An Open Letter to Big Red Wines

August 24, 2011

So you’ve come back. Do you really think you can just come traipsing back into my life again after leaving for an entire summer? You want me to just pick you up again as if everything was fine? Am I really supposed to just take you back?

Sorry Honey. I’ve moved on. I’ve met so many fantastic white wines after you left that I barely even remembered you. I met a Torrontes from Argentina. That’s right. We saw Shakespeare in the Park together. Did you know I spent some time on the beach with a Sauvignon Blanc from California? Yup. That was in June and I’ve had that same wine three times since then. Uh huh. Unlike you, it’s crisp and it’s bright and it refreshes me like you never did.

Did you hear I met a Viognier for the first time this July? Well I did. I even brought it to my family picnic. Guess what? They loved it. I might even take it over and introduce it to the guys on game night. So don’t even try to weasel back in like you and me got it goin’ on.

Did you know I had to put the big red wine glasses away after you left? I should have known you wouldn’t be around once the weather got nice. I was so stupid! And I have no doubt that you’re probably showing up in other people’s glasses right now too. No! We’re done! Things are different now. We. Are. Done.

Don’t get me wrong. I wish you well. I mean, you always did go well with steak. Do you still go well with steak? I bet you do. Remember that night at the cabin? The night of two bottles? You were amazing. You’re always amazing on a cold night. We were good together, weren’t we? It would be fun to do something like that again. We have so much history together. It would be a shame to just turn our backs on so much history. Okay, maybe I’ll have just one glass. For old time’s sake —   but I’m not taking you back.

This week’s recommendation:

Guglielmo Private Reserve, Petite Sirah 2007 ($24.99): With flavors of smoke, chocolate, and leather, Guglielmo tastes like something we love to reminisce about but are careful not to talk about. This wine is big and meaty and buxom and delicious and a great way to welcome back the big red wine season. Grab a bottle and create some history.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

December 7, 2010

I recently read about a band of Somali pirates who attacked a U.S. naval warship after mistaking it for a merchant vessel. Talk about wishing you could take that one back. I wonder what the American captain thought when the pirates gave the “Prepare to be boarded!” command. It made me also wonder what flawed line of reasoning the pirate leader used to convince himself and his crew that this was a good idea. As colossal as this mistake was, I can’t be too critical when I think back to some of the reasoning that led to a few of my own bad decisions. Here are a few examples of some flawed logic that I either listened to or dished out:

“I bet I can drive the rest of the way home with the lights turned off.”

“Trouble? It’s just a card game in Tijuana. How can that lead to trouble?”

“She won’t be mad. Just buy the boat.”

“Yes, that chandelier can totally hold your weight.”

“Yeah, seriously. Everyone there will be naked.”

The outcome of this bad logic always resulted in a poor decision. But as the saying goes, “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.” In each case, I walked away carrying a little more knowledge whether it was about Latino poker customs, personal relationships, light fixture wiring, or public decency laws.

There have also been times when I’ve heard some bad advice about wine. Some examples:

“Red wine will get stains out of carpet.”

“You can’t go wrong with the restaurant’s Ninja Burger or their wine list.”

“One more glass of wine tonight and you’ll totally ace that interview tomorrow.”

Again, each time I listened to the bad advice, it led to a bad decision. The difference here, however, was with bad wine advice, the outcome tends to be much less serious. Therefore, my advice with wine is to try everything. Step outside your comfort zone. Look for new varietals and new regions. Try a different wine with your favorite meal. Get burned, even. It’s the best way to expand your wine knowledge. You’ll learn something new every time.

My wine advice for this week:

Trinitas 2004, Petite Sirah ($18.00): A very well-made wine that tastes good, smells good, and even looks good in the glass. Try it with a big steak…..what could possibly go wrong?

Petite Sirah. What’s in a Name?

August 2, 2010

When I was in junior high I joined the gymnastics team. To this day I don’t know what the appeal was. I don’t follow the sport, I wasn’t raised by former gymnasts, and I don’t particularly like wearing tights in front of people. Perhaps even at that age I had an appreciation for the art of such controlled strength (although at 5’9” and 115 lbs. my build was a rather imperfect medium to display that art). The rings, in particular, held my interest. In fact I worked so hard on them that the team dubbed me “Ring Man.” Soon the time came for our first meet where all the parents were invited to watch, and when my turn came to do my routine, the entire team hoped “Ring Man” would score well and put us ahead.

 I was lifted to the rings by the coach and all eyes in the gym were glued on me. The problem became apparent immediately. Rather than concentrating on the routine, Ring Man let himself become distracted by his buddy off to the side who was trying to make him laugh. Using all my efforts to hold it together, I had nothing left for anything more than just hanging on to those rings and the seconds awkwardly passed. Eventually an ugly, silence filled the gym. Everyone waited. There was no routine, no maneuvers, no movement at all; just a skinny kid hanging from the rings shaking with laughter. After an eternity, I let go, dropped to the mat, and with a red face saluted the judges. To my surprise a loud, robust applause erupted as the team and the parents showed their appreciation for the effort. They all saw what was happening off to the side, and while it wasn’t a good gymnastics routine, it was a memorable performance.

 So what’s the parallel between that story and Petite Sirah? Here it is, and it’s a weak one: Petite Sirah has no more to do with being petite or Sirah than Ring Man had to do with being an ace on the rings. Both were misnamed. Rather than showing petite, light, delicate flavors, Petite Sirah displays bigger, bolder, darker characteristics. Unlike Syrah, Petite Sirah displays a fuller body, heavier structure, and is often more tannic. While the two are often blended together, they are distinctly different grapes.

 Although different than Syrah, this week’s recommendation still gives a memorable performance. For the price, it’s a gold medal contender.

 Concannon 2007, Petite Sirah ($14.99):  Dark chocolate and pepper hang suspended on the finish like a laughing gymnast.      

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