diseases with wine glasses?  The stems on the wine glasses I have are just fine.  The other thing I don’t understand is how a smart science type person could believe in elves.  He kept talking about making pants for elves.  This week I think he has to splice the jeans for the Gnomes.  Doesn’t he know that Gnomes are the plastic little figures you put in your garden?  They don’t need to have their jeans spliced and sewn together.  I think they just paint on those pants… Personally I think he’s cloning sheep in his basement for his own enjoyment.

Anyway, last night, I opened a Gewürztraminer from Alsace, an Italian Red, and a Zin to see which held up against the heart clogging, deep-fried pig lip tube.  This ain’t no wimpy sausage so the Gewurtz just didn’t stand up.  The Italian Red was OK, but was overshadowed by the potato starches and the peppers.  So in my humble Wino Bob opinion, we passed a resolution at the dinner table that with the World Famous Dickie Dee’s Italian Hot Dogs from North Newark, on the Ave., a strong American Zinfandel has the balls to not get  bitch slapped  by Hot Dog Tony.  One day, when the Yankees get back into the World Series, Baseball will be back in the phrase, but for now it’s Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Zin.  That’s my story and I’m stickin' to it.


2000 Renwood Zinfandel $ (8.99)  A compliment to the Italian Hot Dog from Newark, this wine is robust and firmly structured with dark cherry, spice and chocolate flavors that stand tall in the face of adversity.  A soft finish for such a bold wine.

October 30, 2002

Here's another shining example of WinoStuff’s influence on the media.  For those of you who haven’t seen this article from Seattle’s paper today, please read the reprint below.  

On Wine: Wine laws can set heads a-spinning


PROHIBITION, WHICH from 1919 to 1933 banned the "manufacture, sale or transportation" of alcoholic beverages, is often referred to as the "great experiment." That experiment was either an abject failure or a screaming success, depending on your perspective.

It failed to live up to its mission, which was to prevent Americans from drinking alcohol (Will Rogers said that "Prohibition is better than no alcohol at all"). It succeeded in ruining a thriving American wine industry. It also gave organized crime the foothold it needed to flourish in this country.

When the law was repealed in 1933 it did not go quietly. Some would argue that it did not go away at all -- it simply morphed into the archaic mosaic of baffling wine laws that we have today. One result of repeal was that each state was given the latitude to regulate alcohol as it saw fit. We now have 50 different sets of often contradicting laws that can be maddening (and costly) for wine producers and importers. Doing business nationally is like doing business with 50 different countries. It's not so great for us consumers either.

One of the most notorious examples of this is the fact that, depending on where you live, you can be charged with a felony for buying a bottle of wine out of state and having it shipped to your home. (The winery that sold it could lose its license to make wine.) Though many of these laws have been on the books since repeal, they became an important issue in the late 1980s when wineries and wine clubs began mail-order businesses.

Many wineries are too small to set up a distribution system in every market so they often rely on mail-order programs to sell their wines. The issue became even hotter during the 1990s wine boom, when many collectors and other consumers turned to the Internet as a source for many hard-to-get wines. Several dot-com businesses trying to sell wine via the Internet during that time went bust largely because of these restrictions.

The irony here is that the primary enemy of what many believe to be a constitutional right of free trade between states is actually a sector of the wine industry itself. Wholesalers believed they could lose sales if consumers were allowed to bypass the three-tier system in place in most states, in which the supplier (e.g. a winery or importer) must sell to a wholesaler who then sells to a retailer or restaurant. Lobbyists pressured local governments to enact, strengthen or enforce laws to prevent the interstate sale of wines and many happily obliged. In 26 states it is now illegal to ship or receive wine from out of state.

The biggest argument presented for these laws is that children could gain access to wines via their computers or catalogs. Though virtually no informed person really believes this to be legitimate, it remains the rallying cry of the lobbyists. The issue is really about wholesalers getting their markup on all wines sold in their territory, states concerned that they may miss collecting a tax on these wines and that some groups or individuals simply want to do whatever they can to impede the sale and consumption of all alcohol. Those in favor of reciprocity between states argue that while most anyone can legally and easily get items such as prescription drugs, guns and ammo delivered to their door, they cannot receive a bottle of wine.

The tide may not yet be turning but it appears to be stemming. Over the past few years there has been more organization to change laws and prevent new ones from going on the books. Groups such as the American Viticultural Association, which represents 650 wineries nationwide, Free the Grapes! which claims 300,000 members, and the Coalition for Free Trade, which is trying to get the Supreme Court to hear the matter, all think they are making some progress. There has been little new state level legislation prohibiting wine trade between states and just this year court decisions have dealt a blow to shipping bans in North Carolina, Virginia and Texas. However no one on either side expects things to change dramatically soon. So if you're planning to send a case of Washington wine to a relative in Kentucky, you should check to see that Uncle Harvey won't wind up spending the holidays in the pokey.


·  Washington state, no stranger to wacky wine laws, is actually one of only 13 states that allow for interstate shipping. The others are: California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Hawaii and West Virginia.

·  Eleven states allow limited or highly restricted shipping. They are Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Louisiana, Georgia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Alaska and Connecticut.

·  It is a crime to ship wine into these 26 states: Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.

Richard Kinssies is a free-lance wine writer, an instructor at the Seattle Culinary Academy and director of the Seattle Wine School. He can be contacted at 206-782-0617 or


October 29, 2002

Proof of the expansion of Winostuff’s issues and concerns into the power brokers inside the Beltway, President Bush, who I believe signs the Guest Book under the alias of Robert Parker to keep me off track, must have been moved by my recent political outcries.  Please read the entire article from our News For Winos section on our front page, but the important statement is:

But the legislation would open the opportunity for residents of 17 states to ship wines home when they visit vineyards. Those states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

To qualify, wine bottles or cases must be purchased at the winery and buyers must be of legal drinking age, the AP reported.  In addition, the wine must be for personal use, not resale, and an adult's signature is required upon delivery.

The law does not allow people to place orders to out-of-state wineries via the telephone, e-mail or postal mail and receive shipments.

Though this still does not allow us to call, join a Texas wine club, or email in our orders, and yes it only consists of those much sought after Lubbock Rhone’s or Amarillo Chardonnays, it shows how influential a unified voice can be.  So drink more Texas wine! OK, that’s really not what I was after, but if a progressive state like Texas can show such great leadership, it will not be long for NJ to follow suit.

1999 La Crema Syrah $ (20.99) Though this is a product of the ever-expansive Kendall Jackson Holdings, this is a nice drinking fruity wine that is drinkable right now.  Chocolate, raspberry, dark cherry and black pepper in this wine is a delight for the red wine lover


October 28, 2002

There are not many people I still see from the old days.  I can count on a lobster claw the high school friends that I interact with on a semi-regular basis.  Wino Stan is one of those few, though he is more accurately described as Wino Page Stan, a Wino apprentice, eager to put in his time and learn the trade.  Last evening, the moons of Jupiter aligned and our schedules had us both available to grab dinner.  Since he knew my frequency at Bacchus and he himself has enjoyed a bottle of wine and a cigar at the every subtle color-changing bar, we decided to go somewhere else.  For convenience, (mine, not his) I was able to get a reservation at Luce, the Kings Road Winery serving restaurant, which also allows you to BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine). 

Not having wine shopped in a while, I headed out to Home Liquors to see interesting bottles lie on their wire mesh shelves.  Being a Saturday night, I figured two bottles between 3 people (his date is some kind of health nut and she doesn’t drink but a polite sip of alcohol or eat starchy carbs - there’s a Party Girl).  Knowing that Wino Page Stan would drink what I brought, I did the obvious, bought the wines I wanted to try.  And yes, I did buy a Pinot Noir for the appetizers.  (Editor's note:  Cough, coughomo, cough, cough...) I must say, it was better than expected and has me intrigued to see if this was a fluke ( an unusual occurrence, not the fish).  Home Liquors is stepping up their higher-end wines boosting Caymus and Caymus Special Select, along with Silver Oak Alexander Valley.  Their Bordeaux section has always been highlighted with the chained down first Growths and the ever-intriguing Petrus.  I often stop and stare wondering why a Frog Merlot (that female version of Cabernet Sauvignon) can command such a price.  Am I so unsophisticated in my wine appreciation that the testosterone-void grape of Bordeaux is the one that all the Snobbish Frogs leap to purchase?  Then I think of how easily they rolled over during the war and it makes sense.

Dinner at Luce turned out to be a fun night, with our comedian wannabe hostess, Thursa treating us to coffee and dessert.  Appetizers of rock shrimp were handled well by this pushy Pinot.  I never quiet know what to buy, so I just picked a wine whose name fit the soft fleshy, whimsical, fickle self-hating red grape.  What better person to get in touch with this grape’s feelings then a guy named Bruce?  More correctly Dr. Bruce.  Tipping my hand here, the old doc did well by this one and has me interested in more of his offerings.  For dinner, I grabbed a wine from Hermitage, you guessed it, a Syrah that had me select for dinner, and you guessed it, Lamb Chops.  Wino Page Stan had the tuna steak that he said went well with the Syrah, while the ladies wrestled with Dr. Bruce for the remainder of their meals that were also the grilled tuna over wasabe mashed potatoes.  Though the waitress we had left her personality in her other outfit, Thursa more than made up for it, frequently checking to see that we were enjoying dinner and discussing several humorous topics of life in the restaurant business.  Even without drinks, this is not an every Saturday Night place, but the food is worth it if you are looking for a treat.

2000 David Bruce Central Coast Pinot Noir $ (20.99)  A bold, brash Pinot showing a rich color, cherry and earth flavors with a toast finish from the oak barrels.  The soft tannins structure this wine on the power side of Pinot Noir making the Good Dr. someone I will sample more frequently.

1999 Cave de Tain l’Hermitage Hermitage Rouge, Les Nobles Rives $$ (29.99)   Inky purple hue and the oaky nose greet you then you are impressed with the dark fruit flavors spiciness, chocolate and leather from this big bold wine.  A great compliment to game birds, venison or lamb in a mushroom demiglaze.


October 27, 2002  Warning - This installment of Bob's Winings is rated R.  It includes graphic pictures of Bob's bung.  Parental discretion is advised.

Meaning no disrespect to Wino John’s daughter’s artistic talent, he shamed me into posting pictures of my new/old wine barrel.  Unfortunately, I did not chronicle the entire cleaning process, but as you will see from the pictures, this barrel will need a second washing.  What amazes me is that someone was producing wine in this thing without cleaning it.  In my uneducated opinion, I do not see how any of the oak attributes could effect the wine with such a thick coating of sediment.  So for now, I will post the pre-second cleaning pictures until I purchase the chemicals to re-wash it.

Front view of the barrel with my newly cleaned wooden spigot.


A fresh new bung stopper to keep the faint odor of this still uncleaned barrel from escaping.


As you look deep inside my bung, you can still see residues lining the walls.  One more flushing and I believe my wall linings will be as good as new.


October 26, 2002

Alrighty then, I am swearing off watching The Discovery Channel.  Last night, as I was recovering from a three wine bottle divided by two people drink-a-thon, I saw this show about hangovers.  Discovery followed and tested nine Gen-Xers as they partied on a Friday Night.  They had staff doctors periodically testing them with hand-eye coordination tasks and the usual blood pressure and Breathalyzer stuff.  Most of the information I knew and wrote about several months ago regarding what your body needs to recover.  However, there was one fact that SHOCKED me.  The commentator was a SHOCK-JOCK and I became SHOCKOLIFIC.  MEN, hold onto your corkscrew...  This show stated that excessive drinking would shrink your Grapes.  Yes, prolonged excessive drinking will not only Amarone your little Boyz, it will knock your testosterone levels so low that you will begin to lose your masculine build and become Pinot Noir (soft and fleshy).  Holy Crap on a Biscuit, excessive drinking will make me a woman!!  Here I have invested a great deal in wine consumption to develop a healthy heart, powerful lungs, a black liver and a vagina?  What the, who the…???  Ok, ok, reality check.  Is it my definition of excessive or is it some tea-totaling, medical egghead fear-mongering his way to the top of the periodical section at the School of Medicine and Dentistry? 

I guess my Christmas gift idea is ruined.  You know how Wino Wally is constantly combing the Hip and Fashionable World of Cool Wine Gifts.  This year I was planning to make all my Wino neighbors this Corkboard thing made from real corks.  I started it four days ago and this is how far along I am on the first one.

At the rate of 31 corks in four days, I figured it would take me 3 weeks to make each gift.  However, in light of this new information, I will be giving them each a cork, a thumb tack, and a post-it note pad.  My Grapes are still of interest to me and they need to remain on the vine, if you know what I mean…



1995 Torres Gran Sangre de Toro $ (15.99)  As I continue my Spanish wine kick, this blend of 75% Granacha (my Rhone roots) and 25% Carinena make this a delicious wine that is medium bodied and packed with plum, black cherry and strawberry.  The Granacha brings with it the spicy black pepper and black licorice flavors that have me intrigued with this wine style.

1998 Punter’s Corner Cabernet Sauvignon $ (13.99)   Bummer, when I uncorked this wine, the black/purple contrast on the bottom of the cork to the light tan body had my mouth watering for a big-ass wine.  Hints of eucalyptus and chocolate mint had my mind racing with visions of a rich full-bodied drink.  Then I sampled it and was left with one thought, “Where’s the Beef?”  Never judge a book by its color and nose. Maybe it’s the Russian Oak.

1998 Los Vascos Resrva Cabernet Sauvignon $(14.99)   This wine will not remain sub-twenty dollars much longer.  A favorite Chilean of mine, a nicely balanced fruit and tannin combination makes this a crowd pleaser for those not looking for the big bold Cabs.


October 24, 2002

A wise old man once told me follow the money in politics.  As I mentioned in an earlier posting, I have contacted the Governor’s Office as well as my elected Officials to see why NJ wine enthusiasts cannot enjoy receiving shipments directly from  California Wineries.  To date, the Governor’s Office has ignored me, Senator Toricelli must have placed my correspondence on his “things I need to do before I quit the race” pile, but he left my email address in his other pair of pants (the one’s that were confiscated during the investigation).

I did receive and automated reply from my Congressman’s office stating they are very busy, but will try and get to my request as quickly as possible.  During my hunting, I found this list of the Beer, Wine and Liquor Lobbyists and their contributions for the last Presidential Election.  One of these organizations is keeping wine out of NJ. 

Lobbyist Spending:
Beer, Wine & Liquor

Total For Beer, Wine & Liquor: $10,635,475




Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine



American Vintners Assn






Austin Nichols & Co



Bacardi Martini Inc



Beer Institute



Bohemian Co



Brown-Forman Corp



California Assn of Wine Grape Growers



Camara Nacional de Las Ind Azucarera



Coors Brewing



Distilled Spirits Council



Gallo Winery



Genesee Brewing Co



Heublein Inc



HP Bulmer Holding



Inform Coal/Preserve Adult Acces to Wine



Interstate Wine Coalition



Joseph E Seagram & Sons

Vivendi Universal


Kendall-Jackson Winery



National Assn of Beverage Retailers



National Beer Wholesalers Assn



National Licensed Beverage Assn



Robert Mondavi Corp



Royal Wine Corp



Todhunter International



Todhunter International/5010

Todhunter International


United Distillers & Vintners



West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Assn



Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America



Wine Institute



Wyder's California 1995 Inc





The last entry is not real and was just put in by the Chucklehead that wrote this entry.

2000 Jacob’s Creek Semillon/Chardonnay $ (7.00)   A refreshing citrus and fruit dominated by lemon and apple flavors,  a great wine for the summer.  Aussie’s continue to thrill me with White.


October 23, 2002

Well time has come for me to move to the next phase of barrel evacuation.  The soda ash solution has been doing it's thing for three days and the gunk that is flowing out of the bung is horrendous.  (Editor's note:  I hate it when horrendous gunk flows out of the bung...)  How could the wine produced in this barrel be drinkable?  Step two is the sodium bisulfite and citric acid mixture.  Soon, this barrel will be clean and rejuvenated.  I am getting the wine production bug, so I am heading out to the bookstore to educate myself on the art of the crush.

Recommended Method for Cleaning and Maintaining Oak Barrels

  1. Initial treatment for new barrels and cleaning and sanitizing of used barrels.

    1. Rinse barrels several times with cool water.

    2. Fill half way with hot (140-150 degree F) water.

    3. Add soda ash solution, see table below, and mix by rolling barrel.

    4. Fill completely with hot water, replace plug.

    5. Allow to stand for 24 hours, and then rinse several times with cold water.

    6. Immediately fill with wine or proceed to step B.

  2. Keeping barrels in good condition. Immediately after emptying barrel of wine or from step A above.

    1. Rinse with cold water several times, with barrel 1/4 full of water and plenty of rolling, both sideways and end over end.

    2. Fill half way with cold water.

    3. Add sodium bisulfite solution from table below.

    4. Add citric acid solution from table below.

    5. Mix by rolling, fill completely with cold water, replace plug, and place in storage.

    6. Check water level every month, add cold water to keep barrel full.

    7. Before using, rinse several times with cold water.

Barrel cleaning left me thirsty and with nothing better to do than open up some wine to enjoy.

(Editor's note: Since The Barrel-Boy did not provide us with any photographic documentation of his barrel-cleaning adventure, I had my 9 year old daughter create an artist's rendering of Bob, his wine press, and his new/old barrel.  Bob is the one on the right.)


1996 Jade Mountain Mourvedre $ (14.99)   Don’t look for earth shattering depth or flavors in this bottle, remember this is a blending grape.  Unless you are a true Rhone and drink Bandol wines, you have only seen this as an enhancing grape.  Black cherry, and a spicy body dominate this cepage.

October 20,2002

Just a small Public Service Announcement.  There are still several tickets available for the November 12th Andrea Immer dinner at Bacchus.  For business reasons, Wino John and I will be attending.  This is being handled through Kings Supermarkets Cooking School.  The folks at Bacchus will help you out, but reservations must be made through Kings.  Seating is limited so book as soon as possible.

Not having had a dinner at Bacchus in awhile, it just so happened that Wino Rocker needed to air out the old lady so he called me up to join them.  I guess the Stone Pony Experience with me was a bit more then Mrs. Wino Rocker could handle, so a good 3 month reprieve was necessary.  The evening started with some drinks at the moody bar (a subtly changing muted color under cracked glass arrangement).  Needing to bring new reviews to my page, I started off with a Zin and see where the evening went from there.  So Zin it was, accompanied by jovial conversation from my hosts and those at Bacchus from the Old Guard.  Though the numbers are dwindling from the originals, I do so enjoy those who remain.

Since I made it clear to Wino Rocker that I left my wallet at home, I handed him the wine list and allowed him to select our dinner wine.  He has become a Shiraz Head, which is great with me.  Out for new experiences, I selected the Grilled Wild Bird Platter consisting of baby quail stuffed with cranberry wild rice, duck breast, ostrich fillet and duck and fois gras sausage.  This was a multitude of taste sensations that was enhanced with the texture and flavors of the Shiraz.  The meal ended with a Fonseca Port and Hazelnut gelati.  If only I could have lit a Fuente Opus X, I would have been in heaven.  The meal was delightful, the conversation was thought provoking and the fact that I got the general manager to tell my host his credit card was declined and he would have to pay cash, including the complimentary after dinner drinks, allowed the entire staff to enjoy a joke.  Good food, good friend, good wine, that’s why I like doing this page.

2000 Valley of the Moon Zinfandel $ (14.99)   This Zin is made up of 93% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah and 3% Barbera boosting lush ripe flavors of raspberry, strawberry and vanilla.  A silky texture and balance of tannins draw you into this wine.

1999 Kangarilla Road Shiraz $$ (44.00 rest, 25.00 retail)    For big wine lovers, this one features a bunch of blackberry, mulberry, and black cherry, with an undertone of chocolate that gets in your face from the first sip.  A surly, spicy number for grilled meats with enough oak to smack your mouth up, bring this to the Bar-B or with veal chops or lamb shank.


October 19, 2002

For those of you in NJ, this entry will have nothing to do with the Sopranos or the politics of the IAADL.  It seems that the editorial staff does not believe in Freedom of Drunken Ramblings and I have been served with a gag order (insert sick and twisted joke here).  So I must get back to the core values of this page, writing about wine and wine related stuff.  I see Wino John has had a most excellent adventure during the harvest fest in California, nothing sweeter than scrubbing the purple off your fingers for days.  I see Wino Wally spends a great deal of time educating himself on wine related stuff and purchasing the latest in Wine Tech Gizmos.  He is the “Bill Nye” of the group.  So in an effort to participate with something Wino John would not reject, I spent the day figuring out what I could talk about and actually relate to someone other than Robert Parker, Marvin R. Shaken and Stevie Wonder.  Just a question, does Stevie’s computer screen translate my ramblings into Brail?  I once dated a girl whose acne spelled out "Hot Momma", on the left side of her face.

Making an attempt at developing my leg muscles to keep up with my youthful heart, powerful lungs and rejuvenated liver, I walked into town to browse the local wine shops.  Yes, we have Mr. Kim, the well stocked Mom and Pop Shop that carries high end French, Italian and California wines, but stores it at ambient temperature.  Last week Wino Jeff told me that he bought a bottle of wine that was bad.  I, myself, have purchased several wines that showed signs of cork shrinkage, even though it was not swimming in cold water…  We also have a chain discount place which dedicates two rows of shelving to jug and box wines.  I guess they get more traffic from the westerly towns (wine snob comment).  Unfortunately nothing excited me to the point of over-spending my hard earned money at Mr. Kim’s or lugging home a month-by-month comparison of box wines.

Dejected, alone and flummoxed, I headed home though I did leer for an unacceptable amount of time into the display window of the local lingerie shop.  There was this one dummy, she was beautiful, and then I saw her trying to count the change for a customer, forget it.  Several blocks from home, I glanced into the window of an “Antique Shop.”  I watched a lot of Road Side Sale Shows and I still don’t know the difference between "old and collectible" and junk that someone is throwing away that I think is cool.  There in the back corner was an oak wine barrel with a wooden spigot and dried out bung. (again, sick and twisted, you know the drill).  So I went inside, haggled with getting my wallet out of my back pocket and paid they guy the asking price in the tag.  Now, with several blocks to go, I had the dilemma of carrying this thing home to place in my quickly cluttering wine room.  As the old Polish beer drinking song came into my head, “Roll Out the Barrel, and We’ll Have a Barrel of Fun.” (hey, it’s a drinking song, not an anthem though my family sang this just after the flag salute).  Up the street, across the Avenue and up the hill rolled my barrel and me. 

As I let it settle in it’s new resting place, I started to detect a rather pungent odor filling the room.  I attempted to extract the dried bung cork to inspect the inside and wham; the vinegar smell of an unclean barrel hit me like smelling salts.  Great, a cool barrel that makes the whole cellar stink.  Needing a fix, I hopped into the car and headed to the place I knew best for supplies.  Corrados in Paterson, NJ, has everything you need for wine making.  A quick question to the brail faced clerk and he grabbed three small bags of white powder and told me to use bag one, soak for three days, rinse mix bags two and three in a 5 gallon pail, roll the barrel several times and Voila.    As In life, Wino John gets to enjoy the harvest and I get to swab the barrels, but hey, the fun is just beginning.  As I filled the barrel with bag one and 30 gallons of water, the spigot is intact and the barrel doesn’t leak.  If this thing cleans up well enough, I just might start reading up on wine making.  I have a small press and now an oak barrel.  Maybe I should unearth all the Milk Thistle I planted after Wino John’s liver article and plant a row of Cabernet Franc.  Hey, it’s Jersey; we don’t have the climate or soil for Syrah.

October 16, 2002

Well, I have had just about enough of this "fact is funnier than fiction" section of life. Life imitated art this week in NYC.  Episode two of The Sopranos clumsily presented a gangster’s take on Italian pride for the Columbus Day celebration.  This week, the Italo-American something-or-other denied Mayor Bloomberg’s guests from marching along side him.  His guests you ask?  Yes, two actors of Italian descent who appeared in roles on the Sopranos.  First off, until last Friday, I never saw the term "Italo-American", but it was fun listening to all the newscasters become tongue-tied with this new pronunciation.  Second, have we come so far as to pigeonhole an actor into their role so they cannot be seen as a real person?  I think all the papers made it clear that the words, “Actor that portrays the role of… the HBO hit series, The Sopranos."  Hey, if all of a sudden it’s such a big deal, why did the open casting call in Harrison, NJ stretch clear across the Clay Street bridge into Newark with every Italian wannabe actor waving head shots in front of the casting directors of the show last year?  If this show is so unpopular, why does it draw such huge ratings?

Well, I had about enough of that, especially since the events in the Washington DC area.  Chilling.

I trust Wino Wally is remaining cautious in his daily route.  I never thought that in America one would have to seriously consider if they need gas in their car.  I pray that this person or persons will be found and taken out in a hail of bullets.  To catch someone like this gives that bottom-feeding part of the lawyer population in the US an ability to mug for the camera and write a best seller after the trial.  You know this sniper must have been left in the shopping cart once in a mall as a child and they are acting out their years of unresolved emotions of feeling neglected by their parents, or so the bullshit will go from the lawyers that will jump to defend this animal.  I say let the animal’s lawyer load groceries in a parking lot and have the chips fall where they may.

So tonight, with the cable news pundits spewing off some half cocked, unsubstantiated psychobabble, I drank my last Italian red wines for at least a month.  I’ve had about enough of that.  This, as I proclaimed at the beginning of the year, is the Year of the Zin and the next several weeks, or days, or bottles will be Zins.  I may even mix in a Syrah or two just to straighten out my blood balance.

1996 Villa Il Poggiolo Carmignane Reserva ? (gift)   This bottle of wine from the small DOC 10 miles west of Florence is a Sangiovese, muted superbly with a small per cent of Cabernet Sauvignon.  The fruit was roaring and the tannins have mellowed making this a splendid accompaniment to my Rigatoni Rosario.

1997 Modus Toscana Tenimenti Ruffino $ (12.99)   A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  The fruit on this wine took an early backseat to the wood.  Over several glasses it softened and brought out a pleasant dark cherry, red fruit and blueberry hint.


October 6, 2002

            “This thing of ours, it’s like a family.  Through time and memorial we have a certain code.  So remember, once you enter this family, there is no getting out.”    Unnamed Source of the NJ Democratic Leadership Council

As I sat in front of my radio yesterday, listening to the Talking Heads dissect this NJ Senatorial Issue, I ate red sauce from a jar and Ronzoni noodles with my Italian Red Wine binge.  The situation becomes stranger as each day passes and this ruling by the courts has set up a precedent for future races that are failing a major party.  But enough Red wine and it takes the edge off the seriousness of the situation.  I actually laughed out loud yesterday while listening to clips of Gov. McGreevey’s defense of Frank Lautenberg.  With Frankie boy tipping the birthday scale near death, McGreevey tried to insert a joke about Lautenberg’s vigor.   I am recalling it to the best of my wine soaked gray matter, “You know age isn’t even an issue, and the thing with his paternity suite is only a rumor.”  Interesting statement Governor, your best defense is to make a joke about an illegitimate child fathered by a 78 year old man.  For reasons I will not go into today, I have heard the Governor speak several times and he has made other joking comments that have raised an eyebrow or two.  I think Bill Clinton’s jovial manner has most Democrats trying to emulate his public speaking ability. 

But this is not Face the Nation and I should not be wasting valuable time on political speak.  As customary, I should be following the rules of not covering the topics of Sex, Politics and Religion in this form.  However, Sex and Religion have been subject matter over the past 2 years so Politics has finally found it’s time.

Prior to this issue in NJ, I decided to fight for the rights of NJ wine lovers and I became a frequent visitor to the Governor’s web page.  As all web pages go, there is a “Contact the Governor” icon.  I have been asking the question about the administration’s position on making NJ a reciprocal state and letting us receive deliveries directly from our favorite California wineries.  I started two weeks before this Toricelli crap and to date have not gotten a response.  I also posted a note to Senator Corzine asking for help in our cause.  So I come to you, the readers, who want to join my “Lobby” to let Wino John fill his cellar with Caymus and Silver Oak and Clos du Bois.  I need to show the NJ administration what a voting block WinoStuff commands and play politics with our wine shipments.  Give me Liberty (School) or Give Me Death.  OK, I can back off on the "Death" thing, but give me your voting support.  Let’s become a Lobby group that can send gifts and envelops of cash to our politicians so we can have them give a "Political Happy Ending…"   NJ Winos Unite and let our voices be heard, this is a Representative Democracy.

2000 Feudo Monaci Salice Salentino Rosso $ (&.99)    This blend of 80% Neroamana and 20% Malvasia Nera brings a nice balance of red fruit, tobacco, leather and soft tannins.  Pleasant, with Ronzoni boxed pasta and Aunt Millie’s Organic Sauce from a jar.  This could be an everyday table wine as a warm up for a meal.


October 3, 2002

Vino, Vino, Vino.  I had to drown myself in Italian wine this week.  Why, you ask?  Wino Bob, was it the overabundance of the Soprano’s this weekend?  No, although this was the worst Sopranos in a while, I managed to survive the tedious hour long drumming of the age-old debate on “Columbus-Hero or Hitler”.  As a resident of NJ, I will NOT be discussing this topic, one too many calls from the Head of the Italian-American Anti Defamation League.  This state is severely divided.  On one side you have the wavers of the Red, White, and Green, in your face, proud to be an Italian-American, not willing to admit there is a family anywhere in the world upon which the Soprano’s are based.  Then, there is the other camp that wants to star in the real life version of the Sopranos.  So for those reasons and more, I will stay off the daily phone list of the IAADL.  Ralphie’s two encounters with Janis last week are nothing compared to “the Call”.

So let me tell you why I am drinking all this Italian wine; to celebrate the recent events of our Political Machine in NJ.  Yes, everywhere we turn, the radio and TV and papers are highlighted with the name, “Senator Robert Toricelli”.  The Torch, as he is affectionately referred to, has caused me to watch the local news with Italian Red Wine color glasses.  Only in NJ can a Senator pound the podium and tell us how innocent he is on ethics charges, even as the tape and laundry list of “gifts” is being read in court.  So, where are we NJ residents today?  Caught in a Political battle where 2 of the Judges, addressing the issue of Toricelli quitting because he can’t win, are on record as campaign contributors to the man they are now sitting in judgment of.  I no longer understand the term “Conflict of Interest”.  So the Democratic Brain Trust in NJ read the political polls and realized their candidate is in voter’s hell.  So what do they do?  They call a time-out and do an end around.  Yes, election-laws, schmelection laws.  NJ is a Democratic State, so the dumb voters won’t care what we do.  The current platform seems to be, “Vote for Anything that says Democrat, even if we have illegitimately unmothballed a 78 year old ex-Senator who no longer wanted to be a Senator because….we are not an evil Republican”.  I thought the voters used the Primary to look over the candidate’s positions and select the person they want.  By simply placing a new name on the ballot, are we to assume that Democrats in NJ are cookie cutter idealists?  Unplug A, insert B, it doesn’t matter what his positions on issues are, just know they are not a Republican. 

Certain NJ Groups are up in arms over the Sopranos.  Certain NJ groups are up in arms over the Political issues.  But no one seems to be up in arms about the current processes going on today in the court system.  Mark this day in history as the Day Losers can Replace a Candidate that Might have a Better Chance in a Race.  Didn’t ex-Senator Lautenburg state he was tired of the personal drain the Senate placed upon his personal life?  Hey, not for nothing, but a six year term for a 78 year old man seems a bit taxing.  Speaking of taxing, that is issue one for Mr. Lautenburg.    NJ has a bad rap for being down and dirty on politics.  Read the papers, watch TV, and you can understand why outside observers smirk when the subject comes up in conversation.  We have just set a new precedent that if your candidate is behind, ignore the laws and insert someone with less political baggage.  Win at all costs and let the laws fall under our feet and get trampled for reasons, well, for the betterment of… well, ignore the laws cause Republicans are bad people with three eyes and a secret horn that only other Republicans know about and rub as a greeting similar to the handshake style of Byron Scott.  Let me see, the laws really don’t apply to us. I’m sorry, I was taking about the Sopranos.  I know it is hard to differentiate.

(Editors's note: Tough day at the office, Bob?)

1999 Petrolo Terre di Galatrona $ (9.99)   This 70% Sangiovese and 30% Merlot is the perfect pizza wine.  A fruit forward beverage packed with dark cherry, raspberry, chocolate and a soft smooth finish.  A friend to red sauces for pasta to parmigiana.  



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