Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Stalking Bourdain

September 29, 2010
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Ever since catching my first few episodes of No Reservations and blazing through the addictive pages of Kitchen Confidential, I’ve sort of- like many- had an obsession with Anthony Bourdain. Well, an obsession with what he does (I couldn’t handle being the shorter person in a relationship).

Anyway, the thought of getting paid seven figures to write, travel, and eat sounds like something I could definitely handle. Yeah, I’m sure it’s not all fun. I know there are lots of takes, there is plenty of writers’ block, and gastrointestinal discomfort abounds when digesting some of the things Tony puts in his mouth. However, being desensitized to monotony by an Atlanta commute, all-too familiar with writing woes (as evidenced by the crap I put on these pages), and a shameful penchant for Taco Bell, I feel primed for the “sausage making” and eager to bask in eating better than anyone I’ve ever seen in awe-inspiring places I’ve never seen. Toilets or no toilets. And frankly, it has to be more good than bad. Mr. Bourdain seems to have lost quite a bit of his signature snark.
A year ago April, the wife and I spent some time in Puerto Rico, and I made sure that we braved non-existent car-jackings and kidnappings to get to the mountains of Cayey to enjoy roasted pig and fixins at Lechonera Los Pinos (on that note: anything you read on Yelp! was written by a pansy. If you want to really enjoy a place beyond the inoculated surroundings of your resort, don’t listen to these hamsters). However, there was a total devoid of English, but we scraped out enough Español to do as Bourdain did: gorge ourselves on the crispy skin and tender meat of the “noble and magical animal”.

Fast forward about 18 months: the wife and I were roaming the streets of San Francisco’s Financial District, 3 month old daughter in stroller, continuing our quest to eat where Bourdain has. We ducked into R & G Lounge, left the stroller with the hostess, and headed downstairs to a small eating area built around a bar and several fish tanks filled with critters both familiar (lobster, prawns) and unfamiliar (some fish that looked like grouper, others like bass). However, we were after crab. Dungeness Crab, local to the area, and it just so happened they batter and deep fry the critters at R & G. Southerners rejoice in unison.

While that madness was cooking up, the wife and I (with super baby sleeping in her car seat under the table) munched on crispy salmon & avocado egg rolls. Delicious, but nothing compared to the cocktail I’ve been dreaming about since that San Francisco episode of No Reservations. Seasoned with the perfumed, sweet white flesh of the Chinese lychee fruit, the eponymous martini was just about the most damned-refreshing alcoholic thing I’ve ever had to drink. Yes, including Keystone Light.
And- finally- the pièce de résistance:
At first, I wondered about the merit of the thin, crispy, salt & pepper batter on the outside of the shells. However, during the messy procedure that is deconstructing a crab, the bits got on my fingers. They got on my plate. And, of course, the succulent meat captured all sorts of the seasoned flotsam.
The meat itself was ridiculous. Boiled crab always seems to get cold quickly to me. That’s fine and good, but something about the quick, hot method of frying kept the meat extra tender and hot, down to the last leg. And after the last leg, I was wishing there were double. Maybe I should have drank another lychee martini or two.
If you’re ever in the Bay Area, knock it out. You can say you’re stalking me. Of course, that means you’ll have to hit up Taco Bell later.

GUEST POST: The Cola Holy War and Marshmallowed Delight

September 27, 2010
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Still bumming around out west, apparently looking like many not-so-handsome stars of stage and screen. In my stead, I’m really thrilled to have one of the silverbacks of wine blogging covering for me. Not only is Benito Carter knowledgeable, entertaining, and a very good writer, but he seems to epitomize what it means to be the true Southern Renaissance man. One day, he’s talking about a cocktail made with obscure Chilean spirits blended with heirloom herbs and eleven different types of Amazonian fruit juice to celebrate the birth of legendary bobsleigher Tony Nash. The next, he’s discussing…moon pies. Bon Appétit!

How do you guest blog at Suburban Wino? Would I use this space to go on one of my rants in favor of the metric system? Would I take the opportunity to bachelor the place up a bit and provide a list of the Top 10 Wines That Appeal To Chicks In Their 20s? Nope, not going to make a mess here, because my mama raised me better than that. I’m just going to jump right in with a controversial issue that tears at the very fabric of this country.

The big sectarian conflict in American soft drinks has been dominated by Coke vs. Pepsi. I remember people who refused to drink Pepsi because they sold their products in the Soviet Union, and thus all Pepsi drinkers were Godless Commies. There are Arab countries that avoid Coke because of the bottling plant in Israel. Much like Ford vs. Chevy, Catholic vs. Protestant, and which way you hang the toilet paper roll, your position on the issue depends on you geographic region and family upbringing.

What is often lost in these arguments is the array of third options that exist, often with their own passionate fan bases. For instance: RC Cola. The RC stands for “Royal Crown”, and the beverage was born in Columbus, Georgia back in 1905. Much later, RC Cola was shilled by no less than Nancy Sinatra. Let’s be happy that it remains a solid performer in a highly competitive market, and that it hasn’t developed an unfortunate demographic like Faygo and the Insane Clown Posse. (This wine blogger is not down with the clown, for any Juggalos that might be reading.)

Quick tasting notes: RC on its own lands somewhere between Coke and Pepsi on the nose test, probably a bit closer to Pepsi. It lacks the bitter bite of Coke but isn’t as sweet as Pepsi, and doesn’t go aggressively herbal like a root beer.

Here in Tennessee, RC Cola is indelibly tied to the Moon Pie, a cookie/marshmallow/chocolate treat invented 200 miles north of Columbus–I’m talking about Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1917. Somewhere along the way the combination of the two products became popular as a cheap lunch, and there’s even an RC and Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, TN every summer. The pairing is even immortalized in a classic song. Jasper from The Simpsons was delighted to discover Moon Pies upon emerging from the freezer at Apu’s Kwik-E-Mart. “What a time to be alive!”

I’m using mini Moon Pies here, but it’s also worth mentioning that RC is also a popular mixer with spirits, particularly at college parties and sporting events. You can be clever and mix the Royal Crown with Crown Royal, but really any of the brown liquors will do. Want to class it up? Use a decent Bourbon and a highball glass. If you’re just looking to have a good time, then cheap Canadian whisky and a red Solo cup are your friends. Finely crushed or shaved ice is best for the latter, because it will water down over time and allow for ideal pacing. You can treat it almost like a snow cone and still get a lot of flavor. Just sipping the cocktail now makes me crave nachos and an overcooked hot dog.

These flimsy plastic bottles don’t have the solid nature of cans or the sculptural integrity of glass bottles, and I doubt anyone will be seriously collecting them a hundred years from now. But the flavor stays the same, and it always reminds me of BBQ joints and gas stations a bit off the beaten path, where you’d have to snap off the bottle cap on a wall-mounted opener or grab the church key hanging from a long chain. Home was Coke, Pepsi was the enemy, but RC was that set of rural relatives that might have had a different last name yet were loved just as much.

Big thanks to Joe for letting me crash on his virtual couch for this post. Peace out, y’all!

GUEST POST: Missing in Action

September 23, 2010
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Well, as the theme suggests, I’ve gotten away from the rat race for a few days. In my stead, so rad (and I don’t use the word “rad” lightly) bloggers have filled in. I’m cracking up reading this rambling rant of awesomeness from Andrew Lazorchak, the mind behind Vineyard Vlog and the nifty little decanting device: Wine Soirée. If Drew’s stuff reads like he’s been shot out of a cannon, then it’s fair to say that his writing has been properly represented his personality.

So, I hope you enjoy these guest posts. Just don’t enjoy them too much. I’m not ready to give up on this blogging scam just yet. Sláinte! -Joe

The kid on the bike throwing the newspapers is coming around the corner. What’s the big news??? Joe Herrig is “Missing In Action”.

I am here to de-bunk the B.S. alibi that Joe Herrig AKA Suburban Wino is in Wine Country. Supposedly he is visiting Wine Country and is trying to network and see just why all the Atlanta Wine Bloggers keep on ending up in Sonoma County. There are various rumors surrounding what it is that keeps attracting these guys to Sonoma, but the stats are grimm…Atlanta wine bloggers are slowly but surely showing signs of not coming back. Well, in case you are not aware of the Bohemian Grove, there is a good chance that Joe is there now and at some Autumnal Equinox Owl Ceremony. And in case you have not been paying attention, DirtySouthWine has even showed some videos of his canoe conquest into the forbidden grove, dubbed under the moniker The Natural Process Alliance, where he talks about Talons and Falcons. Wine Tonite, Ed Thralls, was done before he even showed up in wine country. Ed admits he did not crack into a bottle of wine when he arrived, instead there are pictures of him in redwoods amidst a campfire.

Now if you believe any of this, you are a sucker. The “Real Deal” is that Joe Herrig is also a stunt man. He has stunt doubled for many unknown actors, which helps explain his fetish for B-rate films, his understanding of fine wine, and his paranoia of having a doppelgänger . As sources have been telling us, he is actually on some tropical isle doing stunts for a re-make of Chuck Norris’ – Missing In Action 1996.

On behalf of BNN ™ I am guest blogging for Joe while he is jumping out of planes and diving through windows. While I do not have Joe’s phantasmal sense of humor, I am relying on my 1.25 prior visits to read to inform me what it is that all of Joe’s viewer(s) are looking for in their thirst for wine knowledge and bizarro humor.

But what I thought we could do while Joe is in “Wine Country” is to see how many actors or personalities that Joe has probably done stunts for. And I apologize in advance for blowing Joe’s cover, but in one quick Google search for images of Joe Herrig or his look a likes – it is clear he is trying to stay off the radar. Click here to see what comes up when you search Joe Herrig (it changes hourly):

So hopefully you made it back after checking an image search for Joe Herrig. What did we learn?

  1. The Suburban Wino avatar is more popular than the real Joe, not a shocker. 🙂

  2. His lost-twin sister Felice Herrig is an MMA Babe.

  3. There is some 15 year old dweeb that also has the last name Herrig that is probably smarter than Joe & Me times 10.

  4. Joe needs to find a new caricature artist

  5. Joe forgot to introduce me to My Wine Genie , Kiley Baker.

  6. Joe uses an alias when he walks the red carpet at the AVN Awards Ceremony!

So as we move into the wine portion of the blog. I need to stop and give Suburban Wino major credit as he always ties wine into these ridiculous and non-associated topics and does it sinuously. (now I recall why I wanted to do a video blog – writing aint easy)

So in my juvenile hunt for pictures of Joe Herrig, I found it much more entertaining to look for notable entertainers that resemble Joe, than to look for images of Joe.

Now when it comes to wine, and secret lifestyles, there are many wines that live under the radar and need to make a break from the B-rate films, and get onto the red carpet of Americans palates. Just the way we all hope Joe does in his new action re-make “Missing In Action”.

My Missing In Action Grape for you all is the Mencia Grape. The Mencia grape hales from the NorthWestern area in Spain and produces a great wine. I first tried this wine at Terroir in NYC, and it was remarkable. The lady I was dining with, also a wine geek, said I had to try it and compared it to Pinot Noir. I was sold, at Pinot Noir. Now I have a love for Pinot Noir, but I also kind of burned myself out on Pinot Noir, as I drank it non-stop in my early foray into wine, and then I found Grenache…I digress. But what I like about Grenache, Pinot Noir, and Mencia – is their ability to be gamey, funky, and yet fruity. I guess this could be most wines, but these three all have some common traits. They are thin skinned grapes, can show great fruity characteristics, and they can provide a delightful easy on-the-palate wine that can be further assessed for subtle complexities that make you want to drink more. (And please be aware that International Grenache Day is Friday 9/24/10 – so get your #Grenache out!)

Anyway – back to Mencia. Unfortunately, Mencia is about as easy to find as an Atlanta Wine Blogger that stays in Atlanta. I have only had 2 different bottles of Mencia, and that is because I have only ever found 2 Spanish brands in the USA that make Mencia. The most readily available Mencia I have seen is Petalos, from Bierzo, a D.O. known for Mencia. You can also note that for a while Mencia was thought to be a relative of Cab Franc, but has recently been DNA matched to Jean du Dão a Portuguese varietal.

I have tried Petalos on 3 separate occasions and have always found it enjoyable. I recommend it as a wine that will not blow you away, but rather is teasing and flirtatious. While it is lighter on the palate, it suggests deeper darker secrets, just so long as you serve it at ambient temperature and give it some room to breathe. I found darker fruits on the 07 and not as much earth and forest floor funk as I would have liked to. But I promise, Mencia has some dark magic powers that will make you wish more importers were bringing it in. You might also find it curious that this Missing In Action grape has no planted vines in the USA. Not as far I have seen or heard. Also if you find some Mencia wine, you can also chalk up another point on your wine century chart.

And the message I’d like to leave us all with is: stay thirsty and remember just how BIG the world of wine is.

And the question I’d like to leave you with:

What are your thoughts on Mencia? And what actor would Joe be the best stunt double for?

Blind Fury Concluded

September 19, 2010
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I bet you want to know which wine glass performed with most distinction during my recent blind tasting, right? It’s been nearly a week since the teaser (can you call it a “teaser” if no one was really teased?). However, before this matter is settled, one other must be addressed:

Whatever happened to Randall “Tex” Cobb? You know the guy. See him, pictured to the left? He was in a bunch of movies in the 80’s: Raising Arizona, Fletch Lives, and- of course- Blind Fury. Honestly, I assumed the dude was dead. Perhaps it was the characters he played: burly, hard-livin’ villains with disregard for themselves and others. Or, maybe his career as a professional boxer led me to assume that hundreds of blows to the head were not conducive to long life. Anyway, the end-all-be-all of what I believe is true in the world- Wikipedia- has shown it’s benevolent light of knowledge and confirmed that Cobb is alive and well, living in Philadelphia.
I’d love to see Randall “Tex” Cobb back in movies, though. Maybe a wine movie; you know, one about a burly dude who blind tastes wine. Or, I’ll take it further and say he could play me in the “Joe Herrig Story”. Granted, I’m not really burly, but I do look unkempt and exhibit disregard for my health and well-being. Oh, and it’s not a good story. That said, there’s a treatment pending, Hollywood. Do those folks over at Swirl Smell Slurp know someone in the biz?

Okay. Mystery solved, onto the wine. For this challenge, I wanted something that had expressive aromas, but subtleties that wouldn’t overpower the olfactory prowess of the drinking vessels. I figured something dark, full-bodied, and European. No, not Muzzy, children’s favorite BBC foreign language-teaching monster! A fun and educational choice that would have been, but I needed wine. I settled on a bottle from the Langhe DOC, in Northwestern Italy’s Piemonte region. While the Piedmont is best-known for reds made from the Nebbiolo grape, Langhe actually doesn’t have any restrictions on grapes used. The 2007 Cascina Lo Zoccolaio Baccanera was actually a very interesting blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Barbera (or around that; might have been a touch of Nebbiolo in there). A “test” glass showed some nice cherries, licorice, herbs, and dark fruit. Nice acidity and smooth tannins in the mouth as well. As they say around my parts, “this dog would hunt.” Not a bad deal for $21 at the vino Wal-Mart that is Total Wine.
But the wine was secondary here (“HERESY!” heard faintly in the distance). I present the competitors, figuratively clad in boxing gear and ready to battle, like one Randall “Tex” Cobb:

1) Riedel Vinum Syrah/Shiraz: I won a pair of these glasses in a contest created by wine pal Constance. You may recall the winning post, involving my horrid didjeridoo efforts. Anyway, Riedel is sort of unique in their approach: they make TONS of differently-shaped glasses, insisting that all varietal bottlings are most enhanced by these unique shapes. Sounds like marketing to me, but some claim that it ain’t all hooey. These retail for around $50 a pair, which is way more than I would normally pay for wine glasses. Yep. Butterfingers.
2) Andrea Wine “The One”: Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson created these glasses, and I got a couple as part of a promotional effort at our Atlanta #PinotNoir Twitter tasting event. They’re advertised as “lead-free crystal” (this is definitely marketing; lead crystal generally makes higher-quality glassware) and sell for about $50 for a 4-pack at (I think they’re sold at Macy’s too).
3) Eisch Sensis Plus: Received as a sample from the fine folks at Balzac Communications. This glass is also made from “high quality lead-free crystal”, and retails for about $30 (per glass). That’s a lotta dimp. More than the average consumer would pay methinks, but I’m all about having a top-shelf glass on hand if it makes a nice wine more enjoyable.
4) Control glass: this is just a cheap glass I had on hand. These are the ones I prefer friends drink out of after 5 or 6 bottles. Yep. Butterfingers.
As you saw in the video, I put on a sleep mask (my wife’s sleep mask, thank you. If I’m to be played by Randall “Tex” Cobb in a movie about my life, I’m surely too tough to wear a sleep mask). I also wore a winter glove to dull touch recognition, as the glasses had different shapes. Fortunately, I mustered just enough smarts to pour the wine before donning all this gear. I also decided not to swirl the wines at all. Crystal has a rougher microscopic surface than glass, and the roughness agitates the wine, sending more volatile aromatic compounds airborne (that’s the simple version). I desired to test the effect of the shapes of the glasses. Also, I figured I’d break something.
After the experiment, I was left with one clear winner, two that were neck-and-neck, and an obvious loser. The last ended up being the cheap control glass, which by-far offered the least to my inquisitive snout.

So, I was left with three pretty good-quality glasses. The one that threw more of that cherry my way than the others was the Andrea Wine One. The Riedel glass and the Eisch glass offered a level of bouquet that I couldn’t rank, so I deemed them even. After unmasking, I swirled and sniffed again, and all three gave me some pretty smells. However, I was really shocked at how much more the One gave me initially. Sure, there may have been some other factors (was the Riedel glass too deep and needed a bigger pour?), but I tried to make this as objective as possible. Keep in mind as well that my nose is not your nose. Maybe my nose is cheap, and it sniffed out the most affordable glass. I don’t know.
But if one thing can be taken from this experiment, it’s that the glass does matter. And that Randall “Tex” Cobb is still alive and kickin’. Well, that’s two things.

Booze in the News – Sept. 17, 2010 (aka "The Collection")

September 17, 2010
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I know everyone’s waiting with bated-breath on the results from my blind glass test, but I’ve been traveling for work- with family- this week, so it’s work during the day and family fun at night. Little room for posts. I have a little time now between hours of family photos, Parcheesi, and cleaning up baby vomit, so I’ve taken a seat to post…alas, I’ve run into my obligation to give you “Booze in the News”, as it is Friday. Looks like you’ll have to wait with fingers crossed and cheeks clenched for a couple more days…

…However, I’m presenting a very special “Booze in the News” today. Two weeks ago, I offered folks the rare and wondrous* opportunity to create the BITN logo. The response was overwhelming (at least from Benito), and I just couldn’t decide on a winner. So, in a very special edition of “Booze in the News”, I present “The Collection”. And if you want to take a crack at a logo, just do the design and drop it on my Facebook page. No reasonable designs refused!
*denotes gross exaggeration
The Benito Gallery:
A excellent and credibility-building effort from Brian at the fine blog, Norcal Wingman:
And, well, I figured I had to get into the mix:

A Precursor to "Blind Fury"

September 14, 2010
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No, I’m not planning to rewrite the back story to (in my opinion) Rutger Hauer’s finest stroke of acting prowess. But I did get my hands on four different wine glasses, and I decided to test them out blind. Granted, it wasn’t very furious, but I couldn’t find a Rutger Hauer movie titled “Blind Mild-Mannered Wine Experiments”, so you’re gonna have to work with me.
Which glass proved victorious? There was indeed a clear winner (and I’d love to hear from the crowd on any preferences out of the lineup). However, I was compelled by the Alan Parsons Project– and a song called “Sirius”- to build up the suspense…
…only later to let you down with a boring subsequent post. For now, we’ll live in the moment, blind to what lies ahead.

Booze in the News – Sept 10, 2010

September 9, 2010
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This week’s BITN logo comes courtesy of Benito from Benito’s Wine Reviews. Benito’s writing has a voice that can make a wolverine purr, and I appreciate the logo.

Think you can top it? Take a crack at a “Booze in the News” logo and have it featured next Friday. To submit, just post it on the Suburban Wino Facebook Page. Your masterpiece will be flaunted (with due credit) in front of the literally fives of Suburban Wino daily readers. Please, nothing graphic or obscene. Stay classy, interwebs!

Moo-ton-Rothschild: Cattle ranchers in British Columbia are feeding a bottle of wine a day to their beef cattle in an effort to breed tastier beef. Sezmu Meats started with the 60-day, liter-a-day regime after seeing one of Gordon Ramsay’s cavalcade of TV shows where a hog farmer “finished’ his pigs with beer…
…mmm. Pigs with beer…
The ranchers insist that the red wine blend gives the meat a sweeter, “beefier” taste when compared to industrially-raised cattle. Furthermore, as rancher Janice Ravndahl notes, “cattle that are relaxed taste better.” Probably true, and a feather in the cap for humane ranching, but here’s the burning question: is the wine in Canada so bad that only the cows will drink it? Ooooooooooh! USA! USA! USA! (okay, clearly I’m still bitter about the Olympic Mens’ Hockey finals, and the Okanagan region of British Columbia actually makes some terrific wines I’m told). That being said, USA! USA! USA!

Badass Nanny State: Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin is pleading with the nation’s citizens to drink more and smoke more. This bizarre edict precedes a planned rise in excise taxes on both booze and cigarettes. “If you smoke a pack of cigarettes, that means you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates,” stated Kudrin in a statement to the Interfax news agency. The last part of that statement sounds really counterproductive: more money for healthcare to help deliver smokey, low-birthweight babies. Why shouldn’t they be desperate, though? More folks are dying than being born in Russia. Take that, Ivan Drago. USA! USA! USA! (okay, that’s just wrong). Eh, I’m sure more smoking and vodka drinking will help that high death rate. Good lookin’ out, Russian government.

My Two Dads

September 7, 2010
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Remember the 80’s sitcom, My Two Dads? Of course not. This is just the kind of obscure minutia that I bring to the table. Jealous? No, I suppose I wouldn’t be, either.
Anyway, in a premise only wacky sitcom writers- putting their Ivy League degrees to good use- could brainstorm, a teenage girl’s deceased mother grants joint custody to her two past love interests. Naturally, comedy ensues, along with heartfelt, tear-jerking moments you could only expect from a cornucopia of short-lived, NBC comedy-like flops.
The “dads” were a prototypical odd-couple: Paul Reiser’s (aka “Uncle Michael”) straight-laced sensibility often clashed with the footloose and fun-loving machismo of Greg Evigan (“Uncle Joey”). Is that an accurate description, diehards? A well-groomed beard and the pompadour-mullet combo always signals “footloose and fun-loving machismo” to me.
So, what the hell’s the point here? The point is that I, along with any other dedicated wine lovers, also have two dads. No, they won’t land us in humorous predicaments to the unsettling sounds of canned laughter, nor will they cause us great embarrassment when struggling with the awkward moments that plague every teenage girl in the custody of two random dudes…
No, the two “dads” of a wine lover are book knowledge and sensory perception. Understanding an appreciating wine at a more dynamic level requires not just an grasp on label nomenclature, allowable grapes and techniques in AOCs and DOCs, the many steps of winemaking processes, etc., but also of the flavors and aromas of wine itself.

I’ve read many books. I even acquired a Certified Specialist of Wine accreditation. However, neither of these avenues required any swirling, smelling, sipping, or spitting. One could reasonably have all the book-knowledge in the world (aka, the sensible “Paul Reiser” of wine smarts), yet be completely devoid of their sensual and fun-loving Greg Evigan. Sadly- though I’ve tasted quite a bit of wine- the latter is a life’s work. Experience and exposure and critical evaluation are the only teaching materials. Incidentally and furthermore, hundreds of bottles of wine are way more expensive than a book. And I need that money. My Two Dads, Season 3, comes out on DVD this holiday season.
The solution for one who cannot feasibly sip dozens of different wines a day? A tasting group. Regularly meeting with others who share a desire to learn can offset the cost of bottles (split between 4-6 folks), create conversation, and foster accountability for educational goals and conviviality (the latter- ultimately- being what wine is really all about).
I’m working on putting a group together, but I’ve hit a bit of a snag mulling over how to organize this thing. Does one start with a schedule of tasting the same wines from the same regions? Would taking a broad scope and narrowing down be more effective? Systematic seems more sensible to me, but with thousands and thousands of grapes, styles, and regions out there, it can be a little overwhelming.
I have some books that detail some recommended tastings. My plan of attack is to take the best practices from these pages and create something that makes sense. The second element to this planning phase is to appeal to you- the knowledgeable and attractive readership- to glean any tips or experiences you may have had with tasting groups. Or, if you’ve been thinking about putting a tasting group together yourself, maybe we can put our weed-whacker brains together and figure something out…
…if not for ourselves, then certainly for Uncle Joey.

Booze in the News – Sept 3, 2010

September 3, 2010
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Still thinking about that one. Haven’t decided. Haven’t thought much either. Thinking is hard. Anyway, strap on your spare liver for this week’s edition of “Booze in the News”…

Aristotle, Leonardo daVinci, Martin Luther King Jr., and now: Texas chef and inventor, Mark Zable, has laid claim to the first-ever Deep Fried Beer. A ravioli-like pretzel dough is injected with beer and fried for 20 seconds. I always knew that brewskies were high in calories, but was always disappointed in the low fat content. No longer an issue. Even better, the short cooking time allows this madness to remain alcoholic, thus making it healthier (that’s foreshadowing). What I really want to know is how many of these beauties I can fit in a pocket. Finally, all those stupid cargo shorts I bought after seeing a mesmerizing Old Navy ad will come in handy.

The Hillbilly Paradox: It’s the biggest news since the 60 Minutes feature on red wine being healthy. A recent Time article released a study claiming that heavy drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. This shocking revelation reinforced evidence that “moderate” drinkers (less than 3 drinks per day…is that moderate?) live the longest, heavy drinkers are second, and foolish teetotalers are the first to go. Sure, perhaps the drys are being snatched away to a heavenly paradise while we boozers toil and writhe in this alcohol-soaked Sodom & Gomorrah, but I’m going to have to quote Billy Joel on this one: “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.” Incidentally, the oft-lubricated Mr. Joel was really just a health nut this whole time.

Okra, neat: It was very exciting to see wine (and food, and cocktails) blogger extraordinaire, Southern gentleman, and friend of Suburban Wino Ben Carter’s “Okratini” featured as one of Huffington Post’s best new cocktail mixers. Ben has supurbly written about all things consumable for over 5 years at Benito’s Wine Reviews. While he modestly points out that the concoction is not his own, kudos to the guy for bringing it to the forefront, and- as he often does- sprinkling a little class on a regional favorite. Never had pickled okra? It’s great even when not doused with gin and vermouth, but if you have the latter two on hand…

photo courtesy of Benito’s Wine Reviews. All others stolen with malicious intent from the interweb*.

*denotes sarcasm

The Untold Birth of Cabernet Sauvignon (okay, it’s been told)

September 1, 2010
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“a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty.”

-definition of deus ex machina from
When you think of very unlikely pairings, what pops into mind? No! Not Capri Sun and an eight-ball. You’re a sick puppy. I was thinking more along the lines of romantic pairings, and one in particular jumps out at me like a cooler full of Capri Sun at a 70’s disco coke party:
It’s well-documented in the annals of music history that David Crosby is the father of one of Melissa Etheridge’s children. Etheridge, being a card-carrying lesbian, didn’t exactly get busy with the mustached troubadour. Crosby- rather- was a sperm donor, and the child was a product of artificial insemination (however, do you think he was listening to “Come to My Window” to get into the mood?).
Anyway, the partnership and method by which this child came into the world was- needless to say- unusual and unexpected. Now, let’s say this couple- a couple which I would have to point out is not the most handsome of unions- gave birth to a child who ended up looking exactly like, say-
-a Brooklyn Decker. That, my friends, is deus ex machina (literally, “God out of the machine”). A resolution so ridiculous and unexpected; something absurdly convenient sprouting immaculately from somewhat dire and irresolvable circumstances.
In a way, such is the story of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is, perhaps, the most recognizable and prolific of the red grapes. The undisputed alpha-male of vitis vinifera. The crown jewel of Bordeaux. Yet, as much as the purple-stained scrolls of wine history teem with legendary names like Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Opus One, and Haut-Brion, the primary foundation of these wines has a relatively short history.

According to studies at UC Davis, enologists discovered that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually the product of a wild and spontaneous cross between native Bordeaux grapes Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc that occurred as recently as the 17th century. A “cross” is when two subspecies of the same species (in this case, both parent grapes are vitis vinifera) genetically merge to create a new subspecies. And sure, in this case the “parents” are talented and perfectly fine on their own, but here’s the rub I can’t get past: how did a generally medium-bodied red variety and a crisp white variety get together to create the powerful, expressive, and incredibly profound ambassador of the red wine world? I guess there’s some science in there. Some protons and electrons banged around and, boom-goes-the-dynamite…Ms. Decker. Maybe I need to ask UC Davis guys. That was a pretty lackluster explanation.
Or, perhaps this happy accident of nature was Divine Providence. Maybe it WAS deus ex machina. Impossible, but yet it happened, resolving the previously-hopeless search for the greatest grape in the world…
And we are thankful for that.
Want to drink some Cab Sauv with hundreds of wine lovers around the world? Join in the fun on Twitter this Thursday, September 2nd, by participating in the worldwide #Cabernet tasting event. Just grab a bottle (drop me a line if you need some recommendations), pour a glass, and start interacting. Or, you may also find a local live event in your area. Click HERE to RSVP and get more information.