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February 10, 2010 (Really!)

Wow.  That was refreshing.  What a great hiatus…  One of my best abeyances ever!  I’m feeling much better now.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, I haven’t updated this page in…  let’s see… what is the date of my last update… ?  Wait!  It was today!  (God, I love that java applet…)

So you may have been asking yourself, “I wonder where WinoJohn is…?  We haven’t seen an update in weeks months years.  I hope he’s OK…”.   (If you’re not saying that to yourself, you should be.  What’s the matter with you?)   Well, this is where I start making excuses before jumping into something perhaps a little more wine related…

Here are some of the possible reasons why I have yet again abandoned you, my adopted cyber family:

Possible Reason #1

My real family was starting to think I might have another family, possibly living in mainland China, with whom I choose to spend large amounts of time.  Worse yet , my other family in mainland China was beginning to suspect that I have a family in the US!  Understandably, this was causing all sorts of familial thrash.  My life of international intrigue has become extremely hard to manage, thus…,  wait for it…,  leaving me with little or no time to write random shit for this stupid web site!  (See how I cleverly closed that circle?  That was masterful!)

Possible Reason #2

I traveled more than 150,000 miles last year in the performance of my dweeb day job.  I actually had to focus on issues that affected my income rather than issues related to this web page which has absolutely no bearing on my financial situation.  (Hey, I don’t see any of you sending me cash to support my red wine addiction.  The guy who’s signing my paycheck gets my attention.  Let that be a lesson to you…, you…  you LURKERS!)

Possible Reason #3

One of my little princesses took control of my uber-computer and left me with no access to my WinoStuff files.  I wanted to update this page but I didn’t have access.  To my computer.  To update this page.  (Are you buying any of this?)   I couldn’t really complain, however.  My daughter was a senior in high school last year and she needed the enormous computing power of the WinoStuff supercomputer to apply online to a plethora of prestigious and unaffordable ivy league schools.  And who was I to dissuade her from pursuing her dream of seeing her father crumble under the burden of crippling college debt?  (I still hold out hope that the pursuit of that dream could eventually lead her to a career which would afford her the resources to support her wine-afflicted father and his cirrhotic liver well into his golden years…)   I am happy to report that this little girl was admitted to one of the prestigious ivy league schools and that prestigious institution immediately attached an enormous siphon to my bank account to help keep them afloat.  Apparently, their multi-billion dollar endowment fund wasn’t growing at the expected rate and they needed an immediate infusion of cash from the now-depleted WinoJohn account.  

Possible Reason #4

Lingerie Football League.  Yeah, Lingerie Football League.  Are you listening?  LINGERIE FOOTBALL!!!  There is a distinct possibility that I could have been traveling with one of the Lingerie Football League teams, acting as their trainer, coach, mentor, spokesperson and Chief Leching Officer.  And if I wasn’t actually doing all those things, I was surely wishing that I was.  Seriously, people, have you seen this stuff?  Lingerie and football together.  What could be more entertaining (other than maybe porn and football which, as we all know, is a deadly combination.  The porn-football consolidation is widely thought to have caused the downfall of the Roman empire…)?   If you are not familiar with the Lingerie Football League, you need to check out these links…




So, as you can see, it is very believable that I could actually have ignored this lame web site in order to spend more time with these fine athletes…   In fact, I’m thinking about starting a fantasy football league based on Lingerie Football.   WinoBob, call Starkist!

Possible Reason #5  (I should probably save some of these excuses for next time…)

And this is the real reason why I haven’t updated this stupid site in eons…   George W. Bush!  Yeah, that’s right, George W. Bush.  When he left office, he left this web site in such bad shape that it’s taken me this long to actually dig myself out from under the mess he created.   Damn that George W. Bush!!!

(OK, maybe I shouldn’t have played the Bush card.  It’s just that I keep hearing people blame everything on the former president.   Get this…  I actually heard Howard Dean, the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, blame George W. Bush for the Democrat’s recent loss of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts.   Apparently, Goerge W. Bush caused a traditionally Democratic state to vote…  Republican…  WTF????   It was comical.  But I digress…)

Speaking of elections, and I don’t mean to get all political here (that’s why we have WinoBob’s alter ego, PoliticoBob), but the election of Barry Obama had nothing to do with hope or change.  It was all about… you guessed it… George Bush.   Anyone or anything that wasn’t actually George W. Bush could have won the election.  In fact, there was a Halloween pumpkin on my front stoop during the ’08 election that got a significant number of votes simply because it wasn’t George W. Bush.  But I digress.  Again.

So, WTF has been going on in the WJ wine world since the last time we cyber-spoke?   Let’s see…  (you’d think that after several years, I ‘d actually have something to report.  Apparently not…) 

Hey, here’s something interesting.  Italy!  Yeah, that’s right, Italy.  You remember Italy.  It’s that big, boot-shaped country that juts out into the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.   It was founded by a bunch of Italians…   C’mon, you remember.   It was in all the papers back in the 1940s…   Think!  Their offspring eventually made their way to the US and on to the show Jersey Shore only to embarrass countless generations of proud Italians before them?  Yeah.  Those Italians…

Where was I?  Oh yeah.  Italy.  I wasn’t actually in Italy.  I was just talking about Italy.  And why I haven’t updated this site in decades.   (No, it wasn’t the Italians’ fault.  It was George W. Bush’s fault.  Try to stay with me here…)   Anyway, a year or two ago, WinoBob, in his infinite wisdom, named Sangiovese as the Grape of the Year.  As a result, I was obligated to do tons of research on this grape.  That’s what I do.  Research.  If you remember, I’m the Research Department.  And the Legal Department.  And the Bail-Bob-Out-of-Jail Department.  But mostly I’m the Research Department.  And in the performance of my duties as the research department, I was obligated to research Sangiovese.  And I’m happy to report that, according to my extensive research, Sangiovese is good.  Very good.  So good, in fact, that I’m considering becoming Italian myself.  That’s how good Sangiovese is.  (I’m not, however, considering moving to the Jersey Shore but I may be inclined to vacation there sometime in the near future…).

As a result of my extensive research, and by “research” I mean “drinking copious quantities of Sangiovese”, I have become an Italiophile, or, as WinoBob likes to call me, a “Boothead”.  I admit it.  I’m a Boothead.  I love this wine.  I drink it whenever I can.  I now find myself opening a nice Chianti, not to enjoy with my friend’s liver and some faaaava beans, but with whatever The Wife is whipping up for dinner.  It doesn’t matter, Chianti goes with everything.  Spaghetti?  Of course.  Pizza?  You betcha.  That goes without saying.  But how about chili?  No problem.  Chinese takeout?  A perfect match.   Delicate petit fours?  Ehhh…  probably not.  You’d be better off with an equally delicate Pinot Noir.  But for everything else, it’s Chianti!

Wow, that’s a pretty bold statement, WinoJohn.  That’s a real game changer.  A paradigm shift, if you will.   Who are you to change the whole wine-food pairing discussion?  After all, you haven’t written a single thing since the Bush administration.   To that, I can only respond that the New WinoJohn Wine/Food Discombobulation Theorem simplifies the whole wine-food pairing conundrum leaving you with more available brain cycles to focus on more important things.  Like writing checks.  To the WinoStuff Research Labs Slush Fund.  (PO Box 64, Caldwell, NJ )

Now, don’t get me wrong.  While Sangiovese is my new heartthrob, I still love cabernet.  I still consume my 8 or 10 bottles of cabernet per week but in between cabernets, I try to sneak in a few sangioveses.  I’m pretty open minded like that…

So, as part of this latest “update”, I thought about doing some actual real research on Sangiovese especially as it pertains to Italy.  I even considered reading a book!  I have this huge book called The World Atlas of Wine which appeared to be a fairly good reference book on all things wine.  Then I noticed that it was written by bloated Limey Dork Hugh Johnson and I decided that it was time for a good, old-fashioned book burning.  Now, left without an available wine atlas book, I knew that I would have to do this old school.  I decided to do some traditional, roll-up-your-sleeves type research.  (No, I’m not going to the library.  That would be silly.  I’m just going to plagiarize stuff off the internet…). 

So, a little internet research reveals the following: (with special thanks to whomever invented “cut and paste”):

Sangiovese (san-jo-veh-zeh) is a red, traditionally Italian wine grape variety whose name is derived from the Latin sanguis Jovis, which means "the blood of Jove"  (Although the wine rarely contains any actual blood).  Jovis, as you may recall, refers to Bon Jovis, medieval ancestor of Bon Jovi, another famous Italian-American from, you guessed it…, the Jersey shore.  

In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety.   Despite the ubiquitous availability of this grape in Italy, Sangiovese is perhaps best known as WinoStuff.com’s Grape of the Year in 2009.  (OK, maybe I made that part up…)  It accounts for approximately 10% of all vineyard plantings in Italy with more than 100,000 hectares planted to one of the many clonal variations of the grape.   To put this in perspective, 100,000 hectares is approximately 15% of the size of the palatial WinoWally estate in suburban Baltimore, so roughly the size of Utah.

As you are probably aware, Sangiovese is the main grape variety in the wines of Tuscany including Chianti.  Despite what pop culture would lead you to believe, Chianti is not a good accompaniment to a meal of liver and faaava beans…  especially if the liver once belonged to your close friend.  (I can only imagine what it would be like to dine on WinoBob’s liver…  First, his liver is the size of small SUV with a molecular density close to that of Californium.  Texture-wise, it would have the tenderness of a steel-belted radial.  And if you were to actually sauté and ultimately dine on WinoBob’s liver, you would need a at least a Brunello Riserva to wash it down.)

For those of you who don’t eat liver, here are a few Chianti fun facts …

  • Since 1996, the allowable blend for Chianti and Chianti Classico has been 75-100% Sangiovese, up to 10% Canaiolo and up to 20% of any other approved red grape variety such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah.
  • Since 2006, the use of white grape varieties such as Malvasia and Trebbiano have been prohibited in Chianti Classico. 
  • Chianti Classico must have a minimum alcohol level of at least 12% and must spend a minimum of 7 months aging in oak, while Chianti Classicos labeled as “Riserva” must be aged at least 27 months at the winery, with a minimum alcohol level of at least 12.5%. 
  • The aging for basic Chianti DOCG is much less stringent with these wines allowed to be released to the market on March 1st following the vintage year.

Brunello di Montalcino is another classic Italian wine (and WinoJohn’s newest favorite wine) made from 100% Sangiovese in the Montalcino region. Traditionally, the wines are aged 3 years or more in large oak casks although the law only stipulates that they be aged for two years in oak and 4 months in bottle.  Most producers will separate their production between a normal bottling and a riserva bottling. The non-riservas are usually released into the market 50 months after harvest and the riservas are released a year later. Winemakers who intentionally violate the aging rules and regulations can be charged with "commercial fraud" which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to six years.  When convicted Italian wine fraudsters are ultimately released from prison, they usually move to France.

Rosso di Montalcino is another 100% Sangiovese wine grown in Montalcino. However, the Rosso wines are required to spend only six months aging in oak and 1 year total aging before release. This allows Brunello producers to make an earlier-release wine that can generate cash flow while their Brunello wines age for their complete duration. In less than ideal vintages, some producers will relegate all their grapes to Rosso di Montalcino production and not make a Brunello. Wineries can also declassify their Brunello that has already been aging 2–3 years and release it as Rosso di Montalcino if the wine is not developing to their expectations (due primarily to George W. Bush).  As a result, you can often find some really good Rossos at a fraction of the price of Brunello. 

Now this is all extremely valuable and timely information that I'm passing along to all you chowderheads.  Why is it timely?  Well because 2004 and 2006 were phenomenal vintages for sangiovese in Tuscany.  And becuase the 2004 Brunellos and 2006 Chianti Riservas are just hitting the market now.  That's right.  You accidentally stopped by this stupid site and got some timely and valuable information.  That's gotta be worth a couple of bucks toward the WinoStuff Research fund, eh?  (PO Box 64, Caldwell, NJ)!

You know, this update would have been much more timely if I had actually written it during the Year of Sangiovese.  But you know, I just couldn’t get it done.  Because of George W. Bush.  But still, this is some valuable information that you can put to good use.  You can certainly use this newfound info to pick up women at the Jersey Shore.  Or to impress your drunken idiot web site partner friends.  Or you can annoy your entire family during dinner when you quip, “this Rosso di Montalcino represents a tremendous value during these tough economic times” or that, “Chianti Classico is the perfect complement to this Hamburger Helper”.  And you didn’t even have to go out and do the research yourself.  We did it for you!  Damn!!!  You gotta love this stupid site.  No wonder we are the world’s most important web site!

Who would have thought you could get quality information on an important topic like Sangiovese on a lame web site like this?  Just don’t expect frequent updates to this information because, you know, George W. Bush…


And now ladies and gentlemen, it is the distinct pleasure of the management to present to you, the evening's star attraction. Here they are, back after their exclusive three year tour of Europe, Scandinavia and the sub continent. Won't you welcome from Calumet City, Illinois, the show band of Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues,  The Blues Brothers!

That’s what I feel like.  I haven’t been here in a while.  I’m not exactly sure where I’ve been.  I’ve been busy.  I don’t know whether I have been touring the sub continent or spending time in Joliet State Prison.  Whatever the reason, I haven’t been here.  But now, I’m back.  Enjoy it while it lasts…

Hey, while I was gone, I figured out how to keep this column fresh going forward.  No, I’m not going to update it more frequently.  That would be like work.   But I did figure out how to get the date at the top of this column to always reflect today’s date.  It’s a cool little Java applet.  So, I got that going for me, you know, which is nice…

I must thank most of you winos for your patience.  Very few of you have actually prodded me to update this stupid page.  Only the Bob-sey twins (WinoBob and BigBob) took the time to annoy me.  I guess for most of you, the threat of seeing yourself Photoshopped into some embarrassing pose and posted on the internet is just too much of a deterrent.  Only the Bobs felt it necessary to insinuate that I am not keeping up my end of the bargain.  Damn the Bobs!!!  I thought about Photoshopping them together in some kind of homo-erotic gastronomical orgy but the mental image made me nauseous.  Even I have limits.

For today’s update, I thought about doing some kind of social commentary.  Maybe something on the role of wine in society as it pertains to vice and the decay of our moral fiber.  (Because, you know, we are all about vice!  And decay of moral fiber!)  If you recall, back in the 50’s, there were three major accepted vices in the US:  Wine, Women and Song (which, by the way, are three of my favorite vices today).  In the 70’s, these vices were somehow renamed Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.  Today, the three staples of vice have morphed into “Friends With Benefits, Appletinis, and Hip Hop.”  Personally, I don’t even understand today’s vices.  WinoBob is my friend and (fortunately) there are no benefits.  Appletini is just one of a huge variety of tinis.  Tinis are simply a clever method that men invented to get women to consume mass quantities of vodka.  I hardly see anything wrong with that.  And, other than the Hip Hop / Gangsta Rap / Cristal connection, I’m not sure today’s vice has a lot to do with wine.  And wine is why you stopped by to visit this stupid column, isn’t it?   Besides, compared to today’s vices, wine is the thread that holds together our moral fiber.

So then I thought maybe I would write a long-winded discourse on the impact of global warming vis a vis wine growing regions, climatic change and terroir.  (I’m not really sure what vis a vis means but it just sounded so damn intellectual in that sentence!)  First, Al Gore got us all riled up with his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.  Then I found out that Al spends like 10 million dollars a year heating and cooling his enormous estate.  But that’s OK because he buys some kind of “green earth coupons”.  That means that he donates money to some organization that plants trees in order to offset his huge carbon footprint.  So, the moral of that story is that if you have enough cash, you can warm the earth all you want as long as you plant a few trees.  If that were the case, WinoWally could afford to turn the global thermostat up to eleven.  (That’s one warmer than ten!)

So while I was pondering the whole global warming thing, thinking about what to write, I came to the realization that global warming doesn’t really affect me.  (I have central air conditioning!)  

Speaking of WinoWally, did I mention that WW saved my life recently?  Yeah, it’s true.  A couple months ago, I did something that I swore that I would never do again.  I agreed to spend 12 hours in a car, driving to Virginia so that my youngest daughter could play in "a big soccer tournament."  Now, at this point in my parenting career, I have been to hundreds of “big soccer tournaments”, my daughter has played in thousands of games, and I have driven close to a light-year to keep everyone happy.  (For you non-dweeb types, a light-year is a really long distance...)  I swore I would never do it again.  No mas.  I'm done.  Finito.  I figured that I had driven to my last tournament.  But somehow I got suckered into it again…

So check this out…  I had it all planned out.  I was going to take the day off from my dweeb day job, pick up my aspiring Mia Hamm early from school, and get on the highway by 11:00 am.  That would put me in Baltimore by 2:30 and on the south side of DC by 3:30.  I could cruise into the hotel by 5, feeling relaxed and ready for a nice weekend with The Girl.  But it wasn’t going to be that easy.  No, it wasn’t going to be easy at all.  The highway gods were angry on this day, my friends, and I was destined to be collateral damage…

Things were moving along well.  For a while.  Despite the wet weather, we blew through Philly with nary a slow down.  We got through the ugly 495/295/I-95 merge in Delaware without a hitch.  Even the tolls were no match for our EZ Pass.  (EZ Pass is possibly the most important invention in the history of travel soccer.  More important even than the collapsible chair-in-a-bag.  More important than the coach/trainer with a foreign accent!  But I digress…)

So, there I am, cruising down I-95, minding my own business, about 15 miles north of Baltimore, when what do I see but a big flashing sign that says something to the effect of  “Accident past exit 67.  All lanes closed.  Use exit 77 or 74 to Highway 40 West.  You Poor Bastards.”   I noticed this sign just as I was passing exit 77.  That meant that I, along with hundreds of thousands of other motorists (many of them were also crazed soccer parents) would have to exit the highway, in single file, at Exit 74.  And, just at that moment, all lanes of traffic came to a complete stop.  I thought about trying to back up to exit 77 but within a few milliseconds, there were tens of thousands of stopped cars behind me.  This trip was going downhill fast…

Two hours and 3 miles later, life on Highway 40 West was starting to take its toll on my nerves.  I could feel that I was starting to crack.  I knew I had a corkscrew somewhere in my luggage and I was thrashing about desperately to find it.  No, I was not planning to open any one of the three nice bottles that I brought along for the tournament.  No, I was searching for the corkscrew because it was the sharpest tool in my possession at the time and I needed to hurt someone.  I didn’t know whether it would be me or some other frazzled motorist but someone had to die.  Where was that damn corkscrew?  (Don’t worry about my driving.  We were moving along at a brisk 0.2 MPH at this point so rifling through my luggage while driving was the least of my problems.)

After several more hours of this torture, I could no longer take it.  I had to do something.  I turned down a side street, blew through a few stop signs and got myself completely lost.  At this point, I had nothing to lose so I thought, what the hell?  I may as well call The Wife.  Lucky for me, she answered on the first ring!  I explained my unfortunate dilemma and asked her to Google Map the area and find me an escape route.  She said that she would be happy to help if I would simply explain to her how to use Google Maps.  WHERE IS THAT DAMN CORKSCREW???

Well, after what seemed like a few days, I managed to get back on the highway somewhere south of whatever caused the closure and I was on my way.  As dusk began to fall, I made my way through Baltimore and suddenly realized that I would be hitting DC at rush hour…  on a Friday.  I started to shake.  My blood pressure was well up into the 200’s.  I didn’t think I could make it.  Then, like an oasis in the desert, I saw the light.  No, this was not the light at the end of the tunnel, this was…  The Light…  The Saving Light.  The Beacon of Light… from the Palatial Wally Estate.   I made the call and Wally was there.  And my nightmare was about to end.

I called Wally and told him where I was.  I told him about the accident.  I told him about the traffic and the god damn missing corkscrew.  I told him about my blood pressure.  And Wally was there.  He said, “WinoJohn, you’re only about 10 miles from the easternmost reaches of the Wally Estate.  Go through the south gate and drive over to the heliport.  From there, it’s only 15 minutes to the main house by helicopter!”   I was saved!  I didn’t care if we made it to the tournament.  I was going to the Wally Estate.

When I arrived at the main house, Wally had a nice ’97 Mondavi Cab waiting for me.  And Wino Sharon was just putting out the boiled shrimp.  (It doesn’t matter what time of day or night that you stop by the palatial Wally Estate, Sharon is always putting out some gourmet snacks…)  This was pure heaven.  I laughed at those other crazed motorists, still white-knuckled, inching along through DC, as I sipped a nice cab and scarfed down a few more shrimp.  Ha ha ha, you poor bastards, I’m a guest at the Estate!

Later that night, I departed the Estate and traveled down to Virginia long after the traffic had died down and without a care in the world.  WinoWally did indeed save my life.  He probably saved several other motorists from a hideous and painful death-by-corkscrew.  Who knows?  So anyway, if you ever find yourself in an imminent road-rage situation on I-95 thru Baltimore, simply look to the sky for the beacon.  The Wally House for Wayward Winos in Baltimore, MD is there to help. 


Hey, here’s something sort of wine-related…   In the last few months, the French people gained some intelligence.  The collective IQ of an entire nation went up by double digits. No, I’m not talking about those whacky CRAV dudes.  They are just loony.  I’m talking about the election of a new French president who is US friendly.  What’s up with that???  French people sympathizing with the US?  Sacre bleu!!!  

My theory is that France finally noticed two things going on around them:

1)      They have a whole boatload of excess wine and wine-producing capacity in France, and

2)      The US is rapidly becoming the largest wine consuming nation in the world.

The French voters simply put one and one together and…  well…, frankly, they surrendered.  Maybe they realized that the remnants of the WinoStuff-led boycott of French wine continue to be economically devastating.  While they don’t necessarily want to be nice to the US, they NEED to be nice to the US.  So, let’s give this new guy, Sarkozy, a chance and see what he’s all about.  If everything is positive, maybe we’ll start a WinoStuff campaign to embrace French wines this year?  We’ll see…

But that’s not why you stopped by this page.  You don’t care about French politics or their latest surrender.  You came here to get a glimpse into my tremendous insight into wine.  Or you were hoping I’d post some pictures of Britney’s ‘bald spot’.  Well, kids, this edition of What’s New! is completely Britney-free.  (Ooops, there goes half the readership…)    Instead, I’m going to ramble incoherently about another topic that is sure to interest you.  Old age.  No, not my old age (although I am feeling every bit of my fortysomething years.)  No, not The Wife’s old age (although that tale would fill volumes and would probably get me John Bobbitt-ed in the middle of the night…).  No, friends, in keeping with the supposed theme of this web site, I’m going to talk about old age as it pertains to wine.  Specifically, as it pertains to the rapidly aging wine in my wine cellar.  It’s not a good story.

Over the past 15 years, I have collected a variety of wines in my cellar.  OK, “variety” may be somewhat of an exaggeration.  My cellar is 99 44/100% California Cabernet ranging from simple everyday wines like BV Rutherford and Mondavi Napa Valley to some more high end selections like Silver Oak, Stag’s Leap and BV Georges Latour.  I had always planned to crack these treasures open at any number of future CabFests or while entertaining my wine-loving brothers and brother-in-law.  These wines were sure to carry me through my golden years.  But there is a problem.  I’m still in my silver years, maybe even my bronze years, and my cellar is mature.  It’s ready.  In some cases, it’s past it’s peak.  Damn!  What am I gonna do???

Well, you know what I’m gonna do.  I’m gonna do some serious cellar cleanin’.  I’m gonna be drinking Cinq Cepages with Peanut Butter and Jelly.  I’m gonna have Opus One on a Tuesday night with Mac and Cheese.  Shit, I’m gonna put Cask 23 on my Cheerios.  I am NOT going to let this wine go down without a fight!!!

So far, this is what I have discovered.  Most of the more affordable wines that are older than say 1996, are on the down hill slide.  Stuff like Raymond Reserve, Mondavi Napa, BV Rutherford.  In most cases, they are still drinkable but you better drink them now.  Any of these wines older than about 1992 will have lost most of their fruit.  So, if you got ‘em, smoke ‘em.

The higher end stuff is holding up a bit better.   I’ve cracked open some Hess Collection back to 1994 without  much problem.  Older than that and it’s hit or miss.  The early-to-mid 90s Stag’s Leap Napa Valleys are holding up but are ready to drink.  (I haven’t opened any older than 1992.)  I need to open some of the FAY and SLV.  (Maybe at the upcoming Cab/Pinot/BobFest at WinoBob’s?)  The Jordans are holding up well, at least as far back as ’92.  Groths older than 1994 are starting to slide.   The 1993 Georges de Latour is starting to head south but is still a nice wine.  All in all, it’s not a disaster.  But the next few months should be interesting as I try to stay ahead of the curse of time.

On the bright side, some of this wine is drinking brilliantly now.  Whitehall Lane Reserve from the mid 90s is wonderful.   95 Mondavi Reserve, excellent.   94 Silver Oak, timeless.  In fact, I would say that most of the 1997 Cali Cabs that are stashed away are ready.  I know you have some ‘97s stashed away…

So here’s my new rule.  10 years for Cali Cab.  Maybe 12 for the high end stuff.  No more.  Some of these wines may do well beyond that time frame but I’m not taking any chances.  I’m going to start paying attention, people.  These wines peak at a certain age and I want to be there when they do.  I would suggest that you do likewise. 

That’s it.  That’s the message that you waited 9 months for.  (Maybe longer if my Java applet is working!)  Drink your mid-90s Cali cabs now.  Period.  Don’t wait.  If you can’t get to them soon, you’d better send them to me.  It’s only right.  Send them to:

Save Drink the Cali Cabs Society
PO Box 64
Caldwell, NJ  07006

So, if for some strange reason my Java applet doesn’t keep this page updated and you feel that I am once again missing in action, don’t send me annoying little hints to update this site.  I am probably just down in my cellar visiting some “old” friends.  I’ll be back.  Until then, relax, enjoy, and drink your 10+ year old California Cabs.  Before it’s too late.

WinoJohn (July 4, 2007)

September 14, 2006

What's New, you ask?  Here's something new...  YouTube.com.  (Actually, YouTube isn't all that new.  It's been around for like a year and a half.  If it's new to you, then you've bee living under a rock or in some dank, dark third-floor office...)  If you're not familiar with YouTube, it's a site where people can upload video clips for easy viewing by the rest of the world.  It can be pretty random.  I somehow stumbled onto this site and quickly realized that WinoBob is not the wackiest creature on the planet.  There are some real loonies out there and many of them post videos on YouTube.

As a dweeb, I have a major problem with YouTube.  It used to be that you had to be a techno-geek to post stuff on the internet.  Now, any drunken idiot with a movie camera and a PC can post stuff.  "Who are all these people posting videos on the internet?", you ask.  As far as I can tell, it's mostly teenage girls posting clips of themselves dancing around in their bedrooms.  (Which probably explains the immense popularity of YouTube!)

Hold on one second...  (HEY, HON, GO UPSTAIRS AND CHECK ON THE GIRLS!) 

Sorry.  I'm back.

In addition to the teenage girls, there are dudes posting guitar licks, there's a bunch of clips from the TV show Big Brother, and more.  Lots more.  Some of it is total randomness.  There are chick fights, sports highlights, comedy sketches, cartoons, anime, etc.  But mostly it's teenage girls dancing in their bedrooms.  At least that's what I could determine from my "brief" visits to the site...

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "OK.  WinoJohn, we get it.  You haven't updated this stupid site in 4 months because you have been voyeuristically watching teenage girls dancing around in their bedrooms.  Dude, get a life.  You're starting to act like WinoBob.  Get a grip!"  

I know, I've heard it all before.  But it's not what it looks like.  I was just doing some research for this stupid site.  Really!  It's friggin' research!  Do you think I enjoy ogling lithe, sinewy young bodies, gyrating rhythmically, sweating, often scantily clad... to some primordial jungle beat...    Huh?   Well, actually, I uhhhh...      IT'S STILL RESEARCH, DAMN IT!!!   Geez, give me a break!

For example, if you go to YouTube.com and search on the word "wine", look what you get:

Strangely, you also get teenage girls dancing around in their bedrooms... ???

(Damn, some of these girls' fathers should just install a pole in the house now.  You know it's inevitable...)

Perhaps the most disturbing clip on all of YouTube is this one depicting an obviously inebriated individual attempting to saber a champagne bottle while dressed in a batter's helmet, goggles, welder's gloves and a catcher's chest protector.   Our children should be protected from this kind of blatant alcohol abuse...   Check it out:

Now that's just uncalled for. 

So what is it that prompts otherwise normal people to videotape themselves doing whatever and post it on the internet?  And what is it about teenage girls that makes them dance around in their bedrooms and call it "wine"?  The answer to these and other probing questions is the reason why you visit WinoStuff.com.  So stop criticizing me and listen up.  I don't have time to repeat this.

Here we go:

Question: Why do seemingly normal people post videos on the internet?
Simple Answer: People are idiots.
Well-Researched Detailed Answer: People are idiots and YouTube is free.

Question:  Why do teenage girls dance around in their bedrooms and call it "wine"?
Simple Answer:  Because they can.  And if they do, they can videotape it, post it on the internet and pathetic, middle-aged men will ogle them.
Well-Researched Detailed Answer:  As far as I can tell, there is an urban dance craze called "Dutty Wine" which is making the rounds.  It appears to be an offshoot of a Jamaican dance song by the same name, popularized by Jamaican DJ, Tony Matterhorn.  Apparently, the song causes young women to uncontrollably shake their booty and swing their heads around.  If my memory serves me, I seem to recall that uncontrollable booty-shaking attracts the attention of young men so Dutty Wine is sort of a mating ritual performed by young teenage girls to attract young teenage boys...


Sorry again.  I'm a father of two teenage girls and I gotta keep tabs on them.  If I should somehow stumble upon one of my little princesses shaking her booty on YouTube, my head would explode.

So anyway, all this leads to one more important question.

Important Question:  What the hell is "dutty" wine?
Important Answer:  As far as I can tell, "dutty wine" is Jamaican for "dirty wine" and, as far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with wine.  (Hey, I'm a middle-aged white dude.  What do I know about contemporary Jamaican dance music?)  If any of you Rastafarian winos knows more about "dutty wine", drop us a line and explain it.  We can use the help.

OK, so now we know You Tube.  So What?  Good question.  Let's beat this wine-video-on-the-internet dead horse some more.  Guess what happens if you search for "wine" on the Yahoo video clips site?  Do you know what you get?  Nothing exciting really.  You get a few video clips of random individuals talking about wine.  You get a few clips of music videos that have the word "wine" in the title.  It's really pretty boring.  There's nothing even worth linking to from this lame site so you know it's pretty boring.  (Unless you turn off the parental controls and search on the words "girl hiding wine bottle".  Then you get...  ummm... something quite disturbing.  But why would anyone search on those words, BOB???!!!)

Google now has a beta version of their video sharing site.  It resembles YouTube in some respects but it doesn't seem to have the same whacko factor.  I'm sure that we (you) just need to give them time.  Coincidentally, our hero and Honorary Wino, Limey Dork Hugh Johnson, has a clip or two on the Google site.  You sure won't want to miss those videos!

Here, check this one out...  http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2508611783554925701&q=wine&hl=en


Huh?  What?  Oh, I'm sorry.  The Dorkmeister was speaking.  I don't have a clue what he was talking about.  Oh well, you judge for yourself...   (yawn...)

OK, what else?  While we're on the subject of useless wine-related information, check this out:

The largest wine cellar in the world (not counting the palatial WinoWally uber-cellar) is located in Paarl, South Africa.  It has an area of 54 acres and can hold 27 million gallons of wine.  It is owned by some wine co-operative, the Ko-operatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging (KWV).  Imagine how many teenage girls could dance in that place!  Sorry, I'm a little off track.

OK, back to one last bit of real wine stuff... 

After my last rant on the rip-off that is Las Vegas, I have to give props to one place that I visited in Sin City that served up some good food and wine at a reasonable price.  Yes, the place was called Il Fornaio and it was in the New York, New York Hotel and Casino.  Check it out the next time you are in Vegas.  In fact, it's a chain of restaurants so you can check it out next time you are...  well...  pretty much anywhere.  Tell 'em WinoJohn sent you...

Until next time, relax, enjoy, keep an eye on your teenage daughters, and drink more wine!

April 23, 2006

I did it!  They said it couldn’t be done!  They laughed at me back at the University, but I did it!  That will teach them.  Now, see, now I have a real claim to fame.  What did I do?  Just this…  I outlasted WinoWally in the race to see who could shirk all responsibility and go the longest between WinoStuff updates.  I think I now hold the record and I have proven that I have the intestinal fortitude to go the last mile, to give 110%, to do whatever it takes to reach a goal.  Thank you, thank you…

So, what have I been up to?  In reality, who cares what I’ve been up to?  Oh, wait…  There seems to be a whole bunch of people with less of a life than me and who want to know what I’ve been up to.  Well, maybe they don’t really care what I’ve been up to but, for some unknown reason, they feel compelled to send me email.  I have had email from angry Frogs, cursing me for the now-defunct boycott of France.  (They are really pretty funny…)   I have had angry wine critics email me to complain (in the most polite and articulate manner) that I am an idiot for siding with Robert Parker (The Second Most Influential Wine Critic Named Bob) over Limey Dork Hugh Johnson.  I’ve had random kids send me random pictures in the random hope that I’ll post them on the Random Stuff page.  I’ve gotten loads of emails from winery owners/operators/ managers (or their marketing agents) requesting that we provide a link to their website from the world’s most important website.  (Eventually, I get around to posting links to these wineries.  I’m happy to help anyone who is trying to eek out a living by making wine.  When will they realize, however, that a gift of wine might move the process along a little more quickly??) 

OK, to satisfy the masses and those who have a need to know, I have been to Vegas three times in three months.  I’m going back again tomorrow, too.  Vegas is a fun town but I’m actually getting tired of it.  Overpriced restaurants, overpriced wine, overpriced hotels, etc.  Rumor has it that the women are overpriced, too, but I have no first hand knowledge of such things.  And my wife reads this stupid page…

One of the worst experiences from one of my recent Vegas jaunts was at the Nobhill restaurant in the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.  This place is purported to be an upscale steak house in the tradition of the great San Francisco steak houses.  In reality, the food was just OK, the service was just adequate and the obscenely-overpriced wine sucked.  Hosting a dinner for 10 of my fellow techno-dweebs, including Wino Eric of Santa Clara CA and WinoRandy, I ordered a 1997 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany all the red meat.  When the wine arrived, I tasted it and it wasn’t corked nor was it cooked but it wasn't exactly good.  I accepted it with the hope that it would “open up” after a few minutes.  An hour later, there was still nothing to it.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Nada.  Goose.  No fruit, no complexity, no nuthin’.  Now, I have had Mayacamas many times from many different vintages and they have always been big, well-structured cabs with a healthy dose of mountain fruit.  I fully expected a ’97 Mayacamas to be one of the best.  But NOOOoooo…   I’m thinking of filing suit against the hotel, the restaurant, the 17 year-old wine steward, the city of Las Vegas, the Mayacamas winery, and the State of California.  All of these groups played a part in my dismal wine-dinner experience.  (If I can’t make any money on this website, I’m going to sue my way to riches.  Read on...)  Even if I don’t sue the whole lot of them, I’m certainly going to write a letter.  That’ll teach ‘em!!!  (Yeah, just like the idiots that send me emails "teach" me…)

So now that I got that off my chest, let’s get on to business…  Let’s talk about the real reason for my extended cyber absence.  The truth of the matter is that I have made no postings because I’ve been working on the lawsuit involving my manuscript.  What?  You didn’t know that I have a manuscript?  Sure.  I started writing it back in the 80s when I was just a novice wino-journalist-techno dweeb.  I have remained quiet over the past few months under the direction of my legal counsel, waiting for the outcome of the Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh lawsuit against Random House over the whole Da Vinci Code issue.  (Baigent and Leigh sued Random House claiming that their book, Holy Blood Holy Grail, was plagiarized by Dan Brown in his book, The Da Vinci Code.)  The truth of the matter is that The Da Vinci Code plot was actually my idea and is the basis for my manuscript.  My lawsuit will be filed as soon as the Da Vinci Code movie comes out so that I can maximize my claim for damages.  I’m thinking $500 trillion dollars should do it.  Damn!  Then I could give up my dweeb day job, buy the wine.com domain name, get on the Screaming Eagle mailing list, etc.  All the things I always wanted will be within my reach…   A new 12 cylinder Ferrari…, a new PC to host WinoStuff.com (The World’s Most Important Web Site!).   Even with $500 trillion, I won’t be in WinoWally’s socioeconomic strata but it’s a start…

So, I know what you’re thinking…  You’re thinking, “WinoJohn, YOU thought up the Da Vinci Code?  Yeah, right.  You’ve been hitting the breakfast sauce again, haven’t you?”  Well, my friends, I have been hitting the breakfast sauce AND I did think up a plot that was so similar to The Da Vinci Code that Dan Brown had to have stolen it from me.  Here’s a quick look at my manuscript.  (If you haven’t read The Da Vinci Code, you won’t understand the sheer brilliance of the following piece.  Read on at your own risk…)

The DaVino Code
by WinoJohn
© Sometime in the 1980s

Plot Overview

In Wino Wally’s wine cellar, hidden somewhere outside of Baltimore, MD., a physically-imposing wine importer named Big Bob Ferdon from the firm Opus One Dei, apprehends WinoWally, and demands to know where the Holy Grail is.  After Wally tells him, Big Bob Ferdon shoots him and leaves him to die.  However, Wally has lied to Big Bob Ferdon about the Grail’s location. Realizing that he has only a few minutes to live and that he must pass on his important secret, Wally paints a pentacle on his stomach with his own blood, draws a circle on the floor of the wine cellar with red wine, and drags himself into the center of the circle, re-creating the position of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous drawing, Vitruvian Bob. He also leaves a code, a line of numbers, and two lines of text on the ground in invisible ink.   (Wally keeps a lot of invisible ink around the palatial estate just for this purpose…) 

Da Vinci's famous drawing, Vitruvian Bob

A police detective discovers Wally’s body and calls Dr. Robert Winobob, the story’s protagonist and a professor of viticulture at Harvard College.  The policeman asks Dr. Winobob to come to Wally’s cellar to try to interpret the scene.  Dr. Winobob does not yet realize that he himself is suspected of the murder.

After murdering Wally, Big Bob Ferdon calls a strange guy called the “Teacher” and tells him that, according to Wally, the keystone is in the restaurant Chateau Berta in New Jersey.  The Teacher sends Big Bob Ferdon there.  Big Bob Ferdon follows Wally’s clues to the keystone’s location and discovers that he has been tricked.  In a fit of rage, he kills a young woman named WinoAlice, the restaurant's secretary and a sentry for the Priory of Sion.  In Wally’s cellar, Dr. Winobob meets a few other random police types and realizes that the police suspect him of the murder.

Veronique Sweetstuff, an extremely attractive agent of the Baltimore Police department of cryptology, arrives at the crime scene and tells Dr. Winobob that he must call the embassy. When Dr. Winobob calls the number that Veronique gave him, he reaches Veronique's answering machine. The message warns Dr. Winobob that he is in danger and that he should meet Veronique in the bathroom at the palatial Wally estate.  (Veronique is really into high drama…)

In the bathroom, Veronique shows Dr. Winobob that the police are monitoring his movements with a tracking device. She throws the device out the window onto a passing cash delivery truck, tricking the police into thinking that Dr. Winobob has escaped from the Wally estate.  (Where else would you find a cash delivery truck other than at the palatial Wally Estate?)

Veronique also tells Dr. Winobob that the last line in the secret message, “P.S.  Find Dr. Winobob,” was Wally’s way of alerting her.  ("P.S." are the initials of Wally’s nickname for her, Princess Sweetstuff.)  Dr. Winobob thinks that P.S. might stand for Priory of Sion, an ancient brotherhood devoted to the preservation of the Sacred Vineyards, and to the maintenance of the secret that Wally died protecting.

Dr. Winobob decodes the second and third lines in Wally’s message: “Leonardo Da Vinci! The Mona Bob!”   Veronique Googles “Mona Bob” to look for another clue. The police have returned to the Wally estate as well, and they arrest Dr. Winobob. Veronique finds a clue to the secret and, by using a bottle of Wally’s 1961 Chateau Mouton Rothschild as a hostage, she manages to disarm the police officer and get herself and Dr. Winobob out of the palatial Wally Main House.   Meanwhile, Wally's wife, Sharon, cleans up the whole bloody Wally mess with WinoStuff's Miracle Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir.

Da Vinci's famous painting, Mona Bob

As Veronique and Dr. Winobob drive toward a wine shop that Veronique identified online, Dr. Winobob explains the history of the Priory of Sion and their armed force, the Knights Templar. He reveals that the Priory protects secret documents known as the Sangria, or the Holy Grail.  Dr. Winobob is an expert on this very subject.

When Veronique and Dr. Winobob enter the wine shop, an unnamed security guard realizes that they are fugitives and calls the police, but Brian Badlowski, the wine shop’s manager, recognizes Veronique and helps her and Dr. Winobob escape. Veronique and Dr. Winobob figure out that the number left near Wally’s body must be the number on the combination lock that will open the vault at the wine shop.  When they open the vault they find a cryptex, a message delivery device designed by none other than Leo Da Vinci and hand-crafted by WinoWally.  The cryptex can only be opened with a password.

Badlowski successfully smuggles Veronique and Dr. Winobob past the police in the back of a wine delivery truck.  Badlowski then turns on them, but they manage to get away with the cryptex, which Dr. Winobob realizes is actually the Priory keystone - that is, the key to all of the secrets the Priory holds about the location of the Holy Grail.

Dr. Winobob and Veronique go to the Baltimore house of Sir Robert Parker, a wine critic of some notoriety, to ask for his help opening the box. Sir Robert Parker tells them the legend of the Grail, starting with the historical evidence that Cabernet Sauvignon didn’t come from the French but was a gift straight from God.  (He also cites evidence that Pinot Noir was determined to be a chick wine by a vote at Nicaea, and that WinoJohn was married to Andrea Immer, who was of royal blood, and had children by her.  But that’s not important right now.)  Sir Robert Parker shows them the hidden symbols in Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and the painted representation of the Apostle Bob. He tells them that the Holy Grail is actually a secretive, hidden vineyard which consistently produces 100 point cabernets. He says he thinks Wally and the others may have been killed because the winery suspected that the Priory was about to unveil this secret.

Da Vinci's The Last Supper showing the Apostle Bob

As Dr. Winobob is showing off the cryptex, Big Bob Ferdon appears and hits him over the head. Big Bob Ferdon holds Veronique and Sir Robert Parker at gunpoint and demands the keystone, but Sir Robert Parker attacks Big Bob Ferdon, hitting him on the thigh where his money belt is located, and Veronique finishes him off by kicking him in the bollocks. They tie Big Bob Ferdon up.   It takes a lot of rope…

The police arrive at the Sir Robert Parker’s Baltimore castle, but Veronique, Dr. Winobob, the tied-up Big Bob Ferdon, Sir Robert Parker, and his servant, Rémy Martin, escape and board Sir Robert Parker’s private plane to England. Veronique realizes that the writing on the cryptex is decipherable if viewed in a mirror. They come to understand the poem, which refers to “a winery praised by Templars” and the “Atbash cipher,” which will help them arrive at the password. Dr. Winobob remembers that the Knights Templar supposedly worshipped the god Bacchus, who is sometimes represented as living in a winery. The word, unscrambled by the Atbash Cipher, is Veronique. When they open the cryptex, however, they find only another cryptex, this one with a clue about a tomb where a knight was buried by a Limey Dork.

The Baltimore police captain realizes that Sir Robert Parker and the rest of them are in the jet. He calls the British police and asks them to surround the airfield, but Sir Robert Parker tricks the British police into believing that there is nobody inside the plane but himself. Then he goes with Veronique, Dr. Winobob, Rémy Martin, and Big Bob Ferdon to the Abbey Road Wine Store in London, the burial site of knights that the Limey Dork Hugh Johnson had killed.

Rémy frees Big Bob Ferdon and reveals that he, too, follows the Teacher. Big Bob Ferdon goes to the wine store to get the keystone, but when he tries to force Dr. Winobob to give it up, Dr. Winobob threatens to break it. Rémy intervenes, taking Sir Robert Parker hostage and thus forcing Dr. Winobob to give up the cryptex.

Meanwhile, the police look through Sir Robert Parker’s house and become suspicious when they find that he has been secretly monitoring WinoWally's activities. Over the phone, the Teacher instructs Big Bob Ferdon to let Rémy deliver the cryptex. The Teacher meets Rémy in the park and kills him. The Teacher calls the police and turns Big Bob Ferdon in to the authorities. As Big Bob Ferdon tries to escape, he is shot, and he accidentally shoots his idol, Bishop Christian Moueix.

Big Bob Ferdon takes Bishop Moueix to the hospital and then staggers into a park, where he dies. In the hospital the next day, Moueix  bitterly reflects that Sir Robert Parker tricked him into helping with his murderous plan by claiming that if the Bishop delivered the Grail to him, he would help Opus One Dei regain favor with the Wine Spectator.

Veronique’s and Dr. Winobob’s research leads them to the discovery that Sir Robert Mondavi is the knight they are looking for, the one buried by Limey Dork Hugh Johnson.   They go to Napa Valley, where Mondavi is buried. There, the Teacher lures them to a garden with a note saying he has Sir Robert Parker. They go there only to discover that Sir Robert Parker himself is the Teacher. Sir Robert Parker suspected that Wally had decided not to release the secret of the Priory of Sion, because the Wine Spectator threatened to kill Veronique if the secret was released. Wanting the secret to be public knowledge, he had decided to find the Grail himself.

Sir Robert Parker gives Dr. Winobob the cryptex and asks Dr. Winobob and Veronique to help him open it. Dr. Winobob figures out that the password is grape  He opens the cryptex and secretly takes out the papyrus. Then he throws the empty cryptex in the air, causing Sir Robert Parker to drop his pistol as he attempts to catch it and prevent the map inside from being destroyed. Suddenly, the police burst into the room and arrest Sir Robert Parker.

The papyrus inside the second cryptex directs Veronique and Dr. Winobob to Oregon where Veronique finds her brother and her grandmother.  Veronique and Dr. Winobob part, promising to meet in Burgundy in a month. Back in Caldwell, Dr. Winobob comprehends the poem, which leads him to the small pyramid built into the ground in the Wally estate, where he is sure the directions to the Grail must be hidden.   The End.

That’s it.  See any similarities to the book by the plagiarist, Dan Brown?  I rest my case…

Damn, I can’t wait until that $500 tril gets here.  I have a lot of things that need to get done around here.  And, my wino friends, trillionaires have people to do those things.  Maybe I can hire someone to update this dopey column...

Until next time, relax, enjoy the movie, and drink more wine!

October 30, 2005

It's late at night, 3:30 am Eastern Standard Time, and  I'm wide awake.  The house is quiet and the rest of my family is asleep.  In fact, the entire east coast is asleep and yet I sit here at this stupid computer, typing away.  What's wrong with me?  Oh yeah, I got back from China 3 days ago and my body is still on China time.  In fact, in China, it's the middle of the afternoon...  (Hmmm..., I guess I can start drinking soon...  That's cool!)

Don't expect a big update on the wine scene in China.  As I reported last time, China is devoid of wine.  Oh, they have some juice bottled up to look like wine.  They even call it wine, but it's not.  I don't know what it is but it's not wine.  Great Wall and Dynasty are two brands of red juice that portray themselves to be wine but, after careful analysis, I believe that they are just slightly-fortified Kool Aid®.  I went into a wine store in Beijing and there were only three wines on the shelf: Great Wall, Dynasty and a 'Bordeaux' knock-off.  In fact, this 'Bordeaux' wine was in a bottle that looked suspiciously similar to the Great Wall bottle...  And "Bordeaux" was spelled wrong...   I'm guessing that Bordoaux is some vineyard outside of Beijing where they make Chateau Latore, Chateau Lafeet, and Petris.  Just a guess...

Critics would argue, "So what if China is devoid of wine?  You learn to make do."  That may be true.  They have like 700 million varieties of tea and the beer is not half bad.  And, as we all know, the cuisine of China is...  well...  "unique".   Check out the following summary of my various culinary experiences.  Is it any wonder that I sit awake at night?

Beijing is famous for duck, "Peking Duck" specifically, although they call it "Beijing Duck".  If you visit Beijing, the place to get duck is the Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant.  It's world famous.  On the street outside the restaurant, they have pictures of all the famous celebrities and world leaders who have eaten in the establishment.  Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and a variety of movie stars all enjoyed some tasty duck in the Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant.  I was looking forward to dining in this historic establishment although reports of the Asian Bird Flu pandemic loomed prominently in my mind.  (I can't tell you how bad it would be if I was the one to bring the pandemic back to the US.  That would suck.)  My Chinese host and I tried to get a table at the Qianmen Quanjude on a Sunday night without a reservation and they wouldn't even take our names.  The wait was expected to be three or more hours.  No problem.  We made reservations for Monday and returned the next evening.

Now, if you have never had Beijing Duck, it's truly a memorable experience.  First, the duck is specially prepared by sealing off all of it's orifices and inflating the carcass.   I'm not kidding.  They inflate the duck.  The duck actually resembles a long, naked, greasy balloon as it goes into the giant oven, hanging by it's neck.  Very appetizing...  All of this preparation is going on behind the scenes while you enjoy some "appetizers" at your table.  It is crucial to the entire dining experience that you don't ask what the appetizers are.  Trust me, you don't want to know...

When the duck comes out of the oven, it's a beautiful golden color.  They ceremoniously bring the duck to your table where the "knife man" proceeds to slice the duck for you.  First, he slices off a nice plate full of skin.  Mmmmm...   Then he slices off some meat.  (Thank God.  Something I can eat...)  Then, in one last act of culinary high sanctimony, the knife man whacks off the bird's head, splits it down the middle, and presents it to the diners on a special plate.  (At that point, I was ready to "give back" the appetizers, if you know what I mean...)  Apparently, the brain and especially the tongue, are delicacies that the typical Chinese diner will eagerly scarf down. 

Now, to actually eat the duck, you pick up the pieces that you want (Meat, skin, brain, whatever...) and you roll them up in a flour tortilla with some lettuce, celery or other bits of edible flora.  It's actually pretty good (as long as you don't get much brain.)  It's kind of like Chinese fajitas.  Throw in some chips and salsa and you've got yourself a real Chexican feast!  As I sat there, gnawing down duck tacos, I imagined that a nice white Burgundy would be the perfect complement to this cuisine.  Unfortunately, I may never know. 

The Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant keeps track of the number of ducks that they have served since 1864.  My duck was number 115,141,703.  I think they barcode the ducks when they are very young and then just scan the inflated carcass before delivering it to your table.  Those Chinese...  What will they think of next?   If you go to Beijing, you really have to experience it.

Next on the culinary hit parade is the ever-popular Hot Pot meal.  In my case, we went to the world famous something something something Muslim something restaurant.  (The name of the restaurant was in Chinese but the word "Muslim" was in English.)   At this particular hot pot restaurant, lamb was the specialty of the house.   If you have never enjoyed hot pot, this is how it works.  They set a big pot of boiling water on the table in front of you.  There are charcoals burning in an inner bowl to keep the water hot.  Every table in the entire restaurant has one of these little burning infernos right there in front of the guests.  No consideration is given to the massive amount of carbon monoxide which is emanating from each pot and filling the room with poisonous gas.  It's all part of the experience. 

Once the pot is at full boil and you are beginning to feel woozy from the fumes, the waitress brings out a plate of thinly sliced pieces of what are purported to be lamb.  It could have been lamb…   It could have been dog or goat or just about any other mammal.  Who knows?  It was RAW!  You pick up a piece of this raw meat with some specially lubricated chopsticks and you drop the meat into the boiling water.  After a few seconds, you try to retrieve the now-cooked meat with the greasy chopsticks while simultaneously trying not to spill boiling water all over yourself or your business partner.  Every once in a while, the waitress brings more stuff to the table which you are expected to pick up with the greasy chopsticks and toss into the cauldron of boiling meat-soup.  A successful meal is one in which you manage to ingest sufficient quantities of cooked meat while avoiding a trip to the burn center.  One word of advice, eating partially cooked lamb can quickly result in a little Montezuma's Revenge, if you know what I mean...

Now if these dining experiences are not enough to pique your culinary curiosity, you'll certainly want to stroll through the Donghuamen Night Market.  This market is like a street fair with dozens of vendors lining one side of the road with food booths.  The theme seems to be the same in all the booths: barbequed anything on a stick.  If you can poke a stick through it, they will barbeque it in the hope that some unsuspecting tourist will eat it.  The list of possible kabobs includes snake, scorpion, grasshopper, cricket, beetle, snake skin, frog, various internal organs, squid, sparrow, quail, lamb, starfish, sea horse and more. 

Some tasty scorpions-on-a-stick

While the food was...  uhhhh...  "interesting", it was not the highlight of my most recent trip to China.  There are two other things that you really must experience on your next trip to China.  The second most interesting site is The Great Wall of China.  This thing is just awesome.  This wall is like 3000 years old, stretches like 4000 miles and was built by hand.  OK, lots and lots of hands but they didn't have any front-end loaders or diesel-powered cranes or other heavy equipment.  Just boatloads of little Chinese hands.  It's amazing.

Oh, I forgot to mention.  While I was there, I closed the marketing deal of the millennium.  Get this, while in China, I successfully negotiated the naming rights to the Great Wall!  That's right, from this day forward, the wall formerly known as The Great Wall of China is now officially named The WinoStuff Great Wall of China®!!!  From now on, all references to the Great Wall must include the WinoStuff name.  It's a law.  You don't want to break a Chinese law!  They're communists, damn it!!!  As you can imagine, this deal cost us an enormous sum of money.  I can't disclose the actual amount that we paid but suffice it to say that it is greater than the Gross National Product of most Asian countries.  We paid more than Exxon-Mobil grosses in a year.  We paid more than the market cap of Walmart, Microsoft and Cisco combined!  Fortunately, WinoWally had enough in his checking account to cover the tab...

Tourists enjoy the grandeur of TheWinoStuff Great Wall of China®

OK, so I saw the Great Wall.  I saw the Forbidden City.  So what?  (Get this...  There is a Starbucks inside the Forbidden City.  I'm sorry but that is just wrong.  The Forbidden City is a 600 year old palace complex which has been turned into a national archive/museum.  It is rich in history and culture and tourists from around the world visit the Forbidden City to see how the emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties lived.  Now, there's a Starbucks inside.  I was appalled.  Not so appalled that I couldn't enjoy a Forbidden Latte, but appalled nonetheless...)   I saw all the typical tourist sites and I ate at the famous restaurants.  But these were not the highlights of my visit.  No, winos, the highlight of my trip to this ancient country was right there in my hotel.  You can imagine my sheer delight when I walked into the bathroom of my hotel room and saw the... commode.  Yes, that's right, the crapper.  Now, this was no ordinary toilet, people.  No, this porcelain bowl was equipped with some kind of high-tech, NASA-designed, electronically-controlled TOILET SEAT!!!  Yes, that's right, a toilet seat with wires and hoses and an electronic control panel.!!!  This thing was friggin' INCREDIBLE!!!  The controls were all in Chinese so I couldn't tell exactly what the thing is called.  I'm assuming that the Chinese gave it a catchy name, something unique like...   Crap-o-Matic 2000® or BungBuddy XLR8®.  I'm going with Crap-o-Matic.

Presenting for the first time to the American pooping public...
The Crap-o-Matic 2000®

Yes, the Crap-o-Matic 2000® is the latest in defecation technology.  The Crap-o-Matic 2000®.  Tired after a long day touring the WinoStuff Great Wall of China?  Now you can return to your hotel room and relax in the comfort of your bathroom.  Busy executives will appreciate all the benefits of a tastefully appointed restroom complete with a telephone, high speed internet connection and a Crap-o-Matic 2000®.  Just look what this new innovation has to offer...

The control panel of the Crap-o-Matic 2000® puts comfort at your fingertips...

  • The blue button turns on the Hot Seat® feature of the Crap-o-Matic 2000®.  One touch and the seat begins to heat up.  Use the UP and DOWN arrows to control the temperature.  Now you can enjoy cozy warmth while you take care of your "personal business".  But you must be careful, set it too high and...  well, let's just say that Uranus will develop another ring…!

  • The green button causes the Crap-o-Matic 2000® to spray a gentle stream of warm water into your holiest of holey places for that all-over clean feeling...

  • And the red button..., well, I was afraid to push the red button.  The red button has a picture of a woman with a smile on her face.  Whatever is making her smile would probably just hurt me…   My wife, however, has demanded that I install a Crap-o-Matic 2000® at home.  What's up with that?

WARNING:  The Crap-o-Matic 2000® has braided steel hoses such as those found under the hood of NASCAR race cars.  This indicates to me that this thing is capable of operating at high temperatures and pressures, two conditions I try to keep away from my tender nether regions.


OK, enough of this inane Chino-babble.  This is a wine site, damn it!  I should be discussing wine!!!  Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, China is completely devoid of wine.  (This is not completely accurate.  I had the opportunity to pay $75 for a $15 bottle of Chianti at the CJW restaurant in Shanghai but my Chinese hosts were looking at me like, “Is this crazy American really going to spend $75 on one bottle of wine?  That could feed an entire family for a year!  What’s he going to do???...”   I couldn't do it.)  

While there was no wine in China, there was wine on the airplane!  After surviving 10 days without any vino, I settled into my seat on the plane for the return flight home, anxiously awaiting takeoff and the refreshment service that would soon follow.  I was starting to shake in anticipation.  Ten minutes into the flight, a cute little Asian flight attendant knelt down next to my seat and, in her best English, said, "My name is Happily.  If there is anything I can do for you, please just ask..."  

OK, wine wasn't the only thing I had not had in 10 days and now... well...  you can imagine what was racing through my mind...  I managed to stutter out something like, "Hi Happily.  Could you happily go up there and pop open three bottles of Cabernet?  That would make me very happily."  I knew this was going to be a long flight...

Like a crackhead who finally gets out of the slammer and back on the street in search of his next fix, Crackhead WinoJohn was on the loose.  The airline had a decent selection of wines (for an airline) and I decided to jump right in.  All the way in...  The wines on the flight included…  (Hey, it was a 16 hour flight!)

  • Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Livermore Valley 2001- Just what the doctor ordered after 10 days of abstinence.  Light fruit, medium body, decent balance.  And most of all, it's CABERNET!!!  Thank God!

  • Charles Heidsick Brut reserve Mis en Cave 2000 – Dry, Dry, Dry.  The way champagne should be.  Crisp and clean. Very nice.

  • Domaine Bourillon Dorleans Vouvray La Coulee D’Argent Vieilles Vignes Sec 2003 – A bit austere.  You might enjoy this one after pushing the "woman button" on the Crap-o-matic 2000®

  • Fairhall Downs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 – fruit on the nose, grassy on the finish.

  • Domaine Pierre Fil La Cuvee Des Elysices 2001 – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre.  Spicey, oaky vanilla.

  • Burdon Dry Fino Sherry – Its sherry.  Who cares?

  • Graham’s LBV Port 1997 – Sweet.  Too sweet.

7 glasses of wine in 16 hours.  Not so bad.  (Well, actually, it may have been a tad more than 7 glasses.  Happily was just too happy to provide free refills...) 

On a final note, it should be pointed out that I went wineless for 10 days while working my fingers to the bone in performance of my dweeb day job.  At the same time, my pals and business associates, Wino Eric of Santa Clara CA and WinoRandy, went to Bordeaux for a "business meeting".  What’s wrong with this picture?   We're in the same friggin' business!!!  I'm eating tongue and brain while they are sipping First Growths and eating gourmet cheeses.  This is just so wrong.  I’m sure they enjoyed copious quantities of good frog wine while I had copious quantities of green tea.  Damn, I gotta get a new job...   My Feng-shui is in great shape but my liver is atrophying.   I'm totally in touch with my inner zen but my outer wino is suffering.  (Then again, my buttocks area has never felt more clean and refreshed.  Thanks, Crap-o-Matic!)

That's it for now.  Until next time, relax, enjoy, keep your fingers off the red button, and drink more wine!


July 30, 2005

The following update has been modified from its original version.  It has been edited for content and formatted to fit in the allotted time.  

Wow.  It’s been awhile.  What have you winos been up to?  If our web logs and my email are any indication, you’ve been stopping by this inane page looking for something new.  Some of you have actually been disappointed to find that the last update was months ago.  (You people need to get a life!)  Unfortunately, I can’t reveal my actual whereabouts for the last three months.  Top secret, company-confidential, need-to-know-only kind of stuff.  However, recognizing that some of you lifeless wine-consumers won’t be able to sleep until you get some kind of closure with regard to my extended absence, WinoStuff presents “You Make The Call!”  That’s right, I have prepared a list of possible explanations for my recent cyber-disappearance.  You, the news-savvy wino, can take your pick and believe whatever makes you feel good.  You make the call!

These are just some of the possible reasons for my recent hiatus:

  1. I was abducted by a band of French midgets who forced me to watch old Jerry Lewis movies, eat foie gras and drink chick wine.

  2. I have been traveling the world as part of my dweeb day job as well as for personal rest, relaxation and holistic healing.

  3. I have begun a new health regimen which involves a reduction in wine consumption, daily exercise (resulting in less “free” time for this dopey column) and a healthy diet.

  4. I have retained a personal psychic who warned me of the negative effects on my personal well being which can result from associating with people named Bob.

  5. All of the above

  6. None of the above

  7. Both E) and F)

  8. Who cares?

If one of these excuses floats your boat, go with it.  Otherwise, you can always use my favorite fallback, “It’s The Wife’s fault”.  Whatever works for you…

First, let me get a little general housekeeping out of the way.  Some of you “What’s New update prodders” have turned into outright badgerers.  This is totally unacceptable.  You guys know who you are…  If you don’t know who you are, let me remind you.

  • Wino Eric of Santa Clara, CA

  • BigBob

  • WinoBob

You know what happens when you badger me.  I didn’t want to do this.  I had to…

Wino Eric of Santa Clara, CA performs nightly in his re-creation
 of the classic John Travolta role in Saturday Night Fever.

That should be enough warning to the Bobs.  You don’t want to suffer this same indignation!!!  ‘Nuff said.

OK, back to business…  

Depending on which of the above excuses you may have chosen to believe, I may or may not have several things to report.  This may all be hypothetical so pay attention.  Some of these factoids may not fit in with your "You Make The Call" conclusion, so feel free to ignore this section...

I might have visited Las Vegas a few months ago and I may have had the pleasure of dining at a restaurant called Aureole in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.  This restaurant features modern American cuisine, a killer wine list (which is accessed via a cool, high tech, wireless digital device) and WINE ANGELS.  That's right, Wine Angels.  Wine Angels are these hot female wine stewards that strap themselves into a harness and get hoisted up and down the 4-story temperature-controlled wine tower, retrieving the patrons' wine selections.  Very over-the-top.  Some might even call this erotic.  Wine, women, harnesses...  uhhh... never mind.  Unfortunately, these Wine Angels must get paid Wallyesque sums because the wine is way, way expensive.  My first car cost less than our evening's wine bill.  My monthly mortgage is less than the evening's wine bill.  WinoBob's weekly wine tab is less than the...  No, that's not right.  Sorry.  I got carried away.  

There is an outside chance that I might have spent a few weeks in China since my last update.  I was nearly killed by excessive ingestion of Chinese food.  Two weeks of eating nothing but beak and tongue and foot of a variety of different beasts left me dazed and confused.  Thank God for McDonalds.  Just when I was feeling faint and my gastrointestinal system was about to shut down, voila!  A couple of McBurgers and I was a new man.  

The Chinese wine scene leaves much to be desired.  I had a couple decent bottles while I was there but they were all imports. I brought back a bottle of Great Wall Cabernet Sauvignon which is purported to be the best selling wine in China.  The best thing I can say about this wine is that it's red.  No fruit, no structure, no complexity, no nothin'.  Just red.  I tasted it side by side with a Two Buck Chuck Merlot and the Two Buck Chuck was clearly the winner.  You can strike the Great Wall from your "Must Taste" list.

There are rumors circulating that I vacationed in Aruba last month.  I can neither confirm nor deny these rumors.  However, had I visited Aruba, I certainly would have dined at The Flying Fishbone Restaurant.  Tables on the beach (some actually in the water), romantic setting, excellent food and a decent wine list all made for a wonderful evening.  I also dined at an Argentinean grill (the name escapes me) where I was informed that 2001 Stag's Leap Napa Valley Syrah is exactly the same thing as 2001 Stags' Leap Napa Valley Petite Sirah.  Exactly the same!  When I disagreed with the waiter over this subtle point, he called the wine steward over who politely informed me that I was an idiot (not in so many words...) and that yes, the bottle of 2001 Stag's Leap Napa Valley Syrah that they brought to my table is exactly the same thing as the 2001 Stags' Leap Napa Valley Petite Sirah that appeared on the wine list.  No difference!  You can imagine my embarrassment...  (Actually, you can imagine my family's embarrassment when I informed them that I am, indeed, WinoJohn of WinoStuff.com fame and that I was pretty sure that I knew more about Napa Valley wines than all the waiters, waitresses and wine stewards in their godforsaken restaurant put together!)  Other than that one Argentinean wine debacle, Aruba is a fabulous place.  The people are friendly, the service is excellent and the beach is awesome.  I would definitely go back again (if I had been there to begin with...)

But all that hypothetical, "what have I been up to for the last three months" nonsense is not important.  It's not the reason why you stop by this site.  (Most people actually come to this site by accident.  In fact, a significant number of our visitors are, in fact, searching Google for "Juliet Huddy naked" and for some reason, they are directed here.  Perhaps the Google spider picks up the words Juliet Huddy naked and assumes that we actually have pictures of Juliet Huddy naked.  Which we don't.  But the spiders don't know that.  They just detect the words "Juliet Huddy naked" and start sending people here.  If you fall into that category, you can leave now because we don't have any pictures of Juliet Huddy naked.)  (Note to WinoBob: Wait until you see next month's web traffic report!)

So anyway, in this episode of What’s New!, we'll examine the complex interrelationship between two subjects which are near and dear to my heart, wine and women.  Throw in rock-and-roll and chocolate and you have the WinoJohn Grand Slam.  Add to that some golf, beach and gourmet food and you have WinoWally’s life.  (On a slow day.)  Damn that WinoWally! 

Anyway, we’re here to talk about wine and women.  And I’m not just talking about our bikini-clad WinoBabes.  (Although, you have to admit, some of these serious female wine professionals never looked better!)  I'm not talking about Wine Angels. I'm not even talking about Juliet Huddy naked.  I'm talking about the women who make wine.  And the women who drink wine.  And the wine that women drink.  And did I mention the WinoBabes?  Ooops.  Sorry. 

Where do we begin to explore the complex symbiosis between wine and women?  There are countless websites dedicated to wine, albeit none quite as…  uhhhh…  “colorful” as WinoStuff.com.  There are also countless websites dedicated to women, some of them featuring women with their clothes on!  There are even websites that are dedicated to wine and women but if I provide a link to those sites, you won’t hang around this lame site and click our Google ads.  And we can't allow that.  So, sit back, relax and enjoy the ultimate exposé on wine and women.

In order to appear as if we have some semblance of journalistic integrity for this piece, I had hoped to actually interview the women of wine.  All of them.  However, as I started churning out this update, I realized that there are a lot of women in the wine world.  Unfortunately, I was only able to interview…  uhhh, let’s see…  well, I didn’t actually get to interview any women on this subject.  I’ve been pretty busy.  (Hey!  Remember, the midgets?  The abduction?  Gimme a break!)  So, I have had to scale back the scope of this definitive exposé just a bit.  In order to get something out in a “timely” fashion, I’ve been forced to focus just on the wine itself.  So, I’ll call this piece “Chick Wine”.  (I know I’ll pay far that…)  Consider this to be Part One of  The Ultimate Exposé on Wine and Women…

The Definitive Guide to Chick Wine

So, check this out…  According to published reports, women buy more than 80% of all wine sold in the US.  Did you hear that?  80% !!!   I know that’s hard to believe given that WinoBob consumes 80% of all the wine sold in the US but that’s what published reports say.  I don’t make this stuff up.  OK, I make some of this stuff up, but not this time.  Apparently, women do buy more than 80% of all wine sold in the US.  Fortunately, these wine-buying women share some of the wine with us wine-consuming men.  Statistics indicate that women only consume like 60% of all wine sold in the US.  So we have that going for us, which is nice…

What do these statistics mean to us?  Well, it could mean that one of several disturbing dynamics is taking place:

  1. WinoBob has a cult of women buying wine for him.  (I don’t think so…)

  2. Women are stockpiling wine somewhere, awaiting the great gender war that will soon erupt.  (Hey, it could happen…)

  3. Women are constantly plotting to get men drunk in order to steal their credit cards and go to the mall to buy shoes.  (I know this happens…)

  4. Chicks dig buying wine for their man.  Ouch!!!  (Note to self:  Stop writing these silly articles when The Wife is looking over your shoulder…)  or

  5. Women are an important market demographic that has been, until now, mostly overlooked by the macho, points-driven, male-dominated wine industry.

It could be that any or all of these possible scenarios are playing out but I’m guessing that #5 is the predominant force behind the statistics.  So you had to figure that it would only be a matter of time before alert winemakers started tailoring their wine to meet the tastes of women.  Well, my friends, that time has come.  And, no, I’m not talking about Pinot Noir or Merlot.  I’m not even talking about White Zin…  (I'm certainly not talking about Juliet Huddy naked...)

If you read the wine news (and I know you do, otherwise why would you be reading this lame diatribe?), several winemakers have recently announced their version of the next big thing on the wine scene:  Chick Wine.  In this case, Chick Wine is defined as wine that is made and marketed to meet the specific needs and wants of women.  However, the target audience may be the only thing these wines have in common.

On the one hand, mega wine producer, Beringer Blass Wine Estates, recently announced the launch of a new white wine called White Lie Early Season Chardonnay.  This wine is reported to be a “low-calorie, low-alcohol white wine” and will be targeted directly at “the American female wine drinker.”   In fact, this wine was developed by an all-female team of American female wine-drinking female women.   That’s pretty feminine!  The Beringer Blass team claims that “the wine is a reward for hard-working women who worry about their appearance," citing 80% of women as dissatisfied with their appearance and 45% on a diet at any given day.”    It sounds to me like Beringer just called the average American female wine drinker “overweight”, “tired” and “dumpy”…   I could be wrong but that might not sell well…   According to their press release, Beringer’s winemaker, Jane Robichaud, who is herself an American female wine-drinking woman, harvested the grapes earlier than usual in order to lower calorie, sugar and alcohol content in the final wine.   This sounds to me like she picked grapes that were not quite ripe.   That should make for an “interesting” wine…

At the other end of the Chick Wine style spectrum, Napa Valley’s family-owned Obrien Cellars has released their version of chick wine, a Bordeaux-style blend called Seduction.  Owner Bart O’Brien decided to make Seduction after talking with his wife and many of her female friends and acquaintances.  According to Obrien, “Today’s female wine consumer is a well-educated (hot), middle-to-high income earning (hot), independent (hot) woman.  She is not interested in wine scores or in the technical details of grape sourcing, winemaking or collecting. She wants a wine that is high-quality, beautifully packaged and pairs well with foods.”   (I’m sure that Bart also realizes that today’s male wine consumer, on the other hand, is mostly interested in the hot female wine consumer.)  But I digress…

In the middle are a host of newcomers with trendy names like Mad Housewife or Rosé the Riveter.  Who knows what message they are trying to convey?  I’m afraid to ask.

To be honest, I haven’t tasted the Beringer offering yet.  I’m still trying to get up the nerve to ask for it at the Bottle King.  (What self-respecting wino is going to go into his favorite wine shop and buy a bottle of diet Chardonnay?)  On the other hand, I could easily see myself buying a bottle of a Napa Bordeaux-style blend.  I do it all the time.

However, I didn’t have to go searching for the Seduction.  The Obriens had the incredible foresight to send me a bottle!  During one of our very important WinoStuff business dinners, I had the distinct pleasure of opening a bottle of the 2002 Seduction.  As I tasted it, I tried to imagine what The Wife would think.  (She’s “not invited” to these very important tasting functions or, as she puts it, “I’m not going out with you and your drunken idiot friends…”)  I found the Seduction to be a nice soft red wine with lots of up-front cherry and vanilla flavors and no tannin.  None. Zero.  Zilch.  It was 100% tannin-free.  Or maybe my tannin detectors are just too calloused from drinking big Cali Cabs.  I don’t know.  But what I do know is this, The Wife doesn’t like tannin and she does like fruit.  I think the Seduction will be a hit.  At the very least, it should get her off the chardonnay. 

Speaking of The Wife (and I have already said way too much in this edition), she enjoys a good white Burgundy.  She enjoys a well-made Cab.  For budgetary reasons, she buys inexpensive California chards.  So, she must have some kind of wine appreciation.  Why then, if we are out at a party, will she drink white zin?  What's up with that???   It’s embarrassing!  She doesn’t realize it but this is a direct reflection on me.  And it is all about me!  We need to have a talk…

So here are a few questions that, if I had more time, I could have explored.  What do famous female winemaker women like Ann Colgin, Heidi Barrett and Delia Viader have to say?  What do they look for in a good wine?   What wines do they drink?  Why won’t they return my calls?  These are all important questions that need to be answered in any definitive essay on chick wine and I won’t rest until we get some answers!  

So, until next time, relax, enjoy some chick wine with your favorite chick, and drink more wine!

April 2, 2005

I did it!  I managed to go two whole months without an update!  Whew!  That was tough.  Despite all the whining and complaining from people that I don't know, I managed to keep my thoughts to myself during the very important February/March mental health / mental relaxation time period.  Other than the occasional Breaking News! article (which I can pretty successfully plagiarize from real news sources), I haven't really done squat.  It's been great!  Even BigBob hasn't bothered me.

However, one of my friends has felt the need to remind me that I haven't done squat.  That's right, there is one wine-loving techno-dweeb that just couldn't let it go.  One of my dweeb day job co-workers is apparently a What's New! junkie and he just had to sling little reminder barbs my way!  This guy (to protect his anonymity, I'll just call him Wino Eric of Santa Clara, CA) and I have a great deal in common.  We both hail from Pennsylvania, we're both dweebs (although I'm much dweebier than he) and we both enjoy big reds.  WinoEric and I have traded stories of the pick, the crush, and the mutant grape bees.  We've dined together and shared a few bottles together.  You'd think the guy would cut me some slack.  Then, out of the blue, he sends me a scathing email that looks something like this:

To: Wino John
Fr: Eric of Santa Clara, CA
Re: 'Stuff
Date: March 28, 2005

You know you haven't updated What's New since January 30.

Can you believe this guy?  What did I do to deserve this kind of malicious verbal attack?  Geez, you think you know a guy...

Yes, winos, you know what happens when somebody prods me during a mental health hiatus.  That's right, he/she invokes the Wrath of Photoshop!  Let this be a warning to all you potential prodders.  I'm a dweeb with a twisted imagination and hair-trigger on Photoshop.  I'm sorry to have to do this, but...

Here we see wino-dweeb extraordinaire, Wino Eric, relaxing on the beach...

I'm going to be spending some time with WinoEric at an upcoming dweebfest in Las Vegas.  I'm sure that we'll be able to work this out...

OK, now that I got that out of my system, let's see what's new...

WinoBob was arrested again for being Drunk and Disorderly after our dinner with Christian González of Torres.  Nothing new there.  Hmmm....  What else?  Oh yeah, I almost forgot!  WinoWally was abducted by aliens!  He hasn't written anything for this lame site for like three years, he must have been abducted.  He denies it but that's the first sign of having been abducted.  The aliens force you to deny it or else they will abduct you again.  Wally also claims no memory of the abduction.  Duhhh!!!  They give you the rectal probe / memory eraser just before they let you go!!  Nobody ever remembers it!  All the signs are pointing to a classic abduction.  Besides, we have pictures...

WinoWally is abducted from the local mall by aliens...

Wally, I think the only way for you to recover your memory of the abduction is for me to come down to Baltimore and work with you.  Through extensive wine-therapy we will reconnect those alien-altered memory cells.  I don't care if we have to spend months down in your wine cellar, the truth is out there and we will drink it!!  Uuhhhh..., I mean..., find it!

What else is going on in the wine world.  Well, there's news out of the Michael Jackson trial that Whacko Jacko really is a wino whacko!  We all heard about the Jesus Juice in the Diet Coke can.  That's old news.  But how about this?  At Michael Jackson's Neverland Valley ranch, wine and liquor are hidden in a basement room, down a set of stairs concealed by a jukebox  in the large video-game arcade.  The Whackmeister also has quite the porn collection.  Let's see, who does this remind us of?   Except for the molested little boys, this could be our own WinoBob!

My 12 year-old daughter provided this artist's rendition of the WinoBob underground wine vault/arcade.

Hey, the Supreme Court is due to rule very soon on the whole interstate transportation issue.  The court heard arguments back in December over the right of states to restrict the shipment of wine to residents from out-of-state wineries.  The wine wholesalers are obviously lobbying to keep these archaic laws in place.  The Supreme Court could put an end to this whole issue.  Keep your fingers crossed.  If you want your voice to be heard, visit FreeTheGrapes.org.

And on a final note, the French are at it again.  (This page wouldn't be complete without a little "French update".)  It appears that a bunch of radical winos are upset with the French government.   This group which calls themselves CRAV (Comité Régional d’Action Viticoles), which in English means something like "Crazy French Winos With Explosives", have been out blowing things up.  Fortunately, thus far, no one has been injured.  However, one French policeman was "knocked off his scooter" on March 9.  Upon seeing this, the CRAV reportedly set the scooter on fire and "ran away."   I'm not making this up.  More recently, these angry wine producers have raised the stakes in their struggle with the French government, using dynamite in attacks against official buildings in the cities of Montpellier, Carcassonne and Nimes.  Damage has been minimal as it seems that these Franco terrorists are content to just set the dynamite off outside the doors of the government buildings.  There were also reports of several explosions at small wineries in the south of France.  It's not clear whether these wineries were targeted by the CRAV or if the CRAV just accidentally blew themselves up.

The CRAV are protesting against the measley €70 million ($93.7 million) package of measures announced by the French Minister of Agriculture to help the local wine industry out of the worldwide wine glut.  You know, there's a worldwide glut of wine-related web sites, too, but you don't see us out there blowing things up!  Especially our own facilities.  Then again, no one is giving us €70 million to go out and by dynamite.  I'll have to think about this one...

On a sad note, while I was penning this little update, it was announced that Pope John Paul II has passed away.  He had been gravely ill for a few days.  He was a great man and the world is a better place for all his efforts.  I actually feel bad now about announcing my candidacy for (and subsequent withdrawal from) the papacy.  What was I thinking (drinking)?

Pope John Paul II

May he rest in peace.



January 30, 2005

Holy shit!  Check this out...  just 20 days between What's New updates.  What's wrong with this picture???  Somebody pick BigBob up off the floor...

Anyway, I received an interesting email recently.  I receive a lot of email, mostly from irate feminists complaining about the WinoBabe of the Month or from irate Frogs complaining about my continuing criticism of all things French.  I can easily ignore all those idiots.  This recent email, however, caught my attention...

I received an email from some unknown-to-me woman from Australia.  In my mind, I envision the author to be some WinoStuff-addicted, lovelorn reader like Nicole Kidman or Elle Macpherson.  Or even the slightly-not-from-Australia- but-really-from-New-Zealand, Rachel Hunter.  I recognize that this is purely my fantasy and not just a fabricated reason for me to post more bikini-clad babes.  (That's just a side benefit.)

Longtime fans of WinoStuff, Nicole, Elle, and Rachel

So anyway, I get this email from Nicole (or Elle or Rachel) and she informs me of some survey that purports to pair wine with "personalities, prospective dates, and favorite occasions of single men and women nationwide."   I figured this is exactly the type of whacky shit that WinoStuff readers enjoy.  I could be wrong...

As it turns out, this survey was sponsored by The Australian Wine Bureau and Match.com so I expected the results of the survey to indicate something like "Pathetic single Australian computer geeks meet similarly afflicted Australian women through Match.com and ply them out of their Aussie undergarments with copious quantities of Aussie Shiraz..." or something like that.  While I was close in my pre-assessment, I was not entirely correct.  The actual findings of the survey reveal that (and I quote), "the Characteristics of Australian Wines Match What Single Americans Want in a Romantic Partner".  Damn!!!  All along, I thought Single Americans wanted something more along the lines of our bikini-clad WinoBabes.  I may have to rethink my whole bikini-clad strategy...

Reprtedly, Match.com questioned thousands of single men and women across the US and found that 62 percent believe that their date's choice of beverage provides "insight into their lifestyle", and 52 percent felt that it is "indicative of their personality".  Here are some of the specific findings of the survey:

  • Ordering a wine from Australia conveys the message that a person is adventurous (62 percent) and fun (32 percent). 

  • A person that drinks French wine is viewed as "pretentious" (76 percent) and high-maintenance (65 percent). 

  • "Sexy" (40 percent) and "stylish" (37 percent) were personality traits used to describe a person who orders a wine from Italy.

  • The type of drink someone orders has the potential to pique the interest of their prospective partners. When asked which person they would be the most interested in meeting, respondents overwhelmingly chose someone who orders wine from Australia (53 percent) over someone who orders a vodka from Russia (18 percent), a beer from Belgium (15 percent) or a Port from Portugal (14 percent).

  • Eighty-three percent of singles agree that a glass of wine can make an already special moment even more romantic.

  • Ordering a glass of wine for that special occasion does not have to be expensive. Fifty-nine percent of women and 47 percent of men are not willing to spend more than $25 on a bottle of wine on a first date. 

  • Overall, men were more likely than women to indicate that they have a great knowledge of wine.

Now, you know us.  We at 'Stuff could not sit idly by and let the findings of this survey go unchallenged.  So we assembled a team of top Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Psychopaths, Psychophobes, Psychos, Sycophants, Psychics, and Physicists (we had to have some real scientists in the mix) and we analyzed the same data.  Our findings (not surprisingly) are quite different.  Here's what we found:

  • Ordering a wine from Australia conveys the message that a person is Australian (29 percent) and horny (71 percent). 

  • A person that drinks French wine is viewed as " pretentious" (76 percent) and high-maintenance (65 percent).  (Hmmm...  That's exactly what the other team of data analysts determined...  That's strange...)

  • "Pasta" (40 percent) and "red sauce" (37 percent) were personality traits used to describe a person who orders a wine from Italy.  (These are more like food traits but the 'Stuff data analysts got hungry while we were analyzing the data...)

  • The type of drink someone orders has no bearing on the interest of their prospective partners, it's how much they drink that matters.  When asked which person they would be the most interested in meeting, respondents overwhelmingly chose someone who orders wine by the case (84 percent) over someone who orders tea by the cup (14 percent).

  • Eighty-three percent of singles agree that a glass of wine can make an already special moment even more romantic.  Ninety-seven percent of singles agree that two bottles of a high-alcohol Zinfandel can "close the deal".

  • Ordering a glass of wine for that special occasion does not have to be expensive..., but it helps. Fifty-nine percent of women are more inclined to "show their gratitude" if 47 percent of men were willing to spend more than $25 on a bottle of wine on a first date. 

  • Overall, men were more likely than women to indicate that they have a great knowledge of wine.  That's because, overall, men were more likely than women to read WinoStuff.

 Hey, those are the findings.  You can't argue with our crack team of experts!  (Notice how I color-coded the aforementioned findings...  Winostuff findings in green and Aussie Wine Bureau findings in red.  That's for your benefit!)

You know, all this talk of wine pairings reminds me of my award-winning expose on the whole wine/food and wine/company pairing issue.  Alert winos will remember that article from July of 2001.  Not-so-alert winos will click here...

Let's see, what else have we got...?

Oh, yeah...   I recently made a trip to the west coast to tend to some dweeb business for my day job.  I had the opportunity to enjoy a nice dinner with the entire west coast dweeb team.  They really are a great bunch of dweebs.  I really enjoy working with them.  However... (you knew there had to be a 'however'), we went out to a gala dweeb dinner and someone suggested that I, WinoJohn, select the appropriate wine for dinner.  People!  What are you thinking?  I know you read this site!  You think that because I have a wine-related website, I am uniquely qualified to pick a dinner wine?  Now if you were paying attention, you would know that I am going to pick something big and red and which will probably NOT pair well (in some people's opinion) with the food that you are going to order!  But, you know what?  I don't care!  I like 'em big and red!!!

So, I did what any self-sacrificing wino would do, I ordered some white.  And some red.  And all the wino-dweebs at the table looked at me like I was Charlie Manson.  "Teacher, what should we drink?  The white?  Or the red?"  (Note to self:  If WinoStuff has this kind of mind-numbing power over otherwise normal-seeming people, I need to start promoting the "New Wing for WinoJohn's House Fund".  Cha-ching!!!Anyway, kids, it was a lot of fun.  Let's do it again soon.  And next time, bring your checkbooks...

Well that's it.  I won't feel obligated to update this goofy page for another 6 months so don't get your hopes up.  I'm pretty busy.   I have a few more trips to the west coast coming up.  I have to manage the "New Wing" construction.  I have to get all those Psycho-whatevers out of the WinoStuff corporate offices.  They can be a real pain in the ass.

So relax, enjoy (some red and some white, my disciples...) and drink more wine!


January 10, 2005

Wow.  What a break!  That was one serious hiatus.  Whew!!!  It's been a few months since my last stroll down What's New Boulevard.  I don't know what happened.  I guess I just needed a break.  After two months off, you would think that I would feel much more rested than I do.  Why do I still feel so tired?  Oh, that's right, I'm still working my fingers to the bone!!!

Where was I?   Oh yeah...

What's New?  How about this...  It took BigBob nearly two months to start ragging on me to update this page.  Now, that's something new!!!  This time, see... this time I was busy!  And preoccupied.  And engrossed.  And otherwise indisposed.  And besides, you were starting to get used to a monthly update.  We all knew that couldn't possibly continue.  I had to revert back to my old habits, back into my comfort zone.  Anyway, let's go back to October...

Back in October, my Dad was hospitalized for what should have been a short time.  It started out as a routine hip replacement operation and it turned into a battle with low blood pressure, a difficult rehabilitation, several "falls", a broken femur, and worst of all, an extended period of sobriety.  Yes, that's right, sobriety.  (My dad, you idiots, not me!)

Let me tell you a little about my dad.  My dad is now 87 years old and he worked at the steel mill for 40+ years.  Every night at 5:20, he would return home from the mill and mix up a pitcher of Manhattans.  That's right, a pitcher!  Of Manhattans!!!  Ouch!  If that didn't quite get the job done, he would mix up an extra little "smidgeon".  He retired about 20 years ago which meant that he could start his little Manhattan ritual at like 4:30.  Ahhh, the joys of retirement...  Anyway, over the course of his career, my dad did some serious drinking and I never really saw him drunk.  What an amazing liver.  If I get half the mileage out of my liver, I'll be drinking a bottle of red per night until I'm 105!   If WinoBob got half that mileage out of his liver(s)... well... he could go a few more months before his next liver transplant...  

Anyway, the extended hospital stays forced my dad to abstain from drinking.  That must have been pure hell.  So they cut him open, sawed off the top of his leg, and implanted some titanium rods.  So what?  No big deal.  Not drinking, however, that must be PAINFUL!!!  And if that wasn't bad enough, my dad's sudden sobriety had a pronounced trickle down effect in the spirits industry.  I was actually contacted by industry analysts to explain the sudden drop in sales of Seagrams 7.  It was a difficult period.  After many visitation trips to the hospital and a weekend spent installing handrails at my dad's house, the situation seems to be improving.  Keep your fingers crossed...

Let's see... what else has transpired since we last spoke?  Oh, yeah.  There was that whole presidential election thing but the right guy won and the world is a safer place.  We'll just leave it at that.  I also had to withdraw my bid for the papacy.  While I definitely would have made a pretty cool Pope, it was starting to look like a lot of work.  All that praying and blessing and good-deed-doing would start to bother me.  And the papal clothes, well, they just aren't too cool.  So I guess I will remain a wine-drinking techno-dweeb for the rest of my life.  I guess it could be worse...

Since my last update, we also observed another Thanksgiving and you know what that means...  Yes, once again, I had the distinct pleasure of joining WinoWally and our mutual in-laws for the annual in-law family combination Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner bash, eat-a-thon, and gift exchange at the palatial Wally Estate..   If you recall, this is our (Wally and mine) annual opportunity to laugh at our in-laws and their perverse obsession with food.  Conversely, we allow our in-laws the opportunity to laugh at our (Wally and mine) perverse obsession with wine.  While Wally and I may spend way too much time discussing wine, our obsession is merely a passing fancy in comparison with our in-law's food obsession.  The thousands of man hours that we have put into this goofy site over the last four years pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of man-hours that our in-laws spend each week discussing food.  If they are not actually eating food, they are shopping for food, planning a future meal or reminiscing about a memorable meal in the past.  I have received actual Christmas cards from my in-laws which describe in great detail, not the memorable milestones achieved by members of the family, but rather memorable meals consumed by members of the family.  It seems a bit unusual but, then again, I spend countless hours droning on about wine-related nonsense so I can't really criticize...

Recognizing that I will have to see these people at many more family gatherings, I will leave you with this one final tidbit.  While Wally took hundreds of pictures of all the family members at the gathering, the photo that most family members have requested copies of is shown below.  Note the informative little sign describing the contents of the platter (as if you couldn't tell by looking at it that it was steamed shrimp).  I don't expect to see these cute little signs next year.  One of my in-laws didn't realize that the signs were not actually edible and, well..., enough said.

Now this is a holiday memory!

While I was chatting with Wally (in between courses), Wally mentioned that he had been invited to the George W. Bush Presidential Inaugural Ball.  Wow, I thought, that's pretty cool!   I wonder who you have to know to get that ticket!  We here at 'Stuff have been outspoken supporters of "W" and I haven't yet received my invite.  What's up with that???  (An obvious oversight on the part of some low-level staffer.)  Then Wally told me that he was actually too busy to go to the ball.  Damn!  Too busy to go to the ball!  Too busy to visit with the prez...  Damn!  I want to be Wally when I grow up!  Did I mention that I got invited to the Jefferson Elementary School Annual Holiday Chorale Spectacular?  Pretty impressive, huh?  Unfortunately, I was too busy to go.  Damn!

You may recall a mention in one of WinoBob's recent columns that we had a little winter get-together with the Bob's (BigBob and WinoBob) at Casa de Bob.  It was a grand affair.  Actually, it was a pretty casual affair with some grand wines.  Caymus, Silver Oak, Monte Bello...  Not a bad way to celebrate the season...  Those Google ads are really paying off!!!

Bob failed to mention one of the highlights of the get-together.  Long-time friend of 'Stuff, Winette Tia, graced us with her presence.  We hadn't seen Tia in a while and it was good to catch up with her.  The important news from this meeting is that Tia got some ink.  Yeah, baby, Tia got a tattoo...  Unfortunately, Tia would not actually show me her tattoo.  That just means that I will have to let my imagination (and Photoshop) run wild...

Without actual visual confirmation, I imagine that Tia's tat looks something like this...

or maybe like this...

That's just my "artist's rendition".  I could be wrong...  (Side note: Check this out.  Over the last few months,  I have ingeniously managed to add bikini-clad babes to this site without any complaints from The Wife.  It may be some sort of new-age understanding between us or it may be that she doesn't actually read this stupid page.  It doesn't really matter because we now have bikini-clad babes on this site!!!)

Did I mention that I took a few days off over the Christmas/New Years holiday period?  I had actually planned to pen a brief What's New update during that period but, unfortunately, I suffered a catastrophic computer failure.  It was bad.  Very bad.  My computer motherboard crapped out.  It shit the bed.  Bit the bullet.  Went deep six.  My mobo had no mojo.  I was seriously depressed.  After a frantic call to Directron.com, I got a replacement board and I was able to rebuild her.  (Note to all wine-drinking techno-dweebs:  Red wine and SATA hard drives don't mix.  Trust me.)  But I lost valuable time.  During the Xmas break, I had also planned to convert all my home movies (which consist mostly of hundreds of hours of a 13 year old gymnast doing very scary stunts) to DVD.  That didn't get done either.  Now I'm really behind in my business.  To top it all off, I just returned from a very... uhhh..., difficult..., strenuous..., uhhh...  business trip.  To the Consumer Electronics Show.  In Las Vegas.  No, really, it was a tough trip.  All that technology!  And glitter.  And gambling.  Did I mention the technology?  It was a tough trip!  The highlight of the trip (Not counting the technology and glitter and gambling) was the 2000 Joseph Phelps Insignia compliments of one of my company's valued vendors.  (If they weren't valued vendors before, they are now!)  A great wine in an otherwise-mediocre vintage.  (Note to those who would like to be future WinoStuff  valued vendors:  Insignia, baby!)

OK, how about a little wine info.  I know you don't check into this update for information on my dad's health or Tia's ink.  (Yeah, baby...)

Two nice wines that I enjoyed recently include Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2004 and Da Vinci Chianti Riserva 2001.  I highly recommend both of these wines. 

In celebration of the 2004 Grape of the Year, Sauvignon Blanc, I purchased a couple bottles of the Kim Crawford and let me tell you, this was a great little SB.  Herby nose and mineraly/citrusy/grassy/apple-pear flavors and a sub-$15 price tag made this the white of the month for me.  (Yes, I do drink whites!)  

The Da Vinci is a nice, smooth, medium-bodied Chianti with pleasant berry flavors and less acidity than most Chiantis in this price range (~ $20).  My newfound penchant for Da Vinci has nothing to do with the Da Vinci Code that I wrote about last month quarter year.  (Damn, it has been a long time...)  The Da Vinci is imported by Ernie and Julie Gallo.  You remember Ernie and Julie.  Yes, E&J Gallo, the mega-huge winopoly headquartered in California.  World-famous wine guy and honorary wino, Robin Garr, passed on this little tidbit about Gallo.  Gallo's annual wine production exceeds that of all but 9 countries.  COUNTRIES!  These are the stats on the top 10 wine producers:

France - 5.6 billion liters
Italy - 5.3 billion liters
Spain - 3.5 billion liters
United States - 2.2 billion liters
Argentina - 1.4 billion liters
Germany - 1 billion liters
South Africa - 770 million liters
Australia - 750 million liters
China - 690 million liters
GALLO - 675 million liters
Portugal - 611 million liters

Well, that's it for another episode of What's New.  That's all you're going to get for another month or two.  Deal with it.  Stop sending me little "hints" to update this page.  You are all starting to bother me.  And when I get bothered, I post pictures of WinoHunks rather than bikini-clad WinoBabes!   We certainly don't want a repeat of that debacle!!! 

So, all of you, chill out, relax, enjoy, and if you are blessed enough to still have your Dad in your life, give him a hug.  And drink more wine!


October 22, 2004

As I sit here in my familiar computer chair, updating this dopey site, I pause for a moment to ponder why the staff of 'Stuff are not yet multi-billionaires, what with "the world's most important website" as our sounding board and all.  As the reality of the situation sinks in to my wine-soaked brain, I am tempted to pick up one of those business re-engineering, business re-organizing, business re-somethinging, self help books.  If there is a secret sauce to success, I need to know the recipe.  We've been hacking away at this lame site for four years now and we have barely made enough money to pay for WinoBob's last liver biopsy.  There must be some kind of trick to this success thing.  Hell, look at wine.com.  They are literally dumping truckloads of cash into a huge bonfire and yet there is a line of venture capitalists waiting to throw more dollars at them.  I don't get it.

Don't get me wrong, WinoStuff has brought me a great deal of pleasure in the last four years.  In fact, I crack myself up every time I sit down at the keyboard.  Updating WinoBob's frequent postings can be entertainment unto itself!  Sometimes, I don't really care what the readers think, I'm having a good time.  

I have also had the distinct pleasure of meeting some very interesting people and enjoying some excellent wine as a result of this website.  Take for example, our recent dinner with the big guy himself, Big Bob Ferdon of Dreyfus Ashby fame.  Big Bob knows my penchant for big reds and, recognizing that my budget for such wines has been dramatically depleted since The Boy decided to matriculate at that prestigious Ivy League school (Damn The Boy!), BigBob decided to treat us to a real gem.  After suggesting that I order a big hunk of red meat, Bob pulled from his wine travel bag (more like his wine travel suitcase) a bottle of 1994 Peju Province HB Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  Wow.  Double Wow.  I was speechless.  This wine was exquisite.  The nose was incredible.  If I could bottle the nose of this wine, I wouldn't need this lame site.  And the legs. Oh, the legs.  And the finish. This wine was ten years old but I'm sure that it could last another 25.  I was privileged just to be invited to this meal.  (Thanks again, BB!)  Then, during the drive home, the depression hit.  I'm guessing that big time wine importers and others "in the business" drink this kind of wine all the time.  I know for a fact that Big Bob pours better wine than this over his Cheerios in the morning.  Damn that Big Bob!!!  

So, if I am ever going to be able to afford to drink wines like Peju every day, the management of 'Stuff is going to have to make some changes around here.  I've come to the realization that our only hope for success may be to copy the business model of other successful entrepreneurs.  This realization got me thinking...  As I was watching Fox and Friends recently, the lovely (hot) Fox host, Juliet Huddy, was interviewing some political pundit from some think tank organization on the merits of something George Bush said or did.  It doesn't really matter what they were talking about.  Juliet could have been reciting the Periodic Table of the Elements, it didn't matter.  I was glued to the set.  (Ooohhh, wait....  I just thought of something...  Can you imagine Kiran Chetry talking about Quantum Physics?  Oh, yeah.  I find that disturbingly erotic...)  

Where was I?  Oh yeah, it doesn't matter what they were talking about.  There were two important takeaways from this little learning experience.  

1) Sex sells.  It doesn't matter what they were talking about.  Juliet is hot and I'm tuning in. Since I can't legally sell sex, I tried the next best thing and started posting half-naked pictures of WinoBabes on our home page. And man, have the dollars been pouring in...   Yeah, right...  (I just hope we don't get sued!)  So... I am forced to focus on takeaway #2 which is:  

2) The guy with Juliet was from a "think tank" and people listened to him.  Now that's a brilliant idea.  A "think tank", as if you have to be somebody special to think.  Just think about it...  ...  ...  See?  You're thinking!  You, too, could be part of a think tank!  But you're not.  And why not?  Because you haven't declared yourself to be part of one.  It's just that easy!!!   Damn it, WinoStuff needs a think tank.  Or better yet,  a drink tank!  If you have a think tank, people are naturally impressed with you and they probably send you money in exchange for your thoughts.  Just imagine what people will send you if you are part of a drink tank!  

Brillaint Business Idea #1 - Announcing The Official WinoStuff Political DrinkTank®, dedicated to drinking (and thinking) about the issues that are important to the greater wino community and coming up with recommendations which we will make available to anyone who sends us money or something more to drink.  As I see it, this is a can't-miss business idea.  

Here's another one...

Have you seen all these yellow rubber bracelets that the kids are so crazy about these days?  They are imprinted with the word LIVE STRONG and they have something to do with Lance Armstrong and his cancer charity.  You remember Lance, he's the American guy who likes to wear tight shorts and a bright yellow shirt and ride his bike around France while the hot (but confused) Sheryl Crow follows him around in a bus.  All the while, the French people line up in the street to see Lance ride and every once in a while, they shake up a big bottle of Champagne and pop the cork, spraying bubbly all over Lance.  It's good to be Lance.  And now, Lance has people all over the world sending him like $10 for some cheap yellow rubber bracelets.  The man is a genius.  So, to copy his success formula, check this out...  

Brillaint Business Idea # 2 - Announcing LIVER STRONG® bracelets!  For just $5 American (Hey, Lance has a head start.  We have to compete on price!), we will send you a nice Burgundy-colored LIVER STRONG® bracelet.  All proceeds will go to the New Liver for Bob Fund (except for those proceeds that get skimmed off for the More Cab for John Fund).  This idea can't miss either.  Damn, I'm on a roll...

How about this "can't miss" business idea...  You know how the ingenious cyber criminals are making a killing by stealing people's identities and using their credit cards to buy all kinds of stuff?  Well, we could...  No, that might not be such a good idea after all.  I don't think the wine list in the state penitentiary is quite up to my liking...

Ok, how about this one... (Admittedly, this one might not be quite as "sure fire" as the others...)

Check this out...  I'm thinking about running for Pope.  Now I know it sounds a little crazy but bear with me...  If I was elected Pope, I could order all Catholics to visit WinoStuff to receive special grace or absolution for their sins or some other compelling virtue.  I figure that there's like a billion or two Catholics in this world.  If 50% of them visit this site, we're suddenly more than just 'the world's most important web site', we're the world's most visited web site!  Then, see, THEN we could get some real advertising on this site.  I'm not talking Google Ads, here.  I'm talking about major media kinds of advertising!  With major media kinds of dollars!  That's what I'm talkin' about!!!

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "WinoJohn, being Pope is a big job.  What makes you think you're Pope material?"  Well, here's the thing.  I've recently read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and I have just begun Angels and Demons also by Dan Brown.  (Actually, I'm listening to these books on CD.  Reading just takes way too much effort.)  Anyway, I'm listening to these books which paint a pretty gruesome picture of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.  With the Knights Templar and the Illuminati running around, plotting revenge against the Church for centuries of oppression, I'm thinking that the church needs a more "modern thinking", open-minded Pope. Perhaps one who is a bit of a scientific dweeb?  One who could bring all of the world's people together (except maybe the French and those idiots in Hollywood) in a community of peace and brotherhood.  Just ask yourself, who fits that bill better than me?  

Just listen to what I would enjoy as Pope:

  • Jillions of dollars.  or Lira. or Euros.  Whatever the currency, there's lots of it.

  • Really good wine.  Do you think the Pope drinks the cheap stuff?  I'm guessing NOT!

  • A really nice house in the middle of Rome, just a few short miles (or kilo meters or hecto acres, who really understands the metric system?) from Tuscany!

  • Power!!  Oh, yeah, the power.  I, Pope WinoJohn 1, would be making the rules!  

But it's not just about me.  Just listen to what I would bring to the Papacy:

  • Celibacy?  Gone.  

  • Confession?  Gone.  

  • Birth control?  Whatever you want.  

  • Homosexual marriage?  (Ewww!)  Only if you are the Governor of New Jersey.  

  • World hunger?  A thing of the past.  (How would I pay for that, you ask?  I would rent out most of the church's assets.  All those Michaelangelo paintings and sculptures?  For a price, they too could be hanging in your living room.  Want to spend the night in the Sistine Chapel?  It's available!  Need an armored golf cart for an outing with some corporate executive or world leader?  Rent the Pope-mobile!!!)

We're talking a whole new mindset here, people!  We're talking Renaissance 2, The Renaissance Reloaded.  I'm not sure, but I think that, as Pope, I would have enough clout to change the interstate wine shipping laws.  Do I have your vote?  Who do we have to talk to in order to get my name on the ballot?  Join with me people!  We're going to CHANGE THE WORLD!!!

(Note to self:  Pick up more chocolate at Shop Rite.  We're out.)


September 19, 2004

...So there I was, enjoying a massive California Cab, basking in the glory that is northern California...  (For the record, the cab was a 1997 Gallo of Sonoma Barrelli Creek Vineyard.  Wow.)  There are three important reasons why I enjoy this cab.  1) It's big.  Very big.  In fact, it's an over-extracted, unfiltered, kick in the head.  2) It's chewy.  (Lots of sediment)  and, 3) The Wife doesn't like sediment so that leaves more wine for me!

Anyway, ...so there I was, enjoying this massive unfiltered Cali Cab, when I looked down into my glass and noticed all the muck in the bottom.  Immediately, I thought of Big Bob.  I thought of the big guy not because he reminds me of the muck in the bottom of the glass (He doesn't).  I thought of Big Bob not because he's massive.  (He's not.  Well... yes, he is, but that's not why.)   I thought of Big Bob because he constantly pesters reminds challenges me to update this page and now, with muck in the bottom of my glass, I once again have something to write about.  So, Bob, this muck's for you...

As I ponder my muck, I am reminded that many people are put off by sediment in wine.  They don't know what it is and they are afraid that something has started to precipitate out of their beverage.  (Precipitate:  It’s a scientific term meaning “to clump together and form into muck…”)  To those uneducated, sediment-averse individuals I say, "You're right.  There is something wrong with your wine.  You'd better just send it to me for proper 'disposal', if you know what I mean..."  

Actually, the sediment is made up of all kinds of naturally occurring and unsurprising stuff.  Think about it.  When you squeeze grapes, you get grape juice and a whole lot of squishy, pulpy stuff along with grape skins and the occasional mutant grape bee.  (See my diatribe on “The Crush”.)  In many cases, the winemaker removes all the non-juice stuff and just bottles the fermented liquid.  I contend that there are important “taste enhancers” and "massifiers" in the stuff that gets removed and I don’t mind if the winemaker leaves it in.  But that’s just me… 

The more important question to you, the alert wino, is ‘How do they remove the muck?’  This, my friends, is perhaps more than you want to know.  Proceed at your own risk.

As I was doing my research fort this article, (yes I do research.  Unlike some unnamed wine importers, I don't just sit around in my jammies all day, tasting my latest French or Spanish import, and writing smart-ass messages into the 'Stuff guestbook!)  As I was saying, while I was doing my research fort this article, I uncovered some of the methods by which wines are clarified or, as we like to say here, "de-mucked".  

There are three common ways that a winemaker removes some of the undesirable solids in wine.  The first process is called “racking” which is the method by which the winemaker removes the big, meaty pieces of muck otherwise known as lees.  The winemaker really doesn’t have to do much other than let the solids in the wine settle to the bottom of the barrel and siphon off the relatively muck-free juice from the top (leaving the lees behind).  Another process that is used to remove muck is "filtering".  Just as you would imagine, this involves running the wine through a filter to remove all particles above a certain size.  These two processes are pretty straightforward and should not alarm anyone.  However, the third method of removing muck is potentially quite disturbing.  It is called fining and it involves the addition of special, non-wine chemical substances into the wine.  These substances, called fining agents, adhere to some of the smaller solid particles in wine, causing them to clump together and sink to the bottom.  The clear wine can then again be siphoned off the top.

What’s so disturbing about that, you say?  Well, its just this…  the stuff that they use as fining agents is… well… not what you might expect.  Common fining agents include egg whites (OK, no big deal), gelatin (kind of like Jell-O), bentonite (some kind of volcanic dirt), milk, fish bladders (Ewww…), and the ever-popular polyvinyl polypyrrolidone (Mmmm, doesn’t that sound delicious?).  Now granted, most of this stuff is removed before the wine makes it into your cellar but it’s still a little disconcerting if you think about it.  So my advice is don't think about it.  I'm now sorry that I brought this whole thing up.  You can blame BigBob.

While we’re on the subject of stuff that doesn’t belong in wine, you should also be aware that winemakers may also add sulfites (preservatives), flavor enhancers including acids (no Bob, not LSD), copper, oak chips, color enhancers, and more.  I even found an article that notifies us that Argentina's National Institute of Viticulture (INV) has recently banned the use of hemoglobin (cow blood) to clarify wines.  Ooops, I'm sorry.  Did I say cow blood?  I meant to say COW BLOOD!!!  That's just wrong!  (Apparently, this practice was common in Europe long ago.)  It’s interesting to note that this new law was enacted not because it’s totally disgusting.  Rather, the INV simply wanted to prevent the spread of Mad Cow Disease via wine consumption.  Now, I’m starting to feel queasy…

Ordinarily, I would now take this opportunity to rag on BigBob about terroir and varietal labeling and all that.  In the past, I would have made some smart alecky comment about how the French get that "essence of barnyard" in some of their wines.  I would have speculated about the fining agents that the French use to impart that quintessential l'odeur de merde and I would have insisted that the ingredients appear on the label.  But after writing this article, I’m no longer sure that I want to know what’s in the bottle!  

For more info on what might be in your favorite wine bottle, check out this interesting article from Dan Berger of the SF Chronicle…  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/09/02/WIG188H0S41.DTL

After that, if you still have the stomach for it, relax, enjoy your muck, and drink more wine!


August 22, 2004

Here's some shocking news!  This column is being updated in less than 30 days from the last posting!!!  Relax.  Take a few deep breaths.  This probably won't happen again...

A few interesting things have taken place since my last update: 

First, the Olympic games have thus far gone off without a hitch (and without many spectators).  That's a good thing, sort of.  Its good in that there have been no incidents (other than the usual doping scandals) but its bad in that many sports fans around the world were too intimidated by the threat of some act of terror to actually go to the games.  Score one for the terrorists. 

The Americans are winning their normal (un)fair share of medals albeit not necessarily the ones we would have expected.  The US men's basketball team was soundly defeated by Puerto Rico which, the last time I checked, is PART OF THE US!!!  I guess you could say that we were just playing with ourselves.  And losing... 

Oh yeah, there was an interesting announcement from the NJ state capitol a few weeks ago.  Apparently, the governor of New Jersey is a twice-married gay man who tried to set up his Israeli gay lover as the completely-unqualified Director of Homeland Security for the State of New Jersey!!!  So we've got that going for us, you know, which is nice... 

Seriously, what the f*@& is up with that???  Faced with his gay lover's threatened sexual harassment lawsuit, Jimmy McGreevey came clean.  Thanks, Jimbo.  Your father must be very proud.  In retrospect, it's nice to know that the Gov was willing to put all the residents of the State of New Jersey at risk in order to "fill a void" in his life, if you know what I mean...  Oh yeah, and we were afforded the luxury of paying the salary of the Gov's boy-toy.  Wouldn't it be nice if all the residents of NJ could get a state-sponsored "playmate"?  

What's all this got to do with wine?  Hmmm, let me think...  How do I tie this all back to wine...?  OK, this is a stretch but here goes...  1) The Olympics started in Greece and the Greeks have been making wine for gazillions of years, and 2) The Star Ledger reported that the Gov spilled the beans to one of his close (non-gay) advisors over a nice bottle of Bordeaux.  There!  That closes the loop!  (Sorry, BigBob.  I didn't mean to drag the French into our little domestic problem.)

But none of this is important to you.  All of the preceding gibberish is just journalistic fluff designed to titillate you, the loyal 'Stuff reader.  (I like to use the word "titillate" whenever possible.)  The topic that I really want to discuss today is 

Biodynamics:  Eco-friendly Farming or Radical Terroirism?  

First of all, this is not another terroir rant.  I did that and I'm over it.  I've moved on.  However, while doing my extensive research, looking for goofy wine-related news for this column, I came across a disturbing article on Biodynamics.  I had always thought that Biodynamics was simply a form of "extreme eco-awareness" with horses, cows and chickens pooping throughout the vineyard to provide natural fertilizers while munching on the various grasses and weeds that grow amongst the vines.  I had imagined that Biodynamicists were like a bunch of dope-smoking hippies from the 60's and 70's who have now decided to farm their land and grow their grapes in the most environmentally-friendly manner possible.  I had envisioned them as concerned citizens, much like myself, who had discovered science and who, unlike myself, were committed to living a totally healthy lifestyle.  Boy, was I wrong (except maybe about the dope-smoking).

In an article entitled Biodynamics: The Ultimate Template for Terroir which appeared in Wine Business Online, we find out that... 

"Biodynamics is the most extremely ideological form of farming. Instead of relying on chemical intervention, vineyards are treated with holistic forms of preparations and composts designed to rebuild the stamina of the soil, and forms of energy created by the rhythms of the earth, sun, moon and solar system that help energize the plant to grow."   

I'm beginning to think that these guys are NOT scientists.  The article goes on to report that... 

"Terrestrial and lunar cycles play important roles that impact the plants. For instance, Vernal Equinox supposedly not only marks the beginning of spring, but the start of the strong gravitational pull on the vines upwards. Autumn Equinox is believed to do the reverse, as gravity begins pointing downward."

Apparently, in the Biodynamic world, gravity sometimes pulls in directions other than downward!??  Seems a bit like the Bizarro world to me.  But wait, there's more...

Other types of energies result from the passage of the moon through different constellations. "Leaf days" are favorable for field spraying when leaves are more receptive as the moon passes Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces; "root days" are favorable for planting due to downward gravitational pull influenced by the moon and signs Taurus, Capricorn and Virgo; "flower days" are influenced by air and light, helping to provide the vine with substance, color and the best days for the aroma of wines to be showcased, and coincide with Gemini, Libra and Aquarius; and "fruit days" are influenced by heat and favorable for cultivating vines or grape picking with signs Aries, Sagittarius and Leo. 

I guess you need to know the astrological sign of your vines in order to do Biodynamics correctly.  This is my favorite aspect of true biodynamic farming...

"Each winter, horn manure (BD500) is prepared by stuffing a mixture of dung inside the horn of a female cow and buried for six months. In spring, the mixture is sprinkled in the vineyard to rejuvenate the roots. In summer, horns containing silica (ground quartz crystals, BD501) are buried, then dug out around harvest and applied to strengthen the vine for winter."

Wow.  These guys are out there.  They have even applied scientific-sounding names to their various bio-concoctions.  I'm sorry but this all seems a little "strange" to me.  But what do I know?  Well, I do know this.  These guys need to be watched.  And not by the gay, love child, former head of NJ's Department of Homeland Security! We need real professionals to monitor this radical group.  (See how I tied this all together?  I even impressed myself with that little feat!)  

These BD's (Biodynamicists) are touting biodynamics as the truest form of terroir.  (Again, this is not a terroir rant.)  My concern now is what would happen if these Biodynamicists turn out to be yet another radical fundamentalist group?  We all know what can happen.  First, they will send out sleeper cells into all the major wine-producing countries of the world.  Next, they will begin trying to impose their radical views on the unsuspecting modern winemaker.  You'll see biodynamic operatives sneaking into the wine industry's most holy places (First Growth vineyards, Napa Valley Bed-and-Breakfasts, WinoStuff headquarters, etc.) to impose their brand of radical thought.  (Come to think of it..., BigBob has been spending a lot of time trying to brainwash WinoBob...   Note to self: Keep an eye on that BigBob guy...)  Even more disconcerting, what would happen if one of these BD-radicals was to release some of this BD500 cow-dung-horn stuff in the NY subway system?  The resulting pandemonium would be... well...  pandemonious!  I don't know what that means but it can't be good!

What does this all mean to you, the simple, wine-loving, generally-sympathetic-about-the-environment wino?  Frankly, I don't have a clue.  On the one hand, we hear stories of legitimate wineries going "biodynamic".  (Domaine Leflaive, Maison Chapoutier, and Chateau La Tour Figeac in France and Araujo Estate, Robert Sinskey and Benziger in the US are among a long list of wineries that are BD).  On the other hand, we read articles such as the one that triggered this rant and we think the whole wine world has gone nuts.  I argue that you can make great wine using modern, scientific techniques while still being mindful of the environment.  "Modern" and "scientific" don't necessarily mean eco-damaging.  There is a balance, people.  There is a balance!

I guess the bottom line is that as long as winemakers are permitted to farm their land in whatever way they see fit (without any intervention by some unqualified, gay political appointee), as long as they produce good wine, as long as they put the FRIGGIN' GRAPE VARIETAL ON THE LABEL, and as long as they don't mess with the gravitational pull of the earth, they can pretty much do whatever they want.  It's up to you, the now well-informed wino, to make an educated decision about what you drink.  Do you want the best wine that science (and centuries of enological study) can produce?  Or do you want the best wine that the mystic forces of the universe (combined with some pixie dust and magic beans) can produce?  It's your call.  I'm sticking with science.

While you are contemplating this complex cosmic issue, I would suggest that you relax, enjoy and, if you are so inclined, bury a cow horn full of dung in you garden.  (It might help with your tomatoes.)  Oh, and drink more wine.  

If you are interested, you can read the entire Biodynamic article at Wine Business Online by clicking here...


July 24, 2004

OK, OK, OK!!!  Enough already!   I've been pressured/shamed/guilted into actually putting pen to paper and updating this inane page.  (I guess "pen to paper" is an outdated term.  I really just put "fingers to keyboard" and out popped this diatribe.)  Heck, even WinoWally posted an update earlier this week.  Between his ramblings and this mindless posting, you should have plenty of useless info to scratch you WinoStuff itch.  (To be honest, Wally didn't actually write anything.  He just tore a few pages out of Donald Trump's diary and sent them in.  That doesn't really count as an update but it is entertaining.)

I was tempted to post a diary-type entry a la Wally.  Unfortunately, every day of my life goes something like this...

Tuesday, July 20

  • 5:30am - Get out of bed

  • 6:00am - Drink pot of coffee

  • 6:30am - Exercise (a half dozen sit-ups and maybe a push-up or two, just to maintain this lean, youthful physique)

  • 6:31am - Check email  (This can take an hour or more.  Every day, I receive an unintelligible update from WinoBob, some sarcastic jab from BigBob, a dozen miscellaneous wine news service updates, and a random compliment or complaint from 'Stuff readers.  On the bright side, our new spam filter now removes all Viagra/penis enlargement/porn solicitations.)

  • 7:30am - Translate and post the daily Bob update.

  • 8:00am - Clean up my act.

  • 9:00am - 7:00pm - Bang my head against the wall at my dweeb day job.

  • 7:30pm - Stop in to one of my local wine stores and pick out an inexpensive cab and a couple of Chards for this evening's consumption.  (Damn The Wife for insisting that I spend my hard-earned Cab money on Chardonnay!)

  • 8:00pm - 8:30pm - Dine on whatever The Wife could whip up.

  • 8:30pm - 9:30pm - Pick up one or more of my offspring from gym/soccer/school/whatever.

  • 9:30pm - 10:30pm - Finish off the inexpensive cab while waiting for kids to get off my computer.

  • 10:30pm - 11:00pm - Clean up the red wine which spilled all over the couch when I fell asleep while waiting for the computer (I always use WinoStuff's Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir® to treat those tough stains!)

  • 11:00pm - Back to bed, without having updated this goofy site...

That's it.  That's my routine.  That's my life.  Pretty pathetic, don't you think?  I'm not traveling the world like the two Bobs or Wally.  Wally seems to slip in and out of championship sporting events like he's Roone Arledge.  He plays golf on courses that only allow CEO's and celebs.  You have to know a secret handshake to get past the gate.  The last time I saw Wally, I swear he mumbled something about getting in a round with "TW" (Tiger Woods?)  

BigBob also travels around like he's some kind of rap star.  He has a whole entourage that travels with him on his little "wine expeditions".  I think he should rename himself some cool rap name like Notorious B.I.G. Bob.  WinoBob, who envies Notorious B.I.G. Bob's wino-rapper lifestyle, would join the B.I.G. posse and become something like P-Dantic B-Diddy BobDawg.  These two hip-hop winos would be free to travel the world, drinking Cristal with their home-boys and bitches, flashing their bling-bling, while I'm left back here in the 'hood trying to maintain this dopey web site.  Damn!  I'm starting to depress myself again.  Hold on while I open a bottle of red and a pack of Oreos.

I'm back.  I feel a little better now...

Don't get me wrong. I would love to travel the world.  Really.  I just can't afford it.  Remember, The Boy is ready to head off to that prestigious, 500 friggin' dollars per night Ivy League school.  In addition, I still have two other kids that are draining my bank account with gymnastics and soccer expenses.  (You remember how expensive soccer is, don't you?  No? Check out my June 20, 2002 posting.  Click here...)  All these expenses don't leave much in the checkbook for world travel.  Now, if The Wife was to contribute a little some-some...???  Uh-oh, I better not go there...

OK, I did take a couple of vacations this year.  One was a little "Anniversary Getaway" with The Wife, the only real getaway we have taken in twenty years.  The second was a family trip to The Outer Banks in North Carolina.  On this particular adventure, we shared a beach house with The Wife's brother and his family.  The Wife's brother is some kind of world-renowned brain surgeon.  And he's a professional vacationer. Seriously, I am awed by his ability to vacation.  By the time the WinoJohn clan pulled in to the beach house community, Dr. Vacation had already secured a spot on the beach, erected a tent/cabana/canopy thing (slightly larger than the old Astrodome) and had transported a 50-gallon cooler full of ice, beer, wine, soda, water, food, and emergency supplies down to the beach.  He had dug a hole in the sand, 10 ft x 20 ft,  which I believe was supposed to become the wine cellar.  I told him that I had only brought one case of wine and that it fit rather nicely in the fridge back at the house...  No problem.  He flooded the hole and it became an aquatic recreational area and wildlife preserve.  The good doctor is not a wino, preferring micro-brews over the fruit of the vine.  That's OK.  We still had a great time.  The doc's wife, my sis-in-law, has good "wino potential", however.  She seemed to enjoy every big red wine that I brought with us for the week's vacation.  Give me a month with her and soon they will be adding a wine storage wing to their Pittsburgh home. 

During the course of our week together, Dr. Vacation expounded on his plans for next year's vacation.  As I recall, there were plans for a 150 yard long power cord connecting to a beach refrigerator and a plasma TV in the cabana.  Maybe a satellite dish, I don't remember.  I am truly humbled to vacation in his presence.

OK, enough about me and my lack of wealth.  You didn't stop by this site for a slide show on "What I Did On My Summer Vacation".  (If you did visit this site for my vacation update, you are more pathetic than I!)  You stopped by here because you wanted real thought-provoking, up-to-the-minute wine news!  (Or your search engine indexed the word "porn" in my diary entry and you thought you would get lucky...)  And so, let's get back to wine...

Today, I want to talk about the French and terroir.  No, I don't mean Jacques Chirac and his penchant for partying with terror-mongers.  I'm talking about terroir, the French word meaning "Your wine will never be as good as ours because our wine comes from France".  It's also the reason that the French don't list what grape varietal(s) are in the bottle.  They only mention the place that the grapes were grown, the terroir.  The French believe that if they only list the place that the wine is made, foreign wine companies will never be able to make the same wine.  (I guess Ernie and Julio Gallo proved that theory wrong with their once-popular Hearty Burgundy.)  I believe (and I may be going out on a limb here), I believe that terroir is the reason that the once-dominant French wine industry has fallen behind rogue upstarts like Australia and the United States. (It could also be that terroir sometimes tastes like shit...)   Let's take a closer look...

If you search around the Internet, you may stumble upon two other (less) popular wine-related web sites that give their own definitions of terroir...

From world famous wine guy and honorary wino, Robin Garr (www.wineloverspage.com), we get the following definitions:

Terroir - (Tehr-wahr)

1) Literally "soil" in French, a term widely used by wine hobbyists (sometimes as gout de terroir) in reference to the flavors and aromas that soil and geography impart to a wine.

2) Technical French term describing the characteristic aromas and flavors of wine from grapes grown in a particular vineyard or region, incorporating the contributions of both soil and climate to the wine's unique style or "typicity."  

Cigar mogul and King of the Spectators, Marvin L. Shanken (www.winespectator.com), gives us this definition:

Terroir: The over all environment within which a given varietal grows. Derived from the French word for Earth, "Terre."   

However, this whole 'terroir' thing is more than just some alcohol-induced Frog wine philosophy.  It's Frog law.  About 70 years ago, just before the French surrendered to the Germans (again), they set up a system to control the quality of their wines.  They created a plan called the Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) which was intended to protect both the French winemakers and the wine drinking public from the fraudulent wine-blending practices of the shady French wine broker consortium.  French AOC regulations defined specific grape growing geographic regions and imposed strict guidelines which limit the allowable grape varietals, growing techniques, crop yield, alcohol content, and other winemaking practices.  I guess they figured that with this system, if you go anywhere in the world and order a bottle of Burgundy (for example), you'll know that you will get a thin, light girlie wine.  (Whoa!  Calm down, B.I.G. Bob...)  What you won't know is that you are getting Pinot Noir.  My point is, why the hell don't they just tell you that you are getting PINOT NOIR???  I'd be much more inclined to buy Bordeaux if I knew whether it was primarily Cabernet or primarily Merlot!  Hell, I don't even know what Languedoc is but I'm pretty sure that I don't want to drink it!!!

Now don't get me wrong.  The French make some pretty fantastic wines.  I love white Burgundy.  But white Burgundy is Chardonnay, people, it's CHARDONNAY!!!  It's probably the best CHARDONNAY in the world but it's still CHARDONNAY!!!  I would like to see CHARDONNAY on the label.  I like CHARDONNAY from the Russian River Valley.  I like CHARDONNAY from Carneros.  I like CHARDONNAY from Australia.  I also like to know where my CHARDONNAY comes from!!  Conversely, if I pick up a bottle of wine from Napa Valley, I like to know what's in the bottle!  I don't want to be surprised!!!  Mostly, I don't want PINOT NOIR!!!

Imagine this.  You're in a nice restaurant.  You are trying to impress your date.  You call over the sommelier...  

"Excuse me, my good man.  The lady and I are having the mozzarella and tomato appetizer with extra virgin and balsamic.  For our entrees, we are having the lamb chops in a red wine reduction.  What wine would you recommend?"  

"Ahh, monsieur, an excellent question.  May I suggest a nice Bayonne or perhaps a vintage Hoboken?" 

I would RUN out of that restaurant and yet, we put up with that same treatment from the French.  

This, my friends, THIS is why French wine sales are falling behind Australia, the US, and Italy.  (Well, Italy has similar, obtuse appellation control and labeling regulations called DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) but at least Italian wineries can grow other grapes if they want.  They just can't call a wine by its DOCG designation if it doesn't comply with all the rules.  

Even the world's second third most famous wine guy named Bob, Robert Parker, has spoken out on the subject.  At the recent VinExpo Americas in Chicago, Robert Parker said, "For the average consumer, the Appellation d'Origine Controllee doesn't mean a thing.  At the supermarket level, American consumers buy by grape varietals." "To truly compete with US and the mass market, French wines should be clearly marked according to the strain of grape they were made from - Pinot Noir,  Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon..."   No shit, Bob.  I've been saying this same thing for years.  But who listens to me???

But now, there seems to be a crack in the French AOC veneer.  Recent articles in many wine-related publications describe the fight within France's wine cognoscenti.  The business side of the argument wants to allow varietal labeling and innovative winemaking techniques.  The arrogant side of the aisle argues that France has the greatest terroir in the world and damn those Yankee bastards!  I say "drink what you like but know what you're drinking".  But who listens to me?

For more articles on the subject of the changing attitudes in Frogville, check out these articles...

On a final note, I have a confession to make.  Recently, I tasted (and enjoyed) the ultimate chick wine.  This wine was thick and syrupy and sickeningly sweet.  And yet, it was an amazing wine, like none I have ever tried before.  The wine was the 2002 Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine Oak Aged.  Wow, was this good. There was fruit and sugar and nectar and honey and all kinds of other chick flavors.  I think I am now fully in touch with my feminine side.  In fact, I may be gay, I'm not sure.  This wine was spectacular.  If you can find it, try it.  Just don't let your friends see you.

WinoJohn (right) enjoys a nice Ice Wine with his new 'friend'...

Ewww...  I think that's just about enough for this installment of What's New!!!  Stay tuned for more breaking wine news (if you can stomach it!)


May 22, 2004

You know, I finally figured out why this page gets updated so infrequently.  It suddenly became clear to me that I have too damn many kids!  (And, of course, that's my wife's fault.)  If I'm not hauling kids to soccer, or to gymnastics, or to school events, or to friends' houses, etc., I'm waiting for them to finish their homework so that I can get onto my computer!  And if they are not doing homework on my computer, they are Instant Messaging each other.  My kids can "do their homework" while having 17 IM windows open simultaneously.  Every time a new message comes through, there is this annoying sound effect to alert the kid.  Whenever one of their "Buddies" comes (or leaves) the on-line community, there is a door-opening (or closing) sound.  All that IM noise gives me a headache.

If I even suggest that my darling child should allow me a few minutes on MY computer, I get a response like, "Dad!  I'm doing my homework!  Do you want me to flunk?  Is that what you want?  Do you want me to flunk???"  Then a new window will pop up, some kind of electronic sound chirps out, and my kid will start flailing away on the keyboard.  If you have ever watched kids IM each other, they communicate in some kind of secret, kids-only IM language which seems to be all acronyms.  For example "G2G" means "got to go".  LOL means "laughing out loud" (although I rarely hear any actual laughing).  And LYLAS means "love you like a sister".  I'm not sure but I think GTGBMIFW2UCA means "gotta go because my idiot father wants to use the computer again!"...   I get no respect.

So, you see, once again, IT'S NOT MY FAULT!!!  Given the rather extended nature of my most recent hiatus, WinoBob has been firing little barbs over at me.  "Why don't you change the name of your page to anything other than 'What's New'?"  "Why don't you  just change the date to something from this calendar year?"  "Why don't you spend less time drinking and more time updating your page?"  To make things even worse, BigBob recently jumped on the "Rag on WinoJohn" bandwagon.  He sent me an email asking for some technical assistance.  He reported that his browser must be malfunctioning because he keeps hitting the REFRESH button and the What's New page never updates.  Very funny.  Everyone's a comedian.  Remember, BigBob, nobody likes a smart-ass wine importer.  Even if his wife looks like world famous wine-babe, Andrea Immer.  (That's a whole different story...)

The abuse from my wineloving "friends" was getting to the point that I was ready to declare a boycott against all things "Bob".  Just imagine what it would be like to be Bob-free...  No WinoBob.  No BigBob.  No shishkabob.  That's right, no shishkabob!  It might be difficult, but drastic situations require drastic action.  Oh, there's more...   No bobsledding, no bobcats, no fishing with bobbers.  I was prepared to draw a line in the sand and make a point.  No more thingamabobs.  That's right, you heard me, no thingamabobs.  That would be serious.  Thank God, it didn't come to that.  WinoBob pre-empted my Boycott of All Things Bob with a boycott of public television.  It may not be as exciting as a Bob Boycott but at least it scratches my boycott itch.  We'll see how it goes...


Let's see, where did we last leave off?  Wow.  March 6 was the last What's New update.  Maybe the Bobs were right.  I'll never admit that to them, however.  Let me bring you up to speed...

The WinoJohn Clan spent a very nice Easter weekend at the palatial Wally Estate down in Baltimore, MD.  Wally and I got in a round of golf on Saturday at the beautiful Baltimore CC.  If you have never played BCC, you definitely need to play with someone with "local knowledge".  There are a few holes that lie in some kind of gravitational warp.  You only realize this after you line up what appears to be a short, straight putt and the ball ends up breaking uphill and rolls 15 feet past the cup.  Seriously!  It happens at BCC!  And I wasn't even drinking before the match!  (OK, I was drinking before the match but not enough to misread gravity...)

After the golf, back at the luxurious Wally compound, we enjoyed a few bottles of red before and with dinner.  The wines included:

  • 2001 Ravenswood Vintner's Reserve California Zinfandel - Like many other wines from the 2001 vintage, this was a very nice little quaffer.  Good value, too.

  • 1996 Mondavi Napa Cabernet - Corked - Damn, I'm an avowed Mondavi Napa fan.

  • 2001 Joseph Phelps Innisfree Cabernet - I had never heard of this wine before.  Wally explained that Phelps produces this wine only in exceptional vintages.  Easy drinking with ample fruit.  I'd give it a few more years.

  • 1994 BV Georges de Latour Cabernet - Oh yeah.  This George is drinking well.  If you got 'm, smoke 'em.

  • There were probably more wines but that was months ago and my memory isn't what it used to be...


I also celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary back in April.  Yes, 15 of the best years of my life...  (I'll pay for that!)    The Wife and I ran off to The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas to celebrate the monumental accomplishment.  Knowing very little about this resort, I had no real expectations beyond those you might expect with a $500 PER NIGHT ROOM!!!  500 friggin' dollars a night!  Ouch!!!  I think that for $500 per night, I had a right to expect..., well, a lot!  Now, don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful resort.  Impeccable service, delicious food, spectacular vistas.  But I do have a few... uhhh... gripes

1) This resort was full of kids.  Not that I don't like kids, I do.  Mine, mostly.  Not everyone else's.  And when I'm flying off to the islands to get away from the kids that I do like, I don't want to hang out with a bunch of kids that I don't like.  But that's just me.  The pool area had a designated "Stroller Parking" area and there was an overflow crowd.

2) The bar by the pool doesn't open until 11 am.  What's up with that???  Envision this: I'm a sun worshipper (albeit a pasty white one) and I'm down at the pool by 8 am.  By 9, I'm looking for a cold beer or, better yet, a nice piña colada!  (I remind you that I was on vacation and that there are important vitamins and nutrients in a good piña colada.)  I flag down one of the many poolside service attendants and order a drink.  It's fairly easy to flag down a poolside attendant because of the impeccable service (and because I am the only pasty white body at the pool at 9 am).  The attendant informs me (in some kind of island English variant) that " 'da bar don't open 'til eleben, mon."  Huh?  I'm spending 500 friggin' bucks a night and I can't get a lousy piña colada for 2 more hours????  Ooooh, that just bothers me...

3) The bar by the pool closes at 6 pm.  Now, that's just wrong.  By 6 pm, I'm pretty toasted (sunburned, not intoxicated) and I need something to put out the fire.  But, Nooooo.  "Da management wants you in 'da casino, mon".  As if my 500 friggin' bucks a night isn't enough.  Now, in order to get another drink, I have to go to the casino?  Jeez...

4) After a successful day worshipping the sun and a semi-successful day feeding my alcohol jones, I was looking forward to a nice dinner.  I had heard that there were many fine restaurants in the Atlantis complex and that the food was delicious.  That may be the case but many people will never know.  Every night, half of the restaurants were closed!  CLOSED!!!  As in NOT OPEN!!!  As a result, the restaurants that were open, were packed!  With families, with screaming kids, with parents who couldn't get a drink by the pool after 6!!!  For 500 friggin' bucks...  blah, blah, blah...  you know the routine.

5) If you did manage to get a seat in one of the better restaurants, the food really was wonderful.  The wine list, however, was another story.  (I know, you were wondering what all of this had to do with wine.  Here it is...)  While there were some impressive bottles on the very short list, the prices were just stupid.  I mean REALLY stupid.  As I perused the list, I got very annoyed.  Take, for example, the Opus One.  2000 vintage, $535 bucks.  OK, I don't buy $535 bottles of wine and I wasn't planning to while on this vacation.  I just want to point out that this wine was on the list at ~ 4X the retail price.  Shocking, but not stupid.  On the other hand, the Mondavi Napa Cab, which I can buy at retail for less than $20, was listed at $150.  $150 friggin' bucks for a $20 wine.  Now, that's stupid.  I opted for a Ruffino Chianti Riserva for $68 (it was an Italian restaurant) but I was too perturbed to enjoy it.

I don't mean to make it sound all bad.  There is an 800 gazillion gallon aquarium with millions of huge tropical fish, sharks, rays, eels, and other cool stuff.  I strolled through the aquarium complex three or four times during our stay.  Really impressive.  On several occasions, I imagined throwing one of the whiney little kids into the tank just to watch the feeding frenzy...  Now that would be worth 500 friggin' bucks a night!

While we were at the Atlantis, the resort celebrated their 10th anniversary.  The owner of the resort threw a big party for a bunch of his friends and dignitaries and announced the start of another phase of construction.  Apparently, they are building another tower (or towers) with like 1500 more rooms.  (Let's see... 1500 x 500 friggin' dollars x 365 days per year...  Wow!)  The party was only open to invited guests, not the bourgeois that was paying 500 friggin' bucks per night.  There was a very impressive fireworks show that evening.  I attempted to convince The Wife that I had actually arranged for the fireworks in celebration of our twentieth anniversary.  She didn't buy any of it.  I must be losing my touch...

So, all said, we had a wonderful, relaxing anniversary vacation.  I drank my weight in piña coladas everyday between 11am and 6 pm.  My pasty-white body is now slightly off-white, which is nice.  And, for 5 days, I didn't even think about my dweeb day job.  Most importantly, The Wife and I got to escape the daily routine of tending to the kids' every need (which, you will recall, is the reason that I can't get anything written for this dopey site) and spend some quality time together.  That alone was worth 500 friggin' bucks a night!

Now, we (mostly the Wife) are hard at work preparing to celebrate The Boy's graduation from high school.  I imagine we will spend every remaining cent we have on the gala picnic in honor of his many accomplishments.  The Boy is graduating as the Valedictorian of his class and will be attending a very prestigious, Ivy League school next near.  We are obviously very proud of him.  Coincidentally, his tuition, room, and board at the prestigious Ivy league school will cost me approximately 500 friggin' bucks a night.  On the bright side, I'm sure the bar at college stays open past 6 pm.  

One last point, back in March, I suggested that the 2001 Ravenswood California Cab should be on your "Must Buy" list.  Subsequently, I opened that same bottle with unusual results.  The bottle was kind of... "off".  It wasn't corked.  It wasn't cooked.  Having personally consumed over 1.21 giga-bottles of wine, I know 'cooked' and 'corked'.  No, this bottle was just "off".  Really tart, very nearly undrinkable.  I will have to do more research into the tart, off-bottle phenomenon.  

So there you have it.  Check back in a few days weeks months to get more up-to-the-minute wine news.  In the mean time, RE and DMW!  (Ask your kids what that means.)


March 6, 2004

I'm going to change WinoBob's name to "WhinoBob".  All I ever hear is, "When are you going to update What's New?" or "When are you going to name a new Winery of the Month" or "When are you going to review some wines?"   Meanwhile, he is off partying it up at the Superbowl, or partying it up in Hollywood, or partying it up with wine industry giants.  Every day, he sends me little email updates to remind me how much more exciting his life is than mine.  (And don't think I didn't notice that new little Jaguar that you were driving, WhinoBoy...)  I'm still here at the keyboard, posting his incoherent ramblings and doctoring up photos...  uhhhhh... I mean...  cleaning up photos...  you know, to post them.  

Another recent entry into the "My Life is Better Than WinoJohn's" contest comes from my pal WinoLarry.  WinoLarry is a big time wine retailer who travels the world to visit wineries, taste the new releases, and generally hob-nob with the wine gentry.  Larry recently sent me an email telling of his trip to the Superbowl where he was forced to endure the social stigma of third row seats.  His picture appeared in Sports Illustrated and he got to hang out with all kinds of celebrities.  (By contrast, I didn't even get third row seats in my own house for the Superbowl and I only got to hang out with my riff-raff friends that had nowhere else to go that day.)  Larry also recounted a recent industry dinner that he attended.  Among other wines, he was treated to all five first growths from the 1982 vintage...  Among other wines?   (I, on the other hand, recently enjoyed five Bud Lights with a born-on date from the 1982 bottling...  Mmmmm!)  At this moment, Larry is out on the west coast, tasting the latest California Cabernets.  Damn!  At least WinoWally hasn't checked in recently to rub more salt into the wound.  Wally always has stories of diplomatic dinners, travels to far-away places, front row NCAA tickets...  I don't think I can take much more... 

What else is new?  Well, we were recently honored by one of the most popular women-oriented web sites on the internet.  Yes, the wine brains over at BellaOnline.com were able to overlook our political incorrectness, our sometimes could-be-construed-as-sexist ramblings, and our sophomoric guy-humor, not to mention the disgusting imagery of WinoBob in a thong, to recognize our efforts in delivering the latest in wine news, reviews and humor.  (Ordinarily, I would take this opportunity to post the picture of Bob in his WinoStuff thong but, in this post-Janet era of decency and morality, I have chosen to take the high road. ...  Who am I kidding?  click here to view the ThongBoy...)

Ewww...  That is disgusting...  I'm sure BellaOnline is already regretting their decision and we are only 6 days into the month!

So you want some real wine news, do ya?  Ok, check this out...

The Wine Spectator reports that a rogue division of the aluminum company, Alcoa, has invented a re-sealable glass closure that they are calling Vino-Lok.   Basically, it's glass stopper or plug with some kind of plastic sealing surface and is designed to provide an airtight seal.  Because there is no tree bark involved, there is no risk of TCA or "cork taint".  There are several wineries in Germany that are testing the Vino-Lok on on their better wines. One of those wineries,  Weingut P.J. Valckenberg, has used the new stopper on 2,800 bottles of it's 2003 Riesling Spätlese Trocken Rheinhessen Wormser Liebfrauenstift- Kirchenstück.  (I can just imagine the press release on that bottling... "Git yer 2003 Riesling Spätlese Trocken Rheinhessen Wormser Liebfrauenstift-Kirchenstück mit dem Weino-Löchen thingen...")  The closure requires a specially designed bottle so it may be a few years before your favorite wine is available with a Vino-Lok system.

While this application of technology to solve an enormous industry-wide problem is admirable, it does raise several important questions.  For example:

  • Why is an aluminum company monkeying around with glass to solve a cork problem?  Who do they think they are, Arbor Mist?

  • Why is a product that has been developed by the ALuminum COmpany of America, being tested in Germany?

  • Vino-Lok?  That's the best they could come up with?  Vino-Lok?  How about something a little more colorful like WinoStuff's Miracle Red Wine Taint Eliminating Stopper?  or, Glork©?  (let's just see how much better the name "Glork©" sounds when used in describing this product...)

  • What happens if you sit down to a nice dinner with your girlfriend and you can't get the Glork© out?  (Yes, I think "Glork©" has a certain je ne sais quoi!)

  • And most importantly, why was WinoStuff not consulted on this very high profile project?  Hey, Alcoa, have you not read our many critically-acclaimed articles on cork and taint?  Don't you know that we are not just winos, we are techno-geeks?  Do you realize that we are BellaOnline's Wine Site of the Month???

Again, no respect...

Hey, here's a few more 2001 California Cabs to add to your "must buy" list...

  • 2001 Pine Ridge Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon - Mmmmm... Smooth, ripe, and delicious...

  • 2001 Ravenswood California Cabernet Sauvignon - for like $9 US, you can't go wrong!

  • 2001 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - Consistently one of the best Cal Cabs on the market.  (Joseph Phelps' CEO, Tom Shelton, tried to blacklist us after the WinoBob fiasco, but Bottle King came through for me!!!)

So now, you can go back about your business.  Pick up a few Cal Cabs before I single-handedly deplete the entire US inventory.  Oh, and Alcoa, I'll be expecting the royalty checks for the use of Glork©.


January 31, 2004

This page needs to be changed to “Where the Hell is WinoJohn?”  

Many of you, WinoBob included, believe that I am not holding up my end of the bargain when I let months lapse between What’s New!!! updates.   Once again, I have to blame… The Wife.  And the Kids.  And the Job.  And this time, Wino Friggin’ Bob!!!  Yeah, that’s right, WinoBob.  Here’s my story…

Right after my last update, way back in November, I came down with some kind of bronchial/nasal/sinus funk.  With SARS-like complications.  The anti-biotic which my doctor prescribed just made the funk mad.  The bug moved into my gastrointestinal/colorectal subsystem and forced open ‘the colonic valve’, if you know what I mean…  It wasn’t pretty.  My crack team of managed health care physicians informed me that they could not give me another anti-biotic until the valve closed, so to speak.  They assured me that I should return to normal, in terms of digestive function, in… oh… two or three weeks.  Two or three WEEKS!!!  Two or three weeks of racing to the nearest men’s room every twenty or thirty minutes.  Do the math.  Talk about your callused sphincter! 

What does this have to do with WinoBob?  Nothing really, except that my only pleasure during those painful (and disgusting) three weeks was knowing that WinoBob was having a really bizarre computer problem that was preventing him from opening an Internet browser.  He asked me for some help and I gave him a few suggestions but to no avail.  He subsequently spent like $2700 in software upgrades to try to get his system running.  Man, that still cracks me up!!!

So, how did WinoBob’s misfortune affect my ability to update this silly page?   Well, after my funk subsided, I joined WinoBob and the lovely Mrs. Bob for the annual WinoStuff Holiday Party.  We had a wonderful meal and toasted the New Grape Year with a little Sauvignon Blanc.  It was truly an enjoyable evening.  Until I got home.  When I returned to the humble WinoJohn abode and fired up the screamin’ AMD 850, I quickly discovered that I could not open Internet Explorer.  I was aghast.  Wino Friggin’ Bob gave me a virus.  I don’t know how he did it, but he infected my computer.  That bastard!!! 

So there I was, having heckled and chastized Bob for his obvious lack of technical skills, and now I had the same problem.  I tried everything.  Anti-virus programs, trojan horse removers, etc.  I went into the registry and removed everything that looked suspect.  I went back to an old version of Internet Explorer.  I upgraded to a newer version of Internet Explorer.  Nothing worked.  Shit.  I couldn’t tell Bob.  I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.  I eventually had to upgrade my entire Operating System.  Nothing else worked.  I felt so… so… Bob-like.  But THAT’S why I have been negligent in my duties to this site.  One reason anyway.  (Two, if you count my funk, but who’s counting?)  You see, it WAS Bob’s fault.   (Bob doesn't care.  He's in Houston right now, getting ready to go to the SUPERBOWL!!!  That double bastard!)

So…  “What’s New?”, you ask.  Damn, a whole lot has happened in the last two months.  Where do I begin?

Here’s something…  Our old pal, Brian Badlowski left the Hackettstown A&P Warehouse Liquors for the greener grass of the Ledgewood A&P Warehouse Liquors.  You remember Brian.  I wrote about him very early on in WinoStuff’s evolution.  For a quick review of that blurb, click here…   Brian has transformed the Ledgewood store into a wino’s destination.  What once was a mish-mash of wines standing upright and scattered throughout the store is now well stocked, well organized and properly racked.  Brian seems to be doing all the right things.  If you are in the area, stop in and see him.  The store is in the shopping center on the corner of Route 46 and Howard Boulevard.

There have been a few celebrities in the wine news recently.  Michael Jackson, or as we like to call him, WinoWhacko, made the wine headlines this week.  Apparently, the Whacko is a bit of a wino.  News reports reveal that Michael likes to drink wine.  Out of a Coke can.  OK, he wants to be discreet.  I can understand that.  News reports also tell of Michael’s code words for wine.  When he wants white wine, he tells his aides to bring him some “Jesus juice”.  When he wants some red wine, he requests “Jesus blood”.  (When he wants a little boy, he asks for … never mind…)  The allegations came to light when Whacko was accused of giving Jesus juice to little boys, a no-no in most states.  I’m sorry, the dude is out there!!!

WinoWhacko is not the only wine lover to have made the headlines.  Check out these mug shots of other celebrities who had a little too much to drink…

Whacko Jacko
Originator of "Jesus Juice"


Nick Nolte
...with that shirt, I'm guessing Sangria!


The Godfather of Soul 
or the Godson of Mogen David?


Glen Campbell
flashes his Happy Face

Wynona Judd
Or should we say "Wino-na"?

One of 147 mug shots on file
with the Essex County PD

Don't get me started with the whole Hollywood bashing thing...

One thing that should excite all of the wino faithful…  the 2001 Cali Cabs are coming!!!  Yes, wine fans, the 2001 California Cabernets are starting to hit the shelves.  A fantastic vintage coming on the heels of a wine glut!  This is wino euphoria!  I’m clearing space in the cellar right now.

Here are a few of the 2001’s that I have tasted in the past few weeks.  All of these exhibit generous amounts of fruit and can be had for $20 or less (after discount):

2001 Caifornia Cabernets

  • Estancia Paso Robles – Proprietor Grown  - $12.99 ??  Smooth, integrated tannins, moderate fruit, drinking well now.

  • Justin Cabernet – Paso Robles – $18.99 – Already sold out in NJ!  - Still slightly hard – will certainly soften up.  Give it a few years.

  • Castle Rock – Napa Valley – $8.99 - Slightly tannic – good value – wait a year or two.

  • Ravenswood California Vintner’s Blend - $7.99 - Starts a bit tight but opens up nicely in ½ hour.

  • Frei Brothers Reserve Alexander Valley – 2001 – Full bodied, smooth tannins $15-ish with discount.

If you are a Cali Cab fan (and who isn’t?), do yourself a favor and start stocking up.  The quality should rival ’97 but the yield was much lower.

That’s it for now.  I’ll be watching the Superbowl tomorrow, as will many of you.  If you see a scuffle in the stands and watch as the code red Security detail drags out a drunken stick figure, that will have been WinoBob.  Maybe I should just ask for donations now for the Bail Out WinoBob Fund.  Those Houston Police can be tough on drunken Yankees.


November 27, 2003   

What's New!!!  Well, today is Thanksgiving!  Not that Thanksgiving is new.  No, Thanksgiving has been around for hundreds of years.  You remember, the Pilgrims were all grateful to the Almighty for helping them to escape religious persecution back in England and for helping them to survive during that difficult first year in the new land.  So they all got together after the first harvest season, they went over to one of those Indian reservations and did a little gambling.  Naturally, they lost all their hard-earned money so they went down to the local soup kitchen for a free meal.  As everyone knows, all soup kitchens serve turkey on Thanksgiving, so the Pilgrims enjoyed a nice turkey dinner.  And that's how the tradition began!  Or so I'm told...

One other tidbit that's new...  If you live on the planet Earth, you have probably received 50,000 emails with links and information on how to download the ubiquitous Paris Hilton sex video.  Well it has recently come to my attention that another shocking new video tape is now being circulated on the internet.  This time, however, the unwitting victim involved in the video is none-other than our own WinoBob.  I have managed to download a copy of the video and it is now available here at WinoStuff without all those annoying pop-up messages displaying naked women and asking for your credit card number.  WARNING, the video contains graphic violence and may not be suitable for children and sober adults.  To see the shocking video of the WinoBob "Champagne Saber Incident", click here...

WOW!  Where did that video come from?  How much did someone get paid to smuggle it out of the top-secret WinoStuff test labs?  Who is the untrustworthy culprit?  I'm sure WinoWally has a crack team of covert agents investigating as we speak.  However, we may never know the answers to these and many other questions.  I'm sure that I, WinoJohn, am among the many suspects...

So, what wine are we all serving with our bird this evening?  The WinoJohn family is starting with a little 2003 George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau with some appetizers (steamed shrimp, veggies and dip, and the usual variety of cheeses).  Coincidentally, this is the very same wine that WinoBob described in one of his recent Winings.  I have found Duboeuf's Nouveau to be a consistent crowd pleaser at this time of year.  After the Nouveau, it's up in the air.  I may just let my brother, WinoDave, wander down to the cellar and pick out a couple of his favorites.  Then again, maybe I haven't really lost my mind!  I'll probably just play it by ear, making the big decision at the last minute after judging the tastes of the invited guests.  OK, who am I fooling?  I'll pull out some kind of a big Cali Cab.  Who cares what everyone else wants?  I want a big Cab!  It's my house, damn it, and I want a big friggin' Cab!  So there!

Sorry about that.  I get a little testy during the holidays, especially when the Wife has me doing all these chores "in preparation for MY family"!!!  You know the routine...

Anyway, give thanks for all that the Lord has given you.  Give thanks that WinoBob is healing nicely from the incident.  Give thanks for all the 'Stuff in your life.  Relax, enjoy your bird, and drink more wine!


October 24, 2003

What's New, What's New, What's New...?

Oh yeah...  First and foremost, my middle daughter turned 13 yesterday.  Wow.  Thirteen!  I'm feeling old.  If you are reading this, Kristen, Happy B-Day!  Wait a minute...  If you are reading this, TURN OFF THE COMPUTER AND FINISH YOUR HOMEWORK!!!  This whole parenting thing is really interfering with my internet celebrity!

Anyway, you didn't click over here to read about my family situation.  You want wine info!  You want to find out what is going on in the WINE world!  Well, here it is...

Our own WinoWally, heeding a call greater than that of "Governor of California", withdrew from the election and threw his support and enormous following behind Arnold.  We all know how that turned out!  (Wally, I want a seat near Maria at the Inauguration!)  Wally then selflessly went out and took on the task of international detente.  And the result has been nothing less than the warming of Franco-American relations.  The French have softened their stance on America's involvement in Iraq and now seem more willing to work, through the UN, to help rebuild the region.  Wally, as usual, remains behind the scenes, secure in the knowledge that his efforts are resulting in a better world for his children.  These are the makings of a Nobel Peace Prize winner...

I know what you are thinking.  You're thinking, "So, Wino John, so what?  That's great.  Wally is a friggin' diplomatic genius.  What's that got to do with wine?"  Well, I'll tell you.  This is what it has to do with wine...

WinoStuff.com declares THE BOYCOTT OF FRANCE IS OVER  !!!!!

Yes, the boycott of France is over.  Kaput.  Nyet.  Done.  Finis.  That's it.  No mas.  Fuhgetaboutit.  At least for now...

At an emergency meeting of the management of  WinoStuff, the decision was made to lift the boycott.  By the narrowest of margins, all of WinoStuff's key management groups (the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, The Compensation Committee, The Committee on Foreign Relations, and The EuroAmerican Subcommittee on Global Diplomatic Policy) voted to lift the boycott on French wine.  (The group emphatically supports the continuation of the boycott of Hollywood.  Actors really are idiots!)  WinoBob thinks he lifted the French boycott last week but he certainly does not have that level of authority.

WinoBob, in an impassioned speech to the shareholders, cited "the enormous strides that have been made in French/American relations."  He reminded us of "the plight of the small grape grower", "the politics of global intervention", and "the quality of the 2000 Bordeaux harvest".  He wept as he reminded us that he has not "tasted the Rhone" in 8 months!!!  He seemed almost sincere when he cried, "and what about the WOMEN???  The WOMEN, for God's sake!  What about ze French WOMEN???  We can't forget about ze hot French WOMEN !!! " 

As usual, we attributed Bob's rant to the excesses of alcohol and Oxycontin and, as usual, we ignored him.  Bob, for some reason, insisted that we wait a few days before making this announcement.  On a related note, wine stores in the Caldwell and Essex Fells areas of North Jersey are reporting a run on Rhone wines...

When the news of the end of the boycott was revealed, we contacted our close friend and noted French wine importer, Bob Ferdon of Dreyfus, Ashby, and Co. for comment.  Bob had this to say, "If you guys don't leave me alone, I swear to God I'm calling the police..."   Bob obviously had us confused with some other web site idiots.

So what does this mean to you, the average wino on the street?  Well, if you are like WinoBob, it means a return to your roots, an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with an old love, a pleasant stroll down memory lane...  (Actually, if you are like WinoBob, it probably means another trip to the "Liver Transplant Ward" at Mountainside Hospital.)  For the rest of us, it means that we can go back to the wine store and pick up something French.  (I got slapped the last time I tried to pick up something French!)  Try one of those 2000 Bordeaux, pick up a 1998 or 2000 Rhone.  Hell, go white if you want!  White Burgundy!  Yeah, Baby, WHITE BURGUNDY!!!  Bring on the WHITE BURGUNDY!!!!!

Sorry about that. I get a little carried away when I think of the great French whites...

So, let's take this thing slowly.  Let's not go crazy.  We'll see how this 'warming of relations' evolves.  Here's your assignment:  Go out and pick up a nice Rhone or maybe a cab-based Bordeaux.  If you are new to wine, you may want to visit the right bank and get a Merlot from St. Emilion or Pomerol.  If you are a chick or if you are gay (not that there's anything wrong with that!), pick up a red Burgundy.  Give it a taste.  See what you have been missing.  It's OK to open up a little, to try new things. Now, don't forget about your friends from Australia, Italy, Chile and South Africa.  They were there for you when the French turned their backs.  But, for now, it's OK to visit with your old friends.


September 6, 2003

Wow.  Have I been out of it, or what?  Where the hell have I been?  Where the hell has Wally been?  The only one who has been keeping this site alive is WinoBob!  Or at least that's what he would have you believe.  You forget who edits and posts his mindless discourse...

So what have we been up to this summer?  Lots!  Where do I begin?

WinoWally has finished his role as Special Economic and Political Advisor on Mid-East Policies for the Rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan.  He will next tackle that whole Korean situation which apparently is spinning out of control.  It should take him but a few weeks to resolve that world crisis.  At that point, he will announce his candidacy for the governor of California at which time he'll hit the campaign trail.  I'm sure the 'campaign trail' will take him through Napa and Sonoma right at harvest time.  Wally really knows how to work the system.

WinoBob has been checking in regularly.  If you have been following his saga, he's preparing to get into the film business and he's dragging me along with him.  Apparently, some kind folks at Fulton Street Films have befriended the lonely stick figure.  In a move that would make Charles Manson proud, Bob somehow seems to have taken control of their minds.  They are completely under his evil power.  You read recently that Winette Tia and Wino Rocker spent half the night in Bob's mind-altering 'Wine Room', no doubt chanting his mantra and drinking his 'special tea'.  I was lucky to get out before the subliminal mind-control activities began.  We'll have to see where this whole drama leads us...

To Bob's credit, he has been prodding me to update the Breaking News! column.  I keep telling him to write up some news event and I'll post it.  Here is an actual email that he sent me with his Breaking News! contribution...

From: winobob@winostuff.com
Subject: breaking news
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2003 07:16:24 -0400
To: winojohn@winostuff.com

Anything new to report? Did you see spectator this month, the bald wall
street guy is promoting syrah as the next big grape...

That's it.  That's the whole story.  Now, that's some breaking news!!!  You can see why we are on the cutting edge of wine news reporting...  Those darn Pulitzer people just won't leave us alone.

What have I been up to since June 10, the date of my last update?  To be honest, I have been unable to update this page.  For one thing, I was kidnapped by a band of French midgets back in June.  If you know anything about midgets, especially French midgets, you know that they are nasty little buggers.   They were upset about our staunch anti-France position and they decided to take matters into their own tiny little hands.  They gave me two choices; either a) end the boycott or, b) spend the entire summer working my dweeb butt off.  Well, as you can imagine, my dweeb butt is much smaller now, thank you very much.  I have not seen any sign of intelligence coming out of France so the boycott continues.  I'm sure we haven't seen the last of those little Frogs.  Unlike full grown Frenchmen, French midgets don't give up!

My dweeb day job took me to California three times in the past 5 weeks.  During that time, I also spent a week at the beach with the WinoWally clan.  Security is obviously very tight when you are in the presence of the Ambassador, so you can imagine why I haven't posted anything in awhile.  That's my story.  Period.  Leave me alone.

The highlight of my most recent California excursion was another visit with WinoHondo and The Rev.  You hardcore winos will recall last year's entry entitled "John and Dave’s Excellent Adventure"  in which I got to pick some grapes with Hondo and the Rev.  (If you missed it, click here.)  Anyway, I hooked up with Hondo for an evening of wine, food and poker.  What a pleasant evening.  We enjoyed some of The Rev's famous 'Sausage on the Grill with Extra Crispy Buns' along with a wonderful assortment of wine from WinoHondo's cellar which, for some unexplained reason, is located at The Rev's house...  In addition to The Rev, the guest list included Hondo, myself, Eddie the Winemaker, and two of The Rev's business associates.  Beautiful weather, good food, good wine and some kind of chocolate cake/pie thing for dessert.  Damn, I could retire and hang out there permanently...

The entertainment for the evening was provided by The Rev's kids, NumbNuts and his sister.  (Rather than reveal her real name, we'll just call her NumbTwat.)  The interaction of these two kids with their father boggles one's mind. It's like a California-yuppie version of 'The Osbournes'.  The Rev introduced Hondo and I to his lovely daughter by saying, "You know these two F***wads."  For the rest of the evening, she referred to us as "F***wad" and "the Other F***wad".  Very nice.  The Rev's wife, "The War Department", had the good sense to stay in the house for most of the evening.

WinoHondo was most generous in providing the wine for the evening.  The list of wines included:

  • 1995 Field Stone Cab

  • Eddie's 2000 "Q" Zin (provided by Eddie the Winemaker)

  • 2002 Ferrera/Hondo Cab

  • 1992 Terra Nova Cab

  • 1997 Chimney Rock Fume

  • 1996 Plumpjack Cab

  • 1996 Eclipse Cab

  • 1997 Steltzner Cab

  • 1998 Pezzi King Cab

  • 1994 Sterling Mourvedre

  • 1996 Murphy-Goode Cab

  • 1995 Chimney Rock Cab

My head hurts just looking at that list.  The Fieldstone was excellent.  I've been buying the 1999 Fieldstone recently and this was my first taste of another vintage.  The '92 Terra Nova was a blast from the past.  We used to buy this little bargain for like $7 back in the mid-90's.  The Plumpjack, the Pezzi, and the Chimney Rock Cab were all drinking very well also.  In fact, there wasn't a bad bottle in the bunch although the Sterling Mourvedre was all fruit and no structure.  I guess that's what you would expect from a Mourvedre.  The 2002 Ferrera/Hondo Cab is still in the barrel and should remain there for another 6 months. I didn't get a taste of the Chimney Rock Fume Blanc, it being white and all that...   

The Rev was kind enough to document the evening's damage with a photograph.

If the picture looks a little blurry, I'm sure it had nothing to do with the Rev's condition at the time the photo was taken.  It was probably just "windy".  Or perhaps it was one of those pesky little earthquakes that they get out there periodically.  That cash in the poker chip holder is the money that The Rev took from me by drawing to an inside straight.  The bastard...

So there ya have it.  How I Spent My Summer Vacation.  If my kids were to submit this to their respective teachers as the new school year begins, I would be dragged in front of the school board.   Let's hope that doesn't happen.

Hondo, Rev, thanks for a wonderful evening.


June 10, 2003

What's friggin' new?  Don't ask.  Once again, it's been too long since I updated this page.  But this time, see, this time I have a good excuse!  A few weeks ago, I got rear-ended on Route 80.  And I don't mean in a good way!  (Hmmm... what did I mean by that...?)  There I am, minding my own business, driving to work in my little 2 seater.  Beautiful day.  "Clear, dry, no obstructions..."  (Insurance company lingo...)   Traffic in my lane comes to a stop.  No problem.  I stop.  BAM!!!  The idiot behind me in his big SUV is simultaneously picking his nose and talking on his cell phone, and BAM!!!... he smashes into my mint little Z3.  Damn!  His friggin' big-ass SUV bumper was just inches from my cranium.  Damn!  It was a bad day.  Just in case his lawyer frequents this site, "I'm still in great pain".  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  In fact, I'm "still recovering."  If anyone has seen me doing anything even remotely athletic in the last few weeks, "it's therapeutic".  It helps me to "deal with the trauma."   I'm trying to "live a normal life."  (Shit, if I was even remotely litigious, I could be driving a new Ferrari by now...)

So what's new in the wine world, you ask?  (What, you don't want to hear my personal injury testimony?  Very nice...)  I think all the hype about a world wine glut is true.  Some of my favorite wines which had previously seen rapid price increases, are now appearing on the shelves at much more modest prices.  Take Raymond Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, for instance.  After some high praise by the Spec, prices jumped from $17 to $37 in about two years.  Recently, I saw the 1999 vintage offered at retail for $22.  You gotta love a good wine glut.  

I tasted several nice wines recently (again, "therapeutic").  The lovely and astute, WinoNancy donated a bottle of Cabernet to the WinoJohn Rehabilitation cause.  In this case, it was a bottle of Barefoot Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon California NV.  This was an excellent little quafer!  Lot's of fruit.  Very smooth.  And it sells in the $6 neighborhood!  Nice find, Nancy!  (The label indicates that Barefoot Cab would pair well with pasta with a red sauce but I wouldn't go there.  Try it with some lighter fare.)  

My other new wine find is an unusual little blend from Bogle Vineyards.  This tasty delight is a blend of old vine Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and old vine Mourvedre.  Bogle Vineyards Phantom 2000.  This wine offers a big, bold mouthful of spice and dark berries.  And it's hot.  Oh yeah, Jerry, it's hot!  The bottle says 14.8%, the web site says 15%.  Let it air out for about a half hour and then enjoy yourself.  If you like big reds, this one's for you.  And it's like $14 American.  This is no girlie wine...

I did receive a nice email recently.  WinoRob wrote in to let us know that he enjoyed the little Breaking News! write-up on Arbor Mist Creamy Blender drinks.  The article was particularly endearing to Rob given that he is the genius behind the Arbor Mist family of miracle-products.  Until recently, Rob was employed by the Canandaigua Wine Company and was the Marketing brain behind the Creamy Blender thing as well as the 375ml single-serving bottles and some of the other Arbor Mist breakthrough products.  But sadly, the Arbor Mist New Product Development roadmap became a bit too convoluted for even WinoRob.  (Maybe it was the plans for Arbor Mist Airlines.  Maybe it was the Arbor Mist Fertilizer.  We'll never know...) 

Now, WinoRob has ventured out on his own and has joined the ranks of the technodweeb.  Welcome to the club, Rob.  WinoRob has developed some kind of new optical photonic flow metering sensing control gizmo and he is marketing this thing on the internet.  Check out his site, www.flowtonics.com.  You wanna know what kind of Marketing genius Rob is?  I don't even know what the damn device is and I bought three of them!  Now that's Marketing!!!  So, if you're shopping for a photonic industrial fluid analysis thingy or if you are designing a hands-free automated servo/solenoid valve actuator (and who isn't these days?), then drop by Rob's new site. 

That's it for now.  Just for the record, my whiplash is starting to act up and my lower back lumbar area is cramping.  Wine is my only effective medication.  Do I smell a tax write-off?   Furthermore, that damn rear-end collision is limiting my ability to spend long periods of time in front of my computer.  Which, I guess, sort of affects all of you...  Can you say "class action"...? 


April 26, 2003

Sooooo...  What's New?  Ohhh.... not too much.  Let's see... what has happened in the last 5 or 6 weeks?   Oh yeah, the Coalition Forces invaded Iraq, deposed a sadistic dictator, liberated the Iraqi people, and made the world a little bit safer for all of us.  That was cool.  Other than that, not much has happened in the last 6 weeks!  Here is a brief update on the staff here at 'Stuff:

WinoWally returned from his semi-annual hiatus.  Wally disappears periodically, only to resurface later with some kind of new job or house or gadget or tale of world travel.  This time, Wally took a few months off to get in touch with his inner politico.  Now, with his recent graduate-level training in National Security and the Socio-Political machine, combined with his financial expertise, passion for golf, and taste for the finer things in life, I see Wally in line for a diplomatic appointment.  Maybe as the Ambassador to the Bahamas.  Who knows?  I can't wait for Thanksgiving dinner in the American Embassy on some island paradise...  Wally, who do we have to bribe contact to make this happen?

WinoBob has been quite busy lately.  He was recently elected President of the Liver-of-the-Month Club.  (He's not just the president, he's also a member!)  Quite a prestigious honor!  We are proud to have him here at WinoStuff.  "The Bob" has also been networking with some of his loyal fans to spread the word about WinoStuff and grow his lunatic, thong-wearing fan club.  (Isn't that how "The Adolf" got started?)   Bob has also been making great progress in his ongoing campaign to make me crazy.  Now, Bob sends me all his "Winings" in some kind of file format that is only compatible with DOS 2.0 running on a Commodore 64.  When I try to open these files on my PC, things start to 'lock up'.  (Not the PC, my brain!)  WinoBob has also been spending quite a bit of time in the WinoStuff Product Development Laboratory.  He is trying to develop new and ingenious products to improve the lifestyle and the standard of living of winos around the world.  He is a true humanitarian.  We'll have news on some new WinoStuff products in the near future.  Stay tuned...

Me?  Let's see... I posted a dopey Boycott Hollywood (and France) page which now accounts for roughly half of all internet traffic.  Hundreds of billions of you loyal winos have visited the site and are now boycotting the Hollywood movie industry resulting in steep drops in the stock value of Sony Pictures and AOL Time Warner.  Janeane Garofalo is reportedly so despondent that she is considering leaving the country (a move that could only be regarded as a national 'sphincterectomy').   Our Boycott Hollywood (and France) page is also single-handedly responsible for a 15% decline in US sales of French wines.  French wineries are begging us to take down the page and end the boycott.  They have even written a letter to the King Weasel, Jacques Chirac, asking him to do something to end the boycott.  We stand firm, however.  It's cool having all this power, even if it's all in my head...

How about some wine news?  After all, this is WinoStuff.com, not BoycottStuff.com!  Here's an interesting tidbit...  

The convenience store mega-chain operator, 7-Eleven is (again) launching it's own brand of wine, this time under the "Regions" name!  (Alert winos will recall a Breaking News article back in August of 2001 in which we reported that 7-Eleven was launching its own brand of wine under the "Taillan" name.  I have never seen Taillan in a 7-Eleven so I guess that brand didn't pan out...???)  If you missed that blurb, see the side bar below...

7-Eleven has partnered with WineryExchange, the self-proclaimed "leading global supplier of quality Private Label wine brands for global wine retailers."  (Is there another "global supplier of quality Private Label wine brands for global wine retailers"?)  WineryExchange created the Regions brand and decided to package the product in 375 ml bottles with natural cork stoppers.  Nothing but the best for 7-Eleven. The first two Regions wines are reported to be an Australian Chardonnay and an Italian Pinot Grigio and will retail for $4.99 per bottle.  That should round out 7-Eleven's wine list considerably.  A quick visit to the 7-Eleven products page reveals the breadth and depth of their wine offerings:



Beringer® White Zinfandel 
Columbia Crest® Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Crest® Chardonnay
Gallo of Sonoma Chardonnay
Kendall-Jackson® Chardonnay
Turning Leaf® Vineyards Merlot
Turning Leaf® Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Turning Leaf® Vineyards Chardonnay
Vendange® Wine Cellars Chardonnay
Woodbridge® Chardonnay
Meridian Vineyards® Chardonnay

Wow!  That's 7 Chardonnays (not counting the Regions), 2 Cabs, a (white) Zin, a Merlot, and a bubbly!  Toss in the new Regions line and you've got a potential Wine Spectator Grand Award winner!  But it's not just the breadth of the list that impresses.  It is the careful selection of wines that awes me.  Take, for example, the Beringer White Zin.  This is what the 7-Eleven wine experts say:

Beringer® White Zinfandel

This classic wine from Beringer® is characterized by the flavors of strawberries, ripe pears, honeysuckle and sweet citrus. A flexible wine, White Zinfandel is an appropriate selection for any dish, from the best steak to spicy Asian, Mexican or Southern dishes. Chill it at least a half an hour in the refrigerator before serving.


Breaking News!

Call 711 !!!

Not to be outdone by Walmart's recent entrée into the wine retail business, the brain trust at 7-Eleven has determined that the American wine-consuming public is just dazed enough to purchase wine bearing the ubiquitous 7-Eleven logo.  Now, next to the familiar oldsmobuicks from Mondavi, K-J, Beringer, etc., "the Sev" will market its own house brand of wines under the Taillan name. No, I'm not making this up. You can't make this stuff up. To answer everyone's first question, the 7-Eleven logo is imprinted on the cork, which means that this beverage is not sold in a box! However, in keeping with the "Big Gulp" tradition of selling all beverages in containers large enough to house the homeless, the Taillan varietals are available only in double METHUSELAH's. (OK, I made that up.) 

"What wine do you serve with beef jerky?"  Or, "Hmmm… They have the February vintage of Taillan. That was a very good month!" Or here's one, "Taillan, the Wine that made Thailand famous!"  Go ahead. Just get them all out of your system. OK?  Feel better now? Well, don't get too comfy. It's just a matter of time before Exxon-Mobil jumps into the wine game. They already have the distribution network. Be prepared to hear,  "Uhhh… just give me ten bucks worth of the regular Merlot and check under the hood…"

August 15, 2001

Who knew that this flexible "classic" would go well with the best steaks?  It's this kind of keen insight that keeps me shopping at 7-Eleven!  I always thought that a massive cab was the perfect accompaniment to a big hunk of red meat.  I guess I was wrong.   I apologize if I have mislead you.  

Well, that's it for this week's edition of What's New!  Check back here again soon for more insight into the wine world.  (Who am I kidding?  We can't compete with the brain trust over at 7-Eleven...  You might as well just click on over to their site if you want real wine info...  Why do we waste our time?  This site is doomed...  WinoBob, we need to find a new theme for this web site.   Wait!  I have it!  Bob, we can write about frozen slushy drinks!  We can call it SlurpyStuff.com!  You can be SlurpyBob and I'll be...  never mind.  It'll never work...)

(The Dweeb Formerly Known As Wino John)
April 26, 2003 

March 15, 2003

What's New?  How can you even ask that?  Just take a look at the front page of this dopey site.  Well?  There's your answer!  Yes, after months of high level negotiations, after countless hours of give-and-take, after innumerable contract revisions, we finally closed the Big Deal.  Yes, WinoStuff is now in the cheap trinket business.  We're selling WinoStuff stuff and the stuff is flying off the shelves!  It's like we set up a 'souvenir shop' on our homepage.  The cyber tourists click on in, they browse through our inane wine ramblings, we hawk some eye-catching mementos, the visitors drop a few bucks to "remember their visit", and everyone leaves happy.  (Especially the very needy beneficiary of the New Liver for Bob Fund.)  It's a beautiful thing.

Actually, the whole process of setting up the storefront only took about an hour but WinoBob was on my back to update this page and I needed a plausible reason for my cyber absence.  So we'll just go with the "months of negotiations" excuse.  Geez, it's not like I've been doing nothing!  Who do you think produces all the professional quality graphics that appear on this site?  Who do you think peeps through Bob's window at night to get those candid spy photos?  Who do you think processes all the paperwork every time there's a new restraining order?  The dweeb behind the scenes, that's who!  Yeah, WinoBob pops a few corks every night, drinks himself into near-nirvana, and scratches out wine reviews in some unintelligible language.  I have to translate the whole mess from Boblish to English, correct the grammar, add graphics and post it all promptly on Bob's friggin' page.  Then, when the hot French winemaker babe comes to dinner with us, who does she fall for?  Yeah, that's right.  BOB!!!  Argghhhh!!!!  My head is going to explode!!!!

Sorry about that.  I feel better now.  I just had a nice piece of chocolate with a glass of red wine.  Mmmmmm.  That hit the spot.  A big, tannic California Cab and a bit of dark chocolate...  Ahhhhhhhhhh...   It doesn't get much better than that...  Wine and chocolate combine to form a nearly erotic taste sensation that is almost indescribable.  I could eat chocolate with wine every night.  Wait, I do eat chocolate with wine nearly every night.  That would explain a few things... like my evolving XXL wardrobe...  Anyway, as the journalistic and techno-dweebistic foundation behind this site, you know that I'm going to give you my take on the whole wine and chocolate phenomenon.  After all, it's not like THE BOB is going to explain it to you !!!  NO!!!  NOT MR. V.I.P. BIGSHOT WINOBOB!!!  NOOOO!!!   (Sorry...  .must  have...  more...  chocolate...)

During my most recent hiatus, I took the opportunity to get PhD's in both Molecular Biophysiology and Neuropharmacology and a Masters Degree in Brain Funtionometry.  These advanced degrees give me all the credentials I need to explain the basics of the wine/chocolate interaction and their combined effect on your cerebral pleasure cortex.  (If I get too technical here, just pause, get yourself a glass of red and a piece of Godiva, take few deep breaths, and continue reading.  It will all make sense soon...)  So, without further ado, I herein present the findings of my definitive wine/chocolate study, undertaken (unfortunately) without any government funding whatsoever.


The Cumulative Effect of Wine and Chocolate Consumption on Human Brain Function 
(Pretty impressive title, huh?)

As we all know, the brain is essentially a mass of cells, or neurons, which are capable of transmitting chemical signals to one another and propagating electrical signals internally.  A typical neuron usually has many dendrites and one very long axon.  (WinoBob, too, has many dendrites but his axon is not so long.  Or so I'm told.)  The axon and the dendrites are like microscopic transmitters and receivers attached to the body of the neuron.  The dendrites contain receptors embedded in the membrane, which are proteins that respond to chemical signals.  The axon has a terminal at its end that releases the chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, to the next neuron.  

One of the most important facts in the electrochemical signal transmission in  neurons is that there is an actual physical space between one neuron's axon and the next neuron's dendrites.  This space is called the synapse and is the communication site between cells.  The neuron releasing the neurotransmitter is called the pre-synaptic neuron and the one accepting the neurotransmitter is called the post-synaptic neuron.  The pre-synaptic neuron will release its neurotransmitter into the synapse.  This chemical messenger will diffuse across the synapse and interact with specific receptors on the post-synaptic membrane.  The interaction between the neurotransmitter and receptor will cause changes in the post-synaptic neuron which will cause an electrical potential (or signal) to be generated.  This electrical signal will be driven down the length of the axon until it reaches the terminal.  When the signal hits this part of the axon it will cause the terminal to release neurotransmitter into the next synapse.  These neurotransmitters will cross the synapse and interact with the receptors on the next neuron, thus continuing the process.    

For years, scientists have been identifying various brain chemicals that act as neurotransmitters and their specific effects on bodily function.  We know that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a major role in emotions, judgement, and sleep.  Adrenalin triggers the fight-or-flight reflex and Francelin triggers the involuntary surrender reflex.

Duhhh.  All this is nothing new.  Here’s where it gets interesting…

Endorphins are morphine-like neurotransmitters that occur naturally in the body and can cause a feeling of euphoria.  My new research into the chocolate/wine phenomenon reveals that certain chemicals in wine, I’ll call them Bobzymes, react with certain sugars in chocolate, called chocolytes, to produce powerful brain chemicals called winotonins.  These winotonins have actual microscopic bits of Velcro® on their surface.  When the winotonins are released into the synapse by the pre-synaptic neuron, bits of Velcro® cause the winotonins to adhere to both the pre-synaptic neuron and the post-synaptic neuron resulting in a synaptic short circuit.  Brain circuits start to overheat, brain fuses get blown, and the brain starts going into a brown-out condition.  At that point, the brain's endorphin producers go into maximum overdrive to produce more of these morphine-like chemicals to try to anesthetize the winotonins and get the bits of Velcro® to release their trans-synaptic death grip on the neurons.  Ultimately, the endorphins win, the brain circuit overload is corrected and the resulting euphoria produced by the massive amounts of endorphin causes the brain to crave more wine and more chocolate.  It’s all very simple.

Thank you.  Thank you very much.  I believe the Nobel people are pulling into the driveway.  Now, of course, there is an outside chance that I plagiarized all the aforementioned techno-babble and that I made up the rest.  But, we’ll never know without some government funding!!!  Or maybe some… corporate sponsorship!?! 

WinoWally, call Robert Mondavi and the Hershey people.  I see some more scientific research in our future.  In fact, I’m willing to theorize that consuming Mondavi Reserve Cabernet and Hershey Dark Chocolate can make you smarter, better looking, and wealthier.  Maybe taller and thinner, too.  Who knows?  Only a well-funded research project can provide the answers.

While we wait for the check to arrive, feel free to relax, enjoy, and eat more chocolate.

(with apologies to The Australian Academy of Science, Macalester College, and the French Military Surrender Cooperative)  

January 29, 2003

OK, OK!!  Get off my back.  So I've been negligent in my duties to bring you news and 'Stuff.  So what?  Sue me.  Geez... I've been busy.  And depressed.

Check out all the stuff that's happened since my last idiotic diatribe...

  • 2003.  That's right, 2003!  You know, the new year. We watched another new year slither on in. This New Year's celebration was kind of boring.  No big celebrations, no anticipation.  We could have used another entertaining cyber-threat to keep us interested in the new year.  It seems like just yesterday that we were talking about Y2K.  I fondly recall loading the .357, waiting anxiously for civilization to fall into socio-economic turmoil as computers around the world welcomed the new millennium with the ubiquitous Y2K bug crash!  Boy, was that a bust!  I didn't even get to shoot anything!  I guess it was all a big joke orchestrated by the world's computer dweebs.  Sort of a "Revenge of the Nerds".  This year, we did get a taste of cloned humans and alien-worship just before Christmas but that pretty much petered out by New Year's day.

Speaking of clones, WinoBob sent me this picture which is an obvious clone of Bob himself.  However, this guy appears much older than Bob.  That would mean that ... Bob... is a clone of....  Never mind.


I did enjoy a nice bubbly to ring in the new year.  Louis Roederer Brut 1995.  Crisp, clean, light.  Just the right touch of 'tart'.  (Not that I've ever touched a tart...)

  • Birds.  The Philadelphia Eagles, against all odds and behind the gutsy performances of their second and third string quarterbacks made a run at the NFC Championship.  With their crippled leader coming back to try to rally the team in the championship game, the birds came up just a bit short.  They lost the NFC Championship game to the eventual Super Bowl champions.  The emotional high of the wins and the total depression after the final loss sent me into a severe funk.  As I wallowed in the gloom of defeat, knowing that my team nearly made it to the big game, my friend, my confidant, my partner in this goofy web endeavor, Wino-friggin'-Bob, decides to rub salt in my wound.  He kicks me when I'm down.  He insults my boyhood dream of seeing my team win the big one.  Nice guy.  After his little outburst, I had to respond.  If I hadn't spent so much time putting together that little "piss on the Giants" graphic, I could have been updating this page.  So, you see, my negligence is really Bob's fault!

  • Grenache.  New year, new stuff, new goals, new ambitions.  A new year...  The Year of the Grenache, as a matter of fact. Or so it was proclaimed by the staff of 'Stuff.  You may be excited that this oft-overlooked grape is now getting its due recognition or you may be saying, "Gre-what"?  But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what you say.  It's the Year of the Grenache.  The decision has been made.  WinoBob, Director of Grape Education, made the call.  We thought about having a contest with you, the readers, voting for the Grape of the Year but that would involve ballots and vote-counting, lobbying and positioning, spin-doctoring, and negative campaigning.  I would have had to post some kind of "Cast Your Vote Here" hyperlink and that sounds like more work than it would be worth.  Ultimately, WinoBob and his dangling chad would emerge victorious anyway.  So you see, we just cut out all the entertaining bits and went right to the winner.  Maybe next year we'll have a vote.  (Remember, Bob and I live in New Jersey, and in the true spirit of the New Jersey political process, our decision could be influenced if the right "gifts" were to be "donated" to the proper "causes", if you catch my drift...)

"Grenache?" you ask.  "Why Grenache?  There are hundreds of grape varieties to choose from.  Why did you pick Grenache?"  Contrary to popular belief, it is not because our own resident Rhone boy is partial to this varietal.  And it's not because Bob is trying to prop up the value of his wine cellar.  It was chosen because Grenache is sort of like the blue collar grape, the everyman's grape, the grape that plays well with all the other grapes.  It was in this spirit of multi-cultural sharing and cross-geopolitical cooperation that we decided to recognize the lowly Grenache.  (Damn, who thought I could write some shit about a grape...)

So winos, it's the Year of the Grenache.  I've tossed back my fair share of wine and I can honestly say that I don't believe that I've ever had a glass of Grenache.  I've had plenty of big red blends that incorporate Grenache into the final mix but I don't recall ever having a glass of 100% Grenache.  Well, there's my first New Year's resolution.  Grenache is on my next wine store shopping list.  I just hope I find one that's big and muscular (like the EAGLES!) rather than one that's light and fruity (like the GIANTS)..


Need more inane wino-babble?  Old What's New! stuff is now archived!  Try these quick links:

Old News!
Older News!
Ancient History!


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