March 19, 2009

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Baby, kiss that frog
Most wine is just OK, but that’s OK
By Tim Protzman food@hippopress.com

The best thing about the new media is that with most online newspapers, the reader can post an instantaneous comment to an article and other people can read it. The posts are chronological so you can even see what people who commented on your post think. I love the little threads.

Reading an article titled “Snowmobile Crashes into Chicken Coop” provides tons of reading fun. The snowmobile-haters chime in first, decrying the hordes of noisy, fumy snow vehicles despoiling the wilderness. Then come the friends of the victim, who suffered a contusion on his thigh. They explain he’d never crash into a chicken coop on purpose, asserting it was truly an accident and affirming him as a reputable pillar of the community. Next come the animal activists. They write on their agenda, saying chicken coops are inhumane and there would have been fewer avian victims if only these chickens were free- range. Finally, the amateur scientists write in, explaining the importance of velocity and how cold, dry conditions may have contributed to the accident, by making the snow extra slippery and therefore making it harder to stop and turn.

Then they start attacking each other, totally forgetting the article.

“If those chickens weren’t in a coop they’d be frozen as solid as a Perdue Oven Stuffer Roaster, you dumb bimbo!”

“Just a warning to all you operators of those infernal, smelly, noisy, racket making machines — don’t cross my property — I had it sown with land mines.”

And what better fun than to watch Victor88 dust it up with Thumbelina@yahoo in real time over your morning paper. Good times!

It used to be that if you had an opinion on a newspaper article you had to put pen to paper and then mail it to the editor. They’d contact you to make sure the editorial reply was for real and then they’d publish it. I once won a really nice pen set because of the editorial reply I wrote about the demise of the Dusty Roads ice cream sundae. This was a plain hot fudge sundae with vanilla ice cream sprinkled with malt powder on top. The little seaside place that served it changed ownership and no longer bothered to stock malt powder. They did install a cappuccino machine, though. (Is this really progress?)

The beauty of the malt editorial was that I had time to revise it to perfection in both content and tone. With the Internet we just seem to blurt. Today, in fact, I sent a cranky reply to an e-mail, not to a third party as I intended, but to the writer. He was miffed and vexed. But I held my ground. I felt I was right, but I explained I perhaps could have been more measured and diplomatic.

All this editorial concern stems from my recent reading of an article and its posts on wine. The article was nice but wouldn’t have won any Pulitzers, but the posts (comments) were a hoot.

The generic article was about a publicity stop by a vineyard owner. Nothing special. But the comments from the readers were, well, priceless.

Now most wine blogs, which are solely devoted to wine chat, are a little boring and very esoteric. Every poster tries to outdo the others with eloquence, knowledge and wine stories.

I have always said that wine drinkers are like teenaged boys talking about their sexual escapades when it comes to stories about the best bottle of wine they ever had. Stuff that begins with: “I was on the Gulf of Siam…,” “We were invited to a special tasting at Caymus…,” “Our closest friends own a 1,000-bottle cellar and it was his 55th birthday….”

But the posts to the generic article questioned the value and even the necessity of wine itself.

I was intrigued.

Boone’s Farm was mentioned several times. Many posters stated “wine just doesn’t taste good.”

Some complained about paying $20 for a bottle and some were apologetic.

“I’ve tried and tried, but I just can’t seem to appreciate fine wine. I must be a rube from the hills because I’d rather have a beer or a Screwdriver.”

The fact is they’re right. Me and some of the wine rookies were trying to calculate the percentage of wine that was OK, versus good. Estimates ran from 60 percent so-so to 95 percent so-so. Now you can improve these odds if you have a cellar and you age the wine. Also, if you spend no less than $100 on every bottle you drink, you’ll be happier with the product than you would with all $20 bottles. And yes, there are $10 wines that beat $100 wine, but they are few and far between. Unfortunately, the true fact of wine, and I quote someone else here, is: “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.”

In the meantime, I’ll keep drinking. I’ll try new wines whenever possible and I’ll stay puckered up.

Here are this week’s wines:

2006 Hendry Pinot Noir, $36.49, from Napa. This was the perfect wine to show the difference between French and Californian Pinot Noir. Hearty and inky. Darker than the Burgundy. Juicier and bigger. Better? No, just different. And even though I liked these wines very much they were not “once in a lifetime” or earth-shattering.

2007 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, $8.99. Very elegant and nice with a homogenized finish of currants, chocolate and tobacco. This frog traded up to a gerbil once kissed.

2007 Woodbridge White Zinfandel, $4.99. I never met a wine I couldn’t drink until this one. Astringent, like paint thinner. Leaden, sour taste. Tart pickle juice finish. This bottle was a gift from my neighbor for helping him get his car out of a snow bank. Last storm I shoveled the snow right on his car. I kissed this frog and rolled over and died.

 


3/5/2009 Shabby exterior. great finds

2/26/2009 Find a fest
1/29/2009 Woop woop it up
1/1/2009 A white burgundy eve
12/25/2008 Hey big spender
12/18/2008 White, the budget wine gift12/11/2008 Taste Burgundy, drink Pommard12/4/2008 The Riesling holidays
11/27/2008 Recession, anti-recession11/20/2008 Gastronomic recovery plan11/13/2008 A vote for...
11/6/2008 Spooky wine
10/30/2008 Critical darling
10/23/2008 An epitaph of good wine10/16/2008 A wine crime
10/9/2008 All my personalities love wine
10/2/2008 Harvest magic

9/25/2008 Where fantasy meets reality9/18/2008 The mojito cure
9/11/2008 Spend Fall in Spain
9/04/2008 Making a break for it
8/28/2008 Achieving the impossible
8/21/2008 AVA in search of a movie
8/14/2008 Return to seller?
8/7/2008 Wine at the game
7/24/2008 Reviving a star
7/17/2008 Champagne staycation
7/10/2008 Pair vintage with vintage
6/26/2008 Leftover wine
6/19/2008 Fortune favors Opus One
6/12/2008 In the year 2048
6/5/2008 Tea, the original infusion
5/29/2008 Hello old friends
5/22/2008 Ancient in the new world
5/15/2008 You are the expert
5/8/2008 The must-drink list
5/1/2008 Gaming wine futures
4/24/2008 Chronos and me
4/17/2008 Getting lucky
4/3/2008 The daquiri's of spring
3/27/2008 Germans play well with others
3/13/2008 Complain yourself happy
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
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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
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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?
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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
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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