TiVo-ing the wine
What to pair with an Aaron Sorkin drama
By Tim Protzman email@example.com
This time of year I decline a lot of invitations.
Like last Wednesday when I said no to a wine party at the home of the heir to the Gravy Master fortune. Aside from not tasting a 1999 Abrue Cabernet Sauvignon, I didn’t miss much. The cab is a much-sought-after cult wine made by famed wine consultant David Abreu. He owns several pieces of Napa Valley and sells most of his grapes. He does make his own wine from the Madrona Ranch vineyard and the 1999 sells for about $200. I wanted to taste the wine, but I long ago stopped being impressed by people introduced as “the heir to the…….fortune.”
My mother had a way of collecting heirs as friends. There was the heir to the Pacquin hand cream fortune, the Electrolux heir, the Riverside Trust Banking heiress, the Jiffy Lube magnate and the Haviland china heir. For a time I tried to pass myself off as the Durex Ribbed Condom heir, but most people saw through it. And I would have gone except that this is the time of year when the networks roll out their new shows.
Maybe, like mom and the heirs, I have this thing about premieres of new shows. Will it be a hit? Or will it fail? And how do I feel about it? I remember I hated Seinfeld when I first watched it. It was hard to get into. It was too avant garde for my Happy Days-honed tastes. Which is what makes premiere week so special for me — if my taste in wine is above average then my taste in TV is the opposite. Any show I like gets cancelled. I don’t even have to watch the whole thing, just channel surf by it and blam, it’s gone. Anybody remember Wolf Lake?
This year the premieres started early. There was this show about this kid who had no belly button that started in July. He had no memory and this childlike innocence, but, boy, did he ever like to take off his shirt. I watched it once, and it got put on hiatus. We had it with a 2005 Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc, $26.49. This wine also had no belly button. It was all backbone, not one flaw on it. But a little disconnected from its roots. Just like you’d imagine Lindsay Lohan to be after she had plastic surgery to remove her navel.
“Mother? What mother? I spawned myself, just like one of the gods.”
The wine had the minerals but not experience. It tasted a little too put-together. Just like the show about the belly buttonless boy Kyle, Kyle KY or XY or just plain why? I liked it but it seemed ungrounded in reality.
The next show I gave the kiss of death to was Happy Hour. It’s about this guy who moves to Chicago to work in his fiancée’s family’s company. They break up, he gets fired and ends up in this way-too-big-for-their-income-bracket apartment with this bartender guy who thinks he’s Peter Lawford. The show’s on hiatus already. But we had a really nifty drink with it. The Bronx Cocktail!
This drink has several versions. The original dates from Prohibition and is three parts gin, one part dry (white) vermouth and one part sweet (red) vermouth and four parts orange juice. We liked the Dry Bronx Cocktail the best.
It’s essentially a dry martini:
1 ½ ounces gin
½ ounces dry vermouth
6 ounces orange juice
Shake vigorously and serve over ice.
It was less oily than a screwdriver and had a sweeter, more exotic taste. One hint — use good gin, like Bombay.
I watched James Woods star as a defense lawyer (Shark) who turns into a prosecutor. Not bad but formulaic. Then there was this thing called Heroes which I never quite figured out. There was a Japanese gentleman and then he was in New York and a girl who stuck her hand in the garbage disposal and got it all mangled and bled on her shih tzu, before it miraculously healed. I thought this one was so bad it’ll either be cancelled in two weeks or become the hit of the season. Many, many shows I don’t like go on forever, like Friends. For Heroes, it was Pravda Vodka, a cheap Russian import in a fancy package, straight out of the bottle. Is it just me or do the Russians seem to keep their best stuff and export the ones they don’t like? Which is the same thing we do with our TV shows.
I did like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip but I see that the Bradley Whitford/Matthew Perry duo may get on my nerves. Too cute, too edgy and too snarky. For them we opened a Rancho Zabaco Russian River Zinfandel. The 2003 was just ready and it reminded me that not everything that comes from California is fake. The wine costs $12.99 and has a subdued structure with a hint of sweetness and an earthy backbone and finish.
But last Wednesday, scheduled opposite the Heir Party, was a show about a small Kansas town. I thought it was In Cold Blood but it was called Jericho. In the first 20 minutes the townspeople all go outside to look at a mushroom cloud, way out west, near Denver. The dialogue was bad; one character looks at the cloud and says, “That’s never a good sign.”
But the premise of a small town surviving some sort of attack has 86’ed written all over it.
Maybe if they lived in Burgundy or Walla Walla and made wine they’d have more of a chance. Then they could sit around tasting Morey-St. Denis or Cayuse Vineyards Merlot instead of fighting off big city gangs and right-wing militias. There’s no nuclear or television bomb so big that a glass of syrah won’t make it better.
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