Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Blind Fury Concluded | September 19, 2010


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 andreawine.com (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.

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