Chapter Sixteen. Part Twelve.
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.Read More
“Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories.” Steven Wright
I’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.Read More
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.
Our Thanksgiving celebration was weeks ago and the wounds have healed nicely – although the turkey may disagree. The rest of us are speaking again and the ER doctor did a great job on my brother-in-law’s stitches.
This Christmas I invited some distant relatives. Not “second cousin twice removed” distant. By “distant” I mean they don’t like me very much. I promised my wife I wouldn’t be baited into any confrontations and when the most combative relative of all arrives I will greet her with a cheery “Merry Christmas Mom.”
In a moment of inspired masochism I invited my cousin Eddie and his new wife Yolanda. I’m not saying the marriage is off to a bad start but their wedding song was “The Thrill is Gone.” Yolanda used to drive Eddie to drink, but that stopped when he got his driver’s license back.Read More
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the winery,
my tasting room staff wore their holiday finery.
The sales were outstanding. ‘Twas like nothing before.
All the wines (even Merlot) seemed to fly out the door.
My winemaker fretted as the deadline drew near.
Wine Spectator 100, would this be the year?
To be on that list would be so prestigious.
But another year missed would be so egregious.
Then out in the vineyard there arose such a clatter.
I feared it was mildew, Pierce’s or shatter.
There atop a small sleigh that defied quantum physics,
sat a round, bearded man and eight tiny critics.
They were chuggin’ down Harlan, the music was crankin’.
I knew in a moment it had to be Shanken.Read More
Chapter Sixteen. Part Nine.
Every November Beaujolais Nouveau simultaneously arrives at wine shops, supermarkets, restaurants and bars all over the world. This special day reminds my generation of a simpler time, a time when we drank cheap, unpretentious wines and missed work the next day. Beaujolais Nouveau has lost much of its appeal but it’s still a fall tradition, an autumnal ritual, a seasonal custom that ranks right up there with getting a flu shot.Read More
On Thanksgiving my family comes together, shares some wine, enjoys a harvest feast, and watches football, football, and more football. It’s an afternoon filled with aggressive, smash-mouth offence and bold defensive maneuvers. Then we turn on the TV and watch the game.
Cooking a Thanksgiving meal for 20 people can be a lot of work and very stressful for everyone involved, by which I mean my wife. Of course I help out in a big way as I’m in charge of the wine and stay far from the kitchen. That probably doesn’t sound like much help to you, but then you haven’t been at my house when the wine locusts arrive. The eighth plague was nothing compared to what happens when my people are thirsty.
My wine selection process is simple. I sit on the front porch and sample wine before the guests arrive. Last year the first wine I tasted was so good that I drank the whole bottle. I wasn’t alone mind you, there were lots of people driving by.
Don’t get the wrong idea. I have a lovely family. In fact I love my wife’s brother like a brother-in-law. We gather around the table and I take a heart-warming look at the family, my Uncle Ralph, the turkey, and then my wife brings in the bird. No casual attire at this table. No sir, even the greens are collard.Read More
The Angel’s Share. It Will Be Mist. (Revisited)
Centuries ago, Cognac producers learned that impermeable oak barrels were very good for keeping spirits in, but not very good at keeping spirits out. When cellarmasters discovered their precious product was disappearing from the barrels locked in their basements, they came to the logical conclusion that angels must be visiting the cellars and drinking from the heavenly casks. The missing portion became known as “la part des anges” or the “angel’s share”. I think most Cognac producers believe the 2% to 4% that disappears every year is fair compensation for the angel’s empyrean influence on their maturing brandy.
Two to four percentage points might not seem like much but it adds up over time. A single Cognac cask holds 263 bottles when full. Sixty years later the angel’s share will reduce that by 83 bottles, or approximately half the Cognac Busta Rhymes and Snoop Doggy Dog drink on Tuesday night. On the bright side, Cognac producers don’t have to pay tax on the missing spirit, leaving me to wonder; what does a line item deduction for angel’s consumption look like on a tax return?Read More
Chapter Sixteen. Part Eleven.
In my last article (and by article I mean rant) I wrote about the popularity of “formulaic recipe wines that use additives and sugar to add weight and mask off flavors”, but today I’m here to tell you there are many wine regions where the dry wine “recipe” does not include residual sugar or the additive mega-purple.
For years families in the Loire Valley have been crafting honest wines using techniques passed down from generation to generation. This vast French wine region surrounds the Loire River as it stretches westward for over 600 miles from its source in the Massif Central to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean. This lengthy waterway may pale in comparison to the mighty Amazon River but on the bright side the French don’t have to fend off man-eating piranhas.Read More
How the sweet red wine trend sent me off my rocker.
It’s the fall wine-tasting season and after sampling a thousand wines over the past month I’m left with the uneasy feeling that I may be suffering from old-timer’s disease. The symptoms include difficulty understanding why red wines are getting sweeter, confusion about labels that look like gothic murder scenes, and appalling marksmanship around the spit bucket. I think there might also be something about forgetfulness.
You may be thinking, “Aw fiddlesticks! Tasting wine doesn’t make you feel old.”
Just as sure as eggs is eggs there’s a chasm forming in the bedrock of wines priced under $20 that make us prellennials scratch our balding heads and wonder what in tarnation is going on. I feel old because by golly, I can remember back in the day when wines were dry!Read More
Gloria Steinem wrote, “More reliably than anything else on earth, the road will force you to live in the present.”
Oddly enough, Ms. Steinem’s words inspired me to revisit the past. This is a tale about life on the road – a passion I discovered long before wine but found no less intoxicating.
It’s not like I thought I was going to die.
My canteen had run dry the previous day, the last of my granola two days before that. I desperately missed the water, the granola not so much. Sure, I was in a desert without food and water, dehydrated, exhausted, a Barry Manilow tune stuck in my head, but I didn’t think it would kill me. I only hoped it would.Read More