WinoStuff  "Old News"


You have stumbled upon the ramblings of WinoStuff's What's New! files dating back to 2002.  Many historians consider this the real renaissance period in WinoStuff history.  We had such ground breaking works as the Fortified Wine expose and the "Immer Incident" resulting in the first of WinoBob's many restraining orders.  

For additional wino-babble, see:

What's New!
Older News!
Ancient History!


December 12, 2002

“What’s new?” you ask.  Well, I’ll tell you.  The wine highlight of this past month, maybe the wine highlight of the entire year, was Dinner with Andrea Immer.  As WinoBob mentioned in one of his drunken ramblings, he and I had the distinct pleasure of attending a charity dinner hosted by King’s Cooking Studio.  The event featured wine pairings and lively discussion by Master Sommelier, Major Wine Babe, and Honorary Wino, Andrea Immer.  The dinner was held at Bacchus Chop House and Wine Bar (the Official Chop House and Wine Bar of WinoStuff.com!) and benefited the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. 

On the evening of the big event, Bob and I planned to meet at the bar about a half hour before the Immer Dinner was scheduled to begin.  It was a miserable, rainy night and we both were running late.  When I arrived at the restaurant, Bob was already planted firmly in his private seat, vino in hand, entertaining the ladies at the bar.  “The Bob” was dressed in a nice black Armani jacket with black pants, shirt, socks, shoes and underwear (pure conjecture on my part) and I wore my favorite wine-drinking attire: a nice mauve polyester leisure suit with a colorful polyester shirt (complete with a brand new pocket-protector!), so we were both “dressed to kill.”  Bob was laying his best rap on the ladies when I walked in and, as I approached the group, the discussion just seemed to… end...?  I’m sure they were all taken with my dapper couture.

The maitre d’ informed us that Ms. Immer was caught in the weather-related traffic and was running a little late.  “No problem,” I thought, “we’re at a wine bar, we can probably find something to occupy our time until the festivities begin…”  
I muscled my way to the bar and I asked the bartender if he had a meritage by the glass.  He came back with a “Baby Amarone” which was some kind of a Ripasso!  I would have expected something different from the bartender at a WINE BAR!!!  Don’t get me started.  I don’t want to criticize the staff at Bacchus or Bob may lose his cot in the back room.  At least it was red. 

Before we finished the first glass at the bar, Ms. Immer arrived and was scuttled back into the dining room.  The management gave her a few minutes to get prepared and then the announcement was made that the dinner was to begin.  Yes!!!  A nice quiet, intimate dinner with the very babe-o-licious Andrea Immer!  (Yeah, and WinoBob and a few dozen other losers!)  I’d been looking forward to this for a long while!  It was time!

The evening started with a Champagne reception featuring Vueve Cliquot Brut, a tantalizing little opening number.  The meal itself featured wine and food pairings conceived by Andrea and the Bacchus head chef, Michael Frodello.  The first course included lobster and shrimp Thai-curry-something paired with Leon Beyer Riesling and Cambria Chard.  While the Cambria was a delightful little wine in its own right, the food pairing actually favored the more austere Riesling.

The main course featured cocoa-dusted filet mignon paired with a very womanly Frei Brothers Pinot Noir and a much more masculine 1998 Heitz Napa Cab.  The Heitz was an excellent accompaniment to the beef and the pinot was... well... very "pinot".  There was a guy sitting next to me who actually preferred the Pinot!  I would have guessed that he was “playing for the other team” except that his wife was there with him…  Perhaps he was just a switch hitter.

Next, there was an assorted cheese plate which was matched with Graham Malvedos Vintage Port and a 1997 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Gold Label Chianti.  I’m not a port guy and I’m a major Chianti guy so you can imagine which wine I preferred here.  The meal ended with a dessert of petit fours which, if eaten regularly, can lead to Pinot addiction, if you know what I mean…

While the wine and food were memorable, the evening was absolutely made by the wit and knowledge of Andrea Immer.  She spoke before each course and explained the wines and the pairing strategy.  I found her to be both captivating and informative, not to mention incredibly cute.  

After the meal, Ms. Immer was kind enough to sign the book that her publisher sent to WinoStuff for review.  When I mentioned this dopey site, she nervously acknowledged that she was "familiar" with us as she looked around for her security detail.  I think she was just being kind.  When I got home and read the inscription in the book, it all became very clear.  “Dear John, Tell that creepy stick figure guy in the black outfit to stop staring at me.  Cheers, Andrea”


Andrea Immer nervously signs WinoJohn's book 
while her security team wrestles WinoBob to the ground.

So there you have it.  If you ever get the opportunity to dine with Andrea, do it.  But you might not want to mention WinoStuff.  Her security detail has been increased after the WinoBob “incident”, but I don’t want to get into that.

Finally, there was one other "happening" worth mentioning this month.  Because of my tireless efforts to assist WinoHondo and The Rev during the pick/crush this past fall, my name was added to Eddie the Winemaker's "Preferred Customer List".  I was given the opportunity to buy some wine from the soon to be famous "Eddie the Winemaker"!   It was quite an honor.

I picked up two cases of Eddies Big Red Zin and a mixed case of '99 and '00 Chardonnay.  Actually, the plan was to split this bounty with my buddy, Bobby the Wad (not to be confused with WinoBob), but following the advice of Eddie, I have already "hit it hard"!  In fact, my wife "The Sponge", has already polished off most of the Chard!  (Now I'm scraping labels off of Gallo Chardonnays in order to have something to palm off on Bobby the Wad.)  I'll report back on Eddie's Big Red Zin as I dig deeper into the case.

For now, relax, enjoy, have a safe and happy holiday, and drink more wine!

WinoJohn


Andrea takes advantage of a break in the action 
to kick WinoBob's butt...


November 8, 2002

What's New!!!  What's New!!!  You know, it's hard to find things to do with all the cash that this website is generating.  Now that we are rich and famous dot-com guys, we are all driving Ferrari's and drinking nothing but Harlan, Grace, Bryant, etc.  We throw in a little Cristal now and then, just for the ladies.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!  

Actually, we don't have a friggin' dollar in the corporate coffers, but Amazon.com owes us $1.35 in commissions for all the business that we generated for them last year.  So we got that goin' for us, which is nice.  

We definitely want people to think that we have money.  The reason for the illusion is that "money attracts more money."  Or, "money begets money."  Or, "it takes money to make money."  Pick your cliché.  In fact, now that people believe that we have all this money, people want to give us more!  For instance, in the last 6 months, I have received at least 50 e-mails from interested parties (curiously, most of whom are from Nigeria), who want to give me money.  (Like the zillions that I've made from this dopey site isn't enough...)  No, these generous souls want to give me more.  They usually have between 15 and 75 million dollars which was somehow stashed away before the untimely death of their relative or some other rightful owner, and they want to give some of it to me!!!  It's a beautiful thing.  

Take for instance, the following real email that I actually received recently.  How can I say no?

Dear Sir,

I am Hajia Maryam Abacha, widow of the Late General Sanni Abacha former Nigerian Military Head of State who died in power in 1999 as a result of cardiac arrest. The name of your company appeared in one of our directories as one of the companies my late husband wanted to do business with before he died.  I therefore decided to contact you in confidence so that I can be able to move out the sum of US$50, 000, 000.00 (Fifty Million U.S Dollars) which was secretly defaced and sealed in a big metal box and deposited with a security company owned by a South African.  Many of our bank accounts in Europe have been frozened i.e. DEUTSCHE BK, BNP PARINUS BK, HSBC, BARCLAY BK, GOLDMANSACHS BK, CITI BK, COMMERZ BK.

I personally therefore, appeal to you for your urgent assistance to enable me move this money into your country where i believe will be safe since I can not leave the country now due to the restriction of movement imposed on me and members of my family by the present Nigerian Government.

Upon the receipt of your aceptance to assist me, my lawyer shall arrange with you for a face to face meeting outside Nigeria at a place of your choice in order to liase with you towards the effective and immediate completion of this transaction.  However, all necessary arrangement has been put in place and this money has been moved to the security company in Holland through a diplomatic courier company, the cash is now in the secret vault of the security company.  I also want you to be assured that all necessary arrangement for a hitch-free transaction has been concluded and all legal actions has been taking care of in favour of a new mandate.

Conclusively, I have decided to offer you 30% of the total sum of this transaction, 5% will be for whatever expenses that will be incured by our both sides, while 70% is to be used in buying shares in your company as my family investment subsequent to the release of the retriction of our movement by the Nigerian Government for a face to face meeting with you.

Please reply directly to my lawyer and treat this message with absolute confidentiality and sincerity because of the nature of my appeal for your kind help.  I expect your kind and urgent reply to save my family and my children who are now in jail because of know just cause.

Best Regards

Hajia Mrs. Maryam Abacha

 

For those of you who have never received one of these e-mails, they are known as "The Nigerian Money Scam".   Organized groups of Nigerian ne'er-do-wells routinely contact unsuspecting business owners with an offer of millions of dollars if the business owner will cooperate with the Nigerians to essentially smuggle the money out of the country.  Ultimately, the ruse ends up with "snags" and the business owner must send a few thousand dollars to fix the problem.  Often, the victim will be asked to meet face-to-face to effect the transaction.  This scenario usually ends up in a kidnap and ransom situation.  How do I know this?  Why do you think WinoStuff has no money?  (See the journal entry in our General Ledger - "Ransom paid for the release of WinoBob".)  

Well, I figure that if the Nigerians can pull off this scam, a couple of guys from New Jersey (State Motto: "We never met a bribe that we didn't like.") should be able to take the scam to a whole new level.  I'm considering the following response:

Hi ya, Hajia,

I am WinoJohn, partner of the late WinoBob, Director of Creative Content, who died in power in 2002 of cirrhosis of the liver.  The name of my company should be familiar to you as your late husband did do business with us before he died.  (Had your late husband actually visited our web site, he would have known that red wine consumption is good for his bad heart.  Now, it sucks to be him.)  I am glad that you contacted me in confidence as your late husband owed me the sum of US$50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million U.S. dollars) and I intend to collect!    

I personally therefore, appeal to you for YOUR urgent assistance to move the money to my country where I believe that it will be safe since you cannot leave your sorry-ass country due to restrictions of movement imposed on you and members of your family by the present Nigerian Government.  

Upon the receipt of your acceptance to send me the cash, my "people" shall arrange with you for a conference call as I am way to busy and important to meet with you face to face.  However, all necessary arrangements will be put in place and this money can be moved to the the secret vault of my dot-com company in New Jersey through a diplomatic courier company, from the secret vault of the security company in Holland.  (It's no problem, we do this type of transaction all the time.)   I also want you to be assured that all necessary arrangements for a hitch-free transaction have been concluded and all legal actions have been taken care of in favor of a new mandate, the WinoStuff Financial Freedom Mandate.

Conclusively, I have decided to spend 30% of the total sum of this transaction on good wine and slutty women, 5% will be paid to the present Nigerian government to make sure that I never hear from you again, while 70% will be spent frivolously.  I know that adds up to 105%, but I'm using the New Nigerian Math.

Please reply directly to my e-mail address and treat this message with absolute confidentiality and sincerity because of the nature of my DEMAND for your kind help.  I expect your kind and urgent reply to save YOUR family and YOUR children who are now in jail because of my significant influence within the Nigerian government.  If you want to see little Sanni Abacha Jr. again, you will kindly remit to me the sum of US$50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million U.S. dollars) immediately.

Coldly yours and without regard for your personal well being,

WinoJohn

If  Hajia Mrs. Maryam Abacha actually responds, I'm planning to kidnap her and make her my domestic slave.  I think she'll enjoy that role as it will be a huge step up for her.  It will allow my current domestic slave... errrr...  my wife... to get out more.  I may let WinoBob borrow her (Hajia, not my wife) to work on that cork board thing.

So what does all this have to do with wine?  Well...  pretty much... nothing.  But it does involve this dopey site and it is new, so there.  

Here's something new related to wine.  1999!!!  Actually, 1999 is a few years old but the California Cabs from 1999 are now all over the market and that's fairly new.  If you read the Spec, you know that 1999 is supposably an excellent vintage.  ("Supposably" is a cool word.  It truly reveals one's ignorance.)  Take an excellent vintage, mix in an oversupply of wine in general, factor in a depressed economy, and you have all the makings of a Buyer's Market.  Now I'm not an economist, but if I recall that whole Supply/Demand curve thing, we should be able to buy  quality wines at bargain prices.   I've already stumbled on a couple of them.  I'm not saying that you'll find Cult Cabs in the discount bin any time soon.  All I'm saying is that there are some bargains out there.  Try the Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Limited Release.  Ohhh, it's good, Jerry! AND, it's south of $20.  Check it out!  Or try the 1999 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet.  I hear they just won a prestigious award from some lame web site... 

So, your assignment this month is to go out there, sample as many 1999 cabs as possible ($20 or less), and report back to me.  I would do it myself but I'll be busy for the next few weeks, closing on a big "business deal" and bringing on a little domestic help.

WinoJohn


October 8, 2002

John and Dave’s Excellent Adventure

So, here it is, early October and I’m out in Silicon Valley, dweebing my butt off.  (“Dweeb” is one of those all purpose words that can be used effectively as both a noun and a verb.  i.e. “being a major-league dweeb, I have been known to dweeb until late in the evening…” )  Silicon Valley is well known as the center of the dweeb universe and I’m proud to say that I fit right in.  Everywhere you look, there are technology companies although quite a few are operating with a reduced dweeb-count, if you know what I mean.  In fact, reducing the dweeb-count at my place of employment is one of the reasons for my trip.  While I am here, I am tasked with the unenviable task of “thinning the dweeb herd”.  It sucks but somebody has to do it.  (Note to self:  New video game – Whack the Dweeb!)

So, for reasons unknown to me, it was imperative that I remain out in Dweebville over the weekend.  I was considering playing a little golf or maybe going up to Napa and tasting a little vino, when none other than WinoHondo called me up and said, “Dude, the brix on the Chard is 24!  This weekend we’re pickin’ grapes!”  In my best imitation of The Boy, I replied, “That’s cool.”   Napa and the links would have to wait.

WinoHondo has some kind of an “interest” in some dude’s vineyard.  That “some dude”, as it turns out, is this cool old guy named Don, better known as “The Rev”.   The Rev has a place in the Monte Sereno area, somewhere in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains.  He tore up his front lawn and planted 7 or 8 rows of vines and now he’s in the wine business.  Damn, if I could grow Cabernet in New Jersey, my front lawn would look just like his.  I don’t know how Hondo got involved in the deal with The Rev but he did and now he’s making wine.  For that matter, I don’t know how I became a migrant farm worker but I did and now I’m making wine!

Saturday

So, WinoHondo and I hook up at about 8 AM on Saturday morning and, after a quick stop at Starbucks (c’mon, this is California!), we started the 30 minute drive down to The Rev’s place.  When we were about 2 miles away, The Rev called to say that Eddie the Winemaker can’t get there until about 11:00, so don’t hurry.  Thanks, Rev, we’ll be there in 5 minutes.

As we drove up the road to The Rev’s estate, I expected to see Cesar Chavez and a small army of Mexican farm workers ready to start picking grapes.  When we arrived, there was no army of pickers.  In fact, there was no one there to help pick except me, Hondo, and The Rev.  “Don’t worry,” said The Rev, “Numb Nuts will be here soon.”  And sure enough, a half hour later, Numb Nuts showed up.  As it turns out, Numb Nuts is The Rev’s 26 year old son.  Now I’ve heard a lot of people referred to as “numb nuts” but I have never before seen someone answer to that name.   This had all the makings of an interesting day…

We were anxious to make some wine and, feeling pretty good about our innate grape-picking prowess, we decided to get started, with or without Eddie the Winemaker.  The Rev provided us with clippers, 5 gallon buckets, boxes to dump the grapes into, and beer.  Hmmm…, beer while you work… maybe I could make a career out of this winemaking thing…  The Rev instructed us to “just pick the good ones…”  OK, I am a dweeb, but I could probably have figured that much out myself. 

So we wandered out into the vines and started picking.  The first thing I noticed was that some of the grape clusters were putting up a fight.  You’re supposed to sort of clip the bunch right where it attaches to the vine and the cluster should just drop into your hand.  Not these grapes.  No, these were some sort of a tight-knit community of grapes, with berries from one cluster co-mingled with berries from another cluster.  These grapes were hangin' on!  They weren't going peacefully.  Often, you had to clip both clusters to get them off the damn vine.  Sometimes, you couldn’t even see where the cluster attached to the vine.  Or the cluster would be wrapped around the wires which are used to train the vines.  In that case, you’d have to kind of wriggle the cluster off the wire without popping all the grapes loose.  It was becoming apparent that this wasn’t going to be easy.  Throw in some hot California sun, angry swarms of mutant grape-bees, and a pair of cutters that had a strong propensity to clip my left thumb, and this was turning out to be less than fun.  Shit, this could change my whole dream of becoming a cult wine maker.  Maybe I should have played golf. 

When we finally got all the Chard grapes picked, we loaded them into The Rev’s pickup truck and we decided to have a little snack while we waited for Eddie.  I’m not sure why we were still waiting for Eddie but the wait included more beer so it was a welcome break. The Rev’s wife, affectionately known as “The War Department”, cooked up some wild boar sausage sandwiches and we relaxed around The Rev’s pool.  Eddie finally showed up, blessed the grapes, and we headed out to his wine making place. 

Eddie lives on a nice piece of property up in the hills.  He has about 10 acres under cultivation and he’s producing a boatload of his own wine, some of which I had the distinct pleasure of sampling over the next day and a half.  Eddie runs a small winemaking operation in his barn/shop/outbuilding thing.  We proceeded to de-stem the Chard grapes into a small tub and pour the resulting juice-goop into a small press.  Once all the goop was in the press, we cranked down on the hydraulic mechanism and watched as the sweet nectar poured into another small tub.  From there, we immediately pumped it into a new oak barrel.  The whole de-stem/crush/pump process took maybe two hours during which time we also fired up some nice Cubans and enjoyed a fine Cab out of Eddie’s hillside cellar.  (Eddie offered up a nice ’94 Plam Reserve from Napa Valley.  WOW!)  This whole winemaking adventure was starting to become enjoyable.  Oh, did I mention that while we were pressing the fruit, two dirty little bims stopped by to drop off an apple pie and borrow Eddie’s truck?!!!  It was a bit surreal and I didn’t want to ask too many questions.  I’m guessing that winemakers have their own groupies.  That’s cool.

When we were just about through with the whole Chard experience and I was beginning to think again about making a trip up to Napa, Eddie and The Rev came to the conclusion that The Rev’s Cabernet grapes would need to be picked tomorrow.  Perhaps it was the Cubans, perhaps it was the Plam, perhaps it was the dirty little bims, but before I knew what happened, I was enlisted to perform the whole ritual again on Sunday.   

Sunday

On Sunday, Hondo and I, veteran winemakers that we had become, repeated the trek down to The Rev’s.  We were psyched to pick the grapes that would eventually be used to make the soon-to-be cult classic, Chateau Hondeaux Cabernet Sauvignon.  This time, however, it was just Hondo and I picking the grapes.  (Numb Nuts showed up an hour later with one of his buddies but he was so hung over that he spent more time wandering up to the house to get a drink of water than he did actually picking grapes.  It took much longer to pick the Cab than it did to pick the Chard.  Maybe it was the decrease in labor (or the decrease in beer).  Maybe it was the high cluster count of Cab fruit.  Perhaps it was that we were friggin’ hot and tired!  I don’t know.  But it took at least two hours longer to pick the Cab grapes.  Eddie finally showed up and told us not to pick the over-ripe clusters.  The brix was too high and he didn’t want to cause a "fermentation lock".  I’m not sure what that means but it doesn’t sound good so we left the most ripe clusters on the vine.  That helped to expedite the pick process and we finished shortly thereafter.

Hondo and I again loaded the fruit into The Rev’s pickup and again rambled on up to Eddie’s custom crush facility.  Again, we de-stemmed the fruit but this time we left the goop in a large tub with all the skins and stuff intact. This was done to allow the juice to extract as much color and flavor as possible from the skin.  Eddie added some “super hot” yeast to get the soup cookin’.  This must be some kind of inner circle wine lingo that we, the uninitiated, would have to learn through osmosis.  I asked Eddie how much yeast he needed to add and he replied, “I’m gonna hit this one hard!”  So there I am, a dweeb engineer/scientist, trying to quantify the winemaking process parameters, and I’m forced to make a mental note on the volumetric measurement of yeast per ton of grapes as “hit it hard…”.???  That just goes against my grain.  Is this an art or a science.  I’m not an artist, damnit!  I’m a scientist!!!

Again on Sunday, the grape crushing process involved consuming some of Eddie’s wine and smoking more cigars.  I could really get used to this.  This time, the wine was some of Eddie’s own ’97 Cabernet from Paso Robles fruit.  This was a big red.  Really big.  If home winemaking can produce this kind of juice, I’m going to convert the garage into a winery.  Wow!  When the magnum of Eddie’s Big Red was finished, we started dipping into the barrels.  Eddie had a couple different Zins aging in his barrel room and we tasted each one of them.  Eddie’s Old Vines Zin was a real head-banger.  Eddie saw the “Holy Shit” look on my face and offered me a bottle of his ’97 Old Vines Zin.  I'll probably let this baby rest for a year or two before cracking her open.

So, what did I learn from my weekend crush?  A lot! Here’s a few little known facts about winemaking:

  • Winemaking may not be an exact science. (Damn, and I was working on a mathematical formula...!)

  • Quality winemaking requires careful and concurrent wine consumption.

  • Winemakers have various and sundry groupies that show up and contribute to the process, often in indirect ways.

  • If in doubt, hit it hard.

  • A small plot of land can yield enough fruit to supply the average wino with good wine for a whole year!  (Or enough fruit to supply WinoBob with good wine for a whole week!)

That’s it for now.  Sorry for the extended length of this dissertation.  I think we now know enough to relax, enjoy, and make more wine!

WinoJohn


September 2, 2002

Here's something new.  Long time friend of WinoStuff, WinoJanet, cognizant of my propensity for vinous indulgence, passed along some important and timely information.  I did a little research and voila! (Note to self: Stop using French words, especially italicized French words...)  Check this out...

Every day, we hear more good news about the health benefits that a glass or two of wine each day can provide to the average wino.  In fact, WinoStuff has championed the cause by highlighting any study that links wine consumption with health.  You will recall recent reports on the benefits to your heart, your lungs, and your prostate from a glass of wine each day.  We have even reported that red wine has been found to be a cancer fighter!  However, all this good news may lead some winos (i.e. WinoBob) to overindulge in an attempt to become super-healthy.  The thought process being, "If a glass or two a day is good for you, a bottle or two a day must be great for you!"  While WinoBob's heart and lungs may now rival those of an Olympic athlete, his poor liver has been working overtime to process all that alcohol.  In fact, when calculating his remaining liver capacity using the Liver Function Wheel©, we see that Bob's liver has the color and texture of three day old roadkill rotting on a desert highway.  More disturbing is the fact that Bob's liver density is comparable to that of spent plutonium.  (On the bright side, scientists from Sandia National Labs are studying Bob's liver as a potential containment device for radioactive waste.)

So, on one hand, we hear that drinking wine is healthy.  On the other hand, we see the effects that wine consumption (OK, massive over-consumption) can have on some of your vital internal organs.  What is the responsible wino to do?  ("Responsible wino" is not an oxymoron.  WinoBob, however, is an oxymoron.)  

Well, take heart, winos, there is some good news on the liver front.  In a recent article in Prevention Magazine, Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson, reports that liver function can be rejuvenated.  The good doctor reports that "milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is used in Europe to treat chronic inflammatory liver disease and cirrhosis.  Studies have shown that silymarin, a mixture of active compounds contained in the seed of the milk thistle, not only protects the liver from toxins, but it can actually regenerate liver tissue damaged by disease."  Holy bat shit, WinoBob!  Did you read that???   Milk thistle can actually regenerate liver tissue!!!  Were you aware of that?  Apparently, the Europeans knew about this!  Why isn't this information printed on every wine label?  (Probably some French conspiracy to fend off the Yankee hordes!  Damn those Frogs!)  Somebody call the Surgeon General.  (Or call General Colin Powell.  We may have to attack France.)  Now my blood pressure is starting to rise.  Where's my wine...?

Dr. Weil goes on to say, "To protect your liver when you're drinking alcohol, I recommend taking a milk thistle product daily. Look for one that contains 200 to 400 mg of silymarin. Also, be sure to take a B-complex vitamin supplement or a multivitamin. Alcohol destroys thiamin (vitamin B1), increasing alcohol's toxicity to the nervous system."  

So there you have it.  You can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak.   Drink some wine to help your heart and lungs.  Take a little silymarin to fend off the liver damage.  A little more wine, a little more silymarin.  This is starting to sound like an exercise regime.  How healthy do you want to get?

Wait... I just thought of something.  Bob, call Starkist...  What if we put milk thistle IN THE WINE!  It would be a real health food/drink.  This is too much for me to handle.  My head is spinning and it's not from alcohol.

I gotta go.  WinoBob just called.  He's plowing up his back yard in order to start planting milk thistle.  When this news hits the mass media, we'll be there hawking WinoBob's Miracle Liver Tonic.  Hey, this dot-com thing isn't paying any bills!

For now, relax, enjoy, pop a few milk thistles, and drink more wine.

WinoJohn


August 4, 2002

So.  What's New?  As I look back on my last update, the U.S. men's World Cup team was still in the thick of things.  We all know how that turned out.  It was a valiant effort, guys.  Nice job. 

It seems like the World Cup tournament was such a long time ago.  Actually, it was a long time ago.  It's been over 6 weeks since my last mindless dissertation!  Wow, this summer is just flying by.  I suppose you could say that I've been on hiatus.  It's been a very busy year and I needed time to hiate. 

So, what has been going on with the WinoStuff team?  Let's see...  The WinoJohn family enjoyed a week at the beach with The Wife's brain surgeon brother (favorite phrase,  "...I cracked open his mellon...") and his family.  The Doctor is not a wino but that's probably a good thing.  You don't want your surgeon daydreaming about his upcoming trip to Napa while he's working on your "mellon".  The Doctor's wife, however, has the potential to be an excellent wino.  She's still a bit of a novice but give her another week with my wife and she'll have earned her stripes.   

WinoWally recently took the entire entourage of Wally Women on a two week tour of Germany.  If I know Wally, there was definitely wine involved (although the twins are not yet of wine-drinking age, even in Europe).  Wally is a bit of a German-o-phile and I'm expecting a 10 page thesis on the grape growing regions of Germany.

WinoBob is still on suicide watch at Bacchus Chop House and Wine Bar (the Official Chop House and Wine Bar of WinoStuff.com) due to his penchant for big reds and his over-subscribed liver.  His contemplation of the reality of his life juxtaposed with MTV Cribs only served to deepen the crevice.   If it helps, WinoBob, I know a guy that can do good work on your mellon.

OK, enough of this personal stuff.  If you want insight into the daily life of the chronically addicted wine drinker, click here.  If you want to know what's new in the wine world, stay right here.  

Still here?  Good.  Here's an interesting fact.  I was recently checking the stats on visitors to WinoStuff and I noticed something unusual.  On August 2, the search phrase that led most visitors to our dopey little site was... "Mad Dog 20/20".  Not "wine" or "wine reviews" or even "wino".  No, on that particular day, the search phrase that brought the most visitors to 'Stuff was "Mad Dog 20/20".  This is what 2½ years of tireless wine reporting has amounted to.  MD 20/20.  We're one of the top sites on the internet if you're interested in skunk wine.  Damn.  That's depressing.  This could put WinoBob over the edge.

Apparently, we've made mention of MD 20/20 several times here on WinoStuff.  You regular readers will recall our ground-breaking exposé on fortified wines back on February 16, 2002.  (Missed it?  Click here.)  We also made mention of Mad Dog in the little Breaking News blurb about The Wine Group's purchase of Concannon Winery.  (Missed it?  Too bad.)  The Wine Group also owns Mogen David, the concoctors of MD 20/20.  Apparently, one or more of the search engines "spidered" our site and picked up the phrase "Mad Dog 20/20".  Google even cached a page or two.  So now, anyone with interest in MD need only enter "Mad Dog 20/20" in a search engine and up pops 'Stuff.  My parents will be so proud...

(If you are here because you searched on "Mad Dog 20/20" and were directed to WinoStuff, you may want to click here.) 

 Hmmm...  I just realized something.  I've now mentioned Mad Dog about 10 more times.  That should do wonders for our search engine rankings.  We could become the #1 Mad Dog site on the internet.  That should also do wonders for our lame attempts to make money on the net.  We'll have the same disdain as a porn site.  Although...   Hmmm...  Porn sites do make boatloads of money...  WinoBob, call StarKist...  

Whew!   I just went off on a Mad Dog tangent!  Sorry about that.  I'm back now.  Here's something new and important:  Online wine auction site, WineCommune.com, will be hosting its second annual charity wine tasting and dinner on Saturday, Oct. 5 at the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton.  This year's proceeds will again benefit the American Diabetes Association.  The event includes a gourmet dinner in which the guests sit at a "theme" table.  Last year's themes included "1982 Bordeaux", "1994 California Cult Cabs", and more.  Tickets to this year's event range from $395 to $1,250, depending on the wine theme selected.  Each theme table will accommodate 8 people, with 6 wines poured, and will be hosted by a sommelier from a well-known area restaurant.  You can request a table far away from WinoBob.

To register for the Oct. 5 event, donate wines or obtain more information, visit www.winecommune.com or e-mail Julie Bishop at jbishop@winecommune.com.   FYI, the Mad Dog theme table is already sold out.

WinoJohn
August 4, 2002


June 20, 2002

"What's New?", you ask?  Well, if you have a heartbeat, you know that the World Cup is in full swing and that the United States team has made it to the quarterfinals.  Most people will tell you that this is an amazing accomplishment for a country that has not been a traditional powerhouse in the world soccer arena.  I, on the other hand, believe that it is about time that our collective national investment in all things soccer starts paying off.  Surprised?  Don't be.  What does this have to do with wine?  I'll get to that.

In many countries, kids grow up playing "futbol" in the streets, alleys, or cow pastures of their respective homelands.  Quite often, these countries are poor or underdeveloped (Brazil, Argentina, France) and soccer may be these kids' only chance to climb out of poverty and provide for their families.  In other countries, such as England, soccer represents an acceptable reason for the spectators to get drunk and stupid and possibly get their picture on TV.  These countries have decades, maybe even centuries of history wherein the youth have been brainwashed into playing soccer.  It's no wonder that these countries are perennial powerhouses. 

The situation in the US has been quite different.  Historically, we have been a rather affluent nation and our youth has not felt the need to claw their way out of the suburbs and rise to the top of the soccer world.  We were content to play basketball, (American) football, baseball, golf, tennis, and dozens of other sports.  The sheer number of sports opportunities that were available to our youth led kids to participate in many and focus on few.  Soccer was low on the proverbial totem pole.  But all that changed sometime in the 1980's.  I don't know exactly what happened but there was a gradual groundswell of interest in soccer and kids everywhere began lacing up their cleats.  Nowadays, soccer participation in the US exceeds Little League baseball participation by 10 to 1.  I think its a law in 27 states that kids must play soccer.  And I, for one, am a law abiding citizen!  Two of my three kids play soccer and the third is constantly on the lookout for the soccer police.

So what did I mean by "our collective national investment" in soccer?  Well, let's look at the costs to participate:

For each kid that plays on a competitive team, the parent coughs up:

  • Team fees                                                                                      $300 - $500 per year

  • Professional trainer 
    (usually some immigrant from Brazil, Argentina, or England)            $500- $3000 per year

  • Travel, lodging, meals, etc., to at least 5 tournaments                     $1000-$3000 per year

  • Uniform                                                                                          $50-$150 per year

  • Cleats                                                                                             $50-$200 per SEASON

  • Bottled water                - tough to calculate, but estimated to be       $40,000 per year

So, if you do the math (and you thought there was going to be no math on WinoStuff), we spend about $45,000 per kid on soccer in the US every year.  With more than 50 million kids in the US, that comes out to (more math...) more than $2 trillion annually!  Shit, we could buy Argentina for that kind of dough.   So again, I emphasize, "It's about time that our collective national investment in all things soccer starts paying off."

OK, WinoJohn, we spend a lot on soccer.  What's that got to do with wine?  Well, I'll tell you.  I myself have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on soccer development for my two superstars.  I have gone to dozens of tournaments and never have I had an interesting soccer experience that involved wine.  Never.  I thought soccer and wine were mutually exclusive.  Until now.

Riding the wave of World Cup hyper-commercialism, the good folks at Planetfootball.com have launched the Official FIFA World Cup Commemorative Boxed Wine.  I say, it's about time that we had a nice commemorative boxed wine.  And one that involves soccer, well that's just a bonus.  A visit to the planetfootball boxed wine order page reveals...


2002 OFFICIAL FIFA WORLD CUP™ RESULTS COMMEMORATIVE BOXED WINE INCLUDES:

COLLECTOR'S 2002 OFFICIAL FIFA WORLD CUP™ RESULTS WINE BOX

Magnificently crafted commemorative 2002 Fifa World Cup™ Soccer wine box
Back panel lists the 32 particpating countries represented by national coloured team jerseys, plus all player and coach names
Left panel lists results of all matches played from Group matches to 2002 Fifa World Cup™ final
Right panel lists 2002 Fifa World Cup™ statistics, plus all previous World Cup winners
 
 

COLLECTOR'S 2002
OFFICIAL FIFA WORLD CUP™
COMMEMORATIVE WINE LABEL

Commemorative wine label featuring official 2002 Fifa World Cup™ soccer logo
The label shows all 32 team jerseys illustrated in national colours
Label designed in the shape of the Fifa World Cup™ soccer ball
Offical FIFA holographic label on every bottle to ensure it’s authenticity

 

 

COLLECTOR'S 2002
OFFICIAL FIFA WORLD CUP™
COMMEMORATIVE LIQUEUR WINE

750ml Premium Australian Liqueur Wine produced by Drayton’s Family Wines (Est. 1853)
Unique shaped wine bottle
Gold wax seal securing every bottle
Wine cork stopper
PRICE Euro €60
+ Delivery
(Approximate as charged in same value in Australian Dollars)
Available for immediate delivery after 2002 Fifa World Cup™ Final
 

Hmmmm....  "Premium Australian Liqueur Wine" with a "wine cork stopper"...   How can you turn that down?  And it's only 60 Euros (~$55).  What a deal.  Throw in all the box and label fluff and you have yourself a real Wine/Soccer collectible.  

Well, you do what you want.  I'm going to pass.  To place your order, click here.

Until next time, relax, enjoy, crack open a nice breakfast wine, and watch the US kick Germany's butt!!!

WinoJohn


May 11, 2002

What's New!!!?  Whoa!  Plenty!

First, the lovely and astute Wino Gloria checked in this month.  It seems that Wino Gloria's daughter accidentally left some wine in the trunk of her car for a few days and the heat caused the air in the bottles to expand and push the corks partially out of some of the bottles.  Gloria was wondering whether the wine was ruined.  Gloria explained that she had given some of the wine to her daughter and some of it was quite expensive.  

   Somethin' strange... in the trunk of your car... who ya' gonna call?  WinoStuffers! 

Sorry about that.  Gloria's whole unfortunate incident highlights one important fact.  MY MOM NEVER GAVE ME ANY WINE!  What's up with that?  Hello, Mom?  Are you taking notes here?  Geez...  Hey, Gloria's kid, I hope you appreciate your Mom!  Hint: Mother's Day is real soon...

 

OK, on with What's New!!!...  We received an advance copy of Andrea Immer's new book, Wine Buying Guide for Everyone.  I just like seeing that in print...   "We received an advance copy of Andrea Immer's new book..."    It kind of makes us sound important.  "Yeah, we received an advance copy of Andrea Immer's new book.  What?  You didn't get your advance copy?  Oh, well,  we got ours.  I'm sure yours is in the mail..."  (ha ha ha...)  

Actually, I was contacted by the lovely and astute Julia, the Internet Marketing Manager over at Doubleday & Broadway Books.  The very perceptive Julia recognized the immense marketing potential of WinoStuff.  (Our page hits number in the double digits every day!)  Whew, you don't get that kind of reach from just any old web site!  This is BIG time.  Anyway, Julia offered to send us an advance copy of the book in order to get a little press.  (Or maybe it was to get WinoBob to stop stalking Ms. Immer...  I don't know.)  All I know is that we received an advance copy of Andrea Immer's new book!

We are working on a proper review, but here's my first impression.  NICE LOGO!  Check it out.  Andrea Immer has a logo!  Now, that's cool.  The corkscrew thing with the "A"...  Damn.... I want a logo with my initials... Hey, Mr. Director of Creative Content,  Mr. Hang-Out-in-Manhattan-With-Some-Artsy-People-Dressed-in-Black, how about some personalized logos!  My head is starting to hurt...

 

OK, enough of my rants.  Here's some news you can use!

A recent news article on decanter.com discusses a British company's research into new ways to control insects that can destroy vines.  The ingenious Brits at the company, ExoSect, have developed the ExoSex Mating Disruption System© which is designed to cause "gender confusion" among the vine pests.  I'm not making this up.  They report that "Gender confusion is an effective, though expensive, method of pest control."   Apparently, this form of pest control is practiced widely by grape growers. Artificial female insect pheromones are released upon unsuspecting male insects, rendering these poor unfortunates incapable of recognizing the female insects, thereby reducing the insect population as breeding falls off.  No, really.  I'm not making this up.

Now, I've seen enough Monty Python and Benny Hill to know that the Brits are generally pretty gender confused anyway.  I can only imagine the plight of a poor British insect, doused with female pheromones, forced to fend for him/herself out there in the cruel vineyard, unsure of his own sexual identity.  I can just see all the bully insects picking on the frail little gender- confused  bugs.  I envision some introverted little British male beetle, dressed in a tacky frock, sporting earings, lipstick, and a pair of pumps, sitting at the local vineyard insect bar, trying to pick up another beetle, any beetle, without any gender preference.  A group of macho, biker bugs comes in and torments the poor cross-dressing pheromone-afflicted insect, resulting in terrible mental anguish and thoughts of suicide.  It's not a pretty sight.  But hey, if it controls vine pests, I'm in favor!

To view the original article, click here.

My question to these goofy, fun loving British scientists is, "What about the effect on the people drinking the wine???"  Could the consumption of wine made from grapes that were grown in these "treated" vineyards be hazardous to one's own sexual identity?  Will female winos suddenly decide to get a butch haircut?  Will male wino's around the world have sudden unexplained "urges" to get in touch with their feminine side?  I have this mental image of WinoBob in a low-cut Versace gown and some 5" spike heels.  Aaagghhhhhhhh!!!!!   I pulled a brain muscle...  Now I'm mentally scarred.  I think I need therapy...

At this point, all I can suggest is that you relax, enjoy, dress up in something pretty, and drink more wine.


April 20, 2002

...and now for something completely different...

 

The Adventures of Buckaroo Bob in the 21st Century

When we last caught up with our hero, he had just been captured by the evil Queen Whitezin, ruler of the Boxwines.  Buckaroo Bob was being held prisoner in the dank, musty dungeon beneath her decaying old castle in Central Otago on the planet of Nosyrah…

“I have you now, Captain Bob!” shouted the Queen.  “Not even the elite Red Brigade can save your scrawny ass from the fate that awaits you!”  She laughed with a sickly sweet, ear-piercing cackle.  “Now, no one can stop me from replacing all the Red Nutrient in the universe with boxes of my PsuedoZin©.  Once the people taste PZ©, the mind numbing effects will kick in, addiction will follow, and I will rule the universe!  Ha, ha, ha, ha…”   

Bob’s stomach ached and that big vein in his forehead began to throb.  It wasn’t looking good for the good guys. 

Bob tugged with all his might on the shackles that bound his hands and feet. “Curse you, Whitezin!” he shouted.  “Damn you and your wicked concoction!  When I break loose from here, I’ll… I’ll…, well, I won’t be happy!!!” 

But it was no use.  The 135 pound stick-figure was no match for the titanium cuffs that held him.  The skin on his wrists and ankles was rubbed raw from the struggle to free himself.  He now hung limp against the cold cell wall, the stench of death surrounding him.  His dapper black uniform was tattered and torn, no longer befitting a Wino Warrior of his stature and import.  Although his bifocals were crushed in the struggle with the Queen’s hench-women (actually, it was more like hench-woman), he could see the blurry image of the torture rack that would become his ultimate destiny if he could not free himself.  He knew his fate if the Queen emerged victorious. 

As his mind cleared (it had been days since his last drink of Red Nutrient), Bob thought for a moment.  If only he could wriggle loose from these shackles (not happening), perhaps he could overpower the guards (unlikely), make his way to the command center (not without his glasses), and send a signal back to his starship (only if he has his cell phone).  He was certain that First Officer Wallace was at the helm of the USS SpaceStuff.  Bob knew that the crew would be filled with anguish over the prospect of losing their hero at the hands of the dastardly Queen.  “They must be planning a rescue,” he whispered to himself.  “I know they are…  But what is taking them so long…?”  

Still several light-years away, the crew of the starship was recovering from a hard fought battle against the Merlotians.  The Merlotians are a diverse people albeit somewhat thin-skinned.  In some parts of the universe the Merlotians are big bold warriors, capable of surviving on their own.  In other areas, the Merlotians are a soft, almost effeminate people, lacking the ability to stand own their own three feet, and are forced to blend in with other indigenous species.  

For the past ten years, the Merlotians had been threatening the dominance of the Supreme Allied Commander, King Calcab.  They had been making inroads in some of the most important strategic territories and the Allied Forces were at a loss to stop them.  It finally came to a head in the ultimate battle for universal supremacy.  It was a long and bloody fight, but the crew of the 'Stuff prevailed.  They put down the Merlotians along with the unpredictable mercenaries, the Pinots.  The battle was not without its casualties.  The Right Bank of the ship was damaged and the entire starship stunk of  “horse stable.”  Fortunately, the dotcomulator remained fully functional and the ship was still moving forward.  The crew, for the most part, was intact.

When the word came through that Captain Bob had been seduced by the triple breasted whore from the Gewürz Galaxy, the crew was stunned.  When they found out that Bob had been tricked into drinking a pale pink beverage laced with the date rape drug, Rhonehypnol, they were horrified. When they discovered that Bob was being held captive by the evil Queen Whitezin, they knew that they must act quickly if "The Bob" was to have a chance of survival.  Surely, they knew, the evil Queen would be torturing Bob.  Surely, she would subject him to the “cruel deprivation”.  Surely, the Red Nutrient, his life-blood, his reason for being, would be withheld.  Surely, she would call him Shirley. 

The crew of the 'Stuff began to formulate a plan to free their leader and put an end to the tyranny of Whitezin.  Little did they know, but a mutiny was about to take place on the bridge.  First Officer Wallace, ever anxious to take over command of the 'Stuff, smiled wryly as he conjured a mental image of Captain Bob on the Queen's torture rack.  Wallace knew the Queen's methods.  Bound hands and feet, Bob would be "presented" with life-saving Red Nutrient, perhaps a Riedel-full of  ’98 CdP, placed just out of reach.  “The horror, the horror…,” Wallace chuckled.   "Once I take command of the ship, we'll travel to the Isle of Duff, the land of birdies and eagles.  There, with the power of the USS 'Stuff behind me, I will rule!  I will spend the days in the grass with my shooting irons.  At night, I will lay on the pebble beaches and sip the elixir of life.  I just need to get Captain Buckaroo Bob out of the way..." 

Back in the dungeon, the Queen’s Executioner approached Bob.  The time had come to move him to “the rack”.  Bob’s mind began to race.  He was cold and he was tired.   He lacked the strength to lift his shackled hand from his side.  It was then that The Bob remembered the corkscrew in his utility belt…

To be continued…   maybe.           

 

With apologies to Monty Python, Gene Roddenberry, Bruce Lansbury, Douglas Adams, Francis Ford Coppola, Jim Abrahams, David and Jerry Zucker, and anyone else that we may have offended.

 

OK.  So what have we learned today?

  1. Wine writing and fiction don't mix.

  2. Never, EVER read the Spectator while watching the SciFi Channel.

  3. Even a skinny kid from New Jersey can grow up to be a famous superhero.

  4. You always have to watch out for the financial guy.

  5. There are a lot of good wine books but not many good wine MOVIES!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:  Relax, enjoy, and drink more wine.

WinoJohn


March 23, 2002

"What's new?" you ask.  Other than The Boy turning 16, not too much.  Unless you are a Yahooligan.  You know Yahoo!, the internet supersite with everything from maps to weather to whatever.  I have a Yahoo! account, personalized with all my favorite stuff.  I just log in to get sports reports for all the Philadelphia teams, world news, weather for all the third world countries that I am forced to visit for my dweeb day job, and more.  One feature that used to be pretty good was the "Wine of the Day" snippet.  But something has gone wrong.  Very, very wrong.

I have my "My Yahoo!" set up to show me the Wine of the Day whenever I log in.  For a long time, the WOTD feature highlighted something new every day, often featuring wines I had never heard of.  Some of the wines seemed very interesting and I would often search out the WOTD under the guise of WinoStuff "research".  I can recall a few excellent selections that I am glad to have tried.  But then, something changed.  The Wine of the Day used to feature recommendations from the ubiquitous wine.com.  Say what you want about their business acumen (and nobody ridicules them more than the staff at WinoStuff) but they had a pretty decent wine-sense.  But all that has changed.  Wine.com is no longer involved and it seems now that the Wine of the Day recommendation reflects some unmentioned partnership that Yahoo! has with one or more of their advertising partners.   In fact, we now find out, "Wine of the Day" may not mean Wine of the Day.  It could mean something completely different!

Take for example, these actual recent recommendations for Wine of the Day on Yahoo!


Wine of the Day  (March 18, 2002)

Cranberry Wine Cheese
Made especially for us by Merkts Cheese Company in Bristol, Wisconsin, they mix our award-winning Cranberry Wine with their aged cheddar to produce this delicious cheese spread. One pound tub.

Yes, winos, the Wine of the Day for March 18 is actually CHEESE.  And what better wine to mix into your tub-o-cheese than a nice cranberry wine.  Could this be an indication that Yahoo! has (gasp) gone commercial? 


Wine of the Day (March 19, 2002)

For The Hunter
Up here in the Northwoods of Wisconsin we take our hunting and fishing seriously, and we've put together a collection of the best marinades, rubs and seasonings made just for wild game and fish. This rustic basket also includes a Wild Game and Fish Recipe Book and a blaze orange hat!

 Well, thank God, the wine of the day today is not cheese.  That would have been too hard to take.  Today, the wine of the day is a "collection of marinades, rubs and seasonings" for fish and game.  That's more like it.  Now I feel better...


Wine of the Day (March 20, 2002)

VINI Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Just Released! Vintage of a Century. Award winning wine from Bulgaria. Great value - $7! Deep red with purple highlights. Bordeaux-like aromas of lead pencil and black currants follow through on a medium-bodied palate with firm and drying tannins. A substantial wine with more character than you...

What's this?  The wine of the day is WINE?  What the...?  Who's in charge here?  Oh well, at least they picked a nice wine as wine of the day.  As you can see, it is also the vintage of a century from the world renowned Bulgarian winery, VINI Vineyards.  If you think about it, however, the 2001 is probably not yet released, making the 2000 VINI the only vintage of the century!  


Wine of the Day (March 21, 2002)

You Choose the Mix Sampler 6 or 12 Btls
No Sulfites Added! Kosher. Mix and match 6 full size bottles. You pick the number of each variety; Blackberry, Cranberry, Elderberry, and Cherry. This lets you get a mix of our wine at a case price. You can specify the number of each variety as you enter your shipping information during the Check...

Check this out.  The wine of the day is available in 6-packs.  Now if they could just package it in easy-open cans... 


Wine of the Day (March 22, 2002)

VINI Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 Reserve
Award winning wine from Bulgaria. Great value -$7! VINI is #1 Red Wine Under $10 - Global Gourmet This Cabernet is oaky in flavor, with ripe, berry-like fruit and richness. "Tastes like a good Zinfandel" - Fred McMillin  FREE UPS DELIVERY FOR CASE ORDERS (12 bottles) from SONOMA, CALIFORNIA. Mixed...

What's this?  More wine from the world renowned Bulgarian winery, VINI Vineyards?  Is this our lucky day, or what?  You have to go all the way back to the memorable '96 vintage to get those "berry-like" flavors.  Unlike Fred McMillin, however, if I want a good Zinfandel, I will buy a good Zinfandel!


So there you have it.  I'm sorry to be the one to have brought this to your attention.  You can see why my faith in anything-of-the day has been shaken.  After all, if the Wine of the Day is a farce, what else could be a farce?  I shudder to think about... no, say it ain't so... no, not the... Top 100 Lists!

Try not to think about this.  Try to take your mind off these distractions.  Sit back.  Crack open a tub of cheese.  Rub yourself with some marinade and seasonings.  Relax, enjoy, and drink...  more...  Never mind.

WinoJohn


February 16, 2002

What's new?  "What's OLD?", would be a better question.  I'll tell you what's OLD.  This goofy website, that's what!  Two years old to be exact.  Man, how time flies when you're doin' Stuff.  We need to start planning for the big anniversary celebration.  Bob, is there any money in the corporate coffers to finance this most memorable occasion?  (I already know the answer to that question!)  I'm sure Marv Shanken, Bob Parker, Ernie and Julie, Bob Mondavi, and all the other Boys of Wine are wondering why they haven't received their invites yet.  The invitations, as they say, are "in the mail"...

Anyway, here we are two years later and people still ask me about the term "wino" in our site name.  "Do you guys know what WINO means?", they ask.  "WINO refers to those bums laying in the gutter, drinking cheap jug wine.  Certainly you're not targeting that demographic!", they say.  To that I can only respond, "What are you, friggin' idiots?"  Or, as The Boy would say, "Duh.  Dad.  Dude."  Of course were not targeting that demographic.  When we started this site, target demographics were the farthest thing from our collective minds.  We still have no idea what our demographic is, but, judging by the distinct lack of correspondence from world famous wine writers and winemakers, my guess is that our demographic is closer to the bum in the street.  Take for example this real email sent to WinoBob recently (Bob gets all the good email.  Why do you think that is???):


To: winobob@winostuff.com
Subject: Hay, Hay, Hay...You Missed some important wines...
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002 00:13:34 -0800

I was looking at your page and noted the absence of such labels as Cisco grape (vintage 2002), Night Train Express (Vintage 2002) Night Train Midnight Express (Vintage 2002), Boones Farm Strawberry Hill (vintage 2002), and other notable fine after dinner or absence of dinner wines; such as Mad Dog 20/20, Hiawatha, Thunder Bird, and so forth. What kind of wino page are you running? If you are going to rate such snobbish up your ass with all the xylophone-ribbed-for-her-pleasure as a $0.25 condom purchased in a ghetto liquor store, then you must include the nectar of the gods from the places to which it will be appreciated.

Well, this nearly unintelligible communiqué, written in the most Bob-esque style, got me thinking.  What do people expect when they first log on to WinoStuff?  Are they looking for information on cheap swill that will knock you on your ass without making a dent in your wallet?   Are they disappointed to find that the site is full of reviews of real wine and techno-gadgetry?  Does WinoBob have some kind of weird cult following among the chronically inebriated and downtrodden?  On the off chance that the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, I present to you the following wine reviews for the more colloquial “wino”.

Fortified Wines

Fortified wines are the beverage of choice among real winos (not those Frasier-watching, wine-cellar-owning, cork-bottle-wine-drinking, sleep-in-a-real-bed “winos” that frequent the WinoStuff website)!  Fortified wines have additional alcohol added after fermentation to raise the alcohol content up to “anti-freeze levels” which is quite useful when the temperature on the park bench or under the bridge (or wherever you call home) drops down into the single digits. 

Long ago, fortified wines were made by adding brandy to still wines in order to raise the alcohol content, so that the wines would not spoil during shipping. The higher alcohol contents killed off bacteria and other funk.  We winos now believe that the extra alcohol can kill off bacteria and other funk in our bodies, giving fortified wines a sort of prophylactic medicinal value…

These fortified wines are often produced by adding grain alcohol to cheap fruit wine. The result is a high-octane product that produces a tremendous “buzz per buck ratio” (BBR).  These wines are sold in small screw-top bottles for $1-2 for a 375 ml bottle (about 12.5 ounces) making them favorites for low-income alcoholics and high school kids everywhere.  Many major cities in the U.S. have developed programs to remove cheap fortified wines from inner city stores as a means of curbing abuse by kids and alkies.

In many states, fortified wines are limited to a maximum of 20% alcohol content by volume.  In most cases, tax laws treat 20+ % wines differently than real wines, effectively destroying the BBR for wines above 20% alcohol. 

Here’s what the Ventura County Alliance on Alcohol Policy has to say about these raw, edgy elixirs:

Fortified Alcohol Fact Sheet

  • Fortified wines combine flavors, sugar, high-proof grape-based distilled spirits and other unknown chemicals to a wine base to produce beverages with 18 to 20 percent alcohol.

  • Cheap fortified wines sell for $1.00 to $1.35 for a 375 ml. (12.7 oz.) bottle. Leading brands are Canadaigau's Richards Wild Rose, Gallo's Thunderbird and Night Train, and Mogen David's MD 20/20.

  • Because of their low price, cheap fortified wines are the beverage of choice of poor, chronic, heavy drinkers. Small bottles of cheap fortified wines are known on the street as "short dogs," "mickeys," "poneys," “pocket rockets” and "mad dogs."

  • Sometimes, these products are designed to be consumed and sold in massive quantities -- 40 oz. containers are common, even 64-ounce bottles are being sold and people drink them in a single serving. Contrast that to the average serving of whiskey: a small shot glass or a shot of rum blended in a cocktail.

  • Advertising of fortified products is also deliberately targeting people of color. Malt liquors are already heavily marketed to youth, particularly African and Latino males in the inner city. Music videos and youth-oriented films, magazines and entertainment prominently feature fortified products. Many of the products have names to appeal to certain ethnic groups.

  • Because the drinks are strong and the containers are large, consumers drink too much of a too-strong product too quickly. They get very drunk and may also develop an addiction to this much stronger beverage.

  • According to Newsweek, addiction professionals have dubbed cheap, fortified wine "the most seriously abused drug in this country."

  • Treatment experts claim that fortified wines promote addiction, misery, and homelessness.

This fact sheet is provided courtesy of the Ventura County Alliance on Alcohol Policy (VCAAP). For more information please call 385-7977.

But hey, what do they know?  Here’s the WinoStuff review of some of the best selling brands:

MD20/20 (Mad Dog)
Mogen David Wine Corporation
85 Bourne Street
Westfield, NY 14787

Telephone: (716) 326-3151
Fax: (716) 326-4442
MD 20/20

  Produced in many flavors including: Pink Grapefruit, Wild Berry, Hawaiian Blue, Lightning Creek, Banana Red, Kiwi Lemon, Orange Jubilee, Mango Lime, Key Lime Pie, Peaches and Cream, Strawberry Cream, Tangerine Dream, and the ever-popular “Red”.    With so many flavors, you could get schnockered every night of the week and never taste the same dog twice.  At 20% alcohol, you can also use this beverage to put down a mad dog.  Consume at your own risk.

Thunderbird  (T-Bird)
Just in case you are not familiar with Thunderbird, it’s an “American Classic”.  How do I know?  It’s says so right on the label!  They couldn’t say that if it wasn’t true!  The label also says to “Serve Cold”.  Does that mean you should spring it on unsuspecting dinner guests?   Legend has it that Thunderbird was introduced immediately after the repeal of prohibition, by Ernest and Julio, as a means of gaining market share amidst pent up demand for a cheap buzz.  At 17.5% alcohol and $3.50 a bottle, it can also be used to remove bugs and road tar from your Ford Thunderbird.   In an emergency, it can also be poured into the gas tank of your Ford Thunderbird.

Night Train "Express" (The Pocket Rocket) 
Night Train is the quintessential wino wine.  Sold in 375 ml bottles, this apple flavored wine is popular with both street alcoholics and teen-agers.   A couple bottles of this and you’ll feel like you were hit by the night train.  Thick and syrupy, much like Sterno, this stuff will warm you up on that cold winter’s night.  Pour some in a back alley trash can and set it on fire for some real warmth.

Wild Irish Rose  (da Rose)
Another favorite seller in inner-city outlets and other places serving a low-income alcoholic clientele, Wild Irish Rose tells you right on the label that it’s 100% pure grape wine.  They have to tell you what it is because your taste buds are immediately anesthetized on the first sip.  The "burn" as it goes down quickly turns to a sort of internal numbness.  With a nose of benzene and chlorinated-fluorocarbon, this VOC should be consumed in a well ventilated room.  Avoid open flames.

Boones FarmAt only around 8% alcohol by volume, why waste your time?  As cheap-buzz wino wines go, these are girlie wines. Boones Farm offers such frilly flavors as:

Sun Peak Peach
Sangria
Country Kwencher
Strawberry Hill
Wild Island
Snow Creek Berry
Strawberry Daiquiri
Fuzzy Navel
Kiwi Strawberry
Hard Lemonade
Raspberry Hard Lemonade
Blackberry Ridge

 

So there you have it.  The once high flying captains of industry, know-it-all technodweebs and financial brainoid, have stooped to a new all time low to bring you the information that you requested.  At this point, we can all now relax, enjoy, and if you found this edition of "What's New!!!" to be exactly the type of information you needed, drink less wine.  

WinoJohn


January 1, 2002

What's New!!!?  Let's see... uhhh, the new year?  Oh yeah.  We've got another new year brewing.  And along with the new year come those pesky new year's resolutions.  What kind of psuedo-journalist would I be if I didn't list some resolutions.  I'll save the resolution crap for the end of the column.  Before that, I have a confession.  I'm a "lurker" (not to be confused with a "lurk-off").  What's a lurker?  A lurker is one who hangs out (lurks) on chat boards or discussion forums and contributes NOTHING.  Not a damn thing.  That's me.  I'm a lurker.  I frequent several wine discussion web sites where the postings are lively, informative, and entertaining and rarely do I so much as say "hi".   I am such a dweeb.

You may ask, "WinoJohn, why don't you just step up to the plate and contribute to the discussions?  You're an intelligent guy.  Surely, you can add insightful commentary to any wine-related topic."  To that I can only respond, "Thanks for your vote of confidence.  And don't call me Shirley."  (See?  I can add insightful quotes from stupid movies and TV shows from the last 25 years, but insightful commentary on wine?  I don't think so, Tim.) Perhaps I'm intimidated.

Now I know that this probably comes as a surprise to many of you.  You've read two years of my "What's New" ramblings and you probably think I'm some kind of wine genius (c'mon... just humor me...).  But if you go back and review my writings, how many articles are actually about wine?   I've written about technology, my defective palate, my twisted view of the wine industry, my world travels, the internet, my home computer, etc., etc., all loosely wrapped in the context of wine.  But how many actual wines have I written about?  Not too many.  Face it, I'm an engineer dweeb with a corkscrew and a web site.  That is why I'm a lurker.

If you visit some of the online forums, you'll see some real wine discussion.  For example, I recently surfed over to one of the more popular wine discussion sites and I stumbled upon a Tasting Note (TN) about some wine that I never heard of, made from a grape I never heard of, from some producer I never heard of, from a region I never heard of, located in a country I never heard of!  To top it off,  the tasting note describes flavors I never heard of and even used punctuation I never heard of!  The note went something like this:

TN: 1989 Chateau Malcontent Cabornæt "les Gonåds" Blanc de Rouge - A beautiful golden yellow color with a nose of moldenberry and a hint of peppernitz.  The first taste shows a touch of glubernox and a dash of letrine joins in at mid palate. A bit tangy with a nice dry, soft mouth feel and good acidalance.  The finish is mild. One of the finest les Gonåds in recent memory, and perhaps one of the best wines to come from Bannockburn in Central Otago since the memorable 1973 vintage.  I rate it 17 rusty prongs¿

You can see why I'm intimidated.

On another site, recently, there was a heated discussion about the relative merits of some vintage of Burgundy.  As I recall, the thread accused noted wine critics, Robert Parker and/or Pierre Rovani of The Wine Advocate, of changing their rating on the quality of the '93 vintage.  Hordes of board participants jumped all over them.  This caused Pierre himself to post a message in defense of their actions.  Well, you'd think Osama himself had posted a message.  (Fk Bin Laden, by the way.)  The members of this particular board were all over him!  There were posts like, "Pierre, you ignorant slut, if you don't like the '93 Burgundies, then you should sell me all your '93's.  Better yet, you should give me all your '93's, you stupid bastard!"    Shit, if that's how they treat a recognized expert (that would be Pierre), how would they treat some idiot techno-geek?  (That would be me.)  Again, no wonder I'm intimidated.

If you have followed my ramblings in the past, you know that I'm also a massive California Cab fan.  Wait... I'm not actually massive,  I just like big red wines and I find a lot of them in California.  Actually, I find them in my local wine shops.  You get the picture.  Don't make me go back and study proper sentence construction.  Anyway, I like big red California wines and there seems to be a general disdain for California Cabs on many of the wine forums.  Perhaps its because of the recent price increases or their over-the-top, new world style.  Perhaps these wine board experts have invested heavily in wines from France or Central Otago and they have an agenda.  I don't know.  All I know is that I drink a lot of red wine and my favorites come from Napa and Sonoma.  Period.  I don't need some internet "expert" to inform me that I'm a wine idiot and that the '97 Adelaida Cab from Paso Robles is nothing compared to the '89 les Gonåds.  Never having had the les Gonåds, and not planning to visit Otago any time soon, how can I argue this point?

Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy visiting some of these sites.  I actually learn a lot.  Many of the "regulars" are in the wine business in some form or another.  There are wine makers, importers, retailers, critics, etc.  Some of the commentary is very funny.  I'm sure it would be even funnier if I knew the participants or if I understood all the "inside jokes".  Many of the participants are regular contributors on several different discussion sites even though that is perceived on some boards as "cavorting with the enemy".  Many regulars also have their own web sites, though none are as dopey as WinoStuff.  Two of my favorite wine discussion sites are Wine Lovers Discussion Group and Wine Therapy (Enemy Vessel).  WLDG, hosted by world-famous wine guy and Honorary Wino, Robin Garr, is prone to civil wine discussion with occasional lapses to personal attack while EV seems more prone to humorous personal attack with occasional lapses to civility.  Both are excellent resources for wine information.  Go on over and lurk a bit.  I think you'll enjoy it.

OK, here are my Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for 2002:

1) Lurk less.  Post more.

2) Visit Otago.  I hear it's very nice.

3) Make some friggin' money on this web site.

4)  Fk Bin Laden (not literally)

5) Cut WinoBob some slack. (not really)

6) Drink more whites.

7) Drink more non-cabernet reds.

8.) Relax

9.) Enjoy

10.) Drink more wine.

 

WinoJohn                                                                                                                              Go Eagles! 

 


Home ] What's New? ] News from Bob ] Wally's World ] Boycott Hollywood ] WinoBabes ] Main Reviews ] Restaurants for Winos ] Links Main Page ] Books4Winos ] Wine Primer ] The Lunatic Fringe ] Random Stuff ] Who are we? ] Old Breaking News 2005 ] WinePress ] SiteMap ]

Copyright © 2000-2005  Wine Ventures, LLC.   All rights reserved.   This page revised June 03, 2006
Drink responsibly.  DON'T drink and drive!