December 7, 2009

2006 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon

A book I have—it's got a stock image of a wine glass on the cover—says that Robert Mondavi is a dependably good winery. That book is so right. This is a good glass of wine.

When you're writing a paper—or pretending to write a paper—or dicking around online and maybe opening a few tabs related to your paper—you want something strong, something that will distract you, something you can savor and let your mind linger over for a few minutes. So you're listening to music (I'm listening to Phoenix right now), and you're sipping your glass of wine, and you're thinking, "Yeah, I'm working on a paper. Hey, this wine is pretty good."

Pretty good? So good. 93.

November 16, 2009

1999 Chateau Mondotte-Bellisle Saint-Emilion

Ok so Neel hosted a "French Bread Party" (FBP) tonight in the office, and Dino—Dino's been buying a lot of our wine lately—brought this old bottle of French wine with a fancy chateau on the label and all that. We thought it would be good. It looked good.

But oh my god this wine was awful, you guys. So. Awful. It tasted spoiled and disgusting and like rotted, mushy, icky, sour, wormy grapes. But people kept drinking it.

People kept drinking it.


November 13, 2009

2008 Estancia Pinot Noir

It's a Friday night, and I'm rooming it alone with some lamplight and Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield. I've got this $17 Pinot Noir going, and it's pretty good. It's fun to hold. Fun to swirl it around. Read a page, take a few sips, swirl it around. Is that cherry? Sort of cherry. Spicy, definitely spicy. 86.

November 8, 2009

Thursday, Nov. 5 — Around the world

I apologize for this delayed post—the wine-induced emotions of this Thursday past proved so amplitudinous as to render me wordless.

2006 Punto Reserva (Argentina) 
We liked this wine, either in the usual plastic cups or in our shiny new wine glasses. It seemed unusually purple and, to some, undesirably grapacious. One of our new members considered it too acidic. But these critics were drowned out by the compliments of the rest, one of whom detected in his glass the flavor of "a sort of wood." 92.

2008 Robertson Winery Gewurztraminer (South Africa)
My own skepticism toward this wine was birthed the moment I spied its twist-off cap. Indeed, we found this wine to be a thing too sweet, beginning with a hint of lychee and ending with a soured soda pop taste. Ben Cotton, peering down his nose, decried it for being "not sophisticated enough," a sentiment that met the group's general approval, despite our own desire to avoid following the well-trod path of oenophilic snobbery. Betsy, offering another point of view, noted that it looked "like pee" but tasted "like sunshine." 78.

2006 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile)
On the whole, we liked this wine. This being our third bottle, we were feeling loosened up, and our descriptive faculties were oriented toward the metaphorical. Thus the following comparisons, some sensible.

If this wine were a [x], it would be...
Park: Central Park
Time of day: dusk
Time of year: late October
Sport: cross-country skiing
Fish: trout
President: James A. Garfield
Font: Georgia
State: New Hampshire

Some taster ventured to call this wine "twiggy." 86.

November 7, 2009

Wine Movie of the Month!

Wine can be confusing. It can have so many flavorings (tannic, Madeirized, buttery, grape-y...), come from so many countries (France, Italy, Argentina, California...), and be so many colors (red, white, rose... red again). Also, if you drink too much of it, you can become even more confused.

So in 2004, John Cleese—yes, that one—endeavored to educate the non-oenophilic public with "Wine for the Confused," which you can watch in full on Hulu. Check out a clip from it below.

So when you're bored between final reads this week, pop it into your Internet browser. Cheers!

November 4, 2009

If you have leftover Halloween candy...

Since a good wine is often the complement to a great meal, I thought I'd contribute some of my family's favorites:

Top Three:

1. Spicy Sesame Noodles (Thai) with White Zinfandel (fruity, light bodied, cuts spiciness and adds sweetness to palate)

2. Eggplant or Chicken Parmesan (Italian) with Merlot (rich, full-bodied, smooths out flavors because of low acidity)

3. Beef and Ale Casserole with Horseradish and Thyme (Because alcohol always needs more alcohol) with Cabernet Sauvignon (varied complex flavors, full-bodied, able to take rich roasts and unusual flavor combinations)

And, if you haven't eaten your weekend haul yet- so basically, if you're not me- several people recommend pairing bite size candies with certain wines. Is anybody brave enough to try these?

Some suggestions:

1. Ruby Port with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

2. Bugey Cerdon with Pop Rocks

3. Riesling with Sour Patch Kids or Sour Skittles

November 1, 2009

On the importance of letting wine sit out or whatever

So I open this bottle of wine from a friend. It's got a drawing of a château on the label and it's looking pretty official. Open it up, take a sip—not good.

It's a 2007 Saint-Chinian from Château Comte Devaugelas. A little research reveals that these Saint-Chinians are packed with tannins, which makes them bitter until they oxidize properly. I didn't know that when I opened it. Thought it was just a gross bottle of wine.

I did some laundry and came back feeling desperate and open to anything. Took another sip—much better. Fuller, deeper, redder, nicer. Still had that peppery hint of black fruit and the mouth-feel of tannin, but drinkable. Very drinkable. 84.

Wines=Fonts. Discuss.

It has come to my attention that wines and fonts are often discussed in a similar fashion. That being that someone who claims to know something about the subject (yours truly very guilty, on both counts, on multiple occasions) often stands with a keen look in his or her eye and then describes the subject in question (wine or font) using words that have little actual meaning whatsoever with regard to the quality of said subject. Meanwhile, others with a supposedly-less refined taste nod in agreement so as not to seem foolish.

Examples, off the top of my head, and from posts below, that could apply to either wines or fonts:


Because variety is the spice of life...

Ever since I returned from spending the summer in Portland, Oregon, I have been addicted to pinot noirs. Pinot noirs are a dime a dozen in Oregon because they are perfectly suited for the climate of Oregon's Willamette Valley. They are also pretty darn good. I had a few and stuck with it--even when I returned to the city.

So, this week, with election day break around the corner I popped into my favorite neighborhood wine store--Vino Fino, on Amsterdam near 122nd (go check it, people!) and asked for a recommendation for something different, but similar. Eighteen dollars later, I walked out with Brouilly from Henry Fessy, a French winery.

It turned out pretty good--fruity (but not too much) and full-bodied. Very much like a pinot noir, but I can officially say I branched out. 85.

In case you're looking for more about pinot noirs, check out this NYT article!

Good Evening

Alright, so I've been impressed into service as this blog's curmudgeon-in-residence. I don't really drink wine, except occasionally when I am eating a nice meal and it is around. However, I do appreciate that it is one of the most historic and prestigious beverages to ever be stomped upon by a bunch of barefoot women.

With that in mind, I plan to carry the mantle of wine blogger with pride and with prejudice. Lots and lots of prejudice.

So consider this my formal introduction, my esteemed wine-blog readers. I am Raphael and I hope, through my posts, to build a powerful bond between us, a bond based not only on my incisive wit and profound musings, but also on your laughter and awe.

In closing, I shall consider it my duty to remain upon the Web pages of this blog dedicated to truth, justice, and the American Way. In that spirit, I know I must be vigilant. For as it is written in Proverbs, 20:1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise."

Let it be said, then, that wine was not a mocker of me, but me a mocker of wine.


October 30, 2009

Garnacha de Fuego

At a wine store on 79th St., near Amsterdam, an enthusiastic store owner insists that I buy this orange-labeled Spanish wine, only $9. He says it's his favorite. Ok, ok, fine.

Not so bad, actually. A little peppery at first, a little earthy. A friend and I drank it over the course of a few hours, and by the end it was tasting pretty good. Our thinking at the time was that the wine was getting better. 83.

Thursday, Oct. 29 — Italian reds

We sat, together for the first time, huddling in a dark, humid office, drinking together because we could not bear to drink alone.

2005 Masi Campofiorin
This, the first wine of the evening and indeed the first bottle we opened as a club, was a decent way to kick things off. Kind of full-bodied and round. Velvety. Dino thought it was tart, although your humble blogger isn't so sure that he was right. In any case, well worth the $15 or whatever we paid for it. 87.

2006 Ruffino, Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico
Our favorite wine of the night. A big, brassy, bold red thing. Full-bodied, we all agreed. Someone suggested "oak," which was met with general skepticism until we all agreed that yes, indeed, it was sort of oaky. Julia offered up "cherry," and we gladly wrote it down. Dino observed that "oak" and "cherry" are types of wood. That observation was highly praised. 92.

2008 Montepulciano D'Abruzzo "Collegiata"
A stinker. Watery, thin, late to finish; a medium-bodied, flat thing. Donated to the arts staff, those poor people. 75.