This page contains
Winings from the 4th
Quarter of the year 2005.
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December 29, 2005
Hey, Moe! Sorry, I hope that didn’t offend anyone,
but I am speaking of Moe Howard, world renowned Stooge.
The leader of the lovable Moe, Larry and Curly put the slap
in slapstick and the ‘Why I oughta...” in..., ah..., why someone oughta do
something like pull a guy’s hair or poke him in the eye. Recently, I read a
small blurb on his life. He was a driven entertainer that loved life and
his family. His desire was to make sure his wife and children had all they
could want. Moe is considered the brains behind the vaudeville, movie and TV
successes of the Stooges. The three are immortalized on a multitude of
merchandise from T-shirts to bottle openers. One of Moe’s desires was to make
his own wine. However, the story highlights Moe’s over zealous nature by moving
headlong into a project without planning and truly understanding the task. On
his first attempt, Moe failed to understand the process of fermentation and in
what he thought would be the sampling of his maiden bottling, the bung removal
released the entire three month’s pressure from the yeast’s activities and his
red wine redecorated the white walled room, floor and himself. The disaster
dampened his spirit in pursuing his winemaking career. Who knows how
differently it could have been had this explosion of wine not occurred. Today
we might be enjoying the Stooge brand of Hey Moe Merlot, Larry Fine Red Wine,
Curly Chardonnay, Shemp Syrah and the Joe Besser White Zinfandel.
December 27, 2005
In a final ado to the Year of the Malbec, I grabbed a
bottle of the 2005 Grape of the Year to have with dinner last night. Though
their wasn’t much of a dinner, there was a bottle of wine for me to consume. Of
which I complied. Nothing exciting, just me, a grilled tuna steak, the
marathon reruns of some reality show and a bottle of Argentinean red. The show
was something called Forever Eden, and to this point, after watching three
back-to-back episodes, I still have no idea what’s the challenge of the game.
On a sad note, I had to watch the Jets on Monday Night
Football. The sad note was the end of the ABC long-running event. Nothing
better than the old clips of Howard Cosell, the voice that made that show. I
heard on the radio today that the first game from Monday night football was a
31-21 defeat of the Jets and the last game for the show was a 31-21 defeat of
the Jets. I think I heard Kevin Arnold tearing up his Jets’ jacket. By the way,
why would a kid growing up in the LA suburbs in the late sixties wear a Jets’
jacket? Seems to me like a trip to Ass Kick Avenue. It’s like this, the Monday
Night football goes to ESPN, but then there’s the Sunday Night thing next year
and I’m goin there and Al’s goin to ESPN and the fans won’t know what channel to
watch on what night and BOOM (circles of yellow and arrows appear on the
telestrator as John Madden defines the upcoming changes… Good night funnyman,
2004 Jelu Malbec
A nice way to end the year with a solid example of this Argentinean
favorite. Notes of blackberry and blueberry swirl in your mouth with a finish
of chocolate. A good everyday bottle of wine.
December 25, 2005
'Though my love for you is real, I didn’t go
for this package deal, say hey, hey, what’d yah say, Sherry Darlin…'
It seems that the Christmas celebrating was mostly no
existent except for brief spouts of love-making to the bottle of sherry I opened
the other night. I am acquiring a taste for Amontillado. I guess I need some
new family, ones that drink with me, though the hour and forty-five minute ride
home on the state trooper patrolled Garden State Parkway dampens my ability to
tie one on Christmas Eve. I did partake in two glasses of a new Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc to go with the traditional meatless dinner. But the coffee and
long ride left me too sober for a Saturday night, so I grabbed the Lustau from
the fridge and settled in to watch the jackass movie after getting home from
midnight mass. Dinner today was limited to a selected 1981 Zinfandel from
Puglia, Italy. I was hoping for a rare and unique wine experience, but instead
got a glass full of over-the-hill wine. It was preserved nicely, but just not
bold enough to withstand the aging process. Served and consumed, it was the
only bottle offered, again causing me to head up to the dark, dank, third floor
room and make love to sherry.
There were two gifts of interest this year. One was a
mini-Eurocave for the six bottles I own that have some value. Now, I will
ensure their proper storage until I sell them, consume them, or I die and they
are swilled with ice by my crazy aunt. The other gift was a big ass cab from
Napa. Actually, the wine is called Big Ass Cab and it is from Napa. I can
only consume this with the big ass cab lover himself, Wino John, at out next
board meeting. The other bottle in the gift was Fat Bastard syrah. I guess
there is a subliminal message there that my stick figure is getting more log
like. This coming year's resolution must be to start exercising or I am in for
a bottle of Lard Ass Merlot or Obese Blanc. Looks like I will be needing a
major wine consuming night this week. I guess I will have to call old
reliable Wino Rocker for a 'more bottles than bodies' night of drinking until
2004 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
Ah go suck on a lemon, this wine is tart with crisp lemon-lime fruit,
lemon grass and brilliant acidity. This was very fish-friendly for our dinner.
December 24, 2005
Just think, in one more day the radio stations will be back
to playing regular rotations. I am sure you have that one station in your area
that started the day before Thanksgiving playing nothing but Christmas songs.
How many times must I hear every version of I’m Dreaming of a White
Christmas? Obviously, this person never had to shovel the crap.
Simpler times, I guess, when your sled needed snow to go to Grandmother’s house
for dinner. And who at 40 years old is going to their Grandmother’s house?
Wouldn’t she be around 95 years old? Do you think a 95-year-old woman can cook
for a family of 15 people? That is how she was run over by a reindeer.
She was old and had to walk home since her sled could not run without snow since
it is 48 degrees today. The new one this year was about some kid having to buy
his dying mother some Christmas shoes. Hey, she is dying! She is not
auditioning for Can You Dance. Let it be known right now, when I
am on my death bed, I will be sending my grandkids out for a very expensive
bottle of red wine, some pot and a hooker. Let’s see David Bowie and Natalie
Imbroglio make up a cheery Christmas duet about that!
In his one last dying breath, he had one last
A big bottle of red and a hot young dish
With tears in my eyes
I watched him touch her thigh
With his bony fingers…..
You get the point, and by the way, I am not Simply
Having A Wonderful Christmas Time, traffic is a nightmare on every road that
comes within 2 miles of a mall or shopping center. Just for the cool people in
the audience, every power hour, the obligatory play of Bruce Springsteen’s
Claus Santa is Coming to Town rock version makes you not feel like a douche
to listen to all the sappy Christmas music. Fortunately the company that owns
the rights to the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, has gone on restricted
exposure. Five years ago, that movie played once a day for a month leading up
to Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, it was a holiday story so George found out how
he impacted all the neighbor’s lives. If that story was done today, you know
when there was a run on the bank, he would have come home and found his wife in
bed with the carpenter that was fixing that old house, she would have walked out
on him because he was bankrupt, the neighbors would have been giving him the
finger every time they saw him and there would be no angels getting anything.
He would die a lonely broken man with one last wish for a bottle of big red
wine, some pot and a hooker…
So enjoy your holiday, which means I am being all inclusive
of those not celebrating the birth of baby Jesus tonight. I am sending my warm
Wino wishes to my Jewish friends celebrating the miracle of oil and I say to
you, Happy Chanukah. To my Brothers from another Mothers, Happy Kwanza.
Sorry, I cannot really explain this celebration, but, right on, and to any other
religious, secular, druid, or hedonistic ritual, do the voodoo that you do do.
And to my friends and family, and WinoStuff readers, I offer a sincere wish for
a special day enjoying one another’s company, eating delicious foods and
celebrating with a special bottle of wine. I have the long journey south, so my
consumption tonight will be very limited, tomorrow is another story.
Lustau Solera Reserva Rare Amontillado Sherry "Escuadrilla"
As this is my first sherry, I do not feel I can place a rating on it. I
will tell you that it starts hot and needs some time to blow off the alcohol and
expose its softer side. When the sherry mellows, it reveals a pleasantly dry
nutty-flavored deep amber wine. This would have been an interesting experiment
with the Malaysian cuisine.
December 23, 2005
Hang with me on this one, it may take me awhile to get to
the point, but if you are in the northeast, the weather is cold and you have
nothing else to do but read this stupid page. Did the TWU strike in New York
start a small ripple of anti-union sentiment? I am not, nor have a been a part
of a union, so I only speak from what they taught us in school and what I read
in the newspapers and what I hear on the radio. Back when working conditions
were third-worldesque, I understand why unions were formed and the good they
have done for working conditions and wages. However, with the economic
pressures that are making the USA uncompetitive on the manufacturing front and
driven our trade deficit to record highs, one cannot wonder how a union could
strike, and demand more economic security, unwilling to give. The Transits
Workers of NY picked the week before Christmas to stage a walkout and hold the
city hostage. They looked for solidarity with other unions in the city and
sympathy from the average working stiff. But as details of their current
financial compensation and the additional benefits they were demanding were
exposed, the average Joe found out that the TWU has their workers on a pay scale
and benefits packages far greater than other union workers’ benefits. Oops,
they never figured that the population would find out where they stand. The
average New Yorker makes $45,000.00 a year, yet the average NYC bus driver makes
$63,000.00. Sympathy for the egregious inconveniences for millions trying to
get to their 45K job lead the TWU’s web site to be taken down since average
Joe's were telling the TWU exactly how wrong they were. The news inundates us
with how uncompetitive we are in the global marketplace, yet the unions feel it
necessary to shutdown the city and ask for more, when they already have a
sweeter deal than a majority of folks. Could selfishness like this lead to a
ground swell of anti-unionism? Face it, there are so many lawyers today, a
worker no longer needs the protection of a large group to secure his individual
rights. We do not make 11 year olds toil 12 hours in an unsafe factory with
equipment that could maim or kill in downtown Newark, NJ. By making hourly
rates three or four times that of workers in other countries, we have sealed our
fate as a non-manufacturing nation, ripe for losing our technological edge and
our entrepreneurial spirit that built our country. We look to be China’s
bitches in the next generation.
So Wino Bob, what the hell does this have to do with wine?
Nothing. It is more about the inconveniences I suffered getting to
Manhattan Wednesday evening to have an opulent dinner and drink in fine
establishments. Wino Paul, the burgeoning Wino Tim and I headed into NYC for a
holiday dinner. WP took the lead and with Google Earth map in hand, we braved
the biting cold winds and bracing crowds via path train service as car
restrictions needed one more body to clear the checkpoint at the tunnel
crossing. We desperately looked for a homeless person to fill the fourth seat
so we could have the convenience of driving, to comply with transit strike
It turned out not to be that bad, though the mile walk due
to the faulty GPS chip in Wino Paul’s head could have been avoided had the
subways been running. We had a great dinner at Aqua Grill, but the bottle wine
pricing was so out of line, I had a simple house wine by the glass to wash down
the truffle encrusted Chatham Cod. Nice place, good location, interesting
Full but still sober, I followed the tour guide to our next
stop on the holiday night out tour. It turned out to be a drinking and cultural
experience, as it was my first time to the world famous McSorley’s Pub. It's
world famous for several reasons, the first being it’s Mecca like status during
the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Though small, this 1854 pub has not changed
since, well, 1854. The well-worn wood planking is sprinkled with sawdust each
day to ease the night clean up. The brogued staff greets you with a simple
question, “Light ale or dark?” At which point he directs you to a seat if
available and comes up with a pint of McSorley’s light or dark ale. A landmark
in the ever-changing landscape of a heaving city, this establishment is worth a
visit, though Wino Paul did find out on
www.urinal.net, that the elegantly designed men’s room urinals were not the
original. The Victorian sculpted troughs were actually added in 1911.
I happened to be the party pooper as the other two were
officially clocked out for vacation. I, on the other hand, had to get up at
4:30am on Thursday and do a round trip to Baltimore for a meeting. As I drove
in the morning darkness, with a foggy, pounding head, Wino Paul and burgeoning
Wino Tim were fast asleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
December 20, 2005
Got together with the boyz, Wino John and Big Bob, for an
evening out. As a change up, we didn’t head to the usual Italian BYOB
restaurant that make up seventy-five percent of the BYOB’s in this area. Big
Bob found a placed called Penang for a delight in Malaysian
cuisine. The great thing is that even if you park around back, there are no
stray cats in the area jumping out of dumpsters and scaring the crap out of
you. Now what wine goes with cat? Maybe Andrea Immer will do a show on
matching wine with unusual meats. Actually, I took note of her Riesling love
affair especially with spicy foods. Maybe Ms. Immer thinks the match is made in
wine heaven, but the others at the table chuckled at the sight of Riesling. No,
might I say, 'chuckle' is too tame a term. They actually asked me what
color panties I was wearing when I went into the wine store to purchase that
bottle. I did try to balance the feminine side with a muscular Amontillado. I
have read Edgar Allen Poe and he speaks well of this sherry as a food friendly
beverage. Somehow, this held no appeal for the crowd and I walked home with the
bottle for another day.
Penang is an interesting place where groups
around us had a large lazy susan on their table and they order six or seven
different dishes and everyone spun and picked and tasted and laughed. Unlike
the family style that I am used to, where you spoon a portion from a bowl and
pass it on, here the people at the other table all grabbed food with their
chopsticks (is that a politically incorrect term at this point in history?) and
ate with them, then picked more and ate more. The germ factor must be
unbelievable. One day, 20/20 should bring in a black light (is it politically
correct to still use the term 'black light'?) and scan for all those nasty
little creatures they find on the hotel bedspreads and public toilet seats. If
you are looking for a culinary treat, might I suggest the poodle on a stick or
the mystery meat in curry. No, actually, the food was good and they do not, let
me repeat, they do not have poodle on a stick. That is the
Vietnamese restaurant down the street. I believe we set a record last night, we
left the table without opening all the wine. OK, one of the bottles was
Amontillado and they were not interested in it, but we killed two reds and 1/3
of a white. That, my fellow winos, is not like any wino dinner I have ever
attended. With drinking habits like that we may be down graded to 'social
drinkers' from blown out winos.
2001 Manso de Velasco
Cabernet Sauvignon $$
Rich deep color and a nose of toasted oak and rich blackberries. The
spice of the food stepped on the fruit and showed the tannic part of the wine,
to be fair, I need to drink this with a hunk of red meat.
2004 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling
The slight fizz and a sweet apricot and pear flavor tease the palate.
This wine plays well with spicy foods, but eventually gets plowed under.
December 18, 2005
Busy weekend, with the holidays and all. Last night I
was invited to a holiday celebration with one of my geek business associates’
company. They did the dinner cruise around Manhattan thing. That is a real fun
time during the middle of the summer as the daylight offers a spectacular view
of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan. Big Bob once ran a South African
wine tasting on one of their boats. Late December is not the premier time to be
doing things like this. First of all, Titanic, need I say more? Though we
never leave NY harbor, there still could be rogue icebergs lurking just below
the surface of the water ready to rip a hole in the side of the Spirit of New
Jersey. Then, unselfishly, I would have to assist all the women into the life
boats and stay with the vessel until it’s last breath. Amidst the flames and
screaming people, I would have to make a last minute Johnny Weissmuller-style
dive (for you young winos, JW was the original movie Tarzan) off the stern
railing to keep from being sucked to the bottom of the harbor by the vortex
created by the sinking ship. Then, the icy waters would induce hypothermia
causing my body to shut down, my face to turn blue and I would either slip
silently beneath the water to Davey Jones’s locker, or worse, be found the next
morning, frozen to a piece of floating debris. A Wino Bob-sicle for the news
media to flash every ten minutes on Fox News (CNN already told me they would not
cover my icy death because of my lack of support for John Kerry), for my family
to view as the Christmas Holiday nears. Second, with temperatures hovering
around freezing, and the wind whipping up the Hudson at 20 mph, the entire upper
deck of the cruise boat is wasted this time of year. Third, the Giants played
at home yesterday afternoon, as I had to drive right past the stadium to get to
the dock. Great, I have nothing better to do than to spend an extra hour in the
car trying to drive to my watery coffin.
The food was good for a tourist event venue and the red
wine I consumed to keep my blood from freezing long enough to find a piece of
floating debris to cling to, God forbid, was a wonderfully presented large jug
of a cabernet-merlot blend from Chile. I did not get to see the wine as it was
better for them to load the jug onto a water cooler type dispenser and pump it
into the glass like a slurpy.
Today the festivities continued with a Sunday brunch and a
dinner with the neighborhood winos. The brunch was too early to fire up a big
bottle so I started with a big ol' Bloody Mary. Did you ever wonder why they
named a drink made of tomato juice, "Bloody Mary"? What part of Mary was
actually bleeding when they decided to add vodka and a celery stalk? If she was
bleeding, don’t you think the lemon slice would have stung? As brunch was
served, the offering was a prosecco, of which I had a glass.
The highlight of the night was dinner at Wino Lou’s. He
had half a dead animal on the rotisserie of his Wolf grill. The aroma was
stunning and I brought over some of The Guilty Shiraz. Both Wino Lou and Wino
Bruce were impressed with the character of the wine as it saddled up with the
rib roast. I also brought along a dessert wine from down under to close out the
meal. With our schedules, it has been a long time since the neighborhood
gathered and shared good food, good wine and good times. A fitting way to begin
the holiday season.
Soligo Prosecco Brut Non-Vintage
It was sparkling and it was a
dry white wine, but other than that, not much else to hold my interest.
Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat NV
$ (18.99 half bottle)
A nice dessert wine, not too sweet, with notes of ginger and a mouthful
of raisins. The 18% alcohol is powerful, but not biting, a nice compliment to
the end of a meal.
Recently, I was contacted by Kate Byrne of Michael O’Mara
Books asking if I would be interested in a copy of their latest wine book to
review on our web site. Free book? I am your man. Four days later my PO
Box finally had a piece of mail, the book had arrived. I first had to look up
the word 'miscellany' to understand the meaning of the title.
miscellany - noun,
Etymology: probably modification of French miscellanées, plural, from
1 a plural
: separate writings collected in one
: a collection of writings on various
The book is a collection of facts, factoids, urban myths
and conjecture about wine and wine people, places and things. A quick read,
figure two visits to the “library” after a Mexican dinner, and you will be
primed with pithy comments you can throw out at your next dinner party. Except
for the Bellini recipe on page 139 which is incorrect, you can amaze and amuse
guests with topics such as the oldest wine, most expensive wine at auction, most
expensive wine ever consumed, wine and love, wine in movies, wine and James
Bond. Mr. Harding is a fan of Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, and Michael
Broadbent and compiles a reader’s digest version of items they have discussed
along with interesting tidbits that have appeared on many wine web sites over
the past 5 years. I guess it is Mr. Harding’s credentials- chairman of the
Oxford Wine Club, director of a specialty wine importer, and joint founder of
Oxford Wine Forum that landed him in print. You can click through WinoStuff.com
to Amazon and pick this book up for a great stocking stuffer.
December 15, 2005
With temperatures in the single digits (that’s Fahrenheit,
Justice, not Celsius) and the fourth winter storm rolling in, note to calendar,
winter starts next Wednesday, I haven’t felt myself lately. I mean that more in
the figurative way. I have felt myself in the literal way twice this
week. So last night I accepted an invitation from an old friend to have dinner
with him at this swank supper club in northern New Jersey. Surprisingly, the
only thing you can do at this place is eat and drink. I say that in an
obvious way but the word "and" is relevant. One can only get a drink when
sitting at a table and ordering dinner. No bar to hang out
at while waiting to be seated, no smoking area to blaze up a stogie after a
meal, no place to just hang out. You go, get a table and order food and
adult beverage. I digress, I arrived a bit before my buddy and was seated at a
table and I ordered up a wine by the glass. The pricing was not outrageous
for the place. The dining room was half filled with couples and families and me
sitting at a table waiting.
Since I was not hosting the evening, I deferred the wine
list to my pal. He asked what I was going to eat, and I was having veal
medallions, so he mumbled, something like, “veal, well then we will drink
white.” What the f&%#? I felt like I was at the black jack tables in Atlantic
City and a novice rolled up and pulled out the wallet sized how-to-win at black
jack betting card. Now when you have 14 and the dealer is showing a 7, ask for
a hit, unless the guy next to you has a one-eyed jack showing and his thumb up
his own ass. Now if he has a one-eyed jack showing but his thumb is up your
ass, then split the sevens and double down so you can lose twice your money and
have a sore seat. I inquired as to why he felt so strongly about ordering a
white wine and he told me that he read in a magazine that veal is a white meat
and therefore you should drink a white wine. Interestingly enough, when the
veal arrived, it was in a red wine reduction. Wow, I wonder if the chef
forgot to pull out his food and wine quick match card when one is making a white
meat dish with a red wine reduction and lobster risotto. Hey, here’s my
philosophy. Pick a nice wine and find some food to fill in between sips.
Food is there to slow down the consuming process, or slow the bottle emptying
procedure. The food was enjoyable, though the portion sizes were somewhat
smaller than I expected. The wine list was 95% American with the remainder
split between French and Australian. The most expensive bottle was Quintessa in
The California Chardonnay was nice, but not nice enough to
draw me out of my funk. I think I needed to tie one on with some big reds.
Where the hell are Big Bob and Wino John when I need them?
2003 Clos du Bois Chardonnay
$$$ (42.00 rest.)
Toffee from toasted oak jumps all over the fruit of this wine. You need
to dig deeply to find a flavor from the grape.
December 12, 2005
Getting together with The Wino
Rockers is always fun and yesterday was no exception. Mrs. Wino Rocker is a
shirazophile as she really only drinks Aussie reds. I made the offer to cook up
a leg of lamb and they would bring the juice. With the weather still bitter and
the addition of snow flurries, I bailed from firing up the Weber as I was hoping
and opted for the oven-roasted leg of lamb. The grill would have given me what
I was in search of, a roast with a deeply browned, pepper-laden crust, with a
medium rare center. Unfortunately, the oven does not cook this as well. I
usually don’t cook lamb at home as it could be really good or really bad, so I
mostly leave it in the hands of the experts. The WR’s brought two distinctly
different shiraz, one that hit the target and one that did not. You can see
from the review which is which. A single vineyard-crafted wine was against a
sourced wine from a retail group. I was not familiar with the 'Australian
Domaine Wines' structure, so I researched a bit and posted a blurb on them for
my own education:
Australian Domaine Wines is a negociant label made up of an assorted group of
retailers from South Australia. This ‘alliance’ of four partners from Adelaide
combines their vision and experience in the wine industry by sourcing only the
finest winemakers and vineyards in Australia.
ADW-labeled wines are sourced from the Barossa Valley, Mc Laren Vale, Wirrega
(Limestone Coast), Langhorne Creek and the Riverland and are produced in
conjunction with four makers. Tony DeLisio (of Classic McLaren Wines) is the
maker of our flagship wine the Hattrick. Ben Glaetzer (Glaetzer Wines & Barossa
Vintners) makes our Sheeraz, whilst Tash Mooney (BVE Wines) constructs the
Alliance Cab Merlot and Barossa Nova and from 2001 Matt Tydeman (Simeon Wines)
is our Alliance Shiraz maker.
2002 Australian Domaine Wines Alliance Shiraz Langhorne
Creek $ (16.99)
This is an OK wine but didn’t hold my interest for long.
2003 Two Hands, ‘Bad Impersonator’ Single Vineyard
Barossa Valley Shiraz
This wine offers a lot to the big red lovers. Most notable is the
lumberyard of oak on the nose and palate with deep dark fruit flavors and a
spicy long finish. The 15% alcohol chases you down and tackles you from behind.
December 9, 2005
With six inches of powdery white sunshine dumped onto the
road early this morning, the urban cowboys were out with four wheel-drive SUVs
spinning around corners and up hills as people tested their skills as bad
weather drivers. I, on the other hand, was hard at work removing the six inches
of powdery white sunshine from the sidewalks and driveway. With my heart
stressed to the point of near explosion, I had to tap a glass of red wine with
my morning coffee to ensure I did not have a heart attack. When chasing red
wine with Sumatra coffee, one must insist on a jammy, full-bodied beverage. I
know the Sumatra would have destroyed a pinot noir. Actually, a jacked up drunk
at 9:30 am is not too bad, especially since most of my customers took very
little interest in working today. Forget the aspirin, forget the lipitor, just
a simple glass of big red with your morning coffee and your heart won’t
explode. At least it works for me.
If I might take a moment and say one thing positive about
our gay ex-Governor. Remember, he is not an ex-Governor because he is
gay. No, he is our ex-Governor because he was corrupt, inept, ill
prepared, and near to a federal investigation of cronyism and graft. The
Gayvenator, in addition to the superb new decor, has positively revamped the
Division of Motor Vehicles. If I might take this time to pat Jimbo on the ass
for a fine job, I spent less than 25 minutes renewing my driver’s license
today. It is a kinder and gentler DMV with efficiencies built in so they are
actually efficient. Prior to JM J Bullock McGreevey selecting the mauve
swatches of fabric and Martha Stewart 'Romance' paint, he split things up so
upon arrival, you are directed to the right place instead of waiting in a
long-ass line to find out that department had nobody waiting for the entire time
you were in the big-ass line. Other than the crappie photo (my fault, not
theirs), the process was painless. Maybe the history books can amend the
postscript on Gayvenator’s truncated term. They should praise him for his
job well done with the DMV, décor and all.
Bodegas Hijos de Juan
Gil Juan Gil, Jumilla $
When you are tired of the same old cab or
syrah, this 100% monastrell is a deep, rich offering of blackberries and
blueberries dusted up with 12 months of oak aging.
December 5, 2005
With the second snow fall in as many days, and temperatures
running 5-7 degrees colder than normal, the adhesive on the back of my global
warming bumper sticker has frozen and cracked. The sticker now reads “obal
rming- save our pla”. When the nip of winter drafts through the leaky old
windows in this house, my thoughts turn to big red wines. The few bottles of
summer white wine have been consumed weeks ago, and the hints of a long cold
winter loom heavy in the New Jersey sky. It's either the 'loom of winter' or
the effluent of the cogeneration plant in Newark, sometimes it is hard to
I have been thinking, nay, dreaming of the day when the
geek world no longer supports my wine habit and I am forced to make a living in
the wine industry to scrape out discount pricing to feed the beast. If I were
at the point of owning a vineyard, or having the right partnership, I think I
would become bi. No, not that way, I mean bi-hemispherical. As summer and
winter flop across the equator, I would think the ultimate rush would be chasing
the crush. Besides, I am too impatient to wait all winter without something to
drink. And the way the winter appears to be coming in, it would be fun to head
to Chile, South Africa or Australia right now and shed the bulky winter coat and
sweaters for a permanent tan and a golf wind jacket. My first choice for the
northern hemisphere would be Priorat, Spain. I would spend my time blending
syrah, granacha and monastrell. Now that I think of it, if I were in Australia,
I would be perfecting the GSM blend there also. As my philosophy has always
been, I like the depth that a blend offers and, as a potential wine maker, the
blend evens out consistency if one cepages is not up to its full potential. I
bi-hemispherical blend. I wonder what Freud would think of that? Good
thing he was a cokehead and absinthe freak and not a wine connoisseur.
Could you imagine Freud writing a book relating your wine
drinking choices to your sexual being? OK, I’m no Freud, but I bet the first
entry would investigate the male white zinfandel drinker, his domineering mother
and absentee father figure. Well, I better get back to shoveling out the
driveway, duct taping plastic over the windows to cut down on the drafts and
head off for a nap. God, I hope I don’t have a dream. Then I’ll have to
discuss it with my Freudian therapist and what if it involves a vat of blended
red wine, an automating coking machine and me in my underwear at school!
No..., go to the safe place..., focus... No sleep tonight...
December 3, 2005
Now that I am over obelisk envy, I have a bit of sad news
Dateline Paris, France
Last night, at his apartment in Paris, Veillapan
Surrendeux passed away at the age of 98. Not since the likes of Napoleon
Bonaparte himself, has there been a more influential military tactician that
has forever changed the course of French warfare. Veillapan, or as he is
noted by close friends, Vei, was born the eldest son of a Parisian shirt
maker Pierre Surrendeux and Wilma nee Cornwall, a British seamstress, in
1906. Young Vei spent most of his youth in the tailor shop his family ran
and listened intently to his parent’s conversations of the past wars between
the French and the English. So inspired was he with the military that he
tried to enlist at the age of 10, to fight for the Allies during WWI. Not
allowed in, his pride in the French army inspired him to design a cloth
square that the soldiers could carry to shine their bayonets before engaging
the enemy on the battlefield. Vei spent three weeks toiling night and day
to ready 10,000 white silk bayonet cloths. On August 12th, he
presented them to General Jacque Toutite for the first infantry battalion on
the eve of their engagement into the war. The next morning, a small
ceremony was conducted in honor of Vei, that is carried out to this day
prior to any French military engagement. The soldiers polish their bayonets
with a light oil and buff them out with the white silk squares designed by a
proud young 10 year old Parisian whose lifelong dream was to fight with his
countrymen for the pride and honor of France. Upon the final buff and with
bayonets glimmering in the morning sun, the soldiers knot the cloth square
to the sight of their rifles, hold them at parade ready and in unison wave
them back and forth four times chanting in homage, “Vei Surrendeux, Vei
Mr. Surrendeux will be laid in state and then buried in
the French war hero grave plot. God speed Veillapan Surrendeux, your name
rings from the mouths of French soldiers in every battle since WWI.
2002 Frog’s leap Zinfandel $
I was not overly impressed with this wine as it paled on the palate for a
ballsy California Zinfandel.
December 2, 2005
I would be remiss if I did not comment on National Aids
Day, which I think was yesterday, or today. Retailers noted large volumes of
Sutter Home White Zinfandel flying off the shelves. President Bush made a
speech pledging more financial support to Africa to deal with the pandemic. But
it was our friends in the land of Malbec that most fittingly drew attention to
the day. It seems that the Latin Lovers in Argentina manufactured the mother of
all condoms and wrapped it over the obelisk in downtown Buenos Aires. As this
has nothing to do with wine, except as a reminder that drunken one night stands
have consequences, I will refrain from the usual grade school locker room jokes
like, "wow, now I can finally have a condom that fits me comfortably," or, "is
that condom for Al Franken cause he’s the biggest dick I know." I will not
impugn the obelisk’s size, as the picture clearly shows the condom was
manufactured with a larger obelisk in mind since there is an unused portion at
the bottom still rolled.
Now, when the Argentinean federal reserve collapses, they
can screw the world financial market safely. Sorry, I promise tomorrow will be
The Obelisk of Buenos Aires is covered with a giant condom
to commemorate World AIDS Day
November 28, 2005
Maybe some of you in other parts of the USA have been into
a Costco store in the past, but this is the first time for me that I saw it in
my local store. Yes, the Kirkland brand of wines were highlighted. It
seems that there is a Bordeaux, a Rhone and a Piedmont style that carry the
Kirkland brand, like the pants I am wearing and the five pound can of chipped
beef in my pantry. How, stupid was that? I do not have a pantry, I keep
the 5 pound can of chipped beef on top of the refrigerator. I can see the
Kirkland name on white paper plates, or generic string beans, and the caskets
and urns. Yes, not only can you bury your dead relatives in the Kirkland
Signature casket, you can toast their life, and death, with the Kirkland
I don’t know... All I want is a little Winostuff Big
Ass Red and a Winostuff Non-Feminine White but no. The warehouse-shelved
budget club touts their own labels. Hey, any of you chuckle heads drink any of
this stuff? Let me know….
November 24, 2005
The fire is reduced to glowing embers, the table has been
reduced back to normal, the wine bottles are in the recycling bin and my pants
have been unbuttoned for hours. Thanksgiving is the official beginning of the
holiday season when spending time with friends and family carries special
meaning. I truly enjoy this time and am glad to have friends like Drouhin,
Torres, and Shinas at the dinner table. Oh, and being with the family was good
too. Though I fell victim to the “I guess I should buy a few bottles of
Beaujolais Nouveau”, I did not indulge. For starters, I warmed up with a nice,
easy drinking Torres Sangre de Toro 50th Anniversary. Nothing better
than the blood of the bull to lock horns in dinnertime conversation. The only
time I became testy was over a small conversation on global warming. Here is my
basic position that I wanted to voice, but I'm not sure if my wine soaked
ideology got the point across: Can someone explain to me how the glacier that
once sat atop the foundation of my home in Caldwell, NJ disappeared? I do
not think the combustion engine, or industrial smoke stacks or hair spray cans
were around when the glaciers receded, dare I say melted from the earth becoming
warmer than it was during the ice age. Other than that, I kept my mouth and
brain in check and only discussed frivolous bullshit.
The dinner table was colored with white burgundy,
Australian Shiraz and homemade wine from my folk’s neighbor. The Ponzini
special was not up to par with others he has given us. But I do compliment his
industriousness and flare for the craft. I opened one of two bottles, the one
that had a label, and shared the blend. The unlabeled bottle may hold the
key to a better reflection of his art. The white burgundy was a nice starter
for the pumpkin/tomato soup and the mashed potatoes and turkey, but The
Guilty helped with all the other flavors from the bourbon sweet potatoes,
sausage stuffing, cranberry relish and string bean casserole. As far as wine
comments to the host, my father was first to express his concern with the
homemade wine, as he drinks a bunch of it each time they go to dinner with the
homemade wine maker. Other than that, I was left to myself, to wallow in the
bottom of the decanter for the white burgundy and the shiraz. And I managed to
get to the bottom of both without falling into the fireplace, or stumbling up
the stairs to type on this stupid key board.
It was good to share the day with a large crowd and fun
conversation decorated with good food and great wine.
2002 Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet
Chardonnay like God intended it to be with a light creamy texture and a
balance of acidity and fruit.
Every year at this time, the question comes up regarding
what wine to serve for the Big Bird feast. I have posted pedantically (see
thanksgiving ’04,’03, ’02) describing why a white Burgundy or a zinfandel or a
gewürztraminer pick up the flavors of cooked bird, sweet potato, mushroom
stuffing and the like. I have friends tell me Pinot Noir is the perfect match,
as pinot is the most food friendly red so you cannot go wrong. Never one to
live and die by the wine gurus, I have declared this year to be "wines from wine
producers I call my friends", though they might not reciprocally declare the
same. Yes, this year there will be a Torres, a Drouhin, a Shinas and a Ponzini
at the table. The crowd this year will number around fifteen and if history is
any indication, some will compliment the wine I serve, regardless of what it is,
and others will NOT, no matter what it is. There are just those, whose palate
is so specific, it is only tuned to wines not served by Wino Bob. Therefore, I
have started to do my own little experiment, serving well-respected wines to
some and crappy wines to others just to see what is said, or not said. My hosts
at the meeting in England were so gracious, they profusely complimented a bottle
of wine I then told them was off, as the second bottle of the same wine
confirmed. Conversely, I have been with people that drink plonk and distance
themselves from a special wine appreciated by the industry and raved about by
So I am selfishly serving my choices for my reasons and I
fart in the general direction of food and wine pairing experts. After all, it
is all about me anyway. I have bailed on tradition in hopes of starting a new
one, enjoying wine from Wino-friendly wineries. I just hope that the list will
expand over the next few years otherwise I have defined my Thanksgiving dinner
until I pass.
Keeping with one tradition I cannot change, I will be
excited to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Ever since I was a young Wino, I
remember my folks having the TV tuned to the parade as we prepared for the
housefull. The real enjoyment I found was on extremely windy days, watching the
handlers wrestle with the tethers on the big balloons. The years when new
characters like Garfield or The Cat in The Hat were introduced brought a tingle
to my young loins. This year, embarrassingly, I must admit, the loin tingle is
back. There is a new balloon being unveiled and a friend of mine was nice
enough to send me a photo of the test runs. Yes, this year, sandwiched between
the lamppost-toppling Cat In the Hat and the every lovable Grinch is this.
Exclusive photo property of WinoStuff.com.
Please contact staff for permission to reprint.
It seems that the ex-Vice president and failed 2000
Presidential candidate, Al Gore, has spent the last five years on an eating
binge so extensive that his actual head has swelled to the size of a
Thanksgiving Day Parade float. I hope the wind conditions are favorable to Mr.
Gore, as it would be embarrassing to his upcoming primary run if they could not
contain the blimpy-headed balloon. Several Democrats have already backed out of
the primary once Mr. Gore announced he was throwing his enormous hat into the
ring for ’08. Look for the Al Gore float to make appearances at the Rose Bowl
Parade and the Pulaski Day Parade. The new Hibernians have rejected his request
for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Halloween Parade in the Village is
deadlocked as of mid night yesterday.
To all the Winos and Winettes out there, I wish you a Happy
Thanksgiving and hope that the meal will be filling and the wine will be the
dish that brings friendship and fun to the dinner table.
More on the flip side...
November 21, 2005
Australia is screwed. Yes, Winos and Winettes, it
seems that Australia has said 'Screw-Off' to the wine world and embraced the
screw cap up and down the price range of their offerings. Out numbering every
other country’s wine offerings in my little part of the wine shop world,
Australian wines dis’d the fake cork for the screw top. The snappy closures
will prohibit me from berating a sommelier that the wine I selected was corked,
I mean screwed, I mean off. No bad chemical reactions resulting in the sweaty
gym socks and wet cardboard odors. No pedantic pageantry of having wait staff
abuzz as they taste and debate and huddle and try to tell me the wine is not
corked. It looks like the reprobates from English society have taken the lead
and told the French to screw off if they want to enjoy a bottle of Barossa.
Which brings me to my selection of last night, purchased
for the name on the label and attitude on the back. What is it with wine
makers from down under thumbing their nose as the stoic, snobbery of wine? Yes,
my pick last night was the gutsy red, The Ball Buster. Winemaker Bruno Tait
felt strongly enough that homage to his wife was not descriptive to his wine.
Instead of calling it Michelle and having assholes like me laugh it off as a
girlie wine, he named it The Ball Buster to connote the power and boldness of
his offering. The wine does pour out a deep rich burple (refer back to my
definition of this color from ex-Giant Leonard Marshall). The nose is black
fruit from the Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with the support of wood
from the barrel aging, but it did not actually bust my balls. No, it was more
like a pheeknuckle to the ball sac, leaving a slight sting, but all matter
Next time your heading to dinner at the in-laws, you might
want to bring along a bottle of The Ball Buster. It might not be the
greatest wine offering, but it sure will get a rise out of the dinnertime
conversation. Next year look for their new white wine Snapping Vagina.
November 19, 2005
Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Emmy and Peabody
Award-winning Daily Show that takes a reality-based look at news, trends, pop
culture, current events, politics, sports and entertainment with an alternative
point of view, has recently taken a page from WinoStuff. OK, there I said it.
Though I do not see eye-to-eye with the host, John Stewart, on many of his
points-of view, I find his show refreshingly funny. However, this past week,
they did a feature on “wine”. Yes, the fact that wine is the new beverage for
the twenty-something crowd. And they made fun of Merlot, wine coolers and the
movie Sideways. (Sounds hauntingly familiar) If Mr. Stewart would like to do a
wino-topic of the week, look no further. You can just email me and I would
be happy to write for the segment.
Is Congress filled with frustrated Hippies? It seems that
the true radical, anti-war protests, like those during the Vietnam War, have yet
to catch on. Cindy Sheehan’s Camp Casey was fueled by Michael Moore, Moveon.org
and George Soros hoping to ignite the peace movement. It did not happen, so now
the children of the sixties who shed their love beads, long hair and tie-dyed
clothing for the halls of Congress have taken to ignite the anti-war movement
from within. It once was the people against the Government, now it is the
Government trying to eat itself. Will the recent posturing by the few vocal
Democrats find a voice to their brothers in arms from the Haight Ashbury days?
Will Joan Baez pen a new anti war song and will pot-smoking take to the Dem’s
cloakroom? One can only hope.
The enigmatic, yet treasonous actor, Johnny Depp, is
thinking that France is irreparably damaged from the auto flambeau de jour. Do
not get me wrong, I like the quirky characters Mr. Depp has taken on and brought
to life in strange films with craft in mind and not simply money. But his
moving from LA to Paris with a blunt statement that LA is too violent for
raising a family, has him putting 'au jour' on those words and wrapping them in
a baguette for a helping of humility. So are we to forgive, forget, and open
welcoming arms to the prodigal son? WWWJD (What Would Wino Jesus Do)?
The only high standards not tumbling is Wine Spectator.
Yes, the Magazine of Marvin and the Bible for wannabe wine collectors has found
it in their morale fiber to not reduce their standards as they rejected a recent
article I submitted. Yes, they were gentle and even told me if they do have the
interest in publishing on the topic I submitted they would sure keep me in
mind. Somehow, I did not take that to heart. My faith has been restored that
not all iconic institutions have given in to bawdy humor. Next stop, a
submission to the New York Times. Since Maureen Dowd and Jason Blair have
been printed by the old gray lady and Mr. Blair never researched any of his
articles, I might be in line for a weekly column.
November 18, 2005
As you may might have noticed, I have been unduly silent on
the unrest in France. It seems every time I write something negative about
France, Big Bob drives by and eggs my house. Besides, the unrest is political
and Bill Mahr and I have declared ourselves Swiss. But this article caught my
attention and seeing how it is wine related, I had to post a note.
(Reuters) -- Festivities marking the arrival of this year's Beaujolais
Nouveau turned violent in the southeastern French city of Grenoble on
Friday, when more than 30 people were injured in clashes between students
The overnight disturbance was an isolated incident
in a country that had largely returned to normal after almost three weeks of
rioting by youths angry over unemployment and discrimination in the suburbs
of Paris and other French cities.
Friday's violence broke out after between 2,000 and
3,000 people, mostly students, left bars where they had been celebrating the
arrival of the popular French wine, which traditionally goes on sale on the
third Thursday of November.
Youths attacked firemen called out to attend an
injured person and began to throw missiles at police who arrived to back up
the firemen. Wine bottles were thrown from apartment windows.
"Some of them were very politicized. Drunk on new
wine, they wanted to make a revolution, a 'red Beaujolais' revolution,"
Commissioner Jean-Claude Borel Garin, the local police chief, told Reuters.
About 100 regular police and riot officers faced
thousands of youths, using tear gas and other crowd control measures as they
battled for several hours to restore order.
"We were confronted with a situation of rioting
overnight. The roads were littered with broken glass, it was a real scene of
desolation," said Borel Garin.
About 20 youths and 17 police were hurt in the
incident and 21 people were taken in for questioning.
People, people, let’s just calm
down and examine the facts. The unrest that has haunted the French society for
the past four weeks has nothing to do with this riot. It clearly is just the
reflection that French youth are fed up with all the profiteering from the Gamay
crushers. Every time I walk into a wine shop and see the bottled barrel
samplings for profit, I want to start a red Beaujolais revolution myself. Do we
really need an early taste of a wine that is consumed early by nature? It is
not as if it’s a Bordeaux we need to see what it will offer thirty years down
the road when most of us will not be alive to enjoy it. We are talking about a
young, fresh, fruity wine that is consumed within the first two years of release
The good news for France is that
the French will actually prevail in this conflict. I am not sure which
side of the French, the rioters or non-rioters, seeing how they are both French,
Viva la Victory…
November 15, 2005
Like a moth to a flame, or a spurned to an ex-flame, or a
flamer to a locker room, I had this urge last night to divert my truck into the
parking lot of Bacchus. It was Monday night and few restaurants are open. Not
having been there since Big Bob and I ate a crappy steak, I headed into a sparse
crowd, sat at the bar, took an adequate amount of abuse from Jimmy and Mike
regarding my long absence and ordered a glass of red. Mike wanted me to try a
new Argentinean cab they had by the glass, but one sip and I hurt Mike’s
feelings by telling him I didn’t much like it. He quipped, “I thought you like
cabs.” I replied, “I do, but that doesn’t qualify.” Jimmy poured me a glass of
2003 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Merlot. Mer-F'n-lot. That was the
big red by the glass. I have little to say regarding this, but it was more
robust than the Argentinean cab. I had the T-bone, not bad, and the few
conversations that I could hear were interesting, especially the one where
everybody at the table introduced themselves by their first name, then stated,
“but you can call me” (nickname). Funny how Frenchie didn’t look French and
Tiny was a rather large no-necked gentleman. That was one conversation I did
not want to get caught eaves dropping on, if you know what I mean…
I honestly think, if I had Wino Mike’s black American
Express card, I could have slapped it on the bar and bought the place for my own
private place. If the holiday work party crowd does not come through this
season, it may revert to El Banditos just in time for the summer vacation
crowd. The pharmaceutical sales meeting business seems to be what keeps them
around. As NJ is a hot bed for those right wing profiteers, their sales people
schedule opulent dinners plying doctors with mediocre steaks and overpriced
glasses of wine in hopes they start pushing the latest patented medical elixir.
When I got home, still sober and broke from the $11.00
glasses of Chilean merlot, I opened that bottle of 2003 Mad Fish Shiraz. Mad
Fish, oh no, Mad Wino. This one offered the best of color and the worst of
everything else. OK, so the color wasn’t the best. That’s why an ex should
remain an ex.
2003 Mad Fish Shiraz $
It was wine, but lacked the fruit, the flavor, the character of any
grapes I drank to this point.
November 12, 2005
Remember the movie, Breakfast Club, the 1985 hit comedy
that launched the brat pack and captured the struggles each one faced in one way
or another during our high school years? The geek, Brian Ralph Johnson, played
by the tall, thin, gangly Anthony Michael Hall, penned the assignment required
of them during their Saturday morning detention that voiced their realizations
of life and the world they lived in. Though I saw the movie many times, I do
not recall the exact words, it simply defined them in the terms they were judged
by the teachers and their peers, the geek, the jock, the prom queen, the psycho,
the tough guy…
My minds eye saw me as the rebellious Judd nelson
character, John Bender. The world views me more like the tall, thin,
gangly Brian Ralph Johnson. A recent dinner brought this categorical
pigeonholing to mind as I left the restaurant. During the drive home I thought
about this entry and that analogy to describe the wines we drank. There
was a finessed pinot Noir from Oregon, a raw homemade Zinfandel from WJ’s friend
in California, a barnyard-laden Bordeaux, a sensual Merlot from Italy and a
gutsy shiraz from down under. As we toyed with a glass of each and expressed
our interests for their style and distinct characteristics (wow, does that sound
pedantic? May I state that it was not formal or pretentious or
wine-snobbish, it was do with the most guttural of definitions and jocular of
terms), we each found our comfort zones and favored the pigeonholed wine styles
we enjoy. Big Bob and Mrs. Big Bob appreciated the heavy-duty stuff but
retreated to the fleece throw of the pre-release 2002 DDO Laurene. Wino John
pounded the Alter Ego and homemade Zin reeking of muscle and jaw jarring fruit.
Wino Mike’s intrigue with a sexy Italian Merlot fit him like his man-tailored,
expensive Italian suit and the newest of new members inducted into the wino
family, Wino Andrew, shook hands with the exiled relatives from his native land
when he wrestled the Aussie shiraz. Which left me, alone, wanting to be part of
the group. I drank them all, yes even the feminine pinot and the womanly
merlot, as I, like Brian Ralph Johnson tried to better myself in the eyes of my
OK, so it was a flare gun that went off in my locker, but I
could get the light to go on when I pulled the elephant’s trunk and I failed
And in the end, I saw the people at the dinner table in the
simplest of terms; Mrs. Big Bob- the prom queen, Big Bob- the fine wine
aficionado, Wino Mike- the uber wealthy, black card Am Ex carrying business
tycoon, Wino Andrew- a Brit learning that wine should be room temperature, not
beer, Wino John- the techno-dweeb editor-in-chief of my entries that drinks reds
as big and bold as his life, and me, the gangly geek inferring illusions of
grandeur to bolster my life to get people to accept me, wino there to finish off
any of the remains swirling at the bottom of the bottles.
Not being at the top of my game that night, I did not write
down all the label info so I will not comment on all we enjoyed. What I will
say is that the Zinfandel was very impressive for a bottle that had magic marker
identifying the year, varietal, lot and bottle number. The fruit was
intense and the wine was well crafted.
The 2002 Laurene is bold and bright for a pinot and
delivers an elegant power to a sometimes-fickle grape. Upon its official
release, I will be buying a few bottles to do a review.
2002 d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz McLaren Vale
Cedar, blackberry and blueberry waft from the glass as the wine
sits waiting to be tasted. A jammy mix of black fruit and cassis coat your
mouth on this full-bodied wine and a velvet finish lingers until your next
November 8, 2005
The silence is deafening, the
silence of the Al Frankens and Michael Moores and their progressive side of the
party, on the problems in France. If Al and Michael go their way, or get there
way in an upcoming election, the continuing riots and lack of response will be
the way we in America will react to civil unrest. It was Al and Michael that
praised Jacque Chirac and the French style of life during the Kerry campaign.
The lack of control in the Muslim area of France that has been burning for
twenty days, would be the policy styling’s of the Minnesota Senate hopeful, Al
Franken. Add to the list cabinet member Bill Mahr and the triumvirate is
complete. Why haven’t we heard anything about the video tape of buses being
pelted with rocks, cars being overturned and burned and the reeking of havoc
being committed daily?
The answer is simple, if they
admit there is a problem, it undermines years of them telling us we need to be
more like the French. But the French themselves have begun to look at the
assimilation issues that started the problems. So where does that leave the
Anti-American Franken and Moore, who bask in Cannes and eat frog legs? Franken
has even been sighted in New York City wearing a beret. So tell us, self
proclaimed teller of the truth, why are you silent on the French debacle? Maybe
because your researchers and legal teams are tied up trying to see if you ever
have employed a minority out of the 112 people you have hired to work for you.
No wonder Katharine bailed out on the Air America thing. Way to go Frenchie.
Jacques Chirac, in private comments more conciliatory than his warnings
Sunday that rioters would be caught and punished, acknowledged that France
has failed to integrate the French-born children of Arab and black African
immigrants in poor suburbs who have been participating in the violence,
according to Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who met with the French
leader on Monday.
Chirac "deplored the fact that in these neighborhoods there is a
ghettoization of youths of African or North African origin" and recognized
"the incapacity of French society to fully accept them."
said unemployment runs as high as 40 percent in some suburban neighborhoods,
four times the national rate of just under 10 percent, Vike-Freiberga said.
November 7, 2005
Attention New jersey citizens, I say ATTENTION. Tomorrow
you can set the agenda for your property taxes over the next several years.
Read both platforms and then pull the lever with your purse strings. It was a
good, mud-slinging, personal dirt-flinging end to a rather humdrum campaign.
Nothing better than having a candidates ex-wife go public with her torn heart
and raw emotions to make known the fact that Jon Corzine cheated on her and
dumped her. Then, just half a day after he said that is a personal issue and
will not be part of the campaign, Doug Forrester uses her in his latest ad. Woo
hoo, NJ politics at its finest. I actually have become so bitter about the f’ed
up mess in the state that it really doesn’t seem to make much difference at this
point on what lever I pull.
It comes down to hair, since both guys seem to be pompously
wealthy businessmen who wear hand-tailored suites and custom shirts and could
feel the plight of the common Wino if it bit them on the ass. It was funny to
hear the Senator on Saturday night not knowing the drinking age in the state he
has represented for the past five years and wants to lead for the next three.
Wino Bob, you drunken asshole, don’t you know the Governor is elected for four
years? Yes, yes I do, but let us call it straight up. Mr. Corzine is not
giving up the national job he purchased for 60 million dollars to stay
complacent as the Governor of a small state. Knowing that as a Senator, Mr.
Corzine has voted for and against every issue at least once, he will not be
electable, a lesson learned from Mr. Kerry. Therefore, NJ is but a stone Mr.
Corzine will leap from to the race for President and I say his attention moves
there just as soon as the ’06 dust settles.
Trust me, you will be rereading this several years down the
rode saying to yourself, how is that Wino Bob is so F'n smart?
2003 Casa Silva, Carmenere, “Reserva,” Colchagua, Chile
Interesting bowl of black fruits meet your
nose and the flavors of black cherry and blackberry hit your palate with a
finish of tobacco. A nice wine to change things up.
November 4, 2005
It was about 5:45 PM and I just finished a report for work.
The encroaching darkness of fall blackened the world outside my small window. I
clicked my web browser over to Google to begin a bit of relaxing weekend web
surfing. Just as I reached for the buckle of my belt to relax things, the phone
“G’Day Mate”, the voice on the other end of the line
said. My mind raced to figure out who was disturbing my hot, steamy web surfing
session. Holy Crap, Marie, it was an Aussie voice, it could only be that guy
from the Outback Jack show I goofed on about this pussy crying and pouring his
heart out to some broad on national TV. Maybe he read my calling him a pussy
and he was about to bitch me out.
In a typical New Jersey greeting, I answered, “Who the f&%$
The voice continued, “It’s Justice George Shinas... The
Guilty Judge from Shinas Estate.” It was not the crying, sensitive
pussy from the Outback Jack show; it was the owner of the winery I most recently
wrote about. Mother McCrea, this is worse, now I’m going to be read the riot
act by a wine owner that took umbrage with something I wrote, and on top of it
all, the guy’s a judge. I’m screwed, I now have to tell Wino John we are going
to be sued, and all my worldly possessions will be put into a shoebox and
shipped to Australia. God Damn it, Cartman!
“I was knocking around the internet and saw your review
of The Guilty.” Reality check, this really is a world wide web and it is
not just my mom that reads my postings. “I put my wine in the longest bottle
we had.” It was then I realized the voice from down under had a sense of
humor. After speaking with him for two minutes, I got the sense he really was
just researching on the internet to see what people were saying about his wine.
I first thought he Googled the hot Savanna Samson and was erroneously directed
to our site.
I spent the next hour involved in a great conversation
with the owner of Shinas Estate. Turns out, he thought all US wine
people were pedantic snobs and I thought all Aussies were exiled British
criminals, neither of which pertained to the people on either end of the phone.
It seems the Barrister’s grandfather passed along the passion of wine making
from the old country, Greece. Remember; they were making wine before Jesus
did that thing at the wedding with the clay pots of water.
After success in the restaurant business and later in land
development, the Honorable Judge set out to make a small fortune in the wine
business by planting 8 acres of shiraz. Good thing for him he had a large
fortune to turn into that small fortune in the wine industry. All of his grapes
are hand picked and washed, unlike those other bulk wine producers from down
under that machine harvest their grape and don’t wash the bird droppings off.
I’m not spreading any rumors or anything, but if you drink a wine that rhymes
with “mellow snail” from Australia, it probably has shinglebacks ground into the
juice. I’m not saying it does or it doesn’t but those little gecko things
love to play in the harvester, you know what I’m sayin'.
I look forward to tasting the ’04 and having dinner with
the Justice when he makes his swing through the US on a promotional tour. I
figure we can have a nice grilled lamb chop dinner at Frankie and Johnnies in
Hoboken and drink some gecko-free shiraz from down under. I would call you Wino
Judge, but I do not think that would be good for the reputation you have built
over all those years on the bench, but check back in every once in awhile and
let us know how the barrel tastings are shaping up.
November 3, 2005
An old geek business associate has relocated to the Garden
State after a 5 year run for his company in Asia. The other night, we had a
chance to get together for dinner and I had the chance to try a place I have
been wanting to go to for some time. As the revitalized city of Hoboken is just
north of Jersey City, we headed to an historic steakhouse on 14th
whose 18th century longshoremen’s saloon atmosphere hangs heavy in
the air. Frankie and Johnnies Steakhouse has been serving their famous sirloin
to the Hollywood crowd and locals for decades. For it being as close to the
city and as well known, the portion size to price ratio was very good. I have
paid far more for far less without the atmosphere. Unfortunately, it was a
Tuesday night, so I was the biggest name in the place, but on the weekends its
tough to get a table unless you are Joey Pants or Danny Aiello or one of the
beautiful people. The recommendation for next time is the Porterhouse for
three, a 72 ounce beast done to perfection. That’s four and a half pounds of
red meat. I might need a Balthazar to wash that down along with and a side
of sautéed spinach. The bar is white subway floor tile and dark, worn mahogany
walls with a high tin ceiling and the charm of days gone by. Definitely a place
to enjoy a good steak at if you’re in the area.
2001 Farrari-Carano Sienna
Nice but not the jockey for the steak I was riding that night. Complex
with cinnamon spice and dark fruits but nothing in the saddle.
November 1, 2005
I might have died and gone to Wino Heaven! Check this
out... there is a winery/spa-resort in Thailand (land of mail order brides and
sex junkets) where you can enjoy drinking and bathing in their
Shiraz. I can drink and bathe in the red nectar of the Gods! It must be
heaven. If this Thai resort is like the others, I’m sure you are sponged by a
young, vestal virgin and hand towel dried by a bevy of Asian beauties. The
owners of Korat Winery Village Farm believe that hydrotherapy is the key
to a rejuvenating spa treatment. The shiraz and mineral water spray therapy is
infused with other ingredients including lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus,
chamomile and hayseed oils. Now the best thing is that it only cost 500 baht
which in real money is like $2.39. Wines are made from Shiraz, Cabernet
Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc grapes that grow at Village Farm. And the gourmet
restaurant features unique Thai dishes. So next time you are looking for a
special anniversary gift, or heading to Thailand to find a wife, take her to the
Korat Winery Village Farm for a tub-o-shiraz and a meal and change back from
your five dollar bill.
October 31, 2005
I don’t know if your Saturday night was as non-descript as
mine, but I ended up in front of the TV watching the Outback Jack marathon on
Fox Reality network. It seems this is like the Bachelor Show, but based in
Australia. They took some Crocodile Dundee-type guy and 12 beauty queens and
exposed these cute, pampered women to life in the wilds of the outback. They
ate ants and milked crocs and did a host of survival type challenges. Then,
painstakingly, they drew out the decision process in the eye- darting, bundle of
nervous energy, non-speaking segments. Enough of that, the reason I bring it up
is on the last few episodes, as Outback Jack was narrowing down his tough
decision on which of these broads he was going to spend the rest of his life
with, he had a date on the beach and a catered lunch. Each date had wine with
it, but the final episode prominently displayed the neck of the bottle sticking
up from the wine bucket. What were these to Aussie lovebirds drinking as the
waves crashed against the sugar white sand, and the rough-and-tumble Outback
Jack bawled his eyes out professing his love for some chick he met ten episodes
earlier. I must say, they guy cried in every episode as he tossed one of the
girls. They should have been drinking white zinfandel; however, the wine for
the romantic dates was non other than Big Bob’s Giesen Sauvignon Blanc. Yes,
Mr. Weepy Boy poured his heart out and showed the world his sensitive side. I
am sure his rugby buddies will replay that tape all during the divorce
proceedings. For all the big knife chopping of brush and horseback riding and
camping under the stars, Outback is a very sensitive guy.
Nevertheless, the show did a great service to Big Bob and
tweaked the Aussie wine community by having them drink a New Zealand offering.
Way to go Dreyfus Ashby, your sales should be through the roof this week.
2003 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose
This crisp, bone dry rose is not, I repeat, NOT a White Zinfandel, but
rather an attractive blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, 5%
Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah showing raspberry and red cherry flavors with a spicy
finish. A nice wine for sesame ginger salmon.
October 29, 2005
Did you turn your clock back? Nothing better than having
someone wind my clock. Is that a statement that makes me sound old? Clocks do
not wind anymore; they are mostly battery powered or electric, or
non-mechanical. This brings me to another embarrassing situation that makes me
feel old, the dreaded drugstore purp-walk. Why is it that the once a year I go
into a drugstore to purchase that three pack of baby barriers, there happens to
be a sixteen-something young girl at the cash register? For God sake, let me
have my non-alone time without the shame and embarrassment of placing that
special three pack on the counter, to have it scanned three, four, maybe five
times before the little bar code is read, thus furthering the humiliation of
holding up the line. Is it just me or do others find the need to purchase
things you don’t want just to bury that small packet of raingear beneath the
newspaper, gum, a magazine, chewing tobacco, a giants plastic bobble-head doll,
wax teeth, an ”I love you mom, happy birthday” card, tooth picks and a bottle of
diet coke. Twenty-seven dollars for a $3.99 purchase. That is the only store
that I have an issue. I can go into a bakery and buy a loaf of bread, no need
to hide it among 13 non-essential items. Hell, I go to the wine store, like
today, find the wine I want, walk right to the register, proudly display it to
the twenty-something young woman, try and make Wino Bob small talk about the
wine (usual get the annoyed nervous laugh and the 'get the “f” out' look). I
have even made the girl stop, held up the line just to grab another wine near
the counter. I have no fear that I see the same person every day or so and they
think I have a drinking problem. But to have some young women ring up a sample
size offering of rain boots creeps them out and they look at me like; why in the
hell would a stick figure need those things, you filling them with water for a
balloon fight? Then comes the smirk, the "yeah-right, those are for you, have a
nice day", while she hands me my change.
Fortunately, I take refuge in the wine shop next door and
fall into the arms of the shiraz section, to lick my wounds and soothe my
damaged ego. The welcoming comfort of my wine dependency makes that once a year
journey easier to cope with.
The shelves were awash with animal-labeled, shiraz-based
wines, so I selected several with something other than geckos or iguanas this
time. Today’s theme is animals gone mad and though I have heard of a mad dog, I
do not think I have heard of a mad fish, until today. Can fish get mad, and if
they do, how would one really know? I believe they get awfully pissed when that
barbed metal hook shows up in the middle of a snack and some drunken asshole on
a boat is trying to make you swim in a direction opposite the way you want to
go. However, are fishes’ brains developed enough to be mad or just basic enough
to feel pain and want to avoid it? A dog on the other hand, has more
intelligence, but I still do not know if we can say they get mad. For if I can
assign the feeling of mad to a dog, then maybe dog really is God spelled
backwards and the connection of dogma and religion really exists in a level
above stickmanity. My dog never laughs at my jokes, just has that same dumbass
look on his face whither I am yelling at him or feeding him, or throwing the
ball to him. Though I do see a change in his demeanor when he starts licking
himself in areas I, as a stick figure, cannot even reach with my tongue (on me,
not on him). That would be even too far out for me to joke about, the dog and
The label, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, actually comes
from a saying, “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” Meaning
ill animals and for some reason, whacky Brits head out to do things in the heat
of the day while non crazy animals and all other ethnicities choose to lazily
lie around and accomplish nothing. I cannot figure if they are making fun of
the Englishmen or of all other people. The irony is that in England, there are
only four days per year that the sun is actually out so it would not really be
crazy to be out on such a unique day. It is not as if England is on the equator
and the midday sun is scorching. Winemaker William Long of Bodegas y Vinedos de
Murcia is indeed an Englishman, as is his partner Guy Anderson, who perhaps not
coincidentally are also the creators of "Fat Bastard."
Nevertheless, my dog is not mad. In fact, he is so
stupid, he greets me every time I see him in the kitchen, as he had not seen me
in a week. As for the young pimply faced teenager behind the counter at CVS, I
do only see you once a year. You don’t have to greet me like I am in there
all the time buying those things. And for the woman at the counter at the wine
shop, you do see me every day; the least you can do is greet me like you
recognize me. Hey, I just thought of something, maybe I need to invent wine
flavored condoms, like White Zinfandel or something. Then maybe I could
purchase more than three per year. Maybe we can lubricate the latex with a wine
based spermacide, thus protecting from pregnancy and getting your date drunk all
that the same time. Since red wine has so many positive health benefits,
perhaps if could protect one from those nasty STDs. I’ll take a gross of the
ribbed shiraz Wino Condoms please. No, nothing else, just my 144 pack of
party balloons. Now; where da white women at?
2003 Bodegas y Viñedos de Murcia Shiraz-Cabernet-Monastrell
Jumilla Mad Dogs and Englishmen
Just to clarify this is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and
monastrell (mourvedre) and delivers a fruit bomb. The nose is all blackberries
and the taste is plum, and black fruits with an earthy, smooth finish. A nice
find for a great price. So what if the Brit is out working in the scorching
Spanish sun, he is making a nice wine for us Yanks. These two Brits are also
the brains behind Fat Bastard shiraz, which did not make my favorite list.
October 27, 2005
What is it with little lizards, or geckos, as a logo that
has attracted me to Shiraz? First, that damn Shingleback drew me to the Aussie
offering. And yesterday, the Kumala, a small lizard that runs among the
gravelly soil of South African vineyards. If Gieco Insurance wants to get into
the wine business, they are already branded for a Shiraz from the new world.
There must be some strange relationship between this small reptile and the
winemaker. Obviously, vines grow in gravelly, rocky, stressed soil and these
small creatures dart in and out of the cracks and crevasses of the trellised
plants. However, are the small creatures darting in and out of any other cracks
and crevasses that make the winemakers so found of using them on the label? Is
there a strange relationship with the vineyard worker and the cold blooded,
slimy animal that elevates its status to label recognition?
I do remember the labels of the Rainbow Winery in San
Francisco having a gerbil on the label and it sent me researching the
significance of gerbils to wineries. As far as I can tell, gerbils do not live
among the cracks and crevasses of the soil in wine growing regions. In fact,
most gerbils live in cages in children’s rooms in the suburbs of America, there
and in pet stores in San Francisco. So I am still searching for the connection
between the love of the gerbil and the winemaker at Rainbow Winery. If there is
anyone out there that knows this answer, please do not hesitate to drop me an
email and I will post the answer.
As far as my interest in Shiraz, I guess I will be left
with labels decorated with komodo dragons, iguanas, trouser lizards and horny
toads, except for those few marketing geniuses daring to highlight unique small
furry creatures to separate them from the pack.
2004 Kumala Shiraz
Interesting, easy drinking dark cherry, raspberry and black cherry
flavors. The finish is short with a spice kicker.
Blood was in the water and I was
in a feeding frenzy or I was Shiraz struck and grabbed a bottle while at Kings.
This one was from the same region, McLaren Vale, but not as intriguingly
complex. A more approachable, mellow wine than my guilty pleasure from
Saturday, but still a delightful wine to accompany a heaping helping of Eli
Manning as he pulled out a win for Big Blue. The weather was the correct
temperature for a football game, a crisp fall afternoon. Unlike the boyz of
summer that play into November, or the winter hockey sport that holds its finals
in the balmy June evenings, football is a fall sport extending just beyond the
upper and lower limits of the season it originally was designed for. Is
baseball that important it needs to stretch from the beginning of April until
the beginning of November, please spare us, cut the season by 40 games and let
us get this thing wrapped by the middle of September? If the series was not
such a blow out, I might expect snow in Chicago for game seven. Therefore, I
guess the world is ending. The violent storms, the mass destruction, two
baseball curses being lifted back-to-back. What is next, a Republican being
elected in New Jersey? If that does happen, I am drinking all my expensive
wine, as I will be hearing the voices of the angels announcing the curtain
call. It is kind of like the things that keep me up at night. How will the
species of Homo Erectus become extinct and if the universe is constantly
expanding, what is it expanding into? I have a very hard time grasping the
universe thing. If there is a lot of nothing, will the nothing run out? Worse
yet, will the expanding universe hit some kind of barrier that will send the
outermost stuff back towards the center. Does there come a time that the
expansion slows or just stops and thing then are stagnant. What would that do
and are there people or things out at the fringes right now watching their world
move to the farthest reaches of nothingness? My head hurts when I try to
picture this ever-expanding vastness since I have to believe it is expanding in
some spatial context. The more wine I have, the more I can conceive of space’s
vastness, but that solar system that is 15 billion light years away must have
something beyond it. This is too much to grasp, but one day, after I am dead, I
guess I will get to see the edges of this universe, maybe only to see an
infinite number of like-expanding other universes or universi, what ever the
plural of vastness is. Thus, there must be a plural for infinity.
2003 Shingleback Shiraz
A McLaren Vale Aussie shiraz with a mellow black berry, and dark cherry
flavor with a smooth smoky finish.
October 22, 2005
WJ, I didn’t realize you were in China again. I read up on
the wine offerings, we know the Great Wall read sucked, but I understand that
the Tiananmen Square Red is full of body, big, crushing finish with an
aggressive amount of 'don’t speak out against the government'. Why don’t you
pick up a few bottles for our next dinner. When you get back, you might want to
come over and visit Wino Lou, he is making bird flu vaccine in his basement.
I’m sure something you ate over there was ripe with a disease. Which reminds
me, we need to complete that corporate agreement, so if in the off chance you do
contract some incurable flesh eating virus while at your slave labor camp in
China, the password for updating this web site will be made available to me.
That and your red wine collection, and the GPS coordinates of your super-secret
palatial estate, and the code to the bat cave… Good luck with that food thing
in the underdeveloped world you are trying to replace New Jersey labor with.
Remember, poodle is in season.
When one needs to get back in the wine saddle again, not
that I need help, but the beer belly is three quarters of the way down now, I
can count on Wino Jim to challenge me for a more bottles then bodies night of
dinner and drink. Since the cellar is boring and near empty, I had to stop and
shop at the local wine provider. I picked up a bottle of Aussie shiraz to coat
my palate, and my arteries and my blood platelets and my internal organs. I
needed something I could ease back into the wine world with.
When we got to the restaurant, Wino Jim had opened a fun
little chard produced by the same family that produces the wildly purchased
restaurant wine, Kendall-Jackson. This label is aimed at the animal loving wine
drinkers and features dog oriented names on the label. The wine is fruit
forward and easy on the palate and wallet.
My Aussie was a pleasant surprise, to me. It was
everything I was looking for in a price less than twenty dollars.
Unfortunately, it was the last bottle at Shop Rite Discount in Caldwell, so I
will have to stop back in and see if they will be getting anymore. The wine is
a single vineyard offering from the boutique wine crafter, George Shinas, owner
of Shinas Estate Wines. There was a lot for the money on the nose and the
palate and I will be hunting this one down. Not as polished as a northern
Rhone, but generous complexity to keep you coming back to the glass, finding new
treats. Now I’m jonesin' for another bottle…
2004 Dog House Charlie’s Chard
The nose offers toasted almond and vanilla hints with simple fruits and a
clean finish, this one is a good porch wine for summer time as a warm up to
2003 Shinas Estates The Guilty Shiraz
My find of the month, this Aussie shiraz is full of black fruit and spice
on the nose with a bowl of dark fruit smothered in chocolate sauce on the
palate. The finish is short, otherwise this wine would have rocketed into a
category unto itself. Mark this as a Wino Bob highly recommended wine for the
October 21, 2005
Wow, how time flies when you are drying out. Actually, I
was not drying out, more like letting my beer belly deflate. The gene pool of
the Wino Bob ancestors had an extra bone on the beer belly ankle. My weight
gain during uncontrollable beer binging is all in the stomach, making me look
like a lower case letter b on two legs. By Wednesday evening, I tapped a glass
of red from the basement to slim down the waistline and get my vitamin and
The depressing thing is that my in-house wine right now is
nothing new and exciting. Even my monthly wine delivery has not shown up yet. I
am drinking the same wine I drank before I left. Still it is not as bad as the
limited offerings I encountered in Chelmsford. Those poor people do not have a
clue. The big wine featured at the place I was staying was a Pinotage. Now, I
am a lover of this South African, but come on people, its kind of a
transvestite. The hybrid of pinot noir and cinsault makes it gender confused at
times which will have the Brits begging for their pint of ale. There was only
one Bordeaux, two South African, and three Australian wines to pick from. The
one time I was asked to suggest a wine, I looked at the two-page offering and
cried. Not really, I would have been ridiculed all meeting if I wept over a
wine list, but I could not believe the meager list of unexciting wine. It made
sense, based on this, that all the women at the pub in the place I stayed were
drinking beer. I might just have to start a Wino 101 class in Chelmsford.
There might be a huge market for the offerings from New Jersey, perhaps a tasty
Concord or a refreshing Cayuga. We owe our wine growing history to the Brit’s
so why not reward them with exporting our finest.
Tomorrow, I will make sure to have something new to comment
on, so cheers for now…
(Editor's note: I am updating
this site from China. I haven't had any wine in 5 days and I'm starting to
get a little CRANKY... Based on past experience, the next 5 days aren't
looking too promising on the wine front either. So I don't want to hear
about beer-belly-boy and his limited choice of wine. I'm here eating
who-knows-what, washing it down with some kind of hot tea, and he's whining
about Pinotage!!! I would kill right now for some Pinotage! I would even
toss back some Pinot Noir if I could find some. It's that bad, people.
It's real bad. My head is about to explode and this country of 1.21
gigapeople doesn't even care!!! AARRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!)
October 12, 2005
With two hours of sleep in the last 18, I have retired to
the third floor room in a 1631 pub house in Chelmsford, England. The doorways
are small and the steep, slanted roof leaves little to feel comfortable with.
Rain brushes in when the wind kicks up as the only window of the small dank room
tries to cool this stifling attic room.
The flight was delightful, arriving 30 minutes before
schedule. Gatwick was a breeze to clear customs and enter the
transportation arena. Though I had to figure out 3 different trains to
land in this small rural town, the fact that the locals are understandable
helped immensely. Once settled in, I had a good portion of the day
to get acclimated. Unfortunately much of the time was getting situated
with technology. The Queen Mum leaves a lot to be desired for entrance
ramps onto the world wine super highway. The bright spot of the day was
the tremendous help given to me by the salesman at the local cellular phone shop
in town. Through some dodgy (English term) characters, I finally got the
tools necessary to get my phone working and connectivity to the real world. As I was always told to stay up all day and
crash early to get the body clock adjusted, I find myself with three pints of
local Young’s Special ale in my system, and a shared dinner of bangers and mash,
fish and chips and meat pie.
The beer, though tepid is not as warm as I imagined. The
folks at this eight room hotel and pub have been gracious and helpful in anyway
possible regarding my demanding American ways. Sorry, if I want a toilet that
flushes instead of being pumped like the macerator of a boat. Call me American
scum for wanting a bed that does not come with a 30 degree downward parabola in
the mattress. No matter how back woods America may be, we can all get on the
internet. As usual, I spent the last 45 minutes pretending to myself that I was
tired. The solution is a good dose of British TV, so I could either laugh
myself to sleep with Monty Python type shows, or wank myself to sleep with some
Unfortunately, this small, eight room hotel only has 5
channels. I am watching the Poland vs England soccer match, but how long could
that go on? The TV I dreamed of had naked chick action. Excitedly, I flipped
back and forth hoping for a racy commercial, but only got a frightening channel
playing some Woopie Goldberg thing. Great, Whoopie F'n Goldberg. I hope
she doesn’t get naked…
Christ, the Waggledancer made me pass out right in the
middle of my typing. I spent the last ten minutes laughing at the incoherent
ramblings, funny, but it wouldn’t be understandable so I had to delete it. The
bed is as saggy and lumpy as my grandmother’s breasts. No wonder everyone here
has a grimace on their face. I think this place gets their water from the
original Roman aqueducts. Besides the crappy toilet pressure, the shower is
like a trickle. That can explain the fragrance I encountered on the train. So
far, I have had little luck in locating a bottle, a glass, or a shop offering
the beverage I seek, Absinthe. Yes, it is legal and I will be hunting high and
low for the green fair. I don’t think Chelmsford is the type of hip town the
libation would be sold.
Absent of Absinthe in all local shops, I headed to London
for a look around. The place is clean and easy to get around, but I
had little luck
in finding Absinthe. I did get a chance to see the most important sight of
London, the most recognized place, the power of power. Yes, I stumbled upon the
jewel of the city.
Yes, the Cutty Sark flag should give it away, but since
this camera is only 2.1 megapixels, I wanted to let you know that this is Berry
Brothers, the wine merchant to the Royal Family. By time I found it, they were
closed, but I did make them nervous by snapping away through the locked doors.
It is located across the street from some important palace,
but quite frankly, there are so many Duke and Lord palaces, I couldn’t keep
them straight. I wanted to shop around and see how stoically pedantic they are
being the wine supplier to the Queen herself. But they had to close for 4pm
Two doors away is Lock Hat shop, the only hat maker of
Laurel and Hardy. I was blessed, two important sights within the same block.
All in all, it was a nice trip with interesting sights. I
just need to get back there when Berry Brothers is open so I can find out if the
Queen Mum drinks the white zinfandel.
October 11, 2005
The family is growing as the
WinoStuff posse took to the streets. Well, it was more like the rooms of an
elegant landmark in the Jersey suburbs. Big Bob and Wino John had a chance to
meet Wino Stan, Wino Marty, the other John and their posse and, en mass, we
started at table one of the Wine Library’s Super Tasting 2005 and rolled through
table 71. I believe there were only 2 of the 759 wines we didn’t taste and they
were white zinfandel girlie wines. So instead of writing a long story, I
thought I would simply list the 757 wines I enjoyed.
- Massolino Barolo
- Massolino Barolo
- Kellar Estate La
- Kellar Estate
Oro de Plata
OK, this will really be
monotonous, so let me give you some high points and low points. The biggest
high was hanging with Big Bob and having the pleasure of meeting the VIW (Very
Important Wino) Gary from Wine Library, and his associates. Note to Justin, we
will be in touch. As for the wines, there are too many to fully define, but
several stick out. The first two I have to mention are my "ass pimples" for the
night. I know it loses something when I have to explain, but put it this way:
Take Savannah, our WBotM, and say she and I were in her hot tub enjoying a glass
of Savannah wine, and she slips out of her bathing suite and says, "Wino Bob, I
need you right now..." And as she turns around, I notice that she has an
ass pimple. I got this crazy brain thing that, although she has the body of an
angel, I would be thinking about the turn off of the ass pimple. All my excited
anticipation would be deflated by the ass pimple. My two ass pimple wines, those
which I expected to be heavenly, but I could only concentrate on their flaws
were the Gran Clos Priorat, one I was watering to try, and the 2002
Banfi Summus. I have enjoyed both in the past, but not tonight. They have
scared me as the ass pimple wines of the tasting.
Some I really enjoyed in no
order or enjoyment or price value...
Torbreck Steading -
nice Aussie blend
The shiraz from Lengs &
Cooter - I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cooter, as I was making a
sophomoric joke about the name on the label since cooter is a nickname for
female private parts for fourth graders in Bloomfield. The Lengs & Cooter-
The Victor shiraz was a chocolate delight, but I was not much for their
reserve. Rachael was very patient with WJ and I as we drank our way up and down
her table. The other wine Rachael offered that I really enjoyed was the
Oliver’s Taranga Shiraz.
Wino John pitched a tent both
literally and physically at the Lauber California Cab table as he tasted every
red from the:
I think at one time he poked
someone by mistake as he joyously reached his glass for another sample. The boy
was in heaven. (Editor's note: Yeah, baby...
Several more I enjoyed
Chimney Rock Cab
BV George de Latour
“Generations Red”- us from the Sideways fame
Trenadue Black Label
Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon
Pio Cesare Barolo
Geyser Reserve Meritage
Mondavi Oakville Cab
Mondavi Cab Reserve
Barossa Valley Estates
Barossa Valley Estates
E & E Black Pepper
Hardys Eileen Shiraz
And twenty other wines I
cannot recall. That is a great event and the food offered by the Manor was
exceptional for a tasting. From the look of the crowd, I think the charity, The
Arc of Essex County, had a successful evening. It was a fun night and I highly
recommend you get there next year.
Wino Marty was talking to
every one of the pourers, setting up a private tasting at the wineries for his
next visit to Napa and Wino Stan found a few he will be stocking his cellar
with. I think the 1919 Malbec ranked among his top 5. I believe I tanked
up enough to handle the warm beer dilution I will suffer over the next few days.
It was a good way to keep my blood wine level at peak.
October 10, 2005
I know there are delays in my postings when WJ is traveling
the globe and out of touch, so I wanted to let you know that I will be the one
out of touch over the next week. My Geek job has me heading to a meeting in
some small, remote town in England. I am not sure if I will have internet
access, or time to use my laptop, or be anywhere near wine. To head off the
potential disaster, I will be visiting the mega-tasting at The Manor tonight
hosted by the Wine Library. This will be a first time for Big Bob, WJ, Wino
Stan and Wino Marty to converge on the open bottles of Peju, Screaming Eagle,
Caymus, Silver Oak, or any of the other 600 wines that will be thrust upon our
I imagine the next few days after the tasting will be
filled with warm beer from local pubs that are not available in the US and hold
little interest to write about, save the headache, hangover or general buzz. If
time permits, and my mind is clear enough, I will fire off one more entry about
the event before I head to the land of bad teeth, British humor and Queen Mum.
The only sight I will be attempting to visit is Berry and Son’s, the
centuries-old wine shop in London that houses some of the most prized wines in
the country. I will be flashing the Wino Bob business card and demanding to be
taken to the Queen’s private stock to sample what the Old Woman hides in her hip
flask. With the passing of Princess Di, there ain’t a whole lot to get excited
about across the pond, though I will be looking for someone to translate the
snogging and dogging terms I read about on the internet.
2002 Kaiken Malbec, Mendoza
There is promise, but it just is not there yet. A nose of bitter
blueberries and a harsh finish turned me off a bit on this one.
October 9, 2005
No, please, that’s enough. Please, my email box is
full. I just thought I would head off the volume of thank you emails for what
you are about to read. Yes, Winos and Winettes, while you spend time reading
mundane wine articles about the weather in Southern New Zealand and its effects
on this years sauvignon blanc, or how this new cabernet has aromas of horse
saddle well-ridden on a late august afternoon, I toil away in my dark dank third
floor room researching fitting information for the WinoStuff crowd. About 2:45
am, I found an interesting bit of information that I did not know. And if I did
not know it, how could I expect you would know it? Of all the magazine, lame
web sites and TV shows, not one of them has discussed the following topic. I
offer my services to the writers of Andrea Immer’s TV show for an episode that
will boost those molehill ratings.
So what am I excited about you ask? OK, so you didn’t ask,
but this blank page needs to be filled so I wanted to share my newfound
knowledge. I am excited about Coca Cola, not the new Classic Coke, but the
original. We all know that the original Coca Cola was so named because it
contained cocaine as the thing that got people hooked. That really has nothing
to do with a wine web site. No, it is the person Mr. Pemberton imitated
that I am excited about today. I even submit to the judging committee, a
posthumous Winery of the Month, or Wino Hunk of the Month, or Wino God of the
With much fan fare and a royal blaze of trumpets ( we do
not actually have the ability to add wave files so in your head right now make
that doot-doot-da-doo sound we all have done at one time or another)
Angelo Mariani? Wino Bob, what the f&$# are you
talking about? Well folks, in my hours of research on something other than the
Savanna Samson homepage, I located a bit of wine history I was not aware of
until hours ago. Way back in the mid-1860’s an entrepreneurial young Corsican
chemist found the right blend of wine to gather the attention of the
professional, religious, and general derelicts alike. The good sir infused a
bit of cocaine into his Vin Mariani and launched a million dollar product line.
It could be said he was the first coke dealer in the world. Yes, each bottle of
Angelo’s magic elixir contained about 0.12 grains per ounce of pure white
lightening. The wine was first offered as a medical tonic and the doctor
community started writing scribs faster than Elvis. This new wine was
advertised as having the ability to nourish, refresh and strengthen your system
while also aiding digestion. Woo Hoo, sign me up, Doc! I think I have
tiredness and a weak system, got any magical wine tonic elixir stuff you can
Pope Leo XIII was so hooked, he endorsed the product.
Nothing better than the holiest of holy, number one on earth and number 4 in the
universe saying, "Dudes, I think you should drink this, I do and I like it."
Kind of the Michael Jordan of his time.
Then, as always, when things get fun, that ugly, unpopular
bitch, Molly Hatchet, had this country give up the alcoholic enjoyment, or in
her case, the liquid that kept her husband from leaving her. Fortunately, for
America, a drugstore owner siezed the moment and developed a refreshing
non-alcoholic beverage containing the same coke base that Vin Mariani used.
Things really do go better with Coke. Eventually, the federal government
clamped down on all medical elixirs containing opium, heroine, cocaine,
amphetamines, and ruined the party, but for several decades a certain imported
wine was a very popular item in the USA.
October 3, 2005
Well, the Grand Harvest Festival yesterday was truly grand,
what little I saw of it. Unlike the Waterloo Village event, I was expected and
they did assign me a job. The weather was spectacular for an early October day,
with a blue sky in every direction one could see and temperatures in the
summer-like 80’s. I heard the band warming up as I arrived at 11am, and saw the
tent tops from my limited vantage point at the registration tent. Then, in a
gesture of graciousness on my part, I volunteered to do the wine pick up tent.
The best place to meet people is the pick up tent, on their way out, as they
spent most of the day enjoying the wine and music and are in a great mood.
This year, to serve the public, they placed the pick up
tent in the far parking lot, across the road from the winery. Spending 5 hours
there left me very little opportunity to walk the festival. In truth, it left
me no time to grab a glass and sample the fruit of the loins of the Garden
State. Like a kid with his nosed pressed against the glass of the candy
counter, I was just on the other side of all the action. There seemed to be an
excitement from the people I spoke with as they picked up their cases of wine.
The amount of volume purchasing seemed higher than last year and comments from
several of my fellow volunteers indicated the event held on Saturday and Sunday
was well attended. I guess the weather Gods smiling down with a cloudless sky
and summer-like temperatures is ideal for enjoying a bold bottle of Norton or
sipping a chilled Vidal Blanc.
Hope to see you there next year…
October 1, 2005
We do live in a great time where science, whether Darwin’s
version or Intelligent Design, has human’s at the top of the food chain and
finding all sorts of neat crap. Since we are at the top of the food chain, and
always looking for that next great meal, the BYOB Italian restaurants on
Bloomfield Ave. in Caldwell, let out a collective hoo-ray as Japanese scientist
finally discovered the elusive Giant Squid. Antonio Mengia was overheard
saying, “this giant squid is the answer to my desire of making the largest bowl
of squid ink linguini to finally get my name in the Guinness Book of World
Records, and the amount of calamari I can get from just one squid will feed
Seen below is Antonio getting ready to taste the tentacle,
a prized part for fried calamari fans in Caldwell. piacere questa
munificenza di calamari fritto finché i suoi stomaci si sono gonfiati
In a much more important research finding, scientists have
located the alcohol-tolerance gene in fruit flies. Finally, they can stop
blaming me for lost profits at Bacchus, as it is the alcoholic fruit flies that
hover on the pour spouts of their liqueurs and red wines, not me. The bad news
is that now I have to spend more money getting my fruit fly date drunk before
she will go to bed with me. Actually, there might be a bright side to this,
once this gene is discovered, I can get one and save tons of money on my wine
purchases per year. It will no longer take a bottle or two, or three to get me
that happy high I seek to drown out this pain called life. With no tolerance
gene, I can turn into a sloppy, falling down obnoxious drunk in just one glass.
There is a bright side to scientific discovery. Now, did we evolve that gene
from the drunken apes of the African plains or did a higher power design that in
to sell more red wine? Damn you, Robert Mondavi….
A gene that helps fruit flies develop alcohol
tolerance has been found – and named “hangover”. The gene also controls the
flies’ response to stress, and the researchers say that a similar pathway
linking alcohol tolerance and stress probably functions in humans.
The findings may explain why people who have been in
a stressful situation often have a blunted response to alcohol and may need
to drink more to feel inebriated, experts say, putting them at greater risk
of becoming addicted.
Ulrike Heberlein at the University of California at
San Francisco, US, and Henrike Scholz from the University of Würzburg in
Germany, exposed fruit flies to ethanol vapor. Intoxicated fruit flies show
similar behavior to tipsy humans: they lack coordination and postural
control and then fall asleep. It took the flies an average of 20 minutes to
recover following their exposure
1995 Altos de Corral Single Estate Rioja
This wine had some nice potential, but
there was just an off-finish that affected my appreciation for this one. Nice
red fruit and dark cherry with a simple hint of spice, but lost it at the end.