November 23, 2006

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Got milk?

YouTube for YouWine
Video can capture the spirit, not the taste
By Tim Protzman tprotzman@sbcglobal.net

About a year ago this guy with dreadlocks started sending me e-mails with links to something called YouTube. There I could see an online collection of videos he shot and posted. Most of them were business-related. I usually just deleted them. But it was an important lesson for me: new technology is not the exclusive province of the young and hip. Sometimes the old (people my age) and hip master and disseminate new gadgets just as well as the young and shiny. And this comes from a fogy who was in his mid-20s before he ever sent a fax or talked on a cell phone. Actually, I was in my 30s before I talked on a cell phone.

From the three-minute snippets of award ceremonies he e-mailed me, it wasn’t too long before I’d discovered online video gems like people with petticoats on their heads lip-syncing to Ludacris. And now with the site being acquired by Google, it won’t be too long before we see a few commercials with the glut of weirdly shot amateur videos. And I’m not knocking the site. I mean where can you see birthday celebrations from people in Kenya, Poland and Utah side by side? It’s like looking through their private little photo albums. There’s this voyeuristic real-time spy satellite quality about the whole thing.

The best part is that most of the video auteurs have wisely chosen to work in the comic genre. This allows the viewer to avoid pretentious and metaphysically complicated dramas that seem like junior-year film school projects. Yes, YouTube is funny. And, yes, YouTube is one of the fastest-growing Web sites around. But YouTube, like that huge 6,000-bottle wine shop that I visit and think I died and went to heaven, has a few really good selections, some good selections and a whole lot of mediocre selections.

If YouTube is like a giant wine shop then it was only a matter of time before I searched for wine-related videos. A quick search on the word “wine” brought up several hundred videos on Dutty Wine and Buss a Wine. These, according to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, are dangerous dances that combine the frenetic body movements of a voodoo ceremony with the head-spinning acrobatics of breakdancing. There were 173 Dutty Wine videos. After that came a whole bunch of sheep videos in French. I don’t know what I did, but maybe the routers and servers of YouTube sensed me thinking about Mouton Cadet ($7.99) or Chateau Mouton Rothschild ($125 or $320 depending on whether you pick the 2002 or the much-praised 2003 vintage). Mouton is French for sheep and saute mouton is French for leap frog. Apparently, the French prefer to eat their frogs and leap their sheep.

Once I got the hang of the Boolean intricacies of YouTube, searching was much more effective. Instead of typing in “grapes” I typed in “cabernet sauvignon.” This produced a more refined result. I got a very animated Gary Vaynerchuck doing something called Wine Library TV. There were these two Australian guys standing in front of a eucalyptus tree swirling a glass of 2004 Bonny Doon Bloody Good Red. Nice wine, but not exactly scintillating TV. And even the introduction ceremony for the La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an ancient and exclusive group of Burgundy producers, was nice, with men in red caps and robes with gold trim, but not an Emmy contender.

In short, I have my doubts about TV shows about wine. It’s really hard to capture smell and taste on tape. Maybe a show about a chateau in Bordeaux trying to survive and make wine set against the backdrop of World War II or a show about a modern Bulgarian winery that’s infiltrated by gangsters from the Caucasus or a beautiful Italian woman trying to break into the old-boy network of winemakers would be more exciting. Even the wine shows on cable are focused more on the tourist aspects of visiting wineries and wine cellars rather than opening bottles. I would love to see a Masterpiece Theater about a grand dinner, with ancient bottles of lovely vintages and tales of Edwardian lust and desire, liveried servants, heirloom silver and lots of game with the feathers still on. This would place the wine in proper perspective as an enhancement to life, not a way of life. And that’s how it should be.

With all the TV I tasted just two wines this week:

2002 Waterstone Carneros Pinot Noir, $17.99. This wine is grown by many different producers, although 75 percent of it, by law, has to come from the Carneros, the southern region of Napa and Sonoma Valleys. The Waterstone people buy the wine and put their label on it. The catch is that you can get some wine from very prestigious vineyards and some wine from the more pedestrian vineyards. It has cherry, plum, cinnamon and grape soda flavors.

Le Saut Secret Chablis Grand Cru “Le Clos” by Josephine Dubois, $22.44. Not chardonnay, but made with chardonnay grapes. Mon Dieu! How can that be? Chablis has different soil, it’s north of the rest of Burgundy, and the chalkiness imparts more minerals. The wine has a whiff of cat box pheromones, but it’s a smooth food wine with a touch of sour cream flavors, lemon grass and kiwi.

Tell Tim your wine stories. You can reach him at tprotzman@sbcglobal.net.


11/16/2006 Welcome to wine

11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Gin
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
Mondovino
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce

Just because it’s healthy doesn’t make it a bad mixer