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.
additional wino-babble, see:
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Andrea Immer nervously signs WinoJohn's book
while her security team wrestles WinoBob to the ground.
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.
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.
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.
now, relax, enjoy, have a safe
and happy holiday, and drink more wine!
Andrea takes advantage of a break in the action
to kick WinoBob's butt...
November 8, 2002
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
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.
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.
instance, the following real email that I actually received recently. How can I say
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hajia Mrs. Maryam Abacha
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
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:
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
yours and without regard for your personal well being,
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.
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
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...
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.
and Dave’s Excellent Adventure
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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…
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
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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
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
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.
what did I learn from my weekend crush?
A lot! Here’s a few little known facts about winemaking:
may not be an exact science. (Damn, and I was working on a mathematical
winemaking requires careful and concurrent wine consumption.
have various and sundry groupies that show up and contribute to the
process, often in indirect ways.
in doubt, hit it hard.
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
it for now. Sorry for the extended
length of this dissertation. I think we now know
enough to relax, enjoy, and make more wine!
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.)
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
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...?
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
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?
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.
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!
now, relax, enjoy, pop a few milk thistles, and drink more wine.
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.
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? 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.
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.)
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
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 email@example.com.
FYI, the Mad Dog theme table is already sold out.
August 4, 2002
June 20, 2002
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.
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
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:
$300 - $500 per year
(usually some immigrant from Brazil, Argentina, or
$500- $3000 per year
lodging, meals, etc., to at least 5
$1000-$3000 per year
$50-$150 per year
$50-$200 per SEASON
- 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:
"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
Until next time,
relax, enjoy, crack open a nice breakfast wine, and watch the US kick
May 11, 2002
What's New!!!? Whoa!
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.
strange... in the trunk of your car... who ya' gonna call? WinoStuffers!
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
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.
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
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
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…?”
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
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
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…
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
Wine writing and fiction
Never, EVER read the
Spectator while watching the SciFi Channel.
Even a skinny kid from New
Jersey can grow up to be a famous superhero.
You always have to watch out
for the financial guy.
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.
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!
the Day (March 18,
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
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
the Day (March 19, 2002)
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!
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...
the Day (March 20, 2002)
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...
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!
the Day (March 21, 2002)
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...
this out. The wine of the day is available in 6-packs. Now if they
could just package it in easy-open cans...
the Day (March 22, 2002)
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...
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.
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
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???):
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”.
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.
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
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
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
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
According to Newsweek, addiction professionals
have dubbed cheap, fortified wine "the most seriously abused drug in
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
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
85 Bourne Street
Westfield, NY 14787
Fax: (716) 326-4442
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.
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.
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
Wild Irish Rose (da
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 Farm – At
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:
Snow Creek Berry
Raspberry Hard Lemonade
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.
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.
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.
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.
you visit some of the online forums, you'll see some real wine
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¿
can see why I'm intimidated.
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.
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:
Lurk less. Post more.
Visit Otago. I hear it's very nice.
Make some friggin' money on this web site.
Fk Bin Laden
Cut WinoBob some slack. (not really)
Drink more whites.
Drink more non-cabernet reds.
Drink more wine.