Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Greeting 2010 with a massive headache | January 4, 2010


The pregnant wife. The neighbors with kids. The tight budget. The need for sleep.

All a recipe for a quiet evening on New Year’s Eve. Maybe a sip of Champagne, a kiss at midnight, and in the bed soon after.

Okay…harmless enough. Started the evening with dessert: a Murphy’s Irish Stout float, with a scoop of vanila ice cream dropped into the murky delight. I’d seen this in the past, on the menu at a local pub (The Grange Public House), and most recently HERE on Dale Cruse’s tidy Boston Wine/Food/What-Have-You blog, Drinks Are On Me. I challenged the notion of ruining a perfectly good stout with ice cream, but at prodding from multiple sources, I went for it. The verdict? Didn’t like it, but not for the reason you may think. I can totally see the appeal. But, if you have a colorful history of college nights soaked with Irish Car Bombs, this tastes exactly like sipping something that you’re predisposed to slamming down your gullet as quickly as possible. If you haven’t burnt yourself out on the boilermaker of the green-eyed and red-bearded, then you will probably be all over this. I’d like to try it again with a chocolate or oatmeal stout.
No big deal. One drink. I’ll be up at 6 AM doing jumping jacks-
-phone rings. “C’mon over! Casino games,” say the neighbors. Okay, maybe 7 AM jumping jacks.

First bottle: Charles D’Embrun Champagne Brut NV. I was a little wary. Never heard of it. The bottle was going out of its way to tell me it was “Champagne.” Priced too-reasonably at $25.99. Certainly nothing to sneeze at, but pretty darn cheap for real French Champagne. Too cheap? The big names: the Roederers, the Taittingers, the Möet et Chandons, the Bollingers, et al start more around $40. And while I usually prescribe to the notion of “paying for what you get,” a little gremlin always tells me that this is going to be the diamond in the rough.
Not quite. While the nose had nice biscuity, yeasty, and lemon-y smells (the former two a product of the wine being aged on the lees, or dead yeast cells in the bottle), the bubbles were very large (I swear larger than my wife’s glass of sparkling cider). This is a sign of low quality. Furthermore, in the mouth, it went dead…no finish. Some quick flavors, and then POOF! Gone. Easily, a textbook example of a short finish. Overall, not terrible, but (why didn’t I go with my instinct?) “you pay for what you get.” Paying $26 and getting “meh” was disappointing.

Getting loopy. Next bottle: Arthur Metz Crémant D’Alsace Brut Millésime 2007. “Crémant” is a term used in France for any sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region (you may sometimes see “Mousseux” instead of “Crémant”). In this case “D’Alsace” would mean “from the Alsace region”. This 100% Pinot Noir rosé offered just a faceful of strawberries and cherries, with a nice fizz and dry finish. No yeasty and biscuity flavors, but at $14.99, a pretty good deal. This would make a dang good chaser for a pork BBQ sammich. Chaser for another bottle of bubbly? Trouble brewing…

By the time we got to bubbly bottle 3 (there was some still wines mixed in somewhere), clarity of mind was touch-and-go, at best. However, we were eager to compare the crémant of Alsace versus the Louis Bouillot Crémant de Bourgogne (Burgundy) Brut Rosé. This one, likely Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and (maybe) Aligoté was a full-on slap to the face. It smelled (confirmed by 3 others) exactly, I mean EXACTLY, like an old tent. As if you hadn’t been camping in a while, and unfurled the tent and the sleeping bags in the garage. Sadly, although we were amused by the sheer familiarity of the scent, I’d have to say this one was clearly corked (learn more about that in this post). A shame, but at this point in the evening, I’m pretty sure it was consumed anyway…
…I say “pretty sure”, because I vaguely recall curling up on the floor shortly after, dreaming hazy dreams of a prosperous 2010, and contemplating the unlikely prospect of those morning jumping jacks.
Happy New Year, everyone.
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