Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Uncle Ernie’s Rejuvenating & Vitalizing Tonic

August 30, 2010
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It’s said in traditional Chinese medicine that the consumption of tiger penis promotes virility.
The people of Iceland are known to eat putrid, rotten shark meat- called hákarl– as part of hallowed tradition.
Oysters, long believed to be an aphrodisiac, were no doubt labeled as such to get some poor soul to finally eat one. Listen, I love oysters, but who was the first person to tuck in? Someone desperate for a date, I presume. Keep in mind that they didn’t have back then.
Snake whiskey? What a terrible idea. Check out the muscly dude on the label in the picture above. Doesn’t say anything about “smooth & drinkable”. Nope. A picture of a muscly dude in a speedo always implies, “Hey loser, wanna get laid? Well, if you choke this poison down, by comparison, asking Sally to the sock hop will be a freakin’ breeze.”
Here’s my point: throughout history, the undesirable bits of food were always marketed differently; promoted as health cures or potency tonics. Waste was not an afforded luxury back then, so every consumable had to be utilized. What better way to trick folks than to promise rosy cheeks and unbridled masculinity?
Further, I present a second point: I’m awfully wary of any food product that’s marketing bypasses pleasant taste in favor of “healthful properties”. Sorry, there is no tiger penis in the Suburban Wino household pantry.

That being said, if the comestible in question features no dangling bits of the animal anatomy, I’m willing to indulge curiosity. With that in mind, I agreed to receipt of a sample of 100% pomegranate wine from Tree of Life. I rarely write “reviews” on this site, but this was odd and unusual, as well as supposedly healthy (proceeding with caution).
The deep red, almost brown juice smelled…well, it smelled weird. What else can I say? The nose- perplexing me to this day- had some sort of pickle smell to it. Not like aged Burgundy-pickle; more like a lot of capers. Like a bagel & lox wine, sans the fish, the cream cheese, the onion, and the bagel. Just the capers. In fact, “bagel & lox wine” is clearly a terrible description. Look at what I’ve gotten myself into. Anyway, besides capers, I did catch a little raspberry in there. This isn’t a b.s., scrounging-for-a-red-fruit descriptor. Raspberries, for sure. Also (not surprisingly), it just smelled like pomegranates. Which can smell weird. Feather-in-the-cap of my first descriptor. But let’s face it: pomegranates taste a little odd. Perhaps that’s why they’re marketed as super-healthy.

In the mouth, it was much less offensive. I’d say it tasted like pomegranate juice, but that would just be lazy. It was tart, but smooth. Not tannic or alcoholic. A little sweet. Like a really weak Cape Cod without the lime. Take some cranberry juice and pour just a bit of vodka in. That’s it. Or, ferment a pomegranate. That’s what they did.
So, I guess it was okay. Not my speed, but I’m not swayed by promises of big fruit flavor and beneficial properties in my wine. While I certainly appreciate the opportunity to try it, I don’t think I’d pay money for this product of Armenia. I’d probably just go for a glass of pomegranate juice. But, if you can’t have a health drink without getting a little crunk, then this is for you.
If nothing more, the sample gave me an excuse to write about snake whiskey. And I must say- to its credit- a glass may do your body good without a single ounce of critter wang.

A Band-Aid that’s screwing up my "Booze in the News"

August 27, 2010
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Settled down to write “Booze in the News” tonight. Got some great fodder for it, too.
But the cybernet had other plans. Turns out, the repeating images in the background (this little guy)-
-were overpowering the text. I set up my code for a white background to fall behind the text, but many web browsers weren’t cooperating, so reading the blawg was damn near impossible. So, rather than writing another scintillating edition of “Booze in the News” (or “BITN”, or “BIN”, or just “BN”, or “B”), I fidgeting with the stupid layout for hours. In the end, I just made everything white in the background, and I’m pissed about it, because I’m very proud of the neon silhouette of the unnamed hillbilly wino (oooh…naming contest coming soon).
Fortunately, my lovely wife, always diligent in the pursuit of quality content for BITN, found video of a story that I heard earlier this week and just had to showcase. Takes lots of “partying” to not realized what happened here. Sounds like this dude needs another drink like a hole in the head…

Rants in your Pants, or the Insecure Ramblings of a Wine Jester

August 25, 2010
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Have I lost all my credibility?

I was once tasting wines with a distributor, and he was showing me his portfolio. He noted that there were two types of products he carried: wine and “gadgets”. His Cab Franc-based Chinon was a wine. His chartreuse-crankbait green, “mojitoflavored wine-like beverage” was a gadget. They both sold (okay, only the latter sold…this was rural Georgia), but the mojito monstrosity was not a wine, at least in his expert opinion.
But back to my fragile reputation as a savvy sommelier-wannabe of the interweb. Has it gone the way of a bottle of mojito-flavored wine-like beverage at a Georgia demolition derby tailgate? Plausible, as there are warning signs:
1) My facebook page numbers have dwindled, along with comments and page visits. Yeah, I’ve been slow on Twitter. I haven’t interacted much with the community. Circumstances just don’t allow right now. Oddly, though, the reader Exodus manifested after I wrote a post about how back sweat is best tempered with a glass of Assyrtiko. Lighten up, folks! I didn’t realize you were so offended by Greek wine.
2) My company- whom I’ve long debated for blocking Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube at the office- has opened up said three, but countered by blocking anything with “suburbanwino” in the address, including the blog, the twitter page, and the Facebook page. Touché, I.T. gents. Clearly, like a bad porn flick, the embarrassing bits have been blacked out from view.
3) Most disturbing: I’m receiving gadget samples.
Granted, I’m not usually one to take a wine sample, sniff, taste, and report. Sure, it’s a totally original concept, but I doubt readers care that I think a glass of Aussie Karl’s mojito-wine is redolent of koala diapers. I know and respect plenty of people who do reviews (and do them well), but that’s not how I generally swing on this soft-copy fish wrapper.
Maybe I haven’t written enough poignant pieces about HR5034 (surely, one in a bureaucratic sea of craptacular House “Resolutions”). I want small wineries to ship direct to consumers. I even know distributors who hate this proposed law. But you don’t want to read about it here. I’m uninformed, and serious news generally doesn’t stand a chance with my scatterbrain when “Futurama” is on Comedy Central. Alas, somewhere, Tom C. Wark is not reading this blog anyway.
Perhaps I’m not convinced that wine blogging MUST be the stone that slays traditional media’s Goliath. Maybe I think wine blogging can be the young and sassy Jay Leno to Wine Spectator’s wise and grounded Pat Morita. However, compromise is not what the revolutionary-types want to hear out there, so am I’m being boycotted for such a sensible view? Or, is the shun (understandably) because this is the second time Suburban Wino has referenced the Jay Leno/Pat Morita opus, Collision Course?
In any case, getting back to #3, I will be writing about a beverage made out of pomegranates soon. Yes, I’m going to write about it. Although I suppose it’s “technically” wine, I’m going with “gadget”. And if the subject itself doesn’t kill me, the sheer audacity of the content may. When you see a subsequent post about ChocoVine, then you’ll know that I’m too far gone…
…or, maybe this is just a clever ruse to entertain you.
Did you come here to be entertained? For shame.

Posted in gadgets, rants, thoughts, wine

Bob to the Rescue

August 24, 2010
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One of those weeks. Hey, it happens sometimes. Circumstances; focus on the job that pays money to put food and such in bellies…well, there are moments when a post doesn’t come consistently every Monday or Tuesday.

In times like this, so opt for guest posts. However, as I am too selfish, defensive, and protective of this space, I reserve these moments for great video.

See you soon; got glasses to test, devices that require fidgeting, and trivial banter about the upcoming #Cabernet event. In the meantime, I turn the cyberweb over to my Mr. Show favorite, Bob Odenkirk, as he discusses wine in such colorful language that may not be appropriate for your namby-pamby workplace.

Booze in the News – 8/20/2010

August 20, 2010
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Two weeks in a row. You impressed yet?

A Bridge Too Long: National and State government in Germany’s Mosel (a very famous wine-producing area, known for world-class Riesling) is going ahead with a project to build a bridge spanning the region. The idea is to relieve congestion and increase tourism in the area. The detractors of this project, known as the “Pro-Mosel” group, are fighting the potential eyesore, as it will take away from the Mosel’s scenic beauty. Yep, leave it to the Germans to take something pure and wonderful and screw it up. Remember how music used to be cool? I’m blaming all this auto-tuned crap on the Düsseldorf-based band that put robotic lyrics on the map. For shame, Kraftwerk. Who knew “Electric Café” would cause so much collateral damage?

Bursting their Bubbles: As humiliating to France as André the Giant getting bodyslammed at WrestleMania 3 by the Hulkster, new science has proven that the hallowed and traditional technique of pouring Champagne directly into a vertical flute is flawed. The loss of dissolved carbon dioxide has been scientifically-proven by physics geeks to be lessened by pouring the wine at an angle, à la the way you’d pour a beer into a tall, tilted glass to retain some head. Even more shocking is how little I care about this research. Besides, everyone knows the best way to pour Champagne is to cut out the middle-man and employ the direct “bottle-to-lips” method, resulting in the most-efficient manifestation of what scientists call “fizzy goodness in the tummy” syndrome.

Warm Springs, indeed: It’s a well-known fact (especially to residents of Georgia) that Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent a good deal of time in Warm Springs, GA, taking advantage of the natural hot springs to soothe his polio-riddled body. However, an NPR Planet Money podcast revealed that the rejuvenating waters of west-central Georgia were a secondary draw for the soon-to-be 32nd President. His first love: “stump juice”, aka, moonshine. Yep, FDR was supposedly sucking down white lightning- during Prohibition, no less- while away from Hyde Park. Personally, I speculate that his love of Peach State mountain dew (let’s see how many ‘shine synonyms I can fit in here) led to his push to repeal Prohibition. I’m going to go ahead and fully credit illegal Georgia booze with sound Presidential decision. In fact, I’m working on acquiring a case to send to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue immediately.

The Accidental Generosity of Others

August 17, 2010
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A couple neighbors of ours just had a kid. As it turns out, that’s why people move to the suburbs. They buy houses, quit going out to eat at any cool places, pull weeds, cut grass, then have a bunch of kids. The screaming-kid-and-urine-filled neighborhood pool is the only source of entertainment, save drinking. When I bought my house, I had grandiose visions of lavish barbecues every weekend: complete with the finest meats and cheeses, beer that flowed like pee in the neighborhood pool, and horseshoes. Horseshoes aplenty.
Okay, I was a little more wise to the situation than that. I suspected the party would slow down once bars were not within walking distance. It’s okay; the free-wheelin’ lifestyle afforded in my early 20’s was not sustainable. An innate instinct to migrate to a subdivision and create 2.5 kids strengthened. Clearly, I was not alone in this shift.

So, derailing ramble aside (as usual), there’s another newborn in the ‘hood. As a first child saps one’s energy like a metroid attached to the head*, preparing meals becomes a nigh-impossible task. The wife and I- now crafty veterans- decided to put together a tasty treat to satiate the weary on a night thought to be designated our turn to feed the troops.
*this is a REALLY nerdy joke, even for me. I just can’t forget how those little f’ers would really set you back when you could sniff victory after hundreds of hours invested in no social advancement. Screw you, metroids.
Through communication error- something in which I excel- the couple had already eaten, and we were (perhaps fortunately) left in the possession of this:
A rather simple concoction: homemade sauce (olive oil, crushed canned tomatoes, garlic cloves, fresh basil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and ground fennel seed), fresh Mozzarella, Fontina, Pecorino, fresh oregano and basil, and roasted garlic. I piled this on top of some pre-made Publix dough. It’s as close to making it yourself while still being lazy. The dough comes in a ball; just let it rise in an oiled bowl with a damp towel draped over, punch down, flatten, and toss. I make a decent homemade dough, but I also have a little kid. Spare me the grief concerning the shortcut, and allow me to play the “new kid” card.
I paired with a juicy, amply-acidic Zinfandel-based California red blend, and dinner was off to the races.
However, to Amy, Scott, and little Griffin: we’re sorry for the goof, and we owe you a pizza. Just don’t feed it to the kid.

Posted in pizza, thoughts

The Exodus

August 16, 2010
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“Soylent Green is made from PEOPLE!” -Charlton Heston from The Ten Commandments
…oh, wait. That was Soylent Green.

With a heavy heart, I today say goodbye to another one of Atlanta’s finest wine bloggers. It was almost a year today- literally within hours- that The Dirty’s favorite son, Hardy Wallace, shipped off to Sonoma for what was to become the 6-month trip that never ended.
Now, Fast Eddie Thralls, the steady rudder behind the good ship Wine Tonite!, has departed for a 3-month apprenticeship at Holdredge Wines in Healdsburg, CA (the very town where Hardy/Dirty landed).
In the short time I’ve known Ed, we’ve built a strong friendship, one that even supersedes my venomous hatred for his alma mater, the University of Florida. As we subscribe to the profound notion that wine brings people together, then a mutual love for the grape by Ed and myself broke down these walls, and I was able to see past the jorts, the horrid orange-and-blue camo jerseys, and the acrid stench of North Florida crystal meth.
I kid, I kid. It’s a testament to the sense of humor of the little fella. In all seriousness, Ed’s been beyond generous with his wine, his hospitality, and his knowledge. And- knowing both how passionate he is about the wine biz and that he’s on the prowl for a winery job- I fear my buddy’s never coming back. Turn on the Led Zeppelin II; another of Atlanta’s finest has rambled on. Selflessness aside, I hope Ed Thralls doesn’t come back; that would only mean his quest to realize his dreams has been fulfilled.

So, with Irish wake music in the background, I toast both displaced Peach-staters the best way I can: with a bottle of 2003 Garretson Peach State Cuvée. I found this Paso Robles, CA wine discounted at Cost Plus World Market (one of those types of places I hated to go with my mom as a kid, but now…well, I guess I’m just pretty damn lame). It has to be one of the most random and interesting bottles I’ve ever seen. The winemaker- Mat Garretson, an Atlanta native- created this bottling to honor all his friends and family back in Georgia. Though the label was devoid of grapes, Garretson’s reputation as a Rhône-lover, along with the meaty, berry, funky tar, smoke, pepper, and alcoholic heat aromas suggested to me that it was a blend of some percentage of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, and/or Zinfandel, for good measure. It still packed some tannins in the mouth for a 7-year-old Cali wine. Overall, for the bargain price of $14 I paid, it was a proper quaff to both drink and pour a little out for my homies who have moved on (without feeling guilty about it).
Alas (very sadly), Garretson Wine Company is no more. A faded memory of two states connected by wine. However, we wish Ed well, and we remain confident that his connection to the great state of Georgia will remain. I look forward to cracking a bottle with Ed and Hardy when they come back to visit, as I am firmly planted in Atlanta…
…well, at least until the next Exodus.

Friday’s "Booze in the News"

August 13, 2010
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An awefully clever, regular weekly segment that will probably run for one week, because I blew my wad on all the good stories this week. News- as you’d expect here- will lean towards the weird.

No longer just a crappy song by Toby Keith: A horse trainer in Saratoga, NY is convinced that a bottle of Guinness as part of his horses’ diets makes them perform better. Irishman Derek Ryan’s regime is intended to keep the thoroughbreds’ appetites up. One of the horses- Musket Man- finished 3rd in two legs of the Triple Crown on this boozy diet…makes me wonder why my bosses don’t let me drink Guinness at work. Isn’t my productivity low enough to get creative with the motivation, guys?? And while I’m not concerned by one beer getting these ponies drunk, keep in mind that most of them are around 2 years old. Is that 21 in horse years?

Scotland ditches haggis and does food right for once: Had it on my radar to mention, but wily blogger (and good egg) Sam from beat me to the punch in talking about Scottish brew firm BrewDog’s latest mad creation: “The End of History”. If a 50% ABV beer isn’t a fuzzy-enough experience for you, the “bottles” are actually taxidermy rodents. At last, passing out with that empty under your neck will be cuddly (as it’s always meant to be). Honestly, I’m curious about the DUI defense when the defendant argues that he “only had one beer.” And one’s about all you can afford…this brew costs $760 a bottle (though currently sold out).

The fermented equivalent of Mustmayostardayonnaise: giving BrewDog a run for “absolute best beer idea, ever”, Austrian Brewer Egger has fashioned suds with the addition of whey. The reason? Supposedly, the added nutrition from the cheese product in bottles of Wälder Senn bier helps the libido, preventing frisky bar flies from experiencing alcohol-induced letdown when it’s time to perform. And while the combination of beer and cheese may give many food-fetishists a stomach-driven stir in the britches, I’m not convinced that an alcoholic cheese drink is a good idea. I’m convinced it’s a great idea.

And- by the way- if you didn’t get the title of this snippet or the video didn’t make sense, watch these other Mr. Show clips for Stenson’s Mayostard and Vaunnie’s Mustardayonnaise. It will all come together.

Soggy Back Syndrome

August 11, 2010
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Just because I think it warrants explanation: this is the most random image ever. I wanted to put up a picture of Hall & Oates “H2O”- where the dynamic duo are somewhat creepily staring each other down, drenched in sweat. However, perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve already used that picture. So I was thinking about Peter Gabriel’s “Steam”, which seemed kind of sweaty. But it’s on the album “Us”, pictured above. No, I don’t really follow either. Oh well, what’s done is done.
Don’t ask me for a source on this one, but I once heard someone exclaim that A/C (that’s “air conditioning”, San Franciscans) was the greatest innovation to hit the South, because it allowed industry to flourish. I suppose this proclamation was based on the notion that manufacturing is best done in a conditioned space; machinery and products of industrialization probably hold up better in an atmosphere absent of extreme heat and humidity (“humidity” being moisture in the air, Los Angelenos).

I further defend this argument with the fact that an oppressive heat index wears one out. I don’t know what people did before air conditioning. But I do know they were the toughest motherflippers alive, if I may use such coarse language. Incidentally, I have a bad fan motor in my vehicle, so the A/C works at long as I’m moving. “Moving”, however, is at a bit of a premium in Atlanta rush hour (which is a BS term anyway; I’ve never seen it last only an hour). Tack on a constant pressure-cooker of 95˚+ days (with 90%+ humidity), and one suffers an embarrassing condition known as “soggy back syndrome”.

No longer relegated to Sweatin’ to the Oldies enthusiasts, feral children, and Robin Williams, SBS (soggy back syndrome) can strike anyone who’s posterior has been snuggled closely to warm automotive upholstery, while wearing two shirts (an undershirt and a button-down…sorry, it’s not 1978 and my day job doesn’t involve a commute to Bee Gees practice), all in a vehicle with less-than-adequate air circulation and humidity management. What results is an embarrassing moistness on the back of the shirt, sure to discourage appreciative pats-on-the-back from top management and other patronizing business personnel (not that I’m getting any pats-on-the-back for good performance anyway…a couple on the rear, but that’s an HR issue that I can’t discuss at this juncture).
So, you must be asking, “what in the Sam Hill does this have to do with wine?!” To which I have to ask, “are you an old prospector, using mid-19th century euphemisms like ‘Sam Hill’?”
Here’s what it has to do with wine: if you’re caught in a tussle with a soggy back; if you’ve just gotten home from a grueling commute featuring your crappy broken auto A/C, then here are some dry wines you should keep in the chill chest to bring you back to dry times. Furthermore, they’re all pretty cheap, so you can save your shekels to fix that damn motor:
Vinho Verde: Portuguese for “green wine”, the name is actually indicative of the “youthful freshness” (as wikipedia puts it) of the wine, rather than the color. Made from a possible slew of local grapes (the most recognizable suspect being the Alvarinho grape, otherwise known as “Albariño” in nearby Spain), these wines not only feature low alcohol and high acidity, but often a little bit of fizz, making them even more refreshing. Although often assumed to be all whites, there are also some red vinho verdes, but they will not help your back sweat like a chilled white VV.

Cava: The Spanish take on Champagne. And bubbles always refresh. Usually made from the local grape trio of Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo (though some Chardonnay might be snuck in these days), these wines are all produced in the método tradicional (traditional method, or Champagne method), meaning the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle. This fermentation and aging on the yeast create more interesting flavors and aromas, smaller, finer bubbles, and a dry, comfortable feeling between the shoulders.

Assyrtiko: What I’m convinced will be the next big thing in white wine, Greece’s (Santorini’s, to be more specific) Assyrtiko grape produces some briny, minerally, refreshing whites (if “briny” and “minerally” sound refreshing to you…and I don’t even think if “minerally” is a word). I’ve started to see more of these bottles around town, as Greece is coming out of some self-inflicted doldrums and getting into producing more quality wine. Just stay away from anything that says “Retsina”, unless drinking Pine Sol is your fancy.
Of course, if none of these scratch you where you itch, or dry you where you sweat (or you can’t bear the thought of drinking wine as a refreshment, though I encourage you to get over that), then there’s always Ice Cold Beer. With a name like that, it’s gotta do the trick. Whatever you choose, I hope that you now feel more equipped to battle SBS. No one needs to suffer.
If you’d like to join the fight to stop Soggy Back Syndrome, please send Joe Herrig the proper auto parts necessary to fix his A/C. He’s pretty handy, and clearly too cheap to pay the auto mechanic.

Dinner for Schmuck

August 8, 2010
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I’ve seen an awful lot of pub for the movie “Dinner for Schmucks” lately. I’m horribly skeptical. The previews are nothing more than clips of Steve Carrell saying particularly stupid things that- I suppose- are intended to be funny. I do think Carrell can be hilarious, but sometimes bad writing is insurmountable. Case in point: I’m not famous yet. Nor am I rich. Guess I’ll be firing my writer. However, regardless of my schmuck-status, I was recently invited to a dinner that was worthy of those movie star-types. Perpetrated by hosts Brad ( and Jimmy (, the dynamic duo/gruesome twosome took on recipes from Thomas Keller’s heralded French Laundry Cookbook. The pics obviously don’t do justice, but the meal was as ambitious as it was tasty. Throw in some impressive wines, including a trio of Chardonnay-based whites from Burgundy (crisp, minerally Premier Cru and Grand Cru offerings from Burg’s most northerly region of Chablis, and a much richer expression of the grape from Meursault, further south in the Côtes de Beaune). The night also ended with a (suspected) 1960 vintage Port…not something many people get to try everyday. Needless to say, there was nothing disappointing about this dinner for schmuck(s).

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