Posts Filed Under commentary

Harried Diner and The Goblet of Wine

Vinted on August 5, 2010 binned in commentary, wine appreciation

Last night, Mrs. Dudette, the Dudelette and I tried out a relatively new family-dining-style BYO Italian bistro in our area.  Just about everything at this new-ish joint was very, very good – from the friendly service right on through to the tasty, looks-like-it-just-came-out-of-grandma’s-kitchen pasta. 

I say “just about everything” because, as you will see in the inset pic (with apologies from me including crappy-ass cellphone shots here), when I pulled out out BYO wines, the restaurant handed me a nice metal “waiter’s friend” style corkscrew (I want one!), along with two wine “glasses” that looked as though they’d serve better duty as flower vases.

Are those glasses pretty?  You bet.  Are they decent glasses for drinking wine?  No way.

I’m not trying to be a wine snob here (it comes naturally after a while!) – you’re reading the words of someone who regularly tries wines out of small plastic cups at outdoor events (you can take the kid out of Elsmere, but you’ll never take the Elsmere out of the kid, baby!) – but trying to get a sense of a wine and really enjoy it out of these things was just about impossible.  Even our potentially kick-ass dinner wine selections (Matthiasson releases – and we all know those folks know what they’re doing because they’re getting mentioned here on an almost weekly basis now) tasted downright pedestrian from those things.  We probably would have had better luck tasting them from our daughter’s sippy-cup (seen in the background).

For my tastes, those vase-glasses have a rim that’s way to wide and so thick that it dumps the wine into your mouth at a strange angle.  All that pretty carving action? No way to really dig on the wine’s color and clarity through that stuff.  The goblet style shape?  More suitable to specialty beer brews than wine – give me a tulip-shaped glass any day.

Think the Dude doth protest too much?  Had a head-on run-in with restaurant wine glasses?  Shout it out in the comments!

Cheers!

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How To Make Wine Evaluation Even Less Objective? Don’t Spit!

Vinted on August 3, 2010 binned in best of, commentary, wine appreciation

Lately I’ve found myself at (what I’d consider to be) a lot of (what I would call) professional (or, at least, semi-professional) environments in which I am expected (or at least it seems that way) to taste wine in the hopes that I might critically evaluate it (but with fewer parenthetical interruptions if I do).

I’m rarely alone at those moments – I’m usually part of a small group of bloggers, traditional press, or some mixture thereof. But I am usually alone in at least one respect at those tastings: I’m the one asking for a spit bucket.

Or the one looking around for an open outside door, empty unused glass, drainage grate, or random patch of grass so that I can spit. More often than not, I feel as though I’ve got to explain myself, and/or am left wondering why a winery or event coordinator hasn’t thought to at least provide a plastic cup for spitting purposes.

More concerning to me is that the majority of my peers at these tastings don’t seem to feel the slightest need to spit.

Now, I’m not about to tell someone how they should evaluate wine, and I’m certainly in the "wine tasting is more subjective than objective" camp – but I’m baffled as to how someone can taste several wines without spitting and think that they can remain cogent enough to provide an ounce of objective viewpoint about it all later…

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Losing It: El Camino del Vino (A Real Wine Movie, At Long Last?)

Vinted on July 19, 2010 binned in commentary

Sommelier and wine educator Charlie Arturaola and film directors Nicolás Carreras & Sebastián Carreras may just be putting together the most intimate wine movie yet made, and one that finally may have just the kind of reality-show crossover appeal to gain success among wine pros, wine geeks, and non wine-lovers alike.

At least, that’s the sense that I got from viewing the well-made trailer for El Camino del Vino (“The Ways of Wine” – with “Ways” taking on multiple nuances of meaning).

Like all promising films, El Camino del Vino starts with disaster and conflict, and promises to end with redemption. For wine pros and budding wine enthusiasts, the premise of the film is particularly terrifying (emphasis is mine):

“Charlie travels to Argentina invited to do tastings at the prestigious Masters of Food and Wine event at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Mendoza. Before the festivities begin at the Masters, Charlie is shooting a publicity spot for a wine and disaster strikes.  The combination of the pace of the shoot and a red dye used to enhance the photographic contrast and deepen the color of the wine, provoke the complete loss of his palate.”

I imagine that the loss of Charlie’s ability to taste wine critically echoes a deeper fear for many, many people in the modern industrial working world: What do you do when you lose the very thing upon which you rely to make your living?

I’ve met Charlie and he is warm, friendly, knowledgeable and approachable – exactly the kind of guy to whom you wouldn’t want this sort of thing to happen.  And it didn’t – not in real life, anyway.  But based on the trailer for El Camino del Vino, Charlie puts in a convincing performance, especially for someone who makes his living on wine and not via acting.  After seeing the trailers, I’m stoked to try to see this film when it gets released in August.

I caught up with Charlie last week (via e-mail and in-between trips for both of us) to briefly talk about the film and how he went about playing the part of himself.  Check out the trailer and the short interview below…

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