WineSnark is a Finalist For Best Editorial/Opinion Writing Award Despite Boycott by Pluto

BDWAbyWIM-Logo_WebThis year the international Born Digital Wine Awards received entries from Italy, China, Australia, India, UK, Brazil, Canada, Portugal, France, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, USA, Mars, Venus and Uranus. Pluto was disqualified when it lost its “planet” designation. It really didn’t matter because their entry took light years to get here and was no longer topical.  Moët Hennessey sponsored the Best Editorial / Opinion Wine Writing category in which WineSnark was named a finalist when it attempted to answer the age-old question, “What’s in a Burgundy?”

What’s In A Burgundy?

Real Conversation Overheard in a Fine Wine Store:

CUSTOMER: Can you recommend a Chardonnay to go with pan-seared scallops?
ME: I highly recommend this Pouilly-Fuissé from Burgundy.
CUSTOMER: But I asked for Chardonnay.
ME: Yes, white Burgundy is made from Chardonnay.
CUSTOMER: White Burgundy? I thought you were a wine expert. Everybody knows Burgundy is red. Why do you think it’s called Burgundy?

“I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” - Ron Burgundy

“I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” – Ron Burgundy

As the customer turned to leave it dawned on me that in many circles Burgundy is synonymous with world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and in other circles people are a stupid pain in the ass.

It’s understandable that most Americans don’t know what’s inside a Burgundy bottle because so many things bear the Burgundy name. First there’s the place Burgundy, then there’s the wine Burgundy, of course there’s the color Burgundy, and most famously there’s anchorman Ron Burgundy.

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Wine Country Under Siege

Photo: Peter Marks

Photo: Peter Marks

A mandatory evacuation order forced some 5,000 Calistoga residents from their homes last night. For many, the escape from this picturesque northern Napa Valley town meant threading over-burdened cars and trucks through flame-encircled roadways. The few friends and colleagues that I’ve been able to reach say that even though sporadic evacuations are the norm, there’s nothing quite as shocking as a bang on the door and the words, “Get out now!” Take your pets and go.”

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Writer’s Digest 86th Writing Competition Honors WineSnark

winesnark-grahams-port

writers digest award 2017 copy Movies have the Oscars, theatre has the Tonys, television has the Emmys, and it has just been announced (insert fanfare) … that WineSnark now has something in common with the winners of these prestigious awards. That’s right, I am also a pathetic, insecure narcissist desperately seeking validation! It has come in the form of an Honorable Mention in the Magazine Feature Article category of the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. This venerable competition received over 5,100 entries spread over several genres. WineSnark’s winning entry can be found below.

Christmas with Graham’s Port – Oh, and the Family’s Coming Too

The holidays are all about sharing. I get together with my family on Christmas and we share fine wines, great food, and several strains of influenza. Even though I’m blessed with a terrific family, surviving the holidays can be challenging. To get through Christmas I have to muster up every ounce of courage and several ounces of bourbon.

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Into the Stormtroopers. Part Two

Today’s post has nothing to do with wine but I promise to get back to wise-ass wine appreciation with my next post. This is part two of a true story about assassination, Nazis, and the de-evolution of truth. SPOILER ALERT; you may want to read part one HERE first. All photographs ©1981 Donald Carter.

The De-Evolution of Truth

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” ― George Orwell, 1984

May 1981
New York Post page 1 crop

The phone rang at dawn and as I pulled the receiver close a metallic shout from the other end jolted me upright and awake.

“FEDS SEIZE NAZI PIX!”

“Wha …?”

“The New York Post. Front page. FEDS … SEIZE … NAZI … PIX!”

Five minutes later I stood sockless at the corner newsstand, scrutinizing the front page of the New York Post. Two familiar Nazis stared back. Adolf Hitler’s portrait hung in the background, his stare intense and chilling. A young neo-Nazi with a raised pistol in hand stood in the foreground – his expression unreadable and lifeless – but no less chilling. My eyes went to the photo credit beneath the picture where I found my name.

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Into the Stormtroopers. Part One

Today’s post has nothing to do with wine. It’s a personal memoir about an event that happened over thirty years ago. It’s the story of a presidential assassination attempt, the American Nazi Party, and personal regret. In light of recent events it seemed an appropriate time to tell the tale. All photographs ©1981 Donald Carter.

Of White Power and White Guilt

Group shot 1As a younger man I seldom gave thought to motivation or consequence. I felt compelled to take risks – to seek out the dark places and walk with the beasts – but the nearest I got to reflection was when I inevitably picked myself up, checked for injuries and wondered, “What the hell was I thinking?”

As an older man I’ve struggled with the emotional fallout that comes from second-guessing ones actions but despite some feelings of regret, I believe my raison d’être was well intentioned. I like to think I climbed under the bed in the middle of the night, faced the monsters and dragged them into the light so that we might all better understand the hatefulness that grows in the shadows we choose to ignore.

When I was a freshman at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago I set out to expose these darker places. Little did I suspect that the images I captured would one day be thrust into the international spotlight and the FBI, subpoena in hand, would come looking for the monsters I uncovered.

More on that later.

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Sweet Rejection – Returning Wine in a Restaurant

WineSnark Snobby WaiterLately I’ve come across several articles about the uncomfortable task of rejecting a flawed bottle of wine when it arrives at your table. I thought I’d join the conversation since I’ve been married for over 30 years and that qualifies me as an expert in rejection. It’s actually been a great 30 years and my wife openly admits it’s been the best ten years of her life. If she could turn back time she wouldn’t ask me to change a thing – except maybe the white suit I wore for ten years following Saturday Night Fever.

Years ago a new restaurant opened in our neighborhood and given the high praise it received from the gourmand filling my gas tank I decided to put on my white suit and take my wife there for her birthday. It’s these kinds of decisions that make me the unequivocal rejection expert I am today.

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The Wines of Anjou-Saumur Take Me Back to a Classier Time

Chapter Sixteen. Part Twelve.
Wines of Anjou-Saumur WineSnark

If you follow the Loire River about a hundred miles eastward from Saint-Nazaire on France’s Atlantic coastline, you will come to the picturesque vineyards of Anjou and Saumur. Both red and white wines are produced here but the largest production in Anjou is a dry rosé that goes by the name of Rosé d’Anjou.

This uncomplicated wine, produced from the Grolleau grape,  is hardly revered around the world but it has a special place in my heart because it was briefly popular when I was a young man courting my wife. For you Millennials in the audience, “courting” is an English term for “hooking-up”. Courting was a refined ritual, a classy pursuit that entailed actually “driving” to her house and “picking her up” in my “car”. Then we’d dance and drink Rosé d’Anjou like a couple of sophisticated continentals until we puked.

Today Rosé d’Anjou has fallen out of fashion as young American consumers have decided it’s much classier to regurgitate Provence rosé.

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Super Bowl – The Menu Says Sweet, Your Friends Want Dry

Football Chips WineSnarkThe holiday season comes to an end this Sunday. We celebrated a harvest Thanksgiving, rejoiced in the birth of our savior, and welcomed a new year. Now comes that most sacred of American holidays – the Super Bowl, a holiday commemorated by 114 million people paying homage to hostile 300-pound men battling in day-glo tights. Don’t you just love this planet?

I didn’t expect the Giants to make it to the Super Bowl and they didn’t let me down. They lost in the first round of the playoffs and I spent the following week watching game replays on ESPN because depression makes me so happy. I was so disheartened I actually stopped eating for a minute.

To cheer me up my wife decided to have friends over on Super Bowl Sunday even though she knows I like watching football without a lot of distractions. That’s why I always make the kids leave the room when the game begins. This starts with some simple cajoling but usually ends with a tantrum and a lot of tears. Sometimes the kids get upset too.

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Muscadet. Do I Taste Seashells or is it Just a Fluke?

Chapter Sixteen. Part Twelve.WineSnark Muscadet on the Coast copy

The Muscadet wine region surrounds the French city of Nantes, where the Loire River meets the Atlantic Ocean. This is the westernmost of the Loire Valley appellations and is the home to the Melon de Bourgogne grape. As the name implies, Melon de Bourgogne originated in Burgundy but despite the other half of its name, it has no connection to the cantaloupe.

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The Best of WineSnark 2016

“Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories.” Steven Wright

the-best-quality-orangeI’m sorry to report that it’s that time of year again – time for the annual “Best Of WineSnark”. It’s been nearly three years since I first put pun to paper for this blog and most nights I still find myself thoughtfully staring into the monitor, a glass of wine in hand, thinking, “I wonder what’s on HBO tonight?”

Over the past year this blog has prompted trips to several wine regions and resulted in the consumption of some incredible wine. Unpaid I might add. On some of my posts I received analytical assistance from a group of certified sommeliers. Oops, did I say sommeliers? I meant drunks. The fact is, on many occasions I do find myself drinking with sommeliers and it has made me appreciate what I like most about wine, namely, drinking it alone.

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