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

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

winesnark-grahams-port

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.

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