Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oldman on questions...

Harry Oldman chimes in with his nonsensical babble once more:

As a man with more wine experience than most, I have developed a keen eye for what really matters in this intoxicating industry. I've met more winemakers than I can count and it doesn't matter that I had to repeat Algebra three times in middle school because Arithmetic is the only type of mathematics that matters in wine. 97 points more more than 96 points. Easy as pie. But not that pi. That doesn't mean a 97-pt wine is better than a 96-pt wine, because we all know that comparing wines is like an MMA fight between a kung fu panda and a jujitsu jackass. For one, they both are from different continents. But both are distinctly mammalian. Donkey meat is rubbery and full of ferality. Panda is rare, succulent and full of fresh acidity. It's a question of taste and not fact. Or maybe the other way around. Now where was I?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving thanks to local wine

Thanksgiving Day dates back to the early 1600's (most assign the Pilgrims' feast in 1621 as the first, but prior Thanksgiving feast have been recorded) in the United States. The feast that now is the official kick-off of the winter holiday season (or a halftime show for an annoyingly few) actually began as a celebration of the year's harvest. For many Americans it now is an excuse to stuff our faces, watch football and drink wine. So it is almost like every Sunday except we gather with family and have leftovers for a month afterwards.

Many of you reading this have already planned the wines the you will serve with or bring to the feast. Most likely you have chosen or will choose a pinot noir or a riesling, as those are probably the two most suggested wine pairings. The Thanksgiving Day meal is probably one of the most diverse collection of foods to have ever graced millions of tables at the same time. There really isn't one magical wine the goes perfectly with turkey, green beans, potatoes and cranberries. Cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, zinfandel and ribolla gialla would all work equally as well. In fact, almost any wine makes sense at the Thanksgiving Day table. Instead of trying to match the wine with the food, I would like to suggest an alternative (I'm sure many other people are suggesting this as well...).

As the day is meant to give thanks for the successful harvest (originally from local sources...), I suggest that we all attempt to give thanks that all 50 states have local wine industries. The American wine industry is as diverse (and delicious) as ever. We all know that California produces a bounty of wonderful wines year in and year out. So do France, Germany, Italy and Spain. But (for you non-Californians) so do your local producers. Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia are leading the pack of the New American wine. Iowa, Louisiana and Wisconsin all make wine, too (and I have tried wine from each of those three!). No matter what state in which you reside, you will be able to find a producer working his or her butt off to try to make a local wine. Seek one out to try with your turkey.

I will have local wine on my table this Thursday. Please do those local farmers a favor and give them thanks by gracing your table with something local. It would mean the world to them, even if it is a once-a-year occasion for every American to recognize that they exist, that they're working hard and that their product means something to you. Let's all give thanks to local wines this year!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spell the damn grape correctly!

Dear wineries (consumers, retailers, writers I'm not directly talking to you, but pay attention because you make the same error), please don't rely on spell check. Spell check only works when a word is misspelled and not when the wrong word is used. Please proofread everything that you write for customers and the media alike. I know my writing is not always perfect, but I try to make sure it is as close as can be. Spelling and grammar errors annoy me because spelling is important. When I used to give map quizzes in my geography classes, students would complain when I marked them wrong for spelling places incorrectly. Colarada is not Colorado. Wineries make all sorts of spelling errors, but one in particular is going to cause my eyes to be permanently stuck in the back of my head!

Petit verdot. The cultivar is petit verdot, not petite verdot. I know, I know, it is easily confused with petite sirah. However, the petit(e)s are not the same. You would embarrassed to put cabaret sauvignon on you tech sheets, even though it might be a very fun place to visit (calling Jean-Charles...).

I see this error all the time. From producers who don't know their franc from their sauvignon to some of the biggest names (and most expensive wines) in the U.S. I don't care if you are a one-(wo)man show or have an entire marketing/PR team behind you, spell the damn grape correctly! You write about the attention you pay in the vineyard and the care you provide the fermenting juice, but when you make this simple spelling error I get the feeling you really don't care or don't get it. I know one little letter isn't a big deal, but that's the difference between Obama and Osama.

An easy way to remember how to spell petit verdot and petite sirah is that they both have two E's. Petit verdot has one in each word and petite sirah has them both in the first. It's as easy as that.

Thank you for your time reading my stupid rant and you can now go back to ignoring me (if you weren't still doing so...).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dr. Oldman on how he saved Wine Spectator

Last month's guest post from Harry Oldman was such a success I've invited him back to share some more thoughts. He thought that with this week's countdown of the Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of 2013 it would be appropriate to share with us the story of how he saved the publication.

It has been an exhilarating journey to watch the growth of wine criticism in the USofA. I have written about wine for various publications since the mid-1970s; you'll often find my tasting reports and "bully pulpit" editorial comments about wine on the online forums. But back in the day when I wrote on real paper, I was friends with Bob Morrisey (yup, I followed Wine Spectator from the very start). Bob was trying to figure out how make Americans care about wine and how to get them to pay him for caring. He found a young writer with the nose of a cherub and a deft palate. He was in negotiations with this gentleman to start a nationwide retail outlet to be called on  Laube's Hobby Shop. The store was based on the idea of selling wine paraphernalia with strong values, and honoring Bacchus in a manner consistent with capitalistic principles.

Friday, November 1, 2013


After reading Dr. Oldman's guest post a few weeks ago, another friend of mine wrote me and demanded to contribute to the blog, too. I had to ask her to remind me who she was again, and then it hit me. Her name is Remi Burmí. How could I forget her, with her bright red, Buddy Holly glasses and Converse low tops. She's a few years older than I. She's a self-taught wine expert whose dad was an award-winning science fiction author (I think his last novel even won gold at the California State Fair). Her mom was a sex therapist from Mendocino. She writes a biennial wine column for Examiner.com (or at least that's what she claims). Her writing makes me think of Eric Asimov and Jon Bonné co-publishing an online magazine using a nom de guerre.

Any way, she said that with all the Baby Boomers and Millennials writing past each other in the wine blogosphere she felt like she was part of a forgotten generation. She said, for some reason, that my blog was the hispster-est place to speak out for these forgotten beer wine consumers. Oh, and to even make it more hipster, she wanted the post to go live after 5:00 EDT on a Friday because no one will read it over the weekend and people will still be talking about the non-cabernet Parker perfect wine and the imminent wine shortage. Oh and it's a poem... (Oh Lorde, save yourself and just stop reading right now!)