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Help, My Wife Only Drinks Bad Chardonnay! (How to Rescue Her From Wine Hell)

Vinted on February 20, 2008 under best of, learning wine, wine tips

(images: nigella, mikesblog.typepad.com, gamerevolution.com, totalgambler.com)
Warning: This post details – and advocates – actions that are sneaky, surreptitious, and downright manipulative. If you are of tender constitution, or high moral standing, I suggest that you turn away now.

Still with me? Great – that’s why I love my readers! You people ROCK!

Please note: In this post, you will encounter the use of Chardonnay and femine pronouns. I’m using ‘Chardonnay Oak-Butter bombs’ simply as an example in this post – you can feel free to replace that with any wine vareital / style that you don’t like. Similarly, I’m using the female pronoun because it matches my particular experience – feel free to substitute the male equivalent to suit your needs.

Anyway, this will all make sense in a minute or two (I use that phrase a lot… is that, like, a mulligan for bad writing?). Got it? Good – let’s get down to business!

The Problem: Wine Hell
Many of you will be familiar with this scenario: You’re on a date with your wife/girlfriend/partner/whatever. You’re about to order up a fantastic dinner. Then you remember it, like a nameless fear from the dark recesses of your consciousness:

  • My Wife only ever drinks super-oaky, buttery Chardonnay. I don’t like those – and it’s totally a BAD match for the food we’re gonna order!

Your blood runs cold – what do you do? Do you suck it up, and try to minimize the damage by ordering the least offensive option? Do you chance pissing her off by ordering some other (totally different) wine? Decisions, decisions…

Dude has been in this situation – and he is here to help you out. I will give you in this post some super-secret tactics to surreptitiously convert your loved-one away from the wine you don’t like, thereby giving you a modicum of a chance to enjoy some wine that you do like (at least once in awhile).

Before I get to the brass tactics, let me tell you Dude’s story…

Dude’s Tale of Wine Woe
My wife used to drink super-oaked, buttery Chardonnay bombs. It was the only thing she’d want to order when we dined out. Now, Dude likes him some good Chardonnay, but when the wine tastes less like apricot & toasted brioche, and more like it came from a jug of rubbing alcohol that has had a stick of butter mixed into it using a two by four… well, let’s just say it doesn’t make him jump for joy.

Besides personal preference, I don’t like the super-oaked, buttery Chardonnay bombs because they severely limit your choice of a really killer food & wine pairing. Why? Chardonnay is fuller-bodied (hefty), but doesn’t have an overwhelming flavor profile; think baked potatos, or lobster. Naturally, you’d assume that a buttery wine would pair well with a buttery dish, and you’d be right. But oak tends to pair well with smoked dishes (the oakier, the smokier). When is the last time you had buttery smoked lobster? Or cooked it at home? It’s just not that common.

Make Her a Convert!
I kicked my wife off the super-oaked, buttery Chardonnay bombs habit, by following one of the super-secret, tried-and-true tactics described below. I converted her to a lover of other wine styles. If Dude can do it, you can do it. Having said that, no guarantees are explicitly stated or implied regarding your potential success (especially with the more, shall we say, difficult cases you might encounter – see below). Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

If you want to get out of Wine Hell, you gotta get her to break that habit! It’s important to remember that our mission here is not entirely selfish – that same dinner-ruining potential exists for any similar situation in which your partner is harboring an overly-narrow view of potential wine choices. (That’s what I tell myself, anyway, so I sleep OK at night).

Just as in matching wine & food, a good pairing is essential for these tactics to work. For this 1WineDude.com experiment, start by determining what type of Subject profile best describes your dining companion, and then try the Tactic best-paired to that profile.

Got it? Good – let’s boogie!

Subject #1: The Newbie – This is a person who is choosing to drink plonk simply because she doesn’t know any other wines, and therefore resorts to picking what she considers ‘safe’.
Conversion Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.
Tactic: The Power of Suggestion – You pass yourself off as someone who knows a bit about wine, and subtly suggest a different wine with dinner, one that you “heard was really wonderful” from an equally-knowledgeable wine buddy.
Why it Works: The Newbie is not necessarily afraid to try a different wine, she just doesn’t know which ones to try next. Gentle suggestion, and the promise to buy her some of her same old wine as a safety net, will go a long way with The Newbie. Play your cards right, and you come off looking like a veritable knight in shining armor, rescuing her (and yourself!) from Wine Hell.
What Could Go Wrong: Don’t play your cards right, and you come off like a smarmy know-it-all jerk. Whoops! No wine for you!

Subject #2: The Victim (a.k.a., “Once Bitten, Twice Shy“) – This wine drinker tried another wine in the past, but she either had it with the wrong food, the wrong dude, got a bad bottle, or had some other semi-traumatic experience. Now, she plays it safe to avoid getting burned again.
Conversion Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult (dependent on previous level of victimization).
Tactic: The Killer Combo – Unleash the Killer Combo on her, Bruce Lee style. It goes down like this: You make her dinner, and make the night as special as possible. You tailor the dinner to a food she likes – and you find the most killer wine combination you can to pair with it (assuming this is not her usual plonk, of course). For example, you could branch out with some Viognier and Coconut Halibut.
Why it Works: You’re providing a safe and inviting environment for the Victim, which is essential to getting her out of her timidity to a suggestive open-minded state. The Killer Combination of the great pairing and you’re good deed will leave an indelible positive mark on her wine psyche – viola, wine curse broken!
What Could Go Wrong: Picking your own favorite food and wine and ignoring her preference can result in disaster, exposing you for the selfish jerk that you really are – which is doubly disastrous if she gets turned off to one of your favorite wines and never lets you order it again.

Subject #3: The Immovable Object (IO) – This girl likes her buttery, oak-bomb Chardonnay just fine and has been drinking it for years now and doesn’t want to change and does NOT want to hear about it again THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!
Conversion Difficulty: Difficult to Impossible (proceed with extreme caution!)
Tactic: The Bait & Switch – The IO can only be countered by the most cunning trickery and deceit. Pretend to order her usual plonk, but instead order another (possibly similar) wine that is much better (to you, anyway).
Why it Works: If you time this correctly, The IO won’t discover the bait & switch until after she’s already acknowledged that she is enjoying the wine. In order to protect her pride, she may be forced to acquiesce. If discovered prematurely, you may be able to feign ignorance (“Oh, this is Pouilly-Fume?!?? Drat, I thought for sure I’d ordered Pouilly-Fuisse! You know, just to see if you’d like it, it is Chardonnay after all…”). With French wine labels as confusing as they are, you might just get away with it.
What Could Go Wrong: Just about everything. You are entering a veritable mine-field, and will need to execute each step flawlessly to win over The IO. Even then, you risk dire consequences should you falter on even the slightest misstep. Good luck… you are going to need it…

Assuming you have made a successful conversion, encourage your partner to expand her wine knowledge through wine books (ahem… might I humbly suggest purchasing her the 1WineDude tasting guide?) and tastings. You may just have a beautiful wine tasting future together.

And which Subject was Mrs. Wine Dudette? At the advice of counsel, I decline to answer…

Cheers!

Wine Makes You Sexier (I’m just sayin’…)

Vinted on February 14, 2008 under best of, holidays, wine news, wine tips

(image: www.yandy.com)

And it’s not because the object of your desire becomes more desirable after you’ve put on the “wine goggles.”

According to a survey jointly sponsored by the Australian Wine Council and on-line dating service Match.com, having a healthy knowledge of the world’s most romantic beverage makes you more attractive, with those people preferring Italian wines being viewed as particularly “sexy” and “stylish.”

There’s still plenty of time for you to order up a copy of Vino Italiano and join us for the first Wine Book Club. Just sayin’…

Wine X Magazine (as reported by autumnilia) backs up the “wine = sexier” conclusion in an interview with sexpert Dr. Ruth, who tells us that wine is an essential element of foreplay (she prefers Beaujolais Nouveau, gewurztraminer, and CA white, so those may be some of the sexiest wine choices, seeing as how she’s a sexpert and whatnot- again, just sayin’).

Finally – If you’re totally desperate on this most Hallmark of holidays, Yahoo! Answers has a thread about what wine choices make a drinking partner appear the most attractive. Chianti and Sake got the nods there. Just sayin’.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wine Communism: U.S. State’s Non-Compliance to Wine Shipping Laws

Vinted on January 23, 2008 under best of, pennsylvania, PLCB, wine shipping


Here’s a little quiz for all of you out there in wine-land. What do you call a government that:

  1. Limits the choices of products available to its citizens by offering them only via government-run monopoly that has no incentive to provide competitive prices, good customer service, or expanded selection;
  2. Charges its citizens a premium for the “privilege” of the products limited choices & poor service, including taxation on goods already controlled by the government;
  3. Refuses to change archaic legislation that was enacted over 50 years ago, in order to protect its monopoly position & profits;
  4. Does nothing to alter its stance or comply with changing federal law, nearly three years after its current legislation has been deemed unconstitutional at both the federal and regional levels?

In most circles, the first two points could be considered Communism.

Technically, the later two points aren’t Communism, but I’d like to think that most people would at least consider them reprehensible…

Unfortunately, what I’ve described above is more-or-less what the state of Pennsylvania is doing in its wine trade, which is controlled by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Bucking the Law Means Big $$$ for States
Actually, now that I consider it, I haven’t been entirely honest with you so far. Since the Federal government ruled that PA’s liquor laws banning interstate trade were unconstitutional in 2005, the PLCB has done something. It’s made money. Approximately $3 billion dollars in sales (that’s Billion, with a “B“), in fact. That is roughly twice the GDP of the country of Liberia.

That’s big, big money. In the case of the PLCB, it’s record-setting sales money, all achieved while operating what has been determined an unconstitutional system.

This is not just impacting PA wine lovers (& wineries) – similar situations are playing out in other states. The ones who benefit are the middle-men (distributors and state governments). The ones who get the short end of the stick? That’s you & me, baby (and the people making our favorite beverages!).

Distributors are – not surprisingly – paying big money to protect this windfall. What is surprising is that those same groups are claiming that money is not the motivator in their efforts to protect the “three tier system” of wine shipping. $3 billion in 2 years, seemingly operating unconstitutionally, and it’s not about the money?!?? I don’t know how they can even say that with a straight face…

Whether You Know it or Not, You’re Being Taken for a Ride
If you live in one of the States that prohibits (or seriously discourages) direct shipping of wine, and you buy wine, then you’re getting screwed. Your wine choices are probably limited. You might have little (if any) recourse to purchase the wines that you want. And likely, you’re paying too much for the wines that you are able to get.

What You Can Do About It
Big money issues like this one will not go away on their own. They require that wine consumers who want a fair deal – people like you (and me) – fight back:

  1. Visit the Shipment Compliant blog to find out where your state stands, and to catch the latest news in the fight for fair wine shipping for your state.
  2. If you have a blog or website, read Tom Wark’s posts on fighting back and link to support Wine Without Borders.
  3. Visit (and support) FreeTheGrapes.org.
  4. Write to your state legislators and let ‘em know how you feel! I have (many times) – and trust me, some of them will respond!

Does This Wine Make Me Look Fat?: How To Drink Wine While You’re on a Diet

Vinted on January 9, 2008 under best of, wine health, wine tips

Dieting – how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… OK, DONE!

No one really enjoys dieting, and while we may be of the epicurean mindset, even us wine lovers need to count the calories once in a while. To get our New Year’s resolutions off to the right start, I’ve put together some information for wine lovers who might be wondering how wine factors into their their dieting plans…


All alcoholic beverages have calories. This includes wine. Most wines contain a very small amount of sugars – a few grams – even wines that are totally “dry.” Very sweet dessert wines contain a bit more, but overall this will still be less than 10 grams on average. You may even find a small amount of Sodium (about 1% the recommended daily amount) and even carbs (around 5 grams, or about 2% DV). But those all contribute a very small amount of calories to the overall wine experience.

A Wine’s calories are largely a factor of alcohol content. Alcohol content accounts for 80% or more of the calories in a wine. A typical glass of wine – about 4 to 5 fl oz -
will contain about 100 calories. That’s the bad news. The good news – none of the calories are from fat (hey, there’s a bright side to everything!).

Wines with Less Alcohol Have Fewer Calories – but Not by Much. If you want to get more specific, a general rule of thumb (as published on Wineintro.com) is that this formula will give you the approximate calories for any specific glass of wine: 1.6 x percentage x oz in glass = total calories. So, if you pour yourself a 5oz glass of modest Italian white (say, 12% alcohol), you’re looking at 1.6 x 12 x 5oz = 96 calories. A big ol’ honkin’ glass of powerful California Zinfandel at 15% alcohol would be 1.6 x 15 x 5oz = 120 calories. Not a huge difference, but could be significant enough for you to change your wine choice at dinner, if you’re expecting to have more than one glass but are trying to watch your weight.

If You’re on a Diet, Drink Wine in Moderation. This one seems obvious, since in effect wine is contributing the the dreaded “liquid calories” (like soda) that most dieters try to avoid. But it’s a lot tougher than you’d think. Restaurant pours of wine seldom adhere to the 4-5oz average, and some restaurants may pour you a glass nearly double that amount. Which means that glass of big ol’ honkin’ CA Zinfandel is really more like 240 calories. If you’re on a diet, tread carefully when eating out.

Don’t Binge. Another seemingly obvious recommendation, but consider this: drinking alcoholic beverages is proven to relax your inhibitions, which in turn makes you more likely to do dumb stuff. That includes taking diet-unfriendly actions like eating more, choosing to eat foods that you should avoid while on your diet, and generally begets more drinking (thus more calories). Binging on wine while on a diet is definitely NOT diet-friendly.

If You’re Drinking & Dieting, Make Lower-Calorie Wine Choices. If you love wine way too much to cut it out of your diet, go for lower calorie wine options. Dry, lighter white wines will generally provide less calories. Heavy, fortified wines, like ports, will generally have the most calories. For more information, you can view a quick table of approximate wine calorie totals here, or check out the more comprehensive wine nutritional listings at calorieking.com.

Know When to Take a Break. The bottom line: if you are dieting, you need to cut back on the wine. If you’re a contestant on Biggest Loser, then it’s probably a good idea to abstain entirely from drinking alcoholic beverages of any kind for a short period of time (until you reach a safe weight-loss milestone, for example). Sure it will suck to go without your favorite Cab, but a healthier you is more likely to be around to enjoy future great vintages of your favorite wine.

Cheers!

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