Archive for July, 2008
Well, if not physically, then run away with me virtually, through the magic of the “Global Interweb.” Or whatever you crazy young cats are calling it these days!
Regular readers of this blog might recall that I’ve previously lamented the general lack of quality, easy-to-find Spanish & Portuguese wines in my area of the U.S. (the Communist-wealth of PA, ruled by the PLCB with an iron fist) – and my general lack of deep knowledge about the great wines of the Iberian peninsula (or whatever you crazy cats are calling it these days).
Well, I wanted to change that scenario (at least the part about my own Iberian wine knowledge, anyway), so I decided to take a little trip! A virtual trip.
In the not-too-distant future (hopefully by September), I’ll be working with a few fellow International wine bloggers (Catavino and De Long Wine among them) to take a virtual trip through the wine regions of Spain & Portugal!
I’m thinking of dubbing this the Spanish Caravan in (possibly drunken) tribute to Jim Morrison…
“Carry me caravan take me away
Take me to portugal, take me to spain
Andalusia with fields full of grain
I have to see you again and again
Take me, spanish caravan
Yes, I know you can”
– The Doors
You can read more about the idea at the OpenWine Consortium. Better yet, you can help to shape what this virtual trip will be all about by commenting here, or by joining up in the discussion at the OWC. Both options are free, good for your health (well, probably), and will give you a nice excuse (like you need it!) to taste some great wine, learn about the classic wine regions of Spain & Portugal, and – with any luck make – a few new friends in the on-line “wine 2.0 community.” Or whatever you crazy young cats are calling it these days.
In the meantime… Watch this space… Hope to see you soon, on the Spanish Caravan!
(images: about.com, mtv.com)
July 4th. The day that we in the U.S. celebrate American independence.
It’s fitting that we laud the bravery, gumption, and raw intelligence of our founding fathers, as well as the courage of those who fought to make our country free to chart its own destiny.
I suggest doing that with burgers and grill-friendly wines.
What we don’t commonly do is celebrate the French ingenuity and general affairs meddling (at great financial expense to them, I might add) that made life so annoying for the Brits that they more-or-less gave up and let us have this great country.
So maybe that should be burgers and grill-friendly French wines.
Now, before you write me off for spouting heresy about not drinking American wine on an American holiday, consider these tidbits:
So maybe that’s actually burgers and… Madeira…? Man, I gotta think about that one…
These facts are indisputable: our Founding Fathers fondness for their vino is preserved forever in their very own handwriting. Not only were they booze hounds, but they were men of letters. When guys like Washington weren’t writing eloquent prose to the budding new government (mostly complaining that they didn’t have nearly enough resources being sent their way to even make a dent in the larger, better funded, and more skilled British army), they were writing home about their wine.
So there you have it – American gumption, French meddling, British mistakes, and Portuguese wine.
The makings of a truly Liberated nation!
Have a safe and happy 4th! Cheers!
(images: ririanproject.com, vacationtofrance.com, madeira-web.com)
Now this is interesting.
As reported by several sources today (most of them just copy/paste jobs from a press release; check out one example here), CorkSavvy.com (yet another on-line service that allows you to track and review your wines) has launched an interesting feature today.
This feature allows you to snap a camera-phone picture of that bottle of vino you’re having (say, with dinner tonight) and submit it (along with your freshest-of-fresh tasting notes) directly to your CorkSavvy account.
I’m a big, big fan of keeping a wine journal. I think it’s one of the best (if not the best) ways to up your wine IQ, increase your wine vocabulary, and learn what you do (and don’t!) like about wine. Using a wine journal is one of the cornerstone advice pieces that I give in my Tasting Guide.
Could CorkSavvy.com be onto the “Wine 2.0” version of the trusty ol’ wine journal? Time will tell. If any of you give this service a try, be sure to give me a shout about it!
You can all stop picking on Robert Parker now.
The oft-followed and just as oft-maligned wine critic extraordinaire is doing you a favor.
A favor if you, like him, have a wine palate that tends towards the bombastic, that is.
A great post on the science of wine tasting over at Catavino.net (and how that science can be manipulated) got me thinking about the subjectivity of wine critiquing in general, and more specifically on the philosophical question: Can wine tasting can ever be totally objective?
So for this topic, you can view this article as the yin to Catavino.net’s yang. The conclusion of all of my philosophical pondering? All y’all need to cut Robert Parker some slack!
To bolster my exclamatory claim, let’s turn to the (not too difficult) task of finding someone smarter than me to explain it…
According to Tim Crane’s essay in Questions of Taste: The Philospohy of Wine:
“A wine cannot be appreciated for its intrinsic value unless it is drunk; the value of the wine is intimately related to the kinds of experience to which it gives rise.”
In other words: the trouble with appreciation is that you need to taste wine to appreciate it (well, I suppose for some of us it’s not really too much trouble). And because tasting itself is such a subjective act, it suggests that wine tasting is also at least somewhat subjective.
Does our tasting subjectivity preclude us from coming to some general consensus of how a wine tastes, or its relative quality? Probably not. Throughout history, what was generally considered “good” wine has changed substanitally. In another essay from Questions of Taste, Barry C. Smith puts it like this:
“Saying that the experience of tasting is a personal one need not prevent us from saying that it acquaints us with how a particular wine tastes, or from supposing that other people can be acquainted with that taste too.”
Man, I am really digging smart philosophers right now! What does all of this have to do with wine critics like Parker? It suggests 2 things:
- Critics don’t have to be thinking “universally” about wine because
- Our collective palates will decide what is and isn’t a “quality” wine.
There are studies that back this up. Vinography.com recently reported on two such efforts that compare wine reviews by major wine critics (including Parker, of course) – with different taste preferences. These critics have been in very close agreement on which Bordeaux wines have been the best, and they’ve been agreeing for decades. So there’s gotta be something to the “collective” wine palate as well as to our individual, subjective ones.
Back to Questions of Taste – also from Smith’s essay:
“Having the ability to asses and describe wines in one thing; having certain personal tastes is another. That we, and the wine critics, have personal tastes does not imply that all taste is subjective... Wine critics understand that they cannot overrule an individual’s personal tastes… The moral is that we must find the right critic to advise us, the one whose personal tastes or preferences are more nearly aligned with ours.“
So – we’re all Right, and we’re All right. Dig it.
Now give Parker a break. He’s just trying to help out the people who like the fruit bombs. Including himself.
(images: palmspringslife.com, tuscany-cooking-class.com, winechocolate.org)