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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Scotts Name The Top 100 Most Influential Wine Blogs. My Arse!

top-100-wine-blogs-smallA few of days ago I received a couple of welcome surprises in my inbox. First, it appears I’m about to come into a substantial sum of money from a Nigerian prince. Secondly, I learned that WineSnark.com has been named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Wine Blogs of 2015”. This is in stark contrast to my present standing as “The Least Influential Person in My Own Home”.

Wine Bloggers create awards like this because they realize that actors and athletes aren’t the only insecure neurotics in need of validation. Our awards might not be as masculine as the Heisman Trophy or as phallic as the Oscar, but we still know where to put them – in the mancave next to the spelling bee trophies.

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Loving Wine, In Spite of Itself.

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Look, I know the drill. I’ve been there myself. You’re in a wine store reading those little signs in front of each wine when you start to feel out of place, kind of like one of those Duck Dynasty guys who mistakenly wandered into a gay pride parade.

Shelf talkers, as they’re known in the trade, tout the virtues of the wine at hand and usually contain a wine review from a magazine or newspaper. As you read something like, “this wine displays aromas of galangal root caressed by nuances of Louisiana road tar,” you find yourself thinking, “I never smell and taste these things in my wine and what the heck is galangal root anyway?”

So I’d like to start by correcting a common misconception caused by these shelf talker wine reviews. No one slipped cat pee into your Sauvignon Blanc or horse manure into your Burgundy. They smell that way on purpose.

Really.

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Pass The Toast – The Maillard Reaction in Wine Barrel Toasting.

Chapter Thirteen, Part Four.
Dog stealing food.Not long after Kikunae Ikeda discovered umami, a French physician by the name of Louis Maillard (pronounced my-ARD) described the chemical reaction that takes place when amino acids combined with sugar are exposed to heat. This transformation, once known simply as browning, is now called the Maillard reaction. (It is rumored the original name, browning, was named after Maillard’s cook, Dorothea Brown.)¹

The Maillard reaction is what turns toasted bread a golden brown and creates the seared crust on protein rich foods like steak or chicken. I think my neighbor was grilling some protein rich food last night because I heard him say, “Hey Carter. Get your dog out of Maillard!”

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Can’t See The Forest For The Lees – Of Oak, Wine & Bacon.

Chapter Thirteen, Part Two.

“Oak is here and it will be with us for at least the remainder of the current generation—a generation that has been carefully taught that if a little oak is a good thing, a lumber factory is wonderful.” Dan Berger

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Wood barrels have been used by the wine trade for over two thousand years, but just over a century ago astute winemakers recognized the transformative effect that oak has on wine and they began to look at barrels as more than storage vessels. Over time, patient old-world vignerons learned that the species of oak, outdoor seasoning, the degree of toasting over fire and the time spent in barrel all bear heavily on how oak “flavors” wine. They learned that one type of oak may add spicy allspice and cinnamon nuances while another may add a smoky bacon flavor. I don’t know about you but I’d eat my left foot if it had a smoky bacon flavor.

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