This month, as part of my Answers.com gig, I penned a short article offering a selection of Halloween Wines Without the Kitsch. I mention it because, well, 1) it’s Halloween and 2) I like to piss off the people who have a near-apoplectic fit at the mere mention of holiday wine selections. [ Editor’s note: to those people – get over it; a lot more people want wine guidance over the holidays than don’t ].
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the holiday topic is sexy or isn’t almost entirely played out – in fact, every holiday wine pairing article I’ve ever written more or less boils down to “drink what you like, but most of all don’t screw it up by buying bad wine gussied up in cute packaging for the holidays.”
But because that’s too short of a sentiment for a paying article, we have to give it the ol’ college try, and so try I did. Look at it this way: if Halloween provides an excuse for people to explore interesting, otherwise-off-the-radar wine options like Bull’s Blood, or a familiar grape from a not-so-familiar region like Romania (now one of the top twenty wine producers in the world by volume, by the way), or a really good wine with a bad name (like The Dead Arm Shiraz), then I say what the hell, let’s go for it.
In any case, Halloween isn’t about trying to find a bottle of booze with a sticker of a werewolf or a zombie on the label; it’s about enjoying a glass of tasty vino about which you don’t have to think too much so that instead you can focus on important things, such as taking pictures of your daughter in her triceratops costume that you will eventually use to embarrass her right before her wedding many years from now (seriously… this costume below is pretty sweet…). At this point, I should add that one of my daughter’s imaginary friends is her “T-Rex dino husband” who “travels a lot for work” and “lives in a house on the beach.” Which I think bodes scarily somehow for my future as a father-in-law, but I’m not 100% sure about all of that yet.
Anyway… If you want werewolves and zombies, buy a Halloween themed thermos in which you can put that Bull’s Blood while you walk the kiddies around the neighborhood trick-or-treating, okay?
The Punch Down Episode 8 is in the books, and we had a stellar guest in critic Antonio Galloni, who somehow managed to be proud, educational, erudite and humble all at the same time.
We talk Famer Fizz, geeky Italian quality designations, Idaho Wine, Ferrari Perle 2006, wine scores, the future of Vinous Media, Galloni’s relationship with former employer Robert Parker, and wine tasting dental care.
So, like, what is this stuff, anyway? I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!
06 Pisano ArretXea Grand Reserve (Uruguay): A shot of sour dark cherries that are sipping tea, jamming Mozart & discussing Kant. $60 A- >>find this wine<<
09 Pisano RPF Tannat Reserva Personal de la Familia (Uruguay): Mineral, fresh & elegant; yes, it's really Tannat we're talking about. $25 A- >>find this wine<<
11 Pisano Reserve Tannat Syrah Viognier (Uruguay): A meaty lift, before smacking you down authoritatively with tobacco seriousness. $14 B+ >>find this wine<<
12 Pisano Reserve Cabernet Franc Syrah Rose (Uruguay): Friendly, but introducing itself in a proper, poised, and reserved way. $14 B+ >>find this wine<<
12 Pisano Rio de los Pajaros Torrontes Reserve (Uruguay): Doing its best – and quite entertaining – tropical Sauv Blanc impersonation. $14 B >>find this wine<<
10 Pueblo del Sol Tannat Dessert Wine (Uruguay): Light on its feet but strong enough to handle a packed load of chocolate & flowers. $18 B >>find this wine<<
07 Familia Deicas Preludio Lot No. 89 Red (Uruguay): Very young, but a complicated, capable poet is slowly and methodically emerging. $50 A- >>find this wine<<
09 Pueblo del Sol Edicion Limitada Tannat (Uruguay): Engaging tug-of-war battle between sexy, smokey silkiness and tart freshness. $27 B >>find this wine<<
11 Atlantico Sur Single Vineyard Red (Uruguay): Silky, sexy & expressive, and fresher at the end than a leather whip-crack sting. $40 B+ >>find this wine<<
12 Pueblo del Sol Tannat Reserva (Uruguay): A fresh – and woody – take on taming the dark-fruited, coffee-drinking Tannat beast. $17 B >>find this wine<<
12 Familia Deicas Preludio Barrel Select No. 12 White (Uruguay): Uh! Where're you from, you sexy thing…? You sexy thang you! $50 B+ >>find this wine<<
I live in one of the most puritanically backward states in the Union.
I know, this should’ve dawned on me some time ago, but I never said I was quick study. It took hosting our hairdresser and his boyfriend for dinner to make me fully realize how ass-backward PA really is. [ Editor’s note: Yes, the hairdresser is actually gay. Sometimes dogs pee right on the fire hydrant, too, okay? Just because it sounds cliché doesn’t mean that it doesn’t actually happen from time to time. If I could have made him a firefighter instead of a hairdresser I would do it, not that there is anything wrong with being a gay hairdresser, but it would’ve sounded more original. In any case, it wouldn’t have been true, so just get over it! ]
I’m not actually talking about the fact that Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that operate as an anti-capitalist monopoly regarding the sale and distribution of alcohol. That’s just the tip of the disquieting, anti-intellectual iceberg. Or that PA seems to be in a near-continual battle to have creationism taught in schools, as if it were actually a science, which it’s not (not even close). [ Editor’s note: Don’t get me started on this… but since we did get started, I feel it’s worth noting that there are very few areas of science which have both overwhelming evidence in support of their theories and insanely good track records of measurable predictability. Three of these are quantum physics, the General Relativity theory (including gravitation), and… evolution. Saying one doesn’t “believe” in evolution is more or less akin to saying that one doesn’t “believe” in gravity. Neither gravity nor evolution nor quantum physics – nor all of the evidence in support of all three, of which there is… well, a lot – care that you don’t agree with them, they just *are* and they go right on predicting outcomes to insanely long decimal points of accuracy. ]
The kicker for me is that Pennsylvania has yet to recognize same-sex marriages. The whole thing is getting embarrassing, frankly. It’s like we made it out of 1957, only no one bothered to tell most of my state (or its legislators). At this point the natural reaction is to think, “well, why don’t you just move somewhere else, dumb ass?” Which of course fails to take into account everything else – family, neighborhood, friends, school systems, jobs – particularly the fact that otherwise I love the state enough to want to actually change things for the better here.
Anyway, despite our hairdresser’s boyfriend having worked as a bartender, neither of our guests professes to be well-versed in wine. And so the idea was to expose these guys to vinous stuff that they might not get to try very often, but that was also tasty enough to be enjoyed without too much context or “geeking.” Tasty enough to temporarily salve the pain inflicted by the policies of their home state? Well, let’s just say we all managed to forget about PA’s anachronistic transgressions for at least one evening…
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