April 24, 2008

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Chronos and Me
10 people you meet at a wine tasting
By Tim Protzman letters@hippopress.com

In anticipation of television broadcast signals going high-definition I finally got cable.

It gives me 200 channels and Michael Imperioli seems to be on all of them. He’s the guy from The Sopranos — Christopher. He’s also in Goodfellas, I Shot Andy Warhol, Law & Order, The Basketball Diaries and this TV movie called The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

That gave me an idea because this week I went to a wine tasting benefit for a magnet school near my house. I didn’t know anyone there. I have no affiliation with the school. But the tasting gave me a chance to sample 107 different wines and purchase them at a slight discount for later delivery. The idea I got was to write about the five people you meet at a wine tasting. It’s not the same five everything, but five or maybe six archetypes who frequent them.

The Wine Bimbo
Can be male or female. They dress nice, but flashy. They wear sunglasses at night. They like wine, but don’t love it. They ask questions like, “Can you make wine from bananas?”

They don’t want the answer, just the reaction to their clever little question. They’re fun and harmless but not serious oenophiles. They really don’t appreciate wine and that’s OK — if they just keep their mouths shut. Nobody wants to discuss the differences between wine and beer or hear about how their Uncle Fred helped the Sox win the Series with his little ritual of drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon out of the same Fred Flintstone jelly jar glass during every game.

Dora the Explorer
She’s been everywhere. If the wine’s from Santorini (a Grecian isle) she’s been there. Oh, and she’s only happy to tell you all about it… “We had this waiter, he was from France, no Finland, no Estonian, no, it did begin with an ‘F.’”

“Fallujah?” I ask.

“Well anyway, we had these little hors d’oeuvres and they were so fishy and it turns out they were octopus!” Isn’t that a stitch!

Doras always ask where. They always have an anecdote. Even is the wine is from Scranton, Pa., they’ll admit they once spent a weekend at the Holiday Inn because cousin Lydia was getting married, again.

Chronos
He always wants to know the year. He’s obsessed with vintage. He carries both the Parker Chart and the Wine Enthusiast one. He’ll actually turn down a sample from a year that got less than 84 points. An entire year of wine he’ll never taste because of one poor grade. Never mind micro climates. Forget soil and the winemaker’s expertise. If he doesn’t like the year, he won’t drink the wine.

Scratch, Sniff, Swirl
These people do everything with a glass of wine but taste it. You seen them swirling to observe the “tears” or “legs,” which are the streak or rivulets of wine that run down the inside of the glass. I used to think it was sophisticated and could actually help you tell if the wine was good before you drank it, but it’s really only an indicator of the alcohol content. The more alcohol the more pronounced the legs, tears or fingers are. It has to do with evaporation.

More telling is the bouquet. Good wine has a certain smell. Grass, green olives, band aids, chocolate are what I smell in good reds, but it’s subjective. Someone else could smell ammonia and lilac. The best way to tell if a wine is good is still to taste it.

The Ad Exec
Remember on Bewitched Darren was always taking clients out for cocktails? The Ad Exec stands there with a chardonnay and wishes it were a martini. I love this guy but how did he get conned into going to a wine tasting when he really wanted a Harvey Wallbanger or a shot of Grey Goose? He makes cranky faces and a big show of dumping the wine into the bucket. Not everyone loves wine and that’s fine, but if you hate clowns you don’t go to the circus.

Professor Know-It-All
He’s a knowledgeable contrarian who loves an argument and knows his wine. But instead of embracing and educating us peons, he scoffs at our ignorance. Tell him your favorite wine is Buena Vista Merlot ($16.99) and he’ll counter with, “I drink E. Guigal ‘La Turque’ Cote Rotie ($270 to $455) as my everyday wine.”

His aloofness, his condescending manner and his brusque demeanor all stem from unresolved toilet training issues and penis envy.

Me
I’m the slightly tipsy one running from table to table trying as many different wines as possible, without always using the spittoon. I and those like me want to expand our horizons, but may be a tad too eager, like a bunch of stoned college students at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Willy Lohman
You’ll find Willy behind the table. He’s a wine rep for a mass market wine. It’s not very good, and it hasn’t carved out a niche. His wine doesn’t even have a cute animal name. I always try his wine. I always compliment him on it. I always ask a few questions. But I never buy it. That may be why he’s so downtrodden. His boss keeps telling him, “A great salesman wouldn’t care how good the wine is, she’d just sell it!”

Sorry, Willy; I’m not buying the wine if I don’t like it.

The Vicar
He’s also behind the table. But his wine is terrific, and he knows it. He toys with you, half pouring to conserve his precious elixir. He’s picky about who gets to taste. Like a Weirs Beach bartender on the 4th of July Weekend he just ignores you. You try to make eye contact, but you’re not 26 and female. And don’t even try to discuss wine with him because he’s snotty: “You DON’T really like pinot grigio, do you?”

“Gee, with a palate like yours, I’m at a loss as to what I should pour you. Try that boxed wine table, it’s so much more approachable.”

Carry Nation
He’s only there to support the charity. He hates wine and alcohol and would really rather have a silent auction, but he’s too important to help solicit the free gifts. Besides, silent auctions suck. They’re too quiet … unless there’s open bar..


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3/6/2008 Operatic wine tasting
2/28/2008 Everything must go!
2/21/2008 His & hers bottles
2/7/2008 Friends in spam
1/31/2008 Warm up the wine
1/24/2008 A drink to them
1/17/2008 Stalking the barking dingo
1/10/2008 Wishes and predictions
1/3/2008 Bit of bubbly
12/27/2007 Drinking blind
12/20/2007 Not fighting for the right
12/13/2007 The liquor store suite
11/29/2007 World of drinkin'
11/22/2007 Thanks for the Napa cabs
11/15/2007 Drinks with Diwali
11/8/2007 Candy Corn hangover
11/1/2007 Drinks with History Channel
10/25/2007 Schooled in Shiraz
10/18/2007 Spooky wines
10/11/2007 Location, location, location
10/04/2007 Shiraz history
9/27/2007 Ingenious appellation
9/20/2007 Small world of wines
9/13/2007 How not to get screwed
9/6/2007 Wine lover's shopping trip
8/30/2007 Bottle surfing
8/23/2007 Lobster goes red
8/16/2007 Emotional tasting notes
8/9/2007 Stop, wine thief
8/2/2007 Be your own sommelier
7/26/2007 You do know your wine
7/19/2007 Booze free association
7/12/2007 Raiders of the sidewalk
7/5/2007 A sustainable buzz
6/28/2007 We are the merlot
6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.
6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
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
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01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
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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
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Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
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