Wine Snobs and Fruit Roll-Ups

November 24, 2010

I was recently at a wine tasting in a local liquor store when I heard the guy who was pouring samples telling customers he tasted “nuances of wet earth” in one of the wines. Yeah, nuances of wet earth. Okay, it’s not an uncommon descriptor for wine, and there can be some pretty weird flavor profiles that people taste. I get it.  It just seemed out of place in a setting where most of the people there had a twelve pack of Bud Light in their hands. But when one customer noted that the wine tasted like a Fruit Roll-Up, the pourer jumped in saying, “I don’t think that was the winemaker’s intent. Most wine drinkers taste earthier flavors”.   

 What!?? Waaayyy–eeeet just a second here, Thurston Howell! I hate to break this to you but you’re just the guy that somebody paid to pour the wine. You can say what you taste in the glass but you don’t get to tell us what we taste when we drink this stuff. Someone, please tell this guy the point of wine is to enjoy yourself, not to elevate your status in some geeky, head-of-the-class, pseudo teacher’s pet, elitist sort of way. All this guy needed was a monocle and cane to complete his pompous-ass attire. In one quick statement, he just turned off a potential customer to wine and completely erased all the work the industry has done in the last fifteen years to rid itself of that snobby image.  

  “Tell you what,” I thought. “You can stay here and try to sell your wine by showing everyone you’re a jerk. Good luck with that. Me, I’ll be next door with my loud friends sitting belly up to the bar, drinking wine that tastes like Fruit Roll-Ups, trying to belch the phrase ‘nuances of wet earth’.”

 As you drink this week’s recommendation, remember that nobody can tell you what you like, don’t like, should like, or for that matter, what you taste in a wine.   

 Foxglove 2007, Cabernet Savignon ($16.00): Finding a good California Cabernet in this price range can be tough sometimes. I like this one because I taste more than just one flavor when I drink it. On one hand I taste bigger flavors. One might describe them as, I don’t know, nuances of wet earth? On the other hand I can taste something fruity as well: Red cherries maybe–but if you’re getting Fruit Roll-Ups, that’s cool too.

First Date Dread

November 15, 2010

It was the first date I ever went on and I wasn’t going to get caught unprepared. I filled the tank with gas, I made sure I had plenty of cash, I knew exactly how to get from my date’s house to the theater, I checked the movie show times, and I wore my coolest sweater. I was ready for every eventuality—except the glass wall. The glass wall divided the ticket area from the lobby, and as I purchased the tickets, my date walked around the wall, through the doors, into the lobby, and back over next to me. She walked thirty feet but stood only five feet away behind the glass. I could see her perfectly.  

 As I put the change in my wallet, I looked up, smiled, and without seeing the wall, walked straight toward her. Up to this point, it had all gone so well. Up to this point, I was still living under the illusion that I was pretty cool. When I think of it, I’m still amazed at how quickly an illusion can be utterly annihilated. Let me give you the play by play: First contact was nose to glass. Next, my nose signaled my brain to commence emergency nose rescue sequence (ENRS) which involves wildly jerking my head back, instantly adopting an uncool panicky facial expression, increasing the flow of tears to the eyes, and letting out a puppy-like yelp (all directly in front of my date, mind you). Finally, my knees and chest hit the glass causing a giant Japanese gong-like noise alerting the entire lobby of movie-goers.

The aftermath was worse. As the entire crowd turned to look toward the source of the yelp/gong, they witnessed a scene that told them exactly what had happened. There on the glass wall at the exact height of my nose stood a single wet spot. And there, next to the wet spot, I stood with tear filled eyes holding my nose. Every picture tells a story.

In some ways, buying wine can be like that date. You can try to account for every eventuality—read reviews, try other wines from the same label, get a recommendation from a friend or the store clerk–and still end up purchasing the wine equivalent of a glass face-plant.

Try this week’s recommendation. It’s much more sophisticated than I was.

Concannon 2009, Central Coast Riesling ($9.99): At ten bucks this wine doesn’t act like a cheap date. It’s just a little sweet but deeply complex—in a “this evening could end up fun” kind of way.    

Winter Wines

November 8, 2010

Is there such a thing as a winter wine? Technically the best wine for the occasion is whichever one you want to drink. However, because we tend to gravitate toward specific foods in the winter and during the holidays, we also tend to gravitate toward the wines that go so well with them. Below I’ve listed a few of my favorite wines to drink during the winter months.  

 Cabernet Sauvignon–The setting: This wine is perfect for a winter night right after the plow leaves that mountain of snow at the bottom of your driveway. Wait until your neighbor with the new snow blower arrives home from work. Just as he’s pulling into his driveway, make your way to the mailbox with a fake limp and your grandfather’s old cane. Smile, wave, and go back inside and pour a glass of Cabernet. Then watch from the window while he clears the obstacle for you. He’ll feel good because he’s helping someone in need. You’ll feel good because it’s so warm inside.

 Cabernet Franc–The setting: Keep a bottle of this wine on hand for when a relative brings lutefisk to the holiday meal. As you pour the wine into your glass, adopt a pained expression and explain that unfortunately lutefisk doesn’t go well with Cab Franc but you look forward to eating it tomorrow when leftover lutefisk is a holiday tradition after ice skating. True, you haven’t skated since you were four years old and the dish won’t make it out of the refrigerator until it has to be thrown away but your relative is left happy knowing that they’ve contributed to your holiday tradition. You’re left happy drinking delicious Cab Franc.

 Merlot–The setting: Choose Merlot when it’s time to wrap gifts. Tell your husband/wife you’ll get some cheese and crackers and pour some wine and will be right back to help. Stay in the kitchen while they get lost in the task at hand. Pour two glasses and begin to sip. Periodically clink glasses together and yell “Are we out of Brie?” Sip some more. Open and close a few drawers. When gifts are wrapped, return with two glasses while complimenting his or her progress.

 This week’s recommendation is a blend of all three of these wines.  

 Hook & Ladder 2007, The Tillerman ($17.99): Delicious and perfect with hearty stews and other big winter meals. Also a perfect wine to enjoy while not gift wrapping, shoveling, or eating lutefisk.

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