Archive for February, 2009
Seems I’ve finally succeeded in titling a post entirely with acronyms. Time to celebrate with some choice wine!
It’s just as good an excuse as any – for me, anyway.
This Saturday marks the 10th year of Open That Bottle Night, an annual event that exists entirely to provide justification for cracking open a special bottle of ‘whatever you’ve been saving but haven’t had a good enough excuse to open yet’.
This is presuming of course that a) you have an unopened bottle of special something and b) you have not yet found a reason that you’ve deigned suitable enough to warrant the opening of said bottle of special something (i.e., events that I may find suitable for celebrating with wine – such as successfully getting out of bed that morning, or surviving a car ride home from work – don’t cut it for you).
Participation requirements consist only of you having said bottle, opening it, and enjoying it on the last Saturday in February, in whatever circumstances you deem most appropriate (if these circumstances involve adult diapers, or men in bunny suits, then I do not want to hear about them).
For the 10th OTBN anniversary, the Twitter Taste Live (TTL) community is teaming up with the Open Wine Consortium network (OWC) and wine importer Wilson Daniels Ltd. to provide a shared forum in which we can all global-interweb-itize OTBN. Of course, this also provides some of them a chance to sell a bit of wine, but at least it has the potential to be very good wine:
I’ll be there – virtually, of course – publishing tasting notes via twitter under what will undoubtedly become increasing stages of inebriation.
Hope to see you on-line this Saturday!
(images: openthatbottlenight.com, twittertastelive.com)
Actually, I lied.
Since you will also need a decent corkscrew and a wine glass, you actually need five things to better appreciate wine. But no more than five, and those last two are just enablers (as we say in my office).
But first, a bit of preamble (as we also say in my office)…
When I tell people that one of my jobs is related to wine, they give me a strange look. It’s the same look they give me whenever it comes up in conversation that one of my other jobs is as a musician (oddly, I receive very few disparaging comments on the fact that playing rock music and drinking comprise a contribution to my income).
It is not a look of admiration.
It’s more like the look I imagine that people would give the embalmed and glowing remains of an alien corpse if it was discovered on this planet and then put on display somewhere. A look that says, “Hmmm… you are strange and perhaps you possess some strange powers that I do not understand…”
But there is nothing strange, magical, or otherworldly about wine appreciation (or playing music – ok, playing music is strange but that has more to do with most club owners being weirdos).
Why wine appreciation has been put on a pedestal is beyond me. I understand how it happened (a great write-up of which was the topic of a recent post by Alder Yarrow over at the excellent Vinography.com). But I will never understand why it happened.
It’s a myth that is perpetuated by many of the established wine magazines and some of their wine critic staff, because, like credit card companies finding suckers who are already in debt as potential new customers, or fake alien autopsy videos looking for true believers, it makes them money.
In fact, I can tell you from first-hand experience that wine appreciation is actually pretty easy. Look at me – I did it, and… well, you tell me: do you think I’m the smartest guy you know?
Didn’t think so.
If it helps, before you jump in and start buying vino by the case, just spend a day telling yourself that wine appreciation is NOT hard – in fact, it’s easy and natural. I’ve done this before starting anything that I’d previously convinced myself was “too hard” to try. Works like a charm (but maybe I’m just self-gullible?).
Anyway, let’s cut to the chase.
The 3 Things You Really Need (To Do) for Better Wine Appreciation:
- Taste. A lot.
No secret or mystic initiation rites here. Just start tasting. Buy a bottle and taste. There is no prep. work required. Just do it.
Yes, it’s that simple.
Look at it this way – how else would you try anything new? If I served you a dinner dish that you’d never had before, would you need to do any prep. work before you tried it to see if you liked it (or didn’t like it)? The idea is totally preposterous. If buying wine frightens you, then buy online from any of the great retailers that advertise on this blog – they’ll help you find something decent in your price range. The important thing to note here is that you have nothing to fear by jumping right in and tasting.
- Note what you like – and what you don’t like.
This is easy as well. When you taste a wine, write it down. Pay special attention to what you like in the taste of that wine (remember, we’re tasting here, not guzzling), and what you don’t like.
This will help you to do two important things: a) learn what floats your boat about certain wines so you can enjoy more like those, and b) learn what you want to avoid in certain wines because you don’t like those tastes. For example, I don’t like mushrooms. In fact, I hate mushrooms. It’s fungus, for gods’ sake. Or cream. Don’t lke cream either – turns my digestive system totally inside out (whoops… TMI…). Cream of mushroom soup is right out. How do I know I want to avoid those tastes? Because I tried them, didn’t like them, and I’ve got a mental note about that which helps me to avoid unpleasant culinary situations in the future. Easy. Wine is no different.
If it helps, follow a system (I’ve outlined a simple one in my eBook).
- Come with an open mind.
Here’s a question for you: would you eat only one thing every day for the rest of your life, if you had any choice in the matter? Would you eat nothing but steak? Or wear only red clothing, forever, until you died?
Probably not. But if you limit yourself to drinking only one kind of wine (say, for example, oak-ladden and buttery Chardonnays), you are basically doing the exact same thing. There is a dizzying array of wine varietals, regions, styles, brands, etc., to be had in today’s marketplace. Don’t handcuff yourself by limiting the enjoyment and pleasure you could have – your motto here should be “try anything at least once.”
There you have it.
Wine Appreciation = Super Simple. No go out there and enjoy yourself!
Check out more 1WineDude.com articles on Learning Wine & Zen Wine Appreciation.
(images: doubleazone.com, warehouse.carlh.com, wku.edu)
Attention wine elitists: Not everything has to be serious.
This includes wine.
Yes, it does. No, really, it does.
You see, it’s a bit like the movie Snakes on a Plane. With a title like that, you know exactly what you’re in for. Snakes. On a plane. Eating people. Good guys will beat the snakes, bad guys will get a nasty dose of their own medicine, and Samuel L. Jackson will be a total badass (and will deliver memorable, profanity-laden pithy dialog). Have fun, and leave your brain at the door for an hour and a half.
Some wines are the same way, minus the profanity (and the poisonous, people-eating snakes).
With some wines, you should be able to take a break from thinking too hard, and just sit back, kick your shoes off, and enjoy them. Not talk about them, taste them, or examine them. Just drink them.
Barefoot Bubbly is one of those wines.
Founded by CA winemaker Davis Bynum in the `60s as a small-production adjunct to his pricier wines, then revived in the `80s by Michael Houlihan and partner Bonnie Harvey, Barefoot Wines is now a Gallo property since 2005, with annual production of something like a gazillion cases.
Barefoot is a big, big producer. So it may strike you as a bit strange that they would reach out to bloggers to get thoughts on their new on-line presence. But that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Barefoot reached out to me to get my thoughts on a new website – Barefoot Republic – that includes a brand blog and elements of social networking (videos, profiles, reviews, etc.). They also sent me a few samples of Barefoot wine, one of which I’ll be waxing Dude-like on in a few moments.
It’s both interesting and frightening that a brand as big as Barefoot is (albeit a bit later than many smaller wineries) including bloggers and social networking in their game plan. Interesting in that they’re arguably big enough to not have to care (yet) about the influence of bloggers; frightening in that Barefoot’s entry into this space probably is death knell of social netorking platforms giving smaller wine brands an edge on-line. The fact that the effectiveness of brand recommendations (for wine or anything else) is moving from away from one-way advertising to social-netwoking is a topic for another post (or, in fact, several). The site is beautifully done, by the way (if a bit slow in terms of responsiveness).
So… back to the wine…
I’d heard that Barefoot’s sparklers were a good buy, but I’d never had opportunity to try them before. I popped open a sample of their Brut Cuvee Bubbly. I didn’t have high hopes for this wine, since it’s labeled as “California Champagne” – a legal designation in the U.S., but arguably one that unfairly plays off the reputation – and far superior quality – of France’s birthplace of fine sparklers.
Anyway, Barefoot’s Bubbly is made using the Charmat method, which is the same method of sparkling production used for Prosecco. Like Prosecco, the Barefoot is a refreshing quaffer. The first thing I thought about this wine was that I’ve had plenty of Prosecco that cost more that wasn’t a good as this sucker.
The Barefoot is not a complex wine – it has refreshing acidity, fresh apple aromas, and that’s about it. But at under $10 a bottle. it doesn’t have to be.
With a name like Barefoot Bubbly, you should know what you’re in for. Simple. Tasty. Ready to have fun for an hour and a half (or more).
No snakes, though.
(images: 1winedude.com, wikimedia.org, woodstockfilmfestival.com, barefootwine.com)