Thursday, January 31, 2008

Glamour Profession Nouveau

You can have an exciting career in one of the hottest growing fields on this planet earth: a Wine Actuary!

That’s right, Wine Actuary.

Never heard of this, you say? Join the club! Right now only the real industry insiders are even aware that such a thing exists, which is why this is such an incredible opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something that is going to make the Dot-Com industry pale in comparison!

Actuaries have been used in the life insurance industry for ages, quietly earning six-figure incomes and more, while largely ignored by the outside world.

Just what does an actuary do? In a life insurance agency, it’s their task to calculate the expected life span of people. Their computations are relied upon by the insurers to determine the risk involved in insuring their clients, and computing how much to charge for the premiums.

Accurate estimates are necessary! Just think of the losses that can happen if there are miscalculations. The insurance companies shudder to think about that, which is why they pay big bucks to hire the best.

There’s a problem, though. Life insurance actuaries are boring. Talk about wallflowers? They’re behind the walls.

Not so with the latest emerging field, that of a Wine Actuary. Just what does a Wine Actuary do? He or she calculates the expected life span of a bottle of wine!

Imagine yourself flying a Lear Jet to the famous chateaus and domains of France: Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Romanee Conti and other famous estates, pulling up in a limousine and being escorted into their most hallowed cellars to determine the life expectancy of the wines that are produced.

Or, going behind the scenes at Sotheby’s to evaluate the wines that are being submitted for auction. The possibilities are endless!

You’ll be on a first-name basis with the stars of the wine world! People will be breathlessly awaiting your verdict on the longevity of the wines you examine!

Your next question is undoubtedly, How do I get started?

At this very moment we are enrolling a limited number of students in our charter class to learn the precise skills needed to turn you into a jet-setting Wine Actuary. All it takes is a simple phone call to change your life completely and forever!

What are you waiting for? Contact Wine Actuaries International right now to get the information you need to put yourself smack dab into the newest glamour profession!

Wine Actuaries International – A Wine Hedonist Venture chaired by J. Addison. Not associated with Truckmaster School of Trucking or Columbia School of Broadcasting.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ted Kennedy Endorsement Goes to Oregon Wines

In a surprise announcement, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts gave a hearty endorsement to the wines of Oregon as the “best of America.”

What about the wines of California? Although Kennedy failed to even mention them, most observers felt his speech was filled with thinly veiled shots directed at California wines. And they felt that this had to do with the man in Sacramento in charge of the wine industry, California Wine Czar Bill Clinton.

“Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for president, snubbing Hillary, and he’s clearly snubbing Bill, too” said one political source who asked not to be identified.

“The Oregon wine industry, and the wines they produce, are fresh and alive,” declared Senator Kennedy during a huge gathering at American University. “It is time for a new generation of wine leadership and Oregon fills that role. With every glass of Oregon wine that is consumed, people are touched and inspired.”

The senator continued. “We know the true record of Oregon wines,” he said in a 20 minute address interrupted several times by cheers from the audience. “They had the courage to be in their own style rather than copying someone else, to reflect the true terroir of the Oregon landscape while so many other wineries from other regions were trying to please the critics!” The crowd erupted in wild applause. “From the beginning they marched to their own drummer. And let no one deny that truth.”

Kennedy’s remarks were apparently aimed at chastising the California wine industry whose wines are often dense fruit bombs and whose over-the-top nature frequently masks their varietal character.

“Oregon wines are world class right now,” stated Kennedy, in a manner meant to overturn any objections that the industry is still young and inexperienced. “Their producers are effective and are poised to be second to none in the global scheme of things.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

World Stunned by $7 Billion French Wine Fraud

The global economy was rocked and shocked today by an astonishing revelation: the entire French currency system is not backed, as most people thought, by a gold standard, but by a wine standard.

Unlike the United States, in which the value of paper dollars is supported by a gold reserve, the value of French francs is supported by vaults and cellars of wine.

This heretofore little-known fact was brought to light earlier this week by the highly publicized scandal involving a relatively low-level French government employee who managed to squander the equivalent of $7 billion U.S. through ill-timed and unauthorized attempts to profit from wine futures transactions.

Claude DeFaraude was arrested without incident Monday at his modest home outside of Lyon. He is being charged with the largest fraud in French history, a scheme so simple yet one that managed to remain undetected for at least two years.

DeFaraude purchased huge amounts of futures in various wines, among them Screaming Eagle, Italian Super Tuscans, and boutique wineries in California and Oregon that had yet to even bottle their first vintage. He was counting on the value of these wines to show astronomical increases, at which time he would sell his futures stake and realize enormous gains.

It didn’t happen.

He was hit from all sides: The recent subprime mortgage crisis in the United States caused many of the boutique wineries to go out of business prior to issuing their first vintage; the demand for Super Tuscans bottomed out because for many of them, their prices turned out to be the most super aspect of the wines; and it was discovered that Screaming Eagle does not even exist and is in fact a myth.

The value of DeFaraude’s futures went down, not up.

In a mad scramble to cover his losses, the government employee, who had been a low-ranking clerk for four years, sneaked into the National Wine Vaults and removed ten mixed cases of wines from the 2005 vintage produced by the Domaine de la Romanee Conti. The value of these ten cases was approximately $7 billion in U.S. dollars.

Discovery of the theft provoked an uproar within the government. Investigating reporters learned, as a result of their probing, that the National Wine Vaults hold incomprehensible numbers of valuable French wines whose value runs into the trillions of dollars. Petrus, Guigal Cote Rotie, Leroy Burgundies, and hundreds and thousands of other priceless treasures reside within vault walls, all supporting the value of the franc.

Embarrassed officials were at first reticent to even discuss the matter but after much cajoling, admitted that the ten cases of Romanee Conti are gone for good.

“Somehow they wound up in the hands of an American, a Ms. Lindsay Lohan, who apparently has, along with some of her friends, consumed the entire ten cases,” admitted a high-ranking official who requested anonymity.

“The precious, precious liquid is gone,” he sighed. “All that is left are empty bottles tossed from an automobile that are now strewn along the Malibu coastline and in sections of Beverly Hills within the United States of America.”

President Bush, when asked for his reaction to the French fraud at first appeared unaware of the matter but then a look of recognition came to his face. “Yeah, I like ‘em that way,” he said, “but I prefer ‘em mashed or in hash browns.”

***

On a serious note, I noticed in my Google Analytics today that there have been a few referrals to this site from the Wall Street Journal Online (WSJ.com). The source of the referrals was their recent article on the Budometer, which I mentioned a few posts ago. Unfortunately for those who clicked on the WSJ link, my post was pretty much a rehash of the article so their readers gained nothing new from visiting this site.

But what I wanted to point out was that bloggers are being given recognition by major publications (we knew that, but I thought it was something that they would find tiny little onewineperweek) and links are being placed on their pages.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Quoting Wine Blogger Reviews? Good Idea!

Over at El Bloggo Torcido, the Twisted Oak blog, El Jefe’s got a post announcing that he’s begun using quotes from wine blogger reviews of his wines on the Twisted Oak website.

I guess this is sort of a self-serving post by me today since I am honored that a snippet of my review for the 2005 Verdelho (well worth purchasing!) appears on the website, but what I wanted to do was add my two cents about wine reviews from wine bloggers.

I agree with El Jefe, I think it’s a great idea.

In my own general buying experience, I put a lot of weight on the reviews made by actual purchasers/users of a product, such as the customer reviews on Amazon.com, reviews on Epinions.com, Newegg.com, and Cellar Tracker, for example.

When it comes to wine, generally a blogger has taken the time to drink the wine with a meal, or over an extended period of time and thus is in a position to comment on how the wine develops, how the wine complemented (or didn’t) a particular food item, and provide whatever details he or she feels would be of use to the reader.

A professional reviewer, on the other hand, is often posting tasting notes based on a sample at one moment in time, often from a tasting consisting of multiple wines, and maybe from a barrel sample. Whereas the professional often offers only a snapshot, the blogger offers a video, in a figurative sense.

Of course I highly respect people like Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, the Burghound, etc., but does that make what a blogger has to say any less relevant or trustworthy? Take a look at the blogs listed in the right column on this page and you will find some great wine reviews, as well as other wine-related information. They know whereof they speak!

So my two cents is I heartily agree with El Jefe; using reviews from wine bloggers is a fine idea (although his use of onewineperweek makes his judgment rather questionable, haha).

*

Wine Blogging Wednesday #42 is slated for Wednesday February 13. This one looks to be a toughie. Not in the choice of wine, which has been made pretty broad by requiring only that it be an Italian red; rather, the tough part is that the review be just seven (yes 7) words long. For the first time, I plan to participate and already have my wine, even! You can read all the details for #42 by clicking here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

2005 Twisted Oak Verdelho

This is the second Verdelho I have tried. I must admit I approached this one with a bit of trepidation, wondering if the Twisted Oak version would have intense grapefruit on the palate like the first one, from Barreto Cellars, did.

Not that there was anything wrong with the Barreto quality-wise; it was a well made wine with wonderful aromas but I'm not really much of a grapefruit fan.

The Verdelho from Twisted Oak (which came from WineQ - a great source for wines) also had very nice aromas. Apricots made the first impression, followed by lime and citrus blossoms. Then came the tasting part. It was similar in the mouth, with traces of grapefruit and brown sugar. The aftertaste lingered a long time.

Clean, crisp and fresh, this wine had excellent balance, a juicy mouthfeel, and was full of flavor. It was concentrated, but not at all heavy.

This wine is drinking very well right now. It set me back $15.99 and was well worth the money. Two thumbs up, no doubt about it!

As for the Youtube music video pairing with the wine, click and check it out. If you can't see the video below, click here.





***

By the way, for those of you not familiar with Twisted Oak, it is definitely not your conventional winery. Their blog site has officially announced "Take Your Rubber Chicken to Work Week" and you can find out how to participate by clicking here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How's Your Wine Stockpile?

How are our wine inventories growing? Buying more wine than we can drink, or can drink in time?

Monday’s post about an ever-increasing queue of books to read naturally led me to think about our queue of wine. Are we buying just enough, or are all those tempting bottles out there causing us to stockpile beyond what can be consumed at a reasonable or practical rate?

There are plenty of wine forum posts in which someone says they are considering the purchase of a wine storage unit for their home, and asks what bottle capacity is recommended. The answers are invariably, “get the largest you can because you’re going to fill it up faster than you thought.”

That’s not surprising. I think it is human nature to stockpile as we become obsessive over our hobbies. Going outside the realm of wine, I give you an example from the world of hi-fi headphone enthusiasts: A new member to the Head-Fi forum (headphone fanatics) is always welcomed with, “Welcome to Head-Fi, sorry about your wallet!

Are our rates of purchase in line with our rates of consumption? I added another poll – please take a moment and cast your ballot.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Le Nez Du Herbe

J. Addison of the Wino Hedonist returns today with another incredible product.

Wine Lovers: I am here to introduce to you the next product from the Wino Hedonist that will immeasurably enhance your total wine experience.

Are you a fan of the wildly popular New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs? Or any Sauvignon Blancs for that matter? Then this product is for you.

As you well know, one of the main varietal characteristics of the Sauvignon Blanc grape when made into wine is described most frequently as “grassy” by tasters.

But just what exactly do they mean by “grassy?” There are all kinds of grass. There is Bentgrass, Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Bermuda, St. Augustine, etc. If you really want to describe your glass of Sauvignon Blanc in an accurate manner, then it simply will not suffice to refer to it as “grassy.” No, my friend, you need to be more specific and that is where I, J. Addison, will enable you to become an expert.

I present for your sensory enjoyment my latest treasure, “Le Nez du Herbe.”

Assembled for the first time anywhere, a training kit that will enable you to discern the subtle and perhaps not-so-subtle differences between the different types of grasses. No more will you look like a generic fool at a tasting of Sauvignon Blancs, you will make the others appear that way!

In my Le Nez du Herbe kit are vials containing liquids of the aromatic essence of the following types of grass:

Bentgrass
Bluegrass
Perennial Ryegrass
Fine Fescue
Tall Fescue
Bahia
Bermuda
Centipede
St. Augustine
Zoysia
Cannibis

The vials are packaged in a handsome slipcase binder, along with full descriptions on reinforced index cards, and an attractive booklet.

You will find the quality second to none. Naturally I guarantee your satisfaction. The price for Le Nez du Herbe, including shipping, is a very reasonable $568.57.

But wait, that’s not all. If you order on or before January 31, 2008, I will also include the La Tache du Herbe accessory kit as well. These are laminated cards that show exactly what the stains of each type of grass look like on white pants. This may come in handy in case you are involved in a police investigation and must confirm your whereabouts when the crime took place (e.g., “I was not in that part of town because these are Bermuda stains on my pants and no one grows that type of grass over there.”)

Limited supplies, act quickly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Budometer?

Over the past weekend I read an interesting article in the January 19 edition of the Wall Street Journal, entitled, “The Wine Antisnob.” It featured the efforts of Tim Hanni, whom the writer referred to as “..one of the wine industry’s top-tier experts.”

Mr. Hanni’s goal, as stated in the title, is to raise the consumption level of wine in the U.S. by taking the snob aspect out of it and encouraging people to drink a style of wine they like, not what is dictated to them.

It’s a fairly long article and I suggest clicking the link and reading it since there’s too much to cover here. There were a couple of things I wanted to mention here, though.

First, Mr. Hanni believes that rather than looking at wine reviews that focus on what a wine tastes like, such as “berries or chocolate” (like my own reviews), a more effective way to help people choose a wine they like is to ask what sort of coffee they prefer, how much salt they like in their food, etc. He’s more interested in the physiological, biological and psychological reasons why people prefer some wines over others. Another salient factor affecting wine preference is the number of taste buds a person has.

To this end, he has developed the Budometer, a questionnaire designed to flesh out what sort of wine a person prefers. Would you like to take this short test and see what it recommends for you? Click here.

The second item in the article that piqued my interest was “Vignon,” a seasoning developed by Mr. Hanni that supposedly balances out the flavors of foods and makes them wine-friendly, or friendly to a wider range of wines. Even such hostile foods as asparagus and artichokes. And it makes steak more friendly to lighter wines.

I checked out the product on his company’s website, Napa Seasoning Co., but found that it isn’t available locally. It sells for $5-$6 for a 2.75 ounce jar but the shipping for the two web stores that carry this is too high for me to take a gander ($4.75 on one site and $6.00 on the other). Still, I thought I would mention it here in case anyone is interested. Or, if anyone has tried this product please leave a comment of your impressions.

I wound up scoring just over a “6” on the Budometer, being placed in the “sensitive” category. Among other things, it told me that “intensity and balance” are the keys for my choosing wine; see the picture at the top for the entire chart.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Information Overload

Above: the three most recent wine book arrivals in the queue d'unread.. that's not all of them, just the ones on wine.

Sonadora posted a couple of things on Twitter over the weekend that got me to thinking. Here’s what she said:

“I am a sucker for coupons. Had a 25% off Barnes and Noble, and got a $10 gift card in the mail...still spent $30!!! However, I now have more wine books than I could ever read in a year…”

There are 16 of us members in the Shelfari Wine Book Club, and I assume we are all diligently reading the current selection: Vino Italiano, the Regional Wines of Italy, written by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch. I received my copy back on January 7 but confess that I have only read through the chapter on Friuli (i.e., I’ve read the first 46 pages).

I had good intentions and fully expected to be farther along than that but.. it seems like there’s always some sort of interruption.

I can certainly empathize with Sonadora. While not necessarily all wine books, I, like her, have more books than I could ever read in a year. There’s far too many things that look tempting and I am far too ambitious for practicality. Add to it my decision to join the Amazon Prime club (“free” two-day shipping on just about everything they sell) and that only compounds my surplus situation.

And top of that, I’ve still got several books sitting in my wish list!

How much of our retail economy is propped up by people buying things they will never use? Like in Sonadora’s and my case, how many wine (or other) books are piling up on the shelves waiting to be read? If stores were to issue a refund for all unused merchandise sitting in people’s homes right now, would that immediately plunge us into the depths of an unrecoverable recession?

Well, I do intend to read Vino Italiano and make my best good faith effort to have done so by the February 26th deadline. I just thought it was funny reading Sonadora’s post on Twitter because that could be me writing it.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of things for you to do:

First, take my very first poll (two-parter) for this blog.

Secondly, in the spirit (or unspirit) of this post’s topic and looking back to my high school habits, check out this book. I found out about the book from a post on Wino Sapien's site.

Friday, January 18, 2008

2004 Kangarilla Road Shiraz McLaren Vale

This week's wine set me back $15.49 at Costco. I like how so many Australian wines come with screw caps - so easy to remove! I guess I really am lazy, huh?

Opaque purple, this wine had peppery, berry fruit aromas that were well integrated with oak. It was similar on the palate and added plums. It was smooth, rich and mouth-filling with tannins that sneaked up in the long finish.

It's definitely New World in style but is not an over-the-top fruit bomb, nor does the alcohol intrude. I thought it was nicely balanced. While not a real complex wine, it's tasty, has great texture, and I give it two thumbs up. Drink it now.

Here's the accompanying Youtube music video. If you can't see the video below, click here to go to the site.



Thursday, January 17, 2008

Blogvertising

Tuesday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article with the headline, New Services Help Bloggers Bring in Ad Revenue.

It’s no longer just links in the margin of a page, such as what Google’s Adsense does. This article was talking about audio and video spots being placed within blogs, along with more flexible, customizable placement options.

One company, V2P Communications, is offering audio ads of 5-8 seconds that will play automatically whenever anyone lands on a blog site. Other advertising agencies are inserting ads at the beginning of Youtube videos on blogsites.

In other words, you don’t have a choice. There’s no link to click. If you want to view the content of the blog itself, you have to put up with an advertisement.

Personally, I think this stinks.

Commercial television has ads that, if you don’t get up from your seat, you are forced to sit through as part of the television-watching process. This I understand since it costs a lot of money to produce a television show and someone has to pay the expenses plus the stations by definition are out to make a profit.

But what is the purpose of blogging? More and more the distinction between a commercial enterprise versus a blog is becoming blurred. I can understand people wanting to make some extra money by putting click-through ads on their site. I don’t mind them as long as I have a choice of whether or not to click on them.

But when you are forced to listen or watch an advertisement before you can look at the content that brought you to the blog in the first place, well, that’s perverted.

The WSJ article had examples of some people making quite a bit of money from their blogvertisements. One makes between $15,000 and $18,000 per month and he was able to quit his full time job because of the income the blog brings in.

So I can see that blogging can be a very lucrative venture. Who can blame people when the dollars can be so tempting?

On the other hand, it just doesn’t seem right. All this intrusive stuff – I’d expect it from a commercial website just like from watching network television. But from a blog? Say it ain’t so! A trend towards blogs plastered with inescapable ads will turn us into Howard Beale characters (Peter Finch’s role in the most excellent 1976 movie, Network). Aren’t we supposed to be a community?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More on the Mind Does the Tasting

The above cartoon is courtesy of Bob Johnson’s design weblog and can be found here. Check it out - there's some really funny cartoons on that site.

I had some more thoughts about yesterday’s post regarding the Cal Tech experiment in which, not surprisingly, people preferred what they thought was the more expensive wine even though in reality the price was much lower than what they were told it was.

It reminded me of a time long ago and far away when I was a young audio fanatic. The time had come for me to graduate to separate components, that is, a discrete amplifier and a preamplifier for my stereo rather than having an all-in-one receiver that had both plus a radio tuner all in one cabinet.

A powerful amplifier going by the moniker Ampzilla, made by Great American Sound, was high on the charts back then. I went to a store to audition it. It sounded good to me. The salesman even offered to let me take it home and try it out – didn’t even ask me for a deposit! I tried it at home and thought it was great.

Then before returning the Ampzilla, I went to another store to see what they had. This store didn’t sell the Ampzilla. The salesperson made a convincing case for what he said was a hands-down better amplifier, one made by Technics. I was skeptical. Ampzilla was getting all the rave reviews in the stereo magazines and I hadn’t heard anything about the Technics.

He told me to bring in the Ampzilla to do a side-by-side comparison. He hooked it up, asked me to choose what record album (vinyl.. no CD’s back then!) I wanted to audition, and away we went. I chose Santana’s Amigos album, in particular the track titled “Europa.”

As he switched back and forth between the two amps, I honestly could not hear any difference. All the while he kept pointing out how Carlos Santana’s guitar was so much clearer and cleaner through the Technics amp. He also pointed out various other differences very specifically, some merely nuances and some supposedly quite obvious, none of which I could discern.

So what was going through my head? Either he was making this up, or he had golden ears and I had plastic ears and I would look like a fool if I said I didn’t hear a difference.

Price: the Ampzilla was a lot more expensive than the Technics.

What did I end up buying? I bought the Technics. Part of it was due to the price difference since I really couldn’t afford the Ampzilla anyway, but part of it was because I believed what the salesman told me even though my own ears didn’t confirm it.

Which brings me to another reason why people may say they prefer the more expensive wine, and find it more enjoyable.

They don’t want to look stupid.

After all, it is easy to be intimidated by wine especially in the presences of a person who asserts themselves as an expert. Are most people going to argue with the sommelier? Or the person who is an avid collector with a big cellar? When it doubt, agree with Parker. But if you don’t know what Parker said about a wine, then go by how expensive the wine is,

The salesperson at the stereo store psyched me out because he was so confident about himself. And the Technics amp? Actually it was very good. It sounded great, it lasted a long time, wound up getting some great reviews in the stereo mags and it didn’t lighten my wallet as much as the Ampzilla would have. Nevertheless, my mind always wondered what it would have been like had I taken the other path.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Your Mind Tastes The Wine

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have shown that a person's enjoyment of wine can be heightened if they are simply told that it is an expensive one.

Click here to read the interesting article, this one from the BBC News in the United Kingdom. I heard about it on the radio as I drove home yesterday. And where did I hear about it in the first place? Twitter. I imagine it’s all over winedom by now.

I recommend you read the article if you haven’t already. Basically, volunteers in the Cal Tech experiment thought the wine they were told was more expensive was also better than the ones that were supposedly less expensive, even though the true prices were not as stated by the researchers.

This doesn’t surprise me in the least, however, and it also wouldn’t surprise me if I had been one of the volunteers and thought the “more expensive” wine was also the more enjoyable. I'm suggestible.

On the other hand, my rebellious nature could have emerged, leading me to declare that the more expensive wine was overpriced and the cheaper wine was a much better value, even perhaps being the better wine.

Either way, however, it would have been my mind, rather than my taste buds and nose that was talking.

So often we believe what we want to believe, despite what our senses (including the sixth one, common) is telling us. We justify and rationalize. Marketing people know that full well, which is why the prices of certain items are way out of proportion to what it actually costs to produce them. When it comes to these types of products, they know that it is not the senses that have to be satisfied, but the mind.

How do you think you would have fared in this experiment? Or how do you fare in real life? Do preconceived judgments arise from your expectations? I know that happens to me.

Consider though, what exactly does it mean if we are pleased with something even though we’ve been unknowingly hoodwinked, like those volunteers in the experiment? Is ignorance bliss? That’s some food (or wine) for thought.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Infrared Plaything

At first glance you might think that’s a speed gun in the above picture, but it’s not. It’s an infrared thermometer with a laser pointer.

Inspired by Dr. Debs’ December 2006 post in her Good Wine Under $20 blog about neat wine gifts, I had been mulling over her suggestion of an infrared wine thermometer. The one she mentioned is carried by International Wine Accessories; you simply touch the end of this compact gadget against a bottle of wine (or anything, for that matter) and it digitally registers the surface temperature. Then you would know for sure if your wine was at the proper serving temperature.

Pretty neat, I thought. Of course I had to conduct a search to see if I could find it at a lower price, but no luck. As I was browsing around on Amazon.com, I did run across various other infrared thermometers, though. While the ones I found were more expensive, I did note a couple of things: (1) They were of the non-contact variety, that is, they measured the temperature via laser; and (2) they measured a wider range of temperatures.

I confirmed with Dr. Debs, who had purchased the IWA version, that hers required surface contact. I decided to opt for the non-contact one, though, which can be found here. I thought this might be more useful since it has a wider range of applications.

On the other hand, Dr. Debs can very easily take her gadget to any restaurant and surreptitiously measure the temperature of her wine. Me, I would cause much consternation lugging my speed gun into a restaurant and pointing it at a glass of wine. However, I could also measure the temperature of wines at other people’s tables without getting up. “Excuse me, did you know that glass of white wine is really too cold to drink yet?”

Or, I could let people think it was a speed gun – point it at a waiter: “Hey! Speed it up buddy, you’re walking too slow!”

I can imagine – once sommeliers get hold of these things, they can point it at the bottle of wine they bring out, then show the guest that the bottle is at the proper serving temperature. This ritual just might replace presenting the cork!

Friday, January 11, 2008

2005 Concha y Toro Chardonnay Marqués de Casa Concha

Now you got the name of the wine memorized? Ai yah, what a long name. I just cut and pasted it off of Cellar Tracker rather than attempting to type it myself.

This one came from Costco and set me back $13.99.

The serving temperature made quite a difference on this wine. I think initially I poured it too cold, There was tons of oak and some buttery/vanilla tones in the aromas, with more of the same on the palate. I found some pineapple hiding underneath.

After it warmed up the oak became more forgiving and a tropical fruit character emerged, along with a bit of almond.

I poured it a little warmer on subsequent nights. There were whiffs of SO2 in the aromas - faint hints of hard-boiled egg (yes, with the shell off, not on, haha). Also, the fruit tended to evolve (or break down) into a sugary-type character with airing and warming.

This was a decent bottle of wine, but with nothing special or distinguished about it. It tasted like a fairly standard chardonnay. For $13.99 I am going to have to flip the thumbs down on this one.

Here's the matching Youtube video (click here if you can't see it below).



Thursday, January 10, 2008

Allegations Rock OneWinePerWeek

The integrity of a fledgling wine blog, OneWinePerWeek, was called into question over a dubious post stating that wine bloggers worldwide would be going on strike at 12:00 am this morning.

It seems that the publisher of this site, MonkuWino, fabricated the entire story simply because he had run out of things to write about and thought announcing a wineblogger's strike would give him some time to come up with new ideas during the strike period.

"I don't know what made him think he could get away with it," said a dismayed unidentified blogger. "There are wine blog posts from today all over the internet so how could he even hope that anyone would believe him?"

When asked for comment, MonkuWino replied, "Well, everyone believed Hillary was going to get whomped in New Hampshire the other day but look what happened. I thought maybe people would believe my post. And they believe everything that the Bush administration says, too. I'm just a little fish. A 187.5 ml among magnums. Leave me alone."

"Say it ain't so, Monkuwino!" said a few of his supporters who demanded to remain anonymous. "We know you're innocent! They're trying to make a Michael Jackson out of you!"

Nevertheless, it appears that this ugly incident has now created a Monkugate that threatens to taint wine blogs on a global scale.

"Who knows if people have really tasted the wines they review on their blogs?" Asked one skeptical observer. "I'm taking everything with a grain of salt now."

Another observer dryly commented, "Yeah, who knows if I even exist or if I was made up just to say something on this blog. It's scary."



Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wine Bloggers Set to Strike - Blogout Near

Above: wine bloggers aren't quite sure what to do with themselves if they aren't posting blog entries.

The wine blogosphere will be empty beginning at midnight tonight.

Unhappy at not getting the attention they feel they deserve from professional wine publications, the closely-knit community of wine bloggers worldwide has decided to stop typing at 12:00 am Thursday, January 10 until sufficient recognition has been accorded to them.

One of the issues at stake is the fact that parts of, or even an entire blog are reprinted elsewhere without any compensation or credit given to the blogger.

The strike, or “Blogout” as it is being called, will impact the upcoming January edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, or “WBW.” Pioneered in 2004 by blogger Lenn Thompson, publisher/editor of the Lenndevours blog, the idea is simple: each month a different host is selected to choose a wine from a particular category, to be tasted and then reviewed simultaneously by the wine blogging community on the specified Wednesday of the month within their respective blogs.

January 16 was to be WBW #41, featuring wines from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia area of Italy. Now it looks like the tasting may take place, but no one can write about it.

One blogger, who requested not to be identified, said that tasting notes will probably have to be posted on a site such as Cellar Tracker and anyone interested would look them up over there.

“It’s not the best way to do it,” said the blogger, “but I’m not going to cross the cyberline.“

When asked what there would be to do in the absence of posting blog entries, another anonymous blogger responded, “Well normally I’d spend the time catching up on what my fellow bloggers are posting, but there’s not going to be any new postings. This will be a great opportunity for me to read the first selection for the Wine Book Club that recently started up, though. Of course if this strike keeps up, I won’t be able to write my book review or neither will anyone else,” said the blogger.

Meanwhile, Google has added additional high-capacity servers for their Twitter service in anticipation of a high volume of messages being posted by bloggers with nothing better to do during the Blogout.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Wine Point Inflation? Gore: Yup Clinton: Nope

The former U.S. President and his Vice President are at complete odds with one another.

The issue? Al Gore’s assertion of rampant global wine point score inflation.

Bill Clinton, now California’s Wine Czar, says his former Vice President is totally off the mark on this one. “You know I love Al dearly and have the utmost respect for him but on this one he’s just plain wrong,” stated Clinton as he sat behind his desk in the Capitol building in Sacramento.

Clinton continued. “The simple truth is that wines, especially those from California, have gotten and are continually getting better and better. Hence the higher average point scores from the critics. Since California has a disproportionately higher share of wines reviewed than other locales, we raise the bar for everyone.”

When informed of the former President’s remarks, Gore took exception. “Of course I highly respect my former boss – and I emphasize the word ‘former,’ but it has nothing to do with California’s or anyone else’s wine getting better. My algorithm for determining my results is reliable and factual; this is serious business and we need to do something about it before it is too late. And let me remind you that the proprietary name for my proprietary model is the 'Al Gore Rhythm.'”

“There’s nothing to do,” retorted Clinton.

“Well, I might have expected that since that was his usual response when we were both in the White House,” snapped Gore. “As to his boast about California wines, of course he’s going to make a self-serving statement. He’s the California Wine Czar. What else can he say? It’s no different than how he’s going around saying all these great things about his wife. Do you think he’s going to risk having frying pan and rolling pin marks all over his head?”

When Clinton was informed of Gore’s snippy remarks, he shook his head. “Al, Al, I covered for you for eight years but that’s because I didn’t want the American people to get alarmed. The guy thinks he invented the internet. Do I need to say more?” Clinton leaned back in his chair and twirled his finger around while pointing to the side of his head.

Relaying what Clinton had to say back to Gore, the global activist shook his head also. “I’m speaking the truth. Naturally it’s not convenient for Bill to hear this but then sometimes the truth isn’t convenient. It’s inconvenient. It’s an, uh, inconvenient truth.”

“I think he’s just sour grapes – no pun intended - because he was originally nominated for the office of California Wine Czar but he was rejected,” said Clinton. If he were sitting here instead of me, well, I’d be somewhere else. Case closed.”

***

On a more serious note, bloggers can participate in a survey that is gathering research for an article on wine blogging. Click here. I found out about this from a post on the Dover Canyon blog, by way of Wine Life Today. Check out Dover Canyon's blog for more info.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Wine Book Club

I’m a bit late in publicizing this, but for those of you who like reading about wine, Dr. Debs, author of the Good Wine Under $20 blog, has been gracious enough to organize a Wine Book Club on Shelfari. It’s officially described on the site as:

A bi-monthly online book discussion led by wine bloggers for wine lovers who also love to read.

On the first Tuesday of every other month, a new selection will be announced, chosen by one of the bloggers participating in the club.

The first selection was chosen by David McDuff, the blogger behind McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail: Vino Italiano – The Regional Wines of Italy. I ordered my copy from Amazon.com and according to UPS’ tracking info, it’s due to arrive today – woo hoo!

You can read more details about the club on the Good Wine Under $20 site, and more details regarding the premier selection on McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail.

Friday, January 4, 2008

2005 Jeriko Estate Pinot Noir

This week's wine came as a sample from WineQ as part of their Beta Club. The price per the WineQ site is $28.99.

All of the Jeriko Estate wines are made from 100% organically grown and certified grapes grown in the Mendocino Valley.

So what's this wine like? Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring.. oops, that's a Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood song, Summer Wine.

Seriously though, that's what I got on the nose and the palate: strawberries, cherries, raspberries, smoked meat (reminds me of those Slim Jim meat sticks Costco sells), hints of pepper, spice, dark chocolate and a bit of underbrush.

The tannins and acidity were nicely balanced and integrated in this wine and it had a lovely, silky, mouthfeel. The finish lasted a long time, too.

Is it worth $28.99? That's on the high side for me, but considering what pinot noirs cost these days, I would say if you want a really good pinot noir, spend the money and get this one. It is really good and easily worth the expenditure. Two thumbs way up on this one.

And to finish off the review, here's my choice of music video that matches with this wine:





Note: if you don't see the video above, click here. It's worth a listen/view!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

An Incongruent Tooth

Not content to rest upon his Nobel Prize laurels, environmental ambassador Al Gore is now trumpeting a new cause: global wine point inflation.

“Of course there will always be scoffers,” sneered Mr. Gore during a recent interview about whether or not wine point inflation even exists. “Just like there are scoffers about global warming, they doubt global wine point inflation but for those Doubting Thomas types, let me just ask – who has the Nobel Prize? Me or you? Case closed.”

Gore continued. “The graph doesn’t lie. As you can see, the scoring curve of average points given to wines in each point category has steadily increased from the decade of the 1980’s to our present 2000 decade. And we’re not even finished with the decade yet. Who knows how much more severely that curve is going to shift to the left by the end of this first decade of the 2000’s?”

It was pointed out to Mr. Gore that some have questioned his methodology in obtaining the data for his now-famous graph that has even appeared in People Magazine.

“I take great pride in ensuring the accuracy of my data and in its interpretation,” Mr. Gore assured everyone. “I use a special, proprietary algorithm to come up with my findings that takes thousands of factors into account, all in their own proper timing. I have named this special method the ‘Al Gore Rhythm.’”

The reporter’s laughing reaction was silenced by Mr. Gore’s icy stare.

“Believe me, global wine point inflation is very real, it is happening now, and we need to do something about it before it is too late,” Mr. Gore impressed upon the crowd.

There are, however, dissenting voices. Among them, John Kopelski, noted wine point analyst.

“What Mr. Gore is seeing is simply the result of a random distribution of vintages,” insists Kopelski. “You would have seen the same effect in the 1920’s, what with the back to back amazing 1928 and 1929 years in Bordeaux. The 2000’s are high on his graph because of the great years we have experienced so far in this decade.”

Mr. Kopelski continued. “Throw a 1977 or 1984 in the mix and see what happens. It all evens out in the end. Mr. Gore is simply seeing things that aren’t there, and manipulating data to arrive at pre-conceived notions. Eventually it will all wash out.”

“You mean just like if you gave 10,000 typewriters to 10,000 monkeys, then eventually they would randomly type all of the world’s greatest literary works?” asked the reporter.

“Yes, something like that,” replied Kopelski. “Random things return to random levels. This is simply all chance.”

“I beg to differ,” countered Gore. “Did Mr. Kopelski win a Nobel prize? Did he invent the Internet? Did he invent carbon offsets? The facts speak for themselves. These disbelievers out there…” His voice tailed off and he shook his head then gave a shrug. “What can I say? Ages ago people wouldn’t believe the earth was round, either.”

And with that, Mr. Gore boarded his Lear Jet for the next stop on his global tour to continue promoting his latest cause.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

.83 Buck Chuck


I came across this on Craigslist just now. Why would anyone be trying to take this on a flight with them?

Anyway, his loss can be your gain! The original post can be found here.

My Latest Wine Preservation System

As I continue staying true to this blog’s moniker and drinking one wine per week, normally in the form of four glasses over four days, I also continue pondering how best to preserve the unused portion of wine.

For the past few months I have relied exclusively on Private Preserve, the canister of gas that is sprayed into the bottle and forms a heavier-than-oxygen layer of protection above the wine. It seems to have worked fine.

Prior to that I was alternating between Private Preserve and the VacuVin method. This latter method also seemed to be satisfactory.

Paranoid as I am, however, I still kept wondering if there was another way that would give me more peace of mind.

So this week I headed over to Big Lots and found what I was looking for: wine packaged in 187.5 ml bottles. And for only $3.00 for a 4-pack, no less! Just a bottle by itself, if I could find one, would cost more than 75 cents per, I bet.

My latest strategy, which I am employing on this week’s wine, is to open the wine of the week, fill three of the 187.5 ml bottles with the wine, and then cap them. The little bottles come with narrow necks and after filling there’s hardly any oxygen left inside the bottle – certainly not enough to do any damage over the course of a week, even two if I get delayed in drinking the rest (or so my line of thinking tells me).

After the three little bottles are filled, the remaining wine in the big (750 ml) bottle goes into the wine glass. Voila, four equal servings of wine for four days!

I’m going to see how this method turns out. It’s certainly cheap enough.

By the way, in case you are wondering what happened to the Woodbridge 2003 Shiraz that originally was in the 187.5 ml bottles, I poured a sample for myself then poured the rest down the drain. For $3.00 it wasn’t bad. It has straightforward red fruit flavors mixed with oak, but it tasted more like a light, simple generic red than a Syrah.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008!

Hey that's me in the picture! Well, my arm, anyway. I took Gary Vaynerchuk up on his offer for a free Vayniac wristband earlier in the year (free shipping, too - how could I resist?) and kept my part of the bargain by uploading a picture of me wearing it. On his New Year's Eve show, most of the video was devoted to a montage of the pictures he had received. Lo and behold, mine was included. So that's my 5 seconds of fame. Just take my word for it, that's my arm there.

(Actually, that's me with Gary Vee back in New Jersey; I'm pointing at his desk, telling him to listen to Mott and get off the couch to go do his daily taping.. haha)

I know, I don't have very hairy forearms.

Actually the purpose of this post isn't to show off my heavily-muscled arm, it's to wish everyone a 2008 that satisfies way beyond any previous year! May it be a great one for you all.

I would also like to give a big thank you to my Twitter buddies (you can check them out on the right side of the page). Even though I don't post there with much frequency, I enjoy keeping up with them by reading their brief updates. Although I haven't met any in person (I hope to do so one of these days, however), getting to know them online in 2007 made a huge, positive difference for me. I am happy to be a part of their community and look forward to becoming more involved in 2008.

WineHiker has a New Year's post along those lines, which you can read by clicking here.

So Happy 2008 everyone!